Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Delft Christmas Tree

After years of trying out various themes on my Christmas trees, I will finally bite the bullet and begin collecting what I have long wanted to collect but never did, for my tree.  
I found out, after researching Delft ornaments that they are not all made equally.  If it seems too cheap in price, it is SOURCED in Holland but made elsewhere (like china).  The new buzz word is "sourced" when the pieces are not actually made in that country, but the mother company is based there.  "Sourced" usually means "made in china" and no one wants that any more!  (I sure don't).

DeWit is one of the makers of Delft ornaments that comes with a certificate of authenticity and the ornaments will cost you around $36/each.  (The $6 ones are made in China - buyer beware!!)

I want to collect authentic Delft, still made in Holland and this tree shows a nice collection of real Delft.  I would add alot more white twinkle lights and maybe a blue velvet tree skirt! 
It may take awhile longer because of my budget, but I will have that satisfaction that my tree is authentic Delft of real quality and have some actual value!
(ps....the dogs are pretty cute too but although my five cats would approve of a Delft tree, they would shoot down my attempt to increase our family size with a bunch of snuffling, drooling, waggly tailed heathens!) (their words, not mine)

Blue Tartan Settee

What a lovely blue and white tartan on a dark frame settee.  I usually prefer the painted furniture associated with Swedish Gustavian style but this shows that the blue & white color combination, popular in Swedish inspired decorating, also works well on darker wood.

I'm Dreamin' of a White (and silver and crystal) Christmas!

I LOVE this Christmas decorating theme with a magical quality achieved by using white, silver and clear crystal.  The silver, or mercury glass, gives a look of glamor while the crystal and white reflects light around the room.

A Chinoiserie Box

I found this box so charming!  It's in a very typical Chinoiserie pattern, but with what looks like mother of pearl inlay!  I would like to reproduce this pattern on a box, but instead of a black background, I would use a pale blue one, in keeping with a Gustavian feel.

Simple Accents

When a home has good bones, you don't need alot of stuff to make a room magical.  Case in point, this bedroom.  The room already has spectacular bones and the few things in it are equally magical but not over done!
I adore the small gilded canopy draped in a French blue and lace, paired with the matching head and foot boards.  Note the small gilded sconces with the blue toile print shades and the gilded half-moon table.

Sunny Swedish on a Gray Seattle Day!

If any one of you have ever spent a fall/winter in Seattle, you are aware of how dark it gets with all the cloud cover and drizzle that stays with us for months on end until spring!

Today I needed a bit of sunny Swedish style and decided to post these images I had in my file, collected over the years from various publications.  I pull them out now and then to get new inspiration and maybe help me along with a home project!
 A bright and cheerful bedroom with white painted furniture with Gustavian influence.  I love the use of yellow print fabric against the bright sky blue walls and checked chair next to the blue turned down sheets.  I would love to sleep in this room!
 A sunny Swedish dining room with white painted furniture upholstered in a delicate blue fabric.  The use of red as an accent makes the whole scene pop!
 A Swedish sideboard against a lovely paneled wall in the most delicate of pale blue-gray.
 A lovely corner desk set with tea and flowers.  The gold hardware adds glamor to a formal desk given new life with a coat of white paint!  The only think I would change is to paint the interior of the desk a medium gray-blue.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Autumn Inspirations

   When I think of fall, what comes to mind are the usual things like colored leaves, cozy fires in dark paneled rooms, wool sweaters, tweed jackets and tartan blankets.  A pot of soup simmering on the stove or warm tea on a blustery day. 
   I recently bought a copy of a new book "Highland Living" and several images in it reminded me of autumn.
   There is something about the Scottish landscape and home interiors that remind me of the season like no other look.
Enjoy this peek!

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one autumnal face."
(John Donne)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swedish Tile Wallpaper

This is an update for an earlier post where I was mentioning an idea I had to hand paint my front entry armoire to look like a Swedish blue & white tiled stove.
I have been gearing up since to begin that project.  I dug out my acrylics in various shades of blue, downloaded resource photos and perused my copyright free art books for a suitable floral pattern to copy in blue paint.
THEN, I get this email yesterday from Spoonflower and jumped for joy.  They now offer custom wallpaper!
This was the answer to my time-crunch nightmare.  I will design my Swedish tiles in Photoshop and upload to Spoonflower and have wallpaper made with which I will apply to the sides and front door panels on the armoire....so easy!  And saves me hours of work too.
Not that I don't like painting, but I have so little time lately.
So I got busy right away and came up with this:  (minus the logo which is there for copyright protection on this digital image only)

I ordered my first roll yesterday and am eagerly awaiting its delivery.  This custom wallpaper thing has opened up a myriad of ideas for me.  I will be filling my ETSY shop with new stuff this winter/spring, all made from custom wallpaper - now made a reality by Spoonflower.
As soon as my order is marked "shipped" I will be able to assign "sell to public" status on the pattern so you, too, can order it for those Swedish-inspired projects.
Line cupboards or hutches, apply to the back of a kitchen back splash or cover an old armoire as I am doing, for your very own Swedish tile stove look. Its pre-pasted and removable so renters and students can use on their apartment or dorm room walls.
(can you tell how excited I am!?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'Ol Autumn, She's a' Comin!

I know we are all feeling it in the air already and the excitement mounts.  We who love fall, do so because of the feelings it generates inside our hearts.  The nesting instinct kicks into overdrive and we want to get out the wool throws, stock up on wood by the wood stove and break our our comforting fall recipes like beef stews and chili.  Time to gather the family around and regroup.

Our NW mornings are now cold and foggy, burning off to sunshine in the late afternoon.  Evenings are getting to the point where I have to shut windows overnight.

But when I think of fall coming on, I still remember the days long past now, when I was young and working in the Seattle Laura Ashley shop downtown.  I LOVED getting the giant coffin boxes delivered, loaded with the entire fall collection.  I was the stockroom person so when I wasn't on the sales floor, I was in the back, unpacking the wool or babywale cord dresses, the wool Scottish sweaters and Italian silk scarves, sent straight from Wales!  I was then assigned to make over the floor, and would be there most the night, setting up the displays and racks of new fall clothes. It was always fun to reveal the new look in the morning to early bird commuters walking past our windows at 4th and University.

I still have many of the old catalogs we Laura Ashley published for clothing and home.  Here are some choice fashions from Autumn 1990, my most favorite season and year of them all.
It was a season of tartans velvet, great wool hats and navy floral skirts and dresses.  I think I bought 2 dresses (a very big splurge for me back then but with a 40% employee discount, it hurt less) and got one dress on allotment.  As a FT employee, we got a free dress or skirt/top combo, according to how many hours weekly one worked.  Of course it was mandatory you wear Laura Ashley every day so if you were new, you wore that one dress EVERY DAY!  LOL
   My most favorite dress of all came from that 1990 Autumn season collection...the blue floral babywale corduroy Welsh farmhouse dress, pictured here on the model leaning against a rock.
   Maybe when I'm old, I will move back to my native rural Wisconsin countryside and dress like this again, and live like Tasha Tudor.  ;)
   I feel bad for anyone who never heard of Laura Ashley or walked into one of the shops to see the beautiful Welsh dresses, wool English coats, Scottish sweaters and so on, on display.  Everything smelled like Laura Ashley No1 parfum...

Enjoy this walk back in time to when we still enjoyed Laura Ashley right here in the states and had access to some of the most romantic, sought after and well made clothing at that time.  This is how I feel about fall every year - imagining I am dressed in romantic clothing, wandering the English countryside...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Swedish Stove Mania

There seems to be renewed interest in Swedish tiled stoves these days.
I have been in love with them since I was turned on to their very existence in the early 90's while in interior design school.  I fell head over heels with Swedish Gustavian style with the light, bright colors, the painted furniture and down to earth fabrics.

I have longed for a Swedish tiled stove for almost as long - and now that they are getting more attention, why doesn't a company start up that sells to the American public?  I guess demand might be low, after all, its a very specific, narrow niche!  LOL

I will have to live with my old-fashioned black wood stove for now (which I might paint either red or oxford blue next year...we'll see) but I still long for a slender, rounded stove in the corner adorned with lovely blue and white floral tiles.

Then the other day I thought to myself "I don't have a Swedish tiled stove, but I do have a large armoire I am painting white, which is screaming out for some decorative paint work".
Now, I ran my own decorative painting business in the early to mid 90's called "a Gilded Vine".
I have painted a few pieces since then, but only for myself.  My hutch (still in progress) and my bedside table (finished) and now this large, squared armoire which I needed to house coats and such near the front door to Elinor Cottage, given we have no coat closet!

I have decided to paint the armoire to look like a blue and white tiled Swedish stove!
I am going to get to work on it tonight, designing the layout, what each tile will look like (probably all florals) and drawing up my prototypes on transfer tissue.  I am very good at trompe l'oeil painting.  That's what I used to do with "a Gilded Vine".  I will make the tiles really look like old tiles with weathered grout...just wait and see.

Stay tuned for future photos as I work my way around this monstrous piece of furniture, transforming it into a trompe l'oeil Swedish stove.
After all, the Gustavians did it too - if they wanted to balance a room using the symmetry of Neo-Classical design, they'd put a large cabinet on the opposite wall or corner from the stove, and paint it to match!  I have seen and read about this in the many Swedish Gustavian books I've collected in these 25 years or so!

Enjoy these blue tiled beauties while I go get to work on my own!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Summer Rose

The signs are here - autumn approaches.  There is that certain crispness in the air now, especially in the mornings.  The air smells different too...
...I sense more of the cold, northern ocean in it.
I have to close windows at night now and the spiders all want to come in. (eek!)
    The hydrangeas are fading on the bushes and there are leaves falling from a few trees already.  And the last roses are on the final rose bush in the back yard.  I brought a few in for us all to enjoy...
In the gloaming of a late summer's night,
There comes to me a pensive sight.
One stately lady in rose-flushed shades,
stands tall as the season slowly fades.
A patch, once florid, under the summer sun,
has sung its last, its swan song is done.
The last of the summer roses...

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Favorite Recipe for Fall

All it took was one foggy, wet, cool morning this last Sunday to put me in the mood for fall already!
I spent my lunch hour at work today researching tartans and wool flannel fabric online to make a suit with.
Tonight I broke out some fall recipes and made fidget pie and this cream of mushroom soup, from a Silver Palette cookbook from the early 1990's.  I used the recipe for the English pie from an older issue of Victoria magazine.  The article said fidget pie was the favorite dish of Charles Dickins.

I haven't made this mushroom soup in years but my mouth watered at the memory so I had to run to the grocery store on my way home from work tonight to get the extras I didn't already have at home.

Now, this soup is NOT "Weight Watcher friendly" but I am more then willing to count these points because this is the best mushroom soup you will ever taste.
I created a free recipe card for you to download.
I don't usually post recipes but this soup is so wonderful, I had to share!
Bon Appetit!