Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chinoiserie Chic on Cote de Texas

I have had a very stressful last week. The burglary was quite dramatic. As I worked in the garden, a door was kicked in and my house burglarized. When I went to change gloves, I saw the door and called for my dog who did not respond. Had she been killed? I called 911 from my iPhone. The police thought he was still in the house and searched it top to bottom closing down my street with neighbors gathering as I stood in the cold not knowing what had happened to my dog and house. I then spent Christmas week canceling and replacing all my credit cards, driver's license, checkbook, debit card, and every ID to my name. He also charged thousands on my credit cards which is a mess to straighten out. The police based on all the credit card transactions have him on video surveillance at Target and issued a press release with his photo. The story was on all local television stations and The Washington Post. Nevertheless, I learned yesterday that this brazen and "inglorious basterd" burglarized a third neighbor on Monday. Just yesterday my door was replaced.

All this intro was to make the point that I really needed some good news. I was thrilled to awaken this morning and find that Joni at Cote De Texas was so very kind to pick my Pagoda Bedroom as one of The Top Ten Best Renovations of 2009. Thanks a million for this sweet honor. Please check out the post here. I know that Joni is the exemplar to most of us in the design blogosphere for the quality, research, amazing attention to detail and work that goes into each of her posts. Thanks Joni! Your timing could not have been better. My goal will be to have my laundry room renovation be on her list for 2010. And this time I will do before shots too! Thanks to Jenny at Little Green Notebook for her mention of my laundry room post as well. Click here. And congratulations to Jenny on the new baby.

Thanks to each of you who follow Chinoiserie Chic. Having just launched in May of this year, I am amazed by how it has taken off and by how much fun I am having with it. The perks are truly wonderful-interior design books, invitations to design events around D.C., meeting top interior designers, meeting other D.C. bloggers. But the two best things are being able to express my creativity, love for design and love for writing and the interaction I have with all my followers. Each email and comment means so much to me. I have always valued quality over quantity and could not care less about statistics and the number of hits I get. Followers of this blog include top interior designers, design bloggers, artists and sophisticated people all over the world who are so lovely to send me photos, ideas, comments and emails about how much they too love Chinoiserie and my blog. As this year ends, thanks to each of you. I have so much planned for this blog in 2010 and hope you will continue with me on this fun adventure. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Chinoiserie Chic

Entertaining at home on New Year's Eve? A chic and festive idea your guests will love is to get splits of Champagne. These look wonderful on the dinner table at each place setting. I also love the idea above of using little glass bowls as ice buckets. Splits are easily found at wine superstores in all different price ranges and colors to match your table decor or party color scheme.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 Design Project

I am not one to make New Year's Resolutions, but instead I love to plan and execute a design project for my home. Ever since attending the Washington DC Design House last spring, I have been unable to forget the tiniest space in the house, a laundry nook shown above. Brilliantly designed by Draza Stamenich, the walls were done in Gracie wallpaper and the cabinets in aviary wire. The chandelier is Neirmann Weeks. The designer noted that in these economic times, it's wonderful to upgrade life's everyday doings. "Today the luxury is going to be the things we do at home." I also like that he dismisses using a colored washer and dryer as tacky, preferring white or stainless steel. A high end touch I will definitely borrow is getting a scoop and two glass jars at the Container Store and filling one with powdered detergent and the other with dryer sheets.

In my home, we usually enter from the garage through the laundry room. The garage I have already redone. The ceiling is wood stained in mahogany, the walls are Farrow & Ball Elephant's Breath, and there are four crystal chandeliers and french doors. Quite nice. I would like to turn the laundry room which is quite large into a multi functional space that is a mud room/laundry room/craft room/flower arranging room/ironing room/storage room. I also want a more inviting look as this is the main way the family enters the house. I have already decided on a blue and white color scheme and have found on eBay incredible Brunshwig & Fils wallpaper. The room, as part of its flower arranging function, will house my collection of blue and white Chinoiserie vases as well. Stay tuned for this developing project.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Single Man-Charlotte's House

I saw It's Complicated last night and absolutely loved it. Run out and see it. But this is not a post about the sets of Nancy Meyers which, although they are always spot on for the characters, are not my personal taste-too beige and dull and generic. I am however dying to see the sets of A Single Man when it opens in D.C. The directorial debut of the mega-talented Tom Ford, it stars Colin Firth as George, a gay college professor still reeling from the death of his long-time partner and Julianne Moore as Charlotte (Charley), London socialite, close friend and former lover. Sounds like a Gucci Brokeback Mountain. Set in the sixties, the production designer is the brilliant Dan Bishop of Mad Men. Like Charlotte and Tony Duquette, coral is my beige. I can't wait to see Charlotte's Hollywood Regency house with its circular silk couch, the lavish dressing table, gorgeous colors and fabrics, and Chinoiserie nod. I'll take this entire glamorous and dramatic look with the updo hairstyles, heavy eyeliner, and gorgeous clothes and cars. With Tom Ford's amazing eye and all the Oscar buzz attendant to this film, I can't wait.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Key Style Elements of Chinoiserie

Key Chinoiserie Style Elements: Every Thing You Wanted To Know…
*The Exotic: China as a far away place featuring exotic characters, themes, legends, landscapes full of fanciful pavilions, fabulous creatures such as rare birds and fish, and unusual plants such as bamboo
*Dragons: the most exotic of all the above elements
*Architecture: the sweeping lines of pagoda roofs and Chinese architecture were incorporated into many objects especially furniture
*Oriental dress: the use of silks and embroidered items, people in Chinese clothes added to a fabric design, porcelain figures of such exotic subjects, jade, pearls, clothing in the 1930s
*Tea: afternoon tea drinking as a ‘British’ custom originated in China, period teawares etc.
*Techniques: lacquer, porcelain, embroidery, tôle, japanning etc.
*Interpretation: Few of the western products of Chinoiserie are entirely true to their Chinese roots. The success of Chinoiserie’s fashion is down to its ability to reconfigure itself and adapt to the tastes and requirements of the day. This might mean the introduction of different colour schemes, materials or motifs. It is not unusual to see a printed fabric incorporating Chinese, Japanese and Turkish elements. The approach is not to be “correct” but to evoke an atmosphere of the exotic and this was the power and charm of the aesthetic.

"Thus it is happened …we must all seek the barbarous gaudy goût of the Chinese; and fat headed Pagods and shaking Mandarins bear the prize from the greatest works of antiquity; and Apollo and Venus must give way to the fat idol with a sconce on his head." So wrote Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu (society hostess and bluestocking), describing in 1749 the rage for Chinoiserie decoration in England.

(Article reprinted courtesy of Antique & Interior Design Diary; photo courtesy of Harewood House)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Decorating-The Upside Down Tree

My upside down Christmas tree. You'll either love it or hate it-I adore it. It's stylish, sophisticated, avant garde, and takes up no floor space. Standing under it and looking up is quite extraordinary. Click on the photos to enlarge. This is my piece de resistance.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Christmas Decorating-Family Room

In my family room I use a gold and silver color scheme. The tree is filled with vintage ornaments collected on eBay and lots of gold and silver "picks" from Michael's. I think this is an elegant and sophisticated look that works well with many room color schemes. I personally greatly prefer this to blue and white which is so in vogue right now that I find to be cold. The tulipieres on the mantel will be filled with red or white tulips when I venture out to Costco this afternoon. Thanks to everyone for their supportive comments and emails regarding my burglary Monday. Still sorting things out of course.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Terrible Day

After being stuck in the house all weekend after a record blizzard, I decided to work outside today to try to remove the 20 inches of snow from my shrubs. As I worked outside, a burglar made off with my purse including cash, driver's license, all credit cards, checkbook, debit card, etc. etc. After discovering the burglary and calling 911, the police thought the burglar was still in my house, and armed police searched my home while I stood outside in the freezing cold not knowing whether my house had been ransacked or whether my dog was o.k. Izzy and the house are fine, but I am a bit frazzled.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jennifer Jones and Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing

The death this past week of the wonderful and stunning Jennifer Jones at the age of 90 reminded me of a favorite film-Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955). Eurasian doctor (Jennifer Jones) falls madly in love with the wrong man-white and married war correspondent (William Holden). With its gorgeous Hong Kong locations, beautiful people, clothes, and cars, and hauntingly timeless song, this classic tear jerker is a Chinoiserie must see. Rent it over the holidays. I has one of the best lines ever-"We shall now drink tea and speak of absurdities."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Day

D.C. is in the midst of its biggest December snowfall in seventy years with twenty inches predicted to fall. Christmas activities will have to be put on hold for a day or two to dig out, hopefully before cabin fever sets in. Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

(Photo courtesy of Rodney Smith)

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Christmas Decorating-The Pagoda Bedroom

The Pagoda Bedroom gets its share of Christmas finery too. On the bed are two gorgeous Chinoiserie stockings in Kelly Wearstler Ombre Maze and Schumacher Starry Night. Here is my post on this wonderful Etsy store. The white feather wreath is by Angel Wreaths and here is my post on how I use them outdoors as well. On the dresser is a snow ballerina by Bethany Lowe. In the last picture is my JC Penney Chinoiserie bench and my pagoda mirror dressed up in a velvet ribbon. Click on the photos to enlarge.