This late 19th-century French piece features a needlework bunch of silk velvet parrot tulips. The background is composed of hundreds of tiny irridescent glass beads, each hand-sewn onto the canvas. The framed piece is so heavy, it's difficult to hang. Currently, it is leaning against the wall in a bedroom. The pleated silk moire fabric on the back of the frame is original to the piece. Click photo to view detail.
At the bookstore Friday, I bought a copy of Vintage Vavoom: Romantic Decorating with One-of-a-Kind Finds and Simply Country. While neither book tells me anything I haven't read before - or discovered for myself - the photos are gorgeous. Vintage Vavoom is produced by the editors of Romantic Homes magazine and features some tips from Elizabeth Maxson, formerly of the St. Louis-based store Elizabeth House, who writes the blog The Adventures of Elizabeth. Carolyn Westbrook as well as Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy also offer ideas.
Simply Country or Easy Cottage Style as it is known in the US - is by British stylist Liz Bauwens and writer Alexandra Campbell. Simon Brown photographed the decors, which depict a faded country grandeur. Nothing - including valuable antiques - is considered too precious and everything is used constantly.
I believe in this philosophy. At our house we live with and use our antiques daily - and that includes fragile crystal glasses and 200-year-old porcelain. What's the point of having lovely things, if not to use and appreciate it?
Years ago someone told me about a young woman who had died quite suddenly. Her husband found a beautiful silk charmeuse gown, wrapped carefully in tissue paper in a dresser drawer, that she had been saving for a special occasion. I found that story deeply upsetting, imagining the young woman's unfulfilled dreams.
I think it is up to us to make each day special. After all, who knows how long we have to enjoy our beautiful things? Someday these antiques that once belonged to others will be owned by someone else. So while they're in my possession, I'm making full use of them!
When I was 13, I took my first plane trip to Chicago, where I was met by Dr. Edward and Ann Pfau, friends of my parents. They lived in an elegant two-story home near Madison, Wisconsin. What most impressed me was at every meal their table was set with silver, including silver goblets, chargers and serving dishes. Each morning they drank their orange juice out of silver cups.
At 13, this seemed to me like unimaginable luxury. How did they find the time to polish all that silver? They explained to me that if you used something all the time, it didn't need quite so much care and polish. Years later Mrs. Pfau gave me an elegant set of silver grapefruit spoons. Although I do not eat grapefruit, those spoons are currently on display in a French stoneware mustard jar in our kitchen.
What about you? Do you keep all your precious things stored away in a cupboard? Or do you make some of them part of your daily routine and rituals?
What is your favourite antique or collectible that was passed down through your family or that you purchased for yourself at an antiques shop or flea market?
The gilt-edged porcelain cup and saucer that once belonged to a man named "Pierre," dates from 1830. The gold gilt decoration is fading, but there are no cracks or damage anywhere to be found. Even the cup handle remains intact.
Antique passementerie adorns pillows made of vintage fabrics, as well as faded mattress ticking (above right).