Robert Brown, House Beautiful Well, not really a screenplay today--more like screen play. Not many words here so mostly photos, but certainly a little drama. There is something about a beautifully decorated folding screen that never fails to get my attention.
Screen from Art Deco Collection,
It's a versatile enough to serve as portable art hanging on a wall or as a room divider.
Barbara Ohrbach, House Beautiful
Use a small screen to cover a fireplace opening when not in use.

Screen from Red Ticking,
Or, as a window treatment for extra privacy.

David Easton, Veranda
Or, really anywhere because no matter where you put the screen, it looks fabulous.

Virtual Renovation: A Small French Country Kitchen

When I'm not searching the internet for articles, photos, ideas and inspiration about interior design, I like to check the local online real estate ads. I'm looking to see what homes in my area are selling for or interior photos of homes that I've been by, but have never seen inside. My soft spot is for diamonds in the rough, which I could imagine renovating to my heart's content with little worry about the budget, plaster dust or hidden problems with the electrical system. I'd take a home that many have passed by and transform it into a gem. However, I've already renovated my home (except the kitchen!) and although eight years have passed, I'm not in a hurry to do another.

While surfing the net one day, I found a small apartment for sale in Boston and thought it would be fun to do a virtual makeover of its tiny kitchen to turn it into a pied-a-terre. The photo seemed to call to me for some help (and the pink tiles were doing all the talking). By the way, my guess is that any realtor showing this apartment would acknowledge that the kitchen could use an update and this post is certainly not meant to criticize the current owner (whomever that may be!). This is just my idea for what I'd do with this space if I were to buy the property. With that said, my idea was to add a little French country influence to this kitchen.
This 19th century painted pine sideboard was my starting point. After tearing out everything and installing new walls, floors, etc. I'd put the sideboard in the small alcove on the right for extra storage.
I'd install wood flooring similar to these antique floor boards. The texture of this wood may be too rustic for the space, but the warm color is perfect.

For a some cushioning underfoot and to protect the floor, I'd use this small indoor-outdoor khaki and white diamond patterned rug in front of the sink.
Next would come these white cabinets, possibly with extra tall upper cabinets for more storage. As for appliances, I don't care for those huge, expensive stainless steel refrigerators that have become status symbols these days. Therefore, the dishwasher and refrigerator doors would be paneled in the same material as the cabinets. I do like stainless steel stoves so would choose a small scale version or just a basic white stove. Antiqued brass pulls would be installed on the cabinets. The color of the metal is similar to the hardware on the sideboard. The counter tops would be Lagos Azul limestone to pick up the blue-gray paint of the buffet. I'd leave the back splash untiled and paint the walls C2 Paint's Milk Moustache, a soft white. If tile were necessary, I'd probably use the ubiquitous white subway tiles. This Perrin & Rowe faucet would be paired with a stainless steel sink. I'd add myrtle topiary either on the buffet or counter to add some greenery. For an overhead light, I'd choose this simple antique black lantern. Task lighting would be installed beneath the upper cabinets. Lastly, I'd hang these Claude Lorrain landscape prints over the buffet or along the back splash. So, here are all the elements assembled together again. Now that I've gone through this process, I realize that this look would suit my own home and larger kitchen very well! It's interesting how that happened. Anyway, this was a fun project and I hope to do more virtual renovations in the future. Pine Sideboard: - Cabinets and hardware: Plain & Fancy Cabinets - Floor: Chateau Domingue - Rug: Dash & Albert - Counter top: Louis Mian Stone - Lantern: - Art:

The Decoration of Houses (and gardens)

Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors. I've read several of her books including The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, and The Buccaneers and for as long as I've known about Edith Wharton, I've wanted to visit her estate, The Mount. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I made an early start on a crisp fall Saturday to Lenox, Massachusetts in The Berkshires to take a guided tour of The Mount. The trip did not disappoint. We had an excellent tour guide named Anne and with a small group of other visitors had a two hour tour of the interior of the home. Photographs are allowed inside the house, although flash photography is not permitted inside.
The estate Edith Wharton built was certainly a triumph, but her greatest accomplishment was that although she had no formal education she is one of America's most celebrated authors. Her education came from her childhood governesses and her love of reading whatever she could find in the vast library of her childhood home. She then went on to write over 40 books, including The Decoration of Houses which she wrote with architect Ogen Codman, Jr. The book is credited with establishing interior design as a profession in the United States. Edith Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Price for The Age of Innocence, receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University, and was the first woman to receive full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Edith Wharton was an incredibly inspiring woman. Imagine having a celebrated career based solely on an informal education and your passion for what comes naturally to you. Remarkable.
Much of the interior of the house is still unrenovated, but there is a lovely drawing room decorated by Charlotte Moss. I didn't take a photo because the room is a bit dark and flash photography is not permitted. The elegant pink dining room was decorated by Bunny Williams. What I found most beautiful in the dining room was this creamware tureen (part of a pair) on the sideboard. At least I believe it's creamware (obviously, this was not the place where one would pick up an item and turn it over a few times to check for marks!).

However, as equally impressive as the interior of the house are the formal gardens, inspired by the gardens of Italy. Although it's the middle of October, there were some hardy flowers still in bloom and the bubbling fountain reflected water the most lovely shade of green-blue.
This is a view of the fountain area from the steps of the house.

Here's a spot to sit and view the house....

Not the best photo, but this is one of the pergolas in the garden.....

There is a gift shop at The Mount with many of Edith Wharton's books for sale. I bought a copy of a recently published first edition of The Decoration of Houses and look forward to many hours of reading.

We arrived at The Mount a little early, so drove on to nearby Tanglewood first, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The grounds were open so we took a brisk walk. Here is a spectacular view from the lawn. The photo doesn't do it justice!
So, if you're ever in New England and you have an interest in interior design, literature and gardening, I highly recommend a visit to The Mount. It's open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, through November 1. For more details, visit the website here.

Blue No. 1

I discovered this beautiful painting while searching the internet for art, interiors, and antiques using the keyword "blue". It's by artist Daniel Edmondson and titled "White Blossoms in Antique Blue Vase". This painting has sold, but you can view other paintings by the artist at

French and Swedish Style Furnishings on a Budget

As mentioned before, I enjoy browsing to look at beautiful antiques, but of course the things that I would like to buy are well beyond my budget. Less often, I'll browse the website of the Boston auction house Skinner, Inc. which offers all kinds auctions including estate items that are not antiques and therefore more affordable. Sometimes, I’ll look at the site a few days after an auction and wish I had taken a day off from work (and rented a van!) to attend the auction and bid on a few things. The site lists the items up for bid a day before the auction, which doesn't allow for much planning. Also, a buyer's premium (18.5% of the sale price) and sales tax apply. Buyers have three business days after the auction to collect their items. Skinner also offers online bidding, but the buyer's premium increases to 22%. Still, it seems like a fun and affordable way to shop for furnishings with character.
There were several bargains to be found at the most recent auction, including this 20th century tin lantern, which sold for $326. It's too bad there weren't a pair of these. It could be used as a center piece or suspended over a dining table with a few candles.
Here’s another winner: A pine armoire including interior shelves used as an entertainment center sold for $148!! You couldn't buy a new piece of furniture of this size and character for that price. I really need something like this to hide my flat screen TV. It could be left as is or painted out in some nice Farrow & Ball paint too—perhaps a Swedish gray, blue, or taupe.

This sofa sold for $415. Wouldn’t it look great if it was reupholstered or slip covered in white or natural linen? A new seat cushion in plump down would be a nice touch too.
These gilt mirrors sold for $625, which is more than I would have paid especially since the one on the left is in such poor condition, but the mirror on the right looks terrific to me. It would be great propped on a wall in a living room, reflecting a fireplace with a roaring fire or in a bedroom as a dressing mirror.
This pair of 20th Century Louis XV style Fauteuils sold for $593. The upholstery is dated, but these could be so nice reupholstered in linen or even a Fortuny-style fabric.
A 20th Century Louis XVI style chair sold for $207. Again, this chair could be lovely once it's stripped of its unappealing gold paint and reupholstered in a plain linen or Swedish check fabric.
Painted Italian style bombe chest also sold for $207. I’m not sure if I’d refinish this or leave it as is. This would be great in a bedroom. A simple country pine chest also sold for $148. This would be useful for extra storage space in a kitchen, dining room or guest bedroom. I’d probably strip or repaint it in a pretty Farrow and Ball color or even distressed black paint with antique style brass hardware.

Eight classic French Limoges porcelain gilt dinner plates for $267. These would be pretty for a holiday table setting.
So, after seeing these pieces I’m going to make an effort to get to the next auction and hunt for some bargains. None of these furnishings are great antiques, but with a little time, do-it-yourself work and money you could have a few affordable and stylish pieces of "new" furniture.
All photos Skinner, Inc.