Leopard and Roses

Is there anything more inviting about a room than warm colors, rich textures, and fresh flowers? This photo caught my eye while browsing Antiques Shops & Designers Magazine this morning.  It's an advertisement for Caroline Ellsworth Antiques in Houston, Texas. I've not had the pleasure of visiting Houston, but when I do someday, I'll be sure to visit Ellsworth's shop. 

There must be as many fabulous antique shops in Houston as there are snow banks in Boston during January (January 2011, to be exact).

Contemporary Roses

It was a toe-numbing 17 degrees outside yesterday morning, which means the piles of snow aren't going anywhere for awhile. We are at the height of winter where the days are a bit drab and the sun is still setting around 4:30 in the afternoon. It's days like this that I crave fresh flowers to brighten the house. 

I decided to experiment with a contemporary arrangement so I bought this inexpensive steel container at a local garden center (I must have been the only customer within five miles.  The employees seemed a little startled when I opened the door).  A quick drive home with two bunches of roses, a big piece of floral foam, and ten minutes later the arrangement was finished.

My house doesn't have a fireplace, so I'm burning scented candles like crazy at this time of year.

A close-up...

For variation, I added a white ceramic tray and two silver boxes...

Back to work today after a long weekend.  Have a warm week!

My Fantasy Cubicle

The words "fantasy" and "cubicle" are not often used in the same sentence. Fantasy brings to mind imagination, freedom, and extravagance.  Cubicle conjures up restraint, harsh lighting, and office politics. 

Employers are in business to earn profits, not to cater to their employees' taste.  But it must be said:  I loathe my cubicle.  Like strip malls, cubicles are at best ubiquitous and at worst, ugly. Many aspects of my job are satisfying.  My cubicle, however, is not one of them.

We were blanketed with snow yesterday for the second time in two weeks, allowing me to work from home.  After work, I thought about decorating my ideal office space. Here are my choices:

Farrow & Ball Silvergate damask wallpaper to replace the unfortunate rust-colored cubicle walls.  I firmly believe that the color rust should be banned from the workplace.  Rust is decay and there is nothing uplifting or motivating about this color, so why bring it into the workplace?

This Louis XVI style chair from Wisteria

Parsons desk from West Elm

Adjustable Library Table Lamp from Circa Lighting

Apple iBook

I'd hang this Marie Antoinette plaque on the wall. I know what you're thinking. She's not exactly a working woman's role model, is she?  I didn't know it was Marie Antoinette until after I chose the piece. Really, I didn't.

Fresh flowers on my desk every day would be a luxury. White and blush pink roses are my favorites.

So far, so good, but things get complicated. The Mont Blanc fountain pen, celebrating the 100th birthday of Greta Garbo, quickened my pulse.  It's a beauty "with a hand-crafted rhodium-plated 18K gold nib" and the clip is set with a 5.25 mm round Akoya pearl. Curious, I wanted to know more.  Instead of showing the purchase price, the website invites one to call a Mont Blanc concierge for details.  I know what this means, but told myself I'll call just "for fun".  My inquiry did not last long as the pen costs the better part of a mortgage payment.  Apparently, rhodium gives platinum a run for its money.  

A gold-rimmed china cup and saucer from Replacements, Ltd. for my morning coffee. No paper cups for me.  I'll gladly wash the cup myself.

Soon I will be back in my cubicle, grateful as ever for my job and my 401K.  In the meantime, there is no harm in a little fantasy.  Common sense keeps me from dragging wallpaper and table lamps to the office.  Instead, I just hum along to the same tune everybody else does. 
With a smile.

A Dallas Designer's Home For Sale

Does this look familiar?

During a recent web browsing session, I came across these photos of Dallas designer Shannon Bowers's beautiful home on Sotheby's website. The interiors, furnished with French and Swedish antiques, will be instantly recognizable to Veranda magazine readers since the home was featured in the September 2008 issue of Veranda. I remember marveling over these interiors when my issue arrived that month. Antiques, soft colors, and abundant sunshine filled every room. And now, to see even more photos of the home on Sotheby's website is a bonus. This naturally lead me to compare the rooms from Sotheby's website to the Veranda photos (all Veranda photos by Peter Vitale).

But first, here is the exterior of the house.  It's just as beautiful and well manicured as one would expect for this home. Neatly trimmed boxwood hedges and topiary (at least it appears to be boxwood) frame the entrance.

Here is the front entry from Sotheby's website.  The soft colors of the rug complement the pale floors and white walls.  A few key antiques are allowed to shine.  Compare this to the photo below from Veranda, which presents the room from a different angle.

Moving on to the living room, below, this photo is a wide angle shot from  Sotheby's website. 

Ah, so this is the entire room, above (from Sotheby's), instead of the small portion of the room Veranda showed, below. I was curious to know the context of the trumeau and daybed in the Veranda photo.  Where in the house was the photo taken?  And now we know--it's part of a larger living room.  Of course, the difference in views is not surprising as we all know that the photos for a real estate listing should help the viewer see as many rooms as possible and the purpose of the magazine spread is to highlight the designer's work.

And here, below, is Sotheby's photo of the other half of the room.

And compare that to the photo below that appeared in Veranda.

A few of the chairs in the Veranda photo are different from those in Sotheby's photo and the Veranda shot includes a cream-colored rug, which doesn't appear in Sotheby's photo.  Also, the table in front of the sofa is different in each photo and the pillows on the sofa in the Veranda photo are Fortuny.  The pillows appear to be linen in Sotheby's photo.

This is my favorite photo, which is the dining room with a view into the kitchen.  What a beautiful room in which to have dinner after a long day at the office (I digress...). The blue and green painted doors are fully visible and at the center of the room is a worn, light colored, painted table.  Compare this to the Veranda photo below.

The dining chair seats are covered in pale blue linen in Veranda's photo.  The table is smaller and a dark color.  Also, there is a bench in Veranda's photo which does not appear in Sotheby's photo.  I think I prefer the room with the cream colored seats on the chairs and the larger white dining table.

Above is another living room / seating area in the home from Sotheby's.   Compare this to the photo from Veranda below.  Again, there are some subtle differences in the home. The rug is gone and a dark bench replaces the light bench that was in Veranda's photo.  The art is different as well in Sotheby's photo.

The photo below of a library/office did not appear in the magazine.  It's a nice sized room with plenty of shelves and storage space. It's sparsely furnished, but the dark stained table is highlighted by all the white wood work.  The pale, bleached floors are beautiful and remind me of beach sand.  They give the rooms a calm and serene look.  The same look can be achieved by using sisal, wool, or sea grass rugs (but sisal and wool are more susceptible to stains).

The children's playroom, below, as shown on Sotheby's website.  I like the wood shelving unit and baskets.  There's plenty of room for storing toys, books, and games.

And here is how the same room appeared in Veranda, below.

And the pretty bedroom for a little girl, behind the french doors off the playroom, is shown below, from Sotheby's website.  This room appears to be the same as it was in Veranda, except that the colors are not as vibrant in this photo and the lavender rug is gone.

The bedroom below did not appear in the magazine, at least not decorated like this.  It looks like it could be a guest room and there's a view out the window to the garden.

But Veranda also included a baby boy's room, below.  I wonder if the room above is the same room, redecorated for an older child?

The master bedroom, below, is dressed in neutral linen punctuated with touches of lavender, as it appeared in Veranda. 

The furnishings in the master bedroom, below, on Sotheby's site are pared down. Roman shades are used on the windows here, where most of the other rooms have wood shutters on the windows.

It's surprising that Sotheby's photos do not include the kitchen, shown below in Veranda.  I wonder what their rationale was for not including it on the website.

There is also an outdoor deck with a dining area and separate seating area. The furnishings look just as expected, based on the interior of the home.

The listing also mentions separate guest quarters on the property, below.  It's a charming house in its own right. 

Here's a view of the interior of the guest house, including a lovely bedroom with two twin beds and a bathroom.   Who wouldn't like to stay here for a few nights?

This is such a beautifully furnished home that it's difficult to imagine what it looks like empty.  It's clearly a spacious property that's well cared and I would think it will (or did?) sell quickly.  The difference in real estate prices across the country continues to amaze me.  The listing price of this home would be twice as much in the Boston area.

To learn more about the home, click the Sotheby's link in the first paragraph above and to see the Veranda article, click the link to the magazine in the same paragraph.

Ruffled Roses

I recently had a birthday and received a dozen beautiful long-stemmed coral roses.  For reasons only mother nature knows, they quickly began to wilt. I couldn't stand the thought of throwing them away, so to salvage the flowers I trimmed the stems, wrapped them with wire, and hung the roses upside down from a mirror to dry. Still pretty enough for a photo.