Sunday, February 4, 2018

New Design Project

One day after picking up her sons from school, Ali decided to do something different: take a detour onto her favorite tree-lined street dotted with storybook homes. Ali spotted a For Sale sign in front of a gracious Colonial with perfect symmetry, wide shutters, and a flat yard that would be ideal for a ball game. Without hesitation, she toured the property that evening and, next morning, came back with her husband Jeremy. They both felt "that" instant connection.

After purchasing the house, Ali and Jeremy asked me to help create beautiful and serene interiors that would also be friendly and relaxed. I learned that this was actually their first home, but they were not in a rush to furnish it. Instead, they wanted to approach decorating in an organic way; find the right pieces and gradually add layers. That was music to my ears as I believe in loving everything you have.

I'm thrilled to share photos of this design project plus tips on mixing old and new, light and dark, as well as different styles and periods. A very special thanks to Ali and Jeremy for inviting us into their lovely home.
Located in the original part of the home, the dining room is the smallest room on the main floor. But it has an airiness thanks to the light walls and bare floors, which are a breeze to clean up after meals.

Around an antique French farm table, which Ali and Jeremy found at my shop years ago for their former apartment, I grouped a set of antique Swedish painted chairs. Yes, it's okay to mix French with Swedish, and dark wood with painted surfaces. A collected-over-time look with furnishings that do not match is much more interesting!

Let's chat function. For the chairs, I chose unupholstered backrests so that my clients would not have to worry about little finger prints staining fabrics on the backs. What about the seats? Well, those have all been Scotchgarded. 
To keep the look current, I hung a modern lantern from Circa. I especially appreciate its open design in this small space.

Over the antique Swedish Gustavian sideboard is a round mirror from Ballard. Yes, Ballard, the catalog company! Don't these two pair up wonderfully together? Good design is available at every price point.   
Because this is an older house, there are radiators under many windows. In lieu of curtains that wouldn't draw properly with the radiators, I chose custom woven shades in a fabulous tone-on-tone color. I ordered extra length and had them installed high up to give the illusion of taller windows. Also, when the shade is up we do not lose any light as the stack sits above the glass panes. The shades finish the windows in a casual yet tailored way. I love their texture!
Now a look at art and accessories. A pair of contemporary cloud paintings continue the calm atmosphere while introducing color. For a little more pop, I tucked in verdant houseplants such as the Maidenhair and Variegated Club Foot Ferns, which also add life as well as texture. The dark wall clock contrasts with the collection of white ironstone china, keeping the palette from being too pale. 
Please come into Ali and Jeremy's living room. Each time I visit, I like to steal a few moments to sit here - it's my favorite! This was probably the most challenging to decorate. Though generous in proportion, there are six doorways / openings that lead here, so every piece of furniture had to be thoughtfully placed with traffic in mind.

To unify the furnishings, I had an oversized area rug custom made for this lengthy space - note the jogs around the fireplace hearth and staircase. The rug is a forgiving wool with a crisscross striation that gives it depth. All the rugs have been Scotchgarded. 

Speaking of fireplace, I intentionally left the brick surround and hearth natural - painting those white would have made this focal point flat. Plus, the old brick has such character.  

Over the fireplace is a French Impressionist painting from the 1930-40s, about the same period that this house was built. Flanking the painting are outdoor lanterns in an aged zinc finish. I wanted the room to have a garden spirit. A zinc jardiniere planted with trailing ivy is another gesture to the garden. 
Serene and sophisticated is how I would describe this inviting living space. The tailored seating features updated, clean lines. Because there are no curtains, I skirted the sofa and club chairs to further soften the room. By the way, there are more seating plus wall accessories coming.

Greens, blues and a hint of black accent the neutral palette. All the walls are painted the same shade of white for visual flow.

For the pillows, color inspiration came from the French landscape painting. Note the velvet backside and narrow flange with tiny corner pleats. Many thanks to my workroom for executing these details so exquisitely!  
The green Mora clock and secretary desk, both from my shop, are Swedish from the 18th century. They add height while lifting the eye up. The coffee table is from Ballard. I may specialize in one-of-a-kind pieces, but that doesn't mean I don't shop the box stores or retail chains.  
I hope you've enjoyed Ali and Jeremy's beautiful home. They have been such a pleasure to work with. Many, thanks to them!

I look forward to sharing their family room and expansive master bedroom, both located in the addition of the house. There is more color as well as pattern in the casual family room - stay tuned.

If you are interested in design services, please email me at I'd love to chat with you about your home!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shop News!

Hello, friends - I hope your new year is off to a bright and beautiful start!

Speaking of bright, we've had a couple of snowfalls that dusted our cottage in ❄❅❆ . . .
As much as I love the whiteout, I'm already wishing for an early spring. It's been unbearably frigid in the DC area, and even colder up in Maine when Tom and I visited at the beginning of this month. Daytime highs hovered around 10℉ - that's COLD! Why were we there?

I'm thrilled to announce that Tone on Tone has just joined the York Antiques Gallery in York, Maine - one of the finest antiques and decorative arts group shops in New England. The gallery has long been a favorite source for dealers, decorators, and devotees of antiques ranging from country furnishings to coastal art. There is a strong emphasis on garden ornaments in addition to pieces with patina. You'll find our inventory in one of the rooms (originally horse stalls) on the main floor of the converted 19th-century barn. If you are nearby, do make time to shop the stalls. I always leave with something special!

Here's a peek of our room at the York Antiques Gallery in southern Maine:
In Maryland, our store has been refreshed and restyled with lots of new arrivals. Here are the latest. Click on photos to enlarge.
Above is a 19th-century Swedish Gustavian painted vitrine cabinet / bookcase that would make a handsome statement in any room. The body is only 14" deep, so it would even fit in a narrow hall.

I love the look of painted furniture mixed with dark wood as shown below. The circa 1830s French Louis Philippe armoire in walnut, with a rich patina, anchors all the light furniture in this neutral space. Plus the contrast helps the individual pieces to each stand out. BTW, the armoire transports easily as it is fully collapsible.
Perhaps my favorite large-scale piece of furniture is the secretary desk, which would have held the household's important documents, books, silver, etc. And, it would have been the home's prized possession commanding a place of prominence.

This 18th-century Swedish Rococo one is quite sculptural with its arched top, shaped doors, and curvy feet. Inside is the lightest shade of robin's egg blue. There is a shallow ledge to display books, sheets, documents, etc.
From the Gustavian gray color to the classical details, this pale beauty chest is the definition of understated Swedish elegance. It measures 41.5" wide x 16.75" deep x 31.5" high.

Would you keep the vignette neutral or add color via accessories and flowers? Throughout winter, I find myself bringing home more colorful blooms for little pops of color. How about you?    
Measuring only 25.75" wide x 14" deep x 31" high, this petite French chest with three drawers has ample storage to boot. Note the faux painted marble top. Wouldn't it be charming in a small space like a foyer, bathroom, or even on a staircase landing?
Here is another small chest of drawers (28" wide x 18" deep x 32.5" high). This one has graphic lines with a wraparound reeded frieze plus fretwork base, which is quite unusual.
Perhaps you have a set of dining furniture, and are looking for a way to freshen the matchy-matchy decor? How about keeping the table and chairs but swapping out the sideboard / server / buffet? Changing that one piece will really update the room without having to replace anything else.  

Here is a 60" long Swedish Gustavian sideboard with a fabulous form. The curved sides step back in such a gracious manner, and those delicate feet give an airiness despite the size. Paired with traditional dining furniture, this gray sideboard would really break up the sea of mahogany, walnut, cherry, etc.   
Now a look at tables starting with this pair of small demi-lune consoles measuring 28" wide x 14" deep x 29" high each. These are especially graceful with their fluted slender legs. The aprons are carved with a leaf-tip motif - a Gustavian hallmark. I am a fan of symmetry, so I'd place one demi-lune on each side of a door opening, fireplace, etc.
Next is a Swedish blue-gray round table (26.75" diam x 27" high) that would be lovely nestled between two club chairs, or at the end of a sofa. Other than the reeded apron, there is an overall restraint and simplicity. 
In addition to fresh flowers, I always incorporate plants indoors as they bring life to every room. While at the garden center, this variegated club foot fern with its wispy foliage caught my eye, so I decided to purchase it as gift for a friend. Here are photos of the fern at Tone on Tone before it went out. 

The fern sits on an early Spanish desk with shapely trestle base and a top painted to resemble stone. Wouldn't this simple vignette be striking behind a sofa? I'd layer a wire basket full of favorite books underneath.
That's all for this post. Please go to our website for more info. If you have any questions, email me directly at . I hope you'll visit us in Maryland and / or in Maine!
With many thanks and hugs,
PS - Look for more updates on my INSTAGRAM.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christmas 2017: Antiques and the Garden

Welcome Christmas 2017 🌟 It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Hello, friends - Have you started decorating for Christmas and the holidays? Do you go all out with dazzling lights, seasonal colors, and a grand tree? Tom and I are nearly done and, once again, our decor is on the subtle side with a mix of old and new. 

This year I selected a theme that is very personal and dear: antiques and the garden. My inspiration came from the garden with many items borrowed from our potting shed. Crusty terracotta pots, vintage trugs and baskets, old watering cans, burlap cloths, jute twines, velvety moss, pinecones of all sizes, and tole botanical ornaments are juxtaposed with period furnishings. I love combining the utilitarian with curated antiques.

Just as in years past, I chose a tabletop tree which has become my signature. Ever since I saw this...              
...1848 engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle in the London Illustrated News, I have been obsessed with these elevated little beauties. The article stated that each member of the royal family had his or her own tree atop a personal table covered with presents. Don't you love it? I find their gesture of giving the tree a place of prominence on a table so civilized.

Immediately following the article, Victorian England soon copied those tabletop creations, making them fashionable and eventually common. When Godey's Lady's Book, a popular American women's magazine, published a similar print (below) in 1850, the craze for household Christmas trees spread to this side of the Atlantic. Most of the early trees were simply trimmed with homemade accoutrements at first, but became fancier as demand for imported German ornaments grew. Eventually the ornaments became bigger as did the trees.   
More illustrations of Victorian Christmas trees at Windsor.
BELOW: An early print with gleeful children on Christmas Eve.
Here is our little Christmas tree dressed in a simple but festive way to celebrate the garden. Tom and I decided to set it up among our antiques at Tone on Tone so that we could share it with friends and clients. Hope you'll come see it!
Let's check out the details. For the tablecloth, I went with a burlap round cloth in a 120" size which allows for a lot of puddling. It's not lined or pleated as I wanted a casual, unstructured drape.
The Fraser Fir is actually sitting in a glass vase (with water) nested inside an old terracotta pot. Around the pot is a Victorian cast iron tree fence dating from the 1880s. Aren't those little gates charming?
Terracotta pots, originally used to start seedlings, in sizes ranging from 3" x 3" to 4" x 4" are filled with mini pinecones over a bed of moss. In lieu of glittery wrapped boxes, Kraft paper ones tied with braided twine borrowed from the potting shed give these presents an unfussy vibe.
Sitting under the rare 18th-century architectural wooden swag from a chateau's puppet theater is a leaping stag or reindeer weathervane from the early 1900s. The patina on this reindeer is just superb. For more on weathervanes, please visit my post here.
Gilded tole flowers, golden glass pinecones as well as copper twine lights give the tree a luminous glow.
Here is another vignette from our shop. An antique toy horse sits on an early Spanish table with faux painted stone top. Under the table is an old French garden basket (not for sale - sorry) that was a gift from my dear friend Gail. With just a few oversized ornaments from Pottery Barn, it looks rather festive. See how I mix old and new??!!
Something I look forward to bringing out every December is this pair of faux boxwood candle wreaths or bobeches.
A Swedish Rococo painted secretary is styled with a small garden trug filled with Nandina berries and foliage plus pomegranates. Gathering from Mother Nature gives your holiday home an organic, fresh feel.
Another antique architectural element is this zinc laurel wreath. I like to include objects here and there that beckon to be picked up and admired.
Speaking of wreaths, this fragrant one currently hangs over our kitchen sink at home - makes me happy staring at it while doing dishes. It also adds a pop of color to the white-on-white palette.
The ribbon is wired burlap in white. Again, I continued the garden theme with the burlap.
More fruit and berries: tiny lady apples dress up a diminutive iron urn while orange pepper berries in a watering can brighten our entry.
What do you think of our Christmas decor this year? Please let me know. For more, follow along on my INSTAGRAM where I'll be sharing new photos and videos. If you have questions, please email me at .

Thanks very much for your continued friendship and support. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


PS - Here is a recap of our tabletop trees from past Christmases. Enjoy! 
ABOVE 3 PHOTOS: Last year's Noble Fir came from our property in Maine. The theme was silver and white.
ABOVE: This tree from a few years ago was decorated in a wintry way with dusted snow, mercury glass and icicles.

BELOW 3 PHOTOS: Another fir from Maine, this Charlie Brown tree was unusually sparse. I went with a woodland theme and layered it with birds, mossy nests with quail eggs, and pinecones. It was illuminated with votive candles.