Monday, January 6, 2014

Refine, Refine and Refine

As promised, this post will be about one of my Great Design Changes, making me think back again to the Great Vowel Change once discussed years ago in my History of English Language course.  It always sort of made me snicker when the professor spoke so excitedly about something not many students found significant at all.  So, if you snicker as you read about this influence that I found very significant, I will understand.  Snicker away!  My professor would probably think it pay-back.

Just to refresh your memories, below are a few images of a style I once loved earlier - taken from my early posts.  The first image is of bedrooms from Andrew and Betsy Wyeth's restored mill in Brandywine, PA.  (I can't figure out how to tag my posts, so I just "captioned" their dates for your reference.)
Wyeth Influence, Feb. 2012 post

The next from am interior of another PA home - this time combining antiques with rooms so spare that walls have no foot molding.  And all is in the frame of the original stone house in PA.
Still in PA, March 6, 2012

Bedroom from this same home.  Looking at these images again, I still love this style especially in the winter.
Still in Pa, March 6, 2012
Then in 1987, I discovered Hugh Newell Jacobsen and fell in love with his white, spare interiors in old Nantucket structures.  He definitely triggered a change in my style.
Nantucket: June 17, 2012
Especially love it in the summer.
Nantucket: June17, 2012

But, a home in this 1996 issue of House and Garden really caught my attention and triggered another real change in my design style.  

You see, this old, restored house in Connecticut has the antique-iness of the Pennsylvania homes, the spareness of Jacobsen, but is filled with very carefully chosen collections and antiques - all refined, all with things "taken away".  It really spoke to me and fostered another grand purge in my own home - my husband called it purging, I called it refining.

I love the Liaigre daybeds in the living room below, but I really have never understood their function.  When entertaining, do guests perch on the day beds, or lay on them?  Either way seems awkward, but they sure look great.  (Am I being too much of a decor Philistine here?) 
The fabric in the whole house was  very carefully chosen and is so very beautiful.

Every object is also carefully chosen.  "Even refrigerator shelves are impeccable, with bottles, cheeses and chocolates all in the same neutral palette.  And in the kitchen cabinets, plastic freezer bags are taken out of their original boxes, and rolled up neatly in white baskets."  I so admire this dedication to refinement and am still working on mine.  Sadly, my refrigerator does not contain a neutral palette yet.

The antique table paired with Christian Liaigre chairs reminds me a bit of the Nantucket dining room from above.  This image triggered my interest in Liaigre - more about this designer in a future post.

And it does within all the white.

Note below that the sponge, slippers and cologne are all the same tone.  The vessels on the vanity are the same tone as the bowl on the floor.   The soapstone vanity matches the counters in the kitchen.  Such attention to detail is so cool!

Owners removed all of foundation plantings to reveal the purity of the house's exterior.

The home was covered the next year in Marie Claire.  Since I do not speak French, I was glad to know the details from House and Garden.

I looked up most of what the text reads.  "A Tribute to Refinement.  In this antique Connecticut farmhouse, great attention is given to objects by two American women resulting in quiet perfection and comfort through their hard work."  Something like that.  By the by, the owners and refiners of this home are Barbara Dente and Donna Cristina.

Same dining room image but with a glimpse of their china and even more crystal candle holders.

Better views of  the kitchen which of course if love.  They have a Viking stove,  I have a Viking.  Made me feel like a kindred spirit with these women in a tiny way.

Another great view of the daybeds.  For years, I have been trying to figure out the rods in the windows.  Do you suppose they are a refined lock for the windows instead of brass latches?  

The juxtaposition of the old mantel and the white walls, the crystal and the carefully chosen rocks, the antique chair with contemporary Liaigre lounge - they all speak to me.

So there you have it - a home that was a real wake-up call to my decorating sensibilities and still is.  Could I change my own home to match this beauty?  Perhaps, if I won the lottery.  Till that time and the era of my five houses, I will continue to use this home's inspiration to refine the one home that I love - mine.

Till next time, stay warm-