Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November Greetings

Well, it's been a while! Great to be back on the blog. All good here, just lots going on.

To start, we recently received a packed 40-foot container at the shop. That's twice the amount of antique goodies we normally bring over from Europe. And, that's twice the amount of dusting! Tom and I have been busier than Santa's elves. Here's a sneak peek:
An early Scandinavian Neoclassical chest-on-chest with a graphic Greek key frieze and four wrought iron handles. This is a large piece that makes a statement, so give it a place of prominence. A pair of Italian giltwood candelabras with wrought iron arms play up those big iron handles on the chest. For more drama, I've hung an Italian sunburst mirror with an unusual form resembling a flower.

The early Mora clock next to the chest is Swedish Rococo from the 18th century.
The Neoclassical bookcase is sold, so please focus on the pair of barrel back chairs. Sculptural and comfortable, the barrel back chair is a coveted Swedish chair model. These have sweeping sabre legs to boot. Newly upholstered in our signature greige linen, they are ready for holiday guests.
A tone-on-tone palette! This pair of Swedish Gustavian console tables are from the last shipment, but I'm featuring them again because they fit the Neoclassical theme in this post.
A collection of cast plaster architectural plaques from an atelier in Paris. Speaking of Paris, our thoughts and prayers are with friends, colleagues and everyone there, and throughout France.
L E T   T H E R E   B E   L I G H T !
During these months when daylight is shortest, I understand why the Swedes rely on their palette of wintery whites and dove grays to brighten interiors.

A pair of Swedish Gustavian chairs pulled up to a pedestal table. The Danish Royal Copenhagen bisqueware plaque is a copy of Day by Bertel Thorvaldsen.
 An 18th century Swedish stepback vitrine cabinet with geometric lines. Inside is a collection of antique Creil creamware from France - notice how their octagonal form echos the angles of the vitrine. 
Much, much more in the new shipment - please stop in to see it all.

At this time of year, I normally bring out my collection of antique brown-and-white transferware. But, I'm thrilled to say the collection has found a new home. Yes, I'm paring down, becoming a minimalist. Just kidding! I am running out of room at home, as the other collections (creamware, ironstone, salt glaze, mercury glass, etc) have grown considerably.

Remember my friend and client, Ceane, with the smart kitchen makeover?? She adopted the collection, and is keeping it intact - THANK YOU, Ceane! (I did hold back a few pieces but, shhhh, don't tell Tom.) 
Just in time for Thanksgiving. Ceane and I decided the transferware should go in the built-ins of her beautiful dining room. There's still room to layer in more pieces, so it will be exciting to grow the collection. We are now working on wall art.
This little guy approves :)

By the way, are you on Instagram (IG)? I am: @LoiThai 
Look for daily posts + a MAJOR announcement coming soon.

Here are a couple of recent shares on IG:
 Fall inside and outside our 99-year old home.
I've also teamed up with three friends (Erin, Kelly, and Shannon) for a #RestyleAndRefresh Instagram challenge to showcase decor changes in our homes. These can be new vignettes, holiday accents and / or refreshes of any kind.

If you are on IG, follow the four of us and post your photos with #RestyleAndRefresh for a chance to be featured on our IG accounts and blogs.

Now meet my co-hosts:

 Erin of The Sunny Side Up
First up is Erin who recently built a gorgeous new home - lots of inspiration and ideas on her blog! Above is her stunning dream kitchen. Feel free to also share Instagram photos of updates in your kitchen, etc.
 Shannon of Fox Hollow Cottage
Shannon fills her cottage with charm and collected pieces - she's a styling genius! Her vignettes are creative and approachable. I love Shannon's fall mantelscape with its patina and texture. Go ahead and share your fall Instagram vignettes with us.
  Kelly of Eclectically Vintage
Kelly's 100-year old home is cool and eclectic, just like she! If you want fun, fabulous home projects, pop over to Kelly's blog and, while there, check out her holiday decor such as the above Christmas mantel with festive mercury glass. Kelly and the rest of us want to see your Christmas photos on Instagram.

 Here are two recent #RestyleAndRefresh photos we selected:
ABOVE: A cheerful Christmas corner in Alma's home, which is bright and beautiful. Check out her IG site.

BELOW: Bec's awesome living room styled and layered effortlessly for Christmas. Here's her IG site.
Whew! This post is long enough, so more next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Castine Fall Foliage

It's foliage season once again in New England. Maine, which is nearly half of New England and predominately forested, is ablaze with fall colors now. Maine's hilly terrain, red blueberry fields and water reflections all heighten nature's brilliant display. So go see the golden birches, fiery maples and scarlet oaks at their peaks.

And might I suggest a visit to our seaside town of Castine? The many historic homes, painted crisp white, are especially stunning against the vibrant hues. Here's a quick look from our stay last week.
Hello, sunshine :) Happy, bold and gutsy, this sunflower-yellow door framed by whimsical trim livens historic Castine. LOVE IT! With an autumnal wreath and yellow mums, it looks especially welcoming.
Don't miss the sugar maples on the village green where the Adams School (above) and Castine Historical Society (below) are located.
In addition to the foliage, many late summer and fall flowers (dahlias, sunflowers, mums, asters, etc.) were still putting on a show. Our hedge of 18 Limelight Hydrangeas, which we planted last summer, was covered with blooms all tinged with a dusty rose. For a casual supper with friends, I clipped an armful for an arrangement in the antique urn. I also gifted a few bunches to our friends.   
We had a couple of damp, foggy days where the landscape appeared dreamlike. Good thing I had my chunky sweater, wool socks and a cup of hot chocolate :)
PS - See more from last fall here.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

A DIY Chalkboard

Ceane, my friend and client, and I were chatting about all the changes in her newly updated kitchen (the one I wrote about here), and what else was left for us to tackle. Artwork came up, and I knew we had to inject a pop of something bold, colorful and fun for this family of five. Ceane and her husband have three adorable children plus a mischievous puppy. I immediately thought of an oversized chalkboard. How cute would it be to have the kids create their own art?! Plus it would certainly keep them busy while mom and dad make supper. And, the chalkboard would add a cool yet casual vibe to this historic home.

Before we look at the chalkboard, let's recap the kitchen makeover:
Instead of gutting the kitchen, we had the cabinets repainted. New appliances replaced tired and dated ones. New Calacatta Gold marble countertops, 4" x 8" subway tiles, and divided-light windows brought back classic charm to a space that had been previously renovated with a hodgepodge of materials. The piece de resistance, which we all agree, is the unlacquered brass faucet over a farmhouse-style sink - both added during the makeover. I suggested the unlacquered brass finish to complement the original brass hardware that we reused. 
ABOVE: The gleaming faucet set about a month ago.
BELOW: Today the 'living' patina is a bit darker, more mellow. It's interesting to see the finish change weekly.
I'm guessing in a year or so, the patina on the faucet set will resemble the old brass knobs and bin pulls.
Now let's check out that chalkboard. At 72" high x 56" wide, it makes a huge statement! Because of the custom size, we decided to make it ourselves. Okay, Ceane's handyman helped...a little. Okay, a lot :)
Here's what we did:

1) Used blue tape to mock up various sizes.
2) Selected already-primed stock moldings (window and door casings) for the frame.
3) Nailed the moldings to the wall. (Most lumberyards will miter cut moldings.) Then painted the frame.
4) After research, Ceane selected Rust-Oleum's Specialty 30 oz. Flat Black Chalkboard Paint.
5) Applied 3 coats of paint, letting each coat dry completely. Tip: use blue tape to cover frame to keep paint off.

One final step I learned from Ceane: the entire chalkboard must be conditioned / seasoned by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk onto the painted surface; then the residue wiped away with a barely damp sponge or paper towel. Otherwise the first image drawn will be 'etched' in the painted surface, leaving a shadow even after wiping.  
The kids could hardly wait for the paint to dry - didn't take them long to start having fun! The chalkboard is also great for homework such as practicing for a spelling bee.
And wouldn't it be cute to write the menu for a casual meal in the kitchen?

While there photographing, I also did a little styling. Here's a peek of the living room. By the way, Tom and I just installed this antique French gilded mirror from Tone on Tone. I gathered a bunch of white pumpkins and a couple of blue-and-white bowls, and voila: simple yet festive for fall!
Do you remember my antique Moroccan coffee table and French haystack painting? A special thanks to our friend Ashley for her help in placing these pieces in this loving home :) 

The sofa, clubchair and ottoman are from Crate and Barrel. Small footstool from Tone on Tone. Sconces from Aidan Gray. Indigo fabric on pillow is Jasper by Michael Smith. Dining room lantern from Circa Lighting. Paint color Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. 
I hope you've enjoyed seeing more of this beautiful home. Ceane, you're the best - thank you!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Accents

Happy fall!

During my drive to the shop this past Monday morning, I actually had the heat on. The season is, once again, changing. The parched landscape will soon be rehydrated and revitalized. Golden hues will be replaced by rich jewel tones. And it will be time to focus on fall decor. What do you do to welcome fall?

The entry is always an easy place to incorporate seasonal accents. You can change out the foyer rug / doormat, add a festive arrangement, hang a wreath, etc. None of those requires major effort or expense. Keep in mind, also, that those are seasonal, so have fun!

At our home, I'm keeping it natural and neutral. Guests are greeted by a wheat wreath in a subtle honey color. I gathered a few branches and twigs from the garden (and the mall :) for a woodsy arrangement in a glass hurricane. For softness, stems of dried hydrangeas, especially Limelights with their autumnal rosy shades, would look pretty mixed with branches.
Our foyer is rather small with a low but charming barrel ceiling. The furnishings are simple and airy. Despite the room's petite status, it's appointed graciously with a large mirror to reflect light, a narrow console for guests' belongings, and stools should someone need to remove muddy boots.
As soon as the weather cools off even more, white Lumina pumpkins will go out on the loggia. Come October, my collection of brown-and-white transferware will be back in action for fall entertaining. See them here. By the way, I am thinning my collection, and will be taking some of the transferware to the shop.

Speaking of the shop, the tone-on-tone fall theme continues there. For this Belgian bleached dining table in front of a wall of ironstone china, I created a centerpiece using Lumina and Baby Boo white pumpkins, naturally-shed antlers, dried hydrangeas, and votive candles - all in shades of pale!  
With a monochromatic palette, there has to be texture to keep it from going flat. Notice the contrast of the creamy pumpkins against the driftwood-like patina of the oakwood. And how delicate the crepe-like hydrangeas look next to the antlers.

Here are more photos of the 19th-century Belgian table. I'd love to see it in a kitchen for casual dining. Or perhaps as a desk in a study. 
Now for something shocking: O R A N G E! 

This antique American stables sign was calling for something vibrant. Cheerful pumpkins were perfect. Hand carved and painted on both sides in autumnal hues, this is just top quality signage. Over a mantel, it would add authentic farmhouse charm!
Here I've grouped the sign with a mix of antique and vintage items: English Victorian wirework plantstand, French watering can, ironstone china and factory stool. The oak branches with leaves are real! They've been preserved / sprayed.
Enjoy the cooler temps!