Posts filed under Design

"Haute Brocante" Style at Home

I adore interiors that have been lovingly and beautifully gathered, added to, edited, and maintained over the years.  There’s a sense of the space almost taking on a life of its own.  It’s possible to create an environment from scratch that appears to have been collected over time, but it takes a great deal of talent and knowledge - not to mention the likelihood of costing a lot of money!  It’s wonderful to have decades to source the perfect antiques, art, or new, hip furniture and accessories - but what if you want it all done NOW? Fare spese!  (Italian for "go shopping")

An enormous part of my job as an interior designer consists of shopping.  Fun, huh?  But it’s shopping with purpose.  I love what I call “Haute Brocante” (aka The Mix: Price (High/Low), Age (Old/New), Style (ie: mixing Louis 16th/Industrial). Brocante means "Flea Market" and haute means "high" (as in Haute Couture = High Fashion), so it's "Elevated Flea Market" style.  It takes a LOT of shopping and amazing vendors to successfully - and quickly - create an interior space (or garden) that evokes a collected-over-time aesthetic.  Haute Brocante to the rescue!

 This room's decor WAS collected over time: inherited pieces, antiques added over the years, antique reproductions that are new, Paris flea market finds.

This room's decor WAS collected over time: inherited pieces, antiques added over the years, antique reproductions that are new, Paris flea market finds.

A few months before we moved to Italy, a new client called me and asked for help creating a Tuscan atmosphere in her 1928 Seattle home.  She and her husband had just married in a blissful setting near Florence, and she wanted her home's ambience to remind her of the joyful experience on a daily basis.  We started from scratch and this is the 80% finished result.  Unfortunately, I moved to Italy before it was 100% complete and before I could have professional photos taken….  Please take a look at my website for more photos.

 We sourced from various vendors for everything!  Note oriental rug atop sisal rug; a great way to make the rug larger.   

We sourced from various vendors for everything!  Note oriental rug atop sisal rug; a great way to make the rug larger.   

Since I’ve been living in Florence for a year, I’ve had the opportunity to shop some local flea markets as well as small negozi (shops) and, also, the monthly antiques market in Arrezo.  Take a look at some of the amazing items I’ve discovered since living in Florence!

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This spring I found this wonderfully Florentine chandelier from the 1950's at a swap meet - right across the street from our apartment. 

 Here it is after being repaired and installed.

Here it is after being repaired and installed.

 At our local flea market, adjacent to Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

At our local flea market, adjacent to Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

 Sant'Ambrogio

Sant'Ambrogio

 At the monthly big flea market in Sant'Ambrogio (the dog is not a found object - ha!)

At the monthly big flea market in Sant'Ambrogio (the dog is not a found object - ha!)

 At the monthly Sant'Ambrogio flea market

At the monthly Sant'Ambrogio flea market

 We found this at a shop owned by one of the Sant'Ambrogio flea market vendors....

We found this at a shop owned by one of the Sant'Ambrogio flea market vendors....

 ...and here it is cleaned up and with a bit of decorative painting by moi!

...and here it is cleaned up and with a bit of decorative painting by moi!

 At the monthly antiques market in Arezzo

At the monthly antiques market in Arezzo

 Cabinet hardware and visual art on a side street in Arezzo

Cabinet hardware and visual art on a side street in Arezzo

 The monthly market in Arezzo

The monthly market in Arezzo

.....and then, seen in a store front in Florence, south of the Arno...

 Near Santo Spirito

Near Santo Spirito

It's so satisfying to discover and then give another life to items from earlier periods!  If you'd like me to look for something, just ask! 

Posted on August 6, 2018 and filed under Design.

Florence: From a designer's Perspective

I clearly remember the first time I visited Florence.  It was late September, 1979, and the air had a crispness, foretelling the changing of the seasons.  I was astounded by the beauty all around:  architecture, monuments, the contrast of terra cotta roof tiles against blue skies, chic people wearing furs and gorgeous leather!  

 The view from San Miniato al Monte

The view from San Miniato al Monte

After several trips over the years, we decided to spend a month in between winter and spring (the idea was to avoid heavy tourist times - ha!) soaking in all that is the wonder of this compact city.  

 Palazzo Antellesi 

Palazzo Antellesi 

We rented an apartment through Italy Perfect and stayed in Palazzo Antellesi on Piazza Santa Croce, a wonderfully central location.  According to various sources, the Palazzo was first built in medieval times and enlarged in the late 16th c, then acquired in the early 17th c by Niccolo' dell'Antella (from whom the name originates) and joined with a nearby building to make one large palazzo.  He commissioned frescoes to cover the entire facade. The frescoes faded over time but then the Cinelli family bought the building and restored them in the 1920's and again in 1990. Young Federica Cinelli inherited the Palazzo in 1945, then married Count Piccolomini, becoming La Contessa Piccolomini. La Contessa still lives here, as does some of her family. And we so much enjoyed meeting her and her daughter, Francesca!

 Our first apartment, Paradiso

Our first apartment, Paradiso

Our first apartment had amazing Renaissance frescoes and high, high ceilings.  After being there about 10 days, we moved to another apartment in the building that we absolutely loved!  The colors of the Belvedere suit me perfectly.... 

 Living room of the Belvedere

Living room of the Belvedere

 We spent many hours enjoying the sun-filled terrace

We spent many hours enjoying the sun-filled terrace

 The kitchen is small but has everything someone who loves to cook needs

The kitchen is small but has everything someone who loves to cook needs

Once we unpacked, gathered provisions and settled into our apartment, we began serious exploration. First up, a cooking class and market tour with Laura Franceschetti of Cooking in Florence. We had the most delightful time spending the day (!) with her, starting at the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio and then at her wonderful home, which happened to be a 5 minute walk from our apartment!  (Almost everything is.... more on that later)

 Laura Franceschetti and me at Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

Laura Franceschetti and me at Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

We met at the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio (which is not as touristy as the larger, newly renovated Mercato Centrale, but feels more "authentic") where we learned about purchasing seasonal foods, pasta, cheese ("there's no such thing as Parmesan cheese - it's Parmigiano"), meat, seafood and generally started to feel like being with a friend.

 Look at the color and the care with which everything is displayed!

Look at the color and the care with which everything is displayed!

The cooking lesson was informative and the food tasted incredible, but I was equally enthralled with Laura's home.  The floor tile!  The ceiling!   

 Laura's kitchen floor

Laura's kitchen floor

 A frescoed ceiling at Laura's

A frescoed ceiling at Laura's

After eating like kings, a few days later I convinced my husband, Bob, to make the hike up to San Miniato al Monte, my favorite little Romanesque church, with the most glorious view of Firenze!

 San Minato al Monte

San Minato al Monte

 The view from San Miniato al Monte

The view from San Miniato al Monte

Downhill from San Minato al Monte we found the charming San Niccolo' neighborhood and beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo. 

 A building in San Niccolo'

A building in San Niccolo'

....and we stumbled upon the most lovely boutique hotel, Villa Vedetta, where we felt like royalty, as we dined privately near the pool...

 The pool at Hotel Villa Vedetta

The pool at Hotel Villa Vedetta

 The lobby of Villa Vedetta

The lobby of Villa Vedetta

As long as we're on the subject of hotels, the Four Seasons Florence, located in the fifteenth-century Palazzo della Gherardesca, is quite lovely and has an amazing private garden that only guests of the hotel are privy to.  We had coffee in the gorgeous bar, so technically we were guests.....

 The Renaissance courtyard

The Renaissance courtyard

 the Bar

the Bar

 The gardens....

The gardens....

And the JK Place hotel, on newly renovated Piazza Santa Maria Novella, was a complete treat for the senses!

 JK Place terrace on Piazza Santa Maria Novella

JK Place terrace on Piazza Santa Maria Novella

 An interior shot

An interior shot

 Ceiling detail, JK Place

Ceiling detail, JK Place

I loved the exterior of this little hotel even more when I saw the name:  Hotel Botticelli  And then I discovered it was built in the latter half of the 16th c.  Sort of average for this city - ha! - but still impressive!   

 This is what 16th c Florentine looks like....

This is what 16th c Florentine looks like....

 Another 16th c building, another amazing ceiling....

Another 16th c building, another amazing ceiling....

So many incredible edifices in one city!

 Santa Croce at night

Santa Croce at night

 The Duomo peeking out.....

The Duomo peeking out.....

 ....and from the Boboli gardens

....and from the Boboli gardens

 A little corner of green

A little corner of green

And then there's Florence shopping!  The food markets, flea markets and special/holiday markets.  The clothing stores, shoe stores and perfumeries - so much to explore!

 Mercato Centrale

Mercato Centrale

 The flea market by Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

The flea market by Mercato Sant'Ambrogio

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 on Via Santo Spirito

on Via Santo Spirito

 On Via Santo Spirito

On Via Santo Spirito

 No visit would be complete without a stop at  Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella  - lots of history here and it smells divine!  Wonderful architectural details, too.

No visit would be complete without a stop at Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - lots of history here and it smells divine!  Wonderful architectural details, too.

 Great little boutique next to Rivoire on Piazza Della Signoria - I don't remember the name, unfortunately.  But great stairwell!

Great little boutique next to Rivoire on Piazza Della Signoria - I don't remember the name, unfortunately.  But great stairwell!

I could go on and on - and I will, in the next post! - but I'll close with this designer-y cup of espresso machiato I had at JT Caffe, across from the Palazzo Pitti.

Ciao for now!

The Chronicles of Alliance Chiropractic's fabulous new office - Week 5

Progress report from Alliance Wellness at the Ruby!

We're almost in the middle now, aiming for completion by July 4th.....busy as bees.  Before and After pictures are so dramatic; these are almost like real time, like being there.  Can you smell the sheetrock dust?  It's kind of a mess (not a good idea to wear high heels and black to a job site like this) and not very pretty right now, but trust me - it will be so cool!

The walls are going up, the infrastructure is in, and the ceiling will be painted in a few days.  Here's the eventual reception desk.....

Stay tuned.  Don't touch that dial - it's going  to get very interesting!  (But we still need a coffee place next door.....)

Posted on May 25, 2010 and filed under Design, Projects.

Really cool discoveries.....

I was researching some European antiques for a project recently and came across a treasure trove of absolutely fantastic resources!  It all started with the March issue of

House Beautiful

.....and the article "Blue as a Titian", featuring the exquisite work of Babs Watkins, Julie Watkins Baker and the amazing Eleanor Cummings, above.

I researched Ms Cummings (who is very difficult to find, by the way) and, in the process, came across a great Houston home decor store and wonderfully amusing blog: 

Indulge Decor

, (check it out) which, capturing my attention like solving a good mystery, led me to some mouthwatering antique sites:

Kay O'Toole Antiques

has some gorgeous, to die-for pieces like the items, above.  (Check out the

Indulge Decor

blog posting on Kay O'Toole's home!)

Tara Shaw

has fabulous things  - true antiques as well as Tara Shaw Maison, a line of reproductions that I lust after.

Then there's

Watkins Culver

, which had this cabinet published in the April issue of

Veranda :

And, also

Robuck and Co

.......and

Jacqueline Adams

Makes me want to take a trip down South to go antiquing!

Posted on May 17, 2010 and filed under Design.

The Chronicles of Alliance Chiropractic's fabulous new office - Weeks 3 & 4

The crew has been busy but changes since the last posting are subtle.

Electrical and plumbing infrastructure is going in now. 

 Tools of the trade, above.

Architect and designer making last minute adjustments to the lighting plan.

.......even the dogs are in on the action!

Soon walls will go up and, like a wonderful working sculpture, the office will emerge..... stay tuned!

Posted on May 17, 2010 and filed under Design, Projects.

The Chronicles of Alliance Chiropractic's fabulous new office - Weeks 1 & 2

So, everything was going so smoothly - until the walls were opened up, that is..... and it was revealed that the floor was two different heights!  Slight delay while more concrete was poured....

Concrete dried, framing went in..... See the future front reception desk, above.....

....and Dr Viv's new office......

Someday soon, there will be an

Alliance Healing Arts

sign out here, joining

Ravish,

Sushi Kappo Tamura

, and

Urban Smiles Family Dentistry

- but we're still wishing that a coffee place would take the last remaining space......

Posted on May 2, 2010 and filed under Design, Projects.