Happy Mother’s Day


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stone and lavender

Happy Mother’s day! A few early photos of “Lavender Hill” that I started a few years ago. Last Spring we reworked the area off the kitchen and had a stone mason add formal wide steps to transition up to lavender hill. The color palette is simple and subdued…stone grays and gold fine, green, white and lavenders. Creeping strawberry is already sending runners across the lower steps as the erigeron (Santa Barbara daisy) had taken hold on the upper. After getting the plan and hardscape in place, I like to stand back and see what ideas mother nature comes up with.

stone in the garden

I picked up these concrete balls fifteen years ago…like dwarf boxwood…love the punctuation marks they make in the garden. "Provence" English lavender

The lavender is primarily lavandula augustifolia “Provence”, and a few “Grosso”, and “Hidcote”tossed in here and there.

artichokes ad roses

The roses are Souvenir de Malmaison, here with artichokes, and Sombreuil at the steps, and a coral David Austin rose Abraham Darby tossing a color surprise over a wall. Still waiting for a few plants to assert themselves and will be adding lettuces in the shade below the bench. But, a much simpler, less demanding garden! Spring garden

Still biding my time ’till lavender hill is in full bloom. Changing my blog speed to “Summertime”…more time in the garden and on the trails!

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La Maison Antiques & Design


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Three panel Art Nouveau Dressing Screen Some of my favorite finds are the ones that just…drop into my lap! A reader contacted me about some of the Carolyn Quartermaine fabric I was selling, and in an aside via email exchanges, mentioned that she was the lady that bought one of my most obsessed about items several years ago. Wendy Lewis’s 18th century indigo striped and tasseled ciel de lit. I posted about it here and here. Ceil de lit 11Textile Trunk Trouvais Here the polonaise curtains drop from their ciel de lit in Wendy’s barn in the original listing. Wendy places this at anywhere between 18th and early 19th century…the passementarie added later…most likely Napoleon III…late 19th. And my new best friend Anne Sorrells of La Maison Antiques and Design in North Carolina was willing to sell this piece of my textile dreams to me! ceil-de-lit-9-textile-trunk-trouvaisThe  upholstered “tete” might still be available. I just purchased the polonaise drapes since I have several options from which to hang these already! I asked Anne to send me photos of several other items she is selling through her antique store and added a slide show below, with a bit of information. 8th Century French or Italian linen door covering hand painted with vegetable dyes. Over 15 feet long. Fair condition. Could be repurposed. 18th Century French or Italian linen door covering… hand painted with vegetable dyes. Over 15 feet long. Fair condition. An invitation to repurpose! La Maison Antiques & Design French statues have a plaque that reads “Progress” on them…and sit in front of a large hand painted reproduction of 18th century French artist Jean Marc Nattier.

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Anne Sorrells

If any items pique your curiosity, you can email Anne for further details and photos.

Anne Sorrells of La Maison Antiques & Design


You also follow Anne on pinterest here

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Trouvais antique textiles

Antique Textiles

Happy Sunday everyone! A few favorite finds I bought some time ago from Shirley at Simply Chateau here. Shirley had stumbled over a box of antique ballet costumes from the Paris Opera at the Paris Flea Market. This aqua c. 1920′s silk velvet was only a bodice, but it had Mademoiselle D’Arcy’s name scrawled in it. I think I tracked her history down to a ballerina touring with Pavlova to Australia. Then I cleaned her up a bit and fashioned a skirt out of tulle. Her companion from the same flea market box was from the ballet Les Sylphides…

Video of the Ballet Russe performing Les Sylphides in 1928…

Trouvais antique ballet costume

Though I love my bolts of linen and carefully folded toiles and silk, costume is the fun way to enjoy the colors, textures, and shapes of an earlier time. Perfect for a dressing room, hanging from an armoir door, the back of a chair, over or in a frame.
French ballet c1900

At this point I am only buying for myself, and am leery of attaining “hoarder” status…so I do have to turn a blind eye to all the pretty things that pass me by! There are some great pieces for sale at Sallie Ead’s Ruby Lane Lucia’s Collectables shop here. Beautiful eau de nil Paris ballet silk costume jacket c. 1900. Even though the Ruby Lane Red Tag Sale is over, Sallie has marked down alot of her items for this next week. This is one of my favorite items…just love this color…

Pink duchesses silk

And another great item…a piece of pink duchess satin with silk velvet from the Worth fashion house c 1880. Read more about it hereTrouvais antique textiles

My own little early 20th century silk cabochon roses nestled next to a hand dyed sachet. Luckily…antique fabrics take up very little room. My excuse whenever I try to fit one more tiny little piece in!

Off to garden…hope you’re having a lovely day!Trouvais roses

In the Garden


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Trouvais old rosesTrouvais old roses

Trouvais Iris Palladia

Trouvais Spring 2013

Trouvais roses and grapevinesTrouvais April 2013

I’m keeping busy in the garden these days…trying to keep one step ahead of all the blooms. It blunts my treasure hunting impulse and makes my world a prettier place just with a little elbox grease.

For those of you still on a treasure hunt…there are some great sales this weekend (April 27-28)…

Atelier de Campagne is having their Spring Container sale…more info here. I’ve done numerous posts on Atelier here. They are a brilliant team, the drive is lovely…bring a picnic and have a fabulous day.

If you are an antique textile lover, Sallie Ead of Lucia’s Collectables on Ruby Lane is having a big sale as well here. Sallie gets up early to visit the best UK textile fairs so that we can order a bit of textile history from our cosy armchairs.

Additional garden shots below. Click on any photo to view as slide show.

Spring Color


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Trouvais 18th c textiles

Been delightfully busy. I suspect I thrive on chaos! It’s most definitely Spring out here and prettiness is popping up everywhere. 18th century Italian silk brocade…silvery blue with peachy pinks and teal…awaiting being made into a few pillows…inspiring a new bedding mix. As much as I love my greys…change is good!

18th c textiles

I try to avoid the Bella Notte outlet…much too tempting..I was held hostage by a Colette perfect peach “personal comforter” a few weeks ago and had to pay a ransom to come home with this beautiful old pinky peach shade. If you live near enough to visit, the outlet info is:

Fridays, 10am – 4pm
Saturdays, 10am – 2:30pm

  70 Galli Drive, Suite 2 | Novato CA 94949

They will have a sale the weekend before Mother’s Day…will let you know details later.

Bella Notte new peach and ginger

Carolyn Quartermaine’s lovely eau de nil with gold script…Bella Notte’s “Perfect Peach” here, their gorgeous (but discontinued Deluxe Marie) in “Ginger“…a wonderful old gold. Colors that are silvered and tarnished down a bit from too bright.

Trouvais antique textiles

Bella Notte Pulling out from closets and remixing the old with new…

Bella Notte

Bella Notte’s discontinued Deluxe Marie…40% silk 60% cotton…the most gorgeous, soft bedding fabric! People who have this textile know what I’m talking about…and Bella Notte did it in every one of their colors. Sigh. Many detergents contain phosphates that strip the silk of all it’s luster and I suppose it became too difficult for the company to work with. C’est dommage!

Rachel Ashwell has a small offering of jacquard with 30% silk here 

Ralph Lauren’s Delphine is 40% silk/cotton here

I grabbed some of the Deluxe Marie boudoirs at the outlet and listed on Coup d’Oeil here

The Laundress has a delicate wash here for their silk blend fabrics. I would just check the label of any detergent you are considering for “no phosphates”.

antique roses

The garden is ready to explode…a preview bouquet! Most of you know that the Bourbon classification of antique roses is my favorite…Discovered in 1817 on the French Ile de Bourbon when a seedling from the Damask rose ‘Quatre Saisons’ and a China rose (believed to be ‘Old Blush’) sprouted up between the rows. Don’t you just love happy accidents? More here

Above “Souvenir de Malmaison” is the icy pink, fussy in the garden, but worth it…with the modern Eden, also called Pierre de Ronsard.

The deluge of garden shots about to begin…

18th Century Swedish Trunk


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Swedish Design

Classic Swedish Design

Lars Sjöberg…photography Ingalill Snitt

A trio of beautiful trunks….

For long sea voyages or a bride’s dowry….?

Swedish antiques

This is my cherished little 19th century Swedish box…

It’s not easy imitating aged wood and layers of old paint…that trace of other lives that linger in the details…

Favorite Books

The New Eighteenth Century Home Michèle Lalande

Photography Gilles Trillard

My favorite antiques…beautiful and simple…with perhaps a bit of a story!

Theatrical Backdrops



Wendy Lewis The textile Trunk

Loody Lady Ebay antique textiles

Wendy Lewis the Textile Trunk

Antique textiles Wendy Lewis

The most beautiful bed…photos by Wendy Lewis of The Textile Trunk from her home…

Wendy is spending her days in her barn…unpacking boxes from last Fall’s buying trips…

Beautiful 19th century Chateau pieces…hand block printed, or hand painted… that can be employed as bed coverings, curtain swags, wall hangings…theatrical backdrops to the drama in your lives!


The quilts…all fresh, newly arrived and old…are amazing as well…

Antique French quilt

More Textile Trunk quilts here

And I do love seeing the antique textiles in situ in Wendy’s home!

The cornices…the floors!



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Trouvais Bella Notte pillows

antique linens

Trouvais antique linens

Trouvais Bella Notte

Trouvais antique paperbacksI am deep in closets this week. I have even bought a bit of Bella Notte from the outlet to dye and add to the pile of Bella Notte for my Trouvais sale. You do know that this is the best time of the year to go to flea markets, don’t you? All the sellers with their pent up stocks!

The books are a keeper…Rousseau…in French…with a lovely pattern on their c. 1800 paperback bindings. Your thoughts on bloomers? I’m on the hunt for my clothespins so I can show you a clothesline full of them…

What colors are your bedrooms these days…are we still all gray?

Carolyn Quartermaine


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Trouvais Quartermaine Signiture Script Eau de Nils

Carolyn Quartermaine’s iconic (and much imitated) 18th century script fabric has been slavishly adored by many of us since it was first created. Her book published in 1997 in both the UK and USA can be found under two different titles…but it’s the same book: Carolyn Quartermaine Revealed…or Unwrapped…by Kate Constable, photography Jaques Dirand. One of the few design books that remains fresh and timeless. I love her artist’s approach to decorating and creating her beautiful silk screened fabric. Her website here is replete with gorgeous images of the work she has done from Chateau Beloeil in Belgium to the Bluebird in London. If you search Quartermaine on my blog, you will see a generous sampling of her work. I purchased quite a bit of fabric from Carolyn a few years ago, and even had the pleasure of talking with her via phone. If you are interested in her purchasing her fabric she encourages you to email her directly. Her script and floral fabric are in stock and can be purchased via Paypal in 2 meter minimums and shipped direct. Her newer pieces like the bespoke toile have 3 meter minimuns, with longer lead times. More info at bottom of post.


Carolyn Quartermaine Signature Script

 Eau de Nil taffeta Signature Script gold CQ1
Carolyn Quartermaine canvas scriptGold Signature Script on canvas CQ22

Carolyn Quartermaine textiles

Would love this backed with stripes and edged with pleated grossgrain…so many ideas…so little time!

Carolyn Quartermaine textiles

This golden piece of floral screen-printed satin is 33″ wide and 59″ long..just waiting patiently for the perfect wide chair…though I could see a strip of pink taffeta on one side. Carolyn Quartermaine

My last bit of Fruity Pink taffeta with French Script. Sue from Castles and Cliffs here emailed me immediately when I mentioned I would be selling a wee bit of Quartermaine and bought my larger pieces of this gorgeous color. Sue is a designer/equestrian, building her dream house, with the perfect settee in her office to go with this color. I have just enough to keep me happy…and love that she’s got such a great project for the rest of it. If someone is doing a larger project, I have over 2 meters of the Eau de Nil Signature Script taffeta above. I am busy sorting through my trunks and armoires…making those tough choices. What to keep…what to let go! Hope to start a month long virtual garage sale by the first day of Spring…and then it’s back to the garden!

If you have any additional questions you can email me at lyonallen@hotmail.com

Carolyn Quartermaine

Well…Hello There!


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San Francisco antiquesSan Francisco best antique stores

San Francisco best antique stores

San Francisco's best antique storesI was in San Francisco earlier today and stopped by Big Daddy’s Antiques….

Loved how he’s throwing color and chairs around!

The top set of blue were sold (to a fabulous Northern California designer…think St. Helena)…but the deconstructed red white and blue was adorable, affordable, and available.

More to see at Big Daddy’s Antiques here

Happy Valentine’s Day


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Carolyn QuartermaineCarolyn Quartermaine

Carolyn Quartermaine here

From her Modern Lace Collection here

Or hanging from Chateau de Beloeil turret here


Last year’s antique Bourbon roses..my favorites Madame Issac Perrier et Madame Ernest Calvat paying a visit. A link to years of my roses here. My husband’s working late today, my children miles away in their respective worlds.

But this weekend we will all be under one roof and celebrate three birthdays and Valentines. Heaven!

Title photo is an 18th century French prayer card “canivet pieuse”..the three little hearts  in une petit bateau tugged at my heartstrings! If you don’t see the image…click the post title.

Sometimes Valentine’s Day is a state of mind. Have a wonderful day!

On Old Beds


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antique bedsFinally…about that bed! In an earlier post The Romance of Metal here I revealed my fascination with antique metal. In particular, Coup d’Etat here in San Francisco had found a set of c 1750 metal dress form cages that set my heart aflutter. So when I found this metal bed with a polonaise style canopy top reaching up 114 inches and large wood wheels, when searching for old metal parts on Ebay, I bought it immediately.

Trouvais antique bed hardwareIt was close enough to pick up, all parts dutifully transfered to me. The hardware was fascinating. I had already started to collect 17th and 18th c iron (in background) several years ago. Where I could, I’ve replaced the original bolts with new and held these aside for study and safe keeping. antique bed

When I got it home I removed the layers of c. 1980 custom sewn fabric to find another layer of 19th c French fabric, and then a bottom layer of narrow, hand loomed rough jute or linen textile sewn to the iron oval top piece with an import stamp. My attempts to decipher it have failed so far! If anyone has any clues…please thrown them my way!

hand dyed linens

In December I dyed some of my linen/cotton Carolyn Quartermaine Script fabric for the top of the bed. I wanted to move it from perfectly ironed and white to a slightly parchment like rumpled, in a coolish neutral. Not too dark to obscure the script, but flexible enough for my antique textile mood swings!

antique grainsack

For my Valentine’s day red mood:  a trio of 19th century linen fabrics from Karin Jansky of La Pouyette. You can see some of her stock here. Above is a French linen ticking stripe mattress cover, a long length of grey and red striped Belgian linen, and an enormous German grainsack with beautiful print on both sides.  To give you an idea of exactly how big the grainsack is…I stuffed it with a twin mattress feather bed that I had been trying to find a use for since my daughter tired of it on her bed years ago. I kept stuffing and stuffing and…all in!

19th c ticking edge detailLove the this tiny light blue edge detail on the ticking mattress.

Trouvais 18th c block print birdsThis gorgeous 18th century block printed linen is so frail and patched, and it’s vulnerability makes it even more beautiful. From Morgaine Le Fay here and here. I am looking for the perfect piece of worn antique French chambray to back it. 
antique textiles

The quilted linen toile is an 18th century piece called Chariot of the Dawn. Love the imagery of roses tossed before Apollo as he draws his chariot across the morning sky. Full of mythological figures. Every time I tried to buy a piece of this it would be sold. Luckily I now have this large piece which could be framed with additional fabric for a coverlet, or made into an enormous pillow…sans scissors! This was from Diane Thalmann here

antique textilesMy first Chariot of the Dawn piece, also 18th century and quilted, from Sallie Ead here and here, is a large, perfectly matched pelmet that I’m showing as a dust ruffle.

Trouvais Antique Polonaise bedI have additional bolts of 18th and 19th century linen and sheets from both Karin and Wendy Lewis of The Textile Trunk so I have too many ideas bouncing around my head for this bed! To be continued! My resolution in 2013 is to buy only what I need or love.  Between that and sharing all my favorite sources with you, it slows down my “finds”…which is just fine by me.



On Collecting


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flea market styleI keep meaning to write a post about this bed I found last summer…and I’m working on it. I just follow my heart sometimes on collecting…and find a place and use for the item eventually. Along the way I meet so many interesting and amazing people. Great blogging friends, wonderful textile dealers that love the hunt and bring back amazing pieces. Antique dealers like Atelier de Campagne that scour England, France and Belgium for that next best thing. People on Ebay or Etsy that sell the most amazing finds from their own collections or early Flea Market jaunts!. It’s always worth keeping your ears open for that “something in the back room”.

Antique Paris porcelain

My one piece of 18th c French porcelain. Slow Buds the Pink Dawn like a Rose here


Until Spring



Trouvais textiles Spitalfields bodice

Yes…it’s the dead of winter…even out here on a bright, almost balmy Northern California. The outlines of my garden are stark and bare…waiting for magic. So…in the interlude I thought I’d drag out a few more of my favorite antique textile finds. My 18th century silks are almost invariably floral. Unlike the carefree bolts of linen, scraps of toile and ticking…the silks are prima donnas that need shielding from the sun, careful handeling, circumspect care. If I have to fuss and worry about them, they better be flamboyant.

antique textiles

Here’s an early 18th century Spitalfield silk, made into an 18th century cotton lined bodice, reworked in the late 19th century as part of what must have been an incredible gown in the Belle Epoch, the Gilded Age…that lovely time before World War I crashed down on all the fun.

antique textiles

Another 18th c English silk, possibly Spitalfield as well. Museum examples of Spitalfield’s silk at Victoria & Albert Museum here, or the MET here.
Trouvais...antique textilesSubtle background pattern adds dimension, and a bit of sheen under the candle light.
antique silksI’ve shown you the blue early 18th “Bizarre” silk from Carolyn Forbes here before…one of my VERY favorite pieces. The lovely ivory florals were from Sallie Ead here.

I also wanted to mention the giveaway that Kit Golson of Chic Provence is hosting for Rough Linen here. THE LAST DAY. Hurry!

Rough Linen is a wonderful Northern California business…love Tricia Rose’s story and website here (also…love her name!). Until Spring….

Chic Provence

Be It Ever So Humble


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18th c French antiquesLove the look of a beautiful 18th century French silk pillow against the rough, hand loomed linen seat of my humble little chair. A French chanvre/linen with thistle woven in on the seat…my very first purchase from Wendy Lewis of The Textile Trunk.  18th century dresses were routinely lined with hand loomed linen…wonderful mix of textures…the high and low. Trouvais…antique textiles 2

antique textiles

The whole concept of carefully and ritually saved important fabrics…this was at one point handed from an 18th century home to a church to make vestments…and the lessons of color, texture and pattern mixing are what draw me to antique textiles.

Other places to get a eyeful : MET here, LACMA here, V & A here

All fabulous museums with great virtual collections.



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18th c French textiles

antique textiles

antique textiles

Trouvais old roses

Rose madder red always works magic on winter. Above… antique Bourbon rose Madame Issac Perrier from last year’s garden, and an 18th century French striped silk pelmet traced with ribbonwork.

antique silks

Do you think this photo from my Candlelight and Roses post here inspired my interest in the ribbonwork? Raspberry silk moiré in the queen’s bedroom at Kina Slott (Chinese Pavillion) at Drottningholm Palace.

Antique textiles are my favorite way to toss a bit of color on top of neutrals. Sometimes it’s just takes that one rare, original, handmade, one of a kind, not perfect piece to get you out of that straight from the catalogue look. I’ve been pinning my favorite textile dealers on Pinterest here…above piece from Sallie Ead, here and here. Some of the more expensive dealers are great resources for learning, and of course have the rarest, most perfect pieces. As usual, I’m always trying to limit my time on the demon internet, but I have some other great pieces and resources to share with you in the next few days. As you’ll see, even when my garden is shut down, I always try to keep a few roses up my sleeve.  Hope you’re all keeping warm!


Astier and Downspout


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Astier de Villatte

As you know, my kitchen is a very neutral blend of creams and golden limestone. So I have been slowly working to inject more contrast with dark metals and chalky white.

I was seriously thinking of ripping out my beige mosiac backsplash to add these Emery and Cie tiles here…but grabbed my paintbrush and diluted some latex house paint to alter the tones from beige and sage to white and gray.

plate rack

The plate rack was made out of salvaged wood…one quick last thing I had my guys do after they finished my daughter’s room. Used Farrow and Ball’s Downspout on that and a dutch door…a perfect deep, deep dark gray.

Trouvais kitchen metals

Thank you Sharon from My French Country Home Brocante here for the vintage metal plaque find…and I picked up several of these vintage pudding molds in Petaluma before Christmas. The Astier de Villatte saupoudroirs à sucre (sugar shaker) and dinner plates are from Heather and Bobby Lee’s wonderful Astier de Villatte collection at Trove Gallery here

Trouvais kitchen colorA longer view. Having white marble in the master bath is enough excitement for me…I have a tall stack of white washcloths at the ready for every errant spill. So although I love white and gray kitchens, I’m still happy with the relatively easy Jerusalem Gold limestone. I love the look of plate racks, and they are perfect for those few special plates that you don’t trust in your dishwasher. And an excuse to stick your neck out with a bold color.

Astier de VillatteHeather Lee’s photographs of Trove Gallery here are just beautiful…and her Astier photos are the best out there.  Besides the Trove Gallery website her pinterest account shows some other beautiful Astier pieces here. And yes, they ship. I’m saving up for the teapot above. Let them eat cake!

More later…but…literally…I’ve got to run…!

Hello New Year


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Trouvais 18th c French cardHappy New Year my friends! Most of my little finds tend to have a story behind them. Here…an 18th century French Marquis scrawls his obligations from a losing hand on some playing cards. If the saying “lucky at cards, unlucky in love” is true, let’s hope he was well compensated for his losing hand!

I happily dropped all my cards…the sewing and dyeing and primping projects… as soon as the first kid rolled his way home for Christmas vacation. His sister is back at work, and he’s on his way back to school, so it’s time for me to officially greet the New Year!

Best wishes for luck in everyone’s New Year…but mostly, lots of love!

Happy 2013!