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The New French Decor…Living with Timeless Objects

Michèle Lalande and Gilles Trillard

From my 18th century Amusements post here

Ladies’ Pocket Memorandum post here

From my parent’s pool house…

really should be called an Orangerie considering

the enormous skylights,  French doors, and slate floor

have been hosting flats of my sister’s heirloom seeds

the last few weeks…

Detail view of Jacques Callot’s etchings for

Combat at the Barrier c. 1627

Entrance of Monsieur le Comte Brionne

More here

The art of reproducing incredible

antique grisaille wallpaper….

Holly Alderman

Silver-thread bobbin lace on c. 1740 stomacher…

Decorative V shaped panels that cover front of bodice

Seventeenth and eighteenth-century Fashion in Detail

Avril Hart and Susan North

Cote de Paris

June/Aug ’09

Throwing a bit of ink into neutrals…

and glint…

Shelf in my office…

Voyage en Chine tan and black toile by Old World Weavers…

Antique etching from old Italian vellum book in an Italian gold leaf

frame, pillows made from antique priest’s vestments. A few yards

of historical fabric completely transforms a simple bed…

Tom Landry in New Orleans

House Beautiful? please remind me….

more here

About these ads

Flea Market Sunday


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Beautiful bright morning at Antiques by the Bay

Was in a window shopping sort of mood…

Loved this little vintage doll with the bright eyes…

the rough old linen body…

Saw several stands with groupings of vintage dolls …

Echoes of all those happy childhood tea parties…

I enjoyed talking to some vendors…

several have websites or emails and are

willing to ship items…

Beautiful teal blue panels…

painted flowers, birds and butterflies….

Second photo shows antique collections from a Belgian museum…

Les Papillons

Jeffrey Doney 415 999-8658

Located in San Fransisco…will ship…

Architectural salvage from a church in Provence…

This is just like the one I bought from Summerhouse

a few years ago…on my kitchen counter here

Ancients Carmel

9700 Carmel Valley Road

Carmel, California

831 626-2656

Box of French wine tools…

tin, painted box and bloomers….

Karen Siler of La Maison Violette has linen hand cloths…

French linen sheets, metis, ticking, vintage french floral fabrics…

Charming flowers made from scraps of linen…

Bought these embroidered French linen sheets from

Karen a few months ago…

La Maison Violette website here

Ebay store here

My vintage French postal bag…

sometimes just one thing is enough!


Other sources for butterfly collections:

In Marin County Susan’s Store Room here.

In San Francisco there’s Paxton Gate here

SummerHouse @ 57


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After twenty years of successful shopkeeping up the street, in an increasingly

cramped emporium of lovely and quirky finds, Astier Villatte and local ceramics,

vintage gilded French furniture, pretty tableware, bedding and baskets…

SummerHouse owners Robert and Jane have launched a voluminous new

shop a few doors down. Spare, lofty, flooded with light from the great

skylights that saw the clouds scuttling across the March sky…

the shop features cement tables, painted cabinets, vintage chairs and

ottomans, primitive ladders, one of a kind ceramics and art pieces, and

a venue to expand upon their great eye for unique and beautiful design.

One of the first vignettes that caught my eye was this enormous Buffalo print

on vintage sailor cloth by a contemporary Brazilian artist. The spare wood

cabinet and stone topped table are juxtaposed with a dangling

filament in it’s rough wire basket. The enormous spool of yarn is

suggestive of hand loomed artistry…

Incredible hand-colored copperplate etching of Paris

set in gleaming wide bird’s eye maple frame….

Chicken feeder pendant lamps poised above

the angular cement table…

Love this mix of materials, textures, tones…

glossy warmth, rough and variegated concrete,

bleached woven wicker, hand honed wood chairs…

Astier de Villatte candles and stacks

of antique German grains sacks

A patched and faint aqua stenciled sack

on a vintage gilded French caned chair…

More faint blue etching and stripes…

the blue adding a feminine touch to the coarse bag…

Bare woods play alongside painted wood…

Cool little metal lights dangle in the top of  the cabinet..

alighting the door fronts and glass pitchers inside

Close up of the distressed aqua paint finish behind

the scintillating glass pitcher…

Several unframed oil paintings were

placed on the almost bare walls…

The human touch throughout

the store…

Another curio cabinet…

Lots of aqua, color, and handmade items…

Row upon row of John Derian decoupage plates

and paperweights…

Exclusive to SummerHouse

British ceramics designer Anna Lambert

Perfect touch of prettiness…

c. 1920 Mexican watercolors

Incredible selection…veritable rug bazaar

of  Turkish Oushak rugs from the ’20′s and ’30′s…

Antique Chinese elm bench covered with an

antique Afghanistan crewelwork textile….

Store also carries Color Reform rugs…currently sold out…

Ensconced in their window seat at the front of the store,

handmade dolls from a local artist cozy up to a range of

Madeline Weinrib’s gloriously patterned pillows


SummerHouse @ 57

57 Throckmorton

Mill Valley, California 94941

Phone 415 383-0157

SummerHouse57 blog here…brand new…drop them a note!



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Occasionally I like to show you bits of my own home so that you can

make sense of why I’m going on about a color, or a collection, or a favorite

flea find. My home is the genesis of most of my perspective…it’s inevitably

personal. So this is the room into which a little gray must fall.  The cabinet

shelves have come down, books and favorite objects are stacked about the

room awaiting their new homes. Zinc items cluster on a marble topped

Louis XV style French chest, happy to welcome more gray into the room…

A botanical grouping from Anthropologie…

I added a bit of paint to enliven those on the right…

The flower on the far left strains to catch a

bit of the waning light…

My scientific curiosities…the glass orb contains a filament that spins commensurate

with the amount of light that hits it, a jeweler’s magnifying loop on wheels. In the tiered

glass case an English c. 1810 pocket watch, engraved and hand pierced pocket watch

“verge fusee” balance bridges from late 1600’s through early 1800’s, on top of the glass

case: La Parisienne, an antique Junelle-Eclair here. Folds up in various positions to be

alternately antique binoculars, theater glasses, compass, magnifying lenses, etc…

More info and photos in my Provenance post here

A roll of feathers on a stand, magnifying lens,

a remake of an old French lantern…

I’ve been collecting butterfly’s since my kids were young…

the top one has a Victorian look to it…

More at Deyrolle here

I will probably place the five  larger sets in the cabinets, possibly painting the frames black.

To Fanny Brawn here

The gorgeous cinematography of  Bright Star is now out on video

This curious object is the marriage of a hanging orchid

display (pot would insert at the bottom of the wire orb)

which includes a magnifying lens and balancing ball…

and the upside down pedestal of a long gone garden fountain.

Serendipitous…I like it for its sculptural quality and

occasionally add an orchid…

The baby grand piano…our first piece of furniture for the living room…

holds a collection of Nathanial Hawthorne’s works, Byron’s

complete works, and lovely but unreadable Scandinavian books from

Big Daddy’s Antiques (at the flea market)…

My favorite Ebay win…

A 19th century Louis XV Canopy chair which I still

love being covered in its original and tattered jute underlay….

Duplicate cabinets flank a window seat, and have been

sanded, primed, and had their first coat of “Pavement”


One of a set of  chairs on either side of the fireplace…

needs to be reupholstered…

love the lamp shape on the floor lamp…

bought the stone balls a decade ago

from a stone yard in Napa…

My antique French grape pickers tin “hod” or harvest basket

with attached straps and last season’s lavender…

cast stone fireplace, my 18th century settee that keeps migrating

through the house in search of a perfect spot…

The c. 1939 open beam ceiling swoops from over 9 feet at the

mantle to reach the second floor landing…

Bought the chandelier from the flea market and had it wired. Similar chandelier

at Big Daddy’s Antiques here. Love that mirror above the French desk…

bought it for $100 when I was first married and stripped and bleached it…

Ubiquitous Pottery Barn couch that withstands the cat’s claws every

morning. Really doesn’t bother me. I like a couch I don’t have to worry

about. Might redye the slip cover. More posts with photos of my home here


It’s exciting, messy, and disruptive to pull everything

out of the cabinets, exhausting since I’m doing the work myself…

But exhilarating to be able to put my favorite finds over the last

twenty years in new places with a new look…

to be continued!


Check comments below for sources for butterfly collections



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We all know gray is an important color now….

but the question is which one. I added tumbled light gray squares

to my limestone kitchen floor years ago to add a little accent

and roughness to their buff colored satin smoothness.

I love gray. I wear gray. I want gray.

Almost three years ago we covered over the dark wood paneling in our

living room with a thin layer of sheetrock and plaster.  This was to mollify

my husband’s concerns, and protect the wood if we wanted to go back to it.

It was thick, wide planked, un-knotted. So I couldn’t rip it out, didn’t want to

paint, bleach or sand it. We’re both thrilled with the consummate light that

fills the room now. Photo above from earlier Timeless in Provence here

I’ve eyed the almost 10 foot tall, built-in book cases on either side of one wall

for several years now. They are paint grade wood that has been stained

a “wood brown”. And I’m in the process of painting them gray…

So many grays…

Just picked up Coté Ouest and Coté Paris Dec/Jan ’10 issues

and they are flooded with grays…

With that now requisite touch of lavender or mauve…

I bought flat paint…for it’s chalkiness…

love the tremulous glow of Astier de Villate

emoting from the dark…and that gorgeous stone

curb that the glasses drain in…

What I’m conscious of now is the balance in the room

between an open beam wood ceiling that rises up to meet

the second floor, stone fireplace, several wood antiques that

I can’t just replace with painted French or Swedish …

Six photos above all from Coté Ouest

Grays mixing it up with sister neutrals…

from my Architectural Remnants post here

From left to right: Benjamin Moore “Storm”, C2 Paints “Pavement”,  “Stomp”,  “Carbon Dust”

I intend to paint the inside of the cabinets a darker gray…

I’m veering away from grays that are too plummy, or blue…

“Pavement” is a favorite so far….

Asli Tunca…a treasure trove of gray tones…

from earlier post Atelier in Istanbul


Aiden Gray photo

Masterful mix of neutral…

and strong pop of aged black graphics…

“An 18th century sculpted wooden Italian lantern is suspended

within an industrial mold made of wooden marquetry…”

The New Eighteenth Century Style

From my Strong and Silent post here

The photo on first flip through that caused me to buy the issue…

Liquid metal on French…

Coté Paris

Got a “go to” gray?

Please name it and describe it fondly to me…

always looking for a few good grays


Oh…and yes…loving all the lanterns, too



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Beneath a pelmeted bower of rose garlands in

a French chateau, I could dream a Sunday morning away…

But here in Northern California, two days of sun are forecast…

and I must wrestle myself from imagining my rosy bed

and set about setting the garden straight …

My absolute favorite way to spend the day…

The espaliered apples and pears are beginning to bloom,

the cherries setting small buds along their branches.

Muscari runs in rampant drifts headlong into the

babytears and nepata.  Self-seeded foxgloves

have made themselves at home artfully over the winter,

growing voluminous leafy skirts while it rained and rained.

This is what I wait for…from when the last plump

Bourbon rose is plucked, sometimes as late as December,

until the eternal rains finally start to abate. However briefly.

I have two days to step carefully into my damp garden,

stooping to pull and clear, everywhere looking

for signs of Spring…

1)The French Country House Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, Photography Bernard Touillon

2) Appley Hoare Antiques

3) 19th century Cigar case cover Ruby Lane Antiques

4) Antique Bourbon rose from my garden Honorine de Brabant

Awards and Astier



I want to thank Pam from Red Ticking for recently giving me the Kreativ Blogger award…and Tish of  A Femme d’un Certain Age forwarding on the One Lovely Blog andThe Fabulous Sugar Doll Award and Renae of Renae Moore Design the Honest Scrap Award. These are all wonderful, creative women, and I’m touched and honored. What I wouldn’t give to stroll into Pam’s store in Seattle. Some of the finds I’ve stumbled over at her shop are heart stoppingly beautiful. I love following along in Renae’s creative footsteps whether she’s sorting out decorating schemes or letting her inner artist out to paint wall art for her son at college. Tish…on my first visit to her blog I just couldn’t drag myself awayfrom her side column…fabulous. Many blogs tell us where to go and what to see in France, but Tish gets down to the brass tacks of air kisses and how not to embarrass yourself when you are …drumroll…a woman of a certain age….

Rather than go on about myself I’d like to immediately award the Kreativ Blogger to these seven blogs…some that I’ve just recently started to enjoy:

A Perfect Gray

Linen and Lavender

Serendipity Rising

Limestone and Boxwood

Splendid Willow

Aged and Gilded

Bardot in Blue

A varied and talented batch, all. And the last one, Bardot in Blue, is the expatriate daughter of Jermaine of French Kissed . Soon Jermaine will join her daughter in Paris and travel with her to the south of France.

Speaking of Paris…I am a huge fan of  Astier de Villatte. Here is their new covered candle…Let’s see if we can get Jermaine to smuggle a few of these back for us…

Each piece of  Astier is one of a kind, gorgeous, inimitable… and très cher…high school French for expensive. I save up for the real thing, leap at any sale, and treasure every piece I have. That said…I’m not above a little infiltration in the ranks.

Trove Antiques has a heady collection of Astier…as has Chateau Sonoma


Here’s the cabinet in my kitchen with Astier…and a few poseurs that I picked up at Anthropologie last year….for source see here

I bought this Astier de Villatte pitcher years ago, a work of art…but at Anthropologie’s price, I could afford to buy two of the simple white pitchers. They look lovely in the cabinets, or together on a long table replete with wildflowers…

My odd little Astier elephant vase in the cabinet…

Astier looks great in either rough or refined environs…

Store images from Remodelista. Seeing a wall of Astier still takes my breath away… but I love these little Tribeca cups I bought at  Anthropologie a few years ago and I just found online…Compare here here vs  here

Top cup with rose Astier de Villatte’s Emilie cupbottom cup Tribeca. Previous post here shows a Myra Hoefer’s Paris apartment festooned and decorated with Astier and another post here shows a few of my favorites up close

*And lastly…7 things about me from earlier post here

More Finds


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French Casaquin c. 1790

Meg Andrews here

I started collecting 18th century shoe buckles last year…

Many from the Georgian time period 1714-1811. Anyone who has

read my blog for a while has probably noticed I love 18th century

ladie’s shoes…


c. 1772

Until the end of the 18th century, women’s shoes were made

of lovely silk and embroidered fabric. Perhaps that’s why I find

them so charming…and expensive…and fragile…

and why I focused instead on collecting their sturdy silver buckles

I focused on silver with paste stones…

In the 18th century, paste was by no means an inferior

product and both men and woman loved how they

added a little sparkle to the dance floor….

highlighting their perfect mincing footsteps…

Some buckles lose their prongs along the way…

the top and bottom buckles

have the similar shaped mechanism that I prefer…

It was customary at the time for silver buckles to

not be marked, but they were all tested chemically

by the sellers who vouched for their composition..

Of course I was most drawn to flowers and bows.

The only matched pair I have,

this set came backed by damask

and the seller included loose stones

so that I could restore them…

Probably my favorite…

It has a nice heft to it, a good mix of paste sizes and shapes

and I like the open design. A pin was added to the back to

turn this into a broach and I added the scrap of 18th

century fabric. It’s not the whole shoe but it’ll do….

Pastes were set into foil, which intensified the shine

They also often added a black dot to the bottom of the paste to give more

dimension to it and duplicate the look of diamonds…

Matched pairs with no missing stones command high prices,

but I’m content with my little ramshackle fleet…

The buckle with baguette shaped pastes is another favorite. I’m working on a storage

and display case, but I like collecting antique objects that can be picked up and examined.

It just gives another dimension to history to touch the every day objects that people

lived amongst, relied on, were proud of.

Photo from Marie Antoinette Style by Adrien Goetz


A great photo timeline of antique shoes here

A  collection of my posts that feature antique shoes here

Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 18th century buckle collection here

Romance novelist Candice Hern’s gorgeous collection here