Tete-a-Tetes, Then and Now

When we think of tete-a-tetes, we usually think of Victorian times, but there are many more modern versions as well.  Tete-a-tete literally means head to head in French, and it is a two-seat sofa, basically consisting of two chairs joined together. Its primary use was for private conversations as its other names suggest.  The tete-a-tete is also known as a courting chair or a gossip couch. It was developed during the early 19th century in France and was popularized during the Victorian era. The Victorian ideals of modesty and controlled courtship are illustrated by the shared armrest which provided a slight barrier between the couple sitting on the sofa!

One of the most famous examples of a tete-a-tete is this one which was made by John Belter, an American cabinetmaker, around 1850-1860.  His extravagant use of carved ornamentation is typical of Rococo Revival style.  It is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In many mid-century modern versions of the tete-a-tete, the shared armrest for modesty is gone – in fact this Edward Wormley tete-a-tete from 1950 looks more like modern double chaises we see today.  We saw this one for sale on www.decaso.com for $15,000.

We thought this ultra-contemporary tete-a-tete that we saw on Houzz is a very unique and dynamic art piece, but we could not find any information about where it could be purchased.

The rattan Confident armchair from Maison Drucker that we saw in Elle Décor comes in a range of colorful options as a part of its outdoor bistro seating collection.  It is priced at $3912.

For some, two heads may be better than one!

Cloisonne Sinks and Faucets

Cloisonne is the art of decorative enameling, a process that fuses glass to the surfaces of copper or bronze objects.  Once fired, the metal piece becomes a bright and colorful work of art.  Beautiful cloisonné faucets and sinks can become the focal point in a bath or powder room.

We like these two from Linkasink.  For blue and white fans, the cloisonné Blue Birds Oval under mount sink would make a pretty statement while the Dragon Vessel Sink is funky and daring, and it would certainly make an unusual statement.   Linkasink individually crafts and colors their sinks to produce a functional work of art. Both of these products can be found at www.waveplumbing.com.

For those who might just want something smaller and a little more understated while still interesting and beautiful, try these faucets from Kallista.  The Script decorative sink faucet has handles that are adorned with stunning hand-painted cloisonné accents depicting a spring floral motif.

These finely crafted faucets and sinks celebrate artistry and design as well as functionality.

 

 

DeKauri Bespoke Bath Cabinet - Art Meets Utility

We noticed this piece in a design magazine, and it piqued our interest so we did a bit more research, and we found some interesting information.

If you cannot stand a cluttered vanity full of toiletries, and if you can afford to spend $25,000, this freestanding piece of furniture designed to house and conceal both the sink and storage may be just the ticket.

Renowned architect and designer Daniel Germani debuted this piece at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show last January.  He won the 2018 NYCxDesign Award in the bath category for its beauty and functionality. Germani used Dekton by Cosentino to craft the washbasin along with Kauri wood from New Zealand for the credenza. This 50,000 year old wood is exclusive to Riva 1920, an Italian furniture manufacturer whose skilled workers transform it into furniture as true works of art. Kauri is wonderfully preserved and has an amazing rough beauty that caught the attention of Germani. Once Germani added a faucet from Fantini Rubinetti, a high-end Italian design/manufacturing company and the upscale architectural lighting from Brooklyn-based Juniper Design, his credenza was complete.

It was fun to learn about this new product!  If you know of anyone who may want to purchase this outrageously priced bath credenza, please let us know because we sure don’t!

Dark and Moody Floral Wallpaper

We have always loved dark and dramatic walls, and they are definitely on-trend now. Deep, rich backgrounds lend an air of drama and sophistication to any room and give the space a strong identity and real sense of character.  This is especially true of these moody florals which are reminiscent of still life paintings from Dutch Masters of the Golden Age.  Oversized and printed on a background of decadently deep shades, these wallpapers are not for everyone, but they are truly beautiful. Somehow, they are traditional, yet modern and luxurious, and they are clearly not your grandmother’s wallpapers.  They can make a major statement in a small powder room or can be used as an accent wall in a living room or behind a bed in the master bedroom.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Photo Credits:

This vintage-style bathroom has a feature wall that looks like an antique painting – www.shelterness.com

Dutch Love is one of Ashley Woodson Bailey’s collection of six photo-based wallpapers.  The flowers practically jump off the wall – ashleywoodsonbailey.com

Noted designer Ellie Cashman says that “her designs are meant to serve as narratives of optimism and celebrations of beauty.” She has created a series of florals including Dark Floral II Black Saturated Wallpaper – elliecashmandesign.com

A moody floral may not be the first color one would think of for a little girl’s nursery, but it is gorgeous – greenandmustard.co.uk

This floral wallpaper is lovely, feminine, sumptuous, and sexy as a backdrop for the bed in a master bedroom – www.shelterness.com

 

The Minimalist versus The Maximalist

Over the years, design trends have waxed and waned and there have been many times when minimalism was popular as well as times when maximalism was in vogue.  Today, we have been seeing both styles in shelter magazines. There are often spreads on beautiful and sleek contemporary spaces as well as wonderful “over the top” maximalist rooms.  “Less is more” is absolutely the way to go for some while others follow architect Robert Venturi’s credo that “less is a bore.”  We say to each his own.

Minimalism highlights the essence of a room, stressing clean lines, clutter-free spaces, and a limited color palette.  Designing a beautiful, functional home in a minimal way is not easy. Skill, restraint, and a great deal of discipline are needed to pull it off.  We love this living room by Tara Benet Design in New York City.

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Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism with its audacious display of bright colors, bold patterns, and a love of artful clutter. Maximalist spaces reflect their occupants’ travels, pasts, and quirks. Exotic Bohemian glamour comes to mind when thinking about maximalist design - rather than trying to achieve a perfectly coordinated space, maximalists strive for a layered look to embrace a beautiful, cozy chaos as can be seen in this photo from Architectural Digest.

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For more examples, take a look at the White Glove section of the May/June issue of Traditional Homeor the April issue of House Beautiful which featured a home in Philadelphia.

Which style speaks to you?

 

 

Refrigerator of Art

Dolce&Gabbana, the Italian luxury fashion house that was founded in 1985, has teamed up with the high-end Italian appliance manufacturer Smeg for the design of a special edition of the FAB28 refrigerator, transforming it into a work of art.  While the two companies belong to different creative sectors, they both have strong values and a tradition of “Made in Italy” excellence.  The hand-painted refrigerators feature images of lemons, the trinacria symbol (which is located in the center of the Sicilian flag), cart wheels and medieval knights done by Sicilian artists. This colorful and super high-end refrigerator is clearly not for everyone as it can cost $34,000 or more!

If that price point is above your budget, it is possible to purchase a range of small kitchen appliances that could turn your counter into a work of art. This toaster or electric water kettle can be found at Williams-Sonoma for a mere $600!

Who can ask for anything more – Smeg quality and technology combined with Dolce&Gabbana style!    

 

 

 

 

 

Styling your Coffee Table

Think about your coffee table as a focal point in your living room rather than as a spot to put down a snack or drink or a place to put up your feet.  By using several diverse elements, you can turn this flat, plain space into a beautiful eye-catching display. Following some basic design rules should do the trick.

We suggest these ideas from HGTV.

·      Keep your coffee table balanced by varying the scale and height and by grouping like objects together.

·      The coffee table can be a great place to rotate seasonal decorative elements.

·      The rule of threes is an age-old decorating trick, but it does work its magical appeal to the eye.

·      Think about using a tray to corral your favorite small finds and make them easily removable if you need to clear the space for entertaining.

·      A bit of greenery or a beautiful floral arrangement is a way to bring the outdoors in.

·      Last, but not least, the decorative objects on your table should be special and personal – they can tell your story and express your memories and passions.

 

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Union Trust Building

While walking in downtown Pittsburgh several weeks ago, we decided to pop into the Union Trust Building to see firsthand the $100 million renovations we had heard about. Wow!  What a beautiful old building with spectacular renovations. Many of the original interior features were retained while the lobby space was updated with Pittsburgh themed artwork and a fabulous palette of bright peacock blues, purples and pinks.

This historic building was designed and erected in 1915-16 by Frederick Osterling for Henry Clay Frick.  Most Pittsburghers will recognize the Union Trust Buillding with its amazing mansard roof boasting terra cotta dormers and two chapel-like structures housing mechanicals. But, we were completely blown away by the interior lobby with its central rotunda and stained glass dome. The Davis Companies completed the stunning restoration

We applaud the architects and designers and recommend stopping in sometime if you are downtown.

Photo Credits:

 Exterior and Roof  -https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=172346

Lobby - thedaviscompanies.com

Rotunda - www.jekko.com