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!

Fringe and Tassels

Sometimes we think we are behind the times with design trends, and sometimes we think we are way ahead of the curve.  For example, several years ago, we trimmed this sofa for our client’s very traditional living room with a beautiful bullion fringe to really dress it up.  Of course, we realized this was not a new idea – fringe was often used liberally on Victorian and Edwardian furniture and lampshades.  But, at the spring markets, fringe was back in more unexpected and bold ways.  We spied the contemporary Nicolene chest from Currey and Company in a recent article by Patricia Sheridan in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  According to Cecil Adams, creative director, “fringe is never completely out of fashion”.   He went on to say that “they chose to embellish this chest with modern brass pulls and leather tassels as a nod to handbag hardware.” On the other end of the spectrum, we found this over-the-top lampshade at www.vintageshades.com a company that specializes in making custom Victorian style shades and reproduction antique lamps. One of their lamps would certainly go well in the Gingerbread Cottages we last wrote about!  Fringe and tassels add visual interest and are always in style – from ultra-modern to traditional to Victorian, there is something for all tastes.

 

 Our client was so pleased with this beautiful bullion fringe!

Our client was so pleased with this beautiful bullion fringe!

 Contemporary take on tassels!   

Contemporary take on tassels!

 

 Beautiful, but awfully fussy for modern tastes!

Beautiful, but awfully fussy for modern tastes!

Transparency is Good

Transparency, whether in business dealings, personal relationships, or furniture design is a good thing. So, when we saw an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on July 25, 2016, we wanted too explore and embrace this trend a bit more.  As she said, "a decidedly modern material, plastic gives classic forms a contemporary ambience...see-through furniture can give any interior a clear edge." Both timeless and futuristic, this design-forward material, technically acrylic glass, but generally called Lucite or Plexiglas, has been around since the 1930's.  It became wildly popular in the 1960's and 70's, but today its general appeal is as great as ever. 

Furniture made from clear, transparent materials adds a playful, yet chic, touch to any room.  It can offer functionality without adding visual clutter and can complement just about any existing decor or color scheme seamlessly.  We have seen this crystal clear material used on everything from cocktail tables, bar carts, wingback chairs, and small items like lamps or even tape dispensers!

Photo Credits

www.kartell.com - One of the most iconic transparent pieces is the Philippe Starck Ghost Chair.  In 2002, he recreated the decadent feel of the Louis XV style while still managing to make it simple and minimalist.  Due to its transparency, it can match mid-century modern, industrial or French classic equally well.

CB2.com - We love the versatility of this peekaboo "C" table in combination with a clear console.  It can function as a side table, a laptop stand, or a bar cart.  The casters allow it to roll easily to any location.

www.HGTV.com - The area rug, with its bold color and pattern, is the focal point of this room.  The clear acrylic coffee table provides a nice counterpoint while not distracting the eye from the rug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Chairs - The Selig Chair and the Chippendale Chair

When Kathleen and I wrote about our favorite things, she mentioned loving the Selig chair, and I decided upon the Chippendale chair – both so different, but beautiful, classics in their own right.

Selig Z chairs are typified by simple, elegant and sweeping lines associated with Danish furniture of the post-war period.  The design of this style chair is most often attributed to three Danish furniture designers – Finn Julh, Poul Jensen, and Ib Kofod Larsen.  Built of very high quality wood such as walnut beech or teak,  many vintage Selig chairs are still available and are very collectible. Rare pieces in pristine condition may be found at international auction houses such as Sotheby’s, but many collectors might find these chairs more easily on-line at bidding sites such as Ebay. Collectors should be aware that there are a number of contemporary reproductions of the Selig chair being produced in the United States, Europe, and Japan.  Authenticity should be carefully checked.  Hopefully, this pair of vintage mid-century 50’s Danish modern Poul Jensen chairs that were sold on Ebay for $4000 are authentic.  On the other hand, a Craigslist buyer purchased an almost identical pair for a mere $50!  After a little cleaning, polishing, and some new cushions, this buyer felt he had really scored a steal.

 

Chippendale chairs, of course, have been around a lot longer.  One of the best-known names in the history of furniture design is that of Thomas Chippendale (1718-79).  After an apprenticeship under his father, he moved to London and began his cabinetmaking business.  In 1754 he published the first edition of his book, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director. This catalog of English furniture design is probably a major reason he became so well-known.  Because the book became used widely, it is difficult to distinguish the pieces actually made in Chippendale’s workshop.  Thus, the name Chippendale is freely applied to any pieces in the style in which he worked.  Chippendale’s style is seen most characteristically in his chairs. His early works were similar to the early Georgian Queen Anne style with cabriole legs, carved feet and elaborate splat back with a yoke form at the top. In later years, he used a straight Marlborough leg and reintroduced stretchers to add strength.  Backs became even more intricate with elements such as Gothic tracery, Chinese latticework, and ribbon motifs borrowed from Louis XV furniture.  Today, true Chippendale antiques would be rare indeed, but fine quality reproductions have been made by many furniture manufacturers over the years.  Chippendale style chairs are rather ornate, but they are an enduring and timeless design classic.

Photo Credits

Selig Chair found on Ebay

Craigslist Find – The Hunt for Vintage Blog

Engraved Plate from The Gentleman and the Cabinet-Maker’s Director

Chippendale Chair from Maitland Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bar Stools

So many people are opting for islands or peninsulas if space permits in their kitchens.  The open concept kitchen with space for a few cooks and guests who may want to be involved in the action is as popular as ever. Comfortable seating for casual dining, for kids doing homework while mom or dad is preparing the meal, and for those guests who want to be near is important, and there are numerous options that we love.  First of all, there is a difference between counter and bar stools.  Counter stools are 24” high while bar stools are 30” in height.  Some counters have a raised area for the seating and some even have a lower table-height section for the seating.  It is all about comfort, so it is entirely up to the homeowner to decide which height counter and stool they would prefer - for instance, some people may want to pull up a stool to the counter to cut vegetables while others may just want to stand and leave the higher or lower counter area for seating. The clear advantage of having a higher counter dividing the living space from the kitchen is that it will hide some of the mess!

At any rate, here are just a few examples of the many beautiful and functional stools we like.

Photo Credits:  Ballard Designs and Grandin Road

 

 Swivel seats are a nice option, and the stylish Marcello from Ballard is very comfy with many fabric choices.

Swivel seats are a nice option, and the stylish Marcello from Ballard is very comfy with many fabric choices.

 For those who like a vintage industrial style, we recommend Marian metal seating which comes in a backless stool or ones with backs in Brick Red, Distressed Cream, or Spa Green.

For those who like a vintage industrial style, we recommend Marian metal seating which comes in a backless stool or ones with backs in Brick Red, Distressed Cream, or Spa Green.

 Morgan stools feature a graceful, contemporary style with a beautiful sculpted back. They are available in a number of colorful leather options.  These stools are super comfortable with a spacious 23” wide seat!

Morgan stools feature a graceful, contemporary style with a beautiful sculpted back. They are available in a number of colorful leather options.  These stools are super comfortable with a spacious 23” wide seat!

 Finally, for those who may like a rustic farm look, there is the iconic Tractor Swivel Stool!  The hand-carved seat allows for extra comfort and it adjusts to various heights from 20”-28”.

Finally, for those who may like a rustic farm look, there is the iconic Tractor Swivel Stool!  The hand-carved seat allows for extra comfort and it adjusts to various heights from 20”-28”.