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!

Lots of Gingerbread

 

While walking around in the quaint town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, we came upon an enclave of gingerbread cottages.  We learned that these colorful, delightful homes are historically significant, representing a unique style of architecture known as Carpenter Gothic Revival. Built during a burst of activity between 1867 and 1872, most of these homes are privately owned and have been or are currently being meticulously restored.

We have not actually had the opportunity to do any design work for a client who has a period home like these, but it would be interesting!

 

 

Earth Day

 

While we always love decorating with beautiful new high-end furnishings and fabrics, we believe that some well thought-out flea market finds can add a bit of quirkiness and eclecticism to any décor.  Reusing and recycling are always good for the environment, and especially now, with Earth Day fast approaching, we went searching for a few new/old finds!

Reuse (or Repurpose)

It is always fun to think of a creative new use for an old item.  Upcycle an old piece, and turn it into something different and new.  We discovered lots of aviaries that were made from old hutches.  Great for all those bird lovers out there!  Check out this one that was made from a traditional dark brown highboy.

Photo Credit:  We saw it on Pinterest along with a number of other creative make-overs!

Reduce

Using reclaimed materials for building projects is a great way to reduce – less energy is used, especially if the materials are sourced locally, less will end up in a land-fill, and the finished products will be beautiful and functional. 

Photo Credit:  We love Antiques on Washington in Bridgeville, PA for beautiful hand-crafted tables from reclaimed wood.

Recycle

Never pass up an interesting old chair.  As long as it is not broken, it can always be repainted or refinished, and with some new fabric, it will probably have a lot of life left in it!  (Hint: mismatched chairs around a table can add some visual interest.)

Photo Credit:  We found this one on HGTV.com

These simple ideas can help to save resources and reduce pollution, not just on Earth Day, but every day.