Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saving $100's of Dollars on Wall Photos

Flipping thru a Pottery Barn magazine one day I found six gold frames lined up on a wall over a bed.  The frames held black and white photographs of old Paris.  The price tag was well over $500 for the set of six.  A short time later I was walking thru a Big Lots store when I found six gold frames, already matted with a double opening and gold trim for only $10 each.  I purchased them even though I hadn't figured out how I was going to duplicate the Paris photographs.  I put them in the closet for several months until I stumbled across the year end clearance sale on calendars at Barnes & Noble.  Right there in front of me was a black and white calendar with pictures of Old Paris.  I purchased it for only a few dollars and upon returning home I started cutting and framing the most interesting parts of the pictures.  For under $70 I had almost an exact replica of the Pottery Barn items.  The frames have moved around the room until they finally landed above the headboard..as was depicted in the original picture I had cut out of the Pottery Barn catalog.  I no longer have the Pottery Barn photo and they do not carry it on their website anymore...but here is my version (see the previous blogs on bedding for a farther away look at the six frames).

The World Is Your Stage-It's All In The Curtains

The north wall of the bedroom are double windows and the door into the bedroom is on the south side so the first thing you see when you walk in, is the windows.  I found all the curtains at JC Penney.  The valances were in the clearance section and are a nice heavy jaquard material with pretty fringe tassels.  They were marked down to under $5 each.  The panels are lined which gives them a nice, heavy drape as they fall.  They were a pretty iridescent maroon with a shiny contrast to the valance.  I bought one panel off the floor model for around $10, the second I bought on sale for around $20.  At first I was unsure about mixing the textures and materials, but after I hung them up I felt the look was more authentically vintage and gave the look of being layered over time.  (see previous blog of bedding for a full length glimpse of the curtains)  With a nod to those wonderful theatre curtains of heavy red velvet that would be drawn back to expose the stage....these rich maroon curtains set the stage for the french bedroom.

Layers of the Bed

Here is a photo of the bed as it looks right now.  I started with the sheets, 600 thread count, soft as can be, the ultimate comfort for our guests...a bargain price of $30 for the flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillow cases.  The color was a wonderful bronze brown.  The sheet set was purchased from TJ Maxx.

The next flat sheet is a leopard print.  This is a Ralph Lauren brand and was purchased from Ebay as new/sealed.  I purchased it for around $20, a steal compared to the original price.  I looked at other leopard print brands, but I was unhappy with the styling of the print itself and decided this "splurge" would be well worth it for the overall effect of the bedding. 

The brown quilt coverlet with matching shams and dust ruffle was as set from JC Penney.  Unlike the inspiration photo where the quilting was boxed, this one had a more french fleuris look to it. It was priced at $50 but I spent much less after coupons and credits.  I was worried about the coloring of the brown as it had an undertone of red but now that it is in place it compliments the tones of the curtains very well. 

The two maroon velvet pillows were found by my s/o at Burlington Coat Factory.  I loved the richness of the color and the added texture which reminds me of a burlesque dancers skirt. At only $9.99 each, they were too good to pass up.

The round gold pillow was from Walmart.  At less than ten dollars each I purchased two of them as seat cushions for my vintage iron chairs.  They were re-purposed to the french room with the 2nd pillow taking its place on a chair. 

All of these items took over a year to find, put together and purchase. 

The rose material at the bottom of the bed has taken the longest of all.  This material is linen and will be made into a duvet cover to protect the down blanket which will lay at the foot of the bed.  I had looked at bolts of material and finished duvet covers but couldn't quite find the "right one".  I knew I wanted an old world design, and it had to bring in the maroon of the curtains, I was hoping for roses as they represent the essence of romance....so upon finding this bolt of material at Jo Ann Fabrics only a week ago,, I was overjoyed at how it looked once I brought it home.  The material was marked down in clearance to $18 a yard....and thanks to my friend I had a 15% coupon on top of that.  I only purchased three yards of the material, enough to make the main part of the duvet.  I still have to find additional linen for the sides and back as well as some trim.  I did this to help keep the overall costs down as most of the time the duvet will be folded and the front is all you will see.  Unbeknown to me, our friends pointed out while I was in the check out line that the material brand was , Ralph Lauren! It seems I really am attracted to his "look".

And, with cold Michigan winters... we also have a heated mattress pad cover ( a christmas gift one year ) for the ultimate in pampering.   In the future I would also like to get a feather mattress for that "sleeping on a cloud" feeling.

Inspiration Photo-The Layers of Bedding

I was instantly drawn to this Ralph Lauren ad showing "Venetian Court".  Even the title was right! What wasn't right was the price.  This complete bed set would cost thousands of dollars.  So I used it as an inspiration piece to "make it my own". 

It all starts with the Bed

I love this bed and it is still available from LL Bean.  It is called the Lake Cottage Bed and it has beautiful lines. It appears our color is no longer available which is a shame as this pretty dark bronze fits in nicely with the rooms time period and decorations. I also like that this bed has a versatile enough look that it can be moved from French/Italian, to Cottage, to Shabby Chic to Country.  As we all know, a bed frame can be a large investment, why not buy a bed that will easily be able to be moved from one decorating scheme to another thru the years? I wrestled with whether to purchase an antique bed frame or a new one,, but practicality won out.  After all, this is a guest bedroom, and I wanted guests to be comfortable...a new bed takes in consideration the stability and craftsmanship of current technology as well as the ability to purchase regular mattress's without worrying about slats and sizing. 

Transforming a Guest Bedroom to a Burlesque Inspired French Italian Boudoir

We started picking out accessories for our Guest Bedroom before we even purchased our current home.  Our current home was new construction and while it lacked the charm & character of older homes, it did provide the security of warranty's.  New roof, new pipes, new flooring...............Originally when I picked out a bedspread I picked out a dark maroon.  After receiving the bedroom comforter in the mail, my significant other (referred to from here on as s/o) felt it was too dark and the room should be more cheery. 

We returned the maroon bedspread and purchased a beautiful silk duvet cover from Pottery Barn in a pink,cream, soft yellow thin stripe.  I loved pink and had no objection, actually overjoyed that pink would be represented in our home! Once we moved in our house and was ready to decorate the guest room, we started making small purchases.  Many of the pieces we bought I had been drawn too and after awhile I realized a re-occurring theme...they were french in inspiration, with gently curved legs and french hardware.  I painted them all flat black to ground the light pink duvet and add sophistication.  After awhile, the room was almost done and it looked very pretty, it looked, well...like something right out of Pottery Barn.  Don't get me wrong, I love Pottery Barn...but I was never completely happy with the room, always feeling like it was incomplete. 

Around this time I convinced my s/o to let me have full creative reign and I started changing the room.  And then the movie "Burlesque" was released.  I loved the movie.  I loved the set decorations, I loved the music, I soaked up every part of it. 

After reading "The Paris Apartment" (see previous blog) I finally was able to let my creative side free.  I found that a lot of what held me back from decorating how I wanted was the fear of what others would think.  Was it too risque? Too racy? Too .... different?  Yet when I threw those fears out the window and listened to my true self...I found a solace and comfort in my self expression that has allowed me not only the ability to have a room reflected in my own tastes....but an art form which has taken on an expression of it's own.

I have always been one that wanted to finish what I started, the sooner the better, as if finishing the race would bring the sense of accomplishment.  But now that I've started the guest bedroom over, I have found that there is more enjoyment in the race itself, and not neccesarily the finish line.  I have taken my time, lavishing in the search for each and every article that goes into what I have dubbed "the french room".  I weigh carefully each piece I add or subtract, and there are many that I fancy but don't make the cut.  I have to not just fancy it, I have to LOVE it, this is not to be confused with the fact that I have to know where I am going to put it...many times I bring home a piece just knowing that it is right, and allowing myself the time to move it around in the space until it fits, click! just like a puzzle piece locking into another. 

In the hunt and progression of the rooms transformation, I am often teased that the room looks perhaps more like a brothel than a boudoir. I prefer to think of it as somewhere in the 1920's....most likely in old Paris....or perhaps....a palazzo in Venice....where ever it is, it is shrouded in mystery, the female who lives there is perhaps a model? or a dancer at the Moulin Rouge....the room is old, beautiful, lined with silk, furs and pearls....feather boa's, oil paintings and fringe....

The room continues to transform...and has gotten to a place that when I open the door I can feel like I have stepped back in time...it is not done..there is plenty to do... wood floors to replace the carpet would be nice, crown moulding and venetian plaster on the walls, a new lamp? reproductions to  be replaced with "real" antiques....... ..... but for now ..... it is a wonderful trip...as it evolves I would like to invite you to come with me.... let me share with you the bargains and ideas that influence the french room....... won't you follow along?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The English Sea Captain's Wife

This oil painting is at one of our local antique shops. I fell in love with it for it's intricate detail and her knowing glance. She has a Mona Lisa essence to her. Sadly, it's beyond my price bracket and its provenance is not all the way back to 1840.  The artist is undocumented or published and having very little knowledge of this type of art, I have no way of verifying if the asking price is reasonable and if the piece is authentic.  The first rule of art is to buy what you love...but at this price, I would need the 2nd & 3rd rule too.

Vintage Pics of Models in Venice Italy

Catherine Deneuve 1968

Claudia Cardinale 1958

Sophia Loren 1955

Sue Lyon 1962

Sunken Soaking Tub

A traditional french style room, if you look closely at the center of the picture, you'll notice
there is a sunken tub. 

Canopy Bathtub

I thought it was clever how they positioned this tub. While it is angeled in front of the window,
the canopy helps to screen the tub for privacy-but it also creates a beautiful illumination of light
that's filtered into the room.

Shabby Chic-Bathroom

Look closely at the ceiling- it's tin!

Dreamy Soaking Tub

I saw this picture and fell in love with the soaking tub...the use of the tea cart for rolling
around with towels & drinks on top is cute...the mirror would be fabulous and the shelving
in the back reminds me of a dentistry cabinet. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vieux Quebec City-A Taste of Europe

Are you yearning for a European vacation but don't want to fly across the ocean to France or Italy? Perhaps you should consider Quebec City in Canada.  Old Quebec, referred to as Vieux Quebec, is the oldest city in Quebec, established in 1608 by Samuel  de Champlain.  It is a fortified city surrounded by stone walls and is a UNESCO Heritage Site.  This charming town still has its old cobblestone streets and stone buildings.  Both French and English are spoken here with French being their native language.  The surrounding French atmosphere makes it easy for you to forget you are only an easy sixteen hours from
home (if you are near the Michigan/Indiana State Line). 

While you are there try the local French Canadian favorites, including Crepes, Croissants, and
Poutine...which is hot french fries, layered with cheese curds and dripping in rich, brown gravy. 
It may not look "pretty" but it is really delicious!


I've always fancied the mysterious, so when I saw this water garden whose loose interpretation was taken
after Stonehenge in England.... I immediatly had to share it with you....I might have to replicate something
like this in my back yard...how magical!

Shabby Chic

This room reminds me of a secret little house hidden somewhere in the tuscan countryside~
I love how the room has lace edged doilies on the end tables and thrown on the bed...the wood
beams and ceiling are rustic yet shabby chic.  The satin pink bedspread is a nice touch compared to
the roughness of all the wood.  My friend Lorie is doing one of her rooms in shabby chic design with
her homemade quilts..perhaps when she is done she will allow me to take a picture and post it
for you all to see?    :)

French Romantic mixed with Industrial

I've always been fascinated by designers who can balance a white on white concept without the room seeming boring or cold.  I read somewhere that the key to decorating with all white is to vary the shades of the white.  This room does a great job of balancing white on white, mixing french romantic design with the steel of industrial.  The hats and beads behind the headboard are a great contrast to the little metal desk and that awesome antique stool.  There are so many little details that everytime I look at this picture I see something new yet it doesn't feel cluttered or overwhelming.

Antique Mirror Headboard

I love how they used this mirror to create a dramatic headboard.  They have ran the curtains all the way up to the ceiling and the headboard hits the ceiling so it creates an illusion of tremendous room height.  I don't think there is anything more beautiful than a mirror that has lost some of its refelective properties! They have a great mix of color tones without everything being matching and sterile.  The cool white maltisse bedspread is warmed by the silvery throw of velvet or fur... the dark wood bench picks up the wood on the nightstand..the golds and browns in the curtain complement the wood floor, furniture and picks up the gold of the pictures and headboard.  A beautiful composition that's traditional and antique but still light and airy, romantic enough to curl up and take a long winters nap in.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Appointment in Venice

This enchanting book is by Alex Gotfryd and titled "Appointment in Venice".  Filled with haunting black and white photographs it contains limited written text.  Alex explains he had re-occuring dreams about a silhouetted female figure shrouded in mist in Venice.  He eventually goes to Venice and does a photo shoot to capture the essence of this dream.  The pictures are fascinating and you accompany Alex into his dream with out any resistance..... eager to help him capture a glimpse of his phantom female.
A boudoir (French: [bu.dwaʁ], English: /ˈbuːd.wɑːr/) is a lady's private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room. The term derives from the French verb bouder, meaning "to be sulky" or boudeur, meaning "sulky".

Historically, the boudoir formed part of the private suite of rooms of a lady, for bathing and dressing, adjacent to her bedchamber, being the female equivalent of the male cabinet. In later periods, the boudoir was used as a private drawing room, and was used for other activities, such as embroidery or spending time with one's romantic partner.

~ from Wikipedia online

Found Treasures

This Saturday we took a pleasant drive to a neighboring town where suprisingly, there was a couple antique stores I had never been to. I found a beautiful cheetah rug made in Italy and a small, ornate stand with a beveled mirror.  They are happy to occupy the guest French Italian bedroom.

Quest for a French Guest Bedroom

It's been a slow but fulfilling journey to decorate our guest bedroom into a French Italian inspired boudoir.  Everytime we scavage an antique store or flea market I'm on the look out for just the right piece to add to the overall atmosphere of the boudoir.  I've also been fortunate enough to have a mother-in-law who supports my vision and has given me precious pieces which fall flawlessly into place.  There are still a list of items I'm looking for, French Hat Boxes, antique perfume bottles, pictures, a duvet cover to fold at the foot of the bed, a table side lamp to read by, a chandelier swag for the corner over the tiny desk, and the list goes on..........

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bill Schwab-Iron Gate Photo

This mysterious gate picture was taken by photographer; Bill Schwab.  It caught my eye and continues to intrigue me.  From our view point, are we leaving the gate or entering it? It is gently pushed towards us, perhaps to keep us out yet it is slightly open, perhaps to invite us in?  I love the ethereal light..perhaps it is the pearly gates of a celestrial palace or maybe it is only a mirage....


Russian Artist - Lena Sotskova

It's interesting that I have a blog on Venice with French influence when my heritage is German and Russian.  So as to not forget my Russian roots I'd like to share with you a contemporary artist I just recently "discovered"; Lena Sotskova.  Lena was Russian born and trained in the arts, having a rather well off background financially speaking.  What I find interesting is even after all these years, her art is still a passion and she leaves all the financial/business end to her husband as she feels it would drain away her creative energy.  Lena now resides in the USA (Florida) and continues to paint.  When I first saw her art it was giclee's, not originals.  I was struck that even with a giclee her lumination and energy was easily felt when viewing the pictures.  Each picture had its own movement and feel that it would be hard to pick a favorite. 


Paris in Snow

Both of my two favorite cities look fabulous coated in a light snowfall!
I would love to be here with my love, sipping a great french roast expresso
and savoring a croissant.....

Bedroom versus Boudoir

I LOVE Claudia Straffer's book; The Paris Apartment-Romantic Decor on a Flea Market Budget~! While prowling thru one of our favorite local antique stores I came across shelves of French and Italian Decorating books...stuffed in between the larger well known authors was this yummy book.  It contains so many delightful color photo's of luscious layers of fabrics and creative decorating ideas.  While some may think the ideas presented are "too over the top" it certainly spurs your imagination and invigorates the creative senses. 

Bedroom versus Boudoir?

You're a Star and your rooms are the backdrop of your life.  So set your Stage!
It doesn't take much, just one special piece can make all the difference.

Venice-Carnival 2012

Ahhh.. there is nothing like Carnival in Venice.... This year Carnival is set for February 11th thru 21st. http://www.venice-carnival-italy.com/