Friday, October 25, 2013

Antiquing in Summerland California gives inspiration for decorating with antiques.

Decorating with antiques makes a room more personal.  This eclectic way of designing can be tricky but the finished effect is definitely worth it.

Jane Moore
What makes this bedroom so special?  It's the way the current style of the
 bed and bedding and sisal rug  is combined with  pretty antiques.
(Photo courtesy of Brooke Giannetti Pinterest board)
What makes antiquing so much fun?  I think it is "the hunt" or the expectation of finding something really great and maybe at a really good price.  Antiquing also stirs up design inspiration for me.  I see something I love and start thinking about where it might be used in either my home or in a client's home.  Very often I think of how to repurpose something that was once used in another way.

A mirrored headboard or a mirror as a headboard?
While visiting California a few weeks ago, knowing how I loved antiquing, my daughter-in-law planned a stop for us in Summerland which is located near Santa Barbara and Montecito.  While our time was limited we still managed to squeeze it in. The shop, The Summerland Antique Collective, seemed like it went on for blocks. Outside were the more rustic ob-jets d'arte.  Inside there are 26 different dealers showcasing their finds under one roof.

Summerland Antiques Collective, Summerland CA

Antiquers, doesn't this make you want to slam on your brakes and check it out?

These old doors are beautiful.  This sign is charming, too.

Another single door and a louvered shutter were also very tempting
I can think of several ways to use old doors when decorating, whether it is inside or out.  Of course they can be used as doors, also for interiors or exteriors.  That first pair would give an especially charming touch.  I can see using them inside on either side of a doorway to create a focal point.  Doors can be hung as art on a wall, or as a headboard above a bed. They can be hinged together to form a screen .  Doors can be used as room dividers or as a trellis.  What else could we use them for?

Old shutters to display pictures. Tuck the frame easel between the slats.
What an interesting way to hang art.
(Photo courtesy of Pinterest.)

Shutters, shutter, shutters....Shutters and old doors ,  so many great ways to use them.
Look at how the sconce is mounted on a shutter. Great idea!
The lovered doors behind the loveseat have been made into a folding screen.
 It becomes a bit of interest and simple place to hang a mirror.
(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)
As I look at these pictures it reminds me, one thing that is so beautiful is the natural finish you find on old doors (or shutters).  Time and weather create a lovely texture.  The colors of the painted finishes are softened.  This is often very desirable when designing with antiques.

Brooke Giannetti of Giannetti Home and one of my favorite bloggers ( ) is a master at finding and designing with antique doors.  I found these next three images on her Pinterest board.  Thanks Brooke!

tall shutters on window
Exterior door panels used as interior window treatment.  Excellent!

Tapestry on Paneled Wall
Exterior doors used inside as wall panels adds so much character to this beautiful space.

distressed french doors...
What a fabulous way to create interior French doors
and look at the patina of the finish.  Gorgeous!

Isn't he a cutie? 
While I might not set out to buy a gnome for my garden, somehow when I came across this one I wanted to put him in my suitcase. That is the fun of poking around antiques shops, (or is it shoppes?) you just never know what you will find, like this vintage set of children's golf clubs.

This sweet little duck could be perfect in a Country French interior, or even in  a contemporary home.
We stepped inside the door and found ourselves in a sort of wonderland.  I did not know where to look first. These lanterns definitely caught my eye. They made me think.....can I use them somewhere?  They are so pretty and colorful. They would make any room feel festive.

These handcarved figures or Santos as I believe they are called would be a compliment to any shelf, bookcase or tabletop.  The small shutters behind them drew my attention too.

What a beautiful mirror.  I almost missed it!  That is a hazard in antiques shops.
There is so much to see.

This hall mirror is attached to a seat.  Frequently found in an entrance,
we created a similar one in a childrens's bedroom.
We had a mirror installed on the wall, framed it and found hooks for the sides.
It is the perfect place for a beach bag or hat!
(Photo courtesy of Caimano Interiors and Picture Pretty Interiors.)

Anthropology had just these colored hooks and they matched the room!
(Photo courtesy of Caimano Interiors and Picture Pretty Interiors.)

A collection of vintage movie posters surprised me as I walked into the next space.
Movie posters are works of art.  If you are looking to create a more interesting and personal feeling, why not use movie posters? These vintage pieces would give additional personality to a home theater or tv room.  What other places would you like to use them?

What a unique hutch. I believe it is Swedish. If not, surely it is European.
I have never seen one like it. Have you?
Instead of buying a china cabinet or server to match your dining room table, why not find a more interesting antique piece like this? It would certainly be a conversation starter.

Many antique shops are art galleries.
This lovely painting almost went home with me too. It really captured the California coast.  Adding original art to any interior is fabulous.

Vintage hats, goggles, lanterns...where else would you  find such things all together?
If I were designing a masculine space this antiques shop would be my first stop for accessories.  Finding interesting old objects for the finishing touch on an interior lends a sense of history to it, a feeling of being collected over a period of time.
One of my favorite clients loved Country French style.  When it came to accessorizing we headed straight for the local antiques mall.  It was great fun! We found so many unusual things that you could not find anywhere else and at great prices too.

Antique painted secretary desk.
This desk made me think of my own vintage secretary desk that was my mother's. It has been painted and refinished over the years. I am now ready to paint it again.  Maybe I could do it like this? Or maybe I could just do the outside in cream and the inside in blue? Just looking around in the shop was giving me ideas of what to do with my own furniture.

What a colorful sailboat....British, no doubt.
I love decorating with sailboats. Don't ask me why. The tricky thing is that they are frequently a lot taller than you think.  I have tried putting them atop library cabinets many times only to find they just don't fit!

As long as it was safe to operate, I would leave this pretty fixture just as it is.
Antique shops also have some of the most interesting and beautiful chandeliers and sconces. There were many more but I captured just a few.  You do always have to check the wiring. We have a shop nearby that refurbishes old fixtures. I go there when I need odd parts or missing pieces. It is amazing what you can find there.

A lantern fixture like this is traditionally found in a foyer but works equally as well over a kitchen island or  over a breakfast table.

It is hard to see, but there are little crystal beads along the arms of this chandelier.

Look closely and you can see the seashells.
I do not recall the price of this seashell chandelier but I know in the antiques shops near me in Palm Beach they cost a fortune.
Window panes make great picture frames for art or photos.
I have always loved these window pane frames.  A few years ago I would have found a home for it but I am not as cottagey as I used to be.  But I still love it.

For the dog lover they had lots of things to tempt you such as this pair of Staffordshire dogs. They are classic, don't you think?  I have a pair myself but they are reproductions. The real ones are highly collectible.

Foo Dogs are popular even if you are not decorating in an Asian style.
This pair is gigantic.

This Afgan Hound looks real.  Is it?

No, but he is adorable.
When a room is starting to take itself too seriously I like to introduce a whimsical touch like animal figurines.  It always helps to have a sense of humor when you decorate.

Remnants of the past....which is actually the name of an awesome antiques show in the fall in California.

This last photo also reminds me that architectural elments like columns, windows and doors are wonderful indoors or outdoors as well.  The urns can flank a fireplace in a living room or sit by the front door.  They can hold topiaries, palms or flowering plants.  I love the arched window.  It could be hung on a wall by itself.  If placed above a window or doorway, it would add height and drama.  Put a mirror behind it and use it over a buffet.  What would you do with it?  Where would you put those columns?

Sometimes when I am scavenging through an antiques shop with like minded designer friends we end up playing a kind of game....where would you use this? What could I use this item for?  How could we repurpose or reinvent something?

Open fretwork on these panels makes them even lovelier.  Window treatment? Headboard?
 Room divider? Behind a sofa? Hinged as a screen?  What else?
Next time you are on vacation or want something interesting to do, try antiquing.  It is fun and inspiring.  Often I hear fascinating stories of the way things used to be.

Introducing antiques, whether family heirlooms or flea market finds, to any style of decorating adds interest, personality and a sense of history that can't be achieved by purchasing everything from a furniture or accessory store.  If you haven't used antiques before, why not give it a try?  It's fun and that is what I love about designing with antiques.

How do you feel about adding antiques to your decorating style? What repurposing projects have you undertaken?  How did they turn out?  What treasures have you found on your antiquing hunts?

As always I invite you to share your adventures in antiquing and decorating as well as your ideas and questions in the comment box below.

If you would like assistance with a decorating project in your home please email me at

                     Happy Decorating !

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fireplaces and Firepits Warm Up Any Outdoor Living Space

What happened to summer?  Well, here in South Florida we are still sweating it out and hurricane season is not over until November!  But there is a very tiny hint of a change in the weather, although I always say you can really feel it on or about October 15th. This year it is running late!

I had intended to write a post about outdoor rooms several weeks ago and was wondering how timely it would be now that many people are experiencing cooler temps and  turning leaves.  I just saw an article on that gave me inspiration to share some of those ideas and some of my own. The fall is just as great a time of year to enjoy outdoor living.

One of my most favorite things about designing an outdoor living space is the idea of having a fireplace.  A fireplace, as in interior spaces, is a perfect focal point.  Not only can a fireplace enhance whatever style you love, it can add warmth, literally and figuratively to your outdoor room.

brick outdoor fireplace
This fireplace anchors the patio seating and dining area. It is the perfect gathering place.
Look at that fantastic chandelier.

Overhead white lights add to the inviting ambiance in this lovely setting.

dark wood outdoor furniture
This is such a cozy space to relax in. Add a throw
and warm up by the fire.

This elegant outdoor room is the a delightful place to entertain.

This fireplace gives a southwestern feeling to the patio and is enhanced
 by adding beautiful plants and comfy pillows.

Outdoor fire places can be traditional or more contemporary as seen above.

What a dramatic statement this fireplace makes flanked by waterfalls.
I love the combination of fire and water.
In the fall you might exhange plants and flowers for dried leaves, pumpkins and other gordes.

I can almost smell the smoke filling the crisp fall the air.

Don't have an outdoor fireplace?  Firepits are wonderful too!  You can put one almost anywhere and have  seating built  around it. You can place comfortable chairs, cushions or benches close by too.

This simple firepit adds sophistication to this outdoor room.

Does this remind anyone of camping? What a great way to bring that feeling to your own backyard.
I wonder if the ring around the firepit is to put your feet on
and warm your toes?

A screened top to this firepit is a good idea for safety, but makes it harder to
roast marshmallows!
On a personal note, recenlty I visited our son and daughter-in-law who have just moved into their new home.  They have the most incredible built in sunken firepit with a banquet seating surrounding the whole thing.  It basically turns on with the push of a button!  There is beautiful lighting as well.  My son set up a wireless speaker and played Peter Paul and Mary from his phone.....of course we roasted marshmallows too. It was one of my most favorite parts of my visit. So, don't forget adding music to your outdoor living space!

Here it is.  Can you hear the music?  The outdoor ambient lighting is a beautiful, too.
If building a firepit is not an option there are many freestanding firepits that will create the same ambiance.  I have seen them in many mail order catalogues like Frontgate but also at Home Depot, Lowes and Target too!

Freestanding firepits like this are available at many home improvement stores.

This simple contemporary fireplace makes an  even grander statement
because it is at eye level.

Simple contemporary elegance.

So inviting!
Another kind of fire feature is a chiminea. It  looks like a large terracotta vessel with a hole in the side and top, often elevated on a metal base.  While some might say this is very Southwestern,  I find it works pretty much anywhere, though I would caution, it is safer on an open patio or garden since the top is open.

Here is a traditional Chiminea
This style of Chimenea is more transitional. It is wonderful to see the fire
from all sides, too.

For a warm inviting outdoor room without a fireplace or firepit, try placing groups of candles on your tables or ledges, torches and lanterns work well too. A candlier, or chandelier made for candles casts such a pretty soft glow.  Who doesn't look more beautiful by candlelight?

I call this candle glow.

What do you think about adding an outdoor "fire feature" to your exterior living space?  What do you like to add to your porch or patio during the cooler weather to warm things up?  How about a firepit?  

As always I invite you to share your ideas, inspirations and experiences in the comment box below.   
If you have questions regarding your own decorating projects, feel free to email me at 

                                      Happy Decorating!