antiques

#AustinSuite decorating

Here's our jumping off point. Even though our condominium suite is far from decorated, the artwork is really coming together. One friday night a few months ago we just went for it. No measuring. No level. Just hanging hardware, a hammer, wine and some high volume tunes. We used a hanging method we call "eyeballing it." This piece was one of the first we put up. Since it's a longtime favourite, we gave it pride of place. All the others fell into place around it. Now I think this piece is about to become the inspiration for our new design scheme. Specifically that ugly mossy green colour. I'm so in love with that colour.

Also in my inspo files are a whole mess of pics of this restaurant in Paris. Monsieur Bleu was designed by Joseph Dirand -- current hotshot on the scene. (As an aside, I walked by the Toronto restaurant Lee the other day and they have replicated this design exactly. That's so offside as far as I'm concerned. Inspiration is one thing, but you've got to give it your own spin. Not cool Susur et. al. Not cool.) For me it's all about those greens. I'm stealing that idea of using several shades, some even a tad clashy. I'm also inspired by the antiqued mirror, lighting and green and black marbles. 

I'm also crushing on Zak Profera's place now. Love that fabric of his on the chair cushions. Hoping the folks at  Y&Co. can hook me up with some of that. I think some middle ground between the sexy resto in Paris and this NYC place might be the stylistic sweet spot for #AustinSuite. Are you following Zak on Insta or Pinterest? I highly recommend. Love his eye and of course his adorable Shiba Inu, Shinji. Check out the Zak + Fox web site.

Our current dining chairs are courtesy of Mr. A's eagle eye and shopping genius. Love these. I think they'd be great with diff shades of green velvet or mohair seats. Mr. A likes the black leather as is. We'll see who wins that one...

Not loving our current dining table situation. It's fine. Just fine. But we do have a vintage white tulip table that might be ripe for reinvention so it looks more like the one above. I'd just spray paint the base myself. Love this green marble top. Need to price that out and see if it's in the realm of reality. If the tabletop were green I'd prob leave the chair seats black.

Need to paint the interior of our entry door black ASAP. Like this. 

Speaking of doors, we currently have a coat closet that has hideous sliding mirror doors. They're taller than the nearby bathroom door and also lacking hardware. They are heavy and awkward to move back and forth. I loathe those doors. Would love to figure out a disappearing jib door situation for that...

Existing lever handles are the work of the normcore devil -- they are of the swirly brushed white metal variety :::shudders::: They'll go too. Maybe something like these above. Or antique brass? Hmmm.

Brass desk lamp is another Mr. A find. Wicked cool. The one on the right is our bathroom sconce by Flos. Love it too. I got that one at Gabriel Ross.

I have a bit of hankering for one of the lights in this new IC collection from Flos. Love that you can choose from floor, table, pendant or sconces all with this suspended light ball design. It's fun and makes me think of a balloon. Maybe a pair of bedside lamps? Or one floor lamp for the living room?

Storage is a major bugaboo right now. I thought I could tackle one area at a time, but I now realize I have to plan new clothes closet systems at the same time as I redesign the entry coat closet and some version of wall-mounted cupboards for the bedroom. I'm waiting with bated breath for the new IKEA kitchen system to hit stores. That's what I'll use (shown above) for the bedroom. 

If you can believe it we have room for only one comfy armchair. We have a petite club chair now, but I've got the chief furniture buyer on the lookout for something with more style -- like these Edward Wormley gems that cost a bajillion dollars. The sofa is a conundrum. Prob not in the budget to switch it, but not sure how to make a white slipcovered William Birch sofa work in this scheme. Like I said, a conundrum.

We've both always wanted a mobile. Mr. A actually found us a series of discs not unlike these -- ours are in bronze and gold -- we just have to figure out how to make them into a mobile. I skipped that day in physics class. Don't think I can DIY that.

So here it is all written down. Will be interesting to see if I can manage to stay focussed on this look or if I change my mind along the way.

photo credits:

1. Margot Ausitn. 2. Monsieur Bleu. 3. Brittany Ambridge. 4. Margot Austin. 5. Haus London.  6. Elisabeth Heier. 7. Andrew Skurman Architects. 8. Low Price Door Knobs. 9. Margot Austing/Flos. 10. Flos. 11. Elisabeth Heier. 12. Mid2Mod. 13. Corinne Van Havre.

downtonstagrams

Officially Season 4 of Downton hasn't started yet on PBS Masterpiece, but I must confess I've seen the whole darn thing already. I'm so excited for the Christmas special! Hopefully no deadly car crashed this year. And hopefully lots of fabulous outfits and sets and jewelry.

But what I'm really here to tell you about is that you should follow the official Downton Instagram feed here

There aren't too many posts up yet, but it's pretty yummy!

Like many I marvel at the dinner scenes, which obviously take quite a whiile to film. I just die for the stemware. How amazing to get a close-up peak at a table setting. 

...and of course the stunning teacups and saucers and spoons.

The caption doesn't say, but I wonder if this tea setting might be at Crawley House or the Dowager Countess's home, since the china pattern is different from above. I might have to rewatch to see if I can spot this set. #nerdalert.

It's full-on 1920s style in the costumes for Season 4 and the colours and beading are magnificent. I especially love how the beaded dresses catch the light. And Lady Mary dons a couple of stunning purple velvet frocks. It's fascinating to see how her wardrobe evolves as she comes out of her all-black morning. Keep an eye for it.

Another favourite part of Season 4 is how Lady Edith really blossoms. Watch for her in some truly stunning — and even sexy — ensembles. This olive green colour is so interesting and it looks fantastic on her. Love the hair ornament and her waves are perfection.

Here's another closeup vignette. No idea where this is but that painting is the bomb, as is the brass box!

And speaking of hair ornaments — hello incredible headband! And look at the mastery of her makeup: blushy cheeks and stained lips and those brows, and little else. Happy Birthday Michelle Dockery! She and her perfect eyebrows are celebrating a birthday today. In honour, I shall post my first gif -- look for the most subtle raise of the brow. Remember this: "I wouldn't want to push in."

And you can see a few more here.

And lastly, also speaking of that scene. Here's a screen cap of a wide shot:

Check out that pretty little piece of furniture, which I crushed on since first laying eyes on it. 

Mr. A just go this look-a-like in over at his shop. Check it out at the Vintage Fine Objects blog. 

collecting: fern ware

I'm easing back into this blogging thing. Thought I'd start a series about collecting. As you may know Mr. A and I are pro shoppers. We like stuff. Especially the good interesting old stuff. You could call us collectors but please, do not refer to the things we acquire as "collectibles". It's just a term that makes me shudder. Conjures images of troll dolls and beanie babies (OK fine, I have a couple of beanie babies, but they were gifts from a former boss who was a crazy serious collector of them. Truth. She use to delight in telling us what they were all worth. Seriously hope she sold hers before the bottom fell out of that craze. But I digress). 

Alas, back to the topic at hand, which will be Fern Ware. Now, I guess, strictly speaking 2 items is not quite enough to consitute a collection. Let's consider it a burgeoning collection. This one started about 8 years ago when I gifted this Fern Ware box to my husband on the occasion of his birthday. We have a lovely tradition of buying decortive boxes for eachother. I will tell you more about the box collections later. Today is about Fern Ware. As it happens, we also have a soft spot for fern botanical prints, fern fabrics etc. When we spotted this box at an antiques sale we both admired it. It stuck in my head so I contacted the dealer after the show to see if he still had it. He did. It was fate. 

Fern Ware looks a lot like magic to me. It originated in Mauchline, Scotland (hence why it is also called Mauchline ware) in the 1820s and continued until 1933. The fun thing about Mauchline Fern Ware is that it is essentially a little DIY project that was turned into a deorative arts industry. The effect is produced by laying actual ferns on a sycamore wood object, colouring around the ferns using dark brown, removing the ferns and then varnishing the finished project. (By the by, I once overhead a young buck DIYer claiming ownership over this reverse print idea -- my eyes almost rolled out of their sockets - No, you most certainly did not invent this technique. Some poeple.) As an aside, the same town in Scotland also produced Tartanware. Also love.

Not long after, Mr. A found this pretty volume and gave it to me. It is the Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, 1870! So in love.

It's probably the most beautiful book we own.

As if I needed further convincing of its charms, here is the inscription in the most glorious hand.

1st Prize

Awarded to

Simon B. Briekes 

For general proficiency

in 5th Class

New Dundee March 23, 1870

C.B. Lawlor

Teacher

Take another look at that P.

So beautiful.

vintage fine objects - my favourites

I could go on and on about my blogging delinquency, but I will not. So here I am with the biggest news to hit the Austins in quite some time. Voilà above is Mr. A's new venture, which opened on the coldest day of the year in Toronto's Corktown neighbourhood. The space, I must say, is the perfect backdrop for his vision: double-fronted window, south-facing, high-ceilinged. Mr. A and his crew even managed to reveal much of the building's original 120-year-old flooring in all it's beat-to-heck glory. 

The sign design above and his biz cards are the work of graphic design wizard Ashleigh Schouwerwou. They are the perfect iteration of Mr. A's aesthetic. Ashleigh is the typography whisperer - check out her cool new paper goods line Paper Society Co.

So anyhoo, back to Vintage Fine Objects. Here's a little tour of some of my favourite things. First up, that mirror, that commode. The mirror is a French Empire split column mirror that I find to be handsome and understated yet so grand thanks to its massive scale. Cylinder commodes are rare and versatile little creatures that are incredible examples of the cabinetmaker's art. I marvel at the curve of the wood. Love these in a bathroom or as a bar cabinet or bedside table. I told you - versatile! (and um, the floor!)

Dear mass-market furniture company based in California (you know who I mean), never in a million years will your "craftsmen" be able to replicate the authenticity of a true classic club chair. There are a pair of these. They are really from Europe. They are beautiful.

This desk. Rosewood. Mid-century. Chair to go with. Eat your heart out Don Draper.

Mr. A and I both have a thing for old art gallery posters. This one is super cool. He also has one for a Rothko exhibit. It rocks. Then there's that art on the right -- no idea how to describe that. I have a love/hate relationship with it. And those nifty little black and white stools - Mr. A has those custom made. Simple and perfect.

Mr. Acorn here is a little cutie. It's a lidded box that's hand-carved and one of the gems from Mr. A's collection of smalls.

This sexy beast is one of a pair once owned by Canadian interior design legend Ray Staples - you can see it in the background of this pic of Ray from 1989 (and yes, a leopard pillow is just what this chair needs!). Ray was a big fan and supporter of Mr. A and it makes me a bit sad that she didn't get to see this new achievement of his. But her chairs are here and I think she'd be proud of that. She would have said "You've done good kid!"

PS That wallpaper! Mr. A's idea for a show-stopping accent wall leads your eye into the two rear rooms. Well-played Mr. A. And the carpet - want that for our Tweed place. It's classic seagrass from Reznick Carpets.

Visit the new space at 328 Queen St. E. in Toronto, 416-686-5614, or here on the Internets: vintagefineobjects.com ; or follow him on the Twitter here.

skyfall date night

Mr. A and I enjoyed a fun date night to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. It was a date of the classic dinner-and-a-movie variety. Dinner: Lovely atmosphere, killer glass of big red, but the pizza? Meh. I believe Queen Margherita pizza to be a victim of too much hype. Didn't live up. Mr. A agrees.

Then it was onto the next item on the night's agenda: Bond, James Bond. Skyfall, I assure you, lives up to the hype. It's fantastic fun. Here is my small tribute to some of the details that made it for me.

First, the star of the movie...Mr. Craig? No. That suit. Yes! God bless Tom Ford for that dinner suit. First of all it's midnight blue rather than black -- a stroke of genius on the blue-eyed Mr. Craig. Skinny fit, silk shawl lapel, piqué shirt (the texture of the shirt cloth reads beautifully on the closeups on the big screen). Some people appreciate the big screen for the sound, the special effects yada yada. Me, I relish how it reveals the fabric of a tuxedo shirt.

This is the real moment of glory for that tux. Choreographed like a fashion runway presentation. Methinks the Tom Ford team might have had a hand in that...ps remember how we first saw Mr. C in the suit in this vid (ah, bless):

Generally Bond women are clad in all sorts of trampy nonsense. So this was a refreshing sight. Silk blouse, camel belt, pencil skirt, and done. Beautiful and sexy and tasteful. This is Naomie Harris. 

If you ask me the J. Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Dark Poppy is a dead ringer. 

The carpets in the market in Turkey: to die for! It's so hard to browse the merch when there's a motorcycle chase scene in he way. Oh well. Still, keep your eyes peeled. 

And please join me to appreciate Judi Dench as M. The character is as icy and powerful as they come. It's so brilliant to have an older woman in this part. I just love Judi Dench - weirdly, she kind of reminds me of my Mom (who I assure you is not the least icy). It's the stature, short white hair, kind eyes (even when she's playing a cool character, Dame Judi cannot erase the softness and kindness of her eyes). Also, the role I most associate her with is Iris Murdoch, in the biopic Iris. It was a heart-wrenching movie about a brilliant mind destroyed by the ravages of dementia. In real life, Dame Judi is losing her sight to macular degeneration, my Mom is too. My Mom is also an M - Margaret Bernadette. This Bond pic is a great one for Judi Dench and for M. 

Can you spot that little dude on M's desk?

You also might know I have a thing for bulldogs. Sure, my main occupation is with the French variety, but I pretty much love all the smooshy faced K9s. And I've been known to display a bulldog figurine or two...This dude is named Jack and he's made by the good people at Royal Doulton. I'll include the link, but don't bother, they are sold out, of course.

This is the new blood. He's all Jimmy-from-Quadrophenia-meets-Matthew Broderick-from-War Games and I think he's a doll. He also happens to drink Earl Grey tea and play Scrabble...This is Ben Whishaw.

A Black Watch tartan blanket plays a supporting role alongside, or on the lap of, M. Love it. Already own it.

...And then there's this. Aanother killer stone house, Duntrune Castle (known as Skyfall in the movie), dropped in front of my eyes - and this one nestled in the misty rolling hills of Scotland. Gorgeous.

I'm pretty sure there's a law in Britain that everyone must own a Barbour coat. Bond's Barbour fits just as snuggly as his dinner suit jacket. Perfect.