Suellen Gregory

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One of my all time favorite design magazine stories concerned a house that was decorated primarily in pinks.  The young owner had a life long obsession with the color and was determined to live with it.   She was very definite about her colors -  it was not just any pink that she loved, instead it was a most specific shade, a blue-pink.  Apparently her mother also shared a love of this same color  and the owner had grown up around it – it was in her blood, you might say.   Enter interior designer Suellen Gregory, from Richmond, Virginia,  who fulfilled the owner’s pink fantasy by creating the house of her dreams.   The Pink House first appeared as the cover story of Traditional Home, September, 2003.  I remember it well.  We were vacationing on the beach when the issue came out and my copy of the magazine went home sandy, stained, and dog-eared.  I loved everything about the house and remember feeling a pang of envy that here was someone with enough self confidence to actually take such a ravishingly feminine color and use it throughout, without any regards to what people might think of a pink-filled house! 

The story of the Pink House appealed to a lot of people, not  just myself.  For years afterwards the house showed up time and again in various sister publications.   My well-read copy of the original article remained on my desk –hoping for that one client who would also want that perfect shade of pink.  As it so happened, one day I decided to research the designer  online and there, lo and behold, was the Pink House on Gregory’s web site, except it had been totally transformed!   The house was now redecorated all in white, with just a few accents of  a deeper, hotter pink.  I found the comparison between the pink rooms versus the white rooms fascinating, and even wrote about the two different color schemes in the early days of my blog.   I polled the readers as to which they liked better – the pink decor or the white version?   It was all in great fun, and an associate of Ms. Gregory, Megan Lowden,  emailed me, thanking me for the story.  Megan and I have kept in touch through the years and she recently let me know that Ms. Gregory had just gone online with a brand new website.  Would I like to feature it, she wondered?  You bet I would!   I adore Ms. Gregory’s style – a genteel southern brand of design that is heavy on the classics, the kind of decorating that stands the test of time.  Gregory, eschewing trendiness, creates a decor that looks as good today as it did yesterday and will tomorrow.   Her designs speak to me – I love her silk taffeta curtains, her use of French antiques, her ability to effectively mix the modern and the ancient, all the while creating a cozy and warm ambience.   Of course it would be my pleasure to promote her new web site!  

Well designed web sites are as important today to the interior design profession as is a well designed space, and Gregory’s new site does not disappoint.  The images are large and bright, focused and professional – something that many others lack.  The site is straightforward and not overburdened with lots of gimmicky flash intros.  It’s easy to navigate and best of all – there are plenty of magazine layouts in PDFs.   Perhaps the most surprising part of the website was who designed it – Coleen Rider, the owner of Coleen and Co., a hugely popular design store in Los Angeles.   Coleen and Co. is one of the design blogosphere’s favorite retail spots, but did you know that Coleen designed web sites too?  Neither did I!!   To me, Coleen is famous enough for her ultra fabulous tent-lanterns, her one-of-a-kind tole lighting fixture that has been the rage on so many blog and magazines.   Yet, wearing another hat, Coleen develops web sites and other business branding product, a hobby that has turned into a satisfying and lucrative business.   Today, I am thrilled to show you Suellen Gregory’s new site, designed by Coleen Rider – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

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The epitome of southern grace and charm, Ms. Suellen Gregory from Richmond, Virginia.

 

 

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The original famous “Pink House” – lot of creams with accents of pink made up the formal living room.  Throughout the house, Gregory used a cool gray as the secondary color.    When first published in 2003, I thought this was one of the prettiest rooms I had ever seen – and I still feel that way today!

 

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The living room – the blue-pink shows up in the silk pillows.  The oversized antique French trumeau is the room’s focal point.

 

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In the living room, the portrait of the owner’s son is flanked by lovely cream colored silk curtains.  Notice how gorgeous the curtain rods are!    Gregory said that the button pleats were modeled from the bodice of a Jacqueline Onassis dress!!

 

 

 

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Across from the sofa is the fireplace with a pair of crystal sconces on each side.   I adore the pink and cream striped ottoman and the ultra feminine fabric on the slipper chair.

 

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Today:  the Pink House was redecorated by Suellen Gregory, as evidenced by these pictures on her web site.  Gone are all the French pieces such as the trumeau, instead the room is now more cleaned lined with a heavy dose of glamour.  The creams have been replaced with clear whites and the pinks are of a decidedly hotter variety.     The French styled coffee table was replaced with a mirror-clad more contemporary piece and assorted bergeres were switched with club chairs.  Notice how Gregory updated the sofa – there is a single bottom cushion and double back cushions that replaced the traditional three cushions of before.    Notice too the dressmaker skirt that flows from the deck – a much updated look.   Even the portrait of the son has become less traditional!

 

 

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Painted wood frame chairs are now upholstered in white with chic nail head trim.   The mantel has been mirrored, showcasing a contemporary piece of art done in pink – of course!   Do you prefer the living room with the white decor or the pink decor?  Hard to decide, I know!!!

 

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The dining room, before, while the house was still all pink.  The painted and gilded cane backed chairs are upholstered in silk and cream stripes and the floors are a wonderful, painted grey and white checked pattern.  Just dreamy!!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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The dining room in the new white decor.  The console is white with gilding.  The chairs have been replaced.  Mirrors replace art work.  Just as in the living room, the dining room is more 40’s glam than the traditional French style before.   The floors remain the same as does the table, although the top has been mirrored.  

 

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Another shot of the “white” dining room.   Do you have a preference for the pink or the white decor?   I really can’t say if I do myself.  I love the pink decor, but the white is fabulous too.  

 

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The entry hall as it originally was – in this room, Gregory chose to highlight the blue-gray color, instead of the blue-pink.  The entry hall is long and is divided into sections.  Through the second area, you can see the blue silk portieres that were used at the doorway.   The slipper chairs were upholstered in the same fabric.  I love how Gregory painted the handrail to match the floor boards!  But the piece de resistance is the antique wood fragment, used over the portal, creating an arch effect – magnificent!

 

 

 

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Across from the slipper chairs is this gorgeous antique French canape, in gray and white stripes.  Notice the shelves are open here.

 

                                                              

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Today, the space has been updated – the slipper chairs are long gone, replaced with gilded chairs upholstered in white.  A zebra rug finishes the updating.  Note that the shelves now have arched doors closing them off.    In this picture you can see the detailing of the portieres – Gregory does wonderful window treatments, as evidenced here.  I love how they are tied back high up, rather than low, creating an excellent visual proportion and also notice the scalloping at the top of the curtains – all excellent ideas to file away and utilize on your own curtains one day.

 

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For the Pink House’s family room, Gregory used a slipcovered sofa with pink trimmed pillows – pink gimp was used on the bergeres.   The curtains are a softly colored pink and white ticking,  held with beautiful antiqued mirrored tie backs.   Above the sofa is another trumeau.   Notice in the trumeau – the reflection of the luscious shades!!!

 

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Today – as the “White House,”  the pink pillows are replaced with white, as are the curtains.   The walls are now the light blue-gray shade.

 

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In the original Pink House design, he master bedroom was not done in pinks – instead it was all French and  creams and whites and grays.  

 

 

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In the redecorating, the master bedroom was streamlined – the chair at the desk was changed as was the mirror.   The bed linens are simplified without the duvet.   I love the subtle gray and white striped fabric used for the curtains.     

So, that is all the pictures of the Pink House, now the White House on Suellen Gregory’s web site, or is it????

 

 

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While perusing the pictures, I found this one of a gorgeous paneled library filled with a beautiful pink silk damask fabric.  But the painting over the fireplace looks familiar.   Wait – it’s the same as the one in the “White House” living room!  Could the house have been updated yet again?  The touches of pink seen in the adjoining room give off even more tantalizing clues.  

 

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Might this room, with the deep pinks be the adjoining room to the library?    The sofa does seem the same shape as the white slipcovered one…..

 

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No, it can’t be the same house – this adjoining room isn’t the original Pink/White House’s living room.   But it was fun for awhile to try to read the clues!   As you all well know, I love to study houses and their decor and see the evolution of their rooms throughout the years.   I become engrossed trying to figure out floor plans from pictures – how the rooms relate to each other.   And so, after studying these three rooms above, I had to say, that no -  it wasn’t the same Pink/White House at all, despite the same art work found in the paneled library.    I must say, though, that this room designed by Gregory is one of my favorites on her web site.   I love the lines of the twin sofas, the absence of the back cushions is so fresh looking and the long lumbar pillow is just the perfect accent.  The two pieces of art or tapestry canvases flanking the doorway, are just gorgeous!!!!  I love the gold mixed with the white – and notice the mirror-less frame over the mantel.   Beautiful!!!!!!!!      But wait…….the gilded chair in the gold damask, isn’t that the same chair upholstered in white in the entry hall of the Pink/White house?????    The mystery continues…….. 

 

 

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One of the prettiest nurseries in the world – this apricot and gray vision, with a toile wallpaper, patterned rug, and taffeta bedskirt was designed by Suellen Gregory.     Notice the wonderfully shaped valance and how subtle the draperies are held back.  Just beautiful!!  Who wouldn’t want to be a baby in this room???

 

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And finally, this dining room by Suellen Gregory features chocolate linen chairs from Coleen and Co.   Coleen Rider, proprietress of Coleen and Co., also designed Gregory’s new web site. 

 

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The pictures I’ve shown today are just a small taste of Suellen Gregory’s portfolio found on her newly designed web site.  Be sure to visit it today to see all of her beautifully designed rooms,  here.  And also, be sure to visit Coleen Rider at Coleen and Co.    To contact her web site development company, Creative and Company, please visit, here.

Happy Mother’s Day

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A few days ago, Elisabeth, my 18 year old daughter, surprised me with these peonies she picked up on a trip to the grocery store.  What an unexpected and totally sweet gesture!  To tell you the truth, that’s enough of a Mother’s Day gift for me, though I suspect she and her dad have something else hidden up their sleeves!    The older Lizzy gets, the more thoughtful she is of Ben and me, even though there are plenty of days when she thinks we are the craziest loons in the world.     Just looking at this table conjures up all sorts of great memories of our family.   The shells in the bowl are ones that we have actually collected at either South Padre Island or Galveston – two places not exactly known for good shelling.   You should only know how hard we worked to find those!!!!!   While we have jars and jars of tiny shells, these are the cream of the crop that we’ve found.    Ben and I can look through that bowl and remember where we found each shell and which summer it was.    Just glancing at the sand dollar on top, for instance, reminds us of that time in Galveston when Lizzy was in 8th grade and we were there with her then best friend Cori.  A huge storm blew through and dislodged  hundreds of shells from the dunes.  Later that afternoon I found five perfect sand dollars, a record for our family!   Hopefully one day Lizzy will tell her own children about that day, and all the other specials times we’ve shared together.    Because, that’s what it’s all about – making memories to smile about later on. 

 

 

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Ben, with eyes only for our daughter Elisabeth, holding her absolutely too adorable baby cousin Laine Wise. 

 

Wishing all the mothers out there a wonderful Mother’s Day!!!!  And a very special one to my own mother, Betty Rae, and my mother-in-law, Mary.

 

Copy a Swedish Room On a Budget!

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One of my all time favorite Veranda covers was of Shannon and Andrew Newsom’s house, a young couple in Dallas who own the fabulous catalogue company, Wisteria – my personal favorite.  It’s no coincidence that the Newsoms live a stylish life:   Andrew’s mother Lisa Newsom is the founder/editor-in-chief of Veranda, while Shannon’s mother is the uber talented Houston interior designer and shop owner, Jane Moore.   No wonder the younger Newsoms created such a wonderful company – they have design in their blood.  I wrote about this house before here, but recently I’ve noticed that Wisteria has begun carrying more and more items based on the antiques found in their own home – mainly Swedish.   While the Wisteria reproductions don’t have the same patina that antiques acquire over the years, the newer versions do have something the antiques lack:  affordability.  Swedish antiques are prohibitive in price to all but a lucky few, and with today’s economy, even less of the lucky few are willing to fork over the money to live with such priceless pieces, because, trust me, Swedish antiques are priceless!   Wisteria’s new offerings are very welcomed, because while there are several companies that make Swedish reproductions,  most are located in England – who has had a love affair with these painted pieces for years and years.  To be sure, there are a few companies in the United States with great reproductions, Chelsea Editions comes to mind immediately, but their to-the-trade only line has to be ordered and you will wait and wait for delivery.   In contrast, as long as their stock holds out, you can have a Swedish home overnight with Wisteria’s product.   Another company that sells reproductions, GJ Styles, who just changed their name to Halo Styles, recently introduced a Swedish line.   Though to-the-trade only – their catalogue is online and Cote de Texas will be more than willing to order their product for anyone, along with deep discounting!  And not to forget – there is Tara Shaw who just last month debuted a gorgeous reproduction line, heavy with Swedish pieces.  Again, though to-the-trade only, readers are welcome to order anything from Cote de Texas

 

I’ve long wished to live with Swedish antiques, but truthfully, their prices are out of my budget.   Perusing Wisteria’s latest catalogue, it occurred to me that finally – I could get some great  Swedish chairs and tables and still have money left over for the beauty shop!    While I realize even the reproduction prices are not “cheap” like Target or a flea market, they are substantially less than their antique counterparts where a single chair can go for over $2,000.     So, let’s see if we can actually recreate a decent looking Swedish styled living room/dining room on a budget.     Start with the above picture from the cover featuring a corner of the Newsom’s living room.   Of course, as luck would have it,  the very first picture would have to be nearly impossible to duplicate.  The desk with the clock is so special – there isn’t anything like it  on the reproduction market, but, lets try with this new piece from Wisteria, which may have been created just for this purpose!

 

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To recreate the clock/secretary, from Wisteria, at just $2199.00 – though not cheap, it is a fraction of what an original Swedish antique would cost.   The finish is really special on this piece.  And be sure to watch for sales.  Wisteria is known for having great ones!

 

 

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At Halo Styles, there is this Swedish desk for around the same amount as Wisteria’s.

 

 

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For even less, from Halo Styles, is this Swedish cabinet with the traditional detailing. 

 

 

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The desk with a Swedish clock is highly unusual and very rare.    If you were looking for an exact copy, Tara Shaw Antiques has this beauty in their store right now. This piece is the real thing – not a copy!!!!!

 

 

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In the original picture, the chair is  Swedish.   I found an exact copy of the chair in the Tara Shaw Maison line!  It’s an amazing reproduction, at a fraction of the cost of an original.

 

 

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To replicate the altar candlestick found in the living room - Target on-line has this set of three - a true bargain at $149.00.

 

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Aidan Gray – to-the-trade – has a wonderful assortment of reasonable reproduction altar candlesticks.    Their web site will find a retailer in your area, or Cote de Texas can order them for you.

 

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And this beautiful assortment of altar candlesticks is available from Tara Shaw Maison.  Again, Tara’s reproductions are near perfection.   Antique altar candlesticks start at over $1,000 and up, way up, so buying a reproduction makes good fiscal sense.

 

 

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On this side of the living room, the Newsom’s installed an antique limestone fireplace.  While, this is definitely cost prohibitive, there are companies that sell copies of these mantels – another way to get the look without paying the price.

 

 

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Mantels are made of concrete to resemble the original limestone antiques, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  One day I would love to replace my wood mantel with  something like this that includes an overmantel.      

 

 

 

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The next important element in this room are the chairs.   These could be either Swedish or French bergeres.   Halo Styles has two Swedish armchairs that would be great substitutes.  This one has open arms.

 

 

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This chair from Halo Styles has closed arms.   Of the two, this one is my favorite.

 

 

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From Wisteria, this cane chair would be great to use in the room – and for $799.00 the price is low considering the quality.  The finish is truly beautiful!

 

 

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For above the mantel, Wisteria sells this little sunburst mirror for $179.00.  At 19” it is very small, but effective.

 

 

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Ballard Designs sunburst mirror is much larger at 46”, $279.00.

 

 

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A hot new look in antique designing is books on the fireplace, but placed so that the pages are showing – as the Newsoms have done.   Lately in antique stores, I’ve been seeing bound books sold, without their covers in order to achieve this look.   Wisteria takes it one step further with these charming boxes – stacked two or three.  $44 and $49.  

 

 

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Wow!  Ballard Designs has this ottoman for $445, in a sage check fabric too!   I’m not sure it wouldn’t be as cheap to have an oval ottoman custom made – and get that extra double ruffle detailing that is missing here.  But if you don’t have access to an upholsterer, this is a great alternative!

 

 

 

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Finishing out the room, is a small sofa, two antique Swedish chairs and a few tables.   Wisteria makes the sofa easy for you to copy.

 

 

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From Wisteria, this sofa is an almost exact copy of the one in their own home!  It comes in a host of different colors, but all in a plain pattern.   I don’t know if they accept a COM (customers own material), but it’s worth asking.    At $2,399.00 it’s not inexpensive, but the detailing – all the tufting and ruffles and down does not come cheap.   Very charming!

 

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Or, from Ballard Designs for just $1,087.00 – you can get this settee, with casters, and the sage green check!  What a steal!!!!!! 

 

 

 

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Again, Wisteria copies their own “coffee” table almost exactly.   For $699.00.  Great price for the value.

 

 

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For the skirted table, Ballard Designs comes through with a plain linen fabric at $287.00.    Again, it might be just as cheap to do it yourself – especially to get the double ruffle effect of the Newsom’s own table. 

 

 

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Wisteria sells these  Gustavian chairs for $289.00   You could use these here, or in the dining room or kitchen.  I love this chair – it’s so authentic looking and the finish is wonderful.  Love the checked fabric too.

 

 

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Halo Styles has a chair that looks more like the Newsoms chairs, and at a great price.

 

 

 

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For the end table, though not round, this Swedish painted table from Wisteria is just beautiful.  $549.00.   Halo Styles has more tables similar to this, but not quite as pretty.  Again – a wonderful, wonderful Swedish finish.

 

 

 

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The rug – how would you duplicate the dhurris that are without color, pattern – the subtlety of it?  Ikea sells these flat, wool rugs – in different colors and sizes.

 

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This rug from Ikea looks pink here, but it’s actually an off white.   This might be a great substitute for the more expensive dhurris seen in the Newsom house.   Or there is always seagrass which is wonderful to use in a Swedish style room – with it’s white walls.

 

 

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In this part of the room– two Swedish barrel chairs flank a console.  Wisteria has provided us with both!  Thanks Andrew!  

 

 

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This barrel chair is a great copy.  These chairs are so very expensive when antique – so at $799.00 – you can get the look with out having to put out too much money.  What a fabulous copy!!!!!

 

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Wisteria’s new Swedish console – at $1,499.00 – not cheap, but what a beautiful piece – notice all the detailing.  The finishes on the Wisteria’s pieces are amazing too.

 

 

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Tara Shaw Maison has a barrel chair, too – another beautiful piece – and not much more than the Wisteria chair.  This chair has a nailhead trim and notice the lion heads!!! Beautiful!   

 

 

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The antique leather screen is very difficult to duplicate.   Hunt Ebay, Craig’s list, or Ruby Lane for a cheap version.    Or at $499.90 -  this screen from Horchow is a nice alternative.  Not the same as a leather screen – but passable.  If someone has a source for good screens, let me know.  One thing you could do is  buy handpainted wallpaper and frame it.

 

 

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$189 from Home Decorators.   You could antique this screen for a nice effect.

 

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Or buy some old shutters!      These shutters are so pretty and would look great in a Swedish room.   You could always buy untreated new ones and leave them outside.

 

 

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 Lowe’s has a tutorial on how to make a screen.  This might be a good alternative. 

 

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To duplicate the statuary – go to a garden shop and get a concrete piece, rather than a cheap resin copy from a store like Z Gallerie. 

 

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And for the stool under the console, GJ Styles, or Halo Styles, has this darling foot stool.

 

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For $229, a great price, Wisteria has this Swedish stool in oak.

 

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From Wisteria, this authentic copy of a 18th century trumeau, at $799 would look great over the console.

 

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The dining room at the Newsom’s  house – this would be tricky to copy for one reason – the table.  I had trouble sourcing this, but I did come up with a few ideas.

 

 

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First the clock.   Halo  Styles has several different Mora clocks in several finishes.  Here in blue is one – I love these Mora clocks  - the shapes are so feminine.  There is a wonderful fairy-tale quality to them, like Cinderella at the ball!  

 

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And another style!  I just adore these clocks – anywhere - in any styled home.  I have one myself on a stair landing – it makes me smile each time I see it!!!   How can you not smile?

 

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This chair from Halo Styles or  GJ Styles.com is a close  match to the Newsom chairs.   Any Swedish chair would do here.

 

 

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The major problem to copy in this room is the dining table.   I have a client right now who wants a table exactly like the Newsoms and I can’t find one at any price!  So, to find one on a budget is a real hard one to accomplish.   BUT, Wisteria does have this metal table which is a nice alternative at $999.00 – a folding medal version.  Not bad!

 

 

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If you love the scroll – how about this console from Wisteria?   At $149 – buy two – and add a painted wood top!   I think that is a genius idea!!!  Haha. 

 

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Or, have a skirted table made – like this one that Pam Pierce created - (love her double ruffle effect!).    Then, use one or two of the scrolled consoles to get the effect!  I think that may be my favorite solution.   Use any of the Swedish chairs shown with it. 

 

 

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The biggest bargain of the room is this chandelier, found on Amazon, Yes! Amazon!   The Regency style mimics the one at the Newsoms, but much less expensive.  Get it here for $862.00!!!! Antique versions of this chandelier start at $5,000 and up.

 

 

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This popular picture on the blogosphere was taken from a Houston house photographed by House Beautiful.  I wrote about it extensively here.  It’s not from the Newsom’s house, but I thought it looked like it could be!    How could you reinterpret this small sitting room for your own house – on a budget?   The homeowner actually created this wallpaper copied from an original Gustavian home.  She bought black and white botanical prints, copied them on a printer, and then had them hand painted!!   BUT – you could find a calendar with images similar to these, copy them on a printer, then paste them on the wall.   I know it sounds very labor intensive and maybe it is – but how gorgeous is this??????   Once the prints are on the wall – you could put a wash over them to antique them.   It would be worth a try. 

 

 

 

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Halo Styles has an array of reproduction Swedish sofas.      These are two of my favorite designs.   Again, the real thing is so expensive and these are great copies – the detailing is so exact.   These sofas make good accent pieces in any design really, not just Swedish – in bedrooms at the end of a bed or in a sitting arrangement,  in a living room, or an entry, or in a dining room instead of chairs on one side of the table!   Both would need a soft cushion and loose pillows – and they both could be upholstered in a checked fabric – a traditional Swedish look.

 

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Notice this adorable set of child sized Swedish furniture from Wisteria!    The sofa is $169.00 and $249 for the two chairs.  This would be so adorable in a playroom OR if you did a Swedish styled home, one chair or the sofa would be a cute accent in a family room.

 

Thanks to Wisteria, Halo Styles and Tara Shaw Maison – today you can purchase Swedish furniture and not spend a fortune.  Wisteria and  Halo Styles have really invested in the current Swedish trend and that makes it great for  you and me.   Even if you don’t want to go all out Swedish, these painted pieces are beautiful on their own and would make great accents mixed in with other design styles such as  French, Belgian, and even contemporary!