PHOTOGRAPHY: A Giveaway!!!!

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I have a confession to make. I am not one to go all out for art. I mean, if I can’t afford the best, why bother, is what I say about art. I guess what I really mean is this: if I can’t afford a Cy Twombly, why bother?

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If you do love art by Cy Twombly, could you afford it? Interior design by Renea Abbott.

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Or, if your taste runs more to romantic 18th century art, lord knows who can afford this but Axel Vervoordt. I mean, I would love THIS art in my house – but it’s a little out of my price range.

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Or, let’s say you love art from the 16th century, like Nancy Lancaster did and Oscar de la Renta does, and Lars Bolander too – who happens to own this canvas – but could you afford it? What room wouldn’t look better with art work like this?

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Or consider the master John Saladino – his wonderful collection of art hanging in Villa di Lemma is enough to make one weep. In fact his Cy Twombly is so gorgeous – it was what first made me realize how much I love Twombly’s work.

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Maybe you aren’t a Twombly fan. Consider then Saladino’s Robert Courtright collage that hangs in his bedroom suite at Villa di Lemma. If you love it, but can’t buy it, what would you do? What WOULD you hang on your walls instead of all this beautiful art that is out of the reach of the common man (you and me, that is!)

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Because the art work that I like is so prohibitive, I hang other things on my walls. Like mirrors. You can find beautiful ones that are plain and relatively inexpensive.

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Or, you could spend a little more and get a beautiful antique mirror – still much less than, say, an 18th century oil.

Picture courtesy of the beautiful blog www.trouvais.com

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Plain or fancy, big or small – mirrors are a great alternative to pricey art.

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A series of botanicals are also a nice alternative to expensive art. While this set is undoubtedly not cheap – one could create their own set from leaves in the back yard and then frame them between simple panes of glass.

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Or frame them between Plexiglas, like Brooke at Velvet and Linen is doing at her shop.

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Or, you could hang just one large botanical like this – flanked by sconces, instead of art work you can’t afford.

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I love old maps and lithographs – especially copies of old maps and lithographs that you can find for a song.

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The old maps of Paris and Rome are appealing – particularly when they aren’t originals. This map of Paris from Restoration Hardware, while not inexpensive, makes me just a little week in the knees. I only wish I had a place for it.

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Hanging plates and porcelains on walls makes any room look fabulous! This room doesn’t look empty without an oil painting, right?

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My own collection of antique celadon plates have been hanging on the walls for years. Except they aren’t antique, I bought them new – they just look antique. Almost any plain set of white dishes looks great on the walls.

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Oversized clocks are wonderful substitutes for fine art. Brooke from Velvet and Linen (again! I just love that girl!) hung this antique clock face in an asymmetrical arrangement in her stairwell. I love how she paired the clock face with the Mora clock. Just beautiful!

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In the Netherlands, lamp maker extraordinaire Ron van Empel has one of the prettiest clocks I’ve seen. Today – you can find oversized clocks copied from Target to K-Mart. You don’t have to hang an antique anymore to get this look.

Cathy's 070 I adore screens in place of oil paintings – here, my sister Cathy has a screen that I would give anything to own!

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Sally Wheat’s screen caught my eye while driving by her house and peeking inside. She has hung everything in her living room but art: two mirrors and the sconces. An oil painting is certainly not missing here.

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I also like to hang photography on walls in place of oil paintings. While some photography is very expensive, most is relatively not. Here in a beautiful apartment, Steven Gambrel hung a series of black and white photographs by Richard Prince along the back wall.

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In her Paris apartment, Lee Radziwill hung a photograph by Peter Beard.

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Nate Berkus hangs the photography of his late boyfriend Fernando Bengoechea.

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Large vintage photographs hang on the walls of this house on Long Island.

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Martyn Lawrence Bullard designed this house around the owner’s photographs – these striking ones are by Leni Riefenstahl. Certainly an oil painting is not missed here!

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The bedroom of the same house has giraffe photographs by Nick Brandt.

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\A serene photograph in a serene bedroom. Photography is a great substitute to oil paintings. Conde Nast has a wonderful collection of photographs for sale are ?>D>surprisingly affordable. Or you can always take your own camera and create something wonderful!

Which leads me to the giveaway!!! I am thrilled today to announce that photographer Tim Irving is hosting a giveaway. The winner will get to choose TWO photographs from his portfolio. To enter, all you have to do is go to his web site and then come back here, leave me a comment naming the photographs that you really like the best. Don’t worry – if you win – you will still get a chance to go back and pick again, ok? So don’t fret about your exact choice just yet. Below are my favorite photographs from Irving’s portfolio:

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You know what this is – BUT what is interesting about Tim’s work is how he uses vintage cameras and lenses to capture a certain atmosphere. This photograph truly looks vintage to me. He also occasionally uses Polaroid's.

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I love this shot of the rooftops of Paris. I love the colors.

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This photograph is wonderful – taken in Spain. Notice that light fixture on the right, so beautiful!

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This was taken with a Polaroid camera – and this shot certainly has a dreamy, vintage feel to it.

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Another Polaroid photograph, taken of sconces for sale. Love this!

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Provence, France. I love the juxtaposition of the old iron bicycle with the roses and wicker basket.

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And finally – my last pick – white kitchen items found in Africa. Taken with an old camera lens to produce its vintage feel. I think any of Tim’s portfolio would look so great on a wall, who would need an oil painting?

These photographs above are my favorites – now it’s your turn to choose your favorite. Remember, to enter the giveaway – you have to go to Tim Irving’s shop HERE, pick your favorite(s), then leave me a comment telling me which ones you love. The contest closes on Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. I’ll announce the winner the next day. Good luck!!!!

THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED - WE HAVE ANNOUNCED A WINNER! THANK YOU!!!!!

Readers Houses!

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As you know – because I tell you all the time  - every day I get emails from readers.  Sometimes the emails are accompanied by pictures of their houses.    I love getting those emails – it’s fun for me to see readers houses and even to offer a few design tips, but ONLY if I am asked to.   Otherwise, I take off my interior decorator hat and just admire their house as any friend would.    Although some emails are from readers wanting advice, most just send in pictures to share with me.   Many times the houses are decorated in a way that the reader knows I will admire and  just wants me to see it.    Some  homeowners don’t send pictures of their entire house, rather they send snapshots of just one special room recently redecorated.    I have no idea why I love looking at other peoples houses, but I do.   And, I suspect if you are reading this blog, you are the same way too.  So today, I am going to show you a few houses and special rooms from readers so you can enjoy them as much as I have.    Most interesting of all is that most of these houses were not professionally decorated, rather the homeowner put it together herself.    If you have sent me pictures of your house and it’s not included here, do not take it personally!    I have so many images stored on my computer, it’s impossible for me to look through all of them to find every house sent to me these past two years!    These that I am showing today just happened to have been easily found on the hard drive.     Also, if you think you do want to  share your house with other readers – don’t be shy!    I’m hoping to make Readers Houses a regular feature of the blog from here on out. 

 

 

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Kim from somewhere in the midwest sent me pictures of her beautiful house.    First up is her entry hall with a vignette designed around a silver mirror and lamps.  Right past the entry is an office behind French doors.   I wish there was a picture of this room – it looks so interesting with its patterned rug and pillow!  

 

 

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Facing the entry hall is the living area on the left and the family room and kitchen on the right.   Here you can really get a feel for the house – the colors, the whites and light blues mixed with black accents.  Which room tugs at you to see first – the living room or the family room?   For me – even though Kim’s husband and the cat look so cozy in the family room - the living room is calling.

 

 

 

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With the pretty staircase overlooking it, the living room is bright, light, and beautiful!   The room is double height with lots of windows that really add to the ambiance here.  The curtains are a wonderful silk stripe in blue and white and notice the pattern is railroaded, meaning the stripes run horizontal instead of the more usual vertical direction.      The large pattern is perfect in this size room.   The sofa matches wonderfully in white with the blue trim and the zebra pillows pop against all the more pastel colors in the room.    In fact, black is an important accent color  - besides the pillows, it is found in the piano and the lampshades.   I love the large trendy chandelier – it’s the right size exactly for this high ceilinged room.   Kim adds a large mink throw for texture.   What a pretty room – I love it!

 

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  A close up shot of the sofa with all the pillows and the luxurious throw.    Let’s go see the nearby dining room.

 

 

 

 

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The dining room is a bright, sunny space.   With its glass topped table, surrounded by casually slipcovered chairs- the painting really sets the mood in this room.     The pillows that are placed on the chairs all pick up the bright colors found in the painting.    Further bursts of colors come from the glassware found on the tablescape.   I wish we could see the lighting fixture!    Very cute room!!!

 

 

 

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Heading back into the central hall,  the family room and kitchen are on the right side of the house.    Here you can see part of the family room with the animal print rug and two white chairs and ottoman.  Notice the breakfast room is off to the very back right of this room.

 

 

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The family room connects to the large white kitchen.   There is another back staircase in this room.  

 

 

 

 

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Off to the side in a large bay window is the breakfast room – so charming!  I love the way Kim has accessorized the table with a runner and candlesticks.   The light fixture is so pretty too.   I adore this room!    Notice what an important role all the green from outside plays in all the different rooms.     The foliage really adds so much color to the house. 

 

 

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The kitchen has beautiful Carrara marble counter tops and great cabinetry.   In every room, Kim has used a wonderful chandelier which really adds an important design element.   I love how the pantry has a French door! 

 

 

 

 

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The backsplash is subway tiles, also in marble.   This is really a pretty kitchen with the glass front cabinets and the wood hood.  

 

 

 

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The master bedroom is a serene place, with a chandelier and two large mirrors that make the entire room sparkle. 

 

 

 

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And finally the verdant back yard with its wonderful swimming pool!    Thank you Kim for sharing your beautiful house with us!!!!!

 

 

 

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Homeowner Two:   our next reader’s house is owned by a woman who wanted to share her love of accessories and collecting with me.   Like she said – we have many of the same collections – and she is so right!  I see right away we both love zebra rugs and blue and white porcelains!

 

 

Round Bookcase & Book Screen

This is so charming – an antique round bookcase filled with design books, of course!  I love the screen behind it, made of book faces.  She loves books as much, if not more, than I do!

 

 

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I adore this – around a game table – four blue and white garden seats!   She has me beat - I only have three garden seats.

 

 

Books with Dogs and Flowers

Another thing we both collect is bronze dog figures  AND design books.  I’m not sure who has more books, she or I, but it’s a tight race.   I see we own many of the same books.   But more important – I spy a picture of the owner hugging a English Springer Spaniel, very much like my own Georgie.    Is this my house or hers??????   I’m getting a little confused here!

 

 

 

Dogs and Books

Another view of the same tablescape – Living With Dogs is one of my favorite design books!  

 

 

 

Dog Books & Dog Bowl Collection

In this beautiful antique secretary is a collection I don’t have – but it’s so charming I may start one – vintage dog bowls!   I love this!!!   The entire cabinet is an expression of her love of dogs – she must be the sweetest woman in the world!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Chinese Calligraphy Brushes

More blue and white and calligraphy brushes.   We both share a love of orchids.  I only own one calligraphy brush. 

 

 

 

Dining Room Bookcase of Cookbooks Her collection of cooking books fills the bookcase in the dining room.  OK  - here we part ways.   I don’t have a love of cooking.  Whew!  I thought we were the same person until now!

 

 

 

 

Bowl of Cookbooks 

A view of the vignette atop the console in the dining room.   This homeowner collect religious santos and art work that celebrates the Hispanic woman.   AND she loves orange roses – me too!!!!!

 

 

 

Birthday Party Entry Table with Books & Roses At the homeowner’s 60th birthday party, her family collected all the things from her house that she loves and decorated the party room with her favorites.  What a great idea – I have to remember this for my 60th birthday, in five years!    Here, her love of quilts, santos, blue and white, and orange roses is evident.

 

 

Birthday Fudge with Santo Praying A view of the party table – I see “Antiques At Home” another favorite book of mine.    The fudge looks slightly delicious.

 

 

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She’ll probably kill me for this – but the beautiful homeowner at her 60th birthday party- thank you for sharing your wonderful house and all your  collections with us!!!!

 

 

 

MstrBdrm-1 Homeowner Three:  Our third homeowner sent in this picture of her bedroom – telling me how much I would love it!  I wonder why?  Could it be the checked upholstered headboard, or the beautiful Scalamandre Oriental toile wallpaper?   Or would it be the vintage sunburst mirror?    Thank you Ms. MDC for sharing your beautiful bedroom with us !!!

 

 

 

 

P1000898Homeowner  Four:     Our Fourth homeowner today sent in pictures of her house – and I want to show you how darling her kitchen is – all in black and white, with subway tiles and black granite.    The floor tiles are perfect, and I love the white linen curtains along with the white ironstone too.  But the chandelier is the perfect touch!!!  Thanks for sharing!!  You’ve done a great job with your house.

 

 

 

P1080084 Homeowner Five:   This homeowner today writes from South Africa!    Her house is built around a courtyard where there is a large swimming pool.  Notice the lions on top of the roof!  This is Africa, after all.

 

 

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Her living room is so pretty with its stone fireplace.

 

 

 

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I especially love the French inspired bedroom with its trumeau mirror.

 

 

 

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But what really caught my eye was this bathroom with its crystal chandelier, twin Venetian mirrors and luxurious silk window shade – all just so beautiful!  Thank you for sharing!

 

 

 

100_2754Homeowner Six:   This young homeowner wanted to share her dining room which she had just finished decorating.  She thought I would like it – wonder why?   Well, the slipped chairs are adorable – I like how she put tops on only two of the chairs – it creates a visual interest.  Cute ballet ties too!   And I love the dark wall color with the white slipcovers – it makes them pop.  The plates are the perfect addition too – love that!   You did a great job!!!! 

 

 

 

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Homeowner Seven:     This reader told me – you are going to love my living room –we share so many things.  Yes we do!  Let me count the ways:  Bennison Roses fabric, seagrass, zebra, white slips, French settee, blue and white, orchid, sconces -  yes, you are so right!!  We do share a love of so many of the same things!! 

 

 

hunterlibrary2_921westcliffeAnd finally, I really want to show you this house, but I don’t have the homeowner’s email anymore.  If this is your dog, email me!   This homeowner sent in professional pictures of her beautiful house and I want to make sure it’s not being published before I share it.

 

Thank you again to all the homeowners today who have shared their houses and their special rooms with me and you!   What is most interesting, is I don’t think many were professional designed – just homeowners with style and taste who put together their house with the things they love.  If you have designed your house and want to show it off, let me know!  I hope to continue to show “real houses” not just all the more professionally designed houses we see in the magazines. 

 

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And one bit of blog business, this week The Skirted Roundtable was thrilled to welcome internationally acclaimed interior designer AND blogger Vicente Wolf.    Wolf   was extremely interesting, talking about everything from his childhood in Cuba to his present day design service, working  hard to maintain a profitable business in this terrible economy.   If you haven’t had a chance to listen – please go HERE to do so.   ENJOY!!!!