Vintage Furniture shopping: online, flea market, or department store? by Ginevra Held

Hello all,

Sorry its been so long.  Been a bit hectic as I made the decision to go to London.  Kind of a walkabout/discovery/explore situation.

Anyway, on my first day here, I went to Liberty of London, that beautiful old, can we call it a department store?  I think so, in the way that Barney's and Bon Marche are department stores, not like Macy's though of course.

Here is the gorgeous Liberty tucked off of Regent Street:

Liberty of London, a beautiful half timber building tucked off of Regent Street.

Liberty of London, a beautiful half timber building tucked off of Regent Street.

Liberty has all the trappings of a luxury goods store, designer cosmetics, handbags, clothing.  But they also have their famous fabric line.  And in that vein an entire area dedicated to haberdashery, as in ribbons, buttons, everything you need for sewing, this is what makes it so unique.





They also have an incredible curation of home goods. Here is one of the displays that I found particularly lovely:

That makes you want to do blue and white everywhere, doesn't it?

Finally, I on the home decor floor I found an entire room filled with vintage furniture, here is where we get to the subject, finally of this blog.  Vintage furniture shopping.  Here is a picture of the room:

So, real talk. I was surprised to see vintage furniture in a luxury department store. Though, as discussed Liberty is not your run of the mill store.  Still I was not expecting to read a label saying "pair of 1960's Italian hand painted side tables." Now those little guys were running for about £1000. (Please don't ask me how long it took to find the pound symbol, or why special characters is no emoji and symbols, I kind of hate you Apple (not Gwyneth Paltrow's kid, she seems nice, or the fruit, I mean the computer company))

What are we looking at here? We are looking at the utmost in vintage curation.  Somebody has gone out and found some very unique and very pristine pieces of vintage furniture, chosen not only the best, but also what fits the design sensibility of Liberty and brought it all together here. Somebody has done the work for you.  They have found it, assessed it themselves, its design qualities, its workmanship, and distinguished it from thousands of other items and finally brought them to liberty.  This is what you are paying for.

One King's Lane is similar.  They have edited for you.  There is a lot more on their website though.  I think, from doing a lot of browsing on that site, that the quality is fairly reliable.  They have a lot to choose from though, so the curation part is not as big.  Meaning, you have to either be browsing and find something awesome and buy it whimsically, or know exactly what you are looking for.  They do their own version of curating by having those categorized sales.  This helps narrow down styles and looks.

I would say that the price point between the two is fairly similar, with Liberty being a bit more.  Again that is because you are paying for the curation.  This is similar to hiring a designer.  An Interior Designer is a master curator.  They have an eye and a vision.  They can cull from an enormous amount of information and determine the pieces that fit that vision.

Once you browse around One King's Lane and Liberty, you start to train your eye.  From there you can begin to foray into flea markets.  If you see things similar to what you see on One King's Lane or at Liberty, you can begin to discern the quality and relative worth of things.  Certainly, if you learn to hunt, you can find the 1960's Italian side tables for a lot less then Liberty is offering. But that takes a discerning eye and knowledge.

I think this is the point about price points.  You are not just paying for the item itself, you are paying for the expert knowledge and curatorial talent that went into choosing the pieces.

What am I trying to say? There is value in all of it. In buying something at Liberty, in spending time on One King's Lane, and in sleuthing at flea markets.  

I think the word of the day is curation.  Whether its in the selection at Liberty, or your own at a Flea Market, or from an Interior Designer, its the curation that creates the magic in the room.  There is a lot of stuff out there!!!!! It can be extremely overwhelming.  So it takes time to suss out the good from the bad.  In the end, it takes a lot of time and research to put a home together, whether you do it on your own or with a designer.

How I customized black and white toile de jouy by Ginevra Held

Hi! So over the summer, I was looking for a fabric to use in the living room of my Mom’s stone farmhouse in the south of France.  I had chosen to liven up the room with hot pink accents.  I spray painted a number of things neon pink, including a Marianne bust, two empire style sconces, a bird cage and some hay.  I also had the beams painted pink.  So I needed a dash of pink on the two white sofas to tie everything together.  I knew I wanted toile.  Ideally a hot pink toile.  We went to a number of stores, but couldn’t find any.  Then we found a fabric store that had black and white toile.  I had in the back of my head this idea that I could customized a black and white toile by painting a motif on it in the same pink. At first I was going to make a stencil, of a piece sign, or something else and use that to spray paint the motif.  Then I came up with the idea of highlighting parts of the toile by taping around those areas. With the other areas taped up, I would then spray the exposed areas, and then take the tape off revealing hot pink accented parts of the toile.  This idea was partially in tribute to a new toile pattern that I had seen from Pierre Frey. The fabric house had worked with an artist (Hervé Mat&Jewski) who took a traditional Toile de Jouy print and highlighted aspects of it in neon colors.

Photo via: http://magazine.pierrefrey.com/?cat=26&lang=en&paged=2

Photo via: http://magazine.pierrefrey.com/?cat=26&lang=en&paged=2

 In typically french manner, they took something old and made it new again.  I think this is what i like most about French design.  They acknowledge and celebrate their heritage, but always always move forward and live in the present.  A prime example of this duality is the designer Philippe Starck.  All of his designs are new and innovative, but they firmly acknowledge a long history of French design.  Prime example, the Louis Ghost Chair.

Here is a break down of the customizing process:

Here is the pillow fabric before:

Here is the parts taped around to be "highlighted":

Pillows Spray Painted:

Tape taken off and the new fabric revealed:

Here is a picture of the pillows in situ in the living room:

The photographer suggested I pose hugging the pillows.  I thought that a little weird.  I did it anyway.  Please forgive me.

I know I know, super weird!!!!

I know I know, super weird!!!!

So anyway, that was the influence behind the pillows and how I customized the fabric.  I made a video of me taking the tape off, but honestly I don't know how to upload it here without a vimeo account and I hate making accounts.  I just hate it.  I hate passwords and usernames.  I just can't right now.  I can't!!! ok, I'm calming down.  I like the video though. Maybe I'll post it to Instagram for my millions of followers. Just kidding.  But for real, thank you to anyone reading this and to people liking my designs on Instagram. I appreciate the support.  Really!!!!!!!

Transformation: How a Restoration Hardware Wingback gets some street Cred by Ginevra Held

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a French Louis style chair, we're talking Louis XIV, XV, or XVI here, for my living room redesign.  I really wanted a Bergere.  I spent a lot of time looking on One Kings Lane, and while there were many tempting options, I ultimately decided to buy a French style chair from Restoration Hardware.  The reason being that I knew it would be well made, modern proportioned, and I could get one that was clean.  As in, one that didn't have someone else's idea of upholstery on it, I didn't want anything chintzy.  Not that there is anything wrong with chintz mind you! But I wanted something that was a blank slate.  I wanted a fresh canvas.  I had the idea that I wanted to make it something unique and different myself.

We had been to an exhibit at the de Young called Keith Haring: The Political Line.  Aside from the fact that Keith Haring was an amazing artist and person and what he did for raising political awareness about numerous issues, and his awesomeness goes on and on --- I was struck by the fact that the man literally drew and painted on everything.  I was especially intrigued by a series of urns that he had drawn all over, an egyptian statue covered in his work, and the statue of liberty in pop colors and again covered in his doodles.  I loved it.  

With Keith Haring swimming around in my brain, I thought about the idea of drawing on a chair. After all, all fabric patterns start out as drawings, so drawing on fabric on a chair is just an extension of that, essentially cutting out the middle man.  I ordered the Lorraine chair in White Army Duck with a distressed white oak finish for the wood.  Here is a picture of it before it got its makeover and after:

Normally when you think of Restoration Hardware, you think of things that are all kind of a nice shade of beige, like this:

But in my head I was thinking of Keith Haring drawing all over everything, I was thinking of Maison Martin Margiela sneakers that were written all over (yes, I adore Martin Margiela) and I was thinking of fun mod fabric on old french chairs a la Phillippe Starck for Yoo.  They look like this:

Clockwise from top left: Philippe Starck for Yoo wingback chair with fan upholstery and silver painted wood, Maison Martin Margiela sneakers, Keith Haring Statue of Liberty, Keith Haring Egyptian sculpture.

Clockwise from top left: Philippe Starck for Yoo wingback chair with fan upholstery and silver painted wood, Maison Martin Margiela sneakers, Keith Haring Statue of Liberty, Keith Haring Egyptian sculpture.

I admit, at first I was scared and did not touch the chair. I left it alone, put that red pillow on it and that was it.  But then I came up with a black, white, and yellow scheme for the living room and I wanted a hero piece, I wanted something that really stood out.  So I went back to my idea of transforming the chair.  My brother is an amazing visual artist, so I showed him my ideas for the chair.  He is very familiar with Haring's work, and liked the Margiela sneakers.  He showed me some drawings he had done, and then did some more, we discussed just doing the outside of the chair and arm rests.  Finally,  I handed my brother a fat tip pen that we bought at a spray paint store, and he got to work.  What he drew is fantastic and I love it.

After that, it was time for the paint.  I really liked the idea of painting the wood a different color.  A pop color. The scheme was black, white, yellow, so instead of leaving it white, or painting it black, I just went for it and painted it yellow.  It took about 6 coats with a delicate brush, but it was worth it.  I love how it looks, how it stands out, but at the same time is perfectly attuned to the color scheme.  I love that my Resto Hardware Lorraine chair, in all its pristine glory got some street cred.  Now its my chair.