How to style side tables and coffee tables by Ginevra Held

I wanted to do a demi post here in side table styling.  For all of the photos for my website, I did my own styling.  I looked at a lot of magazines and books and saved images I liked for inspiration.  What I realized most was that in both photography and real life one should never over look one's surfaces!  A bare surface, though clean certainly, suggests austerity and a lack of personalization.

You can think of your side tables, coffee tables, sofa tables, mantles and other surfaces as stories.  They tell the story of what you like, what things are important to you.  Books, objets, collections, all indicate the personality that lives among them.

Also of utmost importance: flowers! Now I did not learn about the importance of flowers in the home until I did my photo shoot.  I thought of them as a lovely and costly indulgence.  Something I could not indulge for myself.  After the photoshoot however, I've learned that even one petite bouquet of yellow flowers in my living contribute infinitely to the living rooms joyful decor.  Although I wish I could have yellow roses in the living room every day and red roses in the dinning room and pink peonies in the bedrooms, I cannot quite afford that indulgence.  However, a bi-weekly bouquet of tulips in the living room is now a part of my shopping list.  I read that Parisians consider it as important as anything else on the grocery list, that a bouquet of fresh flowers and a bottle of wine are always purchased on the way home from work.

My favorite thing to decorate with on side tables is books.  Especially arts books.  We have a lot of them on hand and calling out some on side tables is a nice way to create a narrative.  Also, remember they can be in a rotation.  Having a Morandi moment? Then make him your highlighted book of the week. Or Diebenkorn month perhaps?  When you use books on side tables, it makes you re-examine your collection.  Reminding yourself of all the lovely books you've collected over the years.  Always stack a couple of books, two or three, this creates visual volume and always looks good.

The formula: books stacked, flowers in vases, whether as buds or bouquets, an objets or two, and maybe a candle.  This combination makes for  lovely surfaces throughout the home.  

Happy side table styling!



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.