Caring for Furniture: Best Handbook & Tricks on the Planet!

Not much makes my lil heart go pitter-patter like a luxurious mix of materials.  I may be a down-to-earth Southern girl – but only with a fabulous dash of glamour thrown in!  That’s why I love showing real people how to enjoy their real lives in homes that are chic and unpretentious.  Let’s pull back the curtain, and show you how I mix high and low interiors.  We’ll splurge and we’ll save, and we’ll be smart about how we create your gorgeous home.

When I visited La Barge at High Point Market, I knew I had found yet another incredible resource in my designer toolbox.  It takes years of practice to pull off high-low like a pro!  The LM2532 sunburst mirror is 50” across.  Hello, FIFTY INCHES?  Talk about a statement piece.  You simply cannot replicate a piece like that in a lower-end line. Period! This, my sweet friends, is the designer handbag you carry with the sundress from Tar-jay, and in the design world, we call it SCALE!

Of course, La Barge is a go-to resource for not only the very finest handcrafted mirrors, but also tables and accent furnishings.  Skilled artisans use time-honored techniques to create an array of designs that balance the past and the present.  La Barge often explores contrasting materials on traditional forms, which – in my book – creates tremendous added value.

LT8693 Table

Let’s use the LT8693 chairside table as an example.  Of course, the size is perfect.  Every seat needs a place to put a drink, and this table fits just about anywhere.  Because it’s a La Barge table, however, the brass has Sherwood and glazed finishes.  Yum.  The top?  Reverse painted black lacquer glass.

Let’s take my fashion comparison a step further.  When you splurge on name-brand luggage, you expect it to hold up better than the cheap-o you scored at the airport because you bought a few too many things on that shopping trip to New York.  Ahem.  Not that I’ve done that or anything.  Well, La Barge takes the same position with their furniture.  When you invest in their pieces, you get what you’ve paid for!

La Barge expects their products to last a lifetime — and that’s why they, along with sister company Maitland-Smith, put together an amazing resource that not only describes the origin of their materials, but also explains the best way to care for their furniture.  I have never seen a handbook like this from any other company!  Oh, and it also provides a capsule summary of design throughout the centuries, including a timeline of periods and styles.  Seriously, this thing is better than Cliff’s Notes on a design history class

Do you know how to keep that gorgeous mirror streak-free?  Polish with old newspapers!  If you use paper towels, you need a fresh one for each portion of the glass.  The reverse painted glass table?  Dust with a soft cloth!  If you need to remove fingerprints, a damp cloth with mild soap should do the trick.

La Barge LT8683 Table

The LT8683 table has a paua shell inlaid top.  Yep, the care manual covers that, too.  It’s under Exotic Shell Inlay.  Which has its own category.  Enough said, right?

 

I hope you enjoy the handbook, and do please, share your own furniture tips and tricks in the comments!

 

 

Cigarette Tables, Bar Carts & Gold

This post isn’t about smoking, booze & money, but rather a few chic pieces you might just want to get your hands on before the holiday guest rush!

Before I show you the pieces I just can’t live without this season, I wanted to share a little cheat sheet in case you skipped too many Art History classes.  This timeline takes you on a little French furniture history tour from Medieval times to the present, and if you’re a visual learner like me, you’ll enjoy the overview here!

In case you’re wondering, the most important piece of furniture in my living room right now happens to be the smallest piece…the infamous Cigarette Table!  Although smoking is so uncool and gross, the tiny tables that used to hold ashtrays are back in vogue.  How in the world did I function before?  These little tables are lightweight, portable & extremely versatile.  They are the perfect spot for placing my coffee cup, extra notebook & pen, and definitely needed for the lonely side chair when I don’t feel like reaching the coffee table every time I want a Pumpkin Spice Latte’ sip!

Pictures do not even do justice to this sparkling Delft mosaic end table by French Heritage.  It is only 10.5″ in diameter and features a hand laid blue and white mosaic top with a silver leaf finished wrought iron base.

And if you read any blogs or magazines, you know by now that bar carts are the other hot ticket item right now!  They are also chic and versatile, and don’t forget to think outside the bar…You won’t find booze on my cart, but perhaps used as a side table, hot chocolate station, and right now, it’s a handy wrapping station that holds my ribbon & Christmas paper.

Check out this Rhone Bar Cart from French Heritage!  Serve your guests in style on glass trays with mirror edges and a gold leaf finish on wrought iron.  Casters on each leg give full mobility and help you navigate through your home with grace.

And have you heard of the Baptist Bar!?

Cabinet by day, bar by night!  (oh……I hope my Southern church friends have a sense of humor! ;)

Gold Rush! I told you how hot Gold is right now!  How gorgeous are these new introductions: Clairval End Table, Geneva Nesting Tables & Deveraux Coffee Table:

They even have a nice selection of mirrors like this transitional gold leaf mirror:

Or this greek key inspired Sahara mirror:

What is your favorite trend this season?

 

Hosting Guests for the Holidays? How to Create an Extra Guest Room!

Can you believe there are less than two weeks left until Christmas?  Of course, it’s the most joyous crazy time of the year, and I don’t know about you, but I’m scrambling to make sure everything gets done!  As a designer, the holidays are one of our busiest times.  It’s fun to pretend-play Santa and make sure our clients’ Christmas dreams of a beautiful home come true.

Stacy Naquin Interiors (photo courtesy of Melissa Oivanki Photography)

Of course, you know what they say about the cobbler’s children having no shoes!!!  Trees to trim, stockings to hang, cards to address and mail, presents to buy and wrap – does the list never end?!

Just for fun, or at least so I can do some wishful thinking, here’s a look at everyone’s favorite House and Home magazine from December 2013.  You may remember my house, all decked out for Christmas, was on the cover!  In the article, I share my favorite – and easy – holiday decorating tips, so you can deck your own halls with a designer look.

What I didn’t talk about in the article, however, was how to fit that one extra person into a home already overflowing with family and friends! Southern hospitality, of course, means we love to have guests stay in our home – but most families don’t have more than one, or perhaps two, guest bedrooms.  So where does everyone stay?

Lane Furniture Sunburst Snuggler Sleeper Sofa Chair

Lane has already solved the theater-seating-on-a-budget dilemma, and now I’m going to share their super-flexible-works-for-everyone solution to that extra guest dilemma.  Can you believe there’s a twin size bed snugged up inside of this armchair!?

And never fear – this is not the “I’m sleeping on mattress coils” sofa bed you may remember from your college crashing days.  This bed uses Lane’s iRest system, which combines memory foam with gel cells to create a cool, conforming mattress.  Hello, heavenly!  Now you can turn any room with a club chair into a “guest room in a pinch.”

Because the Snuggler chair is already wider than average – more of a chair-and-a-half than a regular club chair – it’s comfy for everyday use, too. Wouldn’t it be a super functional choice for a nursery or child’s bedroom?  There’s plenty of room for your husband, when he’s in time-out cuddling during nightly reading time.  Plus, how many times have we moms slept on the floor because our child was sick and we wanted to be close by?  It makes so much sense to have an extra bed tucked away in their rooms!

As always, Lane has a variety of fabrics – including leather and leather-match upholsteries – to fit your style.  The track arms and streamlined styling make the Ethan Sleeper Chair a more contemporary choice.

Lane Furniture Ethan Sleeper Sofa, Queen Bed

Of course, if you need even more room, Lane has a wide selection of sleeper sofas as well.  This one is hiding a queen-sized bed!  Most importantly, you aren’t sacrificing the value and quality Lane is known for.  Instead, you are getting their legendary comfort paired with innovation.  It’s the same commitment Lane makes with all of its furniture, made right here in the United States.  Now that’s what I call “the more, the merrier.”  Happy hosting!

 

What’s Your Biggest Design Fear?

Your home should tell a story of your life, not your designer’s!  A big fear I often hear from clients is that their home will not feel like them.  Creating a Style Quiz has been one of the most effective tools in my handbag.  Because when given a choice, a majority of us have opinions, and that’s exactly why you’ll always see a variety in my projects.

I can tell you that one of my biggest time-suckers is spending hours looking for one piece of furniture because I can’t find the right finish!  One of the ways to keep furniture costs at a minimal is a “Whatcha see is whatcha get!” approach, but there’s always the exception!  Drexel Heritage offers countless options to personalize your home from finishes, pillows, nail trim and many other details.

I love the flexibility and customization options like this Valentina Poster Bed from the Viage collection.  Below, it’s shown with an upholstered headboard panel:

…or with a wood headboard option:

I’m not sure why simple, beautiful dining tables are hard to find, but whew…sometimes I feel like I’m searching for Waldo!

Jackpot!  Look at this stunning Unity Parson’s Table in the Henna Walnut Stain!  It seats up to 6 people with no leaf, and up to 10 people with two, 20″ leaves, extending to 112″.

And speaking of options, just look at the custom paint offerings!

Left to right: Aged Dove Grey, Aged Brushed Linen, Vintage Alpine, Vintage Fog, Vintage Greige, Vintage Smoke, Vintage Water, Weathered Black, Weathered Linseed

As an added bonus, Drexel Heritage offers a Room Planner on their website!  You can design your room size, add doors, windows, furniture, and even the added details like lamps, rugs and accessories.  When designing rooms for my clients, I create a floorplan before ever selecting a single item.  In fact, I often solve furniture arrangement dilemmas on paper much better than I do while standing in a space!  The benefit of drawing a floorplan before you make purchasing decisions, is that you can see what size furniture you need, how many pieces to purchase, how conversation areas need to be arranged, and how traffic will flow within a room.  Because we all know what happens when y’all go buying up stuff without a plan…yep…it ends up in the guest room!

Do you have a favorite design tool or fancy trick you’ve used? Please share and leave a comment below!

 

Creating Artisan Product in a Pre-Fab World

How many times have you heard, “it’s all about the mix?”  Well, in my world – both personally and professionally – I mix “high” and “low” every day.  I’ve been doing it so long that it’s more than just a catch phrase to me.  It’s how I live!

That’s why I specialize in creating beautiful interiors on a real person’s budget.  I know where and how to splurge … and when an eensy dose of DIY just might get the job done.  After all, we live in a world where it’s OK to wear Prada with H&M!   “Fast fashion” has its place, but so does handcrafted quality.  It’s becoming harder and harder to come by these days, but the popularity of Etsy shows that we truly value unique goods.

That’s what the name Maitland-Smith means to me.  For over thirty years, Maitland-Smith has created luxury, artisan-crafted goods.  In today’s pre-fab world, that’s a breath of fresh air!  This game table has a rosewood veneer and beige faux shagreen top.  Love!

At High Point Market, we designers try to visit as many showrooms as possible.  We always want to see our “regulars,” but it’s important to discover new favorites.  This market, I explored both Maitland-Smith and La Barge, and I came away in awe of the craftsmanship.

 

 

Maitland-Smith has been in the business of creating unique decorative accessories, lighting and accent furniture for over thirty years.  Using materials like leather, penshell and eggshell, Maitland-Smith’s artisans create treasures that are destined to become family heirlooms.  If you take a few minutes to watch their videos, you’ll be blown away by the skill their techniques – from detailed hand painting to beautiful inlaid marquetry and hand carved woodwork –  require.  It’s what you would have seen in a 17th or 18th century atelier!

Just as an example — are you familiar with lost wax casting?  It’s an incredibly complicated technique used by Maitland-Smith’s artisans to create custom hardware, fittings and decorative objects.

Oh, and verre églomisé? The term is French for “glass gilded.”  Because you paint on the reverse side of glass or mirror, you have to reverse the order in which you would ordinarily create a design.  Here, églomisé is used to create a faux tortoiseshell.

Maitland-Smith also loves a touch of whimsy, which keeps things from getting too serious!  Because everyone needs a brass clad turtle with rock crystals. I would name this guy, Don’t be Fooled by the Rocks That I Got!

Brass Art Easel:

As you can see from the photos, Maitland-Smith has products for everyone from the most traditional homes to a much more modern, yet still classic, environment.  Both Celerie Kemble and Henrietta Churchill-Spencer have lines with Maitland-Smith – several of the photos in this post were designd by Celerie – and it’s truly expanded the beautiful style in which Maitland-Smith operates.  To truly appreciate the detail in these products, I suggest you visit your local dealer!

Stay tuned for more about Labarge, but until then … what’s your favorite detail in casegoods (non-upholstered furniture)?

 

French Heritage

How could I turn down a French Heritage showroom tour and breakfast invite that included hot homemade croissants and decadent French pastries!?  (Jacques & Hennessy must have sensed my Louisiana French Heritage! Pun intended!)  Growing up with LeBlanc as your last name made it easy to identify unwanted telemarketers, and like many others from a small Southern town, my father spoke fluent Cajun French, which is derived from the original French spoken by French soldiers and settlers in Louisiana before the arrival of the Acadians.  But I, on the other hand, was busy conquering the levels of Super Mario Brothers and never made it past counting to 2o.

The lil’ “French Bistro”

Alas! A fashion-forward French furniture company is formed, (say that quickly 10 times!)  when the worlds of an American-born fashion-model & a well-traveled-antique-market-explorer collide! When co-founder Jacques Wayser was a child in France, he accompanied his parents & siblings on their weekly visits to the Paris antique market and throughout the French and English countryside. This early exposure of European quality prepared Jacques for a company he would later own with his wife Henessy.

A variety of collections are available to accommodate various design styles, budgets & time constraints.

Avenue: The Avenue Collection features beautiful handcrafted European made furniture with hand rubbed finishes on the finest hardwoods.  Furniture is made to order in custom sizes and finishes.  Design styles range from traditional cabriole French to Art Déco.

Maison: This collection is comprised of quality crafted eclectic furniture made in Asia and custom finished in the US.  Items are stocked in the USA for immediate delivery.

Urban: This modern collection is a clean, casual contemporary style with touches of  Mid Century and Industrial Chic.

Salon: Sofas, Loveseats, Chairs & Ottomans. Salon benchmade upholstery features hardwood frames, quality fabrics, down seating and customizable sizes. It is hand made in North Carolina, and available as C.O.M.

As you can see, French Heritage is no stranger to style and customization!  I just love the saturated color options and graphic patterns on these chests:

With a quick finish change, the Bizet Bombe’ chest takes on an entirely different look.  Gold, pewter & silver leaf for a flashy touch…antique cherry has traditional roots, but don’t underestimate its sass…and finally, an ebony sheen if you’re craving Parisian Glamour!

One chest, many looks:

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Thank you Gary, Jacques & Henessy, for introducing me to this wonderful new collection!