Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Insta post September 2015: Autumn, Burghley Horse Trials, and other bits of London Life

It's Autumn in the northern hemisphere which means these striped deck chairs get packed away in London parks.
September is a busy month for everyone as everyone is back from holidays and going back to the grind.  Remember when Harry Potter used to go to school from Euston station?
Isn't it funny how large cities are culturally autonomous?
I left London and arrived in true blue England when I arrived in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
This is the Burghley Hospital that was started in the 1100's!
Now it is one of the quaintest and most charming housing associations in the country.

Stamford is a market town with all the trimmings of stone buildings and rivers.
My friends and I stayed in a private house that sometimes caters to guests if you know them.
It had bits of architecture dating back from the Domesday Book with the latest additions being from the Georgian period.
What made the home so special was that it was the size of a manor but situated in the town center with views from every window.

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Decor Anchor or North Star

While I was topping up supplies at my favourite candle shop, 
I thought I would get some unscented coloured candle sticks for a brass candelabra I picked up in Norway.

The choices at Cire Trudon range from black to pastel.
But I chose these pink and orange ones.
When I was picking from the wall of color, 
I already had in mind that I wanted to match 
- a dying decor practice  - 
my beloved cushions in the study.
No prizes for guessing which cushion!
It is the orange and pink version of one of my favorite toiles by Manuel Canovas called Bengale.
The brown version was sewn by me therefore just a support act for the main star.

I though I had done the matchy matchy touch for the room and wasn't going to start buying everything to match the cushions.

But last week I went to the flower market and just grabbed a bunch of dahlias by a stall that had doubled up different colors and made them into a single bouquet.

And I must have internally referenced my cushions because 
I couldn't have tried to match the flowers to my cushions any more if I tried!

I have shared with you one of mine but now I am curious to see what your design anchor or reference point is when you decorate?

Monday, 7 September 2015

September Issue 2015 - French Vogue review

It's been a while since I've done one of these - I unsubscribed to US Vogue but I still read the French version so here some highlights of the September issue.

One annoying feature of iPad subscriptions is that the technology allows more control of what ads are shown when viewed and these Chloe ads were shown every few pages.
I don't know what they are trying to convey.
Boho lesbians or BFF fashion editors during fashion week?

Even though the September issue is seen to set the fashion pace, there are very few trends that haven't done the rounds. No fashion editor can reinvent the wheel.
The editors put animal prints in their Mood page.

Fishnets, leopard print, ankle boots are a tricky combination to carry off but if in doubt
hang out in a red convertible.

I always feel Dior gets a bit lost and always comes in just after the top three medals of Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton.  But if I had to choose one brand I had to wear for the rest of my life it would be Dior.  I love this coat.

Regular readers of this segment knows that French Vogue takes its jewellery section seriously and takes care to style the editorials.

This has to be one of my favorites ever.
It's a tactile sensation.
Knitting, cats, and carats in plush wool and cashmere.

You just want to stroke and touch everything.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Auction Find of a Random Bird Print

I was toying with the idea of writing a post about an auction find yet hesitated until I was reading Chronica Domus' latest post 

about some information on her beautiful slop bowls by a very informative reader. 
 I thought I would share my little object with its background 
which is by no means on the same level as the level of research 
nor beauty of object.

In smaller auction houses, there tends to be lots where not one object but a group of objects are sold together.  I won the bid for another print but this print came along for the ride.  
When I bid on the object, I did see this print but ignored it.

It was strange in retrospect that I didn't pay this much attention.
But I was concentrating on figuring how much 
I would put on my absentee bid.  
I rarely bid live because one can get carried away!  
But I love bird prints and I have a small collection to prove it.

Please ignore the white paint - I know I try to!

I actually have more prints ready and waiting to be framed.
I even have a matching bird themed bowl for the aperture for the wash stand.

But I think the intense calculation and more importantly the cracked glass distracted me from examining the print further.

It was only after I brought it home that I started reading up on the print.
I looked at the penciled autograph, and the raised blind stamp and thought perhaps it was worth googling the name I was unfamiliar with.

Truthfully speaking, I would not be too swayed by a print with a name and date on the lithograph alone.  But one had to consider that for a name that is not particularly well known to the general public, it wouldn't be worth the hassle to create a blind stamp to give false credibility to a possible forgery.

I had a look and there was a website that served as an archive of the artist Archibald Thorburn.

I then turned the print around and inspected the reverse where there were two stickers.

One of the stickers refers that a certain Lady D Hunt might have left or her items were held at Allens' Depositories.  The possibility of an item belonging to a then aristocrat still doesn't guarantee that the item is worth anything.
There is a bit of the sticker which had ripped off.
I googled it and it led to this bit of information written by a local historian of the area.
It seems that perhaps it was one of those general broad businesses that dealt in matters of the home
but also house clearances.

The other sticker seemed to be from the possible seller of this artwork.
I googled and all there was were references to auction houses whose art had provenances that led back to W. H. Embleton on Jermyn Street in London.
Jermyn Street is a rather smart address and always has been but of course while researching this I was reminded that not everything is on Google!

Some may say it is crass to discuss money but we have all watched enough episodes of Antiques Roadshow to know that we all love the stories but we are curious to see if the emotional value the family or bearer of the object matches the financial value.
In my case, there was no expectation.

I went and got the glass replaced and 
it shows the piece in a better light.  
It is nice but I don't know if I would have put a bid on this myself.

Upon researching past results and prices for art ready to purchase, 
the item could fetch up to £275 which is a bonus considering the piece I aimed to buy was only half that price.

But let me remind you that the item an art gets sold for isn't the item one pockets.
If I were to auction it then I would lose at least 25% of the price and the fee wouldn't be too dissimilar at an art gallery.

The other bird prints on the wall are of a different nature as it was by another artist, period and country.

And even though I have hung the prints without taking this one into consideration 
I am still going to stick it next to them and enjoy my bargain find!
I must reiterate that for those of you who are into art history that you will enjoy the latest post by Chronica Domus
( Please click on name for link.)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Mirage of Buying a French Chateau

One reoccurring article in the press worldwide 
is the allure of the possibility of purchasing a French chateau
 and the lifestyle associated with it.

  There was an escapist real estate feature last week in the Telegraph showing a classically proportioned French chateau that was the same price as a three bedroom flat in Mayfair.

 The chateau located in the Dordogne with a 530 hectacre estate is listed at £10.9 million which seems a lot until you realize that 
Trafalgar Square is only one hectacre.

This chateau in France has the usual grand features 
such as a grand staircase
and an ornate jib door leading somewhere interesting.
Of course a private chapel is de rigueur darlings.
Sin and saintliness were private affairs - very pre Hello magazine.
Although a private stage less so.
But it is so Cecil Beaton weekend away don't you think?
 But just a few days ago in social media news on the  
Candian version of Buzzfeed  they featured a comparison of what you could get in France versus what you could get in Vancouver.
They compared a 27 acre estate with 9 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms 
and stables to a similar priced 2 bed 2 bath flat below 
that boasted a "European" kitchen.

CAD $1.38 million if you're asking.

A few months ago, I had also seen in the Australian media 
a big article comparing French chateaus being cheaper than flats in Sydney.  
 The 9 bedroom chateau pictured above in southwest France 
and the 3 bedroom unit in Campsie, Sydney below 
are both asking for A$ 680,000.
Both pics via
 The visuals of century old stonework versus 
1960's red brick work on an ugly modern building was explicit enough to shock any Australian.

 It seems the benchmark that house prices have gone crazy is that the median price of many homes in the first world has overtaken the cost of a chateau!

This was obviously not exclusive to the UK mentality which is obsessed with home ownership and house prices.
I have a feeling it is seeped in Anglo-Saxon roots
 therefore any country that speaks English as its main language 
will share this affliction.

I have this conversation with people who contemplate buying property in France.
It is so easy to be seduced by turrets and moats and all those features that are au fait in children's fairytales.
Even when the inside decor pics aren't 100% perfect, 
it is still an escapist setting.

It seems many people lose the same financial senses and logistical faculties especially when they go overseas to purchase their holiday home/retirement home.  
All the tough questioning that would normally through their head when buying a new dress seems to dissipate in a foreign country buying a home!
( It could be all that rose wine.)

But there are political and economic reasons to remember why property is cheap.
French politics tend to be erratic but taxes are a constant.
New levies are introduced depending on the president elect.
Property outside Paris is notoriously hard to sell.
I have seen some houses that are still for sale 4 years on!

People looking for a Georgian rectory in the U.K. would be lucky to see more than a dozen for sale in the Costwolds. It would be a quick viewing to see affordable studios in a city like Sydney or Toronto and yet there is plenty of stock of French chateaus.
There is even more for sale once you get to France that are not listed on the websites.
The bigger the chateau the cheaper it is too!
Well I am being a bit facetious but running costs are not to be ignored.
Many homes don't have central heating or plumbing 
 and to install these basic amenities will require patience for bureaucracy and red tape, money, and some more patience.
So do be cautious about a restoration project in France.
Bureaucracy in France is not to be underestimated and 
that is even if you are fluent in French.

Of course I think a home in France would be enjoyable if done right but I think there are not as many articles about being careful and raising concern as there are in promoting the idea of the idyllic French country life.  

What doesn't get publicized as often is those who tire of the lifestyle or need to balance out their life in France with another base in a city or even another country.  Life isn't all about drinking the latest released wines by the pool and shopping at the different antique markets at a different village every day of the week.  
There are many stories about village disputes, 
some xenophobic council members being a pest, 
and lonely winters in empty hamlets that are quickly forgotten about in the lavender scented l'heure bleue pastis induced haze.

One day I may consider the option myself but 
I would consider many aspects of a move and 
not be bamboozled by false house price comparisons and someone's travel account of the fabulous time they had when they were in Provence for two weeks a few years ago!