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Chinese Ceramic Garden Stools – Yes or No?

Domino (April) arrived over the weekend and I couldn’t help but feel left out of the hip ‘n trendy Chinese Garden Stool Club. Michael Bargo had one in a lovely green, the amazing Lulu de Kwiatkowski sported one in her home (in what appeared to be orange), Tom Scheerer incorporated a perky lime stool into the drinks table arrangement that he pulled together (in classic Scheerer style), and Jennifer Marsico had two white ones in her living room alone. But no worries my fellow design addicts. For as little as $69 USD, you can join the Garden Stool Club, too.
Here’s a floral ceramic stool used by Burnham Design in one of their rooms, it looks inspired by the Chinese garden seats, just a bit more dainty and detailed. I wasn’t able to find an exact copy of it, but if you spend some time on Google, I’m sure you’ll find something like it. Check with your local antiques dealer, too.

Why so appealing? They can do it all – the true multitaskers. They fuction as a foot rest, small table, plant stand, place for kitty to sit, or just for a little eye candy – a bright burst of color. They are also small enough to not give commitment phobes a showroom freak out, it’s just one itty bitty stool. Slightly larger than throw pillows. About the same price. We love a good ole barely-break-a-sweat purchase.

Also know as ‘tea stools’, ‘chinese stools’, and ‘porcelain garden seats’, the big sellers seem to be those in solid colors, circular, with intricate, but spare, cutouts (vs. the ornate hand-painted or square varieties). Although, I have to say that I love the hand-painted stools in blue and white, like the one shown a few images down from Wisteria for $179.

My #1 stop, Oriental DestinAsian on eBay. Prices range from $69-119 for solid colors in blues, greens, yellows, and of course, white. With a flat rate shipping anywhere in the U.S. for only $35, you can’t go wrong for a repro. Keep in mind that just like anything else, you can pay more and find something really unique and one-of-a-kind straight from artisians in China, or you can opt for reproduction pieces inspired by traditional Chinese garden seats if you’re on a limited budget.

Although the stools I’m seeing in magazines and designer’s portfolios aren’t nearly as ornate, if you love to mix things up, opt for handpainted or these cutout floral patterns from The Company Store ($108), or Mecox Gardens. For a one-of-a-kind seat, Red River Trading Co. in Boston’s South End has imported stools straight from Hunan, China. The two shown above in teal were handmade and fired in a kiln which means that are totally worth $350- each.

Try these gorgeous stools from Wisteria in your space. I can’t help but think they’d add that perfect touch. Or for ones with a bit more detail, go with these from Gumps of San Francisco.

Additional Ceramic Garden Stool resources: Tonic Home, Clipper Trading, even Pottery Barn is in on the trend with a Jade green stool for only $99. You can google for “Ceramic Garden Stools”, “tea stools”, “chinese stools”, and “porcelain garden seats”, and find hundreds of other sources. Use those as search words on eBay, too.

Can you spot them in these rooms? Some are much less obvious than others…

From: Domino, KWID, Kelly Proxmire, Todd Romano, Timothy Whealon, Kemble Interiors, Burham Design, and Kenneth Brown Design.

So what do you think – Are you into these, or do you run screaming in the opposite direction?

Posted in trends on March 26, 2007

Home Republic

I found a neat little eBay store over the weekend while searching for an alabaster deer head. Strange item to desire, but you must relate… I think we’ve all obsessed over something that others found a bit odd (your boyfriend, those jelly shoes, that eggplant hair color). I first came a white deer head in Real Simple magazine, then I spotted another on flickr from Shimrit + Yaar. Seeing that I couldn’t find any in local stores, or online (when I did they were always out of stock), I turned to my friendly eBay and searched for ‘deer heads’. Simple enough. Or so I thought.

I kid you not, I had to endure endless images of creepy stuffed heads until I found my diamond in the rough, a seller that not only had several in stock, but the price was right. He also has an online store in addition to his website, and his home won the 2005 “Home of the Year” award from Metropolitan Home magazine. A Thai-American living in Washington, D.C., Supon Phornirunlit, has a great eye for design and stocks some great products, so I’m sure you’ll want to shop his finds in both his eBay store and website, Home Republic. See Supon’s home here (don’t miss his retro cookie jar collection!).

Check out all these heads over the bed!

I know some say antlers are out, but I think good design is good design and if it makes you happy and looks great in your space, then that is all that really matters. I plan to have a dog someday and think this would make a fun hook for a dog leash in a mud room, so once I tire of it on display in my living room, I’ll move it over to another area of my home for a more functional purpose, like the entryway.

So, what do you think of these heads? Be honest.

Posted in trends, vintage on March 19, 2007

Bathing Beauties via Boston magazine

I try not to talk about myself on this blog because design is the focus, but after looking at the March issue of Living Etc with freestanding bathtubs in nearly every home featured, I had to point you to an article that appears in Boston magazine’s Home & Garden edition, written by yours truly. If you’re a local and looking for a tub, this article may help you out. It’s on newsstands until June 12, 2007. The article is called “Bathing Beauties”, pages 51-53. If you do not have access to the issue, I’ve uploaded it to my flickr account, so you can read it there (view in full size). A huge thanks to Julieann (a decor8 reader) from Jace Interiors in Cambridge for the quotes!


(images from boston magazine)

Posted in bathroom, trends on March 08, 2007

Trends 2007: Beachy Keen

Surf’s Up! We kicked off our trend report with Mad About Morocco and The Nurturing Naturalist, but with so many other hot looks out there, let’s explore a few more. For this trend, think beach parties, palm trees, and lots of California cool, and relaxed interiors. You can even support the environment by incorporating pieces that are eco-friendly, especially with Beachy Keen because so much of the look is based on what’s au natural. We’re talking more Denmark or coastal Maine faded vs. Lily Pulizter preppy.

The Look: Serene and subtle, natural shapes and finishes, sun-kissed. Images of sea, sand, pebbles, driftwood, and raw raffia come to mind. The look incorporates light and medium wood tones, and plenty of organic materials and fibers. Try to find sustainable, durable products when you can. Beachy Keen can be relaxed and soft (slipcover sofas, for instance), or streamlined and contemporary (a chair in wicker and chrome). Look for pieces with clean lines and uncomplicated, organic patterns. Bring the outdoors in to immerse yourself in a total resort-like atmosphere with lots of found objects neatly arranged. It’s all about personal preference.

As with any look, don’t lay it on thick… You want your home to function and breathe and it can’t if smothered to death. Think of the coast when it is quiet – a few people, some gulls in flight, you, the sand and surf. Nice vision, isn’t it? Now think of the beach during peak season with wall-to-wall bodies, so packed you can barely see the sand. Not as relaxing a thought. Same with your home. Packing a room with too much visual clutter isn’t the goal here, Beachy Keen is about good organization and well thought out displays and a smart floor plan. Lean on having too little over an abundance. If you have collections you’d like to use in the room, pottery or jars of shells that you collect, group them together in one place so they can be appreciated. Scattering them doesn’t show them off nearly as well. It’s hard for the eye to appreciate any one object in a room that is too busy. Examine the images below for further confirmation. Aren’t they soothing?

To create your very own peaceful escape, here are some beautiful pieces to get you started, from lighting to linens. Have fun!


Furniture – Wood, wood, wood! In blonde or acorn, monkeypod, walnut, bamboo, driftwood, teak, elm, wicker, rattan, or painted in white or pastel. Lacquered works if it’s pastel, acrylic if it’s clear, and glass top tables with a wood base work fine as well. You can mix periods – think fusion bohemian. Lines can be raw and natural, traditional (mid century European pieces, such as Finnish or Scandinavian pieces) or clean and contemporary. Here are some examples. In addition to options below, try Maine Cottage for some painted wood furnishings that may suit your tastes. I’m more of a clean, contemporary girl myself, so most of what is featured in this post are items I would own or suggest to my clients.

Beautiful teak from Lekker Home in Boston’s South End.
Furnishings from West Elm

Furnishings from Pottery Barn

Furnishings from Pottery Barn

Chairs: Top row: Hawaii dining chair from Anthropologie, Neptune chair from Anthropologie, Driftwood chair from Bleu Nature, Scalandia chair from Pier 1. Bottom Row: Easy rattan armless chair from Pier 1, Sophisticate chair from Inmod (a real deal for $114, free shipping, and 10% until 2/23) and the Nandor chair from IKEA.

Clockwise from top left: Concentric coffee table from Z Gallerie, Bradenton Cube End Table from Pier 1, Lyabak pouf from Bleu Nature, Akta stool from Bleu Nature, rolling table from Excel DK showroom.
Benches and tables, clockwise from top left: Barn Beam tables from Viva Terra, Truck Tarp ottoman from Anthropologie, and the Z Bench from Branch Home.

Plenty of sun-washed hues – Blues, greens, sand, grey, pale pink, pale yellow, lavendar, cream, white. Visit the coast for inspiration, snap photos, open your eyes to the sights and sounds. Pay attention to the colors so you can bring similiar hues into your space. (If you’d like to spice things up a bit, incorporate deeper tones of these hues, add a burst of teal, for instance.)

Prints range from organic shapes to wood grain, palm branches, stripes, sea fans, and bamboo. Keep metals to a minimum, although a little silver or gold goes a long way, especially hammered or in a matte finish.

Textiles from Kerry Cassill.
Linen and faux suede pillows from West Elm add color and texture.

Top row: Fish pillow from Jonathan Adler on sale for only $29, and Curvature pillow from GH Interiors. Bottom row: Gato and Easton pillows via Angela Adams.
Pillows from Hable Construction

Merino Wool Bobble pillows from Mirror Mirror and assorted Simplemente Blanco pillows.

Bedding: Let’s look at a few bedding options. I’m sure most of you can figure this out on your own by now, especially with all this visual inspiration, but here are a few of my favorites.

Swim bedding from Judy Ross and the Tamarind bedding from Anthropologie.

Paraati/Nora and the Marina, both from Crate and Barrel.

Cozy throws add warmth in more ways than one. Chunky Knit throws from Nate Berkus at Linens ‘n Things, and the Lucy crochet throw from Anthropologie.

Handmade quilts from Sweet Felt Goods in Rhode Island.

Contemporary and clean Waves bedding from West Elm. A great gender neutral option.

For flooring I suggest hardwood or bamboo, berber carpeting, creamy white shag rugs, stone, anything made of natural fibers, really. If you want modern, opt for most of Angela Adams’ rugs. She’s from Maine so her designs are inspired by times spent on the shore, and they are made of 100% New Zealand wool. If your budget won’t allow an Adams splurge, look for similiar patterns at a big box store, like Pier 1 or Target. Chiasso is another one to visit.

West Elm Frames shag rug and wood block rug.

Roost pebble felted wool rugs and Roost bamboo flooring via Velocity Art + Design.

Rugs from Angela Adams via Design Public.

The Comma
or the Seed Pod rug from Anthropologie.

Paint suggestions? Try soft, barely-there hues for paint (Bright and Early #834 is heavenly) to lend a sense of spaciousness. If you fancy texture, add grasscloth wallpaper (I love the papers from Twenthy2 shown below) or papers made from another natural fiber. If it’s drama you crave, paint your walls in a dark blue-gray (like Sea Reflections #1664) and trim everything out in pure white, like Decorators White, or trim things out a few shades darker than your wall color. This works well in a formal dining room. Another gorgeous blue is Palladian Blue, it’s one of the most beautiful Robin’s Egg ever. (Colors are from Benjamin Moore.) You can also try Farrow + Ball’s “Elephants Breath” #229, it’s somewhat of a grey and beige combined, aka greige. It’s subtle and gorgeous.

Walls: Never forget the power of wallpaper! Grasscloth is ideal. Think of non-tacky ways to bring the sea home without it becoming a theme park. You can do it!

Grasscloth wallcovering from Twenty2.
Coral with Eyeflowers wallpaper from Rollout, and white algae from Vitra via Velocity Art + Design (I love this in white, makes a terrific, airy room divider).

Windows: Keep it simple, fresh, and no frills. If you can find something with texture, or made from natural materials, all the better. Linens, cottons, bamboos… You get the vibe. This isn’t rocket science, so don’t stress. Trrain you eye and develop your taste. We all make progress as we complete projects, so keep at it when you decorate!

Natural woven waterfall shades from Smith + Noble and 3-D Gap laine felt blinds from Anne Kyyro Quinn (love!), and the Lapis and Wave Motif curtains are from Anthropologie.

Now let’s move on to lighting. There’s a lot out there that works with this look. Good lighting is one of the most important features of a well-designed space, but so often neglected. Here are some good options…

Surprise! These light fixtures are from Pottery Barn.
I’m so impressed with their selection this season.

Surprise! More Pottery Barn beauties. I love these.

Think tactile. The felt loop lighting by Anne Kyyro Quinn is gorgeous, as is the Giacamo driftwood lamp via Zia Priven.

Pendant love! Top row: Coral chandelier from Moth, and Igniq from Bleu Nature.
bottom row: Shell Chandelier (hey, why not?) and Galbraith and Paul Stripe Pendant from Room + Board.

Clockwise from left: Zia Priven Groove lamp, Capiz chandelier from Pier 1, Gold leaf sea fan table lamp from Horchow, Glass Boulder lamp from Anthropologie, Phantom table lamp from CB2.

Accessorize! Now let’s move on to some accessories that fit this look. Colored glass may be on trend right now, but it’s also timeless, so you can feel confident in your purchase. Patterned glasses (especially etched), serving plates in pastels, dinnerware in interesting shapes, ceramics (textured, cut out or pierced designs are in), and plant orbs. Who doesn’t love plant orbs?

Dusk Chellie glasses from Angela Adams, Kahla Cumulus Aerius dinnerware from Lekker, Staxx dinnerware from Crate and Barrel.

Medium Teal Seahorse pillow, Wood Plant Orb, Glass Orbs (great for succulents), Turquoise Gloss Chi planters, all from Sprout Home.

Clockwise: Water Hyacinth placemat, Riverstone napkin ring, Smoked Bamboo placemat, and the Cerchi dinnerware from Pier 1.

More great tabletop options from Pier 1. Mother-of-Pearl Salad Servers, Capiz Charger, and the Pansey napkins.

Driftwood Trivet from Viva Terra and Porcelin Driftwood pieces from Greener Grass Design.

Bubble Bud vase from Rare Device, Surf Stripe grommetted gift tags from Hable Construction (sweet to hang around the neck of a pretty glass bottle), knit ceramics from Loop in London, and vessels from West Elm.

Ceramics from Papa Stour in Scotland.

Glassware from West Elm

Soap, soap leaves, and candles from Simplemente Blanco

Pretty blown glass from Rock Paper Scissors, Hable Construction canvas desktop storage box from Rock Paper Scissors, and ocean paper weights from See Jane Work.

One point to stress… We’re not talking theme-y looks here with starfish and sea urchin everything. Try to not ‘go there’ when you decorate your space. You’re simply bringing your favorite place indoors by creating a spot that brings you peace and joy, using what happens to be a trend, so it’s easy to pull together. Please avoid shopping yourself into a coma (or debt!). There’s more to life, like stretching your imagination and getting creative with what you already have. Mix in smart, new finds with your current space to freshen the mood. You’re smart and confident, you’ll pull off something gorgeous!


Hope you’ve enjoyed this trend report. I’ll be adding a few more trends in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Psst: I highly suggest picking up the current Domino magazine, it’s all about going green. You can even find their green list that Graham from Treehugger pulled togther for them. It’s packed with resources from furniture to rugs, many of which would fit nicely with your new ocean-inspired decor.

Posted in trends on February 22, 2007

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