November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of my best wishes to you and your family for a quiet, peaceful and bountiful Thanksgiving.


This isn’t my house, it’s from Williams-Sonoma!

November 22, 2015

Auction Adventures

You might have noticed that I love going to auctions. The one I used to love to attend has gone from a Saturday morning live auction to an on-line one that seems to drag on forever. Even if it’s not a high stakes auction, there’s nothing like the electricity of a live auction. With that in mind, pal David and I headed up to Pennsylvania over the weekend for my favourite type of auction – a box lot auction!image

Box lot auctions are exactly what they sound like. They are usually the result of house-clearings, when items are piled into boxes and hauled to the auction house. Sometimes each box is auctioned individually, and other times, a few boxes are auctioned, and the high bidder gets to choose which box they want. The auctioneer may say that you can choose two or more for the same money, meaning if you bid $100 for one box, you can choose any or all boxes for the same money. The downside of this is that you don’t know if the people you’re bidding against want the same box as you do. But if bidding starts at a dollar, you don’t have too much to lose. IMG_6776

There’s an opportunity to look through the boxes before you bid, and sometimes you might only want one thing in the box. There’s a fair amount of horse-trading that happens after the bidding’s done. The adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure certainly holds true here. The bidding at these auctions is fast and furious, and you really have to pay attention to make sure you get the boxes you want. The auctioneer just jabbers away in his auction patois, and people are calling out the whole time and lot numbers are shouted, so there’s a lot of commotion.


The auction we went to is in the middle of nowhere. We thought we might have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in deepest Appalachia, but we finally found the spot (and I am not telling where it is!). IMG_6756We did look a bit out of place, me with my cashmere and cords and David with his artist’s aesthetic. I managed not to wear the leopard-print tassel loafers, and smartly put on some thick soled shoes, because these auctions can be cold!

We had a very successful auction and both got the things we were bidding on. I found the most gorgeous hand-made quilt in the Lone Star pattern. It’s stunning and incredibly well made.IMG_6833

What is so interesting about this is how it changes the closer you look!IMG_6835IMG_6836IMG_6837

As I said, when you buy a box lot, you take whatever’s in the box, and in with the quilts were a bunch of old wool US Navy sailor uniforms, complete with middy tops and bell-bottom trousers, with the sailor buttons and lace-up backs.IMG_6793IMG_6795IMG_6797IMG_6802

I also got a HUGE lot of my favourite Blue Willow china. I know it doesn’t look like much china, but there are about 12 of each plate. IMG_6822Here are the marks on the bottoms:
IMG_6824 IMG_6826

I also got these gorgeous cups and saucers, which are similar to a set I bought at an auction about a year ago. IMG_6819

There was one lot I forgot to bid on – I think I got distracted by an elderly woman with a lurid red MOHAWK! It was sort of a gentleman’s box, complete with instruction books, IMG_6758

and a straw boater with this label inside. I kept trying to decide whether the book was about South Americans, or Americans from the Southern USA. But with the reference to Latin ways, I think it’s South America. Published in MCMLI or 1951.


And now for what David got! In the telling, it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually pretty fabulous. It’s four grape sconces. The grapes and grape leaves are all glass, probably Italian, from Murano, an island off of Venice known for its glassblowing factories. In addition to the grapes and leaves, there are metal stems with tendrils. IMG_1699

Because David is such a genius, he can figure out how this whole thing goes back together. You can see on this one, that there’s a light bulb inside, but the plugs on it were horribly outdated and certainly not up to code. These pieces each weighed about five lbs.IMG_0463

After consulting Mr. Google, we came up with this, which is similar.


All in all, it was a fun evening and I am sure that we will do it again in the not-too-distant future!

November 20, 2015

The Book Thing

There are many times that I reference the Book Thing in my posts, usually in the context of having found some fabulous book there, but you might not know what the Book Thing actually is.

In today’s local paper, there was a great article about the Book Thing, how it was created and what exactly they do. Click here to read it.

I thought I’d share some of the treasures I’ve found at the Book Thing.

Numerous copies of the Chic Simple books, still relevant almost 25 years later.image

One of the prize finds: The Giraffe Cover to with the Zebra Cover!image

A fairly comprehensive collection of books on JBKO.image

Another great find! I also found one of his books on flowers.image

I probably find a copy of this book every other month.image

Billy Baldwin’s Decorates, as well as copies of Remembers. One even had the original review letter in it.image

I hope that you will take a moment to read the article on The Book Thing. It’s truly one of the things that makes Baltimore special.

November 16, 2015

I’ll Take This: 1830’s House on the Chesapeake

I knew this house when I was younger, a friend’s parents lived on this property in one of the many tenant houses. imageIt is surrounded by a sod farm, so it was always beautifully green and lush, imagebut it also backed onto a creek off the Chesapeake Bay, so sailing out to the Bay was easy. image

The driveway was made from years and decades of crushed oyster shells from the surrounding waters. imageThe house is simple and stately with minimum ornamentation, not even show-offy window treatments (in some rooms). The interior seems to be somewhat restrained, in parts. image

Those may be the original floors, but the planks don’t look wide or uneven enough.image

Nice classical center hallway, but the mural looks a bit dire. I lived in a house once where the owners let their high-school age children paint a mural. It was the worst!image

This piece of the mural was a bit concerning, I was afraid that they’d put some ghastly and inappropriate addition on the back of the house, but in looking at the exterior shots, I don’t think this image is this house. image

Nice dining room. The floors look more authentic here and you can see where the HVAC vents have been subtly added below the windows. image

Here are some of the other interior images:image



imageDon’t quite know what to say about this ceiling!image

The designer kitchen is a bit too modern for the house. I’d love to know what they pulled out to put this in!image But good lord! What’s that thing hanging over the counter?imageimage

The realtor had this tidbit to say about the house,

Circa 1830 with two guest houses, 3 tenant houses, 3 bay garage, barn with workshop, and deep water pier stands proudly on 150 acres. Designer kitchen, formal parlor, 8 fireplaces, plank wood floors & original windows. Built by John Ridout & the former home of Captain Philip V H Weems, Father of Celestial Navigation who taught Lindbergh to navigate and Admiral Byrd to fly.


The house has been on and off the market since 2012 and the price has dropped from $6.75 million to $5.7 mil. It’s about 25 miles to Baltimore and about 35 to Washington, DC. For more information and additional images, please click here.

November 13, 2015

En Peu de Tout

Lots of little bits and pieces to chat about today.
Over the weekend, I was invited to the most amazing Day of the Dead party by some friends, one of whom is a fabulous artist. They are so creative and clever. I knew the stakes would be high, so I invited my most creative and clever friend, Andrea, to come along with me. Good decision! It took more than two hours to get ready, with the layers of make up, the dresses, jewelry, etc. megandrea
Kudos to Andrea who made her feathered head-dress and her necklace! She was stunning. I took a vampire bride dress and added sugar skulls and a bunch of skulls I cut out of a Halloween ribbon. image
It was such a fun party, and the best part was the look on some kid’s face as he pulled up next to us! Priceless!
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Another party this week was for the launch of Eddie Ross’s new book, Modern Mix, which I wrote about here. It was such fun to see Eddie and Jaithan, as well as a lot of my Washington, DC blogging friends! And, best of all, I finally met Jura Koncius, the Home & Garden editor for the Washington Post, with whom I’ve been communicating since I started the blog! What a huge treat!image
The party was held at the beautiful Baker Furniture showroom, right in the heart of Georgetown. image
Here I am with fellow bloggers, Michele Ginnerty from My Notting Hill, Michael Hampton from uh, Michael Hampton, Lauren Liess from Pure Style Home, Stefan Hurry from Architect Design and me!blog group
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As you may have gathered, I am very interested in historic architecture, especially here in Baltimore. But there has been a very distressing development recently. One of the most beautiful spaces in Baltimore, the lobby of a bank building built in 1929,10 1 is being taken over by a “performance center” funded in part by local heavy-weight, Under Armour. ua
What you don’t see in this rendering is the beautiful chandeliers that they’ve photoshopped out, but reassured the Historic Preservation Commission will still be hanging. Or the stunningly beautiful marble mosaic floors that they’ve covered up with grey “area rugs”. These historically significant mosaics were created by Hildreth Meière, who also created the mosaics at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, as her first commercial commission.
The main concern is that the people who are using the space, will, like the people in the rendering above, not care for it and destroy irreplaceable stone, murals and mosaics. In the image above, the person is heaving a heavy medicine ball at the wall, which is an ancient limestone with thousands of fossils embedded in it.  Another concern is that the pounding of the machines and dropped weights will crush the mosaics and render them into dust.10light-detail
Many people are very upset about this, but the building’s interior wasn’t landmarked – who would have every though that a “performance center” would be put into an elegant space like this? It is more suited for a restaurant or a club, not a sweaty gym. There are two great articles in one of the investigative journalism outlets, here and here.
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And now a wee bit of shameless promotion. I am fully stocked with lots of gorgeous mother-of-pearl silverware, just in time for Thanksgiving. It’s all available on my Etsy shop, and if you order now, you’ll have it in time for the big dinner. I have several sets of 12 place settings, including this one in French Ivory, which both Eddie Ross and I collect.image
A bit more simple is this set of 24 in a presentation case. image
This set features gorgeous engraved fish!image
I just listed this fabulous STERLING SILVER Mappin & Webb Art Deco set of 12 knives and forks. image
Let me know if there’s anything you’re looking for and I will see what I can do!