Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Everlasting Importance of Flowers & Home

Many believe that the first beauty created in this world was the flower, a creation that asks for nothing and gives only pleasure to all human senses. It is used as decoration, for scent, as food, as a medicinal cure, as a gift – there are no limits to the blessed qualities of this heavenly creation. Some of the latest research shows that flowers have consciences developed on a level that the human brain cannot yet grasp. As early wise men discovered, flowers can teach people so many things.

Every interior and exterior designer remembers to include flowers, plants or trees while redecorating a new home or garden. Plants bring joy to life on so many levels. Not a single event in people’s lives can be imagined without these natural wonders. Trying to describe beauty, people have always compared it to a flower – a beautiful woman is a being that ascends to heavenly skies from where flowers originated.

It is also used as a form of communication: white flowers express purity, yellow speaks of jealousy, red screams love and pink brings honesty. Flower arranging has developed into an art that celebrates their beauty, and the famous Japanese art of ‘ikebana’ is considered as an ideal pastime to stimulate creativity and relaxation. Throughout the centuries every variety of flower has been given a meaning according its characteristics. For example: mimosa is for friendship, camellia for happiness, pink carnations are for remembrance, red carnations are for an aching heart, ferns represent enchantment, orchids represent sophistication, roses are for love, ivy is for fidelity, hibiscus is for gracious beauty, palms are for victory, wall-flowers are for eternal beauty and the water lily represents elegance.

Flowers are silent companions who often go unnoticed despite their magnificence. Additionally, flowers are therapeutic and are sometimes used as a supplement in food, in the form of spices or leaves. People are not completely aware of the effect that the local environment can have on flowers. They react to grief or loss and are known to react to the presence of other people in their immediate environment. Flowers communicate with each other and adore music and conversation about them.

Having these kinds of friends can only bring more joy into one’s life. Moreover, one should have at least a few flowers in the house and treat them as fellow creatures. The energy benefits of adding flowers to your environment are unbelievable.

Dave has been writing articles online for nearly 3 years now. Not only does this author specialize in health, fitness and relationships you can also check out his latest websites on Ice Hockey Goalie Equipment and Easton Baseball Gloves. Both created to ensure you’re informed when making the right product decision. 

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All photographs are copyright 2009 – Marie Rhoades of Sally Lee©

Classic Seaside Summer Cottage

A leisurely, light-handed remodeling project restored the architectural integrity of a 1913 Craftsman-style summer cottage. At first, this home’s renovator thought the architecture too crude, too simple, too boxy to be attractive. But when the worst aspects of the house–the drapes, the carpets, the linoleum–were removed, the beauty of the home began to shine through. All the Arts and Crafts-influenced home really needed was a bit of freshening up–hardly a renovation, and almost less than a remodeling.
Porch: Over the course of six summers, the house was gradually and subtly burnished until it seemed as timeless as a summer evening, yet as fresh as a sea breeze. The renovator painted the porch floor in the original formula of one part brown to two parts black.
Living Room:  The massive fireplace of native granite gives a lodge-like feel to the living room. A Stickley armchair echoes the house’s Arts and Crafts lines.
Elegant Eating Area:  The 1940s kitchen was preserved as is, complete with metal cabinets, enamelware table, and glassware found in the attic. The green-painted sideboard from Argentina and the simple French chandelier look right at home with the table, a piece original to the cottage.
Bright Pantry:  White walls and an un-draped window keep the pantry bright. Newly painted vintage furnishings and cabinetry give the room a clean, fresh look.
Spacious Bedroom:  Butterscotch walls and bedding and three faded photos found in a drawer set the tone in this spacious bedroom–one of four in the house.
Second-Floor Bedroom: French doors open from a second-floor bedroom onto a view of the Gulf of Maine.
Nautical Bedroom: This nautically themed bedroom takes its cue from sea views. The brass beds and wall sconce are original to the house. Striped bedding echoes the vertical lines of the car siding on the walls. Shutters, rather than curtains, emphasize the simple geometry of the windows.

Illustrations of Love

Valentine’s Day is upon us once again and visions of romance and flowers fill many minds. As I’ve grown older, and somewhat wiser, my husband and I now profess our love to each other every day so I look at this Holiday from a different viewpoint. My artistic side has found an appreciation for the vintage Valentine illustrations which were romantic, inspiring and simply delightful. Most of the oldest valentine treasures are now in museums and rarely found today; however the Internet provides you and I the opportunity to enjoy these charming illustrations from the comfort of our homes.

Valentines were being exchanged in various parts of Europe in the early to mid-1400s, with the oldest Valentine in existence being in the British Museum. Traditions linking romance and St. Valentine’s Day go back a number of centuries, but the holiday as we know it is firmly rooted in the 1800s. Cards with romantic themes began to be printed for St. Valentine’s Day in the 1820s; however printing of paper cards did not appear in the United States until around 1840. In 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on the popular British models.

By the 1850s, the greeting card had been transformed from a relatively expensive, handmade and hand-delivered gift to a popular and affordable means of personal communication, due largely to advances in printing and mechanization. In the 1860s, companies like Marcus Ward & Co, Goodall and Charles Bennett began the mass production of greeting cards. These companies employed well known artists such as Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane as illustrators and card designers.

Stand-up cards with a base and several three-dimensional fold-out layers were popular from about 1895 until 1915, as were honeycomb paper puffs which opened to form bells, fans, balls, hearts and other shapes.

Many of the first American valentine crafters used not only ink and paper, but adorned their creations with sketches, watercolors, pinpricks and cutouts to make them more interesting and personal. Sometimes natural elements such as bark, feathers and dried flowers were used along with scraps of cloth, yarn, ribbon and even locks of hair. Occasionally semiprecious stones and jewels found their way into a valentine composition. The earliest valentines were sealed with wax and made their way to the recipient through hand delivery. If the greeting was anonymous, it would be left where the intended would surely find it.

Although cherubs are mentioned in the Bible as being second only to seraphim in the angelic realms; when they’re portrayed in vintage Valentines, their role is a little less serious. The Victorians seemed to be obsessed with them, as they appear not just in Valentine’s Day images, but also in many other images they used year-round. And I’m glad they were obsessed, because they left behind all these wonderful vintage Valentine cards.

A multitude of wondrous artwork has been put into a slideshow for your enjoyment. Enjoy the art, enjoy the day and let’s love each other every day…not just on the 14th of February.

Are you a Dragonfly or Butterfly?

Every gardener knows insects come with the territory, and every decorator knows these little critters also provide some fabulous designs for interior or exterior decorating.

Through the years, certain bugs rise in stature. Remember the dragonfly days when the funny little flier was prevelant throughout garden and home decor? Dragonflies are still a popular choice and since they are such a positive symbol, I’m thankful for that fact. The dragonfly is symbolic of many wonderful things including renewal, positive force and the power of life in general. Dragonflies can also be a symbol of the sense of self that comes with maturity. As a creature of the wind, the dragonfly frequently represents change. And as a dragonfly lives a short life, it knows it must live its life to the fullest with the short time it has – which is a lesson for all of us. As you can see, the dragonfly is a beautiful insect, adorable design in home decor as well as a positive reminder to live life to the fullest!

Although the dragonfly is still quite popular, the current trend is beginning to favor the butterfly. A perennial favorite, the butterfly, with its fabulous colors, will be seen on a variety of products in 2010. Butterflies are also a very symbolic creature of… change, joy, and color. Their flight appears as dancing, and a reminder not to take life so seriously. The butterfly is a powerful symbol for transformation so their image is excellent for anyone contemplating, or in the midst of a major change. There is a Native American legend that says, “If you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it. Since butterflies cannot speak, your secret is ever safe in their keeping. Release the butterfly, and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit, who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies. By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature, and your wish will surely be granted.” It’s easy to see why butterflies are a very popular decorating accent for the home – they are colorful and encapsulate a feeling of joy.

Are you a Dragonfly or Butterfly? or a bit of both?

Trend Watch – Fashionable Feathers!

The new design trend in upscale home accents is the elegant flowing plumage and vivid jewel-tone colors of the gorgeous peacock.  The wonderful hues of blues, greens, yellows and purples from the peacock’s  feathers catch the eyes of those of us that love cool and refreshing colors.  Combinations of these colors are easily incorporated into a relaxing interior design.

Feathers first appeared on fashion runways a couple of years ago, and by fall 2008, the iridescent hues of the peacock had established themselves in the fashion forefront.  The look has now transcended into home decor, with the brilliant colors and elegant design gracing vases, porcelain accessories, lamps, linens and more!  Nature is an amazing inspiration in all types of design. When I think of blue-green the first thing that comes to my mind is tropical waters from around the world….and peacocks!

Classic Tiffany Peacock Design
What separates a trend from a fad? A trend is a slow shift in color which allows us to easily incorporate a trend into our décor without the fear of being “out-of-style” in just a few months. We’ve watched an interesting rotation around the color wheel over the past few yearswhich began with lime green, moving to grassy greens and into the pale blue-green aquas. We are now into the more vibrant, hip, and punchy Turquoise variations and the deep, subdued, sophisticated Teals.
Of course, the peacock trend is not for every one; however we’ll be seeing lots of the peacock influence in home interiors in the near future.  Will you embrace this trend or hold your breath for a new trend to start sooner than later?

The Magic of Tiffany

Turn back the clock to the late 1800s and imagine that electricity is something you’ve only heard about. Then imagine that — if you are rich enough — you’ve bought your first electric lamp, one with a shade that directs the light through whimsical designs created from pieced glass: “drawings” of dragonflies or spider webs, peacock feathers or peonies. As you stare at the lamp, you know you have never seen anything quite so sensual, vivid, exotic or distinct. Do that and you will understand the thousands of buyers who made Louis Comfort Tiffany the most sought-after artist, craftsman and interior designer of his time. From the 1880s to the 1930s, Tiffany and his studios produced work that revolutionized the art of glassmaking and married fine art to craftsmanship in American homes.

In spite of the fame of his glass lamps — the term Tiffany lamp is now an accepted generic name for any leaded lamp — Tiffany’s passion lay in stained-glass windows (his studios produced some 20,000) and hand-blown glass objects. The son of the founder of the famous New York silver and jewelry firm Tiffany & Co., Tiffany took his rich beginnings and went his own way, beginning his career as a painter abroad and then learning to “paint” with glass as no other American artist ever had.

“Because he was trained as a painter, he never recognized the limitations of glass the way a glassmaker would,” says Elizabeth DeRosa, an independent curator and adjunct professor at Cooper Hewitt Graduate Program in the History of Decorative Arts in New York City. “He was always experimenting.” He experimented with color, with materials, with shape and with process. Says Elizabeth, “He was the Cecil B. DeMille of the arts world.”

In 1885 he founded the Tiffany Glass Company (expanded and renamed Tiffany Studios in 1900), employing thousands of workers until it closed in 1928. Says Martin Eidelberg, a professor of art history at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.: “He would bring in colored sketches and say to his workmen, ‘Work this up.'” But not one piece ever left the studio without Tiffany’s approval.

“Tiffany’s work is as popular today as it was in his time and will ever be so because he captured in glass and light the essence of natural beauty,” says interior designer Michael Payne, owner of Michael Payne Design in Los Angeles and host of HGTV’s Designing for the Sexes. “I look at Tiffany pieces and say to myself, ‘It’s only stained glass, Michael,’ but then I get almost teary-eyed. You can only shake your head and say, ‘It’s magical.'”
 What survives today is the timelessness of Tiffany’s genius. “All current designers will have studied Tiffany,” Michael says. “They don’t just get out of bed and start knocking out glass. They all owe something to Tiffany, and most of them are saying, ‘If only my pieces could be as beautiful.'” 

Mooning over a Tiffany and owning one are two separate things. The pieces became hot commodities again in the 1950s when the Museum of American Craft in New York City held a retrospective of Tiffany’s work. Suddenly dealers were combing Grandma’s attic, and Tiffanys have sold for as much as $2.5 million. Most of the floral leaded-glass shades sell for $30,000 to $150,000, although the simpler geometric ones can start at a mere $15,000.
Tiffany was the first to color glass with metal oxides, a method that yielded a range of 5,000 colors, formulas whose secret he guarded. “It was not only the hue he came up with but the colors within a hue,” says Tiffany dealer Lary Matlick. “Within a hue of red, say, there was orange-red, yellow-red, blood-red. And by choosing different colors within a hue, Tiffany could create a flow of color,” he says. “When you look at a good Tiffany lamp, you see not one color but continuous movement and variations within that same color.”
If a million dollar Tiffany lamp is a bit out of your price range then consider a Tiffany-style reproduction.  Each is handcrafted with exacting standards based on the original Tiffany method. Sally Lee offers a full line of Tiffany-style lighting and window panels which will add instant class and whimsical charm to your home.