A Tuscan Wedding

I don’t normally write about weddings, but I recently had the pleasure of being part of a magical weekend in Tuscany.  The entire event was truly unforgettable.  Full disclosure here–the groom is my nephew, Ryan, and I have a special place in my heart for him and his beautiful bride, Chisato.

Guests arrived in Italy from all over the globe to celebrate this special couple and their wonderful families.  (The bride’s sister had herself been married only a few months ago — in Hawaii!  This family has logged some serious mileage!!).  Our home for the weekend was the charming Borgo San Luigi, nestled in the Tuscan hills in the village of Monteriggioni.

The night of our arrival, guests were treated to a buffet of homemade pizzas (the chef made them in front of us!), pasta, salads and a delicious spread of Italian meats and cheeses.  The poolside supper was followed (of course!) by homemade Italian gelato.

 The next day, it was off to Chianti, where we spent the afternoon at the Badia  a Coltibuono winery.  The drive to the Chianti winery resembled a postcard, with winding roads overlooking the hills of the Tuscan countryside, dotted with olive orchards and vineyards. The vineyard, a former monastery, dates back a thousand years (yes, that is 1000)! Although the grapes are no longer grown at this site (the altitude makes for less than favorable growing conditions), the wine is aged here in solid oak casks.

Many of the “important” reserve bottles are stored here as well.  While many of the older bottles were lost or taken during the Second World War, there remain a handful of bottles from the 1930s.

The winery is surrounded by picture perfect gardens and includes some of the original furniture and artwork built and used by the monks who lived there for centuries.  I was as fascinated by the interior as much as the wine cellars!

Following a tour of the winery, we feasted on a five-course meal accompanied by different wines (of course!).  This was not for the faint of heart!

I loved the simplicity of the centerpieces–pots of fresh, locally grown herbs and lemons.

The dress code for the day was “garden chic” and it was so fun to see all the colorful floral dresses!

I thought it was the perfect occasion for my Danielle Rollins floral dress!

Despite a forecast of rain, the morning of the big day brought sunshine and blue skies.  The ceremony and reception were held at the Borgo Stomennano, near Sienna.  This magical villa was built on ancient Estruscan and Roman ruins, still visible today.  The setting, surrounded by the lush Tuscan countryside, is the stuff of fairy tales.

Guests gathered in the early evening and were greeted by a string quartet.

Flowers adorning the wedding arch and seats were in blush pinks and creams with accents of green.

Coming from two different backgrounds, the bride and groom included elements from each in their wedding ceremony.  The bride, who was born in Japan and raised in the US, introduced us to the “333” ritual.  The significance of the number 3 is that it cannot be divided by 2.  It also symbolizes love, wisdom and happiness.  Ryan and Chisato each drank three times from three cups of sake.  Ryan, who was raised in the Jewish faith, broke the wine glass, as is the tradition in a Jewish wedding.  This symbolizes that the old life is broken and a new life is beginning.

The moment we had all been waiting for finally arrived.  The bride, in an exquisite ivory dress of silk and lace (and a million dollar smile!), walked down the aisle to oohs and aahs and genuine tears of joy.  Her groom even shed a few! They wrote their own vows, each spoken from the heart.  Once the ceremony concluded, the party began!  The cocktail hour featured wine, prosceco, a raw bar, and a bountiful spread of Italian meats and cheeses.  A veritable feast, and this was only the beginning!

Dinner was served a pebbled garden under the trees, lit by candles and strings of lights…a truly SPECTACULAR setting.

After feasting and toasting, the guests were led to the pool terrace, transformed to a dance floor, magically lit by ceiling of lights.  Following the Italian tradition, the wedding cake was “made” before our eyes.  Two chefs prepared layers of wafer, cream filled with chocolate morsels, topped with fresh berries and sugar.  A truly impressive show!

Chefs preparing the traditional Italian Wedding Cake

  Chisato and Ryan share their first dance  Chisato and Ryan share their first dance

Dancing and partying continued into the wee hours of the morning.  No one wanted to leave this moment.  I’m quite certain that everyone realized that this experience, filled with beauty, family and love, was one to treasure forever.

The magic of a Tuscan sunset

The Orchid Dinner

  Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA.com  Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA.com

Each year,  The New York Botanical Garden hosts its festive and fabulous Orchid Dinner.  This year, the big event was held at the storied Plaza Hotel. All proceeds from the Dinner (and the sale of rare orchids during the cocktail hour) support the Botanical Garden’s orchid research collection and conservation efforts.

  Orchids auctioned at the event. Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA.com  Orchids auctioned at the event. Photo: Zach Hilty/BFA.com

I was honored to be invited to create a centerpiece and tablescape for the big event.  I was in the company of other interior designers from around the country, as well as floral designers, fashion designers and architects.  The only requirement was that the centerpieces must feature orchids as the principal element.  Other than that, we were left to our own inspiration and creativity.

  A sketch of my design plan   by Jane Gianarelli  A sketch of my design plan   by Jane Gianarelli

I got to work looking for a backdrop my table and I needed to look no further than the Osborne & Little showroom.  The Designer’s Guild Fabric, “Orchidea” was the perfect point of departure.

To me, the fabric looked like a painting, with the orchids moving across the canvas.  A big thank you to Osborne & Little for donating this stunning fabric to my project.  The rest of “my story”  seemed to come easily after that.

To finish off the tablecloth, expertly fabricated by Sidotti Decor in Long Island City (without whom I wouldn’t be in business), I used two trims by Samuel & Sons – a grosgrain trim in a soft lavender, and a velvet cord in a deep aubergine.  Just the right touch!

Now to the tabletop:

After searching for awhile for some plate chargers, I found the perfect one–a glass charger by Villeroy and Boch in a deep aubergine.  Just the right amount of drama against the orchid fabric.  I am so grateful for the support of Villeroy and Boch for donating these beauties!  I needed something relatively neutral with the pattern of the tablecloth and the drama of the chargers, so decided to use a set of plates from my own inventory–a lovely set of limoge porcelain plates in the shape of a flower (how perfect is that?)

And for the seat cushions, I used one of my favorite silks from Manuel Canovas, “Salsa” in lilac, piped in the same deep aubergine velvet that we used at the base of the tablecloth.

A sucker for monograms, I turned to Leontine Linens for some napkin inspiration.  To balance the cool pinks and lavenders of the tablecloth, I opted for a beautiful green, embroidered with a thread called raspberry ice.

For glassware, there is nothing like the beauty and quality of William Yeoward Crystal.  One trip to the showroom and I found some stunning goblets calling my name:  The Vita Goblet in amethyst for wine and the Eliza Goblet for water.  The amethyst crystal catches the light in such a beautiful way, at the whimsical pattern of the Eliza Goblet plays off the more serious, traditional style of the Vita.

Now, for the most important part…the orchids!  I have collaborated with Anthony Ortiz on many successful projects, and we began brainstorming.  I knew I wanted height, color and a bit of drama.  We loved the look of bleached manzanita branches and decided to create a “tree” of Vanda orchids from these wonderful branches.  This mimicked the movement of our tablecloth and added height, color and drama!  To balance the height, we used some mimi phalaenopsis orchid plants at the base of the centerpiece.  The shine of  black glass vases juxtaposed the matte finish of the branches and also was the perfect neutral against the white and pinks of the tablecloth.

Invitations were sent and the big day was fast approaching!

February 7 arrived and it was off to the races!  We headed to the flower district and then to the Plaza Ballroom to get to work!

It takes a village….

In a matter of hours, the Ballroom was transformed into a fanciful garden.  Each table was beautiful and it was fascinating to see the different creations and interpretations of each designer.

I was honored to be a part of such a wonderful evening. It was a magical night supporting a great cause, with so many talented designers showcasing their creativity and imagination. I feel privileged to be among them.

Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve

“Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve” (Designer of Dreams) was a masterpiece about a master.  After months of hearing and reading about this exhibition (and drooling over the extraordinary images), I had to see it for myself.  Although one never needs an excuse to go to Paris, there could hardly be a better one!  And what made the trip even more special were my traveling companions, my two daughters.  What could make for  a better girls’ trip than Paris and Christian Dior?!!

The exhibition at the Louvre’s Musee des Arts Decoratifs attracted thousands of visitors from around the globe.  Even with reserved tickets, there was a long line to enter — and those without tickets waited in line for an average of 5 hours!  But nobody complained.

The exhibition was an extraordinary retrospective of the seventy years since the creation of the Maison Dior. It explored the life and genius of Christian Dior, as well as also the work of the six artistic directors who followed Dior.

Christian Dior started his career as an art dealer in Paris, but the crash of 1929 forced him to close his gallery and he began to work as an illustrator.  His talents were quickly discovered and he began creating illustrations for some of the well-known fashion houses in Paris.  In 1946, he followed his dream and opened his own fashion house at 30 Avenue de Montaigne in Paris.

Even with the Allied victory in World War II, the mood was somber and fashion of the day was rigid and masculine.  Christian Dior’s first collection, presented in 1947, was the antithesis of this. He brought a breath of fresh air to fashion and celebrated elegance and femininity with his “Bar Suit,” a tailored, soft shouldered jacket over a chic, accordion pleated skirt.  This revolutionary style became known as “The New Look,” and was enormously successful.

  Le Bar Suit
Le Bar Suit

Christian Dior believed (and I agree!) that what made a woman fashionable was not only her clothing , but also her shoes, handbag, hat (I wish women still wore hats!) accessories, makeup and even perfume.  In 1947, Dior was the first designer to introduce his own perfume, the legendary Miss Dior.  Although it seems that every fashion line and celebrity has a perfume, Dior was a real pioneer in launching a perfume.  The Dior perfume collection now consists of more than one hundred scents, including such iconic names as J’Adore and Poison.

  Different editions of the Dior scent
Different editions of the Dior scent J’adore

A picture tells a thousand words, and the arrival of Christian Dior on the international fashion scene coincided with the emergence of photography as an art form.  Dior’s creations were soon captured by some of the most talented photographers of the day, including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton. An entire wall of the museum was devoted to a collection of fashion magazine covers featuring models wearing Dior creations.


Christian Dior truly appreciated the role of color, explaining that:

“A Touch of Color is all you need to change your outfit. . . an emerald scarf, a bright red dress, a sparkling yellow wrap, royal blue gloves.”  For Dior, each color has an important meaning:  black is the color of absolute elegance, white is purity, red reminded him of the façade of his childhood home in Normandy (Dior became known for his red so much that it has become known as “Dior Red.”)  Orange and violet were symbols of the Orient, and pearl gray was reminiscent of the 18th century.

This color story was so exquisitely conceived and displayed.  It separated the fashion by color and included not only “life size” dresses, but miniature dresses in the same intricate detail, as well as handbags, shoes, jewelry, etc.  The colors were beyond gorgeous and I could have spent a day studying each and every detail!  A few of my favorites:


“After the woman, flowers are the most divine creation” —Christian Dior

Flowers were an important source of inspiration for Dior and his first collection is informed by the notion of “femme-fleur” (woman-flower).  Walking into this  salon in the exhibition was like walking into a wonderland.  Suspended from the ceiling were white flowers and leaves, and the dresses on display were not only breathtakingly beautiful, but so creatively and effectively displayed.

Take a look:

Something one doesn’t see often in a museum exhibition is a live presentation.  This one demonstrated the production of the iconic “Lady Di” leather handbag.  An artisan from Florence took us through all the steps in creating the leather bag made famous by Princess Diana.

And here is the finished product!

The exhibition also featured the work and inspiration of the six artistic directors of the House of Dior who followed Christian Dior and examined how each was faithful to the spirit of Christian Dior while exploring new frontiers to appeal the modern woman:

Yves Saint Laurent—1958-60

Marc Bohan—1961-89

Gianfranco Ferre—1989-96

John Galliano—1997-2011

Raf Simons—2012-15

Maria Grazia Chiuri—2016-present

The exhibition concluded with a magical room inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, featuring twinkling lights and dresses displayed from floor to ceiling.

The final section is footage of the many luminaries who have been outfitted in Dior creations, among them Princess Diana, Princess Grace, Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as more modern celebrities like Celine Dion and Julianne Moore shown behind a display of the dresses.

The exhibition was not only a history lesson, but a feast for the eyes, unlike any show I have seen.  And what a thrill it was to experience this with my two daughters.  Although gone are the days where ladies wore hats and gloves with their ensembles, it was such fun to have a glimpse into those days and to fantasize about wearing some of that finery!

  My Sweet Traveling Companions!

My Sweet Traveling Companions!

Joie de Vivre

The French expression “joie de vivre” has become part of our vocabulary, but while we frequently invoke the concept, its true meaning is often overlooked.  Its direct translation is “joy in life” or “zest for life.”  Translated into practical terms, it means that adding a little extra effort can make even everyday activities or moments a bit more special, thereby bringing that much more joy to our lives and to the lives of others.

Nobody teaches this better than the French.  As a young student living with a French family in the Loire Valley, I gained an appreciation for this joie de vivre, as they daily expended that little bit of extra effort that so bettered the quality of our daily lives.  I remember that my French mother and father, Jacques and Mimi, both of whom were “en retraite” (retired), would prepare their cafe au lait on a silver tray, with croissants, butter and jam, and the daily newspaper, and return to their bed to begin the day with a few moments of calm and reflection — and since they were  French, who knows what else?   Not all of us have this luxury of lazy mornings, but every once in a while, why not?  Although I was rushing off to class without the time to linger over my own  cafe au lait, that memory has stayed with me after all those years.  There is something so sweet about this quiet, shared start to each new day.

Another memory was a picnic my family took during a visit to Normandy.  My French mother (seemingly effortlessly) spent some time in the kitchen the morning of our departure and off we went in the car.  Upon our arrival and after finding the perfect spot for dejeuner, Madame proceeded to pull out her linen tablecloth and napkins, silverware, and china.  And then came delicious salads, bread, fromage, wine (of course!) and fruit tarts.  No peanut butter sandwiches and chips for this crowd!  And how much more pleasant it was to eat delicious food prepared at home on real plates with lovely linen napkins.  With a bit more effort, a simple, family outing became a memorable and most enjoyable event–one that I will not forget.  I see this same refusal to accept lower standards when I visit the Paris markets.  When it is time for the mid-day meal, the merchants and their families bring out table linens, silverware, beautiful multi-course meals accompanied by wine, and thoroughly enjoy themselves.  Entirely the opposite of an American lunch hour!

We can all find ways to have a bit more joie de vivre.  My daughter and I like to make cranberry spritzers (cranberry juice and seltzer water).  I suggested that we make them a bit more festive, by serving them in a pretty wine glass with a sprig of fresh mint.  And voila!  A simple weeknight drink becomes that much more elegant and enjoyable.

And it is simply unquestionable that a cup of tea tastes so much better in a porcelain cup.  Why save our good things for special occasions?  Make a daily cup of tea a special occasion!  I love to collect vintage porcelain cups, so I have a lot to choose from.  But all it takes is one pretty cup (or two, as it is nicer to share these moments with someone) to have your own version of “high tea.”

We all have such busy lives, and often dinner is on the go or is a take out Chinese or pizza night.  Well, how about serving the Chinese takeout on your pretty china with cloth napkins.? For some reason it just tastes better that way and it is much more enjoyable.

  Can't we do better than this?
Can’t we do better than this?

Finally, we are all attached to our phones, computers, iPads, etc., and it is probably the last thing we look at before bed and the first thing we look at in the morning.  One ritual I have developed for myself is to try to take a few minutes (usually over a cup of coffee) and just reflect on the day to come.  (I haven’t yet gotten to the point of using a silver tray with a croissant and butter, but I am working on it!)  Once we look at emails, Facebook, Instagram, it’s off to the races.  I think we owe it to ourselves to have a moment of peace without the digital clutter.  Easier said than done, but worth a try!

Manhattan Pied a Terre

This little jewel of an apartment was a pleasure to decorate.  The clients are a lovely couple from Houston who live part time in New York City.  This duplex penthouse is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and includes two bedrooms, two baths and three terraces.  A real luxury in New York!  As the apartment is a rental, the clients didn’t want to invest in a lot of elaborate painting and wallpaper.  We had roughly six weeks (during the holidays, no less!) to get the apartment ready, so my Los Angeles-based design partner Missy Calvert and I got to work! The space was freshly painted in a cream color.  In the interest of keeping things simple and cost effective, we opted to design around this neutral backdrop.  Our client’s late father was a prolific artist, and his collection dictated the color scheme in the public rooms–deep golds, oranges, black and white.  We included a mix of reproductions and carefully selected antique pieces with vintage lighting and accessories.  Given that the clients hail from Texas, we also made sure to add a bit of Texas vibe to the decor.

The living and dining rooms are actually one big room, so we divided the space with the furniture layout into a dining area and a sitting area.   The antelope rug adds a bit of fun, and works well with the colors and other elements of the rooms.  The dining chairs are from Restoration Hardware–an excellent price point, as well as being quite sturdy and comfortable. The dining table is a reproduction and the chandelier is gilt metal with crystal from France, ca. 1940s.

In the front entry, we used a William IV mahogany cabinet from our shop. The entry is small and not very wide, so this piece was the perfect size.  It serves a useful purpose and looks lovely with a silver tray, the French 19th century mirror and Murano glass lamp.

This side table in the Living Room is from our collection, a neoclassical style Italian round table with a Greek key motif on the apron and leather top.  With all the rectilinear pieces in the living room, the round table adds a softening touch.  The framed intaglios add a bit of interest on either side of the sofa without competing with the main painting.

 This chrome and brass mid-century Jansen style etagere from our collection adds a bit of visual interest to a small alcove and is a great place to display books, accessories and family photos. This chrome and brass mid-century Jansen style etagere from our collection adds a bit of visual interest to a small alcove and is a great place to display books, accessories and family photos.

 We wanted to soften the space underneath the stairwell, and so added this vintage bench, upholstered in a striking mango velvet from  Designers Guild.  The planters add a welcome touch of green. We wanted to soften the space underneath the stairwell, and so added this vintage bench, upholstered in a striking mango velvet from Designers Guild. The planters add a welcome touch of green.

A cowhide rug lends a bit of Texas to this Guest Room!

We wanted to create a restful Master Bedroom, in soft blues and creams, as an oasis from the hectic pace of New York.  The bed is from Eloquence, lamps from Circa Lighting. The chaise is from the Kristin Drohan Collection, and the mirrors from Ballard Designs.

This vintage brass bar cart from our shop was the perfect addition!  We found a pair of low French chairs in a flea market–great detail and perfect scale for this space.  We covered them in a beautiful Cowtan and Tout velvet with a Samuel & Sons orange leather piping.

The outdoor terrace is such a bonus in New York–outdoor space is a real luxury!  We carried the orange color palette outdoors since the terrace is visible from the apartment–a nice complement to the gray upholstery.  Teak furniture from Kingsley Bate; pillow fabric from Thibaut’s indoor/outdoor collection.

The apartment is a perfect “home away from home” for this couple and their family and friends.  We loved working together and I wish them much happiness in New York.

Paris Delivery Day

At my 1st Dibs showroom in the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue

I travel to France once or twice a year to search for treasures for my shop. The day the shipment finally arrives in the showroom is full of joy and activity.  Not only have these pieces existed for many years (if not centuries!), they have made the journey from the dusty flea markets in Paris, across the ocean and into our space.  I am  happy to keep them and enjoy them until they are off again to their new homes.

My team and I painstakingly unpack and inspect each item, then evaluate where to place them among existing pieces in the showroom. We measure, debate, lift, shift, huff and puff until the work is done and the treasures are nestled beautifully in the space.

Some of our finds:

This Louis XVI style painted and parcel gilt four-paneled screen is absolutely gorgeous.  Screens add a bit of dimension to a room, especially one that doesn’t have a lot of architectural detail.  They can also serve as room dividers.  This one can add a bit of glamour to a space without being too fussy.

Sunburst mirrors – I will never tire of these.  Sometimes one adds just the right finishing touch.

Murano glass lamps–I love sitting these works of art atop a very traditional chest or table.  The juxtaposition makes both pieces shine!

Large plaster neoclassical panels–these caught my eye and I think they would be fabulous in any setting, particularly in a contemporary setting.

Coffee tables–the Willy Daro table with the sculptural metal base is a work of art that also serves a practical purpose.

Louis XVI dining chairs are classic–I love their clean lines and quiet elegance. These will look even better once I gave them a bit of a facelift by pairing them with fresh, contemporary fabric.

Paris delivery day is truly a special day for me. But even more exciting is knowing that each of these special pieces will soon find a beautiful home where they can shine and bring joy to others. Until my next trip to Paris!

Tips for Holiday Entertaining

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to entertain. One of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual holiday coffee I host in my home. I love outfitting the apartment with holiday decor and baking my favorite holiday goodies. I invite all my lady friends for coffee, conversation and holiday cheer!

It is a lot of work to get everything decorated, the baking done and the coffee brewed early in the morning. That said, my friends appreciate the morning fete, as it gives them the remainder of the day. But with preparation, the event doesn’t need to be hectic. Here are a few of my holiday entertaining tips that I follow for my event:

#1. A trip to the Flower District

I always pay attention to florals when entertaining. Blooms bring nature indoors and add a warm, elegant touch to the home. A couple of days before the event, I head down to New York’s flower district on West 28th Street. It’s such a nice resource and inspiration for holiday decorating. I buy pointsettias, amaryllis plants and magnolia leaves. 

#2. Get a head start

Never leave anything for the day of the event, or even the day before. I put up the tree and decorate the house well in advance. I start a baking marathon the week before. Breads (pumpkin, banana, cranberry), blueberry muffins, and my favorite–raisin scones.

I will share my recipe for the raisin scones as they are a big favorite, click here for the recipe.
The key to the scones is the fabulous scone pan I bought years ago at Williams Sonoma. I don’t think they carry it anymore but Sur La Table has a similar one. Just mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and divide it into triangular sections.  Voila–beautiful raisin scones!!  I serve them with whipped cream, butter  and raspberry preserves.

#3. Choose the right serveware

Once the home is decorated and goodies baked, I set the table. I love bringing out the good porcelain cups and saucers for this event. Our lives are so rushed and harried, it is nice to enjoy coffee or tea in a pretty porcelain cup! I set out the cups and saucers in a triangle pattern and the corner of the dining table.  I mix some of my Wedgewood wedding china with vintage pieces that I have collected over the years – I love mixing colors and patterns. I serve everything on classic trays, either silver or ceramic.  Some are wedding gifts and others I pick up in my travels. I believe in using our nice things! Of course it’s smart to also be practical, and I always buy cute holiday-themed disposable cups in case more guests than expected appear. 

#4. Set the mood

I always dim the lights in the dining room to create a warm, inviting setting. Harsh, bright lights are no one’s friend. I also scatter festive holiday objects about the room, the more whimsical the better. And we can’t forget the music. I turn on a classic holiday playlist from Spotify that instantly puts guests in a great mood. 

The coffee is brewed, candles lit, holiday music playing and the guests begin to arrive!

Louis XVI Style

What is Louis XVI Style and why do I love it?

Louis XVI Style refers to the style defined by the period in France under the reign of King Louis XVI (1760-1789) — the last French monarch before the Revolution.  Inspired by the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum, this era saw a revival of Greek and Roman styles.  Tastes were slowly transitioning from the more ornate styles of the Rococo period that featured the curved lines characteristic of the Louis XV period.  By the time of Louis XVI, there was a sharp movement away from the Rococo style, as curved lines and heavy ornamentation became unfashionable, giving way to clean, straight lines.  Furniture and interiors were refined, sophisticated, calm and symmetrical.  This style is known for its classical ornamentation and motifs, including acanthus scrolls, oak and laurel leaves, swags and Greek key.

Some characteristics of Louis XVI Style:

Chairs:  The backs are mostly straight and upright.  A square back is known as à la Reine and round or oval backs are referred to as en cabriolet. The frame is wood and the backs and seats upholstered.  The legs are always straight, and are often fluted and tapered, with simple, understated ornamentation.  Particularly attractive is the ornamentation at the corners under the seat.  These blocks/squares, known as “die joins”, are often decorated with carved flowers or rosettes, either painted or gilded.



I love Louis XVI style dining chairs and always try to have them in my shop and to use them for interior design projects.  For me, their elegant but refined silhouettes are especially charming.  They are understated, are equally appropriate in formal or informal rooms, and their clean lines enable them to fit well into both contemporary and traditional settings.  I have great fun placing a set of Louis XVI style chairs around a very modern marble or glass dining table — a bit unexpected perhaps, but a beautiful juxtaposition nonetheless.


I especially love painted furniture that has worn into a lovely patina.  Because the style is so adaptive and unobtrusive, Louis XVI furniture can be at home in contemporary, traditional or transitional settings, and has a timelessness about it.  The chairs can be easily updated with a fabulous contemporary fabric, the perfect way to blend old and new. The construction of Louis XVI Style chairs also lends itself to having fun with the upholstery.  Why not throw caution to the winds and upholster the back in a different fabric to make these wonderful chairs even more interesting?


Image credit, Restaruation de Meubles, Atelier Bence

Commodes/Chests:   Like the seating of the Louis XVI style, commodes and chests are rectilinear and clean.  There is an admirable harmony of proportion in these pieces.  The fronts are always rectangular and are often decorated with bronze fittings.  The ends are flat and the legs straight, sometimes tapered.  The front corners are sometimes chamfered, but most often at a right angle. Some period pieces are also adorned with exquisite marquetry.

This is a beauty that we found in Paris–a genuine period piece dating from the late 18th century, just arrived in our 1stdibs Gallery Showroom!  

Tables:  Tables were quite varied in the Louis XVI period.  They are mostly made of mahogany and fruitwood, and can be round, square, oval, rectangular or kidney shape.    The legs are always straight, often tapered, and their friezes (or aprons) are decorated with rosettes, interlacing plaques, fluting, or moldings of bronze or copper.  Tops are made of wood or marble.



Desks:  Bureau plat (flat-top writing desks) were still current during this period.  Like all Louis XIV style pieces, they are rectangular with straight, often fluted legs.  Ornamentation often consisted of bronze or copper molding on drawer panels or aprons.  

 A Silvered Louis XVI Style Bureau Plat with a black leather top A Silvered Louis XVI Style Bureau Plat with a black leather top

Secrétaires à Abattant (fall-top secretaries) continued to be popular, although they became a bit more restrained in their design.  These desks can be both quite handsome and an efficient use of space.  We had this beauty in our collection a couple of years ago.  A bit smaller in scale, this is known as a Secrétaire de Dame.   I just love its quiet elegance. Not fussy, and a good example of quality and fine craftsmanship of this period.

Although it is a thrill to find a genuine piece from the Louis XVI period, there are many examples of beautiful and well crafted pieces made in the style of Louis XVI.  Many of the dining chairs we have in our collection are in the Louis XVI style, made in the early to mid 20th century.

It is always fun to see a tasteful modern interpretation of the Louis XVI style.  Just arrived in our showroom, this gilt wood bench covered in animal print is our whimsical nod to Louis XVI. 

Louis XVI pieces reflect a refined, understated elegance that gives them an admirable versatility. They fit serenely into almost any setting, and bring a touch of sophistication to any room, whether modern or traditional, formal or informal.

So Long, Sweet Summer!

Although our busy and overcharged lives don’t always allow us fully to enjoy those lazy days of summer, I am always more than a little wistful when September comes around.  Back to school, back to routine, and as the French say, time for “La Rentrée” or re-entry.  

Here are a few of my favorite things about summer:

Hydrangeas in Bloom: One of my favorite flowers, these beauties are easy to grow and you get a lot of “bang for your buck.” They are long-lasting, look gorgeous in their natural setting, and are just as pretty in a vase.  I love watching these plants sprout their first leaves in late spring.  After a long winter’s nap, they transform from their twig-like appearance to the full, lush and colorful blooms, peaking mid July, and offering a wonderful range of color throughout the summer months.  They just plain make me happy!


Eating al fresco and enjoying summer’s fresh offerings:  The delectable fruits and vegetables of summer make cooking and eating easier and more pleasing.  I love picking tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs from my garden and making delicious summer salads and side dishes.  And when it comes to the main course, everything seems to taste better on a grill– especially when it is alongside a frosty margarita!  During the cold, dark days of winter, I will miss the taste and colors of summer meals.


Long Days and Summer Sunsets:  I love the long summer days when the sun rises early and doesn’t set until close to 8:00.  The long days make us more productive and energetic.  And a perfect end to the day is watching the sun go down at the shore.  The last, lingering lights combine with wisps of clouds to create a dazzling array of colors and raise my anticipation for the next day.  Here is a recent sunset on the Long Island Sound. 


Wearing sandals all summer!  What more is there to say?!?



Playing tennis in the great outdoors!  Tennis is a passion and there is something wonderful about working up a sweat and swinging a racquet under the sun.  It is great exercise and a perfect way to make new friends.  I try to take advantage of every chance to play, especially when I can play on grass courts.  A real treat!  But this time of year, I am setting aside time to watch what I know will be breathtaking performances at the U.S. Open.  

Palm Beach Style

After the cold and dreary days of a New York winter, it is great to soak up some sun and experience the colors and vibe of Palm Beach.  This narrow island and its unique, chic style is always a source of inspiration.  Palm Beach offers beautiful beaches, tree-lined streets and pristine avenues, a wonderful architectural mix, and colors everywhere.  It offers energy and renewal every time I visit. 

What I love about Palm Beach:

Flowers—gorgeous, lush blooms, everywhere in sight!

Chic Shops
Loved seeing what’s new at Roberta Roller Rabbit—these colorful quilts and bed linens are not only visually appealing with their vibrant and cheerful colors, they are heavenly to the touch!

My first visit to Hive Palm Beach—A tasteful collection of furniture, lighting and wonderful accessories in a beautifully designed setting.  A must see!  

Dixie Highway – A trip to Palm Beach would not be complete without a stroll along Dixie Highway, to feast the eyes on the fabulous cluster of antique and vintage shops. One of my favorites is Scandinavian Antiques and Living, which houses a superb collection of Swedish and Danish antiques as well as modern art and some exquisite mid-century Swedish glass lighting.  Pictured here is a stunning Danish bench and a round painted and parcel gilt table, both 19th century.

Favorite restaurants
Café L’Europe—always so elegant. Not only is the cuisine delicious, the flowers and table settings are worthy of a magazine cover—colorful, festive, always delivering a wow factor.  I loved the simplicity of this place setting with the napkin folded and tied with a pastel satin ribbon.

 Place setting at  Cafe L'Europe, 331 South County Road  Place setting at Cafe L’Europe, 331 South County Road

A new kid on the block is Island Bee– a great spot for delicious, healthy smoothies made from fresh fruits and veggies, and flavorful acai bowls.    

 Acai bowl at the Island Bee, 261 Royal Poinciana Way Acai bowl at the Island Bee, 261 Royal Poinciana Way

Colors—everywhere you look, there are beautiful blues and green, inspired by the colors of the sea as well as luscious greens, pinks, purples, salmons and magentas.  Not only in the flowers all over town, but in the interiors and exteriors of the buildings, not to mention the outfits!  Palm Beach style is colorful, cheerful, yet restrained.   This special place is about gracious living, elegant yet comfortable surroundings and always the epitome of chic.  Here are some of my favorite vignettes:

Of course at the end of the day, it is great to enjoy a tropical cocktail or a yummy margarita!  The bartender at Echo makes an exceptionally good ones!

 Echo Palm Beach, 230A Sunrise Avenue Echo Palm Beach, 230A Sunrise Avenue