Look No Further

Looking for unique used furniture finds? Maybe some classic vintage pieces. Or someone's discards that you could rehab. Up until now, we've had thrift and consignment stores, yard sales, flea markets and Craigslist for finds like these. But now some internet shops have entered the fray and make searching for just the right piece that much easier.

Look no further than Chairish, Hunters Alley and Decorator Tag Sale.

Chairish, a little over one-year old, was launched by the founders of internet startup, Tripit, a site that allows users to store travel itineraries in one place. When the founder of Tripit was selling his home, he came up with the idea for an internet consignment shop where people like him, who were moving or redecorating, could unload quality used furniture without just giving it away. Sellers directly upload images of furnishings they wish to sell. The recommended sales price is at least 70% off the original cost. Chairish curators have final say whether an item is listed and at what price. So buyers are assured of quality control. Lest you doubt whether those at the helm have a sufficiently discriminating eye for judging quality, Chairish just hired Giacomo DiGrigoli, One Kings Lane's former Senior Director of Product, as its VP of Product. There is also a 48-hour return policy so disappointed buyers can get their purchase price refunded (less shipping costs).

Chairish is really user-friendly. It categorizes listings by types of furniture, manufacturer, location (only certain big cities) and curated sales. New listings are updated regularly. Sellers detail their listings with stories about the items--how they were used, the condition, etc. Buyers also have an option to make an offer.

Here's an example of a current Chairish listing:



Like Chairish, Hunters Alley is a "curated" site: the Hunters Alley team has the last word on whether an item lists or not. A spinoff of One Kings Lane, Hunters Alley differs from Chairish in that it has a social media component. If you register with the site, you can "love" (similar to Facebook and Instagram's "Like") an item and comment on it. See the comments on a typical listing in the lower right corner below.


In addition to furniture and home decor items, Hunters Alley also features jewelry and other vintage lifestyle items. I find the site not as easy to negotiate as Chairish. Chairish categorizes its listings better and presents the listings in a clearer fashion. For sellers, Chairish is clearly better: it takes less of a commission on sales. And note to buyers: on Hunters Alley, all sales are final.

Of course, the earliest entry into this online marketplace was Decorator Tag Sale, founded in 2009 by Sandra Oster. Sandra created the site as an online venue for interior designers and decorators to sell excess inventory. Designers and decorators must apply and pay a small fee to be featured on Decorator Tag Sale. Unlike Chairish and Hunters Alley, all the items sold on Decorator Tag Sale are either new or bona fide antiques. The site enables buyers to purchase luxury designer goods at net or wholesale prices.


Paint It Black

Over the last few years, matte black finishes have been popping up up on cars, faucets, and sinks. But when I saw this finish on an occasional table at last month's Architectural Digest Home Design Show, I knew it had legs (no pun intended).

In contrast to a reflective finish which bounces light, a matte finish absorbs light and tends to soften surfaces that bear this finish. It's a surprise element in a space because we are so accustomed to seeing hard objects with shiny, glossy, satin or metallic finishes. Adding a matte black finish to furnishings captures our attention and creates focus in a space. Like linear elements or rhythmic patterns, matte black objects scattered throughout a space help direct our eyes around a room.

I've seen this finish most in kitchen and bath spaces. Fashion Designer Jason Wu cast his collection of faucets and bath accessories for Brizo in matte black.


Brizo has recently expanded the faucets available in black finishes, including its popular Venuto pull-down faucet for the kitchen.


                                                                                 Photos courtesy of Brizo.

Rohl introduced matte black to its fireclay line of sinks.


                                                      Allia Matte Black Sinks. Photos courtesy of Rohl.

European furniture makers are ahead in rolling out furnishings in matte black finishes. English design studio Pinch offers its Derome table lamp in black-stained tulipwood with a black linen shade.


                                                                      Photo courtesy of Pinch.

Artek, the Finnish furniture company founded by modernist Alvar Aalto in 1935 and still at the forefront of modern design, last year reintroduced archival chairs designed by Ilmari Tapiovaara in a matte black painted finish.


                                                                      Photo courtesy of Artek.

Czech designers Jan Plechac and Henry Wielgus have fabricated a coffee table of glass and fluted metal in their Ondule collection. In matte black, the table is derivative of classical orders yet strikingly modern.


                                                         Photo courtesy of 3rings Designer Pages.

Matte black is now rolling out on this side of the Atlantic as well. In its showroom at this month's spring market in High Point, Palacek featured wicker chairs in its flat black finish to showcase its new Basalt accessories collection.


                                                                     Photo courtesy of Palacek.

At the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in March, Frederick P. Victoria and Son--a third generation antiques dealer and furniture company specializing in bespoke antique reproductions--showed this three-tier circular etagere in a matte black finish. Lest we think that matte black is a finish reserved for contemporary pieces, this table is an 18th century design.


Trend watchers take note: matte is the new black.


Wows from High Point Spring 2014 Market

Between Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I've been vicariously experiencing all of the excitement that's been generated this week at Spring Market in High Point, North Carolina. Many of my fellow interior designers and design bloggers have been converging there, style spotting new home furnishing products and partaking in the occasional (inside joke) party. What I'm seeing in their feeds is fabulous, and with their permission, I'm highlighting some of the items that are trend-worthy and will take the market by storm.

First and foremost, I am in love with the collection introduced by Mary McDonald (of Bravo TV's Million Dollar Decorators' fame) for Chaddock. Mary has a way of reinterpreting classic forms and motifs to make them current without exaggerating them. Her designs are balanced and refined. The pieces she introduced at market have all the makings of best sellers.


                                                              Photo courtesy of Traditional Home Magazine

I mean, look at this composition: a symmetrically-balanced furniture arrangement (and note the sabre legs on the chairs and coffee table) accented by the painted floor, the triglyph and metope frieze, and the large-scale contemporary painting as the focal point. Such a nod to classicism and yet so streamlined and elegant. The gray color palette allows you to focus on form, yet the bits of scarlet add graphic punch. If Chaddock couldn't sell this suite as is, nobody could.

Subtle details reveal the collection's homage to tradition. For example, the carved Greek Key in the frame of the upholstery, below left and the brass sabot furniture legs, below right. I love it all!


                                                                         Photos courtesy of Mary McDonald Inc.

Mary turns a simple occasional table, where you might rest a book, a drink or a cup of tea, into a beautiful, yet functional accent. Two tiers, brass and red leather. Bam.



                                                    Photo courtesy of Jeanne Chung of Cozy.Stylish.Chic

From what I observed, brass was the dominant metal shown at market. Some furnishings seemed straight from the 1980s, like this "Vega" coffee table with smoked glass top from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.


                                               Photo courtesy of Clara Haneberg of Traditional Home Magazine

Back then, brass and glass tables were ubiquitous, and I'm seeing some from Market that are too reminiscent of the 1980s vernacular. I prefer this Mustique table by Mr. & Mrs. Howard for Sherill Furniture in brushed brass and agate. Its lines are more complex and the contrast of stone and metal more interesting.


                                               Photo courtesy of Style Spotter Gary Inman via Pinterest

Combine brass with the classic Greek Key and you surely have a hit. This riveted brass coffee table by Bernhardt Furniture was a favorite of many at Market.


                                               Photo courtesy of Style Spotter Nicole Gibbons via Pinterest

I liked what I saw of new furniture forms at Market. This waterfall wicker console by Mariette Himes Gomez for Hickory Chair uses a novel material to represent a draped form.


                                                       Photo courtesy of Marisa Marcantonio of Stylebeat

The striking star base of this Cosima table by Celerie Kemble for Henredon makes this piece a great center table for a foyer. Made of mahogany with faux bone inlay, it has a commanding presence.


                                                  Photo courtesy of Style Spotter Haskell Harris via Pinterest

Wood turnings, particularly spool and bamboo motifs, remain prevalent. They make silhouettes of otherwise typical furnishings more sculptural and interesting. Take this adorable occasional table by Dunes and Duchess. Without the spool motif, it would be rather ordinary. 


                                                  Photo courtesy of Style Spotter Haskell Harris via Pinterest

In soft furnishings, details never disappoint. I love the folds added to the dressmaker skirt on this chair by Mariette Himes Gomez for Hickory Chair. So subtle and so elegant. They add drama and interest to an otherwise simple piece .


                                                              Photo courtesy of Hickory Chair via Pinterest

This Thibaut bed was a favorite of many. I adore the pagoda canopy and would love to use it in a bedroom design. The bamboo detail on the headboard, so representative of chinoiserie, is proof that this style is so versatile and will always remain a favorite in residential design.


                                                                     Photo courtesy of Thibaut via Instagram


2014 Architectural Digest Home Design Show Finds


The delight for me in attending shows like ICFF, Wanted, and the MADE section at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show is seeing the artisanship of studio furniture makers. What they do with wood is astounding. I have a latent desire to learn carpentry: I love power tools and I love making things, and wood working is an area that I haven't tapped . . .  Yet. (I'll let you in on a little secret: someday I want to take the carpentry program at the North Benet Street School in Boston and then continue on to its Cabinet and Furniture Making program). In the meantime, I'll just continue to marvel at the wooden wonders that others create.

At the MADE section of last month's AD Home Design Show -- the section that showcases the work of artists and designers of limited editions and one-of-a-kind creations -- wood furnishings were without question the show stoppers. I'm highlighting my favorites, and as you'll see, the variety of technique and design was enough to satisfy many tastes and styles.

The work of Paul J. Draine of PJD Woodworks made me think: Eames molded plywood chairs on steroids. The Eames revolutionized furniture by developing technology to create molded plywood seating. Watch the slideshow on PJD Woodworks' website of how Paul creates his 3-1/2 Leg Chair and you'll see a twist on that technology. Paul's work pays homage to wood's organic shapes and character. It's remarkable that he has been a furniture maker for just a few short years and is completely self-taught.

At left, PJD Woodworks 3-1/2 Leg Chair.
















At right, Barstool in cherry.

















Similarly organic in technique was the work of Daniel Oates of Daniel Oates Furniture and dbO Home. Daniel, a classically trained artist and sculptor, began designing furniture as props to showcase his wife's ceramics. Taking cues from wood's character and his sculptural sensibilities, Daniel's designs evolve organically. This live-edge sideboard of Ambrosia maple was a standout.                  

When I saw the work of Virginia Blanchard at the show, I thought I was looking at antiques. Her work has such classical references to Art Nouveau and Art Deco that I thought surely they were reproductions, if not downright antiques. This screen, displayed at the show, incorporates the sinuous curves and elemental forms emblematic of Art Nouveau furnishings.


                                                                         Photo courtesy of Virginia Blanchard

I loved this Art Deco-style stool Virginia displayed. How perfect in a master bedroom at the foot of the bed.


Completely opposite in style but as finely crafted was the work of Ethan Abramson. Committed to environmentally-conscious production, Ethan crafts his pieces of eco-forested woods and applies hand-rubbed all natural finishes. What Ethan's pieces lack in pizzazz, they make up in functionality. His Plateau Table, below, reminded me of telephone tables of the 1940s -- designed for function but equally suited for decoration. I actually couldn't photograph Ethan's table at the show because a neighboring vendor was using it to display printed materials.


                                                                           Photo courtesy of Ethan Abramson


2014 Architectural Digest Home Design Show Finds 


If you're redesigning your kitchen with the latest in appliance technology, you would have found last week's Architectural Digest Home Design Show a fount of information. If I were solely a kitchen designer, I would have too. But being more a designer of all residential spaces (among others too), it was disappointing to see a less broad array of home furnishings.

Luckily there was the MADE section which allows artists and craftspeople of unique works to showcase their wares. What an amazing display! But first, some of the finds from the main show floor.

Always a fan of Biedermeier furniture, I was excited to discover Gaisbauer Furniture from Austria. A family enterprise since 1888, Gaisbauer executes finely-crafted wood and upholstered furniture based on traditional Biedermeier style.

The early Biedermeier period produced furniture of lighter woods and simpler lines than the more ornate styles in mahogany that preceded it. Coinciding with Regency in Britain and Empire in France, this style, of all European traditions, appeals to my modern sensibilities and marries well with a variety of styles and tastes. Note the similarity between Gaisbauer's walnut desk with silver feet (below left) and Barbara Barry's Dressing Table for Baker (below right). I wonder where she found her inspiration? The fluting gives this Gaisbauer desk such graceful lines.



                                          Photo of Barbara Barry Dressing Table courtesy of Baker Furniture

Simple yet sinuous is this Gaisbauer blossom-back chair in the foreground below. With the sofa behind, it brings sculptural silhouettes to offset boxy conventional 4-walled rooms.


Speaking with Hannes Gaisbauer of the Gainsbauer Furniture family at the show, I was surprised to learn that the lead time on their orders is six weeks. And that's shipping from Austria! Truly remarkable.

Turning to more contemporary designs, Ligne Roset displayed their Cineline table. Great for smaller spaces, it has two fold-down leaves that store vertically, thus halving its surface area. The table could also be positioned against a wall as a desk making it multi-functional for apartment living. Adding to its versatility, Cineline comes in a variety of stain and lacquer finishes.

In lighting, treasures were to be found in the Made section of the show. But I caught up with one vendor I saw at the AD Show two years ago, O'Lampia. I loved the way they took a chandelier and turned it into a quirky wall sconce.


In a different vein, Koket displayed this curvy "Chloe" wall sconce. Shown in gilded bronze, it also comes in gold, silver and pewter finishes.


                                                  Close-up photo of Koket Chloe sconce courtesy of Koket


Coinciding with the AD Show is DIFFA's Dining by Design, a display of dining spaces by celebrated members of the design industry to raise funds for organizations that fight HIV/AIDS. The displays are magnificent and many bloggers post them who focus on lifestyle subjects. I just want to highlight the Kravet display, designed by Diane Von Furstenberg. The display launched Diane's new line of textiles for Kravet. This cheerful, colorful collection in bold geometric patterns and girlie floral prints is fantastic. I'm hoping that Kravet takes its cue and produces these prints for indoor/outdoor use.


Stay tuned for AD Show Part 2 which will focus on finds from the MADE section.