Dressing Tables

Is there anything more romantic than a woman's vanity? Full of beautiful perfume bottles, some old, some new, silver hand-held mirrors and natural bristle brushes, old cut crystal jars that hold lotions and oils - a vanity conjures up images of a daughter sitting on the floor, gazing up as she watches her mother put on her jewelry and fancy dress for a party that night. Vanities represent grown up femininity and many an adult woman now wants that fantasy in her life.

Vanities through the ages were a staple for the upper class. The style of the vanity changed with the fashion. Along with Louis XV and Louis XVI, Art Nouveau and Art Deco vanities are plentiful in antique stores. The fabric covered, skirted, kidney shaped vanity was popular in the 50s and peaked in the 60s. At that time, the vanity fell out of favor due to the rising use of built in cabinets. Today, there is a resurgence of the vanity, but not as a vital piece of furniture. The vanity is more of an accent table placed in the bedroom or bathroom suite. Catalogues such as Horchow Collection and Ballard Designs sell different types of vanities for the more budget minded.

Currently, I am designing a bedroom for a 15 year old girl. When asked what she wanted in her bedroom, the first item she mentioned to me was a vanity with a mirror and a chair. Her mother balked at this request, but I honored the teenager's wish and she will be getting her vanity after all.

A modern vanity, accented with pink prints - this is an example of a non-working vanity.

A rendering of a Charlotte Moss bedroom. Skirted vanity is placed at the end of the bed instead of a bench.

Mary McDonald places a mirrored vanity in a bathroom.

An antique writing desk doing double duty as a vanity in a French home.

A built in that's been skirted to give the appearance of a freestanding vanity.

An absolutely gorgeous writing table, used as a vanity.

Californian designer Madeline Stuart places a vanity in the bathroom.

What a beautiful setting to put makeup on, or just to look at family photos.

Another bathroom vanity.

Picks from 1St Dibs this week - Vanities:

An unusual rattan vanity from the 40's.

19th century French vanity.

Very, very fine and expensive red tortoiseshell vanity mirror. Note the two candlesticks on the top.

Mirrored vanity with Tiffany blue interior.

Another mirrored vanity, practical with so many drawers.

A beautiful array of sterling silver vanity brushes, mirrors and bottles.

Gorgeous Empire style vanity.

Art Deco mirror and wood vanity.
Authentic English traveling vanity. Adorable.

And lastly, for the budget minded, Horchow Collection's version of vanities:

Wunderley is wonderful.

Middle Eastern and Moroccan design is all the rage. This company, Wunderely, has both trends. Their prices are very reasonable and their web page is set up to purchase. I'm not sure if the prices are truly wholesale or not, but I had no trouble setting up an account online. One or two of their products can make a room mysterious and oh, so current. Enjoy!

Wood and bone mirror.

Moroccan rug. Fabulous.

Two great accent tables.

Their lighting line is extensive.



Seeing this picture of a NEW item from the 2007 spring accessories market makes me smile. Sculpted coral (faux, no doubt) holds up a bottle of wine. Gee, why hadn't I thought of that? Is there no end to this coral madness?! No? In this month's Domino Magazine, L.A. interior designer extraordinaire Suzanne Rheinstein admitted she can't stop decorating with branches of coral and Miles Redd volunteered he can't stop his shell addiction. I, too, admit to a love of coral, sadly.

Trendy decorative items seem to be overtaking the world. Due to the proliferation of do-it-yourself decorating stores like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, there is a constant need to fill their shelves with items to sell. And, coral, seems to fit that bill this year. But, honestly, does anyone really need a coral mirror as hideous as this?

Or, these totally over done coral pillows, in red:

Or brown?

Or blue?

Or how about red, spiky coral pillows?

Here's another trend this year, damask. But tell me, does anyone really need damask freezer bags?

Or how about a damask tool kit?

This beautiful bedroom by Jackie Lanham featured antique intaglios, a key element of the room:

Now, to pick up the trend, who doesn't need fake intaglios, in a green shadowbox? What, no takers?

And don't forget the must-have suzani. Most people want an original one on their bed, but for those who don't, how about a faux suzani pattern painted on a faux antique Chinese rice box?

Here, is a medley of three trends all in one: birds, birdcage, and mirror! Beautiful??

Using trends in interior design can be very tricky. If you glance through the book on Frances Elkins, you can how timeless classic design is. Some of Elkins' rooms look like they were designed recently, not 80 years ago. They are a testament to what good design is all about.

If you can't resist trendy decorating, try to limit the trend accessory to just accents here and there, as opposed to wallpaper or upholstery. This way, you can easily change it out without a huge expense. Like this room:

Here are some beautiful living rooms that are so obviously of the 2000s, yet, you won't find any trendy coral or other tacky accessories, just timeless, classic design.

Pink Goes White

Dining Room with pink striped french chairs, pink striped draperies, and pink pillows.

If this room looks vaguely familiar to you, it's no wonder why. First published in Traditional Homes in 2003, this house has been in print each year since in one magazine or another. I'll admit that I was intrigued with this house when I first saw it. The owner hired Suellen Gregory to design the entire place in pink. And as it was explained in detail, the pink is not just any pink, but a very specific blue pink that she had grown up with, as her mother, apparently, loved this shade of pink, too. I had never before (save for Martha Stewart's pink guest house) seen a house decorated all in pink, but it was pretty and obviously other people thought so too, because it has been the most published house ever, probably.

So, yesterday, after reading about the pink house for the umpteenth time, this time in Decor, 2007, I decided to check out Gregory's web site and take a look at her portfolio. Lo and behold, imagine my surprise to find that the pink house is no more. Today it is white, completely redone by Gregory, with the pink totally banished except for small accents here and there. Funny, but the white version of this over-publicized house has never been shown in print. I wonder why?

Living Room with pink pouf, pink French chairs, pink chintz slipper chair.

Another picture of living room with pink pillows, pink skirted table, pink french chairs.

More pink, more french.

Living room today: white fabrics, new chairs, new mirrored glam table.

More glam details: newly mirrored mantel, newly painted french chairs, newly upholstered pouf, new fireplace screen, new curtains, but the same sconces.

Dining Room: new chairs, new Niermann Weeks console, floors still checkered but with more dramatic colors, same table with but newly mirrored top.

Which do you like better, the white house or the pink house?