31 July 2007

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: