Hello and welcome to the Tablescape Thursday blog party.  If you are a Cote de Texas reader who is not familiar with blog parties – this is how it works.  One blogger will host a party around a very specific theme which other bloggers will then write about.  For instance, each week, the popular blog Between Naps On My Porch, hosts a blog party on Thursday centered about beautiful tablescapes.  If this is your first blog party – take the time to visit blogs listed here who are each hosting their own Tablescape Thursday – you will be sure to get a host of new ideas for entertaining, either your own family or dinner party guests.   By the way, if you are wondering where the blog name Between Naps On My Porch came from – just take a look here!    This surely is what all porches should be – comfortable, cozy, and beautiful.  

Are you ready for a  Cote de Texas Tablescape Thursday Party?    Enjoy!




Since it’s not quite scalding summer hot in Houston yet, I thought I would set up the table for lunch here on the courtyard, where I usually blog away at my iron table and chairs from Wisteria.



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Everything is so green now, the flowers are at their peak – in a few weeks they will start to get that parched summery look, but for now, May is proving to be the prettiest month on my courtyard.   Even more miraculous is the fountain is clean and clear for a change.  Once it rains a time or two, the water can turn a little murky.   But today it’s crystal clear, so eating by the fountain will be particularly nice and atmospheric. 



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The pink, fuchsia, and white impatiens were planted over a month ago and they are really filling out.



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My favorites though are the caladiums.  One summer I had all giant white and green caladiums and each year they get pinker and greener it seems.   In another month, the beds will be a riot of tall, thick caladiums – I can’t wait!!!!





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One of my favorite spots in my courtyard is this bench with two antique urns on pedestals.   The entire vignette is actually my sister Cathy’s, but when she moved to a high rise,  I inherited the lot.  She is back on terra firma now, but it’s hard to return this to her, although one day, I’m sure it will be back with its rightful owner.   A few minutes after I took this picture, the skies opened up and it started pouring.  Think about that monsoon scene in the movie “The Year of Living Dangerously” – that’s exactly how it is in Houston.  One minute the sun is hot and it’s a beautiful day, the next minute, its raining bucketfuls  – not just a little shower, but a hard driving downpour that can deposit inches of water in a short amount of time.    Needless to say, I need to change the lunch plans, and quickly.



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So, instead of eating on the courtyard, I set up the Tablescape Thursday blog party on the covered porch.   Can you see the table hiding behind the plants?



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I used an old bamboo folding table between the two white wicker chairs.  The blue and white garden stool is from Wisteria, now discontinued which is such a shame!

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For the tablecloth – I repurposed a Dash and Albert rug from Olivine, in Uptown, and layered over it, a classic linen placemat edged in blue scalloping.



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Lunch will be gazpacho, a chilled soup, so I decided to use two small tureens - from my collection of antique Mason Ware - instead of traditional bowls.  Since each piece of Mason Ware is hand-picked, I don’t have a pair, but instead, chose two that blend together.    Pink roses fill a silver vase and everything else is made of glass, including the tall dessert stand, used to bring some height to the tablescape.




This Mason Ware tureen in the Japan pattern,  is mostly cobalt blue and white with orange flower accents. 




And this tureen is green and white with accents of cobalt blue and orange.  This  piece still has it’s bottom plate, which is really special. 




Besides the cold soup, we’re going to be having salad – which will be served on the blue and white transferware plates that I collect.  I have just two pieces in this  pattern, one of my favorites.  It’s such a romantic scene, with urns and a balustrade and columns.   Underneath the transferware is a white china plate with a scalloped edge. 




Getting hungry…..where’s the food???????    Nobody told me I had to actually cook to participate in the Tablescape Thursday party!!!!  And where’s my guest??  Anyone?  Maybe my springer Georgie would join me, but she is so scared of the camera.            


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 Everything looked so pretty and elegant on the porch for a change, that I kept it like this all afternoon, just flitting about and admiring it – yes, I am that weird.  I had actually forgotten about the “party” set-up all together until Ben came home from work, walked outside and saw me sitting there with my computer on my lap, blogging away – with half our dishes outside.   He said -  with one eye half cocked – “what is going on?  Why is this table all set up?”    “Oh, it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.  It’s for the blog” I dismissively tell him quickly.   Except he was not about to be dismissed so quickly.    “You know you are a very, very strange person, you DO know that, don’t you?”   Not really.  I don’t think there is anything even remotely strange at all about setting up a table for an imaginary party and splashing pictures of it all over the internet, do you??????


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To see other Tablescape Thursday parties, go here and scroll down to the end of the post to reach the entire list of participants!

The Tanglewood Redo, Chapter II




The family room then.


A few months ago I showed you a project I was working on – The Tanglewood House.   The clients were living in an older house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Houston.  The debate was whether to tear down the house and rebuild on their lot OR completely gut and remodel.   In the end they compromised and did a smaller remodeling job than originally planned, with their sights set on perhaps rebuilding sometimes in the future.   I was first contacted by the client, a reader of Cote de Texas,  to help pick out finishes for phase one –  a gut job of their master bathroom.   Out of the space, a new master bathroom was created, along with a new powder room.  As work went on, the job got larger, as is always the case.   First we would do a minor redecorating of the master bedroom, along with a minor redecorating of the family room.  Much work was also to be done outside.  In the end – a new roof was put on, outdated dormer windows were replaced, the facade was painted, new shutters were built, new landscaping was installed along with new gates, and on and on.   Inside,  all the doors were replaced and painted black to give them some presence, and new hardware was purchased.   Most of the inside of the house was painted.  Plans to restain all the wood floors were put on hold until this summer.  



image The family room, today.


In the family room – we purchased all new furniture, covered with pricey fabrics.   Also, a large built in was designed to hide two computer desks for the children.   We added woven shades and curtains at the French doors, along with a large seagrass rug.    All new accessories were purchased to fill the many added shelves.  In short, the minor redecorating job had turned major – as is always the case.   The clients’ initial budget was increased too many times to count.   When the family room was completed, the clients were very pleased with the results.  The furniture arrangement worked perfectly for their TV watching and the new computer desks were functional and in use, day and night.  Extra meals were eaten on the gate leg table that doubled as a work space.   All in all – everything was wonderful.   Except for one thing – well, two things exactly:  the living room and the dining room.  Both rooms were still as dated as the family room had once been, and with that room now looking so fresh, the front rooms looked even more tired by comparison.   Added to this was the fact that I had robbed the living room of two club chairs to be used in the master bedroom redo. 


westu 111 The two new arm chairs swivel for easy TV watching in the family room. 


My client, the wife,  knew that something had to be done to freshen up the front rooms and quickly – the eldest son was graduating and out-of-town family was arriving for a weekend of celebration.  In the middle of April, she asked me – could we possibly redo the two rooms, by graduation day in four weeks?   And could we keep to a strict budget – pretend we were on some HGTV Makeover Show where an entire house is transformed for $500 in 24 hours?   Sure – no problem!!!

Actually, I liked the challenge.   I knew if we worked fast, used what she already owned, picked out reasonably priced fabrics, paid a rush fee to the upholsterer, and bribed Monica – my partner who facilitates all the soft goods – that we might possibly be able to transform the two rooms in a few weeks time, bringing them more in line with the already updated family room.  Miracles do happen, don’t they?   Here is what we had to work with:


imageLiving Room Before:   There was a nice sofa, in a green velvet and two English styled chairs.



image These two toile chairs had already been moved to the master bedroom for that room’s makeover.



image Facing the sofa was a pair of French styled chairs covered in velvet.  A bay window – with shutters – lets in the only light in the room and to top that – it’s a northern exposure, which means the room sits in a dark shadow 24/7.



image The dining room was painted red, so chic ten years ago.  The table was beautiful – a metal, baker’s table style base with a glass top paired with typical French rush seat chairs.  There was a gorgeous antique armoire in the dining room that stored all the china.   The small window, like the adjoining living room, had plantation shutters and, again, a northern exposure.



The plan:   everything would be slipcovered.  The floors in both rooms would get large, custom cut seagrass rugs to unify them.  Both rooms would be painted in a rich, dark caramel color that would blend with the family room.   The three cushioned sofa would be remade with one bottom cushion and two back cushions only.  Curtains would be fashioned alike for both rooms to tie them together.  A new, larger dining room light fixture would be purchased.  A mirror from the old master bathroom would be painted antique gold.  A collection of antique egg prints would be framed.   All the small accessories, lamps, tables, and what-nots would be sold.  There was one end table and one trunk that we would re-use.   The only piece of furniture we would buy would be a new coffee table and we would add a larger skirted table. 

Since everything was getting slipcovers except for the two red English chairs, keeping fabric costs down was imperative.  White linen can be one of the most expensive or cheapest fabrics you can buy, depending on where it’s made.  And white linen is also one of the best looking fabrics there is.   I found some at Glicks for $16. a yard!   Pindler and Pindler came through with an Ikat and a printed cotton for just pennies more.   In fact, the fabrics were so inexpensive, yet still trendy and up to date – they were the deciding factor in getting the green light for the entire project.    The amount of yardage needed was large and if we had chosen something in the price range of even $25 a yard – the whole redecorating job would probably not have taken place.  By choosing great looking, yet inexpensive fabrics, the price tag was very reasonable.

And so, my client and I tallied up all the expenses, the guesstimates and estimates of what is was going to take to totally transform these two rooms.   She presented her husband with the figures and we waited for his final approval, knowing that the deadline of the graduation festivities was fast approaching.  About a week later, I got the phone call that all was ok-ed by the “big boss” (thank you Mr. P.!!!!) and I ordered all the fabric to be shipped overnight.     Here is what the two rooms look like, just a few weeks later:


NOTE:  open your  browser to full screen to see the photos at proper size.  Thanks!!!!



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The living room today. 


The green velvet sofa was upholstered in muslin, then slipped in white linen.  The three cushions became one bottom and two backs for a trendier, more up-to-date look.  The red English-styled chairs were upholstered in the Pindler and Pindler Ikat fabric with an exaggerated nail-head detailing.   A large mirror was repainted in an antiqued Italian gold and surrounded by white ironstone, picked up at The Gray Door at the Urban Market.  White garden stools from Wisteria double as side tables.   The oval coffee table, the only piece of furniture bought for the room, was slipped in the white linen.   A large seagrass rug was custom cut a few inches from the walls, which were painted a rich caramel color.    For side tables, we used an existing Spanish styled, dark walnut stained table, and an Oriental, black trunk on a frame.   The crystal lamps are from Restoration Hardware. 




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Facing the sofa is a large skirted table, topped by the Ikat fabric.  The two French styled chairs were slipped with a large scalloped detailing in the white linen.  The other Pindler and Pindler fabric, a cotton print, was used for the curtains.   Two large urns from  The Garden Gate were planted with palms that thrive in low light interiors. 



Angela living room 096 Looking from the entry hall into the living room, and dining room.



image The view when entering the front door. 



Angela living room 048 The view facing the entry hall.  In the entry hall, we painted the banister black to match all the new doors which were also painted black.  An antique gate-leg table was placed there along with four botanicals moved from the master bedroom, now with new ivory mats and newly painted black frames.



Angela living room 028  A set of antique egg prints was framed in gold with oversized white mats.



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Accessory Details:


Old alabaster grapes and books covered in music paper accessorize the coffee table.  The piece de resistance of the entire room, to me, is the serendipity of the burlap feed bags.   The feed bags were originally purchased on Ebay and made into pillows for my own house.  I decided the pillows didn’t look good on my sofa, so they went into the no-man’s land of my garage.   For my client’s living room,   I had ordered pillows made out of the Ikat fabric.   On the way to the installation, at the last minute, I grabbed the feed bag pillows just in case they might look good  in the living room.   Once the white slipcovered furniture arrived, there was no question in my mind that the feed bag pillows would look spectacular – and in the end, they actually “make the room.”   The Ikat pillows?   The upholsterer forgot to make them.   Sometimes things work out in ways you never planned or ever imagined!  I would like to say these pillows were specified from day one, and perhaps I should!



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On the skirted table, I used a coral rose I had bought for the client at Urban Market, along with some trendy antique spine-less books from Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy.   At Olivine, I picked up the metal finial in a rusty finish.



Angela living room 099 The Dining Room: 

Since the two rooms are connected, it was important that they flow visually.   To achieve this continuity – the walls in both rooms were painted the same caramel color and both rooms have seagrass matting.   Also, the curtains in both rooms are identical.




Angela living room 093 The Pindler and Pindler print was used for both the curtains and chair slips.   The large chandelier comes from Aidan Gray.   The gorgeous burled wood armoire is the focal point in the room.



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Facing the window.    The curtains, made identically to the living room, help to connect the two rooms together visually and also soften the room.  By hanging the curtains right under the molding and out past the window’s sides – the window actually appears larger.   Additional ironstone plates and platters purchased from The Gray Door at Urban Market pop against the deep caramel walls and further tie the living room and dining room together. 




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And the view to the butler’s pantry, onto the kitchen.



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A close up of the slip covers.   The slips come in two pieces.  The top piece has ties that run down the middle of the chair’s back.   The bottom piece has a down cushion built into it to make the chairs more shapely and luxurious looking.  A skirt with double ruffles is attached to the cushion.  Ballet slipper ties run down the back legs for extra detailing.    The client and I have discussed one day replacing the glass top with a piece of stone – yes/no/maybe?     


Let’s take one more look back at where we started four weeks ago:


The living room with an area rug, green velvet sofa and red chairs.  Certainly nice – certainly pretty, but ready for an update after a decade’s time.



Once the club chairs moved to the bedroom, the living room needed a change.



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A few weeks later, the same room with the same furniture and just a few new accessories and rug.





The dining room – painted red, with a too small chandelier, no curtains and bare dining room chairs.  Again – very nice, very pretty, but ready for a freshening up.



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The dining room today – flowing into the living room – creating a cohesive look between the two rooms.  The dining room’s slipped chairs soften all the hard edges, making the room warmer and cozier.   The larger chandelier is more in scale with the armoire and the curtains add additional softness to the room.



I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Chapter II of The Tanglewood Redo.   And I hope I have shown you how much change can be accomplished with a little paint and a little (well – a lot) of fabric.   Another important key to successful redecorating is editing.   These rooms were filled with numerous small tables, lamps, art work,  and accessories – all built up over the years.   By clearing it all out and using just a few key pieces,  what is left became more visually attractive.   And, most important to remember when redecorating - you don’t always have to start all over.   Consider what you have and how you can reuse it.   Just by making slipcovers and reupholstering two chairs – we were able to achieve a totally different look.  


Look for this house’s master bedroom and bathroom, and powder room remodeling in the next few weeks!   To read the original Tanglewood Redo story, please go here.

Merci and Memorial Antiques & Interiors



Blogs reacquaint people. I should know: when I once wrote about my brother-in-law’s ranch, I received a tentative email from someone wanting to know if I was related to her ex-husband. I was. After almost 30 years, my blog brought me back in touch with a former sister-in-law who is now a great friend. And even better – we discovered we are a lot alike – share many interests (besides the Webb boys) and would have made great sister-in-laws, though probably dangerous together around credit cards. Then there was this other long lost friend (another Webb boys fan!) who reconnected with me from reading Cote de Texas. I’m sure there are other anonymous readers out there who knew me in my former life. Which brings me to today’s subject. After I once showed a picture of my mother, the famous Betty-Rae, on the blog, I received an incredulous email from a reader when she recognized my mom - “I didn’t know that YOU were Cote de Texas!” she said. Yep, tis me, believe it or not. This latest reader to recognize me was actually my pledge leader in my high-school sorority (only in Texas) – but since she is three years older than me, we weren’t really close friends. Today though – those three years might as well be as meaningful as three days. Bonnie, my former pledge leader, excitedly told me she had been reading the blog for a while and had no clue that I was writing it until she recognized my mother’s picture. We started exchanging emails and discovered, of course, that we share a love of design and antiques – and made tentative plans to get together which never materialized. Until the other day, when Bonnie “kidnapped” me – an adult and more mature version of our high-school sorority high-jinks. I was told only what day to meet her, not where, and she said to be sure to bring my camera. We were to meet early enough to take care of business and still have time for lunch afterwards.


I have said it before and people find it hard to believe, but the truth of the matter is I am an extremely shy person who spent the first ten years of my life hiding behind my mother’s skirts – literally and figuratively. It’s a type of personality flaw that I have worked very hard at overcoming and like to pretend that I have, to some extent. But spending three hours, making witty small talk with someone I never really knew all that well to begin with, is enough to send me running back behind those comforting skirts. As it turned out on my “kidnapping” day – like it always does – my shyness was never an issue. Bonnie is so outgoing, warm and gracious, that I need not have worried about keeping up my side of the conversation – she’s a natural at making people feel comfortable and she worked her magic on me. Naturally, I had a great time. So, where did she kidnap me to?


The night before our date, I was told to meet her at Memorial Antiques and Interiors, a relatively new upscale antique mall – that is all the buzz with both dealers and customers. Bonnie knew, of course, that I had been there before, but what she wanted to personally show me was her own newly opened booth, Merci. Bonnie Likover and her partners, Tami Saragusa and Marci Alvis have jumped feet first into the antique business and Bonnie was anxious to show it off and I don’t blame her! Their booth certainly stands out: antique gates surround the front, replicating the feel of a small cottage instead of sterile mall space. Fortuny-styled curtains from Groves Brothers break up the shop into different rooms. Given the name Merci – the atmosphere is definitely French – even their logo is a Fleur de Lis. The standout of the booth is an antique bombe chest repurposed into a sink, complete with gorgeous Sherle Wagner hardware. The chest is surrounded by pink silk curtains and a needlepoint rug – anyone in the market for a ready made powder room, need look no further!


The Merci trio has plans to periodically change the main vignette around – from the powder room to, perhaps, a boudoir. And what a great idea that is to distinguish themselves from their neighbors – evolving “rooms.” After we toured Merci, Bonnie walked me around the very busy and bustling MAI (absolutely no recession here!) and introduced to me to everyone there – you would have thought I was Arianna Huffington, or more accurate, Erma Bombeck, the way Bonnie was carrying on. But it was so much fun meeting people there, especially those who read the blog. More than once, I actually caught a shopper shoot me a glance when she recognized me. THAT was a very humbling experience, to say the least. But MAI is exactly the place that readers of Cote de Texas would be lurking about. Take me to Monster Trucks and Motorcycles, Inc. and I don’t think the reception would be quite the same.


While Bonnie and I were walking around, I noticed that there are new dealers everywhere, but not new faces. These dealers are all well known to shoppers – they’ve just jumped shipped from their various previous locations and landed here, the hottest antique mall in Houston. Dodson and Culp – has a booth here now. The Two Lucy’s are here now too – and boy does their booth look fantastic! After the tour of MAI, Bonnie treated me to lunch next door – where our middle aged hormones got the best of us. I was so hot I was worried I was going to spontaneously combust right in the booth. We caught up on thirty plus years of gossip and made plans to meet up again soon. All in all – it was a great day, great fun, great antiques, and great company! Thank you so much Bonnie.

P.S. If you are reading Cote de Texas and you knew me from when I was just plain Joni Cohen, or Frizzball/and or Bozo, and not some hotsy-totsy blogger – please, please, please – don’t be shy (like moi!) and send me an email – I’d love to catch up with you, too!!!

Below are some images from the day. Enjoy!


Welcome to Merci! Look how cute their sign is – made out of antique encaustic tiles from Europe.


Merci is separated from its neighbors by wonderful antique iron gates.


The booth is set up like a cozy cottage. The living area is first, then past the curtains, is the powder room. Next, there are plans to set up the back vignette like a boudoir. The curtains are Fortuny-inspired Groves Brothers – I love that fabric house!!


The “powder room” at Merci is ready to take home for some lucky person. Silk pink curtains with green lining hangs over the bombe chest – complete with a gold sink and faucet – all from Sherle Wagner –veddy nice!!!! Even a matching needlepoint rug is available to complete the room.


Sherle Wagner makes the most gorgeous hardware. Here, pink quartz was used for the lever handles. Just beautiful!


Bonnie Likover - my newly reacquainted friend - is busy with paperwork at Merci. Isn’t she beautiful? Would you believe her eldest son is 30 years old? I can’t believe it either. After we toured Merci, Bonnie took me around MAI to meet other booth owners:


This booth greets customers at the front door of MAI. It sets the tone for what is inside –a large mall filled with lots of French antiques, lots of white and bleached woods, a smattering of Swedish and Belgian design, and masses of great looking merchandise.


If you’ve been at that other antique mall inside the loop in Houston, you may have noticed (who could miss it?) that Dodson and Culp have flown the coop. Thankfully, they’ve landed here at MAI. I almost had an anxiety attack the other day, when I saw that these two veteran antiquarians had shuttered their former location. But, all is well – they’re still in business and going strong with two booths at MAI.

And a note to that “other” antique mall inside the loop. Maybe, just maybe, if you didn’t have that stern sign at the door forbidding taking pictures of ANY kind, you might get more blogger attention. Why would an antique store that caters to designers refuse to let you take pictures? I don’t understand that at all. What if I saw a wonderful armoire and wanted to email a picture of it to a client? There’s a reason why MAI and Antiques & Interiors on Dunlavy (owned by the super friendly Mona Dees, with help by her even more friendlier son) get all the blogger attention. Never once have I been asked not to take pictures in either place. Thank you to both MAI AND Antiques & Interiors on Dunlavy!


This booth always has great merchandise – I have my eye on that lantern. For some reason, I am obsessed with antique French lanterns these days. The sconces are favorites of mine too.


This vignette has a Belgian feel. The mirrors are incredible. It really takes a good eye for display to pull all these disparate items together and create something so visually pleasing.


This lamp was one of my favorite finds of the day. When sweet Paloma blogged about this lamp (here) – there were still two available. The color of the glass is incredible – it’s actually a sort of minty blue and the perfect gold Paris label isn’t too shabby either.


This booth caught me eye – I’m a sucker for a white slipcover and seagrass.


Combine Rose Tarlow, French rush seats, and Kenneth Turner candles – and you’ll get my attention. The Two Lucy’s are now selling their European wares at MAI – in a huge space that really shows off all their merchandise to perfection.


More Lucys: I have never seen a French grape basket this large – it’s fabulous.


Even more Lucys: The French armoire hiding on the left is beautiful and that long bench would be great at a dining room table.


And even more Lucys: The largest collection of antique apothecary jars I’ve seen in one spot. I love to use these when I am accessorizing client’s shelves.


And one last Lucys: Their furniture is really first rate as you can see here with a beautiful wine tasting table, casually paired with a French cabinet, and a wonderful day bed. That blue door would be great to use inside at a bar or a butler’s pantry.


Le creme de le creme of MAI: Liz Spradling’s booths. Spradling’s array of merchandise certainly is large enough to open her own antique store, but she prefers to show out of MAI. Her antiques are superb - the finest quality. Mostly French, with some English, I’m a little prejudiced about Spradling - you can’t help but fall in love with each piece here. Notice the rare antique stair model placed on the chair’s seat. Bill Blass collected these models and I certainly can understand why. What I would give to have a few of these (well, I know what I would give, but I just don’t have it to give!) Even her wine bottles are special – I adore the golden labels with the Roman numerals written on them. Spradling’s eye is impeccable and it shows in every piece in her booth.


Another staircase model. An notice how beautiful this table is, how graceful the legs and bonnet is.


A wonderful collection of intaglios hang on the walls. Notice the graceful proportion of the back of the sofa – just beautiful. And, to the right – gorgeous library stairs are not to be missed.


The screen hanging on the wall is as rare as it is beautiful. And yet another set of library stairs!! I only wish I had the library to go with these – I would buy these in a heartbeat (if I won the lotto, that is.)


There’s something at every price point – wonderful white vases let you take home a piece of Spradling if you can’t afford the bigger items.


And last – these antique French wing chairs with brown and white checks ala Ginger Barber really appeal to me. Notice too the beautiful table between the chairs – perfection! Spradling carries a large variety of iron sconces with European shades.


One final goodie – something that Bonnie and I just went crazy for – Embellishments is a main presence at MAI, famous mostly for their pillows and other soft goods. But this piece is really special. They take your collection of treasured baby clothes and make a quilt out of them!!!! Isn’t this the most fabulous idea? I do have to confess, that thanks to her grandmothers Betty Rae and Mary, my Elisabeth was the best dressed baby, maybe ever to have lived. Seriously. She was one spoiled granddaughter. When I saw this I could have kicked myself for not saving her beautiful smocked and monogrammed dresses!!!!! You should have seen her first Hanukkah dress I had custom made for her – in black cotton velvet and ecru Alençon lace. If I happened to have given you that dress – would you please return it, anyone????? Where IS that dress????? ha-ha!!!

To visit Merci and all the other shops at Memorial Antiques and Interiors, please find all the vital information here.