What’s In Store?

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I get a many emails with questions about items I show – where I got it, or where something like it might be bought.   So today, I am going to try to answer the most frequently asked questions.     One thing I own that I’m repeatedly asked about is the pair of  lampshades in my family room.    These paper shades show the famous antique map of Paris and were bought in Houston at Watkins Culver.  Unfortunately, they weren’t inexpensive -  an impulse buy paid for with funds I had recently made on a design job.   In other words, it was money that was burning a hole in my pocket.   Sssshhh – don’t tell Mr. Slipper Socks Man!!   Truthfully, I’m too embarrassed to say what I paid for these, even though it was two or three years ago – but I suppose they were worth it – they still look brand new and I still adore them.  Watkins and Culver had some in stock the last time I was there, but the inventory was very low.

 

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I love these too – they remind me of mine, but I think these are much better looking – this sunroom is in Carol Glasser’s former house

 

 

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After this picture was posted last week, I received several emails inquiring about these lamp shades.  This room, designed by the incredibly talented and much in-demand designer from Dallas, Shannon Bowers, has shades that are similar to Glasser’s.   I’m crazy about these and apparently you were too, judging from the emails.  I only wish I knew where they were from, but the answer is – I don’t have any idea. I’m sure they were custom made by an artist working on a small scale and who sold them to an antique or specialty decor store. 

 

 

 

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Other shades I adore are these Fortuny shield shades.   These can be found at Maison de Provence in New Orleans.  In Houston, Ronnie Jubula makes fabulous drum shaped lamp shades out of Fortuny (along with the best candles!)   If you love Fortuny and need a lamp shade, Ronnie’s the man to call :  713-523-6838.

 

 

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For clients  I usually make custom shades out of a fabric used in the room – like in The Tanglewood House bedroom.  I used the toile to cover the drum shade here.  I think it adds a custom touch to a room, especially a bedroom.   My partner, Monica Hancock, is the one who manages all my soft goods, curtains, bedding, pillows, etc. and she handles the lamp shades.  To reach Monica for a fabric shade, call 832-443-1931.  Her prices are very reasonable.    Hi Mimi!!!

 

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In this bedroom, I covered the Blanc d’Ivoire sconces in the toile fabric for a little extra detailing.   Monica Hancock, again, fabricated the shades, bedding, and curtains. 

 

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So, what are good alternatives to interesting shades at a great prices?   These shades are new at Pottery Barn and I think they are fabulous looking!  Made of thick parchment showing a map of San Francisco, they come in three sizes and are just $29 - $49!  A steal! 

 

 

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Also new at Pottery Barn are these linen-cotton shades with silk grosgrain ribbon.  Again three sizes, and again $29 to $49. 

 

 

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Pottery Barn – these natural fiber shades would be fabulous in a family room or library:  three sizes, and yes, $29 - $49. 

 

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Target gets into the burlap craze with a lamp shade for just $19.99.   Don’t worry, by Thanksgiving, there will lots more burlap goods at Target, but for now, these shades are it.   Go here for more information.

 

 

image And speaking of burlap, of course, Pottery Barn is already well into the craze – these pillows are proof.  If you are looking for just a little taste of the trend, this is the perfect way to whet your appetite for burlap without spending a fortune you’ll regret next year.

 

 

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After the lamp shades, I’ve gotten many emails asking about my new lantern.  I bought mine at M. Naeve and she just got a new shipment in, but I think she might have just one left, if at all.  They tend to sell very quickly Margaret told me.   Where can you buy reproductions of French antique lanterns?  I found a few sources:

 

 

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This is a good size and a fairly good reproduction.  From Bellacor, here.     It’s hard to find an authentic reproduction lantern that is large and at a reasonable price.  This is high at $629, but it is large enough to make a presenceI kept looking for something less expensive.

 

 

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This is a good looking lantern to bring indoors – from Shades of Light catalogue here.   This lantern is less expensive, but it is small.   It would be good over a kitchen table or island or sink.   It’s not big enough to handle a large family room, though.

 

 

 

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From CSN Lighting, here, – this is good looking and very large and at a very good price at $297.   After looking at 1,000s of lanterns, this one was probably the best looking for the size and price!

 

 

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The third item that I get many questions about is my dining room fixture.  Not my light fixture in particular – but one like it.  What is it exactly?    While mine was sold to me as an antique, I have my sincere doubts about that.   Whenever any antique suddenly floods the market, it tends to get my antennae up, although this one was bought around 5 years ago.  But still.   Today, you can find pricey “antiques” like this everywhere you look, whereas several years ago, you never saw these.   The style is Italian – if you look closely, the middle is actually a candlestick upside down.   Or, that is what it is supposed to be:  damaged, burned candlesticks from the churches turned into chandeliers.     The true antiques are quite gorgeous, with peeling paint and chipped wood.  They are delicate and feminine with all the scrolling iron work and dangling tassels.  I bought mine from a friend who was redecorating, so I got it at a good price, but still – how can you get this look without paying a fortune?   That’s a good question and one I am asked probably at least once a week.  The problem is that even the reproductions are pricey!

 

 

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Is it old or a reproduction – I can’t tell, can you?   

 

 

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Houston interior designer Carol Glasser had a beautiful Italian chandelier in her former living room.   I’m sure hers is authentic.

 

 

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Gerrie Bremermann’s fixture.  Surely hers would be antique, right?

 

 

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This is being sold on 1st Dibs as a 19th century antique.  Yet if you read the description closely – it says:

Antique Elements  (antique elements!)   A large impressive decorative French 9 arm candle chandelier comprised of antique wooden elements with painted and gilt metal.  $7,000.  

This just amazes me – it’s not an antique chandelier.  It’s elements put together and called a 19th century chandelier.   And the price!   This is why I would never buy an antique one – they just aren’t!  Almost every description of an “antique” says “antique elements!”

 

 

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Tara Shaw’s – admitted - new chandelier.   For much less than the supposed antiques, it does need electrifying.  Hers is a beauty – it comes in large and extra large versions.   Why pay for an antique that isn’t an antique? 

 

 

 

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This Curry and Co. fixture, new, of course, is quite beautiful – but even this is expensive for $1,550.   Here.

 

 

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This great reproduction is only $799 here!!!  It’s not large, but it is a great way to get the look at a fraction of the cost.    Be sure to look at all the Italian chandeliers this company sells. 

 

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The only versions I found anywhere that are somewhat reasonable are the Aidan Gray copies.  This one here, is $1350, again no bargain but not nearly expensive as the phony old ones.

 

 

 

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This Aidan Gray is $1350 retail here, cheaper than the Curry and  Co. but still not quite cheap!   

 

 

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We used the  Aidan Gray fixture in the Tanglewood House dining room.

 

Judging by the amount of emails I get about this fixture, and the fact that Aidan  Gray is totally sold out of the Italian Chandeliers, someone could make a fortune by producing a chandelier like this for what it really is worth!   If someone could make this at a retail cost of $700 or $800, which is probably very reasonable, they would be a millionaire!   Artie, from Color Outside the Line is actually making this fixture.  He isn’t through with it yet, so he wasn’t ready for me to show it to you,  but I can’t wait to see how it looks when he is finished.   If he lets me, I’ll show you how he did!

 

 

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And finally – I buy these silicone tipped light bulbs for all my sconces and chandeliers.  They tend to run high, but recently I found these, here,  for almost $1.30 each!     I stocked up on them.  If you go on the internet, you will find these same bulbs for anywhere from $2. up to $6.oo a piece!   So $3.94 for three is a really great price.    I prefer these bulbs to the kind you get in the grocery stores because with the silicone tip, the bulb is softer looking and more flame like.   If you have never used these bulbs, give them a try – you won’t go back to the regular chandelier bulbs again!

 

 

image My sconces with the silicone tipped bulbs.

 

I hope these sources help if you are one of those with questions about some of the things you have seen on Cote de Texas.  I tried to find realistically priced copies – but it wasn’t always easy!    If I missed something, or you have a better source, please send it in to me!    Thank you all, as usual for your support!

Another Ike Tale: The Grey Gardens of Galveston

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And now – on a much lighter note.    Maybe we should call this, how the luckiest few had to deal with Ike.    No, it’s not heartbreakingly sad like the Live Oak trees, or Bolivar Peninsula.  And no, no one will cry over this story or should for that matter.   If you did, I might have to have you committed!    After all, this is just a story of an excess that most of us will never have nor would even want.  But still, it might be of interest to some of you:  what happens when a wonderfully designed house is no more?  

A few years ago, Veranda did a cover story on a beach house in Galveston that I positively adored.  It was designed by the great – the absolute greatest of all Houston designers - Ms. Babs Watkins.    The house was delicious, all in aqua:   aqua linens, aqua toiles, aqua ceilings and even aqua painted wood floors!   Looking at the house was like looking a candy store – so delectable it was!   Watkins was at the top of her game here.  The job was large with six bedrooms and bathrooms and it could have turned out badly – a house done entirely in aqua?  Whoever heard of such a thing?    In fact, this cover story spawned a new trend in all aqua beach houses, many of which Veranda put on their summer cover, year after year.  But none of the imitators could ever come close to getting it as perfect as Watkins did.  Her unerring eye and knack for picking the most beautiful and desirable antiques is legendary in Houston.   With Watkins’ furnishings and all the finest linens and toiles, this beach house was unlike most ever seen.  It was very casual, yet in a romantic and sophisticated way – how many beach houses have  French trumeaus over their antique limestone mantels?  For years The Aqua House remained in my favorites file – in fact, it never left it.    

 

image A painted 19th century butcher’s table used as a console.

 

So, while perusing the real estate listings last year, I almost fell over when I recognized the most perfect Aqua House was up for sale.  The best part of the sale was, of course,  all the new photos of the house to pore over!   And even better, a Virtual Tour accompanied the listing.  Nirvana.   The house  eventually sold – just in time for Hurricane Ike.  I wonder if the new owners were able to even sleep a night in the house.  It is here, today, almost a year after Ike, still languishing empty and neglected – a sort of sad, upscale Grey Gardens of Galveston.   I’m not sure why it hasn’t been repaired – it all seems like minor, superficial damage, certainly nothing on a par with the slaughter of the Live Oaks going on uptown.   But, still, the house has been left to the elements – something that on the beach should always be avoided.   Maintenance is a must in the salt air.   A loyal Cote de Texas reader happened upon the Aqua House and took new pictures for me.    To read the original story of this once wonderful house, go here.

 

 

 

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The way it was:   all linen and toile in aqua, seagrass and seashells, slipcovers and trumeaus.   The Babs Watkins designed house was first featured in Veranda in 2004.  It had been built as a weekend retreat for a Houston family with five young children.   The large family quickly sold it and then it came up for sale again last summer.  The beach house was first sold fully furnished – not even one ashtray left the house – therefore, amazingly, it looked exactly the same, despite the wear and tear of four years.

 

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From the real estate pictures - four years after Veranda’s photo shoot and another family later, the house, amazingly, looks exactly the same.  

 

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From Veranda – beautiful Hinson toile and tufted detailing.   The chairs are 19th century. 

 

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Charming pompom fringe hangs over the beautifully tufted chaise in aqua linen.    The walls are cream, the trim is a light aqua, the floor is pine, with a washed aqua paint.  

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From the Real Estate Virtual Tour – even the Crane sculpture remained through the first sale.   Here you can see the custom made pool table.   And notice how the ceiling is painted in the soft aqua too.

 

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During the first sale, the entire contents of the house remained intact.   During the second sale this summer,  the custom made pool table, with aqua felt, was the only furniture that remained in the house.   The chandeliers remained, but everything else was excluded from the sale.   What a pity!  In this picture you can see the taupe and cream striped fabric that Watkins used on this side of the large living room.  

 

 image This oversized and awkward banquette with ottoman is my least favorite item in the house!   The banquette, built in, of course remained in the house after the second sale.  The dining room can be seen on the other side of the kitchen.

 

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The dining room -  a beautiful wood table mixed with casual yet classic Lloyd Loom chairs. 

 

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A small library off the foyer – Watkins used two main fabrics downstairs, the Hinson aqua toile and a taupe and cream stripe, both shown in this room with its wonderful cabinet filled with shells and pictures of shells. 

 

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From Veranda – my favorite bedroom, though even that choice is hard, there are so many adorable bedrooms in the house!  Here are twin French iron beds with a peach linen toile and matching curtains.  Notice the mini pleat edge on the duvet and shams. 

 

 

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Last summer, the house was perfectly manicured and freshly painted.

 

 

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The beach house is actually on the bay side, facing a canal.  It stretches over three lots – one lot is the pool house pictured here.    So, what does the house look like today – almost a year after Ike?  The neighborhood received some damage – many houses’ ground floors were heavily damaged.  Yet, life in this very exclusive neighborhood has gone on.  There is a lot of building activity happening there now.   A Cote de Texas reader visited the still empty Aqua House and snapped these pictures:

 

 

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Today.   The owl which is used to scare away seagulls with their mess is barely scaring anything today.  The landscaping looks bare but it does appear someone has top pruned, always a no-no.

 

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Whoa.  The front side of the house with the pool house on the left.  What a difference a year makes.  Besides the green palm trees, it looks like a desolate moonscape.

 

 

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The back side of the house, empty and lonely looking. 

 

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The pool house and the infinity edge pool, green instead of blue. 

 

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I wonder what the neighbors think?  I’m surprised the homeowner association hasn’t stepped in.

 

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How it was last summer – the infinity edge pool overlooks the canal that leads out to Galveston Bay.  The house comes with a boat dock, of course, just barely visible at the very right of the picture.  

 

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Now:   the screens are all falling off the ground floor porch.

 

IMG_1306  Now:   the pool house drawers blew away in the storm.

 

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The pool house – how it was last summer.   Notice how fabulous the bench is, a painted French antique that would be at home in the finest mansion, much less a pool house! 

 

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Today, all that remains of Watkins fabulous interior – a chandelier, the sconces found throughout the downstairs living area, and the custom pool table.  What a shame that Watkins wonderful design is now dismantled!    I wonder where all those antiques went?  Seems such a shame to break it all up.    I’m sure the former owners would disagree with me – but I’m speaking strictly as a great fan of Watkins work.

 

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The banquette and ottoman remained – my least favorite part!   And the dining room chandelier stayed. 

 

 

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Looking back towards the empty living room and kitchen.  I wonder if the new owner will keep the aqua floors, trim and ceiling?    

 

 

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Today:    a shot from outside looking into the foyer – the photographer didn’t go inside the house of course!    The sconce, with the bulbs in place, seems so Grey Gardens. 

 

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Then:  the charming foyer – as Watkins designed it.  The antique crystal sconces juxtaposed with fun vintage pink flamencos.  This painted French caned bench sports a pink and white toile.   A view into the small library, shown before.   Just beautiful!  I love this house – I can’t help it, I just love this house!!!!

 

 

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Watkins took so much care to pick out each fixture.   The lanterns, once in a wonderful green, are now all rusted and trashed out looking.  I wonder what she would think?

The Aqua House makes me think of all the other wonderfully designed houses that sell, how the design is broken up and destroyed forever – with only photographs left to memorialize them.   Do you know of a house you once loved that is no longer the same?  Sally Quinn felt that way about Grey Gardens.  She loved the house it once was so much that she resurrected it.   To read my story of  Sally’s work, go here.  I wonder if the Aqua House will find a Sally Quinn?