In Love with Velvet




For years and years my favorite pillows have been those made of old tapestry scraps – preferably backed with a dark brown velvet as shown above.   The pattern of the tapestry is especially beautiful when paired with linen upholstery or slipcovers.  



imageIs there anything prettier than this?  Two large plain pillows paired with a pillow made from an antique piece of tapestry on a slipped loveseat?  Shannon Bowers.  Lampshades, Watkins Culver, Houston.




Here’s my own version – an antique tapestry scrap, gold braiding, and brown velvet.  No one makes prettier antique tapestry pillows than B Viz – almost anytime you see a pillow like this in a magazine, it is sourced from  B Viz. 


 image A client walked into my house the other day and saw my brown velvet pillows and ordered some for her own living room that I am currently helping her update.    It got me thinking about velvet pillows and velvet in particular - wondering what the instant appeal was?    Looking through old pictures from my portfolio, I was surprised how often I have used plain velvet.  




I think this was the first time in recent history I used plain velvet pillows.  Today, I would make these pillows bigger.  These are probably 20” – but now, I prefer 24” or 26” pillows.   Also, I wouldn’t use welting either.  




For this client, we used silk velvet – which is such a luxury. 




For this client, I used a cotton velvet – I love the density of a cotton velvet.   There’s less sheen to it.  




And here, again, I used a cotton velvet.    I like to pair the plain velvet pillows with one patterned one.  Nothing like using a formula!





Here instead of velvet pillows, I did the sofa in velvet.     The client had picked the taupe and blue fabric on the chair as their main fabric – the plain cotton velvet was used to quiet the room down. 



I used this very inexpensive loveseat covered in velvet from Urban Outfitters in a teenaged girl’s bedroom a few years ago.   Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the room!   This piece was such a steal – and it made a big impact in the teenager’s room.




My sister in law’s sister (got that?!!) has this fabulous antique French sofa upholstered with a silk velvet.  The velvet is actually so old, it’s rubbed off in places where it has gotten the most wear over the years.   To me, this adds to the charm and beauty of silk velvet.




Some favorite uses of velvet:     In this little girl’s room that Sally Wheat designed, the cotton raspberry velvet ottoman makes the room.  I can’t wait to copy this for a client!!!





In Windsor Smith’s study – she used a raspberry silk velvet on one chair and a gold silk velvet on another.  Love, love, love this room!!!


 imageThis blue velvet ottoman seen in Elle Decor is gorgeous.   What a closet!!!



    image Pure Style Home’s Lauren Liess used this apple green velvet on a sofa in her living room.   So fresh!  Originally she was going to have a slipcover made for versatility, but I think she may have abandoned that idea. 



imageI love this aqua velvet ottoman Brooke Giannetti of Velvet and Linen used in this master bedroom!   Again – I love cotton velvet for it’s matte like finish.




Velvet curtains?   The simplicity of Ina Garten’s apartment makes the silk velvet curtains a stand out.   Just don’t use red velvet for curtains!!!


 imageI’ve never used velvet for curtains before myself – but who can ever forget Scarlett O’Hara ripping up her green velvet curtains to make a dress to impress Rhett Butler?

I know how often I say that linen is my favorite fabric, but I surprised myself when I realized how much I actually like velvet!  I suppose the lesson is to think outside your box sometimes????   Next, I’ll be saying I don’t like seagrass.


NOTE:  New Skirted Roundtable is up with Diane Dorrans Saeks, noted author.  Listen HERE.

We Have A Winner!!



image Patricia Van Essche at her easel.


In one of my most popular giveaways yet, a custom portrait by PVE Design HERE, we now have a winner.  Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway.   And remember, if you really wanted a custom drawing by Patricia, her prices are very, very reasonable, so please consider commissioning her for birthday and  Christmas gifts. 


image The Winner’s Blog:  Loving Every Minute of It (I LOVE this picture – it’s so Texas Hill Country with its fossil laden paths!!)


Our winner is Ariel, who writes a Mommy blog called Loving Every Minute of It HERE.  I am so thrilled she won and couldn’t have picked a more deserving person – she even lives in the Texas Hill Country.   Ariel wants Patricia to draw the 100 year old cottage she lives in with her husband and three sons.    Hopefully, Patricia and Ariel will be willing to share the finished drawing with us!

Congratulations Ariel – and thank you so much Patricia for your generous giveaway.


COMING UP NEXT:   One of the BIGGEST giveaways ever!  I am soooo excited about this.  You will be too – I promise!!!  Details will be coming, very very soon.

No More Granny Wicker!




It’s amazing how something as simple as a new finish can come along and make everything else look so dated and out of style.  Lately, this phenomenon has happened to wicker.  Suddenly, gray wicker – or a gray washed wicker - has exploded on the scene and all other wicker stains and finishes look so…. granny.   

No one loves wicker more than I do – especially dark, deep brown stained wicker.  But, that’s all over now.   The end of dark brown wicker came when I started noticing the gray wicker finish here and there.   I also used to love white wicker.   No more.   Does anyone out there want to buy some white and dark brown wicker?    I’ve got a few pieces for sale!



image My guest room – yep, there it is, hiding its ugly face in the corner!  A dark brown stained wicker chair, just waiting to be replaced.  It thinks if it keeps hiding it will go unnoticed. 



image And oh, I used to love white wicker.  No more.  Sold to the highest bidder!



image Ah…there she is.  The most gorgeous wicker chair in the world.  Gray wicker.  It’s color is subtle:  light brown with a hint of a whitish gray paint covering it.  This chair is perfect either inside or out.   I especially love it in a dining room paired with a limed wood table.



image Just like this!  Jill Brinson’s gorgeous dining room.   The chairs look especially good when placed near the gray faux finished cabinets.   PERFECTION!



image These gorgeous chairs were seen in the Kirby Mears designed house in Veranda.   They are sold at Thompson Hanson in Houston as “Belgian Wicker.” 



image Brooke Giannetti of Velvet and Linen pairs her gray wicker with grayish old shutters.   So beautiful!



image The same chairs then go outside on Brooke’s gravel courtyard.  




Houston interior designer Sally Wheat used these gray wicker chairs in a breakfast room – paired with a Wisteria steel table. 



image In this house, Sally Wheat used the gray wicker with painted legs as bar stools.  





For this client, Sally took a paint brush to white wicker, turning it luscious gray.  Hmm.   That’s not a bad idea!!!





Heaven on earth!  I ordered three sets of three wicker baskets – all heavenly gray. 



 image The smallest sized basket sits on my kitchen counter – filled with take out menus.



image  The medium sized basket on my bakers rack holds Elisabeth’s school books.




My Albans client is borrowing a set of the baskets until she finds a Mora clock for that wall. 




Noir Furniture LA is a great wholesale company for this chair.   Doxa Home HERE carries this chair for retail clients.







Of course Restoration Hardware is all over the gray wicker.  They call it their Provence Collection.  And of course the French would want credit for this gorgeous wicker. 



image  Restoration Hardware:  It is a pretty collection.  Not as fluid or sensual as the chairs with curved lines though.



image Restoration Hardware:  These make great chairs for the inside dining room.





OKA – the best catalogue in the world.  They get it.   HERE.




Pottery Barn – you need to wise up.  These two shades are out, finished, over, done-with, out of style.   Get with the program, Pottery Barn!



While I am dying to get with the program myself – and change out all my wicker to the new gray - for the moment, I am going small.  I recently bought two tiny gray wicker baskets with filled with succulents at Thompson Hanson (of course!)    For now, I will be happy with my small nod to the new gray wicker.   Ben is hoping this will get me through the trend.   Somehow, I doubt it.   But – we’ll see!!!  It might!



image For now, I will be happy with my small nod to the new gray wicker.   Ben is hoping this will get me through the trend.   Somehow, I doubt it.   But – we’ll see!!!  It might!



REMEMBER:   PVE Design give away ends on Saturday -  hurry and sign up!!!!

A Wonderful Custom Giveaway!!!!!




Above - The country house of the famous French chef Michel Guerard and his wife Christine was featured in a foreign design magazine some time ago.  The couple own a Relais and Chateau hotel, Les Prés d’Eugénie, whose rooms are located in over five separate and beautiful dwellings.  For more information on their hotel, see HERE.   Besides wonderful meals, the hotel offers cooking lessons and has a highly touted spa.  

Note:  I love the gravel driveway that so many French country houses have – so much better looking than the drab concrete drives we Americans cling to!!!  And I love the simple landscaping – using just boxwoods – especially around the house itself.  




The bedroom at the Guerards mas with traditional terra cotta tiles and French antique furniture.  I love the antique Swedish stove, pictured on the left!


image Of course the Guerards would have a fully functional kitchen – that stove – to DIE for!!!!!





image Same room, different view:  – I love how the inside of the armoire is painted.  Makes me want to run home and paint the inside of my armoires.  But, Ben would probably have me committed. 




Close up of the house, an inspiration for PVE Design.


Because the article is written in French, it was hard for me to completely understand the story.   But the pictures were enough to capture the eye and imagination of Patricia van Essche, the author of the blog PVE Design and a long time email friend of mine.  Patricia is a noted artist who specializes in hand drawing charming illustrations for her clients – many whom place orders for greeting cards, notecards, or branding logos.   Patricia emailed me to say that she had seen a house I would love – and just a few weeks later - I received this article of the Guerards mas, along with an original illustration of the house, framed!!!




Close up of Patricia’s original illustration of the Guerards house, taken from the magazine article.  I love how Patricia perfectly captured the landscaping with the sculpted box.



image Here’s a picture of Patricia’s illustration of the Guerards house – showing where I hung it in front of my bookcases.  Unfortunately the glass picks up the glare in the photographs!!!    I was so excited to get such a wonderful gift from Patricia!    And, this wasn’t even the first time Patricia had been so generous to me.  A few years ago, she created an illustration celebrating my birthday – AND she then made the illustration into notecards which I loved using!!!




Here’s a close up of her charming birthday greeting!!  Patricia added so many personal details – the Texas and French flags, the design books, my two dogs, my zebra pillows, sea shells, the Texas armadillo!! – even my flower urn.  She has such a great eye for detail.    



imageThe beautiful and elegant Patricia van Essche at work.    I love this photograph!  It looks like a painting itself.

The Giveaway:

Today, we are having a giveaway – generously donated by Patricia, pictured above at her easel.  The giveaway will be one of Patricia’s custom illustrations – based on either the winner’s house or pet!!!  That’s right – the winner will receive a personal, custom illustration!  And the winner picks the subject matter!!!




Here is a Christmas card that Patricia did for a family – featuring six of her drawings.




Here’s another custom watercolor of an estate.


Now, in order to win this giveaway – you only need to visit Patricia’s web site and decide if you would choose either a watercolor of your house or your pet – something else.  Look around at all her examples she has created for other clients to get ideas.  To visit her web site, click HERE.   Then, return here to my blog and leave me a comment telling me which subject you choose!   If you are an anonymous poster – be sure you add your email address in case you win!!!  Drawing closes this Saturday – so *hurry up!!!!!


As always - GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!