Versailles, The Hall of Mirrors
I have a chair fetish – more chairs in this house than anyone would ever need. Once my friend went around and counted every single one of them just to see how many there were. There are also too many sconces. I know this. I’ve stopped buying them. For a while my electricians thought it was all so funny and wondered when I would run out of space for them. I have. Lately I’m thinking I might need to cull my mirrors. But where to start? I bought the mirrors because I would rather have them than art work. All the canvases that were once on the walls are now in the garage hoping that one day I’ll change back to them. Not sure that will ever happen! But truthfully, I think a beautiful mirror really makes the room, just like a large piece of art can.
The Louis Philippe in the living room was one of the first big antique purchases Ben and I made in our marriage. We needed something tall in this room and I saw this at a French antique store in Austin one game weekend. Ben went for football and I came home with a mirror. The mirror is really large and was a great price because some of the gilding had been painted black. I’ve thought about restoring it all back to gold, but the black is a nice accent. The glass is really old and hard to see out of – the best kind.
This French Louis XVI mirror is really my mother’s that I somehow now have. It’s very simple and plain but elegant at the same time. The sunburst is probably 60s vintage (if even that.)
The convex mirror over my mantel was a real steal. It came from an antique store in the French Quarter. My friend owned it but when she changed from English to Swedish decor, she sold it to me for practically nothing. I don’t plan on repeating that exchange!!!
This small French mirror came home with me when I had some spending change and was looking for anything I could afford at Neal & Co. one afternoon. I probably should have just waited and accumulated my change, but well, this is what addiction looks like, folks. The sunburst is another 60s vintage, maybe. Ben bought that big dog on the floor himself – no comments, please. He means well.
I can’t even remember where I bought this – probably the antique mall. It’s a copy, old, but not an antique, though it does look like one. I won’t even show you my powder room mirror. It’s too embarrassing. It really needs to be replaced. Enough said about that.
Upstairs, my sister in law loaned me the black chinoiserie standing mirror that she really wants back and mentions every time she sees it. Hmmmm. The sunburst is, guess – 60s vintage, maybe. Let’s see, that makes 3 sunburst mirrors. Enough? snort.
Over my desk is a trumeau, new, that was marked old, but of course it’s not. It was one of those must-haves when I saw it because of the green paint and gilt frame. For a while, these types of mirrors were in a lot of Houston antique stores – at the same time – which always means they aren’t old.
Elisabeth’s small mirror is the same kind of faux old trumeau, the glass was “aged.” It’s small, but it fits the space perfectly and I love its gray paint and gilt trim.
The large mirror over her desk reminds me of the antique Louis XVI one downstairs, but it comes from Tara Shaw’s new furniture line. This mirror is large and is a good price if you need one like this. The finish is really beautiful, too.
And finally, the guest room has another faux trumeau with green paint and gilded frame. I must really like this style – that’s 3 of these. I never thought about this before – but all the antique mirrors are downstairs, while the faux ones are upstairs in the private areas. I probably should think about one day going from faux to real, but really, why spend the money? I did take a look at 1st Dibs to see what was available and whoa, there are some gorgeous mirrors out there. I set the criteria to 18th century and before only – here were a few that caught my eye.
17th Century French. The glass is totally gone which makes it a true work of art. It reminds me of a story my aunt used to tell about coming home with an antique mirror years and years ago when she was young and first furnishing her house. The glass was totally clouded and my uncle said “why would you buy a mirror you can’t even see yourself in?” Only a husband would ask that!
I love this almost square gilt framed mirror. So simple and elegant.
A true trumeau, not a faux one like mine!
Simply gorgeous – this antique Swedish mirror has the candlestick holders on it. In Sweden, most mirrors had candles mounted in front to double the light in this mostly dark country. Small, but hugely expensive. Totally out of my price range, ever, unless we discover oil.
Gorgeous vanity mirror for a powder room or a desk or a console. This was surprisingly cheap. I was shocked.
I love these mirrors with the heavy carving over the frame. This would be gorgeous behind a sofa with just a few creamware plates surrounding it.
18th Century? At this price? I doubt it. Why would 1st Dibs let this stand? I still love ssunburst mirrors and am going to hate when they go out of style, yet again.
Jane Moore in Houston has this paneling with a small mirror attached. I love these types of mirrors for behind a console or buffet.
A pair from Spain – Chateau Domingue. The possibilities of these two are endless. Plus I love how dull the gilding it.
An important trumeau- with green paint. This would be gorgeous in a room with all white linen and not much else.
I used to want a true antique trumeau exactly like this so, so badly – but today, I’m not sure. It would be pretty in a wallpapered bedroom or a woman’s library. It’s beautiful, but maybe too fussy for a living room. Funny how taste changes through the years.
The real deal – or is it? This trumeau certainly looks much older than mine and much more authentic. This one is a beauty, no doubt. Worth changing out my faux one for this one? Hmm, probably not at its price.
A great mirror can truly “make” a room beautiful. Here are a few of my favorite images of mirrors. A Houston house by Eleanor Cummings – this mirror is beautiful in this bedroom and is certainly the focal point.
I love this small mirror over the mantel in one of Vicki Archer’s Provençal bedrooms. Her blog French Essence is filled with her beautiful photos.
I love double sized rooms with matching fireplaces and over mirrors at each end – like this one at Oscar de la Renta’s beach house.
I love small pairs of mirrors like these by Gerrie Bremermann.
In France, a true antique trumeau. Everything in this picture is sublime. That lantern, the molding over the door, the lamps, the gilt chairs, the table, the mantel – sigh.
My favorite pair of mirrors in a bedroom. Everything is gorgeous – the curtains, the chandelier, the chest. Stunning!
I’ve always loved this trumeau by the Tone on Tone owners! It perfectly illustrates how a mirror can make the room.
A favorite image of a simple breakfast room made special because of the mirror.
Too gorgeous – design by Carol Glasser.
I love this room in France– rustic architecture, simple upholstery and a dressy pair of console with mirrors.
I think this beach house by Babs Watkins, done many years ago, started a craze in Houston for painted trumeaus like this. I know I wanted one just like this. The house had several different mirrors in it, but this one, over the mantel, was the one everyone wanted. I wish the image wasn’t cut off!
I took this picture of Sally Wheat’s house during a photoshoot. It’s all different today, not even sure if she still has her trumeau. But it caught the eye of a friend and blogger, Artie, from Color Outside the Lines.
Artie is redoing his living room and wanted a trumeau for over his mantel. He lives in upstate New York, right by Niagara Falls. He didn’t want to spend thousands on a mirror and after studying Sally’s he decided he could make one himself. Here’s what Artie had to say:
ARTIE: when you posted about Sally Wheat’s house in Houston, I fell in love with her style and it gave me the incentive that I needed to make some serious changes around our house. I love the mantel that she created in her family room, with all of the beautiful books and that fabulous trumeau mirror ... but I knew that finding an antique one would be completely out of my budget.
So taking inspiration from her and with the very limited skills I have when it comes to construction, I made a mirror to mimic Sally’s. Here is how I did it: using stock pieces of molding from Lowes, a standard beveled bathroom mirror, and 20 coats of paint ... I ended up with this.
I even made the sconces ... using very inexpensive wood appliques, heavy gauge wire that was easy to bend, and unfinished candle pieces from the craft section at Joanns.
Here’s the “Sally Wheat” trumeau Artie made. I think it looks almost the same!
A close up of the mantel showing the attached candlesticks and books and flowers – just like Sally’s was styled.
A last look. By the way – Artie made that slip cover on the chair. He is really handy. Have you ever made something like a trumeau or a copy of an antique before? I can’t even imagine doing that, but Artie’s looks really good and he claims it was easy.
Here’s a picture of sweet Artie. He’s really from Texas and how he ended up at the frozen Canadian border, I’ll never understand. We’re blogging friends and he cracks me up. If I don’t answer his emails within a day, he sends one titled “Are you mad at me?”
Is there anything you collect that isn’t really a collectable, like chairs, or sconces or mirrors? I ended up with a house full of “smalls” because I could never wait and save up money to buy something big, like a console or a breakfront. I usually went for the little things that I could afford at the time – like plates, old biscuit tins, glassware. To do it all over again, I would wait, accumulate, and make one big purchase instead of a lot of little ones. Funny how you learn these things so late…
I’ve had a crush on Rachel Ashwell for a long time. In case you have never heard of her – she’s the pretty English girl who came to America and reinvented slipcovers. I sometimes wonder if we ever would have gotten back into slips if not for Rachel. Maybe, but maybe not. She created her own line of furniture with slips after realizing nothing child and pet friendly existed on the market. Along with the furniture came wonderful prewashed fabrics, a chain of stores, a handful of books, and a relationship with Target – which really put her in the minds of most Americans. Her bedding line at Target remains a favorite all these years later. For me, it was this book above, The Shabby Chic Home, which was published in 2000, that really sealed the deal for me. It remains one of my favorite home redo books. I was fascinated with how she took an old dark and “witchy” brown house in Malibu and transformed it into a light, bright, feminine haven. Over the years she has moved again and again and many of her subsequent books tell their own house renovation story – but this one – her second book – remains my favorite. I never understood why she moved from it, or how she could move from it. If I lived here, it would take a crowbar and trailer hitch to pull me from it screaming and crying.
Here’s a before picture of the witchy brown house’s yard – how unappealing can you get?
And under Rachel’s hand, the yard turned into a magical place – the turquoise blue water is still one of the prettiest colors I’ve seen in a swimming pool.
BEFORE: The brown was painted a soothing a whitish cream color.
AFTER: There was this tiny whirlpool placed under the stairs. Does it get any prettier or more feminine?
Hammock piled high with Rachel’s fabrics.
Inside, the house was all brown too. Until Rachel painted everything.
The same view – overlooking the kitchen and the pool.
Her dining room – what gorgeous floors!!! Alas, everything must come to an end and Rachel moved from this house into others.
Her last book tells the story of her current house and its redo, along with several friends and clients’ houses. This cover is beyond gorgeous with its pink velvet gilt settee, the chandelier (of course!) and Rachel’s laid back Californian dress style.
Her new house is beautiful without a doubt. Her style has subtly evolved over the years with new colors added to her palette.
Her bedroom kills me. Those slightly mauve silk curtains are luscious.
Her bathroom is luxurious, yet simple at the same time.
This book is coming out soon – highlighting an artist’s work of Rachel’s collection of tutus! The paintings look gorgeous.
Look for the two tree posts to turn into The Prairie.
Perhaps her most fun undertaking of late was buying the bed and breakfast “The Outpost” in Round Top, Texas. Wow. Rachel Ash well serving coffee and rolls to Texans???? Well, it’s not really such a stretch if you follow Rachel. She’s been a fixture at the twice yearly Round Top antique fair for quite a while. She usually stayed at The Outpost, so when she learned the owner was selling, Rachel bought it. Newly renamed The Prairie, it has four guest houses on it, along with a gathering lodge, and a soon to be open retail store (yes!) Rachel has spent the last few months painting and redoing everything to her own specifications. She brought a truck load of furniture and bedding and antiques to finish it all up. Just recently The Prairie opened its doors to visitors. I couldn’t wait to go and see it all for myself, so last weekend, my daughter Elisabeth drove me to Round Top to check it all out. As luck would have it, Rachel was “downtown” in Round Top celebrating a birthday with a local so we missed meeting her. Elisabeth was even more disappointed than I was!
Most devastating, I had a huge computer crash and all my pictures from the day were lost! Thankfully, Rachel’s assistant Kim was nice enough to lend me their gorgeous photos which probably are a lot better than mine were anyway!
The Prairie is located right near Round Top which is perfect for the antique fairs. It’s an hour from Austin for quick day trips, but the real fun is just relaxing in the total quiet of the property.
The Ranger’s Lounge is where all the action is. You check in here and have breakfast here too. Plus there’s a great area to sit around on cushy Rachel Ashwell furniture.
The dining area is typical Rachel with lots of flowers, baskets, and slipcovers.
The Ranger’s Lounge makes a great place for a party or a wedding. Elisabeth kept saying she wanted to get married here!!
BEFORE: The lounge area used to be painted a dark green, which Rachel repainted.
AFTER: The lounge area is now painted a fresh white and is filled with Rachel’s furniture. Antique portieres separate it from the dining area and kitchen.
The little bathroom at the Ranger’s Lounge – I loved the sink!!
Behind the Lounge is this pergola that overlooks the property.
BEFORE: The original house from the 1800s on the property as it was – painted a golden yellow.
Today the house has a fresh coat of white paint. There are porches and balconies with great views across the property. An English flag flies in Rachel’s honor along with the Texas and United States flags.
The living room at the Liliput Lodge is adorable – filled with white slips and floral curtains.
The dining room has the old wagon wheel light fixture. Rachel thought about changing it out, but decided she actually loved it.
In the dining room, antique fabric was used for the shades. The styling is so Rachel – lots of china and flowers.
This bedroom reminds me of Rachel’s own bedroom. It’s so pretty and feminine. I love the pink petticoat pillow.
This pink bedroom features double beds piled high with an assortment of her bedding.
BEFORE: The former owner painted these walls blue, which Rachel kept, but all the furniture was moved out.
AFTER: The same bedroom decorated by Rachel.
One of the bathrooms in the Liliput Lodge. Each bath is stocked with toiletries and plush towels.
BEFORE: The Cornflower Cottage used to be bright orange. These colors are just not in Rachel’s palette.
AFTER: The Cornflower Cottage is now painted white with blue trim.
The Cornflower Cottage has this wonderful white bed and lots of peeling painted furniture.
The bathroom has wonderful tile, but it’s shower is brand new and huge and fabulous!
BEFORE: The Bluebonnet Barn was dark.
AFTER: The Bluebonnet Barn has a fresh coat of white paint.
An old iron gate opens to the Bluebonnet Barn.
The brick floored living area of the Bluebonnet Barn – filled with comfy Ashwell furniture and antique chairs. There is also a separate bedroom here.
Brick floors, claw foot tub and pedestal sink.
The Meadow Manor is an 1800s house – and is further away from the others. If you want privacy, pick this house.
BEFORE: Rachel debated whether to remove this wallpaper, but decided in the end to keep it.
AFTER: With Rachel’s white furniture and pared down style, the wallpaper really looks great.
Another view of the living room.
The second living room features Farrow and Ball wallpaper and white painted floors. Since there are no closets in these old houses – each room features a wooden clothes rack – seen on the far right of this picture. In another nod to life how it once was, Rachel installed an clothes line on the property!
The kitchen only needed new white paint on its floors.
One of the two bedrooms in the Meadow Manor.
The second bedroom is darling in pink and white stripes – so typical of Rachel’s style.
Love the pink fabric in a gilt frame!
This picture says it all: the linen closet at The Prairie – piled with bedding from Rachel Ashwell’s line.
For more information on The Prairie – go HERE.
Finally, I just want to say, I’ve been a huge fan and great admirer of Rachel over the years. The English Rose who became the quintessential Californian girl captured the hearts of so many women like me. To know that she now call Texas home and is putting down roots here just makes me love her all the more! Who would have ever thought it? I remember the first time I heard she had bought the Round Top bed and breakfast, I was floored and excited beyond belief. For years I’ve looked at pictures of her houses and lifestyle and wondered what it would be like to live like Rachel, surrounded by her fluffy bedding, downy sofas, old china and glassware, and all the trinkets she collects from around the world. Now, at The Prairie – you really get that chance to experience her aesthetic up close and personal. What a treat!