Posts tagged: luxury homes

Design Value of the Week

By , January 12, 2010

As predicted, I’ve already received several auction catalogues this week.  Here is an item from  Bonham’s London “Period Design sale that happened earlier this week.    


Lot No: 336  A 19th century Anglo-Indian teak, bone inlaid and brass travelling writing / dressing box, the hinged lid enclosing a fitted interior including a mirror and hidden secret drawers, distressed(18.5″ wide, 9.5″ deep, 6.5″ high). 

This is listed at $750-1200, with fees.  Remember what we talked about in the last post? “The hammer price is not the price you pay”.   There are always those pesky fees added. And don’t forget customs and shipping.   Guessing that the New Year auction prices will be as soft generally soft as last years,   my estimate for it would have been at the low end of the scale.   Anglo-Indian items are still very hot, but it just sold for $550,including fees.   Still, in a lovely retail environment, the cost would be around $3500.  See what I mean about great values?

Domestically, Bonhams has an item in the New York “American Furniture” sale coming up in late January that I am dreaming about using  to create an  amazing guestroom.                                                                                                                                                                                                          



Lot #  1213:      An American Aesthetic inlaid and ebonized cherrywood bedroom suite
Herter Brothers, New York  circa 1880

OMG!  This is exceptional.  Herter Brothers pieces rarely come on the market.  Their work is in major collections in Europe and the US, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Imagine it in a bright white bedroom, painted white floors, with bedding and curtains of the finest, pure white, 100%  Italian linen.  A pure white, Barcelona leather chair and ottoman would be by the fireplace and white lacquered nightstands would complete the set.  The final touch would be overscaled heavily carved giltwood 18th c.  mirror over the fireplace, and, while we are dreaming,  a set of Franz Kline  paintings. A serene and stunning heaven would be the outcome. 

Given the estimated hammer price of $20-30,000,  this suite would be at least $95,000 in a gallery setting.  If this goes at the low end and you complete the design, you’d have a very chic, million dollar look for a small fraction of that.  At least you could make a down payment on the Franz Kline with the money you saved at auction!

If you need a single room done, I’d suggest you keep an open mind and start watching the auctions.  You’ll come up with something you never would have dreamed of and feel very proud of yourself for your smart thriftiness and your contribution to sustainable design!

Jane on

By , June 30, 2009

I’m so pleased to share with you our newest press coverage at, the #1 decorating blog in the country. The site offers a wealth of great information, such as “shop this picture,” where one click lets you shop the online stores that carry all of the items in the photographed room. When I am looking for a special item at a low price I check out the sample sale where I often get lucky enough to find it! Continue reading 'Jane on'»

Our New “One Day Makeovers” For The Home

By , April 7, 2009

Early in December of last year, my team and I were installing new family room furniture in a client’s primary residence. I had finished their second home the previous year, so they knew the capabilities of the firm, but I hadn’t done much for them in this house. She asked me to “take a look at the dining room and living room” to see what the rooms might need to make them look better for the big party she was planning.

The first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of nice art, but it was hung in a way that was not very effective. I knew that by rehanging the existing art, we could help the areas to be much more dramatic and engaging. So I had our art installer come by and help us hang the work that I had reorganized and placed into groups. The groups are much more powerful than the pieces scattered about, which you can see here:

Before and After Art Placement

Before and After Art Placement

Then, I noticed the furniture in the living room was not showing the room to its best advantage. I Pushed the furniture around a bit, opening the room up more to the fireplace and suddenly theroom appeared larger! I noticed an area by the window that was not furnished with much of anything. We moved an antique sofa table into the window area and decided that it would benefit from some new lamps and accessories. With that, an area that was once dead was now alive and interesting, both from outside the house viewed on the way to the front door and from the inside as well.

Window View Before and After

Window View Before and After

I inventoried the lamps. There were not enough to create the warm glow I had in mind. So with the clients permission, we brought in some new lamps and lampshades, some new pillows for the sofa and other accessories for the room.

The book case in the living room had a few items on it, but needed help. I picked the raspberry accent color that was in her fabrics and had the painters who were working in the family room paint the back of the bookcase that color. The client had a few pieces of blue and white Chinese Export Style ceramics. So we filled the bookcase with more of the blue and white ceramics, interesting wooden boxes and beautiful old books. And a couple of small pictures that we took down from the walls and hung inside the bookcases added drama, scale and perspective to the shelves. The shelves went from drab to dynamite!

Bookcase Before and After

Bookcase Before and After

The living room was looking very good by now, so on to the other rooms!

When we had started the re-do, I put all the clients accessories from the three areas in one area of the floor so I could see them all at the same time. This allowed me to notice patterns of items that worked well together, small collections we could place and also let me know what was missing. I brought in a carload of accessories to add to the group and then everything began to sing. We were able to restyle the bookshelves, tabletops, kitchen counters and desks. We also brought in some containers for plantings and orchids to make the rooms feel really alive!

Mantel View Before and After

Mantel View Before and After

We then raided the clients other rooms and found a wonderful antique Italian leather stool that we placed next to center table in the central foyer. We added large branches to her beautiful Chinese planter, found a lovely antique chinoiserie sewing box for the table and removed the rug from underneath the table. You can see below what a spectacular difference that made.

Entry Before and After

Entry Before and After

The chest of drawers, and the rug beneath it, that were in the entry area was off center in the hall. I centered the piece, hung an antique gilt wood mirror above it, placed candlestick lamps with charming shades, and refreshed the planter that the client had placed there. Now there was a space next to the chest that cried out for a chair. My favorite vintage store had an old Michael Taylor style chair that would fit the bill. We placed a small oil painting above it and the entire area felt warm and inviting, instead of a bit “off”.

Chest of Drawers Before and After

Chest of Drawers Before and After

In the dining room, we rearranged the display areas on her antique French buffet and the sideboard by using her silver tea set and other family pieces. We found a new mirror that was painted in just the right shade of blue and rehung the art there as well. Again, one of the clients beautiful containers was repurposed for just the right touch in the dining room. The room felt fresh and completely revived!

The clients were so thrilled with their new look. They just loved it. They told me over and over how delighted they were with everything. And of course, the joy that our clients feel when the project is complete is what we live and work so hard for!

Living Room View Before and After

Living Room View Before and After

As we were considering our marketing plans for the new year, I remembered how much we enjoyed doing that small project in a short amount of time and how incredibly happy my clients were with the dramatic results. They couldn’t have been more pleased! I thought others might be interested in “refreshing the nest” also. And we enjoyed providing that small service so much. I decided to put together a special offering of packaged services that would allow us to have some fun from time to time by doing a small service for a client, instead of the very large estates we are used to working on. Those are usually 3-5 year projects that take quite a bit of stamina! So our new offering is going out to a few selected homes this spring.

That was the birth of the “One Day Makeover” idea. It is nice to know that we really can help families feel like their homes are refreshed, fluffed up and looking their best, without breaking the bank this year!

Please read my earlier blog called “Spa Packages for Spring,” – the original name of our special services – for more information on our offerings. Our “Total Bliss” package even includes a treatment at La Belle Day Spa on the day we are working in your home!

If you or any of your friends are ready for a makeover for your home, let them know about our special offers for Spring!

All the best to you,


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Frances Elkins, Michael Taylor, and me…

By , September 24, 2008

Let me introduce you to my extremely talented Senior Designer, Stuart Gilchrist. Here’s what he’s writing about….

Actually, what led me to write about Frances Elkins, who influenced countless 20th century designers, is my excited anticipation of Stephen Salny’s upcoming book about Michael Taylor, the renowned San Francisco designer. Taylor was profoundly influenced by Frances Elkins, and I by both of them. So it makes perfect sense that Stephen Salny, who wrote a beautiful book about Elkins in 2005 called Frances Elkins: Interior Design is following it up with a book about Taylor.

My first experience learning about Elkins occurred in my childhood when my mother hired an interior designer, Sue Gilpatric to decorate our home in Northern California. Gilpatric, who followed Elkins’ lead, inspired me to become a designer and a follower of Elkins’ work. And in fact, like Elkins herself, I would go to friends homes and rearrange the furniture to my liking, sometimes to the joy and sometimes to the dismay of its occupants. Unfortunately, unlike her, they were not my clients (until much later)!

As Mr. Salny so eloquently states, “ Frances Elkins was a chic arbiter of taste. Her contributions to interior decoration spanned over three decades and influenced interiors from New York to Hawaii.”


© Jess Smith/Photosmith

Luis Medina/Architectural Digest ©Conde' Nast Publications, Inc.

Luis Medina/Architectural Digest ©Conde' Nast Publications, Inc.

As you can see from these photos of Mr. and Mrs. Kersey Coates Reeds’ tennis house sitting area and living room done in 1929; she has a wonderful sense of scale and proportion that she learned from her brother, David Adler, the renowned Chicago architect. This, along with her ability to mix modern pieces with antiques, is a big part of what set her apart and helped create her dedicated following of designers still to this day.Elkins was considered avant-garde. She took risks when others would not.


Photo Louis Median, © Peter S. Reed

Photo Louis Median, © Peter S. Reed

Again, as you can see in this photo of the Reed Library, she mixed modern furniture by her friend and collaborator, the French interior designer, Jean-Michel Frank, with more traditional furnishings to create a unique, minimal, and fabulous room. Frances Elkins’ work from the 1930’s to the 1950’s has withstood the test of time. In fact, some rooms that she designed during those years still stand the same today with minimal changes. Elkins was a force to be reckoned with. I’d like to think that I am too (in a good way!) I am thrilled that I’ve had a chance to learn so much from her and Michael Taylor’s work. She helped me determine my career path at a very early age – and it was the right choice! I will forever be grateful for that, and her.



Jane Antonacci

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