American Folk Art

One clear singular thought emerged in my mind as I worked on Sally’s and my living room design vignette for this May’s Wenham Museum Show House. While color fashions and trends come and go each year, neutrals have a staying power that can not be denied, regardless of style or period.

They can be used as a neutral background against which a designer develops and expresses his or her details and color color palette, as in this project done by Boston’s own Richard Fitzgerald. (New England Home, July/August 2009, Interior designer, Richard Fitzgerald, Photographer, Michael Paternio)


Brooke and Steve Giannetti us neutrals as a stylistic and lifestyle expression. (Veranda, July/August 2011, Interior design  by Brooke and Steve Giannetti, Photography by Steve Giannetti and Lisa Romerein)


English interior designer John Carter shows us we don’t have to stick to whites. We can use browns, dark taupes – even wallpaper with wonderful success.  (2009 The English Home magazine, Interior design by John Carter, month of issue and photographer unknown)


Here’s an eclectic/modern living room done in 2008, an artful collaboration between the owners and Tate + Burns Architects. (New England Home, September/October2008, Interior deign a collaboration between the owner and Tate+Burns, Architects, Photography by Michael Paternio)


Finally, a page from John Saladino’s book Style, published in 2000.


What do you think of neutrals. Classic? Boring?

How do you use them?




If a person were to ask me to offer an off the cuff phrase describing Sally’s and my style, I would say “classic traditional with an enticing European influence”. Having said that, there’s a piece of me that that will sit right up and say, “Whoa!” when I come across the right modern interior – an interior that uses form, surface, light and shadow to define and shape form, function and volume. Add an exterior that offers up not a clue as to what you are walking into, you have a formula that spells magic. Such is this project – a house with a stone exterior built in 1937 and an interior renovated to feel like a modern gallery in New York City.

Wouldn’t you expect a charming rustic interior?


The central fireplace has been reworked as part of an open floor plan.


Tucked around the corner… Antique keys.


Fantastic!!! A 1769  schrank & 18th century church pew play vs. tuxedo style furniture.
What’s a schrank you ask??? The short answer is it’s an antique wardrode.


Love the sweep of the shelves and counterpoint of modern tufting and practical  period furniture.


What a compostition – modern island between antique painted chairs and rustic shelves – brilliant!


 Look at the different thicknesses of the shelves. Real understanding of scale and weight!



Cantalevered shelves again. The antique windsor chair looks so alive! Context!!!


Saarinen Womb Chair, modern quilt, folded tin sand pipers, antique basket having a conversation.

A singular vision throughout. Beautiful!

 Could you live here?

 All images from Architectural Digest, Architecture by French & Crane and Jeanne Scandura. Interior Design by Lauren Sara.


Boston has been without a premiere antiques show for several years. After spending Friday afternoon at the show, I am delighted to report that the problem has been solved with the re-introduction of the Ellis Boston Antiques Show at the Cyclorama! The breadth and depth of exhibitors was fantastic – ranging from 17th/18th Century American and English antiques, to eclectic Mid-Century Modern, to 18th/19th Swedish antiques. It was the perfect way to wind down a busy week. Here’s a representative sample of Sally’s and my favorites.

 A leather chest from Alcocer Anituarios, with shops in Madrid and Boston, with original key and lock.


Andrew Spindler of Andrew Spindler Antiques (Essex, MA) has an eye for the beautiful and unusual.

 I am usually not a fan of strong patterns on the floor, but I loved the rug he used to anchor his display.


 This Deco Period Dutch chair was unbelievably comfortable. (It felt like it was made of spring steel.)


 At the other end of the spectrum was this set of 8 Oriental dining chairs. (Definitely need a glass top dining table!)


 How about this wrought iron “demilune” table and mirror above, or the mid 60’s stacking bureaus?


The other display I could not tear myself away from was Dawn Hill Antiques from New Preston, Ct., a shop specializing in 18th/19th Century Swedish antiques.

Sally and I loved this pair of bergeres and small plant stand.


Everything in her display was exquisite, right down to the accessories.


Check out the detail on the Gustavian dining chairs. (Set of 10)


I loved the bureau!


But the horse was my favorite!


At Fiske and Freeman’s booth (Ipswich, MA) I was once again reminded how art and beauty was incorporated into every day objects of this county’s early settlers.

Circa 1780 English or American Brass and Iron Laddle


Circa 1825 English Fish Strainer


Part 2 – Tomorrow…

Stay tuned…