Monday, March 31, 2008

Ophelia and Loropetalum

A happy Ophelia, posing near the blooming Loropetalum.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Different Kind of Easter Egg Hunt

It was a moment straight out of an antique-er's Twilight Zone on Easter Sunday....

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon when I pulled up to the curb in front of Chez Dame, and as I was beginning to cross the front yard to the door, I could hear the Herd of Dogs in our back yard with Smithy. Or rather they made it known that they heard me. So, I altered my course to walk to the back fence and say hi. On the way, I nearly walked on top of this lying in the grass:
It would seem that the Easter Bunny has a strange sense of humor, because, you see, this little gem has been missing for close to three months!

Back in early January I splurged a little on a set of French Art Deco furniture from a local dealer. First I bought the vanity, thinking that I could convert it to a bathroom vanity. (Sadly, I couldn't make the proportions of the vanity work, but the price was right, the dealer was laid back, so I eventually went back for the pair of nightstands and the bed! Not that I have a furniture problem or anything - is there a 12 step program for this?)

Anyway, the vanity comes apart into separate elements. In my heated furniture frenzy, I set the individual vanity tables in the grass as I was unloading them from the car. It is now clear that one of the feet fell off, and has apparently been blissfully living in the front yard, right under my nose, enduring rain, snow, and a variety of temperatures for the last few months. In my defense, the furniture, including the foot, had all been painted a dull sage green which is quite effective camouflage when mixed with dormant Zoysia grass and brown leaves.
Really, I swear.

So, 1) I can now stop berating myself for being a lousy antique junkie, since the vanity really did have all of its parts. See? Here's one of the pair of tables, with all its feet!

2) I can take the stack of phone books out from under the other vanity/side table in the living room, and give it back its missing limb.

3) I can stop mentally accusing Bart-the-Antiques-Dealer of secretly holding the vanity foot hostage, and playing mind games with me until he receives my final installment payment.

And 4) Looks like I need to rake the front yard this week. God knows what else might turn up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Art Deco: Wigwam Apartments

The Easter Bunny is on the prowl, spring is in the air, and pastel colors are everywhere - at least at the Wigwam Apartments that is. This recently renovated, Streamline Moderne group of buildings has long been one of my favorites. The Wigwam Apartments, now condos, are located in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta, one of the city's most interesting and history-rich neighborhoods. (See this blog for info from the owner/redeveloper of the Wigwam complex.)

I love how they've been fixed up, the colors are fresh and charming, and show off the architecture. My only criticism, as a landscape designer, is that I wish that that the landscape plantings tied in with the Streamline style a bit more! Love the palms with this architectural style.

***Coming back a day later to add this link to BlogbyKnight's flickr set. There are some amazing before and after shots showing just how far this property has come. And midway through the set there's a shot of a cool Heywood-Wakefield-ish vanity (fun!), near an ingenius frosted glass sliding pocket door. I'm filing that pocket door away on my mental list for later inspiration!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Art Deco: AT+T Building

Entry to the AT&T Communications Buildings (formerly the BellSouth Building), 51 Peachtree Center Avenue, NE, built in1929, by Marye, Alger and Vinour, Architects.

Here's a description, from this site:
"The base of what is now called the AT&T Communications Building in smooth-faced limestone features Art Deco flutings in very low relief and panels with intricate floral and geometric patterns. The elongated and sharply contoured entrance portal on Peachtree Center Avenue is surmounted by an elaborate keystone motif and flanked by stylized human figures (notice also the sharp eagle profiles and metal torcheres on the side). The ornamentation of the AT&T Communications Building was not particularly advanced for the late 1920s, when more colorful and abstract features had become the fashion in New York City."

The building is monolithic and rather dour from a distance, and certainly imposing. I like the fact that you have to slow down, and look up at it from the sidewalk to appreciate the carved friezes and the detail work.

One of the low-relief panels on the building.

One of a pair of torchiere light fixtures at the building entrance.

(click on photos to enlarge)

This site shows an over all image of the building - with the horrendous tower that was added later!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday morning gratitude

The sun is shining, birds are flirting with each other, Smithy still has a studio, and Chez Dame is still standing. In light of the wild spring storms and the tornado that came through my city this weekend, we're feeling quite fortunate at the moment.
Happy to be here and very willing to overlook the dust, the dog hair, the (dog) drool, and the clutter - all under one nice, solid roof. Not that these punks would ever dream of being messy....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Art Deco: Brass Grill

One of my goals for 2008 is to explore some more corners of my city, areas that I'm not as familiar with. One of those areas is the downtown business district, where this lovely grill can be found - if you can sweet talk the doorman into letting you photograph it! This ornate Art Deco Grill is in the entrance lobby of the William-Oliver Building, built in 1930 by Pringle and Smith, 32 Peachtree St., Atlanta.

Thirty Frames has a great Flickr album set up with much better photos than mine of the building.

While my city is hardly known for being preservation minded, there are still some fine examples of early 20th century (and earlier) architecture around. More examples to come....

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Missed Opportunity....

can haunt you.

I am a self-professed Deco-loving Dame, and I love stumbling onto a great antiques deal. The thrill of the hunt is a big part of it, because really, at a certain point, anyone with enough jack can just walk in to an antique shop, plonk down a credit card, and leave with some lovely little thing. When funds are more limited, and the sky is certainly not the limit, thank you very much, it takes a little more work to find the fab score. That's part of the fun. And sometimes there's the one that got away.

So, on Saturday, imagine my semi-surprise to see this at the monthly Scott Antiques Market....
at a decidedly out-of-budget price.

Seriously, an +800% mark up in a week's time. Sigh. Does this mean I have a good eye?

Wouldn't it have looked lovely in the guest room/study with this chair, its little French soulmate?

With this barkcloth fabric curtain?
Next time.....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Garden Inspirations

Speaking of interesting plants encountered in English gardens, here are some photos of inspiring garden spaces. All photos mine.

The Red Border at Hidcote.

Garden walls with white border beyond at Hodges.
Believe it or not, the entire house was originally built to be a dovecote.

It's much much more traditional to see the central spaces of parterres filled with flowers or even gravel. These on the other hand, had small leaded boxes containing water lilies - very clever and inspiring. The tent structure at the end of the garden is actually one of the most wonderful chicken coops I've ever seen!
More interesting use of water at the West Green House, here is the Water Parterre:

Hardscape done well, the quintessential English garden steps at Chiffchaffs House.

Those of us not actually living in so called stately homes on lots of acreage can still find garden inspiration however. Sometimes it's just a matter of being creative, and using small spaces wisely, and with a certain flair.

A little paint, a handy friend, some sweetpeas, and some ingenuity, and you too can have a truly cool cat door.

Some time, some good pruning shears, and a crazy vision, and you too can have topiary pigs and chickens. What was it Michaelangelo said? Something to the effect of carving away everything that didn't look like and elephant - or in this case, possibly, a pig.

I'll confess that I've been trying to figure out how to have a topiary Great Dane or two in the front yard!

(and for E, not a beer can salmon in sight!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Plant Quest

Ever hear the saying 'the cobbler's children have no shoes'?

Well...this little landscape architect has some garden problems at Chez Dame.

You know, little problems, like say... evolving in a quirky way, instead of actually starting with a unified design and following through. It's not a horrible thing, since this is a modest little cottage-style house. It embraces quirky, and so do Smithy and I.

On the other hand, my own garden isn't exactly portfolio material. So, to that end, as spring is fast approaching my Southern city, I'm thinking organizational thoughts about the garden. I'm attempting to prioritize.

The first thing on the new list of garden improvements is to work on the front garden. We started out doing one thing, then one day I came home to find that Smithy built some walls somewhere else, and now...well.... The cobbler's children have no shoes. Or maybe it should be that the cobbler's children have some really crazy looking shoes.

In different colors.

And possibly in mismatched sizes.

So, you know, I ought to be figuring out how to make the bed lines match from one side of the front walk to the other. And give Smithy some idea of what to do with the second-hand granite we want to use for a new front walk. And be thinking about how to screen the petroleum warehouse downhill from my house. (charming, no?) And pulling together a more soothing color palette for the plants in the front - probably more white and green. And I need to do something with the spirea that is approximately the size of my car right now. And on and on. Practical things like that.

But you know what I want to do? I really really want to track down more of this lovely, fragrant Camellia I spotted at a (pricey) local nursery last weekend. This is the best pic I could find online of Camellia Cinnamon Cindy:

(obviously, photo courtesy of

Do I need it? Not really.
Will it work in the front garden? Not necessarily.
Is it hard to find, and likely to be expensive? Probably!
But, but, it's a fragrant Camellia!

And then there's the purply foliaged rose, Rosa Glauca, I saw in England two summers ago.

It's different, it's got ornamental foliage, and I haven't really seen it in my area. (Perhaps that should tell me somthing?) It can even tolerate some shade. In fact, here in the 'Humidity Belt' in the south, it just may need a touch of shade. Even NPR's Ketzel Levine raves about this one. Surely, it's a must-have?

Sigh. This is exactly the reason the garden is the way it is.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ebay find of the week

This morning I missed the Best. Art. Deco. Daybed.

It was on Craigslist for $125. Yep, just $125 for a sofa that converts into a daybed, with solid burled walnut arms and decent upholstery. Upholstery in a color that matched the rest of my furniture.

I am an idiot.

Always, always call right away if you see something cool for a ridiculously low price on Craigslist. Don't send an email when you have the option to call.

I have since been obsessively looking at ebay to get my Deco fix, and came up with an entire set of furniture that is similar to Ingrid, the sofa. So, just for kicks, here's some yummy, curvy furniture to feast your eyes on. The fabric isn't my idea of heaven, but the lines are very cool.

Not bad, huh? There's even a matching rocker, although it's not as cool.
I almost feel better.