Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Essentially French" by Josephine Ryan

I'm tired today, but it's a good tired. I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning, lying in bed with my new "Mighty Bright" book light reading my new gift to myself, "Essentially French" by Josephine Ryan. This is one of those French design books that compel me to get out my magnifying glass and peruse over every word and every picture, page by page!

Josephine Ryan, the author of "Essentially French," as well as antiques dealer and stylist, spends her time between London and Uzes in the south of France. Her passion, like most of you reading this, is the "lifestyle, climate and furniture" of France. As an antique dealer for the past 20 years, she loves the thrill of the antique hunt, arriving at Brocante Markets  before sunrise often, as she says, "buying by torchlight, wrapped up so tightly you can barely see what you're buying and who you're buying from." As I read this quote I thought to myself that she is speaking for me, speaking my heart and that of every chiner out there.

"Essentially French" takes us into the personal homes of a few select antique dealers, all for whom France and French antiques are a passion, many of whom also own antique shops.  Each home is filled with its owners most cherished finds and reflects their own personal aesthetic, collections and interests. What I love about this book is that each home owner shares the story of their home; the history, how they found it and what it was about their home that made them fall in love with it and think "this is the one for me."

As I looked through each home I flagged the pages that made me sigh and want to recreate a similar room or area in my own home. Many of the rooms I could move right into and not make a change, not move a piece large or small. I do realize though, that much of what I love in these pictures is the actual architecture that houses and surrounds the furniture and decor. The pale plaster, limestone and river stone walls, the original wood plank and stone floors, the fireplaces, the doors - these elements are works of art unto themselves. Without a leg of furniture, the rooms below would still be beautiful.

Here are some of the rooms that made me want to walk into the picture and rest awhile. Enjoy.

Salon with 18th century stone fireplace in the grand farmhouse "bastide" of antiques dealer Appley Hoare. I love the tone-on-tone textural feel of the room. I could sit here for hours! 

I could sit for hours at this wonderful old bistro table. Both the table and four carvers wear their original turquoise paint. If you look closely you see that Ms. Hoare has set out a bottle of pastis for us!

I love the chair, the bistro table bearing a collection of mercury glass balls, a large gilded crown resting on the floor - I could sit here for hours!

I love everything in this picture, the high- backed chair, the chipped and peeling paint on the antique bistro table, the stone floor, the vase with the fiddle leafed fig branch, the architectural sunburst fragment - I could sit here for hours!

Maybe I could pull up a chair and sit in front of this beautiful
white marble fireplace for a while. Between a fire in the fireplace and the mixtures of antiques on the mantle, I would be happy gazing at this a while.

Au revoir, Mitty

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