Sunday, June 24, 2012

Beautiful Vintage Fortuny Fabric Lampshades in Arezzo, Italy

The medieval city of Arezzo, Italy is filled with antique shops overflowing with Italian and French antiques. One store that caught my eye specializes in antique lamp bases and shades. Many of the shades are made of either vintage or new FORTUNY fabrics. Fortuny fabric is traditionally a cotton fabric with a soft metallic design hand printed on the fabric in either silver or gold. These beautifully formal fabrics were first introduced by artist Mariano Fortuny in 1907 in Venice Italy.

It was in Venice that Fortuny's production of textiles was seen as the "culmination of his knowledge of colors, mechanics and art into one manifestation of pure artistic genius" (as per Today, Fortuny fabrics are still being produced in the same machinery, using the same secret process and techniques developed by Mariano Fortuny a century ago.

Although Fortuny fabrics are still being produced and new patterns introduced, vintage Fortuny fabrics are especially desirable. I found two very small lampshades made of vintage Fortuny fabric (in this shop in Arezzo) that I adored but each small shade was $300 Euros! They were gorgeous though! 

Yesterday I began searching for examples of vintage Fortuny fabrics and found the beautiful pillow below.

I also found this beautiful room by designer Christopher Maya. Maya designed the sofas and had throw pillows made from antique Fortuny fabric. (This fabric is very similar to the pillow above!)

(Photo courtesy of House Beautiful Magazine.)

In the photograph below, the living room of Dallas, Texas designer Shannon Bowers features a painted Gustavian sofa with accent pillows in vintage Fortuny fabric. I have kept this 2010 issue of Veranda Magazine just so that I can look at Shannon's beautiful home from time to time. Her use of painted furniture, neutral colors, blue and white accents, natural linen and Fortuny fabrics are peaceful, fresh and appealing.

(Photo courtesy of Veranda Magazine)

In another area of Shannon Bower's home, a pair of 19th century fauteuil chairs are upholstered in vintage Fortuny fabric.

(Photo courtesy of Veranda Magazine)

If you feel inspired by these photos and would like to incorporate a Fortuny fabric pillow or two into your home, there are numerous on-line antique stores carrying beautiful Fortuny pillows. Get your checkbook and your piggy bank ready though - they are quite precious!

Au revoir, Mitty

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Beautiful Home for Beautiful Italian Antiques - Antichita' Burzi Paolo

It's good to be home. I just got back after 11 days in Italy! It was exciting to explore the wonderful old cities and small villages of Tuscany and Umbria.

As always, while exploring Italy, I searched for antique markets and shops. In the ancient Tuscan city of Arezzo, I discovered the spectacularly beautiful antique shop above, Antichita' Burzi Paolo. Not only were the antiques inside exquisite but the facade of the building housing the antiques was exquisite as well. I couldn't resist taking pictures!

Antichita' Burzi Paolo contains beautiful Italian antique furniture, religious artifacts, garden statuary, architectural remnants and a large selection of Italian painted candlesticks. Notice the French dressmaker's form welcoming visitors outside the store.

If you're thinking about an antique hunting trip to Italy, Arezzo boasts over 100 stationary antique shops and the largest monthly antique market in Tuscany! Over 500 vendors set up booths in the Piazza San Francesco, Piazza Grande, Corso Italia and small streets and alleys the first Sunday of every month and the Saturday before.  If I'm fortunate enough to travel to Italy again, I'll plan my trip around the dates of this antique market!

The pictures below show some of the antique stores lining the streets of Arezzo!

Au revoir, Mitty

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bon Voyage!

Well my bags are packed and I'm ready to go!

I'm headed to Tuscany for 10 days! I'm setting out to see the villages around Tuscany that have intrigued me since I first saw "Under the Tuscan Sun."

 I have a dear friend named Debbie/Mona/Gina (I'll explain later!) that is sharing a home in Tuscany with MDD, two other friends and me!

Do you have friends that have been in your life since you were a kid? Well I met Debbie when I was 15 and have kept in touch with her throughout the years.  She's one of those forever friends that are always a phone call away. As teenagers, Debbie and I spent many hours laughing while watching the show "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" and, somehow, I started calling Debbie "Mona" and the name stuck. (Mona was a character in the show!) When I see her face or think of her, I automatically think "Mona," not Debbie! To my little family she is Mona.

So I'm not surprised to tell you that in Italy, Debbie/Mona becomes Gina! I think it's an appropriate name for an amazing Italian cook such as she. Homemade pasta, gnocchi, you name it - Gina can make it. I'm hungry just thinking about what foods she might make us!

So I'll be back soon - 10 days and probably the same number of additional pounds from now.

Until then,

Au revoir, Mitty

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Go Light" in House Beautiful

If you read my post on May 24, you saw a beautiful French daybed in an article entitled "Go Light," which featured an English Country style house "lightened up" by local Atlanta designer Beth Webb.

This June 2012 House Beautiful article is a wonderful example of an overall decorating trend toward using more and more light painted furniture and embracing imperfect and "well loved" pieces. Not only is the overall palette of this Atlanta home "lightened up" but I  imagine its character and attitude has been as well.

When I think about the overall decorating "rules" today, it seems that they have been gradually relaxing over the past decade or so. Gone are the days when every wood piece in a room had to match and the only "good finish" was a glossy one so shiny you could see your reflection in it. Scratches, chips and overall signs of use and age are "socially acceptable." (If only this held true for women in general!) The perfectly imperfect is now the Belle of the Ball. How freeing it is to know that a little nick or scratch on an already "distressed" piece isn't cause for alarm - only a little unintended addition of personality.

When I look through my home, it is a mixture of both old and new, shiny and distressed. I have high gloss English Furniture in my dining room alongside a little French oak chest and an American oak chest. I have a large round, medium gloss English pie crust coffee table in my living room as well as a painted French corner cabinet and antique country French chairs. It all "feels" good together though - each piece balancing the other, the casual making the formal less intimidating.

This brings me to the main reason why I love this article - the designer used a lot of what was already in the home in the redo - just lightening up many of the pieces and rooms with paint. The driftwood chair in the picture below was made over by painting it in flat white paint.

Notice the reflective quality of the glossy ceiling paint and cerused floors in the photo above? It's hard to imagine this room with dark floors and dark wood pieces.

The kitchen is designed in a "Belgian style" and contains an oval table and whitewashed chairs. I love the look of the stained and painted pieces together. The piece that sets this room apart though is the wood cabinet by BoBo Intriguing Objects! This cabinet is partially painted white with old glass in its unpainted doors. Perfect!

I hope you enjoyed seeing this home and maybe even feel a little braver about painting a piece or two of furniture in your own home.

Take care.

Au revoir, Mitty