Monday, July 23, 2012

Buying an Area Rug,....Rocket Science? .........pretty-much; read why:

The selection and purchasing of an area rug for your home can be one of the most-daunting parts of the home-decorating process.  Just ask me,.....fifteen years ago, I had little knowledge, if any, on the way antique rugs (or reproductions, for that matter) were made,.....why some were priced in the hundreds of dollars, others, in the thousands.

In the past 15 years, I've tried to learn as much as I can about how rugs are made, where they are made, and what they are made from.  I ask a lot of questions, especially to those who make area-rugs their business.  I take notes, lots of notes.  I attend seminars.  I read books.

 Sometimes I get lucky at Estate Sales. This is an Heriz rug from the late-1900s. It's about 9x12; right now, it's at my rug dealer, getting professionally-cleaned. He appraised it between $5000-6000. I'm selling it for $2500

If there were an "Associates Degree" in Antique Rugs, I would probably have one at this point in my career.  Rug dealers at ADAC and Scott Antique Market have personally expressed to me my "extensive knowledge," sometimes saying, "Mark, you know more about antique rugs than any Interior Designer I deal with."

When you hear this as a decorator, it validates the years of LEARNING the PRODUCT-KNOWLEDGE that is SO important in proposing and selling to one's clients.  "KNOW what you SELL" is something I remember from years-back at Beverly Hall Furniture Galleries, where I worked for over 14 years.  As I learned the differences of quality-made furniture, I learned that there are MANY differences in the way area rugs are made. A rug " is not a rug is not a rug" to 'butcher-paraphrase' Gertrude Stein.

In a blog, I cannot begin to explain this complicated-Industry.  For centuries, rugs have been made in the Middle-East, in India, and in China.  Some are HAND-KNOTTED,... others,....."HAND-LOOMED" or machine-made.  Some are knotted on a wool-ground; others on a cotton-ground.  Some rugs get their colour from natural, vegetable-dyed threads; others use synthetic dyes.  Some rugs take over a YEAR to make; others can be loomed in a few days.

(1) This is a Sarouk Ferahan, my absolute FAVOURITE type of antique rugs, period. As they were only produced for about 15 years in the late 1800s, they are rare and highly collectible. I own one like this one; it has definitely increased in value since I purchased it.
 (2) Here's a peek of my own Sarouk Ferahan, now in my Home Studio under my 10' stainless steel industrial kitchen work-table.

Get the picture?  ........and I haven't even mentioned the ETHICS (or lack-thereof) involved in the Rug Industry.  Suffice it to say, many of you reading this have probably at one time or another been ABSOLUTELY INTIMIDATED by the whole process, and end-up getting a sisal or seagrass area rug if any rug at all.

This is a great example of a NEW rug (an original Oushak made in Oushak, Turkey).  
Vegetable dyes are used and they LOOK old, but are a fraction of the price of an antique Oushak.

One of my favourite clients bought this antique Tabriz years ago.

Hiring an Interior Designer that you TRUST can be one of the most-rewarding experiences of your lifetime.  As I mention in Spectacular Homes of Georgia, "The difference between a GOOD designer and a GREAT designer is this: a good designer makes your house look pretty; a GREAT designer does so WHILE SAVING YOU MONEY".  Hundreds,....then thousands of dollars over the years.

Rug purchasing alone, whether it's that one perfect rug for your dining room, or replacing your existing-rugs (relocating them in secondary places, if possible) and trading-up to rugs that perfectly-compliment your home and furniture, can provide a "finishing-touch" to any home,....and, if done correctly through research and knowledge, can become a very rewarding and pleasurable experience.  Saving money should be part of the Process.  Just remember:


Monday, July 2, 2012

Noblesse Oblige; The Duchess of Windsor As I Knew Her

Last week, I attended another wonderful event at ADAC......a lecture and book-signing by Richard Rene Silvin, author of Noblesse Oblige: The Duchess Of Windsor As I Knew Her.

As many of you know, I collect (and sell) personal items and books on The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, so I definitely was not going to miss THIS! ....and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Noblesse Oblige is Silvin's personal description of the Duchess' last valiant battle to protect her young protégée while he was running a famous hospital in Paris, France. The detailed memoir sits atop an easily absorbed history of both protagonists as the author rejects historians' claim that the Duchess was a ruthless, conniving and superficial woman. Instead he validates TIMES MAGAZINE'S decision to honor her as the first Woman of the Year, who, it has been said "out-Hollywooded Hollywood" while making Greek tragedy seem trivial.

I had forgotten that TIME tidbit,......and the entire presentation by Mr. Silvin was a warm and passionate story told by one who knew Wallis personally.

Here is a taste of Mr. Silvin's book:
"As usual, I met Wallis at Le Bois in order to escort her to dinner. When I arrived, one butler dressed in black tails and two footmen, in red jackets; stood erect as yet another footman opened the carved metal double doors. The butler showed me into the main living room. Once again, I noticed how the beautiful nineteenth century home was cozy, if a bit cluttered. Wallis had referred to it as a ' miniature palace' and, thanks to her tireless ingenuity, it certainly was. It gave visitors an immediate sensation of being both grand and warm. It was inviting unlike a palace or castle. 'Le Bois' or 'The Woods' sits in the middle of a large garden with mature trees in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris' beautiful park on the edge of the city. Amazing one-of-a-kind antiques filled the home to capacity and memorabilia of the Duke's brief tenure as King of England could be seen everywhere: a beautiful collection of Royal silver and gold boxes and his abdication document were on display. Equally prominent were pictures, sculptures and mementoes of the couple's many adored pug dogs."

I, of course, attended the famous Sotheby's auction years-ago in New York. Although I couldn't afford ANY of the Duke or the Duchess's clothing (handkerchiefs went for $1500+ EACH!)......I amassed several wonderful lots of their personal things,....a Collection now worth over $100,000.

Here are a few of the Duchess of Windsor's personal items: a small, shell-topped basket, a carved wooden owl with blue glass eyes, and a woven, wicker basket in the form of a Bahamian-lady. These charming artifacts were made for Wallis by people who knew her in the Bahamas (Edward was "thrown a bone" by his Homeland and was Governor of the Bahamas). She cherished these homemade little items, and displayed them throughout her dressing-rooms along with her priceless antiques.

Tropical shell basket made for The Duchess of Windsor by a Bahamian friend. Shown in front of custom shadowbox, which measures: 8.5" W x 5" D x 8.5" H.  Sotheby's NYC provenance.

Charming, hand carved owl with blue glass eyes; owned by The Duchess of Windsor, given to her by a Bahamian friend. Provenance: Sotheby's NYC.  Shown in front of custom shadowbox, which measures: 7.5" W x 5" D x 8.5" H

 Basket in the form of a lady, made for The Duchess of Windsor by a Bahamian friend. Provenance: Sotheby's NYC. Shown in front of custom shadow box, which measures: 10.5" W x 6.75" D x 12" H

As Mr. Silvin reminded his audience, she was a very-kind soul, and cherished her relationships with the "common-folk."

Scalamadre hosted a delightful luncheon after Mr. Silvin's lecture, where he signed many-a-book for his audience. I personally cannot wait to spend a day in my gardens reading his wonderful memoir.

Thank you, ADAC for another informative day for we-interior-designers who love learning more about beautiful interiors and beautiful people.

Cheers,...... Mark.