by Lynn Byrne
Just like Alexa Hampton, I vainly congratulate myself for having a shared love for whatever Jennifer Boles, the author of the well known blog “The Peak of Chic” and a brand new book, is extolling. But I go even farther. I dare say that we are sisters from the same mother.
Now granted, the popular phrase ” brothers from the same mother” may have a more catchy ring, but a look at the objects around my house and the photos I snapped at design events this fall bears out fully the sister thing. Jennifer and I not only share a love for similar objects, I think the girl lives inside my head. How else would I have been drawn to all of the same decorative elements that she likes.
Jennifer and I have never met “in real life”. I am basing our relationship solely on her fabulous book In With the Old. If you care a wit about interior design, you simply must have it.
In With the Old is a collection of essays where Jennifer features her favorite classic and charming decorative elements from the past and suggests how they might work in today’s homes. She reveals the secret to great traditional decorating: “sometimes something old requires a little tweaking through color, finish or scale to transform it into something altogether new.” But of course you first must know what that something old is.
And that is where the book comes in handy. Each essay is a little history lesson about a decorative element with fascinating design tidbits and pithy quotes. Then Jennifer goes on to suggest how to use the element today, and many times suggests modern sources for it.
Take her essay on acrylic. You may not think of that as a traditional material, but it was used back in the 1930′s. At that time, Helena Rubinstein commissioned an acrylic bed with an illuminated head and footboard. Helena found it the perfect locale from which to conduct her business meetings. Who knew? Jennifer obviously. Jennifer goes on to suggest acrylic’s virtue when it comes to small space decorating. It doesn’t add any visual weight.
In With the Old is peppered with similar charming tales. Beyond charm, however, I can truly say that I learned SO MUCH! I now know, for example, that this attractive Asian lady that I bought from Katie Armour’s Etsy Store (way back when she had time to run one) is called “blanc de chine.” Page after page revealed some type of insight like this one. I read the book cover to cover (yes the words, not just glancing at the pictures).
Speaking of those pictures. While the book isn’t laden with them, the photographs that are included are quite inspiring. The photographs of Jennifer’s own apartment are my favorites. I like this one of her bedroom. The walls aren’t upholstered. Rather they are an example of tromp l’oeil wallpaper. Jennifer tells you where to get it, plus sources for other similar examples.
In addition to the photographs, some of the essays are illustrated by Jennifer’s sister with delightful drawings like this one.
Now that we have come around to that sister thing, let me just give you a few examples where Jennifer paid a visit to my brain. Up above I showed you my blanc de chine. Here is the one shown in Jennifer’s book. Twinsies.
Jennifer does an essay on card motifs accompanied by this photograph. I snapped picture after picture of these demitasse cups at this fall’s International Fine Art and Antique Dealers show (IFAAS) long before I saw her book.
Also over at IFAAS, I was fascinated by this shell panel–it is a perfect example of Jennifer’s advice to tweak something old, in this case coquillage (which is covered in the book), to make something new.
Malachite? I kept zoning in on Philip Johnson’s little box on the coffee table at the Glass House, only to find a near identical one shown in Jennifer’s book.
Faux bois? Here is the drawing of a faux bois bench in her book above a snap of the one in my backyard.
My house and photo library are rife with more examples but I am sure you get the connection by now. All that’s left to do is for Jennifer and I to have lunch (coming to NYC anytime soon Jennifer?) and for you to buy the book.
Although I am an Amazon affiliate, all opinions are solely my own. Photography by Lynn Byrne and from In With the Old is by Erica George Dines and illustrations are by Laura Boles Faw.