August 21, 2009

Étagère vs. Bookcase

Why use an étagère as opposed to a bookcase? Though a bookcase can be beautifully crafted, and aesthetically pleasing, it was made to store lots of heavy books. An étagère exists to be pretty, and to serve for lighter duty storage and display. However, its lighter, more decorative appearance can give it the versatility to be used in ways that a bookcase cannot.  This is why interior designers love them. Because of its open construction, an etagere will appear to take up less space than a similarly sized bookcase.

Old Word Beauty Here is a classic, quintessential étagère in the Louis Philippe style. I can’t think of a room that couldn’t benefit from a piece like this. In a dining room, it would offer display and an extra serving surface. In a bedroom, you could put one on either side of the bed for a combo night table/bookcase. In a living room too, a pair of these on either side of a sofa or fireplace hearth would be both beautiful and practical. In a kitchen, it would provide a surface for a laptop, and lots of room for cookbooks and colorful ceramics. Bathroom?-towels and toiletries of course!

stanley 503-11-18(For product information on all furniture pieces shown, click on photo for link)

This particular piece,(above) is from Stanley, the Louis Louis Collection, and I must say, they cover this category better than any of the other large manufacturers out there. I would blend this into a dining room with an antique Louise Philippe sideboard, or with its clean lines,introduce it into a modern setting for a touch of old world warmth.

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Campaign Etagere available through Gaita Interiors $675.00 campaigneCampaign Etagere (center) available through Gaita Interiors $675.00.


Every style of furniture, has it’s version of the étagère. Above are some examples of Campaign style pieces, new and antique.  Below are English Regency.



english country antiques 1stdibskentshire 1820 $12,000STA1240_l


Asian Influence I want to personally thank the French for introducing the world to Chinoisere, and the love of all things Asian in the decorative arts and home furnishings. MERCI BEAUCOUP! This area has taken on so many iterations, and influences over the centuries that it would be impossible to trace all of them. Here are some nice examples to represent a few of the styles that are out there.


Lindsey Harper does a great job with this charming “a bit of Paris in New York” living room. She uses a pair of vintage chrome faux bamboo étagères against a mirrored wall to excellent effect. The storage capacity in a small space is great too!  Click on the photo to see the whole story from StyleBeat.

meridianPair Japanese Etagerespagoda etagere
Here are a few of my favorite things: étagères- modern, traditional, plain and ornate, all Asian by design.

ist dibs greenwhich oriental pagoda25410948
Silver Mica Etagere (above center) available though Gaita Interiors $1400.00.
The Painted Look It’s not only for cottages! Some are sweet, some are sophisticated. Again my hat’s off to Stanley. The red painted étagère below, (sweet for sure!) is available in 14 colors! That’s really going above and beyond the call of duty. Don’t forget, you can paint your own! You can find an old piece that’s seen better days, and save it form the land fill with a quart of paint and some elbow grease. Or you can buy an unfinished piece, like the campaign style one below.

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jonathan adler

continuim etagere stanley


revivla home and $170

Go Mod, Baby! Can’t forget the ever growing and strengthening modern movement. What a relief to be designing in a time when blending furniture styles is a given. The old rules of sticking with one look or period are long gone, and good riddance! It’s so much more fun to mix it up! This room by Eric Cohler is an elegant example of the modern and traditional, blended seamlessly. (Click on photo for the full story from Veranda)  The gold leaf finish on the modern étagères lend them the formality to suit their surroundings.

GOLDMODERNCHARLESTONHOMEslkdjfowieflskhgofjsihfoihlskhfslf;sf;sipksfpsieupsihfpsih global views stackable bbokcasecontinuim metaltreku boodcase $1500 per unit
Stackable Bookcase-walnut and ivory (above left) available through Gaita Interiors $2600.00
revival bibliotecacasr aluminum and clear glass lampsplus

richard shapiro studiologilded iron etagere

I started with a classic old world Louis Philippe étagère. Perhaps this piece from Richard Shapiro Studiolo is the quintessential modern étagère. The lines are clean, the function, versatile. Did you notice the tiny chow foot detail? The gold leaf-over-iron finish has enough glitz to serve in a formal setting with antiques. Yet the construction would allow heavy duty storage for books and media equipment in a family room. There’s space for family photos, plants, collectibles, art and of course books, all of the things that personalize your home, and reflect your interior design personality and lifestyle.. This is a piece that does what an étagère can do best: It becomes what you make it!

April 20, 2009

It’s Easy to be Green! 9 Low Tech Ideas

I’ve got some low tech, time honored techniques for green interior design. Some of these methods would look very familiar to our grandmother’s, because they’re based on the old maxim “waste not, want not” Frugality is very green!

The french doors in this grand old home are probably poorly insulated.  Falnnel lined silk drapes go a long way to keep the heat in during winter, and the the hot sun out during the summer.  This is probably what drapes were invented for , way back when!

The french doors in this grand old home are poorly insulated. Flannel lined silk drapes go a long way to keep the heat in during winter, and the the hot sun out during the summer. This is probably what drapes were invented for.

1. Stop letting all that heat out through the windows by installing some flannel lined drapes. This is equally useful for keeping your house cool in the summer, because flannel lining is also blackout lining. Insulated drapes will help keep your energy usage down. Any style drape can be flannel lined. It has no effect on the appearance.

This is a sample of the goodies to be found at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market in New York, NY

This is a sample of the goodies to be found at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market in New York, NY

2. Get to a flea market! Buy some cool old stuff to furnish and ornament your home, instead of newly manufactured stuff! Fabulous flea markets are popping up everywhere. Nothing adds interest and charm to your home faster than when you bring in something old. The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market in New York is the king of flea markets. Make sure to get there early before all the good stuff goes!

An elegant washable napkin for special dinners.

An elegant washable napkin for special dinners.

Colorful "easy who cares" maintenance bandanasfor the kitchen, every day.

Colorful "easy who cares" maintenance bandanas for the kitchen, every day.

3. Stop using tons of paper napkins. Instead make the investment in fabric napkins that you can use over and over again. If you wash them in cold water, with eco-friendly detergent, the environmental impact is MUCH lower than paper napkins. And after all, don’t you love a fabric napkin? So much nicer than a crunchy, crumpled piece of paper! Consider using bandanas as napkins for everyday use in the kitchen. They’re cheap, colorful, soft and very washable. You can order a couple of dozen in assorted colors. They’ll last for years!


This old bureau was about ready for the junkyard. Now it's beautiful, useful, and of course, green!

4. Paint or refinish some old furniture, instead of throwing it away, and buying newly manufactured furniture. You can check my earlier post about the joys of painted furniture, The bottom line is, it’s cheap, it’s gorgeous, and it’s green.


This stunning example of reclaimed wood flooring is from The Mountain Lumber Company.

5. If you’re renovating, consider using reclaimed wood flooring. Made from antique flooring saved out of demolished homes, old doors and barns, the effect is like nothing else. New wood flooring can never have the patina, texture and color variation of reclaimed wood flooring. And by the way, it’s as green as can be. No trees were harmed in the making of this floor!

These tiles made of recucled materials are from Bedrock Industries.

These tiles made of recycled materials are from Bedrock Industries.

6. Check out the array of gorgeous glass tiles made from recycled materials. If your bathroom is ready for an update, or you’re looking for a beautiful treatment for a kitchen backsplash, then you’re probably already looking at glass tiles. I came across these pretty mosaics from Bedrock Industries on

This classic sofa will be better than new!

This classic sofa will be better than new!

7. It’s definitely less wasteful to reupholster or slipcover an old sofa or chair, than to throw it away, and buy new. Most used furniture stores have more upholstered furniture than they can handle, and in fact, turn a good deal of it away. There’s just too much! If you like the lines of an old upholstered piece, but the fabric is tatty, or you’re just tired of it, reupholster! Plus, you’ll be employing a small local business, and keeping old craft alive.

One of the beautiful colorways available in Kravetgreen.

One of the beautiful colorways available in Kravetgreen.

8. Use new fabrics, made from recycled materials. Kravet makes a beautiful line of upholstery weight, 100% recycled fabrics called Kravetgreen. I love it, and have used it in my interior design studio, in Larchmont.


9.These gorgeous frames from Second Line Frames are made of from re-claimed wood from New Orleans. I love the naturally weathered finish, and the soft colors. They look great used singely, or in groups. Since no two are exactly alike, you can use as many as you like wisthout repeating. I would fill them with old postcards, vintage family photos and other keepsakes in keeping with the vintage feel.

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