Friday, February 26, 2010

Old world elegance

European decorating incorporates things gathered over time. Rooms convey a sense of evolution rather than instant gratification. Pieces are handed down over generations. Materials and finishes are natural, worn and faded. Colors are often muted, sun-bleached, tea-stained. These rooms are cozy and romantic, just as one would imagine a charming hotel in the French countryside to be.

Come along for a tour of gorgeous rooms from House Beautiful and prepare to be enchanted.

I love the simplicity and earthiness of this entry. The stout but curvaceous legs of the table are reminiscent of garden furniture. The natural decor reinforces that theme. See how the lantern hangs low above the table, making it part of the tablescape. The moss-filled bowl is a sheer delight. Notice how the dining room in the background beckons.

This living room is a bit glam but manages to remain understated--not an easy feat to pull off successfully! The carved stone fireplace surround and the French doors leading to the terrace have a solid presence. All the furnishings are airy and serene.

This living room invites conversation. Notice the exotic touches mixed with more traditional elements, such as the huge chandelier reflected in the mirror and the wall sconces. And there is another stone fireplace surround. I love the bulk of this one and the extra tall mirror atop it. The palette is soothing but the overall scheme is richly textured.

This outdoor living space is just dreamy! Those graceful arched openings make me swoon. Furniture is light in material and color so as to not compete with the grand architecture.

The wood ceiling is stunning in this dining room. Observe the use of scale and the lack of additional ornamentation, which serves to make each piece more important to the overall scheme.

I am captured by the chandelier and the candelabra flanking the windows. The ornate table base is intriguing. Once again all objects in this room are largely scaled and minimal in number. This is a way to make a bold statement without being verbose.

More gorgeous wood on the ceiling. Outdoor lanterns hang over the island. The range hood, reminds me of that large stone fireplace surround in one of the living rooms I showed you. I also love the worn finish and color of the cabinerty.

This bath speaks to my soul. The soft colors, great windows, built in cabinetry, a deep soaking tub are divine.

What a luxurious bedroom! I love the subtle toile wallpaper, and I am not typically a wall-paper kind of girl. The ivory color and drape of the curtains on the bed and windows remind me of Roman robes. Notice the leggy bench in front of the window, a beauty of color and form.

The four-poster bed, chandelier and carved mirror are timeless and elegant. I love the celery green of the curtains as an accent color against the deep tones of the bed posts.
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of neutral European-style rooms, demonstrating the power of neutrals to fit into any decorating scheme.
Until next time...

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