Vol. VII: The Last Layer

Field Notes Vol. 7: The Last Layer

This week, it has finally started to feel like fall in Connecticut and seeing the holidays on the horizon makes me want to spruce up my house a bit. I am always buying accessories, for myself and for my clients, and am often swapping out decorative objects at home. I love to style clients’ homes with pieces I’ve collected and I keep a small rotating inventory on hand for upcoming installs. I find that if I try to shop for accessories for a project all at once, I end up with a bunch of catalog pieces that don’t feel authentic or special. I prefer a mix of new, handmade, and vintage or antique pieces to give the idea of a true collection. There are a few things I always look out for when antiquing, whether I am at Brimfield or in Paris, and whether the tiems are for my own house or for our company inventory. I wanted to share them with you here!

Inlaid, carved & hand-painted boxes

shop clockwise from top:

1940s Antique Mosaic Inlaid Box Vintage Moorish Octagonal Box | Antique Tramp Art Box | English Tunbridge Trinket Box |  Swiss Alp Painted Box

For the top of a stack of books on a cocktail table, or to place on a chest of drawers, I am always looking for inlaid and painted boxes. I found a collection of tramp art boxes at auction recently that have found homes in my house and clients’ houses. Nearly every house we work on ends up with at least one bone inlaid box, because they come in nice large sizes that work on many surfaces.

Handmade vases + urns

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Pair of Qing Cloisonne Vases | Antique Spongewear Vase | Moroccan Vintage Tamegroute Ceramic Vase | French Aptware Vase

Even without flowers, a lovely handmade vase on top of a table or kitchen island can shake up the whole scene. The idea here is perfectly imperfect. A bit of imperfection reminds us of the beauty in the handmade nature of a piece. I love Tamegroute containers because they are always perfectly wonky.

Woven + Footed Bowls

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Moroccan Ceramic Green High Bowl | Vintage 1950s Italian White Ceramic Footed Basket | Vintage Kashmiri Bowl | Vintage Saint Radegonde Cup | 19th Century Thomas Forester Majolica Lily Ponde Compote

I love the shape of footed bowls because whatever you store in them (or even the interior of the bowl) is elevated for your eye. The shape from the side is nice, too, so they look great on bookshelves. I especially love the delicate woven ones in a space like a bathroom that is all hard angles and needs something complex to contrast the clean lines.


shop left to right:

Vintage Italian Tavola by Oggetti Horn & Stone Obelisks | Banded Onyx Obelisk | Neoclassic Heavy Metal Obelisks | Green Marble Ancient Egyptian Obelisks

On mantels and sofa tables, I love a pair of obelisks. Full disclosure: while sourcing for this note, I found a pair of obelisks that I could not live without for my living room and ended up purchasing! It’s the third pair in our house so I think it’s time to cut myself off, but maybe you have room for a pair!

Vintage Quilts

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Hand Block Print Kantha Quilt | 1930s American Folk Art Child’s Quilt | 1920s Antique Kantha Embroidered Double-Sided Quilt | Vintage Kantha Quilt

I first started buying these when I was working on a house in Maine that felt like the perfect home for them. When I saw them there, in combination with beautiful complex chintz fabrics, I realized they are the perfect foil for the really ornate fabrics that I love. Now I use them in bedrooms all over the place, including mine. I love American quilts, Kantha quilts, and African kente cloths.