Arts of Puglia: Stringing A Chair | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Who has not owned a Thonet chair and not knowing it? Michel Thonet was born in Vienna in 1796 and became a well-known master ébénist under the rich Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thonet experimented a technical way to bend wood and succeeded by using warm steam to bend it to his liking, then placed the shapes created in steel molds to dry. Following the excellent results and high demand, in 1860 Thonet deposited his trademark and the Nᴼ14 chair, the most famous of his collection was born.

(Thonet chairs Nᴼ 14)

Every home, café, bistro and restaurant in Europe filled their rooms with Thonet chairs. The flexibility and resistance of this chair Nᴼ 14 became so popular through the Belle Époque and every era from then up to now.

Change country, travel down to Italy, same era, in the then poor agricultural region of Puglia. Thonet chairs were popular in well-to-do Italian households, I remember them in my family, but in the countryside and farmer’s families the straw chairs, practical, sturdy and durable, were the second-best choice. People who learn the art of stringing chairs made a good living. Necessity is the mother of invention. venezia-g_1117-1-venezia-g_1117-arte_povera-1-sedia_venezia-g_1117-1-venezia(Prices of most straw chairs here: http://www.lasediasrl.it/it/search/1/Paglia.html)

Many centuries later, while advanced countries push innovative recycle programs, down in Puglia, no longer a poor region, recycling is nothing new and doesn’t need to be created. Many crafts considered “ancient” are still in use in Puglia, a few people continue the art of stringing and weaving chairs, as we have mastered the art of reuse (I say we, because I am from there and I am one who reuse everything). We learn at a young age to fix broken items and not to throw them away in the land.

Poli Gaetano  from the town of Rutigliano strings chairs since he was a boy. In the video, he speaks Italian, but watch his gestures, they are strong, decisive and precise to make sure each chair he fixes will live for long time. In 20-25 minutes a damaged straw chair returns brand new. His father was in that line of work and fed a family of seven. Gaetano is now over 70 years old passed the trade to his son.

Straw and cane chairs are suitable for a country décor, especially in the rustic Puglia style, as well as in Tuscan and French style décor. Straw or cane chairs are perfect in covered patios, tea rooms, breakfast nooks, conservatories, bedrooms, or anywhere extra chairs are needed.

interior_of_trullo_sovrano_wikimedia_commons(Photo above: Interior of Trullo Sovrano – Wikimedia Commons)

In the Egyptian style patio I decorated sometimes ago, I substituted the straw with upholstered fabric panels treated with blueprint technique.

egyptiansstylethonet
In a French style boudoir, the same style chair became red and upholstered with traditional striped fabric.

Ciao, Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

valentina-ValleMonteAs an Italian designer and true to my origins, I am well-known to bring originality to people’s homes, but that’s not where I stop and any situation is a perfect opportunity to design something out of the ordinary. Check out my three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Queen’s Hamlet | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Parties are for having fun, meeting friends, new people, eating, drinking and small talks and better be prepared, they will happen! Actually knowing how to conduct small talks to your advantage is a professional social skill. I was at a Christmas party where I met a woman who knew how to ease in the small talk conversation until she realized I was an interior designer. The natural questions that followed was: “I bet your house is beautiful! What is the style?”

Often people forget to ask what is your personal style, which would define better the answer. Style can be copied from magazines and voila’ it’s done. Does that mean it is your style? Maybe or maybe not. You might feel good in it, if you choose it, you must like it.

ferme1-le-moulinPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

I remember when I visited the palace of Versailles in France, I also visited the idyllic Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet), a rustic retreat in the park of the Château de Versailles built in 1783 for Marie Antoinette, who longed to play a farm girl role during her week spent in luxury. The building scheme included a farmhouse to produce milk and eggs for the queen, a dairy, a dovecote, a boudoir, a barn, a mill and a tower in the form of a lighthouse.

Boudoir_au_Hameau_de_la_Reine.jpgPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Each building was decorated with a garden, an orchard or a flower garden. The Hameau served as a private meeting place for the Queen and her closest friends, a place of leisure, the rooms offered an intimate setting than the grand salons at Versailles or at the Petit Trianon. Clearly Marie Antoinette was never a farm girl, only wanted to experience the feeling of living someone else’s life.

That is what I notice when I go to people’s homes, often the furniture and home décor don’t reflect their lifestyle. There are formal rooms never enjoyed because they don’t entertain, there are expensive designed kitchens where nobody cooks, there are immense spaces for a household of only two people, or I go into small homes filled with an overabundance of heirloom objects, garage sales findings, collectibles and travel memories, all contributing to the home clutter.

In the house where the party was, all the pictures frames were brown to match the brown furniture. Just to continue the small talk conversation, I pointed the picture frames to the woman speaking to me and I said it is OK for some people to match one thing to the other, just as they match the earrings to the necklace, the handbag to the shoes. To them it feels comfortable, to me is mortally boring (my favorite phrase) and banal. If you want to be unique, break these rules, I told her.

Studio_A.jpg
Above: Evening atmosphere in my office.

In my house, I broke all the rules on purpose. All my picture frames are different and still communicate with the décor. She said: “I hope you use this phrase in your marketing material, as it explains all your thoughts in a few words”. I felt I opened a door for her to new ways of arranging furniture and “thoughts”.

Kitchen_A.jpg
Above: Evening atmosphere in my kitchen.

Antique pieces can be paired with modern furniture, warm colors with cool colors are beautiful, various metals finishes can be arranged together; glass live well with wood finishes or stones and rugs or pillows must not match the artwork at all.

eveningkitchenAbove: Evening atmosphere in my kitchen.

I feel comfortable in a house that is not the scheme of someone else, I live in the colors that make me feel good and in the atmospheres I create for my well-being. I live in my Queen’s Hamlet. How about you? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

valentina-ValleMonte
It’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspiring you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need. Check out my latest book on colors
©RED-A Voyage Into Colors,
available on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Golden December | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

This month, as everyone in the world, I am in and out of stores, not to look for presents, I buy everything online, but to learn about Christmas trends. Z Gallery has filled the stores with an all-white Christmas from furniture to accessories and Christmas décor. The only color I saw is the table setting in purple-silver and some artificial flower arrangements.


Besides the all-white Christmas, I did notice an overabundance of very modern mirrors, a lot of gold home accessories and tableware. I find shiny gold very pretentious, especially if reflected in mirrors, however, if it is done tastefully, one or two elements can be quite elegant.

(Photos taken in Z Gallery store by Valentina Cirasola)

I was reading the horoscope for the coming year and apparently the planets are aligning to enter a new era of prosperity, which will last nine years. I like this forecast, don’t you? Knowing that everybody will be well-off and helping others with the wealth created is very reassuring to me.
Forecasts are beneficial to marketing, or any business for that matter. Stores must know trends and colors to sell what people want. Perhaps, all this gold reflects our next direction.

I have not thought yet how to decorate my holiday table this year. My food is always the center of attraction and decorations are minimal.
How are you decorating your table this Christmas? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

valentina-ValleMonteAs an Italian designer and true to my origins, I am well-known to bring originality to people’s homes, but that’s not where I stop and any situation is a perfect opportunity to design something out of the ordinary.
Check out my three books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Bobèche Reflection | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

I was preparing the atmosphere for the last Thanksgiving in my home and realized I needed two extra bobèche for my table. I went store hopping and suddenly I became disappointed to find out stores don’t carry bobèche anymore and young people working in the stores don’t even know what they are, except one young lad who was curious (a rare quality) and wanted to learn.
He searched online and found many places where to buy these attractive pieces, but most of the time come attached to something else.

tavolapreparata

A bobèche is a glass collar on a candlestick to catch wax drippings or a glass collar on a chandelier to hold suspended glass prisms. It’s a French word without English translation. First known use of bobèche is around 1855 when noble families employed a load of servants who shined and polished all day.

vivacious_bobeches_etsy(Vivacious Bobeches – ETSY)

 

the_vintage_arcade_etsy(The Vintage Arcade – ETSY)

Today, people prefer battery operated candles and chandeliers…..well…. people still like to admire them in historic homes but not in their own home ~ “who needs to clean all the crystals up in the ceiling” ~ most of them would say.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Artfull Salvage – ETSY- OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA)

Want to create your own bobèche?  Find a vintage plain or colored glass, drill a few holes and attach some crystal drops. I will do that for my garden to use as a bird feeder and a couple for the table to use as a fruit display.

Frankly, I would love to have a chandelier full of crystal bobèche to catch a shimmering light from the bulbs and from the sunlight in the morning creating a multicolored effect. It makes me happy when I see colors.

I can’t do without light games especially during the holiday season, it’s all about allowing a new light in my life, positive energy and new opportunities. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

QueenValentina Cirasola transforms and creates spaces realizing people’s dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She infuses your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. She offers design consultations on-line through Skype and the traditional in-house consultations, helping people with their design challenge anywhere in the world.  She is the author of three books, all-available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Romance And Luxury | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

I am finding that some of the clients I am getting lately, high rollers and high-profile with demanding professions want to come home to empty spaces, minimally decorated and not necessarily done with expensive items, but surely functional that also assure comfort. Up to here nothing new, or nothing out of the ordinary, people who liked minimalism have always existed. What I noticed is something else. Wellness and peaceful home décor are the few elements they want to find after a hectic day at work and tedious hours spent in traffic.

oeil_de_boeuf

(Courtesy photo: Traditional Home)

They want to fantasize and romanticize a room with a little echo in the past, the past they have not lived in person and might have heard about from parents and grandparents and long for. They want a Bohemian style mixed with retro style, a bit of farmhouse mixed with urban style, repurposed wood for new style wall paneling and repurposed barn doors as interior doors. There is a resurgent desire for items corroded by time with a more current look of natural eco-friendly fabrics. These to me are signs of nostalgia for a gone by era. I am only an observer of customs, a curious person and wondering why this new millennium borrows style from past times and doesn’t have its own style to which later people would refer to as the Millennium style ….

fighterabsco
(Photo Courtesy: Fighterabsco)

 

napastyle
(Courtesy photo: Napa Style) – I placed this coffee table in one of my client’s family room. She is very happy her two kids can use it as a table to eat dinner while watching TV.

The new clients might want a butcher block with benches as a dining table set with a large farmhouse old and rusted chandelier overhead, a sofa perfectly new-made today with an old consumed leather patina combined with lush pillows and a great big TV screen from wall to wall.

mongolianlamb_westelm
(Mongolian Lamb Pillows – West Elm)

augusto_chair
(Grandiroad) – I placed this chair and ottoman in another clients’ home, she is very happy of the choice.
Muted colors and simple window treatments without frills and straight forward panels contribute to the calmness of the new luxury-rustic spaces.

Romance and luxury go hand in hand these days. Luxury today is intended as practical and less formal style, it must dress a room to ensure the usual comfort, the usual esthetics, the usual warm and inviting atmosphere.

westelm(West Elm)

Industrial, vintage, mid-century and Deco are the styles of repeating history. Perhaps in 20-30 more years we will go back to Victorian Era. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

ValOperaStampValentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works all over the world via Skype and with the traditional in-home consultations producing concepts for remodeling, restoration of historical dwelling, upgrading, décor restyling and home fashion. Vogue magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15 and has been interviewed on various Blog Talk Radios. Author of three books all-available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Neutral Meets Texture | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

What to do when a client has sturdy furniture, well maintained, traditional in style but showing signs of tiredness, in the sense of age? In some cases, one can tell if the date of furniture is 1970 or 2007. The kind of furniture I suggest when restyling a room, always follow the client’s style and taste, must be timeless, not necessarily too modern, too antique, too old, or too shabby unless that is exactly the client’s preference.

livingroomtextures

Let’s go back to the tired looking furniture. If I am hired to revamp rooms and not remodeling, that’s the moment Valentina dances around client’s possessions.
A recent client who heard me speaking about colors during an event, thought the moment had arrived to upgrade her décor. She wanted to keep only the best pieces of furniture and accessories she owned, along with the gray wall-to-wall carpet. My goal was to make the gray wall-to-wall carpet disappearing in the colors she never used in her life, exactly the vibrant colors she was afraid to use. It is a challenging task to convince someone that vibrant colors are perfect for a new home energy.

livingdining

curvedwindowtreat

The searching in local stores and online was long, meetings with clients and emails poured like a rain, preparation of many presentation boards and price talks was a daily task.
At the arrival of the first order, she was a bit reluctant to open the first packages she received at her home.
Do I open it? What if I don’t like it? Questions of this sort crossed my client’s mind. I had heard of designers who pushed their ideas on clients and had to send back to manufactures or stores all the items they had ordered, because when they arrived, didn’t meet the client’s taste. However, after she opened the first package, she was so surprisingly happy of my choices and when all the other packages followed created a Christmas type of atmosphere, that moment we can’t wait to be surprised. Placing all the items in the right rooms produced a new excitement and pleased her.
Those vibrant colors she resisted for so long are not harmful after all and worked well together with her existing furniture.

tiffany-mirror-a

livingview

From there it was a descending road to complete the project, every choice was easy and there was no discussion. I had gained her trust. Needless to say, when spaces are open and adjacent to each other it’s hard not to spill in other areas of the home and so we did.

familentry_after
master_bedroom

To get a client’s trust, it takes a lot of designer skills. We are psychologists, we must ask a load of questions at the start of the project, we must pay attention to things said between the lines and even know zodiac signs to understand the character and the planets which dominates the clients we are dealing from time to time. To some people it might seem a bit of a jumble of beliefs, but it has worked for me since the beginning of my design career.

With her white and beige furniture, two colors I particularly don’t care for, the only thing to do was to sculpt the décor with texture, colors, and a more modern details. The dining room chandelier now has golden-yellow shades and doesn’t match the black upholstered dining chairs anymore. Many Tiffany style lamps now bring an array of colors in the room when the lamps are turned on. A lot of crystal accessories shimmer in the light. The newly upholstered chairs with the bird fabric mix a bit of folk style in the classic décor, the rug doesn’t match the sofa anymore and adds movement to the surrounding. The gray carpet is no longer noticeable. I succeed in my goal, I tried not to match and the client is in heaven. She thinks in colors now and especially in contrasting colors. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

valentinadivaglassesIt’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspiring you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Veranda | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Ah… balconies with glass! Shut those glass doors and still see the world going by, keep noises away and still feel the hustle and bustle of the city. Inside, the veranda is a personal decorated island. Plants, bistro table and nice lights create a muffled world where one can paint, write, read, eat or rest. It’s a city life stacked on top of each other, but with character and style.
The sun will still come in, kiss the floor and infuse the room with warm energy.  Watch the rain trickling down the glass or the wind ruffling up the trees and feel part of the nature.
Winter is out there and you are protected inside the veranda. The summer will encourage to open the glass doors of the veranda and let the curtains flow in the breeze. It is just a nice place to be.

veranda
(Above photo: Barcelona – via evysinspirations.tumblr.com)

In Italy my native country a veranda is an extension of a room with the view of the world below. It is a well-lived place, some people hang their laundry, some cook out there to keep the house free of cooking smells, some people sew and knit, some practice dance steps and others entertain in gossips. It is our way to be in company with the city, soak it in, knowing all that goes around without being a part of it.
In countries different than Italy, verandas only decorate buildings, they are not viewed as a social space and really no one sits to enjoy a nice piece of architecture.

A veranda is not a front porch or a roofed backyard patio.
A veranda is not an open balcony, or a terrace.
greenveranda
(Villa Necchi – Milano, Italy)

A veranda is a protruding space from a building, enclosed on all sides by a railing and glass, sometimes frosted glass, sometime plain transparent and sometimes decorated glass.
Some verandas are small and some are big enough to have a seating arrangements for a few people.

They are most popular in Southern Europe, New Orléans and some areas in South America, all places where life evolves from the start of the day well into the small hours of the night and where people welcome open doors.
Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val Admiring World As an Italian designer and true to my origins, I am well-known to bring originality to people’s homes, but that’s not where I stop and any situation is a perfect opportunity to design something out of the ordinary. Check out my three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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