Caressing The Past | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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This year I feel very honored to have been one of the designers selected to decorate Christmas at the Historic Ainsley House in Campbell, CA.

The owner, John Colpitts, a British native, built the House in the 1920s as a retirement home. John came to California in the late 1800s and made his fortune canning food, which he exported to England to his brother.



 

This year Christmas theme was “Christmas Around The World”. Being Italian born I thought of bringing a bit of the Amalfi’s flavors into my decorations, with citrus fruit, grapes, roses, camellias, and the typical poinsettia. My color scheme has been platinum, green, white, with a touch of purple and gold as accents throughout the guest bedroom, boudoir, closet, and cosmetic parlor.

Cosmetic Parlor

Cosmetic Parlor

The guest quarter is a very delicate room, with powdery pastel colors fit for an elegant woman. Original 1920’s dresses are kept beautifully on mannequins and inside of the closet, while originals accessories peek through an original traveling trunk resting in the boudoir. I was so surprised to see a cosmetic parlor in the boudoir. It is a simple pedestal sink with a lighted mirror above and monogrammed face towels hanging on the bar, all concealed beyond a door when not in use. What a nice feature! Small features and details such a cosmetic parlor have ceded the way to large bath spaces, which, at times, I feel they are totally sterile and without a soul.

While I was in the attic of the House selecting the items for my Christmas decorations, I felt so much part of that era. The director was telling me that J.C. the owner, kept his liqueurs in the basements beyond some wood panels. The Prohibition Law marked the era, but we all know that when something is forbidden, we want exactly the object of sins. The story goes that the highlight of the Ainsleys’ parties was to turn all the lights off and make the guests find the door to the basement where the liqueurs were kept.

Going up and down the stairs from the attic, I could not help admiring the hardwood floor beautifully concerted almost as inlay work, the type of setting that would require the artistry and clinical eye of an ebonist. Custom flooring is another area of designing that has ceded the step to a less expensive and faster application.

The House was designed with 15 rooms in a style of Tudor Revival architecture with the influence of Arts and Crafts movement of the 1920s. The most striking feature is the English style thatched roof, remade in 2007 as a faux thatched, but one can also admire the half-timbering façade, the interior wood paneling, the multi-paneled windows and the bay windows, especially the corner one at the breakfast room.
During my conversation with the curator/director, I learned that in 1990 the House was lifted up in its entirety and moved about 1.5 miles to the present location in Campbell, CA. One would think tiles would come apart, the floor would open up and walls would create cracks during the house moving, but nothing came undone. The workmanship was really a mastery, I can adduce.

 

Boudoir

Boudoir

 

The modernity of the guest bathroom style really struck me, the entire bath is quite spacious. The tub is enclosed in a Tudor style alcove surrounded by Nile green tiles, the shower is separated from the tubs, enclosed with a glass door and finished with the same color tiles with three water jets, a very avant-garde detail to find in bathrooms of that era. A deep linen closet and an enclosed W.C. make this a desirable spa, just as we intend it today.

 

Christmas_in_Amalfi

Christmas_in_Amalfi

 


Alcinda was in love with John Colpitts, who was a workaholic with a strong character and played hard to get. The only way to get him to pay attention to her was to accept a job in his firm as his bookkeeper. Alcinda was 17 years younger than John, but she became his wife at last. A medium, while visiting the house a few years ago, felt a massive male energy, so I was told. I felt the same while I was decorating the upstairs guest bedroom, an enveloping warm male presence, perhaps he was a woman’s charmer. He had many visitors from Europe sojourning in his house. I can see the care that was given to the guest bedroom, made delicately elegant and comfortable for a woman. For the same reason, I wanted to give the room the same gentleness using soft Christmas colors and a certain daintiness with the flavors of romantic Amalfi.

The Ainsley House will be open every day from Nov. 20th to Dec. 19th. Calendar of events will include Holiday Teas and Tours, Holiday Boutique, Photo with Santa and Holiday Open House.
I have enjoyed the experience of caressing the past in a prestigious historic home and especially have enjoyed the comments on my upside-down tree.

Perhaps next year, I can be called to decorate your Christmas with a special theme at your home. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Ritzy and Spiffy | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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Vintage, what a passion!
The flapper girl loved all that allowed her to be and feel free in her behavior.
Louise Brook, the diva of silent movies adopted the short hair cut à la garçon that every woman copied. The short bob emphasized the sensual curve of the neck, while the facial features under a cloche hat were enhanced with a well-studied maquillage. The flappers girl loved very red lips and nails, lunar skin, very long eyelashes, marked the eyes with a smoky black eye liner and completed the look with long pearls necklaces. She loved to wear short dresses above the knee, showing them off for the first time in the history of fashion. Designers Coco Chanel and Paul Poiret, in Paris called “Le Magnifique” liberated women from corsets or other body traps and put them in chic sexy gowns.

Photo left: Cover of The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald)

This past Halloween I was invited to a 1920’s party. The house was so beautifully staged in that period style that I felt prompted to write about how to reproduce the same style in today’s home.

In Europe, the 1920s’ style had a different name in each country. It was Liberty Style in Italy, Art Nouveau in England, Style Guimard in France named after designer Guimard, Modernism in Spain, Secession Style in Austria and Youth Style in Germany. Regardless of how it was named, Art Nouveau flourished between two World Wars and it was a celebration of youth style and liberation from fussiness and constrictions. Key words to describe 1920s’style were simplicity, functionality, efficiency and cleanliness of lines and forms. Colors choices of that time are so modern even for today’s living:
Black, White, Ivory and Gray for the neutral palette, Nile Green and Navy Blue for the cold palette, Canary Yellow and Mandarin Red for the warm palette.

 

 

 

 

 

There was a certain flavor of world style design, traveling was popular, discovering treasures of different countries was exciting and decorating with traveling memories was fashionable.

Steamer trunks with travel labels in lieu of coffee tables, Oriental rugs for the living room and scenic prints on the walls, legendary beasts as accessories and floral art glass were all the rage, along with subjects of lavish birds, flowers, insects and femme fatale details. Abstract lines and shapes were used widely as a filling and mixed in with all subjects.

The new concept of open spaces was born with the Bungalow Style architecture, which essentially was the new style home for the middle class, small but functional and comfortable. To create a visual effect of larger spaces, rooms opened up into each other, kitchen into family room and into dining and to avoid a cluttered look most of the furniture was built-in, such as bookcases, breakfast nooks, sideboards, china cases and window seats. Furniture was made to last and with sturdy luxurious woods such as mahogany and cedar and was designed in simple lines and simple carved details.
(Photo Bungalow right found on: http://www.angelfire.com/retro2/lisa3/20shome.html)

As you see, the 1920 ‘s style fits so perfectly in today’s living. Keep it simple and clean. Built-ins will substitute many furniture pieces that generally stand on the floor, allowing you to free floor space. Keep all the shapes linear, but splurge on accessories and sexy lamps to create several light points to suit every mood. Emphasize colors. Combine rich hardwood floor with retro chic’s bold wall colors and contemporary forms to achieve a fresh cheerfulness and whimsy. Reproducing with paint a typical 1920’s wallpaper motif is an easier alternative to wallpaper that might not exist anymore. Complete the décor with ornamental glass work on doors and divider panels; some metal/chrome features like sinks on chrome legs, or fireplaces brass façades; mirrors, Murano glass chandeliers and graphic art.

The 1920’s style is very current and conducive with my living. I like stylish décor nobody has, I like to set moods with attractive period pieces and I like to surprise people visiting my home. How about you? Tell me what is your style, I can reproduce it ritzy and spiffy without taking away your comfortable life and any of your habits. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an interior designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian born and true to her origins, her design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She provides only the best workmanship and design solutions.
Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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