Queen Ann, Queen Of Ordinariness | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind, and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of the home and sometimes technical information. On Jan. 14, 2014, my challenge will be over and I am feeling the heat.

Of all the furniture styles ever designed Queen Ann’s style has been the style that has passed the test of approval through the centuries. In my experience, I have always found details of Queen Ann furniture in most houses I have visited in North America. This style, also called “late Baroque” refers to the historic period (1702–1714) during which Queen Ann Stuart reigned Great Britain.

Queen Ann was considered the quintessence of ordinariness, often described as vulgar in taste and a drinker. She received a limited education similar to that of an aristocratic girl: music and languages but had no knowledge of military matters or civil laws. Perhaps her ordinariness brought her to simplify the ornaments of furniture while putting the emphasis on lines and forms. Skilled British craftsmen brought this classic simplicity to the American colonies and ever since the style had its appeal in traditional and country décor.

Today Queen Ann’s style is considered formal and very elegant. I don’t see anything ordinary about it.  Keep in mind a few simple elements if you want to decorate in this style.

Woods: walnut and burr walnut veneer, cherry, maple, and mahogany are the woods that will give Queen Ann style a formal, sophisticated look.

Chairs are padded, smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than the predecessors William and Mary Style. The back of the chairs is shaped like a yoke and the seat takes a horseshoe shape.

Furniture is curvier and structured with designs of C-scroll and S-scrolls shapes. Shells on relief, scallops, or acanthus leaves represent the limited ornamentations.

The signature of Queen Ann’s style is cabriole legs with pad foot that replaced the ball foot. The claw foot resisted for a while, somewhat common to find it in this style.

We use tables with drop leaf or tilt top as space savers, they were made for the Queen and it’s hard to believe she needed space in her palace.

A room decorated in this style has at least one comfortable desk often made in a round shape with écritoire accessories.

Today, even the most conservative style as the Queen Ann style can be reinterpreted in a whimsical way to decorate a colorful room for young people or young at heart. Italian company Moro-Pigatti produces Queen Ann style chairs for indoor and outdoor in eco-friendly recyclable linear polyethylene (plastic) at a “snip” price of $895.00 per piece. Accessories such as champagne bucket and ottomans made of the same material make good pairs with the chairs.

As far as architecture, Queen Ann style homes in the true sense of the word are no longer built, we can only enjoy the lavish examples left through the years, especially the years of the industrial revolution (1880-1890), when bankers, new capitalists, rich merchants, and industrialists built their homes in great excess to be showy. It didn’t matter if many architectural details didn’t belong together, in this hodgepodge style was important to accumulate interesting look. A Queen Ann home might have half-timber details typical of the Tudor period, or gingerbread typical of the Victorian era, but at the same time, it might have columns typical of Italian Palladian villas, turrets and round towers typical of castles. Large porches, verandas, bay windows, dorm windows, and balconies might be found altogether in one Queen Ann style home.

Don’t we see the same details in our modern homes? We either want more for our money, or we got accustomed to impurity. I love to help you in finding the right style for you. I am available through Skype. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

My Design Success Story http://youtu.be/pOKI6LkOkkA

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintValentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-know for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and colors in the style fit for each of her special clients. She is the author of ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors, Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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

Fainting Moments | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, until Jan. 13, 2014, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind, and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of the home and sometimes technical information.

What do the Récamier, Méridienne and Fainting Sofa have in common? Three reclining chairs of the past and present home décor that have in common one idea: Relaxation. The ancient population understood the benefits of relaxation and included it in their daily life.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

eqyptian-daybed
(Above https://www.studyblue.com)

For Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans the idea of relaxing often on the ‘kline’ – a type of day beds – was part of the daily routine as early as the 8th century BC. The modern Greek word ‘symposium’ means ‘to drink together’ in a party atmosphere with music and conversation while even conducting business. The Romans adopted the daybed for reclining in the daytime and during meals and at night they slept on. This type of daybed was widely used in the Orient as well, where there was no distinction between sleeping furniture and daytime furniture.

Madame_Récamier_by_Jacques-Louis_David

(Madame Juliette Récamier above)


DuncanPhyfeRécamier
Récamier Sofa (above) took the name from Madame Juliette Récamier, a French society leader, whose salon drew Parisians from the leading literary and political circles of the early 19th century. After Madame Récamier’s guests were well fed, she would preside over the discussions while reclining on a sofa, usually wrapped in a yellow shawl. That’s how Jacques-Louis David depicted her. It seems that a bit of gossip is appropriate with a Récamier: Madame Juliette Récamier married at the age of 15 Jacques-Rose Récamier, a rich banker nearly 30 years her senior and a relative of the gourmand Brillat-Savarin, who wrote a few books on the philosophy of cooking and taste. Fantastic books, I read them all and strongly suggest them. A rumor arose that Jacques-Rose Récamier was Juliette’s natural father who married her to make her his heir. The Récamier marriage was never consummated and Juliette remained a virgin until at least the age of forty.

Meridienne2

(Above http://www.brighthome-furniture.com/chaise-lounges.html)

 

Méridienne – a type of asymmetrical day-bed (above) – has a high head-rest, and a lower foot-rest, joined by a sloping piece. Every grand house of France in the early 19th century had one for every room. Its typical use was for resting in the middle of the day when the sun is near the meridian, a practice still in use in the South of Europe and Mediterranean basin.

Edouard_Manet

(Edouart Manet above – Fainting Sofa)

Fainting Sofa has a back raised at one end, often wraps around and extends along the entire length of the piece. Fainting sofa deserved separate rooms in the 19th century home décor, only used by women to faint on, due to their tight corsets restricting blood flow. However, another peculiar use of this chair made it go down in history. Sex between married people was intended only for procreation. Society’s false modesty prevented women of high social background from taking care of their men’ frivolous sex desires, it was considered an indecent behavior left only for prostitutes. That constricted way of thinking caused female hysteria, considered a real ‘disease’ that needed to be treated by home visiting doctors and midwives through manual pelvic massage. It was a recurrent need often requiring hours for the intimate procedure to work, thus creating room for privacy and a chair for comfort was of the utmost importance.

CoolSofa

(Méridienne in my client’s home)

We cannot build our future if we don’t know the history. Today, when possible, I like to place one Méridienne chair or Fainting Sofa in my clients’ homes and I can’t help smiling…..Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValWorkingValentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-know for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and colors in the style fit for each of her special clients. She is the author of ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors, Check out her three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Furniture – A Movable Thought | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2

Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of home and sometimes technical information.

The word furniture comes from the 1570 French word “fournir” (furnish in English). Furniture was the prerogative of the higher levels of society and nobles who lived in castles while the less prosperous sat on benches, stools or on the floor, ate at whatever table available at their disposition and often slept on beds of straw. Furniture had a double purpose: to decorate a room as we intend it today and to be mobile. In fact in many European countries where romantic languages are spoken furniture was also called “mobilia” a Latin word which means mobile. The word is still in use today.

Vacation time of the rich and nobles was like a house moving of today, they took along chairs, tables, trunks and household stuff when they left their castle and went to visit their peers in their castles. Visiting people’s castle was a common custom as today we go on vacation and stay in hotels, except that our hotels are fully furnished and clothes is the only thing we carry around.

Furniture and adornments were meant to convey the wealth of its owner. Rich oak was the preferred wood for container such as trunks and credenza; upholstered chairs in velvet or expensive materials divided rooms elegantly in vignettes; turned legs accented and beautified any boxed furniture; elaborate window treatments kept the cold winter out and gilded and decorated walls lined with expensive art really told the story of how wealthy the family was.

 

The Dutch were the first to use Turkish rug as table coverings and not as floor covering. They believed furniture was to admire, to use and never to crowd a room, in that it would detract the light and the spirit within. However their reason might have been a more practical one. Dutch people scrubbed and cleaned their homes every day and when entering the house, took their shoes off on the unfurnished and very bare first floor, which was considered an extension of the street. With slippers on their feet, they entered the livable home on the second floor. However, the cleanliness of their homes did not reflect the cleanliness of their bodies. One would think that the same people who scrubbed, cleaned and shined their homes, would take an exceptional effort to keep up with personal care and hygiene as well, but that was not the case. Houses did not have a room for bathing and the multiple layers of clothing that kept them warm during the hard winter months, discouraged bathing and exposure to fresh air: “the bark stays better on the trunk”.

Strangely enough, not much as changed since then, except that furniture are less decorated, more functional, respects the rule of ergonomics, often is very technological with more than one function and we don’t take them on our vacations. In decorating, we like to reproduce past styles to feel a connection to history. The Dutch four-post bed is still in use today, as are alcoves and banquette seating under windows. Family portraits and various art pieces still line our decorated walls. Entering someone’s home it’s hard to remain indifferent one way or the other. Furniture will immediately communicate the status symbol or non-status of the owner and the style will speak about the owner’s personality.

As for cleanliness, I wonder often if people have learned anything or if technology has even helped. It’s not uncommon for me, being a designer, to go into a house for the first time and find a royal mess and stale air. The answer is to be found in the question: “what do people do with their time?”. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-known for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and color in the style fit for each of her special clients.
She is the author of three books all available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Tète-à-Tète | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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February is a cold month in most parts of the world, fortunately is warmed up with the fuzzy theme of love. Thinking of love, the tète-à-tète chair comes to mind.

(Stone tète-à-tète chair via Pinterest)

Typical and essential piece of décor for gardens and interiors, the tète-à-tète chair marked an era when a man could only court a woman by looking not by touching and under the vigilant eyes of her relatives. It was designed for coziness, close enough to look at each other in the eyes, occasional brushing elbows could slip out, but the armrest in the middle divided the two sexes keeping them at a certain distance.

Actually, the chair didn’t serve only lovers. Gossipers also used it while sitting together. Sitting face-to-face was favorable to discretely passing in each other’s ears all the juicy details of someone else’s life, or of a person present in the room unaware of being the subject of interest. The tète-à-tète chair allowed women to sit comfortably with fashionable belled up dresses with cumbersome crinoline underneath.



(Above photo found on https://www.etsy.com/listing/500135605/sonia-messer-tete-a-tete)


(Above photo, French Victorian seat,  found on: http://www.newel.com/products.php)

Fast forward a couple of centuries and we see some new versions of the tète-à-tète chair. I have to admit warmth and coziness are gone, but they are attractive in their own unique modernity. The black and white of the Eli-Fly Chair is very graphic, the lines are slim, sensuous and lonely. The two chairs can face each other at a distance, or can be set closer to make caressing a little easier. But it seems to me this is a type of chair the people in “need of their space” would buy.


(Eli-Fly-Lounge-Chairs by Deisree)

 

More modern versions of the tète-à-tète chair are also available for the garden in wrought iron or wood. I have seen a pretty set painted in blue in one of the historical establishments in California. They wrap them around trees, where people can relax with a book and courtship under a magnolia tree might be possible again.

 

I absolutely adore the Heart Cone Chair designed by Verner Panton in 1959 and reissued by renowned furniture company Vitra.
Price of the Heart Cone Chair: $3,670. Precious!
It would fit beautifully in any décor and in any empty corner. Red is imposing, calls for attention, but this chairs brings passion.
“Most people spend their lives in dreary beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colors,” Panton said, in the mid-1950s. I could not agree more.

 

What does this chair have to do with the tète-à-tète chair of Victorian time? Nothing. The heart is already there, it needs two people to sit in each other’s lap and the tète-à-tète picture is complete.

Let me support you in finding your uniqueness in décor and style, but don’t forget to leave your name down below. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-known for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and color in the style fit for each of her special clients.
She is the author of ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, her forthcoming book on the subject of colors, due to be released in the Spring 2012. Check out her first two books on

©Come Mia Nonna: http://goo.gl/T0eL36
©Sin of A Queen: http://goo.gl/JA4WMO

 

Hunted and Saved | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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For a few days now, I have been going around the house looking to give a second life to some old pieces. Strong of the experience I had a few years ago, I am ready to repeat the artistic experience with a new piece. Sundays are perfect days to go bargain hunting around garage sales and flea markets. I love flea markets! In one of those excursions, I found a few old pieces of furniture and ventured through the refinishing process.

There are a few things you need to do before you tackle a refinishing of a piece of furniture. First, you don’t know where the piece has been before you and how the previous owner used it, unless someone tells you the history. Disinfect, clean it really well and keep it in an open and well-ventilated place for a few days to eliminate previous odors. While you are deciding on the transformation of the piece, the new design, color, pattern or the overall new look, I would suggest taking pictures of the piece and visiting some reputable antique dealer who will tell you just by looking at the photograph if it is a valuable piece or not. If it is a value piece you might want to leave it as is, just give it a good clean, otherwise if it gets restyled into a new life, the piece will lose its antique/historical value.

The refinishing process is very easy. Strip old paints and varnishes with a coarse sand paper by using a sanding machine or plain elbow grease, which I like better as it is another way to exercise muscles. The plain wood grain will surface again in all its beauty. At this point you can decide to leave it natural to emphasize the wood grain and apply only transparent varnishes, or you can paint it in your favorite colors. My photographs show painted examples, découpage and antique finishes.

Painted Line Chest by ©Valentina Cirasola

 

DoorKnobJewel

Painted Line Chest – Detail – by ©Valentina Cirasola

 

Dust off the remaining of the sanding with a soft cloth; make it really clean, you must not feel any grain under your fingertips. Apply a coat of primer paint to cover all the imperfections, wait until it dries well, sand it lightly with a less coarse sanding paper, and dust it off again. The surface must be really clean every time another coat of paint goes on.

Apply the first coat of the paint color of your choice. Let it dry. If the result is good, then the piece is almost done, but if it needs another coat of paint, sand it lightly again, dust it off and apply a second coat.

(Venetian Chest paint by Douglas Greenberg)

Most of my pieces have been speckled at the end. With a small brush I splashed a dark varnish here and there for interest. Highlighting all the details is the fun parts. The style of the piece of furniture will dictate whether the highlights will be antique or contemporary style.

Découpage is always done as the last detail. The only items needed are a flat brush, a découpage glue and an image, nothing to it.
If you like to draw an image free hand, that step is also done after the piece has received the last coat of paint. Trace the image with a carbon paper; with a brush go over the line drawing and paint your image with the selected colors. This is the easiest way to apply a design. Stenciling a design over the top coat is another way, but this takes a good skill. Seal the découpage, stencil work or any drawing with a non-yellowing water base varnish.

 

Venetian Painted Chest by ©Valentina Cirasola

(Painted sky blue chest photos ©Valentina Cirasola)

Now it is time to apply the jewelry. Get your fantasy in motion, use anything and everything for drawer pulls, or door knobs. One of my cabinets has a pair of hearings as drawer pulls. Others are a mix of style, colors and textures. Arts and craft store sell wood knobs and pulls, which can be painted in any style you like; that will satisfy your artistic vein, other than saving you money.

There are professional artists on the market who make excellent money in producing elaborate faux finishes. I know this process as I have described might sound simplistic. If you don’t have velleity of taking your refinished piece to the Guggenheim exhibition and you just want to give a second life to something old with interesting shapes, then don’t make the refinishing process complicated. Follow these simple steps and you will produce an attractive piece just like those in my photographs.

A few years ago I helped a person in France restyling her piece. She contacted me through Facebook, asked me questions about the furniture she wanted to refurbish, liked my answers and hired me to assist her in the production. I did not move one inch from my desk, our communications developed through Skype calls and emails. She purchased the knobs from my selection photographed in a store. Her French piece turned out beautiful. If you are stuck, let me help you or anyone you know in restoring your piece, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions.

She is the author of ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, her forthcoming book on the subject of colors.
She is also a published author of two regional Italian cuisine books. Find her books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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

Renaissance Canopy Bed | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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It is a pleasant surprise to start the week with a project featured on Avaliving.
Thank you Avaliving for choosing my projects among all the very talented designers hosted on this site. Avaliving is a site for experienced designers who want to showcase their work to consumers and help them decorating or restyling their homes through on-line consultations.
This week’s theme was a timeless canopy bed. I presented my Renaissance Canopy Bed, which I designed for a teenager who enjoyed the room until it was time to leave the nest to go to college. This is still her room when she returns home and she is still enjoying the timeless décor.

Splash of FunFour-poster beds became very popular around the early 1600. They usually had side curtains, which afforded a great measure of warmth, as well as privacy to their occupants, although personal privacy concept was taking off as an idea, it was relatively unimportant at that time. Small kids still slept in the same room with the parents, as they did in the Middle Age time, while the older kids slept in one room all together. A desire for a greater measure of privacy was evidenced by the separation of the masters from their servants, who usually had beds in the smaller adjacent rooms, or near the kitchen.

(Photo: http://www.hyperkenntnis.com/27b06ba105ba-velvet-canopy-bed-curtains.html)

Furniture was to be admired and to convey the wealth of its owners, but the primary function was to be used, just like today. Tables, chairs, containers furniture such as credenza and cupboards, curtained four-poster beds were of oak or walnut with elegantly turned legs and often hand painted with the application of gold or silver foil. Canopy beds, when they were very ornate, found their place in the middle of the bedroom as a focal point just to add style and character, or against the largest wall in the bedroom.

Today we have kept the same custom. In my room featured on Avaliving, the canopy bed takes the center stage in a very colorful room. It was custom designed accordingly to the girl’s taste. The frame at the feet of the bed was hand-painted on wood in the style of a Renaissance bucolic theme. A local metal worker, who executed my design, forged the metal posts beautifully.

 

 

https://valentinadesigns.com/portfolio-view/girl-bedroom-and-bath-palo-alto-ca/

A canopy bed can fit in any style décor, even in a contemporary style with straight lines, dark wood and neutral colors.
I like the spicy colors in this photo (below). I find it very relaxing and vibrant.
Vintage pillows on the coral velvet settee that sits at the base of this bed bring a splash of colors, while bringing life to a neutral color bedroom.

Have fun with a canopy bed, take inspiration from the past, or look around in stores to adapt elements that might be used for something else and make it your own. Not everything we see is meant to have one function only.

As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will be decorating, designing, or remodeling. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

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A Design Success Story Video:

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Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions.
She is also the author of two books. 
Find her books on

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

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