Monday, February 14, 2011

Elementary, my dear blogophiles

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2011 Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville. My aunt and several of my friends live in that lively city, and it was so nice to be able to combine a visit with such a grand event!

Making the show even more exciting was the fact that one of their guest speakers was the lovely and talented Charlotte Moss. Some bad weather threatened us, but my Mom and I braved the icy roads north and, along with my vivacious Aunt Kathi, made it to Moss' Friday morning lecture... And, let me tell you, it was worth it!

Charlotte Moss, being a good sport, having her picture taken with me

Moss' passion for what she does was clearly evident throughout her speech. I loved her description of her upbringing by a mother whose passion for interior design inspired hers, saying that her mother has been her role model and was even where she learned to decorate. (A sentiment to which I can certainly relate!)

"I grew up with a mother who spent her life making things better... I'm still trying to be my mother", said Moss. She also discussed how, sometimes, men don't "get" the decorating process, and may have to be circumvented in order to get things done: "I thought decorating was something that happened when your father went out of town... My mother always had a project lined up". She said this taught her that, in decorating, you "had to have a plan, had to be organized, and had to be fast."

Moss further discussed her personal style (crediting her Southern heritage as its most significant contributor), and beauty (which she records in all its forms on her C'est Inspire' blog). Moss takes a camera with her everywhere in order to record the diverse sources of her inspiration (which include travel, house museums, gardens, and architectural details, to name a few), saying her staff is generally left with the daunting task of cataloging and organizing the thousands of pictures she takes.

So, Moss asks, "How do we create the beauty that leads us to the decorating?" She says that, in order to translate the beauty found in the things that inspire each person, you must have an open mind and be fearless.

Moss says she looks to women of the past, such as Fleur Cowles, Leslie Blanche, Pauline de Rothschild, and Elsie de Wolfe, for empowerment. The room above represents a "convergence of chics": watercolors on the wall belonged to Katharine Hepburn, the anemone flowers were a favorite of Fleur Cowles, the chair by the desk belonged to Doris Duke, and the pattern on the D. Porthault sheets on the daybed was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy.

For this Kips Bay Showhouse bedroom, Moss placed a beautiful canopy bed in the center of the room.... much to the distaste of one of the attendees. Apparently this woman approached Moss (looking her up and down and making a back-handed comment about Moss' apparel) and asked Moss what possessed her to put a bed in the middle of a room. Moss, fed up with the woman's attitude, said, "Why the hell not?!", turned on her heels, and walked away! Ha!

"Why not" was a sort of mantra for the lecture (even appearing on the back of the note cards left on our seats). She encouraged everyone to experiment in their own home, saying "your house is your laboratory". Moss says that she doesn't follow any strict rules when layering patterns and objects, using a sort of trial-and-error approach and combining things "hickeldy-pickeldy", instead. (Moss' sense of humor penetrated every aspect of the lecture.)

Overall, it seems that Moss feels that if you spend time truly absorbing the beauty around you, the things and ideas [for your home or projects] will "find you". So, this is exactly what I did for the next several hours on the main floor of the antiques show!....

The intricate gardens and endless booths melded together into one, huge, beautiful space.

There were rugs....

Lamps and light fixtures of every kind....

Beautiful flowers....

And strange, yet intriguing, objects....

A couple of my favorite booths were those by Margaret Doyle Antiques (from Cumberland Foreside, Maine)...

And Bob Withington Antiques, also from Maine...

I am a huge fan of spiral staircases, and this one definitely stole my heart! They had it affixed to the wall so you could actually walk up it, putting you two stories in the air!

Another favorite of mine was Laval Antiques out of nearby Atlanta. They had the most beautiful collection of antique textiles and tapestries. I was like a kid in a candy store!

Mid-century modern pieces were a new addition to the show this year, such as those at Ronald Wells antiques and gallery.

In one of the gardens, layered up for the 20 degree weather outside that day!

My Mom (left) and Aunt Kathi (right) next to a collection of blue-and-white pottery

But, what it all really came down to was a magical day with the people I love!

Here's to a great week ahead!

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