Friday, June 8, 2018

Decorating With Grand Tour Souvenirs

The term "Grand Tour" refers to the 17th and 18th century custom of elite English families sending their sons (and sometimes daughters) on an extensive two to four year European pilgrimage designed to introduce young European nobility to the art and culture of Europe with a focus on France and Italy. Traveling around Europe served to broaden their horizons and was considered an educational rite of passage. The primary value of the Grand Tour was exposure to the classical antiquity. The young people would learn about language, architecture, geography, culture and classical music. In addition, they would be provided exposure to great masterpieces of art since there were few museums anywhere in Europe before the close of the eighteenth century.

While on the Grand Tour young aristocrats were encouraged to purchase antiquities to decorate their homes. Collecting became a trend of the day. Today’s antique collector most likely doesn’t know about how the idea of collecting began and the influence the Grand Tour played in it.

The custom of Grand Tour flourished from about 1660 until the beginning of rail transport in the 1840s. Though primarily associated with the British nobility, the sons, and later daughters, of  wealthy landed gentry also made similar trips as did sons of wealthy American families after the American Revolution. 

On the Grand Tour one had opportunity to acquire things otherwise unavailable, lending an air of accomplishment and prestige to the home. The Grand Tour informed northern Europeans about the Greco-Roman world and helped create the neo-classical style of decor.

Grand Tourists would return with crates full of art, books, antiques,  and cultural artifacts. Paperweights, architectural specimens, obelisks, columns, monuments, altars, fountains, and statuary were brought back as souvenirs that were displayed proudly in libraries, drawing rooms, curiosity rooms, and gardens. Because of the grand tour souvenir making became a cottage industry.

Jacques Garcia

One can still see their treasures on mantles and in vignettes in many of England's great houses. The souvenirs these Grand Tour travelers brought back are still considered a tasteful form of decorating even in today's interiors.

Inside The Beautiful World of Robert Zellinger de Balkany in Paris

France was the ultimate Grand Tour destination as the appeal of Paris lay in the sophisticated language and manners of French high society. Since French was the dominant language of the elite in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the young people would hire a French tutor upon their arrival in Paris. There the traveler might take lessons in French, dancing, riding, and fencing. 

Christopher Gollut

The required stops on the Grand Tour were Paris, Florence, Venice and Rome. The Italians were quick to begin making miniature souvenir buildings in bronze, alabaster and marble in the late 18th century when they began to realize the numbers of titled young travelers visiting Rome to study the monuments of the ancient city.

These souvenirs included models of ancient buildings and ruins.  Such collectibles were displayed prominently within their homes and became conversation pieces as well as objects for further study.

The Grand Tourists came home with an appreciation of the architecture of the Renaissance and Baroque eras and they brought with them miniature models of ancient architecture. This images shows how collecting miniature architecture as ''souvenirs of the Grand Tour'' was very popular.

Sometimes larger pieces were also acquired on Grand Tour travels.

Luis Bustamante

If you like a neo-classical look then some of these Grand Tour items are a must as they will immediately add the flair.

This image and the following one features a beautiful collection of Grand Tour souvenirs in the home of Sheldon Barr and Tom Gardner.

Photographs by Jeff Hirsch ...via

The Grand Tour travelers were expected to return home with souvenirs of their travels as well as an understanding of art and architecture formed by an exposure to great masterpieces and enchanting and magnificent objects related to the history. Upon their return home, these young men and women were supposedly ready to accept the responsibilities of being an aristocrat.The custom of the Grand Tour was for the purpose of preparing the young man for a leadership position at home, often in government.

Monuments were especially popular Grand Tour collectibles.

images via Pinterest

John Pope’s home via

I love Grand Tour vignettes that have souvenirs in a variety of sizes. Keep in mind that vignettes should "draw you in".

The look of the Grand Tour can be created today by just knowing what to look for. While it is nice to have the "real deal" as most of these vignettes contain, you can purchase some pieces that may not be fine antiques and yet display them in a way that they look more expensive then they actually are. I see bronzes and other metal figures like these at auctions, antique malls and shows. And they are affordable. Do your homework before you treasure hunt and you will be surprised what you can find.

Lars Bolander

Look for classical pieces made from bronze, marble, alabaster, both sculptural and architectural.

 Pieces of bronze will be great additions to a Grand Tour interior.

images via Pinterest

Grand Tour plaster intaglios, obelisks , and monuments.

Jaya Ibrahim, Designer

There is a variety of reproduction neo-classical home decor items. Look for obelisks, urns, and prints featuring classical elements like the gallery of urn prints in this image. Architectural prints are also a good choice.

Via Pinterest

Keep your eyes open for classical lamps and urns to play a part in your Grand Tour style vignette.

This is a collected look and if you like it you have to start with one piece. Then always be on the lookout for something to add to your collection. Think of it as a modern day Grand Tour and have fun with it.

via Pinterest

Here is a place you can start. This Arc De Triomphe sculptural end table by Design Toscano can be purchased through Amazon. Go treasure hunting for the rest!!!

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Decorating With Damask........An Old World Classic Is Chic Again

There is an old French saying, " plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", which means "the more things change, the more they stay the same". This is why I prefer classic interior design. Trends, that are basically just recirculating what has already been, come and go but timeless interiors are never out of style.

There is a move spreading through the design world for a return to elegance. We have seen it in the prevailing taste for elegant upholstery, the move on from the confused eclectic style, the renewed interest in dining rooms, and the return of the four-walled room as opposed to large open spaces. 

Damask wallpaper has always been the embodiment of elegance. Timeless and tasteful, it is an iconic design element. That's why it's our wallpaper trend for 2018. I have always loved damask and the old world charm it brings. Now it is trendy's just simply done in a fresh way for those of you who like the look but want more modern flair.

In this blog post you will find damask used in timeless interiors as well as some modern homes. Whether you incorporate it as fabric or wallpaper, damask is a classic whose time has come again and you won't go wrong with this lovely choice.

I am simply in love with all the rich colored damasks I am seeing in the Versailles series. I have always adored Louis XIII and XIV interiors because of the colors, warmth, texture, and richness of the walls and fabrics.

Legend says that damask was created in Syria and it was through the Crusader campaigns to Damascus that damask (then made from silk) was introduced to Europe via Italy in the 11th century. The weaving of linen damask became established in flax-growing countries like France, for example, by the mid-13th century.

My favorite way to use damask is by incorporating it through small doses here and there. I like to use damask upholstered chairs, settees, or footstools.

Who doesn't love a bit of damask on a fabulous French daybed.

Also damask bedding is soooooo pretty.

Canopied, curtained, or covered, a bed will be instantly elevated when damask is chosen.

True damask was originally always of silk, but gradually the name came to be applied to a certain type of patterned fabric regardless of fiber. It is woven to create areas of different sheen in the cloth. Because the different textures reflect light differently, the patterns show as variations in tone. The fact that the pattern is woven into the cloth means that the fabric is always reversible unlike brocades. 

Studio Peregalli

Originally hand-woven and most often made in silk, damasks have had a long-standing status as a luxury fabric. Usually rooms were "damasked" from floor to ceiling and all areas in between.

Jacquard is a method of manufacturing woven fabrics. The technique was invented in France during the mid-1800s and revolutionized the production of luxurious fabrics. Whereas once it was only possible to weave fancy damasks on a handloom, now they were being manufactured in factories

An expression of power, wealth, and taste, luxurious fabrics like damask would have been counted among the most valuable items owned by individuals.

Jacques Garcia

The high cost of raw material and the complexity of the production limited the use of damask to religious decorations, formal clothing, or to decorate palaces and royal residences.

The scrolled motifs more commonly thought of today as ‘damask’ became popular during the Renaissance, and have remained so. The heavy fabrics were used for curtains, walls and upholstery, as well as clothing.

via Pinterest

Walls would be covered in damask.......a precursor to wallpaper.

Studio Peregalli

Damask walls and furnishings in the home of Pierre Bergé. Velvet is a classic fabric choice to use alongside damask.

La Réserve Paris

I love the milk chocolate colored damask wall in this room by designer Ann Getty. Rose pink damask on the side chair anchors the room to the fabulous carpet.

It's floral and stylized patterns make damask perfect for a tasteful and fine furniture and accessories.

Studio Peregalli

I may be wrong but I believe this is a damask patterned wallpaper.Wallpaper eventually replaced fabric wallhangings in most homes helping to bring this classic pattern into the 20th century. By then wallpaper had established itself as one of the most popular household items across the Western world. 

Damask wallpaper has always been extremely popular and although it is "retired" from time to time, it always finds it's way back into our homes.

House Beautiful

Lady Annaberry Vintage via facebook

Today modern damasks are woven on a computerized Jacquard loom and the material now ranges from silk and linen to synthetic fibers such as rayon. This lovely fabric is available in an endless array of designs and colors and damask is now enjoyed by all homeowners, not just the affluent.

Interior decorator Victoria Hagan uses a damask slipcovered 19th-century English wing chair in the living room of her family's Connecticut house.

 For a rich vintage appeal try layering damask window treatments with more subtle patterns like this collection of pillows. Make sure they are all compatible!

Haddon Weaves Fabric Collection by Zoffany

These new damask fabrics for drapery and upholstery feature the design you love but in a variety of todays modern colors and styles.

From traditional and classic to bold and graphic, wallpaper is back in a big way. Damask covered walls have made a huge comeback.

Sleep in luxury with damask bedding and wall covering. The bedroom is a great place to try out some damask.

Damask has been reinterpreted for the modern age and is being used in some exciting ways.

via Pinterest

Damasks can be remarkably modern and fresh. Contrast is the name of the game. Look for unexpected color combinations and furniture to make your damask feel fresh.

Pair traditional damask wallpaper with modern furniture for a chic space. As I said in the beginning unless you have a large room this pattern is best in small doses. Keep it trendy but ELEGANT for the best look. It is easy to end up with a mess if you don't use restraint.

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

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