Thursday, April 28, 2016

Decorating Conservatories And Garden Rooms.........Back By Popular Demand

Built and owned by the more affluent members of society and perceived as a status symbol, the conservatory derives its name from the Italian term “conservato”, meaning stored or preserved, and Latin “ory”, meaning a place for. The conservatory would appear to have its origins as far back as the days of the Roman Empire when they created structures capable of allowing light in while retaining heat via sheets of mica instead of glass which was not available at the time.

Conservatories became more popular in the late 19th century with the traditional conservatory being a large greenhouse used for growing tender and rare plants. Wealthy citizens erected conservatories on their estates and created glass garden rooms in their urban mansions. Many hired botanists to stock their conservatories with tropical plants from around the world.  This became a way to cultivate tropical fruits (hence the term "orangery") as orange and lemon trees were brought back during the great Age of Exploration. These garden rooms evolved into elegant spaces in which patrons might enjoy the experience of truly connecting with nature. 

Regardless if you call it a conservatory or garden room, a beautiful structure that creates a bridge between outdoors and inside will let you have fun relaxing in your own private garden.

French orangerie via Cote Ouest

What is the difference between a garden room, a conservatory, and an orangery? Generally all of these buildings fall under the umbrella of “garden room”.

source unknown

The conservatory began life as a place for potting and preserving tender plants. Originally, they were purely functional outbuildings to country houses and stately homes. However eventually they began to take on a more "decorated" look.

via Pinterest

People became aware that the conservatory could also be a garden room, a delightful spot in which to enjoy outdoor views and an al fresco atmosphere while remaining sheltered from the outside elements.

Interior designer Axel Vervoordt's Garden Room in his medieval castle on the outskirts of Antwerp, Belgium.

Axel Vervoordt

I adore these old world garden rooms and conservatories. They are so very charming! Who wouldn't enjoy relaxing in a space like this?

Another picture of the garden room above.

Photograph by Nicola Berlotti

By the early part of the twentieth-century the two world wars and economic instability ended the fascination with conservatories.

Impractical and difficult to maintain, many owners abandoned and dismantled them.

source unknown 

The Victorian conservatory springs most readily to mind when people think of conservatory styles 
and it seems to work well with almost any design.

A lovely green painted garden room.

I love the way a garden room allows you to enjoy the surrounding landscape while sheltering you from any type of bad weather.

I like a conservatory that has mature growth.

Many homeowners are drawn to the more rustic European country style garden room.

The harlequin floor adds to the casual elegance of this garden room.

via Pinterest

Today, a conservatory used as a dining room can provide a romantic intimate setting. Imagine how pretty it is at night with candlelight flickering against the glass.

Modern technology has made possible a balance of temperature and ventilation that allows a multiplicity of functions in a garden room creating a wonderful space for entertaining.

Carolyn Roehm

Another plus of dining in your conservatory is the smell of flowers especially if you choose varieties with heady fragrances. These geraniums are not known for their perfume. I would choose something like jasmine, lily of the valley, gardenias, or orange-blossom. White flowers like the ones I just mentioned seem to have the strongest scents.

Garden rooms are multi functional today and have become a living space for people to relax in instead of a showplace for plants.

Although the most charming ones do have an abundance of greenery.

Designer Paul Williams

Today insulated glass, specialized blinds and curtains that work by remote control make it possible for these garden rooms to be used year round.

There are even specialized floors that include radiant heat.
I love this is so charming!

via Pinterest

A stunning formal iron conservatory.

source unknown

What has not changed throughout the centuries is the beauty of spaces filled with light and living things. Conservatories and garden rooms have definitely seen a substantial revival of popularity.

Convenient to use and easy to maintain, the garden room is a valuable asset to any home.

I love how this modern day garden room has the look of old world charm.

The conservatory in Jasper Conran’s country estate, Ven House in Milborne Port, Somerset - as featured in The World of Interiors.

To be able to live with nature throughout the year is still as coveted today by modern homeowners as it was in the 18th century.

Click here to see the previous post

This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Italian Renaissance Painted Cassapanca

I have loved these fabulous painted benches for years and am surprised to see that most people know very little about them. Here is a bit of history. When a cassone or "large chest" belonging to rich Italian merchants and aristocrats in the Late Middle Ages was provided with a high paneled back, it evolved into a cassapanca, "chest-bench", which was the forerunner of the sofa. The Italian Renaissance painted cassapanca ( kas-uh-pang-kuh) , while functioning as piece of furniture, was also a canvas for the exuberant decoration of painters from the Baroque era. These artists would cover the entire surface of the bench and back panel with crests, legendary figures and trompe-l’oeil, French for "fool the eye". Sometimes called illusionist furniture, this style of painted furniture dates back to the early Renaissance where ceilings, walls, and even furniture was painted to portray three dimensional architectural and sculptural elements.

A surviving painted cassapanca from the Italian Renaissance period is worth a great deal of money. Even the later reproductions are very expensive. Not something you can decorate with everyday! They are, however, quite lovely and I believe worth a blog post so that you can learn a bit about them and enjoy the "eye candy".

The combination of two pieces of furniture, a panca (bench) and a cassone, (low chest with a lid), a painted cassapanca was usually the pièce de résistance of the Italian home.

An Italian Renaissance painted cassapanca and a pair of torcheres from the first quarter of the 18th century. This suite would have been a prized possession then and certainly today is a treasure.

This cassapanca is elaborately painted overall in trompe-l’oeil decoration. The back features a central framed medallion of Hercules in grisaille flanked by boldly painted tritons and is beneath a grotesque masque.

The painted cassapanca is an example of illusionist painting in Italian interiors that dates back to the early Renaissance. Illusionism was a highly valued, deceptive style of painting that depicts architectural details and scenes from nature so realistically that they seem three dimensional.

The Italian painted cassapanca is a remarkable piece of furniture that is at home in grand interiors as well as rustic European country estates.

Here is a side view of the same cassapance. They are really quite narrow.

Sometimes called a marriage chest, the cassapanca is a rich and showy Italian type of chest. You could lift the seat for storage underneath. These painted Italian beauties were often given as part of marriage dowries and would be given to the bride during the wedding. It was usually the bride's parent's contribution to the wedding.

These lovely Renaissance painted pieces were permanent
 fixtures in the main public room of a palazzo. A cassapanca was part of what was considered "unmovables", things left in place even if the palazzo passed to another family.

source unknown

An 18th to 19th century Italian painted cassapanca.

An Italian Renaissance painted cassapance and antique carved panel in the home of Interior Designer Lars Bolander and his wife Nadine.

source unknown

In aristocratic Italian homes a pair of Italian painted cassepanche often adorned the entrance halls of palazzi.

The Italian Renaissance cassapanca was usually painted in Trompe l'oeil style which is an art form rich in imagery and illusion and gives the appearance of three-dimensional realism. It flourished from the Renaissance onward.

One could commission their cassapanca to be painted in a simpler style...........

........or in exuberant painting and detail.

via Pinterest

Trompe l' oeil was not the only art style used in painting a cassapanca. Many were hand painted with floral sprays, volutes, scrolls, and garlands of fruit and flowers.

An astonishing painted trompe l’oeil cassapance featuring wonderful architectural elements and a colorful family crest against a black background.

Since it was usually set on a dais that included one or two steps and was quite extraordinary in form, the Italian painted cassapanca like this one would have enjoyed a prominent position in the home and would be where the master of the house "held court".

An Italian painted Renaissance cassapanca displaying storage space beneath the seat.

Photography by Kotomi Yamamura,

When painted one color or even left natural, an Italian cassapanca still exudes elegance even in rough luxe style.

David Michael Miller Associates,  source photo credit Bill Timmerman

Click here to see the previous post

This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 Follow Me On Facebook Follow Me On Pinterest Subscribe to my RSS Feed Send Me An Email