Wrought iron furniture
Seattle interior designer makes her own Tudor restorative
When Julie Tall bought the 1928 Tudor in Seattle’s Denny Blaine area, she was recently divorced, moving from Mercer Island and contemplating a career change.
By Leora Y. Bloom
INTERIOR DESIGNER Julie Tall knows people have all sorts of reasons for remodeling a home. “Either some rooms are underused, or it’s difficult for entertaining, or they’re missing out on a view, or the traffic plan isn’t working, or no one goes in the living room . . .”
But one of the main reasons Tall’s clients decide to remodel is that they’re going through a life transition. “And their housing, or the way that space feels, needs to change.” Whether the transition is a marriage, a divorce, a new baby or a newly empty nest, “the effects are dramatic, and they start using their space in a new way, or they may be in a new space.”
That’s exactly what happened to Tall in 2007. When she bought the 1928 Tudor in Denny Blaine, she was recently divorced, moving from Mercer Island and contemplating a career change. She’d fallen in love with the neighborhood, and with the spacious, light-filled master bedroom, even though her feelings about the rest of the house were mixed. Still, she waited a year to remodel. “You have to know how you live in a house,” she says, “and what works and what doesn’t.”
Tall used to be an acupuncturist, so she brings a health and healing perspective to everything she does. She explains that as an acupuncturist, “you go really deeply into the spiritual and emotional health as well as the physical health of the client. Everything is connected, so you look for underlying causes and find solutions; it’s not just fixing things on the surface.”
Now she remodels and decorates the same way. “I think of our house as an extension of ourselves,” she says, “and sometimes when we change the house, we can change things within ourselves.”
After her upheavals, Tall wanted her home to feel comfortable, serene and restorative. She knew she’d bought a cheerful, pretty house with delicate detailing, and she wanted any changes to feel like they were meant to be, “so that the house itself still has its own wonderfully cohesive look.”
She chose paint colors from a soothing sand-and-sea palette, and installed window seats, built-in bookcases and a picture rail below the coved ceilings to make the largest rooms more cozy. By replacing a small green marble fireplace surround with a custom mantel that borrows a detail from the home’s original woodwork, she added warmth and elegance to the formal living room.
Tall made her kitchen more social by demolishing a pantry and incorporating a small back bedroom into the larger space, and fitting it out as a mud room/pantry/seating area. She also enlarged the opening from the dining room to the living room to better connect the front of the house to the back. As a result, not only has the flow improved, but the house is filled with light from both east and west.
About half the furnishings came with her from her old house. She compares furnishing your home to filling your closet: You can buy outfits or you can buy separates and create outfits. “The individual things should be things you love, and each room has its own personality, but you can mix it up. There are ways of making existing objects beautiful, simply by their placement.”
The remodel Tall did for herself is a perfect example of practicing what you preach. Every change served a purpose. And all of it brings her joy.
Poetry and morning mist
In a group show with a gold theme last fall, Robin’s enchanting gueridon—a circular gold-leafed top mounted on birdlike black sculpted iron feet—turned out to be the surprising best-seller.
“We sold thirty tables,” reports the gallery’s Agnès Standish-Kentish, who then proposed this one-man collection. Robin has expanded his poetic pieces into limited-edition consoles and coffee tables with oval-disk tabletops covered in luminous white, yellow or pastel gold leaf and supported by quirky black wrought-iron tree-branch legs.
And he’s also added delightful—and unlimited—standing and table lamps. Pierre Basse, sculptor Diego Giacometti’s former master iron craftsman, has cast the sculpted bases while landscaper Christophe Ponceau has set Robin’s stylized trees in pastoral scenery for the gallery show.
“His designs work equally well paired with antiques or with a minimalist decor,” says Standish-Kentish, of Robin’s appeal.
Create garden intimacy with the perfect bench
By Norman Winter
It can be the focal point to your backyard, a garden accent or just an accessory, but the garden bench is seeing a revival in landscapes across the country. In one of my favorite areas here at the Columbus Botanical Garden, visitors have the opportunity to sit on benches surrounded by confederate jasmine not only for relaxing but also for an exhilarating olfactory experience.
In the personal garden however, most dream of creating that private little retreat or corner of paradise in the landscape where you can sit, relax and visit with the natural surroundings and the garden bench is a key aspect.
The choices of materials for today’s benches allow you to choose what is just right for you aesthetically and economically. Mention bench and the first thought that comes to mind is teak wood. Teak, mahogany and cedar are all weather resistant and can be kept stained or allowed to naturally age. The price differential is huge and now after years of watching I must say the teak bench is simply unbeatable. The wood bench is heavy and not easily tossed around by wind.
The heaviest is concrete, and this bench has been around a long time. It is moved to a new location only with great difficulty, so choose your site carefully. What is new however is the availability of large stones arranged and stacked, to create extraordinary designs. Though stone may not be native to your region, the benches nonetheless look harmonious with nature.
Wrought iron benches are still popular, heavier than wood and can come in varying degrees of ornateness. The iron is coated and weather resistant although at some period the coating will be damaged or broken allowing rust to develop and requiring repair.
You mention aluminum and children of the 50′s may first think of shiny silver looking benches. But today the colors and textures have allowed manufacturers to create benches, chairs and tables that are really works of art. They are still lightweight which is easy for the owner to move but unfortunately most are easily tossed in storms.
Plastic is the least expensive and becomes faded and brittle with age. On the other hand, for a temporary use like party or teenager’s gathering the plastic can allow you to get the seating job done without breaking the pocketbook.
I love benches, especially those I can’t see from the back porch or deck. What I mean by this is that the backyard has become like the house with three or four rooms. As you walk the landscape you notice a path that leads you to a cozy area surrounded by wax myrtles and shade loving annuals like impatiens. Here I can unwind after a stressful day.
I love benches in the middle of cottage gardens where I am surrounded by colorful perennials, butterflies, hummingbirds and bees..
Without benches the landscape can seem to be only a place of work with little enjoyment. A well-placed garden bench however makes the landscape an extension of the indoor home.
Home Style: Three things every garden needs
from MARY CAROL GARRITY
On a beautiful June afternoon, there’s no place I’d rather be than my garden. If you want to create an outdoor space that revives and inspires you, here are three tips for turning your garden into an oasis. — I’m no gardener, so two very dear friends of mine took pity on me several years ago and turned the patch of weeds that surrounded my home into Eden. Through the years, Gloria and Lynda, who are master gardeners, have taught me a lot about creating lovely and livable outdoor spaces. Thanks to their guidance, I’ve learned what every garden needs.
The key to success is to know your space and know yourself, then create a garden that suits both. For my garden, that meant giving up on fussy, finicky plants that need a lot of care and opting for shade lovers that have an irrepressible desire to live, despite all odds. Lynda and Gloria rimmed my beds with shrubs that give me four-season color, then under-planted them with hearty perennials like hostas.
Adding a sprinkler system ensured that my plants would be watered on a regular basis — something I could never remember to do on my own.
The only annuals you’ll find in my garden are in a few intriguing pots and urns. I used to plant an array of flower-filled pots and put them all over my porch. Unfortunately, I felt like a slave to those things, and by July, they looked awful. Zero in on just a few annuals, and your garden will be beautiful and carefree.
What good is a garden if you can’t go out there and enjoy it? After a long day at work, I can’t wait to flop into a comfy chair in my garden, put my feet up and let myself unwind. If that’s your style, too, then add a few seating areas to your yard.
And, for a little drama, add some height. Try stacking a wrought-iron side table on top of a wrought-iron coffee table to create a two-tiered structure. The top level is a perfect spot to put an iron urn filled with a gorgeous hydrangea.
A small table and chairs on the front porch make a perfect place to drink your morning coffee, or enjoy a glass of wine after work. For entertaining, take the party out back, where a large, round concrete table can be the center of a courtyard, deck or patio.
Outdoor rooms must have a few arresting focal points. These well-chosen treasures will give your garden beds character and provide a place for your eye to rest as you drink in the whole scene. In my garden, I’ve used different types of artwork. One of my favorites is concrete statuary. I nestled a petite seat right into one bed, providing a hideaway under the green canopy. Other focal points could include iron urns, birdbaths, trellises and fountains.
The old adage “less is more” is definitely true when it comes to decorating with outdoor art. It’s essential to keep the number of pieces you feature in your garden to a bare minimum. Otherwise, your garden runs the risk of looking like a graveyard or an amusement park. Pick just a few pieces that capture your heart, then subtly weave them into your landscape.
How to add more iron to your home’s diet
There are several great ways to incorporate wrought iron into your house in the Triangle without breaking the bank or upsetting the architectural design of your home. The keys to successful integration of ironworks are quantity, style and placement.
Plan ahead: Hand-forged pieces are beautiful, but costs can add up quickly, so plan wisely. For example, many homes in the Triangle feature a floor plan in which a straight stairwell ends a few feet inside the front door with a wooden rail at the last few stairs. This wooden rail could easily (and economically) be replaced with a beautiful wrought iron rail.
What’s your style? Keep in mind the style of your existing décor when blending in ironwork. Traditional and contemporary styles flourish with curves and swirls, while Shaker and Modern styles thrive on straight lines and clean cuts. Try adding in a few pieces of ornamental ironwork to the top of your headboard or side of your dresser for an instantly chic boost to any style of furniture.
Place wisely: Strategic placement of ironworks in the most eye-catching spot will give you the biggest bang for your buck. In Raleigh homes with a vaulted ceiling living room, replacing the half wall in the loft area above with wrought iron will open up the space visually (with increased perception of light and square footage) while providing an exquisite decorative impact in both rooms.