Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saarinen Marries Chippendale

A friend of mine recently played matchmaker to an unlikely duo--a camelback sofa and a tulip table.
Who would have thought that an 18th century sofa could be so happily married to a mid-century modern table? I wouldn't have thought to pair the two, but I must admit that the chemistry is undeniable. Maybe it is the arch-backed that aligns so well with the gracefully curved pedestal. Whatever the cause, the pair form a happy union.
The companions now sit in the eating area of the kitchen that got a face-lift several years ago. (

As is often the case, pairing traditional with modern furniture refreshes the whole. The new outcome is often referred to as transitional. Whereas traditional design references 18th century French and English styles, transitional design mixes in contemporary forms, especially midcentury modern styles.

In this transitionally-styled kitchen, the sofa style was designed by the London cabinet maker/furniture designer, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). The arched back and single cushion seat has been a perennial favorite, but to bring it into the 21st century it needed to be tweaked.

My friend chose to have the sofa reupholstered in an outdoor Sunbrella fabric. The  stripe is more current than a damask, and the washable fabric much more practical for eliminating stains than a silk that might have covered an original Chippendale sofa.

The table my friend chose as the sofa's mate was designed by Eero Saarinen (1910-1961).
wikimedia, Eero Saarinen
Saarinen was both an industrial designer and an architect. His architectural landmarks include: the St. Louis Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch, St-Louis,
and Dulles International Airport's main terminal. (No wonder he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1962.)
wikimedia--Washington Dulles International Airport

You probably recognize Saarinen's furniture shapes that show up in homes and offices today, more than fifty years after he died. 
wikimedia--Eero Saarinen's pedestal armchair designed in 1956
I wonder what the two famous designers would have said about the pleasing progeny their union produced?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Skye's the Limit

(A word of explanation for my delinquent posting. In addition to long distance babysitting two days a week for a darling grandson, I have been helping my mother who fell and broke her hip just after the holidays. Although she lives in a senior complex with continuum of care, it has required much family assistance to downsize her to an assisted living efficiency apartment. As if this didn't keep me busy enough, we also took a three week trip to Macedonia and France for my husband to be part of a physician mentoring partnership and for me to speak to a women's group. In my downtime, I gave a bridal shower for a nephew, and then we all celebrated at his wedding on the beach in Connecticut. So, you can see why my blog has taken backseat to all the family events.)  

Now to catch you up on some of the things you have missed... 

Back at the end of January, I went to our granddaughter's third birthday party. The theme, by popular demand, was Skye, the female member of the PAW Patrol.  
Image result for is sky the only girl on paw patrol

Tables were covered in paw prints. 

Dog bones hung from chandeliers.

Emergency vehicles severed as center pieces

A pink and turquoise color scheme kept the decorations unified and feminine.

Guests were favored with cookies decorated accordingly.

Naturally, Skye was front and center on the cake.

Birthday girl sported a pink bow in her hair and wore a shirt with a pink doggie carrying a birthday cake on his back.

 Her cousins, who happily are girls, came to the party to offset her three brothers!

 She was quite pleased with the cake...

 especially, when it was time to taste it!

After the food was gone, and the presents were opened, birthday girl got her face painted like her favorite PAW patrol character.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Table Ideas of March

One of my daughters recently hosted friends for dinner. Her table centerpiece warrants publishing.

The foundation of the largest arrangement are three white hyacinth blossoms, augmented with golden solidago and hypericum berries. 
In the smaller white porcelain containers are mini lime-green plants that I believe to be baby tears (Soleirolia soleiroli).

Several elements give this arrangement appeal.  First, the color scheme of the greige-and-white striped runner on the table is a nice backdrop, in the room painted Benjamin Moore's Museum Piece gray. Second, the yellow-green foliage echoes the color of the ferns on the sideboard. Finally, the white bisque square vases combined with the round bisque tea light holders add interest.
All that noted, I am sure you can figure out what I think is the best part of this display!
p.s.  My other daughter has the same aesthetic, and she decorated her mantel in an eerily similar manner. As the saying goes, great minds think alike. (She used air plants in the smaller containers.)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Budapest, Hungry: Past is Present

We began our city tour of Budapest in the daylight by hiking up the steep hill behind our hotel to see where the patrician, silk-stocking bourgeoisie lived both in the past and today.
At the pinnacle of Buda Hill is the Hapsburg Palace which reminded me of a marble Disneyland castle.
However, its location and solid construction were not chosen for their entertainment value. Rather, the fortress was designed to protect the Buda village from Mongols.
It is easy to see why the castle and fortifications were built on this side of the Danube. The Buda Hills  provide an excellent defensive position for Central Europe’s main waterway.
Defense has been necessary to the population for almost as long as the nation has existed.

Celts from the north and the Magyars from the east founded Hungary in 1000 with King Stephen as their first king. At the time, Buda and Pest were only tiny villages.

In 1241, the Mongols invaded and destroying Pest and Buda. They burnt the crops and decimated the Hungarian population. Half of the population, about 1 million people, were killed or deported as slaves.  Famine and hunger followed. The leader of the Mongols died suddenly, and the invaders returned to Asia.

The departure of the Mongols allowed the next king, Bella, to rebuild the country. Understandably, he built a fortress on Buda Hills to defend against future attacks. The second Mongolian strike was stopped at Pest by the royal army thanks to these castles. Afterward, to bolster his numbers, the king invited settlers from Western Europe to immigrate as reinforcements.
When the Turks captured Buda, Matthias Church became a mosque.
The tables turned once again in the 15th century when the Turks invaded the country and defeated the Hungarian army.

It took 150 years before the Hungarians could reunite under the leadership of the Holy Roman Emperor, liberating Buda and Pest. However, the Turks did not leave without a protracted fight. In the siege the two towns were completely destroyed. The Royal Palace on Castle Hill was in ruins. Only a few thousand people survived the fights inside the walls of Buda. 

After the liberation, churches that had been converted into mosques were transformed back into their original functions.

Sadly, the defeat of the Turks did not bring freedom to Hungary. The country became a province of the Habsburg Empire. The Habsburg regime started large-scale reconstruction works in Buda and Pest. Baroque dwelling houses and churches replaced the Ottoman era buildings.

Eventually in the mid 1800s, the Hungarians partially gained their independence from Hapsburg rule and became the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy with Hungarian as the official language.

During World War I, Hungary allied with Germany and Austria. Near the end of the war, in 1918, the  country became the Republic of Hungary. However, in the peace settlement--the Treaty of Trianon--the country was split up and reduced from more than 20 million citizens to a country of less than 8 million.

World War II brought more hardship to the Hungarians. At first, they fought alongside the Germans against the Soviets. But the brutality of the Germans became increasingly obvious.

This sad chapter in Hungary's history is chronicled in the museum in the Jewish Quarter. The Great Synagogue located on the Pest side of the city shares space with the Holocaust museum.

Jewish martyrs are memorialized in The Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park located in the synagogue's side yard.
An enormous metal weeping willow, The Emanuel Tree, is the centerpiece of the park.

Inscribed on each leaf are the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Located just behind The Emanuel Tree is of the newest memorials in the park, a stained-glass wall depicting the flames of the Holocaust. 


The glass was installed to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved many of the city's Jews from extermination camps by issuing them protective Swedish passports.

As World War II continued, the Hungarian government tried to change sides from the Axis to the Allied countries. Unfortunately, the betrayal was discovered, and the Germans overran the country killing or deporting hundreds of thousands of Hungarians to German concentration camps.

After the defeat of the Germans, the Soviets took over Hungary occupying the country for 44 years.
In 1956, the people tried to overthrow this domination, but the attempt was unsuccessful and many were punished unmercifully.  

Soviet control lasted until 1989, when Hungary finally became an independent democracy. In 1999, Hungary joined NATO, and in 2004, became a member of the European Union.

From this cursory review of Hungarian history, tourist can see how the two sides of the capital reflect the country's history.
Buda still features the Gothic Palace and homes of the upper class,

while the Pest side of the city is dedicated to commerce. This quarter features fancy hotels,

the Hungarian State Opera House,

Image result for opera house in budapest

and St. Stephen's Cathedral named after Hungary's first king.

From touring Budapest it is obvious that joining the European Union has rehabilitated this country erasing pox marks left from the Soviet era.

Hungary should be proud of its resurgence. The magnificent parliament building,

the chain bridge,
and the Hapsburg Palace are certainly sights from the past worth seeing today.
Hilton-Budapest Castle