Get the Look: Add Patina with Belgian Linens and French Dinnerware

In the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful, there is a story about interior designer Penelope Bianchi’s house in Santa Barbara, California that really resonated with me.  As many of you know, at Gracious Style we really believe in buying timeless objects because we only want to own things that we’ll still love ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.

Two years ago, my husband and I built a new house in L.A. and we’re thrilled that everything works exactly as it should.  I’ve had to buy a lot of new things for the house, but a sense of time is important to me, so I’ve gravitated toward finding objects with age.  I don’t want to live in fear of nicking and scuffing our things, so I am a big believer in using well-worn antiques and objects with patina.   I visit thrift shops and flea markets often, and I often scour 1st dibs, ebay, Sotheby’s, and Christie’s for inspiration.  Why?  Because well-worn objects lend instant warmth and comfort to our rooms and really help us unwind.

It looks like Penelope and I think the same way.  Here is a picture of her dining room.  On the walls, she used a coat of plaster and coated it with lime wash.  Time-consuming to be sure, but you can see how much depth this brings to the room, which she’s outfitted with antique Italian chairs slipcovered using the reverse side of a Fortuny fabric and a gorgeous hand-painted mirror.

Penelope Bianchi Dining Room; image courtesy of House Beautiful Magazine

The master bedroom makes me dream of a little country house in Provence.

Penelope Bianchi Dining Room; image courtesy of House Beautiful Magazine

But I can’t go right now, so this is how I get the look at home.  I like anything from Libeco Home; their linens come in just the right mix of aged colors and they look good without ironing.  Sleeping on pure linen is a joy – yes, they wrinkle, but they become deliciously soft after you wash them.  I like the Sisco striped collection, which comes in a really soft gray:

Libeco Sisco Belgian Linen Bedding

Entertaining is a breeze with the easy-care Polylin collection; these table linens don’t need to be ironed and the colors will fade slightly after just a few washes …

Libeco Polylin Easy Care Belgian Table Linens

Or, for something a little dressier, there’s the Frascati collection, which is bordered in a contrasting color:

Libeco Frascati Belgian Linen Table Linens

On the table, something European and shaped by hand, like Niderviller’s Henri IV Dinnerware:

Niderviller Henri IV Dinnerware

And for a bit of whimsy, pewter instead of sterling.  These fun little Bird salt-and-pepper shakers were modeled after a set found in an antique estate; I love that they never need to be polished.

Pewter Bird Salt-and-Pepper Shakers

What do you do to bring age into your home?

Gracious Style is an online retailer of sophisticated, high-quality products for every room in the house.  We love helping others create warm and welcoming rooms for themselves.  To read more, visit our blog.

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