In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought it time to address my love affair with Louis Philippe. Who is Louis Philippe, and how did his name become a part of my daily vocabulary? In order to answer these questions and more, I will have to give you a brief French history lesson – so sit back and relax!
For nearly two centuries, the House of Bourbon dominated the courts of France, as well as its trends, fashion, and décor. The “Fab Four”, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI, had major influence on the arts and design, not only in France but in all of Europe. Each King Louis had his own personality, and thus his own signature style that defined his rule and made its mark on the world. With the execution of Louis XVI and the overthrow of Charles X, Louis Philippe became king. His monarchy was a new type of monarchy based on the support of the people and he became known as the “Citizen’s King”.
King Louis Philippe lived a modest lifestyle, doing away with most of the pomp and excess of the past French monarchies. He tried to please everyone, and famously in doing so, pleased no one. He was the last French ruler to ever hold the title of ‘King of France,’ and ended up being exiled to England.
The Louis Philippe style emerged during its namesake’s reign (1830-1848) in an effort to visually communicate his sensitivity to the French bourgeoisie. Comfort and functionality became the primary consideration with a simple, yet elegant aesthetic. My favorite Louis Philippe pieces are hands-down commodes and mirrors. I adore these pieces because of their decorative caliber, versatility, and ability to blend with more transitional interiors; we always have these beauties in stock at our retail showroom, and on our online platforms. I’ve highlighted these two treasures below, along with their hallmarks:
– The Louis Philippe Commode – If you forced me to pick, I’d say this is my absolute favorite antique. It is typically solid and sturdy with little adornment. It has rounded lines with a marble top. Case pieces like this usually feature some type of “soft curve” to lend softness to the otherwise straight lines that were common of this period. The marble is usually gray, black, or white with some type of decorative profile. The front veneer usually features a beautiful dark wood like walnut, mahogany, or rosewood. These seamlessly incorporate into more transitional interiors.
– The Louis Philippe Mirror – Like the commode, it is simple in form. It is typically rectangular with curved top corners and squared bottom corners. The classic finish is gold or silver leaf. The frames usually have some type of vine, flower, or geometric motif for decoration. They strike the perfect balance of structural and soft, with elegance and character.
While King Louis Philippe might not have pleased his subjects during reign, aesthetically he is a man after my own heart. I adore the simple sophistication of his namesake pieces, and my heart skips a beat when I spy one on my antiquing adventures. Please consider one of these pieces for your own home to add a bit of je ne sais quoi!
I have always considered myself a bit of a Francophile; I love champagne, wine, good cheese, and the French philosophies on many things. I source materials from French manufacturers, and have collected French antiques for more than thirty years. With my upcoming buying trip to Paris in March, I am dreaming about all things French.
I admire the French take on both style and life. Three beliefs come to mind that express my shared sentiments with the French, and these reflect the heart of my own design aesthetic:
- “Faites Simple” The French know that generally less is more, and above all quality and pedigree is everything. I try to similarly keep it simple when purchasing furniture and decorative items for my business and home. This mentality means true value is top priority. For example, a good statement chair can double as a decorative work of art and a functional piece of seating. One quality piece can instantly elevate the status of everything else in the room.
- “Peu a Peu” Rome wasn’t built in a day, but rather little by little. This French saying coincides with what I tell my design clients – great interiors simply take time to pull together. I believe it truly takes the investment of time to get to know a client’s lifestyle and vision. I also want to create spaces that feel collected over time, and not purchased off a showroom floor. These phases of the process and the development of a project are critical, and all about gradual progress. Good things take time, great things take even more time!
- “De Saison” From time to time it is fun to indulge in the trends of the season, but never at the expense of the classics. The French have an innate understanding that trends are temporary and will date a space quickly, as most only last a couple of years. I encourage my clients to keep trends to accessories; these items are much easier and less expensive to replace down the road than the key pieces and furnishings of your home. These philosophies underscore why French interiors exude a certain “je ne sais quoi” – that unspoken, special touch I strive to incorporate into every piece I purchase and project I design. This makes for a timeless, collected, and oh so beautiful outcome.
And one last confession… I married my favorite French antique (well, not really an antique) two years ago – David Shannon LeRoy, formerly “LeRoi”.
Stay tuned as next month I will comment on my affair with Louis Philippe!
Here are a few suggestions for giving you the Midas Touch!
- Master Bathroom: Replace your existing brass plumbing fixtures and hardware with something a little more contemporary. For instance, try a modern Brushed Gold, vibrant French Gold, or timeless Champagne Bronze finish. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how these minor updates transform your space.
- Living Spaces: Reframe an existing piece of art with a fabulous gold leaf frame, and try an upholstered bench with brass legs in the same room. Or add a brass and glass coffee table for a bit of Hollywood glamour! A subtle pop of metal can be daring, creating a versatile feeling and big impact.
- Holiday Decorations: Not sure about adding brass or gold permanently? I have always found the holidays to be a great excuse for a trial run! Deck the halls with bright gold ribbon, metallic ornaments, and vintage brass or giltwood candlesticks. You’ll get a better taste for what tones fit best in your home and could stick around after the tree and trimmings come down.
With the holidays just around the corner, I know many of you are already thinking about hosting family and friends in your home – and specifically around your dining table. I have found that the key to gracious entertaining isn’t necessarily in having extravagant centerpieces or perfectly placed name-cards, but in engaging your guests with a meaningful and elevated sensory experience.
When creating an interesting tablescape I often follow many of the same design principles that I employ when designing a room. For example, I first decide what the focal point will be. It’s important to think about which element you want to take center stage – the flowers, linens, dishware, etc – then let the other elements compliment this and play second fiddle. My family has come to expect a seasonal focal point from me, typically in the form of beautiful flowers. However, you might prefer to highlight a patterned tablecloth or colored glassware; just make sure your selection reflects you! I have outlined several tips for creating a special tablescape below, and hope they will inspire you this holiday season!
- Function First: When it comes to entertaining – put function first. This may seem surprising because I am all about a gorgeous aesthetic, but it is never a great idea to hide your guests’ faces behind an obtrusive floral arrangement. I was taught that your flowers should not be taller than the distance from your elbow to your fist OR they should be in a tall, slender vase that can easily be seen around. It is important to vary the height of these decorative objects so that your tablescape does not feel flat or one-dimensional.
- Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to add a bold hue, pattern, or texture to your tablescape. Pops of color on linens or dishes can add interest, festivity, and personality to your décor. Express yourself by investing in items that have meaning to you, as you will likely use them year after year. I personally adore Busatti linens, candlesticks of differing heights, clear glass hurricanes and vintage pieces. If you’ve inherited grandma’s china or a treasured family heirloom, the holidays can be the perfect time to dust them off. These items give you that timeless and collected look that can otherwise take years to achieve.
- Appeal to all the senses: It is easy to get lost in preparing tasty holiday treats and special family recipes which appeal to our sense of taste, but it is also important to think about the other senses as well. Luxuriously soft linens, scented candles, or a special music playlist can help guests feel right at home. Don’t forget to include a natural element such as fresh flowers or greenery, fruit with cloves, leaves, gourds, garland, or clipped branches from the yard. Bringing the outdoors in can appeal to your guests’ senses as well as add authentic and natural beauty to your table.
Implement a few of these tips and you’re sure to make a great impression on your company. Going beyond the basics with personalized and special entertaining is what the holidays are all about. A carefully curated table conveys warmth, gratitude, and welcome. Your guests will feel the joy you create!
While hunting for antiques, I have always tried to keep my eyes peeled for interesting writing desks and tables because they sell! These pieces are in high demand because of their versatility and ability to solve a variety of design needs.
When I suggest a writing desk to my design clients, I find that many of them haven’t ever considered using one outside of a home office space. I explain that writing desks can be used in many ways, serving the home far beyond office work. While the term “desk” might imply work to some, it can mean play to others. After all, why balance a laptop on your legs when you could have a designated surface for writing, surfing, or creating?
See my suggestions below for how you might incorporate these often neglected pieces in your own home!
- Living Area: Consider using a writing desk as a sofa back table. It can serve as a holding area for beautiful accessories and do double duty as a small office. I love it when you can get great function in a small space!
- Bedroom: Another place I like to use writing desks is in the bedroom. I tend to gravitate toward smaller desks that do not appear heavy or overly business-like. It can be interesting to pair a decorative desk with a skirted table or small chest on the other side of the bed. A pretty writing desk with an upholstered occasional chair can elevate most any bedroom!
- Guest Bedroom: In today’s technology-filled world, I find that house guests value space to unwind and recharge – their devices. It is thoughtful to provide them with a surface to store their laptop and potentially work remotely. Your guests can also use this surface to hold personal items or as an alternative vanity option if the guest bath isn’t large or accessible.
I believe that purchasing an interesting writing desk is a sound investment for people at most any age. However, young people who are just beginning to invest in furnishings should consider this piece as it could serve in one capacity in their current home and then function differently in the next. With so many beautiful writing desk options available, this might just be the functional solution you’ve been looking for!