Bookshelf: Stylish Living, English Country House, Romantic French Homes

I’m surrounded by fine antique furniture all day and talking with customers about their home decor. I often take photos of their homes too, for our client spotlights. So what do I do in my spare time? Curl up with books about antiques and interior decor! I can’t get enough of seeing how people make their living space so uniquely personal to them.

These three new books provide lots of home design ideas. They’re great for anyone who loves traditional stylish living.

Designers at Home: Personal Reflections on Stylish Living

Our customers have their own sense of stylish living, but it's still fun to peek inside the homes of design gurus! EuroLuxAntiques.comOur customers have their own sense of stylish living. They trust their own taste above the opinion of any interior designer. Still, it’s always fun to take a sneak peek inside the homes of design gurus! Lifestyle blogger Ronda Rice Carman (foreword by Martha Stewart) explores the personal spaces of famous interior designers. For example: Hutton Wilkinson’s Beverly Hills pad, Nicky Haslam’s historic hunting lodge, and Barry Dixon’s Edwardian manor. It’s perking up my energy for our 1920s bungalow renovation!

Romance & Revival in an English Country House

Ideas for stylish living the English way by Nicky Haslam. Nicky Haslam’s Folly De Grandeur: Romance and Revival in an English Country House gives a closer look at how Haslam renovated his home. The posh society interior designer has a glittering list of clients including Mick Jagger. Haslam has called his home “the prettiest small house in the world.” Small? He says none of the rooms in the Tudor part of the hunting lodge is more than 12 feet square! He shows that size is no obstacle to stylish living. You can make even the smallest space comfy and welcoming.

If this book inspires you, check out our English Antique Furniture and reproduction furniture in the English style.

Romantic French Homes

Romantic French Homes EuroLuxAntiques.comLove French style as much as we do? This book captures the spirit of French home decor. It shows both formal and casual interior decor, for fancy entertaining or just enjoying family time. During our antiques buying trips in Europe, we accept every invitation we can to see inside French homes. We love low they use heirlooms and antiques for a timeless, romantic, and very stylish living space. This book by American writer Lanie Goodman gives a glimpse inside country manors, farmhouses, city apartments and townhouses. You’ll spot a few chateaux too!

Want some French romance for the castle you call home? Browse our antique French furniture collection. You’ll find armoires, buffets, vintage chandeliers and home decor accessories plus our personally selected high-quality reproductions.

Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

The Vintage Art of Writing Letters

The Love Letter by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, 1841-1920
The Love Letter by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, 1841-1920

It may seem old-fashioned to write a proper snail mail letter in these days of text messages, emails, and social media. But it’s that old-fashioned quality – the novelty of it! – that makes it special to receive a real letter. It puts a smile on someone’s face. As Phyllis Theroux said: “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

We call this blog Letters from EuroLux because it feels like we’re penning a note directly to you, our friends interested in traditional and antique furnishings and lifestyle, home decor, and design. Some people call letter writing a lost art… we prefer to call it a vintage art!

Vintage Art of Writing LettersEven if there’s no specific reason to write to someone, like a thank you letter, you can always write to people you haven’t been in touch with lately, just to tell them your news. Or send a note of appreciation to someone who had an influence on you – a mentor or teacher, perhaps. Or send a letter to a family member or friend, even if you’re frequently in touch. They’re bound to be delighted. It’s a great way to slow down and reflect on what a person means to us, and to tell them things we wouldn’t always say in the rush of an email.

Vintage French Oak Secretary Desk from EuroLuxAntiques.comLetter writing is even more of a pleasure when you have a nice pen, some attractive notepaper, and a beautiful writing desk! We love the customized stationery at Iomoi, in classic designs with a contemporary edge. (Or “tradition with a wink” as they describe it.) We also love this vintage 1950 French Oak Secretary Desk at EuroLuxAntiques.com, with beautiful carving and a fab Fleur de Lis motif. The desk has plenty of drawers, shelves, and a cubby hole to tuck away your writing gear and the letters you’ve received yourself!

Antique French Gothic Desk with Keyboard Tray from EuroLuxAntiques.comThe vintage art of writing letters meets the 21st century! If you prefer to write your letters by computer, rather than by hand, and print them out to sign and mail, the recipient will be just as pleased. This heavily carved antique French Gothic solid oak desk dating to 1850 has been updated with the addition of a pull-out keyboard tray. So you can have the traditional feel of an authentic antique desk (standing over 6 feet high – whew, that’s big enough for all your home office bits and pieces!) and all the benefits of modern communications.

Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999. Get inspiration for your letters from Mark Twain and Charlie Chaplain
For inspiration, check out the book Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999. The book features letters written by ordinary folk capturing moments in history, and letters by famous people including Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplain.

 

Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

 

Bookshelf: Audubon, Gardens & Elegant Decor

Everyone knows I love fine French antique furniture. But, like everyone else, my interests are diverse. I love gardening (as you can see from my Vintage Life blog series). I love the challenge of restoring a classic American bungalow. I love taking nature walks with Greg to enjoy the beauty of trees, flowers and birds.

And when I’m not living my passions, I love doing the next best thing: Reading about them.

A trio of recently released books from publisher Skira Rizzoli will feed my senses with stunning photos and engaging commentary. These books will not only make great reading, but I think they’ll look terrific on the coffee table.

The Elegant Garden by Johann Kraftner

Now that the winter doldrums have set in, are you feeling a flush of cabin fever? This book will rescue you! Lavishly illustrated, this 432-page book covers every type of garden imaginable. Whether you’re keen to fashion formal English style gardens to complement your Victorian home or you lean more towards a prairie look, this lovely tome will provide you with a visual feast and plenty of ideas to implement when the spring thaw finally enables you to get back outdoors.

The Age of Elegance by Alex Papachristidis

If you follow American interior design at all, you’ll recognize the name of designer Alex Papachristidis. Known for his love of 18th century furniture and his eclectic design style, Papachristidis rooms never fail to delight. No matter where your decorating tastes lie, this book is sure to please, with photographs of 16 residences designed by Papachristidis. Ranging from New York mansions to a beach house on Cape Cod, the interiors presented will inspire you to incorporate elegance into your own decor.

Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors for the Birds of America

Because we’ve recently added a line of high-quality reproduction aviary and botanical prints to our online collection, I was delighted to discover this sensational book that spotlights Audubon’s original watercolor paintings that were later turned into the engravings we’re all so familiar with in “Birds of America.” Truly a work of art, this coffee table book will provide you and your guests with a rare look at Audubon’s paintings and historical insight through the text by Roberta Olson.

What kinds of books do you enjoy? I could use some suggestions to fill my winter reading list!

 

 Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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Bookshelf: Napkin Folding, Soups & More

Part of what I love about living with antiques is the innate sense of history each piece embodies. And nowhere is this more evident than with antique or vintage French Country kitchen furniture. When I sit down at my antique kitchen table, I can almost feel the original owners gathered around, the entire family enjoying a bowl of the classic French pot au feu. Who knows how many generations ate this hearty stew and drank wine together at this very table? I love France, and my antique dining table connects me with those wonderful people on a soulful level.

So I was delighted to discover a trio of new books from Robert Rose publishing that will help you enjoy your antique furnishings during this holiday season. Two are cookbooks and one teaches you how to create elegant napkin folds — perfect for any occasion, and particularly appropriate for those planning a Victorian Christmas. Let’s dive right in!

Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds

This delightful book by Denise Vivaldo takes you through all kinds of fun and pretty napkin folds with skill levels that range from easy to challenging. Vivaldo has catered everything from the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball to Hollywood wrap parties, so she knows her stuff. The book is helpfully wire-bound so you can set it flat right next to you as you walk through the steps to create each napkin fold.

Napkin folding is kind of a lost art, yet it will make your family members and friends feel very special to sit down at a place setting that includes a folded napkin. And your holiday dinners will feel even fancier with the simple touch of a folded napkin.

In the book, Vivaldo also discusses how to choose the right napkins for any occasion, what to look for in terms of fabric (to make folding work better), and what size napkin to use for various occasions (think: cocktail napkins, luncheon napkins, dinner napkins, and even paper napkins). This is a book that will reside on your bookshelf for years to come, as you discover the fun of napkin folding.

I thought this “orchid fold” would look particularly lovely on a Victorian Christmas table. Email me for a full-size version of the photo you can print out and keep! (Note: All photos and recipes courtesy www.robertrose.ca.)

Orchid Napkin Fold Directions from EuroLux Antiques.jpg (5.19 mb)

150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the volume of cooking involved in the holidays? I know I do. So, I was pleased to discover this book of delicious (and simple!) grilled cheese sandwiches. Written by Alison Lewis, a nationally known recipe developer, 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches includes selections that range from humble to decadent.

A little history (because antiquers always love history!): The grilled cheese sandwich dates back to about 1920. It became popular during the Great Depression as an inexpensive company supper dish and was often called the “Cheese Dream.”

If you picture the grilled cheese sandwich of your childhood and can’t stomach even the thought of the calorie load, you’ll be happy to learn Lewis’s book includes tips on how to lighten-up a grilled cheese sandwich (hint: use grainy mustards and Greek yogurt) and devotes an entire chapter to light and healthy sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are enjoying a huge resurgence and were recently named a major trend in cooking. These sandwiches can be fun to prepare with guests, and you can even create dessert sandwiches!

One of our favorites to help us get out of the holiday turkey rut is this decadent-looking Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton sandwich.

Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton
Serves 4

You’ll need: a panini grill or large skillet. Preheat panini grill to medium, if using.

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or basil aioli
  • 12 oz thinly sliced roast beef
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
  1. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with mayonnaise. Top equally with roast beef, arugula, tomatoes and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press together gently.
  2. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

300 Sensational Soups

Getting back to that pot au feu I mentioned earlier… With their classic beef stew, the French knew this truism: A good soup nourishes the heart as well as the stomach. This fabulous soup cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds will keep your family warm all winter. When you share the sublime soup recipes in this book, you’ll connect with friends and family members on an intimate level.

Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know the book contains plenty of meat-free selections. There’s even a classic pot au feu recipe! But I loved this decadent lobster chowder recipe because I think it would make a beautiful first course for any holiday dinner.

Rich Lobster and Roasted Corn Chowder
Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425F. You’ll also need a large rimmed baking sheet.

  • 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 3 cooked lobster tails (each about 10 oz), meat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 Tbl chopped fresh chives
  1. On a baking sheet, combine corn, oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the black pepper; toss to coast evenly and spread in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and redistribute into an even layer. Roast until corn is lightly but evenly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, saute bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the fat in the pot. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add cayenne and saute for 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock, clam juice, and the remaining salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in roasted corn and cream; return to a simmer, stirring often, until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add lobster meat and saute until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top with lobster. Garnish with reserved bacon and chives.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and the napkin-folding instructions and can use these ideas for your holiday entertaining — and the cold weeks ahead! These three books from Robert Rose will make a welcome addition to your antique French Country kitchen bookshelf. (Note: We are not affiliated with Robert Rose in any way.)

What elegant, decadent, or surprising dishes do you make during the holidays? Do you salute your ethnicity through food? Please share with us in the comments!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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