Decor of Nick and Nora

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After reading Murder with a Twist (by Tracy Kiely), I decided to write about the decor of Nick and Nora Charles since the book is reminiscent of The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett.  Ms. Kiely’s modern-day characters, Nic and Nigel Martini, do harken back to the 1930’s of Dashiell Hammett’s since they, too, are married and trying to solve a murder.  Instead of a wiry terrier, the Martinis have a giant mastiff dog– yet still take him everywhere.  The style of art and architecture during the time of Mr. Hammett is called Art Deco.

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In my research of The Thin Man and it’s author, Dashiell Hammett, I discovered that Mr. Hammett was born on the eastern short of Maryland (not far from where I live).  He based most of his detective stories on the people he knew as an operative for the Pinkerton detective agency.  Hammett’s name was actually SAMUEL DASHIELL and may have influenced him in naming his main character,  Sam Spade, in his book The Maltese Falcon.

In the 1930’s, after the stock market crash, the world was in turmoil….unemployment, poverty, and horrors perpetrated by Hitler.  Even among these hardships, several art movements flourished such as the Mexican muralists and Social Realism in America.  Art Deco was among American and European architecture and furnishings.

ART DECO is a style of architecture and decor that is more angular with sharp, defined lines as opposed to it’s predecessor, Art Nouveau,  that is all curvy lines and assymetrical forms.

If I had to pick a building that really illustrated Art Deco style, it would be the Chrysler building in New York City.  It was the world’s tallest building for almost a year until the Empire State building in 1931.

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It may seem like I digress, but I want to give a little historical background.

“During it’s heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress.”  (Art Deco, wikipedia.org)

Getting back to the Thin Man… the thin man actually refers to the inventor character in the book who disappears.  After the movie was released, people mistakenly started referring to Nick Charles as the thin man and it stuck.

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*** Actual photos (above) of rooms of movie set.  The director’s vision of their home included a huge picture window, as was in his own Hollywood Art Deco house.  A low table in front of the sofa became popular during this time.

Since Nick and Nora’s world of high fashion and interiors were so lavish, it took the viewer to another realm.  I envision their high-rise home’s foyer to be similar to this:

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Below is actress Constance Bennett elegantly lounging against some hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper on panels, very popular at the time.  Her demi-lune cabinet is probably done in satinwood marquetry.

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This would be my modern version of their living room.   It has huge picture windows and a grand ceiling with chandeliers.  The floor-to-ceiling drapes accentuate the height of the room.

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What’s missing are some wall sconces…these are vintage…

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and a piano in the corner.  This one is a Wurlitzer from the 1930’s.  It’s a beauty.

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This dining room table could be mahogany, as it was a popular wood in the 30s.  The curved dining chairs would have been white leather.  They have hand-tacked brass nailhead trim and saber legs.

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The Gentry chair below is available from Ballard Designs.  I find it pretty expensive at over $400 per chair.

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Even though Nick and Nora’s bedroom had two twin beds in the movie, the one below is more suited to the happy couple.

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It would have a seating area and rolling bar cart for late-night cocktails or an early morning cup of coffee.

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The antique Russian coffee pot, above, is chrome with a bakelite handle.  Bakelite was the world’s first synthetic plastic made by a Belgian in 1907.  China would be beautiful yet simple, as the cup and saucer shown below from Etsy.

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That gives you a glimpse at interior furnishings that were popular with American aristocracy in the 1930’s.  Nick and Nora Charles would have been right at home.

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10 Affordable Summer Trends

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ONE:  Pineapple Print Pillow

Pineapples are popular this summer!  You see them on clothing, shoes, and decorative items such as phone covers, scarves, glassware, bedding, and pillows.

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This natural-looking pineapple pillow cover is from Wanelo.  It’s $25.  (I had to look that up because I hadn’t heard of Wanelo.  It stands for Want-Need-Love.  Seems it’s an on-line community very similar to E-Bay where goods can be found.)

 

TWO:  Sea Glass Bottles

I love turquoise, and any color blue reminding me of the ocean.  These sand blasted bottles from Wayfair bring that touch of water/ocean to your room.

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THREE:  Striped Fabric Bin

Trying to stay organized is a daily conundrum.  These cute fabric bins are the answer.  Grab a few striped ones for the summer.  You can use them on the patio too.

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This bin is from Wayfair.  I’ve found tons of good decorative items there.  You can also find these at Marshalls and are inexpensive.

FOUR:  Tropical Print Tablecloth

Take a trip to Hawaii—or get a tropical tablecloth with beautiful bird of paradise on it.

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FIVE:  Rye Party Ice Bucket

Metals are very trendy now and this ice bucket is just perfect for your bar or patio.  It’s style is similar to those of the roaring 20’s and is in stainless steel with both silver and antique brass finish.  The party bucket can be monogrammed and is from Pottery Barn.

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SIX:  Boho Chic Napkins

We’ve seen Boho Chic fashion.  If you were around in the 1970’s you recognize recent fashion as a resurgence of those days.  To bring a touch of Boho to your table use pretty handkerchiefs as napkins.

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I found some on Amazon, 12 for $29.  Add mismatched metal rings (as shown above) to add extra chic.

SEVEN:  Try Sparkling Summer Sangria

All this talk of summer is making me thirsty.  White sangria is so refreshing.  If you want a non-alcoholic version, use white grape juice and sparkling cider.

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 EIGHT:  Opt for an Orange Teapot

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Nothing brightens your morning like a bright orange teapot, unless it’s an orange teapot with an orange mug!  It’s on a gorgeous stove, above.

NINE:  Beach It with a Woven Striped Beach Blanket

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Go to the beach, pool, or park with this woven blanket from Urban Outfitters.

 TEN:  Coral Knobs

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I think these are the coolest things.  Change out a few of the knobs on your dresser or kitchen hutch with these little coral ones.  It will really put you in a summer mood!

Ready to spice up your SUMMER?

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Stroll through Longwood Gardens

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Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pa., is just a short drive from the Nemours Mansion. There are over 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, and open meadows open to the public year-round. It’s considered to be one of the best botanical gardens in the United States.

William Penn originally owned this land that was purchased by another one of Pierre S. duPont deNemours’ great-great grandsons (besides Alfred, above), Pierre S. duPont. He saved it from being used as lumber and added a massive conservatory that houses a huge pipe organ, and a system of fountains.

I have taken all photos unless otherwise noted.

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Taking a stroll through Longwood is like walking through a giant, royal garden in Europe.  It’s a lush world of exotic plants and trees.

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Let’s take a look inside the conservatory that is considered one of the world’s greatest greenhouse structures.  It’s home to 11,000 types of plants.  With at least 20 indoor gardens, it spans about a half mile.  To see everything it would take you about an hour and a half.

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With original construction in 1919, there have been many expansions and renovations to the conservatory as recently as 2011.

This photo of the indoor hall, courtesy of Wikipedia.

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Main fountains, courtesy of Wikipedia.

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You can walk over three miles and experience birds, butterflies, and wildlife on the grounds (and we did!).

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My trip here was a couple years ago.  Since 2014, they have opened an 86-acre Meadow Garden.  There are also four learning centers in this area.  They teach nature conservation.

We came upon this treehouse that you are allowed to explore.  Pretty cool.

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I highly recommend you tour Longwood Gardens.  It is also very close to Philadelphia where there are a ton of historic places to visit.   And you are very close to Lancaster, Pa, which is home to the Amish and great food.   Nemours Mansion, although in Wilmington, DE, is within 15 minutes of Longwood.

There are many lovely B&B’s where you can stay.   Look for those in Chester County or Brandywine Valley.  Some are pre-revolutionary war and have  been in the family of William Penn.

Make sure you allow one day each for Longwood and Nemours; allow more than one day for Winterthur (pronounced winter-tour).  Get tickets when you are planning your trip for the tours.  We stayed at the 1732 Folke Stone B&B which was a historic house and once was a safe haven for the Underground Railroad in the 1800’s.

Another site that I have visited is Winterthur Museum, also in Wilmington, DE.  For more information, check out Winterthur.org.  This was originally the home of Henry duPont.

Safe travels!!

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Nemours Mansion

 

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If you are looking for a tour of gorgeous gardens–that never seem to end–and a beautiful 5-story house that looks like a French chateau, you need to see the Nemours Mansion and Longwood Gardens.  

My next blog will be about Longwood Gardens.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous duPont family of American industrialists in the 1800’s.  If not, briefly, Pierre Samuel duPont deNemours and sons came here from France with their gunpowder business after the French Revolution.  Alfred duPont was one of three cousins who ran the company in the early 1900’s.  These three were great-great grandsons of Pierre deNemours.

The duPont Company developed many important polymers such as teflon, corian, and kevlar.  It is now the 4th largest chemical company in the world.

The Nemours Mansion was built by Alfred duPont in 1909 on 300 acres of land in Wilmington, Delaware.  It is built in the style of Louis XVI (Rococco).  Since I could not take pictures inside the house, I invite you to take a virtual tour here.

The following photo of the front is from Nemours Mansion.org.  (Unless noted, the photos were taken by me.)

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I took these photos of the back:

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Here is the 800,000 gallon reflecting pool.

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The grounds of the mansion are breathtaking.

The mansion grounds have North America’s largest French formal garden and was designed to resemble the gardens at the palace of Versailles.  Having never been to France, I really felt like I was there while walking around.

This is the formal boxwood garden with a central fountain.

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Another feature of the mansion grounds is the colonnade which was made as a memorial to the original duPont from France.

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On the other side of the colonnade is the Sunken Garden area.  The following photo is from Wikipedia.

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At the far end you can see the Temple of Love, a classical style temple, which has a life-sized statue of Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt, animals, and woodlands.

Since Nemours and Longwood are so close in proximity, it’s easy to tour both gorgeous properties.

 

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Bedroom Color Scheme – Gray…Teal…Cream

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I’m partial to gray, teal, cream, tan, and brown.  Those are basically my interior house colors.   It’s always a work-in-progress.  By the time I am happy with the way it looks, it will either be time to start over with new colors or time to move!

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In my attempt to re-do my master bedroom, I’ve already gotten a similar tufted headboard to the one below (which is from Ballard).  The headboard above is from Bellacor.com and made by Pulaski.  The Pottery Barn duvet cover that is shown below is a medallion pattern in a damask design

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Damask is a woven fabric that is named after the city of Damascus which was a highly active part of the Silk Road trading area. It became more popular in the mid 1400’s when it was made for Venetian rulers.

I have not yet decided what color to paint the walls.  I think I may go with a medium gray to contrast the headboard.

Since I’ve always liked to use Behr paints from Home Depot, I am considering:

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They’re very similar, but I need to take my pillow sham with me when I go look at the paint samples.

The color gray (in the psychology of color) is between black and white and is considered to be detached or unemotional.  Since it’s exactly between black and white in the color spectrum, I prefer to think of it as the color of compromise.  It’s known as a neutral color and is stable and solid.  It creates a sense of calm.  Perfect for the bedroom I think.

Also shown is a graphite vintage-wash Belgian linen quilt and shams, which would be great extra additions to the bed.  These are from Restoration Hardware and in an intricate vintage tile design.

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For the teal in the room I prefer it in an area rug, as shown above.  It’s in a chic trellis design, 100% wool, from Shades of Light.com.

An extra touch of teal could be this throw from Layla Grace, when you need an extra bit of warmth on the bed or on a comfy chair when you’re reading.  It’s 100% cotton in a candlewick design.  The color is mineral.  There are so many ways to describe this lovely color:  spa blue, aqua, light teal, robin’s egg.

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In my room I have two light teal table lamps, as shown below.  I bought mine at my favorite store, Marshall’s, but they are available in my link.

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I love small crystal chandeliers in unusual places like the bedroom or bathroom.  It lends a little elegance and romance to your room without being gaudy.  These are from Lamps Plus.  I’d pick a small one to hang just over one of the nightstands.  The top three are in the traditional style.

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The nightstand on the left is a pretty dark wood with bun feet.  It was described as modern country.

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When it comes to putting furniture on either side of say a bed or a sofa, I love assymetry.  I think it’s more interesting to put different nightstands on the right and left.

On the right side of my photo montage is a two-drawer stand with crystal knobs.  There was no further information on the site where I found it.  It’s small but just the right size for keeping whatever book you may be reading.

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When my bedroom is finished I will post a few pictures.

Enjoy the rest of your day and pleasant dreams!!

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Charm of the South – Charleston

 

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Being born (and now living) just south of the Mason-Dixon line makes me a southerner.  When I think of the south I think of huge oak trees covered in Spanish moss, wrought iron gates, and southern hospitality.

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There are differences in every state with language, mannerisms, and foods eaten.  The south is very distinctive and easily spotted where these are concerned.

Having just watched some of the “Southern Charm” TV episodes on Bravo, I thought I would bring you a few charming ideas that hail from the South.

The first thing that comes to mind is a cozy front porch with rocking chairs to “sit a spell.”

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If you don’t have a front porch, a back porch/patio will do.  And, of course, you need to be sippin’ on something cool to drink such as sweet tea julep seen below, or just sweet tea.  Head on over to Southern Fatty.com for the recipe.

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Moving indoors, southern decorating style is similar to a combination of French Country with loving antiques handed down through the generations (or some you’ve purchased) and just plain comfort.

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Above is an antique buffet with pink and white Staffordshire plates that the owner purchased in Stoke-on-Trent (England) placed in a lovely arc over the hanging picture.

Sojourn to Charleston, S.C.

A few years ago my husband and I took a little trip to Charleston since we’d never been there before.  It’s a beautiful, historic city.  I’d recommend a trip there to everyone, but not during July like we did!  It’s unbearably hot and humid.  The good thing was that nothing was very crowded!

We stayed at the HarbourView Inn which is located exactly where you’d think, next to Charleston Harbor.  It’s a small, boutique hotel with 52 rooms.

It was a bit of a walk to the restaurants and downtown sights, but we were right next to a beautiful park.  The interior decor is in an elegant and timeless style with a few old Charleston maps and hand-crafted wood furniture done by a master craftsman.

There are many lovely hotels in Charleston, but here’s a little peek where we stayed.

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The four-poster bed had a heavenly TempurPedic mattress.  Another nice feature is the daily silver service Portside breakfast delivered to your room.

While in Charleston I recommend: (what we did)

*   Take a horse-drawn carriage tour (the Battery)

*   Take a tour of an historic home (Nathaniel Russell)

*   Tour a plantation (Middleton)

*   Take a walking tour (the Ghost and Graveyard tour was great)

*   Eat lots of great food (barbecue at Jim ‘N Nick’s, fried green tomatoes at Magnolia’s, happy hour at the Blind Tiger Pub with a cool, historic patio, to name a few)

*   Shop at Charleston City Market for authentic and hand-made Gullah baskets

 

So if you are looking for a great southern city to visit, go to Charleston, where the charm of the city meets southern hospitality extraordinaire.

For more southern stylings, check out Savvy Southern Style!

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(featured image is house built for Samuel Stevens in 1843 in Charleston, SC)