In my home town of Knutsford in the rural county of Cheshire, England right now the May Queen is being prepared for her annual crowning on the ancient Heath. And yes, there will be young local girls dancing around the Maypole and Morris Men prancing in knickerbockers, hats and jingling bells as they knock their batons in the air. We celebrate the Divine Feminine as Spring bursts forth and honor our creative potential as the wheel of the year turns.
This month I am focusing on two more feminine aspects of home design…the use of gentle, soothing lilacs and lavenders in furnishings and décor in your Hamptons home, and the many Toile de Jouy styles and colors available for drapes, furnishings and wallpapers.
Toile de Jouy is a classic French pictorial style originally created for fabric but now extended to wallpapers. First printed in the French town of Jouy just north of Versailles one of their first in-house artists was a court painter for Marie Antoinette herself. These natural and romantic images range from bucolic scenes of peasants and cattle resting near streams after the day’s labors to elegant lords and ladies within classical and mythological themes. To decorate and furnish using these images allows us to enter their enchanting world. The wide variety of scenes available means that Toile works as well in a formal dining room or elegant living room as it does in a back hallway or rustic kitchen area. Originally images were black, blue, red and grey on a white or cream background but today’s manufacturers offer both colored backgrounds and a broader more contemporary range of graphics colors.
Historically, decorators used both Toile de Jouy fabrics and wallpaper in the same room creating a highly decorative and ornate look, especially in bed chambers. Today’s designers prefer to balance the feminine feel of Toile with simple stripes, checks and textures serving to rest the eye from the intricacy of the pattern. Always elegant, always interesting Toile designs make a fine Hamptons statement, bringing together traditional roots, gracious living and a refined sense of optimism.
And so to lavenders and lilacs—gentle, peaceful colors from delicate and fragrant flowers that soothe the feminine soul in us all. I’m not talking about the frequently strident tones selected for teenage bedrooms and gingerbread house exteriors but the spring like hues that create wonderful light and shade as the day progresses; not too cold but fresh, clean and appealing. Tones that are perfectly complemented by creams, soft greys, silvers and willow greens.
Consider a lilac theme for guest rooms and create a gentle, peaceful sanctuary. Floral themes reduce formality and are both embracing and nurturing. Support with mirrors, glass and crystal pieces to reinforce the light airy feel. Invest in a lavender mohair fringed throw from the Hamptons‘ very own Ralph Lauren.
Take lavender into the kitchen for an unusual but refreshing and clean approach to décor. Kitchens are bustling, messy high energy places so the calming vibe of delicate, yet not insipid, lavender walls allows the space to breathe, relax and support this Hamptons home’s inhabitants. The strong green of the serving plates on display and the brushed steel of the cabinet hardware complement the lavender paintwork of the walls and help define the room’s powerful feminine energy.
Living rooms, like bedrooms, benefit greatly from the calm and tranquility of lilacs and lavenders. The room below is sunny, light and airy and carries the fresh lilac and soft green theme throughout the rugs, cushions and furnishings. Not shown here is the cream, gold and lavender plaid-like rug that offsets perfectly the free flowing lilac branch imagery of the fabric used for the armchair and the round table skirt. The walls and ceiling are painted with a soft almost sky blue lavender that grounds this relaxing, sun filled room and prevent the floral furnishings from appearing too busy.
At the very least, gather the biggest bunch of lilacs you can and place them in jars and vases around your Hamptons home to welcome Spring and to celebrate the grace and power of all things feminine.
Helen Lind is an interior decorator, organizer and home stager working in Long Island and Manhattan. You can contact her at 516-922-3518 for a proposal or consultation, or visit her online at englishivyinteriors.com.