Archive for the ‘Decorating with Vintage Textiles’ Category

Classic Vintage Modern Homemakers’ Helpers

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Damask Towels for Kitchen and Bath

Damask Towels for Kitchen and Bath


Sometimes “New” is not always “Improved”. Gone are the days of shopping at W.T. Grants, the local five and dime stores that carried everything you needed for your home. Notions departments, Domestics or Linen departments were well stocked with a vast assortment to choose from and all at very affordable prices. Linens were made in mills right here in the USA. Housewives in the 1950’s had a ritual of changing curtains, linens, dresser scarves, doilies with the seasons. They had so many choices of colors, fabrics and styles. Now we have the big stores, the Walmarts, Targets ect., who have pared down our choices of items to purchase , stocking only what they perceive as a fast turnover, items made overseas and cheaply made. Below are some examples of items that have never gone out of style or usefulness. Items that help us “Go Green” with little effort, that give a big value for the money and if you know where to look can be easy to find.
1. Linen, damask or cotton hand towels. Trimmed with lace, tatting, embroidered, monogrammed, plain , woven or stamped with an all over design. These versatile towels can be for the kitchen or the bath. These vintage kitchen towels dry dishes faster, are lintfree for glasses, dry fast, can be bleached and make a pretty decorating statement and wear well. Collecting colorful souvenir towels, many are made out Irish linen, the best wearing fabric makes drying dishes a trip down Memory Lane remembering favorite trips and places. 1950’s bright coloful florals make any kitchen cheerful.
Towels for the bath with pretty embroidery, lace trims, appliques, add color and decorating excitement to the bath. Fingertip towels for your guest bath is a special touch, they dry fast, you can display several, each guest can feel like they are using a towel just for them, not one the whole family has used for a week. Fabric instead of paper, a green alternative.
2. Hankies, yes those delicate little squares of fabric. They come in all colors, embellished like little works of art. Cotton, linen whatever your favorite. Monogrammed, decorated with flowers, crocheted or tatted edges, enbroidered, the styles are endless. Forget the kleenexs crumbling and shredding in your purse or pockets, collecting lint so you can’t remember if it is clean or used. One pretty hanky can be quickly retrieved when a sneeze is coming on or a tear starts to fall. It can be washed and used over and over again. I even put one in my jeans pocket, they are small and dainty and just have a corner peeking out over the top of the pocket, making a little fashion statement. It’s a perfect little gift to give someone for an occassion like a wedding or a “just because” thinking of you little gift. Beautiful white or ivory trimmed with lace hankies just what every brides needs and teary eyed guests too. In my bookshop I suggest a pretty hanky with every sappy romance novel bought. Or with a book , tucked inside like a book marker. A hankie can be mailed inside a greeting card as a little token gift. Start carrying one with you and you will be going green and enjoying one of these little pieces of textile art and never go back to messy wasteful tissues again.
3. Aprons. So practical and so much fun. I know we are not wearing pearls and high heels around the house like June Cleaver in the 1950’s show. We are working girls, rushing home from work trying to get dinner on the table and family activities taken care of. Aprons had a very practical use, protecting one’s clothes while in the kitchen. What throughly modern gal has downtime after work to change out of her work attire and into casual before preparing dinner? Many have to rush out the door after dinner with kid’s activities, social meetings ect and need to stay properly attired to go out again. Grab a handy apron and start your frying pans. Aprons were a daily attire for past generations, they were washable, had 2 pockets for all kinds of stuff, came in handy for a quick dusting, wiping when unexpected guests arrived, gathering eggs or produce from the garden, there were so many handy uses for them. Bet they always had a hanky in one of those pockets for wiping a teary eyed child’s face. There were sturdy ones for everyday, Sunday dinner fancy ones and holiday themed ones. Usually made with leftover pieces of fabric trimmed with whatever embellishments that were in the sewing basket or purchased at the five and dime. In our busy lives these little works of textile art can save a beautiful designer outfit from a splash of spagetti sauce any day. My cousins and I even had an apron themed family reunion, each gal was given an apron that reflected her personality when she arrived, we called ourselves the Apron Sisterhood. No one took theirs off till the end of the party, they just felt so comfortable wearing and they certainly did their job protecting our clothes and keeping cellphones and stuff in the pockets. We have great photos and memories and a souvenir apron to keep.
4. Dresser Scarves and Doilies. What an assortment the previous generations had to choose from at the linen department. All types of fabrics, trims, embellishments, whatever your decorating style there was one for you. Try to find a dresser scarf now in Walmart or Target. No way. thrifty housewives would buy plain linen and then iron on a transfer pattern and the embroider the design or do cross-stitching to make it their own creation. I remember the magazine called “Workbasket” ( we sell lots of this vintage handcraft magazine in our shop now) would come every month and have a pull-out iron on transfer for you to use. In this economy where many purchases of new furniture are being put-off , redecorating being done on a limited budget, what better way to protect your furniture, cover up a well worn dresser top or just change your color fabric accessories is to use dresser scarves or doilies. Before you slide that brass lamp across the beautiful finish of your furniture consider protecting it with one of these cloths, whether plain linen, embroidered, lace or colorful floral it does double duty decorating and protecting. Washable, inexpensive and so practical. Pretty lace doilies look great under a glass top. The glass protects the furniture top from sweating glasses of water, nailpolish anything that mars the finish or could spill.

Okay we brought to everyone mind these great little inventions from the past, things that we grew up with and took for granted. Now that we are “Big Girls” with homes of our own, we realize that Mom had some great ideas, why did we not follow her example? She was saving and Going Green with these 4 handy items long before it was fashionable. Okay you see now the usefulness of them but where do you find them? The big stores aren’t going to have them, certainly not a selection of any of them or the durable fabrics, the pretty details and best of all, made in the USA. Well here is the fun part. Visit your nearest antique and collectibles shop, find a dealer who specializes in vintage linens. They are not expensive, easy to find and fun to collect. One of my shops is just filled with linens from yesterday, I stock racks full of dresser scarves, tablecloths, shelves full of towels, baskets with hundreds of doilies. I am a “Linen Lady”. Completely hooked and in love wih the handwork of my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. I rescue, wash, iron , stitch and put up for adoption these little works of textile art. Damaged pieces are redesigned, maybe cut up made into new things, trims saved, pretty pieces framed as wall art but never ever thrown away till all uses are exhausted. Even worn-out old linen has a new life as the softest gentlest dustcloths ever. Handcrafted items are a direct link to the person whose hands toiled for hours creating these pieces made with love for her special family. Maybe you will want to try your hand at creating your future family heirlooms. What granddaughter wouldn’t love having her Gram’s apron?

Vintage 1960’s “Mad Men” Fashion Show

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Vintage Clothing Fashion Show

Vintage Clothing Fashion Show

We have been having so much fun with our latest vintage finds. For Spring we are concentrating on "wearable" vintage from the 1960's. Inspired by the AMC television show "Mad Men" which is set in the 1960's at a Madison Ave. advertising firm. The show has won all kinds of awards for it's costumes, the clothes are fabulous, direct from the 60's fashion magazines and all are perfectly accessorized. This show has developed quite a cult following all over the country with "Mad Men" themed parties and events. So we decided to stage our own "Mad Men" cocktail party vintage fashion show. It will take place at our Burlington Inn Antiques shop located on Rt. 4 in the center of Burlington, Ct. It will take place on March 20th, 3-6 pm. We will have live models, 1960's refreshments, 60's music and lots of fashions and fun. From Jackie O inspired sophisticated fashions , to 60's femme fatales styles. Clothing, hats, gloves, purses, jewelry, shoes, and lingerie. Come join us for the fun and take home a vintage treasure to create your own signature style.

Vintage Clothing, To Collect, Display and to Wear

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Victorian Black Bodice

Victorian Black Bodice

Vintage and antique clothing from days gone by can be a fascinating subject to learn about and collect. One of the first places I explore when attending an estate sale is the attic. Peeking in old trunks, closets and cupboards I will discover precious memories tucked away. A piece of clothing, wrapped in old tissue, carefully stored away is a clue that this garment was something treasured by the owner and was most likely worn for a special occasion and had great sentimental value. Sometimes I really get lucky and find a note about the garment and what event it was worn for and if I am really lucky, I find an old photo of the owner in the garment. I am particularly intriqued by antique garments, I study the design, the techniques for construction, the fabric and the trims used. Ladies of the 1800s didn’t have a lot of clothing and each special piece which took a long time to create, and would have to serve them well, for a long peroid of time and for multiple purposes. Many of these saved pieces were for special events and a lot of love and details went into their design and construction. Victorian clothing was usually lined, had numerous fastenings inside the garment, they definetly would require assistance in getting in and out of the garments. One of the things I collect are antique bodices, these were worn with a basic long skirt. Each bodice is decorated with all kinds of trims, lace, piping, beading, ect. many of the trims could be removed so the bodice could be used as an everyday garment, or added to, to be dressed up for church , or black added for mourning. The beauty is in the details. Another special garment I love are antique baby items. These were made with the most love and creativity. Mostly beautifully embellished christening dresses, some have coats, slips, and hats included. The embroidery, the lace, the fabrics, these are little works of art, sometimes as fancy as a wedding gown. Along with the christening outfits, little everyday dresses, slips, nighties, all treasures in themselves.
These antique pieces are many times too fragile to even think of wearing but make excellent pieces to display in your decor and to study. The bone structure and size of these previous owners is very small compared to us today. Hang the items on pretty hangers to display on a wall, or dress an old dressmaker’s dummy if the garment’s fabric is strong enough for hanging. Shadow boxes with the item under glass is another idea. Just keep out of direct sunlight and in places were high humidity isn’t a problem. Never attempt to wash these antique pieces of clothing yourself, the weight of the garment wet could destroy delicate fabrics. Little cotton and muslin baby things can usually be gently laundered. When in doubt do nothing except air and shake out the dust. On garments I rescue that are in very poor shape with no hope of staying whole, I carefully detach the buttons and the trims to be used separately on other garments or for customers designing costumes or re-enactment clothing. Many a lace collar or other trims have ended up embellishing a newly created Civil War Dress.
Next of my favorite eras is the 1930s thru 1940s. I call it the glamour age. Beautifully designed evening clothes, and lingerie, and trousseau wear, are usually what I find tucked away. The designers of that era knew how to work with fabric, they would create designs that cling and flatter and drape the body beautifully. The tailoring details, darts, gores, linings, made the clothing fit perfectly and look custom made. Pre WWII , glamour was most important, staging a comeback after the Depression years, everyone wanted to look like their favorite screen idol. Study the old movies of the 40’s to educate your self in the styling and tailoring of the day. Many of the sweaters, skirts, suits and dresses are still very wearable today. During the war years there was a shortage of fabrics and trims, eveything manufactured was going into the war effort, gals got very creative in their wardrobes to look fashionable when their soldiers came home but they didn’t spend a fortune or suffer because of shortages. Necklaces were made from seeds, wedding gowns from parachute fabric, a simple work outfit would get instant glamour from adding little accessories for going out in the evening. Silk stockings disappeared during the war, there are stories of what “unspeakable” things a gal might do for a pair of silk stockings. It really is a fascinating study of American women’s ingenuity. She may be “Rosie the Riveter” by day but she was a femme fatale by night.
Next came the fabulous 50’s where everything was new, the war was over, soldiers had married and started families, everything was “Modern”. I call this the “June Cleaver” era after the “Leave it to Beaver ” TV show. Women wore fitted waist dresses, bright colorful fabrics with big skirts, and a coordinating apron of course. Watch the old classic shows on TV and you will see what I mean. Cotton “Pedal Pusher” pants, what we refer as Capris. Very feminine but modern. Growing up in the 1950’s I can still picture my Mom and her sisters’ clothing and remembering playing dressup with them. Many items from the 50’s are still around and very much in style. 1950’s jewelry and purses are great fun.
Coming of age in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Bohemian and Hippie style was in. Notice how styles keep coming back, nothing is new in fashion just recyled and reinvented. That bohemian look is being designed for this decade. The fun of wearing vintage clothing is finding just the right piece. Whether it is a jacket or an accessory, you can create a fashion statement that is just your style. With vintage, less is more, 1 piece rather than a whole ensemble or outfit is better. As an accessory it makes a striking statement , but to completely dress vintage from head to toe is dressing more like in costume, so unless you are going to a theme party, use sparingly.

Collecting vintage clothing is a lot of fun and and an interesting way to learn history and look back at styles and trends, personalities and events in the world. It is a connection to the past and a way of reaching out and touching the women of generations back, learning what was important in their lives, the sentiments they cared about in how they dressed. Many current day designers use vintage clothing as their muse to spark their creativity for their new designs. You never have to worry about someone showing up wearing the same outfit, by accessorizing with vintage. You have developed your own individual style.
When shopping for wearable vintage clothing always take a tape measure, sizes on vintage labels are very different sizes from clothing sizes today, they tend to run much smaller than today. Look fabrics over, look closely at points of stress. Rips or tears in seams can be mended if there is extra fabric but thinning fabric can’t be repaired in other places. Check for stains, most set in ones are hard to remove, light soiling is no problem. Buttons, zippers ect. can always be replaced.
MY friend Sandy Michaud, owner of Vintage and Retro , who is a vintage clothing dealer and myself , owner of Lavender Path Antiques of Harwinton, Ct. are putting together a Vintage Clothing Trunk Show, bringing in pieces from both our collections for sale on Feb. 6th at the Burlington Inn Antiques shop, Spielmann Highway (rt 4) Burlington, Ct. . We will have clothing from the Victorian times upto 1980’s. Lots of wearable vintage including a special group of Paris fashions and American designer pieces, also featuring designer Bonnie Cashin. Refreshments, door prizes and a lot of fun for the vintage collector. Also vintage accessories, jewelry, lace trims, buttons ect. will be there. Time : 12pm to 4pm. Snow date following Sunday. Email me at carole@lavenderpathantiques.com for more info. We are also looking for new items for our collections.

Lavender Path Antiques II Open

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Our New Satellite Shop, Lavender Path Antiques II

Our New Satellite Shop, Lavender Path Antiques II


After a long week of sorting, pricing, packing, moving, unpacking, and setting up , we are ready and open. Our new shop is filled with antique linens, fine china and porcelain, victorian vintage clothing plus wedding dresses and baby christening outfits.
This second shop is located in the Antiques on the Farmington Antique Mall, located at 10 Depot St. in the historic Collinsville Axe Factory Building, in the center of Collinsville. 70 antique boutiques are located in this huge old factory. It is an amazing center with a large variety of antiques and collectibles.
Our original shop in Harwinton, Ct. is still open with 20,000 books, a collection of fine china, silver, jewelry, hats, and vintage purses. We have moved all the textiles to Collinsville and both locations carry our beautiful china and porcelain.
I will be posting another Decorating with Antiques article in a few days when I catch my breath and get the creative juices flowing, right now remembering my name is difficult!
Be sure to visit our website: www.lavenderpathantiques.com for more information on both our shops and merchandise.

A Potpouri of Inspiration

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Vintage Black Velvet Gown

Vintage Black Velvet Gown


This has been a crazy hectic week. My new 2nd shop Lavender Path Antiques II is going to be a reality in 2 days. Counting down the hours. This week has been an almost around the clock project, sorting, pricing and packing of inventory to stock the new shop. Much of my vintage clothing and textile inventory has been in storage for 2 years, since I downsized the original Lavender Path Antiques shop. It broke my heart to put those things away. I had been selling some of them off little by little on Ebay but still had kept quite a few of my favorite things, occasionally bringing a few out to display in the shop, but room was an issue. So now this week opening all the boxes, I was like a kid at Christmas, rediscovering treasures of glamorous vintage fashions, somethings I discovered I had almost forgotten that I had. The task of going through it all and getting it ready to move was almost overwhelming at times. I have gone through a box of 1000 price tags already and now started on another 1000 tag box. I sell a lot of pieces of lace trims and tons of doilies, so the units really add up. As I worked and I tried to sleep, ( I get some of my best ideas laying in bed) plans and ideas kept going through my head, trying to come up with a decorating and display theme on how to arrange the inventory and put it all together. In my past work as a designer, I designed store lay-outs as well as displays and window dressing, as in decorating all successful designs start with one idea or theme. You never know when inspiration is going to hit you and the source of the inspiration can come from anything, the idea pops into your head and you are off and running with it and the ideas start to flow. My inspiration was a 1940’s vintage sewing machine in a solid cherry cabinet, when closed it is designed to look like a small writing desk. I was running ideas for furniture to use in the shop, to sell and to display merchandise on. This sewing machine which is from the 1940’s and made in Italy has been enjoying life as a desk in my guest room, with it’s 4 side drawers and pretty matching chair it has been a desk for so many years now, I had almost forgotten it’s original purpose was a sewing machine. This piece is now going to be the focal point in the front display, arranged with the sewing machine open, a few bolts of fabric, baskets of lace trims and containers of antique buttons wil be arranged around and on it. The idea train continued to move along, bringing to mind a collection of vintage pincushions, antique sewing items, crochet hooks and old pattern books for tatting, lace making and crocheting. All these items are related and tell a story. By arranging like items with a theme that coordinates all the pieces together, you create an interesting area, people’s eyes are attracted to the arrangement and it holds their interest to study the parts that make up the story. You are probably wondering where I am going with this, but the point I am trying to make is that inspiration will come to you if you allow yourself to be relaxed and open to it. Decorating is a process that shouldn’t be rushed, find pieces a little at a time, buy what you absolutely love, don’t try to purchase everything at once for an entire room, you will find yourself making mistakes or settling for items that are second best, that you don’t really get passionate about, you are just filling spaces. Look at each room and find one piece that excites your passion and create a theme from that object and then find similar coordinating pieces to go with it to create a story. Your inspiration can come from anything, rooms have been decorated around a oriental rug, a painting , an interesting piece of furniture, you would be amazed at what could be the starting point for decorating a whole room.
Antique lovers usually have collections, stuff that they enjoy hunting for and filling their homes with. Some of us have been labeled terminally ill with this collecting affliction! But a collector knows passion and excitement. Now how best to show case your collection is what can make or break a decorating scheme. There is a thin line between clutter and creating an interesting story area. Let’s use the example of needlework samplers. Say over the years you have amassed a collection of 24 framed samplers. You have haphazardly hung them on the walls all over the house. By doing this they have lost their excitement and appeal. They are just another picture on the wall. They seem to be everywhere, but creating little impact. Gather them all up and place them on the floor and study them, look for a theme, is there several that share the same colors, is there something that unifys a group of them, put together do they tell a story? Isolate these 12 samplers from the group and find one large blank wall space and then hang this mini-collection all together on this one wall as an interesting wall grouping. This will have the “wow” factor making a stunning impact. It showcases your collection by grouping it together. When I taught landscape design, I would use the analogy of planting tulips. If you planted a dozen tulip bulbs, each one a different color arranged in straight rows or just randomly through out the garden, they would have very little impact, go almost unnoticed. They would get lost. If you took another 12 tulip bulbs, all in the same color and planted them in a group filling a triangle shaped space close together, you would have a solid mass of color making a huge impact. Singles spread around get lost, just make up clutter, but put a collection together and you make a statement. I like to work a collection, it could be a collection of anything , in odd numbers, grouping 3’s, 5’s , 7’s ect together , it is more visually interesting, than a pair, which is too planned or a single item that gets lost and has no impact.
Now how to use vintage clothing or accessories as decorating items. These are also considered collections. They can be great decorating accessories or set the mood or theme for a room. Bedrooms seem to a natural habitat for these items. A collection of vintage beaded purses arranged on a dressing table or dresser, or hung on a wall in a group. I had used a pretty wrought iron stand made for holding coffee mugs as a great way to display small beaded evening bags on my vanity. Vintage hats, perched on the edge of a mirror, a wall grouping on the wall, on a hat stand, vintage millinery are really works of art, I love using hats decorated with flowers, I have even put a beautiful flower trimmed big brim hat jauntly placed on top of a lampshade for a colorful feminine decorating accessory. Underneath the lamp, I placed a matching color pair of vintage gloves and a little coordinating beaded purse, those 3 items arranged together on the dresser created a little story area. Arranged together they made a statement, which they won’t have if arranged separately around the room. I love the glamourous fashions of the 1940’s, old movie styles, my passion is beautiful lingerie. The nightgowns of that era could be as fashionable as evening gowns. If you ever watched the old movies of that era, you know what I mean. A glamourous silk or satin floor length nightie, a bedjacket, or camisole with flirty tappants hung on a pretty satin hanger and displayed on the wall or hung on a door, or dressing up an old dressmaker dummy can really set the “Old Hollywood” theme. How about displaying with it a pair of slippers with a high heel and feather pompoms. Talk about creating a storyline with these accessories. Add a few pictures of Hollywood starlets from the era of your collection and you got a theme going on.
Small powder rooms can be dressed up with a display of vintage collections. Old hatboxes, great decorations and useful storage. I sold a collection of 30 hats to a tearoom that was going to cover the walls in their ladies room with vintage hats, mostly flowered. Certainly made a statement and everyone remebers that tearoom with the hats in the ladies. Bathrooms with showers I don’t suggest using vintage things because of the moisture.

Another great decorating idea is using vintage baby clothes, a pretty christening dress, dress or little slips on a special decorative hangers makes a great accessory. A collection of little baby shoes, bonnets, bibs ect. Even better when they are from your family passed down with memories.

Victorian houses are great places to showcase a mannequin all dressed up, standing in a room, foyer, alcove. Dress her in your favorite dress or gown, also a great way to display an old wedding gown. I sell vintage wedding gowns but unfortunately, most of them are too small in size to fit today’s modern bride, even if she is a size 2, our bone structure is so much larger than the ladies of the olden days, our backs and shoulders, ribcages ect are so much broader, the gowns would never fit. but they are works of art and the lace , beading, the styles ect. are meant to be seen and appreciated, what better way to enjoy them than to display either hanging or on a dressmaker’s dummy.
So what ever your favorite era of fashion is a collection can be put together and displayed as a decorating accessory. Maybe your teenage daughter would love to have your old fringed suede vest, your yellow mini skirt, your Anne Hall hat or tie dyed shirt to display in her room and her friends can chuckle about things you wore back in the hippie years.
So I am going to close with getting my thoughts together, about creating little story idea displays in my new shop, the theme being a French Atelier (boutique workshop) filled with lots of fabrics and trims, linens, vintage fashions, beautiful hats and French Limoge china and teacups decorated with shabby roses and lighted with a crystal chandelier. But first I have to crawl into my antique bed under the crisp vintage sheets, get some sleep to rest up for loading truckloads of treasures to share with my new customers.

Vintage Linens

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Fabrics Set the Mood

Fabrics Set the Mood


As I am busy preparing and packing inventory to bring to our new shop I can’t help but to stop and admire the beautiful handwork of our vintage linens. Taking in the beauty of the designs, the delicate stitches, the soft vintage fabrics, I can’t help but wonder about the woman who labored over these pieces. So much of this handwork is almost a lost art in this modern age of technology. We spend our evenings working a computer keyboard instead of with a needle, crochet hook, thimble or bobbins creating beautiful and useful items with thread. As the old saying goes, “idle hands are a devil’s workshop” , our hands are not idle but we are missing the joy of creating a thing of beauty from our heart and hands for our family and friends to enjoy. Fortunately antique dealers like myself who appreciate and value these pieces of handwork, rescue them from estates, wash and iron and pass them along to new generations to use and enjoy. Today’s article is going to pay tribute to these artisians of the past and give you ideas on using vintage linens.
What makes staying in a bed and breakfast so special? Why do so many BnBs describe themselves as a romantic get away? Their extra edge over staying at a hotel is the personal attention that they give to their guests. The special touches, the special soap , the flowers in the room and the beautifully dressed bed. Spoiled, pampered and all your senses indulged makes for a memorable stay and a want to return again. In this crazy stressful world we need to create this peaceful get away right in our own bedroom. What better way to create the BnB feeling is in a beautiful inviting well dressed bed. The popularity of high thread count luxurious sheets shows that people want and need this pampering. I myself have always loved the feel of luxury sheets. Vintage sheets with crocheted edges, lace trims, embroidered designs, fancy monograms have always been a favorite but are becoming harder to find. I have supplemented my vintage sheets, which are always flat sheets (fitted sheets are a new idea since the 1950’s) with coordinating new high thread count fitted sheets. I love to mix and match, florals with solid colors or coordinating stripes. I also mix and match the pillowcases, vintage with modern. The vintage pillowcases have pretty handwork embellishments, maybe embroidered designs or special crocheted or tatted edges, they add the the romantic touches. Vintage linens were for the most part, trouseau linens, a bride-to-be spents months before her wedding doing the handwork to decorate these fine linens. Many shower and wedding gifts were linens done with handwork by loving mothers and grandmothers. The bride-to-be filled her Hope Chest ( usually a large wooden trunk like container) with this beautiful handwork saving it for her first home. Many of these linens were packed away, considered too beautiful to use. Many decades later or generations later when I do estate housecalls, I find these linens carefully packed away and I am so thrilled to see and be able to appreciate all the special details these trouseau linens have. So I rescue them, some look like brand new, never been used or some so cared for, some may need a good washing and ironing so another generation can enjoy using them. Even not so perfect linens can be rescued, the trims can be taken off and added to modern sheets and pillowcases. I have even framed some beautiful embroidered sections from no longer useable linens and used them as wall art for a bedroom. Vintage sheets can be sewn together to create new larger modern sizes because today’s beds are larger in size than antique beds or vintage linens can be supplemented with new modern linens, even if pretty vintage pillowcases maybe your only added antique romantic touch, you can still achieve that bed and breakfast feel. Who doesn’t love sinking into a bed full of lots of comfy pillows, extra ones for propping yourself up for reading in bed, watching tv or eating a special breakfast in bed. Top it all off with quilts, what greater work of fabric art than a quilt. They come in all types of designs and styles and color combinations to match any decor. For your situation, modern quilts may be more practical because they are machine washable but antique quilts can be used as a decorating accessory, folded, stacked or hung on a wall. I have pets who love to snuggle especially when it is cold so my antique quilts are strictly used to display and add color to the room and not to cover the bed.
Fabrics can add such drama to a bedroom, or be used to soften a room. Florals can be mixed with the same colors in a small stripe fabric, accented with a solid color pulled from the floral or stripe print. Dust ruflles can be layered this way using different lengths so a little of each type shows. I have used a king size dust ruffle layered with a queen and topped with a double to get a multi-tiered look. Pillow shams can be mixed and matched this colorful way. Fabric can be draped over the bed, canopies faux or real created. Colorful needlepoint throw rugs to protect bare feet from cold floors add accent colors. Crocheted, woven or fabric doilies and dresser scarves, not only add decorating interest are practical as well, protecting your fine wood furniture from harm or hiding a well-worn finish on a dresser or table. Coordinating window treatments ties it all together.
So without a big decorating or remodeling job you can turn your bedroom into a private oasis just like your favorite bed and breakfast by spoiling yourself and your partner with all the added little romantic touches found in all the best BnBs. A well-dressed beautiful bed you can’t wait to get into. Beautiful soft linens, sprinkled with lavender water, lots of plump pillows, a vase of fresh flowers on your bedside table, a small box of decadent chocolates, maybe a great novel and of course someone to snuggle with, with fur or without!
I am going to close with the thought of the next time you see a piece of handwork, appreciate the dedication, the art and the hours that went into creating that piece. At first glance it may be just a crocheted doily but maybe the young girl who created it was doing it with so much love and hope for her new home, for when she married her handsome soldier when he returned safe and sound from the war. So much love with every stitch.