Thursday, August 10, 2017

Decorating With French Tapestry Upholstered Settees, Sofas, and Canapes

I have a great fondness for the linen and burlap upholstered French sofas and canapes that are associated with the simplistic "French Country" style of current decorating tastes. However, this blog post spotlights the style of upholstering these lovely French seats in tapestry. 

As building architecture improved, the need of using wall tapestries for essential warmth wasn't as necessary. Tapestry manufacturers now turned their attention to the production of tapestry material for upholstering furniture. It became the trend of the day to cover furniture and whole sets that included chairs and sofas were available. The king would purchase several sets a year for giving as gifts to visiting dignitaries. 

Original Louis XVI sofas for ceremonial rooms were giltwood affairs, upholstered in Gobelin, Aubusson and Beauvais tapestry. However, today I believe these tapestry covered Louis XVI pieces look stunning in French Provincial as well as Gustavian interiors. Like crystal chandeliers, the elegance of them looks fabulous when mixed with more rustic elements. I am in a dilemma myself, torn between reupholstering a newly acquired French settee for my front hall in linen or with an old tapestry I have in storage. 

I hope you enjoy the images of these exquisite tapestry covered French sofas, canapes and settees. There are tips below for creating your own "piece" of the look.

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Castle of Digoine in Palinges, Burgundy

The history of French furniture is closely connected with the history of tapestry since after a time it was used as an upholstery fabric. For centuries tapestries were made in Holland, but during the 17th and 18th centuries France produced some of Europe’s finest examples.

Château de Digoine

Francis I soon became unwilling to buy all his tapestry pieces from the looms of Flanders so he started a factory in 1531 at Fontainebleau. The first workers were Flemish weavers who were brought over to teach the craft to Frenchmen. In 1603 a new factory was started at Paris, in the workshop of the Gobelin family. In 1667 the factory became the property of the Crown, and most artistic and elegant productions were made there.

Gobelin tapestry woven between 1711 and 1715

Early Beauvais tapestry
From 1664 the Beauvais tapestry manufacture was the second in importance, after the Gobelin tapestry workshop.

The third royal tapestry manufacturer was in Aubusson. The golden age of  tapestry was under Louis XIV for it was during his reign that the royal factory at Aubusson was at its zenith. The tapestries sent out from this factory were as close as possible to painted pictures.

Few Gobelin produced tapestry seats remain today. I did find this sofa which belongs to the Frick Collection.

The Gobelins began to produce tapestry for sofas and settees only during the last half of the eighteenth cen­tury. Originally the use of tapestry as upholstery was undertaken in hopes of bolstering lagging finances due to the competition of embroidery coming from England and peoples excitement over the novelty of English wallpaper.The very first pieces made were for four chairs and a sofa, in 1748.

Louis XVI style giltwood and Beauvais tapestry upholstered sofa. From this latter factory came those coverings, with designs after Boucher, set in wooden frames of the richest carving and gilt.These furniture tapestries immediately became popular and made Gobelin and Beauvais wealthy.

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This gorgeous sofa is covered in Beauvais tapestry.

French sofa circa 1706-76 upholstered in tapestry from Beauvais factory.

A carved giltwood and Beauvais tapestry upholstered sofa. The word tapestry derives from old French tapisserie, meaning "to cover with heavy fabric, to carpet"

19th Century French Louis XV Carved Gilt Canapé with Aubusson Tapestry

The Aubusson tapestry manufactory was a smaller workshop than that in Beauvais but they were able to compete equally with Beauvais as well as the chief tapestry producers in France, the Royal Manufactory of Gobelins.

Tapestry upholstered salon suite and wallhangings in the Tapestry Room at Osterley Park

Louis XVI style cream painted canape with Aubusson upholstery.

People had started to use wallpaper to cover their walls by the middle of the 18th century but couldn't resist tapestry upholstered sofas, settees, and canapes.

A Louis XVI painted canape upholstered in tapestry.

A Directoire painted and gilt sofa upholstered with Louis XVI, Aubusson, genre tapestry, circa 1780.

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I am especially drawn to French Verdure tapestries so it's not surprising that this canape upholstered in Verdure leaves me breathless.

French Walnut Louis XV Canapé Covered in 17th Century 
French VerdureTapestry. Heart be still!!

An 18th Century French Louis XV sofa upholstered in a Greek mythology tapestry.

It became very fashionable to commission a salon suite where the fabulous focal point settee was enhanced by the other pieces in the set, all upholstered with the same tapestry fabric. This is a Louis XV suite comprised of a canape and four fauteuils.

A suite of Louis XV giltwood and Aubusson tapestry upholstered furniture, circa 1760.

A beautifully carved giltwood salon suite circa 1870 with a canape and four fauteuils, each upholstered in an Aubusson pastoral scene.

These salon furniture sets seemed to match the grandeur of the elaborate architectural interior decorating of the time.

Aubusson tapestry covered settee.

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Ornate gilt settee upholstered in tapestry.

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18th century French Louis XV tapestry covered pearwood sofa.

This French settee is covered in a gorgeous tapestry and is right at home in a more rustic setting.

This tapestry upholstered sofa is Louis XIV, circa 1710.

The thing I love most about tapestries, whether they are on the wall or used as upholstery fabric, is the fact that they are so textural and add depth and warmth to a space. Is this not a fabulous settee? The French screen in the background isn't too shabby either.

A 19th century tapestry covered settee with stunning carving is perfect for a period room but can also bring warmth and dimension to the clean lines of a modern space as well.

My word! Look at the beautiful carving on this tapestry covered sofa.

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This image shows how well these exquisite tapestry upholstered French sofas look when used in a rustic French country look setting.

Linda Keenan

Transforming any room into a luxurious space with old-school charm and sophistication is easy with a huge tapestry on the wall or a tapestry covered suite of furniture. But usually that is not easy to accomplish as these pieces can be very hard to find and worse they can be way out of many budgets. There is still a way to have the look and you can see it here in this picture. A creamy linen upholstered sofa or settee with tapestry fragment covered pillows can be a lovely focal point for an old world style space.

E Alexander Designs

You can scour antique malls, auctions etc for pieces of tapestry and make yourself some pillows or buy them already made from decor stores.

Tossed on chairs, settees, canapes, or sofas these tapestry pillows bring instant old world charm.

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Old World Charm Of Potted Citrus Trees......Indoors And Out

I adore potted citrus trees. If you are interested in bringing the elegance of a European garden to your home, there is nothing more lovely than a French Anduze pot complete with citrus tree. This blog post will give you some history on the European citrus trend in the 17th and 18th centuries and hopefully entice you to plant your own citrus tree. I know I intend to.

The countries that started the citrus trend were France, Germany, and the Netherlands, these countries being the ones that saw merchants importing large numbers of orange trees, banana plants, and pomegranates to cultivate for their beauty and scent. It was very fashionable in the summer to have potted citrus trees as part of the landscape where they were used to ornament the formal gardens of the time. Structures similar to a greenhouse or conservatory called orangeries were also built on the grounds of fashionable residences where orange and other fruit trees could be protected during the winter. Orangeries were given a classical architectural form and owners would conduct their guests there on tours of the garden to admire not only the trees but also the architecture. Often the orangery would contain fountains, grottos, and an entertainment area for inclimate weather.The great period of the orangery, when few great gardens were without one, extended from the latter half of the 17th century into the early 18th century. 

With the current love of all things French, many are choosing to incorporate citrus trees in their container gardens and then move them into their interiors to weather the cold. So if space is limited or climate isn't suitable, it's still possible to enjoy these trees and their bounty year-round. The experts say it's really not that hard to grow citrus indoors. I hope this blog helps if you are considering growing some for yourself.

Between the 17th-19th century, if you were wealthy and part of the “fashionable” elite, the chances are you would have a display of a great number of orange trees in your garden as well as an elaborate structure called an orangery or orangerie to winter them in within the grounds of your home. Many famous orangeries survive, however those at the gardens of Versailles in France are the most recognized.

The Versailles planter in that fabulous duck egg blue color was designed by Andre Le Nortre, the original designer of the Versailles gardens, in the 1600's and were made entirely out of timber, but in the 1800’s were redesigned to feature the cast-iron frame.You can purchase similar containers today but if they are wood it is a good idea to slow the decay process caused by watering by coating the interior with asphalt roof patch.

the Orangerie at Versailles was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart for Louis XIV's 3,000 orange trees.

 The Orangerie at Versailles in Spring

As a building the Orangerie is superbly functional; long and narrow with a series of 27 tall windows to admit the winter light. The plain back wall contained fireplaces, from which hot air passed through flues. In its center, the high door through which fully-grown trees could be wheeled into the garden.

The baroque orangery, located next to Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, was built in 1704-05.

The orangerie, however, was not just a greenhouse but a symbol of prestige and wealth and a feature of gardens, in the same way as a summerhouse, folly or "Grecian temple". The main difference with a conservatory is in the construction of its roof - a conservatory will have more than 75 per cent of its roof glazed, while an orangerie will have less than 75 per cent glazed. Domestic orangeries also typically feature a roof lantern.

Chatsworth House Orangery

Sezincote House Orangery in Gloucestershire

Potted citrus in the Medici Palace garden.

When planting citrus trees choose a pot about the size of a 15-gallon nursery container. In traditional European orangeries, the classic container is 24 inches square and deep. Make plastic your last choice as it will transmit the sun's heat more readily than wood or clay, perhaps enough to damage roots. Fill with premixed sterile potting soil designed for container plants.

The quintessential container for potted citrus trees, the traditional French Anduze pot with it's handcrafted garlands and medallions.

Potted citrus trees ripe with Old World elegance and charm!

Plants in containers generally require more frequent watering than the same plants in open soil, and citrus are no exception. Especially during hot, dry, or windy weather, daily watering may be necessary. The basic rule is to soak the rootball thoroughly until water drains out the bottom once the top 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry. Rewet dry citrus rootballs by placing a few drops of mild dishwashing soap directly onto the soil, then water with slightly warm water.

This kumquat tree with it's small fruit can be accented with flowers to provide visual interest. Citrus trees with larger fruit would probably pull out all the nutrients for themselves so flowers wouldn't thrive as well.

Other citrus will grow and flower but are less likely to produce fruit. However they will still provide lovely accents to your gardens.

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If you hope to harvest fruit, choose a naturally acidic citrus not a sweet orange or grapefruit. Examples of acidic varieties include 'Improved Meyer' and 'Ponderosa' lemons, calamondins, and kumquats. These are most likely to produce fruit indoors in winter.

Any type of citrus tree can grow in a container, at least for a while. However, kinds such as lemon and grapefruit, which naturally grow into larger plants, will quickly outgrow their containers. There are dwarf varieties that will last longer in pots.

Potted citrus trees are perfect for flanking the entrance of this Mediterranean style home. 

Potted orange trees at the Musée Matisse in Nice.(photo by Sylvaine Poitau)

If you live in the mild-winter West, Southwest, or Southeast, you can grow most kinds of citrus in container outdoors year-round. Where winter minimum temperatures regularly dip below 25oF, you can still grow citrus trees if you have a bright spot indoors or out protected from frost.

Who wouldn't enjoy dining in this lovely spot? The potted orange trees, rustic farm table and industrial style seating, not to mention the pea French!!

An enchanting garden in the South of France designed by Jean-Loup Dirand.

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I will take potted citrus trees any way, shape, or size, however, I think they are especially pretty all in a row. Nothing says French like a potted citrus tree . . . or three.

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If you prefer smaller scale fruit for your potted citrus, kumquat, mandarin, and yuzu are good choices. These varieties are more likely to remain both healthy and productive in containers for several years.

What terrace wouldn't benefit from lining it's edge with potted citrus trees? Stone lions also hold court in this outdoor entertainment area.

Supply nutrients to your potted citrus trees with controlled-release fertilizers that are less apt to immediately wash through soil, making a single applications useful for a longer time. More than most plants, citrus are prone to deficiencies of the micronutrients iron, manganese, and zinc so apply these to citrus in containers at least once a year.

Michel Semini Designs with Versailles orangerie planter boxes in green.

When moving your potted citrus trees outdoors in spring or back indoors in fall, make the transition gradual, in at night and out during daylight hours. Do this for approximately a month. Also wash your tree thoroughly with warm, slightly soapy water to wash off bugs before bringing in for the winter.

Many homeowners that love an old world interior are drawn to using potted citrus in their interior landscaping.

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Don't forget potted lime trees!! This one is lovely in a French Biot jar.

Potted citrus and blue and white Chinese export team up well together for great visual impact.

Charm aside, citrus trees as houseplants offer other fabulous rewards........ glossy foliage, scent, and mouthwatering produce.

These might be artificial because they are almost too perfect. Even so, for those of you not blessed with a green thumb this might be the best alternative.

Cathy Kincaid

Whether citrus trees are producing fruit or not, their shiny green leaves are a pretty addition to your interiors. Dwarf citrus trees generally reach a maximum height of eight feet so not much space is needed for creating a small orchard.

The look of potted citrus is so refreshing when brought indoors. When looking for citrus to pot, any that is grafted to Flying Dragon (Hiryu) rootstock will be significantly dwarfed, thereby extending its useful life in a container.

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Citrus trees add a particularly lovely old world component and will provide you with fresh lemons, limes and oranges. What more could you ask for????

Citrus growing tips via the National Gardening Association.

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

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