Iris Abbey

Pause and Revitalize #7

Today, let’s consider the objects we place around us — the items, large or small, that uplift and help us.

Albert Hadley, American interior designer and decorator (1920 – 2012):
Decoration is really about creating a quality of life and a reality in that life that nourishes the soul that makes life beautiful. That's what all this is about. Not just what's' in and what's out.
Louis Kahn, American architect based in Philadelphia (1901 – 1974):
Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration and love.
William Morris, English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist (1834 – 1896):
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Ann Marie

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Pause and Revitalize #6

My words of encouragement for today —

Put aside the thousands of excuses holding you back and move forward.

Anais Nin, author (1903 – 1977)
Pause and Revitalize


Wayne Gretzky, Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach (1961 – )
Pause and Revitalize
Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer and author (1897 – disappeared 1937)
pause and revitalize

Move forward.

Ann Marie

Pause and Revitalize #1, Pause and Revitalize #2, Pause and Revitalize #3, Pause and Revitalize #4, Pause and Revitalize #5

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Hand Painted French Provincial Bombé

Here’s our newest hand painted French Provincial bombé:
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

I don’t find much French Provincial furniture at estate sales, but this little guy grabbed my attention. We’ve handled so much Mid-Century Modern furniture lately — which we don’t usually paint — that I welcomed this piece.

Hand-painted bombe nightstand
Boston and Starbuck Appraising the Bombé

He doesn’t have a stellar pedigree but he’s so cute! His original look was faux leather with gold filigree.

Bombe handle
Bombe’s Handle

Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue — I had some, so it went down as the base coat.

French Provincial Bombe
First Coat of Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and Old White

Once that dried I mixed different tones of Duck Egg and Old White and set to work. I wanted to create an Old World patina using light and shadow. This process is always a judgment call, in that I work on a section until I’m satisfied with the mix of tones. I wait for that section to dry and adjust as needed.

Hand-painted French Provincial bombé

I finished up by dry brushing touches of Old White and French Linen and then Clear Waxed. He still needed something, so I lightly distressed to add interest and texture.

Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

Here’s something I learned: there’s a bombe (pronounced BOM) dessert and a bombé (with the accent, it’s pronounced bom-BEY) piece of furniture. That means you may place the bombe (BOM) on the bombé (bom-BEY), like this:

Bombe on Bombe
Sources: Bombe on Bombé

Or the bombé (bom-BEY) on the bombe (BOM), like this:

Bombé on Bombe
Sources: Bombé on Bombe




For another example of my layering technique, check out this Empire Revival library table.

Thanks for stopping by. We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie and David

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5 Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

Mid-Century Modern (MCM) denotes a style of design and architecture that stretched roughly from 1933 to 1965. Some would limit it to 1947-1957, but I prefer the wider range.

Cara Greenberg gets credit for coining the term in the title of her book, Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s (Random House, 1984).

Furniture made in the middle of the 20th century isn’t automatically Mid-Century Modern furniture.

Craigslist sellers and estate sales often slap a Mid-Century Modern label on their wares because they know the style is popular. Perhaps they don’t know the difference. Perhaps they hope buyers won’t know the difference.

For those who remember the I Love Lucy TV show, Lucy and Desi moved to colonial home in Westbury, Connecticut in 1957. Here’s their Early American dining room in the television studio. It’s Colonial Revival in style — casual and rustic yet traditional. And unlike real homes, unusually large.

Lucy and Desi's Colonial Westport Home
Lucy and Desi’s Colonial Westport Home

This next photo provides more realistic proportions for a room, but both examples show sturdy maple dining sets, farmhouse curtains, braided rugs, and hutches displaying serving ware.

Early American 1950s Living Room
Early American 1950s Living Room

Now, here’s the Birkenstock House, an home in New Canaan, Connecticut, built in 1962. Geographically, it’s about 10 miles away from Lucy and Desi’s fictional Westport home. Stylistically, it’s a world apart.

Birkenstock House
Birkenstock House. Architect: Victor Christ-Janer. New Canaan, 1962

5 Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

1. Lines

Clean lines, curves and smooth surfaces create an understated look. Less becomes more. The heavy, boxy, ornamented pieces of the past were banished and replaced with slimmed down furniture in open spaces. Suddenly, MCM homes became light and airy.

Mid-Century Modern
MCM Family Room: Open and Colorful

2. Materials

Furniture continued to be made from wood, but now with international influences. Scandinavian design and teak wood soared in popularity. Broyhill’s popular Brasilia line, introduced in 1962, imitated the waves and lines of the Brazilian capital. Despite this being a large piece, designers managed to visually reduce its mass.

Broyhill Brasilia china cabinet
Mid-Century Modern Broyhill Brasilia Style Server and Hutch, 1st dibbs, $2,950

New materials — and uses for them — emerged in World War II. Post-War designers conscientiously applied plastic, plywood, glass, and/or lucite to their creations, integrating these materials into the design.

Mid-Century Modern Designers
A few of America’s greatest designers, assembled in 1961, Playboy. Left to right: George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom

Design husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames (pronounced EE-ms) experimented with a variety of inexpensive materials. Their work with molded plywood, for instance, resulted in the much coveted (if it’s original) Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. We own a couple of replicas at our house.

Eames Chair
Rosewood Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. 1stdibbs, $4,700

This 1950s bar, made of bamboo, vinyl and formica, holds center stage in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

Dry Bar and Stools
Royal Chrome Dry Bar, Stools and Matching Wall Shelf, 1950s

3. Colors

Color exploded. Neutral walls receded to emphasize shapes and colors in the room.

Mid-Century Modern Living Room
Source: Chris Barrett Design

A bold accent wall, on the other hand, as in our Iris Abbey booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery, gives a pop of excitement — just not too much.

Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture - $1,995
Orange Accent Wall in Iris Abbey Booth

4-5. Pattern and Texture

In the photo below, textures flex their power. The shag rug, rough stone fireplace, smooth glass table, sleek ceramic lamp, and furniture fabric all work together. Patterns emerge in the abstract painting, pillows, and pottery. The wood and glass of the coffee table suggest the lines and shape of a modernist sculpture.

Form follows function for all of the pieces seen in this room. Again, I’ll mention the lightness and airiness of the space. The sofa sits on a floating frame. This serves to lift and suspend the heaviest piece of furniture, giving the same ethereal feel as the lounge chair.

Midcentury Modern living room

In our last photo, what textures can you identify in this photo? There’s natural wood and brick, tile flooring, ceramic lamps, a nubby rug, the metal chandelier, fur throw, and fabric on the pillows, chairs and sofa. I like the exotic bookcase that features items from the owners’ travels.

MCM Living Room
Contemporary Living Room in MCM Style

Despite some of the prices seen here, you can find Mid-Century Modern furniture to fit your budget. If you are not a collector, you don’t need an original. Replicas are an alternative. All you need is one statement piece and you can build your room around it.

5 Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

If you liked this post, share it with your friends.

Ann Marie and David

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Pause and Revitalize #5

OK, let’s pause and revitalize with inspirational thoughts. Take a few deep breaths and let them out. Feel yourself getting calmer?
Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist (1879 – 1955)
Deep breaths


Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist and journalist (1819 – 1892)
Deep Breaths
Maya Angelou, American author, poet, and civil rights activist (1928 – 2014)
Maya Angelou

You can find more of my inspirational quotes on my Pinterest page:

Ann Marie

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MCM Heywood-Wakefield Bedroom Set: A Rainy Quest

The Heywood-Wakefield Tipoff

Our son Michael emails me Craigslist links. Sometimes just a single item that catches his eye, other times dense jumbles of links for furniture and knickknacks assembled during a scouring of Craigslist. Once or twice — I believe — he has muttered about my mistimed response rates.

Thursday morning I opened Michael’s email and found this Craigslist photo:

Heywood Wakefield Sculptura Dresser

Since I wasn’t interested in the stack of empty boxes, I studied the Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura dresser and other Hey-Wake items in sitting in St. Augustine, about 40 miles south of us.

I called David to look over my shoulder at our computer screen.
“What do you think?”
“Let’s call now,” he said.
He phoned, negotiated a price, and said we’d pick up that evening. Michael couldn’t accuse us of failing to act promptly on this one.

David texted Michael about the sale but the message didn’t go through. Michael remained in the dark. I soon texted him asking if he could help move furniture that evening. No, because he had rugby practice. He still didn’t know we arranged to buy the Hey-Wake. His absence would complicate matters because I don’t excel at moving solid wood furniture.

The Estate Sale

But first we visited a local estate sale and pick up a few small items. Anything large would be impossible to transport because we had a Kent-Coffey chest in our SUV. Speaking of which, even if we moved that piece out of our vehicle, could we fit all the Hey-Wake pieces in? Our best guess: no.

How’s this for luck? We encountered an Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery colleague at the estate sale, a generous man who lends us his enclosed trailer from time to time.
“May we borrow your trailer for a move tonight?”
“The answer is ‘yes, you may.'” This white-haired gentleman brims with Southern gentility. I love him.

A quick aside, here’s an abstract painting we bought at the estate sale. Not exactly small, but flat.

Blue Circle Abstract Painting

The Trailer

The trailer is magnificent. Double rows of wall hooks to secure items. Shelves of blankets, padding, straps, hooks, clamps, and jars of bungee cords. We left the estate sale, drove home in the rain, loaded up our hand truck with 12 ” pneumatic tires (a Christmas gift to David) next to the Kent-Coffey chest, and went to pick up the trailer. Only the trailer. We’re still far from heading out of town.

At some point our information caught up with Michael and he offered to skip rugby practice to help us. No, no. We’ve got this wired. It will take about 50 minutes to drive there; we’ll take the drawers out, load them separately, then deal with the cabinet.

Rain, cold and dark engulfed us as he headed to St. Augustine. We could handle that. But the ambiguous directions unraveled us. The furniture couldn’t be at an exact address. No, the seller gave cryptic clues leading to an unmarked building: look for a long dark country road, a driveway 100 yards away from something, a McDonalds (which we never saw), a traffic light, a 2-story house with solar panels on top (couldn’t see it in the rainy blackness).

I exchanged phone calls with the seller. He grew increasing brusque as we became more frustrated. Poor David had to turn the SUV and trailer around a few times in tight quarters on dirt driveways.

This was pretty much our view from inside the vehicle:
Rain Storm at night

The seller drove out to the road and watched for us. And phoned me:
“Did you just go through that traffic light?”
“Yes, where are you?”
“Pull over to the side and wait. I’ll get in front of you and you can follow me.”

Were my tears from joy or exasperation? We eagerly followed him down the road. All he needed was a lighted “Follow Me”  sign to make it clearer to us. By the time we backed into place next to the 2-story building that did indeed have solar panels, the rain had lessened. A small kindness that we gratefully accepted.

The Find

We examined the Heywood-Wakefield pieces and silently rejoiced: a Sculptura dresser, manufactured 1952-59; an Encore side table/nightstand from 1950-55; a Dog Bone (named because of the cut out) footboard and solid headboard.

The two bigger pieces looked banged up but David knows how do bring Hey-Wake back from the dead. The seller showed us other Mid-Century Modern furniture upstairs and asked us to consider buying the pieces at a fair price. He felt we lowballed him on the Hey-Wake, but acknowledged reviving them will take a ton of work. I must point out again: we negotiated the price before we drove down. As far as his other furniture, we weren’t in any shape to consider it.

Out came the drawers and we began to load and secure.


We pulled out the furniture the next morning, the sky a brilliant blue and sun pouring down. You can see the damage more clearly but David is encouraged because he’ll be working with solid wood — no veneer. We’re looking at dresser damage in the photo below, followed by the marred nightstand.

Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura Dresser Damage
Heywood-Wakefieldl Encore Nightstand Damage

The Dogbone footboard sits higher than the headboard in the photo below because it’s perched on the rear fender of the trailer. The side rails and the both head and footboard have extensive finish issues.

But once again, Heywood-Wakefield used solid pieces of wood to build their furniture. We don’t have to worry about sanding out a deep scratch in the wood because there’s no thin piece of veneer to confound the restoration. David thinks this will be a fun project but it comes with a learning curve. I have no doubt he will  bring the pieces back to the original Hey-Wake Wheat finish.

Dogbone footboard

Things always look so much better in the light of day — dazzling enough to forget about our damp recovery efforts. I did, however, announce a new policy: I only do pickups during daylight hours.
Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura dresser, Encore nightstand, Dogbone headboard and footboard
Heywood-Wakefield Bedroom Set

I plan to share a cheerier post about St. Augustine, our country’s oldest established city, sometime soon. You didn’t get much historical scenery in this update. Here’s a link to an earlier post about a Heywood-Wakefield Living Room set that we acquired. It’s beautiful furniture.

If you liked this post, share it with your friends.

Ann Marie and David


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Mid-Century Modern Vanity and Upholstered Stool

The Discovery

We drove to an apartment complex for a look at a Mid-Century Modern desk listed on Craigslist. Michael had made arrangements for us to evaluate and purchase, if acceptable. The pictures didn’t offer much information and a description was nonexistent. Still, it caught our son’s eye, so maybe worth a look. When we discovered a Broyhill Premier Saga desk, David and I knew it was more than acceptable.

The seller and I chatted while David went out to arrange blankets in our SUV. She asked — with David still muddling about in the back of the car — if I’d like to see something else. Sure.

This glowed in a back bedroom. Oh my gosh. David appeared and took photos to send  Michael. I ignored him and told her we’d take it. The monster mirror wasn’t attached, so no need to unscrew it. David and Michael could return tomorrow to load and transport these vanity pieces. Very carefully.

Mid-Century Modern

I speculated that Heywood-Wakefield manufactured it, but that was just a gut feeling. And wrong. When I showed pictures to someone much more knowledgeable, he suggested it was made in England.

It’s a lady’s vanity, where she keeps her lingerie and perches on a stool to apply her makeup. Her jewelry drawer sits below the that fantastic full-length mirror.

Still, I did not have a manufacturer. I posed the question on a couple of Facebook furniture groups. Nothing definitive emerged from the many and varied suggestions. David speculates Mid-Century Modern. More research needed.

The vanity itself didn’t require much work but every lady who owns a vanity should have a stool.

The Stool’s Wood

We needed a vanity stool, and my knowledgeable friend produced one from his stash. Alas, its mahogany color was too dark and too red. But David plunged into this project. He stripped and sanded the finish. After several attempts he achieved a finish somewhat approaching the vanity’s color by coaxing a warm medium Walnut overlaid with Fruitwood stain. The wood really does look like it matches the vanity.

Mid-Century Modern

Upholstering the Stool

The original fabric, dark, dirty and completely unsuited to its new task, needed replacing.

Vanity Stool Original Fabric
I had a period fabric, a remnant, that would work. It’s much brighter and seems better suited to Florida. If you’re really paying attention to my projects, this fabric went on a Heywood-Wakefield desk chair (M 953 A) a few weeks ago.
Vanity Stool old and new fabric

Here’s the original material: jute webbing, batting and the fabric.
Upholstery materials

The original jute webbing lacked tension; it sagged pitifully. David applied pressure to the webbing and it drooped down to touch the table beneath.
Jute webbing

We removed staples from half the stool. David used a pliers to pull the pieces of webbing taut while I stapled them down. Much better. We could bounce a quarter.
Vanity Stool Tightening Jute Webbing

Starbuck found her peaceful nook for a nap: she stayed there for hours.
Vanity Stool Sleeping Starbuck
We cut foam and placed it on the jute. Then came the batting, followed by the new piece of fabric. I cut it larger than the original because the additional foam and batting commanded a bigger piece.

With an embroidery needle and fishing line, I basted around the top edge of half the fabric, leaving long ends. When I pulled the two opposing ends, half the fabric gathered, theoretically allowing me to create smooth sides. Repeat on the other side of the fabric, so I could then gather the extra fabric, cut and staple to the bottom. But…. I didn’t cut the piece big enough and we struggled — and struggled — to create smooth sides.

What’s a day without creative struggle? It’s character building.

Vanity Stool basted fabric
The Display

We moved the vanity and stool into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.
Mid-Century Modern Vanity and stool

Here’s a closer look at the completed stool:
Mid-Century Modern Vanity Stool

We created a MCM vignette by arranging Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture, hanging a silver-framed mirror over the sofa, a silvery abstract painting on the other wall, and adding the wonderful Mid-Century Modern vanity and upholstered stool. Did I mention I love that full-length mirror?
Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. Better still, come to Avonlea and take this gorgeous Mid-Century Modern Vanity home with you.

Ann Marie and David

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Pause and Revitalize #3

Pause and Revitalize #2

Take a moment and inhale slowly. Now exhale. Keep breathing — today will be a good day.

J. K. Rowling, British novelist, screenwriter and film producer (1965 – )
Pause and Revitalize

Annie Dillard, American author (1945 – )
Pause and Revitalize

Confucius, Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher (551 – 479 BCE)
Act with kindness . . . Confucius copy

To see more Quotes, head over to Iris Abbey’s Pinterest account at

Pause and Revitalize #1
I'm restless. Things are calling me away. You will never change - Annie Dillard copy Pause and Revitalize

Ann Marie


How to Add Share Buttons to Your WordPress Blog

Pink Poodle Painting

Share Buttons on your WordPress blog photos make it simple for readers to place your photos into their social media accounts. The Frizzly plugin lets readers post your images to their Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Frizzly is easy to install and terrifically helpful for sharing.

To show what we mean, just take your cursor and hover over the photo above. Is that great, or what? You may choose to place Pinterest, Facebook and/or Twitter Share Buttons. You also get to decide placement of the icons on the top, middle, or bottom of your image. We chose upper left.

Frizzly is easy to install. Let’s run through a quick How-to using the images provided by Marcin Skrypiec, the developer of Frizzly:

    • Download “Frizzly” — click here
    • Go to your Plugins and add Frizzly
    • Once Frizzly appears on your Dashboard, click on it
    • Click on Button Sets
    • Frizzly Button Sets
  • At the very top of screen, click on the blue button: Add New Button Set Frizzly Button Set
  • Drag the buttons you want to appear on your photos from the right column to the led column and hit Publish

Frizzly Button Set

  • Click on Frizzly on your Dashboard to go back to Frizzly Settings
  • Click on the General tab, click Hover. Save Changes.
  • Click on the Hover tab and go to Position. Decide where you want your buttons to appear: top, middle, bottom; left, middle, right. Save Changes.

We’ll defer to the developer for this next step. Because we installed Frizzly last week, we can’t get back to the exact image. So here’s what Marcin says you will see:

Use the created button set

Choosing the new button set

Now let’s get back to the module where you want to use the button set you just created. If it’s the hover module, go to its settings and choose your newly create button set from the dropdown list (remember it must be published to be visible on that list!). Now you just need to press the Save Changes button on the bottom of the settings page. Mission accomplished – only the buttons you have chosen will be shown when hovering over an image!

We’ve wanted to do something like this for months. Our delight with the ease of Frizzly made us decide to share it immediately.

By the way, the photo shows items for sale in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. 

Did you find this post insightful? Share it with your friends!

Ann Marie and David

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