Thursday, December 30, 2010


My hubby knows me pretty well, and one of his Christmas presents to me this year, was Warman's Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide.  It is quite the tome of random items, some of which have sold for quite impressive prices in the recent past.  An ideal gift for a hoarder of all things old like me. 

While I always enjoy reviewing the current pricing of fine antique furniture and a, what is so much more fun in this publication, is the random 'collectibles' which I must admit, sometimes I wonder just who collects these collectibles.  And who pays such prices for them....

A few good examples are:

This Planter's Peanut sign from the 1930s or 40s, which is actually worth a whopping $16,100!  Frankly I find Mr. Peanut not nearly as dandy-ish and charming as he is these days...I find this version a bit creepy and slightly evil looking.

Of course I have great appreciation, as do many museums around the world, for great ceramics made by great producers such as Sevres, Rookwood or Grueby, but I must admit there are some pieces by lesser known producers in which I struggle to find the appeal.  For example, this Hull Pottery pitcher, worth $375.  Nice, sure.  Sweet, sure.  But really?  Almost $400?  I am glad everyone has differing tastes.

And then we come to the world of cookie jars, which is a world unto itself.  The prices are certainly nowhere near Mr. Peanut, but still, over $100 for this fine specimen?  I will be keeping a lookout during the spring estate sale season, that's for sure.

Movie posters are another world unto themselves, but I have to admit many of these are really quite cool.  But again, somewhat creepy.  That seems to be a theme here...

Creepy but still pretty awesome, this poster (worth $89,000!!!) for a 1923 movie called Hollywood, featured all the leading silent film stars of the day.  Not sure why Hollywood was associated with the inside of this guy's mouth.....

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I know, I know, I am several days behind with this post, but you know how the holidays are!  So, I will merely say thanks so much for following my blog this past year (and your patience when I am late).  I really do appreciate the support and all the comments.  Have a great holiday season, and I leave you with a few shots of my somewhat low-key decor this year.

We decided against a full-sized tree this year....much less hassle....and got a baby one instead, very well positioned next to the liquor:

And missing the lights that often occupy large trees, we instead turned the CB2 floor lamp into a light holder:

Our black&white dining area got some bling:

And the mantle, some red:

With the obligatory Norwegian Nisse (anyone who tells you they are Swedish is lying):

And I gave in to a 'latest craze' with the antlers on the coffee table (note: no animals were harmed during the creation of these cast antlers):

Of course we could not leave our guardian lion out of the fun:

I will be back to regularly scheduled posts next Thursday, Dec 30th!  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Wow, life in France in the 1950s seemed to be all dancing girls, booze and cigarettes. Wait a minute, that is pretty much what France is like now too...except maybe for some extra student protesters and strikes...isn't it? At least seemed that way when I lived there a decade ago :)

Some weeks ago I came across a wonderfully printed and presented French magazine from Dec 1951 at a small local antique fair. It was entitled 'Plaisir de France'. The pages were all wonderfully preserved, and the magazine was absolutely filled with beautiful photos and the most fabulous illustrated advertisements. It was a 'high society' travel and leisure publication that is clearly geared towards the highest of society. I just had to have it.

What always strikes me with any advertising from this era, is the plethora of liquor and cigarette ads. In particular liquor. Almost the entire magazine is filled with liquor ads of huge variety! Cognac, wine, whiskey...take your pick. How great would these be for a 'man cave'?

And then there are the ciggies:

And can't have all this drunken smoking going on without some girls with great legs too, right?

I guess there was not much stigma about bare legs by 1951 in France. 

Now remember, I am not an ephemera or book expert, so despite the fact that it likely with horrify all such people in the world, I must admit the first thing I could think of with this magazine, was: ohhhh, I can't wait to cut out all those great ads and frame them!!!

And well, now, the deed is done. I have selected the ones that best match my decor, squirreled those away to be framed and hung over the Christmas break, and decided to share the rest with the world. I always hope to find good homes for such awesome items. Some are now available through my etsy page, with more to come. Check out some more wonderfully retro ads here.   Sigh, I miss the French.

Friday, December 3, 2010


No matter how great I know a piece will look after being reupholstered, I am still always utterly breathtaken at the first sight after the deed is done.  One of my all-time favorite clients just got this chair back from the upholsterer.  While it was a wonderful late Victorian chair to begin with, I knew a fresh layer of fabric would give it new life.  The pink was just not doing it anymore. Here is the chair before:

Here is the chosen fabric which we knew would look fabulous with the Benjamin Moore Historic Color Newburg Green paint selected for the walls:

But I was just not prepared for the absolutely fabulous results:

Of course it helps have an amazing upholsterer on your side...Sharp Upholstery of Salt Lake City, you rock.  Look at how carefully they lined up the patterning on the channel back:

It just makes me happy to look at.  If only I could have a house full of different cool antique chairs....who needs casepieces?!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Hope you are all stuffed with really good turkey right about now!

My final table arrangement before dinner:

And after:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Ok, Ok, so maybe last week's post was, in fact, a bit too disturbing.  But you have to admit it is fascinating stuff!  Let's change gears completely and talk about holiday decorating!  While I adamantly declared there would be no Halloween decorating tips on this blog, Thanksgiving is another thing.  Without children in the house, I find Halloween somewhat uninteresting.  However, Thanksgiving is worth decorating for.  Even though the day after Halloween is now considered the first day of the Christmas season....what happened to the day after Thanksgiving!?  I miss pumpkins and orange in the month of November.

So, below are a few photos I came up with for Thanksgiving table decorations.  All are fairly sedate and minimal.  It's me, what did you expect?  Small smiling pumpkin figurines and happy turkeys dressed up as Pilgrims?  Well, then you are definitely in the wrong place.

I think nature offers up plenty of good holiday decorations, enhanced with a mix of vintage candlesticks and well proportioned vases, nothing more is required.    So go forth and be inspired....

FYI- Christa Pirl Interiors now has an Etsy page filled with many a unique and interesting vase and candlestick... absolutely perfect for such holiday table dressings.  (I don't have enough tables to use it all...)  Please check us out!

How perfect are simple glass containers filled with assortments of nature's bounty?  In a long line or clustered together, almonds, cranberries (you know you bought to many of these anyway), and wheat is all you need. (And you don't even need to purchase random plastic things to fill vases...)

Layers are always fun...

Sunflowers have great fall coloring, and paired with polished silver, the tones create a perfect juxtaposition. Add a natural runner and you have just created an eclectic mix of rustic and refined!


Those of you who might be more traditional can always go classic white...a weighty cut-glass bowl with matching candle holders is the perfect combo with white roses.

And because I love random collections of vintage candlesticks so much...just add fall colors...

Or glass in thanksgiving-y colors...random collections are always so great...

So there you go.  Something different and simple and with a beautifully set table and a big fat turkey (tofu or turkduckin can both be substituted here), I frankly don't think much more is needed.  Now I just have to pick one for my table... Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010


It seems as though the Halloween House was pretty popular a few weeks ago, so I thought I would share some furniture from the slightly distrubing world of another Art Nouveau designer: Rupert Carabin.  He is part of the Symbolist sub-catagory of Art Nouveau, a sub-catagory usually associated with the female figure and fairly obvious sensual overtones.  Carabin not only fits into this sub-cataory, but goes crazy with it.  Feminists, I must warn you, you may be offended by Rupert's artistic vision.  I myself, just find it utterly odd and frankly pretty amusing.  My only real question: who on earth bought these things???  And of course, what is his deal with cats?  And why did he feel they paired nicely with the nude female figure?

Another spiderweb-ish motif here...never knew this was an Art Nouveau thing:

Wow, this looks heavy...

Ummmm..... this one looks highly uncomfortable as well as heavy:
Back view:

Front view:

And I don't think there is much for comment with this one:

Of course one must keep in mind these pieces were all made in the 1890's....apparently it was a very  different time.

Next week I'm all about Thanksgiving skip Martha and visit this blog instead!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Who would have thought the MoMA Store would be a great place to find affordable pieces of design?  Recently I have been working with some younger clients which is lots of fun.  Despite the fact they have somewhat smaller budgets, they are also very open to different design ideas and just having some fun with their space.  Often I troll the standards such as CB2 and West Elm, but I am always on the lookout for modern design that is not DWR or Hive Modern expensive.  One day it dawned on me to have a quick look at some museum store websites, and low and behold, MoMA Store was actually quite affordable!  I was thrilled to find funky light fittings, great rugs, and general interesting chachka....something different.  And everything is online so no need trek to midtown Manhattan (although it would have been a good excuse...)!  Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Phrena Hanging Lamp for only $92.00:

And the Midsummer lamp also only $92:

And this cool coffee table for $129:

The Unfinished Clock that sits on the edge of a shelf or ledge and is fully functional for only $47:

Love the loop candelabra for $28!

And how cool is the Conceal bookcase where all hardware is hidden and all you see are floating books?! $15:

Of course there are quite a few pricy items at the store too, but I must say I was quite impressed with the selection of affordable and different items.  Thanks MoMA!  Now if I could only afford some of the things in the museum....

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Sorry guys, anyone looking for fun and creative halloween decorating tips better head over to  However, if you want to see a spooky German version of the Art Nouveau style, stick around.

I was recently lecturing on Art Nouveau to my interior design students, and while going through some old notes, I came across a little-known building called the Elvira Studio in Munich.  Built in 1898 by architect August Endell, it is a bizarre take on the popular French style.  Being October 28th, I felt this building would be just perfect for a halloween themed blog.  Of course the name of the feminist photography studio and artist gathering place does a lot for the halloween feel, but just wait til you see these spiderweb-like window mullions...I swear I can feel the spiders.  The building was not exactly the most popular on the fact it was often called the 'dragon's castle' or the 'chinese embassy'.  It was not considered Art Nouveau by the locals, instead it was lovingly catagorized as 'Octopus Rococo'.  And I think that is actually a pretty fair description.  Alas, it is no more, while Elvira did survive two world wars, the studio did not make it past 1950.  Luckily the below photos survive.  Please enjoy and have a good halloween!