Saturday, November 21, 2009

Country chic

I stumbled across a great blog called Velvet & Linen last week. It's run by a Los Angeles-based designer, Brooke Gianetti, who, in addition to being lovely and talented, has some great friends. Among them is Mark Sage, owner of Love Train Antiques in Atlanta and a partner in Bobo Intriguing Objects, the Belgian design company who's products are now featured in the Restoration Hardware catalog. Mark and his Belgian partner, Rudi Nijssen, were on the catalog cover recently. Brooke and Mark decided to have a contest and  give away not one, but three, of these Brickmakers tables, which retail for $1,360 in the catalog.

So here's how it works: entrants were required to submit a photograph of the room where they intend to place table, should they win, and they agree to photograph the table for potential promotional use by Mark or Brooke. Pretty good deal! I have been familiar with Mark's Belgian company for years, as I travel to Brussels for my job. I usually stay over the weekend to browse antiques on rue Haute, where you can see selections from the Bobo line displayed in a great little shop called Jacques Brol, run by the very interesting and multi-lingual Paul Jacobs. Here's a pic from rue Blaes, one street over, leading to the flea market.

I knew this table would be perfect for Garvinweasel, but the challenge I faced was which room to photograph, as most of rooms here are in various states of renovation construction, with none of them lending themselves, as is, to a photograph that would inspire a contest judge think 'aha!'. So, I decided to throw together a vignette in the future library using objects and light weight pieces of furniture to convey a sense of what could be, should the table arrive here one day soon. After moving loads of wood around in the room, sweeping up a little sawdust, and moving in what you see below, I felt I had something worthy of a try, and off to Brooke my email entry went.

About the objects in this photo: I bought the antique mountain chair at the Place Jeu de Balle flea market in Brussels in 2007; the books include two Axel Vervoordt exhibition catalogs, Artempo and Academia; the carved wood Buddha is from a trip to Beijing and the ceramic opium pillow on which he rest is from another trip to Hong Kong. I did the pen and ink drawings from an illustration inside the cover of Paris Interiors (Taschen Press) and blew them up on hand-made paper. Should the brickmakers table arrive at Garvinweasel, I would place it between two sofas in the same light sage velvet shown on the ottoman and pillows. I grabbed the hay bale off a stack out back, but it will soon make its way to the dog shed for their winter comfort.

To give you a slightly better idea of what is really going on in this room, here's a wider angle shot.

In case you are curious about the rest of the room, here's a doorway from the libary to the music room. Note the heavy plastic over the door opening, to contain sawdust. The blue paint left on the old door frame will be stripped, and the whole room will likely go a mildly distressed french gray. I have stripped the old fireplace mantel, constructed a built-in a bookcase and custom doors for the audio closet, and have started on wainscoting. 

So it looks like 2010 is shaping up to be the year of country chic, as you can see in this video for the Chanel Spring 2010 collection, shot under the glass of Paris' Grand Palais. Karl Lagerfeld and crew are welcome to spend the weekend at Garvinweasel anytime. From the looks of this video, they would feel right at home.

Brooke and Mark's contest has shaped up over the past week into a raving success. She has posted dozens of entries on the site over the past few days, and the first round of judging will take place over the weekend. Her blogging design friends will pick ten finalist, then on Monday morning at eight a.m. the public can vote right there on her blog. The final selection of three lucky winners will be by popular vote. Please check in with her on Monday to see if my hay bale made the first cut, and if so, I hope you will vote for me. The dogs will thank you. They want their hay back.


  1. I loved reading the story behind the vignette!
    You did a fantastic job.
    Please thank your pups for generously loaning you their hay.
    It really set the tone for the room.
    I will keep my fingers crossed for you!


  2. I actually saw your vignette on Velvet and Linen and was very intrigued! What a great idea.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I can't wait to read more about your adventures in renovating!

  3. Love your vignette - and that table will be perfect. (Although I'm liking that hay bale quite a lot.) Good luck!

  4. Hi! Love the bale of Hay. Entered my sister's room in Brooke's contest and when I saw your bale of hay I so regretted not giving her a bale for her birthday last month. She just moved in to a fixer upper with a "ranch" of a yard, has that "out in the country" look. Would love it if she was a finalist, but I have to yours! Good luck, Trish

  5. This is fun! Can't wait to see the finalists Monday morning. Hope you make the cut! :-)

  6. what a wonderful giveaway... hope you win it... i have one i purchased in belgium years ago... they are the best.

  7. Rustic Chic indeed!
    The hay bale is so witty, I've seen one with plexy glass cover and Tad-dahhh...another chic idea~
    Great weekend*

  8. hiya James!
    Thanks so much for following my blog. I would love to see how the renovation of your farmhouse will proceed! So count me in ;)
    I am also following Brooke's competition (sadly I could not enter as I am in Holland) I am a big fan of the table they are giving away. I think your picture / style has all the ingredients to be a lovely decor for this fabolous price. All the luck yo you and greetings from Amsterdam

  9. What a great blog! Our renovation (midcentury modern circa 1967)) is about 5-6 years ago now, so now I can follow your project!

  10. I am so pleased to read that you know Brussels so well! And yes the store Jacques Brol is so charming! I love the beautiful pieces there!

    The place with the bale of hay is stunning! I noticed it immediately when I received the list from Brooke!


  11. Hello James!

    I'm so glad you left a link in the comments to your site. I was dying to learn more about your witty and whimsical space! I too entered the giveaway and did not make the cut. But I have to honestly say, I'm shocked your space is not in the top ten. I was so hoping it would be. I think my room may perhaps have been a bit too modern for the aesthetic of Brooke's blog and readers, but yours is just perfect. That you created this fantastic, romantic moment
    from a room that really is not yet, deserves a standing ovation. Really well
    done! I truly wish you were in the running.

    But I'm glad to have discovered your blog and am excited to see the progress as your home comes alive. I too am in the deep South. Good luck with your renovation!

    Best- nelya

  12. What a wonderful story- I love hearing about renovations- so much history! Thank you for stopping by my blog- I look forward to reading more of yours...

  13. Hi James! Just getting to your blog via your comment on Velvet & Linen. I'm sorry you didn't make the top 10. I was looking forward to seeing the table in that space. What a great picture you submitted, too! Anyway - fantastic presentation - wonderful room. Just wanted to share that with you. Have a great day!

  14. The top ten finalist have been selected for the Velvet & Linen contest and their pictures are on the contest site this morning. The Garvinweasel hay bale didn't make the cut, but I had fun creating the entry and I'm grateful for the new friends I made in the process.

    Thank you all for your comments and support and hope to see you again soon around here. I'm working on my next draft post today and should be there tomorrow.


  15. p.s. I cast my vote for Katie D because her entry looks like a room where I would be right at home, as I love to read and I have a difficult time letting go of magazines.

    All these rooms are distinctive, so many good choices. Wishing good luck to all ten!

    You can cast your own vote here.

  16. Hello James!!! When I saw your room, I knew that it would be a very rough road to be a finalist! I absolutely love your style and will be waiting with bated breath to see how your renovation takes shape. I have a house built in 1911 which we are continuously workong on, so I can relate to your hard work getting it all together! I so appreciate your vote, and your kind words mean the world to me. I hope you don't mind that I add your blog to my link list! Thanks again. :)

  17. I'm adding you to my fav's list after seeing your V&L entry. love the inventivness.

  18. hey james-

    i don't know if you saw the note i left for you on brooke's blog since there are 2 or 3 pages of comments, but i wanted to you to know that as one of the judges, i LOVED your room (well, vignette, i see now) but didn't include it in my top 5 because i didn't think the brickmaker's table would be an improvement over the hay bale!

    had we been picking prettiest or most stylish room overall, i probably would have selected your entry (along with katie's- no denying, i love that room), but we weren't, and were rather considering all sorts of other criteria, including style of room, space available, whether it would be an improvement over the existing table, etc...

    best of luck with your renovation- my respect for your entry has grown even more, now that i know it was created in a construction site!

  19. James, I loved what you created here...xv

  20. James - Hi. I was one of the judges for Brooke's contest and posted about your entry yesterday. You were in my top 5 - I was really blown away by your entry. The photo was arresting. Looking forward to following your blog and reno! Michele

  21. Participating in the selection of the top ten for Velvet & Linen contest was fun (hard but fun)...getting to know your extraordinary blog...priceless!

  22. James, I think your room was well suited for the bricklayer table. Love your photo.

    What state are you in? I have my own money pit... I mean farmhouse, in Texas.

  23. Terri, thanks for you comment. I'm beginning to think farmhouse and money pit are synonymous. Sorry, but the witness protection program guidelines prohibit me from revealing the location of Garvinweasel.

  24. Your "hay room" has made a fabulous impression on all those reading Velvet and Linen blog! Perhaps you should be a stylist too! You so deserved to be in the top 10 and to win! If one reads your description of what the room is going to look like, the table fits perfectly!

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and the wonderful comments! Isn't that yacht amazing!!! We could put the hay bale on that and just sail away!

    Bonnie :)

  25. James, from my point of view the room that you submitted was the most original and creative one in the entire competition. The idea with the hay was brilliant - not only because of my soft spot for all things organic.The entire arrangement was beautiful, inspiring and full of unusual surprises. Personally, I really think your room should have won!

  26. Borjana, thank you so much for this comment! I have to admit that I liked the hay bale once I saw it in the house, and thought of a long list of possible uses for them as decor, but the fire hazard it presents makes it impossible in the house. Perhaps there is a source for organic and recycled straw-like but fire retardant material which could be used to make 'safe' bays of designer hay... please let me know if you see something like this so I can have a hay bale coffee table without having to move furniture out to the barn.

  27. WOW!! I missed this, must have been when I was on hiatus!
    Love your creative style...xx