Haute or Haunted?

Awww...I dare say I'm feeling a bit reminiscent these days. I'm not quite sure if it's the Cointreau in my hot-cakes, or the Pimms in my orange juice? This nostalgic mood that's taking over my design-senses seems to be leeching into the U.S.waters. More and more this fascination with the macabre has been cropping up in the homes of the hip, young, New Yorker's.

To achieve this look you must take a well loved, vintage cocktail shaker and mix 1-part Miss Havisham, to 1-parts Sherlock Holmes......
and add a dash of Mary Poppins.
Like alcohol, living in a world of historical relics, heavy fabrics, vintage photos, animal heads, well-worn books and furniture just might lull you into a nostalgic stupor. However, those taxidermy squirrels, old surgical instruments, and monkey-skulls may just sink you into a nightmare. I even spied a death-mask; no description required. These creative collectors are drawn to what has been touched by the past and feed the need for mystery and history. It's design outside the wooden 'box'.

 Think about it, retail giants such as Ralph Lauren, J Crew, and Anthropologie, have been luring us to the dark side of nostalgia for a few years. And, when that wasn't enough to kick start our desire to take it into our homes, the U.S. economy tanked and the desire to make our personal space a safe-house, certainly fanned the desire for an moth-eaten bygone era.

This newer design aesthetic (often heralded as 'vintage-19th century living') can include taxidermy, anatomy charts, apothecary cabinets, Phrenology busts, vintage chemistry beakers, bone fragments, vintage sports equipment, insects, and the list goes on.

  In a August 2009 post for Interior Design by Thomas Jayne, he quotes Valerie Steele, the director of the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, “collecting these old things, it’s like there is an aura attached to them. It’s not some prepackaged product being foisted on you by a big corporation. Too bad it’s going to be commodified. Everything in the fashion world gets hoovered up.”

"Some of the young collectors interviewed in the article argue it is a rebellion against steel and glass modernism",  wrote Jayne.  'I however, feel that is too simplistic of a view". Valerie Steele offers a different explanation, “It’s way more than anti-modernism, this sort of deep spelunking into the past,” she said. “It’s not aspirational and it’s not nostalgic. It’s a fantasy world that is almost entirely a visual collage. It’s a stitched-together, bricolage world, an alternative world.”

New York interior designer David Tiergartner's former schoolhouse home.
property with a past

David's home images via Country Living Nov. 10
 Hollister H. Hovey who has brought us her passion for previous-lifestyle through her blog.
HHH is a young woman with a fun vision for objects of historic interest.
Stuffy is not her attitude.
Sean Crowley, neckware designer for Ralph Lauren and girlfriend Meredith Modzelewski's Fort Greene, Brooklyn, apartment is chockablock with Edwardian-style portraits, heraldic device.  They also collect arcane cocktail ingredients, including seven kinds of bitters.
The design community may call this style the 'New Victorian', 'New Vintage', or those that adopt this style the 'New Antiquarian's', I quite fancy the term 'Archaic Anarchy'. As with each trend we take it with a pinch of salt, a dash of bitters, and a dose of  just-maybe?
onelumportwo lamp, mansfieldcourt wallpaper all thru Anthropologie
I dare say I quite fancy the thought of living amongst relics older than myself. Conjuring up the vibes of good days gone-bye, and playing a little Sherlock Homes meets Mary Poppins with Mr. Scotland. Dreaming is what I do best!

L.N. Fowler Phrenology head - ebay, wire tray can be found @ My Sparrow on etsy

Cameo wallpaper Antrho, Typography chart - Ohkayk on etsy, accordion accent table & zig-zag shag rug - Urban Outfitters.
bar image HHHovey

Abigail Ahern lamps @ Atelier, vintage beakers via My Sparrow on Etsy, Gloria's garden rug found @ Anthropologie, cricket boxes @ ShavingKitsSupplies on etsy.
zinniacottage on etsy.com

wallpaper, Ashore lamp Anthropologie, steel trays -ebay

Creepy or ComfortingYOU tell me
and for the books, I like it. 
"No varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself" - Great Expectations.

Have a lovely, long, lazy weekend my friends x

{go forth and live responsibly}
new isn't always better

image credits; Ralph Lauren, NYTimes.comhttp://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/07/29/garden, /20090730-PREWAR_7.html, polly morgan, weloveindie, shelterpop, zinniacottageetsy, mysparrow, pandorasparlor, arron horn stylist, abigail ahern,poppytalk.wordpress,bradleythiergartner, countryliving, Pieter Estershon, anthropologie.com,


Unknown said...

Hey daaaaahling! Long time no hear! I think this look is haute, but could I live in it? Probably not. I like uncluttered spaces.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
*kisses* HH

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Hi Deb,
Well.....me likey a loty !!!! This is right up my alley. But, I have to say that this is nothing new nd was the 'thing' in the late '70's early 80's here in the UK and I had a great deal of this stuff. It is so true that everything comes around again......I can remember when a little minimalism and glass and chrome was in fashion the first time around in the late '60's early 70's so, nothings new.
A brilliant post, as usual Deb...... I think that mine shall probably be your only comment that likes this look !!!! haha
Hope that all's well with you and the family Deb.
Have a great weekend. XXXX

French Basketeer.com said...

Hi Deb~
I think of this as very well suited to a Brooklyn apt or esp a Manhattan walkup....but not so good in places like southern california, except in small doses. I love the dark fantasy feel of it, and the layering and collections....even if it's not what you'd want in your home, it's very very interesting imagery...btw next month Metis will have a great collection of French bottles. have a fantastic weekend dear~

A Perfect Gray said...

Deb, I'm a gal who has three childrens' dress forms in my dining room. I dare not call another's style creepy...

(loved this post...)

Karena said...

Hi Deb, I can take a little of it, not the macabwe with too much darkness and bad karma lurking!

I have a Luxurious New Giveaway from Metis Linens on my site....Come and enter!!

Art by Karena

Renée Finberg said...

you tell me???
can it be BOTH?

some are creepy, but if i knew,loved, and understood the character that lived in some of the creepy rooms....
it would be alright by me.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the paris apartment said...

You have some amazing pics here! I love 'curiosities' but they can be as creepy as they are curious! Still, they do add a bit of edge when least expected and that's kind of fun when dealing with matchy matchy types!

Jules said...

I like living with the old, I'll pass on the macabre.
Our only problem is that a lot of things others think are old are now younger than me!!!!!!!

Renae Moore said...

Great post Deb! The 'old' definitely has charm and I too would love to know the history and where each piece has lain. Character I say.....love it!

Notes From ABroad said...

Talk about Eye Candy !
I can't really comment on this yet, there is so much and I need a nice amount of time to dwell on each and every photo.
I have been looking at real estate for sale in various countries and there happen to be 2 former school houses , now country homes for sale in NY State.. and I am tempted.
This won't help :)
Now, let me get back to losing myself in this wonderful post !

Anonymous said...

Dear Deb, As you may imagine, I am no follower of trends or slave to convention. I am truly amazed, therefore that, according to what you write here, I am suddenly in the vanguard of fashion. For, not only do I love the 'looks' you show here, this is what I live with on a daily basis. The only difference that I can see is that my taxidermy collection would probably be regarded as 'over the top' for even the most determined of designers. A fox on top of a bookcase, a boar's head above the kitchen door, a heron, a seagull and numerous Victorian cases of colouful birds.......and, no, I do not live in the Natural History Museum!!

La Dolfina said...

Another absolutely fabulous post Deb. You are a brilliant writer and craft the most amazing stories. I really think you missed your calling.
As for me, I love this aesthetic. It's is completely compelling to me and I love to find treasures such as these the most!
There is something about them...
I'm not sure I could live in an environment that is totally encompassing of this look but a little goes a long way.
I guess I would call them curiousities. Yep, that's it!
Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog. I want you to know that I'm sending you all my positive mojo to get that house of yours sold so you can celebrate with a vacation to come to Cali and see me!!! Have the very best weekend, friend!!!

DolceDreams said...

I adore old trinkets and curios,and you have found some amazing things here! I have to say, though, that I would not care for many of them in my living space...perhaps a bit creepy for me!
Fun post and as fabulous as ever ~

SpryOnTheWall said...

I'm right on the fence, I love some of it, but not all of it. A touch of creepy here and there is nice I think. Oh and I would kill to look as fab as Julianne Moore in the first picture. Wowza, that lady is timeless! Hope you have a wonderful weekend! xoxo Jenny

Lisa Porter said...

OOOOO I want to know what the deleted post said....something macabre maybe?
Ok Deb, I agree with Terri from LD. You are a brilliant story tellllher and writer. I think you should have a standing column reserved in Vanity Fair!
Thanks btw for explaining the "look" above but I still don't get it. Oh well, I still love ya.
xo Lisa
p.s. for my birfday next year I have already told the MR. that he should you pay you top $$$ for writing my story about that wild summer when I was you-know-where with you-know-who doing you-know-what!!!

Kelly Frances Dunn said...

I get it. Would I do it? Yes. Would I do it everywhere? No. I could totally knock it out in one room and be pleased :) I would find all the things that I think are really cool and work with that. It would have to mean something to me as well.

GREAT post, very well done! I'm impressed :)

Barbara said...

Lots to comment on here, Deb!
I think we're all being pulled into the "dark" side...starting with Star Wars and morphing into True Blood. Who knows why? Escapism?

But I have lived all my life with antiques and collections. So it's comforting to me. What I do change though, is the background...rather than the darker palattes, I have gone to white and blues. But the antiques are still there, still comforting.
Such a lovely, thought-provoking post. As always!

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

What a fabulous post.
I say go for this look all the way.
Because life is fleeting after all, and messy, so why not take a memento mori attitude towards it all.
Meanwhile, I'm still on the hunt for a stuffed albino peacock mount ; )

Cheers, Alcira


Beadboard UpCountry said...

Hey I think it is wonderfully creppy, confusing , fun!!!!! Hey sister if you are havein Cointreau in your pancakes and Pimms in your OJ why in the blazes didn't you just ask us to come down THERE for Brunch!!!!!! Wonderful Halloweeny post!!!!!xo MA & Robes

Brabourne Farm said...

mmmm .... fabulously interesting to look at but not sure I'd be happy living with all these weird and wonderful collections. Love all your images! Hope you have a lovely week. Leigh

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

My mama went for that aesthetic when decorating her vaycay home and it's gorg!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I could do without some of the taxidermy however I do think there is originality and style breeding here. great post. pgt

Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

Dearest Deb ~

I absolutely love your way with words and how you bring everything full circle! This is a very interesting way to decorate, and my sister-n-law loves it. I like to have a few 'curiosities' around, but not many since our taste tends to lean more towards classic modern.

Hope you are well! Enjoy this fabulous new season that is upon us...can't get enough chai tea, hot apple crumbles, and cozy scarves!


vicki archer said...


This way of decorating is exciting ...because it is different. New isn't always better but at least it is different and different always leads to inspiration of some kind. Great post, xv.

24 Corners said...

I've always been drawn to this particular style...not so much the "creepy"...the taxidermy and such, but the aged and natural, the victorian and the botanical. I loved Sherlock Holmses apt. in the movie...a little to messy for me but found it facsinating none the less! And the country Living spread took my breath away when I first saw it and I instantly went searching for web images to do a post but couldn't find any and gave up...I loved this home!!!

I will be revisiting your wonderful post for continual inspiration....often! Loved it!!!
xoxo J~

La Petite Gallery said...

# 1-Do like those Kudo horns.
You know it's all about the black dress with a string of pearls.

Classic is classic. That's me.

Sometimes I think they over do it into the house of horrors.


Ryan said...

Two words come to mind 'grandmothers house'. First visit to your site, it's so unique.

Rita said...

Interesting post - great images. I've always been drawn to this look. I love weaving old/odd little treasures into my home. Ralph Lauren has mastered this style.

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Grandmother's house! I hope so. Without Shabby Chic, we would have no Mid-Century Modern and now to the next stage, which I have found myself in for the last forty five years. This a wonderful post with much research and thought. Thank you, for now I have been discovered and I have now discovered you. Please come by for visit and thank you again for all the wonderful visuals of the these truly American rooms.


Gorgeous shots And it came off not only fun and happy, but classy and classic. outstanding pieces-looks interesting!thanks for posting.

goodniteirene.wordpress.com said...

it's our delicious deb!!
"like" the looks, but always makes me want to dust and turn on lights.
i'm more of a white, white, white, and more white less clutter (er shit) lying around.
miss you.

Clarity said...

I think it just crosses the line into morbid.

Makes me think you might find the following read interesting: "My Cousin Rachel" Daphne Du Maurier.

Best, xxx

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

O.K., Now that was a brilliantly written, exciting and entertaining post on décor, mixing in the spirit of the season...you blew my mind away, Deb. Oh dear, you are a REAL writer! Whew.....I just want to thank you for coming to my little old blog! YIKES! I can see that I really need more TIME to sit and think through my posts....I really can write, but these days, time is of the essence and with my wild school schedule and 50 kids, I am so fatigued; however, when I get such dear comments like yours, I am revived. I have two days off, and I am so excited! I hope you are well dearest Deb...I am glad that my post gave you a smile, and that you are feeling better!I love blogland. You get to read great writing such as yours, one gets to see lovely photos and art for INSPIRATION, and we are able to connect now in a way like never before. I hope that you day is a promising one full of all the people and things that you love...Fondly, Anita

C.J. said...

Hi Deb, just got back from Seattle so thought I would check in to see whats new in your world. SCOTLAND? Really? Although we are "bloggy friends" I feel a certain sadness that you are leaving the US. Is this what you want? Are you looking forward to it? Did your home sell?
yep, that's me, the question girl. When do you leave?
It doesn't really matter where you are as long as you are happy and somewhere you love, and keep in touch. I would feel like I have lost a great friend.
Love you girl!

Decor To Adore said...

Let's discuss this further over a glass of absinthe. :)

The painting of the red haired flapper reminds me of our beloved Visual Vamp.

Kellie Collis said...

Definitely haute! I love that mirror! Enjoy the weekend ahead, Kellie xx

abby jenkins said...

I love all things old and creaky but some of this stuff is too much for me, a good friend has been collecting old surgical instruments for years. I can barely look at them without cringing. Bring on the antlers, lab tables and beakers....but the bone saws. Not so much.

Was antiquing in Hudson, NY last weekend, first time in a while...everything went from mid century to industrial/Quincy in a flash.

Hill House Ramblings said...

Hi Deb...I really enjoyed this post. Love the bookish images and cozy mood. Less in love with the clincial aspect of some of the collections. Overall I would definitely say more comforting than creepy! I could never live without old things around me.:)

Have a great weekend!

Haven and Home said...

I have been feeling nostalgic too, these images (and maybe the wine) are a perfect ending to the night!

Millie said...

Deb you brilliant thing - fabulous post! I've got my Grandpa's beautiful cut throat razor with it's gorgeous pearl handle still in it's original leather box. I've always wanted to put it out on display somewhere but have been too chicken. Now you have given me the go-ahead. I probably need to hunt around for a few other 'interesting' pieces to make a little vignette with it.
Millie ^_^

Red Boots said...

I'm not a fan of minimalism, so the more things in my house the better! I minored in zoology at university, so I quite like taxidermy animals and skulls and the like. I think it's because I understand their physiology, so it's more of an appreciation of their form, rather than for purely asthetic reasons. The photo of myself on my blog is actually with a (fake) taxidermy pheasant!

Not sure I'd like it all over my house though, just the odd piece here and there.


Haute World said...

I quite like some of the vintage relics, as long as it's not overdone and somehow can be incorporated or complement the interiors. Not so sure about the taxidermy though, but that's HUGE in France. I don't mind seeing it in other places, but I think I'd get tired of looking at this stuff in my own home.

A 2 Z said...


Its been a long while. I see you have been very busy. I moved to Qatar for a while and I'm back revisiting my old bloggy friends. I love all your pictures. They are inspiring even the macabre. I think the UK has more of a penchant for it than we do. Hope to hear from you soon!


North of 25A said...

I love vintage, I just don't love anything that involves dead animals! Especially love the portraits.

ticklishfromadistance said...

Your posts are just too good. I think it is a bit of both as well.

Ingrid Tunheim said...

Hello !!

It was very nice having you visiting my blog. Nice to meet people from different parts of the wourld, seeing what others do, what they are concerned about, learning more about daily life and this internetlife surely makes the wourld smaller....

I am signing up as a follower of your blog.

Have a great day...

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hey Deb
Well sorry I missed this post earlier.. I'm really slipping behind with blogging these days...

Well this is just my thing.. I've always liked the dark side and visually tend to live in a land of nostalgia and mystery.. To be honest a lot of it reminds me of my grandparents home.. and strangely ... going to the osteopath as a child.. [ie image#2.. he didn't have a naked Julianne Moore on his sofa.. haha]...

As much as I like a good dose of white.. I can't let go of my dark furnishings and am in a constant battle of change.. I still have all the mirrors of my grandmothers furniture and can't bring myself to paint them.. although I've been tempted..One day I'll figure out how to merge it all..

I think you hit is spot on with 'Miss Havisham /Sherlock Holmes' .. I saw a perfect apartment decked out in this style in a mag recently.. need to find that article.. the girl had a wonderful sense of bizarre..

Ok... thanks so much for this post.. Glad to hear from you and hope you are well .. ciao xxx Julie

Privet and Holly said...

Gosh, you really
put a lot of heart
into this post ~ LOVE
IT!!! Interesting take
on how the economy is
playing into this whole
vibe....Although I have
to say, I've channeled
my inner Mary Poppins
and Jane Austen for years
and years!!! My 15 year old
is VERY drawn to this vibe;
her generation calls it
"steam punk" and she has
collected butterflies,
old watch parts, vintage
dog figurines, beetles in
glass, etc. for several
years....Part of her DNA,
just like her mama : ) I
do love a revived reverence
for history and for the
natural elements, such as
antlers and science charts.
Amazing world that we live
in! Happy Friday!
xx Suzanne

Tatieva art said...

Divine, divine Julianne Moore sur son sofa, dans sa plus belle nudité... et quel bonheur de découvrir de merveilleux bureaux et salons pour se poser un moment, un livre à la main, un chat près de soi, une douce musique un jour de pluie...
Merci pour cet instant de sérénité !
From France,

La Petite Gallery said...

Get the white jacket, here I sit applauing and clapping infront
of the computer for Valorie dancing
the tango. I feel like I know her. She is the cats Meow. So are you darling for posting this.


red ticking said...

C O M F O R T...

all of these "bits" (as i love to call them... trinkets, treasure) are so charming... it is what i do at red ticking and my home... everywhere you look there is something that will make you smile or bring memories flooding back... that is what life is all about...

great post... always deb...xx

Francine Gardner said...

Such a treat...awake at 4am still jetlagged from a 12 hours time difference...I so enjoyed reading through your blog. i love this style and has embraced it for many years...in fact the first image is a copy of a postal desk that i sell through FIRST DIBS...(THE REAL VINTAGE)
I love to mix objects, textiles to give a space my personal touch. But the result can only be an expression of one's soul if you truly love each and every object, light, accessory, fabric.

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