Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


See How They Wrap V

In the 70s my mom wrapped Christmas presents in plain, sturdy kraft paper livened up with various plaid ribbons. The look wasn't a big hit with my grandmother, who favored more glamorous green foil, and I'm sure my great-grandmother, Big Mama, would not have liked it either because she once decorated a tree in a blaze of red lights and ornaments. But I know at least one other stylish mom -- Fifi Laughlin's -- used kraft paper. Several members of the Burnham Design team are also fans of humble paper mixed with opulent ribbon.

This year, kraft paper seems to be on everyone's radar. Grace Bonney plans to stamp her own: "I'm the stamp-queen. I'm going with my favorite method of kraft paper and stamps dipped in metallic inks."

Fifi likes kid-friendly presentations. She has three December birthdays to celebrate -- including her own on Christmas Day -- and says,"I keep a roll of kraft paper and always have an array of markers so that I can just quickly doodle on the paper. I especially love kraft bags paired with bright tissue paper. The right combination of colors is what makes me happy, and it is kind of fun to reach into a bag since you can't tell from the outside what could possibly be in it."

On occasion, she steps out with a few sophisticated twists. "This year, I think I will buy some beautiful ribbon to add to the mix...and I should pull out some of my small glass drops to tie on the ends."

Dick Blick sells bulk rolls of kraft paper (1,000 feet by 24 inches) for about $30. Most art supply stores should stock it, whether in small or large amounts. Apart from the classic brown (really khaki), kraft paper also comes in colors and other neutrals. I experimented with recycling a chocolate-brown paper bag, shown above at the top, and embellished with a scrap of Imperial Trellis. Bags have so much added thickness -- I wouldn't cut one up again.

Crave shine? Take inspiration from Armour and Co.'s Jayme Leffler. She is using silver metallic paper with magenta ribbon. Alternatively, her shop also combines the paper with charcoal and silver ribbon for a more masculine look. "The silver is festive and works no matter what you celebrate!"

For a wide selection of rubber stamps and inks, visit Impress Rubber Stamps or Paper Source. Hand-dyed silk and satin ribbon is available at M & J Trimming. Silver ribbed paper can be found at Kate's.


Let the Giving Begin

I hope everyone enjoyed a satisfying, relatively stress-free Thanksgiving! The tastemakers' gift wrapping suggestions will continue in a few days. But in the meantime, since tomorrow is Black Friday, I want to share some very reasonably priced hand-blocked Indian table linens and kitchen accessories from Elizabeth James. ( Coleen Rider introduced me to her work.)

Her oven mitts are $12 each and I'm nabbing a few to give this year.

I think a set of these is a lovely gift as is, although you could always pair them with a cookbook or Elizabeth's kitchen towels.

Her red-and-white paisley linens would bring worldly flair to the Christmas table. And when I think of inspired settings, I think of Nate Turner. You can learn entertaining tips from him in Set with Style (he's just one of many designers included but his own table made the cover).

Also, don't miss Nate's gloriously eclectic apartment in the December domino.

Whenever I'm looking for more books about Indian textiles, I scan the offerings at the Calico Museum. They have distinctive notecards and cloth reproductions too.

Recently, The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. selected a woven 18th-century Kashmir shawl as its textile of the month (below). It features a style of Indian flower often recorded during the 17th century by the Mughal ruler Jahangir's artist. In his fall catalog, John Robshaw has some similar contemporary versions.

If you want to try your own hand with woodblocks, Elizabeth James sells them. Apart from being useful, one intricate block might look striking propped on a shelf.

All of the linens shown here are from Elizabeth's company, Pacific & Rose. The Christmas card was illustrated for me by Anne Harwell using Peter Dunham's Kashmir Paisley as inspiration. Boxed holiday cards are available on Anne's site.

The small elephant is from High Street Market and the turquoise vase is from Jayson Home.

Credit for shawl:
Cotton, silk; twill weave, supplementary-weft patterning
244 cm x 47.50 cm
The Textile Museum OC6.130
Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1947


See How They Wrap IV

We wouldn't expect anything less than super-chic, earth-friendly gift wrap from Rubie Green founder Michelle Adams. This year, her presents are covered in natural fiber papers from Kate's Paperie (the two in the foreground) and in paper from Loop (grey package in background). Loop uses FSC certified paper and soy inks. Of course, Michelle has used scraps of her own RG fabrics for the wonderful bows.

BTW: The stripe "ribbon" is Michelle's "Delavan," named for her former colleague, domino's very cool editor-at-large, Tom Delavan.

All gift wrap photography by Patrick Cline.

Reminder: If you prefer not to shop the day after Thanksgiving, consider a visit to Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Christmas House. For a festive and educational family day, visit the High.

Charleston Receipts

Recently I was asked in an interview to recommend a cookbook. Trying to suggest a title that hasn't already been mentioned this season in 25 magazines, I said Charleston Receipts. This affordable edition was first published in 1950 and is often called the Bible of all Junior League cookbooks. Widely celebrated for preserving Gullah culture and other regional customs, in the 1990s Receipts was inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame. Proceeds from sales benefit non-profit programs in South Carolina.

The book is a perfect gift on its own, but it would be even more special paired with an antique spoon found at a flea market.

If you are signing off for the next few days, I want to wish you a healthy, happy Thanksgiving and express genuine gratitude for your continued interest in this blog. Thanks, as always, for reading! 


See How They Wrap III

Photographer Gemma Ingalls often shops for unexpected gift wrap and embellishments, such as faux birds, at Pearl River and at fabric or trimming stores. With ribbon, she likes to combine colors and textures (wide with thin, matte with sparkly). And she is a big fan of seam binding.

She says, "It it super lightweight, affordable, and comes in tons of colors. I like to layer different complimetary colors -- it's a bit transparent." At Sew-Biz, seam binding costs roughly $3 for 75 yards. Gemma also enjoys using a single chandelier crystal to "fancy up a gift or a Christmas tree!" The replacement piece below is $1.50 at

Last year she made her own wrapping paper from a photograph of trees on a snowy hillside in Colorado. Non-copyrighted images can usually be blown-up onto wide sheets of paper at your neighborhood Kinko's (now called FedEx Office). Gemma requested black-and-white for graphic punch.

Muslin is another alternative to traditional paper that Gemma sometimes uses. She gathers the material at the top of the box for volume. At JoAnn fabric stores muslin costs about $1.50 per yard.


See How They Wrap II

Like many women, New Orleans resident and Lum Lighting founder, Adrienne Casbarian, is going to have a hectic holiday season. When it comes to wrapping presents, she wants to be green and thrifty but she still plans to inject her signature wit and flair.

"I am wrapping in newspaper and two-inch satin red ribbon. I've been saving the good sheets for weeks. My husband will think he is so ahead of the times because he always wraps in newspaper (because he is a man...not because he is green or thrifty)."

I love the juxtapositions in Adrienne's approach: the graphic nature of black-and-white with lush red, and the mix of humble and luxe materials.

Just to take her idea and run with it, I can imagine using pages of book reviews to cover some of this season's great new releases. Two of the most talked about titles that keep emerging at the top of my list are Regency Redux and Domino: The Book of Decorating.

For me, the Domino book is similar to an excellent cookbook: it has wide-ranging appeal and value to many people. But I think it's an especially great present for young moms with little leisure time (like my sister who is also a full-time teacher and grad student). I did an informal poll of doctors/mothers, nurses, and educators who, while very busy, still want stylish, livable homes. This very portable, well-organized resource is crisp, uplifting, straight forward and fun -- just what they could use. $20.80 if purchased here.

Regency Redux is simply an essential for the serious design library. I'm still amazed at the scope of information author Emily Eerdmans included while maintaining an entertaining tone. This is the volume you need to really grasp Neoclassicism and Regency design, and the glamorous reincarnation of these styles in the 20th century -- a phenomenon that's very much with us today too.

Double-face red satin ribbon is available through Kate's.


A List from Janet and Emily (And a Reminder from Erin)

I think many of you know that Janet Blyberg and Regency expert, Emily Eerdmans, were classmates at Attingham. Emily is an accomplished author and the woman behind the lavish new book, Regency Redux. So Janet asked her colleague to share an annotated list of her top five design books. The titles have a decidedly anglophile bent, and I was pleased to see that I own several of them.

Click here to read Janet's blog post. Maybe you can find some of these at your local library this weekend. Above is one of Emily's picks, the always popular Colefax book, paired with a 2007 holiday card from domino. Colefax and Fowler's "Jubilee Rose" is the print used for both. (In Atlanta, copies of C & F should be available at the Northside and Central branches of our public library system.)

BTW: Emily has a great line about wrapping presents this year. She says, "I think more than any year it's all about the thought and personalization that goes into a gift rather than how lavish or expensive it is, and presentation is such a big part of that." This concept will be the theme next week as I share more ideas from designers and artists. (Emily thinks she may stick with gold paper and silver ribbon.)

Erin just reminded me about Bell'occhio. Since I posted some of their wares way back when, the website has greatly improved. Highly unusual boxes and luxe ribbons! Perhaps not super-thrifty, but fun to browse.

And another holiday-related reminder: please click here for details on the big Lulu DK sale.