Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


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.


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 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.


See How They Wrap

Tastemakers Stiles T. Colwill and Jonathan Gargiulo tell Southern Accents that their holiday prep begins the week before Thanksgiving. One of their many activities includes assembling gifts to be wrapped in the guesthouse dining room. Reading this, I wondered how other artists, editors, and designers wrap their holiday presents. So I did a little investigating.

Those oh-so-creative sisters, Hollister and Porter Hovey, have a distinct signature style.
Porter explains, "Every year my sister Hollister and I choose a theme for wrapping our gifts. One year it was a nature theme with little nests and birds we bought at the craft store. In more recent years we've stuck with black wrapping paper with either gold or black ribbon. It's a classic look and makes everything from the summer sausages we get our grandpa to the perfect vintage ebay finds look so elegant."
This year, to be a little green, the duo will cut up the big roll of seamless black studio paper that Porter, who is a photographer, bought for her last project. "I always go with the idea that bigger is better, but I went with a roll that was 10 feet wide! We'll be wraping each black package with twine, twigs and pine sprigs!"

The black grosgrain is available through Kate's Paperie, and I found the image of the black craft paper on Amazon.

Stay tuned for more ideas from other stylish people. You'll notice a real emphasis on thrift. And that leads me to a point I want to make about the presents I've been posting recently: most of the ribbon is recycled. I enjoy art supply stores the way other women like shoe boutiques, and I do add each year to my collection of paper and trims, but I have a small number of packages to wrap. All of the ribbon on gifts to my family comes back to me for use the next year!


Giving in the 60s, Week III

In the summer I posted these three bronze 18th-century greyhounds from Joseph Braswell's collection, but I saved the remaining figures for this season. They originally appeared in a story titled, Animal Spirits: New Life for the Accessory, part of House Beautiful's 1968 holiday issue. Animal figures were deemed ubiquitous but nonetheless still "the" accessory to have that year.

"Comparable to the status scarf or the bogus jewel, the lurking animal is a perfect foil for stones, porcelain, or clusters of ferns in whatever magical arrangements the imagination can conjure. And, found in important scale -- like the African bull on the following page -- the animal can easily dominate a room."

The magazine stated that most of the creatures photographed for the story were found in European antique shops by American decorators and placed in their homes for the story.

I'm struck by how similar the HB examples are to the dogs, turtles, birds and lions seen right now in shops. When I was in Providence Antiques the other day, this brass turtle in the color image was still available. Like the 1960s version, the shell lifts off so small objects can be stored. In the 60s of course, cigarettes were stashed here.

Megan Arquette took this picture of the gorgeous turquoise dog at Chapman Radcliff before it closed.

See also Mrs. Blandings' related post today.


Design by the Book

There are a couple of projects I'm quite excited about so I want to help spread the word even though you may have already learned about them online or in print. Grace Bonney just launched with the New York Public Library a video series in which she follows five artists (Julia Rothman, John Pomp, Mike Perry, Moontree Press and Lorena Barrezueta) as they create works inspired by the library's collections. I've subscribed to the series through iTunes but you can click here for other viewing options.

After watching the dynamic intro, I'm anxious to see all the upcoming films.

Speaking of artists and books, whenever I'm in Sam Flax, the exquisite Hiroshige calls out to me. It's a lavish, over-scale volume that celebrates the work of the 19th-century Japanese artist. Working with woodblock prints, Hiroshige captured the scenes of his native Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and the book includes 120 of his most masterful illustrations.

It's a collector's piece, but not inexpensive -- $150.

An alternative is Taschen's mini paperback, Hiroshige, priced at $9.99. This edition includes a brief biography and chronological summary of the artist's work, historical perspective, and roughly 100 color illustrations with captions.

All Hiroshige images are copyright Taschen