T&S Home Features

Design on My Mind: 10.4.17

timeless: glazed roof tiles
Without architecture, there is no interior design. My office is across from the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, and my view is nothing short of inspirational! This behemoth structure of stone, Tiffany glass and green-glazed terra cotta is a tribute to the great architecture of the past.

I am intrigued by the glazed roof tiles. Since I spend a great deal of time in Palm Beach, I have a fondness for this architectural accoutrement and how it crowns a structure with elegance and beauty. When the sun reflects off these tiles, they gleam. When the rain pours down over them, they shimmer like silk.

Glazed tiles first were used in China, dating back to the Zhou dynasty between 1046 and 256 BC. They were designed in both tubular and flat shapes, depending on their application and the structure’s roofline. Today, there are many different shapes and colors.

The Greeks, Italians and other Mediterranean cultures used the decorative tiles for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Originally, this kind of roof was created out of necessity due to the weather in those geographic regions, where tile can last for hundreds of years. They don’t hold up as well in St. Louis due to our extreme fluctuations of heat and cold.

Another major benefit is that the tiles never fade or change color. The strength of the clay tiles, coupled with the glaze, makes them impervious to mildew. The process of glazing and kiln firing creates a resilient yet beautiful product.

trade secrets: buying art
I often am asked by clients to assistin the purchase of art for their homes. There is a great deal to consider when making an art purchase, so I have compiled some tips.

1. Art should not be purchased to ‘match’ the interior of a room. Art is a very personal experience, both for the artist and the collector. A piece should speak to you first and foremost. While it is a plus if its colors complement your home’s fabrics or wall colors, that is by no means necessary. Traditional art can work well with contemporary interiors, and vice versa.

2. Size matters. A designer can assist in determining what size artwork best fits your space. Do not buy art simply to fill a room; wait for the right piece to come along. There is nothing worse than art that is too small or too large for the allotted wall space. Scale and proportion are of the utmost importance.

3. Have a budget, and stick to it. We all can get caught up in the moment when emotions are involved. But be realistic about what you can afford, keeping in mind that you always can upgrade later. It would be nice to fill our homes with museum-quality works, but there are many artists in our own community who are equal in talent and more affordable. We focus on St. Louis artists in our Florida home so we can take a little bit of here … there.

4. Develop relationships. Like the partnership you have with your interior designer, it is equally important to develop a relationship with gallery owners and artists. They will get to know your taste and your collection and be invaluable in guiding you. A reputable gallery owner or artist will place your needs ahead of his or her own and offer sage advice.

5. Buy local and abroad. I encourage my clients to buy local first. I also know that they travel the world and would rather buy a piece of art than a T-shirt. Before a trip, we discuss what areas of the home need art, and we set parameters to fill that space. The end result is a wonderful memory and a well thought-out design element.

come to terms with: rose medallion
I have a small but treasured collection of rose medallion china. There are only six pieces, but they all belonged to people who were important to me.

It’s a very distinctive china pattern, usually in greens and pinks. The center of the object typically features a peony flower or bird, and there are usually four or six quadrants filled with leaves, flowers and figures radiating from the center. Somehow it is all graceful and harmonious.

There are different categories of rose medallion china. If no birds or people are present, it is known as rose canton. If it is sans birds, it is rose mandarin. I always thought a rose was a rose was a rose, but I digress.

This form of china became very popular in the mid-19th century. In the 17th century, the demand for porcelain was so intense that the Chinese were shipping large amounts to Europe and the Americas. The Silk Road was the first Amazon of its day, delivering unique goods to people of all nations. Today, the china from this period is very valuable, so serious collectors are always on the hunt.

In 1890, politics got involved and the U.S. Congress passed the McKinley Tariff Act. All goods entering the country were taxed and had to be stamped with the country of origin. So ‘China’ was put on the bottom of all items coming from that country, and in 1915, ‘Made in China’ became the new mark.

Newer versions (post 1890) sadly have less value now, partly due to waning appreciation of beautiful craftsmanship and artistry. Today, pieces can be picked up from second-hand resources like estate sales and eBay for next to nothing.