Japanese Tansu chest

An on-going quest to show how beautifully old mixes with new took me to a friend’s house last week.  I knew her home would be lovely as she is brimming with style.  On my first visit I toured her home and we had a great chat about how she has made her home a reflection of her style, her family’s lifestyle and her history.  Raising three young boys did not discourage her from using pretty, breakable and collectible pieces around her home.  Brave right?!  This courage also reflects her personality.  My friend and her husband completed construction on their 1950’s home soon after moving in to fit their lifestyle and esthetic.  Her decor is a collection of new and acquired pieces that tell a story about where they have traveled, lived and grew up.  I loved when she said to me about her style, “I like a home that looks collected not decorated”.   Amen to that.


Blue & White porcelain collection

Her living room displays a great collection of blue & white porcelain by the fireplace and a pair of club chairs in a bold blue and white fabric are flanked by a sleek navy velvet sofa.  I thought a Japanese Tansu chest, with its warm wood stain and dramatic iron and brass hardware would add to the chinoiserie theme.  This piece is a nod to the history of Asian trade of centuries past.  Tansu chests were designed for storage, as they are still great for today.  The warm wood tones perfectly compliment the cool blue and grey color palette and provide a nice hand-crafted element.  This room is the perfect example of the power of incorporating ‘old’ in the context of a contemporary setting.  Old does not have to look old!


Family chairs & great art

Elsewhere in her home were pieces of art that reflect her personal style.  Artwork is such a great vehicle for color and texture and is usually revealing of the homeowners taste and esthetic.  I love the water print that she has framed in a sleek ‘mirror’ molding in the dining area.  The combination of subject and frame is so interesting and sets a beautiful, contemporary, artful stage for this area.  Credit goes to Kate at http://www.southstreetgallery.com for selecting this frame and Hingham Yardsale (facebook) is the source for the print.  Of course, all was conceived by the homeowner.  Surrounding her round dinning table are chairs from her childhood that she still loves the shape and style of, now covered in denim (a nod to her Texas home and durability for a young family).


Thank you to Sara Abbott for sharing her home which served as the perfect backdrop for this demonstration on mixing old with new.



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3 Responses

  1. What a great antique and such a useful piece of furniture. The room – very much a work in progress – really needed something to ground it and the chest is perfect. Thank you for capturing the essence of our home and my decorating philosophy. I’m always excited to see what fun and interesting items you add to your collection (so I can add them to mine!).

    • waterhousedecor@gmail.com

      Thanks Sara for lending your home! It was so much fun.

  2. A very interesting article! Thank you for sharing, and for the compliment about South Street Gallery!!!

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