Decorating: Auntie Mame Style

February 6th, 2012

Did y’all ever see the movie Auntie Mame?  It’s one of my top ten favorite movies of all time, the book is hilarious too.  Rosalind Russell is so brilliant in this role as the eccentric yet glamorous Mame Dennis who is assigned the caretaker for her orphaned ten year old nephew Patrick in 1920’s New York City.  Auntie Mame is colorful and unconventional, a lover of art and theater, with a quick wit and a disdain for stuffy or snobbish society. 

auntie mame opening scene

The character is divine and the movie sets are magnificent.  The apartment Mame lives in takes on a completely new and different look every few years based on her iridescent theatrical personality.  During the movie, viewers get to see six separate and completely different designs, and to quote Jonathan Adler, “Watching Auntie Mame is a right of passage for every aspiring decorator”.  For a full tour of the six different makeovers during the movie in Mame’s apartment, visit Julia’s post on 3 Beekman Place.

So I have a neighbor named Tatiana and we met eight years ago at my annual garage sale. Tatiana is the closest person to Auntie Mame I know. Up my driveway eight years ago she walked with her husband Miguel and Tatiana and I became instant friends.  When I first met her, her name was Jennie, but then she decided she wanted her name to be Tatiana because she preferred Tatiana so she legally changed her name to Tatiana.  At the age of 45.  I love that.

Tatiana is my Auntie Mame, she eats and drinks and decorates as she pleases all with a zest for life that’s rare these days.  She lives around the corner from me and we meet for coffee from time to time to catch up. She always wants to come to my house because she finds it so soothing, and I always want to go to her house because I find it so inspiring, so we take turns.  But on our last coffee visit I won and got the pleasure of visiting with her in her home.  

 

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Brass Hardware: Polishing and Faking It

February 5th, 2012

One thing is undeniable in the DIY and design world, brass hardware is back and lately I’m totally loving it on furniture. As a child of the 80’s I admit shiny lacquered brass fixtures still don’t appeal to me, but I am drawn to the golden glow of real or antiqued brass with its warmer patina.

In the past two weeks, I’ve fixed up two pieces, one dresser and one campaign desk, and both had brass hardware I wanted to reuse.  One set of hardware was real brass, the other brass plate, and both needed a good polish.

Over the last year, I’ve also narrowed down two great substitutes for faking the patina with other hardware that you want to give a golden glow.  If you’re curious how to tell the difference between real brass and brass plate, how to polish unlacquered brass, or how to fake the look of antique brass hardware, here’s how I do it.

brass hardware polished and fake

 

Real brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and if it’s not lacquered, will tarnish with exposure to air over time.  There are two methods I use to bring back the mellow antiqued patina, one is Brasso if I have it on hand and the other is natural lemon juice and salt paste mixture.

tarnished brass hardware

 

But first, before you polish, you should know whether your hardware is real brass or brass plate.  Here’s the simple way to tell the difference.  Take a household magnet and see if it will stick to the piece, if it won’t that means the hardware is real brass, like these campaign pulls.

real brass campaign pulls

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