05 Nov 2010

The Beauty of Things Remembered, Part 1

Antiques, Architecture, Bunny Williams, Dublin, Interior Beauty, John Rosselli Antiques, Mirrors, Neoclassicism, New York City, Philadelphia, Treillage, Wallcovering, Window Treatments 14 Comments

Sunset at Clearwater Beach, FL

Whenever I see beauty, whether it be an object, an event in nature, or in a person’s soul, it makes my heart smile. Beauty to me is a glimpse into the heart of God, and that creates joy.  But what makes something beautiful to us?  This is what I seek to learn about each of my clients.  It’s a hunt for the key that will unlock the way to give my clients the joy of living in a beautiful home.  Being surrounded by beauty makes my heart sing, and I want that experience for my clients.

We all have our own definition of beauty – whether or not we know what it is – but the joy of beauty is an emotion we all share.  I’m always on the lookout for beauty and it’s not hard to find if one is looking, but it is easy to pass by.  As an example, I’m a sucker for cute puppies.  In fact I love the Advantix TV commercials, I actually want to watch them!  One of my favorites:  Advantix cute puppies commercial

When it involves nature or children or puppies and kittens, most people would agree they are touched by their beauty.  When it comes to man-made objects, we are drawn to certain things, and what one considers beautiful may have no effect on another.

When I visited New York City, I fell in love.  I fell in love with the architecture.  I fell in love with the tall buildings snuggled close, huge blocks of stone and brick fashioned decades ago into beautiful homes and shops.

I'd love to live here

Almost everywhere I looked there were trees and flowers, a wonderful juxtaposition of nature and the man-made.  This everyday scene below is ordinary, but it felt beautiful to me, full of life and color yet, a glimpse into people going about their day.

Walking in NYC

I grew up and lived for most of my life in what we call South Jersey, the NJ suburbs outside Philadelphia.  Even though we spent our summers at the Jersey shore, it was nothing like the TV show, thank goodness.

Philadelphia skyline

As a teenager and adult I spent a lot of time in Philadelphia, working, taking art classes, attending concerts, plays and the ballet, dining at the many wonderful restaurants, shopping, even just getting my hair styled.  And of course visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I even raced up the steps, ala Rocky.  Well, maybe I didn’t exactly race – 72 steps is a lot!



Downtown Philadelphia from the Art Museum steps

My DH (dear husband) and I loved working in and visiting Philadelphia.

The famous Clothespin outside the Centre Square building, near where we worked

For a brief time, we even dreamed of moving into Society Hill, until reality set in.

Society Hill in Philadelphia

The row homes in Society Hill brought to mind these homes I saw in Dublin.  I like the large fanlights above the doors in Dublin but the windows without shutters look naked IMHO. What do you think? Or perhaps what I don’t like is how the facades run into one another.  And they need more plants!

Doors in Dublin

A wonderful site for lovers of old homes, www.oldhouseonline.com says this about the Society Hill home below “The entrance to the 1790  Pancoast-Lewis-Wharton House enriched with a Tuscan frontispiece. A King of Prussia marble stoop and Flemish bond brickwork with glazed headers are both typical of the period.”


Society Hill row home

So visiting New York City this year felt a little like coming home.

New York City street of wonderful homes and buildings

I know Philadelphia is much smaller than its big brother, but New York City still felt like family.  So maybe what we find beautiful stems from what we loved in the past?

I grew up in a Mid Century Modern home and it didn’t seem extraordinary to me back then.  Looking back at it now, it was rather hip.  We had a sleek turquoise sectional on hardwood floors and an upholstered pink side chair that rocked, similar to these from Irwin Feld Design.

My parents sofa was similar in style but was a turquoise sectional

Think Pink!

My mom had traversing drapery panels made from a textured open weave fabric of turquoise and I think gold and hung them over Venetian blinds which were all the rage at the time.  We had two tall gourd shaped lamps with a turquoise mosaic inlay and barrel shades that would look quite at home now.  Our sunburst clock was my favorite even as a kid.  Ours was similar in shape and size to this one but without the detail on the hands.

Sunburst Wall Clock by George Nelson for Howard Miller as shown by DUAL on 1st Dibs

When we moved to Florida and I needed a wall clock, I was immediately drawn to a gilded sunburst clock I found.  I didn’t even make the connection with my childhood clock until much later when I was looking at old photos.  Now I know my love affair with sunburst clocks and mirrors started at a very early age.  I don’t care if they are considered chic, trendy or passe. I’m still in love with them

What I remember loving as a child – and still do today – is the mahogany furniture my grandparents had, their Georgian Secretaire bookcase and the Chippendale dining chairs.  Such workmanship!

A Georgian Secretaire bookcase similar to my grandparents

If I could, I’d buy this Queen Anne Red Lacquer Bureau Bookcase from MILORD Antiquities on 1stdibs.  It’s already sold for what I’m sure was a handsome sum.

I find this stunningly beautiful!

Why does one adore Neoclassicism and another Art Deco or Arts & Crafts?


Almost everything in the Powel Room in the Met I find beautiful – the wallpaper, the pagoda cornice, the mirror, the Chippendale chair, the woodwork, the chandelier.  The rug, not so much.

Love the colors and that Pagoda cornice!


photo from the Met

Could it be because it’s from Philadelphia?

A corner of the Powel Room from Philadelphia, in the Metropolitan

I appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius from an intellectual perspective, but it doesn’t make my heart smile.

Frank Lloyd Wright room at the Met, NYC

So when I visited NYC and met Tamara Stephenson, an interior designer and writer of the blog Nest by Tamara, I told her I wanted to see brownstones and the city’s architecture as well as home decor and antique shops.   On our day together, Tamara generously gave me a walking tour of her neighborhood, the Upper West Side.  I tried to be a somewhat inconspicuous tourist as I photographed buildings that New Yorkers see every day.  Tamara took me to several shops, including Bunny Williams shop “Treillage” which I wrote about here.  The next day it was a forgone conclusion that I’d pay a visit to John Rosselli Antiques and other antique shops nearby.

So what do you think was the first thing that grabbed my eye upon entering John Rosselli Antiques?  Why this of course:

Sunburst Mirrors in John Rosselli Antiques

And this is what I tell my clients:  The most important thing to keep in mind when decorating your home is to keep and buy only what you love.  When we look at things we love, we feel happy.  When we look at things we don’t love, they create emotional clutter and drag us down.

Next:  Inside John Rosselli Antiques, NYC


14 Responses to “The Beauty of Things Remembered, Part 1”

  1. David says:

    Hi Anne,

    I liked your essay, but your photo of the philadelphia skyline doesn’t portray the real skyline. It has a building added. I’ve been looking for the original photo on the net for nostalgia, since I lived in Philly for 6 years, and walked to school everyday over that bridge, but couldn’t find it. Can you email me the original photo?

    Many thanks,

    • Anne says:

      Hi David, I found the photo in an online search but nowhere have I seen it attributed. If I do, I will. But which building do you think was added?!

  2. sarah devaney-o'neil says:

    Anne, there is a wonderment in the way you present this; I can feel your sense of awe and appreciation at the things you have seen and speak of. That is a mark of a brilliant writer and mind (but we knew you were all that anyway!!).

    Love the pictures you captured of the architectural details on your trip to New York. I don’t think you wasted a minute of time, you took in all that you could while there.

    And by the way, I’m with you 100% regarding the Advantix puppy!! Animals steal my heart and attention all the time!!

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in your posts. Always a joy to read! ~ Sarah

    • Anne says:

      Sarah, I am blushing as I read this, thank you so much! One of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer, (the others were artist, musician, dancer, photographer…there’s a theme going here) so I really treasure your comment.

      I have even more pictures to share of my little time in New York, it’s a good thing I have a digital camera or my film & processing bill would be astronomical!

      Nice to know I’m not alone in being all silly about the Advantix puppy! We don’t have a dog anymore as I don’t have enough time to give one the proper attention, but my heart melts when I see puppies (and babies, but I’m sure not going there either!)

      Thank you for commenting, it makes all the time spent on writing a blog worthwhile. xo Anne

  3. Nicole {BKLYNcontessa} says:

    I heart ny!!! beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Great post Anne!!! Funny thing, I love small things about nyc … all of the really random things you see here like items cast off in the subway rails or in the gutters, how oddly fancy the welding is on our manholes, the pink snow in the winter {all the tail lights tint the snow pink}, LOVE the graffiti … how you see the same artist all throughout the 5 boroughs & how people chat about it {it’s nyc folk art}, all the little nooks & doorways, love the freight elevator levers and hardware on industrial doors in the old buildings and best of all the real beauty of nyc … when you think you have seen it ALL think again ….

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Nicole! I know just what you mean, it’s the little things that make something special to us, those things that are unique, that capture our eye and imagination. Thanks for the mental picture – I haven’t seen pink snow in ages! I love the beautiful hardware and architecture in NYC, it connects us to our history, the times when craftsmanship was paramount. To live in NYC and be surrounded with all its history would be heaven. I can’t imagine ever thinking one could see everything there is to see in New York!

  4. Rissi Cherie says:

    What a personal and delightful essay, Anne. I’m forwarding it on to a couple friends who lived in Philly. Enjoyed the photos, too.

    • Anne says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Rissi. Thanks for forwarding it to your Philly friends! So what makes you think something is beautiful?

  5. Tweets that mention The Beauty of Things Remembered, Part 1 -- Topsy.com says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anne Lubner, Paul Anater. Paul Anater said: A beautiful post about beauty from @AnneLubnerDsign –The Beauty of Things Remembered, Part 1 http://ht.ly/364Ym […]

  6. Marcy says:

    When I opened my facebook page a few moments ago, I was thrilled to see a new post from you because I love the way you write. And then to discover that you had included us in the post was an added delight! Thank you that and sharing your “voice” as well as your wise words.

  7. Anne says:

    Jane Ann, I so appreciate your comments. It is rewarding to feel connected with you on shared design philosophy! I promise to keep ’em coming! Anne

  8. Jane Ann Maxwell says:

    Anne, I am always so charmed by your writing. And you have delivered again, another delightful post. I really relate to your philosophy and see why your clients must enjoy working with you! Keep ’em coming!
    Jane Ann

Leave a Reply