Basket Case – A Case for Baskets...
Two years ago, the world lost a lady of great taste: Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon aka Bunny Mellon. Not to be confused with Bunny Williams - another lady of great taste and an exceptionally talented interior designer, who most certainly deserves her own Calico blogpost – Bunny Mellon was an American horticulturalist, gardener, philanthropist, and art collector. She designed and planted a number of significant gardens, including the White House Rose Garden at the request of Mrs. Kennedy, then newly installed as first lady.
Sotheby's handled the sale of her estate, an event that was described in The New York Times as the “Super Bowl of Grande-Dame Auctions”. Estate sales - grand or not - usually make me a little sad. To see a bunch of strangers browsing though a lifetime's worth of carefully collected and treasured possessions, looking for a bargain, always seems a little intrusive to me, even if that is how the owner would have wanted it. However, the opportunity to view and admire the estate of a person with such a refined and highly particular eye, is not to be missed. Granted, we are talking about the heir to the Listerine fortune; Mrs. Mellon certain had the means, though as we all know money does not buy taste. In fact, she could have had anything she wanted, but she surrounded herself with just what she loved.
If you had to represent Mrs. Mellon in one picture, the Basket House would be it: the American cabinets, the watering can hanging on the hook, the dried flowers. It’s a beautiful room and setting, a whole little house dedicated to her and her baskets.
Truth be told, I used to loathe baskets: I'v always thoughts of them as light-weight, dust-collecting, cliché Americana. Thanks to Bunny, I've given them a second chance, and I am happy I did.
I have discovered that surprisingly bold and striking decorating statements can be made with these most humble objects, especially when grouped together in a casual, off-the-cuff manner.
African baskets will add even more graphic pizazz, and your room will need little else.
Even colored baskets - these words would have made me cringe not that long ago - have started to grow on me, both in natural materials (wicker, straw, paper) and man-made fibers (recycled phone wire, plastic bags, acrylic rope).
Turn your basket upside down, and you'll have a fantastic pendant: use this trick for a unique lighting statement, both indoors and outdoors – just imagine a few of these hanging from an old oak tree over an al fresco dining area.
Caning patterns, once the epitome of granny chic, are back in a big way, and not just for seating.
From baskets, my attention has naturally progressed to textiles with basket-weaves and basket prints.
Last but not least, I absolutely adore Martha Stewart's dip-dye baskets, an easy DIY to upgrade any old basket from mundane to fabulous. Enjoy!