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  • Shelby Whitfield

A Beginner's Guide to Decorative Arts

A long time ago, I had the idea to create a "design dictionary" of sorts, almost a SparkNotes of decorative arts for design students. But like many half-decent ideas, I discovered it had already been claimed!

Design Dictionary DecorArtsNow Bibelot Traditional Home

Traditional Home via Decor Arts Now

Have y'all ever heard of Lynn Byrne? She writes famed design blog Decor Arts Now with such an impressive resume and extensive knowledge, that I decided to share her site, rather than even try to compete. She's a follower of mine on Instagram, and is absolutely lovely; I've learned so much from following her in return!

Here are of few of my favorite "dictionary" terms from Lynn:


De Gournay Deco Monkeys

Singeries were created in 18th century France, intended to be satirical of human nature, as they were originally decorative paintings of monkeys parodying human attire and behaviour.

Fromental Singeries Wallpaper Chinoiserie

Today, there are quite a few fun monkey wallpapers that are perfect for nurseries or powder baths, and leave the mockery in the past! (De Gournay and Fromental, above.)


Kathryn M Ireland French Cottage Portieres Chickens

A French word defining draperies that hang over interior doorways, I tend to remember portiere by its similarity to "portal". Not that the French intended to make it so simple for us, but it works. Kathryn M Ireland applies them expertly in her own (French) home above. (A project I'm currently working on uses portieres in the dining room; can't wait to share it completed!)

Campaign Furniture

Mark D Sikes Pacific Palisades Campaign Furniture

Previewed in this post, campaign furniture is mobile military furniture, designed to be packed efficiently and travel easily. Its defining features include recessed hardware, collapsible legs, and leather strapping- all functional, rather than decorative, elements. Mark D. Sikes uses a campaign desk and chair, above.


Albert Hadley Devoted Classicist Bibelot

Bibelot are curiosities or small accessories used to style a room. Albert Hadley used a few beachy bibelot on the Florida entry table above, and Mark D Sikes' piece of quartz (on desk in campaign image) is another great example.

Lots more where those came from on Lynn's blog! Please do check it out if you're at all interested in decorative arts.

And lots more coming soon here, too. I'm looking at potentially adding services (in addition to the brand new mini consults) and source guides, so let me know what you would like to see!

#campaignfurniture #furniture #decorativearts #designdictionary #design #designschool #inspiration

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