DESIGN

Pouf Positive

If you don’t have a pouf for a coffee table or an antique stool at your bedside, you don’t have the hot new accessory in home furnishings.

The pouf, a taller kissin’ cousin to an ottoman, is way too cool to be a mere footrest. The trend started in Europe, where the French stack bibelots and the English balance tea trays on them instead of relying on the all-too-familiar wooden slab of a cocktail table.

“In any English magazine, in any English home we’ve ever been in, you don’t go in a room without seeing them,” says Dallas designer Charlotte Taylor, who makes frequent forays to Britain to shop for her clients and her store, Notable Accents. “We’re just using these everywhere now.”

Poufs (generously stuffed, fully upholstered, usually round), ottomans (upholstery on a wooden frame), footstools, and upholstered benches are being used in similar ways by today’s decorators. Taylor recommends them not only as a substitute for a coffee table, but also in front of a fireplace for comfy seating, as a bedside stand for books and magazines, at the foot of the bed to hold quilts or comforters, or even in the bath stacked with extra towels, The point is the furnitures versatility.

“The Europeans and the English make better usage of every piece of furniture, ” says Taylor. “We should take note of it.”

Dallas designer Charlotte Comer uses an ottoman three out of five times when she plans a seating grouping for a client. “They’re visually soft in a room and make it more inviting.”

Plus, she points out, an ottoman can be | covered in any fabric; it can be slipcovered; it can be contemporary or traditional.

“In our mobile society, it’s a very versatile piece. “

ANTIOUES

British Cargo

A CASK OF COLD FEET TURNED OUT TO BE A fortunate malady for Aimee and Dudley Simms.

Two years ago, they had planned to open a retail shop in Dallas that would specialize in English antiques and reproductions. They traveled to England, bought their inventory, and. while the container was in transit across the Atlantic, began to have second thoughts. The considerable expenses of shipping and insurance, not to mention rent for a high-profile storefront, intimidated the young couple.

Still, there was the not-so-small matter of the cargo of antiques waiting at customs. The couple decided to price the furniture for a quick sale, try to recoup their initial investment, and pursue different careers.

“We rented a storefront for a month, did not mark the furniture up much, and opened our doors,” recallsAimee, “People were wild about it. We had so much encouragement. We sold everything.”

Thus, the Simmses discovered the idea of short-term sales and initiated the business of Highgate House. Twice a year-for one month only-they rent a space in the Park Cities area, fill it with the spoils of their latest buying trip abroad, and notify the people on their mailing list.

“The first day, there’s a line outside our shop. We make the bulk of our sales the first and second days, because there’s this sense of urgency,” says Aimee. Two con- tainers of furniture are shoehorned into the shop, with oak, pine, cherry, and mahogany tables stacked on top of each other; linen presses and chests lined up toe 1 to toe; and plate racks, vintage linens, and garden antiques squeezed into the remaining space.

Highgate House offers both antiques and less expensive English-made reproductions {distressed to look old) at its sales, The couple also opened a design studio last month at 6801 SniderPlaza, where Aimee operates her interior decorating business and takes orders for custom reproductions and clients’ wish lists for the next buying trip. The studio provides plenty of room for leftovers from the semiannual sales, but so far, there haven’t been any.

Highgate House’s fall sale will be held in the latter half of October. For the exact date and location, which were not determined by press time, call 214-691-8095.



FESTIVALS

GARDENS WITH A SPANISH ACCENT

While 16th-century Spanish explorers made their impact in the Americas as conquerors, the country’s gentler arts-architecture, cooking, and gardening–are what influence our surroundings today.

The second annual Oktober Gartenfest, October 27 and 28 at the University of Texas Winedale Historical Center near Round Top, explores the considerable Spanish influence-on Texas gardens. Contributions to the ornamental garden, such as red roses, dianthus, violets, yellow jasmine, scented jonquils, and poppies, remain mainstays in our modern landscapes. But so are figs, blackberries, thyme, and mint, plants introduced to the New World through Spain andits Moorish invaders.

Symposium topics range from gardening with the herbs of Mexico to the history and lore of peppers and Mexico’s contributions to the Southern flower garden. Lecturers include Austin cookbook author Luanda Hut-son and garden writer William Welch ( The Southern Heirloom Garden and Antique Roses for the Soutb).

The two-day fest also features tours of several nearby gardens, as well as a sale boasting rare plants of Spanish and Mexican origin. Although not commonly available in nurseries, these plants are suitable for Dallas-area gardens.

Registration is offered in two parts: S35 per person for the Friday evening lecture and dinner; $30 per person for the Saturday lectures, tours, and plant sale.

Winedale is in Fayette County midway between Houston and Austin. For more information about the symposium and bed-and-breakfast accommodations, call 409-278-3530.



BOOKS

WORDS OF WISDOM

KOVELS’ QUICK TIPS, FROM ANTIQUES EXperts and prolific authors Ralph and Terry Kovel, combines the best of grandmother’s old-fashioned advice with quirky modern remedies in an indispensable guide for living with collectibles.

The 799 helpful hints (in paperback from Crown; S12) offer instruction in caring for your treasures-from advertising memorabilia to wooden bowls and boxes-as well as storing and displaying them. Among their suggestions:

The easiest day toset your sundial is june 15, at high noon. Place it so the sun’s shadow falls on XII.

Denture cleansers remove scum from inside old glass bottles. Ketchup is a good emergency copper cleaner.

Put a little furniture polish on a damp cloth when you dust wooden furniture. You won’t have to polish as often.

For a safe, non-toxic furniture cleaner, use a mixture of one cup olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Don’t wear jewelry when swimming. Sand, salt, and chlorine damage glass and natural stones. An even better reason for beach-goers; glittering metals attract barracudas.

Fill a musty trunk with fresh grass clippings. Close it; stir each day for a week. The chlorophyll should absorb the smell.

To remove wax from silver candlesticks, put them in the freezer for a few hours, then peel the wax off.

Don’t shake dirt out of a small rug, The whipping action breaks small fibers and loosens knots.

Rub cabbage leaves on pewter to clean it.

Although coverlets and blankets should be rolled for storage, quilts should be folded.

GARDENS

FIT FOR A PRINCE



PRINCE CHARLES TIPTOES THROUGH THE tulips at Highgrove, his country estate, courtesy of Dallas landscape designer Carl Neels.

Neels, owner of Country Life Land-scaping, began sending His Royal Highness tulip bulbs five years ago, after he met the prince through Rosemary Verey. A British garden designer and author, Verey included Neels’ University Park garden in her book, The American Man’s Garden (Bulfinch Press; 1990).

Unlike Dallas gardeners, Charles does not plant his tulips en masse in blocks of color. Instead, he prefers a more natural set. ting, adding them to a wild flower meadow to augment native species. “He plants a clump here, a cluster there, giving a sort of natural look to them,” saysNeels. “Hedoes not bed them out like we would do. They would steal the limelight from the wildflowers, which are smaller in size.”

The Prince’s favorite is a Darwin tulip named The Bishop, a lavender blue variety whose subtle hue complements the wildflowers in the meadow. “The Bishop has not been a popular tulip in past years because it’s a subdued color. Most people want bright colors,” says Neels, who has also sent along Burgundy Lace and other soft colors for the Prince to try.

Due to its nontrendy status, The Bishop might be difficult to locate in bulb suppliers’ catalogues. However, Neels publishes his own catalogue of over 100 spring bulbs. For a free copy, call 214-368-6955. The landscaper offers this final tip for local gardeners: Never plant tulip bulbs before Thanksgiving. Their premature emergence can be fatal should one of Dallas’ notorious January ice storms strike.

FINDS

SIGNATURE LINE

Calling cards left at tier creat-great-grandmother’s 19th-century Parisian salon inspired New Orleans shopkeeper Angèle Parlange’s young collection of hand-printed textiles and home accessories.

Parlange combines the cards’ flowery penmanship, antiquated typefaces, and curious insignias for fabric designs that are at once classical and quirky. With a background in designing and sewing party dresses for her friends, Parlange, 35, has borrowed some of the same fabrics-silk, linen, velvet and chiffon-and dressmaker details for her home furnishings.

Finished goods include chairs, pillows, lamps, curtains, placemats. and napkins, all incorporating her hand-printed fabric designs. Drenched in gilt and strung with beads and charms, the pieces delight like a Mardi Gras float.

“They fit in a traditional home, but they have a bit of whimsy to them,” says Parlange, who grew up in her family’s 18th-century Creole plantation house near Baton Rouge. “The line definitely has a lot of historical and classical precedent. That’s what’s been so interesting to people.”

Parlange’s furnishings will be introduced to Dallas at a special show October 18 through October 25 at Translations, 4014 Villanova.

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