A Bit of Frippery

One of our favorite chapters in “The Perfectly Imperfect Home” by Deborah Needleman is titled “Glamifications.” She says that amid all the “mundane tasks a house must perform, a bit of frippery is actually a necessity.” Glamour isn’t necessarily something either of us aspire to in our own homes, but we take to heart Deborah’s missive that “[s]implicity and glamour, hand in hand, make for a fresh and chic combination.”

When it comes to glamour, you can’t just stick a toe in. As Deborah says, glamour requires guts “because you need to express it with a bold stroke, not a tentative gesture.” The glamifying elements she identifies include wallpaper, lacquered walls, mirrors, “drippy chandeliers,” old fashioned writing tables, a little animal print, and shiny objects. Here are a few rooms that go all in with a lot of glitz:


from “Beauty at Home” by Aerin Lauder, image found here

If full-on Regency isn’t your thing, glamour works wonders in smaller doses. One elegant gesture might be enough, so long as it isn’t too timid. Here are more humble rooms with just a few glamifications sprinkled in:


from “Beauty at Home” by Aerin Lauder, image found here

Of all of the glamifying elements listed in this rich chapter, the one we love the most is old-fashioned writing tables. Here is what Deborah says about them: “Why bother with a quaint relic of a time when people communicated principally by letters? This is why: because like lunch on the lawn or a candlelit dinner, sitting down to a proper little table is entirely gracious. It is about the necessity of charm.”

Here are a few delicate writing desks that have us charmed (and convinced that they belong in the same category as chandeliers and gold gilt mirrors).

We might add one thing to Deborah’s list of glamify-ers, thick black and white striped upholstery:

What’s your approach to glamour? Do your rooms drip with elegant enchantment, or are you more of a glamour by degrees sort? Have a great week!

13 responses on “A Bit of Frippery

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    My 9 year old has my Grandad’s old roll top writing desk (an example of British post-war utility furniture) in his bedroom. It’s one of the few items of furniture we shipped when we emigrated. I love it for its history and all my memories attached to it. I don’t think I would ever have thought of it as “glamorous”.

    I think I’ve always been too much of a “tomboy” and also too practical for the glamorous look. I like cosy, comfortable, warm and inviting looks to my rooms so that side of things wins out over any nod to opulence or luxury. I am a bit of a magpie though so have always wanted a chandelier. I’ve never had high enough ceilings alas. I also wonder about what a pain all the dangly bits would be to keep clean.

    1. Mera

      Cosy, comfortable, and inviting is more my style too, but I like Deborah’s advice that those things don’t necessary exclude glamour. I shudder to think what would lurk on a chandelier in my house. With all my shedding animals it would quickly look less like a glittery confection, and more like a horse’s mane.

  2. Nina

    Another tomboy over here. I like my glamour in small doses. That first image under the writing desk lead-in is one I saved when I first saw that particular AT tour. I love everything in it and about it.

    Speaking of loving, I am also a great fan of The Perfectly Imperfect Home. Its my favorite design book. (Possibly to be usurped when Emily Henderson’s book comes out next month, or until you guys write one.)

    I recently had an Ethan Allen Echo bench, which I had originally bought the floor model of and which had just a plain white cover, reupholstered in leopard print. It looks so much better frippified!

    1. Mera

      It’s hard to imagine anyone ever topping “The Perfectly Imperfect Home” but I’m really excited for Emily Henderson’s book, too! Totally pre-ordered!

  3. Carol Bryner

    All these mirrors are fabulous, as are the striped couches. I can’t think of a single glamorous thing in my house, except maybe for the portrait I painted in 1995 of my daughter’s high school friend Britta. The painting is at the end of a long hallway as you come in our front door, and in it she wears jeans and a red cardigan sweater with a pink feather boa sewn onto the hem.

  4. Lea

    My mother in law handed us down an ottoman upholstered in tiger print. It worked well in the center of the living room when our son was a toddler because it had no hard edges and was the perfect height for him to grab while cruising. Whatever glamour animal print might otherwise have provided is pretty well cancelled out by the fact the space under the tiger bench now serves as the “garage” for his collection of trucks.

  5. Susan Glassow

    When we bought our 1970s Northwest Contemporary house in a river canyon, I repeated a daily mantra , “The views make it worthwhile.” I was adrift. I was used to older homes, like yours, Mera and Katie, which somehow welcome generations of design more willingly than the vaulted ceiling, fourteen foot pictured windowed rooms that we had just purchased. But, then, I just went with what I already had and added to it, brought the ceilings down to ground level and life. Frippery based on purchases at a going out of business sale (ta 1950s ceramic European chandelier) and the more modern reproduction gilded mirror bought from a friend who was downsizing, are at home in the tiny upstairs bath and they delight me in a way the cedar paneled, knotty wainscoting they rise above never has. When I’m in bed and the bathroom door is ajar, I can admire them when I’m not looking out the window wall at the cliff face and the old growth forest. Why not have many worlds at once? It works for me.

  6. Sally

    I love a bit of frippery. It’s a great word. I don’t have as much frippery as I would like but mostly I add it with voluptuous bunches of flowers and touches of hot pink where hot pink doesn’t really match. The second last picture here is a case in point.

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