Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Timothy Whealon, featured lecturers at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques, Garden & Design Show, are two celebrated interior designers with their own sensibilities and styles.
Bullard, who has designed for celebrities like Tommy Hilfiger and Cher, likes to create sophisticated and eclectic interiors. Whealon, who studied English literature and art history and trained at Sotheby’s, focuses on fine and decorative arts and mixes classic and modern styles seamlessly.
They both strolled the exhibitor booths at the Show’s preview party to choose pieces that caught their eye, and would feel right at home among their personal aesthetic. See these picks and more at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, through Sunday, April 17, and stroll through the Garden grounds to enjoy the spring blooms.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s Picks: (Click on an image for information about the item and vendor.)
Timothy Whealon’s Picks: (Click on an image for information about the item and vendor.)
What makes the Antiques, Garden & Design Show unique? “It’s a feast for all of the senses, and spring is the perfect time of year to experience this mood,” said Lee Thinnes, one the 90 exhibitors at the Show, coming April 15 –17 to the Chicago Botanic Garden. “It is truly special because it’s at the Garden during this splendid time of year.”
The Show features antiques to midcentury design, a garden gallery, a design row, and two market courtyards. Find gifts, garden tools, and botanical merchandise as well as vintage décor and antiques and garden furniture.
Speaking of senses, look, learn, and listen to get the best experience at the Show.
Find items that make a difference: Even one item can make a statement. Thinnes, owner of Lee’s Antiques, is bringing a 1960s snowflake-shape chandelier of Italian Murano glass with a chrome and silver-plate canopy and a 1960–70s French Pierre Cardin red console table.
Milne Inc Antiques and Gallery will feature decorative items for the garden, including colorful nineteenth-century weathervanes and a unique deco planter from Surrey, England. “The wonderful shapes and colors provide visual interest, especially in the long winter months when the garden is devoid of color,” said exhibitors Judith and James Milne.
Bring the garden to your walls: A collection of photographs by Laurie Tennent captures the dramatic color and texture of botanical subjects. “By exaggerating the inner architecture of plant life, I offer the viewer a chance to at once become confronted by and immersed in nature,” Tennent said. Botanicals: Intimate Portraits will be on display in the Krehbiel Gallery.
Buy what you like: “If it speaks to you, buy it.…If you love it, usually you can find a place to work it in,” said New York-based interior designer Timothy Whealon, author of In Pursuit of Beauty (Rizzoli) and a lecturer at the Show.
Do your homework: If you are looking for a particular item or style, do your research before you go so you can ask the right questions. Take any measurements you might need, and bring a tape measure on the day of your visit.
Get the latest: Find inspiration at lectures featuring top design and garden experts. Learn the latest trends from designers Whealon and Martyn Lawrence Bullard, garden between the rows with Jeff Ross of Blackberry Farm, and visualize your dream landscape with Mario Nievera. All lecture tickets include a three-day pass to the Show.
Consult the experts: This is a vetted show, which means the items have undergone a peer review. The exhibitors know their pieces, and their field, so ask them questions, including what makes an item an antique and, therefore, valuable. The Milnes recommend getting an invoice noting the history of the piece and its provenance.
Get ready to engage your senses and find treasures at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17. Tickets are on sale now for spring’s most anticipated event.
Everything old is new again, especially when you integrate antiques into a twenty-first century home.
Here are some style-savvy tips from two high-profile interior designers, both presenting lectures at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, April 15 to 17, at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Mixing it up: “Today it’s not really about doing interiors that are filled with one particular period or style,” says Los Angeles-based interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, author of Live, Love & Decorate and the upcoming Design & Decoration (Rizzoli, due in April). “It’s really about learning to be eclectic and how to edit and how to mix and match.”
Balance equals harmony: “Editing is one of the most important elements in creating harmonious interiors,” says New York-based interior designer Timothy Whealon, author of In Pursuit of Beauty (Rizzoli). “The trick is mixing pieces from different periods and countries, juxtaposing textures, i.e., the time-worn against a crisp lacquer, without drawing attention to any particular element.”
Follow your heart: “When I’m looking for antiques with a client, I’m looking for them to respond to it on an emotional level,” Whealon says. “If it speaks to you, buy it.…If you love it, usually you can find a place to work it in.” Bullard agrees: “The great find is actually just something that you love,” he says. “There should never be a monetary value on things. If you love it, then it is worth a fortune.”
Sensibility of scale: Bullard says that “the most important thing for interiors is scale.…You need to know the scale and size you want and where you are going to put (something).” Measure the spaces you want to fill, as well as the doorways these items need to pass through, ahead of time. A tape measure will come in handy at the Show, too.
Seeing the light: To create a seamless continuum from indoors to outdoors, Whealon writes in his book, “I always start a project by looking out the windows, which more often than not informs my design decisions for the interiors.”
Color your world …“People shouldn’t be afraid of color,” Bullard says. “I think one of the first rules of color is to choose one you look good in.…If you look good wearing it, think how great you’ll look surrounded by it. It really works.”
But don’t forget white: “I like color that gradually reveals itself,” Whealon writes, “and no color has the capacity to do that quite like complex whites.”
Comfort is king: “The biggest trend in interiors is really comfort,” Bullard says. “People really want to be able to use everything, to be able to sit on everything….The idea of really precious things that you don’t really use is so outdated now.”
The garden and the kitchen are “dancing partners,” according to a cookbook from the team behind Blackberry Farm, the luxurious farm and inn in Tennessee. Jeff Ross, farmstead educator and artisan chef at Blackberry Farm, brought that farm-to-table spirit to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Ross showed how easy it is to incorporate fresh produce and gardening into your life in his lecture, “Eating Between the Rows.” “I want to open people’s eyes to the edible food all around them,” Ross said.
Ross targets 30 to 40 items and encourages gardeners to think beyond the obvious to things like the florets of collard greens or other ways to use coriander. “These plants were historically grown as edibles, but that knowledge has been lost,” Ross said.
It’s not just edibles. Ross looks to the garden for home décor ideas, such as using okra pods in creative ways, and as an unexpected source of inspiration. “A garden shed can be very beautiful, and it changes nearly every day throughout the season.”
In addition to being a well-known restaurant and inn, Blackberry Farms is a fully working farm. Ross spent nearly ten years managing the gardens at Blackberry; now he helps chefs get more involved in the garden.
Even though the farm is a large operation, the lessons learned there can be easily adapted in containers or raised gardens of just a few feet, according to The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry cookbook. It’s a matter of scale. So, grow smaller vegetables and pick them young. Choose the right plants—such as cherry tomatoes instead of beefsteak for an urban container, or squash blossoms and pick the squash when it is young.
The cookbook includes a photo of Ross, in his work overalls, holding a handful of beans. Bush, shell, soup, green—Ross loves them all. “I want that to be my last meal.” It’s further proof that the farm-to-table connection is personal and powerful.
Try the marbled potato salad recipe below from The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm.
Marbled Potato Salad with Arugula Pesto
Tips: Use the smallest potatoes you can find. The leftover pesto keeps up to a week or more in the refrigerator; use on roasted vegetables or grilled steak.
For the potato salad:
10 ounces, small purple Peruvian potatoes (about 20)
10 ounces, small yellow creamer potatoes (about 20)
10 ounces, small red bliss potatoes (about 20)
9 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat, plus more for drizzling
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
3 3-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
3 3-inch fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup lightly packed arugula
1 cup pickled red onions, drained (optional)
For arugula pesto:
¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
Zest and juice of 1½ lemons (about 3 tablespoons)
¼ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 cups loosely packed baby arugula, stems removed
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely shredded pecorino cheese (about 2 ounces)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to large baking dish or roasting pan. Tuck the rosemary and thyme around potatoes. Cover the dish tightly and roast until potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Uncover; let potatoes cool to room temperature. Discard rosemary and thyme sprigs.
Meanwhile, prepare the arugula pesto. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, place sunflower seeds and garlic; pulse to finely chop. Add lemon zest and juice; pulse to combine. Add the parsley, half the arugula; pulse to combine. With machine running, add half the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add the rest of the arugula; pulse to combine. With machine running, add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add cheese, salt, and pepper; process until smooth. You will have about 1¾ cups. Transfer to airtight container.
To assemble: Cut the potatoes in half and divide among 6 serving plates. Tuck in arugula among the potatoes. Scatter the pickled onions, if using. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the pesto over each salad; drizzle with olive oil or bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.
What’s the one thing you can do to transform your landscape? It’s a matter of vision, one expert explains below. Get even more tips from the pros at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques, Garden & Design Show. Did we mention that there will be shopping?
If you do only one thing…
Even if your house is small, think about your grounds holistically. “You want to be able to walk inside the home and walk back outside and feel like it’s a seamless experience,” says landscape architect Mario Nievera, a featured speaker at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. “If it’s a modern, clean home, the plants should be clean as well. If the home has character and charm, you can use more leaves and texture. When planning your hardscape, if the home has stone or tile inside, you want to use complementary materials outside. The same goes for furnishings and outdoor fabrics.”
Point of view
“You have to have a strong visual element in a garden, whether it’s a stand of birch trees, one plant that is repeated, or a well-designed path—it ties it all together,” says Nievera, whose firm is based in Palm Beach, Florida. “People tend to focus on the small scale, but your garden should be based on your view.”
Lights and accents and more
To freshen up the look of a garden, Nievera works with clients to incorporate garden ornaments. “We do a lot of contemporary designs, and garden ornaments give you a sense of scale, patina, and character,” he says.
Go to flea markets, antique shows, or established gardens, and check out Pinterest to get ideas on design styles or objects to add to your garden, adds landscape architect Craig Bergmann, who designed indoor gardens for the Show.
Mixing old and new
Even if your house is modern, think about using antique elements—but consider your climate, says Bergmann, whose firm is based in Lake Forest. “Some fine antiques are fragile and don’t do well in severe weather changes that happen here in Chicago,” he says. “Hairline cracks might be exacerbated with frequent moving of a piece, or by sub-zero temperatures or high heat or humidity. Some high-end pieces need to be stored for winter indoors or on a protected terrace or porch.”
Bonus tip on shopping at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show
Be prepared to act quickly. Bring pictures of your house and garden, and consult with the vendors. The Show features more than 90 vendors of garden antiques, antiques, horticulture, and more from around the United States and Europe.
“I like looking at shows like this because you know you are getting the real deal, not reproductions,” Nievera says. “I will take pictures of things my clients might want and tell them they have five minutes to decide if they like it. You have to make your decisions quickly because you might lose it.”
Tickets are on sale now for spring’s most anticipated event, the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. The event takes place at the Chicago Botanic Garden from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17. Additional fees apply for the lectures.