Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greek Key

It seems like a post on the Greek key is a prerequisite of any design blog. This decorative device has always been one of my favorites, and now more so than ever. I'm surrounded by flashy gilt examples as the Hollywood Regency style enjoys a renewed vogue and also by worn and burnished specimens that snake their way around the antebellum Charleston peninsula. These are a few of my favorites...

I'll start with my favorite ceiling medallion in the Aiken-Rhett House here in Charleston, South Carolina. This dramatic Greek Revival element would have been part of the 1830s transformation of this home. As much as I love this architectural detail, I also love the drama of this photograph...

A ridiculously glamorous French ebonized center table by Maison Jansen... I could use this anywhere, any time. I'm obsessed with the refinement, sophistication, and elegance of this piece of furniture...

A console and Greek key transom in the dining room of the Richardson-Maxwell-Owen-Thomas House at 124 Abercorn Street in Savannah, Georgia. This home, designed by William Jay in the early 19th century, has a number of very unique decorative details.

A beautiful French 18th century wall mount console. I'd love to prop a huge Jean Michael Basquiat on this... I'm thinking it would be the perfect juxtaposition.

 Although I could live without this predictable 1940s decorative scheme, I love this Greek Revival mantle in Tulip Grove, located in Davidson, Tennessee. 
How amazing would it have been if they had gone all out Dorothy Draper and painted the mantle faux malachite, the walls hot pink, and used a crazy patterned bark cloth with ridiculous  gilt cornices for the window treatments?

A beautiful and graphic Regency slate fireplace surround, early 19th century. I could use this anywhere... the lines are so strong and dramatic.

Although it's hard to see, this door surround includes a fantastic Greek key detail. This architectural feature is part of Rosemount Plantation in Forkland, Alabama. This home was built in 1832 with additions made throughout the 1850s. You'll definitely want to look at the rest of the photographs of this plantation home, just click the image to see the rest...

This may be my favorite discovery... a parcel-gilt and lacquer bed by Axel Einar Hjorth, Swedish, circa 1929. Please click the photograph to view some details of this spectacular bed. This photograph makes it appear to be salmon in color, but it's actually a vibrant orange-red. I'd love to design a room around this magnificent work of art...
This is the cast iron balcony of one of my favorite homes here in Charleston, the Ladson House at 8 Meeting Street. Not only does it include a Greek key, but a laurel wreath and a star burst, all of my favorite design motifs...

... and finally, a pair of black and silver 1940s klismos chairs, they've already been sold on 1stdibs, but I can still dream about them. 


  1. Hello William:
    There isn't a single feature or item here which we dislike. In fact, quite the reverse. This post is a feast for the eye.

    You would, we feel, love Belsay Hall in Northumberland, built completely in the Greek Revival style and now virtually an empty shell. Forgive our always referring to places in the UK; we think of you as being very English [which in no way is intended as a disparaging remark either about America or, indeed, Great Britain].

  2. I just did a quick google image search for "Belsay Hall" and love everything I've seen. The severity of that building is amazing... I need to make a trip back to England in the near future to see some of these sights I've missed out on in the past. I take it as a compliment of the highest variety that you think of me "being very English." Thank you so much for all your wonderful feedback!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. What a wonderful post I love the ceiling medallion and French console.