Belgian furnishings and design are really coming to the forefront in America, both in terms of interior concepts - using elements from the past - and in our respect for the wonderful finishes found on their antique pieces. No wonder I was drawn to the blog "Belgian Pearls" and its author: 4th-generation cabinet maker and designer, Greet Lefevre.
Her business, Lefevre Interiors, has been a family affair for over a century, established in 1890 by her great-great-grandfather who was a carpenter! Now Greet, her husband, and her brother continue the tradition - creating both new cabinetry and furnishings, as well as refurbishing antique pieces. I am so excited to share some of her work with you. The above photo was taken from The Skirted Roundtable's interview with Greet!! It is well worth the listen!! http://skirtedroundtable.blogspot.com/2010/11/all-way-from-belgium-chatting-with.html
Here's Greet choosing the perfect finish with an artisan. Like me, she builds on the clients' fabrics and surfaces to create that perfect backdrop to a room! Greet went to school for Business Administration and received credits in Antique Dealing as well, but she was always involved in the family business from an early age. Her father would take her and her brother to museums and fairs to explain how furniture was designed. I love the way that craftsmanship has been passed on through the generations in their business! According to Greet, "Belgian people are very loyal to their ancestors so they have a lot of respect for things from the past". It's definitely a way of life through the entire family's history!
Both this oak paneling and chest were finished at the Lefevre Interiors workshop! Greet often tries to find antique pieces to use as inspiration for a finish on new furnishings. For example, though this ornate chest of drawers was newly made of dark stained oak, Greet used a polychrome painting technique, which was popular in the late 18th century in France and consists of many different layers of paint.
Here is the detail of the panel, where you can see the structure of the oak wood underneath the paint — beautiful!!!!
This library in Greet's own home was built and finished by Lefevre and is simply wonderful– the yellow upholstered chair adds a vibrant splash of color while the Dalmatian painting brings a touch of whimsy! According to Greet, Belgians typically like using neutral backdrops that are reminiscent of Belgium’s natural surroundings: “The colors outside in nature are not vivid so gray, brown and beige colors are popular.” Only small colorful accents like these seat cushions are used.
All of the paneling, shelving and doors were greyed for an aged look and left unvarnished so that the oak would feel older and more weathered. The masterful execution of the hideaway door and cabinets keeps the room feeling clean and uncluttered, allowing one's eye to focus on its architecture and quality craftsmanship.
This lovely “Peinture de Paris” finish really defines and accentuates the faux molding and paneling details. The wood is first painted and then finished with a layer of wax to give the great sheen. Gorgeous! As Greet describes, “There is a huge difference between a country house with low ceilings and a high ceilinged stately manor house. The cabinetry and paneling must have their specific dimensions and blend with the architectural style of these different types of homes". I love how she considers architecture and period when deciding on her designs and finishes.
You would be hard pressed to decipher this finish from a centuries old antique. This weathered oak cabinet door is masterfully done. Because of the age of many Belgian homes, Greet has to add to or repair ancient furniture and panelling so that there is no difference noticed between the old and newer parts! They certainly do an impressive job!!
Here is her shop and such a talented staff busy at work!! !!! She stays inspired by the patina of antique cabinets or doors. She finds old special pieces to use as examples for new cabinet finishes by visiting ancient castles. She is lucky to have so many of them in Belgium. There's such a wide variety of historical paint techniques and colors to see! One day I hope to go!!
In addition to helping clients design and choose beautiful finishes for the wood pieces her firm creates, and writing a very successful blog, she also takes on full-scale interior design projects. Above is a room that for which she not only designed and finished the woodworking but also handled all the furnishings and interiors. It’s lovely - the style is quiet, sophisticated, warm and unforced, as if it has been there for years.
Greet, thank you so much for letting us get to know you a bit better. You truly are not only talented but such a welcoming person!! Next week, we will feature some of her own home which is truly amazing!!! In the meantime, visit her wonderful blog, http://belgianpearls.blogspot.com .
This week we have some exciting booksigning and art events.
November 29 and 30: Houston Country Club Christmas Boutique
One of the best Holiday Shopping Events in Houston. Designers, artists and retailers showcase their products for a festive Christmas shopping experience. Signed copies of Segreto: The Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors will be available for purchase. Member or tickets only. 1 Potomac Drive Houston, TX 77057
December 1: Pop-Up Holiday Bazaar at Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries
Join us for another wonderful holiday shopping event! Come shop a private selection of fashion and home accessories created by local designers, and pick up a signed copy of Leslie's book as well as art from Segreto Galleries! This event benefits The Yarn Initiative, an organization through The Center for Success and Independence where students knit blankets to donate to the newborns at Ben Taub Hospital. December 1, 2011 - 11:00 pm to 7:00 pm Located at Matt Camron Rugs and Tapestries on 3207 Westheimer at Sackett. For more information please contact the PR Boutique at 713-599-1271.
Hope to see you all!! Have a wonderful week!! Tis The Season!! xoxo Leslie