Radhakrishnan finds treasures at local spots and at chains

Thursday, October 22, 2009

COLONY HOUSE The architectural pieces in the Althorp Living History collection carried by Colony House are based on antiques from Britain's Althorp, ancestral home of Princess Diana. Raji Radhakrishnan likes to use a large traditional cabinet or armoire from this line as a statement piece, to contrast with modern upholstery and pop art. She is fond of the Althorp House cocktail cabinet (pictured) that replicates the Spencer family's manor house and is fitted out as a bar with pull-out trays and bottle compartments. 1700 Lee Hwy., Arlington. 703-524-1700 or http://www.colonyhouse.net.

D.C. BIG FLEA MARKET Radhakrishnan likes to check out the tables of more than 500 dealers for antique mirrors, footstools, art deco pieces, German silver, cream ware, antique and vintage frames and unusual lighting. Markets are held in January, March, July, September and November. Dulles Expo Center, 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly. 757-961-3988 or http://www.damorepromotions.com.

MONTICELLO MUSEUM SHOP This is a great source of accessories, such as classical column bookends, bookstands based on Jeffersonian designs and teak garden chairs. Radhakrishnan buys pewter Jefferson cups and puts tea lights in them for mood lighting for parties. She likes the locally made lavender soaps, available only at the shop at Monticello. Sample wares: pewter Jefferson cup and writing stand (both pictured). 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy., Charlottesville. 434-984-9840or http://www.monticello.org.

NASH CARPET ONE FLOOR & HOME Great for wood floors and carpeting. Ask for remnants to create small custom carpets that can be cut and bound to any shape. Radhakrishnan is about to order one in the shape of a natural cowhide for a client. For wood floors, her choice for a recent show house was natural white oak stained golden brown and installed in a mitered herringbone (chevron) pattern. She used a water-based polyurethane finish. 11641 Boiling Brook Pl., Rockville. 240-292-1245 or http://www.nashcarpetonerockville.com.

MUSEUM SHOPS Radhakrishnan considers the National Gallery of Art Shop (http://www.nga.gov), Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Shop (http://hirshhorn.si.edu) and the Corcoran Museum Shop (http://www.corcoran.org/shop) great sources of classical busts and heads, prints, architectural models, art books and educational toys. They stock art and design books, such as "An Art of Living" by Charlotte Perriand (shown), and accessories such as the building tin (pictured), available at the Corcoran.

YARD AND ESTATE SALES Visiting sales in neighborhoods full of mid-century homes can yield modernist furniture treasures and train the eye to discern quality. Radhakrishnan looks for community sales and flea markets in the Reston area, where there are pockets of 1960s homes. At one, she scored a vintage LC-1 tubular-steel-and-leather chair by French designer Le Corbusier for $10.

WEB SITES Radhakrishnan goes to http://www.simons-hardware.com for architectural elements and unique hardware, http://www.balmer.com for plaster moldings, http://www.lampshades.com for glossy black paper shades and http://www.eyestorm.com for limited-edition contemporary art prints such as one by Damien Hirst (pictured).

Advice on Chain Stores

When shopping at chain stores, it's good to know what each is best for. Here are Radhakrishnan's insights:

-- For kitchen utensils and tabletop: Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel.

-- For curtains: Ikea, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn.

-- For bathroom fixtures: Restoration Hardware.

-- For lighting: Ikea, Target, Restoration Hardware.

-- For upholstery: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

-- For natural-fiber rugs: Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel.

-- For kids' rooms: West Elm, Ikea.

-- J.K.

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