the art of the display: abbey nova

Name: Abbey Nova
Shop Name: Abigail Paper
Poppytalk Handmade: Table 5
City: New York

Our apartment has really high ceilings and when we first moved in we were intimated by all the white space (our last place had literally been a basement). This mantel evolved slowly. I've collected prints and paintings over time (and painted some of these myself) and it just seemed really natural to put them together like this. We keep the rest of the apartment really spare, otherwise I think the effect would be cluttered. But this way, the fireplace and mantel are the focus of the room and a burst of color. Visitors love taking time to look at everything (and learn a lot about us in the process). Many of the decorative items we bought in Paris on our honeymoon -- I dragged my sweet husband to literally every flea market in the city (we were there for two weeks). So, it many ways, it is a living reminder of that trip and our early marriage in our everyday.

On the top row the pear photograph was a gift from a photographer friend, the framed photo of us was taken on the street in Soho, the fish painting I bought on Ebay, the small brown frame is me and my mother, the large still life is one of my paintings, the small square black frame is a custom print from Mark Steele given to us on our first anniversary (it is of two topiaries embracing), and the last painting is of a dragon I painted to celebrate year of the dragon.

On the bottom row I'll first talk about the framed items, then the decorative items! The first landscape painting was a gift from my grandfather. That painting (and the still life I painted on the top shelf) have hung in everyplace I've ever lived, which gives me a nice sense of continuity every time I look at them. Next to that is a sort of silly indulgence -- I framed a bakery bag from my favorite bakery in Paris, Kayser ( The larger black and gold framed watercolor is one of our treasures -- it was one of our first purchases together as a married couple. Next to it is a snap shot from my childhood, taken at St. Gaudens gardens ( in New Hampshire near where I grew up. He was an amazing sculptor and it is so worth a visit. Next to that is an illustration of a houseboat I picked up in Barcelona a long time ago and a snapshot of my mother from the 1960s.

In terms of the decorative items, the white ceramic pineapple I picked up for next to nothing at a tiny shop here in the city which has now sadly closed. The faux orange tree is from Pottery Barn a couple of years ago and was party of our wedding decorations. The foo dogs, horses and pheasants we bought for a few euros (when the exchange rate was much better) in Paris. The tiny green matchbook is from my great great grandmother -- she had custom matchbooks made in the 1950s with the name of her farm on them. A relative heard that I collect matchbooks and sent this to me -- it has been partially used (they were great smokers back then) and I love feeling so connected to something she touched. The brass stag is part of a set of bookends which I found for my shop Abigail Vintage, but my husband loved so much we kept them (an occupational hazard). The tiny Buddha was my great aunt's -- she was an amazing woman who drove ambulances in WWI and traveled the world -- every time I look at it I remember to be fierce about living.

Jan Halvarson

1 comment:

Unknown said...

what beautiful details...i love the personal touches on the mantle.
xoxo alison

a little p.s. - you might enjoy the Bubble Chandelier DIY post i just put on my blog!