Whenever I look for accessories and objets d’art to decorate with, I find myself drawn to objects that resonate with me – they tend to be those that mean something to me personally. Being a dog lover, I love to use a few animal objects and dog-inspired pieces in my work. Sorry cat lovers, this one devoted to our love for dogs!
One of my crazes is for Foo dogs, which are Chinese inspired figurines that symbolize guardians or protectors. They come from the original Chinese lions that traditionally stood guard outside temples, estates and grand homes or palaces. Nowadays they are much more attainable. As a design tip, you should always buy these in pairs. Some of their faces are ‘frightening’ or not as cute as you might want them to be and this is part of what these pieces symbolize – protection and guardianship.
A real trend right now and some my favorites include the cloisonné Foo dogs, which are made of beautiful decorative enamel and turquoise Foo dogs. Though you might think the turquoise ones are only a passing fad – they can be seen just about everywhere right now – these are a design classic.
Foo dogs are often designed with fairly frightening-looking faces, sometimes looking downright appalling, but that is really just a part of the beauty and appeal of them. They may be unconventional, but they really help to make a statement in an interior space, as in this entry hall.
I love the pop of the white Foo dogs against the dark commode and decadent hand painted wallpaper!
But if Foo dogs are too severe-looking for your taste, why not opt for alternative dog figurines with a little more homely charm? Staffordshire dogs, which originate in England, are definitely a far cuter, more palatable kind of dog.
These too started out as decorative pieces for upper class homes, but by the end of the nineteenth century they were amongst the most coveted of English-made ceramic figures. Today they are still a real collector’s item!
I love the Staffordshire dogs on the left corner of the console! Look how pretty this room is with its gorgeous, oversized carved French mirror, pale pink walls, and modern art and furniture. What a great combination of classic and modern.
Here are some beautiful examples of Staffordshire dogs that we have available in the shop right now:
Tips on collecting
If you love collecting these, here is a bit of history on these pups. Original Staffordshire dogs were made from the clay in and around the town of Staffordshire, England, so the colors were very limited to the colors of the clay. The most common colors were the red and cream you’ve probably seen around. You might have also seen these in cream and black, which was also popular but more rare.
Love the one single black & white Staffordshire pup!
You would not have found these in any other color such as the blues, pinks, yellows and other shades you find now. There’s nothing wrong with all these new gorgeous colors, just know that they wouldn’t be antique.
2. Wear & Aging
If you want a true period piece, one telltale sign is to look for is the aging on the piece. The best way to see any is on the delicate areas such as the nose and toes. These areas would succumb easily to aging and can indicate if a piece is really old or not.
3. No Two are the Same
Since these were handmade, no two pieces will be exactly the same. When looking for an antique, you’ll see small nuances in the actual piece and the painting of the piece, which are hallmarks of something handcrafted.
So now that you have a little guide you can discern between an antique and a new decorative piece. I love finding beautiful decorative pieces that are a nod to an antique idea. Check out this lovely modern interpretation of an antique Staffordshire by British designer, Donna Wilson.
What do you think: would you decorate with dog inspired figurines in your home? And which style would you prefer – The guardian Foo or the cute Staffordshire?
As always, we love seeing the projects that our customers are on, so if you have something you’d like us to see, post your doggie design on our facebook page! We’d love to see it and who knows, your photo could be featured in the coming weeks, so make sure to post!
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