My Favorite Things: Hal Williamson

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Decorator and antiques dealer Hal Williamson talks about Palladian blue paint, toile, and French wine coolers in this interview with The Southern Cosmopolitan. The fact that I’ve featured three houses designed by Hal in my recent books The Southern Cosmopolitan and New Orleans Style (see “books” at right to order) shows how much I love his sensual New Orleans approach to decorating with French and Southern antiques.

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Hal's Natchez, Mississippi, dining room

Hal's Natchez, Mississippi, dining room

Recently featured in House Beautiful, Hal also operates Hal Williamson Antiques on Magazine Street where he sells continental European antiques (mostly French), antique tableware, and decorative objects.  Whether offering antiques for sale or arranging them in clients’ houses, Hal brings a fresh, lovely, and sophisticated approach to design (http://www.williamsondesigns.net).

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Hal Williamson Antiques on New Orleans' Magazine Street

Hal Williamson Antiques on New Orleans' Magazine Street

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One of Hal’s favorite things is actually a color–Palladian Blue from Benjamin Moore’s Historic Colors collection. Having seen it while photographing his Natchez house for my book The Southern Cosmopolitan, I decided to paint my Asheville, North Carolina office the same color. I have always needed to surround myself with a calming shade while I work. I also find that the natural tone of this paint works perfectly with the green and brown trees and blue and gray skies of my mountain surroundings. Here’s why Hal loves Palladian Blue….

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It's hard to capture the richness of this color in a photo. Pick up a chip from Benjamin Moore!

It's hard to capture Palladian Blue's depth in a photo. Pick up a chip from Benjamin Moore!

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Hal: Palladian Blue is probably my favorite color in the Benjamin Moore Historic Colors line, although I gravitate toward them all. Most blues are too blue for me–I really adore greens. Palladian Blue is a bridge between the two. It combines the best of robin’s egg blue with the colors of the sea. Because it is so serene, this color is particularly nice for bedrooms.

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Hal's guest bedroom in Natchez

Hal's guest bedroom in Natchez

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Hal: I painted one of the bedrooms in my Natchez house Palladian Blue right after Hurricane Katrina. Even though it was a guestroom, I wanted to sleep there every weekend. The color made me feel calm and soothed. I like that it looks pretty with both antique wood furniture and painted pieces. There’s such a classic quality to it, yet this blue also feels somehow modern and fresh.

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Toile designed by Roulhac Toledano based on historical Louisiana motifs

Toile designed by Roulhac Toledano based on historical Louisiana motifs

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Another of Hal’s favorite things is this toile designed by  historian Roulhac Toledano for Architextiles (http://www.architextiles.com). She has collected motifs and drawings from old maps and historic documents to create toile patterns for several historic cities including New Orleans.

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Louis XV chair with Louisiana toile motifs

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Hal: When I was designing Debra and Jerry Shriver’s French Quarter townhouse (featured in The Southern Cosmopolitan), I found this toile with wonderful scenes of New Orleans. I discovered that the patterns could be enlarged and hand-printed in any color on any fabric, so I chose deep plum on a beautiful Bergamo linen. Debra found Louis XV chairs (above) with a pale sage finish which I upholstered with the fabric, using a different scene on each chair.

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Louis XV rafraichissoir

Louis XV rafraîchissoir

Hal: I always try to keep at least one French rafraîchissoir in my shop. These are wine serving and cooling tables that are usually on casters. They have been made in France in virtually every style for centuries. This one (above) is a simple Louis XV style with a taupe-and-rouge marble work surface and two zinc tins for cooling wine.

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Painted French rafraichissoir

Painted French rafraîchissoir

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Hal: Because this one (above) has simple lines and is painted pale grey-green, it goes beautifully in either a traditional or modern setting. We have one in both our houses and we really use them. In addition to the fact that they are chic, rafraîchissoirs are fun to use. I love to nestle one up to the dining table during a dinner party. It keeps the wines handy for serving and gives me a place to keep glasses, dessert plates, and more.

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