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Monday, January 3, 2011

A&A, Explain That Name?

This probably should have been my very post and I intended to do this long ago, but never quite finished it.  Why did I choose this blog name and what does it mean, if anything? This is probably the question I get asked most from fellow bloggers and readers. So finally an explanation to anyone who has inquired or been curious! The basic premise behind the name is that it combines of my love of architecture and nature.

Scrolling Acanthus Leaf Motif
Acanthus: The first time I remember the Acanthus leaf registering on my radar is when I traveled to Europe in my twenties. Italy to be specific. They are such a prevalent motif in design, but especially in Italian and French architecture. Most of us are familiar with the famous William Morris design.  

Classic architectural details via Trouvais 

Iconic William Morris wallpaper

Live Acanthus Leaf

I would guess for most it's the scrolling motif that comes to mind when we think of the acanthus leaf. A real acanthus leaf is wider and far less detailed.  I have recently read that in Christian art, the acanthus leaf represents Heaven. The attraction for me is it's rich history and the fluid scrolling design. It is a design that can be interpreted as masculine or feminine. Over the years, I realized the acanthus leaf detail has made it's way into so many parts of my own home!

Finial from a newel post and favorite piece of salvage.

Fabric from toss pillows.

Gracing the foot of a wood candlestick.
Damask fabric on my dining room chairs.

Detail of an old frame.
Acorn: Also known as the oak nut. I'm nuts about these nuts! Autumn has always been my favorite season. I always knew I wanted to have a autumn wedding and was a November bride. And I love trees, but the Oak tree has to be the favorite. It's is just so majestic. There is something about the smooth thick leathery skin of the  acorn nut sitting in the little cup with it's rough & bumpy texture that fascinates me. I guess it's the 2 opposite textures coming together to make something beautiful. 

December 2010

When my children were little, they were always up for a walk through the woods along the paths near our house for an acorn hunt in the autumn and early winter. As they got older, it often became a contest of who found the best or biggest acorn. I try not to take too many acorns from any location, because they feed a ton of wildlife, not just squirrels! However, they are toxic for horses. I still find myself looking for perfect specimens any chance I get.

Acorn finial from our newel post on the staircase I designed.
A hand painted design, inspired by a set of decorative plates, on our game table.
 It was done more than a decade ago and it's still one of my favorite pieces.

An acorn tipped door hinge. Door hardware is a huge obsession of mine!
 I need to do a post showing examples I've used in my home and my work.

This acorn topped hitching post belongs to Reggie & Boy.
Oh, how I wish it were mine!!! Their dog Pompey just adds to it's charm.

On a recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia I gathered these...this time with a little help from my husband...who noticed one had a smiley face. I don't know what was more amusing, the fact that he noticed or because it did! I can't help but wonder if Thomas Jefferson picked acorns from this same tree...

Acorns from Colonial Williamsburg.

Here's to smiling a lot in the New Year!
  Images not noted are from Google.


  1. I love it when decor is personalized. I have a lot of fleur de lis stuff in my house, long before it was something you could buy at Kirkland's because it's a symbol of my sorority and I started collecting things before I turned 20. The area where I live is on a Civil War battlefied and the antebellum houses along my street are Oakton, Fair Oaks and Tower Oaks. My neighborhood is part of what was the Oakton plantation, so I often look for things with oak leaves. I love your attention to detail and the subtle repetition. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love finding out the hidden meaning behind blog names, it's always so fascinating! I also love that you have taken several nature inspired elements which speak to you and that you've found ways to incorporate them into your designs! I have a serious hardware addiction too, and that smiley face acorn made me smile!

    Kat :)

  3. Lovely tale of A&A! My favorites would be the acorn-tipped hardware and the hand-crafted plate.

  4. This post needs a rainbow and shooting star - "The More You Know". ;)

  5. I have always loved the acanthus leaf design for some reason, and love anything nature inspired for design. It's a great name.

  6. I also have always loved both acanthus patterns and acorns - two of nature's loveliest works. Love your newel post finial and door hinges (I almost went with acorns and then ended up with plain ball tops - love hardware as well)! Do you have any acorn jewelry? I've seen some charming things.

  7. I didn't realize door hinges existed with acorns! We have a majestic oak in our yard and, in the fall, we end up raking the acorns out of the beds so we don't get inundated in the spring with baby oaks. The first year we didn't and we paid for it with back breaking labor to remove the seedlings.

    I love hearing the story behind the name. I should explain also!


  8. Gorgeous door hinge...didn't think I would ever say something like that! :) Danielle

  9. I never met an acanthus image or acorn I didn't like, and still to this day love collecting acorns on walks, some of the largest walking the paths of Kennesaw Mountain in GA. And still to this day I want to take the tops off acorns and set them upon my fingers and draw faces upon the pads of my fingers and make silly conversation. Your blog is lovely, one of my faves.

  10. So glad you did this post! I'd been wondering why you chose the name myself -- and I love how personal both these motifs are to you (and how well they express your style)!

  11. Well, I learned something today! Thanks!

  12. I adore the name of your blog...and I have to admit, I was curious! I love acorns and acanthus leaves. Wonderful symbols of beauty in the natural world. Plus, the name sounds classical and refined.Beautiful images too. I love your door hinge!


  13. I have always wondered! Thanks for filling us in. I love the symbolism and how you incorporated such meaningful little acorns into your home. Such inspired living!
    Happy New Year!

  14. I love your inspiration for your blog! The design for your staircase is outstanding!

  15. Dear A&A:
    What a fun, and interesting post. I was quite happy, scrolling along, reading through it, until I came across the picture of my beloved Pompey and the acorn-topped tether. Seeing it made me smile with pleasure, and I was quite honored to be included in such august company! Thank you, A&A -- Reggie

  16. Exactly as I had enjoy knowing a bit of history behind the origin of your inspiration and name and can honestly say it fits you! Funny how what we love, finds us! Now I shall think of you with each and every Ancathus and Acorn I see! You are very "detailed" and I always am impressed with all you share.
    Happy 2011.

  17. So great...I admit, when I first started reading your blog last year...I had to google the word acanthus! Loved your illustrative explanation! (That door hinge is the best!)

  18. This is the first time I have ever seen a REAL acanthus leaf!

  19. I love that you posted this....I was thinking about that the other day - what inspired the name. Some are pretty easy to figure out and this one I could never figure out. Thanks for the history lesson and I love the name and where you got it. Great post.

  20. I never knew that the acanthus leaf represented heaven...I wonder if that's why it was used so much in the decor and design of yore. I'm with with the crowd here on your door! Thank's for the insight, history, and the peeks of your own A & A treasures.
    xo J~


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