Pineapples have been a part of home décor since the Colonial period
Let’s talk a bit about a wonderfully sweet fruit that has managed to find its way into our home’s interiors as well as our architecture. Pineapples! Let’s start with a bit of history.
Apparently, pineapples were placed on board of the ships traveling from England to the United States because of their longevity and ability to ward off scurvy, a serious disease caused by a lack of vitamin C! As most of you already know, the pineapple is a sign of hospitality. As our colonies began developing, homes were constructed and neighborhoods were started. A pineapple was attached to a fencepost or column of a home belonging to one of the most prosperous residents was a very common sight. As the story goes, passersby could slice off a piece of fresh pineapple and were heard to say, "Well, that is quite hospitable!" Certainly a neighborly thing to do, you would have to agree.
Most towns were still in their infancy, visiting from home to home was a daily part of life, and socializing was what they did for entertainment. They hosted lavish dinner parties, attempting to one-up each another and “keeping up with the Joneses” even then. The pineapple, also, indicated that guests were welcome to stop by for a visit. Eventually, the ladies of the evening took that gesture of hospitality to the boudoir (a word I use because I’m trying very hard to make this bit of sultry history seem less offensive) and attached a fresh pineapple to the bedposts.
I don’t know how accurate this pineapple history is, but like Mark Twain, I believe “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” But I did get it from a good source: A gentleman who at one time gave the mesmerizing Paul Rivera Ride walking tour in the city of Boston. I met this fascinating man while I was employed at Ethan Allen in Denver, Colorado. At the time, I was teaching an accessory class in the interior design department at Arapahoe Community College. If I had the opportunity to learn any new morsel of information that I could share with my class, well, I was all ears!
Suffice it to say that pineapples have been a part of home décor since the Colonial period—now that is a trend that has some serious longevity! My goodness, it’s the Williams-Sonoma logo! And pineapples have a friendly feel, maybe because we usually associate them with the tropics and the slow dreamy life we envision that islanders must live. But please don’t limit yourself to only using them in tropical interiors. Pineapples are as classically traditional as it gets! Plus, the fruit features a wonderful sculptural aesthetic and is named for its resemblance to a pinecone combined with the juiciness of an apple.
With the comfortable sociability this fruit projects, it is not surprising that pineapples have been incorporated into architecture in areas such as fireplaces and carved into beautiful onlays in kitchen design or millwork in a dining room. An onlay is a thin, decorative piece of wood carved into a wonderful decorative detail that is added to such things as cabinetry and fireplace mantels. It is typically glued on a flat surface or attached with small finish nails. An onlay gives a fireplace a handsome handcrafted appearance reminiscent of Grinling Gibbons, a renowned Dutch-English HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculptor"sculptor and HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_carver"wood carver. Onlays are certainly not as intricate or elaborate as Grinling Gibbons were, but they are easily located at places like Loews and Home Depot. Consider adding some carved magic to fireplace mantel in your home or even the surround of your front door. This attention to detail and the addition to your millwork lends a flat surface the same unique detailing that a monogram adds to linens. These are the little understated touches that quietly say refined elegance or as I like to say "Gracious Living".
A pineapple might be just the subtle message that reflects your family values and says, “Welcome to my home, where warmth and caring is who we are!” Pineapples are available in fabric designs, wallpaper, lighting sconces, bookends, doorstops and doorknockers to mention only a few home-furnishing items. Finding a treasure—such as a side table with a pineapple carved into the pedestal gives you an inviting piece of furniture (Ethan Allen has a wonderful one). Look for interpretations of pineapples in contemporary accessories as well as retro items that will instantly show a bit of sleekness to your home. An abstract piece of art featuring pineapples painted in an almost Andy Warhol interpretation, could be the catalyst to an entire room’s design direction—edgy and sassy!
The next time you’re looking for a little something special to juice up your home, consider a pineapple. This exotic fruit can easily sweeten things up in your home. It might be as easy as placing a bowl of fresh ones on your kitchen island or breakfast table. An accessory element, a snack under 100 calories and a fragrance to die for! Here’s my pièce de résistance to send you on your way to the grocery store:
"Pizza with pineapple, that’s a cake… Pizza with cucumber, that’s an insult!"-Allessio Vinci
See you next week and have a wonderful 4th of July!
Jan Colvin has been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). She has taught interior design at the college level and operated her private design business since 2001. Look for her new book soon!
Jan welcomes questions, which will be answered in her columns. Send your questions to: email@example.com