What is Italian tole?
Sheila Benson of Foxglove Antiques & Galleries explains, “Italian tole refers to the technique of adding decorative paint to metal and is usually made in or near Florence. The pieces add charm and whimsy to any room and are most popular in a kitchen or keeping room, sunroom, or powder room.”
Decorating with tole
“This chandelier is a favorite of mine and was one of the first things that I bought when we renovated our house in Athens [Georgia] almost 9 years ago,” says Susan Hable Smith, an artist and designer for the textile firm Hable Construction. “I found it in Round Top, Texas, at a tent run by two very talented men. I didn’t really know where it was going to wind up in the house, but I loved it so much that I had to have it! It is a focal piece in our home, and I often will drape seeded eucalyptus in it for the holidays and other flora for various parties.”
“Tole in general is so ladylike and is a throwback to an earlier ‘Lee Radziwill’ time. It can look really fresh in a more modern setting. My client, illustrator Hayley Sarno, is very feminine and when I saw these tole sconces, I knew they were perfect for her, and we would find a place to use them. We both loved the bright green color with the pretty porcelain flowers. The mix of all the elements in her bedroom keep the sconces from feeling grandmothery,” says Patrick Mele, interior designer New York City.
Where can you find Italian tole?
Foxglove Antiques & Galleries and The Gables Antiques supplied several tole pieces featured in this article. Chairish, Etsy, and Ebay regularly have tole pieces listed for sale.
Photography by Jeff Von Hoene | Photo Styling by Kim Phillips | Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle and Ellen S. Padgett
More Tole Featured in Flower
Tole candle holders mix with vintage holiday finds in a Maryland farmhouse belonging to Washington, D.C., event planners Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez. Read “A Merry Vintage Christmas.”