Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Easy-to-Appreciate Home

The day after a holiday weekend is never a good time to deal with anything challenging, so today, I thought we would ease into the work week with a Paris home that requires little effort to appreciate. The apartment you see here, which was built around 1790 and is located on the place du Palais-Bourbon, belonged (and, perhaps, still belongs) to Didier and Barbara Wirth. Through the years, the homes of the Wirths have been published frequently, including their noted house in Normandy, Chateau de Brécy.  Barbara Wirth also authored one of my very favorite books on table settings, The Elegant Table, so perhaps it's not surprising that I very much admire her sense of style.  In fact, if you were to search my blog archives, you would find a number of Wirth-related posts.

When it came to decorating her Paris apartment, Barbara Wirth worked with her frequent design collaborator, Christian Badin, who also happens to be her cousin.  (Both cousins were associated with David Hicks' Paris design shop.)  Wirth has an obvious penchant for beautiful things, and yet, there is nothing remotely precious about this apartment.  Here, dressy furnishings are tempered by the unobtrusive, like rush matting and casual furniture arrangements.  It's the home's easy sensibility that I find so appealing, although I suspect that the sight of the Wirths' inviting library might have influenced me as well.  I could easily have spent my Memorial Day weekend in just such a room. 

The sunny drawing room was made sunnier by yellow curtains, upholstery, and throws.

The entrance hall evoked the outdoors thanks to those wooden cypress trees and Wirth's collection of watering cans.

The library, which was filled with books, objects, and comfortable furniture.

Wirth switched out her dining room's décor seasonally.  In the spring and summer, the cool tile walls were left visible, while during winter and fall, they were covered by panels wrapped in a David Hicks fabric.  The dining chairs, designed by Badin, had seats and backs that could be changed out according to seasons.  A number of years ago, Veranda featured a more recent version of this dining room.

The Wirths' bedroom had a lit à baldaquin, which was designed by Badin, while roman shades covered the room's walls.

All photos from House Beautiful, January 1995, Antoine Bootz photographer.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weekend Entertaining with Bill Blass

After weeks of traveling, I'm looking forward to spending a quiet Memorial Day weekend at home. I'm sure that many of you, however, are planning to spend the holiday at beach cottages or country retreats, where you're likely to have a house full of hungry guests who require feeding. With that in mind, I thought today would be a good day to show you how the late Bill Blass liked to entertain at his bucolic Connecticut house, which was built in 1770 as a tavern.

Had you been a weekend guest of Blass, you might have started the day with a breakfast tray, which would have been elegantly set with breakfast china, linen, and a copy of The New York Times. After a morning spent doing I don't know what, you would have ventured off to the garden for a picnic lunch of hamburgers with Stilton crumbled on top, watercress slaw, tomato and onion salad, potato chips, and beer. I'm assuming that after a meal like that, afternoon naps were in order.

Late afternoon might have been spent enjoying tea in the room that once served as the tavern's private dining room. (The room's corner cupboard was constructed by one of Paul Revere's carpenters.) But the most memorable meal of the weekend would likely have been dinner, served in Blass's charming dining room, because that was the meal which would have involved one of Blass's claims to fame: his meatloaf, which Blass liked to serve family-style with mashed potatoes and succotash. (Have you ever made his meatloaf before?) Blass believed that a first course wasn't necessary when serving a hearty meal, so seconds were encouraged. And for dessert? An all-American lattice-top strawberry pie.

Doesn't that sound like a delicious way to spend the weekend?



Afternoon Tea:


All photos from House Beautiful, October 1992, Antoine Bootz photographer

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Windows of Legends

I returned last week from Los Angeles, where I attended Legends.  To say that I had a good time is an understatement, as it took me days to recover from the non-stop socializing and inspiration-seeking that is Legends.  But the post-event exhaustion was certainly worth it, as I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new acquaintances, such as Nicky Haslam, of whom I am in awe.  It was also very gratifying to see how close-knit the Los Angeles design community is and how vibrant the La Cienega Design Quarter remains. 

One of the highlights of this annual event are the windows of the La Cienega showrooms, which are thematically-decorated by prominent designers.  This year's theme was "Muses", and each participating designer chose a muse who (or, in some cases, which) inspires them.  Muses ranged from people (Charles de Beistegui and Slim Aarons) to places (Bali) and things, such as a blank slate.

For those of you who were unable to attend Legends, I want to show you just some of the windows that I saw during my stay in Los Angeles.  Because of the sheer number of designer windows that were featured at Legends, I'm only featuring half of the windows, which I chose at random.  But, please visit the Legends website to get the full run-down of windows.  My photos don't do the windows justice, so thankfully, I am able to share Grey Crawford's photographs with you.  And, if next year you have the opportunity to attend Legends, then I will likely see you there. 

Designer: Kristen Buckingham; Showroom: Kristen Buckingham; Muse: Lauren Santo Domingo

Designer: Timothy Corrigan; Showroom: Compas; Muse: Charles de Beistegui

Designer: Sam Allen; Showroom: Hollyhock; Muse: Bali

Designer: Young Huh; Showroom: Harbinger; Muse: La Grande Odalisque by Ingres.

Designer: Julia Buckingham; Showroom: The Rug Company; Muse: Slim Aarons

Designer: Ken Fulk; Showroom: Therien; Muse: The Movie Inside My Mind

Designer: Kylee Shintaffer; Showroom: Hollyhock; Muse: The Blank Slate

Designer: Scot Meacham Wood; Showroom: Mehraban; Muse: Shakespeare's Henry V

Designer: Susan Cohen; Showroom: J.D. Staron; Muse: Coco Chanel

Designer: Betsy Burnham; Showroom: Mecox; Muse: Animals

Designer: Platner and Company; Showroom: Stark; Muse: Rose Cumming

Designer: Gary Gibson; Showroom: Lee Stanton Antiques; Muse: Martin Puryear

Designer: Hallworth Design; Showroom: Lee Stanton Antiques; Muse: Mother Nature/ Warrior

Designer: Konstantin Kakanias; Showroom: Jasper; Muse: My Dog, Renzo

Designer: Amy Meier; Showroom: Marc Phillips; Muse: My Mother's Workroom

Designer: Cliff Fong; Showroom: Dragonette; Muse: Gertrude Stein

Designer: Nicky Kehoe; Showroom: Hollywood at Home; Muse: Wes Anderson

Designer: Molly Luetkemeyer; Showroom: Jamal's; Muse: Josef Albers

Designer: Stephen Shutts; Showroom: Jamal's; Muse: Eden, The Quest for Paradise

Designer: Elizabeth Dinkel; Showroom: Nicky Rising; Muse: Julia Morgan

All photos taken by Grey Crawford and used here with express permission of LCDQ Legends.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Latest from de Gournay

While in Los Angeles last week, I visited the Nicky Rising showroom, where Hannah Cecil Gurney, Director of de Gournay, showed me the latest additions to the de Gournay line.  Some of the designs are new, while others have been updated in new colors, such as Fishes, shown above, which is now available in a striking red colorway.

Like the rest of the de Gournay line, the new additions are covetable and will likely have you wishing to redecorate your homes.  I discovered quite a few designs that I would be thrilled to hang in my home, especially scenic papers like Xie You Yu, Paul et Virginie, and English Landscape Design.  But while you look through my photos below, keep in mind that they don't do the papers justice.  There are subtleties such as bas relief, embroidery, and tarnished metal finishes that simply can't be captured in photographs.  That's all the more reason for you to see the papers for yourself.  If you're in Los Angeles, be sure to visit Nicky Rising, which is a jewel-box of a showroom, to see the full collection.  Or, if you live in the Southeast, you can consult Angela Patrick at Ainsworth-Noah.  These new designs are well-worth a visit.

P.S.- Some of the designs' names have escaped me, but I have included those that I do remember.


Hixmore Triangles



Xie You Yu

Flamingos painted in Ghost style on Deep Rich Gold gilded paper

Le Bresil in Ghost style on sterling silver gilded paper

English Landscape Design in Intaglio Painting

Paul et Virginie

Whistler Peacocks

Flamingos in full custom color

Cupid & Psyche

All photos the copyright of Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic