Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Billy Baldwin: The Master

Billy Baldwin. What more do I need to say? Very few decorators can hold a candle to this master of interior design. His style could be quite contemporary, but he was just as comfortable with the traditional idiom. Many of his interiors were masterful displays of bold color, while others were outfitted in chic beige. I think the greatest compliment that can be given to Baldwin, though, is that his rooms were timeless.

I consistently leaf through "Billy Baldwin Decorates" for inspiration. I can see myself living in so many of the interiors, especially those that still seem so fresh today. Part of me leans toward his colorful interiors, such as the rooms of the legendary La Fiorentina or the pink living room of Mollie Parnis Livingston. My minimal side is drawn to the quite chic of Mrs. Gilbert Miller's living room. And what about drama? Well, Baldwin accomplished that too in the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Eastman. Is it any wonder why Billy Baldwin is still so au courant today?

Blue and White Living Room at "La Fiorentina"

Snappy pink and white living room of Mrs. Mollie Parnis Livingston

Chic, chic, chic living room of Mrs. Gilbert Miller (my favorite!)

Deep, dark drama in the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Eastman


  1. I love Billy B...however, ask most people about him and they will say "oh I didn't know Alec's brother was a decorator" ;-)

  2. Alyssa- That is too funny, but sad as well. I'm sure our Billy Baldwin of Baltimore would not find that amusing!!

  3. Because BB was from Baltimore, they re-did the Governor's mansion in BB-esque decor. Then some tacky new guy came in and took it all out! WHAT A CRIME! I hope some of BB's sensibility is still in the air, so I can inhale the good taste (well, not today, since it's snowing!).

  4. Fairfax- What a crime is right! Why can't people leave things alone! By the way, many style icons came from your neck of the woods- BB, Duchess of Windsor, and Pauline Potter (later Rothschild). Am I correct?

  5. Love the rooms you used here :)

  6. Peak... I should take some pix of the street where the D of W grew up. Don't forget John Waters, too! Designer Clare McCardell, Frank Zappa, that cutie Edward Norton! Loads of cool people here ;-)

  7. Fairfax- Must be something in the water! Please post pics of Wallis' street!

  8. Anonymous11:08 AM

    I hope that Mr.Adam Lewis and Acanthus press will publish the book they are working on in the not too distant future. I love to read more about "our" Billy Baldwin.The "Dean"of decorators.
    Sybe Sijt Meerstra The Netherlands.

  9. Sybe- Yes, I hope Lewis' book on Billy is published soon. I'm a little concerned b/c that book had been listed on the Acanthus site, but now it's not there. I agree, though, that I'd like to read more about him! Glad to meet another Billy Baldwin fan!

  10. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Dear "Peak of Chic",
    I check your blog every day and I enjoy all your findings AND comments.As a fan of BB,I would like to know if the famous bookcases are still being produced in the USA. Keep up the good work and thank you very much in advance.
    Regards, Sybe Sijt Meerstra "Dwellings Interiors & Decoration" from the Netherlands.

  11. Sybe- Thanks for the comment, and that is a very good question. I know that many decorators (such as Jeffrey Bilhuber in New York)have someone make bookcases very close in style to those of Baldwin's. But to be honest, I'm not so sure. Let me do a little research, and hopefully I can find out. I'll post back (via this comment page)if I can get an answer for you!

  12. Anonymous9:22 AM

    Sybe from the Netherlands said:
    Dear Peak of Chic,
    The bok "Billy Baldwin"is back on the list at Acanthus Press. Not written by Adam Lewis, but by James Archer Abbott (Jansen?!). I can't wait for it being published with lots of "new"material,I hope.
    Regards, Sybe

  13. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Hi at the peak of chic,
    Just letting you know, that the book "Billy Baldwin"is back on the list at Acanthus Press. Not written by Adam Lewis but by James Archer Abbott (Jansen). Can't wait for it being published with lots of "new"material, I hope.
    Regards, Sybe from the Netherlands.

  14. Sybe- Thanks for the update! I checked last week and it wasn't on there, so thanks for letting us know. Can't wait!!

  15. Anonymous3:25 AM

    He was the absolute best!

    Actually I am the President of the Billy Baldwin fan club!

    I nearly drowned treading water off the Villa Fiorentina at "Cap Ferrat"! (could not see one thing!) On the way to the airport the next day....our taxi driver said....."Oh too bad! My friend is the caretaker! I could have taken you on a tour!"

    I don't have many of them; but that is an opportunity missed. Should have stayed one more day.

    (You know what they do with plane tickets changed at the last minute? Still would have been worth it!)

    Bottom line......finding a new husband would have been much more problematical!

    Divine decorator! He had it all!

  16. Anonymous9:01 PM

    What did he pass away from?