Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bold Borders




According to son Ashley Hicks, one of David Hicks' favorite design tricks was to outline the edges and corners of a room with a contrasting braid or paper (Hicks also liked to apply similar borders on window treatments and upholstered furniture too). The effect is one that is bold and graphic- it visually reinforces the shape of the room. Ruthie Sommers used a similar idea in a room she designed for her husband (above). Wanting to make the room look like it was "tied up like a package", Sommers chose a Hicks style paper for the walls and painted a dark, wide border around the edges of the walls. What intrigued me most about this decorating "device" (to use the words of Ashley Hicks) is that it was used in the former royal palace Kew Palace (England) during the late 18th/ early 19th c. In Princess Elizabeth's room (below), the walls are covered in a green verditer wallpaper, and a Greek key border outlines each wall. How interesting to see this type of decoration used in a historical home, in a mod sixties room, and in a 21st c. California home.


A graphic room designed by David Hicks


Another Hicks designed room; the walls are covered in a blue woolen fabric and the outline is achieved using black braid.


Princess Elizabeth's bedroom at Kew Palace

(Photo at top of Ruthie Sommers' Santa Monica home; courtesy of Cottage Living)

20 comments:

  1. I love this look - it's done to great effect in all these homes. The late Roger Banks Pye used this effect a lot with grograin ribbon - fab.

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  2. Love Princess Elizabeth's room!

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  3. It's such a striking look and it is very interesting to see it used in different homes in different eras.

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  4. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Back in the early 1950s, the decorator Georges Geffroy covered the walls of the fashion designer Christian Dior's living room with willow-green velvet outlined with wide coal-black braid -- with curtains to match!

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  5. Ha! You have written an absolutely wonderful post here! And where do you find all the great vintage photos you post? I love how you use historical references to designs being done today. Thanks for yet another the great read! :)

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  6. Oh, how fantastic is this idea. That Ruthie Sommer's design is just so fun, her husband is a lucky man!!!! Great post Jennifer :)

    ~Kate

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  7. Thanks KC, Courtney, and Ronda!

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  8. Anonymous- Wow! I wish I could see a photo of that. I've tried to find out more about Geffroy but I get very little info on the web. Do you know where I could find out more?

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  9. Katie-Thanks!I saw the photo of Kew Palace, and it reminded me of the Hicks and Sommers rooms.

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  10. What a great post. It looks so great in the Hicks and Somers rooms, and so unexpected in the bedroom at Kew Palace. I love it paired with white and tha Tiffany blue.

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  11. It is a terrfic idea . i've never thouight about that and I 've never seen it before . I keep it in my mind.
    mélanie

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  12. THey all look wonderful. I love the Kew room!

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  13. Wow - I had never seen the picture of Princess Elizabeth's room. Coming from a confirmed Anglophile like me (I collected Royalty related items as a child), that is saying something! Great post.

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  14. These pictures are amazing - how did you put them all together? Great post!

    Joni

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  15. I am in Love with this! I am working on a breakfast room now with crazy floral paper....I think a border like this is perfect!

    Thanks Peak, keep up the amazing job.

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  16. Mark- You should try it and then post a photo on your blog!

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  17. I love this post. I'm very tempted to try this out somewhere...

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  18. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Not too much has been published in English about Georges Geoffroy, other than that he was an old friend of Dior's and got his start as a dress designer at Patou and became a high-society decorator in the late 1940s. He had a hand in the design of the neoclassical library at the British Embassy in Paris (which he created with Carlos de Beistegui and Emilio Terry), and he was a taste and style advisor to Pamela Churchill when she was living in Paris as Elie de Rothschild's mistress (she told me that herself -- Geoffroy helped her do up her apartment). Geoffroy also decorated parts of Alexis de Rédé's apartment at Hôtel Lambert in Paris in the 1940s. Will find out more and let you know.

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  19. Laura- I've never tried it either, but I really want to!

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  20. Anonymous- This is most helpful. I've also done searches on de Beistegui and Terry but info is rather scarce. I do have the recent book written by de Rédé (I made sure to get it when I was in London), so I'll refer to that book tonight. Thank you immensely! You certainly know your design history.

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