Friday, September 28, 2007

Breaking News!

Attention all of you Domino fans: I just found out that the magazine will be publishing a new book titled "The Domino Book of Decorating". Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Fall 2008 for its release. The book is said to include "floor plans, before and after shots, and a wealth of lush photography". I wonder which of our favorite designers might be included in it?

With Editor in Chief Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello, and Dara Caponigro editing it, it is sure to be a fun, stylish, and informative read.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dynamic Duo

A few weeks ago I came across a 1968 issue of House Beautiful. Now, to be totally honest, this era in design is not one of my favorites (I'm more of a 1930s gal myself). Flipping through the magazine I saw many photos of rooms that today look beyond dated. Well, when I came across this photo above I was floored. This room (minus the floral arrangement) is just as stylish today as it was almost 40 years ago.

The silver teapaper, the Serge Roche-esque plaster sconce, the geometric painted floor, the furniture- everything is just perfection. I could live in this room in a heartbeat. And just who was the designer? None other than my design idol- Albert Hadley. Of course! Hadley's work just doesn't seem to age, and he mixes antiques and contemporary pieces with aplomb.

Yesterday, I was looking through another 1968 issue of House Beautiful, and this home below caught my eye.

The dark glossy walls contrasting with the cream damask and chintz upholstered furniture is such a striking combination. I love the Chinese lacquered tables, the gilt mirror with sconces, and the beautiful antique painted wall panels in the dining room. Do I need to tell you whose home this is? That's right. Sister Parish.

Sis and Albert- a true design match made in heaven!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Porcelain Prints

Novelty prints- those prints whose themes are so unique that they can't be categorized- often get a bad rap, and sometimes rightly so. Many times the prints are cutesy, childish, strange, or just plain bad. One type of novelty print that does at times catch my eye is that which depicts porcelain. Perhaps it's my love of porcelain that draws me to these prints, but porcelain prints can be quite lovely.

Manuel Canovas's "Ming" linen (above)- to me, this print is quite sophisticated. Or "Precious Cargo" by Scalamandre- this wallpaper could work quite well in the right (traditional) home. A drawback to these prints? Be careful- porcelain prints can veer into twee territory quite quickly.

A powder room designed by Elaine Griffin. The plate print fabric on the walls is by Stroheim.

"Precious Cargo" wallpaper by Scalamandre

"Francie & Grover" fabric by Carleton Varney. I know many of you are thinking "Is she for real?". Yes, this is a little too cute and corny, but someone with a great sense of humor (and a love of Staffordshire dogs) could definitely pull this one off.

"Sheffield" wallpaper by Thibaut. To me, this is a versatile and fresh print.

The entrance hall at Haseley Court, Oxfordshire- the home of Nancy Lancaster. Notice the chair with the blue and white porcelain fabric, as well as real blue and white porcelain displayed through out.

This glazed chintz which depicts porcelain, tables, and umbrellas is modern, graphic, and crisp. And to think that David Hicks designed this room!

Image at top: Manuel Canovas's "Ming" linen on the walls of the Creel apartment (photo from Elle Decor, photographed by Simon Upton)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fancy Doors

I have just found the latest thing that I want to try: an upholstered door like that designed above Suzanne Rheinstein (if you can make it out in the blurriness!). Rheinstein took red baize (the same type fabric as is usually found on pool tables) with some batting underneath, and then outlined the door's panels with nickel nail heads. How chic is that?

I know that this idea is nothing new. In fact, Rheinstein explains in the current issue of Domino that many grand English homes had baize backed doors in their kitchens as a way to keep sound and smells contained in the kitchen. Many times, the baize covered door (usually covered in green baize) was the dividing line between the servants' area and the main house.

Of course, one is not limited to baize (just look at the various fabrics below which Miles Redd used in his own home), but I think that Rheinstein's choice is just so snappy and English. And according to Rheinstein, her daughter is covering her own kitchen door in patent leather. I'd love to see that!

This satin tufted door in the bedroom of Miles Redd screams glamour- very 1930s!

A zebra print covered door with nails head trim outlining the door panels in the living room of Miles Redd. Is this typical Redd or what?

The Paris bedroom of the incomparable Helena Rubenstein, designed by Maison Jansen, 1937. Not only is the door covered in satin, but so is the entire bed and the niche. The diamond pattern tufting is rather different and really creates an interesting pattern to the room.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sister Act

Recently I posted on a young designer's Manhattan apartment which I felt to be the perfect home for a stylish young woman. Well, the apartment has appeared again, this time in the current issue of Domino. The young woman is designer Nicole Hanley, and she lives in the same building (but different apartment) as her younger sister Merrill. Both women live in 800 square-foot apartments designed by Keith Irvine.

It is quite interesting to see the unique approaches the sisters took in designing their apartments (although there are more similarities than there are differences- after all, these are sisters). Nicole prefers a look of "frayed elegance" with a bit of edginess thrown in. She prefers more unusual color combinations like turquoise and brown. Merrill's apartment is more traditional and WASP-y with the Scalamandre "Shanghai" wallpaper in the entryway and a glossy red living room. Youthful touches in both apartments include lucite cube tables and chairs, Barcelona chairs, and modern artwork, but this is where the edginess ends. To me, both of these apartments possess the traditional look with which they were raised but are tailored to the lifestyle of young modern sisters.

And as the legendary Irving Berlin wrote in the song "Sisters":
Two diff'rent faces, but in tight places, we think and we act as one

Merrill's entryway with the "Shanghai" wallpaper.

Merrill's bedroom with a beige striped wallpaper, blue chintz curtains, timeless Leontine linens, and my favorite "Le Touches" print on the chair.

Nicole's bedroom looks a bit different from the article on which I previously posted. Like her sister, Nicole has Leontine Linens on her bed, but her nod to modernism is the lucite desk chair next to the bed.

Nicole's living room that is arranged off-center. The sofa fabric includes turquoise, orange, and yellow- all colors which Nicole favors.

In my opinion, Keith Irvine is a genius with the color red. Those glossy red walls look fantastic against the classic brown and white zebra print. Merrill's living room is also symmetrically arranged and is "tighter" than the living room of her sister.

Image at top: Nicole in her entryway paper with Brunschwig & Fils' "Gallaudet Diamond"

(All images courtesy of Domino magazine, Oct. 07, photographed by Paul Costello)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Sideways Bed

My latest fascination (if you could call it that) is with the "sideways" bed, and no, this is not a technical term. The idea is to place a daybed or small bed parallel against the wall and drape it with swags of fabric, usually attached to the wall. Many times the beds, which usually have headboards and footboards, can double as a sofa. This style of bedding has deep roots in French history and was quite popular during the Empire period especially. (And if anyone has any additional historical information to share please do so.)

I could see using a bed like this in a dressing or sitting room. Or, if you're single and sleep in a twin-sized bed, you could try this in your bedroom (I wouldn't advise this if you have a significant other). Personally, I don't think you should try this with any bed other than a rather narrow one as it might look rather odd. But, if space is tight in your bedroom or in your studio apartment, then you might want consider this type of daybed to create some multi-functionality in your home.

A photograph by Horst P. Horst in a 1949 issue of House & Garden. All of the fabrics featured in this photo were made of cotton.

A bedroom designed by Colefax & Fowler. The Louis XVI-style bed is given the English treatment with the use of Colefax "Climbing Geranium" chintz.

This daybed serves as a sofa in this room designed by Colefax & Fowler. In this case the daybed/sofa is placed within a niche, and the same print is used for the wall within the niche, the bedding and pillows, and the tent-like swag.

Although this is more of a canopy than the other examples featured here, I do like this elaborate treatment of a Directoire bed. I can't tell if the fabric is attached to the ceiling, the wall, or the bed, but it certainly creates a cocoon like feeling. Design by David Hicks.

Image at top: An Empire style room in the Morris Jumel Mansion in New York.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Joe Nye- Tradition with a Twist

For those of you who like the chic/ preppy/ feminine/ traditional look mixed with bold colors, then you must check out this Los Angeles apartment decorated by Joe Nye (and featured in the October issue of House Beautiful). Designed for a lucky young woman, the home features a turquoise and raspberry color scheme with a bit of brown thrown in for good measure. The homeowner had inherited some good antiques, and Nye added some fun and funky furniture to keep the home from looking too matronly. What I also thought was very clever was that Nye created a masculine office (painted in a rich brown) as a counterpoint to the femininity of the rest of the home. And the icing on the cake? All of those great accessories! Here are a couple of photos of this fun, feminine home.

A view of the bedroom with a French settee from Chapman Radcliff and window shade in Manuel Canovas's "Bragance".

The rich brown office with some fun animal prints.

The dining room. Don't you love that painted chair?

Image at top: A view of the living room where the turquoise/raspberry color scheme is most evident.

Design Weakness- Prints

As I've mentioned before (perhaps to ad nauseam), my weakness is for prints. Sometimes I think that I've never met a print that I didn't like, although in actuality there are a lot of ugly prints out there too and I definitely don't like those! My problem is that there is never enough room in which to use all of these printed wallpapers and fabrics that I like. Yes, you can mix and match prints but you have to have a trained eye, and to be honest, I'm not quite there yet. So, in the meantime, I just collect photos of these prints and hope that one day I will be able to use them somewhere.

Here are a few of my current favorites. What are yours???

Mauny "Draperie Marie Louise" wallpaper. I love this trompe l'oeil design.

"Castiglione" fabric from the Madeleine Castaing Collection

"Oasis" fabric by Scalamandre

"O'Marra" fabric by Scalamandre. I think I'm drawn to the color combination here.

Zuber wallpaper, no. 30023- another glorious trompe l'oeil print. Notice a theme here?!

Image at top: A home designed by Diamond Baratta. Very disparate prints used in this room, but the color scheme ties them all together and creates some harmony.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And Now for the Ladies...

Continuing with the article from yesterday, here are some solutions from design mavens Frances Elkins and Eleanor Brown.

Problem: Mrs. George Coleman Jr. wanted "gaiety" in her home using clear colors. She also wanted a durable rug that would withstand three daughters and their riding boots.
Solution: Frances Elkins mixed blue and white Chinese plates, Mexican pottery, and Delft tiles that would "please the eye"; she chose the blue and white color scheme as it worked in the clear, bright light of California. And of course, she chose a sturdy rug for those daughters!
Don't you love that hand-blocked linen fabric? Sixty years later and it still looks fantastic.

Problem: Mrs. Diego Suarez wanted to bring the outdoors inside her home on Shinnecock Bay. She also wanted a "background for flowers, fine books, and modern leather furniture."
Solution: Inspired by the view of the water, Mrs. Brown (of McMillen Inc.) chose soft blues for the walls, the oversized sofa, and the folding shutters. For the accent colors Brown used mustard and white.
Not necessarily the 21st century idea of a beach home, but I do like the mustard fabric on the chair in the foreground. And I'm curious about that modern leather furniture...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Zig-Zag Table

Eagle-eyed reader Michelle has helped solve the mystery of the red zig-zag table. It is made by Leavitt-Weaver and can be ordered in custom sizes and colors (although my preference is the red). Based in California, Leavitt-Weaver is also represented in showrooms throughout the U.S. Thanks Michelle!

What Would Billy Do?

Sometimes when I'm faced with a decorating dilemma, I'll ask myself "What would Billy (Baldwin) or Albert (Hadley) do?". Silly, perhaps. But, by thinking about how these two design legends approached (or in Hadley's case still approaches) design, I'm usually able to think through my problem and find a suitable, and stylish, solution.

So, I was excited to come across a 1948 House & Garden article in which five of the top designers of the day (who are now considered legends) discussed their solutions to different design challenges presented by their clients. Today I'll profile the male designers featured, and tomorrow stay tuned for the women.

The master Billy Baldwin is photographed here with his client Mrs. Warren Pershing. The problem: Mrs. Pershing wanted to create a country house feeling in her Park Avenue duplex. She wanted the home to be rather informal but pretty as well.
The solution: Baldwin chose coral as the dominant color because it is a happy color (and one that would complement Mrs. Pershing's "dark beauty"). To achieve the country look, Baldwin used various chintzes for the upholstery and displayed vases with fresh flowers throughout.

What I find interesting is that though this room was a bit casual for the time (and for the Park Ave. setting), it is actually rather formal by today's standards. I think that what Baldwin achieved was a scheme that was fresh, comfortable, and elegant.

A living room designed by William Pahlmann for his client Mrs. Walter Hoving.
The problem: The living room was very large and rather long. Also, Mrs. Hoving wanted to create a room that was conducive to entertaining and an attractive background for evening clothes (aren't these fun problems to have?)
The solution: Palhmann created different seating groups allowing for conversation as well as better traffic flow. Also, he used two mirrored niches (visible on the far right) to create a sense of width. Pahlmann chose a green for the upholstery because he deemed it a flattering color for evening clothes (particularly against men's black and white evening attire).

All in all, a very elegant room in which to entertain! I especially love that Coromandel screen.

The problem: The client, Mrs. Vincent Astor, asked her designer George Stacey to create a cornflower blue room. She also wanted a room that was suitable for entertaining as well as relaxing with her family.
The solution: Because this shade of blue was a bit strong, Stacey chose white, crystal, and mirrored accents. He used a red fabric for the benches in front of the fireplace as well as a dark green for the sofa. In order to achieve the "comfortable" feel to the room, Stacey used a floral chintz for the armchairs (I think the use of floral chintz is a recurring theme in this particular article!).
I think Stacey's use of color is pretty smashing and bold. That said, what interested me most about this story is that one of the editors of H&G in 1948 was Brooke Marshall, later Brooke Astor (the third Mrs. Vincent Astor). And here is her predecessor Minnie Cushing Astor (the second Mrs. Vincent Astor).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creative Framing

I was catching up on my 1st dibs browsing last night and came across these parrot prints from Chapman Radcliff (see above). Don't you like how the prints are mounted on the fabric covered mats? So clever! Of course there are certain types of prints that are best displayed in plain mats, but here the fabric adds a real flair.

Framing is one of those design details that is often overlooked despite the fact that it can add to the look of the artwork (and the look of the room). Some art, especially photographs, look best in simple frames with plain white mats. However, if you have some prints, drawings, or paintings that could stand a little pizazz, why not consider an unusual frame or mat? There are so many wonderful frames from which to choose, however, framing can be terribly expensive (I can't tell you how many times I've come close to having a heart attack when I got framing estimates). If you're on a budget, perhaps a colorful or textured mat may be just the thing.

These small Chinese Export paintings are framed in blue rice paper mats in gilt frames. Available at Heather & Company Inc.

Animal prints in striking frames and mats- in the Maher home, Elle Decor Aug '07 (photographed by William Abranowicz). I don't know which I like better- the prints or the frames.

Textured, neutral mats in the former apartment of designer Kelly Wearstler. The frames and mats look great against the aubergine walls.

I added this red mat on a delicate etching to draw attention to it.

Can You Identify This Table?

In my recent post on Albert Hadley, I included a few photos of a red zig-zag table. The table appeared in a tableau at the offices of Paris-Hadley and in Hadley's Manhattan bedroom. This table also appeared in a 2002 Elle Decor article on Ward Denton and Christopher Gardner's apartment. A reader has asked if anyone could shed some light on the manufacturer of this chic little table. If you can help us, please let us know!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

See You Next Week!

I'm currently traveling this week and won't be posting. See you next Monday with more design dispatches!