Monday, January 28, 2008

Time to Get Out the Magnifying Glass




Please help me put my mind to ease. Am I the only one who gets out the magnifying glass when I see a particularly inviting bookcase featured in a magazine or book? (Something tells me the answer is no!). I think I do this partly out of curiosity- is the homeowner interested in design? Architecture? Modern American fiction? The other reason is because I'm always looking for new books to add to my library.

The library that still has my keen interest is that of Christopher Spitzmiller, above. What a fabulous library! And how disappointed I am that many of the book titles are too small to read! It's been murder on the eyes trying to catalogue Spitzmiller's library. From what I've been able to make out, Spitzmiller and I have numerous books in common, but his library still beats mine by a long shot.

Here are a few others that gave my magnifying glass (and my eyes) a workout:



First, this Chinoiserie bookcase in the home of designer Alex Papachristidis is divine, but the books within it are pretty stellar too. A few noted titles: Beaton in Vogue, Sister: The Life of Legendary Interior Decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II, and Waddesdon Manor (photo by Roger Davies; Elle Decor 11/07)


The one that got away... This shot of Michael Devine's library looks promising. Alas, the books are blurry. But I know that Michael has an interesting library. A few I was able to make out: In The Pink and Cecil Beaton (Photo from Domino, Dec 07. Photographer Marcus Nilsson)


My neatnik gene prevents me from piling copious amounts of books on the floor as Keith Irvine did here in his Manhattan apartment. Nonetheless, he has some erudite reads: London Perceived and Pleasure and Privilege


The library of the late Timothy Mawson. This bookshelf has numerous books on Beaton as well as Poiret and David Hockney. You can tell that this was a library of a serious collector- the books are the centerpiece here.


And speak of the devil, after I wrote this post my copy of Elle Decor came in the mail. Time to pull out the magnifying glass again! I don't know if this is Ms. Russell's personal library or that of Elle Decor. Nonetheless, it's a good one. I spy Horst Interiors, At Home with Books, and David Hicks Living with Design. (Elle Decor Mar 08)

Image at top: Christopher Spitzmiller's apartment, Elle Decor Dec 06; photographer William Waldron)

42 comments:

  1. Thearkytek8:25 AM

    Yes, I do the same exact thing!

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  2. Thearkytek- I suspected I was not alone! Thank goodness for magnifying glasses!

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  3. Guilty! Me too.

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  4. I did the same thing this weekend with "Margaret's" bookcase and have spent way too much time on the Alex P apartment!

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  5. HOBAC- Yes, if the room doesn't appeal to me I seem to overlook the bookcases.

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  6. Courtney- This image in March's Elle Decor was an added bonus!

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  7. You are not alone! I do the same thing... then head for Amazon with my scratch paper and add the ones that look fabulous to my 'wish list'. I totally judge books by their covers... and think all good designers should! HA! Great post!

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  8. The Chinoiserie bookcase is fantastic and I have not seen one like it - wonderful post.

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  9. Erika- Me too!! They're all immediately saved to my Amazon wish list, which just grows longer by the day! :)

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  10. Patricia- I love that piece too!

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  11. Yes! Always try to read the titles. And sometimes one comes across some surprising results.

    BTW: LOVE that first room you showcase. I had a similar 'taxi cab' yellow living room year's ago and the room, while garish in natural daylight, just glowed in the evening with silk shades and Sylvania PINK 3-ways.

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  12. I was always curious about this...so glad you took a closer look for use!

    ~Kate

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  13. Michael- Spitzmiller's room is truly one of my all-time faves! Adore it! I'm with you on the pink bulbs- those halogen bulbs just don't give off the same light at all!!

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  14. Guilty!
    I sometimes also wonder if any were brought in for the photoshoot styling.

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  15. Topsy- Good point- I wonder that too!

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  16. I am so glad there are others out there like me. I thought I was the only one with the sickness. And the fact that you all add to your Amazon wish list freaks me out even more!!!

    When the homes of non-design people are shot, though, I think some photo editor stages the space. When I was young and single, I babysat at a lovely Washington DC home that was being shot for Southern Accents and they changed up quite a bit. And trust me... this woman's home was fabulous/immaculate/fresh. It didn't need a thing.

    Nonetheless, I try to find every title I can!

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  17. Eclectic- Yes, it is a sickness, but an enjoyable one! Interesting too about the Wash DC home/shoot.

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  18. Not only do I use a magnifying glass to peruse others' bookshelves, I am also guilty of pulling my car over to the side of the road at night to study a particularly intriguing chandelier in a well-lit room. I tell my kids I'm "industrial spying".

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  19. Great idea! Now I need a magnifing glass.

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  20. Ah yes -- Let me join the well-heeled crew with magnifying glass and spyglass in hand -- or in car! Another fun place to spot books is in Bunny William's homes in New York (check her entry in the New York Social Diary's House section) and in her home in Connecticut -- featured in her decor book "An Affair with A House" Of course -- in my opinion -- a house is not a home without books! LOL!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage whose cheap Ikea bookshelves have done "yeoman's service" over the long years ......

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  21. Oh Bayou Contessa - honey - the best time to look at house, period, is at dusk, the windows are still open becuase it's still kind of day, but all the lights inside are blazing and you can see through to the back yard! My favorite time to stop and gawk.

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  22. My favorite library in the world (private, I mean) is the library-office of the writer Tahir Shah in Morocco, which I saw in The New York Times a few years ago. Books to the high-high ceiling, a fabulously big Victorian table in the center of it all, and staggeringly tall french doors opening onto a courtyard garden. If I could live in a room lined with books and furnished with just a decent bed and a great reading light, I would be so happy.

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  23. Yes, I've certainly been guilty of doing that too! And I'm always a bit chuffed when I discover a few books in common with the homeowner. Can't wait for my copy of Elle Decor to arrive!

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  24. I love the messy piles of books on the floor...looks like my place. So how come I didn't get published! haha.

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  25. How funny! There are so many of us with the same amusing habits. I have strained my eyes on many occasions!

    Missed you in Paris!

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  26. This conjures up a hilarious vision of an entire crew of night-prowling design bloggers cruising through neighborhoods looking in house windows! Let's all meet up on a street corner in a nice neighborhood somewhere! Then we'll need binoculars to see the book titles in the bookcases.

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  27. Aesthete- I'm not familiar with that library. I'll have to do a little research. Sounds divine.

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  28. Missed going too Ronda! Glad you had fun!

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  29. Me, Myself- Too funny!!!

    Topsy- It will be the nosy bloggers caravan!

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  30. haha - we're all guilty. I constantly scan for the names of books with a magnifying glass and get made fun of! I guess that is why my amazon.com wish list is 25 pages long!

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  31. Change- Well, you put me to shame. I thought my wish list was long! You've got me beat!

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  32. Anonymous11:37 AM

    I own that very same Regency style chinoiserie book case (purchased years ago at Scott's antique market in Atlanta) and I got a kick out of seeing a lot of the same books in mine...of course then I had to bring out the magnifying glass to see what I might be missing.

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  33. Sigh....I am having a bout of book envy here. What great collections. I am a bit of a snoop myself. I am always checking out bookcases when I go to friends houses. Can't help it.

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  34. Anon- You're so lucky!!! That's a fabulous piece.

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  35. Anonymous5:20 AM

    Glad to know I'm not the only pessimest who wonders if books are sometimes staged for a photo shoot! It's fairly obvious when they're color coordinated. I would love to see a post on bookshelves, empty in order to see pros and cons.

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  36. I am glad we have ALL outed ourselves as magnifying voyeurs. I have two... and books and art are what I zoom in on. I believe I had more of the same books as Bunny Williams and Albert Hadley than any other designers.

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  37. Ha! I wondered if I was the only person that did this too!

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  38. Porcelain- Evidently, there are A LOT of us who do this! :)

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  39. I confess it's never occurred to me to pull out a magnifying glass to examine books in images like this, but you can darn sure bet it's a habit I'm about to add!

    Now, as to having piles of books around on the floor, I'm about the queen of that. I never can keep up with them. They're all over the house.

    How can some people live without books?

    Wendy Hoechstetter

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  40. Wendy, I don't know how people can live without books. A very good friend of mine laments to me the pain of visiting her son and daughter in law's house which she calls the "House without books"

    I do certainly get out the magnifying glass. Especially on Bunny & Charlotte's interiors. I do the same thing on flickr decor photos.

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  41. I don't know, either, halcyon. I think there's definitely something suspicious (or shallow, or both) about people who live without books. To me, they're as essential as food, friends, and family.

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