Monday, February 25, 2008

What's in Their Library: Christopher Spitzmiller

I've long been a fan of Christopher Spitzmiller, and the reasons are many. His lamps became design classics within no time (I'm still dreaming about owning a pair of Butternut Gourd lamps. Or would I rather own a pair of Pear Gourd lamps? Tough decision.) His gracious and well-edited apartment, featured in Elle Decor back in Dec. 06, is one of my all-time favorite homes. Spitzmiller is also a connoisseur of fine living, enjoying design, cooking, and gardening. And the icing on the cake is that he's got to be one of the most photogenic people in design.

If you'll recall from the Elle Decor article, Spitzmiller has an enviable library; in fact, it's a magnifying glass-worthy library. I've added a few tomes to my collection based on titles in Spitzmiller's shelves. I asked Chris to provide me with a list of his ten favorite books, and he generously provided me with not only the list, but with an explanation of why these books appealed to him.

So, here's what is in Spitzmiller's library:

"My Top Ten Book list includes six books on interiors, three cook books and one book on gardening. There is some overlap of interiors in many of the books. My list focuses on the well lived life. Not only should your rooms be beautiful, but there should be something good to eat on the table. And a garden should not only be pretty, but after spending an hour out there working, it should also make you a better person!"

Legendary Decorators of the Twentieth Century, Mark Hampton (1992). This book includes Mr. Hampton’s insightful short synopses of the careers and styles of every major decorator. It also incorporates his charming watercolors of their works. This book is hard to find and often expensive, but well worth the price.

Summer Cottages & Castles, Scenes from the Good Life,Patricia Corbin and Ted Hardin (1983). This work has some really charming pictures of ‘Rock Cliff’, the Newport mansion that was decorated by William Hodgins. It also has more photographs of Sister Parish’s ‘Summer House’ in Maine than I have seen anywhere else.

Where Muses Dwell: Homes of Great Artists and Writers,Massimo Listri (1996). This is an obscure book covering some very notable interiors, including the interior of Knund Lyne Rahbek’s home in Copenhagen, which is my favorite. Also included are John Soane’s house, now a museum in London, and lots of other continental and English interiors.

An Affair with a House,Bunny Williams (2005). This book presents Bunny’s well thought out plan for restoring her country home spanning a period of many years. In the book she writes about taking on one major project each year. Having recently found myself the owner of a very old home, with at least five or six major projects to take on, I asked her if this was really true. “Oh, yes,” was her reply, “for the first five years I had no furniture in my living room!”

CZ Guest's Five Seasons of Gardening,CZ Guest (1992). Every good house needs a garden. In this book, CZ presents her refreshing, matter of fact and no nonsense approach to gardening, both indoors and out. There are also tons of pictures of the inside of ‘Templeton,’ her house in Old Westbury, Long Island

Consider the Oyster, M.F.K. Fisher (1941). “An Oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life.” With this sentence, Mary Frances begins her cookbook which reads more like a good novel than anything else I’ve ever read. It is one of the most delightful books you can put your hands on.

Glorious Food, Christopher Idone (1982). Filled with visually stunning pictures of delicious meals presented in wonderful New York interiors, this is a book I try to buy whenever I see it. I can never have too many copies -- it makes a great gift!

Lost Desserts, Gail Monaghan (2007). Gail’s book will show you, step by step, how to create some of the most over-the-top, eye popping, mouth watering desserts you have ever seen or tasted.

Private New York, Chippy Irvine and Alex Mclean (1990). This book has some really stunning pictures of a wide range of uptown and downtown New York interiors. Wade McCann’s small, concise kitchen provided the inspiration for my own, proving that a humble kitchen can be an elegant one too!

Manhattan Style, Esten, Gilbert and Chinsee (1990). Similar to Mark Hampton’s book, this one contains some really beautiful pictures of New York interiors representing all the best decorators.

See You Soon!

I'm off this week for a little R&R- I'm not sure if I'll be indulging in some rest and relaxation or research and retail therapy! I'm leaving you with this post on Christopher Spitzmiller's favorite books. Enjoy your week, and I'll be back next week!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Schumacher- Spring 2008

Schumacher has recently unveiled its new fabric and wallpaper offerings for Spring 2008, and there's something for everyone. Graphic prints? Check. Soft, faded paisley? Yes, its' there too. Saul Steinberg prints? Absolutely! Here is just a smattering of the new additions.

What is also nice is that Schumacher has just introduced its new website that is almost fully functional (keep checking back in the near future for the "official" unveiling with additional capabilities). In the meantime, though, there is enough on the site to keep you up into the wee hours of the morning dreaming of prints, chintzes, and paper. Not a bad way to spend the evening, eh?

"Cachemire Fiorentina" cotton fabric in Spice. Such a beautiful colorway.

"New York, New York" wallcovering in Black on White. Both this print and "Aviary" wallcovering at top were designed by Saul Steinberg in the 1950s. I think his drawings are so charming!

"Ruhlmann Velvet" fabric in Mink/Platinum. I love the faux-bois design of this velvet.

"Shirala Paisley" linen in Delft

"High Voltage" linen & cotton fabric in Berry and Spice.

"Zimba" wallcovering in Glacier

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Albert Hadley Tutorial: Vignettes 101

I'm rather pressed for time today, so I was stumped about what today's topic would be. Then I came across this set of vignettes in the home of everybody's idol, Albert Hadley. Fortunately for me, there's not much text that needs to accompany these photos. We all know that creating a vignette or tablescape (why do I still cringe at this word?) takes skill, a flair for creativity, and an eye for proportion and color. I think it's safe to assume that Hadley possesses all of these traits. So, need a little help and guidance in arranging your vignettes? Then sit back and learn from the master!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Penchant for Purple?

Disclosure: I am not a purple girl. I'm not sure why. There is nothing wrong with purple- it is, after all, a rather pretty color. And it is the hue of royalty. But for some reason it never grabbed me like other colors.

That is, until I saw this image of a glorious brooch designed by Tony Duquette. The amethyst and kunzite look so beautiful against the glint of the brooch's gold setting. And a few days ago I came across this image below of Mary Jane Pool's bedroom with its lavender bedding and curtains. Let me tell you, if purple is good enough for Mary Jane Pool, then it's A-OK with me. So perhaps I'm coming around to purple. Sometimes you just have to have an open mind.

Mary Jane Pool's bedroom (Image from Domino, Mar 08). For those who have read the March Domino, don't you just love her whole apartment?

Plum Sykes in her former apartment, surrounded by lilac (or light "plum") colored walls. Image from Bright Young Things

An easy way to incorporate purple into a room. A soft purple linen undercloth with a purple matelasse tablecloth in the French home of Janet de Botton (image from Vogue Living Houses, Gardens, People; photographer François Halard)

Pretty in purple- the floral print panels are by Muriel Brandolini. (Design by Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill; Southern Accents Jan/Feb 08; photographer Pieter Estersohn)

A tablesetting in shades of purple looks smart against a grisaille background (image from Perfect Tables by William Yeoward)

Image at top: Photo of Duquette brooch from Town & Country, Dec 07

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Secretaries Day

My furniture wish list tends to be rather fluid. Some pieces come while others go, but the one piece that is a constant is a secretary. I've wanted one for as long as I can remember. While some may think of secretaries as being rather stodgy, I think the opposite. They can be quite elegant, such as those glorious antique japanned types. Or they can be dignified, especially those rendered in mahogany. Secretaries are also quite practical. What a wonderful way in which to display porcelain or other objets. And wouldn't using one of these as a desk make bill paying a tad bit more fun?

I'm still undecided about which type is my favorite. I think I'm leaning towards a Chinoiserie version in either red or black. But after looking at these images below, I just might have to change my mind!

The oft discussed 18th c. Chinoiserie secretary in the home of Ivanka Trump.

I like how Ruthie Sommers mixed a very traditional antique mahogany secretary with a 1940s coffee table, a black sofa with funky nailhead trim design, and a faux zebra rug. (Image from InStyle Home, Spring 07, photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo)

An 18th c. English secretary filled with ivory objects in the home of the late Sister Parish.

A secretary that has been painted with a faux yellow bird's eye finish. In the home of designer John Phifer Marrs (photographer Stephen Karlisch).

Image at top: Venetian mirrored secretaire, c. 1930, from John Salibello

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stefanidis Fabrics- Spring 2008

As I'm sure you've deduced by now, I'm absolutely taken with John Stefanidis' fabrics. The colors are so vivid; the designs so opulent and rich. And with such exotic pattern names, don't you feel like you've been transported back in time to Shanghai, Constantinople, or Venice?

I have so many favorites in the line, and I'm very anxious to use some of them soon for a project (hopefully for me!). Mr. Stefanidis has just added some new prints to the line for Spring 2008, so I thought I'd share them with you. Enjoy!

"Gonfaloniere" in cotton. A Gonfaloniere was a prestigious government post in Italy during the Renaissance. These distinguished citizens wore coats with elaborate embroidery which inspired this fabric design.

"Emma" in cotton; inspired by a 1730's English woven silk.

"Udaiphur" cotton fabric. I think this is one of my favorites.

"Fishbones" in cotton.

"Esrajim Stripe" in cotton sateen.

Image at top: One of my favorite Stefanidis rooms.