I bought a copy of Carrie Donovan's 1981 compilation of New York Times design articles, Living Well : The New York Times Book of Home Design and Decoration, a few years ago. Despite photos of homes of the beautiful people- you know, like Halston and Paloma Picasso- as well as a few palazzos and country piles, there is one home that has stuck with me for years. And you know what? I can't really figure out why, because it's not really my style...or maybe it is.
It was the home of Manhattan caterer Donald Bruce White. White lived above the shop so to speak in a five story townhouse built in the late 19th c. Part of the townhouse was designated for White's catering business, while the rest of the house was his personal space. The article mentioned that White's home was a melange of styles. So why my interest in this home?
Here, White, seated at the head of the table, holds court at a dinner in his private dining room. I know you may think that I was drawn to this photo because of the female guest dining in her fabulous fur hat, but that's only part of it. The room is understated. It's quietly chic. It's not trying too hard to impress. It's a type of decorating that seemed more prevalent "back then", but unfortunately not so much today. (Oh, and I love the ceramic pumpkins on the mantel.)
The living room in which White received clients. Again, it's a room that wasn't decorated to death. It was comfortable and inviting, but I would think it allowed White and his clients to get down to business. As my mother and I like to say, "It is what it is", and "it" wasn't trying to be something that it wasn't. (Does anyone know if the multicolored fabric on the pillows and seat cushion is still made today? If not, it needs to be. It's pretty fabulous.)
And then here is White's private kitchen. I hate to state the obvious, but isn't the copper cookware the draw here? That bombe adds a little eye candy to the photo too.
Maybe the reason I find White's home appealing is because it seemed that people and their enjoyment of good food and a little conviviality were the focus of this home. Not showy furniture or artwork. Not in your face fabric or wallpaper. Rather, it was a place for living a seemingly good life- something I try to remind myself as I'm decorating my home.