Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Beaton Beatification

It was a Cecil Beaton kind of week. Not that that's a bad thing- far from it. It just seems as though everywhere I looked, there he was.

First, I bought a book that showed his London home from the early 1960s. It was not what I expected as I'm more familiar with Beaton's romantic, eccentric style of decor. (Or perhaps I should say "romantical"...a term coined by Paula Deen. Actually, every time I hear her say that, it drives me up the wall.) This particular version of Beaton's home has a French Billy Baldwin kind of feel to it. That is, if Billy Baldwin had been born and raised in France.

The two images at top were Beaton's living room in which the walls were covered in black velvet. Yes, black velvet- how great is that? What might be even more interesting is that the velvet is trimmed in gold and silver Spanish embroidery. Fortunately, you do not need to imagine what it looked like. Here is a detail shot:

The marquetry floor was saved from a Rothschild house that was demolished. The corner banquettes are vermilion with pillows made of obis. Both the floor lamp and the cocktail table were by Diego Giacometti. And notice too (in the photo at the very top) the painting of Beaton by Christian Bérard.

Vermilion made another appearance in Beaton's bedroom, though this time in the form of flocked walls. The bed is a rather simple affair of steel with brass pineapple finials, and according to the book's text it was covered in white draperies in the summertime. Both the bedside cabinets as well as the room's doors (not shown here) were white with gilt detail. I admit that I'm not too crazy about the carpet, but it was a different era and perhaps we would have found it attractive at that time.

Beaton's bathroom with sumptuous silk curtains and a gouache by Denis Hawkins. The mahogany bath fixtures were from Wilton House.

A grainy photo I know, but this landing sported animal print chairs and a jardinière filled with plants.

So after having studied these photos, I later attended an event at my friend Jared's
showroom which fêted Cecil Beaton fabrics. More Beaton, but just in the flesh. Well, Beaton wasn't there in the flesh, but the textiles inspired by his sketches were. Here are a few that caught my eye:

(Beaton home photographs from The Best in European Decoration)


  1. Also, the big abstract painting above the table and the African sculpture on the wall (I'm guessing African?) are kind of unexpected for Beaton. It is so Baldwin-goes-French :)

  2. Pretty amazing. Diego Giacometti he has been at the top of my wish list for 20 years..I have the feeling that he might stay there for a bit longer. Thanks for the great post. Mary