Monday, August 23, 2010

Inside "Inside Design"

I'm feverishly working on an article right now, so I'm going to rely upon Michael Greer to carry this post. You remember Michael...his 1962 book was on my top ten book list last week. For some, the mention of Greer's name prompted a walk down memory lane, while for others, his work was entirely new.

His book,
Inside Design, is chock full of practical design advice that still holds true today. And the photos of his work that accompany the text? Well, truth be told, a little of it is dated. Most people just don't live like that anymore. But to me, that's beside the point. He had a well-honed sense of color, a predilection for decorative flourishes, and a way with curtains and valances. Sounds okay to me.

Decorative painting and trompe l'oeil were seen often in a Michael Greer interior.

According to a very knowledgeable reader of mine, this is the living room of Charlton Heston. Yes, the man who starred in "Planet of the Apes" had curtains made from one of our favorite Pierre Frey prints.

Here's the dated look that I was talking about. Still, there's an interesting use of color here. And see what I mean about those valances?

How I wish this were my terrace.

A masculine, restrained, and symmetrical composition.

Love that royal blue screen.

Greer used this photo to demonstrate his use of vinyl tile flooring. I'm starting to rethink vinyl...

(Top photo by Jennifer Boles. Remaining images from Inside Design by Michael Greer.)


  1. I believe he was President of NSID wasn't he? I have been out of design for some time 1973-1995.

    I do remember him well.

    Thanks for info.

  2. Vinyl gasses-off pretty badly - at least, I can always smell it. It was a relatively new product when that photo was taken and that floor is a classic floor - the likes of which are rarely seen nowadays. I think European/British designers are using computer cut linoleum - a more environmentally friendly product.

  3. Blue, my preference is for linoleum...good linoleum, that is!

  4. John J Tackett9:43 AM

    While I agree that the look is dated, it would not take much to make these interiors really attractive today. Change a rug. Reupholster a chair. Also, the artificial even lighting for the photo shoot is a real mood killer. A talented photoshopper could do wonders!

  5. This dated look is supremely comforting to me and I would love to find myself living in one of those spaces--trends be damned!

  6. Maybe a little dated, but absolutely gorgeous. Have a great week; success with the article.

  7. I love that Heston wasn't afraid of some serious peacock walls. Thank you Michael Greer for a great post ;)

  8. Love the terrace and the last photograph! Beautiful post.

  9. Michael Greer's book is one of my favourites. If you compare his rooms with those of his contemporaries, practically all the furniture and accessories would be just as stylish today.

    He had an excellent sense of proportion and very classic taste. His rooms were never gimmicky, and his one page articles in the book are fun and humorous, delivered with Diana Vreeland wit and knowledge.

    Anyone interested in design, professional or amateur, should reference this relatively unknown book.

    Michael's philosophy was to invest in classic pieces. I'd rather have things that endure than trendy gimmicks that look terrible in a few years.

  10. All of the good design elements that he used in his interiors are classic and will remain so, far into the future. I agree with John. Very little would need to be done to update his look.
    Debbie Jacobs Designs

  11. David9:16 PM

    Dear Peak of Chic,
    Thank you for another fascinating window into seeing how we live. Your comment "Most people just don't live like that anymore," refering to Heston's book, is perceptive and challenging. It raises the question: How do we live today? We can see the difference from the photographs and the physical evidence of the high points of interior design and arrangement which you show. Can you reflect in future articles on how we live now and what we have lost and gained? The social dimensions of how we arrange our homes and living spaces are more revealing than see-through clothing. I think of a hotel room and your family room, just for comparison. Perhaps your library of images and information (cookbooks included) could be the occasion for some great fun and conversation. Thank you for your design reveille! David

  12. Charlton Heston's red and navy living room is fantastic! I've taken tennis lesson at his house for years with his coach, but never gone inside. His tennis house is old Hollywood at it's best. I wonder if Michael designed that.

  13. That vinyl floor has taken me down memory lane-

    About 40 years ago, my parents purchased a big, turn of the century overblown farmhouse on Long Island's North Shore. They bought it from a man who, in his day, had been a very well known fashion designer married to a publishing heiress. He had introduced a number of interesting, cutting edge elements to the house which, as much that is cutting edge tends to do, looked horribly dated ten years later. Among the touches was covering the oak floor of the hall and the herringbone brick floor of the sunroom in geometric vinyl tiling, not disimilar to what Greer has done in the the last photo of this post. It was all pulled up (eventually- this was before everyone who bought a house felt obliged to tear it down to the studs), but I often wonder if it wouldn't have eventually assumed a quirky charm, much as the Greer floor has.