Friday, February 26, 2010
I've got to be honest- I don't really get the home theater thing. As a child, I knew of nobody who had one in their home, no matter how large the house. Family rooms or TV rooms, yes; home theaters, no. Even if I had the space, I still don't think that I would have one. Personally, I can think of better uses of space...like a gift wrapping room à la Candy Spelling. (Just kidding.)
The space issue aside, when have you seen one that actually has style and panache? Most look like miniature versions of your local AMC theater. I get that comfort is key (which obviously explains the overstuffed recliners that are often seen), but why the dull, boring fabrics? And the color schemes tend to be pretty vanilla too.
I think this is why I'm so taken with this Elsie Sloane Farley designed "moving picture room", located in a New York home circa 1929. This is pretty snazzy, isn't it? The walls were covered in a Chinese wallpaper, and the trim was painted powder blue. Those luminous curtains were made of blue glazed cotton. Note too the fireplace (so cozy), the classic star ceiling fixture, and the long window seat with various shaped pillows. And because this was obviously the home theater of a swell, Farley added a Chinoiserie tilt top table in the back corner.
Now I'm sure that back in 1929, a home theater was quite novel- something which might explain the luxe surroundings. I can just imagine the home's owner entertaining guests for exclusive moving picture nights, and I think it's also safe to assume that the guests dressed for these get-togethers too. I admit that the chairs don't look particularly comfortable, but keep in mind that in the late 1920s, movies didn't run as long as they do today. And, people had a bit more decorum back then. Seriously, how many females of that era do you think sat with their feet propped up on the seat in front of them or worse yet had their legs splayed open?
So if someone twisted my arm and insisted that I have a home theater, I would probably do as Elsie Sloan Farley did. In my one concession to comfort, though, I truly might buy some Barcaloungers and have them upholstered in a Scalamandre Chinoiserie print fabric. I borrow this idea from society doyenne Oatsie Charles and her designer John Peixinho. In my book, anyone who can make a Barcalounger look stylish deserves an Oscar!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Do you know what has been catching my eye lately? Aluminum blinds. Seriously. There is something about them that just seems right for right now. I'm not talking about white or black aluminum blinds, nor do I mean vertical ones either. It's both silvery polished and brushed aluminum blinds that have been on my mind.
So why the interest? These are tough- not tender- window treatments. We've seen a lot of sweet and tame design lately; maybe it's time for something edgy, a bit raw, and a little provocative. Now, I do realize that these blinds can conjure up images of that dated Miami Vice look. In fact, as I was typing this, I thought of the movie poster for American Gigolo, above. Some remember both the movie and the poster for a very handsome Richard Gere, while fashion mavens think of the Armani suits. For me, it's the shadow of those blinds reaching out across Gere. Leave it to me to think of the window treatments when referencing a movie about steamy...well, you know.
So if one were to indulge in something like this, in what type of room would one put them? Obviously, contemporary goes without saying. A room representative of the school of Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley would be another great venue. Even a Miles Redd maximalist interior- couldn't you see these blinds in a room or two of his? And speaking of Miles, I think Nick Olsen could completely rock the aluminum. Whether he wants to is another matter.
Look how the light bounces off of the blinds in the late Stanley Barrows' apartment. The surroundings are pretty traditional, and yet these blinds totally worked.
Again, the blinds serve as yet another reflective surface in this "nighttime" dining room.
In another dining room, this one in the home of the designer Ruben de Saavedra.
And though I'm NOT advocating a return of vertical blinds, I did have to include this photo of the home of one of my favorite eccentric designers, the late Valerian Rybar. I've never seen steel blinds that were so polished and glossy.
(Barrows photo from Manhattan Style; dining room photo from The Collectors (The Worlds of Architectural digest); de Saavedra and Rybar photos from Designers' Own Homes: Architectural Digest)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Remember when I posted about Lost Horizon, that 1930's film with those fabulous doors like this one, above? Right after I posted the article, my friend Ron van Empel, lighting designer extraordinaire, emailed me to say that he too saw Lost Horizon around the time that I did and was equally as fascinated with the doors. An amazing coincidence, really, since Ron lives in Leiden, Netherlands and doesn't have Turner Classics.
We started to discuss whether the "Lost Horizon design" would work on the interior of his front door. His entryway was really fabulous as it was, what with the Thibaut Chinoiserie wallpaper and the Farrow & Ball Parma Blue doors. And then there was that fabulous pediment- very Van Nest Polglase- above the door. Really great stuff:
An obviously not so average "before" shot...
The first thing Ron did was to come up with a sketch drawn to scale in order to see how the Lost Horizon design might look on his doors. Now keep this in mind if you embark on a DIY project yourself. Sketches are very important, because you don't want to be in the middle of the project to find out that the whole thing is not going to work. Trust me; I'm speaking from experience.
One thing that was a bit confounding to Ron was how to deal with those central doorknobs. As you can see from the sketch, he made sure that the bottom Xs intersected directly over the knobs. He also included the bottom panel like that in the Lost Horizon door.
At first, I assumed that Ron was going to upholster the door, but he had a much better idea. He decided to keep the doors as is and apply the design directly to the painted surface. And instead of using cording as was used in the movie, he chose to do a nailhead trim. Or something that looked like nailhead trim:
How clever is this? Ron bought wood pearl trim that mimicked the look of nailhead trim, and he simply silver-leafed it. (He used a gray base coat on it first.) Far more economical than the real stuff and much easier to apply. And, if Ron tires of the look, he can simply pop the trim from the door.
So how did it turn out? Take a look for yourself....
I'd say that Ron's experiment was a smashing success! If only he lived a little closer to Atlanta, then perhaps I too could have a Lost Horizon door.
(All images courtesy of Ron van Empel with the exception of the Lost Horizon still.)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Seeing that I seem to troll the internet for fabric on almost a daily basis, I thought I'd end the week with some photos of Jim Thompson Silk and No. 9 Thompson's new Spring collections. There were so many fabrics that caught my eye...like that Velvet Illusion, below, which would lend an El Morocco vibe to one's room. Tiger Hills might be a great substitution for the Braquenié print that slayed me last week (the one on Jayne Wrightsman's canapé and fauteuils). And for sheer drama I included the fabulous Ayuthya, at top, because it looks pretty spectacular. So on that note, I'm off to walk my condo and find something-anything- that needs a little refreshing with some new fabric.
Velvet Illusion- a velvet spin on Jim Thompson's classic Illusion print.
And from No. 9 Thompson:
Thursday, February 18, 2010
You know when you look at a design magazine from ten years ago and you see a home and think "Oh my, so dated" or "That's unfortunate". You might even say to yourself "Thank goodness that trend bit the dust. R.I.P." Well, ten years ago Albert Hadley's apartment was featured in Elle Decor, and nothing- seriously, nothing- looks dated.
We all have those watershed moments in our lives. Well, this article was mine. Seeing Mr. Hadley's apartment was one of the catalysts that led me down the road to where I am today. Sounds melodramatic? Perhaps. But seeing perfection can kind of get you verklempt.
(All photos from Elle Decor, Feb/Mar 2000; Fernando Bengoechea photographer)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
One decorator with whom I have been obsessed as of late is Robert Locher. Excuse me, make that Robert E. Locher. Why he's not more well-known is beyond me. Perhaps it's because he retired in the 1940s and died in the 1950s. Or, maybe he just wasn't as prolific as some of his design contemporaries. Whatever the reason, it's high time more people become familiar with the man.
From what I've been able to determine, Locher's heyday was the 1920s. Pick up a copy of House Beautiful or House & Garden from that era and there's a good chance you'll see his work. He was an interior decorator (clients included Gertrude Whitney) and a set and costume designer for Broadway productions. He designed sterling flatware for Lunt, illustrated book jackets and magazines (including House & Garden where he was an associate editor), and taught at Parsons. Oh, and his long-time partner was noted artist Charles Demuth. Quite a biography.
One of my favorite Locher projects is his Staten Island home, decorated in the 1920s. It seems to me that the theater influenced his home's look. Yes, it's reminiscent of a stage set, but that's actually why I like it. It's dramatic, not for the faint of heart, and embraces the modernist spirit (albeit one mixed with pastiche) that so captured the imaginations of American and European designers. Actually, it's this early fervor for modernism that captivates me today. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been to be part of the dawn of modern design?
Anyway, enough about why I like it. Take a look for yourself.
Locher's audacious dining room in which the walls were painted to resemble curtains and columns. The faux draperies were rust pink, gold, and chartreuse green, while the woodwork (I believe that was real) was caramel pink and glazed eggplant.
The same dining room dressed for dinner.
This room, set with a breakfast table, had shades painted to look like Venetian blinds. I love that painted ceiling with stars and clouds. The cornice was mirrored, its reflection adding to the drama of the ceiling.
An illustration by Locher of one of his projects. The walls were fluted plaster painted flat white. The floor was beige, henna, and white terrazzo, and the window and door trim was metal.
Glass and metal rod pedestals, mirrored glass vases holding metal grass, and a gold and black mirror complete this vignette by Locher.
Locher's "Modern Classic" flatware for Lunt
(Images of Locher's Staten Island home from House & Garden, 1928; Vignette from House and Garden's Book of Color Schemes)
Monday, February 15, 2010
For more information, click here.
(The work above is by artist Dawne Raulet and will available at the sale.)
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Barbara d'Arcy and her model rooms at Bloomingdale's were huge. Big time influential. And her 1973 book Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating was not just well-received back then, but it's still lauded today as a design book classic.
Looking through my copy of it over the weekend (what better way to spend a snowy day than curled up on the sofa reading a vintage design book?), I noticed the shapely valances and lambrequins that d'Arcy employed often in her schemes. Sometimes they were used over windows, while at other times it was a bed that got the crowning touch. Now I do love simple curtains, but sometimes it would be nice to see some oomph on one's windows. There are some windows that look a tad sad- dare I say deflated- with a wardrobe of only plain panels. But if you were to add one of these valances with an interesting edge, well, it's a whole new window, isn't it.
(All images from Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating by Barbara d'Arcy.)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I cordially invite all Peak of Chic readers to join me for a party I'm hosting at the Tory Burch store (Phipps Plaza, Atlanta) on Wednesday, March 3 from 6 to 8 o'clock. It will be a fun evening of socializing, shopping, and sipping libations. I'd love to see those of you who I already know and look forward to making new acquaintances too. I believe that some of my fellow Atlanta bloggers will be joining me. Hope to see you there!
If you do plan to attend (and I hope you will!), kindly RSVP to the email address listed on the invitation. Guests will receive a 20% discount on full-priced merchandise.
I was talking to my friend Mattie yesterday about Jayne Wrightsman. Some people talk about the weather, the economy, politics...and some of us talk about very important topics like Jayne Wrightsman. (In fact, Mattie is an authority on all things Jayne Wrightsman.) Anyway, the subject of the 1984 Sotheby's Wrightsman auction came up (the contents of her Palm Beach residence were on the auction block), and we were discussing our copies of the catalogue. I found mine at a local bookstore for $6.99, a bargain according to Mattie.
If you can get your hands on a copy, I urge you to do so. Her Palm Beach home and everything in it was top notch, top drawer, and any other superlative one can think of. I suppose that's no surprise as Stephane Boudin first decorated it with later refreshing by Denning and Fourcade, not to mention the house's amazing pedigree: it was built by Maurice Fatio in 1931 and counted the Harrison Williams as former owners.
Really, the furniture, porcelain, silver, and pictures are exquisite, but this post is not about that. What captivated me was the fabric used on the sofas, armchairs, canapés, and bergères. One print used throughout the living room was from Brunschwig I believe, while I'm wondering if another was a Braquenié. This was some serious fabric in prints that unfortunately are not popular today. It makes sense, though. With furniture as fine as this, no ordinary fabric would do.
That's the living room of Wrightsman's Palm Beach home, above. If the room looks familiar, it might be due to this:
Cecil Beaton's drawing of the room during the Harrison Williams' day.
I really believe that this fabric is a Brunschwig & Fils print. There is something about this print that begs for it to be used throughout a room, and it was in the Wrightsman living room at top.
Do you think this is Braquenié's Toile des Indes? I wish the photos were in color, because you can just tell that it's a riot of hues.
I'm not even going to venture a guess as to what these two fabrics are.
And just because I couldn't resist, check out this 19th Indian ivory bed. Perfection.