Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thyme at Southrop

I admit it. I am one of those Americans who considers herself to be an Anglophile, though perhaps not as ardent an Anglophile as some people I know. England is one of my very favorite countries to visit. I'm captivated by the history, the architecture, the traditions and customs, the clothing (does anyone make better looking sporting clothes than the British?), and that British love of the country. (OK, U.K. readers, you can stop laughing and/or rolling your eyes now!) So perhaps all of the above is why I was completely charmed by this photo that I found in the May issue of House & Garden. Just look at those outbuildings, the overcast sky, the clothing, and those pigs. It's all very Country Life, don't you think?

Upon reading the article, I learned that the woman in the photograph, Caryn Hibbert, owns a cooking school called Thyme at Southrop, located in the village of Southrop in the Cotswolds. Hibbert and her husband bought Southrop Manor in 2001. A few years later, a complex of old barns and outbuildings, once part of Southrop Manor, went on the market. Rather than let the land fall into the hands of real estate developers, Hibbert purchased the complex and incorporated it back into Southrop Manor. Because she needed to do something with these old barns, Hibbert decided to open the cooking school on the property. The central building of the school is the renovated tithe barn which is used for demonstrations, lectures, and private events, while a new state of the art kitchen was built next to the tithe barn. It is here where the hands-on cooking classes actually take place.

I took a look at the school's website, and I can't imagine anything that I would rather do than to spend some time there attending their one-day cooking classes. One could learn about preparing a Middle Eastern feast, foraging for mushrooms, cultivating edible flowers, or making charcuterie. And, you could stay in one of the cottages on the property and dine at the pub which is also owned by the Hibberts. Doesn't it all sound...delicious???

The renovated tithe barn where demonstrations and private events are held.

A view of Southrop Manor.

The kitchen garden features a bronze hare sculpture by Sophie Ryder.

All images from House & Garden, May 2011, Rory Carnegie photographer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Checking Out

A few nights ago, a friend and I were discussing how we both had mentally checked out for summer. Summer is unfortunately no longer a season marked solely by fun day in and day out. Well, at least it isn't to me. I think that unless you are 1) a parent with young children, 2) a school teacher, or 3) someone who spends the summer living in a different locale from where you usually reside, then summer is just another season, albeit a really hot one. That's not to say that I won't enjoy the quietude and downtime. I plan to spend time at the library doing research- just for fun. (Spending all of that time indoors will explain why I'm going to have to hit the bottle...the bottle of St. Tropez self-tanner, that is.) I want to read a lot, hang out with friends (how fun would it be to relax at that table in the middle of the pool, at top?), and take some time for self-reflection. And most of all, I really want to get the creative juices flowing. Sometimes, a crazy schedule and a calendar full of commitments can stymie one's creativity. Or is that just me?

Tomorrow, I'm going to post about where I wish I was traveling to this summer, but today I'm simply going to show photos that evoke the carefree spirit of summertime. Who knows? Perhaps they'll get our creative juices flowing.

PS- I can't talk about Summer and not mention Atlanta's own Marcia Sherrill and her Anabelle collection handbags...so perfect for Summer. I need to get one of her pineapple print totes to hold my papers between home and library. The collection has recently been mentioned in O Magazine and WWD. Looks like it's going to be a good Summer for Marcia!

This pool pavilion, located on the grounds of a Portuguese estate, was decorated by the late Valerian Rybar. The walls, you ask? What is up with those stunning walls?? Why, they're covered in blue and white Portuguese tiles that were decorated in a Jean Pillement-esque Chinoiserie pattern. Have you seen anything so beautiful?

Treillage at Duke Gardens, c. 1966.

A lanai, located on Gorce Island, FL, that was decorated by John FitzGibbons. Wicker chairs, shells, dining al fresco. Does it get any better?

What does a platter of crudites have to do with Summer? I don't really know, although I usually eat celery stalks with pimento cheese for lunch during the summer. I also like the surtout (replete with rosemary stalks) that surrounds the spread.

Jack Lowrence's pool Gazebo at his home in Woodside, CA.

Lowrance pool pavilion photo from Architectural Digest California Interiors; Rybar photo from Chateaux and Villas (The Worlds of Architectural Digest). All other photos from various House & Gardens from 1966.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Umaid Bhawan Palace

The Million Dollar Decorators (that would be Mary, Nathan, Martyn, Jeffrey, and Kathryn) came to ADAC this month, and I have never seen such a turnout at ADAC before! I think that almost everybody in the Atlanta design community was there, and the consensus is that all five of the designers cum reality stars came across as the witty and vivacious people that they are.

During the panel discussion (which was led, by the way, by Veranda editor-in-chief Dara Caponigro), the designers were asked about what inspires them, and the topic of travel came up. I for one am quite envious because they all seem to be jetting hither and yon to all kinds of exotic places- and often. Mary McDonald mentioned a hotel in India that she found particularly inspiring because of its Art Deco interiors that were in pristine condition. It sounded like she called it the Umaid Bhawan, but I can't be sure because I didn't write it down.

Over the weekend, I was reading
Architectural Digest Chateaux and Villas, a book that was loaned to me by my friend Will Merrill. In it, there was a chapter on the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, one of the last great palaces of the maharajas. Built in the 1930s by Maharaja Sir Umaid Singh, the vast palace boasts a hybrid design of both Eastern and Western architecture of which the British architectural firm Lanchester and Lodge was responsible. What caught my eye more than the impressive size of the palace, though, are the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne interiors. And the murals by Polish designer Stefan Norblin just add to the appeal.

Unfortunately, a finished palace never completely came to fruition as World War II hindered the completion of the palace's interiors. Today, the palace is a hotel run by the Taj group, although the current Maharaja still retains residence in another part of the palace. In addition to the AD photos, I also found a few intriguing ones from the
hotel's website. I don't know if this is the hotel that Mary spoke so highly of, but even if it isn't, I'm going to add it to my list of places that I want to visit- hopefully someday soon.

(By the way, I have to congratulate Will Merrill. One of his designs for Currey & Co.- a small drinks table that is so charming- made the cover of the new Charlotte Moss book. Yay, Will!)

The Central Hall is a circular wonder.

The oval grand staircase adjoins the Central Hall. Look closely to the left of the staircase and you'll see some type of tented curtain.

A Guest Suite was inspired by the great luxury ocean liners. The mural was painted by Stefan Norblin, as were the murals in the photo below.

The Throne Room.

A Guest Bath sheathed in onyx and marble. According to the book, the wall sconces were a "recent innovation at that time."

A Guest Room featured a chrome-banded bed on a platform. The acid-etched black glass panel above the bed was executed by Norblin.

I found this photo of a Deco room on the hotel's website.

And, ending the post with a splash, the hotel's photo of the Zodiac Pool. Again, the murals were by Norblin. Is this pool amazing or what?

All photos with the exception of the last two from Architectural Digest Chateaux and Villas; bottom two courtesy of the Umaid Bhawan website.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joe Ruggiero for Sunbrella

I finally met Joe Ruggiero week before last. I had hoped to meet him a few years ago, but alas it was not to be thanks to an Alfie ailment. I'm so glad that this time it worked out as Joe is such a charming, knowledgeable, and affable man.

Joe hosted an event to celebrate the Spring 2011 Collection of the
Joe Ruggiero Collection for Sunbrella. As much as I love the classic solid Sunbrella fabric (I used the gray awning fabric for my outdoor chairs), it's nice to see other options available. Joe's collection, inspired greatly by his travels, is made up of all kinds of fabulous woven fabrics including stripes, chevrons, and exotics. The beauty of his collection, though, is that while it's durable and easy to care for like all Sunbrella fabrics, the look and feel of it make it perfect for indoor use as well. I'm strongly considering using his Mohair-type fabric on my sofa. That way, my guests can spill red wine to their hearts' content, and all I'll have to say is, "No problem!"

PS- If anyone from HGTV just happens to read my blog, please consider bringing back Joe's show Homes Across America. Now that show made for smart TV viewing.

Germaine chair (available through Miles Talbott) covered in Deville Parfait.

Joe's Regent Chair (available through Miles Talbott) covered in Tie Dye Wren.

An indoor sofa covered in a variety of Joe's fabrics for Sunbrella.

Deville Cameo covers this chair.

I love that blue and white fabric on the rattan chair as well as the throw pillow. It's Asia II Mariner.

I took the shots above of my two favorite fabrics in Joe's collection. They are Asia II Mariner and Chevy II Marine, and both are perfect for warm weather decorating.

All images other than the bottom two courtesy of Joe Ruggiero.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Professorial Dream Team

A few weeks ago, I attended Alexa Hampton's presentation on her new book, Alexa Hampton: The Language of Interior Design, at ADAC. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Alexa speak, you MUST go! She has to be one of the best speakers in the design business. Not only did I learn a great deal about both the language and the process of design, but I was thoroughly entertained as well.

In fact, I was thinking about Alexa's talk over the weekend, and it occurred to me that Alexa would make a very good design teacher. Her lectures are the kind that hold your attention. You won't find yourself doing the drifting off/head snapping thing. If Alexa taught design classes, then I just might consider going back to school. Maybe I should even start my own college- The Peak of Chic University.

Who else would I like to see teach class at PoC U?

Adam Lewis, most definitely. I attended his lecture on Billy Baldwin last Fall, and he too is a terrific speaker. I would want Adam to teach a class on 20th century American design. After all, the man has written the definitive books on Van Day Truex, Albert Hadley, and Billy Baldwin, and we can't forget The Great Lady Decorators. I have a feeling that Adam would end up as my advisor as well.

Of course Charlotte Moss is absolutely qualified to lead a course on anything design related, but I would want to see her teaching a semester long seminar on "Women in Design History". This would be right up her alley- and mine, too. And seeing that she owns antiques once belonging to the greats like Madeleine Castaing and Nancy Lancaster, perhaps she might be convinced to lead the class on a field trip to her home to see the pieces firsthand.

Mitchell Owens would be allowed and encouraged to teach about anything that he wanted to because what doesn't he know about design history, 20th c. culture, and the arts? What about something like "Great Aesthetes of the Past"?

In my opinion, no study of interior design would be complete without a survey of the decorative arts. Who better to teach this than Florence de Dampierre? Course study might include such topics as Chairs, Painted Furniture, and of course, Walls.

Emily Evans Eerdmans would just have to be on staff! Emily has range, and, like me, she has an appreciation of the not quite so high-brow side to design history. With her knowledge and expertise, she should lecture on proper subjects like English Antiques, Country Piles, or maybe the Empire Style. But then she would have to teach an elective that was rather salacious like "John Woolf and his Woolf Pack". (Google it if you're not quite sure what that class would be about.)

And last but certainly not least, David Netto. Of course, his looks help (weren't those 8am college classes made just a bit easier when the professor was handsome?), but in case you're not reading the terrific new WSJ magazine, then you don't know just how much design history and knowledge is packed into that brain of his. He really knows his stuff. I also recently read somewhere that he is inspired by the 1930s (me too! me too!), so he would have to get first crack at teaching a class on that era. I also see him leading tutorials on hip Euro designers of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Do you think that might be too cool for school?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Plans

I'm looking forward to a weekend full of...work and more work! Fun, fun. If I can find the time to do so, I plan to slip away and check out the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. I especially want to visit the event's Connoisseur Lounge designed by Danielle Rollins and Mallory Mathison. I'm posting a few photos of it here, but of course, there is nothing like seeing a space in person. If you're in Atlanta this weekend, you might want to consider attending. Hope to see you there.

*I would be remiss not to mention that much of the furniture, artwork, fabric, and accessories that you see here were generously loaned by
Parc Monceau, Travis & Company, The Mercantile, Schumacher, Carolyn Carr, Jonathan Adler and Moattar, Ltd.

All photographs courtesy of Photography by Galina.