Sunday, December 23, 2012

Walking in Jonathan Preece's Winter Wonderland

I know that many of you, like me, are always enchanted by the vignettes and table settings created by Jonathan Preece, Creative Director and Special Projects Designer at Bunny Williams Inc.  Through the years, Jonathan has conjured up fantastical Thanksgiving and Sukot tables for clients not to mention magical holiday vignettes.  This year is no different, with Jonathan turning Treillage, Bunny and John Rosselli's delightful shop in New York, into a winter wonderland.

What makes Jonathan's creations so special, and what might also be one of the secrets to their success, is that a great deal of research goes into his work.  History, literature, and traditional art forms frequently figure into these tableaux, and this year is no different.  For the Treillage windows, Bunny requested that Jonathan include snowflakes.  From that kernel of inspiration came Jonathan's clever idea to use magnificent quilled paper snowflakes that were hung throughout the store.  Quilling, as Jonathan informed me, is a traditional paper craft in which strips of paper are tightly coiled around a quill in order to shape them, with each strip then being attached to one another to create a work of paper art.  (I doubt that I'm adequately explaining the process, so click here to read the Wikipedia entry.)  Jonathan eventually found a woman in Idaho who was a fourth generation quiller and commissioned her to make these magical snowflakes that, thankfully, are for sale at Treillage.

Also taking a cue from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Jonathan designed a snowy scene reminiscent of that in Narnia that the children encounter upon stepping out of the wardrobe.  Even the lamp post that figures into the story makes an appearance at Treillage.  There is also a Pied India Blue Peacock in one of the windows, although I can't say whether the peacock was a character in Lewis' novel or not; it's been ages since I read the book and my memory of it is a little fuzzy.

Those of you who live in New York have probably seen Treillage's Winter Wonderland this season, but for those of you who have not had the opportunity to do so, I'm including numerous photos to give you a sense of Jonathan's handiwork.  I hope it's a nice respite from that last minute shopping that many of you are doing today!

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Preece

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Will Merrill and His Mountain House

I'm so happy- actually, thrilled- that my dear friend Will Merrill's Blowing Rock, North Carolina home not only appears inside the February 2013 issue of House Beautiful, but it made the cover, too!

Will has been a close friend to me for a number of years now, and what never ceases to impress me is his enthusiasm and love of design.  His excitement over the latest design book or an antique store find is infectious, so much so that I usually want to buy the same book or a similar piece of furniture based on Will's endorsement alone.  All of Will's treasures have found a lovely home in Blowing Rock, and what struck me about his home upon seeing it for the first time was how sophisticated it was for a mountain house, and yet, it's completely comfortable with its rustic setting.

When Will bought the 1970s-era home, it was in rather sad shape with avocado colored wall to wall carpet and sliding glass doors.  By adding poplar bark siding to the exterior and salvaged wood floors inside, he transformed the house into a rustic gem.  The bonus to the house is his amazing back porch which acts like an outdoor living room, one that Will can use for most of the year.

I'm including a few photos here, but there are many more in the February issue.  I do hope that you'll read the article because I think that you'll find the house to be charming.

Above, a guest room with usually seen in the city leopard print carpet and a Coromandel screen.

A back porch vignette with poplar bark siding as a backdrop.

The stairwell leading downstairs has a knotty branch stair rail while the walls are covered in tramp art mirrors.

Another guest bedroom in which framed botanical specimens are hung floor to ceiling.

All images used with express permission of House Beautiful.  February 2013 issue, Simon Watson photographer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

At Last

I've never been a big fan of frogs, a feeling that I believe stems from the fact that they're slimy.  Or at least, they look slimy.  I've never touched one because, as we were all led to believe when we were young, doing so would give you warts.

There are a few frogs that I do like, though.  Kermit seems awfully sweet.  And one of my favorite restaurants is La Grenouille, named for the French word for frog.  Now that I think of it, I've never had the frog legs at La Grenouille before.

I would consider sending Dempsey & Carroll's Cocktail Frog Invitation to guests because who wouldn't like a convivial frog?

If I had a little boy, I would use Scalamandre's Calabassas County fabric in his room because it's cute and youthful...and I'm old-fashioned enough that I think that childrens' rooms should look youthful, not hip.

But there is one frog that I have coveted for years.  I've spied him, or rather one of his relatives, before in some pretty swell homes like those of Tony Duquette and Valentino.  And finally, after all of these years, I can call him mine:

He'll look much happier with a little plant inside of him, perhaps a Christmas cactus (remember those?) in honor of the season.  Now this is a frog that I'll happily take, warts and all.

Image at top: Frogs by Picasso, Metropolitan Museum of Art