Monday, January 27, 2014
Inspiration from Menshikov Palace
While recently reading Howard Slatkin's book, Fifth Avenue Style, I made two discoveries. The first one was that Howard Slatkin is quite the collector, and I secretly covet his collections. His Fifth Avenue apartment is a treasure trove of porcelains, books, candles, cachepots, and other decorative goodies, all of which I found very appealing. But the other thing that really struck me was how Slatkin "aimed high" when decorating his apartment. By that, I mean that Slatkin sought design inspiration in some very big and very grand places, including Pavlovsk, Schloss Favorite, and Menshikov Palace.
Perhaps I lack vision and confidence, because when I visit a palace or a grand house, I usually don't walk away with any decorating ideas for my own home. No matter how in awe I may be of a grand interior, I simply file away what I saw in my memory bank, retrieving it only when I need to write a blog post or article about a particular palace. It's as if I'm thinking, "What happens in XXX, stays in XXX." Never once have I come home and tried to duplicate what I saw in these palatial residences.
But after reading Slatkin's book, I want to change the way I look at interiors. If I really study the rooms of a palace, for example, I'm sure to find some great idea that can be replicated in my apartment, no matter how small it may seem when compared to said palace. So, I decided to study the rooms of Menshikov Palace, the St. Petersburg, Russia palace that inspired Howard Slatkin's kitchen, to see what could be recreated in my own home.
As you can see, what makes Menshikov Palace special are its tiled-lined rooms. There is blue and white tile on the walls and on the ceilings. And check out the curlicue plasterwork on one of the ceilings; that's certainly some decorative flourish. Slatkin did a masterly job of recreating both for his kitchen. (In his book, Slatkin does make the point that many of his apartment's finishes are pure pastiche, meant only to evoke something grand rather than slavishly copy it.) I, on the other hand, don't think that a similar treatment would work in my kitchen-sadly. But, I could see installing a backsplash of Delft tile, a subtle nod to the tile of Menshikov Palace. Or, I could hang a wallpaper that mimics blue and white Delft tile. That would certainly be a far less expensive wall treatment than the real deal. And finally, take a look at how some of the paintings at Menshikov are hung with blue or red fabric sashes. Don't you think they look smashing against those blue and white-tiled walls? That is an idea that could easily be copied in one's own home, especially if your walls are covered in a blue and white-patterned wallpaper or fabric.
I guess that the point that I'm trying to make is that inspiration really can come from anywhere and everywhere, no matter how small or how grand the inspiration might be. It's all about keeping an open mind and being creative, especially when adapting a big design idea for a small space.
The four photos above show the interiors of Menshikov Palace. You could aim high and recreate both the tiled walls and ceiling as well as the inlaid floors in your own house. Or, you could simply borrow the easy-to-copy idea of hanging your pictures with blue or red sashes.
And Howard Slatkin's cozy yet still impressive version in his kitchen.
Slatkin photos from Fifth Avenue Style by Howard Slatkin, Tria Giovan photographer.