Friday, March 20, 2015
The Sister Parish Connection
The first thing that one typically does after buying a home is to furnish and decorate it to one's liking. That might mean a fresh coat of paint, discarding curtains, or ripping out carpet. But what if Sister Parish had once decorated your new home or, even better, lived there? Would you strip away all of those Sister Parish touches? I wouldn't, because any Sister Parish leftovers would make me love my new home even more. However, not everybody feels as I do. Take the Manhattan apartment seen here. Located at 960 Fifth Avenue, this is the maisonette in which Parish once lived. By 1990, when these photographs were published, the apartment had a new owner, who hired Keith Irvine of Irvine & Fleming to decorate it. Assisted by Richard Keith Langham, Irvine set out to take the apartment "in a different direction" from the one Parish had taken, which, according to Irvine, had made the home feel like "a Yankee vision of a London house." The homeowner concurred, deeming Parish's décor "country and gardeny... It took me four months to get her presence out of the apartment." Well, each to his own. I would have been thrilled to have had Parish's presence in my home, but that's just me.
Nevertheless, Irvine's work on this apartment is worth discussing. The dining room's Directoire wallpaper, which is one of my favorite Brunschwig & Fils papers, is quite handsome, as is the living room's yellow striped wallpaper from Clarence House. Look closely at those curtains. I realize that today's preference is for clean-lined window treatments, but we can learn a lot about craftsmanship and technique from the curtains seen here. And take note of the mirror above the living room sofa. This was one of the few remnants of the apartment's Sister Parish décor. Installed by Parish, the mirror remained in the new design scheme, although Irvine added a Clarence House wallpaper border to the edges.
Of course, time marches on and so does this apartment's décor. You'll recall that not too long ago, Mario Buatta decorated this maisonette for a later owner, Patricia Altschul, who sold the apartment about two years ago. I haven't seen nor heard about the apartment's current décor. Have you?
All photos from House & Garden, September 1990; Michael Mundy photographer.