Wednesday, March 09, 2016
Patina...personality...layering. Call it what you want, but a house furbished with a lifetime accrual of bobs and bits is so much more compelling, and far more memorable, than a house whose decorations are brand-spanking new. The compelling house is becoming a rare thing, a victim of the immediacy with which most people approach decorating their homes. Why spend time patiently searching for an antique dining table or waiting for a custom one to be built when a new one can be rush delivered by Restoration Hardware within a few short days?
I was reminded of the rewards of meaningful decorating while studying these mid-Nineties photos of the late Ronald Grimaldi's Southampton house. Grimaldi, a designer and one-time president of Rose Cumming, had renovated and sold a number of houses in the area before purchasing this one, which had once served as the "hobby house" on a Stanford White-designed estate. But instead of sinking a lot of time and money into a costly renovation, Grimaldi chose the economical route of refreshing it. A few of the rooms were updated with fresh coats of paint, while others were treated to wallpaper. And other than purchasing a few pieces of furniture for the house, Grimaldi furbished it with pieces he had amassed over time. Nineteenth-century chinoiserie wallpaper, a 1940s-era mirrored table, and Chippendale chairs were just some of the diverse decorations that the designer chose to accompany him to his new home. As unexpected as these furnishings might seem for a coastal house, so, too, are Grimaldi's choice of silk taffetas and damasks, whose inclusion seems only natural considering the designer's association with Rose Cumming. The result is a house that is refreshingly not beach-y nor sporty nor casual but rather comfortably genteel and dignified.
(To read my blog post about Grimaldi's Manhattan apartment, please click here.)
All photos from House Beautiful, Robert Starkoff photographer