Monday, April 30, 2007

Shell Savvy

Mother Nature is truly the ultimate designer, and shells may be one of her most beautiful creations. They are beautiful, sculptural, and durable. It is for all of these reasons that shells are a great way to incorporate nature into a design scheme. Of course, the shell motif is quite popular in beach houses, but there is no reason why those of us who are landlocked can't incorporate shells into our decor.

Marian McEvoy (whose home is featured in the top photo) is the queen of the glue gun, and she seems especially fond of gluing shells to anything and everything: beds, fireplaces, mirrors. If the thought of doing this is just a tad too overwhelming, why not buy a shell mirror, such as the one below from 1st dibs?

Vintage shell mirror from Gustavo Olivieri at 1st Dibs

Shell chandeliers, such as that in Muriel Brandolini's apartment (second photo down), are so striking with their ropes and dangles of little shells. This one, from Mecox Gardens, is particularly pretty.

Shell Chandelier at Mecox Gardens

When too many shells are not enough, Christa's South Seashells is the place to visit. This Palm Beach shop carries everything from tasteful antiques and home accessories to the wildest shell encrusted furniture and sculptures.

Shell console from Christa's South Seashells

Shell "David" from Christa's South Seashells

Finally, if all you want is just a small touch of shells, this wall bracket from Ruzzetti and Gow is just perfect.

Shell encrusted wall bracket from Ruzzetti and Gow

(Photos at top from "Rooms to Inspire" by Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Brown and Aubergine

Last week I posted on blue, red, and pink rooms, so continuing in this vein, today I'll post some of my favorite brown and aubergine rooms.

These two dark, rich colors really pack a punch, and they go a long way in creating a luxurious and warm atmosphere. I love the way the light and bright colors of fabrics and accessories play off of dark walls. If you're scared of dark colors, perhaps you should embrace them in a small way, such as in a powder room. Flat browns and aubergines are always right, but if you want a high wattage effect, then go for the lacquered look. And if Billy Baldwin embraced these dark colors, then you know you can't go wrong!

Dining Room by Richard Keith Langham; color is Flat Brown by Pratt and Lambert (photo courtesy of Southern Accents)

Room for the 2005 House Beautiful Showhouse by Joe Nye

Room at top by Mario Buatta in a custom lacquered aubergine

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hot Off The Presses- "Rooms To Inspire"

I just picked up my copy of Annie Kelly's "Rooms to Inspire: Decorating with America's Best Designers" and it's truly fantastic. If you're on the fence about getting it, I encourage you to go out and buy it! Although I have not yet had the chance to read the text, I can say that the photographs by Kelly's husband Tim Street-Porter are beautiful. There are a lot of big names in the book: Kelly Wearstler, Miles Redd, Muriel Brandolini, and Jonathan Adler. While many of the chapters focus on these decorators' homes (some of which we have already seen before), there are also chapters on colors, kitchens, and outdoor spaces, with examples from other decorators as well. I thought I would include just a few pictures because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. That said, there are so many gorgeous photographs that it was really hard to choose just three. If you've already gotten your copy, let me know what you think.

Home of Marian McEvoy

Suzanne Rheinstein's Los Angeles shop Hollyhock

Room by decorator Kerry Joyce

(All photos from "Rooms to Inspire")

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Look of Lucite

This season, the Lucite shoe is having its moment in the fashion spotlight. No longer relegated to bargain basement status (or to the feet of Vegas showgirls), many of the big named designers such as Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, and Tory Burch have embraced the plastic trend. And in their hands, it doesn't look half bad.

While Lucite may come and go in women's fashion, it is actually a modern- classic look in interior design. The problem is that there is a fine line between "classic" Lucite and "tacky" Lucite. Obviously, you don't want a house full of it, and you probably want to steer clear of those purple acrylic pieces, but a little Lucite never hurt anyone. Lucite occasional tables can look quite nice, while Lucite vanity stools can bring out one's inner diva. And for a primer on Lucite- Lucite, Perspex, and Plexiglass are all tradenames used for this type of synthetic material, generally known as acrylic.

Lucite twist lamps at Mecox Gardens

Louis Ghost Chair at Graham and Greene

Lucite Tray Table by Jordan Cappella at Woodson & Rummerfield

Lucite TV tray table in Todd Romano's apartment

Lucite chair in Amy Fine Collins' apartment

(Shoes at top by Manolo Blahnik, available at

Benjamin Moore Aura Launch Party at Gracious Home

Gracious Home has generously extended an invitation to all Peak of Chic readers to attend the launch party of Benjamin Moore Aura Paint, to be held on April 26th from 6:30pm -9:30pm at the Broadway location (1992 Broadway @ 67th St.). The new Aura paint is environmentally friendly, covers with just one coat (possibly two for dark colors), drys in one hour, and is washable and fade resistant.

There will wine and hors d'oeuvres, seminars on the new paint as well as faux finish techniques, and blank sheet rock set up (on the street) for you to try out the new paint. And, while you're there, you can also check out the new Lulu DK for Matouk bedding!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kitchen Splendor

In honor of May being "Kitchen" month for various design magazines, I am featuring a few of my favorite kitchens from the past few years. Overall, my picks tend to have much in common- marble counters and backsplashes, stainless steel, and simple cabinets. Some of these kitchens very easily could have been designed in the 1920s or 30s- minus many of the modern conveniences, of course. In terms of color, I tend to be a purist, preferring white and other neutrals. I did, however, include a black kitchen- that of Miles Redd- because it's just so glamorous. And the wild card here is the Fifth Avenue kitchen of socialite Anne Slater (in a McKim, Mead & White building, no less). I love this chocolate brown kitchen because it's a time capsule- it still has the original stove and cork floor. Even though it's slightly dated, it's refreshing to see a homeowner whose self-confidence precludes her from having to redecorate and renovate every few years.

Kitchen featured in House Beautiful, Feb 2006

The Nussbaum's kitchen, House and Garden

Kitchen of Miles Redd, courtesy of New York Social Diary

Kitchen of Anne Slater, courtesy of New York Magazine

Kitchen at top from House and Garden

Los Angeles Antiques Show

The 12th annual Los Angeles Antiques Show will be held from April 26-29 at Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Air Center, with the opening night Preview Party to be held on Wednesday, April 25. This year, the Antiques Show will be benefiting P.S. ARTS, a wonderful non-profit organization that supports arts education for the public schools. Exhibitors include Blackman Cruz of California, Kentshire Galleries of New York, and UK-based The Silver Fund. Tickets can be purchased on the show's website. For those of you who live in the Los Angeles area, you may want to attend what should be an interesting and informative event for a very worthy cause.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wall Pastiche

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The same can be said for rooms that lack architectural detail. It is certainly nice to be blessed with rooms that have rich paneling or moulding. On the other hand, plain-jane rooms present a blank slate in which to express one's creativity. Recently, I've seen quite a few rooms in which decorators have used upholstery nails on walls to create faux architectural features and designs. In fact, New York decorator Jeffrey Bilhuber has used this effect in two different apartments. In a client's Manhattan apartment, Bilhuber glazed the walls of the library and then created faux paneling by studding the wall with nails. For his own apartment (photo at top), Bilhuber employed this technique again, this time using square brass nails over walls covered in Groves Brothers' "Marianne" cotton.

Some decorators prefer to use the nails to create a more "free form" pattern, such as that created by decorators Etienne Coffinier and Ed Ku for the Kips Bay Decorators Showhouse. The two designers used silver nails over white leather panels to create a more fanciful design. And just because I've seen three rooms recently with studded walls, this design trick is not new. The venerable design firm McMillen used brass nails over green felted walls for Charles Revson's billiard room, seen below.

Manhattan library decorated by Jeffrey Bilhuber; photo courtesy of British House & Garden, April 2007

Room designed by Etienne Coffinier and Ed Ku; photo courtesy of New York Times.

Billiard Room of Charles Revson, decorated by McMillen

(Photo at top of Bilhuber apartment courtesy of Elle Decor, May '07)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Artesian Bar London

I think I've found my new dream bar, and it's absolutely stunning. The Artesian Bar, located in the Langham Hotel in London, is a throw back to the glamorous, and sometimes louche, cocktail era of the 1920s and 30s. David Collins, the London-based architect and designer, has created an oasis of theatrical sophistication that is dominated by a fabulous Chinese Chippendale bar and pagoda chandeliers. Needless to say, if there is a Chinoiserie or Orientalist theme to a room, then I'm taken with it. I also think the purple accents- the upholstered furniture, the rugs- look quite right here, and I'm usually not a fan of purple. And the muted color scheme, coupled with the soft lighting, creates a decadent environment in which to imbibe. Cheers!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Some people think of metal furniture as being too hard and too industrial. While that can certainly be said about some pieces, there is a lot of metal furniture, particularly chairs, that are anything but this. I love adding brass and iron chairs to a room's mix because they add definite interest- some of them can be quite sculptural, while others are the perfect foil for a room laden with wood furniture. Many of the chairs featured here are quite feminine and would be apropos for a dressing room or a bedroom. And if you want something a little more restrained, the brass bamboo chairs or the Billy Haines slipper chairs are perfection.

Regency style brass and iron chair at Robert Massello Antiques

Set of 4 Brass Bamboo chairs at Downtown Joe Nye New York

Pair of Chiavari Brass chairs at Robert Massello Antiques

Pair of Bronze and Black Leather slipper chairs by Billy Haines, at Alan Moss

Pair of French iron chairs at Adesso

At top: set of 4 iron garden chairs at Hollyhock

(All photos courtesy of

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just Scandinavian

Josef Frank, the Austrian designer whose whimsical and brightly colored fabric and furniture designs have long been cult favorites, is poised for a major revival. Over the years, some of his most popular patterns such as "Hawaii" have been seen in chic interiors, usually used on pillows or the occasional chair. Now, however, a whole new audience is being introduced to Frank's fabric by Anthropologie, who is upholstering many of its chairs and sofas in Frank's fabric.

In the past, I remember being able to find some of Frank's fabrics at the Brunschwig and Fils showroom as well as online at Svenskt Tenn in Sweden. Fortunately, there is Just Scandinavian, a shop in New York that specializes in fabrics, furniture, and tabletop accessories created by Scandinavian designers. Of course, Frank's designs are well represented here (the Scandinavian connection is from Frank's work for Svenskt Tenn in Sweden). There are, however, works from other Scandinavian designers as well. Here are a few of my Frank picks from the site, including one of my favorite Frank fabrics, "Manhattan", seen above.

For other posts on Josef Frank, see my posts from February 5 and January 16. To learn more about Frank, you may want to read Josef Frank: Life and Work by Christopher Long and Josef Frank:Architect and Designer: An Alternative Vision of the Modern Home by Nina Stritzler-Levine.

(Update: After writing this post a few days ago, I was reading a copy of InStyle Home magazine last night and found an article about Josef Frank. I believe Frank's revival is here!)

"Anakreon" print on linen by Josef Frank

"Drinks" print, linen, by Josef Frank

Three-armed brass lamp by Josef Frank

"Rox & Fix", linen, by Josef Frank

Elmoot and walnut table by Josef Frank

(All photos courtesy of Just Scandinavian)