Friday, November 30, 2012

Tapestries and An Exciting Auction

It's been a busy week, but I didn't want to leave for the weekend without mentioning an exciting upcoming auction. Arader Galleries will be hosting an auction on December 5 that will include such lots as rare maps, atlases, globes, and Audubons. But what I think many of you will be interested in are the pair of exquisite Gobelin tapestries once owned by the great tastemaker, Carlos de Beisteigui, and installed at his Palazzo Labia. If you visit the auction's online catalogue, you can see photos of the tapestries and read more about their provenances. (You can also see one of the tapestries in situ in one of my previous blog posts; click here to read it.)

Tapestries have long been coveted by tastemakers, including the Duchess of Montesquieu-Fezensac (at top), Robert David Lion Gardiner (below), and Harold K. Vanderbilt (at bottom). In each of these Slim Aarons' photos, the tapestries almost upstage the stylish subjects...and that's not an easy thing to do.

For more information on the Arader Galleries/Guernsey's auction, please click here.

All photos from A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life and Slim Aarons: Once Upon A Time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cozy Groupings

I love this time of year.  It's as if the chilly weather gives us permission to stay home in the evening, forgoing social engagements for the comfort and coziness of our homes.  Comfort food, warming libations, wool throws (no snuggies please), and engaging books are the ingredients for a winter evening well-spent.  And I know that others feel the same way, too.  Take this 1935 issue of House & Garden in which the pleasures of cozy are touted through "groups that suggest some pleasant interludes in winter evenings."

There is the "Reading Group", above, with its reproduction Duncan Phyfe table and comfortable chair upholstered in green and white striped cotton.  My ideal reading group would be accompanied by a fireplace, and that too was shown in this article, below, in the "Nightcap" grouping which included preparations for mulled wine prepared over the fire.  But really, you could enjoy any hot beverage like Swiss Strawberry Tea, a Tom and Jerry, or a Caudle Cup, each drink's preparation detailed in this same issue.  (Whatever happened to Hot Buttered Rum?)

There is the "Card Group", appropriate for an era when many civilized people played bridge and such.  I don't play cards nor do many of my friends.  A shame, really.  But I do know if my friends and I did play cards, the cards would be accompanied by cocktails and food.  Not a lot of food, just a few nibbles.  And then there is my favorite grouping of all, "And So To Bed".  This is where I do most of my reading considering that I don't have a fireplace to cozy up next to.  The bedroom seen here included Amodec furniture made of maple and a candlewick bedspread, very popular at that time.  I would forgo the candlewick spread for a satin quilt, but that's just me.  I have visions of Hollywood grandeur running through my head.

And so, after all of this, I'm off to bed!

As I mentioned, I don't play cards, but if I did,

I would serve Mamie's Tuscan Wafers which have a little more zing than the original Cheese Wafers but are just as good. The perfect snack for a game of cards, especially with drinks served in glassware like this:

High Ball glasses by James Mont, available through BG Galleries

To create my Nightcap group, I would first need some kind of electric fireplace.

This is the best looking one I have found. Not bad, but do you know of any that actually look kind of chic?

At the end of the day, though, my favorite cold weather retreat is my bed, especially if I ever take the plunge and buy one of Leontine Linen's satin quilts and bed jackets.

Both would help to ward off chills while reading juicy books like these:

American Lady: The Life of Susan Mary Alsop by Caroline de Margerie


Inventing Elsa Maxwell: How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press, and the World by Sam Staggs

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inman Cook and the Celanese House

While looking through the November 1965 issue of House & Garden in hopes of finding Thanksgiving related photos, I found an interesting article that featured the work of designer Inman Cook.  I've seen Cook's work before, usually in mid- to late 1960s design magazines, and it has always caught my eye.  Like so many other designers of this era, Cook embraced bold prints and colors, and yet, there was a reserved elegance to his work as well.  His interiors were exuberant, but they also conveyed a traditional sense of propriety.  If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that a friend told me that Cook was Southern, so this might explain his work.  And if Cook wasn't born in the South, well, then, what do I know.

The photos seen here show Cook's decoration of a mid-19th century brownstone in midtown Manhattan that temporarily housed the Celanese House, a show house sponsored by Celanese Contemporary Fibers.  The Celanese Corporation charged Cook with decorating the four-story brownstone for a mythical family.  The challenge, though, was that Cook could only update the home through paint and fabrics woven of Celanese.  According to this article, the house was rife with exposed pipes and radiators, but as they were mostly located near windows, Cook was able to hide them using cleverly designed curtains and low screens.  Now that you know this fact, you can look at the photos below and determine which rooms were plagued with these eye-sores.  I have to say, though, that Cook was successful in his cover-up.  My only question is, if Celanese is a synthetic fiber (am I correct?), then how did the fabric near the radiator not go up in flames?

The other thing that struck me about the interiors is that if you didn't know this was a show house, you just might think a real family lived here.  Nothing looks temporary nor too staged, something that sometimes happens at show houses.  And despite some of the dated-looking prints, I must say that few of the rooms look out of place today. 

Image at top: The Living Room.  Note how the curtains extend beyond the corner of the room. This device helped to conceal exposed pipes. 

The Upper Hall, one converted into a sitting room.

 A view from the library, looking into the parlor-floor hall and the living room beyond that.

The Library

 The Dining Room

 The Foyer, what the article said was "a new room for entertaining".

 The Guest Bedroom

 The Master Bedroom

 The Guest Room

A corner view of the Master Bedroom

All images from House & Garden, November 1965, Otto Maya photographer.

More Constance a way

Quite a few of you expressed interest in the lead photo of my recent Constance Spry post.  The photo shows a c. 1911 Manhattan apartment that was decorated by Alexander Doherty.  Featured in the December-January issue of House Beautiful, the apartment is awash in moody colors and tranquil light.  You can see a few photos here, but for the full effect, check out the upcoming issue of House Beautiful.

All images courtesy of House Beautiful, December-January 2013, Francesco Lagnese photographer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House

A few days ago, I previewed the 2012 Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House. Benefiting Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, the Christmas House features the work of thirteen of Atlanta's top designers, all under the roof of a charming Chastain Park house.

The house is open to the public Thursday through Sunday starting this Friday, November 16 and running through December 9.  Kicking off the show house is a Champagne and Candlelight Opening Party which will be held at the house tomorrow night.  For more information about the house as well as tickets to the show house or opening night party, please visit the Christmas House website.

Gentleman's Study by Tammy Connor

Living Room by Beth Webb

Dining Room by Jim Howard

Breakfast Room by Gretchen Edwards.  (Gretchen told me that the fabrics are by Jim Thompson and No. 9 Thompson and the table accessories are from Travadavi.)

Family Room by Liz Williams

Mud Room and Back Stair Hall by James T. Farmer III

Library by Laura Walker

Young Boy's Bedroom by Barbara Heath.  (Much of the room's furnishings are available through Barbara's store, The Mercantile.)

Nursery by Michel Boyd

Upstairs Study by Chris Holt

Master Bedroom and Bath by Amy D. Morris

All photos by Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic