Friday, February 28, 2014

My Sofa!

Isn't it funny how you can see something over and over again, but it doesn't really register in your mind? And then one day, pow! That something finally makes an impression on you. Such was the case with a pair of fabulous sofas.

Yesterday, while perusing my copy of The Anti-Minimalist House, I stopped my page-flipping when I came to the photo above.  In the middle of the photo was my sofa, bathed in a halo of light.  Well, it's not really my sofa, but it was the sofa that had struck my fancy a few months ago when I first saw it in British House & Garden.  Isn't its camel-back profile and beautiful floral and trellis fabric simply stunning?  I loved the sofa so much that I clipped and saved its photo when it appeared in House & Garden.

The photo above shows the drawing room of a London house, which had been decorated by the great Renzo Mongiardino.  You might recognize the room as it appears both inside and on the cover of Mongiardino's classic book, Rooms, although the sofa, or rather, the pair of sofas (you see the companion sofa's back in the photo at top) did not make that book's cover shot. Here is a photo of the room and the sofas in the Mongiardino book:

The sofas' fabric is appropriate for the room considering that its walls were painted with garden-vista murals.  But it's odd, really, because I have seen this particular photo numerous times as well as the version in The Anti-Minimalist House, but I had never paid much attention to those sofas.

So, after making this pleasant discovery of sorts, off I went to find the sofa photo from House & Garden that had made an impression on me months ago.  Here it is below:

This photo accompanied a brief article about another great designer, Robert Kime.  There is no mention of the sofa in the photo's caption, but it does appear to be the same sofa.  What the article does mention is that this room is located at South Wraxall Manor, Wiltshire.  While the sofa might have made an impression on me, the name South Wraxall Manor really meant nothing to me.  That is, until I started this blog post.  A little digging around jogged my memory that I was in fact familiar with this house.  This is the manor house that is owned by Gela Nash-Taylor (of Juicy Couture fame) and her husband, Duran Duran bass player John Taylor.  And, oh yes, that's right.  Robert Kime helped to decorate the house.  The results were so stunning that the house made the cover of World of Interiors back in March 2010.  Here is the WoI cover:

You can see the back of the sofa, which faces the drawing room's rather elaborate chimneypiece.

And here is the companion sofa, also located in the drawing room:

Fortunately, this photo's caption mentions that the 18th-century sofa wears its original needlework.  So, it's not a printed fabric after all, but rather embroidered fabric.  Stunning.  Had I only thought to design track suits with the word "Juicy" emblazoned on their backsides, I too might now be the proud owner of this fine pair of 18th-century sofas.

What's missing from this story is how the sofas migrated from the Mongiardino-decorated house to that of the Taylors.  That is, assuming that these are the same sofas, which I believe they are.  Were they purchased from a London dealer?  Or, perhaps at auction?  I can't find any past lots on the auction house sites that feature these sofas.  However, I'm still searching.  Any thoughts?

Photo at top: from The Anti-Minimalist House, Massimo Listri photographer; #2 from Rooms by Renzo Mongiardino; #3 from British House & Garden, August 2013, Christopher Simon Sykes photographer; #4 and #5 from World of Interiors March 2010, Christopher Simon Sykes photographer.

This and That

I have a lot of events to announce, so bear with me...

Next Saturday, March 8, I will be speaking at Historic Macon Foundation's inaugural Design, Wine, & Dine event.  The two-day event will feature talks and demonstrations related to design, wine, and food.  Other speakers include Susan Sully and Sara Foster.  My talk is slated for 1pm with a book-signing event to follow.  It should be a really interesting event, so I hope you'll consider visiting Macon that weekend to attend. For more information, please visit Historic Macon Foundation's website.

Now, for those of you who will be attending next week's Design Bloggers Conference, I hope you'll join me for a book-signing event at the Conference on Monday at 5:30pm.  I will be signing copies of my book alongside Jeffrey Alan Marks and Timothy Corrigan, who will be signing copies of their books too.  On Tuesday at 3pm, Tobi Fairley and I will be speaking about the future of blogging.  And then on Wednesday, I will be speaking on, yes, blogging at ADAC Digital Day at 9:30am.  (I'll be lucky if I can get through next week without losing my voice.)

I hope that you'll join me next Wednesday evening to celebrate the grand opening of Peacock Alley's new Atlanta design studio.  Atlantans are already buzzing about Peacock Alley's beautiful new showroom.  See below for details and RSVP information.

And finally, if you plan to be in Charleston, SC on March 12-16, you might be interested in attending the 17th annual Charleston Arts & Antiques Forum.  Although I am not participating in the event, I thought it might be of interest to many of you.  This year's theme is By George! and will focus on the houses, furnishings, and gardens from the Georgian period.  For more information, please visit their website.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Decorating in the Grand Manor

I am currently reading Carleton Varney's latest book, Decorating in the Grand Manor, and I must say that his book puts me in a very jovial mood. All of that color and vibrancy, which are hallmarks of Varney's style of decorating, is like a mood-lifter and pep pill rolled into one fun read.

The book is touted as a design memoir, one which chronicles Varney's adventures in decorating in the grand style.  That might sound a little pretentious, but it's really not.  Varney explains that he doesn't use "grand" in the sense of "something big and over the top."  Rather, he sees grand style as being "something different, spectacular, eye-catching- and exuding quality." At the beginning of the book, Varney shares a bit of his background, including his time spent working for the great Dorothy Draper. (Be sure to check out the photo of Draper and Salvador Dali dining together. It's a hoot.) Then it's on to a few pages devoted to his inspirations, which include Draper, Addison Mizner, Monticello, and Gone with the Wind. And scattered throughout the book are pages that feature the "Elements of Grand Style", such as mirrors, mantels, and flowers.

But the heart of the book lies in the chapters that profile Varney's work at such splashy resorts as The Grand Hotel and The Greenbrier as well as in private residences. Each chapter is chock full of photos that capture Mr. Color's exuberant use of color and pattern. Even if bright color and bold prints aren't really your thing, I think you'll find the photos visually stimulating.

Desmond Guinness, who penned the book's foreword, called Decorating in the Grand Manor "a virtual energizer to the senses," and it really is just that.  Take a look at Varney's book, and you just might find yourself rarin' to decorate.

*To order a copy of Carleton Varney's latest book, please visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

A black and white entrance to the Grand Pavilion at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island.

The Cottage Restaurant at the Grand Hotel

The entrance at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The Penthouse at the Stoneleigh hotel in Dallas. of the Elements of Grand Style

The book's endpapers feature reproductions of the charming murals in the Grand Hotel's lobby.

All photos courtesy of Decorating in the Grand Manor by Carleton Varney.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Name Game

Have you ever noticed that many fabric and wallcovering lines feature the same names for some of their prints?  Take, for example, the name Pillement, which appears in a number of collections.  Named for the 18th-century artist, Jean-Baptiste Pillement, the Pillement prints of Brunschwig & Fils (see above), Waterhouse Wallhangings, Scalamandre, and Quadrille are all Chinoiserie in style, which refers to the artist Pillement's then-popular (and still popular) Chinoiserie engravings.  Although each Pillement print is unique, they are all quite charming.

Exotic locales, flowers, historical houses, and historical figures all seem to be popular choices for print names.  The Rhododendron of Carleton V and that of Scalamandre closely resemble both each other and their floral namesake, while Schumacher and Brunschwig's Samarkand also bear striking similarities to one another, with both presumably being named for the Uzbek city that inspired the fabrics' exotic Central Asian patterns.  On the other hand, there are the not-so-similar Calypsos.  The Manuel Canovas version is a fish print, while that of Pierre Frey is a jacquard.  I'm assuming that both fabrics were named for the Greek mythological sea nymph, Calypso, so the Canovas fabric's fish and the Frey fabric's blue tones probably allude to Calypso's ocean habitat.  At least, that's my guess.

Once I got started with comparing the names of prints between the many different lines, I realized that it was an endeavor that could go on for days.  I finally called it quits after two hours.  Below is just a sampling of what I came up with.

Pillement by Waterhouse Wallhangings

Pillement by Quadrille

Pillement Toile by Scalamandre

Tashkent by Quadrille

Tashkent by Robert Kime

Malabar by Lee Jofa

Malabar by Colefax and Fowler

Topkapi by Cowtan & Tout

Topkapi by Schumacher

Pondicherry by Schumacher

Pondicherry by Braquenie

Calypso by Manuel Canovas

Calypso by Pierre Frey

Samarkand by Schumacher

Samarkand by Brunschwig & Fils

Amalfi by Donghia

Amalfi by Cowtan & Tout

Rhododendron by Carleton V

Rhododendron by Scalamandre

Bagatelle by Manuel Canovas

Bagatelle by Schumacher

Friday, February 21, 2014

Take Another Look at Mallett

So, day one of last week's ice storm was spent touring a neighbor's apartment. (See Wednesday's blog post.) Day two involved spending time with some Mallett catalogues, which I had been saving to read on a rainy day.  The rain never came, but the ice and snow certainly did.

I have long been familiar with Mallett's reputation as a leading antiques purveyor, but what I did not realize until recently is that Mallett deals in pieces of more recent vintage, too.  Take, for example, the François Catroux-designed console from 1970.  Then there's the Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend lantern that was designed by Matali Crasset just last year.  In fact, Mallett's contemporary arm, Meta, has commissioned a number of contemporary pieces that I believe are destined to be design classics.

Then there are the delightful objects that Mallett offers, many of which are featured in the new Objects catalogue.  See the brass and shagreen telescope in the photo below?  Would you have guessed that it was made around 1790?  And what about that whimsical silver-plated lemon squeezer?  I don't think that I have seen a practical object that has as much character as this lemon squeezer does.

Below, you can see a compilation of objects and furniture that caught my eye.  And because antique furniture continues to be Mallett's stock-in-trade, I included a few choice examples as well.  After all, every interior can benefit from an antique or two.

If you haven't visited Mallett's website in a while, it's time to do so again.  I think you'll like what you see.

A George III shagreen and brass telescope, c. 1790

Silver-plated honey jar, c. 1910, by Mappin & Webb

Set of carved bone dollhouse furniture, made in France, c. 1890

Arts and Craft-style lemon squeezer, silver-plated, c. 1890, made by Hukin and Heath

A pair of c. 1930 Table Lamps, in the Art Deco style, made in America

A set of twelve Art Deco cafe chairs, designed to look like drums and made of tole.

Chrome and smoke glass console table designed by François Catroux, c. 1970

Bespoke Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend Lantern, 2013, designed by Matali Crasset.

A rare George III satinwood artist's table, c.1780

A c.1740 Irish mahogany card table

A George III mahogany window seat, c. 1770

All photos courtesy of Mallett.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another Peek into the Decorators' Dorm

The beauty of living in a high-rise is that when an ice storm hits and one is trapped indoors for days, cabin fever never really strikes.  There are simply too many interesting neighbors with whom to spend time chatting and drinking wine.  Or at least, where I live, there are a lot of interesting neighbors.

One of those neighbors is David Hayes, a prominent member of the Atlanta design community.  Back in 1964, David joined Alan Ferry Designers, which eventually grew into the very successful firm, Ferry Hayes Designers.  (The firm is now known as Ferry, Hayes, & Allen.)  Now retired, David had a long and illustrious career, working as both a designer and an architect.  His training and expertise obviously came in handy when renovating and decorating his apartment, which is considered to be one of the chicest residences in my building.

But now, David is leaving our little community to move back to the house in which he was raised.  His apartment is for sale, and I had the chance to take a peek inside during last week's winter storm.  What I noticed about the apartment is that it is an effortless blend of sleek interior architecture, now-classic modern furniture, and high-style traditional pieces.  Some of the pairings and furnishings that stood out to me were: gilded consoles and mirrors paired with modern lamps; classical sculptures and bronzes; contemporary art; klismos chairs; neutral-colored fabrics; black accents; and a lot of books.  My neighbors were right; David's apartment really is quite chic.

I took numerous photos of David's apartment, which you'll see here.  If you're interested in more information, please contact broker Skeet Thomas at

All photos taken by Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic; copyright of Jennifer Boles