Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Perfect Gentleman

Thomas Britt, Architectural Digest, February, 2007.

So when my friend, Tom Britt, called me back yesterday...hmmm? What? Of course he called me back. I didn't mention it? I said he was from Kansas City, so naturally he would be gracious and lovely and have impeccable manners. Naturally.

All images Mr. Britt's Long Island home, Architectural Digest, August, 1991.

It was a perfect Kansas City moment, in fact. When I saw the 212 area code I thought it was my big city friend calling from work. Even after Mr. Britt (you don't think I would have called him Tom, do you?) began to speak I thought it might be my friend pulling my leg. Because he would do that.

The library.

But, no, Mr. Britt graciously apologized for not calling earlier. You see, when he lived in KC, he was great friends with Mr. Blanding's aunt. If you knew Mr. Blanding's aunt this would come as no surprise to you. She's beautiful and stylish and has the most perfect posture I have ever seen. And a movie-star gorgeous husband to go with.

The Living Room.

Anyway, Mr. Britt confirmed that his client had seen the paper in his Long Island bedroom. It is a vintage Woodson pattern. Being great friends with Murray Douglas (who happens to own Brunschwig & Fils) he asked her to recreate the pattern for him, which she did.

A guest bedroom.

So, the paper is, in fact, Brunschwig & Fils, but custom, which is why no one in this country or abroad could identify it. Mr. Britt says there are other folks interested in it as well, and, if Barbara lets us know how many rolls she needs for her bedroom, he will make arrangements to have it made.

The attic guest bedroom.

A perfect gentleman. I expected nothing less.

Hold on to your hats. A "Moroccan tent for dining and entertaining."

The article references the silver paper in the master bedroom, but, alas, no pictures.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

Are you rolling your eyes? You've seen this a million times? Poured over it in bed, watched it bounce around the blogs, and I'm just now getting to it. I love domino, but I have issues. Or, actually, I don't. I subscribed, and everything looks fine, but then it doesn't show. Then they e:mail me to see how I like the subscription.

I thought I had it straightened out, but the lid to the box remains tightly closed, mocking me and my craning neck as I pull into the drive. I broke down today and bought the new, now old, issue. Mary McDonald's Beverly Hills home is a symphony of spots. Daring! Delightful! She was inspired by Madeleine Castaing, but a few others have taken this cat out for a stroll.

Geoffrey Beene, at the beach, House and Garden, December, 1989.
I've posted this before, but Beene used a Brunschwig & Fils fabric for the windows then painted the wall to match. Leopard and zebra in the rug. You don't want to leave anybody out.

Finally, something new. Old. Anyway, Henri Samuel's Paris bedroom, Architectural Digest, March, 1984. He designed the leopard print fabric used for the curtains and walls. Don't miss the yellow curtains behind the leopard.

McDonald breaks up her room with doses of black and another strong print, and Samuels had done that as well. The floral chairs, above, seem spot-on just now (and McDonald broke out the fringe for her sofa, too.) Let's hope it's not another trend that is oh-so-over by next year. It's funny how we seem to be ticking off these classics at a mighty quick clip.

The upstairs office of C.Z. Guest, House and Garden, October, 1988. The leopard carpet was chosen for its appeal, and its ability to camouflage the paw prints. The sweetness of the floral and the clubbiness of the hunting prints seem to cut the drama of the spots.
Speaking of cutting the drama. Please forgive my dish of domino. She's barely a toddler. And I'm the one having the tantrum.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Look Down

I got my haircut on Friday. As each Blandings boy piled into the car he said some variation of, "Oh, you got your hair cut." Which is, for boys, pretty impressive. After Mr. Blandings had been home for a couple of hours, with no hair-related comment, I put my hand of my hip and tilted my head to the left. "What?" "I got my hair cut." You might think this bid for attention a bit desperate, but I don't have a lot of moments in my life. I'm not going to get the big promotion. I'm not going to be on the cover of a magazine. Oprah is not calling me. Sometimes getting my hair cut is the best thing that happens to me all week next to not getting thrown up on.

Randall Ridless for Martha Kramer and Neal Fox, Elle Decor.

His response? "Oh, I didn't know if you got your haircut or if it was static-y." At least it made me laugh.

Jan Showers via the Peak of Chic.

Sometimes his level of attention to detail works to my advantage. I can sneak something in, a vase, a pair of candlesticks, earrings, and it can take a while for him to notice. Then, when he asks, "Is that new?" I can honestly reply, "Sweetie, I've had this forever."

Todd Alexander Romano via the Peak of Chic. With Le Lac. Fab.

So, I'm taking bets. How long do you think it will take for him to notice the antelope carpet I've ordered for the office? Office chair took two days. I'm not kidding. This is not blog-fodder, this is my life.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Everyone Loves a Mystery

One of my readers e:mailed a couple of weeks ago to see if I recognized the Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper, above. I didn't, but I was so charmed by her e:mail, that I set off on a bit of a quest. I didn't really think it would be that tricky. She already knew that the paper had been used in this project and Britt's beach house. This layout was in Architectural Digest in February of 2007. She had contacted AD (why, oh why do they refuse to do any resourcing?) but, as of today, they have not responded.

The article, and the information on the website, do identify the paper as B&F, so I e:mailed the image to our showroom here. Designers Only is owned by a well-respected designer in town and her staff is always gracious and lovely. Sure, happy to help, get right back to you. (I'm including other images from the story so you don't get bored reading my text.)

Nothing. No one recognized it. But, as kind people often do, they took it to the next step and e:mailed the image to the B&F showroom in Chicago. Nada.

Curiouser and curiouser. So, I picked up the phone and called Tom Britt. Well, why not? We're not exactly tight, but, you know, he's from Kansas City, I live in Kansas City...

I talked to a woman in his office. Nice. Professional. Could I e:mail the image? Fax? Well, yes, I could fax it. As of today I have not heard back. I get it. They're busy. Getting published in AD and things like that while my calendar today reads, "Stop Rosie's meds." You know, because of the allergy test next week. (If you are new to the site, she is my itchy boxer pup. Mr. Blandings has taken to calling her a lemon, but she's beloved.)

So, now I turn to you, gentle readers. Can we help Barbara? She's been so patient. And optimistic. (She contacted AD!) I'm constantly in awe of the knowledge bouncing around out there. Look again. Silver and white, somewhat Moorish, clearly not boorish. We can all get a little fixated and we need to help Barbara, and her master bedroom, move on. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Curtains For You

This was the original concept for my dining room. Nina Campbell tortoise paper, yellow silk curtains held back, round table (Dessin Fournir) and an oushak. Jazzy art.

Phillip Sides, Southern Accents, November/December, 2001.

Yes, I did notice my bay isn't quite this size. And, no, I won't be using, what, four widths of fabric, but still. This was the idea. Seven years ago. An idea whose time has come.

Maybe it was Gambrel's sumptuous Clarence House taffeta curtains in Elle Decor this past November that has spurred me on. It's a little hard to tell from these pictures, but there is a brown border running down the leading edge.

I, too, was thinking gold leaf iron rods (his may be brass, but I don't think so) mounted to the ceiling. I will need the center support over the bay.

It's not your eyes, or your screen, the ceiling is blue. Not smudgy turquoise, although I wanted to use the description, more of a robin's egg.

My first thought, seven years ago, was silk. I like this Cowtan & Tout, but every time I see it in my head I'm concerned of my reaction if someone were to say, "Did you get those at Restoration Hardware?"

I don't have a problem with Restoration Hardware curtains, in fact, I think they are well made and a handy short cut. But if you are going to have custom, well, it should look it.

Bachelor #2 is a decadent wool. It has an amazing hand; the drape is divine. There is a natural sheen to the right side that gives it a dimension I adore. I think because of the color, it won't be too heavy in the warmer months.

This is the leading candidate, I must admit. The nagging question is the finishing. Should they hang straight? Pull back? I think the ball fringe is out, no? A tape? Gorgeous and long and straight like your baby sitter's hair in the 70's? I don't know.

I am going to do a cushion for the window seat. It can be removed if we need to serve from there until the matching demilunes are discovered. Chocolate mohair, pretty sure on that. I had originally thought the beaded trim, but it's all taking a more restrained tone now and I don't want to make window seat feel like a hussy.

A little shine is in order, though. How about a satin contrasting welt?

This is not the mystical powder room project; I'm ready to order.

So, I need your advice. Did you keep that all straight?

1) silk v. wool
2) curtain trim
3) pulled back v. straight
4) beaded trim v. satin welt
5) a different idea altogether
6) Gambrel is fantastic, yes or yes

It's a lively crew and I can't imagine we will all agree, so no hard feelings if your "vote" doesn't win. I'd like to order ASAP. Help a poor girl out, will 'ya?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Horn of Plenty

Van Day Truex's first home in Provence, House & Garden, March, 1984.

I almost titled this post "Horny," but was afraid of the sort of folk it might deliver to my door. I've been relying on the vintage a bit too much this week, but Mr. Blandings is having a bit of a Mrs. Blandings birthday by which I mean more of a birthweek. Or a birthmonth. So here we are again. I guess I should have sold this as part of my grand plan, an execution in continuity. Only it's not. Just a bit of by-the-seat-of-my-pants inspiration.

Chateau de Menetou-Salon, Architectural Digest, March, 1980.
There are design elements that do repeat and are not so tired and one of these is horns. I have a set of antlers that Mr. Blandings lovingly delivered to me when we were first married. You might think I received them as a cat-owner receives the love-token carcass, but I actually like them. They feel wonderful. Smooth and silky. And in their bony purity, sculptural.

Steven Gambrel, his own home, House & Garden.
In addition, unless you happen to stumbled upon a rhinoceros horn, they usually come in pairs. Appeal times two.

There's a bit of a jump here, so pay attention. There is a toy store in Brookside, our neighborhood shopping center, called Brookside Toy and Science. It is a gift that my boys are growing up in walking distance of a whole line of shops owned by independent store-owners. It's great fun to kill an afternoon at Reading Reptile and getting ice cream or popcorn and going to the toy store.

So while they bee-line to the Legos and cars, I head to the back where the "science" lives." All types of funky taxidermy, stones, skeletons, mounted butterflies and beetles. And two giant carved tusks.

Un-uh. Didn't ask. No idea how these came to be here. Originally marked at $250,000 they are reduced to 99% off - $2,500 - for the pair. A furrowed brow came up over the counter as I snapped the shot. I just smiled. Just killing a little time in the 'hood checking out the quarter of a million dollar tusks. I'm just saying, you have to keep your eyes open. You never know where something interesting is going to turn up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sometimes Moore is More

When I was posting on sculpture yesterday, I remembered a medium-good movie "Object of Beauty" starring Andie McDowell, John Malkovich and a diminutive Henry Moore sculpture. The couple is in a bit of a financial pickle and "he" wants to sell "her" statue to get them out. Naturally, she balks. Ironically, the deaf maid steals the statue because "it speaks to her."

Henry Moore is considered by many to be one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. His farm, "Hoglands," was featured in Architectural Digest in March of 1980.

The house was falling apart when Moore and his wife, Irina, purchased it in the 1940's, but they dug in and made it their own.

While the living room furniture and palette are simple and neutral, the author reports that there were literally hundreds of objects. "Pebbles, papier mache eggs, Cycladic sculptures, African masks, pre-Columbian artifacts..a French carving of a Madonna and Child, gourds, flints and a Medieval marble relief."

Each piece had a personal attachment, evoked a memory, but also reflected Moore's fascination with shape and form.

These images are of the studio; Moore is mostly known for his large, outdoor sculpture. He felt that sculpture placed outdoors should be large in scale to stand up to its surroundings.

The smaller pieces are studies for the larger works. Moore initially used preliminary sketches, but could not capture the scale of the completed work, so he moved to executing the sculpture instead. Irina was a gardener and they enjoyed placing Moore's pieces in the pastures with the sheep. He says in the article that he didn't care for sculpture gardens. "They nullify the whole point of the sculpture."

Fortunately, he changed his mind. Our local museum, the Nelson-Akins acquired a large selection of Moore's sculptures several years ago through the generous support of the Hall family. Just to give the Midwest its due, the sculptures were purchased from a collector in Wichita. Kansas. Moore was able to see the site and placed some of the sculpture himself. The garden is a magical place; the pieces are not just plopped down, you discover them here. It's a wonderful spot to take children as the pieces are so big, huge, even to an adult, and you are moving, walking, running, talking. No shushing.

The old part of the Nelson is old. Marble, terrazzo, columns. We were fortunate to welcome the new Bloch Building last year. Controversial? Sure. We tend to be a bit conservative here and don't like folks messing with our landmarks. But one of my son's friends said, "You know, they couldn't match it. And if you can't match it, you need to do something really different." Agreed. The addition adds to the site inside and out. It's, well, sculptural.