Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Sometimes there is a sort of harmonic convergence to blogging. One thing leads to the next and your realize the time is now. I am going to Las Vegas on Friday and I have been mentally counting the days, if not scratching them into the wall of my cell. Then a reader asked yesterday about the Bunny Williams room and I pulled it out to look at it again and thought, "I must take my stitching on the plane." It has languished in the bag too long. Then I remembered an email Jennifer had sent me almost a year ago.

Fine Cell Work is a not-for-profit organization in England that provides prisoners with an opportunity to do needlework to pass time and make money. (And they have a boxer on their home page. Rosie sits under one of our leather chairs like this sometimes.)

If you have ever needlepointed you know that it is a time-intensive process. I have stitched monogram pillows for many of my friends' daughters (and there was a bit of a run on them for a while.) One of my friends, upon receiving her third such pillow remarked, "You should not give these to people who have never stitched; they won't get it."
Generally, I don't buy needlepoint because it is usually so inexpensive. It makes me squirm a bit to know some woman has created a piece for pennies. (Which, by the way, does not occur to me when I am buying t-shirts by the truckload at Target. Apparently, I'm subjectively free trade.)

But these pillows, excuse me, "cushions," are lovely. If you can't have a Walton Ford on your wall, you could have one of these on your sofa.

Not all needlepoint, the inmates create pieces with quilting, embroidery and cross-stitch as well. The one above would bring a little Gee's Bend to the boys' rooms.

Of course, they've done celebrity deals as well. Allegra Hicks designed the pillow above.

Nina Campbell, in three colors, with embroidery.

Kits are also available if you are a DIYer, as I am. Sometimes things that seem like they don't go together work out just fine. Prisoners and needlepoint. Needlepoint and Las Vegas. Las Vegas and me. Mrs. Blandings in Sin City has a bit of a ring to it, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Before and After

I have not read it cover to cover, merely flipped back and forth and oohhed and ahhhed. The HG Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, 1960 is a gem. A few images caught my eye. I'm pretending they've inspired some modern day masters. The image above is Violet Searcy.

Whom my big city friend is unlikely to know, but I think his Sag Harbor living room has a similar feel. It's a bit hard to tell from the camera angle. Trust me.

The Raleigh Tavern room in Williamsburg is certainly color cousins to Sallie Giordano's work in Farrow and Ball's The Art of Color.

Edward Wormley designed the room below.

It is just me, or can you see the influence on the Gambrel room?

Natural wall covering, punchy pillows, sculptural lamps?

This is one of my favorite rooms in the book.

Which Bunny William's barn seems to echo.

The space, above, designed by Richard Kelly, is just as striking as the much blogged Paltrow Hampton's hangout below.
There are a few images with charming chintzes. This one, likely a multi-colored floral, still reminds me of Peter Dunham's fabrics.

There's sure to be more to follow as the book is truly a treasure. As is it's giver.

Monday, April 28, 2008


In case you were wondering, I did include the fifth book in the donation to Dining by Design.  When it came right down to it, even Hadley, Brown and Radizwell were not satisfying enough to override the deep-rooted guilt of my childhood.

And, as often happens, I was rewarded for doing the right thing.  Patricia van Essche, a now long-time on-line friend forwarded a little treat of her own.  House and Garden's Complete Book of Decoration, originally published in 1937, this issue is from 1960.

It arrived on Saturday and I flipped through it quickly before dashing out the door to set up for the auction.  Oh, the sacrifices one makes!  How I longed to sit and pour over each and every page.  But duty called.

The auction went beautifully.  This won't be surprising, but it wasn't the folks who "bid early and bid big" who meant the most (though I am so grateful and awed that they did) but my best friends who came early and stayed late.  Supporters in an entirely different way.  Mr. Blandings and my co-chair's husband surprised us with chilled champagne.  As we sat on the steps and celebrated amid the banging of the table take down, we wondered who was happier the co-chairs or the spouses.

The chaos temporarily stored in the back of our cars, we headed home exhilarated and exhausted.  As I wandered through the living room to the office to check my email, a manic habit that I have formed over the last six months, look what caught my eye.  Mr. Blandings, who should have been receiving gifts from me to compensate for the neglect and distraction, left me a little love token on the mantle.  Heaven help me to deserve him.

Weary and bleary-eyed the next morning I opened my other present.  van Essche's gift does not disappoint and even Mr. Blandings peered across the breakfast table at the kitchen section.

But wait, what's this?  Sleek and stainless, a double Thermador oven 

just like my own.

A point of contention through the kitchens-in-the-air that we are always building,  Mr. Blandings claims she will give out eventually and we will be stuck with custom cabinets built for her that will be useless once she goes to appliance heaven.  But I adore her.  And even though he once claimed her "inaccurate," a thermometer has proven her to be within three degrees.   The thing is, I like things things and people who stick, even when something newer and shinier comes along.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Excuses

Think I'm in over my head with my little volunteer endeavor?  Perhaps I'm not posting because I'm booked from carpool to carpool with mani-pedi, hi-lite and botox for the big event.

One true sacrifice I'm making this weekend is missing our local DIFFA chapter's Dining by Design.  I'm giving you some of the highlights from last year's event in order to tempt you down to the Crown Center exhibit hall this weekend if you happen to be "in town."

No matter how busy you are, you should be able to make it to see the fabulous tables.  Friday from 5 - 9 you can drop in with no reservations and pay $25 at the door for Beringer wine pairings with yummy treats from some of KC's top restaurants.

Saturday, sneak in midday from 10 - 12.  Only $10 just to snoop around.

At loose ends for date night?  Check and see if you can still get tickets to the dinner and auction Saturday night; you can see from last year's pics that the atmosphere will be divine.

And you can see if I decided to pop the AD Designers' Own Homes in my donation bag or not.  The clock is ticking and the devil on my left shoulder seems to be making a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, I'm getting the slow-blink from the angel on the other shoulder.  The firm set of her jaw and crossed arms are hard to ignore.  Maybe the masseuse will knock her loose.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dining By Design - A Fantasy

After yesterday's mention of the Dining by Design event, an anonymous reader asked, "What WOULD you have tossed together for a table setting, given the time?" Oh, yes. This is great fun. What, indeed? Let's assume no budget as that will make it loads more appealing. First the basics. Round table for ten, white under cloth, bamboo chairs, black. I'd have to start with Le Lac, square overlay, two-inch black grosgrain ribbon at the hem. An additional 3/4 inch ribbon, 3/4 inches in from the larger one. The corners would just break on the floor so the white of the bottom cloth would just cut the pattern a bit. I might have four black tassels at the ready just in case; I fear it would be too much.

Large, outdoor lantern suspended magically from the ceiling. (You might be over these, but I've adored them since way before they were the rage.)

A mass of white peonies in

a giant Oscar de la Renta bowl from Lunt. Just a hint of that turquoise peeking through. Yum.

I'd love to use the Muehling candlesticks, but am afraid they don't have a spot at the table.

Baccarat crystal. There's a lot going on here, we need to give our eyes a little rest. To top it off, big, oversized white linen napkins from Sharyn Blonde with my monogram in white, also oversized.

And, no evening is complete without Mr. Blandings across the table. He's what makes any night a party.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Four for You, One for Me

Saturday is Kansas City's Dining by Design.  A while ago, the most charming gentleman called me and asked if I could do a table.  I was thrilled!  I was flattered!  I was chairing something else the same night.  Darn.  But, I would be happy to make a donation to their silent auction.

But what to get for the party guests who, presumably, have everything?  A chic and sophisticated crowd, I needed to put some thought into what to donate.  Nearly anything I would want to pass along would not be fitting for this soiree.

Also, icky to just pick up something new.  Think, think, think.  Ah ha!  Vintage design books.  Some folks will have their own collection, but the hunting and gathering does sometimes stand in the way of what one wants and what one has the time to find.

So, off to Spivey's, a most wonderful spot that carries rare, out of date, and, ok, used books.  Also, a fine selection of maps and vintage and antique prints.  You could stay and hunt for hours if you had the time.  There is always at least one dog there and sometimes more, which is just plain right.  If I ever own my own business, I'm taking my dog to work.

Up the stairs, down the hall past military and U.S. history is architecture, city planning and interior design.  The interior design books are actually in a closet with the door removed.  I've never been, not once, when I didn't walk away with something very good.  

One time, many years ago, I stumbled across Mark Hampton's On Decorating.  First Edition.  Signed.  If not the Honus Wagner card of design books, certainly in the top ten.

For Dining by Design I picked up Colefax and Fowler, The Best in English Interior Design, House and Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, Inspirational Interiors by Roger Banks-Pye of Colefax and Fowler and House and Garden's Best in Decoration.  I also acquired AD's Designers' Own Homes, published in 1984.  There is room in the nifty tote that goes with, but, well, it has this house of Hadley's and I'm not sure I can part with it.  I guess you'll have to stop in to find out just how altruistic I am.