Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat II

Darn.  I mean, "everything breaks," but still.  Darn.  It wasn't his fault, exactly.  He was throwing the toy for Rosie.  It wasn't news that we don't throw toys in the house, but it was rainy and he was playing with Rosie and, well.  There was no use in yelling or lecturing as the remorse was real and immediate.  But, really, darn.

At the last trip to the showroom, in an area where I had no business being, there was this.  New.  From Scalamandre.

Tarim.  A cut and loop velvet.  I do have a fabric problem.  Don't tell, but I have a small sack of fabric samples and when my self-declared sample return days come around there are a few that I pick up from the sack and then put back.  "Not today.  Soon, but not today."  Careful if you fall in love with this one too deeply, it's quite dear.

And, the ladybugs are back.  I tried to take pictures of this last Fall, but could not capture it.  Dozens and dozens of ladybugs on the Dream House.

When I'm sitting at my desk I can see them in the back yard flying about.  The sun just catches them so that they show up like some kind of fire fly in reverse.

They are everywhere and we all carry them in unknowingly on coats and back packs and sweaters.  Last night as Mr. Blandings was gathering them up to release them back outside the youngest protested, "But Dad, they're lucky!"  As are we for the week or so that they polka dot our home.

And, the Ina Garten book signing was its own kind of fun.  She did not speak really, but said a gracious hello and thank you and got down to the business of signing over seven hundred books.  Rainy Day had beautifully organized the event so no needless waiting was necessary.  The true disappointment was getting to the table and realizing that she is so engaging and would really like to visit, but there were five hundred people waiting so perhaps she couldn't. I'd long for a leisurely lunch outside with Ina, but my lunch date with Mr. Blandings was equally delightful.

And, last minute plans.  I'm off to New York on Tuesday to see my big city friend and hopefully meet up with a few of my on-line buddies.  It's a bit fast and furious, but I can hardly wait.  Oh, how I do love that city.

Artwork by Patricia van Essche, a piece she did for me at the beginning of our friendship.  It is such a treat for me to see it everyday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


OK, so here we go. The room, above, is from Regency Redux, but would you be surprised if I told you it was from World of Interiors last month? I don't think so. Even in color this room holds its own.

This room by antiques dealer Andre Groult appears to have one of Michael Smith's favorite fabrics applied to the walls. The X benches, of course, are an element that appear and re-appear. One of the things I had to edit around a bit in putting together the first post was art and flowers; they are dead give aways for dating a room.

The room above, poorly scanned, encompasses all the elements of the 1940's Connecticut farm house that is my particular back story. Formal and cozy at the same time it is all the things I'd love for my home to be.

This jumpy little number could be straight out of domino when you erase the color. Circa 1960, as you might guess, many of these pieces would fit right into today's scheme. Boxy, Hicksian sofa. Chrome and marble coffee table. Drum shade on ceramic lamps. Gallery wall, painted armoire and mix of old and new.

I've adored this room by legendary designer Ruby Ross Wood since Jennifer posted it originally in her endorsement of Regency Redux. Besides the mirror surrounding the fireplace it still reads beautifully; coincidentally, the color palette does not date it. Remove the swags on the curtains and it could be published today.

Gorgeous. T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, 1937. Even the flowers are right in this one.

This room was a surprise to me. I like it better after seeing it in black and white. There must be overhead lighting (even beyond the chandelier) and I am missing lamps. I'd replace the glass on the cocktail table with some sort of stone, but otherwise, I really, really like this room.

Fantastic in every way, Billy Haines's own dining room. Heaven.

If it weren't for the grapes would you know this was vintage?


Smith, again, but look back at yesterday's post. They could be vintage images.

Andree Putman, 1987. Even though this room is not traditional, it is classic in design. A sofa, a pair of chairs, the lovely enfilade. So chic.

Paul Dupre-Lafon, 1938.

Again, Smith.

And, again.

But this, you might recognize, is Chessy Rayner for Bill Blass.

While there are elements of Smith here, plaster walls, iron bed, exotic pieces, there is not enough color and layers of fabric to be a telltale Smith room; this is Jacques Grange circa 1987.

So, are they all more appealing in color? What are your favorites? Old or new?

Photo credits as follows: Ralph Dutton, RR; Andre Groult, RR: Hugh Chisholm, RR; Henri Jova, HG Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, 1960; Ruby Ross Wood, RR; T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, furniture & interiors of the 1940's; HG Guide 1960; Billy Haines, RR; Govenor's Palace, Williamsburg, HG, 1960; Smith, Houses; Smith, Houses, Andre Putman, HG Best in Decoration, 1987; Paul Dupre-Lafon, f&i of the 40's; Smith, Houses; Smith, Houses; Chassy Rayner, RR; Jacque Grange, HG, Decoration 1987; Smith, Houses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fade to Black - and White

Blogging being what it is, a sort of personal stream of consciousness, inspiration can come from many sources.

Courtney Barnes at Style Court (recently deemed one of the best classic design bloggers by domino, with which I happen to agree) did an interesting post inspired by Michael Smith's philosophy that we create a back story for our designs and then work to fulfill them.

My copy of Smith's book, Houses, arrived shortly thereafter.  I, too, was intrigued by his musings on inspiration and the castles in the air that eventually become the sofa in the living room.  "I think we collect images.  We string them together like beads until we have a rough notion of what our dream house could be," says Smith.  

But what really piqued my interest was this: "Once in a while, I think about having a house photographed in black and white, just to see what it would look like."  

Which triggered a memory of Aesthete's Lament post on David Hicks Garden Design.  

In the post, our admirable Aesthete quotes Hicks as explaining that the book is illustrated in black and white to emphasize the structure and planning of the garden.  To put sentimentality aside.

I am, usually, all about color, but I began to wonder how timeless a room would appear to be if the palette of the day were removed.

Could it be a test for timeless rooms?  

I doubt Smith will have the opportunity to have a project photographed in black and white.  It's a tough sell.  "Really, Margaret, I do think your readership will get it.  And the advertisers.  And the publisher!  Genius, black and white, we'll be the rage!" 

 No, I think not.  But here, where no financial stake exists, we can study the structure a bit.  Just today.

Some of these rooms are Smith's and some are not.

But I think these rooms are timeless and you will see similar elements repeated in many.

It's a testament to making investments in the tried and true and mixing in the trend of the day with discretion.

Two of my favorite houses in town are across the street from one another.  One, a stately Georgian is chic and slightly formal.  The other, a Tudor, is more relaxed but gracious and lovely nonetheless.

Two different designers and two different families, but one common denominator - good, strong, classic design and fresh, updated fabrics and placement.   

I will post the color images tomorrow and you can see how they affect your impression of the rooms.  

I highly recommend Smith's Houses and Regency Redux by Emily Evans Eerdmans; both are beautiful and beautifully written.  (And, if I were Ms. Eerdmans I would monogram nearly everything.  Wonderful.)

Photo credits as follows:  Ralph Dutton, RR; Andre Groult, RR: Hugh Chisholm, RR; Henri Jova, HG Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, 1960; Ruby Ross Wood, RR; T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, furniture & interiors of the 1940's; HG Guide 1960; Billy Haines, RR; Govenor's Palace, Williamsburg, HG, 1960; Smith, Houses; Smith, Houses, Andre Putnam, HG Best in Decoration, 1987; Paul Dupre-Lafon, f&i of the 40's; Smith, Houses; Smith, Houses; Chassy Rayner, RR; Jacque Grange, HG, Decoration 1987; Smith, Houses.

Smith wrote Houses with Christine Pittel and I am secretly hoping she is the genius behind the text.  It's almost too much to fathom that Smith would be such a good designer and a good writer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Housewife Meets Contessa

I posted a while ago about my great debt to Ina Garten.  I know my family secretly gets down on their knees and prays that nothing happens to my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.  I'm not a cook, but with Garten's help, I can fix a meal.  Triumph.

Garten has a new cookbook out and she's been getting a good little bit of publicity.  House Beautiful recently featured her "barn" which she built to entertain and to film the show.

As if I weren't already besotted, I spied the Ted Muehling candlesticks on the mantle.  Pea soup green with envy.  (By the way, I can't say these are Creative Candles for sure, but that is what Muehling recommends.  Couldn't pass up the KC connection.)

Garten's Paris flat appears in Town and Country this month as well.

I have admired all her homes for their serene, subtle interiors.  

They are the sort of back drop I always like and think I want, then I end up with walls the colors of M&Ms.

Lucky me, Garten is in Kansas City this week and Mr. Blandings and I are sneaking away in the middle of the day on Thursday to see her.  11 o'clock, Unity Temple on the Plaza.  A very few tickets are still available through Rainy Day Books.

Photographs by Simon Upton courtesy of House Beautiful, November 2008.