Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Off the Rack - Best Rooms of 2008

Or "Some of the Best Rooms of 2008" also known as "A Random Selection of Rooms I Liked This Year."  I did go back though my files and pulled a selection of rooms that made my pulse quicken over the last twelve months.  Once I had them in one spot I realized most were from December and, shamefully, January.  I considered disqualifying January, but, well, it's my list and I received the magazines in 2008 so they remain.  My filing system is abysmal, so I don't mean to suggest that these are not fabulous rooms, I'm just saying it's likely there was something great from February to September and perhaps I over looked it.  Enough qualifying - here goes.

Image, above, interior design Carol Curtis & Sarah Norwood, photography J. Savage Gibson, House Beautiful, February, 2008.

Kate and Andy Spades's apartment, interior design with Steven Sclaroff , photography Simon Upton, Spaces, September, 2008; the apartment was previously featured in World of Interiors, December, 2006.

Michael Bastian's apartment, his own design, photographs Melanie Acevedo, domino, September, 2008.

Pamela Skaist-Levy's home, interior design Peter Dunham, Bazaar, September, 2008.

Gretchen Bellinger's home, interior design Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman, photography Joshua McHugh, Elle Decor, November, 2008.

Annette and Oscar de la Renta's home, with architect Ernesto Buch, photography Francois Halard, Vogue, December, 2008.

A New York apartment, interior design Bill Sofield, photography Simon Upton, World of Interiors, December, 2008.

Miles Redd, photography Paul Costello, domino, December 2008/January 2009.

Madeline Weinrib's SoHo apartment, photography Simon Upton, Elle Decor, December, 2008.

Marco Scarani and Jamie Creel's Paris apartment, their own design, photography Roger Davies, Elle Decor, December, 2008.

Home of Stephen Gambrel and Chris Connor, their own design, photography William Waldron, Elle Decor, January, 2009.

Joseph Montebello and Ron Leal's home also of their own design, photography Tim Street-Porter, Metropolitan Home, January/February, 2009.

It was a very good year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

An Oversight

Just when you might have thought my Mitford sister obsession was beginning to wane I ran across these.

This is the unsettling thing about going through the vintage magazines, pulling what I like and pitching the rest.

I had a small stack that I had not recycled and while flipping through them one more time I realized that I had missed this layout on Chatsworth which was at the time the home of the eleventh Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. 

 The Duchess, the Hon. Deborah Mitford, is the youngest, and from all accounts the most conventional, of the sisters.

Chatsworth was the Duke's family home and it fell to Andrew and "Debo" in 1950 when they were thirty.  Wise beyond their years they allowed the house to guide them through the much-needed renovations.

According to the Duchess,"To have tampered with the library, for instance, would have been criminal."  Agreed.  

While she did not use a decorator or a gardener, "It seems pointless to employ someone to do something I can do myself," the home did have a full-time indoor staff of forty-two.

With the Duke's death in 2004, the Duchess moved into a cottage on the estate.  You can see images of her new home, and the re-purposing of some of these furnishings, in a post that Jennifer Dwyer of the Peak of Chic did last year.

Images, Architectural Digest, December, 1979; photography by Derry Moore.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry, Merry

"Christmas is, in fact, an assault on bleakness - spiritual, emotional, and seasonal.  Whether your approach to it is lavish or simple, the ingredients that make the holiday atmosphere so compelling - generosity and attention to the wants of others - make it an irresistible and in fact indispensable way to end one year and begin another."

Whether you celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday or not I hope you can put stock in Mark Hampton's sentiment from a House & Garden past.  Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I May Need an Intervention

At a holiday party recently I had the interesting experience of meeting someone who was a bit too deep into a controlled substance.  The outer limit of my experimentation has been tequila so I'm always intrigued, and a little scared to be honest, to see someone a bit off his rocker.  I had two distinct thoughts.  The first, "If I ever try that every one else in the room has to do it too as it is not attractive." And, "Why in the world would one even start?"

I'm often tumbled off my high horse and just this week have realized I might have a bit of a problem myself.  Holly Becker of decor8 made a brief recommendation for Isaac Mizrahi's video blog and I am finding myself at my desk entranced, shouting over my shoulder at the boys, "Can't you get it yourself?  I'm busy."  In addition, I have a well-stocked supply of chocolate covered almonds in the house which leads to double indulgence.

Just try it.  Just one.  It won't hurt a bit - it's fun.  C'mon, everyone's doing it.

Image, above, courtesy of the Well-Lived Life, Dominque Browning.  By the way, Ms. Browning, were this to ever come your way I just want you to know how much I miss your writing.  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yeah. I got nothin'.

It's a combination of things really.  As you know, it was the weekend before Christmas and we were blessedly busy.  Best, best friends in town whom we were fortunate to see Friday with just the right size crowd; large enough to be lively, not so large that we didn't get to really catch up.

Saturday was a milestone birthday of someone especially dear.  Oh, so much fun, but up much too late both nights.  This old dog was up to her old tricks but it does take her a little longer to bounce back.

And it's cold here.  Really cold.  Unusually cold.  Four degrees.  Four degrees is a ridiculous temperature.  So I stayed in yesterday and painted a chair inspired by Madeline Weinrib's home in Elle Decor, December, 2008.  Yes, I know I've posted it before, but I just can't stop thinking about her deft combination of blue and black.  I don't know that I've done so well, but this room was looking a little brown.  I moved some rugs.  I made a plan to paint the playroom.

It's supposed to be twenty-two degrees today.  Maybe today I'll get out.  But maybe not; there's still plenty of paint in the basement. 

Image, top, by Simon Upton.

Boy, Is My Face Red

My apologies to hansaxel.  Last week I posted this image of a room by Albert Hadley.  Hansaxel queried in the comments section if the curtain fabric was Hadley as well and I blithely and lazily replied that I didn't know.  While searching for an image of a different fabric today I came upon my bookmark for the previous post.  The fabric is clearly identified in the caption as being the design of D.D. and Leslie Tillett.  So sloppy of me.  No surprise to find more information here as the charming Aesthete seems to know just every darn thing.

Image from Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer by Adam Lewis

Friday, December 19, 2008

Crown Jewel

You might have seen this image in either Vogue in 2003 or Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People published last year.  It is the home of artists Elliott Puckette and Hugo Guinness.

The prints are Guinness's own work and they popped up on Vogue's gift guide this year.  I've had a crush on them for a while; my black and white art fetish is the source of teasing between me and the elder Mr. Blandings whose tastes run to stately oil landscapes.

I had visited some of Guinness's pieces at John Derian's while in New York.  The dogs are charming, but I am mostly drawn to the floral silhouettes.

Imagine my delight upon drifting into George in Crestwood to find two walls filled with Guinness's pieces.  Doubly happy to find them encased in vintage frames.

Please do remember your independent retailers this season.  Kansas City is home to some wonderful shops.  George in particular has a level of sophistication to rival the best in any city.

Refine your taste.  Educate your palette.  Determine what you like, not what some corporate marketing department wants to sell you.
Imagine what your home would be, what your life would be, if your things were not there to just fill space, were not there to impress, were maybe not even particularly just right, but brought you joy each and every time you brushed by them.

Imagine what your home would be if you applied the same unerring taste that George Terbovich and Connie Beall apply to this shop.

The insets in the hand painted ceiling are large, color copies that have been applied with a temporary adhesive.  A perfect nod to the holidays.  You could do it yourself.  If you like it.

I do.

Photography from Vogue Francois Halard.  Many thanks to my friend Mandy who reminded me of the image.


Those Guinness prints in the vintage frames?  Just like this home in miniature.  The perfect blend of old and new.  The owners, Joseph Montebello and Ron Leal were inspired by Vicente Wolf (Montebello edited Learning to See.)  Their home appears in the January issue of Metropolitan Home, which I think is a knock-out, because, well, you know, it's mostly black and white.

Soodie, I chose this particular image just for you.  Seems they are Westie lovers as well.  Photography, Tim Street-Porter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Friend in Need

I received a bit of a frantic 911 email from a friend recently.  Her son and my oldest are in the same class.  They had been living in England and returned to the states when our boys were entering pre-Kindergarten.  

My antenna was up as her son's comment the first week of school, "Red is really dark pink," sent our household into turmoil as my eldest refused each and every red shirt for weeks following.  His favorite color was red.  Nearly every shirt he owned was red.

Eventually the drama died down and now it is truly comic as this particular boy is one who easily attained the Blandings' seal of approval.  "That kid is just a good egg," claims Mr. B each time he crosses the threshold be it car or home.

It is fortunate for me that his mother is bright and funny, for otherwise I would have a hard time focusing on what she is saying as she has porcelain skin and dark, thick, naturally curly hair the kind of which I have dreamed my entire life.  

But she is bright and funny so I jumped at the chance to see her new digs when she raised a red flag.

It is a lovely home.  The kind of home that is gracious enough to be regal when you want it to be, but warm and comfortable all of the time to welcome the children and family and friends that will knock about its walls.  We moved from room to room while she showed me fabric samples and paint and wonderful furniture.  

If she suffered at all it was from too many good choices.  It was nearly all there we just needed to pick the best of what she had gathered and shift a bit here and there.  

I suggested woven shades for the sun room/office off of the dining room.  She was a bit skeptical as she had an impression of screened in porches and summer cottages.  It was the one room that still needed a paint color when I left.  Wonder if I should suggest dark pink?

After mentioning an affinity for Michael S. Smith, I started there first.  Top three images, Smith's Houses with wordsmith Christine Pittel; next two images Farrow & Ball, The Art of Color; then, just to prove these bamboo shades can swing, Candace Bushnell's apartment from So Chic by Margaret Russell; that nearly perfect room, Albert Hadley from Adam Lewis's Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer; and, finally, another classic, Kevin McNamara from The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

When I left the house this morning my car thermometer read four degrees.  Four.  Four degrees.  I really did not want to leave the house but kept telling myself things would get better if I would just go.  Things were fine, but it was excruciatingly cold.

All the while I was gone I kept thinking how much better it would be to be home.  Reading.  With a cup of tea.  The only problem being that I would likely read in bed, where it's warmest, but I always fall asleep when I read in bed during the day.

Seems there would be nothing better than a cozy nook.  I've always been enamored of these sofas-surrounded-by-bookcases-with-swing-arm-lights.  A little womb within a room without the feeling of sloth that comes from actually returning to your bed.

A cave, if you will, to hibernate if you are unable to migrate.  Fortunately it's the Midwest.  40 by Friday.  I'll do my shopping then.

Image, top, design by Alex Papachristidis, Elle Decor Jan./Feb. 2009, photography by Henry Bourne.  Second room also by Papachristidis, Elle Decor Nov. 2007.  Third image, design by Kenneth Brown, Western Interiors Dec. 2008, photography by Dominique Vorillon.  Final image, Thomas Britt, his own Long Island home, Architectural Digest.