Saturday, February 28, 2009

Harbinger of Spring

Can't wait to be sitting outside on the patio dining on my new plates from La Plates.  It may be a while; it's dumping snow today.  A girl can dream.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two (messy) Thumbs Up

Great, great coverage.  Almost no odor (which is a little sad, actually, as I love the smell of paint.)  Blandings Seal of Approval.

Bread or Basalt?

Remember that little Wedgwood bowl I stumbled upon at the River Market Antique Mall?

I thought it might be a good way to start a collection.  

Then, while hunting and gathering last week I popped in to see Don Fields and Rick Bumgardner at Morning Glory Antiques.

You know how collectors are.  They troll and search and bargain and buy and then, well, then the thrill is somehow gone.  

And one is simply left with dozens and dozens of pieces of amazing Wedgwood.

I haven't touched base with Rick as they are just getting ready to unveil a new shipment, but a little bird told me that this is his collection spilling from shelves and tabletops in the shop.

It's tempting isn't it?

To build a collection in one fell swoop.

The basalt - the all black pieces? "Wrap it up!"  Oh, don't I wish.

I'm restraining myself.  Like Meg, I'm focusing on the essentials.

Stick around.

You know me.

This just might be essential.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When I posted Dee Dee Arnold's apartment recently a few folks asked if I could get my mitts on any more images of George Terbovich's work.  Unlikely, I thought, until my editor from Spaces reminded me that they had run another of George's projects in their June/July 2006 issue.

A little surreal, isn't it?  I know, I've been off for a few days and you are thinking that I am a bit confused, but no.  Same George.

And the thing is, neither of these homes typifies his look.  I've seen three others besides these two that Spaces has published and they are completely distinct.

There are some similarities.  An intense focus on detail.  A commitment to wait for the right piece.  Truly, perfect pitch.  Each time.

There is the unobtrusive mix of old and new.  

A dedication to revealing the voice of the owner, not the decorator.

OK, I'm gushing.

I see these images and wonder what George would think of my jumble of color and hand-me-downs and nonsense.

I do know he wouldn't come in and wave his arm and say, "White!  It needs to be all white!" Because that isn't me and he isn't interested in inflicting his taste on anyone.

But we should be so lucky.

All photos courtesy of Spaces; photography by Landon Collis.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


but I have let a few things pile up.  I'm nearly always a bit scattered, but things are taking their toll.  Back shortly.

Delightful image from World of Interiors, March 2009.  Photography by Anders Gramer.  A terrific layout on Isabella Blow's flat can be seen at House of Beauty and Culture.  The issue also features Mandresfield Court, the inspiration for the house in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Never Take Me Anywhere

At loose ends?  No weekend plans?  I'd love to offer a few suggestions.

Michael Smith, owner of both Michael Smith and Extra Virgin is a semi-finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award, 

and Colby Garrelts (who owns bluestem with his lovely wife Megan) is a semi-finalist for the Best Chef: Midwest.

And while this spot is gourmet, it's gourmet burgers.  Mr. Blandings and I attended an event at Blanc Burgers + Bottles last night in their new location at Mission Farms and it was terrif.  We were already fans of the Westport location, but, you know, it's cold so we went South.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Look! Something Shiny!

There are places I haunt.  My only sympathetic connection with Holly Golightly is her use of retail as temple.  Having an unlimited budget often leads to being an undiscerning buyer.  Having to choose makes you a better shopper.  And sometime stalker.

I stalk the antique silver at Hall's.  It's in a case, behind glass, because it knows it's important.  It doesn't care if you want it or not.  It's good.  It knows it.  It welcomes you to admire it.  And admire it I do.  But I do wish these lovely pieces were gracing family tables and sideboards and shelves.  Last week I took a little trip down to Hall's with Soodie Beasley, who is an antique appraiser, to take a look.   We thought it would be fun to see which pieces we each would choose; she, backed by education and knowledge, me, liking pretty, shiny things.

We each picked five things.  We had a couple in common.  I started my list with this enchanting tray.  It's just so pretty.  The engraving, with the crane and the fan and the dragonfly is delightful, but the bamboo handles really got me.

Our trusty guide, Melissa Fritz of Hall's, was sure to show me how beautifully the handle had been attached with the lovely leaves as camoflage.  The piece was manufactured by William Hutton in 1865.  

Next up, a Georgian tureen, she of stunning silhouette.  Manufactured in 1875 she is in good condition and her lid sits firm and snug just as it should.

We deemed this the "I Dream of Jeannie" teapot and it is a bit magical.  Another piece from the 1800's, this one manufactured by Matthew Boulton, its jaunty wood handle and finial would add a spirited air to any collection.

Don't you think, wouldn't you want to, I mean, I know things are tight, but doesn't it seem somehow a bit better to save your pennies for something remarkably special than to toss one more $19.99 nothing into your basket?  I think it is.

Number 4 is just the bee's knees.  Late 19th century, this condiment set would brighten any breakfast table.  Salt, pepper and perhaps mustard all so handy.  Melissa did think there was a possibility that the glass liner had been added later and that that cup had originally been intended to hold an egg.  This might keep me from eating my breakfast standing at the kitchen counter as I pack the boys' lunches.  The button feet alone make me want to sit down and pop out a linen napkin.

And, last but surely not least, this Walker & Hall compote or centerpiece.  The Victorians may have heaped it with fruit but it would surely be just as happy holding M&Ms.

Fine pieces like these should not languish behind glass.  Save for them.  Buy them.  Treasure them.  These are the things that make everyday something special.  Hall's does have a special no-interest program for significant purchases for regular customers and a particularly appealing one for new brides.  Anyone in tabletop can fill you in.  To see Soodie's picks - and to have some real insight into the pieces - do check her blog here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bead of My Heart

T.S. Eliot had it all wrong.  February is the cruelest month by far.  Even with our occasional glimpses of the sun, the winter has not kept me warm, though I am hopeful for the lilacs.  I'm weary of the cold and gray.  

Casting about for inspiration and distraction, I enjoyed Town & Country's profile of Diane von Furstenberg.  It reminded me of the House & Garden feature of her Paris apartment in September of '05.  (Yes, that is the kind of nonsense I retain, while I had to remind myself that Eliot deemed April the cruelest month.  April, even in the waste land of the modern world, is a piece of cake compared to February.)
von Furstenberg's apartment is that tireless and timeless mix of old and new and this and that.  Oh, and the Warhol, of course.  But when I looked it up, what I couldn't resist was the African beaded chairs.

Right?  Then, on the hunt for something else, I ran across the image of Charlene de Ganay's vacation home, second from top, which features a beaded chair as well.  

This is just the kind of folly that would lift my spirits.  Imagine how much fun those boys would have pick, pick, picking until the cascade began.  I cannot begin to imagine if these are comfortable or not, though if I were a guest of von Furstenberg or Ganay I am pretty sure I would neither notice nor care.

Several beaded chairs, stools and tables can be found at 1st dibs and other spots on-line.  In addition, Christopher Filley sometimes has a piece of beaded cloth or such that holds the same graphic appeal.

Looking over the budget it appears that Mr. Blandings has left off the "African Beaded Chair" line item, so perhaps I will make my way back to the Nelson to enjoy the African beaded throne that sits just outside the Homer Page exhibit.  Where I will stand tapping my beaded slipper, impatiently waiting for Spring.

Image, top, photography by Francois Halard, next, Ganay's home, Elle Decor, October 2007, photography by Simon Upton, chairs and stool, 1st dibs, image, last, courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Homer Page at the Nelson

Friday found me with just the right size window of time - too small to go home and work and too large to go early and wait until the boys were released from school - so I headed to the Nelson-Atkins to see the new photography exhibit. My father was a television news photographer and while he captured his subjects moving and not still, it has always increased my interest in photography. I'm intrigued by the way the photographer sees the intensity of the image but remains detached.

Homer Page was born in Oakland, California and studied art and social psychology (ok, really, think about that for a minute) at the University of California from 1936 - 1940. His neighbor and mentor, Dorothea Lange, encouraged him to take up photography in 1944. By '47 he was featured in a major show at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Page received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1949 and he took the opportunity to document his interest in modern culture primarily by photographing people on the streets of New York City. He was easy and sly in his craft. Mostly his subjects seem unaware of his presence, but the tension of the '40's is clearly visible.

The fellowship allowed Page to focus on his photography for a year. While he was widely recognized for this work, he transitioned into a professional career as a magazine photographer. Few of his photographs were in private hands and his work was largely forgotten by the time of his death in 1985.

It's engaging to see the romantic, formal styles of the 40's off the movie screen and on the street.  Intriguing as well to study Page's interest in popular culture and commerce on the era.  One photo is of a wall of tawdry, paperback novels.  Some thought the paperback book the death knell of serious literature.  If you look closely at the dozens and dozens of titles you will find a copy of Eric Hodgins's Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

The exhibit runs through June 7th. The Museum has planned several programs around the exhibit; check the site here.

"We are not sure of war or peace, prosperity or recession; not sure what balance to strike between our freedom and our security, either as a nation or as individuals.  The fundamental issues are clouded and almost certainly in transition.  This makes any attempt to record conditions extremely difficult." - Homer Page

Images courtesy of the Nelson.