Monday, August 31, 2009

The September Issue

Last week I received a call from Mr. Blandings's aunt. She is something of a grande dame. She and her husband are movie star gorgeous. They look a bit like Lauren Bacall and William Powell. Only more stylish.

When we see them Mr. Blandings says, "I hope we look that good when we are their age." And I say, "Darling, we don't look that good now." And he knows that it is true.

Clothes, as you know, are not so much my thing, but as I was talking to Mr. B's aunt about Valentino she said, "Oh, I have a bunch of old stuff you could have. Too bad you're so tall." Never in my life, not for two seconds, not even when I had a crush on a pre-growth-spurt boy have I ever wished I were shorter. Until then.

But I went last week to see the "stuff" as she assured me she had a seamstress who could work wonders as well. Her house, well, her house is simply stunning and I try not to gawk when I am there but I don't think I succeed. Like her clothes it is classic and chic but never boring.

She carefully pulled open the doors of the two closets in the spare room and we began to pile clothes on the beds. She told me stories of trunk shows and runway shows and shopping in New York. She recounted tales of parties large and small, of things she thought worked and things that didn't quite when they arrived, and she told me of finagling a coat from Pat Buckley who had had it on hold.

"Take it, take it," she said, "I'll just end up giving it to the thrift shop." She reminded me that this bounty did not come from a single spree, but years and years of careful investing. "I don't think any of it looks dated," she declared. And she was right.

There was not a pair of harem pants in the lot.

All illustrations by Virginia Johnson from Kate Spade's Style.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School Shopping

The boys started school yesterday. A friend snapped a picture of me and Mr. B in the parking lot. I'm foolishly grinning from ear to ear; you'd think I'd just received a reprieve from an undeserved prison sentence.

What to do, what to do, what to do? So much time. So much quiet.

I did have an article to finish, but I wrapped that up by lunch.

Like a moth to a flame I headed to the shops at State Line. To see my friends. I'd like for you to meet them - aubusson cartoons in the window at Christopher Filley's. The colors are startlingly vivid. And there are more coming from the framer soon.

You can reach Christopher at 816/668-9974.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


There are a few additions to the dream house. Mr. Blandings's Father's Day present came back from the finisher. I'd completed it in plenty of time but drove around with the canvas, pillow and fabric for weeks before I made it to the shop. Mr. B is the fourth Blandings with the same name, not my fourth in any way.

The dusty tarnished jumble in the office continues to acquire some stuff.

The spider, which will occasionally be jewelry, but mostly decoration.

And the malachite box. Both pieces from the Rock Shop. I'd really like the boys' quartz pieces here, too, but 1, 2 and 3 are quite firm that their treasures remain in their own rooms. A little stingy considering I gave them life and all, but I let it go.

And, Mr. Blandings surprised me with Girl with Purse by Tom Corbin for my birthday. I've wanted her for a long time. My youngest said, "I think she's waiting for the bus." She's wearing a strapless dress, so I don't think she is waiting for the bus. But I agree that she is waiting for something.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Disarmingly Incongruent

The blog break was caused by two things. The first was my weariness with making the boys wait while I scanned or posted or replied and the resulting sulking.

And the second was the buzz in my brain that was growing louder, "Why am I doing this?" The emphasis was on the subject and not the verb. Some would say this is typical.

In any event, this home provided the tipping point. You see, this is where I thought we were headed. After our mash with mid-century, every room a greatest hits, I thought we were on our way here.

Climbers do occasionally become part of the mix and a generation later they are "old guard." I had an inkling that those precocious youngsters would eventually settle in with their elders - simply become part of the vocabulary.

Then I stumbled upon Bernd Goeckler's home in Classic Style. Viennese chandelier, Louis XVI writing desk, German day bed, Beidermeier secretary and Le Corbusier armchairs. A lot has been said lately about incongruent chairs, but these seem quite comfortable in their Neo-classical nest. Published in 1998.

Unfamiliar with Mr. Goeckler, I googled him. Sakes. Already in the midst of an engaging exchange with reader Toby Worthington I all but wailed, "I didn't even know who Bernd Goeckler is." And he typed back, "So. You didn't and now you do." Or something like that.

And the book sat open on this page for two weeks. Each member of my original audience surely saw it but it elicited not one comment. And then I remembered why I was doing this in the first place.

All images from Classic Style by Judith Miller, photography by Tim Ridley.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Off the Rack - Back in Black

At first I thought the altitude was making me light-headed.

But after returning to the plains I was assured that my original assessment was correct.

Black is the new black at least when it comes to wall color in the September shelter mags.

Shiny or matte, paint or paper, I applaud them all.

I considered matte black walls in the dining room of our first house and a friend with solid, if conventional, taste gasped, "It will look like a chalkboard! Don't!"

In a crisis of confidence I demurred. It was not the the first time nor the last that I allowed someone else's opinion to change my course.

I rarely look back on these shifts with relief and often with remorse. Life is shockingly unsure. Be bold.

Images from top: Bookshelves and tray-top table, Mark Badgley and James Mischka's Kentucky library, Elle Decor, photography by Roger Davies; Robert Duffy's Provincetown library, Elle Decor, photography by William Waldron; Windsor Smith's entry and glimpse of game room, House Beautiful, photography by Victoria Pearson; Eric Cohler's Manhattan bedroom, House Beautiful, photography by Jonny Valiant; Houston home designed by Rob Southern, House Beautiful, photography by Victoria Pearson (the paint here is actually a smidge brown); Jane Krakowski photographed for Town & Country by John Huba in Steven Gambrel's New York townhouse. All images appear in the September 2009 issues.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Speaking of Transitions

By now I am sure you have heard that Time Inc. will cease publishing Southern Accents. There are people, I know, who will see the demise of the shelter magazines as a sign of the times, as a by-product of the choppy economic waters. All I can see is the loss of a gracious publication from which I have torn countless pages of inspiration for my own home. It feels very personal. I am heartened to know that the website will continue and I hope to find Karen Carroll and her crew there offering me entree into their distinctly lovely, Southern world.
Image courtesy of Southern Accents. Room design by Heidi Friedler.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Julie & Julia - and blogging

It's difficult not be intrigued about a movie about a blogger. Blog. Book contract. Movie. It piques your interest. Especially if you are a blogger. Doubly intriguing if the movie is written by your (imaginary) best friend, Nora Ephron.

In the last couple of weeks I've re-read Ms. Ephron's Heartburn and read Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and Julia Child's My Year in France. Maybe all books, when you come right down to it, are about transitions. If your story arcs, after all, something must happen. Something changes. And you work from there. Your husband cheats while you're pregnant. Or you can't get pregnant. Or you move to France. Or Queens.

And you stand in front of the mirror, real or figurative, and you try to sort out how to be yourself now. And how to be yourself next. In these books, and in this movie, we get to watch stories of women creating themselves. Successfully. In Julie Powell's case, with a blog. In her book Ms. Powell says of the word blog, "Well, it is sort of a silly word, I guess." I wholeheartedly agree.

A silly word, but not a silly concept especially as it can be the way from there to here. It's a very good movie. There are many very memorable Ephron moments that I will not spell out here. It is not a romantic comedy. It is a movie that has as its backdrop two stories about marriage. Ephron said in Heartburn something like, "once you're married nothing really happens." (I can't find the exact quote because I have a library book and I can't turn down the pages of a library book.) Which in a lot of ways is true. And the main character, Rachel, is a cook book author who has her own show, but says something like, "people say I write cook books, but they are not really about cooking." The same sentiment can be applied to My Life in France and Julie & Julia. They are about cooks, but not really about cooking. They are about finding the thing that makes your soul sing.

Julie & Julia opens tomorrow.

All images courtesy of Sony Pictures; photography by Jonathan Wenk except for final image which is by David Giesbrecht.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shop Local

Shop local first. Support your hometown business first.

Really, it's important. These terrific t's at Standard Style.