Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Serene Scene

Two of the women who volunteered their homes for this private house tour were empty nesters.

Along with really beautiful antiques, their houses were so clean. And quiet. And clean. I mean, my house is clean, but not like this. For example, I did not notice anywhere that a small hand had scratched a smiley face into a leather chair. That may be a Blandings' original.

I loved the serenity of this house; even that cool, blue room, top, remains calm clad as it is in bittersweet.

The home owner showed us the care she had taken with the lighting of the art; that glowing gal in the living room goes straight into mourning with the flip of a switch.

Part of the point of tour director, Suzanne Cooper's, tour was that empty nests need not be staid and boring. Part of the appeal of the smaller space is being able to pare down to the pieces that are the very best.

And jazz things right up with fresh fabrics.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Major Crush

After the house tour (these are ins of yesterday's out) I mentioned to Mr. Blandings that it does make a difference to have fine things.

I do love a mix of high and low, but mostly what I have is a mix of repro and low. The houses I toured had really, truly, lovely furniture.

This library/porch was particularly charming.

With that perfect touch of needlepoint and that delicious tile floor.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Inside Out

Last night we were with friends who are debating replacing a deck or adding a screened-in porch. Mr. Blandings thinks one of the few drawbacks of the Dream House is its lack of screened-in porch. A few weeks ago local antiques dealer, Suzanne Cooper, arranged a house tour, an adventure, and the appeal of this porch keeps bubbling to the surface of my consciousness. Shady and cool, the allure of the black wicker is undeniable.

I can just envision myself feet-up, enjoying the one space where a ceiling fan seems appropriate, vodka drink in hand. (I'm off wine, mostly, because I fear it makes me whiny. Mr. B noted last week that Wine Spectator called vodka a colorless, odorless, tasteless intoxicant. I'm not sure what his point was. And I think they could be biased.) With her lovely furniture the homeowner has created a spot where you can enjoy outside inside. Heaven.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Clearing Customs

A couple of people have inquired about the custom monogram. MC Designs out of St. Louis did mine. You can see their work here.

Del Toro Shoes

I am please to report that the partners of Del Toro Shoes are shipping me what I am sure will be a perfect pair of custom monogrammed velvet slippers. The quality of the shoe was never in question, just a few administrative glitches, so I am giddy to be awaiting a new pair. Mr. Chevallard did let me know that they have found a new manufacturer who provides more consistent sizing; still, fit models are available to ensure you get exactly what you need.

Through the month of July Del Toro will offer Mrs. Blandings readers at 10% discount on their order (just enter "gz" at check-out.) Women's shoes are available in black, green and blue velvet; men's choice are the same with the addition of colorful linen. Embroidery choices abound. You could choose this graphic bull if you are gearing up for the American Royal and would like an alternative to boots.

A crisp and clean nautical flag appeals though I rarely put my foot aboard a boat.

Ocean, sporting, collegiate, they have it. Custom is available. Their prices are quite good; $165 for a classic slipper, $185 for a standard embroidery, $195 for custom monogram and $265 for a custom image. It's a young company, they've had some growing pains, but I think they are on the right track. Let me know if you order and if you're happy when you receive your shoes. I'll do the same.

It's Rude to Stare

I have gone back to look at this image a dozen times. And saved it. And, finally, printed it because I need paper inspiration files. That giant Greek key has me hunting for a yard stick and a paint brush. The flowers! That green! I can't get enough.

This Steven Meisel image appeared in Vogue in May, 2007; the layout was produced by Grace Coddington, set design by Mary Howard and panels by Sarah Oliphant. My hat is off to all of them. You can see the slideshow here.

From the incomparable Little Augury and her award-winning (well, it should be) post here. The image is

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Davey Gant

A couple of readers have asked about commissioning portraits from Davey Gant (whom I mentioned in a previous posts here.) Gant's portraits range from $500 - 1500 depending on the size and the specifications of the client. Sittings can last from twenty minutes to two hours; Gant is happy to work from photos as well.

You can see more of his work and contact the artist at his site here.

Image from

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wall Flower

Does this have a name? This putting of porcelain on brackets? Some wonderful French bon mot that describes it wrying and succinctly?

My grandmother had a collection of dime store birds that were scattered about her living room, tchotchkes come to roost as if she had scattered glass bird seed on the tabletops. Why not give them higher perches and feather your nest with a flock of cocktails instead?

Only, if I were going to, you know, collect friends fowl or feted, I'd collect David Cleverly's pottery instead.

Beasts abound and one could easily amass a barnyard's worth (including and especially pups, which are on my mind as a local shelter has a new litter of Boxers.)

But I think I'd rather turn my wall of brackets into a trophy case of Cleverly's clever take on historical figures.

Can't you see them, formally displayed, giggling from behind their glaze?

They usually appear with those furred or feathered which doubles the appeal.
You can find more about David Cleverly Ceramics here, including process and pages of his work.

Images from top, residence of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Paravicini, from the Millar and Harris Archive, English Heritage, National Monuments Record, from The Great Lady Decorators by Adam Lewis, published by Rizzoli; Hunting Room at Clandon Park, Surry, image from the National Trust, via Toby Worthington's guest post on Emily Evans Eerdmans's blog; the remaining from David Cleverly's site.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stage Mom

You know those parents? Those parents on the sidelines whose faces are red, ranting at the coach, yelling at the players, barking instructions at their kids? The ones you think, "Buddy, let it go; you were never going to be a superstar and neither is he. Give him a break."?

Let me assure you that that behavior has nothing to do with me. It does not relate at all to my emotions when I discovered this sketch and floor plan that my eldest made of a tree house. It did not occur to me at all that his drawing was precise, or that the floor plan actually related to the exterior. I hardly noticed his ingenious use of the spiral staircase, which would be particularly handy in a tree house application.

Or the tiger skin rug. I wasn't giddy for even a moment about that.

I did notice that there is no lighting plan.

But I didn't point it out. Because I'm not that kind of parent.

Master Blandings agreed to allow his drawings to be published under the condition that I mention that he is still working on the plan for the second and third floors.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Triple Crown

Dee Dee Arnold's apartment by George Terbovich.

David Jimenez's table for Kansas City's Dining by Design.

The cover of my friend, Emily Evans Eerdmans's new book, The World of Madeleine Castaing.

A winning combination.

Image, top, from Spaces Magazine; photography by Aaron Leimkuehler; middle image via David Jimenez; book cover via Emily Evans Eerdmans.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Redux, Redux

A friend is considering stitching a rug. "Do it!" I proclaim, "Stitching is so soothing." Like a rosary, the repetitive motion is thoughtless; it steadies the mind, allowing it to take liberties. Rhythmic and reassuring, the threading of the needle causing pause and concentration, then the rasp of the wool against the canvas. In and out, over and over. And if your reverie is disturbed by the slo-mo of the replay or the recount of the trivia of the day, it matters not. Not like losing the place on your page, the interruption of critical dialogue or the bother of the counting, purling, or casting off. If you are good, or practiced at least, you can look up over the edge of your glasses and offer a meaningful, "Mmmm-hmmmm," or, "Wow, that is really something," without so much as a hesitation. Even if you are not, if this is a new endeavor, you can just stop, needle half in this stitch, half in that, while you confirm that, yes, of course you are watching, listening, before you travel on your way to the resolution of the day's tangled threads.

The image, above, is of the late Russell Lynes, a writer, who, at the time of its publication (HG, January 2003) was the president of the MacDowell Colony. The piece was a reprint of an article from July, 1972. Of his passion for needlepointing Lynes said, "As we grow up we become more and more confined by patterns of socially acceptable behavior. But how we spend our leisure does not need to conform to patterns. What I stitch into a canvas is what I feel like putting there." He also noted, "Needlepoint nearly took over my house." This is something I can completely understand.

Photography by Dean Brown.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Enduring Styles, Post Script: Isabel Lopez-Quesada

I was going back through some of the posts from the Enduring Style series that I did last year. As I was reading the Aesthete's picks again, I remembered that images from one of his choices, Isabel Lopez-Quesada, had been tricky to find; her site was under construction.

So I clicked the link to check it again. Here. Here is the link, though I warn you: if you click this link you are going to spend a lot of time on this site. A lot. You will want to. You will not want to miss a single image.

And if you miss Aesthete's Lament perhaps you will feel that we toasted him here this morning for bringing us something good once again.

Also, maybe jot down the site address if you are interested. I requested permission to use these images and did not hear back. Just in case it makes someone a little grouchy and he or she asks me to pull them, bookmark now.

All images via

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monet & Moore

In first grade last year (ok, it was only two weeks ago) the youngest Blandings enjoyed the Merry Month of Monet.

May is a merry month, but I wondered how much he would absorb as we were all beginning to turn our faces from school toward pool. But he was quite engaged and wanted to know if we could see a "real" Monet. (Enough of this picture book nonsense.) As well as being merry, May is busy, so we did not make it to the Nelson to see their Monets until last week. Let me tell you, when you are little, that massive Water Lilies is really something else. As was watching him move in to look close and then back up to see clearly. I do think sometimes we make the guards nervous.

After we left the Impressionists behind we headed out to the grounds to see the sculpture park. On the lawn, there is an allee with these wonderful trees (yes, help please) that have the sweetest scent.

Both buildings are stunning, inside and out, and it was such a treat to be able to run at the museum.

P.S. Special thanks to the reader who called to my attention to the Calder sculpture on the East side; it was a hit. The title of the post refers to the many Henry Moore sculptures on the lawn.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Garden Party

As Mr. Blandings and I stand, arms crossed, discussing the virtues of hornbeams, I've turned to a familiar source for inspiration.

I've gathered a few magazines and a couple of books to help with the happy convergence of an increased interest in gardening and the time to indulge it.

Excellent. Another file full of tearsheets and sticky notes.

But there is another great way to find your muse. DIFFA's Garden by Design is this weekend. The Kick-Off party is Friday night at the Kansas City Museum (DIFFA does know how to throw a party), the tour is Saturday and, as a bonus, local designer, John Rufenacht's garden at "Evening Place," his home in Clinton, Missouri, will be open on Sunday.

By the way, John, this is not how I look when I am gardening.

Details for the party, tour and tickets here.

All images from Kansas City Home Design, June 2010; photography by Jill Hunter.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seen but not Heard (Not)

The entire Dream House is looking a little tired. Five people, and especially the three ages 13 and under, take a toll. A severe toll. On upholstery especially. The sofa in the kitchen, which I adore, count on, recline on, has been recovered once already in seven years and it needs it again. A new pillow or two would help. So I turned my weary midwestern eyes west again and requested a couple of samples from Peter Dunham at Hollywood at Home (including Kashmir Paisley, above.)

Peter Dunham, whom it was such a lovely treat to meet while I was in, yes, Los Angeles. The website basically said, "tick here" for cuttings and I was, well, anal and anxious and disbelieving. As it turns out, via post Dunham and Hollywood at Home took as careful care of me they did in person; my samples arrived without a hitch and are draped prettily here and there. (Lisa Fine's turn at set dressing at Hollywood at Home, above.)

Speaking of children, thirteen and below or any variety, it can be tricky to find a way to decorate rooms that don't consist of Pooh (whom I love to read, but not to see enjoying his honey pot on a border whilst tucking someone in) or fire trucks or Elmo (though I appreciate his joie de vivre.)

Enter Susanna Salk. Salk has edited Room for Children; Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play, a stylish selection of rooms fit for baby, toddler, tween and teen at, yes, sleep, work and play. The images are wonderful and the rooms range from fantasy to full-on doable in a day.

Oh, the connection? Or have I let the out-of-school-what-can-you-do-for-me-now crowd damage my synapses permanently?

Nope. Susanna Salk will be at Hollywood at Home to sign copies of her book tomorrow, Thursday, from 4:30 - 7. Tea and cocktails (oh, for heaven's sake, have a cocktail, why not?)

I wish I could be there myself. Inexplicably, the state with the most Mrs. Blandings's readers is California. What in the world could be the appeal of this midwestern housewife to the hip and fab of the west coast? Not a clue, but I'm flattered beyond all belief.

Honestly, I have this book, think it is terrific and have a huge crush on Dunham. Go.

Images, top two, from Hollywood at Home. Next five images from Susanna Salk's Room for Children; Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play published by Rizzoli. Credits as follows: the yellow room which I would be happy to tuck myself into right now, designed by Maureen Footer, photographed by Daniel Efert; the following room, well, I can't find a credit, but will get back to you; room with jazzy striped sofa designed by Eve Robinson; playroom photographed by Jean Rondazzo.