Monday, November 29, 2010

Italian Love Story

Maybe it's the approaching holiday, when everything glittery, sparkly and jingley seems oh-so-smart, but these Chiavari chairs fairly leapt from the pages of Elle Decor and World of Interiors this month. (Next month. What to call it when December comes mid-November?)

Long past are the days I held infants aloft (they spit up, you know, nearly always when you are holding them just over your face) but these chairs are irresistible. So sleek and sexy they make me want to perch just on the edge, looking mysterious with kohl-lined lids, vodka-soda adding nary a notch to my nipped waist, swinging a foot shod in a very high heel with a questionable ankle strap. Black.

Just baroque enough to muck up your mod, just mod enough to perk up your provenance. They are a fantasy for me, but could be reality for you. Still at Joanna's. 750 for the pair. (You can give her a ring at 816-753-7606. Nothing in it for me; I just think all great chairs need a good home.) Glamourous and bargain aren't usually drinking buddies, but sometimes the holidays provide a magical mix.

Image, top, Elle Decor, December 2010/January 2011 (a stunningly good issue), photography by William Waldron. Next, World of Interiors, December 2010, photography by Eric Boman.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Your Finest Room

While I was talking with Thomas Jayne last week I mentioned that I had a room that I thought could have made the list. He nodded, good naturedly, and said, "Yes, we actually have a spot on the website where people can post their finest rooms." It could be, of course, a room of your own, or you can post an interior that inspires you.

I sent a picture of my old dining room. I'm kidding. I did send a picture of Todd Romano's apartment; if posted, I am quite looking forward to Jayne's note.

You can send your own selection here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thomas Jayne is blogging for Interior Design magazine and one of his posts contains a couple of pictures of Albert Hadley's sitting room, which appears as the last project in the book. Like a spoonful of shaved ice at the end of a meal, it leaves one with a refreshing feeling of satisfaction - a sense that talent and restraint can be as significant as budget.

Jayne has received a lot of positive feedback on the inclusion of this room and it is endearing to note that Hadley did not think the room should be a part of the project. "I asked him," recalls Jayne, "and he said he did not think it was worthy. I asked if we could shoot it anyway, then he could look at the pictures and decide. When I showed him the proofs he relented, but he still didn't think it should be included."

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Finest Rooms in America

I was in New York last week and was delighted that I was able to talk with Thomas Jayne about his new book, The Finest Rooms in America.

Many of you may have The Finest Rooms by America's Great Decorators published in 1965. While several of the selections in the vintage book have a very similar feel, Jayne's do not. As Jayne said, "It was a microcosm of New York decorating. Today there is not a clear group [of decorators], not a single shared aesthetic. Not everyone wants a French room."

He notes that his book is a completely subjective compilation. Once he'd conceived the project he sat down to make a list of the thirty rooms he would like to see in the book. He had it in short measure. He then went back to fill in the gaps, "like the big, flouncy chintz room. It needed that." He was able to secure nearly every room on his wish list.

There are not "new" projects in the book, though there were a few that were new to me. In addition, many of my favorite rooms do appear on the pages and I did not have them in printed form before, like the Brody House by Billy Haines and the Menil house by Charles James. I told Jayne that Suzanne Trocme's Influential Interiors was, yes, influential to me. Perhaps a retread to others, Trocme's book introduced me to many names in design history.

This is part of the value of Jayne's book as well, to see a clear perspective, a distinct point of view, in what will last; it is a bonus to have them all in one lovely place.

For a schedule of book signings click here.

All images from The Finest Rooms in America courtesy of Monacelli Press. From top, Monticello photographed by Paul Rocheleau; Hadley's sitting room by Kerri McCaffety; Mary Cooper House, McCaffety; Oceanfront House, Scott Frances; Francis Brody House, Oberto Gili.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aide Memoire

One of my friends always sends an email entitled "aide memoire" when we have plans. It's such a lovely way of saying, "I know you're a ding dong and might forget."

No, she's not really saying that. She wouldn't. And I'm not either, but I am reminding you about Robyn Brooks's trunk show tomorrow.

I stopped by today while she was setting up and the products are so lovely. Terrific colors whether you want a wrist stacked bright or a sea of neutrals to compliment your oh-so-current camel.

Lots of product that you can take home right away either for yourself or someone on your gift list.

Lynne Gilbert will be there, as well, showing her new line of fine cotton PJs and cashmere sweaters.

If you can't make it to 6220 High Drive between 11 and 4 you can find Robyn's line here and Gilbert's line, Marigot, here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CCHL, vol. 2

In retrospect, every room I've crafted for myself has been a cottage. While my mother was having her 70's moment of mylar paper and orange carpet, my room was yellow faux bamboo and quilts.

The dorm rooms and apartments that followed all included chintz, most memorably that Ralph Lauren black floral that I am sure I would still have in a plastic bin had it not been for the toenails of a beloved, albeit rambunctious pup. (Not Rosie. Rosie would never.)

The split-level that was Mr. Blandings's, and then mine, whose entry hall was papered with faux stone and ivy, seemed happy to receive the iron bed and the braided rug and the wicker.

Most of the things I tend to gather are the stuff of other people's second homes. I stopped short on a walk this week with Mrs. Griswald to study two wicker chairs left by the side of the road, "I think I might need these." "Um. Well. You could..." And I caught the wisdom in her unsaid words and walked on.

Moving twice is hard enough; acquiring stuff to move is total folly.

All images House Beautiful, design by Justine Cushing; photography by Don Freeman.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Out and About

I had a wonderful lunch yesterday at Webster House and noticed these terrific Deco pieces near the back of the store. That blonde wood is yummy and the prices were great. The T-table is actually one of a pair.

Also, look who popped up in Joanna Votilla's window - Chiavari. Also a pair.

Wait, what? OK. The image is awful.
Here's an image of another pair on 1st dibs. Joanna's are a lot less ching. Ring her up at 816-753-7606.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seconds, Please

A little bird told me yesterday that there is a new project up at Isabel Lopez-Quesada's site. If you haven't stopped there before, do take a minute. If you have, scroll right until you see Asturias, Espana 2010 to see the new work. A portion of this project appeared in World of Interiors recently; what you didn't see was terrific, too. Here.

Connecticut Country House Look

I've deemed this the Connecticut Country House Look (even though none of these houses are in Connecticut.)

This look seeped under my skin watching Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn, Bringing Up Baby and Philadelphia Story. Again and again.

Mostly white walls. A fair amount of floor showing. Some chintz. A lot of leg.

I've been known to show a lot of leg myself.

A mix of painted and brown wood with a little bit of sparkle. Not too much. Too much sparkle kills the WASP. Not that I am one, but I have quite a few buzzing around me.

That's sort of what I'm thinking.

Images from top, Ruby Ross Wood from Regency Redux, a French mill from House and Garden Complete Guide to Interior Decoration, 6th edition, 1960; Veranda, September 2010, design by Melanie Turner; photography by Erica George Dines; final two, House Beautiful, design by Marshall Watson; photography by Nathan Schroder.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blank Slate

Living Room

I am a big believer in the jinx. Absolutely a knocker of wood, a thrower of salt and I'd be a over-the-shoulder spitter, too, if I thought I'd miss my jacket.

Dining Room

Let's just say that, in theory, this is where I could be living mid-December.


If it isn't hit by a meteor, lightening or an earthquake. Which could happen. Well, it could. I plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Family Room

I like the dark floors. I like the white walls. The light fixtures and fans? Not so much, which has the boys up in arms and they are lobbying heavily to keep their ceiling fans, "No one will see them but us!" Silly, young, naive things that they are, they think they have a chance. They do not.

Sun Porch (which will be my office)

I'm pushing furniture around in my head, of course, but sometimes I realize I've used the same chest twice or factored in tables that are mine only in fantasy.

Master Bedroom

Mr. Blandings has asked more than once, "Where will the Christmas tree go?" but that is too real, less dollhouse playing, so I just keep responding with, "Hmm...we'll see."

Master Bath

When we packed for the "in-between house" I told the boys to pack like they were going on a two-week vacation. Given these parameters Mr. Blandings stood, puzzled, looking at the stuff I was taking. "What's all this?" "A dark dress in case there's a funeral. A cocktail dress in case there's a party. Three pairs of cowboy boots. Essentials." He didn't bother to ask about the file boxes of tear sheets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Louis Loves Le Lac

Speaking of Todd Romano, his wares are available on 1st dibs and he has this lovely Louis wearing a little Le Lac. Pretty spiffy use of not-so-much fabric.

Enduring Styles - IMHO

One of the things that Emily Eerdsman and I discussed when she was here was current design books. I'm incredibly fond of Thomas Jayne's The Finest Rooms in America and I brought along a copy to our lunch.

Many of the rooms that people included in the Enduring Style series are in the book; many, many of the much beloved rooms of the last couple hundred years are in the book.

I like having them all together, like having all your best friends able to celebrate your birthday.

I had thought I would not dip my toe in the Enduring Styles series, but I am adding Todd Romano's apartment featured both in Elle Decor and New York Social Diary.

This apartment is not in Jayne's book (Which I hate to point out, "Oh, we missed you at the Winthrops. Hmm..? What's that? Not invited, oh dear." No, I don't mean to do that.) but it pops into my head so often. It was the one spot that I missed after a very satisfying read. (Goodness, this is coming out all wrong; more on Jayne's book later. "Gertrude Winthrop how could you have not invited the Bullstrodes." Absolutely not what I mean to imply.)

Romano's home is just so darned elegant and comfortable at the same time. The Albers, the Queensware, the white walls and leopard. It makes me want to know him. That's the point, right?

All images Elle Decor, January/February 2007; photography by Pieter Estersohn.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Forever Mine

I won a cup. My enthusiasm for this gift would spill over its small confines and the fact that I have one has made me yearn for another. Two more, actually, which is my friend's fault as she mentioned, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to have three on the mantle?" Curses.

Seeped in Midwestern niceness, it seems too much to ask, so I have not filled out another request form. I have a little fantasy that at the end of the exhibit they will have just one left and I would actually be doing them a favor by offering to take it "forever."

Emily Evans Eerdmans and I spent a lovely day together last weekend and I drove her by the old house, which has large taupe paint swatches on the living room walls, and to the Nelson to see the Twomey "Forever" exhibit among other things.

As Emily filled out her form I overheard a woman, about my age, explaining to the staff person that her son would take her cup upon her passing and that he had agreed to keep the cup forever as well. He looked up nodding earnestly.

When I surveyed the troops, all 1,345 cups (representative of the number of pieces in the Burnap collection, from which the inspiration of the cup was taken) it was difficult to not be impressed with the size of the original gift, with the significance its donors gave it and their belief that the collection would have value in perpetuity.

"Who remembers?" asked Mr. Blandings. "Who remembers what?" "That the entire collection has to be kept forever." "They write things down." But I wonder if that dark-haired boy, or any of my own, will remember such a promise as he sifts and sorts. Forever is a very long time.