Thursday, March 24, 2011

Design ADD

Elegant as Rheinstein?

Chic as Irving?

Cocooned in a cacophony of color as Gambrel?

Or, crisp as can be as TOB?  What to do when it isn't so much knowing what you like, as knowing what you like the most?  Which way to go when it isn't not knowing how, it's not knowing which.  How does one find the will to winnow?

Really.  I want to know.

Images from top, Suzanne Rheinstein for Courtnay Daniels, Southern Accents, November/December 2002; photography by Tria Giovan; Carolina Irving, her own home, via Little Augury; Steven Gambrel, his own home, Elle Decor by William Waldron; Thomas O'Brien, his own home, via

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Me

Do you take books on vacation?  You know, actual books?  Not a grainy seventy-five percent screen of text on an electronic tablet.  Books.

I do.  This trip I took A Moveable Feast, A Passage to India, The Hunger Games, Scat and a broad collection of  Poppleton.  Also, Metropolitan Home's Design 100: The Last Word on Modern Interiors.  Normally, I do not take design books on vacation.  I often buy design books on vacation, happy to lug them home, but usually I don't pack them to go along.

This time I did.  I miss Met Home and its unique, and I think broad, definition of "modern."  The book is a wonderful collection of some of the highlights of the magazine's thirty years of coverage.  There are great, large glossy pictures and short bits of copy, a happy balance for the design crazy.  This particular image, above, has stuck in my head for years.  I hunted through a stack of old issues five times to try to find it before giving up.  The work of architects David Lake and Ted Flato, I have thought of it half-a-dozen times since it was published; I am happy to have it in hand again.

Particularly charming is editor Michael Lassell's introduction; it is the kind of writing that makes you think you might want to hang out with him and have a beer after work.  Which is kind of what he's doing with the book.  Even if your design library leans a bit traditional, you should find good inspiration here.

Photo, top, photography by Erik Johanson, next, photography by John Ellis and last, photography by Langdon Clay, all images courtesy of Filipacchi Publishing 2010 for Design 100: The Last Word on Modern Interiors.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Like a Lion

It has been a long, long winter.  I know it wasn't just my winter, but I do take the cold personally.

I am at home at the beach.  I am happy at the beach.  I am better at the beach.  My hair is not only bigger, which feels right to this Oklahoma girl, but wavier, and somehow more golden even before the sun has touched it.

Sitting in the sun may be my last conscious vice, having long ago given up late nights, too many cocktails and scoundrels.  Something in me craves it, soul, psyche, some sort of cosmic battery, and I can feel each muscle begin to relax one by one as it absorbs the heat.

My friend, Nick Olsen, would shrug and think, "Duh.  Leo," at this gush and perhaps he's right.  You can all but hear my tail gently slapping the sand as I raise my face to the sun.

More lion than lioness as I have no drive to hunt, content to consume what others bring back.  (Perhaps lions would be the bloggers of the animal kingdom if they could type.)

At the beginning of the week I wondered if I needed the ocean; perhaps sun was sufficient.  But I found myself facing the surf.  Nick knows, Aquarius rising.

Each day I walked to town and knew that I prefer a village.  Here for coffee, there for bread, somewhere else for the paper.  In and back, hello and how are you.

If you were nearby, either towel or table, you would have heard me express my recently discovered distress at the thought of having a gluten allergy.  In the past week I became acutely aware that I could live on bread and butter.  And pasta.  And cookies.  "I," I declared, "am going to eat better bread.  From here on out I am going to eat wonderful bread for breakfast every day."  Mr. Blandings looked up over his bracket, "I asked Scott yesterday how he got into such good shape.  He gave up carbs."

"Really good bread and a square of dark chocolate."  His blue eyes held mine for a moment before he returned to his basketball picks, "That sounds like a good idea."

Who is he to argue with the king of beasts?

With a bit of editing, this was basically my walk to town for the past week.  The churches, particularly charming, had really great lighting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Beachy

We have been away, and while we were gone the paint for Mr. Blandings's study arrived.

The mornings at the beach were cool, the water calm.  It was a banner year for dolphins.  The promise of dolphin sightings could make me do nearly anything.  If you could promise me a monthly dolphin sighting in exchange for balancing my checkbook, I would vary nary a penny.

Along with gallons of Calke Green (top), an almost-armful of samples arrived as I ponder the fate of walls and ceilings and doors.

Light Blue, Parma Gray, Dix Blue, Borrowed Light and Skylight, sit, able and well-bodied soldiers battling for attention with a pile of bills and mail.

Even on my screen, these colors don't resemble the hues in the cans.

But later today I will begin to swatch and swipe and stand and consider.

All the while thinking of the beach, much as I was thinking of paint as I considered the colors of the water and sky in Florida.

All color images courtesy of Farrow & Ball; the actual paint I paid for myself.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Block by Block

Always intrigued by quilts and hooked rugs and needlework, I've been focusing lately on the patterns from other cultures and countries that feature similar shapes and patterns as traditional American crafts.

John Robshaw's pillows offer a nice little case study on this subject.  (Are case studies still a thing in the working world?  We did a million of them back when I twisted into pantyhose five days a week.)

Robshaw's handblocked designs have always showcased common shapes, but this latest collection features more embroidery and stitching.

You can find the pillow collection here.

All images courtesy of John Robshaw.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Site with Roy Hamilton

If you are a designer, you might have seen this type of display at a Hinson showroom.  Pots and vases and cache pots en masse, all with this creamy, dreamy finish, pottery accented with a slightly darker linen pattern or faux bois or swirl.

And if you have, you know that the pieces are the work of long-revered potter Roy Hamilton.

Hamilton moved from the West Coast to NYC a few years ago and set up shop in Christopher Spitzmiller's studio.  A more talented and gracious pair could not be found. 

While Hamilton's pieces suit a neutral Neutra, he has recently added color to his creations.  Hatches and dots and swirls add swish to brilliantly executed forms.

Still with Spitzmiller, but at his own address on-line, you can find Mr. Hamilton here at Roy Hamilton Studios. dot com.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The New Traditionalists

I was in New York last week and was drawn by the siren song of other bloggers to check out the New Traditionalists.

This up-and-coming furniture line was started by a couple of guys who liked good, traditional design, but were ready to turn it on its ear.

Architect and designer Brady Wilcox, formerly of John Varvatos and Donna Karen, is responsible for the furniture design.  The company does not exhibit at Market, so they can roll out pieces as they are ready instead introducing an entire collection.  Wilcox plans about twenty more new pieces this year.

But the pieces themselves are not the whole story.

The finishes are really remarkable.

Remarkable and many.  Flat, lacquer, layered, lined, it's all your choice and by "you," I mean any darned body.  The New Traditionalists sell to both the trade and individuals.

And, an added bonus, if you care about this kind of thing and I do, the furniture is made in New England.  Not China.  New England.

Just what made Wilcox want to collaborate on a high-end furniture company with a downtown soul in the midst of a (please almost over) recession?  Philip Erdoes, fellow native Oklahoman, hit brick wall after brick wall (and not the desirable urban loft kind) while hunting for furniture for his nearly-newborn a few years ago.

Erdoes and Wilcox had been friends since junior high and together these guys created duc duc, a jazzy line of furniture for the nursery and kids rooms.  Erdoes knows more about Big 12 standings than design (and I wonder if he trips when he says "12" instead of "8") but perhaps because of that he can look at the business in a new way.

No High Point, manufacture in New England, market through social media.  You know, new.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We Love Urban Grace Transforming Little Spaces

Last night Mr. Blandings came home while I was reading blogs.  "Hey.  What's that?"  And I scrolled up and then scrolled down to show him Erika Powell's absolutely-amazing-fantastic attic-turned-bunk-room project complete with hidden stairway door.  "Will you email that to me?"  Sure.  Then we talked about it for about half of dinner (I was horrified to discover my boys don't know what a trundle bed is) and then the boys insisted on seeing it.  After a moment of awe, they exclaimed, "We need that."

Needless to say, I suggest you check it out.  Here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Kid on the Block

I have a well-worn path up and down 45th Street in the antiques district just east of State Line.  Depending on the day, I'll stop here for this or there for that and always at Christopher Filley's and Parrin & Co. to see Barbara, both for the furniture and the friendship.

Then one day not long before the holidays, I heard a new dealer was opening.  "Trish, you know Trish," and I did.  She's had a wonderful space at Mission Road Antique Mall, a space that was Chris's for a while, then Steve Roger's; it has always had good energy.

"I do.  I do know Trish."  I understand that she was in her new shop for a couple of days with the door locked, apprehensive about opening.  But, let's face it, if you're an antique dealer who never sells you're not a dealer, you're a hoarder.

And Trish Hedley is far too gracious to do that.  She has opened her doors and, no surprise to anyone who haunts the street, her things are on the move.

She told me that sometimes she feels like Mrs. Kravitz as she'll brew a pot of coffee and walk up and down the street to see if the other dealers could use a cup.  That doesn't sound nosy to me, that sounds neighborly.

Make a point to visit Trish at her new shop:

1707 W. 45th St.

You can still find a sampling of her wares at Mission Road in a space just behind the register.