Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Climbing the Walls

You can't, you know, decorate in isolation.  This room this and that room that.  So as I piece together the living room and plan the dining room, the downstairs hall and family room must be considered.  The image, top, in the May issue of  House Beautiful, caused one of the tumblers to fall into place offering up the answer for the hall.  "Trellis.  Of course."

Then, while visiting the Kips Bay Showhouse, I lingered long in this room.  Captivated by the paper, delighted by the furniture.  When my dining partner said, "What was your favorite room?" I replied, "Those mirrors!"

A classic room with unnoticeably unconventional choices, I adored Richard Mishaan's use of Philip Jeffries embroidered grass cloth for the walls.  Trellis.

Which reminded me of Little Augury's project.  Trellis.  With an edge.

Then, while pulling out Influential Interiors to see if it was right for a friend, I was reminded of this image using Colefax Trellis.

And then this.  But my first leg of the hunt (on-line or in the showroom) has not been a success.  (Try searching "trellis wallpaper:" A bazillion images of Imperial Trellis pop up.)  By this time I was planning on two or three samples taped to the hall wall.  Nada.  

I could paint it.  But then there's the math.  You know I hate math.

Images from top, House Beautiful, May, 2011, design by Meg Braff; photography Thibault Jeanson.  Paper, Sea Island Trellis by Brunschwig & Fils; New York Times, design by Richard Mishaan, photography Trevor Tondro.  Paper, Philip Jeffries; via Little Augury; Influential Interiors; photography James Merrell; Farrow and Ball: The Art of Color; photography, Edward Addeo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Evolution of a Living Room - Version 2.0

I abandoned the strie.  The choice was repaint the entire room white then glaze or just paint the solid color throughout.  I painted a solid coat with the glaze, so this is three coats of 1:1 Slipper Satin and glaze.

I tried these chairs flanking the sofa, but the room nearly tipped.  Their scale is a little large - 10-20% too big I'd say - no matter where they are, but they are great for reading the paper on Sunday.  The painting was my mother's and I love it, but Mr. B thinks it is "spooky."  It's place holding.  Maybe for this.

I tossed that needlepoint pillow, above, onto one of the chairs and realized I have a completed canvas at the Studio just waiting for fabric to back it.  I think I'll reconstruct the tulip as well and leave them here.
These chairs need recovering badly so I will soon begin the hunt for fabric.  Expect slips for the Biedermeier chairs as well.  And pillows for the sofa.  Sakes.

Rather than focusing on what is not, let's instead enjoy what is.  Slipper Satin has taken the edge off of the walls while still leaving a sense of "white."  (Which is what Mr. Blandings would tell you it is anyway.)

So, now, go ahead, twist my arm - make me look at fabric.  Shucks, I guess I will.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Evolution of a Living Room - Versions 1 - 1.1


This is our living room as it was when we first moved in.  We can call this Version 1.  See?  Same old stuff, new space.  

Slightly tweaked.  The sisal rug is going.  The old rug that is currently atop will shift over to live under the yellow chairs, which will hopefully not be yellow.  An as-yet-undiscovered rug will live under the other group leaving more of the floor to show.  Also, I picked up a pair of Paul McCobb tables that replaced the one that I made.  (He is not abandoned, but residing in Mr. B's study.)

The white was beginning to feel less fresh and more Mastercraft apartment.  (Many of you will be scratching your heads, but if you lived in Lawrence, Kansas in the late 80's you will have a vivid mental image.)  I sought the counsel of a few friends and, with their thoughtful guidance, settled on paint.  (I am respectfully allowing them to remain anonymous so as not to be inundated with requests for help.  Mine are annoying enough.)

The plan was Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light on the ceiling and a strie of Slipper Satin on the walls.  Borrowed Light is a home run in every way.  I adore it.  I could write poems about it.  I dream of it in my sleep and spring from my bed in the morning so I can see it. The strie was tricky.  (The swatch image is accurate; these are not.)  I couldn't figure out why I couldn't figure it out.

I tried varying combinations of paint and glaze, hunted for different glazes and brushes, all with little success.  It was time-consuming and annoying.  One evening my middle son, who is not overly interested in aesthetic endeavors but has a good eye and a strong opinion, cruised through the room.  I paused, brush in hand and asked, "Whaddya think?"  He glanced and offered, "I like the color."

The concise clarity of this statement was all I needed.  Like design, his communication often takes place in the negative space.  The message was clear: abandon the strie - though he would not have known to call it that.  Within ten minutes I was to a spot on the wall that had been painted with Ben Moore and not Sherwin Williams and I realized the entire problem was with the existing "base" coat.  Bother.

Part 2, the resolution, tomorrow. (What?  You think I'm Joni and I'm going to lay the whole thing out in one post?  No way.  I'm milking it.  And I think I used "lay" correctly.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ADing On

Please forgive my spotty posts.  I've been painting my living room and for a short time I thought it had gotten the best of me.  Also, I'm stepping out on you just the littlest bit.  Every now and then, a few times a month for as long as they will have me, I'm going to be writing the same sort of stuff that I write here over at  It's been in the works for a while, but as editor Margaret Russell said at Blog Fest yesterday, random is not in her vocabulary.  Anyway, I think we have things hammered out, though I am sure they will evolve.  Expect the same sort of stuff around here, with the occasional link over there.

Image courtesy of Architectural Digest; photography Roger Davies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anonymous, I, pod, and ipad

A while back I wrote a post about taking books on vacation and implied, with a somewhat superior tone, that reading books in paper form was better than reading books electronically.  An anonymous reader responded:

 "Meh--sort of a silly distinction. The thing worth being snooty about is whether someone reads or not, and what.

If someone reads Portrait of a Lady, I'm going to be impressed. i don't care whether it was on paper, a Kindle, or written in wet sand with a stick."

I really like my ipad.  I can't say I love it, because if it went away I would be over it in about 48 hours, but I really like it.  It's handy.  But, at the time of the original paper/pad post, I hadn't read a book on it.  So I did.  In fact, I've read two.  I've read Game Change and Bossypants.  My original sense of what I would want to read electronically held up.  There are some books that I a) want to read, b) don't want to keep, and c) don't want to wait for a the library.  

There are some annoyances.  I have the original ipad and, and I know this seems unlikely, it's heavy.  It's heavy like War and Peace even when you're reading Bossypants.  Also, you basically have to sit up.  Not lean to or lie* on one side, because the text stays upright.  (Maybe there is a way to correct this that I don't know.)  I did read on it outside and the sunlight/glare thing did not affect me.

At the same time I was reading Game Change I was reading A Passage to India.  You will find my copy still on my bedside table with a couple of pages turned down.  (I don't underline as I have a silly schoolgirl aversion to writing in books.)  And, I will go back to these a couple of times before I put it on a shelf.  You can highlight passages in the ipad, but I feel quite sure that I will never look at them again.  

While reading Bossypants, Tina Fey mentions David Foster Wallace, and this is maybe the fifteenth time the universe has presented me with this author, whom I think I want to read.  It was incredibly easy on the ipad to click over and preview his books, read reviews and buy.  Still, I didn't.  I had a feeling that I would want to maybe turn down a page or two.  Put it on the shelf.  Paper isn't necessarily better, but for me, it's different.

And, by the way, reading Portrait of a Lady in any form isn't all that impressive to me.  Mill on the Floss?  The Tin Drum?  Yeah, those you can be snooty about.

*I have to look up the lie/lay thing every single time.  For whatever reason, my brain does not retain number facts in any form or this rule of usage.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wall to Wall

I'm still on walls.  It may be a week of walls.  Anyway, I ran into Thomas Jayne when I was in New York.  I like running in to Thomas for two reasons: 1) he's both charming and interesting, and, 2) he makes me feel petite.  At least for a few minutes.

He mentioned that he moved his blog to his own site.  He had been blogging for Interior Design.  When I went to track down the new stuff, I ran across the old stuff and was enchanted by this old post on his project jackets.  I think you might be, too, and you can find it here.

But really, bookmark or add to your reader or do whatever it is you do to find your favorites, for his current blog on his site here.  If you do, you'll find the most wonderful eglomise, above, and the tale of its creation. Win/win.

All images courtesy (without his prior knowledge, forgive me) Thomas Jayne.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wall Flower

Somewhat suddenly, a vision is starting to appear.  A plan.  Just for the backgrounds, really, though it has my blood jumping a little.

I have called to see about the weird spot on the ceiling and discovered Folly Green is great for the dining room, and aptly named as well, I fear.  An omen for the stenciling perhaps.

The strie glaze that I thought would be a piece of cake has turned into a piece of, well, unpleasantness and I am now experimenting with glazes and brushes which was not part of the plan.

I looked for wallpaper yesterday for the first time in years.  It came back quickly, the fast flip to see if anything would catch my eye.  I rediscovered a few friends and we reminisced over rooms they have adorned.

I know some people say "Rugs first!" but my visions tend to come fully formed and it is the paint that I can usually afford fastest, so my houses start with walls.  Today I will be out hunting and gathering information to help with the living room wall project; I am so anxious to begin.

All the images today are from Walls, the Best of Decorative Treatments by Florence de Dampierre, Rizzoli International.  The cover may lead you to believe this is purely a traditional tome, but there is inspiration for every taste.  Murals, panels, paper and paint, there are fine examples of them all.  Photography, Pieter Estersohn.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Meet the Missonis

The Missonis make things.  Fabric and clothes and food.  (For the short list.)

And a rainbow of breadsticks.  (What could make me love bread better than being able to pick my favorite color?  Nothing.)

I am always wondering what my children notice, what they will take away.

And when I saw these images I just thought, "What an amazing way to grow up."

Entrenched, enveloped, in love with color.

All images via Bon Appetit; photography by Alexia Silvagni.  I saw them in Mr. Blandings's issue and mentally filed them away until I saw images of the Missoni homes in Bazaar today.  My new desire for neutral backgrounds is making my need for color to pop up other places.  Like here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


"I think we should paint it glossy.  And the crown moldings."

"The crown moldings green?"


"I want it flat with white crown molding."

Simmering silence ensues.

"Why don't I start by painting it flat, no crowns, and see how it goes?"

Paint ordered; paint applied.

"I like it."

"I really think it needs to be glossy.  And the crowns painted."

Imagine verbal scuffle. Later the same day:

"You painted the crown molding."

"Well.  Not all of it.  Just a little to show you that it really does look better."

Conjure images of a tense Sunday afternoon.  Without nearly enough time to heal:

"So what do you think about glossy?"

"Do.  Whatever.  You.  Want."

If you think this little bit of passive aggression would have held me off, you're wrong.  I immediately emailed a p.o. to Farrow & Ball for the Calke Green Full Gloss.  It arrived a week later with twin friends (Borrowed Light for the living room ceiling) and I painted the study again.  In a day.  So, basically, Mr. Blandings left for work in the morning with a matte office and returned home to a glossy office.  Glowing, gleaming, goosebumpy gorgeousness, truly.  He walked in to set his briefcase down and I could hear him pause.  I braced myself.

"You painted my office."

"I did."

"I thought only the crown moldings were going to be glossy."



"You said I should do whatever I wanted."


"I love it."

In return for his generous approval, I neither gloated nor said, "I told you so."  At least I don't think I did.

I have now painted with Farrow & Ball Dead Flat, Estate Emulsion and Full Gloss and I could do a commercial.  As one reader said, "It is like painting with creme fraiche."  It is.  It's glorious.  And the colors are such a beautiful complexity; who wouldn't want that?

This was not a sponsored post; I have paid for all the paint and received no compensation from Farrow & Ball.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Closer to Home

This project has been complete for a while.  A few folks had asked if I had painted the inside of the armoire.  At the time, I hadn't.  Now, I have.

I was inspired by Mary McDonald and some of the styling in her book, Mary McDonald Interiors.  My folks have given me a lot - a lot - of cut crystal over the years and I was starting to wonder what in the world I would ever do with it.  Then I spied McDonald's collection of crystal on her bedroom coffee table.  Pretty.  Sparkly.  I liked it.  So several of my pieces have found a home holding hair bands and beads and baubles.

Silver, too, and I have been on the look out for more of these reticulated cups of which I have a few. (No silver polish was harmed in the staging of my photo, top.)

The baskets hold some basics.  One houses hairdryer, brushes and combs; the other is a temporary spot for the boys' art.  I don't save it all (don't tell them) and I eventually file them in separate bins, but in the day-to-day I find that I pile it somewhere so I actually assigned it a spot.  It works pretty well and keeps the top of my refrigerator clear.

You can see the transformation of the outside of the cabinet here.

All images, other than top, from Mary McDonald Interiors, Rizzoli, photography Melanie Acevedo.

Monday, May 2, 2011


The Tourist

I walk in New York.  As my last few trips have been short, I like to pack light.  Workout shoes are bulky and enormous space-eaters and I hate to be stuck in a hotel gym when I'm only in the city for 48 hours.

So I walk.  A lot.  That way, I get my exercise and see the city.  Win/win.  The second day of my last trip I walked from the Standard to the Cooper-Hewitt (with stops in between.)

I just google mapped it and it's 4.6 miles.  A little trafficy.  A lot touristy (I am one) and a complete delight.  Also, I love big, stone lions (and small stone lions, but, for me, when it comes to stone lions, bigger is better) so passing the front of the Metropolitan Museum on foot makes for a good day.

Heading back, I hopped on the subway at 57th Street; there's no reason to walk through Midtown twice in one day.  That brings the total to 6.6 miles.  More than I would have walked at home.

And in 6.6 miles I saw mid-century New York, rural Pennsylvania, Ted Muehling, Central Park, Frank Lloyd Wright, a fortune in jewels and had lunch with a Russian-born fabric designer.  A very good day.

The images, above are of the Sonia Delaunay exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt via their website.  Delaunay was a painter and clothing and fabric designer.  This exhibit was one of my favorites.  You can access the site here and read Courtney Barnes's excellent coverage - anything I would do would be redundant - on Style Court here.  The catalogue is chocked full of inspiring images and absolutely worth the $35.