Online shopping at a lovely French antique store in Houston, Maison Maison, I thought these items could be the start of a beautiful bedroom. I adore all the pale blues together with beautiful white linens trimmed in a pale blue scallop. The screen could be a headboard, but it's probably too delicate, so put it a corner with the chair in front of it. Gorgeous taffeta silk drapes, seagrass rug, flatscreen in the cabinet - I just need the client!
My design book library is exploding along with the trend. For years, I had a few books on interior design: ones I had from college, some early youth book-of-the-month club books, a few others collected here and there. But for the past five years it seems, new, glorious and hard-to-resist design books come out every week. The months leading up to Christmas are particularly hard on the pocketbook. My favorite books seem to be those about one house: Bunny Williams' An Affair with a House, Rose Tarlow's, The Private House, and Charlotte Moss' Winter House immediately come to mind. I also love the series on French Design by Betty Lou Phillips and Charles Faudree. I'm trying to collect all of Beta-Plus' gorgeous catalogue and am almost there. Then there are the series from the magazines owned by Better Home and Gardens - they seem to put out new books daily! Even Pottery Barn has a nice series, believe it or not.
John Saladino's only design book is a bible to me. When will Dan Carither's write one? I want that book! Henrietta Churchill has a great series of English design. Anything put out by Rizzoli House is worth reading. The same goes for British House and Garden. I'll buy any book that has the word Provence or French or Antique in the title.
Why all the books? Interior design seems to be the rage. Witness all the national chain home stores in business today: Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Ikea, and Z Gallerie. The furniture business used to be only local with maybe a Pier I thrown in the mix. HGTV helps the trend, but it's bad for designers - we can't all redo a home, or a room for the matter, in 24 hours. Here are a few pictures of my design books and where I'm stashing them. My French home (hopefully!) is beginning to take on the look of an English country home (I wish) where books lay around for generations. Où devrait je mettre mes livres?
Magazine Street was blessedly spared Katrina's wrath and the antique stores there are open for business, many never having closed for very long at all. Ann Koerner features beautiful Swedish and French designs, all displayed in a quiet and elegant manner as these pictures reveal. When I go to New Orleans, I skip shopping for antiques in the French Quarter and head straight for Magazine Street. If you've never been and you love French antiques, book a flight as soon as you can. But don't forget your wallet, things are pricey on Magazine Street.
Beautiful images from Lucullus, epicurean antique stores in New Orleans and Breaux Bridge Louisiana (second store opened when New Orleans was clinging for dear life after Katrina.) Lucullus has everything French for the stomach = furniture on which to sit while you eat, plates for your food, glasses for your wine, pots to cook in and much more. Heure pour le dîner!
Today, the fabulous blogger Style Court wrote about Virginian houses highlighting the Californian interior designer and owner of Hollyhock, Suzanne Rheinstein. The owners of this house again collaborated with Rheinstein on a Florida home several years ago. Take note of her use of painted wooden floors, beautiful French antiques, sconces, and her famous "racetrack" ottoman. These photos come from the Southern Accents article about that collaboration. Appréciez
April's issue of the English House and Garden magazine caught my eye today. A feature spread showcasing an upper east side apartment designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber was especially delicious. He uses a Peter Fasano print that I've wanted to use for time. It shows up on the drapery and on a crescent-shaped sofa. The colors are khaki with some Russian blue upholstery fabric and two chairs in lavender! The rugs appear to be chartreuse. Genius! Whenever I see color combinations like this I get jealous. None of my clients would ever be so daring! The antique elements juxtaposed with the contemporary colors make the room just that much more intriguing. I especially love the sconces and the two matching antique consoles with mirrors above. Double click on all the pictures to see them larger and more clearly.
The dining room features another favorite of mine: De Gournay wallpaper. This is a popular pattern that I adore and hope to be able to place for a client one day. This picture from their web site shows 3 colorways from their Panoramic collection. Devine, votre ne pensent pas ?
Whenever I'm bored (well, before I discovered design blogs) I search the MSL for Houston homes. I always start with the most exclusive neighborhoods: River Oaks, Memorial Villages, West University, or Tanglewood. It is so fascinating to me to take a glimpse inside a stranger's house. Mostly, though, I am searching for interiors that speak to me.
The biggest "find" is to see a house decorated by a designer whose work I recognize. If the designer is locally well known, they will be mentioned by name. A successful search yields an interior by Carol Glasser, Babs Watkins, Ginger Barber, or Pam Pierce, to name a few of my personal favorites. I've even spotted a few of their personal homes on the web site. Some of the houses for sale have been featured in national design magazines and finding one of these is a special high for me. I save the pictures of the homes that attract me. Here are a few of my favorites pictures from this year. Looking at the ones I picked, I realized - gee I LOVE seagrass!
I had seen this picture in a magazine, it was of Atlanta's Suzanne Kasler's dining room and the lovely pink draperies struck me as such a daring choice, and yet, they were so beautiful. Several weeks later I had an appointment with a client whom I profiled earlier and I mentioned that I wanted to bring pink into her room. The walls of her living room were already painted in a light celadon, darker celadon stripe (or maybe they are more of an aqua) and she wanted to keep the stripes. Pink would go nicely with them, but the hue had to be deeper than Kasler's pink. The next time I came over I brought several taffeta samples from cerise to fuchsia and the design took off from there. We chose a large Chelsea Editions cherry check and a gorgeous Lee Jofa classic chintz to bring the deep pink in. A celadon Nancy Corzine silk grounded the custom sofa and another Chelsea Textiles seabreeze small check graced the Swedish sofa.
The crowning fabric, though, was a complete afterthought to fix a huge mistake. Originally a pale Bennison linen was to go on the skirted table. Once it arrived, it just died where it lain and at a great personal expense I added this gorgeous damask, in, of course, a berry color. The adjoining walk-in bar was repapered in a deep pink Cowtan and Tout oriental toile.
To look at the finished room it bears no resemblance in any way to the original inspiration picture, which is strange. What I do know, is, that if I hadn't originally brought this picture of Kasler's dining room to my client, her room would look completely different today.
A few blogs prior I showed you my new French sofa that's coming to live in my family room, one day soon - I hope. I've been struggggggling with what kind of chairs to go with it. I think I've finally decided: French wing chairs with a mouton leg, like the sofa. Too matching? Probably, I've given up. Here's a picture of the chair I've chosen. Also I've posted a picture from the Houston Real Estate web site showing famed Houston designer Ginger Barber's living room. She has two wing chairs similar to what I've chosen. Is this a good choice, or should I continue looking? Que pensez-vous ?
I love this web site: Chez Vous Paris . If you're looking to spend a vacation in Paris but don't want to stay at a hotel, this is the place to start your search. What sets this apartment locating company apart from the others is: Myra Hoefer. Hoefer is an extremely talented interior designer from Healdsburg, California whom Chez Vous hired to redesign many of their listings. These redo's sing. So many of the apartments available for rent in Paris are dreary and without any of the charm that one would expect from the design-savvy French. It took an American to Franconize and romanticize these rentals to American expectations. Hoefer liberally uses lavish silk curtains and gray painted antique furniture to set the mood. The results are chic and understated interiors that are never dressy nor stuffy.
A game I like to play is to look at all the apartments Chez Vous offers and try to pick out the ones that Hoefer worked on. Truly, it isn't that hard a game. Unfortunately Chez Vous does not allow one to use their pictures, so the ones I show here highlighting Hoefer's designs are taken from her web site. N'importe qui veulent partir pour Paris ?
One of my favorite web sites to read is the New York Social Diary. Not the whole site, but one part only - House. Here different designers are interviewed in their own homes. The question & answer is only slightly more interesting than the fabulous pictures. This week interviewed at his home in Paris is the designer Juan Pablo Molyneux. Can you say gorgeous? An empty space is completely paneled in red lacquer - how decadent. There are several pictures of an enfilade of rooms - oh how I want an enfilade! The interview is a fascinating glimpse into the uber cultured world of J.P.M. He defines the word debonair. If you visit this site, be sure to read the archives - they don't stay forever as I notice that the interview of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli is now gone. Still available to read are the ones of Charlotte Moss, Carolyn Roehm, and David Easton amongst others.
My backyard is at its prettiest this year, I think. Pink and white caladiums are up and smiling as big as life. The multicolored impatiens are tall, almost ready for cutting back to start over again this summer (or should I not?) Newly laid gravel looks fresh and clean. The fountain is a little green from the heavy, daily deluges - but that will change next week when it will be clear and clean again. A few of the climbing roses are peeking out here and there. Everything is so pink - bright pink, light pink, coral pink - every shade of pink. The lavender lantana is not as prominent as it was during the spring, but that's ok. I'm into pink these days, inside and out.
It may not look like it from these pictures, but my yard is very small, very, very tiny. 50 x 15. I've done the best I could do with it and after 13 years, I'm finally happy this summer. The calming sound of the water falling from the urn into the pond, the twinkling lights on the arbor, the fluttering butterflies that seem to love the flowers as much as I do all combine to calm my nerves as I sit outside, day and night, usually reading design blogs on my computer. It's my spot of heaven.