Dining Rooms Serve up Eye Candy


This dining room by John Saladino is located in a New York highrise. It's a personal favorite of mine and has been for years. There's not one special piece of furniture in it, in fact, there isn't even a dining table, just a couple of linen tablecloths thrown over a nondescript piece of plywood. The chairs, though, are beautiful - but there are only four. The other four are probably scattered around the apartment, awaiting a dinner party. What sets this dining room above other more furnished ones, is the gorgeous mural painted on the back wall. It's a garden scene and a trellis can just be seen arching in the middle and along the bottom. The sparse display of flowering branches on the table sets off the mural perfectly. In his book, Style by Saladino, this entire apartment is featured and Saladino goes into great detail of how the mural came to be. The artist did further work for Saladino, but never, in my opinion, did he achieve the perfection he did in this dining room.

This dining room, by Cathy Kincaid, is another favorite of mine. It's a complete opposite of Saladino's in that the room is loaded with antiques, furniture, chairs, and accessories. Yet, somehow, the room remains light and airy looking, almost like icing on a white cake. The room just sparkles, helped along by the crystal lamps and Vaughan chandelier. The open back Patina chairs with short slip cover skirts exposing delicate thin chair legs add to the overall lightness of the room. Though the table is a dark stained over-sized antique, it is barely noticeable in the room. The french doors leading to the next room have mirrors instead of glass in the panes, further adding to the ambiance. Notably, the room's only color comes from the blue and white porcelain and the hydrangeas.

Wow, I love this dining room. Fiona Newell Weeks designed it for her own home and it's stunning. The walls are covered in a blue and white Farrow and Ball damask and the wallpaper is the focal point of the room. Without it, the room would not be half as striking. It takes guts to use a paper like this in a dining room, but Fiona is known for her bold strokes. The whimsical boat chandelier plays up the room's youthful feeling. Is there any doubt that the owners are fun loving people? I love how the khaki color plays against the blue and white and how skillfully Weeks repeats the color - in the chair's wood stain, the leather upholstery, the frames' mats. The unusual oval shape of the mirror further sets off the young, adventurous feel of the room.

This dining room features Swedish antique furniture and elegant Niermann Weeks chairs. Simple seagrass keeps the quiet, simple tone going. That is, until you look up at the lighting fixture. An absolute stunner, it was commissioned by the designer, Jacqueline Segura, especially for this family's beachside home. The artist who makes the fixture was challenged to expand on the size of the glass blown ball. Little bits of round crystal attached to the iron, gives it subtle sparkle. Again, the chandelier gives off hints that this family is young and full of life.

This dining room's draperies become it's focal point. The designer, in dealing with tricky arched windows, uses square top valances to solve that problem. The quiet two toned stripe is matched by the softness of the linen material. Large blue and white porcelain vases on the mantel play up the room's height. The chandelier all curvy, matches the round table.

Fabulous French detail makes this room a stunner. The gorgeous antique gilt and wood chandelier matches the rustic feel of the table and the buffet. Simple, oversized white plates rest on the wood shelves. Dreamy blue and white toile slipcovers - what could be more French?

Young, hot designer Windsor Smith showcases her own dining room. I love the wallpaper, an aqua handpainted design. Gorgeous. Simple sisal matting on the floor and mismatched chairs and benches lend more informality to the room. Silver pitchers filled with leaves are an unusual centerpiece. Domino's current issue showcases this room if you want to see more of it.

Ah, I know this room well. The house was on the cover of House Beautiful this year and it belongs to a good friend of mine! Houston designer Carol Glasser and the famous English designer and author Katrin Cargill turned a traditional English house into an authentic Swedish home. Each piece in this room, and the entire house for that matter, was bought especially for it. The chairs are reproductions, but it's hard to tell that. The chandelier is a Swedish period antique. The walls are soft pink with traditional Swedish handpainted flowers not visible in the picture. There's no rug to cover the difficult to achieve limed floors. Once inside the house, it's hard to believe you are in Houston, not Sweden, so faithful to the design were Glasser and Cargill.

Symmetry and silk drapes become the focal point in this room designed by Birmingham designer Mary McKee. Luscious silk drapes paired with bamboo blinds is a favorite of many designers today. Choosing short skirts instead of upholstered seats brings the formality down a notch. Impossible to overlook, highlighted in the middle of all the symmetry, is the drop dead gorgeous double, crystal chandelier.

I've saved this picture for years and have no idea who the designer was, but I've always loved the romantic French screen on the wall. It's an unusual place for a screen, but somehow it works here.

Pam Pierce, Houston great, uses linen as her focal point. The tailoring of the skirted table is unusual, but so effective! A few bold antiques - a large trumeau with attached sconces, a French chandelier, period arm chairs, oversized bowl - is all that is needed to make a simple dining room special.

Here the shades become the focal point, along with the large, gorgeous French chairs. The only color - a purple hydrangea.

The room is beautiful, the walls are lacquer perfection, but I show it to highlight a design that puzzles me. I absolutely never understand two tables, the same size, in one dining room. Here, the designer, Markham Roberts, tackles the issue by using two different tablecloths. Somehow, he pulls a quirky design off.

New York Social Diary


This week's New York Social Diary is out and as usual, it's fabulous! If you don't subscribe to it, but you love New York shopping, culture, art, society, and design, you should sign up for it. This week NYSD previews fab designer Thad Hayes' new NY design office. Here's a few pics from the layout. For all you design bloggers who LOVE design books, here's a picture from Thad's collection. Bloggers: Let's see what books Thad reads: Bunny Williams - yes!, Frank Lloyd Wright, yes!, Stefanidis, yes! Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, Jed Johnson (didn't like that book, sorry) AND he has my bible: Style by Salandino. Gee, Thad, we have the same taste, why aren't I as famous a designer as you???? The picture below is how he keeps his clients'files. So neat and organized (not like me). Notice it looks like he keeps the fabric samples above in the clear plastic boxes. I'd love to read the names of those clients. Bloggers - how do you keep your current clients' files? I use these shopping bags that I buy wholesale, some are zebra print, some are white, etc. for the samples. I put the papers in Anna Griffin files.

And more of his office library. Notice the framed magazine articles of him on the wall:

This week NYSD visits a horse show in Milbrook, NY. Doesn't this look like an ad from Ralph Lauren?

I don't know who's cuter, the dog or the purse?

Tag, I'm It - OY!


ok, I've been putting this off, but I've been tagged a few times and I can't run and hide anymore. So, I hope I don't bore you too much. Here are eight facts about me that you didn't know or ever even wanted to know. I am going to throw in an free fun fact. That person above is MOI, ready to go to the beach, talking on the cell phone, as usual. I refuse to wear a cricket Bluetooth because they are SO ugly! For some reason I think a black cord hanging out from my face is prettier. Here goes 8 fun facts:

1) My husband is my best friend. We were born exactly 11 days apart, so we're both Scorpions and we are very much alike. We are both homebodies who say "there's no place like home" every time we get back from vacation. He lets me decorate my (our?) house all I want and never says a word about it - good or bad! He's much nicer than me, though. Wherever I go, people are so nice to me when they find out I'm married to Ben. Places like the dry cleaners and people like the Fed Ex man - everyone loves Ben. He's so cute, do you blame them? Here's Ben, talking on his cell phone:

2) I am a magazine junkie. I need a fix every day. I go from grocery store to bookstore to grocery store picking up copies of magazines. I don't like to subscribe to them because they don't come in the mail as early as the stores. The few magazines I do have subscriptions to, sometimes if I see the new issue in the store, I'll buy it anyway because I can't wait for it to be delivered to see it. That's sick, I know.

3) I'm also a political junkie. Democrat all the way, baby!!!! This picture of an elephant was taken by my nephew and niece this summer on their African safari:

4) My love of country french furniture comes from my mother, Betty Rae! For those who don't know me in real life, she's really my step-mother, but we don't like that word, step. The first time I ever saw French furniture was at her house and I've been hooked ever since. She has the best taste of anyone I've ever known. Thanks, BR!! This is a picture of my french day bed, my french chair inherited from Betty Rae, my french wine tasting table, and my french Buffet a Deux Corps:

5) I don't like food and never have. Neither does Ben. He eats cereal for dinner and he's happy with that. People don't get that I don't like food, but I only eat because I get low blood sugar. I eat the same thing every night for dinner because it's easy and I don't have to think about what to eat: Wendy's Caesar salad. I know, it's horrible and sad. You'd think I'd be skinny.

6) This is REALLY hard to do!!! ok, as I'm listening to the waves, I LOVE the beach. Ben and I are going to retire on a beach someday, hopefully sooner than later. That's our dream and always has been. No lake, no countryside, no mountains - it's the beach, any beach, any time. Our favorite beach - South Padre Island, Tx:

7) I don't care about clothes shopping. In fact, I hate to clothes shop. I only like to house shop. Ben says it's a bad day for me if money hasn't been exchanged some way. OK, I'll admit it, I'm addicted to shopping for my house. Candles, throws, antiques, design books, sconces, dishes, blue opaline, transferware, Masonware, flowers, etc. - anything that makes my house cosier, warmer, more cluttered, better smelling - I'll buy it. Here's an example of excessive buying:

8) And lastly, I wish I had had more children. Having one child makes the time as a mother go by too quickly. I loved being pregnant and I loved having a baby. I wish I could have done it more than once. I mean, who wouldn't want more of a child like this?

Ta da! I'm through and so are you. Thanks for sticking with it. So now, I have to tag 8 people. I have to think about who.

Joni aka Cote de France

Greetings from South Padre Island, Texas!

Hello from the tip of Texas! One week down and two more to go. This was the beautiful view outside my window today. Nice.

Ahhhhh, this is living, a few new magazines, reading glasses and a cell phone:

Photostyling doesn't take vacations. Check out the perfectly aligned monograms on the towels and the trendy LL Bean beach bag:

Over worked Husband doesn't know how to relax. Get off the cell phone and go get your legs tanned!!!

At least you don't have to pace up and down the beach. Show off:

Ok, enough of the beach, time for shopping. For years, there has been only one store on the Island worth shopping at. This year, I was very pleasantly surprised to walk into a new store, Park 100, that was actually worth shopping. Check out these darling hot pink and green pillows and throws:

Park 100 is an interior design shop that caters to all the condominium owners on the island. Very Palm Beach-y decor:

Check out this display and veddy fashionable lamp:

And one more table with jewelery and accessories. Very cute store, all in all.

Next, I head over to the old standby, design wise, Isla/Rica. Two stores under one roof, very chic, urban clothes at Isla, and Flax type linen clothes at Rica. Both stores are for sale, in case you are looking to own a laid back business in a laid back beach town. Here's the outside of Isla/Rica - all painted up in eye catching colors:

Dainty Lewis, the owner, accessories her stores with shabby chic type antiques. It's all very charming and original.

Outside, next to the store, the owners built this wonderful home. Not sure if the house is also for sale, but it probably could be for the right price.

And, finally, how do you keep a lonely 16 year old teenager happy at the beach? Why, have her picture taken professionally, of course. Except, this "professional" photographer gave us her Myspace address which advertises her Slovakian punk rock band! I kid you not. Actually, the pictures came out rather good, much more artistic than I expected:

Dressing Tables

Is there anything more romantic than a woman's vanity? Full of beautiful perfume bottles, some old, some new, silver hand-held mirrors and natural bristle brushes, old cut crystal jars that hold lotions and oils - a vanity conjures up images of a daughter sitting on the floor, gazing up as she watches her mother put on her jewelry and fancy dress for a party that night. Vanities represent grown up femininity and many an adult woman now wants that fantasy in her life.

Vanities through the ages were a staple for the upper class. The style of the vanity changed with the fashion. Along with Louis XV and Louis XVI, Art Nouveau and Art Deco vanities are plentiful in antique stores. The fabric covered, skirted, kidney shaped vanity was popular in the 50s and peaked in the 60s. At that time, the vanity fell out of favor due to the rising use of built in cabinets. Today, there is a resurgence of the vanity, but not as a vital piece of furniture. The vanity is more of an accent table placed in the bedroom or bathroom suite. Catalogues such as Horchow Collection and Ballard Designs sell different types of vanities for the more budget minded.

Currently, I am designing a bedroom for a 15 year old girl. When asked what she wanted in her bedroom, the first item she mentioned to me was a vanity with a mirror and a chair. Her mother balked at this request, but I honored the teenager's wish and she will be getting her vanity after all.

A modern vanity, accented with pink prints - this is an example of a non-working vanity.

A rendering of a Charlotte Moss bedroom. Skirted vanity is placed at the end of the bed instead of a bench.

Mary McDonald places a mirrored vanity in a bathroom.

An antique writing desk doing double duty as a vanity in a French home.

A built in that's been skirted to give the appearance of a freestanding vanity.

An absolutely gorgeous writing table, used as a vanity.

Californian designer Madeline Stuart places a vanity in the bathroom.

What a beautiful setting to put makeup on, or just to look at family photos.

Another bathroom vanity.

Picks from 1St Dibs this week - Vanities:

An unusual rattan vanity from the 40's.

19th century French vanity.

Very, very fine and expensive red tortoiseshell vanity mirror. Note the two candlesticks on the top.

Mirrored vanity with Tiffany blue interior.

Another mirrored vanity, practical with so many drawers.

A beautiful array of sterling silver vanity brushes, mirrors and bottles.

Gorgeous Empire style vanity.

Art Deco mirror and wood vanity.
Authentic English traveling vanity. Adorable.

And lastly, for the budget minded, Horchow Collection's version of vanities: