13 December 2007

David Easton and his Balderbrae


Years and years ago, when I still formulating my design aesthetic, I stumbled across a magazine article that featured Balderbrae, the summer home of David Easton and his partner, artist James Steinmeyer. The home was large, but consisted of just a few rooms - a living and dining room, master bedroom, and a study, along with two large porches or loggias. This house, a study in symmetry appealed to me on every level: the studied, cluttered look similar to English country estates, the copious use of antiques, mostly rustic rather than signed, formal pieces, the casual linen fabrics, french windows lending the house to indoor-outdoor living, the beautiful fireplaces, terra cotta pavers, lighted sconces and pedastals mounted on walls, blue and white porcelains everywhere, mirrors - in short, the house was everything that I loved - then and now. Over the years, the house was used in advertising campaigns for Lee Jofa, the fabric company where Easton has a popular line. For twenty years, Easton and his partner reworked the property, added gardens, rebuilt the existing stone cottage on the property as a guest house, and built a swimming pool.


Last year, the two decided to move on. They sold the house and the entire contents went into a warehouse. Rather than keep everything there, it was decided to sell the lot at Doyle's auction house last March. A family friend works for Easton and mailed me the gorgeous catalogue. Item after item - there's not a stinker in the bunch. Realistically, I couldn't find much that I wouldn't want for myself - the catalogue is that impressive and desirable. In all, 600 items were auctioned off to a tune of $1,600,000 plus. The original estimate was $773,300 to $1,154,800 - so the duo must be happy with the results. Asked if he was sad about selling 20 years worth of possessions, Easton said he wasn't, he was looking forward to building a new, modular, modern home in Virginia, featuring a two story library. Looking over the entire contents on display at Doyle, he planned to buy back a few items that he said had slipped by him.

Here are pictures from the estate before it was dismanteled. And following, are pictures of the most publicized items that went on sale. Even though these pictures are at least a decade old, Balderbrae still appeals and serves as a design inspiration to me personally and in my business.





The great yellow room at Balderbrae: the symmetry of the room and it's furnishings is apparent despite its cluttered appearance. I love the center table piled high with books - a look I have copied in my own home. The terra cotta pavers, yellow walls, and wood beamed ceilings add a warmth and coziness to the large room that might have seemed cold and overwhelming.



A close up of one side of the living - dining room. Note the tea table in front of the blue french chair - this was a much publicized piece from the auction. Also notice the blue and white pieces hanging on the walls - this is just a very small portion of the blue and white from the auction, which featured over six pages of these pieces in the catalogue.



Another view of the living room - close up of the skirted table. I like this version of the table more than the previous image. I prefer the airy branches over the green plant in the blue and white vase.



The gorgeous master bedroom with the same high ceilings as the living room. Two story french doors bring the outside indoors.




The master bedroom again. This mirror is one of the more well known pieces from the auction.




One of the porches. I love the outdoor fireplace.

Updated view of the same porch or loggia, as it is called.




Artist and home owner James Steinmeyer's painting of the loggia.



View of the interior courtyard looking towards one of the two loggias.



Auction item: $27,000.

Rare Victorian Tilt Top Tables bought from Geoffrey Bennison! These tables were the most talked about items of the auction.



$14,400.


Louis XV commode (this reminds me so much of the Amy Howard chest).




$12,000.


Dutch chandelier from the living - dining room.



$18,000.


Set of 4 Swedish style chairs designed by Easton




$10,200.


Another Louis XV commode.




$10,800.


Italian sunburst mirror. Oh my - Easton, way ahead of the current trend, had quite a few sunburst mirrors. Non antiques, valued in the $1,000 range, these items went for outrageously overpriced sums.




$14,400.


Set of 4 Louis XVI gray painted armchairs.




$12,000.


Italian Mirror from the bedroom. Another well recognized auction piece made familiar from Lee Jofa ads.




$10,200.


Painted sunburst mirror. Ouch.



$20,400.


Set of eight painted armchairs. I love these chairs!




$12,000.


William IV gilt wood mirror.




$18,000.


Unusual Dutch colonial brass and walnut side table.




$12,000.


Italian Sunburst Mirror. Oy! What a crazy price.




$24,000.


Italian chandelier.




$15,600.


Regency style center table designed by Easton.




$10,200.


Carved antlers. Easton was again way ahead of this current trend with his faux stag heads. Estimated to go for $1,000 - the sale price was ridiculously overpriced for a non antique.



The auction was a huge success for Easton and Steinmeyer, but still, I can't imagine selling my possessions like this and completely starting over. Apparently, his new home will be very modern as Easton has said this is the direction design is taking him right now. I'm anxious to see his new summer home, and something tells me there will be lots of press accompanying his new venture.