Birthday Luncheon in West University with the Wills Girls


A few months ago I showed you pictures of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's ranch in Chappell Hill, Texas. By the comments that entry received, everyone seemed to love their home. On Friday, Shannon, my sister-in-law, and her sister Anthea threw themselves a joint birthday party at Anthea's beautiful Houston home. That's Shannon passing out a bowl of home made crisps and her mother, Dottie, is on the far right. It was a small, intimate affair and it really is a great way to entertain - lunch at home instead of at a noisy restaurant filled with rushed businessmen. The three "Wills" girls made all the food: soup with a salad topped with delicious cold beef tender. I had a great time, but you know me - I was preoccupied with thoughts of taking pictures of Anthea's home to share with you!

Mealtime in the dining room. The walls are a gorgeous shade of dusty pink, more of a flesh tone, but definitely not coral. It reminds me so much of the Farrow and Ball shade, Ointment Pink, but it's not. One great thing about the paint is that it's flat, not egg shell. You don't see that too often anymore, but it really has a wonderful, dense look to it.

In the middle is the beautiful Anthea serving a dessert made by her absent husband. No men were allowed at lunch. The girl on the left is an old family friend and she is equally beautiful!

I had trouble concentrating on the conversation, which happens when I am surrounded by beauty. At the end of the dining room, on both sides of the window, is a pair of half-moon shaped, tall chests. Handpainted pink cabbage roses dance atop a pale celadon base. At the top of each chest, is one of a pair of large, antique Satsuma urns. The "Wills" girls know that these chests are my absolute favorite pieces in their family. I totally lust after them and if I could get away with it, these two chests would somehow find their way to my house. Oh well......

Along the side wall of the dining room between two windows is an antique gilded and painted buffet which sits under an oil painting. This piece comes in at a close second as my favorite.

And, on a short wall across from the buffet, this antique commode sits beneath an antique mirror. The dining room is without a doubt the prettiest room in a house filled with pretty rooms. Upon entering the home, it's directly to the right of the front door and is one of the first things you notice when you walk in. In storage are drapes from a previous home that would look wonderful in here. Both Shannon and her mother Dottie (and me) think the drapes should be hung in the dining room, but homeowner Anthea with veto power wants to keep the room light and airy. I have offered to take the drapes off Anthea's hands for her, but she pretends she can't hear me whenever I broach the subject.

The staircase hall. Seagrass covers the stair steps. The bench is filled with birthday presents for Shannon and Anthea, both.

An oversized crystal chandelier hangs in the staircase hall. This fixture is always lit and can be seen from the street through the glass paned, double front doors. I should know - Anthea's house is on my Starbuck's route and I pass it more times a day and night than I care to admit.

Directly across the hall from the stairs is the paneled library. Notice the animal faces on the chairs' arms.

The Wills girls are daughters of the famous artist, J. Anthony Wills, whose work hangs in the White House. Here is an oil of Anthea that her father painted as a surprise for Dottie. Shannon has her portrait from the same sitting in her house.

Note the large, tole light fixture hanging in the library.

At the entry hall, this tablescape with it's bird's nest and chalky urn, is front and center.

The breakfast room is probably my favorite space in the house. The light, painted credenza, toile window shade, creamy accessories and flirty slip covers on the chairs all add to the room's fresh atmosphere.

The kitchen has a wonderful wood counter top on the island and the range sits in its own alcove.

The back courtyard with a fountain and furniture from Smith Hawken. It was a rainy day, so the cushions were taken off the furniture.

The family room with its large antique rug. Most of the other rooms, including the stairs have seagrass rugs. I love the antique frame on the mantel - with no art work inside!

Old candlesticks rest on a marble topped credenza in the stair hall.

The living room is to the immediate left of the front door, across from the dining room. The antique day bed is covered in a blue silk velvet that is wonderfully worn. Most people would probably choose to recover the velvet, but I love the way it's aged to perfection.

This portrait, painted again by Shannon and Anthea's father, is of their mother Dottie - looking very glamorous in her 60s style mink stole! Isn't she gorgeous? Turquoise colored vases sit atop yet another marble topped chest.

In one corner of the living room, behind a needle point french chair, Anthea has propped two antique doors. You can just see the dining room on the very right.

Upstairs, Anthea and her husband sleep in this deep brown bedroom. The ceiling is painted the palest shade of blue. The headboard is slipcovered in white. On either side of the bed are Aidan Gray nightstands.

Across from the bed, an English linen press.

In the master bathroom, the vanity chair carries on with the bedroom's brown and blue color scheme.

A guest room upstairs, furnished in french antiques. This is Shannon's room when she comes to town. Another guest room, not shown, is reserved for Shannon's daughter when she stays over.

Anthea's son's red, white, and blue bedroom, furnished with seagrass headboards and blue and white ticking.

The upstairs playroom for Anthea's son. The slipcovered furniture came from Quatrine.

Dottie, now widowed, divides her time between Houston and Chappell Hill. Here is the sitting room in her bedroom suite at Anthea's. It is furnished entirely with French antiques that Dottie has collected over a lifetime.

The bedroom in Dottie's suite, again furnished with antiques.

And lastly, in Dottie's sitting room hang two portraits of the birthday girls, again, painted by their father. On the left, Shannon, the more talkative sister, is, naturally, on the phone, while Anthea - always prim and proper - sweetly smiles. The most amazing thing of these paintings is that here, both mothers look exactly like their young sons do now. Both boys are about the same age as their mothers' were when these paintings were done.

Be sure to revisit my entry about Shannon's home, the KW Ranch. It's interesting to compare and contrast the two sister's decorating styles. Both girls were their own interior designer, along with their mother's input and advice. All three Wills girls have great style and taste, which is obvious to anyone visiting their homes.

Blogger News

Lots of new happenings are going on in design bloggerland:

First - The Washington Post has started a new Blogwatch column. Recently named as blogs to watch: Girl Meets Glamour, The Peak of Chic, Style Court, Mrs. Blandings, and Things That Inspire, among others. Congratulations to you all!

And more kudos go out to Jennifer of the very popular design blog - The Peak of Chic. Peak was recently voted by Atlanta Magazine as Best Design Blog. And to top that off, another magazine,

Romantic Homes, did a feature on Jennifer and things she finds romantic for their Valentine's Day issue. Pick up a copy to see what makes her life romantic, though she confessed to me that her life really doesn't feel too romantic these days. Who's does?

And, Canadian Patricia Gray of the blog Patriciagrayinc was featured in this month's Canadian House and Home magazine. Patricia gives her New Years resolutions - including the promise to buy "fewer things, but better quality." I watched her try to live up to that promise in Dallas last week. Not sure she's following through after almost buying out the shoe department at Nordstrom's. But, she's trying!

Lately, two new bloggers have caught my eye and the attention of a lot of other people too:

Topsy Turvy writes on design from her home in Tampa, Florida. Her blog is bright and interesting, written through the eyes of an interior designer. It is peppered with beautiful photographs on home, fashion and jewelry design. Topsy is busy getting her house ready for a photo shoot and I'm anxious to see the finished pictures.

Topsy wrote this entry on geishas which featured pictures of subtle and exotic beauty.

Another entry featured pictures of all white subject matter. These snow pictures capture the still beauty of a gray, winter day.

Another entry by Topsy featured hand crafted jewelry, including this blue coral necklace. Isn't it stunning? I would love to own it! Be sure to visit Topsy Turvy if you haven't already.

Another new blog is Julie Neill's, Bayou Contessa.

If you love New Orleans, you will love Bayou Contessa. Written with intelligence and joie de vie, Julie takes her reader on a sensuous tour of her home town before and after Katrina. Julie, a designer of gorgeous lighting fixtures (who is pretty gorgeous herself), also has a web site you need to stop by and drool over. I've already sold one of her chandeliers to a client and I'm working on a second. Enjoy these recent photographs from her blog:

The French Quarter of New Orleans with its typical silk curtains and antique furniture.

Another interior shot from The Bayou Contessa. Love the skirted table! ;)

And here is Julie's Elizabeth chandelier, one of my favorites (wonder if the name has anything to do with it?). More wide than long, it makes a great choice for lower ceilinged rooms.

And lastly, ever wonder what Anna Spiro of the luscious blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things, looks like?

Anna recently posted a photo of herself for the first time and wow - she's looking great - all tanned from the Australian summer sun while we suffer with winter! ABT is one of my favorite blogs of all time. It was one of the first ones I ever read and so I have a special affection for all things Anna. Her pictures are always dreamy and truly are absolutely beautiful. Never, ever has she written a word of negativity - it's all positive on ABT and that's refreshing to say the least.

For Anna's 30th birthday, she set the table with white daisies. Isn't this the cutest table ever? Notice how she ties her napkins into bows.

Another tablescape by Anna, this one in her beach house in Australia. I love the shells in a basket. Anna's style is all about bright colors such as hot pink and kelly green.

Dallas Trade Mart


Visiting the Dallas Trade Mart, with over 14 floors of To The Trade Only showrooms filled with everything imaginable for the home can be just a little intimidating and tiring to say the least. This week, Patricia Gray and I attempted to do just that. Suffice it to say, we didn't make it to too many showrooms - you could take a week and still not see it all. We quickly decided to forgo shopping in any showroom that looked gift-y and headed for the floors that specialized in home accessories and furnishings. Still, even though limiting our scope tremendously, we managed to see only a few of the biggest names in the business.

Just as in a real shopping mall, the window displays and outward appearance of the showroom was what caught our eye and drew us in. There were plenty of tired, dull looking showrooms filled with the last decade's faux Italianate and Old World goods. Those showrooms looked so dreary, passe, and empty - totally devoid of any energy at all. Who still buys that stuff, we wondered? Cyan, the first showroom that caught our attention, had a bright turquoise facade (naturally). You actually could find that showroom with your eyes closed, it was so bright. Inside, the merchandise was equally bright, lots of mirrored tables and shiny surfaces.

Mirror from Cyan Showroom that Patricia really liked.

Next we made our way to the In-Detail showroom. This is a super sized business that carries lots of labels. One label really caught my attention: Guildmaster - all cream painted furniture, very casual, lots of natural wicker, and an oversized chair that instantly reminded Patricia and me both of that gorgeous red chinoiserie chair by Ruthie Sommers. Was this the same frame of her chair? Couldn't it be taken into a paint shop and lacquered, we wondered? At less than $400, it's a steal compared to the $3,000+ price tag of the famous red chair.

Guildmaster furniture: great wicker items.

More Guildmaster cream painted furniture. Light furniture was hot at this year's market.

Oversized chair - frame is similar to Ruthie Sommers' lacquered red chair.

Ruthie Sommers' famous chair.

Shine Home was next. Lots of bright, contrasting colors - heavy on the Kelly Westler look. We both decided that it suddenly looked a tad dated and the end of the Westler reign seemed very apparent. There wasn't a lot of buzz around the merchandise either, another sure sign of buyer fatigue.

Shine Home, bloggers buzzed about this line all year.

Close up of Shine Home furniture.

Next, Patricia and I both noticed Lacefield Designs, a slipcovered upholstery and softgoods company, whose fabrics were a flagrant knock-off of Raoul Textiles, at a 1/10 of their cost. The color of their window display, chartreuse and brown, was bright again, but toned down in intensity. I particularly loved their gray-brown toned zebra patterned fabric. We both were taken with the line. Chartreuse was a hot color this year at Market and gold was the metallic shown everywhere.

Lacefield Designs window display. Note how similar the front fabric looks to Raoul Fabrics.

More Lacefield Designs. I loved the color of this fabric, muted grayish-brown.

The next showroom we stopped at was Two's Company/Tozai. Tozai is the higher end division of what has to be the most successful accessories company ever. My showroom rep (who happened to be there) told us that the Two's Company showroom space is completely redone with each market. It shows. It was a knockout. At Tozai, the blue and white porcelains caught my eye, of course. Patricia lusted after a set of gray toned botanicals. We both loved just about everything in the space.

Next door, Two's Company was all bright chartreuse and Tiffany's blue and white. Stunningly beautiful. Just wonderful. Each division of Two's Company was showcased separately and the decor matched the merchandise, of course. Their garden room merchandise was delightfully displayed, as was their Paris line - all pastel pinks and mauves and lilacs. But the icing on the cake was the Tiffany Blue Wedding Room. Done up in a Dorothy Draper vintage style with oversized blowzy flowers in blue and greens, it was impossible to not stop and ooh and ahh over merchandise that Two's Company has carried for years. The draw of their display was just that strong.

Two's Company Garden Room in chartreuse.

Two's Company - everything is artfully displayed in this showroom that is completely redesigned with each market, unlike most of the more boring showrooms.

The showstopper: Two's Company Tiffany blue wedding room - A nod to vintage designers like Dorothy Draper.

More Tiffany blue wedding room. All the items displayed in this room is mainstay Two's Company merchandise that they have carried for years and years.

Our final stop was the Global Views showroom, which I dragged Patricia to see. Global Views is a favorite of mine and I've blogged about this company before. They make the most wonderful accent tables and accessories and I think every one of my clients has a piece of theirs somewhere. Their prices are just unbeatable. The front of the showroom was all ready for Valentines Day - red and black and roses. High contrast to the max. As you walked through the showroom, the tone shifted to fit the merchandise. Patricia loved Global Views and was really disappointed they don't ship to Canada. We both decided we'll figure a way around that somehow. I pointed out to her merchandise I had bought for clients or myself and we met my rep who noticed from my huge name tag that I was from Houston. Everyone at the market was overly friendly, as Texans always are.

Hollywood Glam merchandise at Global Views.

The merchandise at Global Views was stacked to the ceiling. This center hanging console is new, supersized from their previous version pictured left and right.

By this time, it was after 4:00 pm and we were both exhausted and in need of coffee and a bite to eat. No big surprise - but I had to order room service that night, I was that tired. This was the first time I had been to the Dallas market in a long, long time. I'm not sure I'll go back again so soon though. With the internet, all companies have their inventory online and ordering in cyberspace is so much easier. It was fun, though, to see the merchandise in person for once, but I think it will hold me for a few more years.