02 December 2009

Branca + The Skirted Roundtable = Love!

 

image Branca’s first book – gorgeous!

 

Nobody works a piece of Fortuny better than Italian born Alessandra Branca.   When I started my Top Ten Designers list, I couldn’t wait to put Branca first.   Her signature style – her reds, her blacks, her deep yellows, her stripes, her trims – it is all so appealing, sophisticated yet welcoming.  She is a premier interior designer with boundless energy and a steely determination to get her interiors just right down to the last detail – and trust me, all those details take an enormous amount of hard disciplined effort.   No surface, not one inch, is left untouched in her rooms – yet they’re not fussy looking nor overdone, rather it’s all just beautiful eye candy.   Her new book is gorgeous too.  Oversized, heavy, and loaded with achingly beautiful photographs by Thibault Jeanson – it is THE book to get this holiday season.   One picture – a scanned image of an early job  done in her 20s is so perfect, so wonderful – that it makes me want to give it all up.  Knowing I’ll never be what she already was way back when, is enough to make me want to retire. 

 

 

image The absolutely adorable Alessandra Branca – a personal favorite!

 

When we booked Branca on The Skirted Roundtable, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and trust me  - she didn’t disappoint.  Despite living in America for her entire adult life, she still retains a charming Italian accent and her infectious voice is filled with emotion, displaying a true joie de vie.   Despite all her success, she gives the impression that nothing is more important than just being a mother and a wife.  To listen to Branca’s interview, go HERE.  If you have the book, you might want to grab it as we discuss a few of the rooms with her.   But mainly, Branca talks about her aesthetic, her mother, her loves, her life, her work ethic, her goals.   Enjoy!

 

 

image The October House Beautiful featured a new Alessandra Branca interior.

This townhouse in Chicago, where Branca also lives, is owned by a young couple.  Branca said she took her time finishing the interior – the mirror above was a hunt that lasted three years.  Notice the chest – it’s French with Japanned drawers that were a later addition.  The art glass was purchased by the owner and placed here, after the initial installation – something that Branca loves to see her clients do. 

 

Photography by Thibault Jeanson

 

image

The Living Room

 

The gorgeous drapes are trimmed in a blue velvet – Branca often uses Italian Stringing, a method of holding back curtains without any obvious visual means.  Skirted tables are another signature look of hers.   A faintly patterned wallcovering can be seen between the windows.  Branca says she rarely does a plain wall and prefers upholstered walls in the noisy city for their calming effect on a room.   The floor is covered with a natural textured rug.  

 

 

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The Dining Room.

The dining room is so cozy – a patterned Bennison fabric covers the banquette and grasscloth is used on the walls to further warm the room.  The light fixture is a surprise - a mid-century design.

 

 

image The Family  Room.

Here, Branca quilted the sofa’s fabric – something she does to lengthen the life of a fabric especially when it will get much use.   The bookcase is gorgeous and is filled with objects found at Branca, her shop in Chicago.  Again a textured paper is used in this room.  Branca’s favorite, a stripe is used for the window covering.  French doors are utilized throughout the townhouse to let more light circulate throughout.   The colors in the townhouse are a departure for Branca whose signature is black, red, and warm yellow.  Here she used a muted blue/gray with cognac. 

 

 imageThe Lounge.

This room was arranged for entertaining.  Here Branca’s signature colors make an appearance – the deep yellows with touches of red and black.  The trim is lacquered black for drama.   The walls are upholstered in a Raoul Textiles paisley, another pattern Branca adores.   The floor is covered in a patterned textured rug.   This room looks like it might be found in a Moroccan or Turkish hotel.  Just beautiful.

 

 

branca1 The Master Bedroom.

The quietly elegant master bedroom is a vision in silvers and grays, a true departure for Branca.   She used a muted gray and white Fortuny at the windows and on the walls in the alcove.  The chair is one of a pair by Jansen.  The floors were ebonized for more sheen.  

 

 

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The Guest Room.

 

The guest bedroom walls are a lacquered soft green.  A glorious English Regency sofa was placed in front of windows that are covered with Conrad woven shades.  The three piece coffee table is from Branca.  She brings her signature touch of black into the room with the lacquered doors and windows. 

 

 

branca6 The Guest Bedroom Suite.

Branca designed the fabulous headboard with its large brass nailheads, inspired by a visit to Morocco.   Again, a simple skirted table is used with a striped fabric.   Branca told us she likes to use only natural fabrics – linens, cottons, wools.   

 

To order Branca’s book – go HERE.  All, Branca stated, ALL proceeds are going to charities she has handpicked that benefit children.   After listening to her talk about her family it’s easy to understand her love of children and wanting to improve their life.   To listen to The  Skirted Roundtable conversation with Alessandra, go HERE.

(Due to Thanksgiving, I am running behind here – the new show with Judith Miller is already up – too – but if you haven’t listened to Alessandra’s, do so first, THEN listen to the new show with antiques expert Judith Miller.  I promise to get caught up!!!)

19 comments:

  1. I love each and every room. So many times you see a house were every room is just a different version of the same thing. These rooms all have their own peronality yet fit together beautifully.

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  2. Oh, how fabulous, Joni! Can you imagine being a guest in that gorgeous bedroom with the Moroccan style headboard!

    And how admirable that she is donating the proceeds of her book to children's charities. She's just won my heart with that, but she won my eye with her fabulous style.

    I especially love the colors and the design of the fabrics she used on two different pieces... the cdhair on the book cover and the arm chair in the living room.

    Thanks for sharing this, Joni, and to her for guesting on the Roundtable.

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  3. So beautiful! Those fabrics! I want to move right into that guestroom. Is that a blanket as a coverlet on her bed in the master? Looks so simple and pretty.
    ~Nancy

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  4. You have piqued my interest in this designer. Now her book is on my must have list! Beautiful rooms and what a lovely woman to donate her proceeds to charity.

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  5. My copy of this House Beautiful issue is already well-worn, I have poured over the details of this gorgeous house so often. I'm looking forward to listening to your interview and learning more about this fantastic designer. And congrats to you for Cote De Texas' mention in House Beautiful this month!

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  6. I, too, have been a long-time, big-time fan. The book is already a treasure. Love that she is donating the profits to children's charities. Her goodness glows in her work, her voice, and her commitment. The SRT is a bridge from voice to views. I think you ladies have made communication history!

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  7. I have always loved Alessandra Branca. Really enjoyed seeing what she did with the apartment. Now I wish I had papered my dining room in grass cloth though instead of damask (which mimics Fortuny fabric BTW). I'm off to get her first book with that gorgeous chair on the cover in Fortuny. Can't wait to hear the interview. --Delores

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  8. Hi Joni,

    I absolutely love Alessandra's use of color and pattern as demonstrated by that stunning chair on her cover. And speaking of color, Yves Delorme just unveiled their new "Concept" store in Santa Barbara. If you get a chance, stop by my site for a sneak peek~ think grey and orange sherbet!
    ~jermaine~

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  9. Can't wait to listen, Joni! Hers is the best, most beautiful book I bought this year (I said that about Kathryn Ireland's book too... until I opened the Branca book!) Even the graphics are beautiful, let alone the interiors. And that quilted blue sofa kills me every time I see it. So many of her spaces have been favorites over the years and I only recently put it together that they were all her. But seriously, if YOU'RE tempted to retire because of her, there is NO HOPE for the rest of us!

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  10. Thank you for this, Joni. What is it about the look of scarlet and gold that just do it for me?

    Shannon

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  11. Isn't she the BEST!?! She will be hosting our SFERRA/All the Best Chicago event this spring!

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  12. The bedroom
    The headboard

    Perfection!

    Jjjj

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  13. any one of those. I could be happy in any one. Although I DO love my own bedroom now that I have seagrass carpeting. :)

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  14. Where to start! The headboard in the guest bedroom, however the master is so serene and calming. I just finished a work of art that would be perfect! Two Actually!

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  15. I just bought the book. I am not worthy.

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  16. Wow, I am totally in love too! Thanks for the introduction to her glorious style! Oh that I had a clone of me to go out and be tutored all day long by someone like that...and go on to have a brilliant career as well! =) To dream..=)

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  17. Love the banquette and grasscloth wallcovering. The light fixture is divine!

    Another great post! Thanks too for dropping by my blog.

    xo,
    cristin

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  18. Forgive me, but I have NOT listened to SRT yet. Pathetique!

    But I have to say. This is probably my FAVE sentence ever written on a blog, everrrrrr:

    "Nobody works a piece of Fortuny better than Italian born Alessandra Branca."

    I died! You are so hilarious! It just painted a piece of imagery in my head that made me cackle. Thanks for that :)

    Andrea

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