The Lady In Yellow

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If you are like me, this cover of Veranda is instantly recognizable as an interior done by Mary Douglas Drysdale, the iconic interior designer from Virginia.  In the 90s, Mary was featured on this cover of Veranda and for several years, this color combination became her trademark.  Who could forget those gorgeous silk plaid curtains?  I never did.  In fact one of my earlier jobs had curtains exactly like this in a shameless attempt at copying her! 

 

 

imageMary is known for using classic antiques mixed with contemporary art work.  Her interiors aren’t exactly minimalist, but clutter is banished in favor of over scaled accessories:  a large rooster, a sunburst mirror (before they were “in”),  and wind vanes – all favorites of Mary’s.  

 

 

imageHere, the yellow had become deeper – more vibrant, leaning toward orange.   During her career – Mary has been on over 60 covers!  An amazing achievement for someone with a small overhead - her staff numbers only four.  

 

 

 

image Yet, as often as Mary uses classic architecture and furniture, she also is comfortable designing using Americana motifs such as quilts and wind vanes.   She is as competent designing a large mansion as she is a centuries old stone farmhouse.  This  yellow and white bedroom shows the quilts Mary is known for, along with her famous plaid curtains and the large sunburst mirror. 

 

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Beautiful period antiques mixed in with contemporary art – a trademark.   Mary’s interiors often have classical architectural elements – elegant moldings and columns.  Mary does it all – she is actively involved in the plans from the ground up.  

 

 

 

imageModern art work mixes with  traditional furniture.  Mary loves to paint floors.   Rarely is a floor finished with just a plain wood stain.  Here the plaid curtains have become stripes.

 

 

image Gorgeous architectural elements - something Mary likes in her interiors.  She studied in Paris for three years before she opened her interior design business.  Notice the gorgeous gilt wind vane!  

 

 

imageAt her centuries old stone farmhouse, Mary was inspired by her neighbor’s pumpkins for her kitchen palette. 

 

 

image Yellow becomes orange!  Mary admits she loves white backgrounds with bright pops of color. 

 

 

 

A recent Veranda cover story showed this guest room in soothing greens with pops of pink.

 

 

 

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Mary says that many fabrics she uses are actually put together by herself using several different pieces sewn together.  In this recent project, the grand entrance hall is white with small pops of soft yellow and black accents.

 

 

 

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In the same house, the formal living room is all creams and ivories.  Notice the beautiful painted floor! 

 

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Mary Douglas Drysdale – a legend of our times, highly intelligent, hugely talented, and wonderfully talkative - visits the Skirted Roundtable this week.  Be sure to listen – you’ll be as enthralled as Linda, Megan and I were.  As always, your support and comments are most appreciated!!

 

 

To listen to Mary Douglas Drysdale on The Skirted Roundtable go HERE.

Kitchen Flattery

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One of the more frequently asked question by clients that I get is about kitchen remodeling.   As with all interior design, in 10 years time, a kitchen can become dated.   Clients are forever wondering what countertop will look best and untrendy for the next decade or two.  The answer is truly – none.   Everything dates, especially countertops.   I suppose that classic black granite or white marble is perhaps the least trendy, except both, especially the white marble, are so in right now that the years 2000-2010 may always be associated with these gorgeous materials.   Many people are faced with a kitchen that needs updating – yet they don’t want to tear out all their cabinets and start over from scratch.  They want a small update, something to take their kitchen out of the 80s or the 90s:  think light oak stained cabinets that seemed to be in every kitchen in the 90s.   I myself was one of these people.

 

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My Kitchen Before:  taupe and white checkerboard tiles that used to go with the cafe-au-lait wall color, until I had the house painted a soft yellow.   Brass plumbing no longer went with the new hardware I had put in the house.  The entire space was tired, outdated and a total mess.

 

When my kitchen was 15 years old, I was so tired of it, I wanted to rip it all out and start over.  Yet, like so many of my clients, I didn’t want to spend the money on a new kitchen with all the bells and whistles.  Plus, since I don’t really cook,  I was aiming for an update for appearances sake only.   Still, I could not look at those taupe and white checkerboard tiles another day.   Having a combination of black and white appliances didn’t help things either.   For a relatively small amount of money, I ended up with a redone kitchen that brought it into this century.

 

 

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AFTER:  The biggest change was the white marble countertops and backsplash, new stainless appliances, the new casement window and the Shaw’s sink and faucet in polished nickel.  I’ve joked that I love my sink so much, I would marry it if Ben and I ever divorced.  Seriously – it’s more than fabulous, as sinks go.   I painted the cabinets a light gray and called it a day.  Of course, I knew all along the yellow paint had to go, but it took me another year to settle on a gray that was warm enough to blend with other parts of my downstairs decor.   The bathrooms all could use the same updating as the kitchen, but my pocketbook (or Ben’s I should say) is waiting for the economy to pick up a little before I tackle that issue.

 

 

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AFTER AFTER:  I finally got around to repainting the walls downstairs – 15 paint samples later, I decided on a color that turned out to be same color as my existing trim.  Go figure.  Pratt and Lambert – Feathered Gray.

 

 

image The sink is long and deep – you can hide so much in there.  The day I took this picture it was filled with lunch dishes – yet you can barely see just one dish peeking out!

 

 

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I bought all the appliances online from Best Buy – and sprang for the least expensive ones I could find – as long as the handle was good looking.  That was my criteria – good looking handles.  

 

 

image After painting, I updated the bakers rack some – adding new white washed baskets and moving my cloches there.   I also got rid of all my French yellow ware that I had collected for years, opting now for only white ironstone in the kitchen. 

 

 

A few months after I showed my  kitchen redo on the blog HERE, a reader sent me pictures of her kitchen.  She was just about to embark on her own kitchen remodeling – using a lot of the same elements I had.  She told me that when her redo was complete, she’d send new pictures of it.  Look at the reader’s kitchen before:

 

 

image READER’S KITCHEN BEFORE:  When I got these pictures, I remember writing her and saying – these are before pictures??????   Actually, I liked her kitchen the way it was.  I liked the toile wallpaper, the black countertops, the windows, and the breakfast area. 

 

 

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Sorry for the out of focus – I didn’t take these pictures!

 

 image And her cute eat-in table.  The problem with this reader’s kitchen was more than surface.  She had very little counter space and the table took up valuable room in the small kitchen. 

 

 

 

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READER’S KITCHEN AFTER

The final reveal - as opposed to my remodel, this reader went all the way with new cabinets and flooring.   As you can see, she replaced the table with an island – thus increasing her working space dramatically.  Her kitchen does remind me of mine in so many ways.  Like me, she got a Shaw’s sink, the same faucet, and almost identical hardware.  The white marble is very similar – hers is Carrera and mine is Calacutta Ora.   Along with the new cabinets, she got new stainless appliances, although her refrigerator is white to blend in with the cabinetry.  I love the way the sink cabinet has legs!

 

 

 

 

image In this picture, you can really see how much extra counter space she gained from adding an island, rather than keeping the table. 

 

 

image Meals are eaten here at the island.  (New fabric is coming for the bar stools!)

 

 

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Instead of the range, she added a cooktop with a trendy hood.   I wish I had this myself – I don’t care for my cooktop being on my island. 

 

 

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I love the marble backsplash – instead of tiles.   White marble is so beautiful – why not use as much of it as you can?

 

 

image Along the back wall where it once was all cabinets, double ovens were added.

 

 

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And, finally, next to the double ovens, glass doors and a marble counter were added to break up the bank of cabinets that was previously there.  I think this reader did a great job with her kitchen.  While she did a much more extensive redo than I did – she stayed within the footprint of her space – choosing to keep the room the same size.   Unlike me, she needed more counter space and greater efficiency – so new cabinets were needed which added to her price tag.   Still, I was struck at how similar our kitchens looked, which really wasn’t an accident – the reader told me she chose many of the same elements I did after seeing my redo. 

Thank you so much to this reader for sending in these pictures!!!   I love to see reader’s houses – so keep them coming!!!

 

 

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The bells and whistles:  writing about kitchens got me thinking.  If I did have the budget for a totally new kitchen, would I want a kitchen like this?  Would I want all the extras and the luxury?   Do I like banks and banks of closed cabinetry?   What is my dream kitchen?  What is your dream kitchen?  I suppose if you are a chef or like to spend time in the kitchen, your answer would be different than someone like me who uses the kitchen to cool diet cokes and refrigerate take out Chinese dishes.  

 

 

 

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Several Houston kitchens have spoken to me – this one is beautiful for a large budget space.  I adore the limestone mantel – so French!  The red lanterns and the toile fabric curtains are wonderful too.  The cabinetry though is especially appealing – the curved armoire door styling, the chicken wire.   This kitchen would be as fancy as I would ever want. 

 

 

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One of my favorite kitchens in Houston is Donna Brown’s.  Donna owns The Gray Door in Houston, one of the better antique stores here.  She bought a townhouse and then ripped out the brand new kitchen.  Next, she went shopping at The Gray Door and brought home her kitchen.  Amazing.  The sink is located in the shop cabinet behind the chair.   Cages double as cabinets.   I love these kind of kitchens and wish I had the huevos to do this in my house!

 

 

 

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Another picture from Donna Brown’s kitchen.  Past the range, she placed a long cabinet to store dishes and silverware.   The wine table doubles as a coffee and breakfast table.   This space is the family room/breakfast room.   The French doors lead to the landscaped terrace.   Donna’s entire townhouse is wonderful – she took a rather traditional townhouse and turned it into a house you might find in Paris.  

 

 

image The sink and refrigerator in Donna’s non-kitchen kitchen.

 

 

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Another fabulous non-kitchen kitchen is this one done by Pam Pierce, also from Houston.   Of course it helps that the lady of the house, Ruth Gay, owns Chateau Domingue, Houston’s finest architectural elements (antique and new) shop.   Hard to believe this kitchen is in a once proper  Houston house that Pierce and Gay have totally redone with antique architectural building elements from France and Europe.   The stone walls are gorgeous!!!

 

 

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I mean, look at this sink!!!!   True, Gay has a traditional farm sink, but she also has this trough in her kitchen.   This kitchen makes all the traditional bells and whistle cabinetry kitchens look so fuddy-duddy, imho.  

 

 

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Pam Pierce’s own Houston kitchen is another one I lust after time and time and time again.   I love the way the cabinet doors are inset into the stone countertops.  So French!!!   And these Houston designers would never use a regular island – their islands are ALWAYS antique – either an old butcher block (the real thing) or an old store cabinet display piece, or a tailor’s table, or – well you have the idea.   Their islands make their kitchens so much more interesting – adding texture and an element of surprise. 

 

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Looking from Pierce’s kitchen into the breakfast room.  Those shelves – could they be more perfect??????   I’m sorry, but interior design like this depresses me!   Makes me feel so inadequate!!!!!

 

 

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More Houston interior design, via Fredericksburg:  This “kitchen” is owned by an antique dealer/real estate tycoon from Houston.  Again, no built in cabinetry, instead a large antique piece holds all the dishes.   The crystal chandelier mixed with the rustic stone walls and floor is a fun touch.  This is Fredericksburg???

 

 

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Another Houston connection via Dallas:  native Houstonian Shannon Bowers’ kitchen is again a non kitchen kitchen.   Notice the unusual elements:  her island, no upper cabinetry, open shelving, the skirt under the sink – all nontraditional choices in a kitchen.  The lantern is the cherry on top.  Bowers’ entire house featured in Veranda is to die for. 

 

 

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And finally, Jane Moore’s non kitchen kitchen – filled with Swedish antiques and painted consoles.   Too cute!   Do you think Houston designers are influencing each other?   I hope so – we have such great talent in this city as you can see from their kitchens. 

 

I’m curious.  Do you prefer a large, bells and whistle kitchen, filled with closed cabinetry and the finest in appliances?  Or do these Houston kitchens appeal  more to you?  I know that for me, seeing all these non-kitchen kitchens really makes me wish for one!

Kelly Harmon’s Designs

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White wooden gates lead to “Patch of Blue” – a Malibu horse farm, recently on the market.

 

Recently, Artie from Color Outside the Lines, sent me a real estate blurb about a house that had sold in Malibu.   The brochure states the house was designed by Kelly Harmon, a famous Californian interior designer, who has long captured my attention.   Doing a little stalking, aka Google research, the Malibu farm, called “Patch of Blue” appears to have actually belonged to Ms. Harmon and her family.   Over the years, several of Harmon’s homes have been published in magazines and design books and I have seen pictures of her horse farm - but this real estate brochure’s pictures don’t look familiar.   Why?   Trying to sort it all out, confusion sets in.   Town and Country Magazine once did a spread on her Sagaponack vacation house on Long Island which was also called Patch of Blue.  In a House Beautiful spread, her Malibu horse ranch is called “Butterfly Knoll Farm” and is referred to continually as a cottage, which this house certainly isn’t.  Are there two Malibu horse farms?  To further muddy the waters,  there is Harmon’s Cliff May designed house in a L.A. canyon.   It literally took me days to figure out which pictures belonged to which house:   fueled by memories of old photoshoots and clippings from yellowing magazines, along with pages from numerous design books – I think I can safely say I have Harmon’s real estate all figured out now:  the things I do for this blog!! 

 

Regardless of the correct name of this property or that, it’s Ms. Harmon’s aesthetic that is the important element.  Her style is a mix of high and low – rustic and country pieces with painted, chipping finishes mix with pricey antiques from Sweden and France.  Her color palette is monochromatic – all whites, beiges, ivories and creams – along with accents of blue.  She says in one interview she really can not live with the color red.   Everything about her style oozes comfort,  ease and softness.  A trademark of hers is the use of architectural elements – vintage shutters and doors, old windows, and columns which she adds to the outside and inside of all her houses, creates a fabulous atmosphere reminiscent of a European country manor.   Another trick of her trade is adding white washed, peeling and crusty beams and rafters to most ceilings.   Harmon can effortlessly turn any vanilla tract home into a French mas.   And always, there is the lush, natural landscaping with flowering vines and roses everywhere.  Add to this - her horses.  All three of houses, in Malibu, L.A. and Sagaponack,  are shared with her horses.   She designs wonderful stables for them that resemble old churches from the countryside of Ireland. 

 

Ms. Harmon has a long public history – first married at a young age to the famous automobile inventor John DeLorean, her brother is the actor Mark Harmon and she was a long time spokesperson for Tic-Tacs.   Today, Harmon is a well known interior designer, painter and horsewoman.    Unfortunately, she has no web site, which is such a shame.  I absolutely love her style – and it’s a tragedy that photographs of her work are so hard to locate.    Maybe one day she will write a book herself chronicling her fabulous design career.   Some of the images shown today are over a decade old, yet they seem fresh and timeless, thanks to her use of antiques and solid fabrics – there are no trendy patterned fabrics here.

 

The first property shown today – Patch of Blue – is the horse farm in Malibu, across the beach fronting Highway 101.   The farm eventually sold to Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr., according the blog, The Real Estalker.  

 

Patch of Blue Farm, Malibu:

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The first house is Kelly Harmon’s Malibu horse farm, Patch of Blue, recently sold to Robert Downey Jr.  

 

 

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Bing Maps shows the property, with its main house, arenas, stables, and barn that was converted into a guest house.    The front yard that overlooks Highway 101 and Zuma Beach is cut off in this view – it actually is quite large.  The property is seven acres. 

 

 

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Entering through the front door, the view leads back to the main living area and out towards the Pacific ocean.   Harmon’s decorating style is evident in the lobby:  a bleached daybed, wicker baskets, and faded rug.   The walls are white stucco and the floors are parquet.  The real estate brochure says the house was built in 1979.   I imagine that Harmon redid the stairwell and banister. 

 

 

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The main living room:   while the room looks relaxed and rustic with its wood beams  – pricey Swedish antique sofa and chairs mix with an antique limestone fireplace.  

 

 

 

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Closeup view of the main living room – notice the vintage shutters indoors, a Harmon trademark.    I love the mixture of the painted Swedish antique chairs and sofa with the French ladderback chair with rush seat.  Harmon prefers to use area rugs – mostly old and worn, with muted colors.

 

 

 

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This room looks like a combination sitting room and office.  I love the striped slipcover chairs and the blue painted bookshelves. I assume this room is upstairs, overlooking the ocean.

 

 

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This sitting room shares a fireplace with an adjoining room.  I love how Harmon mixes in pricey antique bouillette lamps with pine picnic tables.  These types of lamps with tole shades show up in many of her rooms.   Notice how worn her rug is!  Love that!!! 

 

 

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The master bedroom – in true Harmon style:  Fine French antique chair and chaise longue mix with twig night stands, Swedish cabinet, and old vintage shutters.   I love how she added the rustic white washed rafters.  She layers rugs over wall to wall sisal.  So pretty!!!

 

 

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The back of the house – above is the master bedroom with its large balcony.  Love the brick terrace.  Harmon’s landscape is always an important element in her designs.

 

 

 

 

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The back of the house overlooking the Pacific ocean.

 

 

 image  Antique brick terrace off the back of the house.  Romantic flowering vines are growing throughout the property. 

 

 

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Patch of Blue has several horse arenas and pastures, along with riding trails.  Must be nice for the horses!!!

 

 

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The stables are so romantic looking with their plank wood doors.   The real estate brochure states the stalls are “rose covered.”

 

 

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AWWWW!!!!  Love the shutters.

 

Seeing the Patch of Blue farm started my mind turning – and questioning.  I remembered seeing the photoshoot of her Malibu horse farm, but it didn’t look like this house.  Were there two Malibu horse farms?  For several days, I searched old magazines and clippings, web sites, tax rolls, and old real estate brochures.   The reason why this house didn’t look like the one published in 2004 in House Beautiful was because it wasn’t.   Several years before Harmon lived at Patch of Blue, she lived right down the street at another Malibu horse farm!  This farm is called Butterfly Knoll Farm.    Do you remember these pictures from that shoot?

 

Butterfly Knoll Farm, Malibu:

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The living room at Butterfly Knoll Farm – the first Malibu horse farm, photographed by House Beautiful in 2004.

 

House Beautiful repeatedly called this house a “cottage.”   It is also much older and smaller than the house at Patch of Blue.   On the property is a charming horse stable that resembles an old Irish church.   There are also riding trails, stables, and an artist studio.  Here, is the living room of the cottage.  The master bedroom is seen through the open doors.  This living room has all her trademarks – low and high – pine picnic tables mixed with elegant French and Swedish antiques.  Add to that, her columns and shutters.   Note that the coffee table is now in her current Malibu horse farm – Patch of Blued, and the Swedish chairs appear to have been sold to a client (see next story below.) 

 

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 The same living room – another view. 

 

 

 image  The master bedroom of her original horse farm in Malibu -   Butterfly Knoll Farm.  I adore the antique wood canopy with the checked fabric.  The bed has a wonderful lace and linen spread.   Notice the window.

 

image  The other side of the gorgeous bedroom with a large antique window which came from a Texas church!! Notice how the stucco walls are sculpted into the shape of a mantel.   The bedroom was once the garage before Harmon renovated the cottage.

 

 

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The kitchen at the Butterfly Knoll Farm.  Love the chicken wire cabinets. 

 

 

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The original pictures from the sale of Butterfly Knoll Farm are still on the internet – years and years later!!!  This is from the brochure, showing the adorable bathroom with French doors opening up to the outside garden. So Californian.  

 

 

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The adorable horse stable, designed by Harmon to look like an Irish countryside church.

 

Besides the two horse farms in Malibu, Harmon and family live in an original Cliff May designed house in an L.A. canyon.  I couldn’t find evidence of that house being photographed, but her Sagaponack house, also called Patch of Blue, on Long Island, NY, was photographed at least twice.  The second time – was after Harmon had added two wings onto a smaller beach house.   Of course, her horses are here too!  The summer house in NY is so beautiful – even more rustic than her Californian houses.   Here are a few pictures from the beach house in NY, as seen in several different design books that I spent two days searching through!!! 

 

Patch of Blue beach house, Sagaponack, NY:

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I apologize for the terrible scan – the pages ripped!   Here is the Sagaponack beach house.  I love this!  Bleached floors, rustic columns and beams.  Slipcovered furniture.  There is even a rare patterned linen fabric in this house – unusual for Harmon.   Notice the adorable Swedish table and chairs in the back corner.   I adore the library steps going to nowhere.  And notice at the back right, the stairs banister – so cute!  

 

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The other side of the living room above shows the dining area, filled with painted Swedish antique chairs and cabinet.   Harmon was into Swedish antiques long before they were trendy.  The chandelier is fabulous.   I love how “undecorated” her style is.  

 

 

 

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And, there is this hauntingly beautiful scene of the breakfast room in Sagaponack, showing an antique Swedish chandelier.    The door’s patina  is incredible. 

 

 

More Kelly Harmon Interiors as seen in the now defunct Western Interiors magazine:

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This house was designed by Kelly Harmon for clients who live in a classic Cliff May house in a canyon nearby her own Cliff May house in L.A.  The neighborhood is one of the few in L.A. where horses are still allowed.   Again, Harmon designed these stables to look like an old country church.  Notice the charming stable doors and brick lined drive.

 

 

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Close up of stables, with its antique French doors and brick lined walk.  Harmon found 40 doors in an old French abbey which were used throughout this property.   Also, a large cache of vintage shutters from Long Island was also used.   I could live in the stables myself and be quite happy!!!!

 

 

 

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The kitchen is so charming!  Notice the rock wall, the antique wood mantel, the stone floor.   This certainly looks European!!  These chairs look identical to the Swedish chairs seen in Harmon’s Butterfly Knoll Farm.   Beautiful table.

 

 

 

                       

 

 

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This view from the kitchen shows the cabinetry and range hood designed by Harmon.

 

 

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The dining room with rustic rafters, French doors, linen curtains, and antique table and chairs.   The chairs came from Cliff May, via the Hearst Castle. 

 

 

 

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Closeup of the dining room, with its large painted Spanish credenza.  

 

 

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The bedroom is gorgeous – a French bench covered in an Aubusson tapestry sits at the foot of the bed while the pillows are covered in antique lace.   I love flat weave patterned carpets as seen here – they are a great alternative to seagrass, which some people find uncomfortable for the bedroom.

 

  imageMore of the antique doors from France are used as shutters in the master bath.  Harmon designed the bathtub using travertine – to resemble a  horse trough.   The chandelier shows her love of mixing the high and the low.   I love how she hung a piece of simple burlap at the window.  The stucco walls are so beautiful – adding so much texture to the space.  The floor is saltillo pavers.    

 

 

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In a guest room, Harmon striped the finish off the twin beds and used simple linen as coverings.   Beautiful. 

 

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  Most rooms in the clients  house have French doors – and a patio, hallmarks of a Cliff May design.   The doors open to the outside.  Here, the rectangular pool is newly designed by Harmon, replacing a kidney shaped one.  Interestingly, when this couple renovated a house in Wyoming, they chose Madeline Stuart as the interior designer (shown in Elle Decor magazine.)   Those Wyoming interiors are quite different than this Harmon designed house – the Wyoming house is more contemporary, sparse, and much less romantic. 

 

 

Miscellaneous Harmon Designs:

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Another photograph of Kelly Harmon’s design which I found on Velvet and Linen’s blog.  Again, there is no attribute to where it is from.  But could this be in the Cliff May L.A. canyon home?  I think it must be from one of her own houses because it is the same coffee table found in the Patch of Blue house.    It’s so typical of Harmon’s wonderful aesthetic – the mix of French antiques, antique doors, shutters, beams, and the ever present bouilette lamps!

 

 

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And finally, another Harmon design, this time, Rooms to Inspire showed this bedroom.  Again, there is no clue which project it is from, yet all her trademarks are here:  the odd shaped windows and shutters, the linen fabrics and the painted and rustic antiques. 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at pictures of Kelly Harmon’s work.   She has no web site unfortunately!   I wish she would think about getting one to show her wonderful work – or perhaps write a book.   It’s sad to think there is no permanent record of all her fabulous houses.  

 

 

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Reminder – a new Skirted Roundtable is up – please listen HERE.  AND AND AND – Mary Douglas Drysdale is coming to the Skirted Roundtable tomorrow night!!!!  WOWOWOWOW.