Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gil Schafer, A place to call home

The most highly anticipated book this year has got to be architect Gil Schafer's "A Place to Call Home" from Rizzoli.  His first book, 2012's "The Great American House", was a huge hit and is one of my top favorite design books in my library. The book is split into 2 parts: the first he discusses what resonates with him when designing a house for a client (or himself) and the second part takes an in depth look at some of his more recent projects. 
I think one of the reasons Schafer's work is so popular is that he believes in the maxim God is in the details. In no project is this more important than in a home where someone lives with and physically touches each design decision on a daily basis. Schafer is a residential master; the projects in the book range from the traditional architecture he is known for to more modern styles.
The book is written so conversationally one walks away feeling you've made a new friend!   It's easy to form a connection to Schafer as he begins the book with stories of his childhood of different family houses: the sites and smells he remembers. I think we all have those memories of grandma's house!  
My favorite section is called 'the spaces in between' which are so important to a home; Linen closets, mudrooms, butler's pantries; etc.  Some great tips to pick up from that chapter!
Clients today rarely ask for formality and Schafer addresses this intelligently. It's possible to have functional spaces in a more traditional design aesthetic; candlelight and dressing up are not required!
This book is a must have for any design library and will bring a smile to your face. I promise you'll return to it again and again!
All images taken from the book, published by Rizzoli, and photographed by Eric Piasecki.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Making House: Designers at Home

Book publishing season is upon us and it feels like everyday a great new design book hits the stands to devour! Rizzoli is about to release "Making House: Designers at Home"  by Dominic Bradbury which is one of those great peaks into our favorite designer's own homes -many that will surprise you!
Kelly Wearstler's Malibu house definitely fits into her aesthetic with these highly refined marble built-ins in her living room which are astounding. Wait until you see the adjoining fireplace!!!
The London home of textile designer Neisha Crosland is highly undecorated, which I love to see, and reflects her fun personality. Those double oak leaf chandeliers I want so badly!! Such a fun idea to upholster all of the dining room chairs differently too.
Italian architect Piero Lissoni's minimal home in Tuscany will soothe and calm your senses.  This metal staircase may be my favorite thing I've seen in awhile: simple yet elegant.  I wish our codes in the USA would allow an open rail!
Many of the designer's homes pictured are familiar to us but I love to see how they evolve over time. Case in point are both Miles Redd's NYC townhouse and Stephen Sill's Westchester country house which have been published multiple times.  There is always something new to see as the spaces are constantly changing as the owner's grow; these are the design laboratories of great minds.
Making House from Rizzoli is a great look at some of our favorite top talent's private spaces - it's human nature to be nosey, right?  Time to dive right in and see how they're living!
Photography in the book by Richard Powers

Friday, August 18, 2017

Lechlade, Gloucestershire

I've recently been looking back at a cache of saved emails I have from my online penpal Neil (who if you remember sadly passed away last year) and came across photos of a small town in Gloucestershire, Lechlade, that he had visited.
Not only is the town near one of his favorite houses which I've blogged about before, Buscot Park (see that post HERE), the surrounding towns have a lot to offer including some really beautiful gardens and houses made of the local stone.
There is nothing I love better than an old house with a crunchy gravel drive -note the wisteria on the bay window above too.
Located centrally in the town is the 15th century church of St Lawrence and the beautiful parish house above.
 This is the southern edge of the Cotswolds so you get a fair number of their famous stone cottages here as well.
 I think just these few pictures are reason enough to prove why this area is such a tourist destination.
In nearby Fairford is the Bull Hotel which looks absolutely charming as your home away from home while touring country houses, small villages, and antique shops. Next vacation perhaps?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Museum of the 18th century - Musee Cognacq-Jay, Paris

One of the many small charming museums of Paris is the Musee Cognacq-Jay, covering the influential design of the 18th century. The collection was formed by the founders of La Samaritaine department store and opened to the public in 1929 although in a different location.
The city of Paris, which manages the collection, moved the museum into the Hotel Donon in 1990. This 16th century hotel particulier was renovated heavily over the centuries before the city rescued the structure in 1974 and restored it to its supposed 18th century appearance.
What an excellent place for the collection then, and a great location in the heart of the Marais. The move into the structure though was heavily debated and frowned upon by the founder's family.
I loved the wallpaper in this room, which feels so modern, and especially the little bookcase above.
While the collection is comprised of furniture, art, and decorative objects of the 18th century there are some noted exceptions.
 One of the highlights of the furniture collection is this lit a la Polonaise (Polish style bed).
This carved and gilded wood bed was made by Georges Jacob around 1785 and features period appropriate blue damask upholstery.
 The paintings of the period set the scene and tone of the period.
 One can see why the 18th century has been so influential to designers!
The stairs of the hotel are particularly lovely. We really liked the coved plaster ceiling of the main stair.
 The lower level stairs are formal limestone and iron with lovely age and wear to them.
 The upper levels have more cost effective wood stairs with the same iron rail.
The building is a great example of this type of structure found throughout Paris and is noted for its attic with beams much like a ship's structure. 
Add a trip to the Cognacq-Jay on your Parisian vacation; Best part is admission to the main collection is free!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Exploring the Luxembourg Gardens

Another favorite spot in Paris is the Luxembourg Gardens, named after the famed palace they surround. While the history of the palace may be rather gruesome today the gardens are anything but as they act as the backyard to many Parisians.
The Palace has held the French Parliament since the early 19th century. Completed in 1645 by architect Salomon de Brosse for the mother of Louis XIII, the regent Marie de' Medici, later in the mid 18th century becoming an art museum.  Name it and this palace has hosted the use: private home, art museum, prison, parliament - talk about adaptive reuse!
One of the most famous things in the garden is the Medici Fountain, built elsewhere on the grounds in 1630 but moved closer to the palace in the 1860s when roads were routed through the gardens. It's a popular shady spot on a hot day.
 My favorite view in the gardens may be this statue of Narcissus with the Pantheon over his shoulder.
Nothing is better in nice weather to join all of Paris in a relaxing day spent with a book and/or friends in the sun. All of the lawn furniture is painted a particularly attractive shade of green (to which I must find a match!) and softdrinks, icecream, and wine (naturally) are sold by small kiosks. One can even rent toy boats to race in the round reflecting pool!
Given the signs however I suppose the gardens aren't always as relaxing  (Even the danger signs are beautiful).
While the back facade facing the gardens is the most well known the front face aligning with the Rue de Tournon is really an architectural tour de force.  Also check out the great shopping in the few blocks north of the palace along the Rue de Tournon leading up to the Boulevard St Germain -all of the shops you want to visit inside gorgeous historic hotel particuleurs to ogle including  Astair de Villatte, Bonpoint, Cire Trudon, and most surprisingly the French office and chic shop of David Hicks!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Petit Palais, Paris

Across the street from the famous exhibition hall the Grand Palais sits its more decorative sibling, the Petit Palais.  Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 by architect Charles Girault in the Beaux-arts style the building now houses a magnificent art museum.
We entered the palais on a whim as the day was hot and the ornate entrance was cool and welcoming. The interior was even more exuberant then the exterior and admission was free!
Before touching on 2 interesting exhibits I saw as well as some of the general collection I'll share some pictures of the astounding architecture with you.
 It may be smaller than the Grand Palais but this is not a small building!
 The interior is light filled due to a lovely courtyard which floods every room with natural light.
 Impressive right?
Decorative murals decorate each space.
A lovely view of the Grand Palais across the street through the windows.
The ironwork on the staircases was astounding as were the mosaic floors. 
 And never forget to look up.
 The newel posts are so intricate and unusual.
 The lower level is no less grand.
 Is it a fish of some sort?
 The most impressive space however must be the internal garden courtyard.
 A cafe rings the loggia so everyone has a garden view.
 The main entry into the building is just under that dome.
This may be my favorite garden in Paris. I probably said that already about the Rodin museum, right? choices choices....
 The ceiling of the loggia is also decorated, fear not!
 And of course everything is curved, even the doors!
 Shall we go inside to see some art?
The permanent collection mostly covers art from the time period of the exhibition, 1900. This lovely Pissaro was the same view I passed daily on the way to my apartment. 

I have long been acquainted with this intriguing portrait of Sarah Bernhardt from 1876 and it is within the collection; also note how large this is, nearly life sized!
This painting below by James Tissot was also incredibly large. It helps for museums to be large scale like the Petit Palais to house these enormous artworks!
Another lifesized sculpture..... note the lovely klismos chair.
A fine 18th century decorative arts collection sits alongside the art.
 I love this obelisk clock by Joseph-Marie Level.
One of the exhibits I enjoyed, which has since closed, was full of sketches from the 18th century entitled "From Watteau to David".
My favorite was the sketch above of 2 women in a garden by Claude-Jean-Baptiste Hoin (that's a mouthful of a name!)
Although the Fragonard sketch of an Italian Garden above was a close second.
Sketches and watercolors remain my favorite art genre because of their loose sketchiness; I feel artists are more creative in these quick pieces.
The sketch above was by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre who was the court painter to king Louis XVI.
Another exhibit right up my alley was on 18th century ecclesiastical art and architecture entitled "Baroque during the enlightenment".
The baroque artworks of the churches of Paris - brilliant!
Many still exist and can be visited.
I never knew the art of the illuminated manuscript continued after the renaissance; Loved the flowers above.
Many of these pieces were restored just for this exhibit.
While these particular exhibits have recently closed hopefully this post gives you the nature of the art within the Petit Palais. Definitely add this museum to your next adventure into the city of light, it will become one of my regular Parisian haunts for sure!