Friday, June 23, 2017

The Jazz Age; Cooper Hewitt

I was in NYC a few weeks ago and went to a fascinating exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt design museum that is a must for any design lover: The Jazz Age.
A time of great change with quickly changing technology, growing democracy around the world, equal rights for women, etc. the jazz age opened up a whole new world of design in all sectors.
This exhibition by the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt is housed in their NY museum; the Andrew Carnegie mansion on the upper east side.
One can't describe the Jazz age without its music and Josephine Baker, an American who took Paris by storm. She created the soundtrack for the jazz age.
 Chanel was the couturier to the era.
 The time period was known for jewels. See Gloria Swanson's diamond bracelets above.
Cocktails were all the rage, even in perfume.  This little bar was for mixing your own home fragrance!
 Smoking was huge for both sexes and the accoutrement got the jazz age treatment.
 Cartier defined the jewelry of the era.
The architecture of the time was streamlined and reflected not only the industrialization of the era but also its music.
 Art was seen from new vantage points - we were flying and looking down upon the world (and the Eiffel Tower).
Myron Herrick was responsible for bringing European design into the United States. Here he is seen in his splendid Laszlo portait.
 The intricacy of many of the items on display and the lighting is pretty wonderful.
Marjorie Merriweather Post was in on the Jazz Age too at her Florida Mansion Mar-a-lago. This desk was part of her bedroom suite designed by Paul T Frankl and was included in the sale of the mansion but sold off by the Trumps in the 1980s.
 No hotel in New York epitomizes the glamour of the Jazz age like the Carlyle hotel where I stayed.
While the rooms have been thoroughly updated the lobby still reflects its' Jazz Age roots; one almost expects Fred Astaire to tap by.
Don't miss out on The Jazz Age, open until August 20, 2017 at the Cooper Hewitt design museum.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Out East: Houses and Gardens of the Hamptons

Just in time for summer living Vendome Press is releasing Out East, the houses and gardens of the Hamptons, by noted author Jennifer Ash Rudick.  This beautiful book covers all the bases from modern beach shacks to more formal homes. If you don't find your dream Hampton's pad in this book you're not looking hard enough!
The relaxed vibe found in all 30 of the houses with open windows and cool breezes have me longing for a little away time myself.
The houses that appeal to me the most have a relaxed European casualness that embrace outdoor living without giving up any creature comforts.
Of course my preference is for the more traditional houses in the book with an eclectic 'real' mix of furnishings that highlight the personality of the owner (not designer).
And my favorite room in the entire book is this lovely screened porch found in a charming house designed by David Netto;  I could park myself here for days with a stack of books and pitcher of iced tea. Imagine riding out a rainstorm here too; perfection.
 And I can't forget the gorgeous gardens in the book;  Afterall that's what summer living is all about!
Thanks to Vendome Press for this book with lovely photographs by Tria Giovan, this is one not to miss!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Learning from Ledoux, Paris

While I organize my photos from last week's trip to Paris and Brussels I thought I would share with you a hotel particulier by Ledoux that I stumbled upon with friends in le Marais.
The last standing private house designed by Ledoux, the Hotel D'Hallwyll also was really the start of his prolific career. Ledoux started this extensive renovation to an older house (designed by Mansart) for the wife of the Comte d'Hallwyll who had inherited the house from her father.
The house now holds 12 apartments and is private but we were lucky to walk by and gain access to the front courtyard.

Located at 28 Rue St-Michel-le-Comte (on the bottom of the plan above) one enters into the entry courtyard. The extensive stables for 18 horses are located on the upper right hand corner with the famous garden on the upper left hand side.
Most of the interiors have been lost over the centuries although the staircase is original and was recently renovated (read more about that HERE with fantastic pictures)
The Neoclassic facades were the most modern of their day. Part of the reason they were so revolutionary is that Ledoux never studied in Rome unlike other architects.  His sometimes rather inventive designs were based on his second hand knowledge from Palladio and Piranesi (in the manner of later post-modernists).
I would think this simple service stairwall (located in the lower right hand corner of the entry courtyard) is also original. Love the ancient limestone floors and bottom treads.
 I also loved these gates separating the courtyard from the street featuring a Greek key pattern.
The street facade has stone rustication which Ledoux based on the (now gone) building located next door. Prior to this time period, extensive stone rustication was generally found on prisons or banks.
As the street is so narrow it's hard to get the full facade in a photograph so below is Ledoux's drawing.
Notice how the rustication is different above the 2nd floor windows than what was built- a change probably made in the field during construction to keep the roof lower.
 Fluted columns frame the entrance gate below a lovely carved stone tympanum.
 Notice the 2 service floor windows are banded together with a larger principal floor on top.
The interior rear garden was the largest innovation by Ledoux, located at the far right of the building section drawing below.  He surrounded the garden with a Doric colonnade much like those found in ancient Roman villas making the house appear much larger than it actually was.
The street behind (Rue Montmorency) was not in existence when the garden was built so a faux colonnade was painted above the rear wall onto the side of a building which no longer exists. Now however the garden benefits from doors directly out onto the street found on either side of the colonnade.
The beauty of walking around Paris is finding gems such as this!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Southeastern Design Showhouse in a James Means house!

While in Atlanta I attended the last open day of the extremely popular Southeastern Showhouse which benefits the Atlanta History Center ( based at Swan House which I have blogged about HERE).
The showhouse benefits from being a private home in which the homeowners worked hand in hand with the selected designers in order to create a home for themselves unlike many showhouses which become disjointed rooms with no flow. This was possibly the best showhouse I've ever visited (and I've been to many!).
The original house was built in 1962 by architect James Means of reclaimed materials, making the house feel historic while offering the best of modern day conveniences. In similar fashion, architect Yong Pak with Pak Heydt & Associates worked with the homeowners in updating and expanding the Means house for 21st century living.
Landscape architect Richard Anderson was brought on to make the best of the truly breathtaking site.
But lets move inside, shall we? Above is the first floorplan which will help orient you.  The house is enormous so I'll only be showing a few of my favorite spaces. The original James Means house is seen in the lower portion of the floorplan.
Decorator and chair of the showhouse, Jackye Lanham, decorated the stairhall. The marble floor was original from James Means' design but was only installed during this renovation.
I loved the treatment of this hall which goes up to the attic level. Notice the black painted stringer and railing with white pickets and trim.
Up towards the attic level a pair of eagles mounted on gilded brackets anchor a dormer window.
The attic bunkroom featured interior windows which are so charming and help bring light into the stair.
The dining room (room 9 on the plan) located inside the original James Means house and decorated by Tammy Connor, features a large Chippendale printed grasscloth wallpaper and lovely woodwork.
Off the dining room is a wetbar perfect for parties, with an antiqued mirror backsplash and gorgeous zinc countertop.
The library decorated by Chad James (#3 on the plan) was a more modern, cozy but luxe retreat.  It featured enormous steel windows with views of the backyard though they were unfortunately covered with a grasscloth blind! I couldn't tell if this was part of the original house or the addition (which is a sign of a good reno!).
Speaking of steel windows (which are EVERYWHERE in Atlanta), this huge opening was about 9' wide and 13' tall opening off the family room (#21 on the plan) decorated by Phoebe Howard.
The large covered porch off the family room above was a great indoor/outdoor space.
The Man Cave in the basement was decorated by William Peace and featured reclaimed wood clad walls and an enormous kitchenette/bar. What a great movie watching space this is!
Loved the detail of this iron arrow into the wall near the entry -perfect for hanging coats.
The wine cellar by Randy Korando and Dan Belman was built with even more reclaimed lumber and ingenious metal pegs to hold bottles. This made the room feel much larger than the more traditional wood crates.
The master suite was a large part of the ground floor addition (rooms 4-6 on the plan). I loved the vestibule and master dressing rooms decorated by Anna Braund.  Great lighting by Visual Comfort also.
Between the vestibule and the dressing room was a lovely round window for more shared light.
I loved this treatment of the narrow hallway: a coved, uplit ceiling with antique mirror at one end and the bedroom doors at the other below a leaded glass transom.
The master suite also included a small office which was charmingly decorated by Margaret Kirkland. Loved this wallpaper!
The sunroom off the master bedroom, decorated by Tristan Harstan, was tented with fabric - the best room in the house!
Saving my favorite for last however, a small bedroom on the 2nd floor (#13 on the 2nd floorplan above) really stole the show.
Designer Sarah Bartholomew created a haven wrapped in a lovely blue and white fabric with red trim.
I loved the window seat which is a great spot to read (notice the tape trim on the sides and ceiling).
The red frames on the antique prints above the dresser really tied everything together. I could move right into this charming bedroom!
I so love visiting Atlanta. The entire city appreciates good design and fine living on a level that makes Washington look barbaric. This design house was packed on a daily basis and appreciated by all. I know I'll be making a visit to Atlanta next spring to see the new Southeastern Showhouse!