Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Villa Kerylos and the 'Villa of Delirium' by Adrien Goetz

The Cote D'Azur conjures up all sorts of romantic images, and one of the most romantic (and intellectual) houses dotting the coast is the Villa Kerylos
Kerylos was the brainchild of wealthy archaeologist Theodore Reinach and designed for him in 1902 by architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, a prominent professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.  Designed as an updated ancient Greek palace, the house was complete with ancient looking frescoes and modern conveniences disguised behind antique forms. As most readers of this blog know all about the Villa Kerylos already I'll leave it at that.
 By Christophe Recoura -, CC BY-SA 3.0
A wonderful new book, 'Villa of Delirium',  has just been translated into English from the original French by award winning author (and member of the prestigious Institut de France)  Adrien Goetz,  and is soon to be released by New Vessel Press.  Historical fiction, the book traces the building and history of the villa through the eyes of a favored servant.  The novel really brings the house and early 20th century history alive with a few salacious details.
 By culturespaces/christophe Recoura -, CC BY-SA 3.0
The New Vessel Press offers a lot of translated European fiction and is a publisher to check out for sure.  This book will be released May 5, 2020 and information about it on their website HERE.
I've never been to the Villa Kerylos (or even to the French Riviera for that matter) but this book transported me there in a way beyond any pictures I've ever seen of the house.  I found myself constantly googling to see if items in the book were true or fiction (most were true!). Check out this book (and author!) for yourself is my highest recommendation. 
All images from Wikipedia article on the Villa Kerylos

Monday, December 30, 2019

Classical Baltimore pied-à-terre for sale

One of my many hobbies is tracking real estate (yes they are all architectural!) so when a friend sent me this apartment for sale in the Mt Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore I knew immediately I would have to share it here with you!
My first condo was a studio and I look fondly back on that time as maintenance is so easy.  There is something to be said for 1 room living -all of your favorite things are right there at all times!
This studio apartment has it all: location, charm, and space.  One of the great things about this apartment is the separate gracious entry hall which features much needed shelving and closets but also beautiful moldings and a window seat before a Palladian window.  The door to the bathroom is located to the left of that dresser.
Looking back towards the front door.  I think a curtain pulled back along the door wall would hide the asymmetry and undersized door which doesn't fit the scale of the space.
 Book storage is always needed and these deep shelves would hold a lot of design books!
The moldings are even more impressive in the main living space including a bay window AND a fireplace!
Notice the trimwork making 3 arched 'openings' along the inside wall with the kitchen to the left and the entry hall to the right. While I don't show the bathroom and kitchen they are totally nice spaces and wouldn't need much (the real estate listing includes those photos).
 Antique marble surrounds the firebox with lovely plaster moldings as mantel and overmantel.
 The moldings all appear to be restored and in good shape, not over-painted through the years.
 I even like the yellow wall color so move right in! (If only I had a reason to live in Baltimore)
 Close up of one of the pilasters with fretwork chair rail.
 Imagine the detailed overmantel picked out in more than 1 color....
I have nothing to do with the sale of this unit but if you want to check it out it is located at 8 W Madison Street, unit #25 in Baltimore, Maryland - REDFIN listing HERE.
All images courtesy of the MLS listing and not my own. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Parisians: Tastemakers at Home

As I prepare for my trip to Paris next week, I'm salivating over the houses featured in Catherine Synave's new book: The Parisians: Tastemakers at Home .  Parisians are known the world over for their incredible style and this book steps into the homes of leading French tastemakers to inspire us. 
While the weather next week may be closer to winter, the summer scene above in dealer Alain Demarchy's garden is enchanting. Demarchy was the well known owner of the Camoin Demachy Gallery on the Quai Voltaire and lived above the shop until retiring and selling off the contents of the shop in a sale at Christies (seen here).  He relocated to a charming new apartment which houses all of the treasures he could not bear to part with at auction. 
Dealer Patrick Perrin suffers from the same affliction as me; compulsive art purchasing. His envy-enducing gallery walls display his collection which I'm sure are heavily padded from his shopping at the antique fairs he plans: the Salon du Dessin.  This apartment is actually the family home above his grandfather's shop along the boulevard Saint-Germain which was purchased by his family generations ago. What a charmed life to live in one amazing place your entire life, surrounded by the things you love.
Fashion designer Gilles Dufour's varied collections all find a home in his apartment. This is one not to miss; dial chic hoarders anonymous!
Designer Pierre Yovanovitch is on the opposite side of the spectrum and his work is all about restraint: but not boredom!  His work always includes a few decorative focal points against a quiet background.
Conductor Marc Minkowski refers to his apartment as a 'chic junk shop' with treasures he has picked up around the world on his travels. Emphasis on Chic as I don't see the junk!

Check out The Parisians, Tastemakers at Home for more on these and much more inspiration!

'The Parisians: Tastemakers at Home' by Catherine Synave, Flammarion, 2019.  Images by Guillaume de Laubier

Friday, October 11, 2019

MGM Style - Cedric Gibbons and the art of the golden age of Hollywood

 As long time readers of this blog may remember, I'm a huge fan of movies, particularly classics. A large part of that fascination may be for the sets and the most famous set designer is, of course, Cedric Gibbons. Of the many exciting books out this fall, one looks into his life and work, MGM Style, by Howard Gutner.
Filled with beautiful photography, a lot are of movies I've never heard of.  Not only was Gibbon's career prolific it was long-lived.  Even movies where he isn't listed as designer he was still the head creative director of all MGM pictures.  While he's primarily known for movies from the 30s & 40s, he was working until shortly before his death in 1960.
While MGM promoted him as a son of architects and a trained architect himself, this glossy version was far from the truth. Despite a lack of education he went on to have one of the most influential design careers of the 20th century. Gibbons even designed the Academy Award's Oscar statuette in 1928 (as well as his own notorious house)!
When one thinks of art deco, one immediately thinks of the movies and sets such as these; a look defined by Gibbons.
Remember Crystal's bathtub in 1939's 'The Women'? Gibbons!
Above is the aforementioned house Gibbons designed for his glamorous wife, Dolores Del Rio. You may remember the house from Architectural Digest where it was recently featured after an extensive renovation. Read the story HERE.
I was very excited to receive my copy of this book, a must for any design library of both film buffs and early 20th century design!
All images courtesy Lyons Press

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Landmark Trust chateau -or the most perfect little house in the world!

On my recent vacation spent touring English country houses one of the best decisions was to rent a property from The Landmark Trust. The Landmark Trust is a charity that rescues important buildings that would otherwise be lost. The best part?  They then make them available for rent to help fund their enterprise; Most brilliant idea ever! 
We rented a mid 18th century lodge in the shape of a French chateau built by a local lawyer as his weekend getaway bachelor pad. This central UK location in Lincolnshire provided a spot to explore 8 different country houses within 8 days;  each being only about an hours drive away.
A full history is made available for all of their rentals online, some of which are quite interesting. The draw here though isn't the history but rather the bucolic setting overlooking the River Trent and surrounded by 100s of sheep and other wildlife.
Bunnies in the backyard and sheep in the frontyard (is this a country song?).  I could have stayed here forever. Having perfect early June weather didn't hurt.
Above: Looking back towards the house from the river.  The most perfect siting for the most perfect little house.  The house was basically a ruin when the Trust took over in 1982. Architect Philip Jebb worked with the Trust to restore what was left but basically rebuild the Grade 2 listed property and update with modern kitchen, bath, etc.  Read more about that HERE.
 Perfectly situated table and chairs to admire the view of the River Trent.
 Shall we go in?
One enters a few feet below grade into what originally was service space,unconnected to the rooms above on the main floor. During the renovation an interior staircase was inserted into one of the small wings.
This lower level has all of the basic services still; bathroom, mechanical space, a kitchen, and storage.  Upstairs on the main level are the living spaces.  Plan from the Landmark Trust website - all of their rentals include floorplans which make for a lot of #floorplanporn!
On the interior the only original elements are this octagonal stone floor which instructed how the space was to be laid out and the fireplace stone upstairs.
Expenses were not spared in creating the quality of space downstairs that one expected from the main level -including this really charming lattice work. Above is the dining nook. Notice the integrated wood interior shutters on all of the windows. All the furniture is antique with vintage light fixtures which add to the charm.
This compact kitchen had everything needed to make a full meal: oven, range, refrigerator, and an enormous selection of cookware. The most perfect countryside view from the kitchen sink was a bonus. The rather complicated oven turned out to be great: toaster, microwave, and oven all in one!
The side wing on the lower level was fitted out as a dressing room / storage which was very useful in keeping clutter at bay.
 Heading upstairs into the high and light filled living space was always a tiny thrill!
But turning around in the stairwell one was rewarded with a view of the river and a nuclear power plant which cast a beautiful red glow at night. While at first the power plant view seemed rather strange and out of sorts in the bucolic setting(in the far distance a few miles away), it quickly became one of my favorite things about this quirky little house.
The down-filled comfy sofa was incredibly comfortable and the little tables were great to move around to hold your book, cup of tea, or even a meal of cheese and crackers. The only music was provided by opening the French doors to the bahhing of the neighbor sheep which provided endless hours of entertainment, particularly the lambs!
A little bedroom nook mirrored the staircase. My one complaint is only one of the windows was left open with the other 2 covered by sheets of painted plywood.  One would have felt as if in a treehouse with windows on all 3 sides of the bed (refer to photos in the beginning of the post and the floorplan to see the windows on the exterior). This is easily reversible.
The proportions of the room were so perfect I measured them for future reference! 4' wide double doors and a 13' tall coved ceiling just for the record. 
 All of the interior trimwork is new in a typical Georgian style as a guess as to what would have been here originally: notice the wide plank wood floors. Deep windowsills hold the interior shutters and radiators.  The only original detail in the space is the stone fireplace surround.
 At night it was a cozy place to light a fire and enjoy a book or game of cards. As it was June daybreak was at around 4am and it stayed light until nearly 10:30 at night!
I highly recommend a stay in any Landmark Trust property but in particular The Chateau!!
All pictures my own, floorplan via the landmark trust website.