Monday, September 20, 2021

Thomas Proctor: Classical Houses book signing this week!

 

Live events are back! This Thursday, 9/23/2021, the WMA_ICAA is hosting Thomas Proctor from Los Angeles for the release of his new book: Thomas Proctor, Classical Houses from Rizzoli.  

Copies of the book will be available for sale from Politics and Prose.   Proctor will be signing them following a brief presentation and refreshments will be served. Given the central location stop by for a drink and a copy of Proctor's excellent new book prior to dinner out on the town! 

Tickets for this FREE event are available HERE -hope to see you there! 

Many thanks to Compass Realty for hosting this event!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Porcelain Flowers of Vladimir Kanevsky at Hillwood

I'm back here at the blog to let you know about an amazing exhibit that has recently opened in Washington at Hillwood, the Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion turned museum.  I've written about Hillwood on numerous occasions and also about the artist whose amazing work they are currently featuring: Vladimir Kanevsky
I last wrote about Kanevsky in conjunction with Hillwood 3 years ago HERE when he did a lilac centerpiece on the table of designer Alex Papachristidis, similar to the lilac to be found in the library today.    These are no ordinary blooms however.  They are the most convincing and charming FAUX flowers you have ever seen, created out of copper, porcelain, and paint. 
The nice thing about these faux flowers, other than their lack of maintenance, is that they can be displayed throughout the mansion without a lot of fuss: no drips.  See the Amaryllis in the living room above naked without a drip plate!
I would like to think if Post were still living she would be a collector of Kanevsky's work.  
Part of the charm of these flowers are their imperfections similar to real flowers - holes in leaves, etc.  
The only thing missing is the scent: the lily of the valley seen below would be most fragrant!
Other than the lilac, I think my favorite piece may be the dandelion, warts and all. Weed as art!
This humble thistle may be a close second. 
The fun thing about creating these flowers is one gets to play with scale - the tulips shown on the breakfast room table below are simply ENORMOUS. 
The piece de resistance of the whole exhibit is to be seen in the dining room where about 1/2 of the collection is displayed. 
Cheek by Jowl, they are almost hard to study individually...
Though the morning glory does its best to reach out to the viewer! 
Given how difficult dahlia are to grow I think a Kanevsky version is a sound investment. 
And Washington's famous but short-lived cherry blossoms are no match for these stems.
Ordinarily Hillwood is full of fresh flowers from the garden, much as during Post's time at the house. The lack of real blooms allows one to focus on the details where you realize, flowers are depicted everywhere, even on the curtains!
Even the dining room sconces feature fruit.
The breakfast room still does sport a large collection of orchids in the bay window, no fear. 
Spring is a glorious time to visit Hillwood for the gardens, but please do visit and enjoy the magic of Vladimir Kanevsky as well.
The Porcelain Flowers of Vladimir Kanevsky is on view NOW through September 5th, 2021 throughout the mansion at Hillwood.  
Reservations are required so don't plan on stopping by without one!

All photos used throughout this post are my own.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I wanted to drop by to wish you all a Merry Christmas, from my home to yours.  Simpler garland on the mantel this year but the stockings look at home on the new mantel. 
I wanted to share these LED lights with you as well that I got from Target last year. Made by Philips they change from white to color with the push of a button depending on ones mood.  The photo of the colored lights appears much more blue than in real life! 
I do love that the 1,000 lights on the tree use less power than one small string of old incandescent lights and don't dry out the tree with heat -I leave them on 24/7!

Friday, December 18, 2020

The most beautiful mantel in the world

As so often happens with blogging, time gets away from you.  As time builds you think the next post has to be really spectacular to explain the absence. Well 6 months have passed but in Covid time that doesn't count as much, right?   This post has grown from an initial image because I start to research and before you know it the one picture post becomes a minor history lesson! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 
This all started when I saw the most beautiful mantel of all time (undebatable!) in an advertisement in House & Garden UK magazine (top image). If you don't subscribe you should, the Brits produce the only remaining reliably good, hard-copy magazines! I wasn't familiar with the London antique dealer Westland London but am so glad I know of them now from an advert in the magazine. 
The chimneypiece was salvaged from the ruins of Dalquharran Castle in Scotland.  Seen above, the castle was designed by, of all people, Robert Adam.  I'm not sure about you but castles like this are not what I associate with Adam but apparently he designed quite a few!  However, it appears the forbidding façade hid a delightfully neoclassic PURE ADAM interior.  Sadly that is all long gone. 
Above is the plan of the castle complex by Adam, designed around 1785 for his sister and her husband, Thomas Kennedy of Dunure.  It was completed in 1790 when the old castle was abandoned as a ruin.  Sadly enough this "new" castle was ruined itself in 1967 when the roof was removed to avoid local taxation.  Karma?
Above is the mantel before being removed from the tower library and below a stunning aerial shot of the castle today in ruins.  I imagine the library was located in the large tower as the curvature of the mantel is minimal. 
Westland states that the chimneypiece, designed by Robert Adam, was carved by the renowned Dutch stonemason Pieter Mathias van Gelder.  The central panel features 2 sphinx flanking a globe.  The endblocks feature classical lyres and husk swags above fern corbels. This is pure perfection to my eyes, all day long. 
A closeup of the panel below. 
While not designed by Adam sadly, I will share an antique mantel I picked up in Middleburg, Virginia, earlier this year and had installed in my living room. I had wanted a Georgian style mantel like this and love the old Pine - beautifully restored for me by David Clair.  I believe it dates to the 1920s or there abouts.  The honed Italian slate helps to bridge the gap between my overly small firebox and the size of the mantel -when in doubt go black! 
Images of the Dalquharran mantel from Westland London, while images of the castle come from Wikipedia. Naturally the image of my fireplace is from my trusty iphone

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Architect Mihran Mesrobian at home

Last fall I had the pleasure of touring the home of noted local architect Mihran Mesrobian when it was briefly on the market.  Mesrobian was an Armenian-American architect responsible for many of the most interesting apartment houses and large buildings found throughout Washington from the 1920s and 30s.  He passed away in 1975 but the house was kept on by his family. It acted as a time capsule to when it was built in 1941; his own design laboratory.  Come explore it with me!
Located in Chevy Chase, just over the DC border in Maryland, the traditional brick and cast stone garden walls tie the property into the rather traditional houses that surround it.
The house however is a stand-out in Art-Moderne style. Notice all of the original steel casement windows, the interesting front door, and the curved glass block wall.  Modern!
Turning to the side the living room has a curved bay while there is a stone terrace off the dining room and a roof terrace off the master bedroom. I would remove those 1960s aluminum awnings to let some light in.
I'm not sure if the brick was originally painted but I think it helps it feel more modern.
The geometric entry hall has the most beautiful stair railing. The doorway in front of you underneath the stairs is a coat closet with back access to the kitchen to the right.
I'm crazy for these aluminum railings.
Two steps down to the left is the living room; with the original 1941 furnishings and curtains!
Remember when I said this was a time-capsule; I meant it!  2 more steps up into the dining room (I love a step down living room, it makes me feel like Fred Astaire).
The original 1941 curtains in the dining room from Schumacher in a Peruvian Linen. I hope the new owners keep these with their wild colors!
Remember this is a design laboratory! Up the stairs is an unusual crystal chandelier and a blue-glass interior window to a little sewing room over the front door.
The house has a lot of bedrooms -a real family home.
A look at the other side of the interior blue window.
The master bedroom with a small door out to the balcony over the living room bay.
I think we're due for a comeback of colorful bathroom fixtures. Waterworks has a line of colored tile, Architectronics, that I'm dying to use in a project.  Maybe not a maroon sink with moss green tile but more color in general!!!
In the basement is Mesrobian's home office with his personal drafting table!
More beautiful vintage curtains. I think people used to have a lot more fun with design than we do today with our greige and whites.
These old school linoleum floors are classic.
The basement bathroom even had faux-tile linoleum sheet walls. Have you ever seen anything like this? And check out the shower curtain!
Here you can see how it's actually a painted/printed linoleum product -not actual tile. 
The few times I've bought these suction cup soap dishes they never hold but this has been here since 1941 and only one suction cup failed.... I guess they don't make them like they used to.
Off the laundry is this ironing room with a built-in ironing board.
And what basement is complete without a vintage screening room!
Complete with old tv!
More bold upholstery choices -more Schumacher perhaps?
Out the back kitchen door you can see a very sunny family room (I don't have photos of that unfortunately)
2 car garage and ample parking in the driveway. At some point someone spray painted all of the metalwork silver but I would take it back to classic black. I haven't had a chance to drive by to see what the new owners have done. As the house is a national landmark the outside isn't allowed to change much.
A really great metalwork Juliet balcony off the family room.
At some point the garden must have been very elaborate. I imagine there was once a fountain here below the classical ram's head.
As I mentioned the house sold very quickly; It's a large lot in a great neighborhood with good schools and a lovely house full of character. I'm dying to see what became of the interiors!
I explore a lot of real estate (perennial open house goer) but I've never seen a time capsule quite like this. I hope you enjoyed following along!