Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day!

Have a great long weekend everyone! I hope you enjoy the last of summer: be it at the beach, bbq or just at home - relax!! To help you relax is some of my favorite happy music: Kylie Minogue!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gianni Ricci frescos

While flipping through World of Interiors from March 2004, I came across an article about a castle in Monferrato in Piedmont overlooked by the Alps with amazing frescos. The frescos were originally done by Vittorio Accornero (who was famous for his designs for Gucci and Hermes) in the 1930s and were later reworked by architect Gianni Ricci from nearby Turin in the 40s.
The owner 'strove for gaiety in her surroundings, a sophisticated yet informal atmosphere in which American eccentricity merged with European antiquity.'. I think this was achieved, don't you? Although I am not sure I've heard of American eccentricity, but rather British eccentricity; I guess in a British magazine though...........
In the dining room, seen in the picture above, the dumb-waitor is painted to look like a birdpage.
'the blue bedroom' - probably the most perfect shade of blue I've come across for a bedroom! Not too soft, not too bright - bold but not insane.
The master bedroom, above, has wallpaper by Zuber and not frescos. I love the yelow with the blue/gray.
This shows some of the frescos completed in the 40s by Ricci. The owner wanted to replicate painted baroque trompe-l'oeil details similar to other piedmontese palaces. The crumbling of the walls only adds to their charms; I never would have expected these to have been painted in the 20th century!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Versailles details

My friend Henry (who's apartment I blogged about in March HERE) just got back from a trip to Italy and France. He sent me these photos of woodwork details from Versailles.I love these elegant blue-gray and white painted panels. The workmanship is exquisite!! However, as much as I like these elegant versions above-these polychrome panels below are TO DIE FOR. How crazy beautiful are these?
Just thought I'd share - thanks for the photos, Henry! Oh, did I mention he also went to Villa Rotunda that I blogged about last month?? I'm green with envy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Union Church of Pocantico Hills

Monday I mentioned I went to a chapel that had windows funded by the Rockefellers with windows by Marc Chagall and one rose window by Henri Matisse (his last work he ever completed!). The Union Church of Pocantico Hills is just a few short blocks from their mansion, Kykuit and the family attended services there when they were at their summer house. Marc Chagall was first comissioned to do one large window and later returned to finish off the sanctuary. All 9 windows tell a different story from the bible. the first and largest window 'the good samaritan' in honor of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1960 -seen in the picture above at the gable end. The round window in the photo above is by Matisse

If Chagall wasn't already my favorite artist, he would be after visiting this church. The interior is awash in beautiful colors for an almost religous experience;the windows, like all of Chagall's work, speak to the soul. I like that the images here tell a story and aren't just pretty windows; respecting the tradition of stained glass in churches. I was unable to find a picture of the whole sanctuary unfortunately for the overall effect of all 9 windows-but I've attached a few pictures of individual windows. 'Joel' ''Jeremiah' 'Daniel'You can read more about the church and the windows online at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


One of my favorite houses I've ever visited is probably Kykuit. Owned by 4 generations of Rockefellers, the home is now a museum with an extensive collection of modern art from Nelson Rockefeller. Designed by Aldrich & Delano and finished in 1913, the house is 6 stories tall but surprisingly cozy and a family home inside. No architectural formalities here. Interesting also that while the family was one of the richest in the world, no fancy fine furniture here -good quality reproductions. Like I said -a family home!closeup of sculpture on front of houselight over the front doorone of a pair of lampposts at the entrancethe elaborate entrance canopy
view of front entrance court from front door the dining room
the center hall which doubles as the music room
The first and 2nd floor of the house are open for tours but the top few floors remain guest suites (I wonder how you get to be lucky enough to stay there!). The basement was turned into an extenstive art gallery and is one of the main tours through the house. The grounds are home to as much art as the interior; besides the usual garden follies there is an extensive collection of modern sculpture in the extensive gardens(which are VERY well maintained). A side view of the house from the pool area (now lawns) view of the Hudson River from the back terracea japanese lantern in the garden view of an artificial stream in the japanese garden one of the fake grottos which hide fountain pumpsa column once owned by fabled architect 'Stanford White' behind the teahousetrellis along the rose gardenview of the house from the rearview of the house from the rose gardenviews from the back gardens of the extensive estate
I loved these garden chairs -they are from Paris from around 1900

2 views of the temple

And now I save the best for last. My favorite part of the estate was the teahouse. This little jewelbox was right beside the house and seperated the former pool areas from the italian gardens (where stanford white's sculpture was). the front and back of the teahouse. The front of the teahouse fronted the pool and had this CHARMING fountain: green striped marble with little gilded creatures. The inside was very small -maybe 10' wide by 15' long and had an old-fashioned soda fountain and the most chic furniture on the estate! The urn behind the chaise is by Picasso. The ceilings are painted Pompeiian style.

This was a long post -you can see how much I loved the place! Definitely worth visiting. All of the pictures were my own except the 2 interior shots of the house which I took from the architect's website.

Monday, August 25, 2008


This past weekend I was in the Hudson River valley and what did I do? I went to 2 house museums and this amazing church with windows by my favorite artist, Chagall! The first house museum I visited was one of the best examples of Gothic Revival here in the US - and that all architects study in architectural history - Lyndhurst.
approach to the house from the carriage house.rear of the house -overlooking the Hudson River Valley
detail of the roof - the skylight you see here opens up below into the 2nd floor art gallery -my favorite room of the house

First designed in 1838 by Alexander Davis, it was later seamlessly expanded on in 1864 by the same architect for a new owner. The house is now owned by the national trust for historic preservation and is a full time museum. I was surprised that it wasn't in top-notch shape, but it seems like they are currently working on the estate. The yard was designed by landscape architect Ferdinand Mangold in the English naturalistic style to go with the romantic style of the house. It looks so natural you would never guess that the house wasn't just built on the existing property (without a lot of yard work). The interiors are as fantastical as you would expect, but pictures weren't allowed unfortunately.The bowling alley on the edge of the property with Hudson River views -currently being renovated. The last standing of the former servant's cottages -now privately owned
the poolhouse - now privately owned and being renovated.
Detail of the poolhouse
part of the enormous carriage house - now the visitors center and cafe.
an incredible gothic display case in the carriage house

An abandoned lawn ornament

Tomorrow -Kykuit -home to 4 generations of Rockefellers and an amazing art collection