Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer weekends

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! Is it the middle of summer already? I'll be enjoying the weekend in NY and hopefully will have fun and interesting things to post when I get back!
Picture of mosaic above my kitchen sink.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Grimsthorpe house tour

I think it's been too long since my last 'house tour' -so todays tour is courtesy of the July/August 1986 issue of 'The World of Interiors' magazine: Grimesthorpe Castle. Grimesthorpe is the last house worked on by the amateur architect, Sir John Vanbrugh although the roots of the house date back to the 13th century. Come on in!We start in 'Vanbrugh's Hall' which has always been used as the houses sitting room. Not exactly a cozy place to curl up with a book, but impressive, isn't it? The house's decoration, circa 1986, was by the Lady of the house starting in 1951, Lady Ancaster (cousin of Nancy Lancaster) and John Fowler.My favorite parts of these grand estates are always the hallways -odd, huh? I love how they are an impressive space to guide guests (and residents) from room to room through a gallery of sorts. Natural light is a big help too! The state drawing room is naturally meant to impress. Imagine taking tea here!
I'm sure the Chinese Drawing room will be your cup of tea. The furniture was brought from Florence to the house in 1844. John Fowler had wanted to paint the dado white, but Lady Ancaster insisted on keeping it black - I think it gives the room a more exotic feel. Isn't the wallpaper wonderful? The tea table is Chippendale.
The bay window of the room contains this wonderful gothic fretwork ceiling. Lady Ancaster and John Fowler added the side mirrors to visually enlarge the space.Another room with wonderful wallpaper is 'the bird cage room' - suitably named! Housed in a tower dating from the 13th century, Lady Ancaster insisted on covering the floor with rush matting. This became quite popular with country houses all over GB following this. The 'wallpaper' actually consists only of the birds and flowers, all seperate and pasted to the walls. The foliage was then painted in, connecting the scene. The birds on the ceiling were added by Lady Ancaster from a packet of 'spares' found on the estate. My favorite room though, is probably the Tapestry Room. The tapestries lining the room were all done by inhabitants of the house, mostly all men! Here again you see the rush matting.In this corner view of the tapestry room, you can see the latticework pilasters that surround the bay windows.The state dining room is incredibly large! I don't know enough people to seat here! The light fixtures come from the old House of Lords. The bedrooms are no less impressive. The bed in this room was a gift from King Charles I.
In another bedroom, seen below, the bed again has kingly associations -the canopy once hung over King George IV's throne. In a corner of the room is a very pretty dressing table set with items belonging to a former resident, Nancy, Lady Astor.I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Deal

Have you noticed that there are a lot of deals to be had right now? I stopped by my local West Elm this past weekend and found a huge storewide clearance going on. I got the above silk pillow with cute birds for 60% off; it lives on one of my dining room chairs which you see as you walk into my apartment. Softens up all of the wood, don't you think?Something I didn't need but couldn't passs up was one of their ladderback chairs in white, for only $30! I love the stylish simplicity of these and the construction is surprisingly good. Extra seating for guests: check! (till then it holds a stack of books and a plant).On a sad note, Smith & Hawken is closing its doors. They have carried the most perfect gardening and houseplant items since 1979. Coincidentally -their logo is also my initials! As they're clearing out their stores, I had to grab one of their glazed terra cotta pots with a crackle finish as it prominently displays my initials for my window sill at work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jamie Drake Lecture

This evening I attended a lecture given by the talented and O.T.T. (over the top - coined from Jamie himself!) designer Jamie Drake at the Corcoran Museum here in DC. He was just as personable and funny as one would hope he would be. His personality matched his fun and imaginative work! He broke his lecture down into the components of design he focuses on in his book with many of the same images. I love his book, it's very well written, so it was a treat to have him talk about it. I'll go through some of these topics with examples of his own apartment (which he is in the process of moving from at this very moment as he sold it! another apartment, another design!).
COLOR: He has been inspired by art since early childhood (his mother is an artist) and has always loved the work of Gene Davis (as do I!) which is featured prominently in his entryway. The color seen in this room was taken directly from the paintings. Another fun use of color is the powder room off the entry. He had a decorative artist do the blocks of color (same size as the tile!) in the colors of the Davis paintings. It really brings interest to a rather basic room.CURVE: By this he means repitition of forms; in this case the circle. In his living & dining room the same curved elements show up in many forms: candles, the bookcase, chairs, chandeliers and most prominently in the artwork above the couch.Purple seems to be a color threaded throughout most of his work. However, when asked what his favorite color was, he responded "I don't have a favorite color, which of your children is your favorite?". Always witty ;-)TEXTURE: The use of texture is seen most readily in his guest bedroom, pictured below. The walls are a form of venetian plaster he invented to look like pieces of leather or parchment. I love the turquoise accents! He likes to make heirlooms work - the dated looking nightstands were his grandmothers.The mirror above the bed was his first major purchase at the age of 21 at the Paris Fleamarkets (I'll be there soon enough, I'm counting the days!). He mentioned that the piece had a lot of sentimental value for that reason but that he sold it with the apartment! His answer to that? 'Oh well, buh-bye'!LUSTER & THE MIX: These were the last two subjects and I think you can see evidence of them in each and every picture. He definitely goes for an instinctual, eclectic mix of objects and it all works! Luster is evident in not only the walll and floor finishes, but in the highly polished furniture and lots of glass, crystal and mirror. Notice the glass and crystal lamps featured in many of his rooms -including the master bedroom above. He said he never thought he would be a person with a yellow bedroom; I just wonder what he thinks of people with yellow bedrooms then! He's adventurous with color and loves to experiment.These last pictures are not his own apartment but I loved them so much I had to post them. He seems to like to pick 2 colors and use a neutral or 'structural' color in between. Here the colors in this living room would be shades of peacock blue and chartruese with a structure of black & white. Notice the textured finish to the walls (and the pillows). Luster is provided by the coffee table. The tall scale of the lamps is unexpected but works so well! I want to live here!Another room I loved was done for a show apartment in a complex that he modeled on Grace Kelly (a former resident; her father's companies bricks were used in the building's construction). This dining room again features 2 strong colors; green & turquoise. The eclectic mix of furniture and art is a trademark of his.

A wise bit of advise Jamie gave and I couldn't agree more, is that 'rooms should be colored to match their sensibilites'. In other words, a room which recieves little light should be painted a bold color - no amount of white paint will make that room bright! In the same way, very bright rooms should receive pale colors. No wonder why he has been proclaimed the 'king of color'! He mentioned this but quipped "then where's my crown!". If you haven't read it yet, please check out his fascinating book, 'New American Glamour'.

Pictures courtesy of the New York Social Diary house tour of his apartment.

Visit Jamie's Official website

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bastille Day Announcement

Since today is Bastille Day (or Fete Nationale as it's known as in France), Heather from Habitually Chic and I thought it was the perfect time to announce our trip to Paris in early September!
We had talked for months about wanting to go visit Versailles and you can't do that without visiting Paris! We plan on staying in the city with at least a day devoted to exploring Verailles. Another must of course are the fleamarkets! I can't wait :-)
Of course, I'm most excited though about visiting the Petit Trianon which i've blogged about several times in the past. I hope that by the time i'm in my dotage I'll be an expert on the small chateau and this is just the start :-)the theater at Versailles
We have a lot of exciting things planned to share with all of you, but I hope you can share with us as well. Are there any 'musts' we should do on this, our first trip to the city of lights?