Saturday, October 3, 2009

Darryl Carter

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! I know I'm eagerly awaiting my November issue of Elle Decor as it features an article (Cool, Calm and Collected) on my favorite DC designer, Darryl Carter. Hopefully the issue comes soon! Darryl lives in a beautiful limestone Beaux Arts townhouse in my favorite local neighborhood, Kalorama, and I just can't wait to see it!
Photo of Darryl Carter at his D.C. townhouse with Otis, his German shorthaired pointer.
Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor

Friday, October 2, 2009

Billy Haines & taste

"Who is to say what is good taste and what is bad? I don't know what taste is. It's like a can see it and feel it, but you can never touch it."
Truer words were never spoken. Above, the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel recently redone ala Haines by Michael Smith. The Haines designed 'hostess chairs' are seen here in an orange tufted fabric. I love the mural by Nancy Lorenz entitled "Studies of Water".The living room of Betsy Bloomingdale in Bel Air, California, decorated by Haines, seen here in 1959. I love his mix of antiques with modern furnishings. Thats the way to live that never goes out of style!
Images via R Home magazine

Thursday, October 1, 2009

RIP La Ronda

Today is a very sad day for me, as a preservationist movement failed to save the Mizner designed mansion, La Ronda, outside of Philadelphia today.
Finally breaking through layers of secrecy, the owner, Joseph Kestenbaum,(biography of him as well as contact information, should you feel so inclined to contact him to let you know how you feel) finally came out claiming that he had been open to selling the mansion but no buyers came through. Really? This has been proven to not be true -1 serious buyer was desperately trying to reach him, Benjamin Wohl. Mr Kestenbaum, if you are not ashamed of your actions,why the big secret who you were?
Mr. Kestenbaum, our nation's buildings are our legacy. You decided to destroy this home (which you bought for some unknown reason) and are in talks to build a home which will undoubtably be of less importance and lesser quality. While you may not care about La Ronda, many of us do and this is a heart-wrenching day for us. I hope you enjoy your sprawling mcmansion - I'm sure many of your neighbors won't be bothering you with invites over for coffee or warm apple pies. I hope your home makes you very happy and you lose oodles of money when you go to sell it someday.
Read more about the end of the struggle online :
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Save Ardmore Coalition
and the Philadephia Inquirer - again - where the owner laments the 'public circus' this has become. Gee, Mr. Kestenbaum - are you seriously surprised by this? I'm only the more depressed that I wasn't able to chain myself to the front gates of the mansion. I hope I never meet you in person and I'm guessing you probably feel the same way. I think the only thing more depressing than the tearing down of this masterpiece is this hokey picture of you. Karma is a bitch, please remember that. After you are gone, THIS is what you will be remembered for: your legacy.

The Queen's Theater

Marie Antoinette loved to perform. Before becoming the Dauphine of France back home in Austria, she actually took comedic acting classes to perfect the French language.In 1777 she asked her architect, Richard Mique to take inspiration from the auditorium at the Chateau de Choisy (built for her predecessor of the Petit Trianon, Madame de Pompadour) and build her a simple theater on the grounds of her little estate.The theater was completed in 1779 but the Queen stopped acting here after the death of her child in 1780 and remained in the audience.The entrance features a classic pediment, sculpted by DeDeschamps, supported by 2 ionic columns. I love the little randomly placed window here!The entrance is a very small vestibule, covered in blue silk, with a white sculpted doorway into the theater.
As this was a private space not meant to impress the public (and France was hemorrhaging money at the time), the decorations are all of paper mache and painted to look like finer materials.Looks like the real thing though!The theater lies right behind the very formal part of the garden near the French Pavilionand acts as a transition into the English GardensDirectly across from the entrance to the theater is the English garden arbour.
The thing I found most intriguing was the bootscrape of the theater though.
So simple and unadorned; Marie Antoinette scraped mud off her shoes here after walking to the theater and it hasn't gone anywhere.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Temple of Love

Another folly built on the grounds of the Petit Trianon for Marie Antoinette by Richard Mique & Hubert Robert is the Temple of Love. This temple sits on the opposite side of the house as the older French Pavilion and houses a statue of cupid.
It overlooks a small stream that runs up to the Petit Trianon.
Inspired by antiquity, the columns sport Corinthian caps.....
and a coffered dome.It sits out in the English landscape. Here it is viewed from the side of the house.
The temple rests on a small island reached by a small bridge. I loved that the side of the bridge acted as a planter for wildflowers.The Petit Trianon, finally making its' debut as seen from the Temple of Love.
Marie Antoinette had the Temple of Love built within view of her bed in her bedroom - can it be any more poetic than that? Do we think she had Count Fersen in mind or her husband, Louis XVI?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Belvedere

On the grounds of the Petit Trianon was another charming little pavilion. The Belvedere was built for Marie Antoinette by her architect Richard Mique and the painter Hubert Robert as a highlight in her English style garden.Built on a hill on an artificial island, the Belvedere is circled by a terrace with charming sphinx standing guard. It has a commanding view of the English gardens with the Petit Trianon resting nearby, hidden by trees.The interior is painted with murals and flooded with light all day long.What a charming room to have lunch in!The decoration continues up to the ceiling.As you can see the Belevedere is a private place as its' small size demands. Set as a folly in a 'natural' landscape, the building acts as a human foil.
The grotto is the entrance to the Belvedere and you must pass over the faux bois bridge to gain entrance: Probably the most real faux bois i've ever seen!We admittedly spent a good 30 minutes here just relaxing in the sun before continuing our tour of the estate. Hope you enjoyed this folly as much as we did!

Vintage O'Brien

While at the bookthing this past weekend, I picked up a copy of House & Garden magazine from March of 1993. Hard to believe this was 16 years ago now and a lot of the magazine, especially the ads, are incredibly dated. However, one article that withstood the test of time is about William Sofield and Thomas O'Brien.The article features examples of their work from both of their own homes, office and gallery. The gallery wall (seen at the top of the post) could easily be in a magazine today.I loved this image from the Aero gallery.This is the living room of Sofield. Interesting side note -he's quite handy and restored the plaster ceiling himself!A tablescape by Sofield. The cheval glass was designed by Ogden Codman for the Breakers mansion in Newport, RI.The spare and symmetrical treatment of the fireplace will never go out of style.The only space which is a bit dated but none the less cozy is the guest bedroom of O'Brien.