Saturday, December 12, 2009


Grisaille: a French term for a painting done in monochrome: generally in shades of brown or gray. These wallpaper panels in the 18th century section of the Louvre's Musee des Arts Decoratifs fit the bill nicely. These are obviously LATE 18th century as they are done in a neoclassical style that crossed over into the early 19th century.
I hope everyone has a relaxing early holiday weekend and stays warm! Winter is here (or at least it feels like it!).

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I now have a personal scanner -exciting news here at ArchitectDesign! I wanted so much to share with you one of my favorite books, which if you love beautiful historic interiors, you must add to your library - Potsdam by Gert Streidt (author) and Klaus Frahm (who provided the lush photography). This is probably the design book I refer to the most -my comfort blanket. As an exchange student in high school, I visited this neighborhood of palaces outside of Berlin and knew that this is what my passion was -great residential design. I remember standing in this room above in Sancoucci (which I've blogged about before HERE) as if it were yesterday and being totally blown away. Known as the Voltaire room (he supposedly lived here while in residence at the palace from 1750 till 1753), the room features wood paneling painted a beautiful yellow, marble floors and a built in bed (Thomas Jefferson wasn't the only one!). The painted woodwork features fruits cultivated in the palace park and greenhouse. The goal of the rococo movement, used here and at which the Germans excelled, was to integrate the surroundings into a unified whole -this was accomplished in this room by using the same motifs on the walls, ceiling, chandelier and even embroidery.
Another favorite room featured in the book is the private writing room of the royal quaters at the New Palace (literally across the park from Sanssouci). Again we have beautiful painted wood paneling but an unusual porcelain framed mirror above the fireplace (not painted wood which is more usual). The amazing writing table is covered in tortoise shell and silver plated bronze overlays; So over the top gorgeous.
I saved the best for last. This desk, by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, is probably my favorite piece of furniture ever. It is located in the ladies-in-waiting drawing room at the Charlottenhof Palace, an AMAZING neoclassical house from 1839, also designed by Schinkel. The interiors are very simple, almost modern, and were considered very middle class in their day. This simplicity was due to a small budget but also the changing of fashion. The building stands in sharp contrast to some of the earlier rococo palaces featured in the area.
I hope this whetted your appetite - the book would be a perfect christmas gift!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Perfect Penthouse

Recently, on one of my favorite blogs, The Realestalker, I came across the apartment of the late Dominick Dunne. It came as no surprise to me that Dunne had one of the most PERFECT NYC apartments that should I ever win the lottery, I would snatch up in a heartbeat!
It's not the space itself that is so wonderful (small but cozy, see the floorplan below) but the enormous south facing terrace that is larger than most New York apartments at 850 sf. I would fill this with trees and ivy with potted geraniums for low maintenance greenery.

The best room which takes advantage of the terrace views is the study, where I assume Dunne wrote his Vanity Fair column. Since I'm a movie buff, I would put a long deep couch under the windows facing built in bookshelves with a tv mounted on the front. The couch of course would double as a guest-bed for overnight guests. A low coffee table would hold bowls of popcorn and jelly beans during movie nights and dozens of potted orchids and plants on a console behind the sofa would enjoy the sunlight with 2 lamps for nighttime.The long living room, seen below, would house my collection of framed architectural watercolors, be painted a french gray and receive an antique oak herringbone wood floor. I would also need to source an antique white marble fireplace and some lalique crystal wall sconces to brighten the space. I would leave the french doors without any window treatment for a clean look and an antique rug would define the seating area. 2 comfortable reading chairs in a warm velvet, an antique sofa and mirrored coffee table would finish off this end of the room.The other side I would treat as a dining area with 60" round dining table, perhaps with parsons chairs for comfortable seating for long suppers with friends. The kitchen I would continue in the same french gray color (including painting the lower cabinets. A mirrored backsplash and countertops (ala Miles Redd) and painted wood shelving instead of cabinets to open up the space would be a great way to display my collection of china! I might even go with undercounter refrigerator drawers to create more counter and shelf space. That plate rack has GOT to GO as does the dated light fixture. I would continue the same wood flooring from the living room.The fussy roman blinds in the bedroom would be replaced with simple drapes in a gray linen to match the wall color: Continue the wood floor and a soft carpet would be nice underfoot near the bed. Would a mirrored 4 poster bed be too over the top, or perhaps overdone as many NY interior designers seem to favor this look? The dressing room currently has a beautiful chipendale mirror, seen through the doorway, that I would definitely want to keep!What would you do with the space? Would you prefer such a generous terrace or a larger apartment?