Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lilac morning

Spring may feel like it's over here in DC, but we still have the lilacs from points north to enjoy. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!
still life at top: architectural watercolor by John Wenrich, Wedgwood jasperware covered bowl (twice as big as a sugar bowl - anyone know what it actually is?) and Meissen calling card tray with ArchitectDesign blogger card of course!

Friday, April 30, 2010

A grand stairhall

While reading 'The private world of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor' by Hugo Vickers, recently, I was struck by the lush details in their stair hall in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. I know a lot of people dislike the Duke and Duchess (and let me know why every time I post on them!), but they were incredible tastemakers in the mid 20th century, hiring the best of the best. This house was primarily decorated by Jansen and I think we can all agree to admiring them if not these particular clients! They supplied the sconces seen above, which incorporate the Royal Arms of the Stuarts.The incredible faux marble walls caught my attention first. I think I like them more than the real marble floors! The Louis XV desk in the entry hall is very useful, especially for hosts who keep a guest book, such as the Windsors.The faux marble commode was probably made for the couple in the 30s by another 'great' of the 20th century, Syrie Maugham. Isn't the stair railing gorgeous?
The trompe l'oeil painted ceiling is suitably grand for the house, much more appropriate than plain white! The lantern incorporates the Prince of Wales feathers and was brought to the house by the Duke from his house Fort Belvedere as was the banner which was brought from Windsor Castle.
Beautiful photography of the house in the book was by Fritz von der Schulenburg

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Inn at Phillips Mill

Nestled in Bucks County, PA, just outside of New Hope, is an old charming inn that I was lucky enough to stay in while visiting the Mercer Museum & Fonthill.

The Inn at Phillips Mill has been entertaining visitors since the 1750s when it began life as a farmhouse with attached barn. Numerous outbuildings are on the site which house a community center, an architect's office, gift shop, horse barn and a house or two.
The actual mill has been a community arts center since 1929 - one of the old mill stones rests in the garden, seen above.
The area has a rich history dating back to Aaron Phillips who constructed the original buildings. In 1894 the artist William Lathrop purchased the buildings and began an art colony here which would become known as the New Hope Group.
But back to the Inn. While it does have a few guest rooms, it primarily is a well-known restaurant with DELICIOUS food. You don't come here just for the food however, but for the ambiance. Romance and history pour out of every corner -everything lit by candle doesn't hurt. The service isn't exactly amazing but the ambiance and food more than make up for that fact.
The rambling inn has another darker history though, which I didn't find out about until I left. I've been debating writing about this since I got home. I don't want to be seen as the crackpot blogger and loose any of the little respect I may have earned. I suspect many of you have stopped reading by now though and are just looking at the pretty pictures!
Apparently the Inn is haunted. Allegedly. Two weeks ago, I might have scoffed as you just did, but I had an odd experience that has really put me on edge since my return. I'll share it with you now.I've never been one to believe in ghosts; I wasn't raised that way, but I never DIDN'T believe in ghosts. Truthfully, I never gave the topic much thought. I'll tell my little story matter of factly, as my experience unfolded and let you judge for yourself.
After a delicious meal and a trip into New Hope to walk around and see the sights, we returned back to the Inn as things were winding down for the evening and went to bed.
Around 3am (I think), I was woken by a loud noise, a rocking chair. Now, you might think a rocking chair isn't that loud and how did I know it was a rocking chair? I'm not an idiot and thats what it was! The inn is out in the woods along a small country road and only a few of the other guest rooms were being used that evening: it's dead silent and completely dark. Relaxing you might say. So I lay there trying to get back to sleep but the rocking seemed to be getting louder. I figured it was because I was annoyed and singling out the sound but I could not fall back asleep for 10 minutes. After this I started to get really angry: some other thoughtless guest was ruining my good nights sleep! The odd thing was, our room was out in a wing over the kitchen, with windows on all 3 sides and an upper dining room outside our door. As I contemplated getting up to knock on the rockers door and ask them to stop, I felt heat on my face and sensed light - like a candle. I opened my eyes and saw nothing -this went on for another 5 minutes -back and forth. I was confused. Did I have heartburn? Was I imagining things? Thats when my irrational thoughts began - "I'm in a 250 year old mill in the woods.....ghosts, yada yada yada".

By this point I was convinced the rocking was from our room. It was too loud to be in another guest room and I just KNEW it was from closeby! At this point I shook awake my roomate and said 'do you hear that rocking'? THE ROCKING IMMEDIATELY STOPPED. He hadn't heard anything, and without the annoying sound, I quickly fell back asleep. Yes, I tend to move on and forget things quickly. Blessing in disguise?I thought nothing more of the incident while photographing the inn the next morning or indeed till 2 days later when I thought I would write a post about this beautiful inn and recommend it. Some of the first hits that came up with my google search made mention of a HAUNTED Phillips Mill. Well, thats odd, I thought. It wasn't until I opened those websites and saw that they mentioned an old woman in a long dress who had been seen in a rocking chair that my experience came back to me and I really freaked out. Seriously freaked out. I questioned everything I had ever believed or not believed. I wanted to distance myself from the experience (and feelings) so I've waited a good 10 days to record my experience.Do I believe in ghosts now? Well, I suppose I do but I won't be thinking about it much. I am utterly convinced that I DID NOT imagine this. I hadn't seen any mention of a haunting or rocking chair before my visit. Indeed, I knew nothing at all of the Inn's history so I know it wasn't my subconscious. I just wonder if one of the previous guests, Charles Schultz had a similar experience. Was it a simliar experience that led him to repeatedly pair the peanuts gangs with ghosts? Now I'm grasping at straws so I'll leave you with the drawing he left at the inn which hangs in the foyer. He simply writes: Great Food, Great Lodging. I agree, but I won't be returning!


This past weekend held one of my favorite annual events, the Georgetown house tour. While photos are understandably not allowed of the tour, I was snap happy with plenty of inspiration around me! I always associate Georgetown with gas lanterns, I especially loved the contrast between this white painted stone and black metalwork seen above. I noticed a lot of houses (not on the tour) were for sale, a sad testament of the times. Many of the homes featured this year held unexpected surprises: be it ultra modernity or amazingly grand spaces behind sedate exteriors. The lineup was superb and varied. Don't miss the tour next year, it never disappoints and supports a great cause.