Friday, January 14, 2011

San Simeon: Library

Located above the assembly room is the main guest library of the estate. Here guests could borrow a book or spread out and work during their free days visiting Hearst.This was not Hearst's private library, but rather another public space for his guests. He chose this wood paneled room to display his collection of ancient Greek pottery, housed along the top of the shelves. Before entering the library ( #1-3 on the map above) you first enter the hall or lobby.
Again paneled in wood, this area is reached by the winding staircases on either side of the Refectory.
After the grand spaces on the first floor, this large room feels positively cozy with lower ceilings and all of the wood paneling.
Below you can better see how some of Hearst's extensive Greek pottery collection was displayed. The view out the windows is onto the main 'square' of the hilltop estate and was a great meeting spot for guests.

As with all of my San Simeon posts, written permission was kindly granted to post my interior photos of the state on this blog only. Please respect that and do not copy. Thanks!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Miami, here we come!

If you read Habitually Chic, you've probably seen that Heather and I are going on another adventure together in a few weeks. This time however, it's to a place I thought I would never venture; A Cruise to Nassau in the Bahamas!
I think what convinced me this would be a fabulous trip, other than the fun company of course, is that Oceania cruiseline bills themselves as the cruise line for people not into cruises. With tons of luxe amenities and celebrity chefs, they pride themselves on being their guests home away from home with a small boat size and each room being a deluxe suite.
After our cruise, we decided to spend a few days in Miami. As we haven't made any arrangements yet, I would love to hear your recommendations; Hotels, restaurants, shopping? The only thing I know of and have to see is the famous Vizcaya mansion, seen above. I hope to have lots of great experiences and share them all with you here!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

San Simeon: Morning, Billiard and theater rooms.

Located behind the Refectory or Dining Room (#3 on the floorplan below) are a series of 'smaller' rooms which house a variety of functions.
Directly attached to the refectory is the morning room. The heavy Spanish influenced style doesn't neccesarily strike me as typical of the light and airy space typical of a morning room but it is sun filled with large french doors out to the patio.The reclaimed woodwork throughout this main section of the castle is extraordinary. I loved this zigzag pattern in a vestibule ceiling.
Below is the vestibule out to the patio.
The walls are square cut stone with these really interesting doorways: not sure if they were created for the site or were reclaimed. Are those the symbol of the Prince of Wales above the doorways -the 3 ostrich plumes? Our tour guide didn't know. Notice the radio on the sideboard: in this 'museum' like setting, people were living, having parties, curing hang-overs while drinking their morning coffee.
Behind the morning room lies the billiard room, no 'fancy' antique looking pool tables for Mr. Hearst, they're more appropriate to a pool hall! I loved the polychrome ceiling in this room and those gilt chandeliers.
Last is the theater which could match any grand movie palace of the day, #7 on the floorplan above. After dinner, Mr. Hearst would screen the newest movies from his movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions, which frequently featured his long time mistress, Marion Davies.
Marion Davies acted as hostess here at the 'ranch'. She started out as one of the famous Ziegfeld Girls of 1916 before quickly becoming one of the first movie stars. Her later career as a major film actress existed mainly because Hearst created his film studio to feature her movies. She appeared in 29 silent movies for the company as well as 17 'talkies'. It has been rumoured that her 'niece' was actually Hearst's and Marions daughter, but I haven't heard of that has been proved. While never married, she was clearly the love of his life. Davies suffered from alcoholism and died 10 years after Hearst's death of cancer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Napolean complex

No, not what you're thinking, although at 5'-9", I'm not much taller than Napolean was! Rather, I treated myself to this bust of Napoleon that is currently on sale here at restoration hardware.
The surprise was how big he is and a bit out of scale for my bookcase as planned. Thankfully he's not very heavy, hollow terra cotta, and he moved around several times in my apartment last night.
For now he'll live in my entryway - bonus is that he makes an excellent bookend!
On another note, this past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing the celebrated soprano, Renee Fleming in a recital at the Kenney Center. One of her encores was a crowd pleaser and I've attached a clip of it here: O mio babbino caro by Puccini.

If you ever have the opportunity to see Ms. Fleming perform, I would highly recommend it. This was the 7th time in 10 years I've had the priveledge and she never disappoints!