Wednesday, January 26, 2011

San Simeon: Doges Suite

If someone were to ask me what my favorite room was at San Simeon, I would have to answer the sitting room in the Doges suite.The suite is so named as the balcony, seen above, is a replica of one at the Doge's palace in Venice - again with that view! Of the many show-stoppers in this room, the most important is the ceiling, 18th century Italian. The ceiling was acquired from the estate sale of architect Stanford White, folllowing his death, where he had had it installed as his townhouse living room ceiling.The image above shows the ceiling in its' entirety. White purchased the ceiling from an Italian Palazzo and had it shipped to one of his many warehouses outside of New York, where his clients would pick and choose bits and pieces from his European travels for installation in their own projects - an early example of an upscale salvage store!This was similar to the approach Hearst took with his building of San Simeon, in fact much of what he purchased was not even used. The above 2 photos are of White's living and dining rooms.I think I prefer this room because it's not a heavy Spanish style but rather more baroque Italian: light, colorful and fun. A close up of the restored Standford White ceiling. Now on with the tour!Every single item in the room is both useful but also strikingly gorgeous, my mantra!Two nearly identical bedrooms with private baths flank the sitting room in enfilade style.The bedroom ceilings are identical but, as we were told, one is an antique and the other is a replica to match. The lamp above on the right above is an antique Venetian gondalier's lantern.I think these rooms are much more pleasant than other guest rooms at the estate due to the vibrant colors and worn wood finishes: a softer feeling.
The lamps throughout are all exquisite: some people have chair fetishes, mine is lamps. These little alabaster lamps were just adorable with the bell shades -also notice the silver sconces.Again the rooms are finished with suitcases and clothing from the 30s, a nice touch. I love the antique vestment above the bed.So tell me, would you prefer the Doge's suite or the tower bedroom?Images of Standford White's townhouse and ceiling image from "Gilded Mansions: Grand architecture & high society" by Wayne Craven.
As with all of my San Simeon posts, written permission was kindly granted to post my interior photos of the estate on this blog only. Please respect that and do not copy. Thanks!

San Simeon: Tower bedroom

Located high above the Casa Grande is one of the favorite guest rooms at the ranch: the tower bedroom (just one of 58 in the main house). Located in one of the 2 bell towers, the bedroom is like a disney movie's princess bedroom and many of Hearst's most famous guests requested this room when visiting the ranch.Getting there isn't easy and includes a lot of steps up winding stairways. While the outside is clad in white stone, the interior is left with the bare poured concrete walls which I think look amazing, especially with antique lanterns to light the way!Here we are at our destination, fit for a princess (or a harem!). Of course, the ceiling is a gorgeous antique and the main feature of the room.
Romance is the theme, shown by....ahem...the mirror over the bed.
Be careful what you wish for however, as a saint stands guard in one of the many windows!
This jumble of rooms at the top of the mansion is a maze; without a guide you would surely be lost. I wonder how Hearst's guests managed? I've heard that wandering around the estate past curfew wasn't encouraged (in fact was discouraged with dogs let loose throughout the house) so getting lost wasn't an option in the evenings.
Each room hidden away in these attics hold as many treasures as the rooms below, with the benefit of a marvelous view.
As with all of my San Simeon posts, written permission was kindly granted to post my interior photos of the estate on this blog only. Please respect that and do not copy. Thanks!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mirror, Chrome, and Gin Fizz: Art Deco in Britain

On March 1st, Emily Eerdmans will be in DC to talk for the National Institute for Classical Architecture. Cohosted by the prestigous Royal Oak Foundation, the lecture will take place at the National Trust for Historic Preservation at 1785 Massachusetts Ave, NW. Emily is a natural choice to speak on art deco as she wrote the excellent book Regency Redux. More recently, she wrote the book on Madeleine Castaing that I got for Christmas and was unable to put down!
Specifically, Emily will be discussing art deco design in Britain. While not as prevalent there as elsewhere, she will cite and talk on examples such as the Cunard ship, The Queen Mary, Claridges hotel in London, Coleton Fishacre and Eltham Palace (seen above).
Tickets are $35 ($25 for members) and are available by emailing
Hope to see you there!