Friday, March 18, 2011

Touch of spring and random sidenotes.

On my walk home last night I stopped and got some lilies, not only to help mask the steak smoke smell but because it's our first taste of spring in DC.
I spent St. Patricks Day evening eating shortbread for dinner (ok, and a more nutritous salad) and watching The Irish Country House narrated by the magnificent Angelica Huston who was lucky enough to be raised in one of these grand mansions.
I also wanted to share with you the progress of my friend Maxine's house (hi Maxine!). You may remember I've been helping her in setting up her new townhouse (remember the colored lites?). These are some rough snapshots of the work we've accomplished so far.Maxine travels the world for work and is always bringing back new treasures. She is not afraid of color and her home is beginning to show this! I loved this blue updated damask wallpaper we chose for her stairwell along with one of her many moroccan lanterns we hung throughout the house.
These lanterns really add a lot of additional color to the neutral backdrops we chose for the bedrooms which don't benefit from the colored lights with the exception of the mater bedroom. This wallpaper is subtle in person, the pattern being an embossed silver over an ivory background which matches the wall color. The mirrored nightstand and nickel lamps pick up the silver accents in the wallpaper and also help reflect the natural light which streams into the master bedroom in the morning.
One last hint of color we brought into the bathrooms was by painting the wood builder-grade cabinets in bold glossy colors - why not bring a smile to your face in the morning with color?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vizcaya: the entrance loggia

Enough teasing, lets get to the good stuff; the interiors of Vizcaya!
Right off the entry drive are 3 arches, lined with blue curtains, that make up the entry. If you'll remember, Chafin selected these blue curtains with yellow trim as they fit in with the Venetian fantasy he was concocting and they also provided practical shelter from the wind and rain.
The house was essentially split into two interior portions with outdoor hallways and vestibules connecting them. In the 1980s, the central courtyard and loggias were enclosed for preservation, altering the way the house is experienced but preserving it for future generations of budding house tourists!
I'm not sure if the iron gates are original or not -does anyone know? John Singer Sargent, who I'll speak about at greater length in another post, was particularly enamored with these double columns and bemoaned the use of these curtains which seperated the interior 2 columns from the exterior.
A closeup of the local coral stone -just gorgeous. I love the way green moss grows in the crevices, so pretty against the pink coloring.
Right inside the front door, hiding the view of the courtyard, is a large screen and fountain -not only providing privacy but leaving as a surprise the expansive openness of the house. Don't give it all away at once, right, just like mom said!
The entrance loggia (as this western loggia is known) has a plaster groin vaulted ceiling and patterned marble floor. I love the 3d effect of the floor pattern.
To the left of the entry is the more formal 'foyer' with adjoining cloak rooms and reception room while to the right are the more utilitarian spaces such as a flower arranging room and service quarters.
These 2 doorways with beautifully carved overdoors and antique salvaged doors were the real 'front doors' of the house, leading one into the interiors. Join me tomorrow as I begin the tour with the entry hall!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vizcaya: visitors center

Soon to be reopened after major renovation (following flooding, the dangers of seaside living!), the visitors center at Vizcaya is located in the lower level in what was once a bowling alley and Deering's smoking room.
Entry to these spaces are on the north side of the house, directly opposite from the main gardens and beside the pool. Interior access to the pool is through these spaces at the base of the stair from the ground floor. I love this turquoise doorframe color! The bowling alley lies right inside the doors and will house the cafe. Bright, clean and simple, this space won't show up any of the 'historic' interiors and will be highly functional. Due to past renovations and the flooding, I don't believe there were any remnants of the bowling lanes or any other details left to preserve.More stylish, but no less utilitarian, is Deering's smoking room, located in the northwest corner. I loved these colorful marble floors. The fireplace is a European antique and the ceilings are original to the space.Hopefully you will be visiting here soon enough -I believe it opens this spring!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thanks, Elle Decor!

This month's happenings page of Elle Decor includes a small picture of the bloggers who spoke at last month's DCOTA market. It was such a pleasure to participate and a thrill to have my picture in the magazine along with Peak of Chic and Velet & Linen!
The April issue is fantastic -be sure to pick up a copy!

A smokey repast

As blogger is being problematic with uploading photos, instead of a real post I'll share with you an adventure from my weekend. A friend from NYC who had never visited DC decided to come down for the weekend as my guest and see the sights. After a busy Saturday walking around the National Mall visiting the monuments and the Smithsonian museums, we decided to make a simple, filling meal at home: a salad followed by a steak, potatoes and asparagus.
For the steak, I thought I would take a tip from Jacques Pepin and fry it in butter. BAD PLAN, Jacques! After 2 minutes my apartment was filled with so much heavy smoke that you could barely see 2 hands in front of your face, setting off my smoke detector. Regrettably, I opened my windows and then the door to my condo's hallway -which then set off the entire building's fire alarm system!Sirens blaring, an annoying electronic voice repeating *WARNING WARNING* every 30 SECONDS, elevators and doors disabled for 30 minutes, I then had to explain to not only about 30 of my neighbors that it was a false alarm but also to about 10 very kind (and annoyed) firemen! All said and done, after the excitement ceased, the meal was delicious. So much for a relaxing meal for two! How was your weekend?