Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vizcaya Details

I thought a weekend post would be perfect for a few of the little details I noticed on the 2nd floor loggia of Vizcaya. Remember, the hallway is open and surrounds the courtyard below and provides access to the numerous bedrooms of the estate. I loved this dinner bell right off the stair.
This chandelier in the shape of a dragon carrying the lightbulbs is just too cute not to photograph!
This is the hallway in question -whats that door at the end of the corridor beside Mr. Deering's bedroom suite?
A private elevator, beautifully paneled and painted of course. Now thats riding in style!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vizcaya: Breakfast room and kitchen

Vizcaya has a few quirks, one of them being the kitchen and breakfast room are located on the 2nd floor. Now, I think this is a great idea as you don't have to go far in your pajamas in the morning for that first cup of tea (or coffee) although I do prefer my breakfast in bed. But enough with that, on with the room!The breakfast room was used more often than the Dining Room and it's easy to see why; it's gorgeous! I may have said this before, but I think THIS is my favorite room in Vizcaya, if not the Tea Room.The Breakfast Room lies directly over the Tea room which has an especially tall ceiling allowing for its entry gate, which explains the 2 steps up into the space. This gives the room a lower ceiling which lends an added intimacy which I love. The windows fill an entire wall and telescope back into the wall, opening the wall completely to the formal gardens, much like the loggias below.
The most striking feature, other than the chinoiserie overtones and fireplace, is the 18th century French wall painting/mural depicting harbor scenes.

A great feature in the room, seen in other areas in the house, are 4 corner chandeliers rather than 1 central fixture, which leaves the ceiling open for other decorative uses.

A collection of Ming dynasty porcelains from the 16th century decorate the space and I LOVE the gilded orange chinoiserie chairs!
Here you can see the wall of windows which slide back into the walls, turning the room into yet another loggia. The doorway leads into the modest kitchen.
Modest, that is, compared to the size of the house. Remember there were other service areas on the 1st floor to accomodate Deering and his guests.
The kitchen features an enviable collection of copper pots; think they'd miss a few if I took them home? The enormous stove is both coal and gas operated and even has a charcoal broiler.
Deering, like any self respecting millionaire of the day, had a French chef on staff along with his myriad kitchen assistants.
Food was supplied from the estate's farm across South Miami Avenue, which now houses administrative offices. Above you see the dumb waiter which supplies access to the butler's pantry below.
While the house had many of the most modern features of the day, it also had a few 'older' technologies, such as these speaking tubes; so popular in Victorian households. I'm sorry to say I wasn't able to test it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vizcaya: Master Suite

The second floor of Vizcaya is broken into a series of guest suites boasting the most modern of technology for the day, including private baths and dressing rooms for each bedroom. Mr. Deering's private suite faced Biscayne Bay in the northeast corner of the house and includes a private terrace as well as a large sitting room. Many say his sitting room, seen above on the plan in blue, is the most beautiful in the entire house but I might have to disagree on this one: a bit overdone for my tastes.

Decorated in Italian Directoire style, the sitting room was based on the work of the late 18th century architect, Giocondo Albertolli. The walls are upholstered in Louis XVI style embroidered yellow silk with white and gold painted Italian boiseries.
Chalfin mixed French Empire mahogany furniture with an oval Savonnerie carpet and had the ceiling painted a blue gray with a gilded seahorse in plaster, the mascot of Vizcaya. I think the effect here is rather Trump does Vegas, but to each his own.The room also features a fireplace designed by Robert Adam for Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin, seen above in a historic photo.
Deering's bedroom, seen in green on the floorplan above, continues the Neoclassical theme but in Empire style; a great improvement to my mind compared with the sitting room.The ceiling again is painted a gray blue with gilded plaster work. The day we visited, conservators were working in the bedroom.

The fireplace is Adamesque from the 18th century while the bed was designed a la Polonaise with a small canopy with the same embroidered green silk used to upholster the walls.
The interesting mahogany bed features scenes from a Roman wedding on gilt panels.The carpet is an Aubusson with woven seahorses.
The bathroom, seen on the plan above in taupe, is probably the most well known bathroom in Florida. Designed in an ornate Neoclassical style, Chalfin chose 3 colors of marble(black, white and gray) to create 'paneling' with mounted urns of silver.
The ceiling was tented with embroidered linen much like a Napoleonic campaign tent.
The bathtub's gold plated faucets in the shape of swans deliver both fresh and salt water.The best feature though, designed by Chalfin, is a shaving bowl facing Biscayne Bay which is piped with hot water, seen in front of the window above. The photo above shows the view of the bay beyond the shaving stand: now that is morning ritual I could get used to!