Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring in NY

Oddly enough, one of my favorite things about New York is the presence of nature in the city.

Central Park is so much more majestic for its city setting and natural / city contrasts.

While in New York last weekend, Habitually Chic and I enjoyed the fine spring weather and spent the afternoon wandering around this paradise with ice cream cones. Maybe a little too long, I'm still suffering from my peeley sunburn!

Another piece of nature lies on the medians of Park Avenue. The pink metal rose sculptures by Will Ryman are surrounded by spring tulips for a short time every year.

A city of contrasts: the man-made and the natural working in harmony. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Finally Framed

You may remember I was talking about framing the sketch Patricia at PVE drew for my blog header, seen here. Well, I finally got it back from the framer and it looks fantastic! I chose an ebonized frame in an architectural acanthus leaf pattern which I felt grounded the drawing and matte as well as relate to the subject.

I had it framed at L'Eclat de Verre in Cady's Alley near my office in Georgetown. I would highly recommend them based on their selection, friendliness and affordability.

I think the added 'Lavis' or French Lines, drawn around the French Panel done with marbelized paper really add a lot to Patricia's beautiful drawing -what do you think based on the progression? It now has a proud spot on my gallery wall.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The season of second chances

Recently, I was asked to review a copy of The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier which just came out in paperback. I wasn't really sure what to expect but the premise from her PR group really sounded up my alley. A middle aged college professor decides to take a chance by moving to a small town from NYC to begin a new chapter in her career and renovating an old Victorian house. I figured if I didn't like the book, I wouldn't be out on much, right?

After a slightly bumpy start (mostly because I don't read much fiction) I quickly became engrossed and found Meier and I spoke the same language. Within the first dozen pages, a haircut was described as a Maxfield Parrish mural, a hotel was compared to the namesake in the Astaire/Crosby movie "Holiday Inn" and when house shopping in a small town as opposed to a rural area she wrote,

"Lets go there - now! My heart ran ahead. Let's leave the arena of wild bear and rabid raccoon and crazy men with axes, for the safety and comfort of a neighborhood, for the aroma of blueberry pies cooling on the kitchen windowsills, for little front yards and the idea of biking to work. The concept of biking to work should have given me the hint that I was getting carried away. And why was it priced so far below all that we'd seen, and what did she mean by "white elephant"? "

From this passage on, I was hooked. Don't ask me why it took me 9 pages-did I hear a bit of myself in her voice? I would recommend this book to anyone and to pass along the pleasure, I'm giving away my copy of the book (free to me, free to you). Please live in the United States and leave a comment by Sunday, May 8th (Mothers day!). I will notify the winner and send it off immediately so you can hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011 Kips Bay Showhouse

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Kips Bay decorators showhouse while in New York. This years house is a historic 4 floor neo-Federalist mansion once owned by John Hay Whitney at 163 E. 63rd Street.The house has a piano nobile design with the primary spaces on the 2nd floor. However, a study and dining room open out onto the back yard from the first floor (the front entry is on the right on the plan above while the backyard is to the left).The study was decorated by Celerie Kemble (who has an unusually thick and beautiful business card) and is shown on the floorplan above as room #3. Probably one of my favorite rooms in the house. It didn't feel decorated so much as stylishly lived in. While the paneling was original and the focal point of the room, she covered the ceiling with some great antiqued mirror that held up visually to the walls.Next to it was the dining room, done by Matthew Patrick Smyth, shown on the plan as room #4.Many features of the current house were required to be kept by the current owners who generously loaned the house, leaving a lot of fixtures and finishes for the designers to work around.One such thing was the wallpaper in the dining room which Matthew ingeniusly decided to frame using drapes, much like a view. I loved the fresh look this gave the traditional space.The living room, located on the 2nd floor (see #7 on the floorplan above) stretches out along the width of the house on 63rd street. Decorated by Richard Mishaan, the room contained some SERIOUS art, unusual for a showhouse, including pieces by Leger, Niki De Saint Phalle, Hirst and Botero!Also on the 2nd floor was Campion Platt's "Ode to Jock" room, room #10, taking the place of the 'his' master bedroom with a game room or den of sorts.The finishes in this room were spectacular, however I'm not sure what was original and what Platt was involved with. I especially loved the hidden doors flanking the fireplace which had venetian plaster above a low wood wainscot. That door hardware is like jewelry.The 'her' master bedroom was decorated by Amanda Nesbit and is seen on the plan as room #9. These rooms face south and were light filled and really beautiful.The paneling had to remain and I suspect some wallpaper as well, which Amanda covered with some silk fabric.I loved the gilt lucite table with the 'floating' design.The glamorous master dressing and bathroom were done by Cayley Barrett Associates, seen on the floor plan above as rooms 8 & 8A.While the design/build firm has been involved with the showhouse many times in the past -this is the first time they have done a room designed by themselves.Joy Licht, the owner and founder of the company, was able to show me around the spaces and point out some of the great details. I especially loved the 'mirror' in the dressing room - a video camera and tv screen so you can see yourself 'live' (modeled so well by my friend Eric who joined me on the tour!).The tile work was done by artistic tile while the floors were the original antique wood parquet.These cute light fixtures dotted the space.No less glamorous than the master bedroom was the one done by Barbara Ostrom on the 3rd floor in room #13. The room was tiny and lacked a fireplace, unlike most of the other main rooms. Barbara added an antique mantel and filled it with wood -who would have guessed it was fake!Winning most fun room of the house (awarded by myself) was a childs room (#16) decorated by Harry Heissmann.Antique, smokey mirror covered the walls and the furnishings were colorful, fun and inventive with a lot of personal touches. If I was able to stay overnight in the house this is the room I'd choose; how fun would that be?! The pillow cover was a couture fabric covered in rhinestones adding a lot of fun 'bling'.Next to Barbara's bedroom was a den done by Jeff Lincoln (#12). I loved the blue painted woodwork and the furnishings he chose.After the closeness of the house below, it was like breathing fresh air when you walked up onto the fourth floor of the house. Wide and open with balconies on either end, this is the space any homeowner would spend their time in.Brad Ford decorated one end of the room with a really fun wood coffee table housing a built-in record player!Robert Stilin decorated the other end and terrace with a seating group around the fireplace. Again, art was the focus of his room.The rear terrace housed these really great trellised pavilions that I had to share with you to close; painted a french gray. See what I mean - beautiful rooms but you would never leave the top floor!

Check out more indepth coverage of the house at my friend Habitually Chic -Heather took some really great photos and got to talk to many of the designers.

Be sure to visit the house while in New York; procedes benefit a very worthy cause.