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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Old and New ... Again

Hello everyone, sorry for no posts the last two days ... last weekend was my bachelorette, and I felt like I was still recovering. So yesterday at the office my boss sent me to the website of his favorite architect, Steven Harris, who seemed familiar to me ... that's because his work has been featured in Elle Decor several times! However, below are two photos of a townhouse on Jane Street that tie into our conversation a couple weeks ago about modern additions to historic buildings.

From the front, this Jane Street townhouse looks like many others on the block - beautiful 6 over 6 windows, french doors on the ground floor, and Greek Revival detailing. During the renovation, expert care was taken to restore the front of this house. On the back of the house, however, the architect took a different approach . 

He opened up the entire backside of this house to its little garden on Jane Street. What I love about this is that the aesthetic changes on the interior of the house do not impact the visitor experience on Jane Street, and yet the owners still get the location they wanted with the design style they love. Please go look at more of Steven Harris' work, he is really brilliant. 

Pictures courtesy of

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grey Weather, Colored Fabrics

Its a gray and rainy day here in NYC - so I thought that I would head over to the D&D to do some fabric browsing. I have been focusing a lot on Quadrille lately, so today I thought I would head up to John Roselli and look at some Peter Dunham Textiles


Kashmir Paisley


 Fig Leaf

Again, I am thinking about some of these for the master bedroom in Charleston, and others I would just like to "keep on file" for future reference. Don't you just love the Fig Leaf fabric? Goes right back to our recent conversation, "Fig or a Palm?" And that starburst fabric makes me so happy - and comes in an array of fun colors. Would you use any of these fabrics in your space? Wish me luck! 

All images courtesy of Peter Dunham Textiles

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kitchens on the Move

At work, I am doing a project that requires me to source fixtures, stones, finishes, etc for what will be two rental apartments. In SoHo, these apartments are located in a building that was built in 1920 - but the entire interior of the apartments will be new. I am struggling a bit to capture the feeling that I am going for so I thought I would work it out here. 

Although I typically favor more traditional kitchens, one of my favorite things is the juxtaposition between old and new, which we touched on last week. 

With kitchens, as with historic public buildings, there is a great opportunity to show the passage of time in a house. 

Old wood beams and windows, adjacent to lacquered cabinets with stainless steel fixtures and countertops allows the visitor to understand when something is new, and often the shiny and modern aspects of the kitchen make the antique aspects of the home all the more apparent. 

We have seen places where homeowners take it to the next level, and make it seem as though you could remove the kitchen one day, and you wouldn't even have known it was there. Now that is a look I love. 

Most of us remember House Beautiful in February 2010, when we saw a kitchen in what used to be the dining room of this Montgomery house. Again, in an historic home with wainscoting and moulding, that stainless steel range truly stands out - showing us that passage of time. 

It is that "passage of time" look that I really love. In all of these photos, the kitchen and its appliances seem transitory, as though they have just stopped by for a visit and could be removed at a moment's notice. That's good preservation. 

Photos courtesy of Elle Decor UK, Marie Claire Maison, & House Beautiful

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cocktail Hour & Campaign Furniture

If you have not yet read Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, I highly recommend it. It is a story about life in Africa, and stories like that are always exciting. This story, unlike West With the Night or Out of Africa, provides a little more comic relief. Reading this book has put me in the mood for British Colonial decor. A style I have always admired, I am hoping to incorporate it into the design scheme of the Charleston house. 

This is in fact extremely appropriate, because Charleston is often thought of as part of the Caribbean - made clear by areas of town such as Rainbow Row above. Instead of arriving directly from Great Britain, most of Charleston's early settlers came by way of the Caribbean; and unlike many of the settlers arriving in New England, these early Charlestonians came to South Carolina already wealthy Caribbean landowners. 

These British ex-patriots arrived in Charleston already well versed in the trials and tribulations of living in a hot and humid climate. Taking a cue from the homes that they had built in the Caribbean, or rather some of the mistakes they had made, Charlestonians built houses that faced south with double and triple height piazzas so that they might take the utmost advantage of the breezes coming off the harbor. It is in keeping with this British Colonial history of Charleston that I look to British Colonial decor of the Caribbean for inspiration. 

One cannot really admire Caribbean decor without looking to India Hicks. Daughter of the late great designer David Hicks, and a flower girl at Princess Diana's wedding, this Brit has made her life in the Caribbean, incorporating all of the things that I would like to see in the second bedroom in Charleston. Campaign furniture, such as the chest in the photo above, is a must - and caned furniture like the bed in that photo is an added bonus. 

Books are everywhere, and the floors are painted white - notice the lack of rugs. The all white scheme helps with the heat, and the palm fronds bring the outside in. I love the contrast of dark antiques with the white walls, floors, and upholstery. 

Ah, yes, and one of my favorite aspects of campaign furniture ... that it is portable! Again the contrast of the dark wood folding chairs against the white table cloth and porch - wonderful. So far I only have antique campaign bed side tables in place ... but I'm getting there. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vacanze Palazzo Oggi Per Favore

Don't you wish that changing the clocks occurred on a Saturday so that you had at least a day to get used to the idea? I don't know about you all, but I'm exhausted this morning! So, thinking about getting back to bed, I thought I would share some photos of Francis Ford Coppola's new Palazzo Margherita in the Italian village of Bernalda. Nothing like looking at boutique hotel pictures when you're in need of a vacanze. 

Palazzo Margherita was built in 1892 by the Margherita family in Bernalda, Italy. Purchased by famed director Frances Ford Coppola in 2005, Coppola undertook a major restoration of the 19th century villa with the help of his daughter Sophia and decorator Jacques Grange. 

The painting on the walls is all original, and local artisans/craftsmen were brought in to bring it all back to life. 

Each room was meticulously restored, and this included the tile floors. Each tile was taken up from the floor and numbered while underfloor heating and cooling was installed. This floor is absolutely magnificent. This room, referred to as "Francis' Room" was originally a covered piazza - with no windows. So when they did the renovation, they installed windows in the arches - looking out over the garden ... 

Sofia Coppola was married here last year ... 

This room is called "Sophia's Room." The rattan furniture seems to mimic the painted ceiling.

I love all the tiles and fixtures in these bathrooms. Look at the depth of that counter top. 

The "Family bar ... prosecco please! 

Photos Courtesy of

Friday, March 9, 2012

New? Who Knew?

The Louvre - Paris, France
We all know what building this is ... The Louvre, in Paris. For those of us who have been there, we adore it, and for those of you who haven't, you're dying to go. Although I would love to chat about art and Paris - today I hit you with a little preservation theory. Extremely modern additions to historic buildings, specifically public buildings. 

Akademia Park Officium - Hungary
Some of these buildings may challenge your aesthetic. On the outset you may have preferred an addition or renovation that was in keeping with the building's original character, but upon closer inspection you may begin to feel differently. Although often bold and extremely modern, these contemporary additions don't feel as though they are stealing the limelight from the historic building. 

Space Asia Hub - Singapore
On the contrary, the contrast between the two structures often allows the original historic fabric to shine and feel even more special. Older public buildings tend to have an excess of architectural detail, and set against the backdrop of a glass and steel cube, those details really pop. 

Boston Public Library - Hyde Park Branch
Without delving too far into preservation theory on a Friday morning, these contemporary additions to historic buildings place huge emphasis on the idea that we should not falsify history. An addition such as the ones pictured here makes it very clear to the visitor/viewer which part of the building is old, and which part of the building is new; whereas in an addition which utilized classical building technique, the relative age of the two structures would not be apparent to the passerby. 

Morgan Library - NYC 
Typically more popular in Europe where historic architecture is plenty, and modern design aesthetic abounds, these projects are finally becoming more popular in the US, such as at the Morgan Library here in NYC. 

Morgan Library - NYC 
So for all of you out there who thought preservationists only cared about the old buildings themselves, its about how we move forward with the use of these historic buildings for the future that really counts. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fig or a Palm?

Grant K. Gibson
A fiddle leaf fig? 

David Lawrence
Or a palm? 

A fig has a more free-flowing unruly vibe ... 

Tom Scheerer
Whereas you can pot a palm, or palm leaves. Tropical but restrained. 

Palm leaves are heavily featured in all types of design - and with good reason - they look fantastic. Like this "Southwind" wallpaper by Meg Braff. 

Or in these now famous walls designed by Tom Scheerer at the Lyford Cay Club. 

I don't know what it is about a Fiddle Leaf Fig though ... unrestrained and wild, architectural.  A bit trendy these days, but I think there will be no beating it against a grasscloth backdrop in the study in Charleston. 

Because that is one thing to keep in mind in the discussion of palm v. fig. If you're talking Charleston, there is no escaping the palm leaf. The palmetto tree is featured on the state flag of South Carolina, and palmetto trees line the streets (and our porch). 

Now that I think about it, for me the discussion of palm v. fig is over, because when you walk out the study door onto the porch, you're staring right into these leaves. So I guess I already have my palm. 

Photos courtesy of Grant K. Gibson, House Beautiful & Town and Country

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Charleston Calm

I am sorry to have been lax as of late. This fall was crazy, and this upcoming spring has become even crazier. WWB proposed on January 1 and we're getting married! And contrary to the current popular trend of the long engagement, WWB and I are gettin' it done - in May. This May. In Charleston. AND on top of that, I am trying to get some decorating done for the house in Charleston before all my friends and family come down and start poking around. Oh the stress. 

In Charleston, WWB and I have not been staying in the "Master Bedroom," but rather the second bedroom because at this point it is more "finished." However, my plan is that on our wedding night we will stay in the Master Bedroom for the first time - with the decorating completely finished. Obviously trying to get this done in two months is no small feat. I am leaning towards a scheme with a calming effect and have been looking at tons of photos for inspiration. 

Lynn Morgan

Mary McDonald

Tom Stringer

Jeffrey Bilhuber
One of my favorite things about some of these rooms is that they still have that spa-like calming quality, even though some of the fabrics and colors are bright and bold. I love Tom Stringer's use of yellow as an accent color in an otherwise blue and white color scheme, and Bilhuber's use of a bright patterned quilt in his spa blue room. 

I love this Macoco fabric from China Seas, that Lynn Morgan used on pillows in the bedroom she designed above. The walls in the bedroom are Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, and the floor is wall to wall sea grass with a faded grayish tint. This bold fabric pattern in a calming hue could be just the thing I need in the bedroom.

Albert Hadley
Despite it having little relation to the space, or even "vibe" of the bedroom I am currently designing, this Albert Hadley designed bedroom is still one of my favorite of all time. Simple. Calming. Timeless. 

Photos courtesy of House Beautiful, Quadrille Fabrics
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