Friday, January 30, 2009

Young Designers and Collectors

Thursday was an interesting day. It started with a Design Big: From Conception to Reality a panel discussion about how to start and manage a successful design business that was sponsored by American Express Open and Domino. (Talk about timing.) Tori Mellott was moderator to the panel with included Stephanie Odegard of Odegard, Inc. and interior designers Christopher Coleman and Ashley Whittaker. It was a very informative discussion and the bullet points that I can give you if you are thinking of starting your own design business is to be extremely organized, learn how to sell yourself and your work, don't turn down your nose at any small job because a simple bedroom job could turn into an entire summer house in a year or two. Also, don't be afraid to get financial advice. We all know that creative types sometimes aren't the most business savvy. And if you're a design assistant looking for work, be open to freelancing which some designers are turning to instead of full time employees.

The day ended with the Young Collector's Night at the Winter Antiques Show where I ran into everyone's favorite Top Design Contestant and Blogger, Eddie Ross with his partner Jaithan Kochar (I can't stop humming the Green Acres theme song whenever I think of them moving to the country!); Emily Eerdmans, the fabulous author of Regency Redux (along with Kelly Wearstler who wrote the forward) who also works for Hyde Park Antiques and was manning their booth; and Natalie Obradovich, a former design assistant to Kelly Wearstler who is currently looking for a design job in NYC.

One of the other topics of the panel discussion earlier in the day was where to find inspiration in this tough economy if you can't afford to travel the world and Stephanie Odegard suggested museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art where you can visit the art of the world. I also think that The Winter Antiques Show is another great place to be inspired and to also learn something new. I studied art history so I have a little knowledge of decorative arts and antiques but when I look at all the wonderful booths, I realize that there is so much more to learn. Even if your decorating style isn't traditional, you can still be inspired by the paintings or a pattern on a vase. The Winter Antiques Show benefits the East Side Settlement House so your patronage would be greatly appreciated in these tough times. I'm going to stop by again on Saturday to see what I missed the other night so maybe I will see you there! Bon Weekend!

Thanks House Beautiful!

I owe House Beautiful another big thank you for including Habitually Chic as one of the sites they love. And another thank you goes out to Amy Claire Preiser for writing it up! Check out Sites We Love on House Beautiful here. (Oh, let's all make sure we support House Beautiful so they're not next on the list of shelter magazines we loved but are no longer with us!)

Technical Difficulties

I apologize for not posting yesterday or earlier today. My internet service was out for over 24 hours. And as soon as it came back, the television cable went out. Thanks Time Warner. I will now be researching new service providers in addition to working on a new blog post. Please stand by.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"I feel like I'm going to cry!"

This has got to be the worst day in New York. It's snowy and raining. There is at least six inches of muck and slush on every street corner. I think I may have ruined my boots. And it's the day that word came that Domino is to cease publication after the March 2009 issue. I was sitting in the chair at the hair salon trying to enjoy a little pampering when the first death knell email of many arrived. The sentiments were all the same. Everyone is very sad and upset. Domino was a favorite among my friends and although we had heard the rumors it might fold, I hoped they would make it for a few more months or even a year. But alas it is not meant to be.

I just don't get what is wrong with American magazine publishing. Why does it seem like European magazines are doing fine while American magazines continue to fold. I would paid more per issue to keep Domino alive. It spoke to my demographic. I could relate to the designers and people profiled. I could afford the items they featured. As much as I love Elle Decor, which I picked up on my way home, it's very aspirational. That's not the way any of my friends or I live right now. Maybe someday but not today.

The worst part is that many people had just had their homes photographed for the designers to watch series for the April issue. I've already told them that I would be happy to post them on my blog. I already mentioned that I want to feature more original interiors and young designers on my blog this year so this news just makes me more determined to support, encourage and champion them and anyone else who is talented, creative and inspiring.

So if there is anyone out there who dreamed of having their home or designs published in Domino, feel free to email me. Since there aren't many shelter magazines left, I'd be more than happy to start posting them on my blog. But right now, I think I'm going to go take a look through all my old issues of Domino and mourn the loss of my favorite magazine. I might also have a good cry while I'm at it. It's a very sad day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clandeboye

I've been a little behind on my magazines and have been trying to catch up before the mammoth March issues arrive and I'm so glad I finally got through February's W magazine. I'm still marveling at the extraordinary life of Lindy, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava who lives in Clandeboye, a 2,00 acre estate in Northern Ireland. I guess she could be described as eccentric but in a good way. She grew up in and also married into the Guinness family, spent the winter of her 14th year with her father, step-mother and Truman Capote in Palm Beach, sailed with Jacques Cousteau, and with her husband became "central figures in the contemporary art scene in London" where she became a collector of David Hockney, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud who also became a brother-in-law by marriage. Today, she continues preserving the family home that she and her late husband restored which is filled with British empire furnishings. The entire story by James Reginato had me enthralled and can be read online at W magazine.

The entry hall above is decorated with souvenirs and treasures from East Asia that were collected by the First Marquess of Dufferin and Ava who was an ambassador.

Lady Dufferin doesn't mind getting dirty in her garden!

Al the bedrooms are named after places that the First Marquess was sent as an ambassador and the beautiful room above is "Paris."

The gallery has beautiful furnishings and amazing floor to ceiling windows.

A lovely portrait hands above the bed in the "France" bedroom.

The bookcases in the library are inscribed with the names of Greek gods in gilt and is home to beautiful leather bound editions.

This whole story reminded me of the type of home that would have been chronicled in watercolors similar to those I saw at the show at the Cooper Hewitt this past weekend and I wasn't wrong but in this case, they were painted by the lady of the house in oil. Lady Dufferin or Lindy Guinness as she is known in the art world painted The Library at Clandeboye, Morning Light above in 2003. An exhibition of her paintings will open in April at the Browse & Darby Gallery in London. I may have to plan a trip across the pond for it because I can already imagine that it will be quite an event!

One of the most interesting rooms is the inner hall which houses heraldry, weaponry and hunting prizes. And the outside of the estate below is just as majestic as the interior and the story of Clandeboye!

Photos by Simon Watson

Monday, January 26, 2009

At Home at Sarlo

I love stores that look like homes. I think it makes it so much easier to picture how something would look in a room which is especially helpful for non-designers. They also look like places you would want to hang out in all day and Gabriella Sarlo's shop/showroom Sarlo is no different. The space was co-designed by Stephen Shubel who I featured last week and Sarlo represents his French antiques, as well as new furniture from Pieter Porters and Astier de Villatte among others. Gabriella is also friends with interior designer Grant K. Gibson so it seems that all the talented designers in San Francisco know each other. I definitely can't wait to plan a trip to visit them all. And if the weather in New York doesn't warm up soon, I might just be joining them for good!







Sunday, January 25, 2009

House Proud

I finally had a chance to see House Proud: Nineteenth-century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection at the Cooper Hewitt this past weekend and was so glad that I made it before it closed Sunday. The watercolors were amazing and so were the stories of surrounding each of them and the rooms they depicted. It was such a wonderful insight not only into interior design of the times but the history and purpose of the different rooms in a home. I was also struck by the intricate detail of the watercolors and beautiful furnishings and patterns in so many of them. I purchased the accompanying book House Proud and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about these stunning interiors.

Rudolf Von Alt, The Japanese Salon, Villa Hugel, Heitzing, Vienna, 1855

James Roberts, Salon Particulier de la Reine au Palais de Buckingham (The Queen's Sitting Room at Buckingham Palace), August 1848

Henry Robert Robertson, The Interior of Hall Place at Leigh, near Tonbridge, Kent, 1879

Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Klose, The Red Room, Schloss Fischbach, c. 1846

Matthaus Kern, A Study at St. Polten, 1837

Edouard Gaertner, The Chinese Room at the Royal Palace, Berlin, 1850

Julie Bayer, An Artist's Studio, c. 1850

Bouilhet, A French Restoration Bedroom, 1823

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Bachelorette Pad: It's Coming Together

I spent most of yesterday and today at The Bachelorette Pad and we're definitely making progress. The bedroom is almost finished and is turning out to be my favorite room! The draperies have been hung and steamed and the headboard was attached so it's coming together. We just need to purchase the lamps for the bedside tables and finalize the art and then it will be done.

You can see better in this photo how the stripes of the draperies from Restoration Hardware pickup the colors of the rug from Pottery Barn. The Bachelorette said her friend thought the rug was custom and is excited that everyone does look custom even though so far, everything was purchased at retail stores or online. Some of the things that we have done would have been outrageously expensive if they had been custom so it is possible to get the look for less.

The Bachelorette has a very large family and I thought one of her nieces made the picture of the bunnies so I decided to hang it above the television. Not everything has to be serious when you decorate and The Bachelorette said that it makes her smile every time she looks at it, especially since she painted it when she was a child! So cute!

You can see in this before photo that the draperies really do make a difference and finish the design.

I just placed the embroidery that was made by her grandmother to see if it will work in the room. I will leave it up to The Bachelorette to decide if she would like it hung above the bed or in the living room. It would add some new colors to the room and I might think about adding a patterned boudoir pillow for a little more color. The lamps will also finish off the room.

I hung a few more pieces of artwork in the living room and sat her old mirror on top of the bookcase. Obviously, the wall is still unfinished. A reader suggested sconces which might be a good option or maybe there are some other artwork that could work on this wall. I also found some great fabric from Carelton V called Wykeham in Citrus (2800-14) that would make perfect throw pillows for the sofa.

I always joke that you need a degree in mathematics to hang artwork. Do you know why gallery walls of art are so popular? It's because you can hammer in a nail, hang up a painting and call it a day. No measuring is required for a gallery wall but you need to get out a pad of paper and pencil if you plan to hang art so it's evenly spaced and properly hung. (They look a little crooked here but it's because the photo is crooked. I need to invest in a tripod!) I think the middle two works might have to be moved up after depending on what lamp is chosen for the desk but for now they are staying put where they are. The desk also needs a few accessories so this area still needs a little work, as does the entry which is why there aren't any photos of it yet.

We are still discussing painting the kitchen in the darker color. The quote from the painter was a little high for such a small room so I offered to paint it myself but I'm not sure if that's such a great idea, especially if we decide to paint the ceiling. The kitchen is right off the entry and only has half walls to separate it so it might disappear more if it is dark. It's a tough call. It also needs a new light fixture which is on the list so don't worry. I wouldn't leave her with exposed light bulbs!

It's a nice feeling to see the place really coming together after so much planning and preparation. The Bachelorette is away until tomorrow on business and I know she is very excited to come home and see it. I would be excited to come home too if I had a bedroom that beautiful!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Paris Years

One good thing to come out of my recent short lived romance with an artist was a trip to The Whitney Museum of American Art to see Alexander Calder: The Paris Years 1926-1933. I think most people are familiar with Calder through his mobiles but this exhibition brings a whole other side of Calder to light through his wonderfully creative wire caricature portraits, wire menagerie of animals, and his famous Circus. Around every corner is a new visual treat. I think this was of my favorite shows of all time and I hope everyone will try to see it before it closes on February 15th.

Alexander Calder, 'Dog', 1926-31. Wood, clothespin, and wire, Dog, 1926-31. Wood, clothespin, and wire.

Alexander Calder, Jimmy Durante, 1928. Iron wire and sculpture.

Alexander Calder, Goldfish Bowl, 1929. Wire.

Alexander Calder, Helen Wills, 1927. Wire and wood.

Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1932. Pen with ink on paper.

Alexander Calder, Equestrian Act from Calder’s Circus, 1926-31. Wire, wire, cloth, metal, wood, cardboard, rhinestones, thread, paint, rubber, cork, string.

Alexander Calder, Five suitcases in which Calder transported his Circus, 1926-31.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First Fashion

If you watched the coverage of the Inauguration today, you will have noticed the First Lady's beautiful yellow ensemble that was designed by fashion designer Isabel Toledo. Those of us who follow fashion and live in New York are well aware of Ms. Toledo and her artist husband Ruben, both of whom are of Cuban decent. They are a lovely couple and their artist talents seem to very much complement each other. There was a fascinating look inside their loft which serves as both a work space and home in New York magazine in 2006 by Wendy Goodman with photos by David Allee some of which are seen here.

Ruben works in his studio surrounded by hand-me-down easels and mannequins under a skylight that affords them views of the Empire State Building.

The space is of course decorated with artwork from Ruben and includes a mannequin he designed for Ralph Pucci and later painted. The iron railing is original.

The dining table, chairs and console were a gift from the late illustrator Antonio Lopez. The slipcovers were designed by Isabel.


The window was added to the bedroom and the screens were "originally designed by Ruben for the Toledos’ friend Anneliese Estrada, and retrieved when she moved." While the streets interestingly enough came from the Watergate Hotel in Washington a funny coincidence.

It's clear the Isabel Toledo will be just the first of many wonderful designers that will be called into service in the coming years and I look forward to seeing what they create and maybe getting a peek into their homes as well!

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