Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take Fun Seriously

My friend's house in New York City is seriously fun. Color and mirrors, myriad animal paintings and figures combine with mystical Mayan rubbings to forge an environment for homebodies that love company.
East meets west in the entrance hall, with a tropical twist. Peaches, yellows, greens, and reds create the anticipation of fun. The pool room beyond is a bodacious red and the thin screen t.v. over the fireplace invites guests to roll up their sleeves and relax with sports or movies.
Adjacent to the front door, the bar is the first stop before relaxing in the seating area. This house has a clubby feel and might be my favorite in the world.
This fun toile banquette is a study in mixed metaphors--it is a feminine touch in a manly pool room and has little antique racing cars winding down curvy vistas. It is a great afternoon spot for a toes up and a good read.
Looking down from the terrace, there's a great spa pool where friends and family gather for a cool down.
All the stair halls are unified by the melon colored walls, green stair risers and red spindles along the banister. I love the oriental lanterns.
This guest room is a quieter refuge. The murphy bed folds up to expand the party space for foose ball and bowling!
3 boys!!
Oops! Its hard to stay out of the picture with all the mirrors. This Mayan rubbing adds a magical era
to this modern bright space.
Across the hall, there is room for four square, yoga, indoor ball games, and fun play dates for the children. Do you see what I mean about homebodies? With a pool, exercise rooms, billiards, games, they spend a lot of time here, inviting friends and family to share in the activity.
On the fourth floor you can sneak away for some quiet time on the hammock. The glass under the coffee  table provides natural light in the bathroom below, dividing the exercise areas.  
Or have a cat nap on the sofa. 

Four floors down on the garden level is the dining room with a continuation of the peach and green combination, using high gloss exterior paint. 

This is a fun twist on Elsie de Wolfe's dining room at the Colony. I couldn't include a full room shot, as I was struggling with the light. We have had some great meals in this room cooked for us by the kids, complete with a legendary Bananas Flambe. I wish I had that picture--plenty of flambe!!

There is nothing like ground breaking work, in any field of invention. Elsie de Wolfe was the iconic pioneer of interior design.
Has anyone mentioned the girl cave? If anyone has a girl cave, send us photos. Who actually wants to see the perfect man cave? It is deliberately ugly. Send us pictures to and we will cover your refuge!! Thanks again for stopping by, commenting, following, tweeting. You guys are the best!!

Love this Mayan entity, who ever he is!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Design Headquarters, is firmly anchored in Charlotte, North Carolina. Phoebe, aka Mrs. Howard, and Max and Company, have taken over the palatial former Charlotte Women's club.  Collaborating with her talented husband, Jim, the couple create breath taking architectural rooms in multiple styles that are timeless.  Downstairs, Max and Company has a more modern, youthful take on decor. Upstairs, Mrs. Howard dazzles us with elegant, colorful, layered rooms. Take a lesson from the Howards! I have literally sifted through all their design projects on their websites, and there isn't a: "Ho-Hum" in the bunch. The look, within any genre, is perfectly balanced. Beach houses, mid century modern, eclectic, mountain and urban rooms are executed with equal skill. If there is a more beautiful store in the world, it is probably theirs.
The first three rooms at the street entrance to the store, were kept original to maintain the historic character of the house. Jim's architectural additions to the building are seamless, and look entirely original.
This Geometric tile floor in this hall is so chic with the opulent paneling and retro chairs.
This sophisticated focal point in the hall has a stunning floor with a three dimensional effect. The symmetry is restful and interesting. As we wander from one splendid space to another, the versatility and originality knocked our socks off.
We loved how the monochromatic oriental panel creates flow between these two spaces. The relating walls in the bedroom beyond, are perfectly hand painted. 
Nail head trim is all the rage in upholstery. The designers crafted a hefty pattern on the velvet fabric walls, instantly lightening the formality with the small scale chintz fabric on the chairs, and a country table. The Yin-Yang design concept speaks to me. 
This detail, taken from Mrs. Howard's website, highlights her signature sunburst mirrors,  repeated in the nail head motif. If anybody can beat this English country dining room, send me a picture!
Here is one of the max and company rooms. Dovecote loves the egg prints!
Mirrors are like bracelets for Mrs. Howard. She stacks them! This room positively glows with elegance. The detail of the drapery fabric repeating the molding on the horizontal plane enhances the geometric pattern of the mill work, reflected in the mirror.
Clean and serene. This mountain house from the website is fresh and light. Grey really is a pastel color, blending evenly with soft blue.  A Gustavian desk doubling as a bedside table is practical and pretty.  Of course the coterie loves the egg prints. 
I couldn't resist this picture. I don't think I have ever seen a fabric I love more! The lantern on the ceiling is a trademark touch.  Browse through the Howards' design projects and let us know which rooms you love the most.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Triad Guide

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter, interviewed me for Triad Guide, a great local resource for events and businesses in Greensboro, High Point and Winston Salem, N.C.  We talked about trends and changes in furniture at High Point. Tune in: You can listen to it while you browse older posts. Google Analytics tells us everybody really gravitated towards the Carson and Co. decoupage post and our friend's beautiful mountain house, so take a peek, while you listen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Art Hamptons Sayre Park Bridgehampton

 Art Hamptons was a welcome respite on a blistering Friday afternoon.  The 52,000 square foot, climate controlled modular museum housed over $300,000,000.00 worth of art displayed by over 95 vetted galleries from around the world.  There was an amazing array from the disturbing to the dazzling. Here are a few of the selections that I loved.

Peter Dayton's work captured us at the entrance.  It reminded me of California summers, watching surfers magically walk on water over the waves at Newport Beach. It is one of the great, free spectator sports available. I love surf movies, surf music and my cousin's "oh so gnarly" surfer speak.  After a little research, I was sorely corrected by this John McWhinnie review: "To describe it as friendly, to decorators or to anyone else, is to focus only on the works seduction and miss its subversion entirely. His intensely luscious surfaces mimic the enticements of luxury goods. The work does not just strive to be merely beautiful, but irresistible. When paired with this subject matter it demonstrates the way our culture regularly applies a marketing sheen to the most antiestablishment figures or outré subcultures, transforming them into readily saleable commodities or attitudes. This work is like a Halloween bag overflowing with candy; it is an overdose of sugar expressly designed to give the viewer a stomachache."   Ooops!  My friend reminded me that I went to summer day camp with Peter Dayton, wearing our mandatory tennis whites. I am a little smug that some subversion arose from our uniformity. When my ODF (oldest and dearest friend) and I played "Dream Date" in the 60's, our winner was always the girl who got the surf bum, not the frat boy.  

Turning the corner, Meg and I were arrested by the Gregory Scott works in the Catherine Edelman Gallery.  On a seemingly innocent looking picture was a picture, within a video, within a picture. It reminded me of the living and moving portraits in Harry Potter, or Shakespeare's  play within a play.  I've never seen anything like it, but we loved the humor and surprise of his series. 

Make sure you read the artist's own words above,  about this groundbreaking work. I think of artists and visual people as being non-verbally expressive--Rauzier has words. I ran across this blog, researching him and became their 2nd follower: Paris, Paris or Love and Other Disasters.  

Art discussions can be beyond tedious, but this writer is helpful and clear. Here is the Paris, Paris description of the technology employed in the production of this luminous montage: “No lens is able to achieve, in one single shot, the sharpness that I obtain by assembling 200 photos”, explains the artist who works on his screen as a painter on his canvas. On his digital tablet, he crops, redesigns, assembles tree trunks, branches, leaves and other objects and elements collected patiently, at the site, when something inspires a future fantastic, bizarre, or baroque scenario. Inventing tales, unfolding supernatural visions, drawing the spectator into the wanderings of his reveries - this is, in fact his objective. His challenge? Transform the world according to his fantasies, desires, interrogations, and rediscover the magic and strangeness of tales and legends using XXIst century tools. An original and inspired approach for passing from singular to universal and for conjugating the present with the timeless." If I was an art collector, I'd have one of these. 

I STOP FOR INTERIOR RENDERINGS!  That would be my spooky bumper sticker. This Francisca Ahlers drawing stopped my heart. It is 45 1/2" x 46" and is $7,500.00.  I want it. I will be posting about the Albert Hadley drawings at the Gerald Bland Gallery in NYC, where I discovered Gerald's wife's, Mita Corsini Bland's, spectacular water color sketches for the Sister Parish book: Sister Parish Design: On Decorating by Susan Bartlett Crater and Libby Cameron.  I love Mark Hampton's drawings of friend's homes in The Art of Friendship. I, of course love my daughter Liza's childhood cross-sections pictured below--tongue biting detail for a 9 year old.     

I love my little girl jumping rope in the attic, where she arrived after a thousand stair cases. 

 Still Life with Cream Jug, Sugar and Strawberry 
Oil on limewood panel
14 x 16in

Quantum Galleries from London presented the "Hi-Def" Jessica Brown. I love the reflection of the artist in the jug. 

Still Life with Peaches and Cream Jug 
Oil on limewood panel
16 x 14 in.

Self taught photographer, Michael Eastman, had strangers nodding and discussing like old friends. Young Gallery Photo has a wonderful array of his glowing photographs and describes his approach and technique:  "Eastman holds the authenticity of the image as his highest goal. He shuns the use of artificial light and uses long exposure times instead, waiting as long as it takes for the natural illumination of the room to expose his film properly." h

Blue Building Toronto
Michael Eastman

Also, for unknown reasons, Green Eggs were an art gallery pattern during my NY stalk. 

Quantum Gallery: Lincoln Seligman: Acrylic on Canvas
60"x 60"
Jade Egg $25,000.00

I normally would not have given this picture a passing glance, except that I ran into this, in the city a couple of days ago at Fleesas, for $750. 00. It looked like a bit of "Duquettery" and I thought my friend Hutton Wilkinson might like it. 

Sam I am!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

17th and 18th Century Prints Leap from Old Volumes onto Lamps, Furniture and Fabrics

I have been following Susan Carson for over 20 years in her various showroom locations in High Point, N.C. She is a welcoming, smiling pixie of a woman with a great sense of humor and vibrant energy. There is decoupage and then there is Susan's unique and evolving take on this art form. Starting with lamps, graduating to furniture, and textiles, Susan's vast collection of 17th and 18th century prints have recombined in delightful patterns that always look fresh. Chipmunks, caterpillars, frogs, turtles, leaves and acorns all magically assemble within patterns of plump, majolica looking begonia leaves or other forms to create a wonderful woodland scene.

Susan Carson's lamps styles extend across geographical boundaries and styles. There are playful country house combinations, side by side with luminous, more formal lighting that look as elegant as a hand painted Herend lamp, but for me, so much warmer.  They have an organic look, with lots of movement. I feel like these little creatures might start swirling around like the paintings in Harry Potter.
Brilliantly, in this modern day and age, Susan Carson is able to create custom pieces for her collectors employing the cottage industry tradition. Artisans work from home (in America) adapting prototypes, for custom requests. A painstaking process of choosing themes and styles takes place, as Susan scans and trims each image from her collection and assembles them with attention to scale and balance. This process takes 25-30 hours for each style lamp. Naturally, the adaptation from the original design takes less time. I always say: "More fat bees please!" 

Slowly,  Susan layers the images, waiting for the glue to dry completely between each strata, then she paints, 2 coats per day, for a total of 6-8 coats depending on the color. She looks for images that seem "happy" with one another.
The epiphany of the furniture transition created the most beautiful card table I have ever seen--anywhere. Absolutely, there is no other artist with as sophisticated a grasp of this common art form. 
I love the motion of the fluttering leaves, punctuated with marvelous beetles, moths and assorted hardwoods. 

The legs and apron on this exquisit gathering table can be adapted in several ways. Multiple color bases and themes are as infinite as your imagination. Our family loves the pieces we have collected from Susan over the years--our happy collaborations.

Custom work and artistic magic take time, but it is well worth the wait for a carefully selected piece that add to the vocabulary, and language, that characterize the well designed room. Susan Carson's designs add sentences, paragraphs and pages, in my opinion. Here are a few more images of 
Susan's incredible exploration of her craft. 

You could go Palm Beach, or Hollywood Regency with a twist

Lately, digital technology and this old time "poor man's craft" merged, creating Carson Designs new textile line. The process involves scanning high resolution prints into the computer, digitally cutting the selected little bugs, acorns, leaves, flowers or fruits depending on the theme. Susan draws out the spacial arrangement of the pattern and scale to breathtaking results.

These whimsical scarves sell from $240.00-$300.00 retail. I, for one, would spend an extra $300.00 for a frame and hang it on my wall. Sharp, contemporary, and traditional, this fantastic design reminds us that we really have not seen it all. 

Lizards, and dragonflies, and weeds--Oh My! This singular pattern and design appears to have no repeat, while the decoupage concept applied to fabric is completely unique. Beautiful in mountain houses, or country cousins, we await images of sofa's, chairs and drapes to see what designers create with this fresh, new idea.