Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Favorite New Blog: Pimp My Bricks

Dear Bloggy friends, I am more than excited to introduce my clever new Australian friend Pamela of Pimp My Bricks. She is a story teller like nobody else, with a lyrical, humorous and highly literary voice. I hope you will enjoy following her odyssey as she renovates her Regency Wreck overlooking Sidney Harbor as much as I do! 

Tap tap ... testing, testing...1,2,3... 

Hello, hello and greetings from wintry Sydney.  Liz invited me to write a guest post and so here I am, pencil in hand, to introduce myself.  My name is Pimp and I am a recovering psychoanalyst.  I live with a recovering financier, a recovering teenager (she is now 20) and two huge hounds (the Herberts) one of whom is recovering from a knee reconstruction.

This is the story. We were somewhat bored. Life had become a tad stale, a little same-same. And so we did  what  we always do when life gets boring.  We shook up the pieces, we threw them into the air and we watched how they landed. And they landed, as they always seem to, in the shape of a house.

Now it just so happened that there is a place I have been mildly obsessed with for years, a small inner city village in the middle of Sydney, right at the foot of the Harbour Bridge and a few hops, skips and jumps from the Opera House.

TBH, I had been stalking the area for years, strolling down its streets in large hats and false moustaches, nonchalantly whistling and peering into windows. But it was an unrequited love for going on a decade because the houses were owned by the government and used as cheap rental accommodation.  It was all very down at heel, neglected, and utterly, utterly beguiling. But then, when I had quite given up hope, there seemed to be some shift in the upper firmament, some re-alignment of the bureaucratic planets, and the houses began to be sold off in dribs and drabs.

One in particular kept me awake at night in a frenzy of wishing it onto the market.  And then when it arrived I was in a further frenzy of impatience to get inside and stake my claim.  Crossing over the threshold that first time, there was a definite moment.   You know those moments - when something inside lurches and you are filled from the bottom up with that thick, syrupy sickness that characterises Love At First Sight. I was dunfer, I tell you.  Utterly unfooted.  And even as my whole body was in a swoon, feeling as though its organs were being stroked in downward motion by a feather, my head was busy clearing the decks for What Was About To Happen.

All I registered that first time was the peacefulness that comes with Georgian proportions, the quiet elegance that shone through the filth. I took in the full height windows, the shutters, the sandstone basement and I was, I will confess to you, in a state of abject and hopeless desire. I wanted the other viewers,  interlopers and trespassers every last one of them, to be banished immediately.  Avaunt thee knaves!

What I utterly failed to see, of course, was the dereliction - the years of emptiness, the rising damp, falling damp, subsidence and extensive termite damage (there have been some good quality termites through there). In fact, had I looked, I could have seen in that poor old house every Tom, Dick and Harry symptom in the handbook for houses on the verge of collapse. But my blindness was, of course, exactly as it should have been, because really,  who on the point of falling in love notices that their beloved slurps their tea, picks their ears and has a wart appearing on the tip of their nose?  No-one!  Because without those blinkers, without that blindness,  think how many passions might fail to be ignited,  how many dynasties sputter out before they set sail.  And, just as importantly, how many houses would collapse, exhausted, into the gutter.   And then where would we all be?  Alone and homeless, that’s where!

So we bought our house and sealed our fate.  Held our noses, closed our eyes and jumped. That was sixteen months ago. Since then we  have been through the Heritage planning process, a year long trudge through documentation, restrictions and regulations, and have come out the other side.

And now?  Now we are in the dismantling process, aka the Dark Night of the Soul  (or at least of the renovation).  The bit before the good bits happen, where the house looks not so much like a house but a pile of dirty rubble.  The bit where you start to doubt your resolve, yourself, your partner, your sanity, your emotional and financial survival.

Do you by any chance remember Edward Heath?  You know, the English Prime Minister who, for a PM, made a fine sailor?  He once said (of sailing) that it was like standing under a cold shower tearing up money.  And I would say that renovating a listed and derelict house is like standing in a leaky boat, in the middle of a raging typhoon,  tearing up money.  You see no exit, you see no sense; you can only hope the sodden paper will eventually plug a hole somewhere and the chaos will stop.

But actually it does stop.  It stops when you walk into the house and find it empty,  the builder gone, the street outside muffled.  It stops when you move around  its rooms slowly, listening.  When you find it waiting for you, patiently, waiting to enfold you in its embrace, lulling you there, and then you remember.

I know that you will now agree with me
that Pimp My Bricks is one of the 
exciting new blogs! 
stop over and say hello 
to a new friend today: 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eclectic Style Using Fresh and Traditional Elements

I met a kindred soul at the gas station on the way to the High Point April Market. Each of us had sister-in-laws as passengers who wanted to see designer driven showrooms, learn from the maestros and find inspiration, not to mention a few very special items. We were introduced on the fly and ran into each other all over HP town. It  turns out Mrs. S. and I are cut from the same piece of cloth. There is the slow food movement and there is the slow design movement. Because we shop all the time, we rarely buy anything for ourselves unless we cannot live without it.

A cheerful entry hall greets us with a subtle Scalamandre print wall covering and an antique bench that was the find of the century, as it exactly fills the space.

A stunning and perfectly narrow reproduction chest is layered with an antique mirror from Caroline Faison of Greensboro, N.C.

The house flows with a consistent eclectic mix of European, Asian, modern and English pieces. It looks like there is a subtle vine pattern on the wall, but its my camera doing funny things. See below to get the actual color.

I have always loved the Scalamandre Shanghai fabric that Mrs. S. uses for her window treatments. The abstract painting keeps the room young and fresh.

I cannot resist adding it makes a terrific wall covering as illustrated below in Meg Braff's dining room.

The paint color is Farrow and Ball Blazer
The best shade of red--ever!

An Italian cupboard, also from Caroline Faison Antiques of Greensboro is guarded by a pair of Chinese military horses. If you scroll back up to the first image you can see that the larger scale of the horses keeps the room from floating away and becoming too feminine--rooms need Yin and Yang. 

Covered in a luminous gray velvet this O.Henry House sofa anchors the space with subtle neutral tones repeated in the rug. The extremely talented Patrick Lewis of Circa in Charlotte, N.C. helped with the big picture, and Mrs. S. did the shopping.

 Layering without cluttering is a fine art. Flowing throughout the house are box pleated shades that are harmonious in style, and vary in color.

Mrs. S. finds lots of her accessories by repeatedly popping into to some very dirty window antique stores. I was impressed.

Juxtaposing contemporary and traditional elements, maintains a consistent fresh theme throughout the house. Mrs. S. replaced the glass top on the coffee table with stone to keep the room grounded and warm. Walking you through the door to the family room...

This room had a dark red cherry finish, which naturally her husband wanted to keep. What is it with men and their dark wood and gigantic televisions, speaking of which I did not spot a television in this house. A gaping fireplace is obscured by an antique hobby horse with great patina.

Pickling the wood made the room visible. Dark rooms with large windows are a terrific blinking strain on the eyes. The window treatments are the same simple style throughout the house. Note the large antique copper pot beneath the sofa side table. If your room is getting leggy, find a wonderful basket or accessory to live beneath it. I collect these monstrous remnants from great house kitchens. I imagine the chef at his massive wood burning stove and all the hustle--it makes me happy. Stepping into the sunroom, we are greeted with streaming light on three sides. 

I like the large scale of the lamps that Mrs. S. found for her sunny room. Dinky lamps look, well...dinky. Grounding the room with a chic animal stark carpet keeps the yin and yang in balance, as do the matchstick blinds. Since we are next to the kitchen, Mrs. S. scotchguarded the daylights out of the upholstery. 

Mrs. S. sincerely regrets being talked out of marble counter tops, as her designer convinced her that they would stain and look terrible over time. A quick web search brought up this article in Apartment Therapy which admits that marble can stain from heat, wine, citrus etc.. However, you can seal marble which will protect it. I am guilty of placing hot pans on my granite counter tops, though so I may not be a candidate. 

We can help you source the antique copper pots in this post
any O.Henry House upholstery
at our online store
or call us for information

Monday, June 18, 2012

Miles Redd Shares His Inspirations for The Mint Museum Design Syposium

The Mint Museum Auxilary is a fund raising powerhouse. Their design and social events attract top designers and toute la Charlotte. Last year, Oscar de la Renta, and his home furnishings creative director, Miles Redd, graciously led the centerpiece fashion show event and design symposium respectively. We attended the design symposium to hear Miles Redd discuss his approach to interior design furiously scribbling all the insights we could gather. Sponsors Circa Antiques and Garden and Gun Magazine could not have been more generous. Despite tornado warnings and much of the South flattened during the previous evening, we took off down the road to see the maestro! Sadly, due to a blogger glitch the post blew up after about 6 hours, so as I was looking through my photo files for inspiration, I decided to resurrect this wonderful presentation.

Taking his inspiration from both photography and fashion, Redd conjures the glamorous style days of the 30's and the 40's, occasionally creating a swinging 60's aesthetic. This fabulous mirrored bathroom was salvaged from David Adler’s Armour Estate. The entire bathroom was found in a restoration yard and was once featured in a Robert Altman movie. It might be the best bathroom in the world. 

Miles evokes this legendary photograph, which requires some attribution, anyone want to chime in? Miles Redd is not in the business of decorating rooms, he is in the business of wrapping a set around people for the drama, mystery and glories of life of life to unfold. The room below inspired his own apartment. If you have ever experienced an unhappy moment in La Grenouille, I don't want to hear about it. 

The post war ambiance and sheer glamour of this legendary dining experience, define and inspire the signature "cozy glamour" aesthetic, that Miles Redd practices. In his wildly popular living room in New York, Redd places the La Grenouille style banquettes in a colorized curated clutter.

If Syrie Maugham, Dorothy Draper, and Frances Elkins did a room together, it might look like this. Or, if an Englishman moved to Hollywood in the 30's, you might have this glorious, and swanky pad. Miles creates interiors that are reminiscent of the "devil may care," romantic Hollywood regency era. 

 Audrey Hepburn and Art Buchwald with Simone, Barbara Mullen, Frederick Eberstadt, and Dr. Reginald Kernan, Evening Dresses by Balmain, Dior, Patou, Maxim's, Paris
If Redd cites a single inspiration for his decor, it is: Richard Avedon 1944-1977. When a fashion house expands its oeuvre into the world of interior design, the ingredients for the perfect marriage are present. Oscar and Miles are a synergistic pair and Redd's interiors reflect the flirty, feminine, and timeless elements of the de la Renta atelier. 

Miles Redd's house in NYC via NYSD
A vestibule outside of the powder room and a Venetian mirror. The wallpaper is custom deGournay.

 Image: Zuma Press
Oscar's Flamenco Spanish ruffles on a billowing skirt, create motion in this stunning Spring 2010 gown.

For his Sister's living room, these flouncy drapes could work for Scarlet O'Hara, in a New York minute. 
Or, she could wear this Oscar creation.
 Dorothy Draper signature stripes

Miles Redd with DD stripes and signature lacquer cabinets

This Miles Redd designed house in Houston, featured in Veranda has sensational Hollywood Regency dressmaker draperies, repeating a pagoda entry to the house. Strong graphic statements mixed with a soft, yet colorful palette, anchor this large space. For once, we have an unapologetic grand statement, but, with a light Fred Astaire heart. You could be romanced in this room, sung to in this room, and fall in love with the leading man of your dreams--in this room. It is no surprise that Miles Redd studied set design at NYU.  It is a prelude to a kiss. Inspiration is not imitation, and Miles Redd was generous to share his educated and trained eye with us. Fashion designers create beautiful interiors, and Coco Chanel is no exception. Redd illustrates his inspiration. 

Coco Chanel's apartment in Paris is a spactacular pumpkin colored space with baroque and organic elements. Miles Redd shared he loves certain elements in this room and repeats them, if appropriate, in multiple projects. The horns and classical busts are a common motif in Redd's accesorizing.  Below we have Redd's treatment. 

Like Frances Elkins, Redd mixes contemporary, European, American and Chinoiserie with plenty of color, accessories and punchy graphics. He often collaborates with traditional architect Gil Schafer, who shares the philosophy of time-worn easy comfort. Miles confided to us that he would have used a stronger shade of orange on the walls, but was restrained by the client.  His creativity fuses multiple strands of influence creating layered interiors with a vocabulary of continuity. 

Again, Redd explains that his clients were struggling with a dark hall, and while it seems counter intuitive to use a dark blue shade on the walls, the lacquer and the shine on the bold graphic floors creates a bold, dazzling modern statement that holds our interest. The heavily carved mahogany entry table and flanking side chairs add a layer of patina. As a counterpoint to the modern Dorothy Draper settee and mirror,  the combination evokes history continuity and honestly, confidence. Notice the beautifully finished and painted door. Dorothy Draper was famous for her marvelous doors, and Redd follows suit. 
Thank You Oscar and Miles
for your wonderful support 
of the Mint Museum in Charlotte! 
You might also like: 

To purchase any Oscar de la Renta furniture
contact us at Dovecote Decor

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

All Hail The Queen!

Here at Dovecote Decor, one of the first things Liz taught me is to love all things British. She has a subscription to Hello Magazine which I love to peruse and see what Kate is wearing and who Harry might be dating!

So now that the Diamond Jubilee has come and gone I thought I'd take a moment and highlight some fabulous British items that we have in our shop. You can be ready for the Olympics in London before you know it!

  These Union Jack Drapes are any party planners dream.  Pippa call us if you want these!!  Put these out on your tent and invite your guests to a tent party like no other.  On the other hand, you could put these drapes in your home for a dramatic window.

Since this was the Queen's jubilee it seems only appropriate to high light the Anne Metal Champagne Bucket.  As Winston Churchill said "Remember Gentlemen its not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!"

Can you think of a better footstool?  I can't.  What could be more fun than a Union Jack Bensington Footstool?  This is a fantastic piece for any den, man's cave, or bar room.  Tallyho!

Finally, when I think of the British royals I definitely think of horses and horse back riding so these boots seem the perfect addition to all things British.  Who wouldn't love these fabulous boots somewhere in their home. 

The Interns and I thought (with Liz's blessing) it would be fun to do this post.  We hope your enjoyed it and will check out the wonderful shop that she has so tirelessly works on cultivating a fabulous assortment of furniture and lighting.

- Christine Storch