Clean lines, inviting and stylish
Springtime is all about big windows opening wide and a blast of fresh air as if for the first time in what seems like forever. I think about lighter fabrics and easier day-to-day routines. The beautiful Paul McCobb armchairs pictured here, from a house I designed in Candlewood Lake, Connecticut, are good examples of this casual-chic, springtime vibe.
Designed by Paul McCobb in the 1950′s
My clients’ directive initially puzzled me: they wanted the feeling of visiting their grandparents’ bright and sunny summer house, of camping out, but with a twist of Beverly Hills Hotel glamour for good measure! I think ultimately we got there. The wall surfaces are a happy mix of different grass cloths, lively 70s floral wallpaper from Second Hand Rose, and vibrant paint colors.
The clients had recently been to Australia and picked up a few pieces of furniture made from the rich native Jarrah wood; I had no idea what the furniture looked like and was building my design scheme around these pieces sight unseen! We found another few beautiful pieces at Lobel Modern and reupholstered them. I designed custom sofas, headboards, draperies, and window-seat cushions. The fabrics for the most part are solid cottons in really clear pastels from Osborne & Little, with a few nature inspired prints as well. For that “grandma” touch, I had a few of the sofa throw pillows monogrammed.
The house is furnished and each piece lovingly installed, the lake’s sparkling surface reflects inside on the walls and warm weather fun begins!
- Here and there some nature-inspired prints – love the butterflies!
Posted in Putting It All Together | Tagged Beverly Hills Hotel, Candlewood Lake Ct., Fabrics, grass cloth, Jarrah wood, Lobel Modern, mid-century furniture, nature inspired printed fabrics, Osborne & Little, paint colors, Paul McCobb, Second Hand Rose, weekend homes | 1 Comment »
Rome Ah the Eternal City! I was very fortunate to have been born and raised in Rome; its extraordinary layers of history, grand architecture, lyrical fountains, and incandescent quality of light touch me in one way or another every day.
Kinokuniya This bookstore in New York and Singapore is a lot of fun to visit: great selection (aside from books!) fashion magazines, ideas for clever gifts, a small café upstairs. I go for the luxurious wrapping papers, pens, extensive playful stationary department.
Chanel nail polish – the intense and edgy colors that morph into cult classics; with names like Malice, Pirate, or Vendetta how can you possibly go wrong?
Coffee Always on the hunt for a new favorite, currently addicted to Yirgacheffe from Gimme Coffee.
The Odeon a downtown New York classic that despite the bustle is always cozy and welcoming with a terrific bistro menu. I love their steak au poivre and decadent profiteroles!
Jean Paul Hevin chocolate, Paris. The selection of dark chocolate bars is staggering and truly mouthwatering. As a birthday gift I once received a chocolate high heel shoe! What a wonderful treat!
The courtyard’s salmon/burnt orange colored walls Photo:
Hotel Costes This luxuriously over the top hotel designed by Jacques Garcia makes me feel cosseted and well cared for after a long day of running around Paris. The intensely lavish interiors, excellent food, background DJ music, and intoxicating fragrances are a feast for the senses. Beauty secret: in the winter I wear their room freshener as a fragrance.
Loulou and Otis
My cats Loulou and Otis, both darling strays that found their way into my life. Otis is a street kid from Harlem and Princess Loulou leapt into my arms at the Humane Society, where they mistakenly asserted that she was not an Alpha female – ha! They are generously allowing me to live in their apartment.
J.M.W. Turner His classical landscapes pull me into their world. As his career progressed his works became more and more abstract, his colors more luminescent, the imagery haunting. The painting above is called “Sky”
Manuel Canovas fabrics I love many, many different fabrics but I find these color and pattern combinations unusual, vibrant, and fresh. In my interiors projects I am often interested in conveying luxury, relaxed comfort, and originality; Canovas’ designs do just that.
Posted in The Fabulous | Tagged bookstores, cats, Chanel, chocolate, coffee, color, comfort, Fabrics, fragrances, Gimme Coffee, Hotel Costes, Humane Society, interior design, J.M.W.Turner, Jean Paul Hevin, Kinokuniya, landscape paintings, luxury, Manuel Canovas, nail polish, New York City, Rome, Singapore, The Odeon, Yirgacheffe | 2 Comments »
The Library almost ready for its close up – Fall 2012
We are on the home stretch at the Grandner house in Poquott, Long Island. The house is really beautiful and the views, which can be seen from any room, are breathtaking. I can feel my shoulders relax when I visit!
Although there are some furnishings and lighting fixtures to be installed, I can see the results of many carefully planned design decisions. It is both sensible and a luxury to begin interior design concepts while the house itself is being designed, allowing time for ideas to percolate and to be more fully developed.
The photo above of the library was taken during my most recent visit and just below how it looked during construction. Wow! There are details to be fleshed out: a long cushion for the bay window bench, custom lamp shades on the chandelier and sconces, possibly additional reading lamps, and of course – lots of books.
The library during construction
Materials and finishes
(Photography Qixotic Imagery)
I developed the original color scheme from the rug “Durbar Hall” by Designers Guild for The Rug Company, I wanted to make use of that chartreuse pop of color while not overdoing it. The window cushion fabric (the leaf design) will have that same color while introducing another value of bright green (the solid fabric) on the over scaled chairs does just that without overdoing it. The luxuriously classic chairs, from Hickory Chair Pearson, are generous one and a half sized so curling up with a book will be super easy and comfortable.
Here to the right is a still life taken by Qixotic Imagery that depicts the original concept board; we didn’t stray far at all!
Posted in Dispatches From Work Sites, Putting It All Together | Tagged chandeliers, color schemes, concept boards, construction, custom furnishings, custom lamp shades, Hickory Chair Pearson, library, luxury, reading lamps, sconces, The Rug Company, window seast | 9 Comments »
One could argue that this is simply a large bed….
Valentino Fall Winter 2012
I had been searching online for good interior images of the baroque Palazzo Valguarnera Gangi in Sicily, specifically the Galleria Degli Specchi (Hall of Mirrors). Lo and behold, every chic magazine is running dreamily opulent and gorgeous advertisements shot in that very ballroom. Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2012 campaign has artfully re-created the era of Sicilian royalty lounging in all their finery. One could argue that this is simply a large bed but I choose to see it as a luxurious and over scaled ottoman, probably the largest ever!
You may recognize the highly decorated interiors from the extraordinary ballroom sequence in “The Leopard”, Luchino Visconti’s celebrated 1963 film whose mood, colors, and sweeping imagery have been a huge inspiration in my work. Looking at this photograph I like to think the models are waiting for Alain Delon to ask them to dance…
I love a beautiful and generously proportioned ottoman; often it can replace the ubiquitous coffee table. An ottoman can be so cozy and inviting, a resting place for weary feet, additional seating at a party. Add an interesting tray and it’s a coffee table! If needed, it provides additional storage: once I designed an oval shaped one with a top that flipped open and stored a cashmere blanket for chilly winter nights.
Photography: Cristina Hadzi
Here is a detail shot of one of the more flamboyant ottomans I’ve designed – it’s like a yummy giant cupcake! Love that rug too. When it was delivered, the clients’ daughter immediately sprawled on it and rolled across the room. I had a quiet moment of satisfaction knowing this household would not be treating the furnishings as it they were museum treasures.
Posted in Glorious Furniture Tales | Tagged custom furnishings, design inspiration, Luchino Visconti, Ottomans, palaces, Palazzo Valguarnera Gangi, Sicily, storage, The Leopard, Valentino | 1 Comment »
Photography by R. Wade Johnson
The last time I wrote about the exterior of this beautiful house the hatches were battening down for Hurricane Irene. Now the move-in date is fast approaching: the exterior finishes and windows and doors are installed. Very soon the driveway and surrounding landscaping will also be completed.
Shingle-style homes generally have a basic exterior and are constructed with simple materials. Wade Johnson, the architect, provided greater contrast by devising a variety of shapes with windows and bays, creating a more dramatic and sculptural exterior. This play of positive and negative spaces on the façade sets it apart from traditional shingle-style homes. Additionally the plan itself is asymmetrical, unlike most traditional Georgian or Colonial styles, yet there’s a distinct sense of balance in both the external proportions and the overall layout of the rooms within the house.
Among the architectural details I particularly like is the 5’ central gable over the bay window above the main entry; typically overhangs are only about 8” in depth. That extra dimension amplifies the contrasts between projecting and receding planes on the facade.
Another customized detail that I like is the set of curved, three-dimensional wood brackets on the stone columns at the main entry. The architectural detailing of similar brackets above the windows provide depth and volume while visually framing the spaces.
A further example of projecting and receding spaces is the gracefully projecting box window to the left of the house on the second floor; it corresponds to the area inside the Master Bathroom where there’s a free standing tub. External details often directly relate to the practical uses of the interior spaces.
Of note is the “apron” detailing where shingles on all sides of the house swoop out to meet the stone at its base; it is another special touch that brings cohesion to the overall look of the exterior. In a previous post, Updates from the Site, I included a photo of Keith Kieltyka, the general contractor, demonstrating a sample of this detail.
As I mentioned, shingle-style homes are often constructed with simple materials; however, this one is set apart by the selective use of high end materials: for example, the copper gutters and leaders are lead coated giving them an aged patina seldom seen in homes built today.
With each developing phase of constructing this unique and beautiful home, let us not forget its stunning and pristine location. Perched above surrounding vistas of calming water one imagines they are surveying their little fiefdom and enjoying quiet views such as this one at the base of the dock.
Photography by R. Wade Johnson
Posted in Dispatches From Work Sites | Tagged architecture; architect; shingle-style home; exterior finishes; general contractor; building materials; gutters; columns; shingles | Leave a Comment »
Last month a wonderful new specialty gourmet market and cafe, Gastronomie 491, opened on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Nicole Ahronee, the proprietress, invited me to design the interiors. It was a collaborative project that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I will be sure to write further about it as well as the origins of my friendship with Nicole. Having a shared background makes for a lively shorthand language when throwing ideas around.
While orange is an essential color in the overall scheme for Gastronomie 491, we went to great lengths to steer away from basic orange and to find the subtleties in a color that is not known for its subtleties. Different variations were used on the storefront awning, the shopping bags, and the seats of the bar stools at the bar counter.
We liked the Corian selection for counter tops throughout the market and assumed we would use it for the tabletops in the café area, but as we pulled together the scheme, Nicole started wondering about other options for the cafe tables. We searched and considered a number of materials, and then Gaye Niver, our rep at JC Furniture, showed us an acrylic product that is completely customizable. Both Nicole and I immediately saw the possibilities. When we found out it came any Benjamin Moore color, the idea of a pale version of the ubiquitous orange came into play.
Nicole and I are very happy with the result. We selected “Jupiter Glow” and it’s the unexpected fresh hit of color we were looking for; indeed the tables do glow with a life of their own! After the tables were delivered to the site, I read that the 2012 Pantone color of the year is “Tangerine Tango” . It’s nice – even in a small way – to be in sync with the design zeitgeist of the moment.
Since then I’ve been keeping an eye out for this fun and exuberant 2012 color trend: sure enough, Sephora is now promoting a campaign for limited edition cosmetics featuring the “color of the year”. I’m not sure how a “Tangerine Tango” lipstick would look on me but I do know these patent leather sandals will give my feet that “glow” – just like those fabulous tables in the café at the back of Gastronomie 491!
Posted in Just My Imagination: Musings On Design | Tagged acrylic table tops, cafe, gourmet market, Manhattan, market, pantone, restaurant, sephora, tangerine, Upper West Side market | Leave a Comment »
A few of my favorite things
Usually I get the sense of a design direction on a new project from the space itself and in talking to the clients about what their needs are. Left to my own devices, however, I find that any number of things can influence a design concept….
Recently I found myself gravitating toward black and white stripes; they were popping out at me in shots of interiors and in some of my favorite photographs. A quote of Nicky Haslam’s, “That violet looks terrific with black and white,” popped up in my head; he’s so great with those quotes! Before I knew it I was lost in my paint sample library searching for wonderful shades of that gorgeous, mysterious, and happy color. Next I thought that a vibrant and opulent red might also read nicely against the black and white idea. Photos and swatches started piling up on my bulletin board; staring at them I wondered where did this concept come from? Then I remembered a Christmas gift from my friend, Stephen Westfall, the novel “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. He kept looking at me and saying “it’s so YOU…” Once I started it I could hardly put it down, I absolutely loved it. I won’t spoil the plot (such as it is!) but it’s about a surrealistic circus that travels the world without a set schedule and only opens at night. Two extraordinary magicians are engaged in a contest within this setting and, well, I won’t say more than that. The circus tents are classic black and white stripes, and they provide a dramatic backdrop for a series of vivid adventures.
Deciding whether violet or red should rule on this imaginary black and white stage can be resolved by using both; one or the other can be a contrasting welt on a stunning sofa (see image in upper right corner). If the tones relate, it works.
Posted in Just My Imagination: Musings On Design | Tagged black and white stripes, circus, color schemes, Erin Morgenstern, influences, Nicky Haslam, novels, paint samples, Stephen Westfall, The Night Circus, welting | 1 Comment »