Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Eiffel Tower!

I got this sweet note from one of my most loyal readers and pen pals:

Hi Miz V, I know you're pooped and might not even post tomorrow. But in case you need a quick topic, the Eiffel Tower's official 120th birthday is tomorrow. It was inaugurated on March 31, 1889. If I'd been on the ball, I would have done the donkey work and served it up on a silver platter for you. Love,Carey
Thanks Carey!
And Joyeux Anniversaire Tour Eiffel!

A Writer's Summer House In The Hamptons

The 1960's through the 1990's were very different than today in the Hamptons. There was a different sort of society out there then. It was so much quieter. Now the Hamptons is a publicity society.


Truman Capote commissioned the two-story, flat-roofed, saltbox house near Gibson Beach in Sagaponack in 1961.
I bet he would fit in today. In the '70s he hobnobbed with Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones and all the great society girls of the era. Who knows? If he were still alive today, he might have been at the center of P. Diddy's latest party, making little asides...taking it all in.

The house sits on six acres of land-including a bird sanctuary,
a long gravel driveway and endless vistas of scrub pine, wildflowers and potato fields


He liked to emphasize that he decorated the home himself: "For me it's a bore to use a decorator...I just don't care to have someone come in and tell me what I need to live with. I know."


You could hear the roar of the ocean, 200 yards away, from the screened-in porch. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room offered views to accompany the ocean soundtrack.
He liked to combine very elegant things with quirky bric-a-brac that caught his fancy. It was characteristically eclectic. The second-floor study is where Truman liked to read and write during the day. It was a comfortable room with comfy furniture and photographs and painted portraits.


He would remove his shoes upon entering the house, trying to preserve the highly-polished floor coated with blue boat-deck paint.


The blue floors brought a whimsy to the home’s stark lines -
I love how he painted all the wicker the same blue

According to Capote, he would rise at 7 AM and work for four hours, stopping only to read the papers. He resumed work again until 1 PM when he would stop for lunch. Then he would drive into town and do errands and walk the dog. Dinner was at 7 PM and if there were no parties, he would be in bed by 9:30, retiring with a book.
Work or no work, if the sun became unbearable, Truman would drive over to Southampton and have a swim in Gloria Vanderbilt's pool-whether or not she was in residence.


Truman moved in shortly after the release of the film version of his novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. He already had friends in the area, including Lee Radziwill and Gloria Vanderbilt-both were among the handful of women who inspired the story's heroine, Holly Golightly. Truman would seek out their company, but he also used the home for concentrated bouts of writing. It was here that he penned his factual murder account, In Cold Blood, and the now infamous guest list for his Black and White Ball. His longtime companion Jack Dunphy also resided here on Daniel's Lane, in a spartan cottage Truman later built for him 75 yards from his own residence.

In July of 1980, Jack Dunphy found Capote collapsed on the steps of his summer house with broken glass all around him. Dunphy rushed him to Southampton Hospital, where Capote told him, "I drink because it's the only time I can stand it." Three summers later he was dead.

The house recently went on the market for $14.6 million. The seller, is noted abstract-expressionist painter Ross Bleckner, who purchased the mid century saltbox house for $800,000 in 1993 from the Nature Conservancy.
Bleckner restored and enlarged the home. The main house is now 2,000 square feet. There is also a 1,900-square-foot studio, a two-bedroom guest house, a detached garage and a pool.
After Truman died in 1984 the house was left to his longtime companion, Jack Dunphy, who died in 1992 and left the property to the Nature Conservancy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Michael Taylor The James Dean Of Interior Design

Michael Taylor was an original thinker and interior designer. His work defined a region, and influenced the world. Furniture he introduced and designed has trickled down to us thirty years later, knockoffs and design inspired lines in stores from Pottery Barn to Target.
Even in New York we felt his influence shown to us in the now iconic windows and furniture floor displays at Bloomingdales.
Extreme amphorous shapes ala Michael Taylor in The Bloomingdales Big Book of Decorating

Taylor mixed period pieces with modern furniture and architecture with ease. For a San Francisco couple who collected French antiques, he created this eye-popping guest room (above) where the walls, gabled ceiling and upholstered sleigh bed were sheathed in toile.

Michael Taylor was a master of the mix, using antiques in his contemporary designs.


Lake Tahoe home created over 25 years ago (below) with wood paneling, trophy heads, a raw-rock table, rush benches and Klismos-style chairs. The room still looks hip today. If only he lived to see the revival of horns being used in the domino apartment therapy inspired rooms everywhere today!

In his much-loved 1980s design for the Auberge du Soleil resort (below) in the Napa Valley, Taylor created the Black Room, a space dominated by its dark walls, hearth and furniture covered in a glazed chintz floral. I love the wooden farm tools over the fireplace!

In the 1970s, when beige became the rage, Taylor distinguished the look with flair.

Michael Taylor (1927-86) invented what was three decades ago dubbed the "California Look" of white interiors and over-scaled, sculptural furniture.

The Taylor treatment (above) in 1978, with banquette seating, chairs built into the cast-concrete hearth and bamboo window treatments that echoed the shapely ceiling beams.

Michael Taylor designed the wicker furniture (above) in the 1970's. It was radical to use wicker in this manner, made fresh and new with the slip covered white cushions. High and low versions exist today as direct descendants of the genius of Michael Taylor.

Pottery Barn HERE
They should pay a royalty to the estate of Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor's card room for San Francisco client Maryon Davies Lewis was completed in 1963 — and has not been changed since. Working with the original checkerboard floor, Taylor created an explosion of color, covering ornate Venetian side chairs in electric shades of silk and adding upholstered pieces in lemon yellow.

Had Fred Flintstone struck oil instead of bedrock, he could've ended up with an oceanfront home like the Beyer Malibu residence built by architect John Lautner and designed by Michael Taylor in 1971. Decorated with boulders and furnished with cast-concrete banquettes, the room achieves a Flintstone luxury.

To legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Michael Taylor was "the James Dean of interior design." In this 1982 portrait, he stands by the pool at his San Francisco residence known as Sea Cliff. The home was a monument to the "California Look" he created as well as to the antiques he collected.

Photos from the book Michael Taylor Interior Design by Stephan Salny and a forward by Rose Tarlow. Get it at the usual place HERE

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What A Party! A Bold Face Night!

It was a glorious night! The rain stopped, the night was cool and breezy with low humidity and a lovely sliver of a crescent moon.
The first guest was blogger Karen Depp from Baton Rouge who brought her "nibbles on fire" and a bottle of wine, and lovely tea towel from her shop that I immediately put out as a glam bar towel as per her suggestion. We chatted for a a few minutes before the first guests arrived, Nathan from Laurel Street, Mitchell from Optimism and White and Paint with is significant other Thomas. Todd, Thomas' cute twin came too. Jack and Caroline and Andre from Perch arrived along with Jessica (textile conservator) and Linda (in house designer at Home Depot). The next wave brought neighbors Julie and Larry who came in the back door. Then Eddie and Jaithan arrived with Jordan and Sara (a blogger from Birmingham, Alabama).


Everyone was so excited, and cameras were going off like a paparazzi convention.
No room was off limits to the bloggers, and they peeked into every room asking me a zillion questions, making me feel so good with all the oohing and ahing, and taking lots of pictures. We got on like the family members that we truly all are.
Then the fabulous Bryan Batt (yes the actor from Mad Men who is a New Orleans resident and an interior designer, and co owner of Hazelnut) and his dreamy handsome partner Tom Cianfichi arrived.


I had run into them at Wal Mart a couple of weeks ago, and asked if they'd like to come and meet Eddie. It was great to finally have them in our home.
Julie Neill and her entourage of Doug, Jennifer, Leslie, Christine arrived with another handsome dreamboat named Jonathan. I presented the drawing I asked Patricia from PVE to make for her. She was touched and thrilled.


Our lovely tango daughter (a favorite student) Linda Lee stopped by, looking very fetching in a pretty cocktail frock. I hope I've remembered everyone! The house was filled! If I forgot someone, please e-mail me, so I can offer my junior moment mea culpa!
Alberto held court with the pretty girls, telling them our tango love story, and soon cries went out urging us to dance a tango. I changed my satin turquoise peep toe sling backs, for a pair of tango shoes, and we danced our hearts out for the merry group.
The party started at 6:30, and the last guests left near eleven.
I must confess that I was more hostess than blogger. I didn't take alot of photos, and posed for a few. But all the other bloggers, including Eddie and Jaithan, and Julie Neill took tons, so I am sure there will be sufficient cross coverage ha ha.
Alberto used his nifty new Flip video camera (a Christmas gift from Jessica and Jon), and snapped some stills too, and he promised to make a video to show to all of you so you can feel like you were there. And truly you all were there, because we talked about all of you!
So stay tuned to the bloggers I mentioned, and of course I will post too.
Everybody brought delish snacks and bottles of wine and spirits, and we so appreciated these contributions.
Today we went to the Home and Garden show and saw the rooms Eddie and his crew created, and they were genius. I took lots of pictures of those, being in full blogger swing today.
PS: All the links to the blogs mentioned are on My Blog List in the right hand margin. Forgive me for not linking them here - I'm pooped! And very, very happy for the excellent company that passed an evening with Alberto and The Vamp.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Almost Ready!


Been getting it together for the party tonight for Eddie Ross and Jaithan and all the New Orleans bloggers, and a whole bunch of fun people!
I had alot of help, Caroline and Jack, Julie and Larry my next door neighbors, Alberto, Julie N., and all the bloggers are bringing something too.
The house is fluffed, and I'm off to slip on a cocktail frock and await the guests.
More later...Wish you all were here!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The English Home - Global Influence

It's time for another excerpt from The English Home Magazine. I still haven't gotten a new issue, so I'm struggling to show you something really fab.

I love the big clock, and what a clever way to deal with a radiator

This is a story of an American woman from New England who met a man from Sri Lanka while both of them were working in the banking business in London. They met cute, dated, and got married. Eventually they bought a townhouse in Kensington.


The ground floor is dedicated to using things from the husband's country, along with other African and Asian artifacts.


The upstairs rooms reflect the wife's New England upbringing.


The master bedroom is a blend of New England and Sri Lankan style. I love the shawls hanging on a ladder, and the pale paisley curtain fabric. The spectacular bed is done by Simon Horn.

The upstairs hall features a Dutch pine table with its delftware top top carefully restored. You can see the tongue and groove panelling in the bathroom evoking New England style.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

We all pick up shells and stones, or pieces of twigs and drift wood, moss and pine cones, star fish and coral. We bring them home, and these natural elements always seem to find a way into our decor.

One of my many collections of shells and coral

We love the color plates in specimen books. Botanicals are ever popular, and it's not that unusual to take the pages out of a book to frame them.


Many of us have a wall dedicated to a grouping of botanicals.

My office - the botanicals are antique prints from Italy


Butterfly specimens and charts are very pretty, and have been displayed by both collectors and decorators for eons.



get this one here

Butterfly specimens in my office above my gris-gris altar


The other day a woman came into the shop looking for skeleton charts, or bones, specimens she wanted to give to her son who is graduating medical school. The designers Nate Berkus and Candice Olson use skeleton charts as art.

Vintage skeleton charts in my house - I bought them in Lisbon in the flea market


You can frame pieces of fan coral to make a very pretty grouping.


Bird cages are another element that evokes the natural theme.



Natural elements displayed on the mantel provide an opportunity to collect a variety of things.


More botanicals in this pretty dining room. I love how low the bottom row is hung.


Book shelves provide an excellent opportunity to make pretty vignette using the most natural things you can find,

These prints are pages from a book.


A collection of rocks and shells are offset by the lamp with a black shade.


My house with a collection of natural elements

Layering objects is a must for the natural look. I love each layer from the prints on the wall in the background to the lamp and the bee print propped up in the mid section, to the nests and eggs in the front, and then an another layer with the little butterfly specimen.


A more modern room might use black and white photographs of plant forms in lieu of antique botanical prints.

Small vitrines provide a cabinet of curiosities feeling.


So to review:
How many of these things do you collect, and how do you use them?
  • Groupings of botanicals
  • Moss, twigs, stones, coral, shells
  • Birds and butterflies and bugs
  • Bird cages
  • Small curiosity cabinets
  • Trays and plates and urns and vessels to hold things
  • Specimen charts
  • Feathers
  • Bell jars or glass domes
  • Horns


You'll soon be humming Aretha...you make me feel like a natural woman...
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