Monday, September 29, 2008

To See Any Empty Chair Is To Sit On It: The English Dog At Home; PVE And Dogs In Our Decor

By now you might know that I have a first love relationship with English decor. It was the first actual serious decor I attempted. Prior to that I had the original Hollywood glam apartment utilizing Art Deco pieces that were very unwanted and cheap at that time.
I, like many of you, collect picture books, and this one is a favorite, and maybe something you might now find at the beloved Book Thing at Pigtown.
The English Dog At Home (TEDAH) was written by London interior designer Felicity Wigan. At the time of its printing this was her first book, and she was living in Hampshire and London with her husband and three sons.
I am also enamored with the theme of Dogs In Art, so much so that I have been using this dog eared address book for a zillion years (the illustrations are very good, and I promise to do another post on them).
But back to the brilliant TEDAH.
Here we see the ultimate! The Queen, and the Queen Mum with a few of their fourteen Welsh Pembroke Corgis.
I myself had a love affair with a Corgi. I would sing to him: I love you Corgi, to the tune from Porgy and Bess. His official name was Big Drums Jumpstart, but we called him Jumper. His cute girl friend was our first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Winnie.
English dogs at home, do spend alot of time outdoors. Here's Princess Anne at her home Gatcombe Park with two of her three dogs, Random and Apollo.
This is Lambchop with his owner Sir Tatton Sykes in their home Sledmere. Lambchop appreciates the grand staircase of Sledmere, a home built by Capability Brown.
"Melba is extremely intelligent, she listens with rapt attention to everything I say, understands me perfectly, and unlike so many beautiful girls, does not argue," so says Mr. Peter Cadbury of his majestic Great Dane. She has her own sofa in his study (but don't you love his leather chair!) at Armsworth Hill in Hampshire, and her own five-foot double bed built into the boiler room. Any suggestion that she is pampered or spoiled is treated by her master with the contempt it deserves.
Honington Hall is the perfect English country house. Built during the 17th century, gracefully proportioned, secluded in a park with the river Stour flowing below the garden, and the village church at the door. Sonia, Pinky, Muppet, Alexander, Toya, Buster, Figaro, and Zola Budd have plenty of room to share with the lord of the manor, Sir John Wiggin.
I love this book, not only because there are great dogs to look at, but it is also a slice of a particular aspect of English life.
Here is Diane Nutting, mistress of Chicheley Hall built by Georgian craftsmen for Sir John Chester between 1719 an 1723 (and using 955, 550 bricks), with two of her three Scotties: Matthew and Mollie.
This is Puzzle looking adoringly at her owner Loudon Constantine: "Puzzle always has a ball in her mouth, whether feeding her puppies or sitting on her Queen Anne walnut chair in the drawing room. To see an empty chair is to sit on it."
Who of us dog lovers, doesn't sleep with our pooch? Mind you I said we sleep with them, as opposed to them sleeping with us! Here is Phoebe with Mrs. David Keith. Phoebe is the social secretary.
Here is Humphrey hibernating among the hand made shoes! I personally love the velvet pair with the monogram. Humphrey belongs to Mrs. David Metcalfe.
Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk has Muffin, Mishka, Mufti, Molly, Mitzi, Millie, Mumbo, Bessie, and Laura! This is her own breed of a canine cocktail of Pekineses, Carin Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Tibetan Spaniel.
Here is Connor, mascot of The Irish Guards, with Lance Sergeant Brian Rutherford at Wellington Barracks. They are awaiting orders in the colonel's office.
Here we have Jo Jo taking a nap in the home of Lady Saunders, who is known as the television star Katie Boyle.
The working man is also portrayed in TEDAH. Here is Nelson, the dog of Mr. Jack Peach. Mr. Peach and Nelson live in a converted railway carriage. They used to go to sea together, sharing the tiny wheelhouse perched atop the rolling deck, but in old age they are content to let others gather the harvest of the English Channel.
The English Dog At Home comes in hard cover and soft cover. It is 160 pages, each one with a photo of a home and the dog and master who inhabit it (I wish I could scan them all for you!). It is fascinating to see true English interiors, which may seem a bit staid after the razzle dazzle of such great American talent as Mario Buatta.
The people in this book love their dogs, and they tell wonderful stories about them. If you can possibly find this book anywhere, snap it up and add it to your collection HERE
Pictured above is Kelly with his little boy Tom awaiting elevenses in the kitchen basket. Kelly is a mongrel who was raffled for 5o pence in a pub. Today she can hold her own with the best shooting dogs in Yorkshire.

The relationship of the artist and the dog is an ancient connection. This is Mrs. Robert Abel Smith trying to paint Beaufort while two jealous onlookers try to muscle in. Rosie Smith lives in a house with a view of the source of the Thames, and paints Beaufort all the time.
Seeing Rosie Smith in her element, made me think of another wonderful artist, Patricia van Essche, known to us as the blogger PVE. She does many beautiful paintings, among them some very delightful dog (and cat) paintings.
She was recently inspired by my little English dog at home...
...and made this little gem! But did she stop there?
No way! Cholo inspired her to do this painting... image of my closet and dressing room taken for the recent photo shoot done for the October issue of CUE Magazine.
She says she is thinking of doing a book with her dog paintings! I think it's a fantastic idea! You've heard of Elle Decor, now I give you Dogs Decor by PVE!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday By The Sea

For me September into October is the best time to be at the beach. Labor Day and Summer crowds have come and gone. Locals reemerge and inhabit their towns again. The weather is the finest, warm in the day, and cool at night (you can often build a fire in the fire place, or fire pit, or even have a bon fire on the beach if ordinances allow it). The water is the warmest having heated up all Summer, so swimming is divine.
I love an East Coast beach, I guess because I'm a New Yorker and have spent many happy times in the Hamptons, and on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. There is just something so right about this kind of beach decor, done here by Victoria Hagan.
The entrance hall is T-shaped and provides views in three directions. Directly ahead, through the living room, one sees the harbor and a lighthouse. To the left is the way to the dining room and kitchen; to the right, the stairs and hall to the billiard room and guest wing.
All the classic elements are here: white walls; dark floors; natural fiber rugs and curtains; a blue and white color palette; white slip covered furniture. The restricted palette—white, blue and brown—adds serenity. The floors are wide-plank reclaimed oak from Massachusetts, to contrast with the crisp white walls. Each room has paneling in a different configuration. The wainscoting in the dining room is two-thirds height, for example, while the paneling in the living room reaches to the ceiling.
The Elizabeth Eakins rug was customized by the designer. Nanz hardware on doors. Fabric on bobbin chair, Chelsea Editions. Ralph Lauren pillow stripe. A nautical note comes in the form of the owner's ship's light. I love the blue hydrangea, a local beach flower. To this Hagan added dark accents: a patinated-bronze low table by the sculptor Bruno Romeda, a leather wing chair from England, an embellished mirror, an antique English Windsor chair and an unusual English Arts and Crafts table.
The dining room. “The clients entertain in a casual way,” says Hagan. “I tried to capture their lifestyle. It isn’t about the furniture,” she adds. But still, look at this wonderful farm house table, the mix of chairs (including the arm chair slip covered in linen), the simple side board with the perfect mirror. Apart from a brass chandelier, the dining room is all white and brown. It has a mid 19th century English trestle table, an Irish serving table and a 17th century mirror.
The cabinetry breaks the wall into five sections in the area that separates the living and dining rooms. A large, vibrant blue painting by Jennifer Bartlett inspired the décor of the living room. To complement it, Hagan ordered a custom blue-and-white-plaid rug (“I adjusted its scale and pattern to the room”), pillows with blue-and-white stripes on white-duck-covered furniture, blue cashmere throws and breezy white draperies. The kitchen, where the family takes most meals, “has the charm of an older house but with a modern emphasis on the relationship to the outside,” Hagan points out. The faucet is from Waterworks. Sub-Zero refrigerator. Viking range. Pot filler, Chicago Faucets. Nanz hardware.
This look has become the quintessential version of the Somethings Gotta Give kitchen. I like the French bistro chairs very much. The master bedroom. Hagan paid particular attention to the corresponding heights of the oak side table and the bed. “The most important consideration is how the little things click,” she says. “And combining the old and the new.” Chelsea Editions Duvet cover fabric. The basket under the night table is a lovely touch.
The four upstairs bedrooms and baths overlook the harbor and the Atlantic. There is no clutter, not even in the kids’ rooms, because cabinets were built into the spaces between the dormer windows.
An alabaster light fixture crowns the master bath. “It emits a beautiful, diffused light,” Hagan says. Waterworks tub and tile. I love this style of bathroom using classic elements: Small tile floor; Victorian style sinks and tub; painted white woodwork.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Afternoon At The Movies

Recently, while hunkering down for a hurricane, the household watched a ton of movies on DVD thanks to a generator. One of them was Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, which cost a staggering $110 million to make, is what the movie trades call a biopic—the sprawling saga of one of Hollywood’s favorite characters, Howard Hughes. Rich, handsome, brilliant and increasingly deranged, Hughes has been irresistible to scriptwriters and directors alike, as can be seen in such films as The Carpetbaggers (1964), The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) and Melvin and Howard (1980).
In 2004 it was the turn of Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Hughes during the two most dramatic decades of his life, from 1927 to 1947. The Set-Production Designer was Dante Ferretti, and the Set Decorator was his wife Francesca LoSchiavo, herself a five-time Oscar nominee.
In the past two decades Dante Ferretti, a production designer with seven Oscar nominations to his credit, has lived in medieval Italy (The Name of the Rose), the South of the Civil War (Cold Mountain; modern Manhattan (Meet Joe Black); 19th-century Manhattan (The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York) and 20th-century Tibet (Kundun).
Though he is Italian—his mentors were two of Italy’s greatest directors, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini—for The Aviator Ferretti has resided in what might be called his spiritual home: Hollywood during its golden age.
This was no less a challenge for Ferretti and LoSchiavo. Most of Ferretti’s other films were set in either a distant past or a distant location. The Aviator is set in a place and time familiar to most moviegoers. “We had to be very accurate, very believable, because many people know the period,” says Ferretti.
Other important scenes are set in the Manhattan office of Hughes’s rival, Juan Trippe, head of Pan Am Airways—Alec Baldwin plays the sleek and smooth-talking Trippe. For that lavish Art Déco interior, as well as for the interiors of Hughes’s and Hepburn’s houses in California, Lo Schiavo moved a good part of Los Angeles to Montreal where the film's interior scence were shot. “I felt everything had to be really authentic,” she says. “Hughes was one of the richest men in America. We couldn’t decorate his house and office with props, so I worked for three months in Los Angeles rounding up the very best objects, furniture, painting, fabrics and antiques.”
In The Aviator, key scenes take place in one of Hollywood’s most glamorous nightclubs, that Moroccan fantasy called the Cocoanut Grove. Although the Grove has gone the way of many of the movie world’s landmarks, Ferretti and LoSchiavo were able to get a measure of its size by visiting the vast room it once occupied in Los Angeles’s Ambassador Hotel. Armed with that knowledge and stacks of photographs, they then worked round the clock for four weeks to re-create the original on a soundstage in Montreal. “A phenomenal scene,” is how DiCaprio describes his—Hughes’s—first entrance into the club. “Women are on swings overhead, pheasant goes by on a waiter’s tray, the band starts to play, people are drunk and dancing, a whole society is celebrating, and this young god of the industry is coming in to take over.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Only 90 Shopping Days Until Christmas! Here's The Perfect Gift For The Decor Lover In Your Life

September 25 is nearly December 25. Really! Before we know it the next three months will fly by and it will be the holiday season.
Here are some gift suggestions for the decorator. It would be great to give these, or ask Santa for one for yourself.
I've selected three very talented artists known to many on the decor blog circuit:

  • Patricia van Essche (known as PVE)
  • Anne Harwell (known as Annechovie)
  • Fifi (known as Fifi Flowers)

Getting a piece of art as a gift is pretty special, and every designer and decorator I know would love to receive something from one or all of these ladies.

Patricia van Essche started pve design to offer a wide range of design services, be it illustration, decorative or pattern design. She counts among her clients individuals as well as businesses.
Patricia told me this about her work: As far as pricing, everything is custom, and I hate to put a price and offend anyone. Most clients come with a budget or a price in mind and I try to work with everyone. Most work begins at $350 - $550 and up. Long gone are the days of doing something for $25 - but I do know that people love my work, and in spite of the dismal economy - I still have a following. Perhaps the nostalgia of my work or that I feel inside the illustration, like a dancer feeling the moves. I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful clients, and most become close friends and repeat customers. I have been blessed with a wonderful family and a great husband and 3 kids that keep me hopping! Life is good.

You might want to commission a "portrait" of the house of someone special, or maybe a Christmas scene from the past.
Or treat yourself and have Patricia do a painting of your own home.
Everyone would love to have a portrait of their dog. And there is a long standing tradition of dog paintings used in home decor.

But let's not forget the kitty cats! Wouldn't a cat lover just adore having a painting of their precious baby?!
Patricia really captures the personality, doesn't she? And I love her use of color.
Anne Harwell is a creative and self-taught 30-something who enjoys painting and creating unique pieces of art based on whatever strikes her fancy at the time. She incorporates the colors and materials she loves with a sense of humor and a passion to create and bring to life her ideas, while having fun. She is inspired by everything around her, nature, books, travel, different cultures, interior magazines, design blogs, fashion and especially COLOR!
What design gal or guy wouldn't love to have painting of one of their rooms?
I asked Anne how she works: I work from a photo(s), normally in gouache and ink on paper, but can also work in acrylics on canvas as well. I am flexible as to size, depending on a client's needs. I typically work fairly small with average paper size at 9x12 (Arches cold press 300 lb. archival watercolor paper). Here are a few sample options (includes shipping):
9x12 gouache/ink on paper- $250
10x14 gouache/ink on paper- $325
12x12 acrylic on aquabord (has a 2 inch deep cradled profile - painted or bare wood edges, no need for framing) - $465
All I need is a clear photo of exactly the scene a client wants painted (they can easily email it to me). Then I invoice via Paypal (check is also acceptable) and work starts. Lead time is normally 4-6 weeks.
Anne is very well known for her images of chairs. You can even get them on postage stamps from her for around $20. She also sells note cards. I think a gift of the cards and the stamps would be so cute. You can personalize the stamps too. I'm going to give my designer friends the chair stamps with the name of their firm on it.
You can see how how nice her work looks framed insitu. You might want to give someone a print of one of her charming vignettes. Prints are very reasonably priced from $20. t0 $75.
Anne also does great pet paintings, and she has this print available in her Esty store. You could also have her do a custom painting of your pet.
Fifi Flowers is based in Los Angeles. She has a full line of note cards, prints, and framed originals (framed work as shown here for $110.). She also has a unique on line decorating service, where she takes your information and then designs your space presenting her ideas with her drawings.
You could also commission her to do a custom job. She does wonderful images of travel destinations, so send her a photo of some destination special to the person you are gifting, and she'll make a custom painting for you.
Fifi offers this about her work: Commissions vary from job to job... paper to canvas... size to starting price is:
For a 7"x 7" acrylic on archival paper is $150. and I send it in a complimentary frame with mat.
Time frame is approximately two weeks depending on how many jobs I have going at the time.
I am asking everyone to get their Christmas orders in by the end October... I would like to have all work finished by Thanksgiving.
Fifi has a series based on movies, and I love this one from Breakfast At Tiffany's.
How perfect is this set of the three prints for the Holly Golightly in your life...
...or for anyone who loves the movies.
Contact all of these fantastic artists via their blogs, where they have contact information and/or links to their Esty stores: