Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Come Into The White

As the unofficial start of summer kicked off last weekend, alot of people went out of town, and alot of people came into New Orleans as their getaway.
We stayed in town, and I gave the living room some summer touches.
No I didn't repaint it all white, but I did add some more white to the room.

First a good cleaning, and a change of drapes. Down came the green velvet. Then I moved the white sheer curtains from the bedroom into the living room. I often move things to different rooms, kind of "shopping" the house for a new look.

The room is flooded with light and feels so airy, so much like summer.
I also swapped out the gilded wheat sheaf base and glass coffee table for this white mid century cutie. I cannot just confine myself to one era ha ha, so I mix all the centuries together.
I also removed the black and white stripe rug and swapped it out for the cow hide which was in the guest bedroom. I love the hide rugs because they hide everything, i.e. dog hair and dirt. And I love seeing more of the floor for summer too.

The morning light is just fabulous. By mid morning it moves from the front of the house, so even though the room is light filled, it's not hot from the sun pouring in.

The art work in the living room is comprised of all portraits. It's my little portrait gallery.
I love to hang art low. It pleases my eye.

I purposely did not put side tables next to the antique French settee, though you know I have them! I had a smaller version of the coffee table, and decided to float both of them, one in front of the settee, and one in front of the sofa. I flipped the settee and sofa from their "winter" positions.

The Thomas Paul pillow with the Greco-Roman head, the portrait of Kenny, and even the little sculpted head in the tray of shells, all add to portrait gallery.

I also added a sweet little green chair, the Philippe Starck Mademmoiselle Chair. The pop of green and the clear Lucite legs add just the right amount of sparkle.

I mix a variety of prints, and the green chair has a tone on tone damask to add to the fun.

I often pick the ginger from the yard for the living room, and the fresh green of the leaves plays along with the green chair.

The Will Barnett portrait entitled "The Young Couple" has subtle shades of green too, and the bunch of giant green grapes make a nice still life.

Another corner has a metal etagere, with two of my favorite portraits, one of Cholo done by Patricia from PVE, and the other of my friend Trevor, who I snapped at Castle Howard when we visited a friend there together.

Cholo loves the new arrangement. He has so many places to choose to snuggle on, like this vintage chair recovered in a Duralee print.

The corner with the chaise is Alberto's hang out.

The tray on the coffee table holds shells, and other special little things like this box of calling cards Alberto had printed when he graduated from The University of Buenos Aires over 40 years ago!

Since we'll be spending most of our summer at home this year, I am so happy that the living room has been dressed in summer whites. It feels like we've gone someplace new and pretty for a holiday.
So take a look around your house, and see what you can move around to refresh a room for summer!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blog Out Loud

Megan from Beach Bungalow 8 sent this, and it looks very cool. So check it out!

When & Where:

Thursday, June 4th at Patio Culture on Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA.


Jonathan (Happy Mundane), Audrey Woolen (Parcel Post) and Richele Silva (Richie Designs)

Our goal:

To get the word out in the next 2 weeks. We want to reach creative people - interior designers, gfx designers, photographers, shop owners, artists, you name it - and invite them to join us, chat with the panel of bloggers and learn more about blogging.

And if that's not enough of a carrot on the stick: there will be free libations.

All event details can be found at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gabo Says Adios To Colombia

As design becomes uber global, one often feels that anything foreign can be gotten at home, imported instantly via web sites.
Designers and architects and merchants and realtors ply their talent and wares to us whilst we sit comfortably behind the computer screen.

I love to travel to see how other people live, and nothing will ever replace the thrill of seeing things in person.

I love South America, but have only been to a couple of large cities in Colombia and Argentina and Brazil.

I was looking at some saved images of a house in Colombia that was featured in Veranda HERE.

A beautiful 250 year old house near the sea, that has been decorated in a contemporary way.

South Americans are masters of this mixing of the very old with the very new.

I could see myself reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez whilst swaying in one of these hammocks.

A friend sent me Gabo's farewell letter HERE
It is well worth taking the time to read this and see this lovely presentation.
El maestro is ill and has announced his retirement from the public world HERE.
Adios muchacho.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his wife Mercedes

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Shop Keepers Home 2 - Patrick Dunne

When I use the term shop keeper, it is not meant to be pejorative. In fact I have the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women who open and keep shop. It takes a fierce love for what they sell, and a dedication that is only matched by perhaps being the owner of a restaurant.
A beautiful shop is an inspiring work of art, a salon for kindred souls.
Patrick Dunne is a New Orleans art dealer and decorator who opened his beloved and famous shop Lucullus over twenty years ago. When I still lived in New York I heard his praises sung by Martha Stewart, Peri Wolfman, and Susan Holland (all mentors of mine). I never dreamed then I would live in the same city as this renowned shop.

The March/April issue of Southern Accents did a nice photo essay of Patrick's home in the Fauborg Maringy. He is a contributing editor for SA often writing wonderful pieces about other people, so it is such a treat to read his own words about his own home.

The house is attributed to the architect Henry Howard, having once been built for a prosperous free woman of color before the Civil War. A faubourg is a New Orleans district lying outside the original city limits (i.e. The French Quarter). It is a word used in combination with the names of various quarters of the city.

Patrick's house has the classic arrangement of a main house, with a wing once known as a slave quarter, with a kitchen below, and small guests rooms above. I don't know if his quarter is attached to the main house or not.
When we lived in the French Quarter we lived in a classic 1810 Creole house. Our apartment was in the main house. There was a separate building, the slave quarter, with small rooms below for servants, and rooms above called the garconniere, rooms for the sons of the house to use once they turned 13 or so to give privacy to the boy becoming a man, and his mother. A bachelor apartment if you will, but still on his mother's property. He would live there until he married and acquired a home of his own.
There was also one more unattached building at the back of our enclosed brick courtyard (complete with banana trees and a fountain), that was la cuisine, the kitchen. Often the kitchen was separate because of the danger of fires. If a fire broke out in the kitchen, the main house would not be damaged. In modern times, it had been converted into another charming apartment.

Patrick explains: "What makes domestic interiors so particular in New Orleans is that they are neither European nor really American but something in between, something we keep calling Creole, I suppose, because we can't think of anything else to call it."

When Patrick thinks of streamlining and perhaps doing a more subdued palette, daydreaming about alternatives to his fantastic Creole mix, some beloved object intrudes on his reverie, and he lets the wisps of conjecture slide off into the comforting reality of a house full of mementos, family things, and acquired and accidental stuff.

What can I do but be charmed and smitten by all that he has created and shares with us in the pages of SA. I myself have fallen under the spell of Creole, choosing saturated color and lots of stuff, acquired and accidental.

I often lay on my couch and day dream pale walls, and no nick-knacks, less art on the walls, less pattern, less old furniture, well just less.

Then the light falls just so, filtered through a tattered shutter, and the warm gaze of portrait painted of, or by a friend touches my heart. The deep color of the room makes corners vanish, so the eye just sinks into a kind of foreverness. My little clump of clutter of shells found on the beaches of the world, or a pile of books I always seem to pick up, makes me realize this is such a human way to live.

I so appreciate the light and the spare and the refined, but I choose to live like a color and object whore.

So pick up this issue of SA, and savor these pages in person. My humble scans don't do it justice, and of course SA can't put every gorgeous editorial on their excellent web site.

And when you get to New Orleans, which I am sure every man, woman, and child must do at least once in their lives, stop by Lucullus on Rue Chartres in the French Quarter, and visit with Patrick and his adorable shop dog Clovis. (I think Patricia at PVE might be insprired to paint Clovis sitting on his perfect little French chair).

And don't forget to visit this old shop girl on Magazine Street while you're strolling our magical city.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My New Orleans French Life

I have been in New Orleans for nearly ten years, and I am still enchanted.
One of the first things that captivated me was the relationship of New Orleans with so many French things.
Of course French history runs deep here, and after 300 years you still see little pieces of France in everyday life.
I would love for Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson to come to New Orleans and do a book about us, perhaps another version of their fabulous book "My French Life".

The city was originally laid out on the French plan, a grid of streets that still exists in the French Quarter. At one point all the houses faced the Mississippi River. But after a few major fires, and a change in governments, the houses were built with the fronts facing the street.

So many buildings are Paris inspired. Like the Pontalba Apartments that are modeled after the Place de Voges, built by a woman in the 1800's, the Baroness Pontalba.

Across the street is the oldest coffee stand in The USA, Cafe Du Monde, famous for beignets and Cafe Au Lait.

New Orleans is one of the few cities in the USA to have a French Consul living and working here. This is the French Consul's home in The Garden District.

The French Consul and his family live here. It's a lovely old house, but the public rooms are in dire need of redecorating. I think an important site like this should have the best New Orleans has to offer. There are so many gorgeous French antiques here, and designers who would be proud to lend a hand.

I would love to organize an effort to do a show house at the residence of the French Consul, with all the furnishings donated by the people of New Orleans.

One of the only standing buildings left that was built by the original French regime, is The Ursuline Convent. It's front still faces the River.

The classic proportions of the architecture and French style gardens truly look Parisian.

Of course St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is about as French as you can get.

The Cathedral is flanked on one side by The Cabildo and on the other side by The Presbytere on Jackson Square, which is a classic European arrangement.

The French Market has been in existence since the beginnings of New Orleans, and this little archway is very much like a mini-me Arc de Triomphe.

The Napoleon House is called so, because the owner had prepared it for Napoleon for the Emperor's planned escape from his exile and imprisonment. Sadly The Little Emperor never made it, but he is fondly remembered in New Orleans.

New Orleans has a tremendous gilded statue of Joan of Arc.

This is an old court building that could be a Hausmann style building in Paris.

And of course the fleur de lis is everywhere here.

We also have The Degas House, where the artist and his family lived.

One of my favorite restaurants is La Crepe Nanou, Uptown New Orleans, but so very Parisian.

There are many French restaurants and bakeries, and La Boulangerie is one of the best.

So how about it Vicki and Carla? I know you'll have a great time in New Orleans, and make a wonderful book about it!