Monday, June 30, 2014

Pools, Porches, Patios

Summer is here in full force. New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles has devoted their whole current issue to Summer. This is our local shelter magazine, and I think many of you would love to get it, so go ahead and subscribe. Locals can pick it up around town, at Helm Paint, Le Blvd., and other places that sell home furnishings.

Sara Essex Bradley and I had a blast shooting this story. Nine or so homes were scouted, and a lot of them made the final editorial cut. My aim in producing this story was to show the wide gamut of how people decorate their outdoor spaces, and as usual the people in New Orleans have a very distinct, and I think beautiful and exciting viewpoint.

Elegance - this incredible spa setting is in New Orleans

Sleeping porch in New Orleans

A classic front porch in New Orleans

A front porch with a twist - classic white wicker with Trina Turk fabric on the cushions

My patio - indoors is outdoors in my own quirky way - My majolica plate collection has moved outdoors, and the cushions were recovered in Chinoiserie toile (an outdoor fabric by Waverly)

Lots of old brick floors are in many New Orleans courtyards - Can you tell how much Sara and I love to have the family dog (or cat) in the shot - I say it makes a space more human

Fabulous funky party time patio in New Orleans

I styled an alfresco dining table in New Orleans with the home owners bunny rabbits
You can go online to see more New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles, "Backyard Bliss".
But really you need to go get the magazine and see the gorgeous full size photos. We have an awesome art director and editor!

What have you done new this year for your pool, porch, patio, (balcony)?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Interview With Pam Pierce Of MILIEU Magazine

Pam Pierce has been a favorite designer not only in real life, but here in blog land. Joni Webb of Cote de Texas has done many wonderful posts about this Houston based decorator. I think those posts launched a thousand pale linen slipcovers with deep drop ruffle skirts. I have loved Pam since I first saw her own kitchen featured in a magazine, especially the antique cow head hanging there. I tried to do my own version of it in my kitchen with a Stray Dog Design hot pink papier mache bull head, but alas it did not work. I also love the way Pam uses antiques and traditional elements in a very modern and refined way. That girl has an excellent eye and skill for editing a room,

Pam Pierce made linen slipcovers with ruffles modern and chic - photo by Peter Vitale

Love this Pam Pierce kitchen - so many rustic antique elements that look modern and refined - photo by Peter Vitale

I know many of you have this image of Pam Pierce's kitchen on your blog or Pinterest board - photo by Stephen Karlisch

I love this Saarinen table with an antique chair and this pink curved banquette in a room done by Pam Pierce - photo by Peter Vitale

But I digress. This post is about the fabulous new magazine MILIEU that Pam has started. I believe in supporting things in print, buying actual books, and subscribing to shelter magazines. Sure I love the vast visual web of the Web: Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz, and all the rest of it. You can go down the rabbit hole of looking at images for hours on your computer, that can turn into days. But there is nothing like spending time leafing through a magazine, or reading a book you hold in your hands.

Pam Pierce in The New York Times

So when MILIEU was announced in The New York Times, I instantly subscribed. I loved the magazine as soon as I held it in my hands. It is so interesting and fabulous to have a designer steering the ship. Pam has had her work appear in many magazines, so she is a veteran of photo shoots, and looking for editorial content. Her eye is impeccable, and the large format in MILIEU is a dream for all of us visual vamps.

Designer Shannon Bowers in MILIEU- photo by Peter Vitale - You know I love the Mouille chandelier!

The gorgeous photography, is often done by Pam's long time collaborator Peter Vitale (who is Editor at Large for MILIEU). Pam chooses to use full pages to show a space. It is a visual palette cleanser compared to all the layouts that favor many tiny images on a page.

Spoiler alert. I know Peter Vitale. He and I worked together in New York, I as I stylist for him. So I have been a fan of his for many, many years. Spoiler alert. I recently met Pam Pierce here in New Orleans. And clutch your pearls, she was here with Peter to shoot one of my design projects that is going to be featured in the Fall issue of MILIEU! So my dear wonderful vamp readers, subscribe today to MILIEU! I would say subscribe anyway because it is a gorgeous magazine, but now really subscribe so you can please cheer me on!

Pam was not only a delight to work with, but she was a wellspring of inspiration for me. It was great to see her in action. I put myself in the role of stylist for her and Peter, and we had a wonderful time shooting together. She shared so much with me, and encouraged me in a generous mentor like way. Even though we are close in age, I feel very much her junior in regards to interior design. She has thirty years under her belt, compared to my five.  Yes, I made the jump from many years of event design and styling to interior decorating and design just five short years ago.

The shoot was good for me. With Alberto gone my confidence has been shaken. The shoot was planned before he died, and he was so proud and so excited for me. I am getting to the other side of it, and having Pam and Peter, and his assistant Harry around me was a tremendous uptick in this whole process of grief. While we were all together, I asked Pam if I could do a short interview with her for the blog....

I love this cover!

VV - You are a successful well-known interior designer based in Houston, with an amazing career that spans 30 years. Why are you doing a national in-print shelter magazine now?

Pam -Yes, I worked in interior design for over 30 years, and do love it. It truly is my passion. I decided to start MILIEU because I was ready for a new challenge. Magazines have always appealed to me, and sadly, many of the shelter publications that I loved were shutting down. From my perspective as a designer, I felt we needed a new shelter magazine that kept in mind my goal of finding the best and most exciting talent there is to offer.

VV - Your own design work has appeared in Veranda many times which features many beautiful homes in the South that have a particular refined traditional style. What I love about Milieu is that you expand on that point of view. What attracts you to a home you want to feature in Milieu?

Pam - When choosing a home to feature, the only thing I look for is basic, exciting, and good design – no matter the style.

VV - In a recent issue you used a model on the cover, very much like a great fashion magazine would. I think this is exciting and revolutionary for a shelter magazine. What was the thought process for that cover?

Pam - As we all know, in every issue of a magazine, there are many photos that are considered before making the final decision. I have come to realize that when you see a certain shot, you just know it’s meant to be. There was really no specific thought process involved – I just knew it had that “wow” factor. That’s what I think all magazines ultimately want – for people to walk up to the newsstand, or receive their copy in the mail, and to get excited as soon as they see that cover. Another thing to take into account is that we here at MILIEU do not have a strict set of rules that we follow (laughs).

Pam says, "...we here at MILIEU do not have a strict set of rules..." - photo by Maxine Helfman

VV - You and I are in the same age group, and it seems like our generation is living long enough to have second and even third act careers. What would you tell people who are considering re-inventing their working life? No one wants to retire anymore, even if the have the money to do so. 

A bedroom in a Belgian home where the owners who designed it want to be Anon - Love the the color! - photo by Claude Smekens

    Pam - I just say – Find your passion. If you would like to retire and do whatever makes you happy, that’s exactly what you should do. It just wasn’t for me. Many of my friends have retired and have second homes, but I decided that MILIEU would be my second home. I love to work, and this has been an exciting time in my life. I get the opportunity to travel, visit new places, and meet wonderful people – the homeowners and designers that turn a house into a home. I can’t think of a better way to spend my days. 
      One of the highlights of this journey has been to meet you, Valorie, and to get to shoot one of your fabulous/stunning/marvelous projects that will be featured in our Fall (anniversary) issue. 

Valorie here, I hope you love all the images I posted, and enjoyed the interview with Pam. Check out her web site Pierce Designs and Associates and spend some time looking at her body of work, and go to Cote de Texas for some in depth posts about Pam as only Joni can do them. And of course run don't walk to get MILIEU.

Designer Ladye Kay Allen in MILIEU - photo by Peter Vitale

You know you want to subscribe to MILIEU! 
Do it today!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Loreen Arbus House Proud

I saw a feature in the NY Times last week in a column called House Proud. That stopped me in my tracks, and then the home owner's name stopped me in my tracks too.

Alberto and I knew Loreen Arbus as a tango dancer. He always said she came from a wealthy background, but who knew? In the world of the Argentine Tango you often just know the first names of people, and it is not unusual to know nothing of their lives outside of the dance floor.

Loreen Arbus is house proud - Read the article in The NY Times by Sandy Keenan, photos by Randy Harris
So here we have Loreen's New York apartment. She is a proud renter, though according to the information in the article she is filthy rich and can afford to buy anything she wants. She sites her preference for renting with memories of The Depression (of the 1930s). This is cute, since Loreen and I are about the same age, and never experienced The Depression. Our grandparents did, and maybe our parents did as children. Loreen and I came up in the very prosperous post World War II Baby Boomer era1950s.

Loreen likes to paint her chandeliers as I have done, and she does gallery walls as I have done, but...
Is there ever too much color?
Her apartment is all about color, and entertaining. You know I love color, but somehow this is not my total cup of tea. It looks dated, kind of stuck in the 1990s. Someone once commented that my home looked like a box of crayons threw up in it. I had to laugh.

A red lacquer table in the kitchen of Loreen Arbus
Still I love Loreen's bravura and originality. And I love that she uses the place for fundraisers. I die for the custom Kagan sofas, and the sixteen Kartell dining chairs.

LOVE the custom made Vladimir Kagan sofas
Sixteen Kartell Frilly chairs in the dining room - LOVE - And I spy Trina Turk Blue Peacock fabric on the window shades

It's funny that not one word is mentioned in the article of her tango past, a lifestyle that she dedicated at least fifteen years to. We knew her in California, and often saw her in New York when we visited and danced there. Her partner Alberto Toledano was a gentle soul and a gentleman. I loved dancing with him. He died far too young. Loreen was devoted to him though it never seemed like their relationship was romantic.

Loreen Arbus master bedroom
She was always a woman of mystery. She didn't really hang out with anyone at the milongas (tango dance parties), and was never one for the social ritual of how we all greet one another with kisses and abrazos (embraces-hugs). There was no small talk or conversations. She always held herself in a regal almost unapproachable manner. A few guys asked her to dance. She never seemed to stay long at the milonga, leaving in a cloud of mystery as quickly as she seemed to materialize.

The finger-pointing piece in the library is signed by Z. Yeyati, an Argentine artist whose work Loreen collects - this is the only connection I see to Argentina and her tango past

It was great fun reading the article in the NY Times. It shed some light on her quirky personality. Loreen says, “People always wanted something, I have a lot of complexes about this.”
Times writer Sandy Keenan explains it this way: "Ms. Arbus has a long record of doing things her own way, dating back to her childhood in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Although she was given the name Loreen Joy Goldenson at birth, by the time she was 13 she had assumed her maternal grandmother’s maiden name, in hopes of avoiding some of the baggage that came with being a daughter of Leonard H. Goldenson, the man credited with building ABC into a corporation worth $3.5 billion when it was sold in 1985. Classmates were asking for favors like getting celebrity autographs or wondering whether Loreen could help secure a hot band for the next dance. It bothered her."

Loreen Arbus and Alberto Toledano back on the day when my Alberto and I knew them as tangueros

My Alberto was right. She comes from money. But to us she was an enigmatic tango dancer, always kind to us. We admired the tango show and production company she put together with Alberto Toledano. The web site is still up. I wonder if you contacted her if she is still doing her tango show, and dancing for hire at private events. You can also see a glimpse of them at one of the tango events we produced in Los Angeles many tango moons ago on one of Alberto's tango blogs, The Tango Life.

Also go check out the comments at the Times. The question of the day is, is there ever too much color?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Apartment Therapy House Tour

Apartment Therapy has featured my house in their House Tour series. The story was written and photographed by Jacqueline Marque.

Jacqueline called me over Christmas 2013. It seems like a lifetime ago, and I guess it was. She is from New Orleans, but now lives in Rhode Island. She comes home to New Orleans often to visit her mother. Jacqueline was scouting New Orleans homes for Apartment Therapy and she and I both thought that New Orleans should be represented. I passed along a few homes to her that I thought she would enjoy writing about and photographing.

She asked if she could do my home too, and I said yes. It is so interesting to see another viewpoint. My home has been photographed several times. This is the first time without Alberto.

The shoot happened a couple of months after Alberto died. I did it as therapy. Apartment Therapy really was therapy. It forced me to clean the house, fluff it up, and work with someone new. Jacqueline and I had a wonderful couple of days together, getting to know one another. It is an intimate experience having your house photographed.

Reading her story made me wistful. She did a great job. But there is a such a profound shift without Alberto. He was here in December when she first stopped by. And now he is not. It's just me and Cholo and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.

I hope you enjoy the tour, even though you have seen my house a zillion times.  Go check it out at Apartment Therapy.  There are a ton of pictures. The comments for my house tour are amazing and I am very touched. Thank you Jacqueline and thank you AT readers.

All photos by Jacqueline Marque

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Last Project

Banquette in dining room by Valorie Hart - closet door mirrors were hung horizontally

Alberto and I always worked on house projects together. One was in progress when he died, but now it is finished. I wrote about the start of it a few months ago in a post called In The Manner Of Noguchi.

In The Manner of Noguchi - This was the start of the project with just the benches - I ultimately brought back the antique chairs instead of the vintage mid century modern ones - I can have more seating with the antique chairs
I used big pieces of foam that Alberto & I were going to cover like upholstered headboards
I laid out the foam and fabric and Alberto was getting ready to cut some plywood to mount it on    

I could not do the project without Alberto. So I had an upholsterer finish what we had started. He used a French cleat to hang the "headboards". I know Alberto would love how it turned out.

Do any of you have a banquette in your dining room or kitchen or breakfast area or tucked under the stairs?  

Here are some images of banquettes to inspire you. 

Freddy and Petunia used a headboard for this sweet banquette
New Orleans designer Melissa Rufty is the queen of banquettes - this is from the book Decorate Fearlessly by Susanna Salk

Tobi Fairley does terrific banquettes - there is a nice round up of images of banquettes at A Flippen Life
Of course Cholo loves the new banquette