Saturday, September 30, 2006

Elsie de Wolfe's Entertaining Tips

If you are a collector of vintage design books, you may want to consider adding Elsie de Wolfe's "Recipes for Successful Dining" (1934) to your collection. While it is not a design book per se, this book does provide an interesting and amusing look into how this legendary decorator entertained. Lady Mendl suggested using silver or gold lame as a tablecloth (see above) and advised that objects like rock crystal candlesticks and porcelain rabbits made good table decorations. She also wrote that she liked to use "the plant of the moment" on her table (any ideas as to what today's plant of the moment is?).

It is her recipes, though, that made me appreciative of today's lighter cuisine. De Wolfe believed that there should be a "surprise" dish at every dinner party. To that end, there are recipes for Boiled Tongue
a la Ritz, Creamed Haddock, and Indian Sardine Squares.

I'll leave you with one of her hors d'oeuvre recipes:

Olives Wrapped in Bacon
Insert roasted almonds in olives from which the stones have been removed. Wrap each olive in a small strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Grill in oven until the bacon is a good brown, and serve hot.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cocktail Time (and we're not talking about Sandra Lee)

Why not jazz up your cocktail hour with some of these exquisite cocktail napkins?

Carolyne Roehm has created an extensive line of decorative accessories. In her Ode to Bill Blass collection, Roehm has included the vintage style cocktail napkin above. Use one of these whilst drinking your next Manhattan and you just might think you're in a Thin Man movie.

Sharyn Blonde designs some truly beautiful, heirloom-quality table linens that are embroidered in Madeira. The designs are quite fanciful and would make any cocktail gathering an event. Just don't serve the red wine!

And why don't you try mixing up your cocktail napkins at your next party? My favorite linen purveyor is Porthault. They have so many fun patterns that I couldn't decide which I liked best, so I decided to buy one of each pattern. While they may not technically match, altogether they look like an explosion of pattern!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oscar Does Silver!

Oscar de la Renta Home has recently unveiled its new line for Lunt Silversmiths. There are three collections- City, Country, and Island, and in typical Oscar de la Renta fashion, it's all pretty fab.

I love the silverplate revere bowl with the robin's egg blue enamel- a great pop of color. And, if you want something more subtle, there is a sophisticated wooden revere bowl with silverplated trim.

And for something really graphic, what about the lacquered tray below? It reminds me of a painted floor that I once saw- I think one done by Albert Hadley.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Books, Books, and More Books!

I love design and lifestyle books, both current ones and those that are out-of-print. I am constantly looking for new ones to add to my library- the only problem is trying to find space to store all of my books!

Here are some suggestions for books to add to your design library:

Jansen by James Archer Abbott. Maison Jansen was one of the best known design firms of the 20th c. A great anthology of their work.

Van Day Truex by Adam Lewis. While Truex is best known as the former Design Director at Tiffany & Co. (he designed the classic Bamboo flatware pattern, among others), he was also an instructor at Parsons for many years . Truex also famously introduced Albert Hadley to Sister Parish, and the rest is history!

And, one out-of-print suggestion:

"My Favorite Things; A Personal Guide to Decorating and Entertaining" by Dorothy Rodgers. This is a really fun work written by the wife of composer Richard Rodgers. Includes tips for decorating one's city and country homes, entertaining guests in one's home, and generally living a swell life. Includes classic recipes such as Jellied Madrilene(!).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Miles Redd Chic

I know that there has been much written about Miles Redd's NYC townhouse over the past few years. I, for one, can't get enough of it. I love Miles' work, and he truly is one of my favorite decorators of today (in addition to Albert Hadley, of course). Not only does he possess an inordinate amount of style, he is, like me, an Atlanta native!

I love the brown and white striped living room above, especially the decadent blue curtains. And the pink study, below, is tres chic. I would love to have a banquette like that in my living room. To me,the whole house screams Manhattan glamour, reminiscent of an old Astaire-Rogers movie.

And if you're interested in the
mother-of-pearl cocktail tables in his pink room, I am assuming they are from Oscar de la Renta's Home Collection, of which Miles is Creative Director.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

House & Garden Style -1936

I was recently looking through some vintage issues of House and Garden from 1936. I was struck by how modern and vibrant the rooms were, especially considering that they were designed 70 years ago! The above picture was from an ad for Armstrong Linoleum floors. Linoleum was then considered the height of chic. I love the Chinoiserie elements of the room- the Chinese red console and wall brackets, the Chinese Chippendale banister, the blanc de Chine porcelain figures, and the gold Pagoda mounted to the wall. And if that wasn't enough, the designer added a Greek key motif to the mix.

Check out another Armstrong ad below- I love the plaster palm fronds on the wall- very Elsie de Wolfe! And don't you think the white dining chairs with apple green satin upholstery is very au courant?