Friday, February 26, 2010
I've got to be honest- I don't really get the home theater thing. As a child, I knew of nobody who had one in their home, no matter how large the house. Family rooms or TV rooms, yes; home theaters, no. Even if I had the space, I still don't think that I would have one. Personally, I can think of better uses of space...like a gift wrapping room à la Candy Spelling. (Just kidding.)
The space issue aside, when have you seen one that actually has style and panache? Most look like miniature versions of your local AMC theater. I get that comfort is key (which obviously explains the overstuffed recliners that are often seen), but why the dull, boring fabrics? And the color schemes tend to be pretty vanilla too.
I think this is why I'm so taken with this Elsie Sloane Farley designed "moving picture room", located in a New York home circa 1929. This is pretty snazzy, isn't it? The walls were covered in a Chinese wallpaper, and the trim was painted powder blue. Those luminous curtains were made of blue glazed cotton. Note too the fireplace (so cozy), the classic star ceiling fixture, and the long window seat with various shaped pillows. And because this was obviously the home theater of a swell, Farley added a Chinoiserie tilt top table in the back corner.
Now I'm sure that back in 1929, a home theater was quite novel- something which might explain the luxe surroundings. I can just imagine the home's owner entertaining guests for exclusive moving picture nights, and I think it's also safe to assume that the guests dressed for these get-togethers too. I admit that the chairs don't look particularly comfortable, but keep in mind that in the late 1920s, movies didn't run as long as they do today. And, people had a bit more decorum back then. Seriously, how many females of that era do you think sat with their feet propped up on the seat in front of them or worse yet had their legs splayed open?
So if someone twisted my arm and insisted that I have a home theater, I would probably do as Elsie Sloan Farley did. In my one concession to comfort, though, I truly might buy some Barcaloungers and have them upholstered in a Scalamandre Chinoiserie print fabric. I borrow this idea from society doyenne Oatsie Charles and her designer John Peixinho. In my book, anyone who can make a Barcalounger look stylish deserves an Oscar!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Do you know what has been catching my eye lately? Aluminum blinds. Seriously. There is something about them that just seems right for right now. I'm not talking about white or black aluminum blinds, nor do I mean vertical ones either. It's both silvery polished and brushed aluminum blinds that have been on my mind.
So why the interest? These are tough- not tender- window treatments. We've seen a lot of sweet and tame design lately; maybe it's time for something edgy, a bit raw, and a little provocative. Now, I do realize that these blinds can conjure up images of that dated Miami Vice look. In fact, as I was typing this, I thought of the movie poster for American Gigolo, above. Some remember both the movie and the poster for a very handsome Richard Gere, while fashion mavens think of the Armani suits. For me, it's the shadow of those blinds reaching out across Gere. Leave it to me to think of the window treatments when referencing a movie about steamy...well, you know.
So if one were to indulge in something like this, in what type of room would one put them? Obviously, contemporary goes without saying. A room representative of the school of Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley would be another great venue. Even a Miles Redd maximalist interior- couldn't you see these blinds in a room or two of his? And speaking of Miles, I think Nick Olsen could completely rock the aluminum. Whether he wants to is another matter.
Look how the light bounces off of the blinds in the late Stanley Barrows' apartment. The surroundings are pretty traditional, and yet these blinds totally worked.
Again, the blinds serve as yet another reflective surface in this "nighttime" dining room.
In another dining room, this one in the home of the designer Ruben de Saavedra.
And though I'm NOT advocating a return of vertical blinds, I did have to include this photo of the home of one of my favorite eccentric designers, the late Valerian Rybar. I've never seen steel blinds that were so polished and glossy.
(Barrows photo from Manhattan Style; dining room photo from The Collectors (The Worlds of Architectural digest); de Saavedra and Rybar photos from Designers' Own Homes: Architectural Digest)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Remember when I posted about Lost Horizon, that 1930's film with those fabulous doors like this one, above? Right after I posted the article, my friend Ron van Empel, lighting designer extraordinaire, emailed me to say that he too saw Lost Horizon around the time that I did and was equally as fascinated with the doors. An amazing coincidence, really, since Ron lives in Leiden, Netherlands and doesn't have Turner Classics.
We started to discuss whether the "Lost Horizon design" would work on the interior of his front door. His entryway was really fabulous as it was, what with the Thibaut Chinoiserie wallpaper and the Farrow & Ball Parma Blue doors. And then there was that fabulous pediment- very Van Nest Polglase- above the door. Really great stuff:
An obviously not so average "before" shot...
The first thing Ron did was to come up with a sketch drawn to scale in order to see how the Lost Horizon design might look on his doors. Now keep this in mind if you embark on a DIY project yourself. Sketches are very important, because you don't want to be in the middle of the project to find out that the whole thing is not going to work. Trust me; I'm speaking from experience.
One thing that was a bit confounding to Ron was how to deal with those central doorknobs. As you can see from the sketch, he made sure that the bottom Xs intersected directly over the knobs. He also included the bottom panel like that in the Lost Horizon door.
At first, I assumed that Ron was going to upholster the door, but he had a much better idea. He decided to keep the doors as is and apply the design directly to the painted surface. And instead of using cording as was used in the movie, he chose to do a nailhead trim. Or something that looked like nailhead trim:
How clever is this? Ron bought wood pearl trim that mimicked the look of nailhead trim, and he simply silver-leafed it. (He used a gray base coat on it first.) Far more economical than the real stuff and much easier to apply. And, if Ron tires of the look, he can simply pop the trim from the door.
So how did it turn out? Take a look for yourself....
I'd say that Ron's experiment was a smashing success! If only he lived a little closer to Atlanta, then perhaps I too could have a Lost Horizon door.
(All images courtesy of Ron van Empel with the exception of the Lost Horizon still.)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Seeing that I seem to troll the internet for fabric on almost a daily basis, I thought I'd end the week with some photos of Jim Thompson Silk and No. 9 Thompson's new Spring collections. There were so many fabrics that caught my eye...like that Velvet Illusion, below, which would lend an El Morocco vibe to one's room. Tiger Hills might be a great substitution for the Braquenié print that slayed me last week (the one on Jayne Wrightsman's canapé and fauteuils). And for sheer drama I included the fabulous Ayuthya, at top, because it looks pretty spectacular. So on that note, I'm off to walk my condo and find something-anything- that needs a little refreshing with some new fabric.
Velvet Illusion- a velvet spin on Jim Thompson's classic Illusion print.
And from No. 9 Thompson:
Thursday, February 18, 2010
You know when you look at a design magazine from ten years ago and you see a home and think "Oh my, so dated" or "That's unfortunate". You might even say to yourself "Thank goodness that trend bit the dust. R.I.P." Well, ten years ago Albert Hadley's apartment was featured in Elle Decor, and nothing- seriously, nothing- looks dated.
We all have those watershed moments in our lives. Well, this article was mine. Seeing Mr. Hadley's apartment was one of the catalysts that led me down the road to where I am today. Sounds melodramatic? Perhaps. But seeing perfection can kind of get you verklempt.
(All photos from Elle Decor, Feb/Mar 2000; Fernando Bengoechea photographer)
Monday, February 15, 2010
For more information, click here.
(The work above is by artist Dawne Raulet and will available at the sale.)
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Barbara d'Arcy and her model rooms at Bloomingdale's were huge. Big time influential. And her 1973 book Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating was not just well-received back then, but it's still lauded today as a design book classic.
Looking through my copy of it over the weekend (what better way to spend a snowy day than curled up on the sofa reading a vintage design book?), I noticed the shapely valances and lambrequins that d'Arcy employed often in her schemes. Sometimes they were used over windows, while at other times it was a bed that got the crowning touch. Now I do love simple curtains, but sometimes it would be nice to see some oomph on one's windows. There are some windows that look a tad sad- dare I say deflated- with a wardrobe of only plain panels. But if you were to add one of these valances with an interesting edge, well, it's a whole new window, isn't it.
(All images from Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating by Barbara d'Arcy.)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I cordially invite all Peak of Chic readers to join me for a party I'm hosting at the Tory Burch store (Phipps Plaza, Atlanta) on Wednesday, March 3 from 6 to 8 o'clock. It will be a fun evening of socializing, shopping, and sipping libations. I'd love to see those of you who I already know and look forward to making new acquaintances too. I believe that some of my fellow Atlanta bloggers will be joining me. Hope to see you there!
If you do plan to attend (and I hope you will!), kindly RSVP to the email address listed on the invitation. Guests will receive a 20% discount on full-priced merchandise.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Remember this David Netto room that many of us have blogged about? The beauty of it, at least to me, is that it's so unexpected. There's that very traditional scenic wallpaper in a bedroom no less, and yet any stuffiness is tempered by that sleek chrome bed and the room's rather spare color scheme (except for the pop of orange on the bed of course). This room came to mind when I was visiting Waterhouse Wallhangings website.
Of course their paper is traditional; that's because the prints are reproductions of 18th and 19th century wallpaper that was found in early American homes. The patterns themselves are really quite beautiful. But imagine using "Bargello" in a small room and hanging contemporary art on it or placing a slick black Parsons table against it. Or how about taking "Parkman House" and using it on the ceiling- that could be kind of sexy. (Something which I'm sure those Puritans did not have in mind!) In the words of Eric Clapton, "It's in the way that you use it."
Jolicoeur Star II
Dorothy Waterhouse, the namesake of the company, used to visit those wonderful old New England homes in search of document prints. Can you think of anything more fun and interesting than that? I can't. Am I alone?
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
While doing research over the weekend, I came across two 1968 photos of Angelo Donghia's work that caught my eye. Are you surprised that Donghia decorated these rooms? If the answer is yes, then you're not alone. For years, I only associated Donghia with his work from the mid- 1970s and 80s- rooms that were contemporary, at times sleek, frequently neutral in color, and that really embraced the spirit of the 1970s. But if you go back and look at his work from the 1960s, he captured the zeitgeist of that era too. When I started collecting vintage 1960s magazines a few years ago, I found that the rooms that captured my attention tended to be those by Donghia.
Take, for example, the room at top. House Beautiful declared that in this room, "The Thirties return with a Sixties flourish." There's that loop chair again, although that's not what I noticed first, nor was it that graphic black and white rug (so 1960s). Instead, it was that gray silk slipper chair. How beautiful is that? Normally, I'm not a bun feet kind of gal, but these silk covered ones are kind of weird and kind of fetching at the same time. And I love the shape of the sofa and those punctuations of chartreuse.
And then there's this shot of Donghia's own foyer. Try to look past that unfortunate clipped hedged green carpet, because the story here is Donghia's use of color. You've got that pretty blue and white floral paper in the foreground and the soft blue and red portière. And look in the background- I've never thought mixing lavender and bright red. You know what? It actually works.
(Both images from House Beautiful, October 1968)