Friday, September 28, 2007

Farrow and Ball and Emma Jane

There is a rash of new design books coming out this fall in time for the Christmas shopping season. My pre-released order with Amazon is obscene: I owe them a king's ransom for all these soon to be released books. But that's ok, this is my only hobby, so I indulge it. These new books are just starting to trickle in. Alex Vervoordt's came the other day and it's a winner, totally gorgeous. Another one that's arrived is the new Farrow and Ball: The Art of Color. For those who aren't familiar with Farrow and Ball: F & B is an English company specializing in paints. Not paints as in Sherwin Williams, but paints like those made centuries ago. With names like Cooking Apple Green and Book Room Red, part of the appeal is in the romance of times gone by. Their palette is extremely limited, only 132 colors as opposed to the thousands of colors made by other paint companies. Their paint is made the old fashioned way without "modern" cost cutting measures taken. Besides paint, they also manufacturer wallpaper of the highest quality. Their designs are traditional stripes and damasks, but recently they came out with a few hipper colorways.

A company that produces such high quality goods deserves to be written about and now, they have been, twice. I wasn't taken with the first F & B book, Paint, but the new one The Art of Color is a completely different story. The photography is luscious at times and moody at others, the lens' subjects are breathtaking. One chapter that really stands out is Emma Jane Pilkington's apartment. I'm not sure if it's ever been published before, I googled for awhile and couldn't find any hint of it anywhere. So, forgive me if you've seen her apartment before.

Emma Jane, an Australian by birth, but raised in Greenwich, is a young, hot decorator who has received volumes of national press. Her apartment for Ivanka Trump is a work of art, done in bright shades of blues and reds. In fact, most of Emma Jane's published work is bright and happy. Her apartment, though, is anything but. Mainly painted in three shades of Farrow and Ball paints, the apartment is neutral in color. With a combination of modern art pieces and antique furniture, it shows Pilkington's sophisticated knowledge of classical design and refined taste for art instead of the more trendy look we've come to expect of her. Take a look at these pictures to see a side of Emma Jane that might suprise you.

Pilkington's apartment for Ivanka Trump, young and dynamic, exactly like it's owner. The colors are bright, the prints are bold.

Another design by Pilkington, here she uses Raoul Textiles in bright pinks and yellows.

And now, for something completely different, Pilkington's apartment. Modern sculpture by Mauro Corda plays against antiques such as the gold mirror. An obvious book lover, she displays them on a center table, an antique from a Rajastani palace.

Here, she mixes antique furniture, a pair of crystal chandeliers, and a stunning modern art piece just reflected in the antique mirror.

A close up of the sculpture by Verner Panton.

A contemporary sculpture by C. Jere sits atop an antique settee. Nearby is a spoon back Regency chair.

A corner of the living room with an antique zograscope and Buccellati silver atop an antique Tric Trac table, from 1760.

The study, with an antique directoire daybed juxtaposed with a leopard print contempory chair.

Close up of the daybed and another gorgeous antique mirror.

The classic kitchen with a wall of antique mushroom prints.

This bathroom is so atmospheric with the moody candlelight and marble tub. The hanging basket under the antique prints with just a touch of color from the purple flowers.

A close up of a Venetian mirror from the 1840's.

The master bedroom, with a gorgeous wall of mirrored closet doors.

Another view of the bedroom and it's unusual antique lighting fixture.

If you enjoyed these pictures, I would suggest you pick up Farrow and Ball: The Art of Color. These are just a small sample of the wonderful images from the book.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Paris in Houston, Part Deux

My favorite landscaping company in Houston, pictured above, is Thompson + Hanson. Yes, you read that correctly, I said landscaping! The best part about shopping for plants at T+H is their antiques. OK, that sounds strange, I know, but believe me, their antiques are more gorgeous than their plants. Culled from trips overseas to France, their assortment of goods includes: armoires, chandeliers, settees, chairs, mirrors, bath goods, candles, and books, among other things. New or old, there is something here for every part of your home and body. The building, an old, restored stone-clad structure - is a delight in itself. If I were to start over and build a house today, I would base it on this design. It is a gorgeous space, the ceiling is raised to the rafters, the windows are all steel french doors that open onto an outdoor pergola-covered patio. The floor is stripped to its bare concrete foundation - cool on a typical hot Houston day. I want to live here, I say every time I come.

Outside, the walkways are paved in small crushed stone, just as is done in France - the basis of their design sensibility. Because the landscaping is French in feel, you won't find a lot of bright, blooming plants here. The focus is more on grasses and succulents than on azaleas and crepe myrtles, the typical mainstays of Houston landscaping. Large pots made of stone or tin are filled with grasses that quietly sway in the breeze. A large fountain is pouring water into what appears to be a huge animal bath, made of iron, not the usual stone. Nothing is typical here, nothing is expected. And no one does this better than Thompson + Hanson. Located on Saint Street in the hot, new upcoming design area of town. Neighbors include Indulge, Design District, Pile, Chateau Domingue, Krispin, and the soon to relocate, M. Naeve, featured yesterday.

The gorgeous interiors - hard to believe their main business is landscaping!

French antiques are everywhere - I love this daybed.

My reason for coming back time and time again: the up to date collection of Betaplus books, the only place in town you can buy them.

This gorgeous screen would look so good over a sofa.

Swedish antiques peek out amongst the French ones.

Typical elements of Thompson + Hanson design: stones, succulents, and perennials.

Their plants take on a contemporary feel, as do their landscapes.

No bright colors or new gauche pots, the simple - the better.

Modern pedestals contrast with antique urns.

Massed for effect.

The wildly inventive fountain.

Entry to the nursery is through a pergola holding up a water tower.

Evergreen wisteria climbs up the patio's pergola.

The best part: picnic table and wicker chairs set under a gorgeous antique chandelier. Takers, anyone?

Paris in Houston, Part I

I've been shopping in Houston this week, just making the rounds of some of my favorite places. First stop is the romantic antique store M. Naeve, eponym for Margaret Naeve, a darling, twenty-something who actually looks more like a teenager. What's most astounding about Margaret being the owner is how does someone so young acquire such excellent taste? M. Naeve isn't the place for those who go for KWID fabrics or trendy colors. Her shop is cool khaki all the way, though Margaret giddily confesses her own apartment is bathed in shades of lilac. Margaret purchased the storefront and it's contents from the older, previous owner, but the store under Margaret's watch never looked this good before. Her impeccable eye helps when she's in France on buying trips. The carefully edited inventory is limited to peeling, painted finishes and pale wood pieces, huge, ancient fireplace mantels, crystal and wood chandeliers, and oversized accessories. What she's bought for M. Naeve is exactly what Houstonians of means, taste, and desire are buying these days. If you lucky enough to hire one of Houston's top designer's - you'll probably be the owner of something from this store.

Margaret's a doll with a bright future ahead of her. It's a pleasure shopping here among such beautiful and exquisite things and not be treated snobbishly or rudely, a rarity in the upper echelons of antique stores these days. She delights in the beauty of her hand picked pieces and her attitude is infectious.

Chandeliers, wood and crystal, pots, and lamps from M. Naeve.

Pale woods are the norm here. Large accessories like this clock face are favored.

Gray painted corner piece, unusual garden chaise, oversized mirror all add to the romance of M. Naeve.

I'll take two of each: sconces and botanicals.

There's a match to this chaise, with the arm on the right side, perfect with a table between them.

Pale woods and lilies, chairs with interesting backs

The mood at the store is so serene, calm, almost hushed, until Margaret's giggles pierce the quiet.

Interesting displays of furniture piled to the ceiling, gorgeous mirror.

Margaret has all her lampshades custom made in Paris, of course!

Besides French furniture, Swedish pieces abound - like this day bed piled high with linens.

Stunning candelabra, table surrounded with chairs with a 'lone star' motif.

The only color - gorgeous green!

Even her flower arrangements are to die for, creamy roses surrounded by lavender colored roses.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Something's Gotta Give" at House Beautiful

This month's issue of House Beautiful is a beauty, story after story, I'm loving it. There's a spread on Suzanne Rheinstein's fabulous new fabrics. Suzanne is looking good these days, younger and younger! She's unrecognizable to me in this issue. Then there's a great story on Belgian design and another one on a fabulous apartment by Joe Nye. The Peak of Chic already showcases that story here, as does the House Beautiful web site.

There is one story in this issue that is very strange, though. As you may remember from my previous blog on the movie, Something's Gotta Give by Nancy Meyers, the Hampton house that starred in that movie actually upstaged Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Scores of articles have been written about the Hampton house, and people have designed their own homes based on it. Why is it so universally loved? It could be the soothing blues and creams, the famous striped dhurri rug, the ironstone dishes in the dining room with the Bennison slipcovers, the Swedish Mora clock, the dark wood floors, the fabulous soapstone counters in the even more fabulous kitchen - I could go on and on about why that house appeals. So, I was thrilled to see an article in HB by the interior designer of the famous Hampton house. Or is he?

The living room with the striped rug, dark wood furniture, and Mora clock that stole a movie!

James Radin is profiled showing a beautiful home that he designed for a young couple with three daughters. Interviewed by Donna Paul, she starts off with this question:

"You've designed houses in two hit movies by director Nancy Meyers, Something's Gotta Give and The Holiday. Are you a set designer or an interior designer who also does sets?"


I've always believed that the Production Designer of Something's Gotta Give was Jon Hutman and the Set Director was Beth Rubino. James Radin's name has never been mentioned in any articles that I've read on the set design. Jon Hutman is also listed at the Production Designer for "The Holiday", another movie of Meyers' where the set steals the show.

The dining room with the Bennison slipcovered chairs and wonderful ironstone collection.

Continuing, Radin's response to the statement that he designed these fabulous homes for Meyers' movies: "I'm an Interior Designer. I designed Nancy's own house and she asked me to help the production design team with Diane Keaton's house in Something's Gotta Give. She wanted it to look professionally decorated, like Diane's character would have."

The much talked about soapstone countered kitchen from the movie set.

Paul brings up the movie several times throughout the interview and it's mentioned in the notes accompanying it's pictures. There's even a TV with, you guessed it, Something's Gotta Give playing on the screen. House Beautiful definitely wants the reader to believe that Radin was the credited designer on the two movie sets.

Another view of the living room with the leather ottoman and slipcovered sofas.

What's going on here? It seems strange. When I first read the article, I was excited thinking, wow - this is designer behind that fabulous house. But I kept thinking about Beth Rubino, the famous set designer. Wasn't she the designer here? A detailed Google search for Something's Gotta Give and James Radin showed only one hit: on the credits, Special Thanks go to James Radin. It leaves me wondering, who's scamming who here?

Another shot of the dining room, dark wood floors, seagrass rug

Below are a few pics from House Beautiful of Radin's admittedly beautiful home, regardless of whether he is THE designer of the famous Hampton house or not.

For much more detailed reporting on the movie set of Something's Gotta Give see Surroundings' blog

Radin's master bedroom, serene in whites and creams with touches of blue.

The lady of the house's walk in closet. Now this is luxury.