While waiting with a growing sense of desperation for spring to arrive on the East Coast, I escaped for a whirlwind few days in Los Angeles to participate in “Legends of La Cienega,” a three-day celebration of the city’s design talent and resources. Now in its ninth year, “Legends” is organized by the many shops and showrooms clustered on La Cienega Boulevard in an area known as La Cienega Design Quarter (or LCDQ) in West Hollywood. With the support of many sponsors, including 1stdibs and the Hearst Design Group, Legends included a wide range of fascinating panel discussions, tours of the finest of LA's extraordinary range of design houses, along with lively receptions and cocktail parties. There was something for everyone!Read More
I travel to France once or twice a year to search for treasures for my shop. The day the shipment finally arrives in the showroom is full of joy and activity. Not only have these pieces existed for many years (if not centuries!), they have made the journey from the dusty flea markets in Paris, across the ocean and into our space. I am happy to keep them and enjoy them until they are off again to their new homes.Read More
Color is back and going strong and nowhere is it done better than Paris. The city was blushing--soft, blush pink was everywhere I looked--from armchairs to settees, to wallpaper to objets. The hue coming in a close second was yellow, which appeared in all its various shades across furniture, wall coverings and accessories. A feast for the eyes to be sure!Read More
The holidays are a wonderful time of year to entertain. One of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual holiday coffee I host in my home. I love outfitting the apartment with holiday decor and baking my favorite holiday goodies. I invite all my lady friends for coffee, conversation and holiday cheer!
It is a lot of work to get everything decorated, the baking done and the coffee brewed early in the morning. That said, my friends appreciate the morning fete, as it gives them the remainder of the day. But with preparation, the event doesn't need to be hectic. Here are a few of my holiday entertaining tips that I follow for my event:
#1. A trip to the Flower District
I always pay attention to florals when entertaining. Blooms bring nature indoors and add a warm, elegant touch to the home. A couple of days before the event, I head down to New York's flower district on West 28th Street. It's such a nice resource and inspiration for holiday decorating. I buy pointsettias, amaryllis plants and magnolia leaves.
#2. Get a head start
Never leave anything for the day of the event, or even the day before. I put up the tree and decorate the house well in advance. I start a baking marathon the week before. Breads (pumpkin, banana, cranberry), blueberry muffins, and my favorite--raisin scones.
I will share my recipe for the raisin scones as they are a big favorite, click here for the recipe.
The key to the scones is the fabulous scone pan I bought years ago at Williams Sonoma. I don't think they carry it anymore but Sur La Table has a similar one. Just mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and divide it into triangular sections. Voila--beautiful raisin scones!! I serve them with whipped cream, butter and raspberry preserves.
#3. Choose the right serveware
Once the home is decorated and goodies baked, I set the table. I love bringing out the good porcelain cups and saucers for this event. Our lives are so rushed and harried, it is nice to enjoy coffee or tea in a pretty porcelain cup! I set out the cups and saucers in a triangle pattern and the corner of the dining table. I mix some of my Wedgewood wedding china with vintage pieces that I have collected over the years - I love mixing colors and patterns. I serve everything on classic trays, either silver or ceramic. Some are wedding gifts and others I pick up in my travels. I believe in using our nice things! Of course it's smart to also be practical, and I always buy cute holiday-themed disposable cups in case more guests than expected appear.
#4. Set the mood
I always dim the lights in the dining room to create a warm, inviting setting. Harsh, bright lights are no one's friend. I also scatter festive holiday objects about the room, the more whimsical the better. And we can't forget the music. I turn on a classic holiday playlist from Spotify that instantly puts guests in a great mood.
The coffee is brewed, candles lit, holiday music playing and the guests begin to arrive!
We kicked off the holiday season in our shop celebrating the twelve days of Christmas. Here are some fun gifts for friends, family or even yourself!
On the second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Two brass apples. Looking to add a “wow factor” to your desk? Look no further than these brass beauties.
On the third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Three French hens. These delightful guinea hens are the perfect accessory to any kitchen, dining or living room.
On the fourth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me - Four gardenia scented candles. Reminisce to warmer days with the clean and light scent of spring and summer in your home. They are perfect socking stuffers as well.
On the fifth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Five stone fruits! While you might not be able to bite into these festive pears, they make the perfect centerpiece!
On the sixth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Six sparkly pillows. It’s the time of year to add some glitz and glamour to your home!
On the seventh Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Seven linen coasters with metallic trim! No need for marks or stain on your tables this season.
On the eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Eight vintage cranberry highball glasses. Be the hostess with the best looking cocktails at this year’s holiday party!
On the ninth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Nine red candles. No holiday tablescape is complete without elegant candles adorning the table.
On the tenth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Ten embroidered stockings. These adorable and chic miniature stockings by Rebecca Vizard are perfect for storing small gifts or decorating your mantle and tree.
On the eleventh Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Eleven blue seashells. These shells are a staple for every beach home.
On the twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me – Twelve Beauville napkins. These napkins are perfect for year-round entertaining.
What is Louis XVI Style and why do I love it?
Louis XVI Style refers to the style defined by the period in France under the reign of King Louis XVI (1760-1789) -- the last French monarch before the Revolution. Inspired by the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum, this era saw a revival of Greek and Roman styles. Tastes were slowly transitioning from the more ornate styles of the Rococo period that featured the curved lines characteristic of the Louis XV period. By the time of Louis XVI, there was a sharp movement away from the Rococo style, as curved lines and heavy ornamentation became unfashionable, giving way to clean, straight lines. Furniture and interiors were refined, sophisticated, calm and symmetrical. This style is known for its classical ornamentation and motifs, including acanthus scrolls, oak and laurel leaves, swags and Greek key.
Some characteristics of Louis XVI Style:
Chairs: The backs are mostly straight and upright. A square back is known as à la Reine and round or oval backs are referred to as en cabriolet. The frame is wood and the backs and seats upholstered. The legs are always straight, and are often fluted and tapered, with simple, understated ornamentation. Particularly attractive is the ornamentation at the corners under the seat. These blocks/squares, known as "die joins", are often decorated with carved flowers or rosettes, either painted or gilded.
I love Louis XVI style dining chairs and always try to have them in my shop and to use them for interior design projects. For me, their elegant but refined silhouettes are especially charming. They are understated, are equally appropriate in formal or informal rooms, and their clean lines enable them to fit well into both contemporary and traditional settings. I have great fun placing a set of Louis XVI style chairs around a very modern marble or glass dining table -- a bit unexpected perhaps, but a beautiful juxtaposition nonetheless.
I especially love painted furniture that has worn into a lovely patina. Because the style is so adaptive and unobtrusive, Louis XVI furniture can be at home in contemporary, traditional or transitional settings, and has a timelessness about it. The chairs can be easily updated with a fabulous contemporary fabric, the perfect way to blend old and new. The construction of Louis XVI Style chairs also lends itself to having fun with the upholstery. Why not throw caution to the winds and upholster the back in a different fabric to make these wonderful chairs even more interesting?
Image credit, Restaruation de Meubles, Atelier Bence
Commodes/Chests: Like the seating of the Louis XVI style, commodes and chests are rectilinear and clean. There is an admirable harmony of proportion in these pieces. The fronts are always rectangular and are often decorated with bronze fittings. The ends are flat and the legs straight, sometimes tapered. The front corners are sometimes chamfered, but most often at a right angle. Some period pieces are also adorned with exquisite marquetry.
This is a beauty that we found in Paris--a genuine period piece dating from the late 18th century, just arrived in our 1stdibs Gallery Showroom!
Tables: Tables were quite varied in the Louis XVI period. They are mostly made of mahogany and fruitwood, and can be round, square, oval, rectangular or kidney shape. The legs are always straight, often tapered, and their friezes (or aprons) are decorated with rosettes, interlacing plaques, fluting, or moldings of bronze or copper. Tops are made of wood or marble.
Desks: Bureau plat (flat-top writing desks) were still current during this period. Like all Louis XIV style pieces, they are rectangular with straight, often fluted legs. Ornamentation often consisted of bronze or copper molding on drawer panels or aprons.
Secrétaires à Abattant (fall-top secretaries) continued to be popular, although they became a bit more restrained in their design. These desks can be both quite handsome and an efficient use of space. We had this beauty in our collection a couple of years ago. A bit smaller in scale, this is known as a Secrétaire de Dame. I just love its quiet elegance. Not fussy, and a good example of quality and fine craftsmanship of this period.
Although it is a thrill to find a genuine piece from the Louis XVI period, there are many examples of beautiful and well crafted pieces made in the style of Louis XVI. Many of the dining chairs we have in our collection are in the Louis XVI style, made in the early to mid 20th century.
It is always fun to see a tasteful modern interpretation of the Louis XVI style. Just arrived in our showroom, this gilt wood bench covered in animal print is our whimsical nod to Louis XVI.
Louis XVI pieces reflect a refined, understated elegance that gives them an admirable versatility. They fit serenely into almost any setting, and bring a touch of sophistication to any room, whether modern or traditional, formal or informal.
Although our busy and overcharged lives don't always allow us fully to enjoy those lazy days of summer, I am always more than a little wistful when September comes around. Back to school, back to routine, and as the French say, time for "La Rentrée" or re-entry.
Here are a few of my favorite things about summer:
Hydrangeas in Bloom: One of my favorite flowers, these beauties are easy to grow and you get a lot of "bang for your buck." They are long-lasting, look gorgeous in their natural setting, and are just as pretty in a vase. I love watching these plants sprout their first leaves in late spring. After a long winter's nap, they transform from their twig-like appearance to the full, lush and colorful blooms, peaking mid July, and offering a wonderful range of color throughout the summer months. They just plain make me happy!
Eating al fresco and enjoying summer's fresh offerings: The delectable fruits and vegetables of summer make cooking and eating easier and more pleasing. I love picking tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs from my garden and making delicious summer salads and side dishes. And when it comes to the main course, everything seems to taste better on a grill-- especially when it is alongside a frosty margarita! During the cold, dark days of winter, I will miss the taste and colors of summer meals.
Long Days and Summer Sunsets: I love the long summer days when the sun rises early and doesn't set until close to 8:00. The long days make us more productive and energetic. And a perfect end to the day is watching the sun go down at the shore. The last, lingering lights combine with wisps of clouds to create a dazzling array of colors and raise my anticipation for the next day. Here is a recent sunset on the Long Island Sound.
Wearing sandals all summer! What more is there to say?!?
Playing tennis in the great outdoors! Tennis is a passion and there is something wonderful about working up a sweat and swinging a racquet under the sun. It is great exercise and a perfect way to make new friends. I try to take advantage of every chance to play, especially when I can play on grass courts. A real treat! But this time of year, I am setting aside time to watch what I know will be breathtaking performances at the U.S. Open.
As Audrey Hepburn said, "Paris is always a good idea." And so it was earlier this month.
After seemingly endless rains, we arrived to glorious weather -- beautiful blue, nearly cloudless skies and clean, crisp air. When we arrived at our hotel, the Directeur's PA said, "thank you for bringing the sun with you." Each day was bright and comfortable.
And of course, such perfect weather simply magnified the beauty of this glorious city and of its people, who were ready to be outside and welcome visitors. But no matter how small our world becomes, some things don't quite translate -- for example, a sidewalk cafe invited its guests to be seated by asking that they "install yourself at a table." flowers that are everywhere in Paris. Wherever we went, there were beautiful gardens and arrangements everywhere -- from the magnificent displays in the city's superb hotels and restaurants to the windowboxes overlooking the streets. A breathtaking array of color throughout the city!
As my friend Lisa would say, "there was a frisson of excitement" all weekend as Paris prepared to host the final game of the European soccer championship. And when the French team qualified for the finals, the excitement reached a fever pitch. It was like Super Bowl Sunday! Throughout Paris, huge crowds -- their faces painted and many carrying (or wearing) French flags -- gathered to watch the match. And when Portugal's best player was forced off the field with an injury early in the match, the prospects for the home team looked bright indeed. But alas, Portugal stunned France with a goal 20 minutes into the overtime period to take the title 1-0. All over Paris there were long faces on Monday.
And of course in a nod to the state of our world today, there was a constant security presence with police and heavily armed soldiers throughout the city.
But for me, the highlight of the trip was my time in the antique markets! After coming here for many years, I know some of the dealers well and it is like seeing old friends.
The markets always surprise, but never disappoint. A stand that seems of no interest at first glance reveals a hidden gem moments later. I have posted some of my new finds and can't wait until the "transport" arrives and I can share everything with you.
Here is a sneak peak:
One trend I continued to see throughout the markets was sheepskin upholstery. I have seen a bit of that stateside, but it seemed to be EVERYWHERE in Paris…..
As I walk through the city, I am always awed and inspired by the flowers in Paris—from the simplest arrangement on a breakfast table to a grand display in a hotel lobby. There were beautiful gardens and window boxes on display at every turn. The colors are glorious and are a feast for the eyes, Somehow, the neighborhood “fleuristes” are also always a treat!
The doors and windows of Paris continue to inspire me with their scale, detail and color. So many offices and apartments are hidden behind these grand entries, often with a lovely green courtyard in between. Here are a few I discovered on this trip.
Sometimes it is not easy to blend new and old, modern with traditional. Mixing a bit of the unexpected creates interest and is pleasing to the eye. This fabulous circular glass chandelier in a grand hotel lobby exquisitely juxtaposes with the traditional, classical architecture.
In recent years, the Palace of Versailles has featured contemporary art, a refreshing addition to the 18th century grandeur of this famous chateau. This glass bead sculpture was one of my favorite examples of the masterful blending of old and new at Versailles.
We left Paris on the morning of July 14, as the city was preparing for the annual Bastille Day celebration. Shops and offices were closed, flags were flying, and pride and excitement were everywhere. When our flight landed in the U.S., we learned of the horror of the attacks in Nice -- a sobering reminder of the fragile nature of life In the modern world and of the need to embrace and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
I love paintings and drawings of interiors. When done well, they are not only beautiful to look at, but a source of inspiration as well. A drawing of an empty room, sometimes even more than a photograph, gives the viewer a glimpse into the soul of a room. It leaves something to the imagination, and one can imagine who just left the room or who will enter.
These illustrations are not simply beautiful works of art, but historical documents as well. They illustrate furnishings and decorative objects in their settings, and are also a history of interior design. Long before photographs of interiors filled glossy magazines and sites on the internet, interiors, their fabrics and furnishings, were preserved and displayed in carefully detailed drawings or paintings. There was a long tradition in Europe of interiors being represented in paintings, usually done by artists who were commissioned to make accurate renderings of a home’s architecture and furnishings. During the first half of the 19th century, interest developed in rooms themselves, as distinct from interiors being depicted simply as a backdrop to a portrait or a scene with people. First the aristocracy, then the middle and upper classes participated in a movement to document their living spaces.
In 2009, The Smithsonian ‘s Cooper Hewitt Museum presented “House Proud: Nineteenth-century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection,” which looked at the representation of domestic interiors in 19th-century Europe., and how it changed over the course of the century. “The paintings were usually made after a room had been redecorated, or they were made as mementos for royalty or their families,” curator Gail Davidson explained in a podcast. “They would put the interiors in albums and turn the pages and reflect on their lives and what the rooms meant to them.” House Proud featured paintings from several European countries that not only are beautiful, but reveal much about the design trends of the period. “At the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, you see a more impressionistic kind of painting,” Davidson said, “which you didn’t have earlier on in the century, where everything was much more meticulous.” There was a gradual movement away from precise, architectural drawings to more subjective, inviting portrayals.
One of the most accomplished interior artists of the 19th century was an American named Walter Gay. Although born in Massachusetts, Mr. Gay lived and worked for most of his life in France with his beloved wife Matilda. His works, depicting interiors in his own homes as well as in those of wealthy friends and acquaintances, serve as a lasting record of European and American interiors and taste of the 19th century. His interiors are not precise renderings of a space, but a more impressionist representation. Mr. Gay said that the purpose of his art was to capture the “spirit” of a room. Below are three of my favorite interior paintings by Walter Gay, which I believe illustrate how magnificently he succeeded.
To learn more about Walter Gay and his work, I recommend these two books: A Charmed Couple: The Art and Life of Walter and Matilda Gay, by William Rieder, and Impressions of Interiors: Gilded Age Paintings by Walter Gay, by Isabel L. Taube.
Mark Hampton was not only a talented interior designer, but a skilled artist in his own right. In his book, Mark Hampton on Decorating, Mr. Hampton complements his delightful and extraordinary advice on decorating with exquisite watercolors of his own creation. A few of my favorites appear below. Although separated by almost a century from Walter Gay's work, Mr. Hampton's paintings also invite the viewer to imagine the elegant dinner party that is about to take place, the quiet study in the middle of the day, or retiring for the night in a plush canopied bed.
One of my favorite discoveries was a series of original watercolor interiors created by a little known (but quite talented) architect in Washington, D.C., Richard Plyler. I spotted this collection at a Virginia auction and knew I needed to have them in my shop! Here are a few—the detail and depth of color make these pieces more real than a photograph and quite literally draw you into the space. To view these beauties, stop by our New York showroom or click here:
A well executed interior drawing or painting is much more than a beautiful work of art. It is an historical document that illustrates the decorating taste of the period and how tastes and trends have changed over time. It can also inspire contemporary designers to re-interpret the taste and style of other periods and incorporate them into today’s interiors.
After all these years, I finally decided to make the pilgrimage to High Point Market. Although I was there for four days, I felt as though I barely began to explore this vast market place. More than 2,000 exhibitors in a total of 180 buildings, showcase their newest collections of antique and contemporary furniture, as well as the dazzling array of lighting, accessories and much, much more. While I have had plenty of experience shopping big shows and generally know what I am looking for, even my eyes were glazing over at the end. Advice to the first time market attendee: Make sure you do your due diligence before your trip. You won't make it to every showroom, so prior to arrival, plan your visit and make a list of your "must sees." Otherwise, it all becomes a big blur!
My first stop was the Antique and Design Center, a collection and antiques and vintage vendors, showcasing furniture, lighting, mirrors, accessories and art. For the most part, I was impressed with the range and quality of the offerings--a mix of European antiques and mid-century furniture and lighting.
One of my favorites is French Bleu Antiques, a lovely husband and wife team offering interesting high quality pieces in an attractive display.
Another must see is Delray & Associates, an eclectic mix of European antiques, lighting and accessories. Carol Pollard is a stand out for mid-century furniture, lighting and accessories, and I loved visiting with David Lindquist of Whitehall Antique, based in Chapel Hill, NC. A charming and knowledgeable dealer, David explained to me the wonderful story of "Museum Bees," a collection of wall hangings made from 19th-century frame fragments.
After a couple of days at the antique markets, I ventured to the International Home Furnishings Center (IHFC) building to check out the new products. The first floor alone is 80,000 square feet! The first four floors are mainly accessories and lighting, whereas the top floors house furniture showrooms.
Here are some of my favorite finds:
In addition to High Point Market showrooms, there are some stand alone shops as well. A few of my favorite stops are Bobo Intriguing Objects, Schwung and Eloquence.
Eloquence is a beautiful, light-filled showroom on two levels with an impressive array of French antiques mixed in with high quality reproductions.
A note about Southern hospitality: in every single showroom, shoppers were offered a variety of beverages, and in many cases, a full buffet of appetizing dishes. No doubt this was all intended to keep the customers in the shops, but it was done in a gracious, welcoming way. The entire week was a "who's who" of the design world and there were parties and receptions galore. Two of my favorites were hosted by Kravet and Kate Spade Home Collection
There were two recurring themes in all of the markets I visited: horses and flowers--they were everywhere! Here are some of my favorites:
I am delighted that I was able to experience this market that I have heard about for years. It is quite an undertaking to put this show together, and it is clearly the result of hard work and many hours of labor on the part of the organizers and vendors. It feels somewhat like the Super Bowl of the furnishings world! The challenge is to weed through it all to find some treasures. After going once, I am already looking forward to my next visit to High Point and to making new discoveries!
After the cold and dreary days of a New York winter, it is great to soak up some sun and experience the colors and vibe of Palm Beach. This narrow island and its unique, chic style is always a source of inspiration. Palm Beach offers beautiful beaches, tree-lined streets and pristine avenues, a wonderful architectural mix, and colors everywhere. It offers energy and renewal every time I visit.
What I love about Palm Beach:
Flowers—gorgeous, lush blooms, everywhere in sight!
Loved seeing what’s new at Roberta Roller Rabbit—these colorful quilts and bed linens are not only visually appealing with their vibrant and cheerful colors, they are heavenly to the touch!
My first visit to Hive Palm Beach—A tasteful collection of furniture, lighting and wonderful accessories in a beautifully designed setting. A must see!
Dixie Highway - A trip to Palm Beach would not be complete without a stroll along Dixie Highway, to feast the eyes on the fabulous cluster of antique and vintage shops. One of my favorites is Scandinavian Antiques and Living, which houses a superb collection of Swedish and Danish antiques as well as modern art and some exquisite mid-century Swedish glass lighting. Pictured here is a stunning Danish bench and a round painted and parcel gilt table, both 19th century.
Café L’Europe—always so elegant. Not only is the cuisine delicious, the flowers and table settings are worthy of a magazine cover—colorful, festive, always delivering a wow factor. I loved the simplicity of this place setting with the napkin folded and tied with a pastel satin ribbon.
A new kid on the block is Island Bee- a great spot for delicious, healthy smoothies made from fresh fruits and veggies, and flavorful acai bowls.
Colors—everywhere you look, there are beautiful blues and green, inspired by the colors of the sea as well as luscious greens, pinks, purples, salmons and magentas. Not only in the flowers all over town, but in the interiors and exteriors of the buildings, not to mention the outfits! Palm Beach style is colorful, cheerful, yet restrained. This special place is about gracious living, elegant yet comfortable surroundings and always the epitome of chic. Here are some of my favorite vignettes:
Of course at the end of the day, it is great to enjoy a tropical cocktail or a yummy margarita! The bartender at Echo makes an exceptionally good ones!