Paris in Color

  Colorful lanterns adorning the street during Paris Deco Off 2017  Colorful lanterns adorning the street during Paris Deco Off 2017

Paris is always a source of inspiration for me.  During my recent visit to this fabulous city, I went to Maison et Objet, the bi-annual design trade show.   The show offers an extraordinary abundance of furniture, lighting and accessories for the home and garden. It is so vast, that one needs to set aside several days to see it, lest your eyes begin to glaze over after a couple of hours.  Even more spectacular was Paris Deco Off, the design week in Paris during which all the showrooms roll out their “nouvelles collections.”  Many of the houses host special events for designers; for example, Maison Pierre Frey gave a spectacular presentation of their new collections hosted by Patrick Frey.  I also had the extraordinary privilege of spending time with Claud Gurney, founder of the magnificent House of de Gournay.  What a treat it was to wander through the winding streets of Paris and find genius and inspiration around every corner.

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!

These are some of my favorites from this colorful trip. Paris never disappoints, and always inspires!  Stop by my shop in Locust Valley, my showroom at the NY Design Center, or visit me at to see my latest French finds!

The Pinks of Paris

Yellows are Trending

My Trip To Paris

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.

Your Home is Your Canvas

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.