A Touch of Whimsy






“Whimsical” is Cole & Son’s brilliant new wallpaper collection inspired by classic children’s stories. I think the designs are appropriate for more than just children’s rooms. In the right bedroom a few of the soothing, dreamlike patterns could work well. I always try to use impactful paper in powder rooms, and these imaginative designs are perfect. The charming whimsy of the “Whimsical” collection puts a smile on my face, and I’m sure I’ll find clients this year who’ll agree.



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Family Reunion at the Château de la Flocellière








I’m laying the groundwork for a family reunion next year in France, and I think I’ve found the destination. The Château de la Flocellière is located in the Vendée, near the Loire Valley, on the western edge of France. You can rent individual rooms at quite reasonable rates, but for our reunion, I think I’d choose one of the finished outbuildings, with their own kitchen, dining room and 5 or 6 bedrooms. The castle has been in the family for almost a thousand years, but since the Vendée was a hotbed of royalist sentiment, it was largely destroyed and abandoned during the Revolution. The heir, Viscount Vignial, visited the decaying ruins in 1978 and decided to buy and refurbish the property. His daughter has since converted it into a bed and breakfast. As you can see the result is a dazzling mix of authentic historic charm and modern convenience: classic, timeless, tastefully opulent.

Now I just have to convince my sister that it would make a perfect backdrop for a gathering of four generations of our family!


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Knee Deep in Rugs


Here I am, submerged in a sea of handmade rugs. The breadth of options can overwhelm, but armed with the palette of fabrics and colors I’m using, like a good detective I search relentlessly for the perfect solution. After exploring a mountain of choices, often in multiple showrooms, I track down the rug that fits the scheme. It might be an Oushak, Sarouk, Tabriz or Peshawar, from Turkey, Spain, Pakistan or Tibet. Finding the correct size in stock is important, because custom sizes can take many months.

I spend a lot of time and effort on rug searches because they set the table for the design. Few single elements are as instrumental. Beautiful rugs are works of art, and occasionally they become the inspiration for an entire scheme. So it’s important to get this design challenge right.



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Even on a Cloudy Day You Can See Manhattan



Just started work on a lovely apartment in a Montclair building constructed in 1901. The large windows bring bounteous light and offer an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline. There are charming details like the stained glass above the entry to the living room, but the tall ceilings, traditional details and that knockout view make it special. Now that I’ve measured I will begin imagining the design, partnering with my sophisticated, knowledgeable clients.


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Moving Right Along

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Plans have been approved, orders have been placed, and it’s time for the design to start taking shape. The family room, featuring an octagonally shaped cove ceiling, is being painted in a high gloss color to reflect the recessed light around the open molding. The result will provide a welcoming glow for family gatherings.

The scratched and faded wood floors are being refinished throughout the house. Here, we’re deciding on the stain for the dining room. Every home is different, so we have to see how several stains look in the space. We chose the option with less of a red tint because the existing floor already has a reddish tint. As time goes on the red would become even more prominent. The process of refinishing is intensive—sanding, cleaning, resanding, staining, with 3 coats of oil finish varnish.

Next we install the carpets and window treatments…

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Water Worlds




It’s pool time in the Northeast, a client is thinking of installing one, so I was checking out some options when I came upon these photos. Not impressed by the décor but very impressed by the pools themselves. For underwater ballet you can’t beat the see-through version. Infinity pools are common these days, but the other two pictures are interesting variations. One is fitted to an elevated space like a tailored suit, while the other unites the pool with the surround seamlessly, imparting a restful, Zen-like ambience.

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From Night to Day



My client’s daughter’s room is starting to take shape. What had been a fairly dark, sad room is now upbeat, with bright blue walls, a soft white carpet and gleaming white ceiling. The bed frame is in, and when the bedding and lighting arrive, it will be a lively, cheerful place for a teen to hang out.


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Cozy Manhattan Pied à Terre





File this under jobs I wouldn’t turn down: A triplex co-op atop the Pierre Hotel, practically a steal after its price was cut in half to $63 million (!). The prewar French chateau-style residence, once owned by J. Paul Getty, has all the elegance that modern glass and steel buildings lack, with 23-foot ceilings in the ballroom, sweeping terraces and working fireplaces. The existing interior design is somewhat staid and unoriginal. I’d accentuate the high barrel ceilings, tall windows and expansive views, giving this magnificent space the presence and drama it deserves.


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When Bread and Butter isn’t Just Bread and Butter

After watching this video, you realize how bread and butter can be one of the most exquisite gastronomic experiences. At least it can when it’s served in Dan Richer’s restaurant in Jersey City.

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House Call


Few days pass without home furnishings reps paying us a visit. Some just stop by, updating our library and hoping for a few minutes to talk about their line. Others come by appointment to present extensive samples of their latest offerings. Sometimes we call them in to provide a solution for a pressing client need. In the photo above, I’m deciding on wood finish options for an upcoming client presentation.

While I go to the High Point Market every year, there is plenty that happens between markets, and the reps keep us plugged into the latest changes. The good ones are partners who perform a vital function. I’ve known many for years, and they’ve become valued members of the Belle Maison family. We look forward to their visits and invariably learn something that helps us do our job better.

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