Touching Base with Old Friends

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One of my mandatory stops at High Point is always Legacy Linen. I love the new blue and white design in the top photo, especially as presented with the orange accent pillow and the animal pattern fabric on the side panels. The other pic shows off a new embroidered pattern in oriental toile, which can be had in a variety of colors. All of Legacy’s bedding is beautifully made, elegantly designed, and the company is pleasure to deal with. For interior designers like me the furniture market is just as much about touching base with suppliers I have solid relationships with as it is finding new ones.

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Will it Fly?

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We always find some pieces at High Point that bring a smile to our faces. In this case a chair with a bird’s wing design on the sides. The question is, will it fly?

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Mesmerizing Metal Flowers

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One of the joys of High Point Market is discovering new artists. This year I was floored by Tommy Mitchell’s metal sculptures, used as wall art, lighting, or accessories.

In the photo is a quadriptych, a four-sectioned design of flower petals against linen backgrounds. The effect is delicate, tactile and shimmering. The interplay of light on the copper, brass, and gold leaf kept me mesmerized.

The artist was an art restorer for twenty years, before turning his hand to metal sculpture, specializing in floral designs. You can see more of his work here.

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All Sofas Are Not Created Equal

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As part of our visit to the High Point Furniture Market last week, we visited the factory of one of our suppliers a few hours away.

In the photo above can see the craftsman tying the springs to the frame. Each spring is tied eight times, (the process is called 8-way hand tied) to insure a solid yet flexible platform. A machine cannot replicate this. On inferior sofas the coils are attached with staples. Since the frame is hidden, prospective buyers can’t see this shortcut, but after sitting on a stapled sofa for a while, you’ll definitely feel it. The cured, quality hardwood in my supplier’s frame adds both durability and comfort. Poorly made sofas use lesser quality, uncured wood, in some cases plywood, making them brittle and prone to warping.

If you want to see how quality furniture is made, a walk around this factory is instructive. You won’t find any industrial robots. Just craftsmen and woman using time honored techniques and the finest materials to make furniture that lasts.

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Hanging on racks are wooden templates used to create frames.

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Finished frames awaiting inner construction.

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Cutting and sewing room.

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A Matter of Proportion

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In any space, proportion is one key to a successful design. Do the sizes of the various elements fit, both to each other and the room as a whole? The oversize chandelier and upholstered headboard give this large master bedroom suite a grandeur suitable to a room of this size. The bold prints on either side of the carved oval mirror take full advantage of the high ceilings. The mirrored antique screen, kidney shaped love seat and animal throw rug make the ample dimensions appear warmer and more accessible. The marquetry night table on one side of the bed (the skirted octagonal table on the other side is barely visible) adds a classical note to the predominantly transitional design. The proportion of the interior design elements creates a room that feels substantial and intimate, serene and compelling.

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A Great Setting for Reading or Chatting

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Four imposing club chairs that beg to be sat in make a strong statement in the library of a Tudor restoration I’m working on. The roman shades in an elegant paisley from Corragio and the muted reds and golds of the Oriental rug heighten the warmth of the refurbished wood paneling. The leather ottoman works as a cocktail table or footrest. The recessed lights and four sconces offer a variety of sources and intensity. The console with heavily carved barley twist legs provides a platform for books and accessories, as well as a base for the oil painting of a luminous town in the south of France. The room makes a great setting for that novel you’ve been meaning to read, or maybe that heart to heart chat you’ve been meaning to have.

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The Test of Time


When I received an email from a gallery owner in Manhattan, inviting me to a show featuring the work of Regina Bogat, I jumped at the chance to get reacquainted with the work of this brilliant American artist. My more personal connection with Regina was my work on the interior design of her home a number of years ago (both Regina and I don’t feel the need to mention exactly how many years ago). After visiting the show, which was a knockout, I realized it might be fun to have lunch with Regina, catch up a bit, and also see how her home has withstood the test of time. The answer is that like good wine (or, for that matter, great art like Regina’s), her home is a classic.

Regina and her equally brilliant artist husband Al Jensen, moved to the Montclair area of New Jersey in 1971, to a house designed by Conrad Rossi-Diehl. It has a north-facing skylight in a generously sized third floor studio that reminded Jensen of Parisian studios he’d worked in many years before. I met Regina after Al died and she was interested in remaking the space to fit the needs of her and her two children.

While the character of the home made the project interesting, what was truly fascinating was integrating Regina’s brilliant abstract art into the scheme. Merging traditional interior design themes with modern abstract art can be as effective as it is unintuitive. Regina’s mesmerizing canvasses make an intriguing counterpoint to the classic elements in the furniture and furnishings. Abstract art and classic interior design elevate each other.

We had a lovely lunch, and Regina explained how well her work is being received, the shows she’s had around the world, and how satisfying it is to have achieved her level of acclaim as an artist. For me, walking through her home also gives me a satisfying feeling, seeing how well my work, and Regina’s art, have stood the test of time.

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In the living and dining rooms the neutral wall colors were chosen to highlight both the light-toned wooden architectural elements and the vivid artwork. The classic chandelier in the dining room shimmers against the primary colors of the paintings in Regina’s star series, while accessories like the group of Chinese ink brushes and ornate metal box, add an exotic edge to the comfortable, classical sofas, chairs and tables.

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Built in bookcases, a super comfortable chaise covered in a Clarence House fabric to match the window treatment, and an Al Jensen painting combine to create a room book lovers luxuriate in. If anything, time has improved this space as the fabrics have developed a lovely slightly faded patina.

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The little girl who wanted a very feminine, charming room of her own is now an adult, but the room remains her adolescent dream.  The English paper and fabrics on the wall and windows anchor the space, allied with a Colefax antique bed with hand painted details, and a delicate antique dressing table and screen covered in the same fabric as the bedcover. The skirted table features lace over a plain fabric, and the overall effect is like looking through a camera lens with a soft, glowing filter, glimpsing an impossibly innocent time.

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This hallway is a mini exhibit of several of Regina’s enigmatic canvasses, one wall matte black and the other neutral against the light-toned woodwork, providing a perfect context to view the work.

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Regina’s entrancing creation with a vertical string-like structure forms the basis of this guest bedroom. The traditional window treatment lends an interesting dynamic, a play on art and design. The chair fabric color and the wood work all jives with the art.

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A corner detail in the living room features one of Regina’s star themed images, stark, unframed and demanding attention, next to an Asian piece we call a reliquaire in French—a place to store holy relics—with a Hindu/Buddhist theme. Old and new, classic and modern, combining to create a timeless appeal.

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This upstairs sitting room reminds me of a classic European spa, with Japanese prints, painted Zumsteg paper that I still adore, Asian sculpture on the desk and delicate McGuire chairs.

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Here is where the magic happens. The airy third floor studio provided a strong motivation for the two artists to purchase this property in the first place, and it remains the nerve center of Regina’s work. Her office and bedroom are adjacent to the studio, so she’d never very far from the action.

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The Rooftops of Paris

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Paris is one of the most photographed cities in the world, so I was intrigued when I found these images, offering a view of the city that I’ve never seen. When he went up on to the roofs of Paris, photographer Michael Wolf realized that “it’s a perspective most people don’t see. If you see Paris from the foot perspective, it’s all polished and perfect, and there’s nothing improvised or broken or damaged. The rooftops are totally different. The people who work up there say, ‘Oh, no one’s going to see this anyway,’ and they dump something, or the chimney is broken. In that sense, it was a Paris that I found very sympathetic.”

For me the images not only offer a rarely seen glimpse of Paris, but they also reveal that even the most functional architectural elements retain a sense of the grace and beauty of the city.

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Dreaming of a Vercors Hideaway

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I’ve mentioned that the French Resistance used the Vercors region as a hideout from the Nazis in WWII. Well, this stone house we discovered on our trip would be my perfect summer hideaway. I’d ditch the satellite dish just visible on the roof, which is the only change I’d make to the outside. On the inside I’d create a haven full of French country design cues—rich, textured fabrics, thought provoking, weathered antiques and abundant art work. Our children say that if we spent time in the Vercors they’d move heaven and earth to visit us. And why not. The Vercors is heaven on earth.

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