The Indestructible Beauty of Paris

We’ll be in Paris at Christmas, and after the horrendous terrorist acts—mercifully my family was spared—we will express our sympathy and solidarity with the people of this indestructible city. Here is a five-minute, speeded up tour that lovingly conveys the breathtaking beauty of the city of my birth.

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Less is More

After Paint2


Before paint3

The bottom photo shows the living room of my client’s home as it was when we began the project. Large rows of parallel windows form a semi-circle at one end, and the high ceiling is inset atop a shelf style soffit. We started with paint colors in gray tones, supporting the clean, contemporary feel of our design. The neutral grays highlight the architectural details and give the expansive back gardens more of a presence. The windows will stay uncovered, allowing the garden to permeate the space. In this case less is definitely more.

The ceiling is sprinkled with tiny fiber optic lights, which produce a planetarium-like starry sky effect at night. Because of these lights the vertiginous ceiling had to be painted by hand, no rollers allowed, testing the skill and daring of my intrepid painters.

In the middle picture, you can see part of the new fireplace mantel, which literally weighs tons and needed 6 men to carry it. We’ve dramatically upgraded the size of the fireplace. The new one will reach all the way to the base of the upper window. It will become the focal point, fitting the scale and drama of this grand room. More to come…

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Rubik’s Cube Buffet

Finding the right client for this bizarre buffet would be difficult, but you have to admire the workmanship, detail and imagination that went into designing it. The images are copies of eighteenth-century artwork in a Delft china blue, and its multiple slices of beautifully crafted tile make it look like an oversized, decorative Rubik’s Cube. It does open, as you can see, with usable storage perhaps as a liquor cabinet. After a few drinks, however, the surreal design might make you think you’d had one too many.

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The Skinny on Veneer


There were impressive samples of wood veneer finishes at High Point this year. Veneers are very thin pieces of wood that are glued to inner panels on tables, cabinets and other furniture. The wood is taken from the tree across the growth rings, yielding the hallmark veneer grain, each species of tree offering different patterns and colors. Specialized veneer-making tools further differentiate the options of finish, which can range from the subtle, intricate details of the top piece, to the striking, multi-hued drama of the other two.


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Raising the Quality of Your Game (Room)




Game rooms are great, but they always look like, well, game rooms. This company produces perfectly useful, robust table games that happen to also be quite attractive. The foosball, ping pong (with faux rawhide net) and shuffle table have a warm, woody feel that I could work with. My game room featuring these pieces (think deep leather sofas and patterned wool rugs) would be as elegant as any room in the home. In fact, it would become a popular destination without actually having to play the games.

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Barak is in the Building

In a surprise departure from his published schedule, President Obama, a devotee of interior design, made a quick trip to High Point Market during our recent trip and Rena managed to obtain an audience, getting up close and personal with Barak. They bonded when the conversation turned to the relative merits of textured wallpaper vs. fabric.

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If it Looks Like a Rose…



I have a silk (fake) plant outside the side door of our studio here at Belle Maison, and, while it’s received numerous compliments over the years, not one viewer has suspected its inorganic nature. At High Point I’m always impressed by the creativity of my favorite silk greenery supplier. You really do have to touch the leaves to discover their secret. Although you could create an entire classic garden using silk plants, I tend to use them in concert with the real thing, totally confusing the issue.

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Wall of Mirrors


Sometimes a showroom at High Point will get the juices flowing in intriguing ways. In this case, I can’t say I would ever put all these pieces together, especially the Chippendale mirror in oriental red, but what struck my fancy was the mirrored wall. The entire wall to the right is a mirror, giving the illusion of a much larger room. With the right pieces the illusion also provides drama and character, much as an inkblot creates a unique composition from a mirrored copy.

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Hi-Tech Update



As I place my order for the 2016 diary refill for my Filofax organizer, I’m reminded of a 4-year-old post singing the praises of this vital tool.

“For me, the digital world of organizers is missing one key element: dimension. My world of interior design is three-dimensional, as is my old-fashioned leather Filofax organizer. In addition to appointments and contact info, it allows me to store pertinent floor plans, fabric and paint color samples, and assorted paraphernalia vital to my work.”

This all remains true, and while I am tethered to my iphone for email, texts and apps (Waze has changed my life), my Filofax organizer is one tool that is, for me, irreplaceable.

PS:  The other picture shows me using another old-fashioned gadget, the pencil, to draw a floor plan. From another post: “I can draw whatever I can see in my mind. The computer draws within the parameters of a computer program. So it will always exist in a space between my imagination and me. I prefer to avoid the filter.”


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Utagawa Kuniyoshi at the Petit Palais






I was Skyping with my artist sister in Paris recently and she raved about an exhibit at the Petit Palais Museum. It features the work of Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1862). I was struck by the almost surreal quality of these images, produced at a time when Western art was just beginning to emerge from strict realism. The work seems to prefigure the Impressionist revolution in France soon after Kuniyoshi’s death. It is said that Monet and Rodin were great admirers. Kuniyoshi’s work greatly influenced the Japanese art of manga, as well as tattoo art. Here is a sampling from the exhibit.

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