As a dog lover, I’m familiar with the desire to pamper our canine companions with clothes, toys, the best day care or lodging when necessary, and whatever else their cuddly hearts require. Now you can give them their own luxury furniture. No more old, ratty pillow or blanket. Your pet can lounge on this comfortable day bed, because after all, isn’t he or she as deserving of an elegant place to relax as anyone else in the family? The fact that the attractive piece will not let down the quality of your interior scheme is an added bonus. Note the bowl in a wooden surround at the lower right of the photo. Kind of like giving your dog their own butcher block countertop to eat at.
I stay with my sister when I visit Paris, but after viewing photos of Maison Favart Hotel, I’m tempted to spend a night there on my next trip. At the very least I’ll stroll over to the rue de Marivaux and take a closer look at the dazzling décor. After an 18-month renovation, the 190-year-old building has taken as its theme Charles-Simon Favart, impresario of the prerevolutionary Comic Opera of Paris, and his significant other, Justine Duronceray, the actress who stole his heart. Photos and other mementos of the couple and their theatrical history abound throughout the hotel.
In the mix of eighteenth century French interior design with contemporary accents, the style mimics my own. The applied moldings, chair rails, decorative wood appliqués, toile de jouy paper—all redolent of eighteenth century design—work hand in glove with the contemporary colors, flooring and occasionally more modern furniture choices. The piece de resistance must be the “Relaxation Pool” in the lower level, with its reflecting mirrors and cascading water. I’d like to think Mr. Favart and Mademoiselle Duronceray would have approved of the grand theatricality of this spectacular renovation—a triumphant blending of the classic and the modern.
When a client recently told me how nervous she was at the prospect of her home renovation, how difficult she found it to imagine the end result, I shared the story of a project in South Orange that I finished several years ago. This was a substantial renovation and is an ideal example of how well the designer/homeowner partnership can work. It was truly a journey of discovery, and one of the more propitious discoveries was in the master bedroom. When we explored the closet added by the previous owner, the remnants of an abandoned fireplace were found, which had shared the chimney with the fireplace on the ground floor.
As part of the extensively remodeled master bedroom—opening a wall and closing off a hallway bath entrance to make a suite—I convinced the homeowners that we should create a wall in mahogany, using the fireplace as the focal point. The advantages are both practical and stylistic. There is a classic elegance to the depth and sculpted lines of the panels and vertical columns of the mahogany wall. The rich wood tone is then continued in the master bath, just visible in the photo, with custom wood cabinets and checkerboard stone floor. The wall also offers storage for books, and provides a seamless housing for the gas fireplace edged in marble, and the inset TV.
What I explained to my apprehensive new client is that renovation presents the opportunity to transform an older, character filled space into an idealized environment, truly the home of her dreams. To make this happen a high level of trust between interior designer and homeowner is vital. When I saw the remnants of the old fireplace behind the bedroom wall and shared with my South Orange clients how the mahogany wall would lift the master bedroom suite to an entirely new level of beauty and usefulness, they decided to go ahead. I had worked with them before, the trust was there, and so is the result.
See more images of the South Orange renovation here, and more before and after shots here.
I’ve long admired the brilliant artists at the turn of the twentieth century in Paris who explored printmaking to produce such extraordinary works of art. Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Bonnard, and Vuillard are among those who transformed a process that had been used primarily to reproduce existing paintings into an art form of its own. These innovative artists combined etching, engraving and other specialized techniques to create original prints, usually produced in small quantities. Later, some of these evocative works were reproduced as posters, theater programs, and in books and magazines, which is how many of us know them today.
This volume is based on a collection at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and it presents a fascinating history of the period, as well as lovingly reproduced examples of the finest Parisian printmaking. Paging through this book takes you back to an exciting time when brilliant artists started a revolution that created some of the artwork we most treasure today.
Having tried roughing it several times, in quite beautiful surroundings, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not the camping type. However, several friends have told me how spectacular Africa is, and that I must see it. Well, I’ve found several destinations that meet my safari criteria. Admittedly they are not among the more out of the way African locations, but they make up for the wilderness feel by being breathtakingly beautiful and blissfully comfortable. There are even a few tents in which I wouldn’t mind spending the night. I’m assuming the food would be at the level of the décor. I can hear my friends looking down on these not very daring choices, but they are definitely my kind of safari.
One of the challenges of good interior design is finding lighting fixtures that work in an integrated, yet inventive way. Take these three pieces, for example. I’m using them in a current transitional/contemporary project, and they are uniquely different, yet work well together. The sconces feature sleek, clean seeded glass to give an edgy, sculpted look; the standing lamp with inventive, spun silk shades, has the delicacy of a flower bud; the rounded curves of the chandelier emphasize a delicate simplicity, with glass globes peeking out modestly from under the colored silk shade.
Lighting design choices should be original and distinct, yet stylistically coherent. Unified, not repetitive.
My client’s bath was in need of a complete overhaul, and the wish list included a new tub, shower, double sinks, and a makeup table.
Working with my favorite contractor we closed a hallway entrance, doubled the size of the shower, created a half wall for makeup table and a cozier space for the tub, and moved the washer and dryer from the basement to an adjacent space next to the shower. With the flow and efficiency improved, I devised a scheme using dark emperador stone as the key material. The plush, veined stone surrounds the tub, windows and shower enclosure, and as a mosaic moves from the window to the half wall, functions as backsplash for the vanities, and increases perceived height in the shower with two vertical stripes. A cats paw rug in front of the tub adds a playful touch, and shelving next to the vanities enhances storage. Wall colors are variations of cream, while the floors are a light stone.
I design my baths to be elegant and sophisticated, like classic hotel baths. They should be places for luxuriating, pampering, decompressing. See more baths here.
“I like working on old books: I like the way the wear and tear, underlinings, notes and scribblings enable me to perceive the personalities of the people who have read them. In Russia, there is a difference between a icon which has been ‘prayed to’ and one which has not; a book which has been read has the same kind of energy as an icon which has been worshiped.”
Art student Ekaterina Panikanova was walking through a flea market when she discovered a voluminous old book, faded and disintegrating. She was “struck by the difference between its original purpose and how it had ended up.” Soon she began using old books as the basis for her art, which combines painting, collage and installation. Born in St. Petersburg in 1975, she now lives in Rome, where she’s had several solo shows. I am transfixed by her compositions; the worn books hinting at anonymous memories, the vibrant ink drawings given dimension and puzzle-like context by the decaying texts. I suppose it helps that I’m a book lover, but I think these atmospheric and highly evocative artworks are very special indeed.
One of the more eccentric Christmas themed websites is Yule Log 2.0. It contains a series of short animated videos by various artists, all based around the idea of a roaring Christmas fire. You can see and hear each animation or view them all on an infinite loop. The creativity of the various artists and their very different interpretations make for fascinating viewing. Choose the full screen option and let in run on your computer as a cheery holiday ornament. Check it out here.
The streamlined, futuristic shop above is not selling the latest artistic creations from a high style jewelry designer. No, the delicate baubles for sale here are all edible, though just as artistic. This is a bakery (patisserie) in Bordeaux, France. The French take desserts just as seriously as wine, and this establishment showcases their mouth watering sweets in refrigerated displays backed with stainless steel mirrors, so that you see the gastronomic gems from all angles. I’m sure they’re pricey, but worth every euro to passionate pastry lovers like me.