Nesting Vase

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I’ve used nesting side tables many times as a furniture option. The best ones combine both elegance and functionality.  This is the first time I’ve seen the idea translated into a vase, and a very attractive one at that. Designed by Ron Arad, the vase is made up of four pieces using a Turkish technique that wraps colored glass rods around molten glass to create a spiral striped look. The vase looks equally appealing empty or full, the shape and the striped design creating intricate patterns and shadows. Like a nesting side table, the four individual vases can also be used separately, as Arad says,  “…so you could have four bowls doing different things, with apples in the base and flowers in the top for example. They can work together or they can work on their own.” But just as a handsome nesting table looks best in one piece, this dramatic vase is most impressive as a wonderfully integrated objet d’art.

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The Urge to Accessorize

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Just prior to exiting our home in West Orange to make room for its new owners, we shipped the furnishings we’re keeping to our new apartment in Montclair. We spent last Sunday delving into the jumble of boxes and assorted odds and ends that have been stored in our bedroom while the restoration is in progress. After three hours of mostly cleaning and moving boxes from one room to another, we called it quits for the day. As my husband took a picture of some boxes in their new temporary home, I had to place a flower in the frame, my accessorizing instincts too strong to resist.

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Eat, Drink and Check Your Email

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At one end of my client’s generous sized kitchen, with pearwood cabinets and granite top, is a stylish dining area overlooking a well-tended garden. In the foreground is a bar that can serve gatherings in the adjacent family room. The dining area is anchored by a large clean-lined cabinet painted in antique gray. Stored in the side doors are phone chargers, laptops, and other electronic essentials, with the table as a convenient desk. Panels are a Jim Thompson fabric that gives a soft look to this light infused space that’s equally convenient for work or play.

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Inside a Renovated Farmhouse

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When I first saw my client’s renovated farmhouse I was intrigued by the unusual layout. A stone double fireplace juts into the living room like the prow of a ship. The hand-hewn beams on the ceiling and walls add further character, while the open plan offers interesting possibilities. In short, I couldn’t wait to get started.

The family loves the outdoors, and they wanted a useful, understated, attractive design using durable materials. Working in counterpoint to the colonial era framework, the design features a lively mix of the contemporary and traditional.

Upon entering you see an inset wood burning stove faced by four club chairs in textured wool with brown leather seats. My first nod to the outdoors is the animal skin-like fabric covering the chairs, and an animal skin rug that helps define the seating area. The trays atop the ottomans provide storage or, when flipped, allow for comfortable leg stretching. A more traditional skirted table and chair provide the link to the second of the three seating areas. This alcove, with the second inset fireplace, is dominated by the baby grand piano, with a large ottoman covered in another pattern of faux animal. There is one fabric used on all the windows, a linen with embroidered diamond pattern.

Across the room is the final seating area, with comfortable sofa, two oversized leather ottomans and quilted leather swivel chairs. The ottomans with their leather straps are evocative of a bygone age of travel, perhaps an African safari. The whole room has echoes of outdoor adventure, combined with an up to date elegance.

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When a Hip Flask isn’t Enough

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Among last weekend’s antique finds were these two flasks. I was informed that the tall flasks were specially designed to fit inside boots, to maximize the quantity of liquor that could be hidden on the body. For those special occasions when a hip flask isn’t enough.

 

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Restoring a Classic

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I’ve been involved with my client’s Tudor restoration from an early stage, working with contractors and craftsmen to create a new home in classically traditional style. You can see the living room in this series of photos from the rough beginning to finished surfaces to finished room. I used a neutral palette with red accents to lighten what can be Tudor gloom, as well as to highlight the multiple wood surfaces. The curving staircases provide entry points from the foyer, so you see the entire room from above. Two oversize lounge chairs and the sofa are covered in antique velvet, flanked by chairs in striped red fabric. Blue and white ginger jars border the fireplace, and an antique silver chandelier hovers above the Oriental rug and European carved wood cocktail table. There are a host of detail touches—the small burl box on stand table between the chairs on one side, complemented by the candlestick table on the other—that fit the Tudor theme and add visual elegance.

This project is a favorite because I love taking an older home and restoring it to better than new condition, dressed in timeless, traditional style.

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Not Your Mother’s Kitchen Sink

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I came upon The Galley at the Architectural Digest Design show, and it intrigued me on several levels. As I plan my client’s Manhattan apartment, the idea of creating a space-efficient and good-looking kitchen with this innovative sink design makes a lot of sense. Using an array of sliding cutting boards and purpose built tools (cutting boards, colanders, drain rack, etc) the sink becomes a compact workstation, where you do it all, from prep to clean up. In the confined space of a New York apartment, it’s a cook’s delight. Even in my more spacious kitchen at home it would be a wonderful addition, streamlining the cooking and cleaning process so that I could focus on creating the perfect menu!

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When is a Book not a Book? When it’s a Blook

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Tea caddy, the perfect gift for tea-loving bibliophiles.

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For the smoker determined to keep the habit hidden, between the covers of this blook.

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Portable camera is somewhat bulky by today’s standards.

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James Bond camera with built-in flash, circa 1890s.

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Noel Coward signed flask, for the literate drinker.

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Mid-century alarm clock in three volumes, with the title Time.

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Open the cover of this blook and the hidden snake will take a bite of your finger.

I have used fake books for a variety of decorative purposes, but it wasn’t until I heard of an exhibit at the Grolier Club in Manhattan that I became aware of the fascinating diversity of the genre. Mindell Dubansky started collecting fake books twenty years ago, and even coined a name to describe them: blooks, for book-look. It seems they’ve been around virtually as long as bound books, and their uses defy categorization.

How about a carved box with a hidden snake, ready to snap at the fingers of those who dare open the cover? Or a tea caddy blook with a paper theatre embedded on the lid. A sub-genre of camera blooks arose in Victorian times when it was considered rude to use hand-held cameras (hard to imagine in the era of the selfie). Pin cushion blooks, alarm clock and radio blooks, blooks with alcohol flasks or perfume bottles, even blooks made of stone. There seems to be something about the book as object that people find irresistible. I know I do.

 

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Hi-Tech Update

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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.”

Amen.

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If it Looks Like a Rose…

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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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