Overcoming Vertigo?

B10

I have a love/hate relationship with breathtaking views. Working on the Miami apartment helped me conquer the hate part. Here I am doing something I wouldn’t have thought possible: staring down over the railing hundreds of feet above the Intracoastal waterway and the endless Atlantic, without my legs turning to jelly. Next stop: the Grand Canyon terrace with the transparent floor.

Leave a Reply »

The Library on Union Street

Union StL3W

Union StLBef2

After months of renovation our apartment in Montclair is close to completion. The last major element—extensive built-in bookcases—is finished. Our books are finally liberated from their boxes, and the library, my husband’s favorite room, is ready to be enjoyed. He has alphabetized the books, and plays games with visitors showing how quickly he can locate a title. Of course I like books as well, but I also appreciate (as does he) the quality Jack Chong’s cabinetmaking, brought into the apartment in 20 pieces and reassembled. Light floods the space, which is why I’ve installed silhouette shades for my husband’s other serious pastime, TV. The chairs are super comfortable, and we create an ottoman with cushions stored under the cocktail table. The room has a magnetic appeal: we are inexorably drawn to the literary memories behind the rows of multicolored book spines, not to mention the latest episode of Better Call Saul.

Leave a Reply »

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

TEACADD1

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

Cigarette kit2

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

camera3

Portable camera is somewhat bulky by today’s standards.

cameraw:f4

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

Coward Flask5

Noel Coward signed flask, for the literate drinker.

ALARM CLOCK6

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

snake7

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.

 

Leave a Reply »

Hi-Tech Update

organizer1

Pencil

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.

Leave a Reply »

The Furniture Bible

Furniture Bible

At the Architectural Digest Home Show

The subtitle of this book, “Everything You Need to Know To Identify, Restore and Care for Furniture” says it all. When I got home from the show I couldn’t put it down. As a certified antique furniture maven, I still learned a lot from the detail and depth of information The Furniture Bible contains. While I have no desire to take on the work of my upholsterers and refinishers, I now have a much greater awareness of the skills and knowledge necessary. And I’ve developed a keener ability to judge what I should or shouldn’t buy, and how what I buy should be restored and cared for (see a recent example of a piece with tremendous potential). At the same booth I also purchased a furniture care kit, with oils and wax for treating wood and leather, to aid me in my quest for furniture perfection.

Leave a Reply »

Elegantly Empty Pages

EmptyPages

None of the books in this photo have the one thing books are supposed to have inside: intelligible words. They are either blank or filled with gibberish. This heretical idea (especially for a book lover like me) forms the basis of an interior design product category I see every year at High Point: recycled, recovered books. The colors, patterns and sizes of these books offer a designer interesting decorative options. Do I have them in my home? No, mostly because I have way too many real books. Would I use them with the right client? I already have. Using books purely as decorative objects can add substantially to the stylishness of a design. And if you’re honest, how many times do you actually open the books on most of the shelves in your home?

Comments Off on Elegantly Empty Pages

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.

LivingroomTW

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.

Library1TW

Library2TW

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.

Bedroom3TW

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.

HallwayTW

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.

BedroomArt2TW

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.

LRdetailTW

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.

Chinese RoomTW

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.

StudioT2W

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.

Comments Off on The Test of Time

Putting Your Books to Good Use

Flatbook3

As someone with way too many books, this side table/shelf/bookcase makes a lot of sense. It can help assuage the guilt of buying another huge hardcover book, because now it will do more than take up space; it will be part of a useful piece of furniture, providing a flat surface I can park my coffee cup on in the morning. Plus, I can use it to house all the books I’ve bought but haven’t read, before they disappear into the black hole of my totally disorganized collection. It’s a clever reinterpretation of the bookcase, especially in the age of the ebook, when, God forbid, actual books may soon be out of a job.

 

Leave a Reply »

“Good grief, Marge! Not my pajamas, too!”

Cartoon_edited-2

While I pride myself on providing clients with an integrated interior design scheme, I’ve never gone quite this far. I found this cartoon in a charming book from the early years of the New Yorker magazine.

Leave a Reply »

Acquiring Data the Old Fashioned Way

Maps1

 

Maps2

These days, if you want to know which are the longest rivers in the world, or the highest mountains, you just google it. The answers appear quickly and painlessly. It gives you some idea what we’ve gained, and what we’ve lost, that a similar query back in the 1820s might have been resolved by opening a beautifully made volume of finely detailed comparative maps, like the ones featured here. They compare the lengths and heights of the major rivers and mountains in a graphically engaging, thought provoking way.

No question that today the information is much more readily accessible on one of the digital devices that rule our lives. You would have had to go to a library, and a specialized one at that, to see these magnificent books. They would have been available only to the select few. On the other hand, the visual drama of the finely detailed illustrations is so imaginatively presented that they make a far more absorbing presentation of the data than you’ll find on Wikipedia. What many consider to be the dull subject of geography becomes a visually stimulating quest to find answers to basic questions of the natural world.

My interior design sensibility sees the decorative possibilities, of course. These artifacts of a lost world would be impressive on an elegant display table or simply framed as artwork. Either way they are fascinating examples of what was possible when innovative publishers were pushing the boundaries of what was then the state of the art medium called print.

 

Leave a Reply »