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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a joyous Christmas and all the best for 2013!

And thanks for reading, everyone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Enduring rooms, Part One: "Elsie in Amber"

An old friend, who always amazes with her savvy observations on life, recently remarked that all young starlets look alike.  We chalked it up to plastic surgery.  Why settle for thin lips when you can have Angelina's?   But will these sweet nothings be remembered like a Katharine Hepburn or a Greta Garbo...or even a Ms. Jolie for that matter?  Doubtful.

There's a correlation in the design world, and it evidences itself as sameness.

Sure, we all follow trends, but hopefully a designer can transcend them.  Not that I dislike natural linen, reclaimed wood or ikat prints, but there a great big design world out there to explore.  In the next several posts I'm going to show you some of my favorites.

Elsie deWolfe sits securely in the pantheon of famous American interior designers.  In the mid-thirties, while most of the country was still reeling from the Great Depression, Beverly Hills was basking in a golden age.  It was there that deWolfe designed a jewel box of a house for Countess Dorothy di Frasso.   But what's so amazing is that 70 years afterwards, the rooms were basically unchanged.  House & Garden chronicled these interiors in their May 2007, issue, photographed by Simon Watson, and wittily titled "Elsie in Amber."

The sunroom, above, looks strikingly contemporary.  It's focal point is Zebra and Black Panther with Cacti (1936) by Charles Baskerville, which was commissioned for the house.

In a old photograph from 1944, this same room was the setting for a party thrown by Elsa Maxwell.  It included celebrities such as Orson Welles (top right) and Charles Boyer (with drink in hand.)  

The living room boldly features Chinoiserie wallpaper, a deWolfe signature.  But look closely at the mirrored treatment around the fireplace, the doors, and even the chamfered corners -- and all trimmed out with bamboo.  It's these details that make a room memorable.

The dining room also features details that verge on mind boggling.  The walls are mirrored panels in the style of Jean-Baptiste Pillement.  First, painted canvases were adhered to the wall.  Then mirrored panels were affixed on top of them, but with their mirrored backing scraped away to reveal the scenes behind them.  Whew!  Can you imagine that being done today.  Also notable are the Rococo Revival chairs and the table with the green enameled top.

A close-up taken in the dining room shows off the mirrored panels.  Behind the magnificent Hispano-Moresque commode of mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, you can get a glimpse of the walnut paneled dado that runs around the room.

The motifs of Chinoiserie and mirrors are carried through to the master bedroom.  The wallpaper panel behind the bed is hand painted.  The mirrored panel behind the Art Moderne demilune is topaz-tinted.  And the headboard:  yes, it's also mirrored (look closely.)  It's a combination of clear and topaz faceted mirrors and part of a five-piece Art Deco suite designed by deWolfe.

The master bathroom features a specially commissioned pale blue tub.

It's hard to imagine creating spaces today with so much painstaking attention to details.  When I saw last month's Elle Decor, I was struck by the color saturated bedroom on their cover.  And while it's not even close to the richness and the layers of deWolfe, it is still nice to see how beautiful jewel tones can be.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I just passed the 10,000 views mark!

For serious bloggers out there, 10,000 views is more what they expect in...a day?  An hour?   But for me, a part time, recreational blogger, it's a big deal.  And I wanted to thank each and every reader from all over the world.

Blogger, powered by Google,  provides amazing stats.  You can track not only numbers, but page views by individual posts, countries and audience.  The most popular series of Design Redux was "Curtain Call!" followed by "Bedtime".   The vast majority of the viewers are from the US, but the UK and Canada had respectable numbers as well.

Out of curiosity, I just reread "My Maiden Blog."  I set out some ideas that I have yet to do, such as "before and after" shots.  It will be fun to get to those.   And as long as I'm in the self-promotional mode, please check out my recently revamped web site,   There's a link in the right side margin.

And more than ever, thanks for reading, everyone!

Photo by Michael Kraus

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mirror, mirror -- Part IV: Mirrored Furniture

Mirrored furniture sparkles and dances with light and reflection.  It's not just a flat surface, but can have facets, which catch the light at all angles.  A mirrored piece imbues a setting with instant glamour and visual interest, and works with virtually every style.

In Baccarat's Paris headquarters, a mirrored table by Philippe Starck catches every glimmer of the Solstice chandelier.  Photo by Xavier Bejot for House & Garden.  

Mirrored cocktail (never coffee) tables are a classic.  This one, with its sinuous gilded base, is French, c. 1940, and was chosen by the NYC design team of Timothy Hayes and Kevin Roberts for a Park Avenue apartment.   Photo by William Abranowitz for House & Garden. 

The Curtis Jeré copper wall sculpture is highlighted in this shimmery cocktail table. Design and photo by your humble blogger.

Designer Sharon Simonaire used a mirrored cocktail table in the library of this house in the Hamptons.  Photo by Thomas Loof for House & Garden.

Designer Eric Hughes uses multiple mirrored tables in this Manhattan loft.  Photo by William Waldron for Elle Decor.

This lovely mirrored side table is 1930s Serge Roche, and graced the living room of a Houston home designed by J. Randall Powers.  Photo by Joshua McHugh for Elle Decor.

I used this Regency style mirrored console in the dining room of a New York apartment.

Mirrored nightstands from Oly Studio flank a massive bed in a Greenwich home designed by Lynn Scalo.  Photo by Tom Street-Porter for Luxe.

These vintage 1940s nightstands, clad in distressed mirrors, were perfect for another very serene master bedroom.  Design and photo by yours truly.

In this iconic ad for Barbara Barry's furniture line for Henredon, the mirrored doors on this armoire make the piece less monolithic.

The Quatrefoil armoire from Niermann Weeks is another example of how effective mirrored doors can be.  Design by Allessandra Branca and photographed by Thibaut Jeanson for House Beautiful.

Lots of mirrored surfaces in this confection of a room by Michael Simon.  Photo by Simon Upton for House & Garden.  But there's more...

In the same Palm Beach house, this powder room could be an homage to Versailles.  But for all its excess, it is masterful in its detail and workmanship.

Another just over the top powder room, but this one seems to take itself less seriously.  The mirrored vanity is from Island Home and the sink is actually a giant shell.  Design by Kim Coleman and Michele Green; photo by James Merrell for House Beautiful.

Though technically not "furniture," I couldn't resist showing this whimsically fabulous trifold mirror by Samuel Marx.  Alex Papachristidis has included both Marx and John Dickinson in one truly special room.  Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor.

What a fitting conclusion to the Mirror series.  This 2005 installation, "Paved with Good Intentions" was created by New York artist Ron Arad and featured mirror-polished steel tables.  Photo by Jason Schmidt for House & Garden.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mirror, mirror, Part III: Mirrors as part of Architecture

One of the most effective uses of mirrors is to build them into a space's architecture.  In this post you'll see some very creative applications, and not just for walls.

Remember when people used to snicker about mirrored ceilings?  Cheesy motel rooms in the 1970s gave them a bad name. Well, I can't imagine anyone making fun of this sophisticated ceiling.
  Source unknown.

 In a California house inspired by 1940s Hollywood architect Elgin Woolf, architect Brian Tichenor and designer Kelly Wearstler mirrored this ceiling to "mirror" the marble floors.   Photo by James Waddell for House & Garden.

Walls are of course prime real estate for mirrored applications.  In Bunny Williams's Manhattan digs, a wall of distressed mirrors offers a smoky reflection of the living room.  (Elle Decor; photographer unknown.)

Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz uses a mirrored wall to give a high-rise apartment architectural distinction.  (Metropolitan Home; photographer unknown)

In a client's Gramercy Park apartment, we opted for built in mirrors enhanced by paneling  -- more appropriate and just as interesting and dramatic as an entire mirrored wall.  Photo by Michael Kraus.

Even on a smaller scale, a built-in mirror makes an impact.  Traditional Home; photographer unknown.

A very clever use of a built in mirror is this niche in the Manhattan dining room of Adrienne Vittadini.  House Beautiful; photo by Oberto Gili.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I yearn for the day I can copy this wonderful design by Coffnier Ku Design that they created for a Kip's Bay Showhouse several years ago.  The mirrored wall is only a small part of it, but it does set off the nail heads forming a pattern all around the top.  Source unknown.

Built-in mirrors are not really noteworthy in bathrooms, unless they are as spectacular as the one above.    Elle Decor; photographer unknown.

There's a great affinity between hearth and mirror.  Two focal points rolled in to one.  This Paris apartment by Serge Royaux is just one example.  Architectural Digest; photo by Marina Faust.

Très chic and so Andrée Putman.  The Beaux Artes over mantle mirror in the background is a grand foil for her modernist furniture.   Photo by François Halard for House & Garden.

A bit more ornate than most Albert Hadley rooms, but amazing nonetheless, is this dining room with hand painted walls.  But notice the fretwork moulding just below the crown -- it's mirrored.  A lovely design detail that translates to lots of situations.  Source unknown.

A similar design sensibility informs this dining room by Charlotte Moss.  The mirrored background of the Chinese Chippendale dado add lightness to the room.  Source unknown.

No feature on mirrors would be complete without mirrored time.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mirror, mirror -- Part II: Mirrors are seductive

Mirrors are all about reflection.  Strategically placed, they can captivate.  There is an undeniable fascination with seeing multiple reflections into infinity.  There is a come hither quality that draws you in, transports I getting carried away?  Yes...I'm sure you'd rather look at mirrors.

In a dining room in Charleston, SC, I had this vintage mirrored screen hung on the wall to catch even more light and reflection.  The reflective quality is heightened by the metallic glaze on the wall as well as the shimmering fabric on the chairs.  Photo by Ben Williams.

In the same apartment, an antique French mirror placed at the end of a long hall works its magic by extending the view all the way from the front room.  The mirrored wall breaks up the expanse of hall and gives it depth.  Photo by me.

More metallic!  This reflection catches both the living and dining rooms of this Manhattan penthouse designed many years ago by Gary Hager of Parrish-Hadley.  The silver tea paper in the dining room creates a sophisticated glow.  House & Garden; photographer unknown.

In a breakfast room in the Hamptons with wall to wall windows on two sides, I hung four mirrors right next to each other to capture the feeling of a third wall of windows.  Photo by your humble blogger.

I love mirrors in unexpected places, such as on this screened porch in a Hamptons hosue designed by Timothy Macdonald.  Architectural Digest; photo by Peter Aaron.

Eastern Long Island is known for its light, and what better way to play it up than with mirrors.  I used this one to do just that.  Photo by Michael Kraus.

William Sofield's 1996 design of the SoHo Grand Hotel made effective use of mirrors, such as this mirror on mirror wall treatment for the penthouse.  Interior Design; photo by Peter Mauss.

I've had this tear sheet in my files for years.  I always loved the glimpse of that big oval mirror hanging over the daybed littered with pillows-- looks like you could dive right in!  Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz's design was featured in Metropolitan Home in 1996 and 16 years later still looks fresh and inviting.  Photo by Peter Margonelli.

This wonderfully spare yet equally dramatic mirror leans against an entire wall in a dressing room designed by Emily Summers and photographed for House & Garden by Scott Francis.  The lacquered 1940s vanity by Samuel Marx sets it off to a "T" (for Texas...yes, Texas!)

For his own modest weekend home in Southampton, architect Lee Mindel (accustomed to much grander scale and budgets) threw some whimsy into the mix.  The vintage mirror brings the outside in.  The reflective quality continues with a collection of mercury glass vases and convex sconces by André Debreuil.  Photographed for Metropolitan Home by William Abranowicz.

In this New Orleans bathroom by Ann Holden, an oversized mirror leans against the wall, reflecting the languid elegance of the room.  Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor.  

The South does evoke a sense of grand ruin and decay as in the haunting reflection of this majestic half-tester bed through a splendid old mirror.   Old House Journal; photographer unknown.

Another leaning mirror casts a long reflection in designer Kelly Wearstler's Beverly Hills home.  Photo by Oberto Gili for House & Garden.

Mirrors can also make a powerful architectural time.  Thanks for reading, everyone!