Tuesday, 30 September 2014

space: black shelving in a Madrid kitchen

Kitchenware on display is not for everyone, particularly open shelving as in this Madrid kitchen, where a modern look meets rustic and industrial style. How awesome are these floorboards? Personally I would feel more comfortable with glass doors, or wooden lower doors and upper glass doors, to protect the kitchenware but I think it can be healthy to live dangerously and step out of the comfort zone. You can always step back into it if it gets too uncomfortable. I have never had a home with black walls and, in my opinion, they either look good or they don't, depending on the quality of the painting job. Badly painted black walls, or walls in any other dark colour, are a complete turn off for me. In interior magazines it's common to see lacquered dark walls but I don't remember seeing black walls with this kind of matt finish, and matching shelves and door frames. It's probably fine with no small children in the house.

Speaking of black walls and shelving, yesterday West Elm UK posted a photo on Instagram of a new rustic modular storage collection. When I checked their website I found another photo of a single unit, or a bookshelf, which I think would look very stylish in a kitchen with beautiful kitchenware on display.

photo credit:
Pablo Zamora for AD España

Monday, 29 September 2014

Yellow walls - part three

Part three will be the last of my yellow walls posts, at least for now, as I'm ready to move on to other colours in my files. In this final one I cannot leave out the yellow drawing room in the offices of Colefax & Fowler on 22 Avery Row in Mayfair, London, designed by Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler back in the 1950s. It is probably the most famous yellow room in the history of interior design, with a rich buttercup yellow, or 'buttah yellah' as Nancy referred to it.

You have probably seen many photos and scans of this room. The above one can be found all over Pinterest and on various websites, but it always shows the room in reverse so I flipped it. I think the photo appears in the book Colefax & Fowler: The Best in English Interior Decoration by Chester Jones but I don't have a copy of it so I cannot confirm the source. The below photo by photographer Derry Moore shows the entire room.

The room appeared on the cover of the December 2010 issue of The World of Interiors, or so people thought at first. However, it was a recreation of the look of the room and one can easily spot the difference by comparing the images.
A recreation of the yellow room, which appeared in The World of Interiors, December 2010

I'm not quite done with this famous room because the above photo is supposed to have appeared in House & Garden. Unfortunately, I don't know which issue it was or when it was published, but it's interesting to see how differently it is decorated, with blue shades contrasting the yellow walls.
A room in Lady Diana Cooper’s (1892-1986) home, from the book Rooms by Derry Moore

Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler weren't the first people to choose a yellow colour to decorate a room. The drawing room at Sir John Soane's house in London (photo not shown here) is a famous yellow room and another one is the dining room at Monticello, the historical country house of President Thomas Jefferson. Originally it was painted in a colour called chrome yellow but in the late 19th or early 20th century, some sources say 1936, it was painted blue, which looks like Wedgwood blue. In 2010 it got back its yellow colour, or a recreation of the colour, with the help of fashion designer Ralph Lauren who made a generous donation.
At Monticello: the tea room seen from the yellow dining room

In 1969 John Fowler created another yellow room in the London apartment of diplomat David K.E. Bruce and his wife Evangeline. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the source of the above image, as I seem to have lost the link, but there is a smaller photo on the website of AD magazine that shows a different angle.

Finally, we head to Turkey for an exotic yellow taste. This room, which I absolutely love, belongs to an Istanbul home on the Bosphorus, owned by Turkish interior designer Zeynep Fadillioglu. It was featured in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of the Australian Magazine Vogue Living. The room has such a beautiful texture and the decorative objects are simply stunning. That enormous Chinese vase in the window, sigh!


photo credit:
1: from the book Colefax & Fowler: The Best of English Interior Design by Chester Jones (?) | 2: Derry Moore via Cote de Texas | 3: Rupert Thomas for The World of Interiors, December 2010 via NH Design (cropped by me) | 4: House & Garden via Mark D. Sikes | 5: Derry Moore, from the book Rooms, published by Rizzoli via "Tweedland" The Gentlemen's club | 6-7: Pieter Estersohn for Elle Decor, July/August 2010 | 8: John Fowler design, unknown source | 9: Richard Powers for Vogue Living Sept/Oct 2010

Friday, 26 September 2014

Dries Van Noten Spring 2015 - Ophelia inspired

Dries Van Noten's Spring 2015 Collection, which he showed at the Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday, was inspired by Ophelia, the Pre-Raphaelite painting by John Everett Millais and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was Dries at his best. If you are a lover of textiles be prepared to have your textile heart beating faster! I just knew Dries would show us something wonderful this week; it was hanging in the air, almost a tangible feeling. If I had the luxury of unlimited budget I would probably buy all the shirts, blouses and tops. Not everyone can afford designer clothes so let's hope the copycats will be inspired by Dries and we will all be wearing colours and pattern on pattern next spring. The models walked on a forest carpet, which was created specially for this show, and other Dries Van Noten events around the world, by the Argentinean artist Alexandra Kehayoglou - see a short video of the carpet in making.
If the show was a stylist's triumph, layering the infinite gorgeous possibilities of color, pattern, and weight into persuasively coherent outfits, the foundation of it all was Van Noten's roots in Antwerp, a city where merchants once brought the world's most sumptuous exotica to market. (Tim Blanks)
Van Noten also mentioned A Midsummer Night's Dream as a reference. The gossamer lightness and gilded fabrics loaned a fairy-tale element. Colors were deep and muted, as if illuminated by sunlight filtered through trees. There were dreamy intangibles, like the dresses made from tiers of chiffon floating from the thinnest straps, a twig of gold clasping the model's throat. (Tim Blanks)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Outdoor living

Outdoor living is a temporary series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating the season of summer!

This week's outdoor living area belongs to a California home, a 1960s ranch owned by Monica Bhargava, the Executive Vice President of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma brands, and her family. What I like about their outdoor dining area is the mix of styles, a rustic farmhouse table with industrial chairs, surrounded by lemon trees in terracotta pots that create a beautiful setting. In an interview with House Beautiful, Bhargava was asked what she missed most about her house when she was away travelling for work and besides her family her answer was: "Well, I miss hanging out in the backyard with a glass of wine. California has such a great indoor/outdoor vibe." Even though I have never been in California I totally get her answer just by looking at that image. By the way, I have given you a peek into her living room; it's the second image in my post about the Hermès blankets.

photo credit:
Victoria Pearson for House Beautiful, December/January 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

house tour: a rustic haven in Costa Brava

You know those moments in the life of a blogger when searching for a particular thing online and by pure accident one stumbles upon something wonderful? This house tour is one of those moments. No longer can I even remember what I was looking for on the Spanish AD magazine website when I found this house. It is located in Costa Brava, in the northernmost coastal part of Spain, further north than the city of Barcelona. You know how much rustic style and earthy, natural materials appeal to me, but what I also like about this house is how low maintenance it feels with its cement floors and simple, open kitchen units. By that I mean easy to clean. Just look at the sofas: cushions and pillows on concrete. This house, in its simplicity, is full of wonderful details, like that black and white patterned vase on the rustic bedside table, not to mention the bedroom linen.
photo credit:
Mark G. Peters for AD España

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

space: in Nicky Haslam's hunting lodge

Today I'm in the mood for something solid and the countryside is definitely a place of solidity. This space is quite different from the spaces in Modern Country that I showed you yesterday, but I like both versions of country style, the modern and romantic, as long as the design is stylish. I wish I had a better photo for you of this beautiful corner in Nicky Haslam's hunting lodge, the former home of design legend John Fowler (1906-1977), co-founder of Colefax & Fowler, but I have to settle for a scan from the May 2013 issue of Period Living. In a blog post long time ago I called myself the crazy lamp lady and this lamp brings her out! These days it seems like I'm always linking to books and I cannot skip that part now because there is this one called Nicky Haslam's Folly de Grandeur: Romance and revival in an English country house for all lovers of true country style.

photo credit:
Period Living, May 2013 via Pinterest

Monday, 22 September 2014

New book: Modern Country by Caroline Clifton-Mogg

Book review: Modern Country by Caroline Clifton-Mogg

Recently I got a copy in the mail of a new interior design book for reviewing: Modern Country: Inspiring Interiors for Contemporary Country Living by Caroline Clifton-Mogg, published by Jacqui Small. I was familiar with the work of the author but when I realised all the images were from the archives of the French magazines Côté Sud, Côté Est, and Côté Ouest, which I bought quite often when we lived on the Continent, I thought perhaps I had already seen many of them. To my surprise I only recognised a few and found myself really enjoying the book, which felt fresh. If I were to use one sentence to describe it I would say: A modern take on country living that is also stylish.

A press release from Jacqui Small states:
It’s impossible to deny ... that modern country style, although emphatically of the twenty-first century, is still based on, and evolved from, traditional rural values. Lightness of living is always important; an understanding of the things that make life pleasant, such as family and friends, comfort and ease, food and drink. Presenting some of the most exciting examples of the contemporary in interior design, Modern Country is full of inspiration on how to achieve that highly desirable ideal of comfortable country living combined with the clean lines and edited design of today.
I couldn't agree more with the clean lines part. The images I have included in this blog post should give you some idea of what the book has to offer. It truly has a modern and stylish take on country living. What especially appealed to me when going through its pages was that most of the case studies show spaces that are modern without that cold vibe, which always puts me off. What I also like is that the style is varied, there is something for everyone, and you don't get the feeling that all the homes look the same. It seems the images have been chosen thoughtfully to help the reader get a sense of the many ways of how to create that ideal country retreat, without sacrificing modern comfort.

Modern Country shows you a beautiful collection of old European coastal and country houses that have been turned into homes and retreats with all comforts needed. Also noteworthy are the wonderful solutions the book has to offer. One of my favourites is the window below, which you will find on page 23. The owners of this Brittany farmhouse cut through a thick stone wall to let in the light. By doing so they not only got light, they also got a sitting nook.

The book has four sections called Country Locations, Architectural Styles, Materials and Finishes, and Country Living. As someone who likes rustic style; the use of earthy and raw materials, the details of the Materials and Finishes part kept me reading. That section starts with the words:
There is a beauty in the texture of all building materials and a beauty, also, in the right combination of different textures used together. For most people, the first impression of a building - any building, old or new - is not one of form or design, but one of fabric, of material. (p. 106)
Modern Country by Caroline Clifton-Mogg certainly has texture, that wonderful blend of stone, brick, wood, metal, and glass, and even plaster and concrete. Its images will also show you beautiful textiles. As I said above, there isn't just one country style, there is something for everyone.

photo credit:
All images courtesy of Jacqui Small, from the book Modern Country by Caroline Clifton-Mogg
- words and views my own

Friday, 19 September 2014

Yellow walls - part two

It seems my last week's blog post, yellow walls - part one, struck the right chord. Perhaps it is the cheerful quality or the warmth of yellow that is so appealing. When one looks at various photos of yellow painted rooms it is easy to see how beautiful they look, even though the décor is not one's personal style. As I said on Friday, usually the spaces in these images belong to rather grand homes, but this week, in part two, I have also included a few in farmhouses that are decorated in tasteful country style.

I am starting with the grandeur. The first space, a downstairs room furnished in colonial style, has a tint of yellow. It belongs to the Miles Brewton House in Charleston, which is considered "one of the most important Georgian homes in America" and has been owned by the same family since 1769, as stated in an article in Town & Country. According to the resident, the house still looks so good because there was no money after the Civil War to make any changes. In the article they also point out that "the story of Miles Brewton begins almost 500 years ago outside Venice, with the villas created by Andrea Palladio," which is fitting because next we head to Italy.

These two yellow rooms, above and below, belong to the private estate of Villar Perosa, in the northern part of Italy, not far from the city of Turin. The owner is the Agnelli family. You may remember Marella Agnelli, the widow of Gianni Agnelli, from my 'outdoor living' series when I featured her gorgeous bedroom terrace at the Ain Kassimou estate in Morocco. She is one of those extraordinary women, an art collector and a style icon, and you can learn more about her by reading Marella Agnelli: The Last Swan, which will be published in October. Villar Perosa is an 18th century retreat and the above room is called salon da gioco, which is Italian for a card game room. The yellow colour is warm and I find the décor interesting, the mix of floral and animal print chairs and cushions. The large artworks are 18th century Piedmontese portraits of the king and queen of Sardinia.

The second Villar Perosa space, also in warm yellow, is called the second salon, where an 18th century landscape by V. A. Cignaroli hangs above the sofa and a painting of the Marchioness of Prie, a former owner of the villa, sits on an easel. The large rug is an antique Aubusson. Apparently some parts of the estate were bombed during the WWII and it was the French interior designer Stéphane Boudin (1888-1967) who helped restoring it. When Marella and Gianni got married in 1953 his parents had passed away and the young couple turned to Boudin for help with the estate. If you are interested in learning about its history and gardens there is an old book by Marella called The Agnelli Gardens at Villar Perosa: Two Centuries of a Family Retreat, which includes her personal photographs.
Yellow walls in a London apartment, a David Hare design.

On Monday I wrote a blog post about the late Bunny Mellon's estate in Virginia and the upcoming Sotheby's auction. The above yellow room belongs to her former New York City townhouse. It's interesting to compare this grand room to the simple rooms at the country estate, Oak Spring Farms. Do you notice the floors? They are just like the ones in the living room at Oak Spring, except there the geometric motifs were painted darker and the rugs were natural.
A yellow breakfast nook in a charming, renovated farmhouse in Spain that appeared in the magazine El Mueble.

Finally we visit two yellow rooms at the Connecticut farmhouse of interior designer Bunny Williams and her husband John Roselli. Her book, An Affair with a House, has been on my wish list for a long time and I need to do something about that. I don't know how many blog posts with wonderful images I have read where the book is highly praised as a favourite. Some bloggers have even visited the gardens and been given the opportunity to go inside the renovated barn (photo below), a former garage that Bunny and her husband turned into a beautiful home.

I have a soft spot for exposed beams and I love how inviting this space feels. I have to say one thing about the colour of the barn's walls. In this photo, that appears in her book, the wall looks yellowish, which wasn't the case in an image I found on the Bunny Williams website. First I wasn't sure if it was just a scan or if the photography made the wall appear that way. Then I looked closer at various photos taken inside the barn that all showed a yellow shade. Before publishing this post I decided to pin the image I found on her website so you could see the difference. I'm guessing the room has been painted since the publishing of the book back in 2005.

On a personal note: I woke up in a Great Britain that still includes Scotland, which I find rather comforting, as I don't believe there would be a Great Britain without it, without the Highlands and the beautiful tartans. I'm neither British nor Scottish, just a humble Icelander that calls England her home, which makes it easy for me to have an opinion like that, as the matter doesn't really affect my way of living. Hail to the Queen! In case you were wondering, yes there will be a part three of yellow walls.

photo credit:
1: Jonathan Becker for Town & Country | 2-3: Oberto Gili for Architectural Digest | 4: David Hare Designs | 5: Sotheby's International Realty via Architectural Digest | 6: El Mueble | 7-8: from the book An Affair with a House by Bunny Williams, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc via Mark D. Sikes: here + here

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Outdoor living

Outdoor living is a temporary series on the blog that contains stylish outdoor living areas and sometimes al fresco table settings. It's about celebrating the season of summer!

This blog series is about celebrating the summer season but today I'm giving a nod to autumn with a feature from the October 2005 issue of House & Garden. This Milanese townhouse and garden, with its shutters, conservatory, terrace, and balcony with large terracotta pots, kept on pulling me. It is a Studio Peregalli design and belongs to Claudio and Maria Luti. He is the CEO of Kartell, the Italian furniture company, founded in 1949 by Maria's father, Giulio Castelli. I had to include a photo taken inside the conservatory, or garden room, so you could take a peek into the garden. The table is English, from the early 19th century, contrasted with modern Louis Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck for Kartell.

I found a feature of this same house in T Magazine from April last year and had to add this sunny third photo.

photo credit:
1-2: François Halard for House & Garden, October 2005 via Architectural Digest | 3: Ruy Teixeira for T Magazine

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

autumn colours and home styling details

I had no idea what to name today's post. The title could as well have been 'feeling inspired by the October 2014 issue of The World of Interiors', even though none of these images come from the magazine. Yesterday I had to run some errands and I bought the issue in a bookshop before heading to a café to enjoy a latte. I felt so inspired by the deep colours in the issue, the textiles, art, book talk, and the various home styling. Reading the issue felt like being hit with the ideal dose of autumn mood - autumn with an element of lightness. My mind started thinking about certain images in my files, first the one above which I saw the other day on the Facebook page of Traditional Home. It is my idea of a beautiful styling with perfect colours and details. Then I started thinking about a house tour in Vogue US earlier this year, when the magazine visited Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten at his home in Lier, a city not far from Antwerp. The photo below shows one of his many stunning spaces.
In the entrance: A painting by Belgian expressionist Léon de Smet, Nude and Bouquet, 1922

In the issue there was a talk about a new book that is being published tomorrow, Green: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau, the third in a series of five volumes from the Princeton University Press (the first was Blue and the second Black). One of the images in the article was this Henri Matisse painting, but I was reminded of the colours in the one below, Meditation (Portrait of Laurette), 1916–17.

Then my mind parted with Matisse and to my mind came a particular space in a London home by designer Alidad that has a large tapestry on the wall and a yellow sofa. It's a shade of yellow that reminds me of the changing colours of the autumn leaves. If this is the interior design style you find fascinating you may want to get a copy of his book: Alidad: The Timeless Home.

I believe I have now described to you what can happen when a person sits down at a café with a latte and an inspiring magazine … it can be magical.

photo credit:
1: Traditional Home on Facebook | 2: François Halard for Vogue US, March 2014 (home of Dries Van Noten) via Handpicked by Ron & Chris | 3: Henri Matisse, Meditation (Portrait of Laurette), 1916–17, oil on canvas, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston via Architects and Artisans | 4: Simon Upton for House & Garden, March 2001 via Alidad

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

space: art meets tiles in Valencia

All that talk about art yesterday in the late Bunny Mellon's country home made me want to feature a space today with the focus on an art piece. This modern living room in Valencia is a David Lladró design. The red and white artwork that demands one attention is by Spanish artist Nanda Botella. The tiles on the floor are original tiles that were taken up and randomly placed as borders throughout the space (the other floor material is cement). Beautifully contrasting the painting and tiles is an oriental console table with two terracotta vases. Modern without feeling cold.

photo credit:
Oberto Gili for House & Garden, March 2006 via Architectural Digest

Monday, 15 September 2014

Oak Spring Farms: Bunny Mellon's country estate

On Friday I came across an interesting article in The New York Times about the upcoming Sotheby's auction of many of Bunny Mellon's possessions. Apart from personal items there will be plenty of art works, or about 400 paintings and drawings, including works by Picasso and Hopper. A Rothko painting is expected to sell for $30 million and they say the auction could bring in over $100 million. Included in the article were images of her 4,000-acre farm, Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Virginia, a wonderfully laid-back home considering the wealth of its residents. For those who don't know her story Mellon was an iconic American figure, born Rachel Lowe Lambert in 1910 into a wealthy pharmaceutical family (her grandfather invented Listerine). In 1948 she married her second husband, Paul Mellon, a billionaire who passed away in 1999. Bunny was a philanthropist, an avid art collector who had a stunning collection in her five homes (e.g. Degas, Mark Rothko, Pissarro, Georgia O'Keeffe), a self-taught horticulturist and a gardener. She was a close friend to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and replanted the White House Rose Garden for the Kennedys in 1962, and later the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. She was 103 years old when she passed away in March this year.
A photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Marshall Hawkins sits on Mellon's desk.
There is also a bust by Renoir that you can see in the top photo.

In Oak Spring she kept a beautiful garden, which she designed herself, of course, and fascinating art pieces. There was even a still life by Vincent van Gogh hanging above her bathtub. In the NYT article they point out:
But perhaps most notably, she was a passionate collector of a bygone era. She didn’t pay attention to what was in fashion; she didn’t think about future financial returns. Instead, she had understated and original taste, buying what she loved, free from the dictates of decorators and investment consultants.
An unframed Pissarro hangs above the living room fireplace, and one by Winslow Homer to the top left.
The horse on the mantle is by Swiss sculptor and designer Diego Giacometti, who was a personal friend.

I remember reading an interview with Mellon in Vanity Fair back in 2010, which she gave shortly before turning 100 years old and her mind was still sharp (the detail photo from the garden house further below is from the interview). I remember reading articles that stated she frequently wore Jean Schlumberger jewellery and that couturier Balenciaga designed all her clothes until his retirement in 1968. Then she turned to Hubert de Givenchy, who also designed the uniforms worn by her maids. The designer clothes and jewellery indicated her style and class but Mellon was so much more; an extraordinary lady, a supporter of the arts, who also distributed her wealth to those in need.
A work by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte in the stairway.
Two works by the 20th century French artist Madeline Hewes hang on the wall in the entrance.
On a dining room wall hangs a portrait by Welsh artist Gwen John.
Mellon herself designed the inner garden at Oak Spring and the courtyard. The garden house is quite unique and has a trompe l'œil decoration by French artist Fernand Renard.