Monday, August 18, 2014

Fantasy in Decoration VII

Tony Duquette

RR Corniche 

Billy Baldwin AD

Mary Wells Lawrence, Great Book!

Mary Wells Lawrence

La Villa Fiorentina when the Lawrences owned it

Mr. Baldwin's role in Mrs. Lawrence's domestic education was inestimable. ''Billy was very naughty, but so amusing,'' she said. ''He'd say things like: 'You don't know anything about this -- I'm going to tell you how to do it. This is how you sit in this chair. This is how you eat at this table.' He'd tell us how to live in a certain room. He thought dining rooms were boring, and you should eat everywhere.''

Blonde beach boy


Mr. Baldwin had already left for Nantucket, the secretary said, when my chaperone for my grand tour, Robert Morring, an antiques dealer from Atlanta, phoned his office.  So, we left our hotel and went to a very smart party at the Sutton Place apartment of Joseph Braswell~ this was back in 1977 or so...three years later I was back from Europe, and living in Manhattan, studying interior design with the old Parsons faculty !  My life was terribly exciting, dangerous even~

Billy Baldwin

New painted brick masonry, made to look old
I adore the fantasy look of this house~ A lot of the older homes in Winston-Salem, where I grew up, look like this one- only with more vines attached.  
When Mary Berg, later to become famous as Mary Wells Lawrence, was growing up in the small town of Poland, Ohio (near Youngstown) she had a recurring dream about a white house perched on a cliff above an ocean~ thirty-five years later she purchased La Villa Fiorentina, on the French Riviera and spent the next thirty years entertaining there.  
But it was ten years of work before she got to spend even a two week holiday in the house, since she had become the top advertising executive in the United States, as head of Wells, Rich, Greene. (NYSE)  I've always been intrigued by her Pygmalion-like success story.  Inspiring!  Cheers!  DF *****



  1. A very interesting post, thank you! You touched all the bases as far as I am concerned – La Fiorentina, Joseph Braswell, et al – I wonder if ever I'm in Florida or you in Atlanta we might meet?

  2. Dear Blue,
    So glad you liked it- yes! Let's do plan to get together, I want to meet you and the Celt.
    My email address is listed on my facebook badge in the right column of DFS.

  3. Jeanne/Washington, DCAugust 19, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Hi Dean,
    Really amazing, and that green fabric on the gilt frame Louis style chair (Tony Duquette) -in the pic at the top- is exactly the finish on the fireplace surround in the lobby of my apartment building. Dorothy Draper designed it in 1950!


    1. Jeanne,
      Wow! Would really like to see a picture of your lobby! Thanks for all of your kind and thoughtful comments!

  4. amazing how your life was + & is + loved this post

    1. Peggy,
      You are too kind! I enjoy your writings also- BTW, have you seen a site called wowowow ?
      Lily Tomlin is one of the founders- along with Dr. Jane Wagner, her partner- (now wife)


Please do comment, love the rapport!