Tuesday, June 12, 2018

DECORATION: Using Lilac as a Neutral

(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018
Sometimes, we become obsessed with a color, or the idea of a color...and for the last few years I've been thinking about lilac, and the beauty of it as a color for decoration, and to be used in a "neutral" way.  After all, it was none other than the late Albert Livingston Hadley, who was quoted as saying that "lavender was the beige of the nineties" - (see my 2016 post on this topic here ) - something that's stuck in my brain and I can't stop thinking about- perhaps as it is so similar to what Diana Vreeland had famously said about "pink being the navy blue of India". 

Very suitably - this small parsons table had belonged to Albert- and he gave it to me before he almost threw it in the trash-!  When I got it, it was in a gold lacquer- and I could see that underneath it had once been a deep rich Parish-Hadley shade of peacock blue.  I had left it in my garage for awhile, thinking nothing of it- and then one day I slapped some black paint on it with a brush- very brushy- and lived with that for a number of years.  Below, you can see where I had piled it up with books and magazines- since I had grown tired of the bad job I had done of painting it myself- and it was very functional for drinks and even a "tv" dinner!  If you've been following me on this blog, you know by now that I am constantly rearranging my furniture and objects.  It never ends! 

I sometimes think of this room as the transformation of a small, dark, box, into a fin de siècle salon of Proustian memories and nostalgia...or perhaps just a modern "man cave" !

(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018

Once I achieved the color selection, which took less than two minutes, (Benjamin Moore) since I already knew what I wanted- I got the bright idea to use the lilac color for a sort of improvised table, where I topped a baroque style table with an unfinished plywood door- so that I'd have a long dreamt of display area for my collection of mostly "junque" porcelains- with a few antique pieces mixed in- which was very exciting and fun to do on a rainy day here in Naples.  But, before I even bought the paint, Billy and I had gone into a place called Z Galerie and found these fun ikat pillows- on sale!  So, as you can see, one thing led to another- the pillows are fabulous, but take up too much room on my small scale chesterfield, so I moved them into my bedroom, which led to totally re-arranging that space!  The small inlaid screen panels were a gift from old friends, Bing and Martin.

I also made a designer sketch of how I was envisioning the table with the porcelains...

(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018
Concurrently, I was always planning to use this fabulous, classic, "bali hai" printed linen and cotton, what Isaac Mizrahi calls a "Watteau"print - from China Seas on a pair of Louis XV style open armchairs- the color and pattern of which I was mad for-  and so is Danielle Rollins! -the blue colorway)

China Seas Bali Hai fabric

Here's a shot of the table set up with the porcelain on top- as you can see from this image, the two chairs are screaming for the new fabric- which could be done as slip covers- since I still like the suede as a reminder of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and her Rue Cambon suite above the shop- I also want to add some fuchsia and green orchids to the table-

(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018
Another option would be to make two toss pillows out of the China Seas fabric- which could then be also used on the leather chesterfield- which still needs a pair of classic swing arm lamps- flanking- also, since I took this shot, I've added some very decorative shells to the mix- (thank you Judith) which add some nice Floribbean flair- much needed as there is a white ceiling fan hanging just above this arrangement!

(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018
Thanks again to dear Linda of "Calling It Home" for the gift of the vintage lamps- very Dixie Highway-!  Here, (below image) I experimented with a Mongiardino-John Fowler inspired idea of "slipcovering" the lamp shades- not sure I love it or not- but a very charming and cozy effect!
(c) Dean Farris Interior Design 2018
This whole post is all done in the spirit of good, old fashioned, all American decorating- a byline from the old days of House and Garden, my favorite childhood magazine- but, seriously, I could have had the whole room re-painted in a deep aubergine gloss, or the deep chocolate brown I had in my New York flat- so this was a way to spruce up for late Spring and early Summer without too much fuss and the expense- always a good thing.  Sister Parish would agree, I'm sure, with this very New England approach
via Colefax and Fowler, London
Michael Whaley
Quadrille, Isfahan wallpaper
via Christopher Spitzmiller
(I was also thinking of old houses in Southampton I had seen, with unusual color schemes- and the very beautiful, recently married Countess Tessa Grafin von Walderdorff, a source of endless inspiration and ethereal, youthful beauty.)  DF
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Friday, May 25, 2018


via Madeline Weinrib

Ahhh....a summer idyll - a time to relax, reflect, and enjoy!

Mario Buatta via AD
Dean Farris Interior Design 2018

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Patina Collection/Patina Design
What's hot right now, in Naples? The Naples Design District - an exciting destination- which includes many well known architects and designers offices, and showrooms-

Coming soon- The Collective - a stunning new construction edifice which is currently underway- just near the relatively new location of Kravet Naples, another of my preferred sources for interior design projects.  Enjoy! DF ****

PS...and do check out Rose Tarlow's new space coming up soon....
on Robertson.... (via AD)

Friday, April 6, 2018


Elizabeth Taylor with Elizabeth Duquette painting, The Sandpiper

I've always enjoyed this Vincente Minnelli film, from 1965, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  I totally relate to the character Ms. Taylor played- a rebel on the beach with a paint brush- living there in a shack with her young son... and, interestingly, the painting she is shown with (above) is by the beautiful wife of the late Tony Duquette, Elizabeth "Beegle" Duquette.

Elizabeth Duquette
Here, you can see what an elegant woman Mrs. Duquette was- and so talented, just like her wildly creative husband.  They were at the pinnacle of Southern California society- and he was discovered by the iconic and famous decorator, Elsie de Wolfe, who lived in Beverly Hills in the winter...
I read with interest that the Duquettes loved to serve Mexican food at their fabulous dinner parties.  Imagine the fun they must have had!

Elizabeth Duquette
 Just look at this amazing painting by Elizabeth Duquette- a tour de force of mystical and mysterious magic- allegorical, and totally fabulous... I so admire her and her work, just as I admire my dear friend, Judith Auclair, and her amazing work with shelled objects- known as coquillage- their talent knows no limits, then and now.

Mirror, Judith Auclair, Maison Auclair

Judith Auclair is also an elegant, talented woman- and a wonderful friend of many years.  Her taste level is through the roof- and she loves, like I do, to fantasize about schemes and decorative palettes, fabrics, furniture, gardens and architecture-  and for many years she has sold her shelled creations here by the seashore- and has her work included in prominent homes including the Jeffery Smith designed house here with interiors by David Anthony Easton of New York.  She is a dynamo, and, like Francis Elkins, prefers to be near the sea, the coast- and always surrounded by great beauty.

Vanderbilt Beach, Naples, Florida
This past Easter Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending a casual but fun dinner on the beach- adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton- and took this snap shot, as the sun was setting.  While the sun was sinking into the horizon ever so slowly- our friend Norbert sang a most beautiful aria, in Italian of course- which was very beautiful and very soul enriching.  And I thought of dear Judith, Elizabeth, Beegle, and the beauty of our world.  DF ***** 

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Always a fan of John Knott and Quadrille , here is "Arbre de Matisse", one of my (also) favorite designs, made famous by Billy Baldwin... as well, I was most inspired by the new issue of Veranda, featuring the home of Lou Marotta, in West Palm Beach, adjacent to the Kips Bay decorator show house I had recently visited and posted about-  enjoy!  DF *****

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Romantic Rooms: DFID

Dean Farris Interior Design

One of my favorite rooms I've done for myself...DF

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 : A Year To Remember !

A favorite gift this year - Stubbs and Wooton slippers!

What a year!  I ended it with a blast as over sixty dear friends showed up for my birthday!  Thanks again to the hosts, Robert and Mark !

All set for the guests!
Since I received over 82 pictures of the merry revelers, I decided to not show any of them!  No favoritism here!  I was also delighted to be pleasantly surprised as my family came down just for the party!

Pillow in Brunschwig and Fils, "Le Zebre"
Another fave gift (there were many) was this lovely pillow from old friend, Judith Auclair, of Maison Auclair...you can find her at MP Interiors, suite 302, Miromar Design Center, Estero, Florida (just north of Naples)...happy 2018 !!! 

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Sunday, December 3, 2017


Dean with designer Susan Zises Green,
Kips Bay PB Showhouse 2017

Thanks to the prodding of my good friend the designer, Steven Matable, Billy and I visited Palm Beach 
(with Steve) to see the first annual Kips Bay Palm Beach Decorator Showhouse -
 I was tickled pink to run into Susan Zises Green there, as she was a friend of my former mentor and friend, the late Tice Alexander.  Her room was a stunning confection in Quadrille and Alan Campbell prints with a delicious shade of amethyst playing off of a unique one of a kind rug.

Susan Zises Green, via House Beautiful

Designer Steven Matable in Lisa Erdmann's room- KBPBDS 2017

We got a kick out of this bright yellow room by Lisa Erdmann Associates-

Bierly-Drake for KBPBDS 2017

Loved this chair treatment, possibly inspired by Pauline de Rothschild...

Stephen Mooney for KBPBDS 2017

This upstairs library by Stephen Mooney reminded me of the New York penthouse I worked on with the late Parkin Saunders- where once upon a time Joan Crawford lived!

Christopher Maya for KBPBDS 2017

One of my favorite rooms was this one- as it had a Giacometti white plaster lantern, table top, and wall plaque !!!

Fernando Wong for KBPBDS 2017

This modern sculpture in the garden was the first thing you saw upon approaching the house- stunning!  

Perhaps the best of all was visiting my dear friend, decorator Louise Cronan at her restored 1924 cottage near El Cid...it seemed as if we left one showhouse and entered another!  No surprise as she is one of the most brilliant designers I know.  
Her mother decorated the house in Atlanta that Miles Redd grew up in!  A very talented family to say the least.  DF *****

Saturday, November 25, 2017

LADIES: Some of My Favorites

Mary Hill

Sherree Woods

Selena Del Toro, Marine Linard

Micha Morelisse

Julie Britt (left)

Linda Weinstein

Bethany O'Neil

Louise Cronan

While I've (very luckily) way too many "favorite" ladies in my life, including my magnificent mama - (whom I affectionately call "Momo") - here are a few I found while perusing the photos file... and chose to share with you!
DF *****  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

ART: Collage 1970's

Collage and interior design by Dean Farris

I was reading one of my Parish Hadley books, and came across (the late) Harold Simmons mentioning how Albert would often mix modern things with more "traditional" ones- which inspired me to drag this old collage I had done about forty years ago into my living room- !

Harold and I met many years ago, when he invited me to come to the old Lilly Dache' building (no longer there) for an impromptu interview- it was a terribly hot, HOT day, and unfortunately, I was wearing a very dark blue wool suit !  I was also dragging a huge, HUGE black vinyl clad portfolio case full of fabulous over the top Jeremiah Goodman-ish renderings. Luckily, neither Sister nor Albert were there- so they missed seeing me not looking as fresh as I would have preferred.

When my old friend, the designer Thomas (Tom) Pheasant saw the collage I had done back in 1978 or so- he loved it, and said it reminded him of an illustration in W magazine, which was one of his favorites, as he always adored fashion as well as interiors.  I was flattered that he would make such a remark.

Fast forward to today, and lo and behold - I'm now managing a small, smart home furnishings boutique in Naples, called Fabec-Young and Company -  
Fabec was written up in W magazine back in 1993 when the magazine did a large spread on the town of Naples.  I love this shop, and am having a lot of fun working there.  If you decide to visit Naples, please do stop by and see me.  DF *****

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Charm of the CAROLINAS

The Pink Door, Inc. GREENSBORO, NC 
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, I was forced to evacuate my south Florida condo, and head north - to the lovely Piedmont area of North Carolina....where I spent a fabulous ten days with my beautiful family, and visited some of my favorite haunts while there too.   Ms. Kay, of the uber charming Pink Door, introduced me to the proprietor, Mr. Glenn Blair Lavinder.  A native of Maryland, Glenn is simply  smothered in taste and style, and I really enjoyed chatting with him, and soaking up his aura of southern style and manners.  He had spent part of the summer overseeing a pop-up shop in Roaring Gap, where I once was most fortunate to assist the daughter of DeWitt Hanes with (her) bedroom in her ancestral home there- (picture Nantucket in the mountains)...no small feat, since DeWitt had used Sister Parish before I arrived on the scene!

The Pink Door, Inc. GREENSBORO, NC
I was charmed by the arrangement of items on this green bar tray...known as "libations".

The Pink Door, Inc. GREENSBORO, NC
Not to mention these exquisite taffeta curtains in ivory- reputedly purchased from a Palm Beach estate, and designed by Colefax and Fowler in London... (they are not for sale).  After I reluctantly left the Pink Door, I also paid a much overdue visit to fabulous, beyond chic, Caroline Faison antiques where, SURPRISE, Caroline was !  (she had not been there on my last visit, sadly) Can you say CHARM? Can you say BEAUTIFUL?  Her grandson, Ben, helped me with my purchase of two small Canton ware plates- on his i-pad thingy, since none of the old school Carolinian's would ever dream of using such a thing! LOL!

Reynolda Estate, Winston-Salem, NC
Back to lovely, old, Winston-Salem (have you seen "Light in the Piazza"?) - I always love to visit the house museum, Reynolda House and Gardens- the former country house of the Reynolds family.  They visited it often from their estate in Greenwich, CT., before donating it to Wake Forest University.

Reynolda Estate, Winston-Salem, NC
Above, the long view of the "front yard" acres- which were created by Thomas Warren Sears, and influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted.  Way off in this direction, is the distinguished subdivision, created by Katherine Reynolds, called Reynolda Park, where I was fortunate to create an English "County" style (think Country Life magazine) foyer at 1040 Arbor Road, for the Shakespeare Festival Decorator Show House many years ago, sponsored by Selwyn and Leigh Rose, the homeowners at that time.  I used a stunning Brunschwig chintz in bright pinks and greens on a white ground for the central skirted table.
Dean Farris Interior Design circa 1986

While in town, I also visited the Gazebo (Reynolda Village) -met Agnes Butler, proprietor of All Through The House (Reynolda Village)  - J.McLaughlin, (Reynolda Village), as well as, Darren Waggoner, proprietor of Idlewild Interiors, and Larry Laster, proprietor of Laster's Fine Art and Antiques, a wonderful establishment my family has patronized for many years- and where I purchased a lovely old Mintons plate, in old blue and crackled white.  This gave me great pleasure.  His son told me he was dead when I inquired as to his whereabouts. (not true)-. This is part of the charm of the Carolina's- a "deadpan" sense of humor!  Visit and enjoy!  The High Point "market" is coming up, and I urge you to visit these fine establishments while in the Piedmont "triad" region.  DF *****

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Friday, September 1, 2017

BOOK : Thomas Britt

About This Book

This first book on the famed designer, renowned for rooms with bold color palettes, strongly graphic style contrasts, multicultural allusions, and stylish innovations, is a sweeping survey of his fifty-year career. Ever since Tom Britt opened his New York-based firm in 1964, he has been creating dramatic environments for his high-profile clients on multiple continents. His masterful design palette, with a wonderfully exotic slant, includes plush upholstered furniture, boldly patterned carpets, seductive lighting, and an elegantly theatrical use of mirrors. The resulting spaces are perfect for luxuriating and entertaining. From a chic pied-a-terre in San Francisco and tantalizing rooms at New York's famed Dakota apartment building to suburban manses in America's Midwest and a palace apartment in Jaipur, Britt's inimitable style merges saturated colors with an easy luxury. This book is necessary reading for anyone interested in the modern masters of interior design.