Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inspired Designs for the Home

Inspired Designs for the Home

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Naples Illustrated

Here's another view of the "grand salon" (builders term) in the villa I decorated for a favorite client in Naples. I like the slightly decadent atmosphere of this image. The owner changed the original sliding glass doors to the french doors shown here. The finish on the chandelier has been changed to a beluga color since this shot was taken. This house was previously featured extensively in "N the magazine of Naples". The photographs flanking the fireplace are from the Thomas Pheasant collection for Baker. Custom glazed walls by Renaissance Decor. Building by Landmark Development. DF

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fine French Furniture

Fine french furniture has never gone out of fashion. It is not at the peak of popularity right now, but among collectors is still very desirable. Decorators such as Billy Baldwin and Sister Parish fueled the fire for this passion, beginning in the early 2oth century. There was a huge mania for the FFF and it was a mark of taste and having arrived to own it. Collector Jayne Wrightsman acquired so much that she has galleries in the Metropolitan Museum full of it. Bill and I located these chairs at N.P. Trent on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. They are 18th century, and in very good condition, with fruitwood frames and silk upholstery. Dalva brothers in New York and L'antiquaire and l'connoisseur (nyc) are excellent sources, as well as Sotheby's and Christies. I had the privilege of working for the late Garrick Stephenson, another dealer in New York, and also am very partial to Frederick P. Victoria. Tony and Freddy can make anything and have been a source for top designers for many years. From Albert Hadley I learned to be critical of copies, as in a good model versus a not so good, it's all in the proportions and the details. The finish is also extremely important for a successful facsimile. DF

Fabulous Finds

I really like this carpet very much. I found it at The Designers Rug Center, in Naples. I would use it in a bedroom or a living room. Soon, I will be in the process of designing a carpet for the upcoming Nepal Rugs and Carpets/ASID Rug Design Competition. Speaking of magnificent carpets, see the incredible rug from Chateau de Groussay at Doris Leslie Blau, New York on the style blog What Is James Wearing - Truly an icon in the rug world.

Fabulous Finds

This Louis XVI style "lit a chien" or dog bed, is a favorite of mine, and can be found at the wonderful shop Maison Auclair Antiques in Naples. The finish is quite good for a copy, and the toile mixed with the leopard pattern creates interest, and makes this somewhat "modern" a la Elsie de Wolfe. Perfect for the pampered pooch ! The Louis XV style commode is also a copy (from Italy) and was discovered at Agostino's in Naples I think it has great quality for a new piece, with the spirit of the original.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Connoisseur's Guide to Finding a Decorator | Robb Report

Connoisseur's Guide to Finding a Decorator | Robb Report

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Naples Illustrated

Here is the Living Room I designed for a favorite client - which is featured in the October issue of "Naples Illustrated". This client loves to travel, and is always returning to Naples with wonderful objects from Africa, Thailand, and Italy. Her son recently was married in Mexico. And she knows Paris and New York very well. She is also an extremely beautiful woman, and once owned a boutique in Washington, DC called "So Much More". She's a lady of style and taste and a lot of fun to work with, since she makes decisions very quickly.

In this part of the villa, we used a lot of champagne colored silk, (over 100 yards) for draperies and upholstery, and accented with a red printed cotton with a jaguar motif from Fabricut. The zebra rug adds drama, and the glazed walls match the champagne silk. This room is especially dramatic at night with the chandelier glowing and the subtle recessed lighting on dimmers. The Dining Room we glazed in a deep red, and I designed a custom table. My client designed the console which is built in to the niche. Construction by Landmark Development. All interiors by Dean Farris Interior Design.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Naples Terrace Charm II

The pillow fabric is Vervain "Florescence - Capri"

Naples Terrace Charm

Here are some images from a wonderful cottage in Naples, belonging to a good friend, who is also a client. This is the third home I have helped her with, and I have greatly enjoyed our designing relationship. She has a wonderful art collection, incuding works by Milton Avery and Picasso, as well as other lesser known artists. As John Fowler the famous London decorator said, "Every room needs a kick of french" so I have incorporated into this project french style furnishings in the provincial mode. They are lovely, and so easy to live with - and we have a lot of fun moving things around from one room to another. In the cozy Living Room, we used a pair of country french open armchairs with an existing loveseat which we slipcovered. In the recently painted den we used Sherwin Williams "buoyant blue" for the walls, and a new pair of toss pillows in a Vervain fabric from Maison Auclair, with existing upholstery. The new palette of aqua and gold is quite fresh and tres' au courant. Demilune table, Martha Stewart.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bermuda in Florida

Another view of the almost finished house...

Bermuda in Florida

There are many small islands off the west coast of Florida, and on one very special island is a new house that I have had the pleasure of being associated with. I would have to say that stucco is probably my favorite (exterior) application for buildings in south Florida, and I am particularly fond of this stucco clad house. The pale pink chosen for exterior paint was very wise, and reminds me of a seashell. Of great interest is the siting; the house is sitting on a very narrow strip of land between the gulf of Mexico and the inland waterway. It is surrounded by water. Due to the high phosphorous content of the sand, the sea water is most often a bright aqua color, which looks splendid with the pale pink stucco. Nearby is the 100 year old hotel built in a Greek Revival/Colonial style which maintains the most genteel atmosphere even in this age of the internet and cellular telephones. The hotel also has a wonderful casual restaurant called The Pink Elephant. The shrimp caesar salad is excellent. Sit outside and enjoy the wonderful Florida sunshine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Albert Hadley

About eight years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of getting to know the iconic designer Albert Hadley better, when he owned a 1920's cottage here in Naples. Imagine my keen pleasure and surprise at discovering that Albert had bought a place here as a winter retreat. We had the most wonderful evenings discussing decoration and design over cocktails and dinner. I did meet two of his New York associates, Mark Sciarillo and James Andrew, as well as his local contractor, Johnny Harris. It was a great time in my life, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, having known Albert from my days living in New York. I also was able to introduce him to clients of mine, who had a larger cottage on the same street, who ended up buying his cottage when he decided to sell. His house was featured in House Beautiful. It was all done in white, gray, and yellow. I loved it, and it had a small guest house as well. Here is a picture of a Spanish Louis XV style chair I spied in the guest house, and was able to obtain from Albert for a reasonable sum. The fabric is Jack Larsen linen with a gold lame' backing which shimmers ever so slightly. I flipped when I realized that I owned this piece, and Albert was so kind and also gave me a lacquered parsons table he once had in his Living Room in New York. I cherish Albert as a mentor and a friend. He is truly an icon and a living legend in our world, just as Julia Child was to Julie !

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Santa Barbara Niche

One of my favorite shops in Naples is called LaRocco Gallery. Kitty LaRocco lived in Europe for years, and owns this antique shop with her mother. The shop is located downtown, off Central Avenue and is the best of its kind in town, and one of the best in the state. LaRocco specializes in Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Beidermier, and other eclectic styles. She has a wonderful assortment in the shop, as well as a large warehouse. Kitty is a fabulous eccentric, and has a truly unique personality. She is a pleasure to know, and very knowledgeable about her field.

I found this fifties Italian sconce at LaRocco, and I love it. When I build my dream house, it will probably end up in a hall or a powder room. The mirror is from Maison Auclair, also in Naples, and is 18th century Italian. The books were found in North Carolina at Stillwater Galleries. If you are ever in Greensboro, N.C. you must visit The Pink Door, a fabulous decorating shop owned by Glenn Blair Lavinder.

Monday, September 21, 2009


...another wonderful image from Louisiana...

Nouvelle Orleans

We had a blast last year in New Orleans for our continuing design education, with Micene' and Jonathan from Design Arts Seminars . Our hotel was the venerable old Hotel Monteleone, famous for the many writers who have resided there, and known to be haunted as well. The hotel bar was a trip, its a carousel that slowly revolves while partaking of ones libations.

Here are some random shots I took with my trusty Sony Cybershot 7.2 megapixel digital. Of course, the food was divine, and I especially enjoyed Acme Oyster House, and Deenie's Seafood. Bill and I also enjoyed Muriel's - just off Jackson Square. Heavenly cuisine and service !!!

There were more culinary splendors than I can list here, suffice to say we ended our trip with a dinner party upstairs at Antoines, one of the city's oldest dining establishments. Robbie Cangelosi, a noted Louisiana architect and native, was our guide, and we were fortunate to have someone so knowledgeable and fun to be with. New Orleans requires many trips to get the full experience. Post Katrina, it is more guarded, less secure, and has districts which are "off limits" to tourists. Gradually, the great city will recover from the break in the levee.
(Dean is wearing a Burberry shirt over Armani jeans...)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Trophy Room

When you are a big game hunter, you collect trophies, and soon you have so many you need a place to properly display them. Taxidermy has been in fashion for centuries, and establishments such as Deyrolle in Paris have catered to aristocratic hunters in order to satisfy the mania for collecting trophies from the hunt.

I designed this room in Naples, and was given "carte blanche" to select the furnishings, the only request from the client was that I see the film "Out of Africa".

Drapery fabric, Boussac of France, Lamps, Ralph Lauren. Fringe on shades, Houles'. Building contractor, Tony Palladino.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Room With A View

Here is the other side of the bedroom I designed in Grey Oaks which is featured in this months' issue of "Naples Illustrated" - The armoire holds a flat screen television. Hand painted strie' wall finish by Audrey Jake.

The view towards the pool and outlying golf course is lovely, and beckons one out to enjoy the beautiful winter weather. Sliding shoji type "plantation" shutters open to the pool, which is a delicious way to start the day. Welcome to paradise !

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Louis XIV Style

Dear readers, These models are more likely a copy from a Louis XIV style.

Louis XVI style

Dear readers, these chairs are something I love. I have had an affair with French style furniture for many years now. I enjoy all periods, however the Louis XV and Louis XVI are favorites. I like style which is mid 18th century in inspiration. These chairs I found sitting in a shop on South Dixie Highway, in West Palm Beach, on famed "antiques row" There are wonderful things to choose from, and I always feel like a kid in a candy store there. This particular shop is called The Elephant's Foot. I have no documentation on the chairs, they are most likely early 20th century copies. I love the small scale, and the way the arms flow into the seat. I hope that you like them as much as I do. They are more for looks than comfort, however, I am a six footer, and they sit very well for me. Some day I hope to have a classically inspired house, and I envision these sitting in front of tall french windows, framed by beautiful silk curtains, looking out to a manicured english boxwood garden.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Casual Dining

I created this open plan informal dining arrangement for my clients from Connecticut. Before the remodel, the kitchen was enclosed, so we took out the wall separating the kitchen from the dining area, and created a breakfast bar as well. The bar works equally well for the three children or for adults. There is also a charming breakfast nook, where I designed a custom banquette using a Beacon Hill woven stripe "Kitttredge Vert". Both chandeliers are from Fine Arts Lighting. The oval back dining chairs are from Hickory Chair. Masland carpet. Custom wall finish by Audrey Jake of Renaissance Decor, Inc.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Neo Baroque Table

Here is a close up view of the neo-baroque "wine table" I found at Rue Toulouse Antiques. Visit them at for more selections. It was described as a "French 1940's" table, however, it is not clear what vintage it is. I think it may be later, but am not sure. I love the wild lines of this piece, and it is functional for holding wine bottles. It was missing its top when I purchased it, and I imagine it had a marble top, I have used a glass top instead.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Petite Salon

I never tire of looking at and photographing my "salon" in Naples. Here, I used a tufted settee from Lillian August, in a white matelasse', gilt sunburst mirror in the manner of Line Vautrin from Wisteria, Louis XVI style armchair from the Holland Salley estate, a wine table from Rue Toulouse Antiques, mock rock crystal chandelier from Wilshire Lighting, tole shade chinoiserie lamp from an estate sale, and selenite candleholders used for topiary, from Stewart Galleries, Palm Springs, CA. I found the blue and white vases in Fort Lauderdale. The small Louis Quinze table is from Frederick P. Victoria, New York.

In honor of our lost friends and family members, there will be no post from me tomorrow. I was very surprised that Obama did not mention 9-11 in his speech yesterday. Anyone wishing to donate to victims, please visit

Heavenly Hall

This is the hall where the wet bar used to be located. (See earlier post "Martini Bar") - I do love the shadows created by the lanterns, which run in an axis across the house. Original stencilled art by Audrey Jake. Lanterns, Wilson Lighting, Naples.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Foyer view with niche

Here, In the same space where we were trying out the leopard bench, (we ended up using a bench by Alexa Hampton for Hickory Chair), I created a niche to hold a credenza, mirror, and pair of lamps. The original selection for the credenza was a more Mizner style, but alas, was too deep for the space. The mirror is custom, and was made by the Swansons at Aldecor, Naples. The faience "lion" lamps were obtained from Maison Auclair antiques, Naples. The custom wall finish is by Audrey Jake. Construction work by Robert Lenahan. Buddha, client's own.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Touch of Leopard

We had a great time last night chez bambusa, with Steve, Mel, Dorri, Vanessa, Steven, Bill, Roberta, Peter I and Peter II, Tony, Jimmy, Gary, Joe (NYC) and Mary Ellen... Many thanks to our hosts for a fun evening complete with karaoke singers !

Here's a shot I like of where we tried out a georgian style seat with leopard upholstery in the newly renovated foyer. A touch of animal motif has become "de rigeur" !

Monday, September 7, 2009

Martini Bar

Here, we created a glamorous new wet bar/wine storage area from what was a laundry room. We used a handsome ashlar pattern floor, hand painted black stripe wall finish, Wolf-Subzero appliances, and lighting from Wilson in Naples. The client purchased the silk pillows from the Jim Thompson shop in Bangkok. Martinis anyone ?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Darien in Naples

Happy Labor Day Weekend ! Here is a glimpse of another condo in Naples I remodeled with the help of one of my contractors, Robert Lenahan. We used a Scalamandre' wallcovering in the new guest bath, with a custom shell mirror by Maison Auclair Shellart.

For the Master suite, a wall of venetian plaster holds the french style bed in place, reflected in the mirror, which is flanked by Italian tole lamps from Maison Auclair Antiques. This room also contains a lovely chaise by Laura Kirar (not shown) upholstered in a gorgeous silk damask from Beacon Hill (Florian Ming). The clients are in heaven when they visit Naples.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Casa italia at IDC

Today, while shopping for clients at the IDC (International Design Center), I found this very good looking chaise sectional sofa from Casa Italia. I like the corduroy type fabric, reminding me of a picture I had seen of Nan Kempner's New York Living Room, where Michael Taylor used a beige heavy cord -

Manhattan Pied A Terre III

Readers, This is the shot that I wanted to share. Photo by Stewart O'Shields 1984

My view was of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Manhattan Pied A Terre II

Original photo: Stewart O'Shields

I wanted to show you this professional shot of my studio. Here, you can see the aforementioned sunburst and writing table, and the swing arm lamps with white lacquer shades from Hansen, (now Hinson-Hansen). The pillows are an old favorite, "Banana Leaves" in taupe on natural duck from Rose Cumming.

If I were updating this room today, I would add a Louis XV chair, a red taffeta balloon shade on the window, and an interesting chandelier. A Kenneth Noland painting would be nice too ! As it was, I had to tear out an ugly sleeping loft to make the space look like this. Someone had built a tree-house like structure in the apartment before I acquired it.

Manhattan Pied A Terre

My old apartment in NYC. Address: 11 East 66th St, # 2-D, Neighbors: Imelda Marcos, Tom Britt, Sister Parish, Andy Warhol, Carleton Varney, Garrick Stephenson. I wish I could say, like Taki, that this was just a little flat, that I "kept" in New York, but no, I actually lived here in this tiny but stylish studio. This was after F.I.T. when I worked for the big time designer George Clarkson, around 1983 or 84. Every day George and I went antique shopping in his chaufeurred Rolls Royce. Lunch at Mortimers, then call CZ Guest to see what she needed for the tennis house in Old Westbury. Those were the days ! A highlight was working on "Bella Vista" a 1920's Georgian overlooking Long Island Sound in Southport, CT for David and Shirley Johnston. Cole Porter used to live two doors down.

Here at 11 E. 66, I used a Brunschwig glazed faux bois chintz for my bed/banquettes, dark coffee lacquered walls I painted myself, and a writing table attributed to James Mont, from Bob Gingold Antiques. The gilt sunburst came from Paul Martini Antiques,and was saved from the old Waldorf ballroom. I very much enjoyed this small place, and wanted to share it with you.

Masters retreat

We just finished freshening up this master suite for a long time client, they wanted to retain all of their existing furnishings from their Chicago residence. Here, I used a Brunschwig & fils printed cotton for the curtains and bed coverlet, and Robert Allen stripe on the tester and skirt. Fringe and cording is from Highland Court. Walls are Sherwin-Williams "Bravado Red". (The actual color is much more subdued.)

The silk plaid pillows are from Maison Auclair, here in Naples. The pair of 19th century french bird engravings were also obtained from Maison Auclair.

I have known these clients (now friends) since 1998, and they have been wonderful to me and made me a part of their extended family. Truly great people !

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fashion Institute

Here is a rendering I did when I was at F.I.T. (New York). I really got into it, and stayed up all night working on it. In design school, that is known as "charette", working all night if it takes that to get done. We were all so inspired, me, Tice Alexander, Richard Keith Langham, Marcy Masterson...what a wonderful time that was (1980's) the city was alive with a wild energy !

For that project, our instructor, Prof. Albino Cimonetti (one of the original four founders of Quadrille) had us designing a fabulous drawing room for a New York socialite. Professor Barrows critiqued our work. (He died in the Naples hospital in 1995, the hospital was decorated by Dorothy Draper !)

I used everything I loved at the time, including lacquered walls, black granite floors, and good antiques mixed with modern designer furniture, such as a John Dickinson plaster console and Giacometti lamp, with Stark antelope carpets, and Louis XV chairs in pastel silks. My big statement was the draperies, two colors of silk, inspired by Pauline de Rothschilds flat at the Albany in London. Two 18th century giltwood mirrors hung above the white console tables.

September Shimmer

The fashionistas are preaching shine and shimmer for Fall, which I personally love, and enjoy. My pal Tom Britt in New York has had shimmery satin on his sofas and slipper chairs for years now. I remember his upstairs drawing room when it was all flat aubergine painted boiserie with Rose Cumming electric blue satin upholstery. Wow ! Angelo Donghia also had an upstairs drawing room in the East 70's in Manhattan, and he had deep teal lacquered walls with ivory satin upholstery, set off by a stunning coromandel screen from the estate of Coco Chanel. I was very fortunate to experience these rooms as a young man studying interior design with a burning passion ! I still have the passion, and my flame is still burning, if at a slightly reduced intensity. Here is a preview sneak peek of a beachfront condo I designed, which will be featured in an upcoming issue of a major national shelter magazine. I'm happy to share it with you. Happy September, and never forget our friends we lost on that fateful day. Anyone wishing to contribute to victims of 9-11 please contact Loreen at the Matthew C. Sellitto Foundation.