Monday, May 31, 2010

L'art de Vivre

Now that the Winter "season" has come and gone, we locals can relax and get down to some serious Summer fun. Last week, Bill and I were out almost every night, and I enjoyed all of it. On Tuesday, we attended a fundraiser for Naples Backyard History at Sea Salt, Wednesday we dined at the home of an artist friend, Thursday I was scheduled to attend the opening of "Sex and the City 2", but cancelled, and Friday we attended a reception for Vanessa and Lynda's commitment ceremony. Saturday we heard the Fort Lauderdale Gay Mens Chorus and the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble... then had a late dinner with friends and karaoke ! (Bambusa Bar and Grille) I enjoyed test driving the new 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet at Mercedes-Benz of Naples... and signed a new client in the same community where pro golfer Nancy Lopez once had a home. (Nancy is related to my mother through her husband, All Star Ray Knight...) All in all a fabulous week and weekend... here I am visiting with dear friend/client Mary K. Hill in her intimate study, which I recently freshened up with her and builder Fred Sahapoglu. That's a Picasso and a Milton Avery... the art of living, indeed ! DF ***** (Dean's shirt - Burberry)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

The Washington Monument, Robert Mills 1848-88

I'm proud to be an American, proud to reside in the greatest country on planet earth, and proud to celebrate all of the warriors who have defended our turf ! Wishing everyone a fabulous holiday weekend. God Bless America ! DF *****

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Observing And Reporting Anna Farris

Observing And Reporting Anna Farris

A Room for Conversation

Nineteenth century elegance in New Orleans, Louisiana

What, in this day and age, could be more important than practicing the lost art of conversation ? I mean sitting down in a room, with another person or more, and no phones, no television, no computers... admiring the art, the ambience, the comfort ? The porcelain objet , the fine fabrics, gorgeous draperies (curtains Mrs. Parish would have said) and the architecture of the room... the chandelier, the subtle lighting, and the flowers, food and drinks ! Intelligent, stimulating conversation is about all we have left in this modern age of voice mails, e-mails, etc. A room devoted to talking to our friends and family is a very special place, and deserves careful consideration. Here's to the host or hostess who still knows how to serve a triscuit and a stiff drink, sit down on a sofa and CHAT ! This is what life is all about. Enjoy ! DF *****

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

L'bureau de Marie

Mary and flowers

Tres' jolie !

Mary loves these mercury glass balls

Mary did a great job of filling her bookshelves !

I love my dear friend Mary so much, and she also was a client, before we became good friends. Mary is a person who is full of sunshine, optimism, and flair. She loves to hunt for goodies at all the shops, and she adores to travel. I recently helped her to freshen up some rooms in her new home, here in sunny Naples (Florida) and it was a joy, as she was preparing to take a month long cruise, and so, we had to expedite the design process. Mary and I must go to our favorite place soon, called Bleu Provence, we enjoy the atmosphere and the cuisine very much ! Enjoy ! DF ***** PS Billy and I enjoyed seeing Dr. Lois Bolin, Bruno Dhaine, and Ingrid and Fabrizio Aielli last night at the celebrity bartenders event for Naples Backyard History at Sea Salt on Third Street - Fun !

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scalamandre' - Newport Mansions


Marble House

The Breakers

James Andrew at the Frick

Scalamandre', one of my favorite designer resources for textiles and finer wallcoverings, not to mention elegant passementerie, has an interesting history in the world of the decorative arts. I was touring their site recently, and noticed that they had focused on Newport "cottages" that they had been involved in over the years... here are a few of the more noteable homes, you can find out more about them by visiting My friend James Andrew is from Rhode Island, and here he is looking very gilded age in the Frick Museum, at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City... I also like this ad from a few years ago that Scalamandre' ran... very evocative of the hunt ! Enjoy ! DF *****

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maria Pergay: Steely Determination

Maria Pergay, New York Times

I was interested to read yesterday about Parisian designer, Maria Pergay. Ms. Pergay has been working with stainless steel as a material since 1957, and is having a show of her furniture works in New York. I found it very inspiring that she is a person of imagination and creative, original thought, something I always am searching for in others... Here she is sitting in one of her sofas, looking very chic and beautiful. I also got creative and took this wacky shot of my "salon" while looking into a Warhol the color ! The frame is in a steel gray finish, so I thought of Maria Pergay in relation to this post. Enjoy ! DF *****

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Royal Palace of Turin

From ROYAL PALACES, M. Morelli

I was just browsing through one of my books, ROYAL PALACES, edited by M. Morelli, and happened to notice that my drawing room bears a faint resemblance to the Council Room at the royal palace of Turin, in northern Italy. This interesting room, once known as the Sleep Room, due to the 17th c. ceiling fresco by Jean Miel depicting Hannibal asleep among the Iberians - inspires me with its elegantly understated palette of green and gold...I am very fond of palaces, as they remind me of a previous life I must have led... sans TV, computer, and cell phones... King Carlo Alberto in 1848 signed, in this very room, the order to fight the Austrian invasion, and later his son, known as "the gentleman king" Vittorio Emanuele II, continued in his fathers direction, favoring the policy of enlightenment that would unite Italy and free it from Austrian domination. Compare these images and marvel at the similarities ! DF*****

The Dean's List 05-21-10

The Dean's List for Friday, May 21st, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico

Al fresco dining


Thomas Pink boutique

Swanson Vineyards

People who laugh a lot

Dogs and horses

Orchids and slathouses

Country Life

Old brick painted white


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lunch with Judith Auclair

Lunch on the beach !

The Turtle Club

Yesterday, William and I enjoyed a lovely long seaside lunch with old friends, Judith and Donald Auclair, at the Turtle Club. It was such a delight, as Billy and I had not been to the TC before, and seeing Judith and Don was the biggest treat of all. William worked for Judith for three and and a half years at her shop Maison Auclair Antiques, and he and I used to have lunch together there, before it closed. We had delicious Basta fish over caesar salads, and a Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio from Cissy the bartender. Finished up with choclate ice cream pie and key lime pie, all while looking out at the lovely gulf of mexico. Judith, a talented shell artist, is represented at the Bay Design Store in Naples, and now at the Elizabeth Rice Gallery in Sarasota. and and will be shown in the hamptons and Palm Beach next. Our respite was a delight, and lasted from 2:00 to 5:30 !!! The dining room was preparing for dinner as we were leaving. The Turtle Club, located between the Ritz Carlton and La Playa Resort on a narrow strip of land between the gulf and the bay is a great, almost secret place, and we really enjoyed our time there. Come to Naples and visit the TC, you'll love it ! DF ***** Dean's shirt, Tommy Bahama, belt, Vineyard Vines, shorts, Nat Nast ...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Designer Profile: Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta

Former Sister Parish apartment

A gorgeous Mario creation

Meeting Mario Buatta is like encountering an explosion of charm. He and I first met when he came to FIT to give a talk, with fabulous slide show, and I so enjoyed hearing him discuss his work. My first real job out of school was in the model rooms at Bloomingdale's in manhattan, and I got to work with Mario there on his room setting, as the theme was top designers creating model rooms that year. This was back in 1983 or so... Mario is fun, funny, works like a devil, and truly loves his work, he is passionate and full of energy, which is contagious. He always makes you feel like an old friend, and we speak by phone every now and then. I still feel that if I was a mogul, I'd definitely hire Mario to decorate all of my homes... he just has a flair and a sense of color that is superlative. His taste and english style are the epitome of chic. Here, I borrowed some images from AD to show you more of what Mario, once dubbed the "Prince of Chintz" is all about. The link below shows his deft handling of the re-design of Sister Parish's former apartment for Patricia Altschul. Enjoy ! DF*****
Click here

A Dash of Dazzle on Fifth AD 100 Designers:

A Dash of Dazzle on Fifth AD 100 Designers:

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Connecticut Clients

I really have been so fortunate to have worked with several lovely clients from Connecticut in the last few years. Two in Darien, one in Newtown, and now one in Old Lyme ! It almost seems as if I never left New York. I did learn from another Neapolitan here that years ago, Naples was known as a sort of "secret" Florida getaway for denizens of CT, and certainly Albert Hadley is one of the better known who have wintered in Naples, while maintaining a place in Southport or Greenwich...or any of the aforementioned towns. I was so pleased and honored to have Suzanne Spina of the blog "C'est Suzanne" mention me as her posting topic today. We met in that very modern way, through the internet, and it turns out we both attended FIT in the city. Recently, Suzanne was here in Florida with her family, and stopped by to say hello, so we have actually met, and now I'm helping her with her home in Old Lyme. Miracles never cease ! Thanks so much Suzanne ! It's a pleasure to know you. DF *****

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Dean's List 05-14-10

The Dean's List for Friday, May 14th 2010 *****
C'est Suzanne (blog)


George Foreman grill

Rinsing your childs hair in flat champagne

James Mont

Jean Michel Frank

Maison Jansen


Belgian loafers

Artist Lars Stephan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Style Alert: The Classic Slipper Chair

Suzanne Kasler's Louis XVI style for Hickory Chair

This one came from my boyhood home down to Florida

While there's certainly nothing new about the decorating classic, I wanted to touch on one of my favorite chairs, the slipper. Billy Haines used a relative, the elbow chair, as did my design inspiration Michael Taylor. Billy Baldwin...was a big slipper chair promoter. DeAngelis in New York still has a BB model in their showroom, and I once had one in my studio apartment at 11 East 66th Street. They are quite versatile, and stunning used in multiples, a la Tom Britt. I can't stop thinking about how chic they are, and surprisingly comfortable, especially when the seat is filled with down. There is a quality of 18th century elegance to the slipper chair, which works well with the sort of european influenced decor I love. I do think that every room in America should have at least one, preferably a pair or two. Exciting news ! Donghia and Bergamo are sponsoring a contest, and seven winners will be chosen to go to Venice next Summer ! Register at your nearest showroom for a chance to win. Perhaps these slipper chairs I go on about could be covered in a Donghia or Rubelli textile ? Just imagine all of the endless and exciting possibilities... enjoy dear friends. DF*****

1stdibs Introspective - Style Compass - Nicky Haslam

1stdibs Introspective - Style Compass - Nicky Haslam

Decorating Challenges

Often, a room has not been planned well by the builder or architect, and short of removing walls or windows, and moving doors, a good decorator can "hide" or minimize these architectural flaws with decorative devices. Presently, we are working on a new project in Old Lyme, CT where there is what is known in builder jargon as a "plant shelf" - we offered three solutions. One, ignore it ! Two, use it as a place to show off a collection. Three, install antique shutters to create additional storage. We chose to ignore it. In my own living room, I have the "problem" of having the kitchen open to the room, which is not my favorite situation for how I prefer to live ( in a Henry James novel) so, I am having a simple screen made to be finished in a dark brown shiny lacquer... Here is another elevation, where I took out a flat screen television, and would prefer a larger piece of furniture, but am making do with what I have. I recently hung the two original David Ferlito collages, and am enjoying them again. Stay tuned for the post showing the new screen ! DF *****

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Grand Tour

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Built beginning in 1767, by John Wood the Younger, it took eight years to complete

One of the lovely rooms, a Relais & Chateaux property

When I was very young (20) I was sent abroad to further my education. My chaperone was Robert Morring, an antique dealer from Atlanta, and also a friend. I had a set of tweed luggage... and we did stop in New York for some parties before making the flight over. I lived abroad for a year, staying in various hotels, and I studied at the American Museum in Britain, located at Claverton manor, outside Bath. The Royal Crescent Hotel was a lovely place for a young mans first european trip, and I spent a lot of time in Bath, London, Paris, Athens, etc. I was given a letter of introduction to Jeremy Fry - the heir to Fry chocolates who sold out to Cadbury - and was blown away by the stunning beauty of his 18th century townhouse in the famous Royal Crescent. His drawing room, on the piano nobile, was all done in a shade of white, with white silk curtains, major art, and fabulous antiques. Opera played at full volume, and I was transported to a world of style, taste and imagination such as I had never experienced ! tel + 44 (0) 1225 823333 DF*****

Monday, May 10, 2010

La Vie En Rose

Fringe: Houles'

Chair : Albert Hadley

I love my Nantucket red curtains ! And I fondly remember, after reading an excerpt from the book " Sister Parish Design On Decorating, co- authored by Libby Cameron, the niece of famed bon vivant Rory Cameron, how after I had been introduced to Jeremy Fry in Bath, that he (Jeremy) moved away to India... you see, Rory loved India too... and as Diana Vreeland famously said, "Pink is the navy blue of India" I feel that this all ties together in some mad way. Here, I caught some ethereal images from my "salon" showing the pinkish red curtains. My friend Joe Rosen entertained us again tonight, and he mentioned that he was planning a trip to India as well. Rosalind Russell as Auntie Mame would most definitely approve ! Enjoy ! DF *****

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Dean's List 05-07-10

James Andrew of What Is James Wearing ?

The Dean's List

Lady Gaga

What Is James Wearing?

Louis XV Style

My pink/white check Ike Behar shirt

Tennessee Williams

Monte Carlo

Diana Vreeland

Bichon Frise

Organic Jasmine Green Tea

Organized closets


Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Talent: Chuck Fischer

Chuck in his New York studio

Cape May Trellis for F. Schumacher & Co.

One of Chuck's beautiful hand painted murals

Chuck's trellis wallpaper for Brunschwig & Fils

Having worked in the past with Tice Alexander, the former Parish-Hadley decorator, I was exposed to sources the fabled firm discovered and nurtured. Chuck Fischer, like Alan Campbell and the Tillets are a few of these... we used Chuck for some mural appliques in a stair hall in a large house in River Oaks, Houston. I recently installed some of his trellis wallpaper from Brunschwig in a condo here in Naples as well. Here are some images from Chuck's website - he divides his time between New York and Fort Lauderdale, and I recently rediscovered him on Facebook ! Hoping to see him in person soon. Enjoy ! DF *****

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Naples Lifestyle

Outdoor living !

Love this tropical foilage view...

Dramatic architecture !

Livin' large and lovin' it !

I'm partial to this Bermuda style...

A dock with a view, Port Royal

Yes, Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore ! Naples, Florida is a resort town on the Gulf of Mexico, founded in the late nineteenth century... A two hour drive from Fort Lauderdale, and a one hour flight to Key West... it's a tropical paradise ! To my way of thinking there are two versions of Naples - downtown and uptown - one is older, very quaint, and the other is all very new and modern, like Palm Desert, California... an interesting dichotomy for sure. Naples attracts visitors from around the world, and is very popular with Midwestern Americans...I wanted to show you some examples of the real Naples style, as seen in these house images from current listings... Enjoy ! DF ***** PS Don't forget the SPF 30 sunblock !

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Designer Profile: Dean Farris

Dean Farris at Borders Books, photo: William Rain

I started my real career when I was about sixteen, when I took a home economics course in high school (the only boy) and the teacher proudly displayed my decorating assignment in a glass display case in a corridor for all to see... I had always been good at art, and had been chosen to attend several special programs for the artistically gifted. As soon as Stan Topol met me in Atlanta in 1975, he immediately suggested I go straight to New York ! I finally made it to NYC in 1980, where I was enrolled at FIT in the interior design program, and had Stanley Barrows for my chairman, and most of the former Parsons interior design faculty for professors ! What a lucky young man I was ! After graduation with a BFA in interior design (they also offer a Masters) I worked for some of the top designers in the city, including Mario Buatta, George Clarkson, Robert Metzger, and Tice Alexander...(formerly of Parish-Hadley). My parents encouraged me to move back to North Carolina, where I opened and ran a small design studio called "The Shop of Dean Farris Interior Design" for a few years. I then returned to New York to work with Tice, who subsequently succumbed to the horrible AIDS toll. It was all too much, and so, in 1996 I gave up the city, and relocated to Naples, Florida. I took a job with Robb & Stucky, a finer furniture and design establishment, which will soon be celebrating its centennial anniversary. I've had amazing and wonderful clients over the years, and have been published in Interior Design, Naples Illustrated, N magazine, Gulfshore Life, and mentioned in House & Garden and Architectural Digest. I've returned to being self-employed, and have a massive client list. I consider Albert Hadley a friend and a mentor, and look forward to many more years of happy designing ! DF *****

Monday, May 3, 2010

Designer Profile: George Clarkson

George would have admired this room I designed for a Chicago couple

One of the biggest influences on my early career was working for the late designer George Clarkson. George loved glamour. He loved living life in a stylish way. He was a gentleman, and he was a man of the world. He lived in Paris, Palm Beach, and New York, had a farm in the horse country of Virginia, and summered in Southampton. His wife and children were all back home in St. Louis. His chauffeur driven Rolls Royce sat on east 57th Street, waiting for our descent from the 29th floor, each day we went out in it to lunch at Mortimers and shop for antiques in the village. I still remember waving goodbye to Mario Buatta as we pulled away from Mortimers in the Rolls... We were always working on someone's Park Avenue apartment, but also did a lot of work out of town. A favorite project I was involved with was "Bella Vista" a large red brick georgian overlooking the Long Island Sound, in Southport, CT. I had to drive the editor of House & Garden (Jacqueline Gonnet) up there to see it, and we had lunch in Southport. Albert Hadley also likes Southport, and has had a place there for years. George was a classicist; he truly loved beautiful english furniture, silk fabrics, good silver, and good food. He was very kind to me, and I'll always remember him fondly. You can see some good examples of his work in the book "New York Interior Design 1935-1985 Inventors of Tradition" by Judith Gura. Enjoy ! DF *****