Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rococo Romance in a 16th Century Chateau

Chateau de Talcy
I'm most intrigued, and enchanted by, this beautiful room in the Loire Valley, near Blois, in the Chateau de Talcy.    While the house itself dates from around 1520, the interiors were done up in the 18th, and have been preserved as a monument of France- the house is open for tours and sees about 20,000 visitors a year.  If you've read some of my previous posts on decorating, you know that I'm fatally partial to the style known as Rococo, aka Louis XV.  Every night, while sleeping, this is what I dream of.

Salle a manger, Chateau de Talcy

Above, check out the absolutely stunning wall paper- and that floor! Not to mention those deliciously milky looking beams.  Pure perfection.  I also am admiring the soft stamped velvet on the chaises, how the colour works with the elegant turquoise ground of the walls.  Divine!  Chateau de Talcy, 18 rue du Chateau 41370 Talcy, FR  Enjoy!  DF *****   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Horst, Inspirations From The Past

Coco Chanel, Horst
I've long admired the work of the late fashion photographer, Horst, and was recently perusing the book by the same name "Horst" by Valentine Lawford - (Knopf) - and found these iconic images, which I shot with my digital and have posted here-

Baroness de Rothschild, Horst
They're taking on a slightly weird, Warholish look here, since they're pictures of pictures of pictures...but I was also inspired by the chic WordPress blog called Slim Paley...and I once was able to catch a cherished glimpse of Horst himself, lunching alone in a window table of the Isle of Capri restaurant, on Third Avenue, in Manhattan.  I wonder if that place is still there? Anyone?

Maisons-Lafitte, Horst
Look at this amazing garden, near Paris, that he caught with his camera!  I love the peacock perched on top of the classical bust on pedestal.

Baroness and Baron de Rothschild, Horst
Look at the luxurious fur throw on the sofa, above.  I once had a client, who had a fur throw on the back of her library sofa, in Winston-Salem.  That's as chic as it gets!  Pauline de Rothschild was a fashion designer, and a muse of the society decorator, Billy Baldwin.  You can learn more about her in his books- of which there are several.

Babe Paley, Horst
Look at this fabulous portrait of Babe Paley- taken by Horst at her Kiluna Farm, in Manhasset, Long Island.  This one picture is worth a thousand words!

Princess Chavchavadze, Horst
This one, above, is almost too good to be true.  I'll excerpt the text for you to give you an idea of how brilliant Mr. Lawford's writing is- "Princess Elizabeth Chavchavadze, in the drawing room of the Palazzo Polignac overlooking the Grand Canale in Venice, 1947.  Horst: The sofa the princess is sitting on was designed by and belonged to Wagner.  She was a hostess in the days when Venice was still a favorite holiday resort of the fashionable, which it wasn't later.  She was born Elizabeth Ridgeway and was married first to the Count de Breteuil and then to Prince George Chavchavadze, a member of an ancient Georgian family and a talented professional pianist.  The couch was so deep that she couldn't get out of it." !!! Wow !!! I'm speechless.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Diamonds In The Sun, A Roman a Clef

Naples, Florida


 Currently, one of my favorite Palm Beach decorators, Leta Austin Foster, has published a wonderful story, called "Night Swimming" - on her blog, called "Decorating With Sheets"- and her post inspired me to write about the time, about five years ago, when I self published a funny little novel, called "Diamonds In The Sun, The Mitzie Newburg Chronicles".  It's a work of thinly disguised truth as fiction- known as a roman a clef- about the town of Naples, Florida, where I've been living for the last 16 years...

Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite chapters, called "The Honeymoon" -

Dinner was aboard the boat, and it slowly cruised up the coast and then turned as the sun was beginning to set.  There was a haze of mist that created a scene from a Turner painting, and the men were in black tie with ivory jackets and the ladies wore chiffon with heavy euro-style jewels.  As the boat returned to the mooring in the bay near the villa, the sunset reflected on the windows of the house and they glittered like diamonds in the sun.  Lamps were being lit in the bedrooms, and the diamonds glowed from within and reflected the sea light in a dazzling display of beauty and peace.

If I had to describe what my little un-edited work is about, I'd say it's about a lady who seems to have it all, but never has enough.  It's about how we all strive to live the best life we can, and I am inspired by people who are so creative, like Leta, and like Tyler Perry, and a writer called E. Lynn Harris, who used to sell books from the trunk of his car, before he got an agent and a publisher.  (Tyler Perry took his life savings of $12,000 and invested it in a play he created.  He kept re-writing this for about 6 or 7 he is estimated to be worth about 400 million dollars).  Inspiring.


A view from my apartment, sunrise
I hope you'll find this post inspiring too, and maybe create something fun and interesting of your own, whatever it is.  ENJOY!  DF *****

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Classics are Forever

Foyer, Hopedene, Newport, R.I.

This foyer and staircase, at Hopedene, a famous colonial revival house in Newport, Rhode Island, inspires me with its elegant simplicity, and grand proportions.  Classic!  The royal red carpet, black banisters, and brightly gilded table look stunning and so correct.

Mandarin Console by J. Alexander, Brian Austin Collection
If the gilding is too much for you, and maybe not so suitable for your lifestyle or your budget, then I'd suggest this interesting piece- which comes in a variety of finishes- we could still hang a very ornamental mirror or painting above it.  Classic!


Exterior entrance, Mary McDonald,  Los Angeles, CA
 Again, I find the work of decorator Mary McDonald, so inspiring.  One walks through a shuttered gate-like door - into an outdoor garden, and then is faced with the front door entrance into the house.  I love the mystery of this, and the charm, it's CLASSIC!  Also classic is the deep taupe colour Mary used on the stucco.  Enjoy!  DF ***** 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mysterious Mirror

Dean Farris Interior Design

Here's the circa 1800 french giltwood mirror Bill and I just installed, in my Naples apartment.  The dealer, Joe Miller, of Antiques Center of Naples also had a larger, and more costly old mirror, with the interesting provenance of having belonged to the mother of Queen Noor of Jordan.  Lisa Halaby of Washington, DC is the widow of King Hussein of Jordan.  What intrigued me about this, not knowing her, or her mother, was that the style of that mirror was very much like one that Tice had borrowed from the old Parish Hadley inventory, for his small, but chic, apartment on East 69th Street, in Manhattan.  (see my earlier posts on Tice Alexander)


Room by Mario Buatta
A mirror, very much like the one dear Mario had hanging in this former apartment of his-I found this picture in the 1976 book, by Norma Skurka, "The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration".  It has very old gilt, and is quite decorative against the beautiful glazed walls.  This mirror is like the one Joe Miller now has in his stock, here in Naples.


Room by Joseph Braswell

Above, a stunning room by the late designer, Joseph Braswell (d. 2006) with boiserie incorporating a large trumeau - (without the painting above) - interestingly, Joe had King Fahd of Saudi Arabia as a client.  Joe Braswell also was a Dean of interior design at Parsons.  I was fortunate to meet him, in about 1977 or so, when I was taken to his Sutton Place apartment for a pre- theater cocktail party.  The best was when his partner, Ward Willoughby, made his grand entrance, dropping his full length fur coat on the floor as he entered!  Ah, the seventies! It was pretty glam, and that song "Native New Yorker" was playing...

Room by Harrison Cultra

The elegant, tall room above, by the late Harrison Cultra, (d. 1983) uses another tall gilt mirror, seen at left.  I've always loved this image, and it's from the same Norma Skurka 1976 book.  Mr. Cultra counted Jacqueline Onassis as a client...he was only 42 when he died.  Rest in peace. 

Room by Dean Farris

Above, another shot of the new sofa, with the new mirror installed.  I'm considering getting a seagrass or sisal rug to pull all this together...but this cozy grouping has much more comfort now, and my mother kept telling me to get some kind of leather "easy chair" - I suppose to rest my weary old bones in- and this is what I chose- a circa 1900 english chesterfield, which I use like a chaise. That's all for now kids, see you soon.  Enjoy!  DF *****

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Decorator Scrapbook

Dean Farris at home, 2010
I was most interested to see that decorator Mary McDonald has launched a new line of decorative fabrics for Schumacher.  Congratulations Mary!

Mary McDonald for Schumacher
Hmmm... what else is rocking my little world right now?  I would have to say, it's a little of everything, and I enjoy my work so much, that it's hard to not become just a total workaholic!

Room by Dean Farris
I still love this moody, almost Parisian feeling, shot I took of my former Positano Place living room, from a few years ago.  The teal and gilt painted Louis XV style chair was obtained from the late Albert Hadley- it wears a Jack Lenor Larsen linen, backed in softly shimmering gold lame'.  I still love this chair, and my friend Stephen has suggested I have copies made of it, a la Ann Getty, to use as dining that concept!

Albert Hadley
My decorator friend in Los Angeles, Peggy Braswell, recently posted a comment on  my piece about the new Chesterfield sofa, and I find her inspiring too.  Here's a beautiful portrait of beautiful Peggy...

Peggy Braswell
Even though I decided not to move out to Los Angeles, it seems I keep going in that direction- and I think we all have the ability to change directions, when we feel so compelled.  Enjoy the day!  DF *****

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chesterfield, A Love Affair

Recently, the Georgetown antiques shop, Miller and Arney, closed, and relocated here, to Naples.  As luck would have it, I popped in, and met Joe Miller, the owner.  He was most helpful, and very nice.  He even had some tables that had been made by Albert Hadley for a Washington client.  Antiques Center of Naples (239) 596-2636

Anyway, Mr. Miller had this gorgeous, circa 1900 English sofa, and it spoke to me.  I've only wanted one of these for the LAST THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS!!!  So, you can imagine how happy and pleased I was, when yesterday, my movers, MacDonald Moving and Storage, delivered it !

Dean Farris Interior Design

I also obtained a circa 1800 giltwood mirror, which may replace the Andy Warhol silkscreen- coming up in a future post.  I've always loved Edwardian tufted upholstery, and picture this sofa ending up in front of the big fireplace I've also always dreamed of.  One step at a time!  Enjoy!  DF ***** 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Monte Carlo Day Trip


In the Summer of 2003, I flew to Paris, and then on to Nice, to stay with some old friends, who started out as clients, in a flat on the Croisette.  It was one of the hottest Summers in history, and many people died from the extreme heat.  I'm sure I lost some weight.  While there in Nice, we decided to take the train to Monte Carlo, as I wanted to see the biennale de Monaco des antiquaires- and off we went.  Of course, I fell completely in love with Monaco, and have been haunted by it ever since.  Take time to see this fantasy place, the second smallest country in the world, and a tax haven for Europe.  We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Hotel de Paris, adjacent to the famous Casino.

Here's a vintage image of Prince Ranier III, with his American wife, the late Grace Kelly, and their children, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline, and Princess Stephanie.  Read more about the royals of Monaco here

Conservatory, Villa Nocturne, Monte Carlo, by Timothy Whealon

In the May 2012 issue of AD, designer Timothy Whealon had a fabulous spread, featuring his re-design for a belle epoque style house in Monte called Villa Nocturne.  I've always admired Mr. Whealon and his work, and noticed that he used quite a bit of Phillip Jeffries wall covering, something we also are doing at Interiors by Design West, here in Naples.  Congrats Timothy!  Well done!  That's all for now folks!  DF ***** 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inspiring: Syon House and Owens-Thomas House

We've started off the New Year with a burst of  more parties, and more design work- what a great day today was, private jets buzzed overhead, Ferraris tooled by, and boats of all sizes and kinds set out for the high seas- even some kayakers!  It was one of those awesome, sunny, breezy, slightly cool, but mostly warm days we get down here in the Winter.  I knew it was a great day when, I looked out from my pool, and saw a boat go by, with the name of LUCKY on the stern!  And, we had some black eyed peas today... the kind you EAT, not listen to!

The Great Hall at Syon House

In designing a new ceiling for our South Carolina residential project, which now comprises over 13,000 square feet, we found a great source of inspiration in this ceiling, above, from Syon House...the late decorator John Fowler chose the paint work here.  We are adapting and implementing this ceiling design for over seventy feet of hall ways in the east wing of the house.

The house above, in Atlanta, we've studied for the way the architrave-frieze-crown was handled on the columned porch.  Compare this one to the Owens-Thomas house, in Savannah, considered one of the finest examples extant of the English Regency style, by the then young English architect, William Jay, one of the first architects to work in the states.  (below)

I've always loved these important old houses, and use them frequently as a source of design inspiration for my projects, both here and out of town.  Still soaking up the visual extravaganza of the new book Santa brought me, "Ann Getty Interior Style" by the super talented and beautiful Diane Dorrans Saeks...

From Ann Getty Interior Style, Rizzoli
The chair, above, is from the Claus von Bulow collection, and the mantel and overmantel were designed and commissioned by Mrs. Getty. Stunning!

The Getty dining room, above, has a secret panel, behind the commode and mirror, which opens at the push of a button, to reveal the Music Room... sublime!  Enjoy the first week of the new year, wherever you may be.  DF *****