Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beyond the Hedges: El Vedado Road home of the late Celia Lipton F

Beyond the Hedges: El Vedado Road home of the late Celia Lipton F

Thank goodness, this 1936 Clarence Mack Palm Beach Regency was landmarked. And thanks to Mrs. Gina Mortara for restoring the house too!
DF *****

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Foreword, by Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta, The Prince of Chintz
 I know, I know! , how lucky I am to be able to say that I "know" Mario! But, imagine my delight and surprise, when after purchasing the new monograph by Alex Papachristidis "The Age Of Elegance" (which is fabulous btw) - I discovered that dear Mario had written the foreword!  What a supreme compliment!  Suffice it to say, the foreword ends with MB saying "If I weren't a decorator myself, I would hire him" !!! In writing! Wow!  That's pretty special, like being ordained or knighted...congrats and kudos to Mr. Papachristidis, and his team, including Dan Shaw, and Tria Giovan...

Alex Papachristidis Interior Design

I very much enjoyed reading every warm and wonderful word of this new book, and even with so many of these coming out, this is something special- not unlike the old Billy Baldwin books...very classic, very genteel, as Mr. P would say... ENJOY !  DF *****

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Villa Medina, A Beautiful Restoration

2420 Medina Way, West Palm Beach
Recently, I was excited to see that my friend, Bill Eubanks, a top Palm Beach decorator and antiques dealer, had been featured in the new issue of "Florida Design" - and it was the only feature I found of interest, since it was the only one with a very classical point of view...Villa Medina, as his house is known, was built around the same time as the "Pink Palace" in Atlanta, which I had just written about here on DFS.  Mr. Eubanks has done an outstanding job of restoring this house.

The listing agent, Steve Simpson, of Fite Shavell, has also done an excellent presentation for the house- more of what I would have thought the Pinestream Road house in Atlanta would have had- but that is I suppose, not for me to say! As John Tackett, the esteemed architect, has stated, there are many contorted and twisted facts that have to be addressed when listing a property and having it featured on the internet.  I have nothing but admiration for real estate professionals, knowing as I do what they have to deal with these days...

Foyer, William Eubanks Interior Design
Above, the amazingly elegant and classical entrance hall, which was not shown in the Florida Design article.  I've posted about Bill Eubanks before, and have been over to Worth Avenue and met him in his elegant shop there, he's a quiet Southern gentleman - with an exquisite taste level, one that I aspire to emulate- and since I can't put in an offer on his house, the next best thing is to write about it.

Foyer, Belle Meade, Nashville, Massey House
Compare the Villa Medina foyer to this one, above, which had been originally designed by A. Herbert Rodgers, and later by Albert Hadley, for Alyne Massey, in Nashville- this one also has a fireplace, and a similar floor design.

William E. Eubanks Interior Design
Above, classic opulence and comfort, as designed by Mr. Eubanks, all of the hallmarks of his style are shown here, and he has created a refined "shell" in which to hold some of his collections, which I found interesting, since it leaves the buyer room for their own personal taste. 

William E. Eubanks Interior Design

Above, my favorite room, which I believe was created from a porch, or loggia-this is off to the right of the foyer-

Below, this upstairs office was also not shown in the editorial from Florida Design, one can see this and the bedrooms on the listing site under 2420 Medina Way, West Palm Beach.

William E. Eubanks Interior Design
How lovely, and suitable for the climate, to have the french doors opening off of the office- again the shell background has been carried through onto the second floor.  Villa Medina is well priced, at around 2.5 million, again, comparable to the Atlanta house- from my previous post.  Congratulations to Bill Eubanks and his team- this is a job very well done!  Mr. Simpson, his real estate listing agent, can be reached at (561) 262-6263

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Saving An Italian Baroque in Atlanta, 1923

Calhoun House, Hentz, Reid and Adler
My friend, Jennifer Boles, of The Peak of Chic, recently posted about the Calhoun House, in Atlanta- one of my all-time favorite houses - and I've owned a copy of the 1973 "Architecture of Neel Reid In Georgia" (University of Georgia Press) ever since I met Professor Carey Sutlive, while attending the old Massey Junior College, which later became the Art Institute, after moving from downtown to uptown, in Buckhead.  Carey Sutlive did the photography for this book- and he even signed my copy. 

According to this book, by Professor James Grady - Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology, the house was originally sited on 18 acres, and was inspired by Villa Cuzzano, near Verona, Villa Gori in Sienna, and the Villa Spada in Rome.  Described in the book as "not large" at just under 10,000 square feet, it's shocking to me that the MLS on Trulia and Zillow have incorrect information posted- stating the date of construction as 1900 and using a generic description that seems to have come from a ranch house in Dunwoody...this property is a steal at 2.5 million, and could probably be purchased for less.  The 1973 book listed the then current owner as one Mr. Thornwell.  

This elevation is where the "front" entry is
You can see why I would find this property so interesting, and so desirable, and I am sure I've had more than a few dreams of myself living in it!  In the plan view, which I will show in a future post, one enters a vestibule, then the stair hall, with the drawing room to the left, off of which is a porch.  To the right is the dining room, and straight ahead is the library.  There is, oddly enough, a three car attached garage.  Upstairs, there are five bed chambers, one "maids room", and two sleeping porches- remember those?  The dining room features a baroque inspired mantel surmounted by a portrait of Michelangelo.  According to Mr. Grady, the furnishings, doors, and chandeliers were purchased in Italy by Neel Reid, and the terraced and parterred gardens designed by Phillip Shutze.  Check out the listing for this one at 3418 Pinestream Road, NW Atlanta.  From reading Jennifers' post it is apparent that this gorgeous trophy house has not been landmarked!  If this is true, then heaven forbid, it could become another victim of the demolition crews.  We all are praying that the old Calhoun-Thornwell house will be saved.  


Monday, June 3, 2013

Villa La Leopolda

Villa La Leopolda, Villefranche-sur-Mer
I remember seeing the signs for Villefranche-sur-Mer, on my last trip to the south of France, as we had our own car and drove up and down the French Riviera.  Lately, I've been reading two books about Lily Safra, the current owner of the super-luxe and historic villa known as La Leopolda.  I haven't finished reading "Gilded Lily" by Isabel Vincent, so I'm not sure if Mrs. Safra still owns the house or not.  A Russian billionaire had tried to buy it four years ago for a reported 500 million euros (736 million US dollars) but then, there was a lawsuit, in 2010 resulting in the courts deciding that Mr. Prokhorov could not get back his 39 million euro deposit, which, apparently, Mrs. Safra donated to charity.  A more fabled past on a property would be hard to find.  Ogden Codman, Jr. designed and built this house in its current state, between 1929-1931.  He was so extravagant with the project that he could not afford to move in.  He then tried to lease it to the Windsors, but with a few too many conditions, resulting in the memorable statement-"I regret that the House of Codman is unable to do business with the House of Windsor" !!!  

There's a Slim Aarons portrait of Mrs. Safra, on the dust jacket of the Gilded Lily book, and I must say, she is truly a beautiful and elegant looking lady.  Villa La Leopolda was always her favourite residence, and one can certainly see why.  In the late 1980's she and her husband spent 2 million dollars hosting an open house, which lasted for two days- the first day party (in August) was for the social set, and the second day was for the more business side guests...above, a view from the villa- so beautiful and serene.  Before Ogden Codman bought this property, it was an estate owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, a wild spender and bon vivant known for the grand gesture.  The house was a gift for his scandalous mistress, Blanche Delacroix, known to have been a Romanian-born prostitute, with whom he had two sons, out of wedlock, as they used to say.  Much of the money used to build all of this lavish living was from the Kings' exploitation of the African Free State of Congo slave trade.  The slaves, you see, were forced by cruel and ruthless drivers, to extract rubber and precious metals for the Belgian crown. Ten to fifteen million slaves died from the abuses, and the Joseph Conrad novella "Heart of Darkness" tells the grisly story.  In the late 1950's the estate was sold to Gianni and Marella Agnelli, who supposedly painted over scagliola walls with white paint.  Lily Safra bought La Leopolda in about 1988, and hired Renzo Mongiardino for the main floor decor and Mica Ertegun ( a friend) for the upstairs bedrooms.

Villa La Leopolda, like many famous old estates, has been used for location shoots in various films, including the 1948 "The Red Shoes" and the 1955 "To Catch a Thief" with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.  The main house invokes the style of the Belle Epoque.  It is registered as a French "monument historique".  (Thanks Wikipedia).  I'm certainly hopeful, that, the next time I find myself anywhere near Villefranche-sur-Mer, I can perhaps catch a furtive glimpse of this fabled old villa on the cote d'azur...!  DF *****