Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tara Shaw Redecorates

I needed to take a break from book reviews to finish up some reading, so here's a little deviation for you and for me! I'm sure that many of you are familiar with the Houston-based antiques dealer, Tara Shaw. Her ad's appear in nearly every major shelter mag, and she's been listed in the sources section uncountable times. Veranda did a cover feature on the dream house she purchased after stalking it for years back in September-October 2015, and photos from the feature made their way onto nearly every design blog, flooding pinterest.


I loved the entire house, but I was particularly taken with the sitting room that adjoins the master bedroom. 


Those amazing Italian Savonarola chairs were HUGELY inspiring for me, so much so that I searched and searched until I found a pair that I could use in my "new" living room. It was almost divine intervention. Here's the story: 

You see, I have a friend in Cleveland (a little more than 3-hours away) who I visited for the opening night of a theatrical performance he was in. The following day, on the way home, I stopped at an antique shop in a very random Ohio town, one I never would have found without google assistance. I went in looking for pieces for the new space, and I struck up a conversation with a vendor there. She and I spent half an hour or more talking about how fun it was to redecorate, when I started to describe the chairs I was in love with, but needed to find in my budget. She immediately lit up, and said: "Oh my, darlin', I know exactly what you're looking for! I have a pair!"

I was suspicious. She just happened to have a pair of Italian Savonarola chairs sitting around? How much did she want for them? Did she REALLY know what I was talking about. I didn't see anything like that in her booth. I pulled out my phone and googled Tara's bedroom. "These chairs?" I asked. "Yessir, they look a lot like that. A little different, not as ornate, but they're very close. You wanna see them?"

Did I want to see them!? OF COURSE! But I couldn't very well say, DUH to someone who had been so nice. She said "I've got them at my house, which is only about 2 miles from here, headed back your way, actually. Why don't you follow me there, and you can take a look at them."

Now, I've watched every episode of Criminal Minds. I have several friends who absolutely believe that I will die one day blindly trusting a stranger who tells me they have antiques inside for sale. I can't help it!  Obviously, she didn't murder me. In fact, she led me back to a pair of lovely Savonarola chairs that had been custom made by a metal artist for her late sister. Having been stored outside, and being made of iron, they had some issues. I thought, surely she's going to want a lot more than I have to spend on these, and then I'm going to have to fix them. I said, "you're right! The frame is great." She replied: "They need some work, but I bet you can figure out how to do that, can't ya?"

At this point, I wasn't sure if I should say yes or no. I've never been good at haggling. Do you say yes, and then look like you are a DIY-expert and should pay full price, or do you say no and play off the money you're going to have to pay to have an expert do it as part of your offer? I ignored the question and instead answered, "well how much were you looking to get for them?"

"Oh handsome, you can have them!" WHAT!? Have, like free, like I can take these and you're not going to call the cops and tell them someone with New York license plates stole your Savonarola chairs!? (Sidenote: Wouldn't that be a hilarious 9-1-1 call? "Ma'am, your what chairs?) I said, "Oh, no, I can't just take them, please let me give you something for them." And here's where you need to grab the tissues:

She smiled, put her hand on my forearm, and said: "Honey, my sister loved to decorate. She loved it so much, I think it's the only thing that kept her going for so long. Since she passed, I haven't been able to talk about decorating with anyone, until you came along. Baby, she would have wanted you to have these, and so do I." Oh I was a ball of lumpy Artie at that point. I said: "I will love them and cherish them, and I thank you for trusting me to give them a good home."

We were both in tears at that point, and I sat with her for another hour and a half, talking about design, looking at her lovely home, and discussing my apartment plans, including what I had intended for the chairs. I loaded them up, and headed back to New York, the proud owner of both a beautiful pair of storied Savonarola chairs, and a new friend.


It took quite a bit of elbow grease to get them finished, but I couldn't adore them more. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more about them and the rest living room, soon. Anyway, back to the whole point of this blog post: Tara's changes. I often look back at the pictures of Tara's bedroom for inspiration. Last night, I found that things had changed. Here's the sitting room as featured in Veranda:


And here it is now:


What happened to the Italian Savonarola chairs!? I was beside myself when I saw that they were gone. Had she sold them? Had they been moved? Where did these chairs come from, and why switch out the Savonarola chairs? I had to dig for answers! Thankfully, they came pretty easily. Most everything had just been moved from room to room. When Veranda did their feature on the dining room of Tara's house, it looked like this:


Now, it looks like this:


Ah! The Savonarola's weren't sold, they were just moved to the dining room, which consequently looks entirely different than it did for the Veranda shoot. Where did that stuff go? The iron urn that was behind the daybed in the bedroom sitting area is now in the foyer, replacing a fern from the Veranda shoot: 



The lovely leather seated Gustavian chairs from the dining room went into the breakfast room, which looked like this in Veranda:


but now looks like this:


The living room that launched a thousand ships looked like this in Veranda:


and there haven't been too many changes, actually:


Tables have been moved, what was the coffee table is now a side table, which the doesn't leave room for the console that was one on that side of the fireplace. The trunk on the right of the fireplace was replaced with a different console table, and the French fauteuils are gone. The one thing that jumps out at me is the switch in art above the fireplace. Tara switched out the architectural fragment for this black and white photo.


Tara's library and office was featured in Veranda above, but some significant changes in the furniture below:


New table, chairs, and lamps. The modern Barcelona chair and ottoman is gone, and a silver cowhide covers the silk area carpet. The Gustavian guest chair was once in the guest room. The guest room when featured in Veranda, below:


and now:


The Beidermeier Daybed was replaced with this painted one, and the Gustavian chair now in the office/library was repalced with the french chest on the far right. I love the little spindle leg piano stool at the bed!

I love when designers switch up their houses, particularly like this. Most all of the foundation elements of Tara's rooms stayed completely in tact, showing how easily things can move from room to room when you have the foundation well planned, and you live with what you love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: A House in the Country


Another beautiful design book hit the shelves today, A House in the Country by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder, with Anne Walker and photography by Eric Piasecki. For those of you who don't know, Peter and Katie are married, and after decades of designing houses for clients, architect Peter and interior designer Katie decided they were ready to build their own dream home. After searching for the perfect place to call home, they bought acreage in upstate New York and created their Greek Revival-inspired dream house; a house in the country, that looks like it's been there forever.

The power couple have very different design aesthetics. Peter is known for his classic, traditional architectural styles, while Katie blurs the line of modern and traditional with her interiors, and has a love for bold patterns, and quirky color palettes. Here though, their styles blend seamlessly into a stunning and sophisticated home.

I love books based on one house, and like Bunny Williams' newest book, A House by the Sea, this book by Peter and Katie is solely about their Millbrook home, illustrating the design process of the architecture, interiors, and gardens from conception to staging for the beautiful photos by Eric Piasecki. It's a stunning house, truly a collaboration between two masters at their craft, and you'd be incredibly hard pressed not to find inspiration in the 220+ pages of this beautiful book.



Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press


Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

Photo copyright Eric Piasecki for A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder with Anne Walker, Published by Vendome Press

The couple earned the cover and 11 page spread in the August 2015 Architectural Digest with the dream house, which you might remember here. Their book obviously goes into greater detail about the planning, construction, and shows all of the finished house and gardens. If you liked the AD feature, you'll love the book! Take a closer look, and grab your copy below: 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: A House by the Sea


Bunny Williams is an incredible person. Her books have inspired each and every one of us whether we realize it or not. Bunny has been at the top of the world of interior design for more than 40-years, shaping and inspiring hundreds of designers and decorators through her published work and her many books. 

Bunny has authored five books, including what might be one of the most popular interior design books of all time, An Affair with a House. That book showcased the New England manor home that Bunny has curated and loved for more than 30-years with her husband, antiques dealer, John Rosselli. Now Bunny has authored another book, specific to one home: La Colina. La Colina is the island estate she and John own in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 

We've seen small pieces of La Colina in Bunny Williams' Point of View. The gorgeous estate was also published in House Beautiful (June 2015),  Residence (Foreign)again here, and on countless blogs. One of my favorite blog posts on La Colina actually came from Mark D. Sikes. He visited La Colina and took photos of the rooms and gardens, which you can read here and here. La Colina has had many visitors, and many of them made their way into the book! Woven between all of the lovely photos of this magical estate, are the musings of guests who were touched by the atmosphere and graciousness of this stunning home, and the even more gracious, Bunny. 

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

 Photo copyright Francesco Lagnese for A HOUSE BY THE SEA by Bunny Williams, Published by ABRAMS Books

A House by the Sea is 250+ pages of interiors, gardens, tablescapes, and more, all so that we can take a vicarious vacation to Punta Cana through Bunny's eyes thanks to the beautiful photography of Francesco Lagnese. The rooms are magical, masterfully designed, and the exterior of the house is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Bunny details how the house was conceived, planned, and executed in her conversational and gracious way, helping anyone looking to reinvent their own home feel completely inspired and confident in taking on the task.  

Books on entire houses are always fantastic, and while La Colina has been published in shelter mags, and other books, this comprehensive look at the estate shows rooms we've all never seen. It's like walking through the halls of La Colina with Bunny at your side, and who doesn't want an opportunity to have that!? Take a further look, and grab your copy here: 



And if you're interested in Bunny's other books, check them out here: 


And if you want to read my review on Bunny Williams' Scrapbook for Living, you can do so here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: Wanderlust

Photo Copyright 

So many amazing books came out this week, including Wanderlust: Interiors That Bring the World Home by Michelle Nussbaumer. It's hard to believe that this is Michelle's first book, but I'm sure it won't be her last. Spaces inspired by travel and all things worldly are quintessential of Michelle, so it's no surprise that they fill the stunning pages of the book inspiring all of us to live with the things that we love, the things we've collected, and the things that inspire us.

Michelle is based in Dallas, Texas and owns the popular store, Ceylon et Cie, where she curates found objects, furniture, antiques, and art. Wanderlust brilliantly illustrates Michelle's client work, and her stunning Dallas home, as well as her getaway in Switzerland. The rooms in this taste-making book showcase the eclecticism that only Michelle can pull off, with rooms that inspire decorating, design, travel, shopping, and generally living well.

Photo Copyright Melanie Acevedo, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Ka Yeung, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Melanie Acevedo, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright James Schroder Photography, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Steven Karlisch, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli


Photo Copyright Troy Steakley, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Peter Vitale, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Melanie Acevedo, as seen in WANDERLUST by Michelle Nussbaumer published by Rizzoli

Wanderlust couldn't be more aptly named. Each of the rooms found inside of this beautiful and large collection of Michelle's masterwork is inspired by global collections and textiles. If you're a lover of pattern, color, texture, and layering like I am, you've got to grab a copy of her book. You will be inspired and in awe, I promise! Grab your copy, here:


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Beautiful

I have to start this review with a personal story I have about the author, designer extraordinaire: Mark D. Sikes. When I traveled to Florida and found little Arlo Ellington (my awesome Frenchie and cohort in all things) I lamented over the trials that may come with a small dog. I had been scared by the breeder, telling me to watch out for over-heating, and more. Knowing that Mark and partner Michael had the adorable HRH Lily, I shot an email off to Mark asking how he dealt with overheating of a Frenchie in California. Within hours, Mark had written me a personal email, congratulating me on Arlo, giving tips on parenting a Frenchie, and  every confidence in the world that I would be a great pet parent without anything to worry about. Why does this matter to the book review? Well - during this time, unbeknownst to me and to most of us, Mark was feverishly working on multiple design projects, a book layout, upcoming furniture and fabric lines, a new clothing line, and store design for none other than Reese Witherspoon. With all of these things on his plate, he took the time to write me back a sweet and affirming email in the same day. This warm, kind, humble, and beautiful man is the real deal, and the beauty in his new book, Beautiful: All American Decorating and Timeless Style is absolutely an authentic representation of everything Mark D. Sikes.


The book showcases several projects, including his own home, separated into chapters based on Mark's favorite color stories. Instead of seeing the rooms of one house page after page, the entirety of his design work is showcased in chapters like: "Timeless Neutrals" and "Blue and White Forever". Eight chapters, and more than 250-pages of stunning photos by Amy Neunsinger, Beautiful is a book that you simply can't close. 

Mark has been showered with well-deserved publication. We have grown used to seeing many of his spaces in magazines like Veranda, House Beautiful, and Architectural Digest. Beautiful now gives us a further peek into these spaces, built by Mark's curatorial eye and flair, and a look into work that has yet to be published by the design mags. 

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Anyone who has ever seen Mark's work, either from his blog, or his many published rooms in the shelter mags knows that no one does blue and white, quite like Mark, and the luxurious hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpapers by Gracie Studio that he uses have taunted all of us who share his love-affair with the high-end paper. This foyer, in a previously unpublished Pacific Palisades home showcases four gorgeous framed panels, and one of his favorite color pairings, blue and green.

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Mark's master bedroom in the Hollywood Hills, showing a concealed closet door covered in Gracie wallpaper.

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Most everyone probably remembers this room from the 2015 Greystone Showhouse where Mark brought the garden into the Grand Hall. Several stunning photos by Amy Neunsinger of this space anchor his "Garden Green" chapter.

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Mark used indigo printed textiles from Les Indiennes in this bedroom in Montecito. Pattern pairing fabric is something Mark is simply a genius at. His new line of fabric from Schumacher is going to be a huge hit, I'm sure of it! 

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Both photos above from Mark's Hollywood Hills home, both showcasing the relaxed elegance of Mark's "Elegant California" aesthetic. 

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

In his chapter "Red My Way" stunning photos of his room from the 2015 Kips Bay Showhouse take center stage. Just look at the stunning detail of the curtains, slipcovers, and upholstery. Mark is a master at the fine details of a space.

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

Mark count's this mahogany paneled library as "probably one of the most favorite rooms" he's designed. All of the furniture is slipcovered in china blue linen.

Photo Copyright Amy Neunsinger, for BEAUTIFUL by Mark Sikes published by Rizzoli

My favorite room, no my favorite house in the book is this jaw dropping beauty, a play on the neutrals that Mark is famous for. This Pacific Palisades home has got to be my idea of a dream house.

Beautiful is nothing short of perfection. Mark D. Sikes is a design genius, and this book is proof positive that relaxed elegance is not only possible, it has been mastered, and lays in the 250+ pages of this book, waiting for you to be inspired. I couldn't be more proud to have a signed copy on my coffee table. It's definitely #topofthestack.

Grab a copy for yourself here: