Friday, November 27, 2015

Zebra Exitus

I remember the day I got it. I had the box delivered to my office, because I was terrified that someone would take it from my porch if I wasn't home. Much smaller a parcel than I had expected, I couldn't wait to open it up. I gently cut away at the tape that held the small box together, and unfolded the cardboard flaps to find my beat up zebra hide, a bargain on eBay, all folded and snug inside.

From April 2010 - November 2015, that old guy made his way around lots of rooms and even three new houses!

Layered over Turkish kilim at CDLV

Featured in Buffalo Spree on Seagrass
The dining room at CDLV

The first apartment, with the Swedish pine Armoire and French stools
And in the new place
Unfortunately, Arlo took a liking to Mr. Zebra, and well, the inevitable happened. What once was a handsome hide, is now sad slivers of what used to be my favorite decorating accessory. The new ottoman is close to being finished, and honestly, it wasn't going to work in the room anymore anyway. So, we wave goodbye to Mr. Zebra, all tattered and torn. He had a good life!
The question now becomes, how long will I be able to live without one? I do have a large fawn cowhide that I have been seriously considering dying a bold color. I have no idea how or even if the hide would accept color after the tanning process - but how cool are these:
Pretty in pink
Gorgeous in Grass Green
Outstanding in Orange
Yes to Yellow
Bold in Blue
My cowhide had a very brief, but beautiful moment at the old place in the small bedroom, turned dining room:

 Old Apartment Dining Room
Then the rug when to live with a friend who used it to stage a small bedroom in his house before it sold. Now that the house is off the market, the rug is back with me and I have no use for it as is. Dying it might prove to be a huge disaster - but keeping it only means more storage space taken up by a huge cowhide that I don't need, and can't use.
The other option of course, is kilim rugs. This is something I already tried with the small kilim rug I took from CDLV. It looked great in the hallway at the old place:

But when I first moved into the new place, and I second guessed used the zebra around Arlo, I took the zebra out of the new space and tried the rug under the coffee table. That particular rug was far too small to appreciate.

New place the day I moved in!
So, I could get a larger rug, perhaps 7x9 or 8x10, that would eat the bulk of the seagrass and give a little color to the otherwise pretty creamy space. Something along these lines:
The last option, well beyond living with the seagrass alone of course, is a woven dhurrie or chindi rug - which I'd have to find and buy.
What are your thoughts? Do you like the layered look? Do you currently have your rugs layered? Which look do you prefer?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: How We Live

Many of you know that I love to read, no, indulge in interior design books. They can provide a much needed respite to a busy or hectic week; they can provide unabridged inspiration for your projects, your client projects, your dream projects; they can and most usually do give you a fascinating and absolutely voyeuristic point of view into what it means to truly live beautifully.

Recently I read How We Live, by Marcia Prentice. For those of you who don't know, Marcia is a self-taught American photographer, living in Los Angeles. She also happens to be a very talented interior designer, with a degree from FDIM in LA. Her photography has been featured in Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair Italia, and Casa International (Beijing). In fact, you may also know her as a key contributor to the blog Apartment Therapy.

Her photography is inspired by her love for travel, and her zest for interior design. When Sunset Magazine did their 2014 Idea House in Los Angeles, a beautiful black and white beach aerial was used in the living room, a photo captured by Marcia, inspired by the location of the home in Manhattan Beach:

Take that level of skill and natural ability, frame it with a degree in interior design and a passion for homes and travel, and you'll find the first book from Prentice. Somewhat of a photographic anthology on design and travel. A remarkable collection of images detailing the lived-in, well curated, and private homes and studios of 18 designers' and artists' from cities around the world! Imagine being able to sit down with a glass of wine, and a photo album of beautifully captured photos of homes, rooms, spaces, and places you'd never be invited to otherwise. It's an "I can't stop turning pages" and "I wish I could ask questions" sort of moment we design-minded people just itch for!

From Mumbai to Marrakech, Prentice photographed these spaces - each so different from the other, to capture the intimacy of each personal and private space. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and with 224 pages of brilliant and vivid pictures taking you on a global journey, it's impossible to write a narrative that will compare. So, I'll turn my words off and share some of my favorite images from the book!

Beirut, Lebanon, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice

Marrakech, Morocco, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice 
Marrakech, Morocco, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice
 Marrakech, Morocco, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice
Mumbai, India, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice
London, England, Photo © 2015 Marcia Prentice
ALL PHOTOS © How We Live by Marcia Prentice
Published by teNueus,
For more information or to purchase from teNueus, visit here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

To Tuft or Not To Tuft ...

As many of you know by now, I moved in September. This is the second move in 2015, a move instigated by this guy:

Arlo - French Bulldog and General Awesome Sidekick!
There were a few things that I needed in a new place, and finding it in my budget, with a dog, wasn't easy. In fact, it wasn't even nearly possible. Thankfully, I work for a great property management company with a diverse portfolio, including apartments that are dog-friendly, in a rather elite suburb of Buffalo.
It was, however, not without its fair share of challenges. Here's what the living room in the model apartment looks like:
Carpeted from wall to wall, void of any molding or architectural interest, and an eye-sore of an air-conditioning unit: it's not a dump - but it's not the ritz, either. I knew that I could make some improvements, thanks to my position with the company. They'd be out of my own pocket, but the positives far outweighed the initial ding to my pocket.
When I took my unit, it looked like this:
Pretty, right? I got permission to put down a different floor in the living room of the apartment than the carpet that they typically install prior to a tenant moving in. Thankfully! I still have carpet in the hallway and in the bedrooms, but for just a little over $350, the living room eventually looked like this:

Not too shabby, right? Once the furniture went into place, it became a little more obvious that in order to get a look that I wanted, I was going to have to spend some more money and create some architectural interest in the space. I started with a giant piece of art, which I did myself, a Cy Twombly inspired piece that I think I could have sold 15 times already:

At just over 6' tall and 8' long, it's a large statement in the room. Of course, I took the squat little window on the other side and visually raised the height of it by adding my bamboo roman shades and custom curtains. It wasn't quite enough though. So, inspired by mirrored walls I created a little mirror alcove of my own:
Using mirrors from the dollar store, (yes, they were $1/ea!) and doing a fun treatment on them to have them look like antique mirrors really added a beautiful and architecturally interesting piece to the room, for about $50 for the molding, mirrors, and glue.
So, this is really where the living room is today. This morning in fact. So why is this post called To Tuft or Not To Tuft? See those mouton leg French ottomans? They're moving on. The room is large enough to have a pretty significant piece of furniture there, and the opportunity to have the layout I want is worth the switch up. You see, the living room is 20' long! And there's plenty of opportunity for two seating groups. The sofa and two Bergere chairs create one group, and this large ottoman I'm creating for the center of the room creates another along with two additional Bergere chairs, serving as a backless sofa to both spaces.
So, the question is not whether or not to fill the space with a very large ottoman that will be multifunctional. That's happening. The question is whether or not tufting is the ticket, and I think it is. Take a look at a few inspiration pics, and let me know what you think!

Inspiration photos sourced on Pinterest

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Jeffrey Bilhuber Redecorates

WARNING: This post started out as something very simple, and has grown into something that you may need hours to read. If you have a blog, you may have had this happen to you. As I sat down to compare the decorating projects of master decorator, Jeffrey Bilhuber, I never imagined that I would be so enthralled, no, captivated by his vacation home: Hay Fever. Located in Locust Valley, New York, the house is something of a rambling mansion. The original structure was completed in 1668, but there have been additions made to the original house throughout the years - making it a 30 room gem that Bilhuber has turned into an architectural and interior design masterpiece.

Thankfully, the house has been photographed a lot. And it seems like every time that the house is photographed, the rooms change. Sometimes slightly, a chair moves or art changes; and then sometimes it changes all together. A foyer becomes a dining room, for example. What I had originally intended to show was simple: investing in things you love is key - even if they're trendy right now. Just to appease my psyche I have to do it. So, allow me this mild digression.
Jeffrey and his son live in New York City, and they spend most every weekend at Hay Fever. The apartment in the city is lovely, and you've probably seen the rooms there 100 times, if not 1000 times. Prior to becoming a father, Jeffrey had a library in his city apartment.
The lacquered ceiling and nailhead wall treatment were all anyone could talk about, and landed the room in several high end design magazines, and even in Jeffrey's second book: Defining Luxury. The room functioned well as an office for Jeffrey, and as a guest room of sorts with the daybeds. The German roe buck antler mounts and portraiture of Native American chiefs were gorgeous pairings with the wallpaper and brass nailheads. But, like most of us, Bilhuber likes change, and son Christoph was the impetus for a big change! Gone was the need for a fancy library office, and in was the pressing need for a private bedroom for a growing little boy. It seems however, that the whole apartment got an upgrade. And when I started to connect the dots, it appears that much of the old décor ended up at Hay Fever. So, let's first play a little before and after at the Manhattan apartment, and then we'll take a look at Hay Fever, and play a little game of I-spy.

Can you believe the change? Color, pattern, texture galore in the new space. Inspired by the interiors of New York's Gilded Age, Jeffrey wanted a club like feeling to the new space, and he spared no expense doing it. It also gave him a lot of material for his newest book, Jeffrey Bilhuber: American Master. If you're missing the old décor (and I won't lie, I was) most of it ended up at the weekend house in Long Island.
It's why I became consumed with the place, and why we now get to look through these pictures together and count how many things we recognize from the Manhattan apartment pre-redecoration.
Ready? Let's begin:

The parlor at Hay Fever, now home to the ebony marble bust and pedestal, and several of the antler mounts from the old office, and the antique school house map from the old dining room. This room also acts as dining room for the Bilhubers when needed.

The foyer at Hay Fever is beautiful, and the Quadrille paper was an early choice of Bilhuber's, a historic reprint that he had commissioned by the company called "Climbing Hydrangea":

Below you can see that prior to the school map photo above the parlor felt a little more like, well, a parlor, a convenient sitting room and extension of the foyer. I spy some of those Native American chief portraits from the old office, do you?

It also had a little more colorful journey as a sitting room, too!

Here's the master of the house, Jeffrey sitting so happy on the sofa in the living room. For a brief moment, you see from the prior photo, this art changed. But it seems to be the preferred arrangement for the moment. More of the Native American chief portraits surround a piece that Jeffrey once had in a much older version of his apartment:

Remember the purple sofa from the parlor sitting room, now dining room? Well, it's made its way into a paneled lounge:

More of the antler mounts are seen here. Prior to this version, there were others:

The map from the parlor/dining room once hung behind an English roll arm sofa with tassel fringe.

And even a little earlier with antler mounts and a pop of red with that wicker rocker, below the same room turns dining room with more antler mounts and a shaded chandelier:

From this view, the kitchen looks like any other weekend house kitchen. Small, but serviceable. But in these photos of the kitchen - you can see that it's actually a chef's dream!


The master bedroom at Hay Fever. This is actually, an AFTER! Believe it or not, the room once looked like this:

Jeffrey opted to switch the position of the bed, but didn't let that destroy the canopy and all of the glorious fabric! The upholstered pieces here are now in the apartment in the city, it appears. 

What more could you possibly want in a third floor play room? Needless to say - Hay Fever is a masterpiece. Truly. For more photos of Hay Fever, the Manhattan apartment, and the glorious homes of Jeffrey's clients, check out his books: