Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thomas Jayne

Stairwell in a Philadelphia townhouse, Architectural Digest
Loving the idea of the striped runner...
and obsessed with those vermilion Gothic chairs!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Romaine Brooks

I recently saw some of Romaine Brooks' paintings in the Renwick Gallery in D.C. and fell in love... here are some favorites...

Self Portrait, 1923

Jean Cocteau, 1912

Peter, a Young English Girl, 1924 

Ida Rubinstein, 1918

The Baroness

Romaine Brooks with some of her paintings, circa 1960.

Monday, June 27, 2011


They're some of my favorite decorative details, particularly when rendered in a material other than silk or thread. During my trip to D.C., amazing tassels of iron, brass, marble, and carved wood seemed to follow me everywhere.

From the carved marble tassels of Hiram Power's Greek Slave at the Corcoran...

... also seen in this 1848 daguerreotype from the collection of the Getty

To the carved wooden tassels on the frame of this mirror in the Renwick Gallery... a solid brass mid-19th century curtain pull I found at an antiques shop in Old Town Alexandria and couldn't resist taking home with me...

... and finally a cast iron example from my collection similar to one on a piece of ironwork at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.

and it continues...

I just returned from a brief trip to Washington, D.C. and made it a point to visit the Corcoran Gallery. During research for my previous post on the homes of Huguette Clark (available here) I discovered that the Salon Dore, which Senator Clark had imported from the Hotel Clermont in Paris for his 5th Avenue residence, currently exists in the collection of the gallery. I had to see it in person.

The salon during its period on 5th Avenue, circa 1925 prior to the demolition of the home.

The salon today in the Corcoran Gallery...
The room is amazing... 
However, the ceiling leaves much to be desired.

A detail of the doors.

My favorite carved panel representing theatre. I particularly love the masks and peacock feather fan. 

In addition to this spectacular room, Clark donated his entire collection of art to the Corcoran following his death in 1925. Following this donation a large addition was made to the museum in honor of Senator Clark. 

The plaque honoring Senator Clark and mentioning Huguette.

The skylight and stairwell in the Clark addition. Classic and subdued compared to the garishness of the 5th Avenue mansion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A day trip...

Yesterday we found ourselves on an impromptu trip to Georgetown, a small port city an hour North of Charleston. Along the way we saw a detour for Hampton Plantation, and I couldn't resist taking a look. Unfortunately we weren't able to tour the home, but thanks to my many architectural history classes, I already had knowledge of the contents of this house, which is known for false windows and a large ballroom.  

The plantation house was built initially circa 1740s with additions made in the 1760s. The distinctive front portico was added between 1790 and 1791, likely in preparation for George Washington's visit. The house is surprisingly elaborate with carved rosettes over each column and decorative modillions supporting the architrave of the pediment. This portico is considered the first of its kind on a residential structure in the low country of the Carolinas. 

Since we were not able to tour the home, I searched the HABS photographs and came across these of the ballroom. To accommodate the coved ceiling in this room, likely added in the 1790s, the windows on the facade had their shutters permanently closed to maintain the symmetry of the structure.

An alternative view of the ballroom. The woodwork is a crisp white and the ceiling is an intense blue... a strikingly fresh and modern combination, but period appropriate.

Located nearby is St. James-Santee Episcopal Church, a remarkably sophisticated Classical structure built in 1768. This church would have catered to the wealthy landowners, such as the owners of Hampton Plantation and other nearby plantations.  

The flemish bond brick columns with their molded capitals were my favorite architectural details. The bricks were imported from England. 

The interior of the church with a coved ceiling and architectural detailing strikingly similar to that of Hampton Plantation.

The back of the church, which was initially identical to the front with an open portico. 

The cemetery surrounding the church was lackluster... I can only imagine the majority of these landowners were buried in the cities of their respective townhouses or on the grounds of their plantation homes. However, this unusual brownstone marker struck my interest. 

Something I Need


Victorian Hearse Drapery Panels
from Suzan Fellman's One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greek Key

It seems like a post on the Greek key is a prerequisite of any design blog. This decorative device has always been one of my favorites, and now more so than ever. I'm surrounded by flashy gilt examples as the Hollywood Regency style enjoys a renewed vogue and also by worn and burnished specimens that snake their way around the antebellum Charleston peninsula. These are a few of my favorites...

I'll start with my favorite ceiling medallion in the Aiken-Rhett House here in Charleston, South Carolina. This dramatic Greek Revival element would have been part of the 1830s transformation of this home. As much as I love this architectural detail, I also love the drama of this photograph...

A ridiculously glamorous French ebonized center table by Maison Jansen... I could use this anywhere, any time. I'm obsessed with the refinement, sophistication, and elegance of this piece of furniture...

A console and Greek key transom in the dining room of the Richardson-Maxwell-Owen-Thomas House at 124 Abercorn Street in Savannah, Georgia. This home, designed by William Jay in the early 19th century, has a number of very unique decorative details.

A beautiful French 18th century wall mount console. I'd love to prop a huge Jean Michael Basquiat on this... I'm thinking it would be the perfect juxtaposition.

 Although I could live without this predictable 1940s decorative scheme, I love this Greek Revival mantle in Tulip Grove, located in Davidson, Tennessee. 
How amazing would it have been if they had gone all out Dorothy Draper and painted the mantle faux malachite, the walls hot pink, and used a crazy patterned bark cloth with ridiculous  gilt cornices for the window treatments?

A beautiful and graphic Regency slate fireplace surround, early 19th century. I could use this anywhere... the lines are so strong and dramatic.

Although it's hard to see, this door surround includes a fantastic Greek key detail. This architectural feature is part of Rosemount Plantation in Forkland, Alabama. This home was built in 1832 with additions made throughout the 1850s. You'll definitely want to look at the rest of the photographs of this plantation home, just click the image to see the rest...

This may be my favorite discovery... a parcel-gilt and lacquer bed by Axel Einar Hjorth, Swedish, circa 1929. Please click the photograph to view some details of this spectacular bed. This photograph makes it appear to be salmon in color, but it's actually a vibrant orange-red. I'd love to design a room around this magnificent work of art...
This is the cast iron balcony of one of my favorite homes here in Charleston, the Ladson House at 8 Meeting Street. Not only does it include a Greek key, but a laurel wreath and a star burst, all of my favorite design motifs...

... and finally, a pair of black and silver 1940s klismos chairs, they've already been sold on 1stdibs, but I can still dream about them. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Joel Peter Witkin

Cupid and Centaur by Joel Peter Witkin, 1992
His work is amazing... decidedly macabre, dark, and haunting but maintains a sense of poetic beauty and romance. His photographs often include skeletons, corpses, dismembered bodies, dwarfs, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and deformed humans. Witkin's technique draws on early daguerreotype processes, scratching the negatives, and bleaching/toning the prints.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Momento Mori

"Folly commonly punishes itself."
Human skull, wax flowers, first half of the 19th century
from Joshua Lowenfels at 1stDibs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crocodiles on Teapots...

an early 19th century Wedgwood Egyptian Revival teapot to be exact. 
I saved an image of this teapot from a design magazine a long time ago and have always lusted after this unusual piece... 

Monday, June 6, 2011


By now, I think we're all familiar with my obsession with wallpaper... so you can imagine how my heart started to race when I saw this three panel Zuber et Cie screen at my favorite local antiques mall, 17 South Antiques here in Charleston.

It's priced at 1,495, right under 500 a panel, which makes it almost irresistible... 
we'll see...

Petah Coyne

While digging through my piles of magazine articles I rip it out whenever I clean out my masses of magazines, I came back across images of Petah Coyne's sculptures. They're haunting and beautiful... and incorporate taxidermy peacocks, so of course I love them. The above image is the cover of the Yale University Press book on her work.

Wax flowers consume taxidermy birds... 
image from Abigail Doan

Click the image above to more photos of the artist's work...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

de Gournay

Feeling that all of my recent posts have lacked any color, I decided to explore the website of the inimitable de Gournay. These are my three favorites:

 Deco Monkeys in Terracotta
Recently saw this published and loved the pattern... all colorways are fantastic but I can't help but love the contrast between this terracotta orange and the black monkeys...

 Clematis in Casino
Love the metallic silver background and the grass green leaves...

Butterflies in Monarch
Traditional in feel, but remains surprisingly fresh and modern...

All photographs courtesy of de Gournay