Tuesday, November 30, 2010

winter garden, part I

Lots of yard work over the holiday weekend (working off the pumpkin pie). There's something so beautiful about a garden in winter. So calm and monochromatic.

More tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

thanksgiving for three

Home from Michigan, where winter taunted us with grey skies and snow flurries.

Setting the Thanksgiving table was the gentleman's job. And I must say, it was warm and bright ~ decorated with red berries and Russian sage. A simple meal for three: turkey breast with sausage stuffing, gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash (from the garden), cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Yum.

And you?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i am thankful

For. . . beautiful autumn days, my husband's soft kiss, our family's warm embrace, little boys in bowties, magnolia leaves and yummy white cake, and the cheers of good friends as two hearts joined as one. Our first holiday together will be full of much love. From our table to yours ~ happy, happy Thanksgiving.

A little peek at our wedding (more to follow after the holiday). We're off until next week. xo

(photograph by Kate Headley)

Friday, November 19, 2010

breakfast in bed

Lazy days and breakfast in bed (oatmeal and sliced pears). Reading mystery novels. Those are the best sorts of weekends.

But if you must surf the web:

* the new Art of the Americas wing at the MFA Boston
* wild mushrooms: read the article, see the photographs

Oh, and some big news!

Wishing you a happy one. . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

book week: the irish country house

When a copy of The Irish Country House landed in my mailbox several weeks ago, I knew it would be the perfect thing with which to wrap up book week. Being of Irish descent myself, I have to admit that I was thrilled to see such a beautiful publication about the Irish house, which has been somewhat neglected (at least by publishers). Following on the heels of last year's Romantic Irish Homes (see The Architecturalist for more), this is the first significant publication in almost 10 years to take a good look at the houses of that emerald isle. And it does not disappoint.

Written by Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin, along with James Piell, the book is a compilation of photographs and stories about 10 houses, from FitzGerald's own Glin Castle to the classic Georgian manse, Burtown House (pictured above). All of the houses are still lived in by descendants of their original owners and builders ~ an extraordinary legacy. And needless to say, each has a tale to tell.

Students of architecture and decorative arts will be delighted with the large, elegant views of landscapes and interior rooms, such as the library at Glin (above) with its indigo-hued walls and piles of Asian porcelain. However, I found myself charmed by the stories of each house, poignantly illustrated through details of family mementos such as hunting journals and old photographs at Lisnavaugh (below) ~ and my personal favorite, a glimpse of a darkroom at Birr Castle, still containing the Countess of Rosse's photographic developing chemicals from the 1850s.

Each room is a treasure trove, with layers of history and extraordinary objects to be discovered. When I first saw the entrance hall at Kiladoon (below) I was struck by the pale green walls, scarlet curtains, and unusual early 19th-century hall chairs. Then I noticed those magnificent Irish elk antlers, so gloriously incongruent. And the libraries. . . well, for more on those, read Courtney's post on Style Court. She has a few of her own interesting observations!

Finally, as a photographer, I would be remiss not to highlight James Fennell's glorious images. His work has previously appeared in, Irish Furniture (also authored by the Knight of Glin and James Piell), Vanishing Ireland and The Irish Pub.

(all photographs by James Fennell, from The Irish Country House, courtesy Vendome Press, 2010)

Friday, November 12, 2010

book week: reader favorites

Before I wrap up book week with one last post of my own, I thought it would be fun to hear from some of you. I asked on monday what your own favorites are, and you did not disappoint ~ delighting me with everything from luscious photographic essays of brick and mortar houses to the fictional homes of childhood tales. Some I know well, while others are revelations:

Frau S (bad hausfrau): At Home: The American Family 1750-1870, by Elizabeth D. Garrett

Patricia (pve): Terence Conran's New House Book

Meg (Pigtown*Design) ~ any book by Mary Randolph Carter!

Gaye (little augury): Bowens Court & Seven Winters, by Elizabeth Bowen, and China Court: The Hours of a Country House, by Rumer Godden

the gentleman: Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright (a niece of Frank Lloyd Wright), and Het Hollandse Pronkpoppenhuis (The Magnificent Dutch Dollhouse), by Jet Pijzel-Dommisse

Stefan (Architect Design): Carolands, by Michael Middleton Dwyer, with photographs by Mick Hales

Jenny E: Castles in the Air, by Judy Corbett

home before dark: English Country Style, by Mary Gilliatt, and Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Chris Storb (In Proportion to the Trouble): Philip Wallace's Colonial Houses, Philadelphia, Pre-Revolutionary Period (published in 1931, and reprinted 1960 by Bonana)

I think (*ahem*) my Amazon wish list has grown a bit this week.

Thank you all for contributing. And if I could, I would give you all a copy of Old Houses. But, alas, there is only one. And I am delighted to say that Chris Storb's bookshelf has expanded a bit!

(photograph of Hyde Hall, by Steve Gross and Susan Daley, from Old Houses)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

book week: at home

Little did I know when I enlisted the help of three fellow bloggers for book week that they would so brilliantly out do themselves. Writing for one's own blog is challenge enough, so I am grateful that they took the time to stop by and share a few words here. Today I am delighted to have Courtney Barnes, whose seminal blog, Style Court, stands in a class of its own. She has graciously agreed to tell us about a beautiful publication so fresh off the presses, the ink has barely dried:

Because choosing just one outstanding book related to house and home is no mean feat, I decided to focus on the latest 2010 releases. But even within the narrower category, there are several beautifully written—yet wildly different—new titles. That said, many who appreciate refined antiques and classic interior decoration (not to mention soft luminous color, comfort, and gracious old houses) have been eagerly anticipating Suzanne Rheinstein’s debut book, At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past.

In her introduction, Rheinstein vividly describes the sights and sweet olive scent of her New Orleans childhood along with myriad influences she still carries with her today, living and working on both the East and West coasts. In an era when interior designers tend to flip houses or sell off possessions almost annually, Rheinstein and her husband, Fred, have for more than 30 years made their home base a 1914 Georgian Revival in the Windsor Square section of Los Angeles’ Hancock Park.

Fans of Mrs. Rheinstein’s work know this house well. Its slow evolution has been documented by so many shelter magazines over the years. The treat of the book is the expanded coverage—detailed views of the tailored dressmaker details for which the designer is known, the patina of painted 18th-century Italian chairs, nooks and crannies, fresh angles of her “object-driven” rooms.

And the same holds true for the other houses featured. Special attention is paid to butler’s pantries, laundry rooms and outbuildings.

I hope this peek into the Hancock Park house whets your appetite to see more. The dining room (chock-a-block with light-reflecting surfaces including glaze-painted striped walls, old glass, Sheffield plate silver, and a Russian chandelier) is set for a Southern-style breakfast that is calling my name!

Civic-minded Rheinstein is a good teacher. She sums up her book by paraphrasing her friend William Yeoward: “All design is an opinion, and this happens to be mine.”

(all photographs: © AT HOME: A Style for Today with Things from the Past by Suzanne Rheinstein, Rizzoli New York, 2010. Images © Pieter Estersohn)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

book week: notes from new england

I could not imagine doing a book week about house books without tapping the inestimable Downeast Dilettante, whose library (like that of Keith Mackay) would turn any student of architecture green with envy. As a New England native, I am particularly delighted by his thoughtful contribution:

Indeed the subject has tortured me—or rather, the discipline of narrowing the field to one. I have personally owned over 2,500 design and architecture books of every description, and have been inspired and educated by most of them. I was torn: a favorite from childhood like Charles Edwin Hooper's The Country House? An elegant monograph like Richard Pratt's David Adler, Architect? Vincent Scully's The Shingle Style? Or Mario Praz's seminal and gorgeous, An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration?

And then it hit me. It may be cheating a little, but they are all the same author, and cover similar subjects. I choose the remarkable series of books about early American—and specifically New England—architecture by Samuel Chamberlain, which merge in my mind as many volumes constituting one sweeping chronicle.

Trained as a print maker, Chamberlain is best known for his etchings and lithographs. Earning the distinguished title of Guggenheim Fellow in 1926, he lived for a time in France, and finally, Marblehead. He traveled New England, recording the architecture of the region with his camera, and publishing the results in a series of poetic and elegant books of black and white photographs—as beautiful a love song to New England as has ever been produced.

I learned by looking at Chamberlain’s beautiful photographs and reading his short, intelligent captions, to appreciate the scale and line of the beautiful early architecture of my native New England. His books include Salem Interiors, Open House In New England, New England Doorways, The New England Image, Portsmouth: A Camera Impression, New England Rooms, 1639-1863, Beauport at Gloucester: The Most Fascinating House in America (the very first book about that magical place), and some 20 others. And while many books have come and gone from my library, these books remain on the shelves, constantly perused. These visual essays about light and architecture and the genius of place continue to delight after nearly five decades.

(images: from The New England Image, 1962, reprinted 1994)

Note from JCB: for a bit more of Chamberlain's work, please see this wonderful set on flickr.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

book week: a private world

The first person I asked to stop by this week is my dear friend Keith MacKay (better known to some as KDM), curator of Ten Chimneys in Wisconsin. He has quietly, but brilliantly entered the world of blogging, writing the official Ten Chimneys Foundation Preservation Blog (and when you are done here, please hop over there!). Keith began his extraordinary library of art, architecture and decorative arts books at a young age ~ and the towers of tomes that now furnish his apartment in the place of furniture are a real treat to peruse. I am thrilled he has agreed to share a little piece of it with us today:

Naturally, this question has been a tortuous one and I have lost hours of sleep trying to select just one book . . . but, there is nothing like your first love. Hugo Vickers' The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor was a revelation. In 1996 when I found this book I was a junior in high school, working for minimum wage and purchasing this handsome volume was a huge investment: I essentially spent my entire savings to buy it. But it was worth it. The Private World provided hours of escapism and delight to a lonely gay teen growing up in rural Minnesota.

Vickers’ work includes a thoughtful biographical narrative of two significant (and still polarizing) style icons, along with an exploration of their elegant grace-and-favor house in Paris near the Bois de Boulogne with interiors designed by Jansen. While the book is not perfect (it would be nice to have a more academically-crafted text when it comes to the analysis of the Windsor's interiors), Vickers introduced me to people with names like Mona Bismark, Emerald Cunard, Daisy Fellowes, Diana Vreeland, Charles de Beistegui. Needless to say the pages of my copy are well worn.

(photographs: by William Vandivert, for Life Magazine, January 1939)

Monday, November 8, 2010

book week: old houses

As many of you know, every year around this time I indulge my love of books by enlisting the help of a few web friends to throw a virtual party in honor of the printed word (and image). Book Week 2010 ~ the third annual! This year, I thought it would be fun to focus on books that celebrate the house and home. I have limited each participant to one book about a house or houses, or to a series of books on a single house ~ which, it seems, has presented quite a challenge to some (one friend even losing sleep over the task). But, I think the specificity of the assignment has made it all the more interesting.

One of my personal favorites is a book I received as a Christmas gift from my parents many years ago: Old Houses (published in 1991 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with photographs by Steve Gross and Susan Daley). Each image hauntingly beautiful and each house deliciously intriguing ~ from Hyde Hall to the Aiken-Rhett House (which I just toured for the third time in Charleston). Long ago, I determined that I would some day visit each one of the houses included. And while I am far from accomplishing my goal (many are private homes), the book is one I visit often.

In the process of merging our libraries, the gentleman and I have found that we have numerous duplicates, including Old Houses. So, if you would be interested in receiving a well-loved copy from my own library, leave a comment on this post before midnight on thursday, November 11, telling me about your favorite house book. I'll announce the lucky recipient (chosen at random) on friday!

(photographs of the Aiken-Rhett House, by Steve Gross and Susan Daley, from Old Houses)

Friday, November 5, 2010

trouvée: a girl and her book

An old cabinet card from the collection, with no inscriptions or date ~ but a perfect way to announce the 3rd annual JCB book week. So stay tuned for lots and lots of goodies to come next week. {click image to view larger}

In the mean time, a few things:

* Garden Plans at The Drawing Room
* Rholfs at the Met
* and The Vices That Made Virginia (what a great idea for a fundraiser!)

Have a great weekend. . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

just down the road

At Middleton Place. For some reason these two images just scream South Carolina to me. I remember the first time I saw this sculpture. . . about 10 years ago. The camellias were in bloom, and there were pink blossoms scattered on her lap. This time she was framed only by Spanish moss. The landscaped gardens at Middleton are extraordinary ~ started in 1741, they are the oldest in America. Wandering along the river front, around the butterfly lakes, and through the formal parterres, one can't help but feel a bit of magic in the landscape. The plantation house fell victim to Civil War and earthquakes in the 19th century ~ where it once stood, a pile of bricks remains as a stark reminder of the weight of history.

The gentleman might just say that Middleton was his favorite place.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

along the ashley river road

Inside a great American colonial house: Drayton Hall. It almost needs no explanation. Built on the banks of the Ashley River, it is arguably one of the finest surviving examples of Georgian architecture in this country. Preserved in an elegant state of decay, the woodwork has sustained only two coats of paint in almost 300 years. The house now stands empty, its furniture long ago scattered (though a few pieces may be seen at the Heyward-Washington House and the Charleston Museum).

It is one of my favorite places.

Lots more details in the Charleston set on flickr.