March 31, 2008

Evergreen House in Baltimore

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be included with a small group of curators, archivists and researchers from galleries and museums in DC on a tour of the beautiful house, Evergreen. I drive by this house every morning and afternoon on my way to and from work, but haven't actually been inside the house since I was in my early teens. The house is very deceptive - from the front you don't get any sense of how large it is - 44 rooms.
Evergreen was home to the Garrett family from the 1870's to the 1950's. Although time has encroached on its borders, it is still surrounded by gorgeous gardens, even this early in the spring, and the old carriage house with its stables and gravestones of favourite horses. I had some time before the crew arrived from DC to walk the property and take lots of photographs.
Most of the ironwork, lighting and glass, other than windows, is from Tiffany Studios. There are actually a lot of Tiffany glass windows in Baltimore because of the influence of the Garrett Family, and work they did with McKim Mead & White. I worked at another Garrett mansion in the city, which also had tons of Tiffany glass.

The library at Evergreen is spectacular. There is a complete set of Audubon Double Elephant Bird Folios, a page of which can go for more than $175,000! A complete set was sold at Christie's for $8.8 million. There are Shakespeare manuscripts, signatures of all of the early US Presidents, and a book I would have loved to look at called "Scraps". My mother told me that the book group my father belonged to used to meet there for cocktails and dinner. Wow!
Architecturally, the house is Italianate with revival additions. There are columns, leaded glass windows and cornices. There is a gold bathroom, where all of the wood and pipes are covered with 23 carat gold, a theatre stencilled by Leon Baskt, an iron and glass floor installed by Tiffany Studios and so much more.

If you're in Baltimore, Evergreen House is worth an afternoon of your time.

March 28, 2008

More Ways to Waste Time & Me

Leah, who writes the great blog "More Ways to Waste Time", has featured me and my tiny house on the House Voyeur section of her blog. It's been a fun process, answering her lengthy questionnaire, taking loads of pictures of my house and really thinking about why I have some of the things that I do. The hardest thing was taking the pictures, because my house is only 11.5 feet wide, so it's hard to get any perspective.
I hope that you will take a look at the article and let me know what you think. Thank you so much, Leah!!!

March 26, 2008

Regency at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Peak of Chic had a wonderful post on Regency Redux the other day with some beautiful pictures and interesting thoughts. I received my newsletter from the Victoria & Albert Museum this morning and they're having an exhibit on Thomas Hope: Regency Designer. Hope was a designer and collector in the early 19th century and author of the book, Household Furniture and Decoration, which included line drawings and a scale for furniture makers. His two houses, Duchess Street in London and The Deepdene in Surrey were laboratories for his creative work.
One of the most fun links on the site is Design A Room, using Hope's actual drawings in three of his rooms, the Egyptian Room, the Aurora Room and the Third Vase Room, and then a blank room for you to design from scratch. There are furniture, ornament and ceiling options, as well as a huge range of colours that you click and drop. You can even print out your finished products.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is always hosting the most amazing events and exhibitions. When I lived in the UK, it was always a mandatory visit when I was in London. There was always something new to see, and their fabulous shop to visit.

March 23, 2008

Carleton Varney, Part XII - Banana Split Decorating

I haven't picked up the magic Carleton Varney book for a while and so I dug it out this evening after a long day with the family, including nine nieces and nephews fueled by Peeps and Cadbury eggs.

On the initial reading of this little piece "A Banana-Split Decorating Scheme", I thought that Carleton had finally let me down and that his advice wouldn't stand the test of time. Banana splits are delectable to the taste. We could all take decorating lessons from a banana split to improve the combinations of colours in our own homes." YIKES!
But he goes on to say carpet the room in a velvety vanilla. Place a chocolate sofa on the rug, flanked by two lounge chairs covered in fresh strawberry... Colour your walls whipped cream white and hang strawberry curtains trimmed in chocolate..." Hmmm, that actually might be pretty. Pink and brown are great together. Add a little lightness, and it may work. Through the magic of PhotoShop, this room might not look so bad... But I would change the name to Neapolitan.

March 20, 2008

Talking About Colour

When I wrote about our Balti-blog Meet Up, I mentioned Rachel, who writes the blog on colour, called Hue Consulting. She had told us that she'd been interviewed by Annie Groer of the Washington Post for a story on paint colours. Rachel is a member of the International Association of Colour Consultants. The article, Talking Abour Colour, is in the Post today, with a great photo of Rachel, who went to DC to be photographed. Good on ya, Rachel!
Image: Washington Post

March 17, 2008

I love Daffodils

There are daffodils beginning to bloom around Baltimore. Not quite in full bloom, but little early ones here and there. I bought some daffodils, imported from England, when I was at Trader Joe's the other day. Their buds were closed tightly, but I put them in water and overnight, they opened wide.
I loved the long daffodil season in the UK, so was delighted to buy a piece of that memory. The River Taff in Cardiff had a long park along side of it with swathes of daffodils, and in fact, the daff is the flower of Wales. There were also loads of daffs in the local graveyard.
At the rugby games in Cardiff, there are 70,000+ people in the stands, singing and waving their inflatable daffodils (and leeks). In this video, you can see the fans waving leeks and daffs, but you can't hear them singing Tom Jones' songs. You might even see me somewhere in the crowd, too. Cymru am byth!
Today, I was at the local Asian market and saw this sign advertising daffodils. I bought spring onions instead.

March 16, 2008

Irish Arts Are Smiling

On St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would take a minute to salute some of our Irish blogging friends. Ireland, and Dublin especially, have a vibrant arts scene, in large part due to their annuity scheme for artists of all types. The wealth generated by the "Celtic Tiger" has also been a boon to artists as more people can afford to buy art.
One of my favourite Irish bloggers is the wonderful Nathalie who writes Design Undercover. I stumbled on DU many months ago, right as she had put out a call for someone to design her blog header, which I volunteered to do. Nathalie is Italian, but is living in Dublin, so she's got a unique perspective on design.
Another fun blog is Design in Dublin? (her question mark, not mine). She's an American ex-pat living in Dublin who's suffering from sticker shock at the high prices and is trying to find good design on a budget.
I've been looking at Homebug for almost a year now, and she's got a great eye for lots of creative areas including fabrics, furniture and mid-century modern. Through her, I found the hysterical Grey Area, the "dark diary of Dublin's most negligible bachelor".

Of course, there are zillions of Irish bands that you can find on You Tube, including everyone's favourite, Bono. Here he is in 1988,doing a really bad lip-synch job with Clannad (forward to about 2:00).

Local Irish band, O'Malley's March, fronted by Baltimore's former Mayor and Maryland's current Governor, Martin O'Malley, is a huge attraction, although they're not playing much anymore, due to more pressing obligations.Does your Governor look this good?

March 13, 2008

Topics of Interest

... to me, anyway! I spent a fun evening categorizing my previous posts. I know you're all dead jealous of my scores of scores at the Book Thing, and I know it kills you to have to scroll through month after month of posts to find that treasure I showed you in July. I may add some more topics as I move forward, and will appreciate any ideas you have for additional topics.
As always, thank you so very much for reading Pigtown*Design. I really appreciate your input.

March 12, 2008

Roman Doors & Windows

A lot of people had never seen this house and seemed to like the Roman face door I posted below, so I thought I'd scan the rest of the photos and show you. I can't find any information about the house, but I remember it was up near the top of the Spanish Steps. If anyone has any information about it, I'd love to know.

Reader Sara sent this information:
The Palazzo Zuccari was designed and built by Federico Zuccari, who also lived here and used it as a studio for his painting. The palace was erected in the 16th Century and has undergone numerous restorations over the years. During the 17th Century it was home to the Toscanelli family and in the 18th Century home to Maria Casimira of Poland. The door and windows are quite striking and were designed to resemble the face of a monster with the door as an open mouth and above it a large nose, two eyes and ears.
It looks like he's taking a big bite out of the tree!
The windows on either side of the door are slightly different. I love the round window!

March 11, 2008

Doors of the World

Frank, at My Paint Box, is holding a Doors of the World day on Wednesday, March 12th. There is a list of other participating bloggers on his site. I found about it by a circuitous route, via An Aesthete's Lament, then to The House in Marrakesh and then to My Paint Box. Whew!

I always take photos of doors and have done so for years. When I lived in the UK, I had tons of images of doors and doorways, which are all now lost. I went through some of my photo albums and came up with the following doors. I hope you enjoy them.

This is a wonderful doorway into some gardens in Cirencester in Gloucs. in the UK. My cousins live nearby, and this is always a touchstone when I am there. The hedge along the wall is about 20' high and has been growing for years.

I am sure that lots of other people are posting this doorway in Rome. It's close to the Spanish Steps and is just hilarious! The windows are similar, which makes it even funnier. I can just imagine coming home and walking through this door. It would always make me laugh.

To me this door typifies the UK to me. A shiny black surround and then a beautiful shiny door. This is at a family friend's house in Norfolk, UK. There's a lovely millpond behind the house and when digging in the cellar, the family found a Roman helmet.

This is another doorway in Rome. We were walking down a quiet little street near Piazza Navona and heard a dog barking. We looked through the gate and saw this fellow. I love the way the light comes from the right side and brightens up the doorways.

A couple of years ago, I was in Oxford about this time of year. It was a bit rainy and foggy, but everything was glowing green. We were walking through the colleges and came across this enfilade of doors. The rain on the steps helps give the illusion of depth.

When I Marry Adventure, I know where I want to get married ... in the tiny church of St. Mary & St. David at Kilpeck (Llanddewi Cil Peddeg) along the Welsh borders. It was built in 1140. One of my American cousins living in the UK took us there and we all fell in love. It's surrounded by the most amazing, almost Disney-like carvings just below the roofline. But the door is spectacular with its iron strapping.

As I look at these doors, I realize that they all have a similar architectural look. Then it hit me - they all look like the door of the house where I lived growing up. It was a wide door, with long sidelights and a fanlight over the top. It had beautiful ironwork over the glass on the main door and the whole door weighed a ton! I wish I had a photo of the door...

March 10, 2008

Charlotte Moss Article

Have you seen this excellent article about Charlotte Moss? It's from W Magazine. With her new book coming out soon, there's a lot of buzz about this steel magnolia of the decorating world.

March 9, 2008

Balti-Blog Meet-Up

The gracious and charming Julie at Kitchenography and I had a couple of area bloggers to brunch today. It was lots of fun to meet some incredibly creative and interesting new friends.

Julie has the most wonderful kitchen... it's on the ground level of their house, and it painted a lovely pale yellow. With the huge center island and the farm table, all of us were able to crowd around and eat together. She's also got the most incredibly stunning stove I've ever seen!
Anne, who is Prêt à Voyager, also writes for Design*Sponge and is an intern for Grace Bonney, the creative editor of that ground-breaking blog. Look for Anne's picture on D*S with Baltimore-boy, Christian Siriano, winner of Project Runway.
Janet, a curator in DC, writes the gorgeous ~JCB~. She and I took off after the brunch and went to the Book Thing and for a tour of Tivoli House, where I work. Janet scored a wonderful book on needlepoint designs that had the most incredible Chinoiserie frogs and turtles patterns to make. Take a look at Janet's blog, it's so serene and calm.

Rachel, at Hue Consulting, is a colourist who looks at the psychology of colours, and will be featured in an upcoming article in the Washington Post's bloglines section. She's also a member of The International Association of Color Consultants North America and teaches colour theory!

The rest of the crowd were food bloggers, some of whom I had met at a panel discussion we did a few weeks ago. They're all cooks, and I am a restaurant reviewer, so I was slightly cowed to be with such a talented crew. I even bought some pans so I could cook, too!

My take at the Book Thing was pretty good... Before we even got there, I got Julie to hand over her extra copy of the Diana Vreeland book, and I can't wait to start it. Although I am not a huge fan of mid-century modern, I couldn't resist picking up Mary & Russel Wright's Guide to Easier Living. It's illustrated with hundreds of line drawings and charts to help simplify living! I also found a 1978 House Beautiful among the dozens of 70's era HBs that were there. It's on the Quest for Quality, so I thought I'd see how their suggestions hold up after 30 years. Finally, I got a book on the Architecture and Gardens of Tidewater Maryland, a topic of great interst to our family.

March 7, 2008

Ikea: Closet Imperialists?

In a follow-up to cracking the code of Ikea's naming scheme, it's now been revealed that they name their cheaper items after towns in Denmark! From the Telegraph, "Klaus Kjöller, of the University of Copenhagen, apparently "analysed" (rather than browsed) the Ikea catalogue. He said it "symbolically portrays Denmark as the doormat of Sweden, a country with a larger economy and population"." Of course, Ikea claims it's all a coincidence. You decide.

March 4, 2008

The Wire

I am on jury duty this week. If you've ever seen the HBO show "The Wire", then you will understand the drug and gun problems that plague Baltimore. However, there are great parts of the city and I love living here.
If you saw Season 2 of The Wire, it was shot in my old neighbourhood on the water and addressed interesting issues of the fading industrial landscape being replaced by high-rise and high-priced condos and houses on the waterfront.
The old city courthouse where we're deliberating is gorgeous, but I can't sneak a camera in to show you photos. The defense attorney is sporting a nice Goyard St. Louis bag like the one I have, except in black.

Ironically, I've never seen an episode of this show, since I don't have cable!
Update: For you all in Baltimore, you'll get this in four words: Guns. Drugs. Cherry Hill. We found the guy guilty of the drug charges, but didn't have enough evidence for the gun charges, even though we were sure that he had the gun.

March 2, 2008

I Love Chez Marshalls!

Just happened to wander into Marshall's this afternoon... not really looking for anything special, just seeing what was new for spring, and partly because of this article in the Washington Post. I found this on the clearance shelf.
Wedgwood Henley Tea Pot. The Silver Henley Tea Pot features a striking black handle and topper. Original price: $250. My price? $7.00!!! Now I can go back to having a cuppa Earl Gray in the afternoons, and it will stay warm while I get distracted and forget to drink it.