August 29, 2007

Thomas Paul

I was looking at the brilliant Brilliant Asylum's blog the other day and she referenced Thomas Paul, a maker of home accessories (with the most annoying website). Coincidentally, I had picked up a couple of his pieces earlier that afternoon. I am a collector of notebooks, being the slightly obsessive person that I am. I used ruled notebooks, but not ring or spiral bound. I use coloured pens, changing colour with each meeting or new conversation.

So I bought a silk-covered notebook that looks like one of those old marblized black and white composition books, except in red, a double silk photo frame, in a damask print and a small photo album, in a 60's looking print. I had a red composition book before and filled it, so was glad to find another one.
Thomas Paul's colourways are wonderfully named: aqua-peacock-leaf, chocolate-orange-marigold, persimmon-pink, kabuki black and goldfinch green. His things are fun and creative. He seems to work mostly in silk, linen and twill, and has a line of malamine plates. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have a store, but his items are carried in Gracious Home, Elsewares and Fred Flare.
Thomas Paul graduated from FIT in New York with a degree in textile design and went on to work for as a silk colourist and making ties for Bill Blass, Calvin Klein and DKNY. In 2001 he launched a silk pillow collection, utilizing the silk mills which had done the ties. He hopes to have Thomas Paul accessories for every room in the house.

Remember Katrina

Two years ago when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and destroyed swaths of the area, I was in Scotland for a conference. The majority of the attendees were European and didn't understand why people just didn't leave. The Americans amongst us did understand. People just could not afford to go. They wouldn't leave their beloved pets. There were hundreds of other reasons that they stayed. I spent a lot of time in Louisiana and have seen first hand the grinding poverty in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.

As we mark the second anniversary of this American tragedy, please know that there is still much work that needs to be done. Please think about making a contribution to a charity that supports the Gulf Coast and those whose lives were destroyed by Katrina.

August 28, 2007

RIP Mark Birley

At the risk of becoming your local obit pages, another great has passed on to the great beyond. Mark Birley was the owner of the oroginal members only nightclub, Annabels in London. But that was far from his only claim to fame. He was from a distinguished family and went to Eton and Oxford. Then, in an unusual step, he went to work for J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency, where he took the place of David Hicks! He opened the first Herm├Ęs store in London in 1959, their first venture outside of France. A young Terrance* Conran did the interiors.

In 1963, he founded Annabel's in Mayfair. The club was located in the basement level of the first legal casino in London and was designed by Sir Philip Jebb, who had never been in a nightclub before. Annabel's was named after his then-wife, who is now Lady Annabel Goldsmith. Mark Birley lead an interesting and full life, but it was marred by tragedies, including the mauling of one of his children by a lioness at a private zoo and the abandonment by his wife. In the early 1970's, he was the money partner for Nina Campbell's furniture store.

Birley was one of those people who is so interconnected... his sister is Maxine de la Falaise, and his niece is Lou Lou de la Falaise, both muses for Yves St. Laurent. His associations with trend-makers David Hicks, Terrance Conran and Nina Campbell, and his own personal style made him the center of a very interesting circle. For a more detailed look at this man of his age, check out New York Social Diary's obit.
*Thanks for the correction, House of Beauty & Culture!

August 26, 2007

Black and White, Again

As a treat, I bought an issue of the British Homes & Gardens magazine today. The cover story was about France and all things French. I was looking at their website later on, and they have a wonderful gallery of images. I found myself being drawn to the black and white rooms, which, while I love them, I know I could never do that look. There's just something so sophisticated yet simple about black and white, with maybe just a pop of another colour. Here are some images from BH&G. Let me know what you think.
I love the different patterns, but all in b&w.

The curtain headers in this dining room really accent the window height.

The Roman shades in this one are great!

Although there isn't any black here, I love the mirror and the green!

August 24, 2007

Again with the Fireplace!

Le Coterie sent me a great photo from In-Style magazine that she thought would be good for the inside of the fireplace, since I am not ever, ever going to have a fire in there. It was a silver champagne bucket filled to the brim with roses. It was the big style I was thinking about, but since I am on a non-profit budget and I don't have a line item for flowers, I did some thinking.
I went to the local Tuesday Morning, which looks like a huge junk shop and is a terrible mess. However, I have found some good stuff there and my pal KitKat swears by it. I knew I needed a large urn-shaped vase, and found a great pottery one for $19.99. It's cream and has a raised pattern on it, which echoes the marble fireplace surround. I then went to the florist and found some huge heads of hydrangea in greeny-bluey-browny colours. Since their stems were long, I thought they might work and I can just let them dry out for the next month or so. I need to add something else to fill out the vase, and am looking for that.
Thanks for the suggestion, Ally!

August 23, 2007

Dorothy Draper Auction

I read in today's WashPost that there's going to be an auction of Dorothy Draper items from the famous Greenbrier Inn in West Virginia. The auction will be held in Alexandria, Virginia on September 29 by Potomack Company. The auction catalogue will be on-line beginning September 22, but they have a little DD slideshow on their site now. Now's your chance to own a piece of Dorothy Draper history!

August 22, 2007

Fireplace Finished...

...maybe! I finished scanning and printing the archived photographs from our programs and put them into the frames I found at the dollar store. I liked these frames because they were black, square and double mounted. And they were a dollar. I ended up using pictures instead of words because the inside dimensions of the frames are 3.5" x 3.5" and some of the words didn't look right. Additionally, the top set of frames are at about six feet, so the words might have gotten a bit lost. I also liked the graphic look of black and white pictures in black and white frames. It's also been a conversation piece for people coming into the office.
I attached the pictures using double sided mounting tape, since the chimney breast is brick topped with plaster, and I didn't want to put 16 holes into it (and neither did the estate staff!). Additionally, if I needed to take the pictures down, or swap them out, it wouldn't be so hard. I was at Ikea the other day and found some of the curly bamboo and some little palms, which I've added to the sides of the mantel. I think this softens all of the hard surfaces a little. I really want to put a large plant in the fireplace to get rid of the black hole, but haven't found anything I like yet. Comments, please!!!

August 20, 2007

Carleton Varney, Part VIII - The Oriental Look

Do you like these Carleton Varney posts? I do... It gives me the opportunity to do some research on the topic and to compare design trends over the course of the past 40 years.
This evening, during a blissful rain storm, I opened the Book of Decorating Ideas to a piece called "The Oriental Look". CV says if you have one of Grandmother's oriental rugs in storage, get it out now! He's always believed that a touch of black makes any room complete and a black laquered table would be a great finishing note. The oriental accessory is always a winner in home furnishings.
From Scalamandre wallpapers, to incredible silk furnishings, Asian accessories always bring an added element to almost any decor. Think British Colonial overstuffed rooms, or Zen spareness. While polar opposites, both have a touch of the oriental. A Buddha, a pagoda, a panda, a calligraphied symbol of welcome. These symbols can appear both modern and classic. While some of the pieces have changed over the years, the basic concept remains the same.

When you are choosing an oriental element, make sure that it has some meaning to you. Maybe it's a scroll painting from a trip to China or a set of dishes from Pearl River Mart in Chinatown. It could even be a menu from your favourite Chinese restaurant that marking a special occasion.
In my own house, I have an oriental rug, a Chinese silk painting, lots of Blue Willow china and other Asian elements. What do you have?

August 19, 2007

Book Things

I stopped by the Book Thing today on the way to visit with my mother and someone who must be a real foodie had just dropped off some great books. So instead of design books, I got food books, but they all look very interesting.

So, maybe if I read about food instead of eating it, I will lose some weight. Think so?

August 16, 2007

Scott Hill

I was looking at the New York Times this morning and fell in LOVE! There are some wonderful photos of pieces of furniture by Scott Hill, who is described as "singer-songwriter, painter, set decorator and owner of two stores in upstate New York". He's also the former director of creative resourcing and design at Ralph Lauren. But there's not a damn thing about him to be found on Google.
His furniture is so creative - the fabrics combine pictures and writing. The textiles include toiles and mattress ticking silk-screened with iconic images of Marilyn Monroe and another Baltimore fave, Edgar Allen Poe. I've done a couple of designs with old Edgar and they're always just a bit creepy, but cool. And I adore the tone on tone writing on the sofa. This stuff is just brilliant! I just wish I knew a little more about Scott Hill...
Images: New York Times

August 15, 2007


I found a cache of old photos from the 1920's and 1930's. They're great pictures of the kids who were in our orphanage at the time (I think it was called "Home of the Friendless"). How about putting those pictures in the frames? I have scanned a lot of them in to use on some p.r. and marketing things, so won't have to use the originals, which should be correctly archived. I will be able to manipulate the photos more than just the words. Thoughts?

August 14, 2007

Office Ideas

First, thank you so much for all of your wonderful suggestions. They were right along the lines of some of the things I was thinking about. House of Beauty and Culture suggested numerous frames with calligraphied statements, which was one of my original ideas.

Our kids have 14 character traits, including Courage,Integrity, Goal Setting, Perseverance, Self Control and others. I thought it would be great to have those 14, along with the organization's name and maybe the logo, which would make 16, and I could do a four-square. The wall opposite my desk has a large door to the CEO's office, so that's hard to do something with.

I will probably get some curtains and hang them. Probably just some sort of sheers because the office is on the north side of the house and will be pretty dark as the days draw in. I do need a lamp or two, as well. I noticed during a storm, it got pretty dim in there. Since the windowsills are about 16" deep, I can put a table lamp on the far window, or put a floor lamp next to the conference table.
Last night, I was at the dollar store, and they had 16 black double-matted frames, which I snapped up in a heart-beat. I thought I would get an interesting font and some nice paper and print the 16 words off and frame them. I have to be conscious of the costs and appearances of the office, since I am asking people to give money. We have two farmers markets here and it's a great place for cut flowers. I have a large vase which would be the right proportion for the fireplace. I photo-shopped the original photo and came up with this...

What do you think?

August 13, 2007

RIP Brooke Astor

Brooke Astor died this afternoon at age 105. She's the personification of the word "lady". Gracious, charming and giving. New York City would not be the place that it is today, culturally and philathropically, without the generosity of Mrs. Astor. Current New York "socialites" should take a page from her book and do things for others less fortunate. Rest In Peace, Mrs. Astor.
Photo: New York Times

August 12, 2007

A Weekend Project

My mother and I drove down to Virginia today to see the new twins, who are now almost a month old, and cute as little buttons. I took about 150 photographs, which is the blessing of a digital camera. If the focus isn't right, or someone moves,'s gone!
A couple of weeks ago, I was at Plaza Art Supplies getting some artist's canvas when I saw a great little kit. It's an accordian album that you put together yourself. Two cardboard covers, a piece of 7" x 40" folded and scored paper and that's it. I found some great end papers in pink and blue (girl and boy twins) and glued it to the boards. Then I took a ribbon to tie the album with and glued it that down. Then I glued the accordian pages to the end boards, and stuck photos on the pages... one side for him and one for her.
I had taken close up photos of each of their hands and photo-shopped their names onto the pictures. I printed one or two out in black and white for effect and tied the ribbon into a bow.

August 10, 2007

Carolyne Roehm - At Long Last!

YAY! I just got the new Carolyne Roehm Presentations e-mail and she's paying tribute to two classic guys... Bill Blass and Baltimore's own Billy Baldwin. She mentions that she's got a new book coming in Fall of 2008 about Blue & White, and if anyone knows classic combinations, Carolyne Roehm does. The summer e-magazine Presentations will give you lots of inspirations. There's something wonderful on every page.

August 9, 2007

Source Perrier Sale

I usually don't write about shopping, but one of my favourite catalogues is having a sale... Lots of cool stuff at great prices at Source Perrier. I think that Anita Tiburzi, who is their President, has wonderful taste and a great eye. If you follow directions, you get an additional 20% off!

Frank Zappa Day in Baltimore

Just thought you all would want to's today.

August 6, 2007

Office Design

I started my new job yesterday, and got to see my office for the first time. I trusted that my new boss wouldn't put me in a cubicle. The building where I am working is an old estate that was owned by two well-known Baltimore families. One gave the money for the first free public library system and the other owned the local newspaper. The campus is loaded with 100+ year old oak and pine trees, which date to the building of the house. We have just gotten an estimate and a lovely donor to pay the $180k it will cost to paint the trim on the house.

The house is sort of Italianate, mid-1800's and is old field stone. This is actually the original back of the house, but we use it as the front. The hall is black and white marble tile. The building has 15-foot ceilings on the first floor and 12-foot ones on the second floor where I am. I have two huge windows which are north-facing, so the light is good. But the very best thing is that I have a huge marble fireplace! It doesn't work though.
The walls in the office are cream (ew) but I can't paint because we're going to be doing some historic colours in the near future. I want to get a great picture for over the fireplace and then some more for the walls. The windowsills are about 15" deep, so I will put some plants there to bring some life to the room.

Before I did anything on my first day, I turned off the overhead flouresent light and put a high wattage bulb in the table lamp on my desk. Whew, that made lots of difference. Do you have any suggestions for cheap and chic additions to make my office a bit more warm and friendly... after all, I am asking people for money!
This building is the school we run. We're the fifth oldest children's welfare agency in the country, having been founded in 1798.

August 5, 2007

Weekend Edition

Even though it's August, and summer's almost over (hopefully), I am still looking at summer handbags. I found great one at a yard sale last summer. It's exectly the kind I like for summer - a rattan/wicker/bamboo handbag. I just found another one at a favourite haunt last week for $5.00. The bag I found last year is brown rattan with bamboo handles, and the one I found last week is black with white accents.
Both bags hold a surprising amount, including wallet, phone, filofax, camera, make-up and keys. They are also both vintage, probably mid-1960's, and one was made in Hong Kong. There are a bunch on ebay right now.

I stopped by the Book Thing today and did pretty well. I found some early 2000's Victoria magazines. That magazine stopped publishing a while ago, but I understand they're relaunching it. I also got Jessica Mitford's Daughters and Rebels, an autobiography. (if you click on the link, you get to the most hideous site about Jessica Mitford, aka Decca) She's one of the famous Mitford sisters. This promises to be very interesting.
I also got Cornelia Otis Skinner's Nuts in May, a series of essays from the New Yorker. She wrote the play, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. When I went to Book Thing today, I took a bunch of books I had previously gotten there, but decided not to keep. As I said before, just like a lending library, but you can keep what you really like... and they're all free!

Tomorrow, I begin my new job... yep another one. The one I started in June turned out not to be what I had expected, but this one returns me to my first love, fundraising for non-profits. I had actually worked at this new place before, and am going back because I love what they do - working with children in the foster care system, and in juvenile justice. I have always had so much, and I feel the best way I can effect changes in our world is by raising money for groups who do the work.

August 2, 2007

McKim, Mead & White

I was reading something about Newport "cottages" in the New York Times today, and it reminded me of the turn of the century (19-->20th) architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, which is no longer in existance. The houses and buildings that came out of this firm are spectacular to say the most and classic, to say the least. Their works include the Arch at Washington Square, the Harvard Club in NYC and the Boston Public Library, along with summer cottages on Long Island and one of the original Madison Square Garden buildings.
Baltimore is lucky enough to have a couple of these buildings, and I was fortunate to work in one of them for a couple of years. Stanford White is the most well-known of the three partners in the firm, both because of his enormous talent and the fact that he was killed in a love triangle, on which the book/film Ragtime was based.
While the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion where I worked was the grandest and largest house ever built in Baltimore, it was the small touches that were most appealing. In the small dining room, amidst lots of carving and detail, there was a carving of the nursery rhyme where the dish ran away with the spoon and the cow jumped over the moon... In one of the bathrooms, the walls were marble, and there were pastoral scenes painted on the marble, so the paint, which looked like watercolour, saturated the marble, and then the marble was polished. This bath also had solid gold taps and spigots, which never tarnished.
Some of the interiors of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion were used in the 1995 movie "Twelve Monkeys" with Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis.

August 1, 2007

Lulu Channels Dorothy

I just got my occasional newsletter from favourite designer, Lulu Guinness. This season Lulu draws inspiration from 1950's interior decorator Dorothy Draper. Her striking prints and embroidery give Lulu's bags a fresh new look for Autumn/Winter. Check them out!