Happy December! I cannot believe this year is coming to an end! With only three weeks left until Christmas and a mere ten days until we receive the visit of family for the holidays, the pressure is on. We’ve been tying up loose end projects around the house but even with our hectic schedule I still managed to sneak in a few quiet moments with some favorite new books. As I’ve been binging on cozy English interiors lately, I came across a beautiful English home that is almost as charming as its fascinating owner, the late Deborah Cavendish, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. I ordered her autobiography Wait for Me! and I’m in fact anxiously awaiting for its arrival. Any woman who writes a cookbook and dares to start with the words “ I haven’t cooked since the war…” has my attention. ?
Deborah Cavendish or ‘Debo’ as she was affectionately known, was the youngest of the six fabled Mitford sisters and, perhaps, everyone’s favorite. The charismatic modern aristocrat is known for having restored Chatsworth House to glory along with her husband Andrew Cavendish, the 11th Duke of Devonshire. Over the course of 50 years of stewardship, Deborah and Andrew Cavendish have transformed Chatsworth House into one of England’ s most impressive stately homes, with more than half a million visitors each year. After the passing of her husband in 2004, Debo left the grandeur of Chatsworth in the hands of her eldest son, the 12th Duke of Cavendish, and took up residence in the idyllic village of Edensor, in a handsome 18th-century stone cottage known as the Old Vicarage. ?
?“The house… has no architectural merit,” Deborah admitted, “but its atmosphere makes it a happy place – the influence, I believe of the devout men who occupied it for two hundred years.” The attractive array of fourteen rooms and eight bedrooms needed extensive renovations before Deborah could move in. On this endeavor she asked for help from her friend, the renowned interior designer David Mlinaric, whose clients have included Mick Jagger, Lord Rothschild, as well as venerable London institutions such as the Victoria & Albert museum and the National Portrait Gallery.?
Maybe it’s the dreary, gray weather or life in the country side but lately I’ve been drawn more than the usual to the English country ?house style, best displayed on the pages of World of Interiors. I find myself pouring over images of cozy rooms that feel collected and from a different time. The work of Roger Banks-Pye, whom I’ve mentioned in a previous post, as well as the Old Vicarage in Edensor, the home of late Deborah Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire decorated by David Milarnic, are on repeat for me. Maybe it’s just a phase, or maybe my style is changing… I am not sure, but for those of you with similar sensibilities, I thought you’d enjoy some pretty pics I’ve been collecting. You know, just in case we’ll ever buy a home in the Cotswolds!?
The pictures are from completely unrelated projects that span several decades in publications around the world. Other than my finding them appealing these days, they have nothing in common. In the era of Pinterest, it feels a little bit like?cheating to share inspiration this way, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about lately, design-wise, I hope you too will see something in these images that you like.
Freshly opened last month, after a four-year restoration process, Hotel Peter & Paul is New Orleans’ latest attraction. The hotel, the third in a string of designer boutique hotels by the Brooklyn-based design and development firm ASH NYC (after The Dean in Providence, RI and The Siren in Downtown Detroit), has already attracted the attention of the design world. What is it about this hotel that is so special??
Its romantic setting in an abandoned complex of four historic religious buildings – a church designed by 19th-century architect Henry Howard, a school house, a rectory and a convent, is unusual and intriguing to say the least. The interiors however are even more surprising. Located in the up-and-coming bohemian neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny, the hotel comprises 71 rooms designed in an exuberant French style. No two rooms are exactly alike, but the common thread throughout the hotel is the massive use of custom-made gingham in varying scales, punctuated with Greek and Russian religious paintings. The rooms are richly decorated in monochromatic color schemes, local estate finds and European antiques. A most enchanting feature is the trompe l’oeil art that decorates the credenzas.? It reflects the similar decorative treatment of the interiors of Institut Guerlain in Paris, painted by Christian Bérard almost a century ago. The level of detail is amazing, take for instance the table lamps that adorn each room – they were antique altar candlesticks retrofitted into table lamps. It is ingenious and contributes to the fantasy world that ASH NYC has so beautifully? created. ?
A few weeks ago I came across a new (to me) design book that I’d love to share with you. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me mention it briefly but I have enjoyed this book so much that I wanted to share it here on the blog as well. The book was first published in the United States in 1997 as Interior Inspirations and it focuses on the work of late interior designer Roger Banks-Pye, former head of the creative department at Colefax & Fowler – the legendary design firm responsible with establishing the English Country House style so many of us love today. A new edition has recently been released? and I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates the English design sensibilities. Within a collection of charming rooms and invaluable insight into the design processes of a decorating genius, one room in particular stands out. It is a master bedroom Banks-Pye designed for David Green, chairman of Colefax & Fowler at the time. It is a dream of mine to one day swath the walls of our master bedroom in Colefax & Fowler’s most enduring print, Bowood and this bedroom does just that. Bowood? was produced for the first time in the 1930s after John Fowler found a scrap of fabric at the famed English Bowood manor, a scarp he then had reproduced and that has stood the test of time. (It is currently available in two color ways, green/gray (my favorite) and red/blue. It used to be red/green but that has been discontinued.)
Back to this bedroom designed by Roger Banks-Pye… The color scheme consists of shades of green and white, a departure from Banks-Pye’s favorite blue-and-white. John Fowler once told him that green is a color of harmony – all greens, no matter how different, still go together. In that spirit, Banks-Pye chose the fresh Bowood chintz of green/gray roses printed on an ivory background and used it to upholster the walls, the draperies and the sofa. To break up the pattern and avoid an overly feminine look, he used vast surfaces of ivory for the eyes to rest – a simple ivory bedding, headboard and box spring slipcovered in crisp ivory linen with a delicate openwork hemstitch. The mouldings and doors are painted in three shades of green. Here are the delightful pictures and captions from Interior Inspirations, with photography by James Merrell. ?
Each year around the holidays?my nesting instincts are in overdrive. Home is always important to me but during the colder months I redecorate and move things around even more than usual. A cozy evening at home is my idea of a perfect time and lately we’ve been rewatching some old favorites. And I confess, Nancy Meyers’ heartwarming stories with their remarkable sets have been at the top of my list. Inspired by our recent rewatching of The Parent Trap and Father of the Bride I and II, I thought it would be fun to revisit together some of the most iconic interiors from our beloved Nancy Meyers’ film library. Time to dust off those DVDs and get comfy!?