31 March, 2016

"Design Inspiration - Ryder Tartan . . . . "


Since we've already noted Sebastian . . . clearly, Charles Ryder should get a textile too!  

Brideshead Revisited has always been one of my favourite books - and Charles Ryder has always fascinated me.  He is character is so incredibly flawed and completely awed by his relationship to Sebastian and the entire Flyte family.  I've always felt that we begin to see Charles' true character during the Christmas Hunt at Brideshead - so I wanted his textile to have a very particular 'hunting' quality to it.  

We started with a glorious base colour of  'riding coat red' . . . and then layered in these bright blues and greens (a slightly olive green - noting the WWI sequence in the novel) . . . punctuated with a jolt of citron yellow.

SMW Home's Ryder Tartan.
Funnily enough, I never even considered calling this "Charles."  It was always Ryder.  It seemed inappropriate to use something as informal and familiar as a first name for this textile.  

Also available in a charming dog bed!

Next, we'll even get cast members from Harry Potter involved!


29 March, 2016

"Inspiration Point - Dorothy Draper . . . "


This image of Reese Witherspoon from Garden and Gun Magazine has always delighted me.  I LOVE the play of colours.  I love that the cords on those amazing lamps were not photoshopped out.  And amazingly, I love the complete absence of decorative pillows on the sofa - and when does THAT ever happen with me?

The best news is this - I'm posting pictures of Dorothy Draper's work.  Can spring be too far behind . . . .


photography by Paul Costello.

25 March, 2016

"Design Inspiration - Radecliff Tartan . . . "


Some of these require very little explanation . . . because sometimes it's just simple.

That amazing cover shot of Daniel Radcliffe from Flaunt Magazine came with me to Scotland . . . and we created this . . .  

 SMW Home's "Radecliffe Tartan"

One of the more fascinating parts of designing the tartans for SMW Home is that the basic "design" is preset.  You are designing a striped pattern that will then be re-used in the opposing direction.  So the real fun comes in manipulating the colours and the impact that they have in relation to each other.  Sometimes the most important aspect is the intersection of colours as the each stripe crosses every other stripe as it travels across the fabric.  I love the areas where the peacock blue and emerald green overlap!  And that tiny magenta windowpane with the black guard stripes really punches of the palette.

The name somehow got misspelled over the multiple versions of spreadsheets and emails - and at some point it just stayed the way! 


23 March, 2016

"Before, Before, Before, and After - The Back Room . . . "


We're going to continue our TARDIS tour through the numerous incarnations of the house - today at the western edge of the apartment in the space that I usually refer to as "the back room."  As you'll soon discover, I've never felt I needed to be bound to the traditional uses of residential spaces.  'Bedrooms' can be used however one needs to use them.  Other than 'kitchen' and 'bathroom' - I've always felt that four walls, a ceiling, and a floor can be adapted to be whatever is needed of them at any particular time. 

Back in 2008, this room functioned as my study.  I was on several charity boards during this time, and the need for a meeting space became somewhat paramount in my life.  This is certainly a significant part of the "dark and stormy" years at the house - the chocolate painted walls and ceiling - the deep olive wool carpet - and tweed and tartans everywhere.

In 2010 - when Rue Magazine stopped by - things had changed significantly.  To be quite honest, I found the most incredible vintage dining table . . . and it started a snowball effect on the whole house. The whole room was tented in yards and yards of marine blue taffeta and we partied fairly heartily back there on and off for almost a year . . . until . . .

. . . I decided that I wanted to sleep back there.  lol.  Let me assure you that sleeping in a tented bedroom is as quiet as a tomb.  The new headboard is a custom one that I designed for this incarnation of the house.  I wanted to create an even greater sense of privacy, so the 'side-wings' of the headboard are just slightly deeper than the size of my sleeping pillows - so I was all nestled in comfort every night.  Christmas was especially magical that year with this grove of trees in the bedroom each evening.

In 2013, when House Beautiful photographed the house, I felt like I wanted to create something new with the space.  I ripped down all that taffeta (which was oddly gratifying!) and found the most delicious shade from Benjamin Moore called "Dark Clay."  It was the perfect accompaniment to all the patterns swirling about in the room.  Same bed - same furniture - and a lot of the same accessories and artwork - just re-sorted and re-imagined.

But, there is no constant like change at the house.  After Drew moved in - we needed to use the space a bit differently - so I moved the study back into the back room.  I was just getting ready to launch SMW Home during this project, so many of the pieces of furniture were prototypes for the collection.  You can see our Inverness Sofa (in SMWH Blackwatch) as well as the Fife Cocktail Ottoman in this shot.   In many ways, the house had always felt like a highland winter in so many of the versions up until this point.  Always dark.  Always tweedy.  So I fell in love with the prospect of a bright English country summer instead.  I was pouring though old inspiration photos - and kept circling back to Roger Banks-Pye's London apartment - so I added some Charlotte Moss toile and a bit of Schumacher linen gingham - and here we go.

Last Christmas, Traditional Home stopped by to gather some of my best holiday decorating advice - so we had a darling photo shoot of the house - drenched in sunlight - but, decorated for Christmas.  No big changes - just loads of holiday decor layered in to the room - including a good many of the tartan pillows from SMW Home.

For the moment . . . nothing much has changed.  For the moment.


17 March, 2016

"Before, Before, Before, and After - The Entry Hall . . . "


I've actually been wanting to put this series of blog posts together for a while - and I guess it just took a rainy Sunday here in San Francisco to keep me trapped in my office long enough to pour through years and years of photo files to get everything pulled together.  If you've been a regular follower of my blog - you know that my poor little house gets a serious make-over with alarming frequency.  Sometimes it's about adding in a new piece of furniture.  Sometimes it's about needing to re-allocate space in the house.  And clearly, sometimes I just get a bit bored and need to re-imagine our living space.

I wanted to take you through some of the various iterations of different rooms in the house - so - let's start with something kind of easy.  My entry hall.  It basically has always been (and I assume will always be) the entrance into our apartment.  But, that doesn't mean it doesn't get ALL of my attention from time to time.

Let's take a look . . . . 

This is, I think, somewhere around 2006 or 2007.  That room at the end of the hallway is VERY fluid in its usage - but, I can remember it being 'the study' from this image around that time period.  The component bookcase was from Design Within Reach - and solved the immediate problem with the unending, overflowing collection of art and photography books.  Colourwise - this is what I commonly referred to as my 'dark and stormy' period.  

By 2010 - the back of the house was a dining room - and that year we had the great pleasure of being photographed by Rue Magazine for their holiday issue - and a big thank you to Crystal Palecek!  Same old floor.  Same old bookcase.  But - some very lush Phillip Jefferies grasscloth on the walls! 

This is the summer of 2012 after I had perfected the Chinese chinoirerie red ceiling in the entry.  I think I painted that ceiling on and off for almost a year until I had the perfect shade.  

In 2013, House Beautiful published the house!  It was such a joy to work with Newell Turner, Doretta Sperduto, and the great photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy.  After so many years of art directing the shoots at my home - it was amazing to see my house through their lens.  We're clearly moving into a much brighter period in my house's decor.  But, you can wave goodbye to the chinoiserie red ceiling.  

 After Drew moved into the house in 2014, I had to re-think the usage of the house - and I needed to brighten up most every part of the decor.  No more chocolate.  No more deep, murky olive.  Bright clear blues and greens began to take over.  But, God bless that runner - it has almost never not worked . . . lol.

And last year in 2015 - Traditional Home photographed our house for the holiday season.  After so many seasons of seeing the house dark and mysterious - it was amazing to see what they were able to capture through the lens.  A big thank you to Anne Maine from Traditional Home and John Merkl (our fantastic photographer.) 

 We'll continue to explore the varied history of the some of the rooms in the house over the next few weeks . . . stay tuned.


16 March, 2016

"It's the Little Things . . . "


I'm so excited to announce a new book from my dear friend Susanna Salk - It's the Little Things - launching this week from Rizzoli Books.  And even more delighted to let you know that my own little home will be included in an impressive collection of interior designers. 

"Featuring beautiful design vignettes and arrangements from
 today’s top designers, Susanna Salk’s It’s the Little Things inspires
 us to be personal and artful with our decorating choices, creating
 spaces that reflect our personality. This jewel of a decorating book
 looks at the design details that make up a room’s decor, the stylish
 little touches that can help any room transcend the ordinary." 

"Whether through the luxurious trim and tassel of a bedroom
 curtain, the whimsy of a uniquely upholstered chair in the dining
 room, a loose but lush visual landscape on an entry hall table, or a
 deeply personal arrangement of treasures upon a dressing table,
 this book celebrates how chic design can be when expressed
 through personal details and provides a wealth of vignettes to
 inspire home owners and designers."

Susanna Salk is the author of Be Your Own Decorator, Decorate Fearlessly, C.Z. Guest, Room for Children, and Weekend Retreats. Salk is also a decorator, stylist and stager, as well as host and producer of the “At Home With" and "Stylish Shopping With" video series on the Quintessence design blog.  So, if Susanna looks familiar to you . . . here's why . . . 

Check out Susanna's new book here


14 March, 2016

"I Knew Sebastian by Sight . . . . "


When I was first working on my textile collection for SMW Home . . . one of the more daunting tasks was coming up with names for all of the fabrics.  I vividly recall sitting quietly in my hotel restaurant in Edinburgh after finalizing the collection with a legal pad scribbling down family names, literary characters, and important locales in a long stream of possible options.

But, one name was clearly going to be a final choice.

“I knew Sebastian by sight long before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from 
his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason 
of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour, 
which seemed to know no bounds... I was struck less by his 
looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large teddy-bear"
                                 - from Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

 "It is thus I like to remember Sebastian, as he was that summer, 
when we wandered alone together through that enchanted palace; Sebastian 
in his wheel chair spinning down the box-edged walks of the kitchen 
gardens in search of alpine strawberries and warm figs, propelling 
himself through the succession of hothouses, from scent to scent and 
climate to climate, to cut the muscat grapes and 
choose orchids for our buttonholes."
                                         - Charles Ryder, Brideshead Revisited 

SMW Home's "Sebastian Tattersall" in Sky

I wanted a name that implied all the glories of an English summer . . . the dusty blue of an early morning - the lush greens of fresh grass and ancient trees and the soft, heathered hues of a riotous English garden in the full blossom of high summer . . .

We've just used Sebastian Tallersall in our project in Vail, Co.

And, of course, I've used it in my own home - on this deep arm chair in our bedroom. 

. . . and don't think I've forgotten about Charles Ryder.  Stay tuned for more behind the scenes stories from SMW Home.

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