Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Upholstery: A Wild Hair

There's a bubbly party girl out there who is going to snap this antique Louis XV-style sofa right up.

It is another French antique available through Downtown. The front of the sofa is unexpectedly upholstered in blue pony skin, making it a to-die-for piece for one person and perhaps a turn-off for someone else. What I'm drawn to is the contrasting stripe, placed horizontally across the back. I love the way the colors in the stripe work with the solid blue, as well as the original gilt finish.

For students trying to keep the various Louis periods straight, here's a little footnote: The sofa above is a true antique because it was made in the 19th-century, but technically it would be called a Louis XV style piece since original Louis XV furniture was created in the mid-18th-century.

1920's French

During the 1920's, Louis XV style French furniture was all the rage. This daybed, available through Downtown, is a lovely example of the Louis XV reproductions made during the Roaring 20's. The finish here is original but the piece has been reupholstered. Personally, I love the fresh choice of the slubby aqua silk, with the simple double welt, as opposed to a heavy velvet or damask. Oh so pretty.


Louis and Lulu

Lulu de Kwiatkowski's hand-printed cotton Moondance in light blue has long been a favorite of mine, and I love how interior designer Vanessa De Vargas used it here on this vintage Louis XV style armchair. So fresh!

De Vargas' design firm is Turquoise and she has a great selection of custom vintage chairs.

Does anyone think the upcoming film Marie Antoinette will heighten the current interest in femme 18th century style French furniture, from both the Louis XV and Louis XVI periods? Last night I saw the podcast for Vogue's Marie Antoinette photo shoot and it's exquisite.


Antiquities Chic

Frescoes shown above are from the exhibition In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite

Lately I've been thinking about all the Classical references popping up in the most fashion forward interiors -- the Greek key pattern, urns, objects in pairs and the use of symmetry. Like at the Viceroy resort, shown in the top three images above. Makes me wish I could take Art of Ancient Civilizations all over again.

So this weekend, I plan to immerse myself in some truly ancient resort decor by visiting the exhibition In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite, at Emory University's Carlos Museum in Atlanta.

Two thousand years ago, Stabiae was the premier seaside resort on the Bay of Naples, where Rome's power couples built palatial villas that epitomized imperial glamour. The exhibition In Stabiano recreates the atmosphere of these villas using 73 frescoes and household furnishings. I've heard the dining room installation is absolutely gorgeous.

Red Egg

Isn't the small Chinese style winged cabinet above luscious in aqua? It's from Red Egg, a wholesale furniture company known for reproducing timeless Chinese forms with finishes in refreshing colors, including sunflower yellow, aqua, ivory and coral. The pieces above are from Red Egg's Shanghai Loft Collection and are sold in small home furnishings boutiques across the U.S., as well as department stores such as Neiman Marcus. Although retail shopping is not available on the Red Egg site, everyone can enjoy viewing the entire collection online -- design professional or not.

If you are drawn to Chinese style, you might enjoy fashion designer Vivienne Tam's China Chic. In the book she explores Chinese art, culture, fashion and history.


Billy Haines To-Die-For Coffee Table

Earlier this week I shared a little information about mid-20th-century decorator Billy Haines, and the examples shown of his furniture happened to be uber-sunny and feminine. So to give a balanced view of his style, here is a gorgeous 1940s leather coffee table with tortoise finish designed by Haines that has more of a male vibe. It's masculine yet gracefully proportioned. Love it!

For details visit Downtown

Confectionery Colored 1940s Upholstery

above, one of a set of four 1940s chairs designed in a style reminiscent of Billy Haines and available through Ellen Ward Scarborough Antiques

above, pair of Neoclassical style chairs from the 1940s with original blue leather upholstery available through Ellen Ward Scarborough Antiques

From a pair of licorice black patent leather wing chairs to Neoclassical style chairs upholstered in weathered icy blue, Ellen Ward Scarborough Antiques has a nice array of 1940s furniture with the original upholstery intact. If you are a design student interested in the Regency-inspired or French Moderne pieces produced during the 40s, this dealer's site may be helpful. The upholstery on the chairs above reminds me of those luscious pastry boxes from the French tea-room Laduree.

Loopy Lamps

Ever since I spotted Anthropologie's white ceramic Mandeville lamp base ($398) a few weeks ago, I've been thinking it looks so familiar. Then last night, while flipping through Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style I noticed the vignette with black desk above and made the connection. At the moment, Anthropologie has quite a few white ceramic pieces that resemble objects Kelly Wearstler has used over the years.

BTW, the floor to ceiling mirrored window shown below in the Atlanta Anthropologie is stunning, and there is also an enormous Dorothy Draper style exaggerated Baroque mirror in the store. The frame has that Draper "cake frosting" quality but it is not the glossy white Draper would have specified. Rather, it has that rougher, worn Anthropologie quality.


September Elle Decor

This afternoon the September Elle Decor arrived in my mailbox and it did not disappoint. One of the most memorable images is of the kitchen above, with the Louis XV dining chairs upholstered in a custom-made aqua ostrich leather from Coach, in the home of Reed and Delphine Krakoff. It has an Elsie de Wolfe feel, doesn't it?

Also featured is a residence with a very un-decorator look, which I love. It's the Manhattan family home of globe-trotting jewelry designer Temple St. Clair Carr and it has an inviting blend of classic inherited antiques with exotic pieces collected on the designer's adventures. For fans of white, there's a six-page spread of oh so lovely blanc ceramics and other accessories. Enjoy!

Billy Haines

This cheerfully glamorous Billy Haines brass table and chair set recently sold through Todd Merrill Antiques, but I like to think it found a happy home in a chic, sunny breakfast room. In fact, I hope the new owners have a beautiful turquoise vase filled with fresh flowers on the table, to bring out that crisp turquoise blue piping on the original canary-yellow upholstery.

If you aren't familiar with Billy Haines, he was a silent film star who became a highly successful decorator associated with Hollywood Regency style. To grasp Hollywood Regency, think Jane Austen's Emma with a posh, theatrical spin.

Originating in Southern California in the 1930s, Hollywood Regency was a bit of a reaction against stark Modernism. Elegant English Regency and Greek Revival forms of the early 19th century were often reinterpreted in an exaggerated, camera-ready way. For example, the yellow chairs above resemble classic Greek klismos chairs with curved saber-like legs and broad concave backrests, but the Technicolor vinyl upholstery and white laminated tabletop are pure 20th-century.

For more on Haines see Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator


Dorothy Draper Chests

above, 1950s Dorothy Draper chest in Tiffany Box Blue lacquer available through Modern One

above, KWID designed room with Draper style chest as seen in Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style

above, detail of black lacquer 1950s Draper designed pair of cabinets available through Downtown

Although she died in 1969, Dorothy Draper seems to be everywhere this summer. There is her exhibition, The High Style of Dorothy Draper on view through October 9 at the Museum of the City of New York, as well as the recently published book, In the Pink: Dorothy Draper: Americas Most Fabulous Decorator. Fifteen signature Draper colors are featured in a new paint collection from Benjamin Moore, and the The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, famously renovated by Draper, is offering special Get Draperized weekends.

Personally, I like to see one vintage Draper designed piece, such as her signature chest shown above, used in a room rather than the full-on Draper look of yore. With its simple lines and glossy surface, the Draper chest can mingle among traditional or modern furnishings. Just a thought if you find a similar looking piece at a flea market.

BTW: the site highlights the current work of designer Carleton Vamey and his assosiates working under the Draper name. You won't see vintage Draper there.


Kate Spade Holiday Preview

I was lucky enough to spend a few leisurely moments in the Kate Spade shop this morning speaking with the staff about soon-to-be in-store holiday and fall tabletop items. Among the colorful offerings there will be a cheerful peacock pattern featuring a stylized bird with pink, red, green and white feathers that cascade to form the shape of a Christmas tree. Peacock pieces come packaged in an oh so cute little green hat box. A fab new seasonless pattern is Gwinnet Lane, shown below and available in turquoise with creme, chocolate with creme, and multi color with creme, as well as solid coordinate pieces. More images are available at Bloomingdale's and should also be up soon on Kate Spade's site.

Below are Kate Spade's new holiday cards, invitations and thank-you notes. Crane, the company that produces Spade's wedding line and personalized stationery, is already taking orders for personalized 2006 holiday offerings.


Haeger Gold Tweed

I spotted this arrangement on the Lily Lodge site and was intrigued by the description of the vase: Haeger Gold Tweed. It seems Gold Tweed was the name of a glaze developed in the 1960's by Haeger Potteries.

Lily Lodge owner, Ariana Lambert Smeraldo pairs her flowers with all sorts of interesting containers. Some of the vases are rare and precious but others, I think, could be hunted down by an intrepid flea market shopper.

BTW: I adore Lily Lodge's flowers in a box.

Shell Chic

Sometimes book titles are misleading but I will say Shell Chic: The Ultimate Guide to Decorating Your Home With Seashells is extremely comprehensive. If you are contemplating making a shell piece of your own, such as the mirror above from Downtown, the book includes instructions for 35 shell work projects ranging from a child's claw foot bath tub and an opulent chandelier to simpler kids' activities. But if you are not into crafting, the book is overflowing with sumptuous pictures, resources for collectors, and shell art history. One residence featured is the glamorous shell-encrusted apartment of former Elle Decor editor (and current Domino mag contributor) Marian McEvoy.


Seeing Red

Sister Parish probably would have loved this American 19th-century library table from Laurin Copen Antiques. Sister liked freshly painted furniture, she liked cheerful reds, and she often put a glamorous spin on Americana. Those who worked with Sister say she had a knack for taking intense bright colors -- shades like taxicab yellow that frightened most people -- and mixing them with subdued elements so that a room worked as a whole.

I think the red paint here brings out the sculptural quality of the table. Something to consider if you've inherited a piece you previously viewed as clunky and somber. A non-museum quality piece, of course :)

Look how the white lamps play off the red, below. So graphic.

To learn more about Sister see, Sister: The Life of Legendary Interior Decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II