Style Court

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


Elle Decor Video

Merci Peak of Chic for your post on decorator Todd Romano. Thanks to you, I discovered video coverage of Romano's colorful beach house. The look of the place is sort of "Palm Beach goes Pop" and it has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in Elle Decor, June-July 2001. In the video both Romano and Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief, Margaret Russell, offer commentary.

Here's the link: Romano/Elle Decor Video

Mystery Room

Yesterday I uncovered these pictures in an old inspiration book of mine. Unfortunately, because I cut and pasted them to the page, I now don't have a clue who designed the room. And I'm intrigued by the homage to Dorothy Draper, with the frothy white Baroque mirror, dark green walls and pink upholstery.

Was it a commercial space? A showhouse interior, or an installation to show new products? The walls seem to be covered with chalkboard paint. I do remember cutting the images from House & Garden a few years ago. Does anyone recognize this room?


Louis, Louis, Louis

Louis XV-style chair above available through Pieces

Louis XV and Louis XVI-style chairs never seem to go out of fashion. In The Paris Interior, Herbert Ypma writes about this phenomenon, describing the chairs associated with France's last two kings as "possibly the most successful pieces in the entire history of furniture design..."

The fun orange chair above perfectly illustrates Ypma's point that, for centuries now, these chairs have been imitated and reinvented. With its glossy bright white frame, mod white leather back and citrus-colored cotton front, this chair couldn't look any fresher. Yet the form is true to the 18th-century.

French style is on my mind because Decorative Arts of the Kings opens Saturday, March 3 at the High Museum of Art. If you plan to be in Atlanta during the next few months, many chances to learn more about the tastes of each Louis (and Marie Antoinette) are happening in conjunction with the exhibition.

Toward the end of March, look for the re-release of Interiors Paris (Taschen 25th Anniversary Series) at a more economical $19.99.

Adventurous Spirit: Rosamond Bernier

Above, interior of Matisse's Chapel of the Rosary, Vence; Rosamond Bernier was the first writer to cover several major achievements in art, like this chapel, that later became landmarks.

Above, Rosamond Bernier with 20th-century master, Matisse

Rosamond Bernier isn't directly connected to interior design, but she is an amazing figure in 20th-century art and fashion. While working for Vogue as a young American in Paris after World War II, Bernier became good friends with artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Joan Miro. These relationships helped her launch the critically-acclaimed art magazine, L'OEIL, in 1955. Later in the 1970s she returned to the U.S., becoming a celebrated lecturer known for her smart but unstuffy style. She also returned to American Vogue as a contributing editor. Bernier's adventures have included flying her own airplane, raising a small private zoo, and being named for life to the International Best-Dressed List.

I was fortunate to hear Bernier speak about Matisse once, and she lived up to all the praise. A schedule of her spring 2007 talks at the The Met is available on her site, and DVDs of her greatest "Live at The Met" lectures, such as The Matisse I Knew, The Matisse Nobody Knew and Taste At The Top: Francois I, Charles I, are available too.


Billy Haines: Yellow and Turquoise

Images above, Todd Merrill Antiques

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

Billy Haines was a silent film star who became a highly successful mid-20th-century 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 is pure 20th-century.

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

(originally posted August 22, 2006)



Persimmon is among the trend alerts in the March Elle Decor. So, this glazed ceramic persimmon vase from Jayson Home recently caught my attention. It's large -- nearly two feet tall and one foot wide -- and the $435 price tag reflects the hefty size. But the vase is one of the most elegant pieces I've seen in a while.

BTW: Jayson Home is based in Chicago and in my experience offers excellent customer service.

Below is another vase for the wishlist: a Chinese inspired hand-painted porcelain piece, from Mecox Gardens, with dragon motif that measures twenty inches tall and fourteen inches in diameter. $495.


Fashion House

Photography above, Pieter Estersohn; interiors Kim Zimmerman, as seen in the May-June 2006 issue of Southern Accents

Bold Elsa Schiaparelli fashion prints (shown above top) were the jumping-off point for interior designer Kim Zimmerman when she decorated this femme but not fussy Atlanta loft for herself and her baby daughter. Zimmerman, who once worked for Michael Kors and Bill Blass, told Southern Accents, "My living room is like a classic suit worn with an outrageous shirt. I covered pillows with vintage Pucci scarves and mixed them with a traditional sofa and antique French chairs." What a great metaphor.

For more on Schiaparelli see Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli. For more on 20th-century photography, including high fashion pictures, try Chorus of Light: Photographs from the Sir Elton John Collection. Also, Lizzie over at Design Watcher recently posted some great reissued Vera scarves, available through Auto, that could be made into pillows or framed.


Fabricating Modernity

Above, Alfred Latour's 1929 block-printed French cotton, Coquillages

Above, Raoul Dufy's untitled circa 1923 French block-printed silk satin; Below, Fleurs, a French block-printed cotton Toile de Tournon designed by Raoul Dufy in 1918

French artist Raoul Dufy wrote a great line that perfectly captured what was happening in early 20th-century art and design: "Paintings have spilled from their frames and stained our dress and our walls."

In 2005, textile specialists Cora Ginsburg and rare books gallery Leonard Fox in a sense illustrated Dufy's point by organizing the exhibition, Fabricating Modernity: The Spirit of Art Deco in French Textiles and Fashion, 1910-1940. In the show, woven and printed textiles were exhibited alongside the graphic designs that inspired them. Works from innovative artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Raoul Dufy, and Paul Poiret were included. To me, the patterns still feel fresh.

To learn more see Art Deco Textiles: The French Designers.

All images above from Cora Ginsburg.

Above, Kate Spade's Oleander Avenue china pattern reflects that energetic 20th-century modernist spirit too. Available through Dillard's.


Steven Gambrel: Ahead of the Curve

I first saw this attention-grabbing wingback chair in an Amagansett, New York house designed by Steven Gambrel, in the June-July 2002 issue of Elle Decor. A few years later in June 2006, still drawn to the bold pattern, I posted it here. Now with all the buzz about Anthropologie's new, extremely similar looking wingback chair and other pieces upholstered in Josef Frank fabrics, I thought it would be fun to post the Gambrel picture again.

For more on Frank, see Josef Frank: Life and Work.


Citrus Punch: Stephen Shubel

Above, San Francisco home designed by Shubel, as seen in House & Garden November 2004

Above, Shubel's 16th century French townhouse, as seen in Elle Decor June/July 2002

Above, Shubel's California Cottage, as seen in House Beautiful 1998

At the moment, lemon yellow and orange are big in decorating but these colors have been Stephen Shubel's signature hues for years. The San Francisco-based designer is known for using strategic hits of bold color in otherwise neutral rooms. Except for stripes, he rarely uses prints or patterns. It's a very clean approach that highlights the graceful lines of the 18th-century-style French furniture Shubel prefers. Known for dressing down Louis XVI chairs with durable cotton, Shubel once said a design of his was "like putting Marie Antoinette in a white T-shirt."

Shubel's California Cottage is featured in the book, San Francisco Style: Design, Decor, and Architecture.


Matisse, Textiles and Books

Above, The Pink Studio, Henri Matisse, 1911, from the collection of The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Below, maquette for chasuble (priest's robe) Henri Matisse, 1950-1952, Musee Matisse

Illustrator Paulina Reyes, a senior member of Kate Spade's creative team, lists the book Matisse, His Art and His Textiles as one of her favorites. This title is on my bookshelf too. Matisse was a lifelong collector of textiles -- French and African fabrics, exotic Persian carpets, Middle Eastern embroideries -- and the book explores how his vast collection influenced his art. It's a great resource for fabric designers, or anyone passionate about textiles and Matisse.

Another recommendation from Reyes is Mad About Madeline. Reyes says she picked up the book while working on the baby line at Kate Spade, and describes the illustrations as humorous and sophisticated. For more on Paulina Reyes, visit "behind the curtain" on Spade's site.


Cushy Lifestyle

Above, designer Karla Stevens brings old school East coast elegance and practicality to California with her showroom, Patio Culture, which specializes in colorful, custom outdoor cushions. When you see one of Karla's cheerfully stylish vignettes, you almost expect Doris Day to enter at any moment. But the vibe at Patio Culture is definitely current. Don't miss the stunning images on Karla's site.

A friendly reader sent me the image above of Kate and Andy Spade's weekend cottage patio, as seen on Oprah. In designing the outdoor area, Kate said she was inspired by a 1950s-era photograph of a Beverly Hills home with alternating brightly colored cushions.


Adventurous Spirit: Angele Parlange

Image above, Angele Parlange by Quentin Bacon for Southern Accents

Image above, William Waldron

Below, Gamay Bistro, New Orleans (now called Louisiana Heritage Cafe) designed by Parlange with architect William Sonner

My favorite description of Southerner Angele Parlange came from Margaret Russell a few years back: "Known for racing full-tilt through life dressed head to toe in up-to-the-minute fashion, Parlange is hardly the archetypal belle. On the contrary, she's a savvy businesswoman who runs a design firm, entertains, and travels with remarkable enthusiasm and virve."

With Parlange's book, Creole Thrift: Premium Southern Living Without Spending a Mint, we get to go along for the ride. Her stories are hysterical and pay homage to the craftsmen, seamstresses, and handymen -- those who go unmentioned in most shelter mags -- that bring the designer's ideas to fruition.

Some readers have been disappointed with the book's contents because they focused on the word "thrift," but not the rest of the title. It's not about "design on a dime" or "glue gun decorating." Instead the focus is on being resourceful and using what you have to create a gracious and interesting home, rather than a trendy showroom. Parlange's style is rooted in French classicism with a very whimsical bent -- if you are a modernist at heart, the book's interiors images probably won't appeal to you. However, throughout the pages there's a wisdom about spirited living (plus great cocktail recipes) that applies to everyone, regardless of personal aesthetics.

Links to some of Angele's favorite shops: Bell'occhio and Tinsel Trading, M & J for ribbon and trim.

For antique silver mint-julep cups, try Shelton Gallery

(This post is an update on the 7.16.06 post)