Style Court

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


Red Lantern

It's not a done-to-the-nines decorator bedroom, but Miranda Brooks's understated bedroom, as featured in Bright Young Things, is one of the most magical I've ever seen. The tall mirror and large chandelier are the elegant star players; simple curtains and a bedspread with embroidered red poppies by Brigitte Singh bring warmth and charm.

Brooks says her whimsical red Chinese lantern was inspired by the film, The Red Lantern. But I've never been able to track down a movie with that title -- only Raise the Red Lantern. The latter 1991 movie is considered to be among the most visually stunning films ever made -- and the plot revolves around red lanterns and bedrooms -- so it seems logical to me that this could be the title Brooks meant. But I've always wondered. Does anyone know the 411?


Charlotte Moss

Above, a Charlotte Moss-designed apartment photographed by Paul Costello for the April Domino.

When it comes to creating a sense of feminine luxury, Charlotte Moss is the master. If you had one chance to work with a dream decorator, would you choose a hot wunderkind or a seasoned pro like Moss?

Shown above, September 2004 House & Garden cover featuring de Gournay chinoiserie "jardinieres & citrus trees" on dark blue dyed silk for the walls and curtains in Charlotte Moss's dining room.

There's so much buzz about the opening next month of The Charlotte Moss Townhouse, a sumptuous retail emporium located in a five-story Manhattan landmark. Aside from shopping, and Design Atelier offerings such as custom-colored silk wall panels from de Gournay, the Townhouse is expected to offer inspiration. I've always thought the close-up image of Moss's own de Gournay-swathed dining room, above, made for one of the most striking House & Garden covers ever.

Vanessa in Sunset

Photographs above Lisa Romerein for Sunset; Design Vanessa De Vargas

When it comes to decorating, Vanessa De Vargas seems to have no fear of commitment; She selects a narrow pallet and never wavers. Her technique of using neutrals such as her beloved grays, black, and soft whites, punctuated with hits of red or yellow, is beautifully captured in the April issue of Sunset Magazine. In her petite 500-square-foot bungalow in Venice, California, Vanessa channels Dorothy Draper, injecting modest digs with fresh glamour and luxury. Be sure to pick-up a copy of the magazine!


Find of the Week

Seacloth's 18" square, linen/cotton blend pillow with down insert and a hidden zipper closure, in the "flutter" pattern, is now available for retail purchase, online, $110. Brown or red.

Thanks Petite Tresor for tipping us off to Seacloth's new online shop!


B.D. Jeffries

Images above from B.D. Jeffries show samples of the shop's lovely wares: top, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Sebus; below, hand-pulled ceramic containers trimmed in 14 karat gold from L'Objet.

B.D. Jeffries, the oh-so-chic gift shop with locations in Atlanta and Charlotte, is often included in Southern shopping guides but, if you've never visited the Atlanta store, you may not realize how staggering the selection of design books is. I popped-in Saturday and saw every lavish title that has been released in the last few years. (Couldn't resist picking-up two wish list books for myself: Rooms, and Jeremiah: A Romantic Vision, the unsigned version.) So, if you are in Atlanta and searching for a beautiful fashion, interior design or lifestyle book, from $29 to over $200, B.D. Jeffries is worth a visit.

BTW: the online site does not do justice to the brick and mortar store.


Adventurous Spirit: Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton's Morocco is a special tour abroad offered by The Mount, a cultural center that preserves Edith Wharton's former Massachusetts home. The study tour is scheduled for October 13-25, 2007 and is designed to retrace globe-trotting writer/decorator Wharton’s 1917 journey through Morocco. Highlights will include admission to private palaces and gardens, the red and white cities of Rabat and Salé, and Marrakech. Cost is $7,500.

This month Rizzoli is publishing another re-issue of Wharton's 1897 book, The Decoration of Houses, co-authored with architect Ogden Codman, Jr.

Saturday Find

Domino's April feature on Schuyler Samperton put me in the mood for pattern and antiques, so on Saturday I stopped by Interiors Market. The warm, clear colors and relatively simple geometric pattern of this rug, spotted in a stall there, really grabbed my attention. The dealer believes it's an Oushak.

Speaking of Turkish rugs, an interesting exhibition that explores the impact of Near East style on Venetian art and design, Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797, opens March 27 at The Met.


Carolina Irving

I really flipped for the complex mix of exotic patterns in Carolina Irving's apartment, photographed by Francois Halard for Vogue, October 2006, as shown above top. So, I was thrilled to recently discover a detailed video of Irving's apartment featured on a French site called Interieurs. Here's the link: "Chez Carolina." One tedious thing: registration is required to view the video and the site is entirely in French, but if you like textiles, Indian block prints and globe-trotter chic, the extra time is worth the effort.

See also Carolina Irving Textiles.

The second image above is from Interieurs.


Bookworm III

Above, one of my favorite rooms of the decade, a library/dining room designed by Tim Clarke; photographed by Grey Crawford and published in Elle Decor, May 2002, as well as in Hollywood Style,by Diane Dorrans Saeks.

Compendium of Interior Styles is another book I plan to keep forever. Weighing about six pounds, this gargantuan resource offers a whirlwind tour of interior design history, from the Medieval era through the twentieth century, using iconic residences such as Versailles and Monticello as illustrations. I especially appreciate how the author, François Baudot, shows how one period of design morphs into the next, and how styles return.

Isola Bella Pillow

Lovelier and more graphic crewelwork pillows just keep coming from Anthropologie. Above is the isola bella pattern in tomato. 20" square. $68.


Bookworm II

If, to save space, I ever have to decrease my collection of design books, Dawn Jacobson’s Chinoiserie is one book I won't let go. For me it functions like a colorful, exquisitely illustrated encyclopedia of decorative arts. The glossy lacquered furniture, the delicate hand-painted wallpaper, the fanciful garden follies – it’s all here in Jacobson’s coverage of the West’s 600-year love affair with Chinese-inspired design.

Another book that has become a surprisingly good resource is Hollywood Style,by Diane Dorrans Saeks. For a long time I passed over this one because I assumed it focused on movie stars. Actually though, the emphasis is on L.A.'s top designers, with a few landmark residences such as Tony Duquette's Dawnridge and Frank Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura in the mix. Saeks highlights the full range of L.A. style, from layered classics to the sleekest modern houses, disproving the myth that L.A. has no design legacy.

Among the included designers are Tim Clarke, Peter Dunham, Michael Smith, Suzanne Rheinstein, Kate Stamps, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Patrick Dragonette, Rose Tarlow, and Kerry Joyce. Also featured are two Kelly Wearstler-designed hotels, Maison 140 and Viceroy Santa Monica. It's true that quite a few of the homes and commercial properties in Hollywood Style have also been featured in Elle Decor, and even in other books, but I love having all of the beautiful photographs from Tim Street-Porter and Grey Crawford together in one easy-to-access place.

Speaking of design books, Atlanta fans of high-voltage color king, Jamie Drake, author of Jamie Drake's New American Glamour,can meet the interior designer on Thursday, March 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Deadwyler Antiques, 49 Bennett St. Drake will discuss mixing contemporary art with antiques RSVP: 404-351-3941.

Zig Zag Pillows

Last year I posted this Grey Crawford photograph from the December Cottage Living feature on Ruthie Sommers, and several people asked me about the striped sofa pillows. Now, thanks to Peak of Chic, I can share this online source for the fabric, which is Zig Zag by Alan Campbell for Quadrille.


Craving Books

Above, from Domino's archives, Paul Costello's photograph of bookshelves in a loft decorated by Sara Ruffin Costello. Below, Grey Crawford's photograph of Schuyler Samperton's book-filled living room, as seen in Elle Decor, November 2003.

Some disappointing news: The L.A. House, the first book from decorator Ruthie Sommers, apparently will not be published this month as expected. The new release date is November 2007. Also, Kelly Wearstler's untitled third book, documenting her own 1926 Georgian-style residence, won't be out until 2008.

On the positive side, Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, Simon Doonan, Marian McEvoy and Muriel Brandolini are among the twelve taste-makers featured in Annie Kelly's upcoming book, Rooms to Inspire: Decorating With America's Best Designers. This title is supposed to be released next month, and the long-awaited (by me at least) Lulu, the first book from textile designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski, should be released June 2007 by art house publishers Ammo Books.

FYI: In her 2001 book, Designing Women: Interiors By Leading Style-Makers, Margaret Russell features Muriel Brandolini.


Lily Lodge

I've mentioned L.A.-based boutique florist, Lily Lodge, before but since I've been immersed the last few weeks in lectures, films and books about French 18th-century style, I've been thinking about the shop's design as well as Lily Lodge owner, Ariana Lambert Smeraldo's approach to flower arrangements.

The way those refined French chairs are mixed with earthy elements, like the antler-ish chandelier, rustic coffee table and animal hide rug, shown below photographed by Jeremy Samuelson for Elle, August 2005, makes me think of Marie Antoinette's take on "country chic." Also Lily Lodge's soft, romantic old school arrangements in precious porcelain vases remind me of all the sumptuous flowers used in the film Marie Antoinette.

BTW: A helpful related resource is The Private Realm of Marie Antoinette.


Rare Books, Rare Architect

Hennessey + Ingalls, the West Coast's largest art and architecture bookstore, is a great resource if you are trying to find a rare design book. Today on the store's site I spotted the out-of-print "Paul R. Williams Architect: A Legacy of Style" for a very reasonable $35.

Williams is closely associated with the California Regency style and, working mainly in Los Angeles from the 1920s through the 1970s, he designed some of the area's most gracious homes, as well as legendary commercial sites. Since Williams overcame tremendous adversity just to work as an architect, I find him inspirational. To learn more, see these articles:

USC feature

Via Magazine story


Parzinger Clock

I thought this unusual 1950s lacquered green and white clock might interest design students who are researching Tommi Parzinger. The narrow clock is 7 feet tall and available through Palumbo. For more on the mid-century furniture designer, see this past post: Tommi Parzinger.

Like the idea of a bright green clock but need something more portable? The Perry Street enameled alarm clock from Kate Spade, below, is less than 4" square and costs $40.

French Gardens

Above, the Orangerie at Versailles; Below, I love classic Versailles style box planters like this one sold by Mecox Gardens.

I spotted this beautiful book, Jardin De La Malmaison, in Anthropologie and thought it would be a perfect Mother's Day gift -- for a mom who is passionate about gardening or interested in Malmaison. Unfortunately, it is pricey; depending on where you buy it, the book retails from about $120 to $180.

For a smaller $35 fee, the High Museum of Art is offering a seminar on French landscape design and decorative arts, this Saturday, March 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The House of Bourbon: Exploring the Tastes of the French Monarchy, will be led by French historian Dr. William Beik of Emory University. Landscape designer, Christian Duvernois, will also discuss the gardens of Versailles. Pre-registration is required and check-in is at 9 a.m. I'm disappointed I have to miss this event. The first three in the series have been great -- especially the talks with Caroline Weber and Joan DeJean.