Style Court

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


Summer Polish

Photograph by Don Freeman for House & Garden, summer 2006.

Playing with tabletops -- vanities, desks, bedside tables -- can give you a decorating fix when it's not a good time to make major changes. (David Hicks was famous for constantly editing his tablescapes.) Splurging on a tiny summer luxury like those oh so pretty blue-packaged products from Tom Ford for Estee Lauder, or rearranging scarves and jewelry you already have, adds fresh glamour to a dressing table. The Tom Ford body tint is $28.50.

For someone planning to make a bigger purchase, this mirrored table below, from Pieces, would be amazing as a vanity. $1350.

BTW: I think Domino picked Tom Ford's "face sheen" compact as a favorite in its latest June-July issue. Click the House & Garden image from last summer, above, to catch more lovely inspiring details.

Summer Project II

Above, interior of Chapman Radcliff, in L.A., photographed by Jason Todd for House & Garden.

I like the idea of finding a modestly priced Queen Anne-style chair at a consignment or used furniture shop, sanding the chair, and then painting it an eye-popping color like coral, lime-green, or brilliant yellow, for a little girl's room. Often this style chair has a "drop-in" seat which is fairly easy to reupholster, without professional help, in a fun bold pattern. The sophisticated lines of a Queen Anne (like the chair above) can be unexpected in a child's room, and later as an adult she can still use the piece -- maybe repaint it glossy black.

BTW: Obviously I mean paint a reproduction chair, not a pedigreed antique!

Related reading: Queen Anne Furniture: History, Design and Construction.

Summer Reading at Kate Spade

Inspired by a December 2006 exhibition of book covers organized by Andy Spade, titled "an argument for looking at books instead of reading them," Kate Spade online is offering downloadable collages of vintage covers that can be used to make a new book jacket, or used as computer screen wallpaper. The company also shares a suggested summer reading list.


Anna Finds Lulu DK at Pioneer Linens

Anna, of Absolutely Beautiful Things, just posted a fun video interview with textile designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski. It was filmed during a trunk show at the West Palm Beach shop, Pioneer Linens, where there is an impressive selection of Lulu DK's new bedding. For a limited time, the boutique is offering free UPS standard ground shipping on online purchases over $100. (The special offer applies only to shipments within the contiguous U.S.)

Jansen 101

Image above, 1971 rare edition of Jansen Decoration, Mecox Gardens.

Currently featured on 1stdibs is a great illustrated article, Maison Jansen: A Century of Design, by Louise Devenish of Parsons. If you want to learn more about the legendary interior design firm, her article offers an excellent (and free) crash course. Related books tend to be pricey: last year's Jansen (20th Century Decorators) retails for around $90, and every copy I spot of the 1971 Jansen: Decoration, seems to cost $2,200 or more. (Yes, thousands.)


Publishing Update: Lulu

For nearly a year I've been talking about Lulu, the first book from textile designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski. It was supposed to be available this June but now it seems the release date has been moved to September. Huge disappointment. The art house publisher, Ammo Books, does have some very cool preview images on its site. (Look under "Our Books.") Expect to see de Kwiatkowski's surreal handmade collages inspired by her 1970s childhood and her worldly travels.

Below is a mix 'n' match suggestion from Lulu DK, featuring swatches of new fabrics along with some of the artist's first designs.

See also, eBay Showhouse.


Summer Project

This boldly striped desk -- just in at Providence -- might offer a little inspiration for a kid's desk transformation. The look offers a sophisticated way to bring in favorite sports team colors, or school colors, without going for a full-throttle theme room. Boys ages 9 to 12, who are growing up yet still slightly interested in doing a creative summer project with their mom or fun aunt, could design something very sleek.

Those with a bigger budget could makeover a metal desk by taking it to an auto paint shop, as Angele Parlange describes doing in her book, Creole Thrift: Premium Southern Living Without Spending a Mint.

BTW: the Providence desk costs $695. Also in the shop at the moment is a small round gilt and glass table, resembling the table seen in Hadley Inspired. The base of Providence's piece is a floral bouquet, rather than wheat. For more on Parlange, see Adventurous Spirit: Angele Parlange.


Summer Vibe

Photograph by Robert Capa, Magnum Photos, Copyright 1996 Estate of Robert Capa

Robert Capa's famous 1948 photo of Francoise Gilot and Pablo Picasso, in sunny Golfe-Juan, France, always puts me in the mood for summer. (That's Picasso's nephew, Javier Vilaro, in the background.) In fact, I used to keep it on an inspiration board.

A great source for summer decorating inspiration is the Todd Romano/Elle Decor Video. I mentioned it back in February, but this is the perfect week to bring it back. Decorator Romano's colorful beach house is featured, and both Romano and Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief, Margaret Russell, offer commentary. The look of the place is sort of "Palm Beach goes Pop." You may remember it from Elle Decor, June-July 2001.


Just In at Black & Spiro

Unfortunately for those of us in the U.S., Black & Spiro is located in Australia. Still, I had to share one of owner Anna's latest finds: the Happy Chic vintage stool, above. The original needlepoint -- maybe a flame stitch Bargello? -- feels so very Sister Parish. There's something though about the clear Kool-Aid colors and rhythmic pattern that also remind me of artist Sonia Delaunay.

See also, Sonia Delaunay: Fashion and Fabrics.

Megan's Pick

Recently, Megan, of the chic and fun new blog, Beach Bungalow 8, wrote about textile designer and illustrator Virginia Johnson. One Johnson piece that Megan highlighted happens to be my personal favorite: the camel wool pillow. Chain-stitched by hand in India, the 18"x18" pillow is available in orange, green, red, and blue, and costs $185.

I also love Johnson's silk twill scarves, 32" x 32" and priced around $195. (See the related post, Versatile Hermes.)

If Johnson's name or style seem familiar, you may remember her wonderful illustrations for Kate Spade's books, Style, Manners, and Occasions. Johnson also was profiled in Domino, January 2007.

Here's Megan above. She is a talented interior designer and writer, so you will enjoy visiting Beach Bungalow 8.

Designing Women

Above, the facade of Chapman Radcliff Home, in L.A.

Ladies Who Launch, a site that offers information, networking opportunities and support to aspiring entrepreneurs, is brimming with sources. If you have thoughts of starting your own business, this site is a must-visit. Profiled on Ladies Who Launch are a few of my favorite designing women including, Lulu deKwiatkowski, Ruthie Sommers, and Jane Scott Hodges.

Ladies Who Launch founders, Victoria Colligan and Beth Schoenfeldt, have also written a helpful book, Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle.

BTW: I truly was planning to share the link to Ruthie's profile before I noticed the kind mention of Style Court and The Peak of Chic at the end. It's a good candid interview.


Domino Party

On Monday night, at Pieces, Domino hosted a party to celebrate Atlanta design. Lovely Alli filled in for me, and I'm ever so grateful. As the Carlos Museum's coordinator of public relations and marketing, who just returned from a jaunt to China in time to don a sari for her friend's wedding and to celebrate earning her MBA from Emory's Goizueta School of Business, Alli is a busy woman.

Here's how she described Domino's bash to me, "We truly enjoyed the bright and summery, almost Palm-Beach-resort-like, atmosphere of Domino Magazine's cocktail soiree held in the the Pieces gallery and an adjoining tent. Not only was it a furniture and accessories wonderland, but also a virtual fashion show of the best party dresses of the season! It was a very attractive crowd, sipping on vodka-and-grapefruits (in a perfect citrusy shade of pink) and sampling wonderful hors d'oeuvre by Endive Fine Catering. While we strolled and sipped, we wondered W.W.C.L. (What Would Courtney Like)?"

Related past post: Things That Inspire Lee.

Thanks Pieces and Domino for the hospitality. I'm crushed I missed meeting a few of the people who bring me so much inspiration each month! And of course, thanks Alli for capturing the scene so well.

Update 6.2.07
Lee shared this link to more party pics:

Wireimage Domino Party.

Pink Pu Yi Tray

[Photograph by Simon Upton]

Months ago, I posted this photo of a Miles Redd-designed room, as seen in Elle Decor, November 2006. Since then, several readers have asked for details on the tiny tray with the Warhol-like image of the last emperor of China, Pu Yi. This weekend, I discovered a good retail source: the Freer and Sackler Galleries online museum shop. Here you will find the tray, signed Fabienne Jouvin, Paris. The piece measures 4.75"x7.75"x.75" and is available in various colors. $28.95.

BTW: Because of its sumptuous colors and textures, Bernardo Bertolucci's film,  The Last Emperor, is often on designers' lists of visually inspirational movies.

Update: Nomita sent in this alternative tray source: Global Table, under other. This shop offers green, beige, fuschia, and orange. The Freer and Sackler Galleries shop has a few more choices.

Update 5.22.07:
The light pink tray available through the Freer and Sackler Galleries has just sold out

Update 9.12.10:

PEM currently sells the trays too.


Adventurous Spirit: Dianne Cash

All photography above, Tria Giovan for Southern Accents, July-August 2006

Somewhere along the line, the word granny became a pejorative synonymous with dowdy. But some of the most elegant women are grandmothers. Women like globe-trotting Dianne Cash -- grandmother of eight whose incredibly chic Dallas home was featured last summer in Southern Accents, -- know who they are, have seen trends come and go, and often have acquired an amazing trove with which to decorate. I loved seeing the warm and glamorous home Cash created using finds from decades of travel to destinations including Bali, India, Morocco, Italy and China.

A "...modern-day Scheherazade, weaving tales of distant and exotic lands through the artful design of her house." is how Jill Kirchner Simpson described Cash. (Click images to enlarge.)

Related past posts:
Doris Duke Suzani Collection;
Calico Museum;
Carolina Irving;
Fabric Obsessed.