Style Court

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


David Hicks by Ashley Hicks II

Above, "Turkish Flower," in red on linen, an original David Hicks design inspired by a silk kaftan in the Topkapi Palace wardrobe.

Above, top right to bottom:
"La Fiorentina" in coral; "Cliffoney" in salmon/wheat; "Waistcoat" in salmon: "Axum Stripe" in coral/sand; ""York Castle" in salmon; "Kyoto Shrine" in salmon; back fabric is "Coggeshall Solid" in salmon

Above, "Daisy, Daisy," a geo-floral on cotton/linen that David Hicks first designed in 1961.

This fall, Groundworks will launch a second geometric fabric collection by Ashley Hicks. Again, the line is designed in the style of Hicks's iconic dad, David Hicks. But this time, Ashley's own vision is more dominant with bold geo-florals and geometric figures, and up-to-the-minute color colorways. Above are just a few prints that caught my eye.

Check back for more fall fabric previews over the next few days.

Suzanne Rheinstein for Lee Jofa

Above, "Folie Chinoise," is an overscale French chinoiserie print, on all cotton, adapted from a mid-century French design. Rheinstein sees this as ideal for a large wing chair.

Above, "Dotted Leaf," the most graphic pattern in Rheinstein's collection, was inspired by an 18th century English indigo resist print.

Above, "Ikat De Lin," a large scale print on handwoven linen.

"Sensuous and comforting" is how Suzanne Rheinstein describes the translucent colors she chose for her debut collection of fabrics designed for Lee Jofa. The line is set to launch in the fall. Expect to see Rheinstein's signature milky aquas, warm honey tones, bronzes and gray-greens. Above are a few of my favorites. Not surprisingly, I especially adore the large scale "Folie Chinoise."


Unapologetically Pretty

Unapologetically Pretty. Recently I saw that phrase used to describe an apartment. If only I'd been clever enough to think of those words when I named this blog last year. Well, at least I can create a regular feature using the headline. These rooms above, decorated by Emma Jane Pilkington, fit the category perfectly.

I love the liberal use of hand-blocked prints from Raoul Textiles. It's all sort of "Marie Antoinette goes to India." Photography by James Waddell for House & Garden, March 2006. (Click images to enlarge.)

Book Alert: Inspired Styles

Above, a David Hicks geometric pattern on linen, "La Foirentina" in Ivory/Bark, is just one sample from the many great liscensed collections produced by Groundworks, a division of Lee Jofa. If the pattern looks familiar, you probably spotted it on the June/July cover of Domino; India Hicks has living room chairs covered in her legendary dad's fabric.

An impressive list of interior designers have licensed collections produced by the fabric houses, Lee Jofa and Kravet. The stellar line-up includes Alexa Hampton, Ashley and Allegra Hicks, Suzanne Rheinstein, David Easton, Barbara Barry, and Thomas O'Brien -- just to name a few. Fifteen of these talents will be featured in an upcoming book, Inspired Styles, scheduled to be released by Assouline in time for holiday gift-giving 2007. I've been told the book's focus will be on timeless rooms, and what inspires these diverse designers to create them.


Gracie Samples

In case you missed this in Domino, The Decorator’s Secret, located in Stamford, Connecticut, offers a vast array of home furnishing samples, such as panels of Gracie handpainted wallpaper. The panel shown here, above, is approximately 36" x 120".

Code Blue

Well, code turquoise is more to the point. Kendall Wilkinson designed this bedroom, above, for the San Francisco Decorator Showhouse. What do you think? Magical? Too intense? Fun for a showhouse?

If the complete look is too much for you, could you take inspiration from a few elelments here?

The deep glossy walls remind me of pictures I've seen of Mario Buatta's interiors in the 1980s.

Margaret Blue

Above, Chair Couture's "Jeffrey," a circa 1940 carved armchair in ivory lacquer with aqua wool upholstery.

In the May 2007 issue of Australia's Home Beautiful Magazine, Margaret Elman, founder of Chair Couture, said the term "Margaret Blue" is her friends' new word for aqua. According to the magazine, Elman adores all blue shades ranging from "the palest robin-egg blue to sky-and-sea aqua to Tiffany-box blue to full-on, whipping bright 1950s-diner turquoise.”

If you're a fan of the color too, visit the press section of Chair Couture's site to view the 10-page spread on Elman's apartment.

Hicks-Lancaster Offspring

The other day, I mentioned a line Mary McDonald once said, "If David Hicks and Nancy Lancaster were married -- that's my style." As an afterthought, I wanted to share this dining room done by McDonald, for her own home. To me, it totally reflects the quote, mixing graphic Hicks-ish chairs with Lancaster's softer, feminine look.

Photography above, Melanie Acevedo for House & Garden, November 2001.

Chair Interrupted

I've never given this surprisingly sturdy old Louis XV-style chair much of a chance to get comfortable in its own skin. I keep re-upholstering it. Since the chair is small and doesn't require much yardage, I can indulge in fabrics that would be too expensive for me on a larger project. (Today my current fabric obsession is still KWID's "Imperial Trellis" in Citrine.)

Although, I have to admit that sometimes I think this style chair looks its absolute best upholstered in a simple solid, like Mary McDonald's brown side chair below, photographed by Melanie Acevedo for House & Garden, November 2001.

If you're interested in re-inventing a chair, inspirational sites are Chair Couture and Blossom Home's Flickr page.

Inspired by Nancy Lancaster

Charlotte Moss has launched a new line of dinnerware for Pickard. The "Nancy" pattern, shown above, was inspired by legendary Virginia-born decorator, Nancy Lancaster, who spent her adult life in Brittan and came to be known as the mother of the layered English Country style. She and partner John Fowler were the creative force behind the famous design firm, Colefax and Fowler.

The Moss porcelain is now available online at A dinner plate costs $50.

Related past post and books:
Iconic Yellow Rooms
Nancy Lancaster: English Country House Style

BTW: Colefax and Fowler still keeps Lancaster's iconic yellow London room open to the public.


Lamp Muse

Above, a pair of blanc de chine floral vase lamps available through Woodson and Rummerfield's. W & R estimate that the vases that were created in the 1890's, and were later converted into lamps in the 1930's or 40's. The shades are new and made of simple white linen. $3,650.

The other day, KC called me a "lamp muse." I like this description so much that I plan to now do a regular "lamp muse" feature, in which I'll highlight exquisite lighting available retail. I hope these pieces will inspire some to have their own lamps made from a flea market find or heirloom.

Just know that if you have a valuable antique made into a lamp, you may lesson its value. Where I live, it is possible to have an object wired for less than $50; lampshades vary greatly in price, depending on materials and maker. Hardware and cords also range in cost.

How Important is Interior Design?

Above, an ideal arrangement: Kenneth Brown gave a grandmother a lovely and unexpected fresh start with this airy, 750-square-foot Japanese Pole House. The client's children generously built the structure for her on their own property. There's nothing sad or dismal about this place.

Once when I attended a lecture given by Rose Tarlow, a decorator stood up and tried to get Ms. Tarlow to comment on the vital contribution interior designers make to society. Tarlow balked at this, basically saying that designers do what they do simply because they love it.

I agree that decorators should hardly be ranked up there with physicians, teachers, or volunteers for Meals on Wheels. But I do think good design can bring dignity and joy to people. Especially those who spend most of their time in one small space, and have little choice about where they live -- the elderly, kids in foster care, teens in a hospice.

For most, a private little Japanese pole house, like Kenneth Brown's project, is not an option. However, remember Domino's Woodycrest project? There a team of designers brought high style and comfort to an institutional setting. Wouldn't it be phenomenal if more talented decorators could spruce up the digs of people truly in need of cheerier surroundings?

BTW: If you believe in the power of color, visit


Art Media Resources

Celestial Silks: Chinese Religious & Court Textiles

As its name implies, Art Media Resources, a publishing house specializing in Asian art, is in fact a great resource for anyone with a serious interest in the subject. Above and below are some titles that caught my interest. The publisher's catalog also includes a book entirely focused on the evolution of Chinese lacquer and its use on traditional screens: Coromandel Lacquer Screens.

Blanc De Chine: Divine Images in Porcelain

Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art

The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, 1350-1800

Uzbek Embroidery

Update 6.22.07

Prices for Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art seem to be all over the place -- from $75 to over $150, depending on where you look. I've seen the book on eBay and on the publisher's site priced under $80.

Pagoda Lamps

I know lately I've had a rash of Pieces-related posts, but this pair of lamps is too fabulous not to share. The pagodas are vintage, painted matte white and used with custom charcoal drum shades. Height, 32"; Cost, $1,985. Visit Pieces for details.

If you love these lamps but need a more budget-friendly alternative, remember having your own lamp made from a found object is always an option. For inspiration, see Guanyin.

Perennial Chic: Suzanne Rheinstein

Above, a wish list find: an exquisite pair of framed, hand-painted panels from an 18th-century screen, available at Hollyhock.

I haven't mentioned decorator Suzanne Rheinstein quite as often as other designers, but it goes without saying that, to me, she is a design guru. Her taste is flawless, and her sense of color amazing. If I lived in L.A., I'd always be at Rheinstein's store, Hollyhock, soaking up her genius. In the current Elle Decor, there are a few small images of her daughter Kate's oh-so-gorgeous June 2006 wedding.

Above, the Rheinstein living room dressed for different seasons. Photography Tim Street-Porter, as seen in House Beautiful (circa 2000?)

Above, the Rheinstein living room bedecked with flowers for daughter Kate's wedding. Photo by Lynne Brubaker as seen in Elle Decor, July/August 2007.


Vizard's Antique Suzani Pillows

Rebecca Vizard is a passionate collector of antique textiles. She travels the world looking for 17th, 18th, and early 19th-century fragments, then brings them home to Locustland Plantation in St. Joseph, Louisiana, where the fabrics become pillows. Recently, Vizard began designing pillows made from antique suzanis.

The pillow shown top is made from a hand-embroidered classic Samarkand suzani, from Uzbekistan. The second, also crafted from an old suzani, is backed with chambray. Prices range from around $200 - $600.

For a much smaller price, around $35-$50, Vizard offers the loveliest six inch Christmas stockings made from antique textiles. These usually become available online in the fall.

Related past posts and helpful books:
Suzani Mania
Doris Duke Suzani Collection
Bright Flowers: Textiles And Ceramics Of Central Asia
Textile Style: The Art of Using Antique and Exotic Fabrics to Decorate Your Home
Decorating with Antiques: Confidently Combining Old and New
Doris Duke's Shangri La
Fabric Obsessed
Vizard Christmas Stockings

Guanyin: Summer Look

Above is an alternate look for the Guanyin lamp described in various posts below. (Here, the current harp is a little too small for the shade.) A guest could actually read by the light emitted from this lighter shade, so it's an interim option while I decide on chair fabric.

Update: Looks like this shade is getting a thumbs-down, up against the black pagoda shade. And I agree, the black is more striking. At least this shows what a difference a shade makes. Now it will be really interesting to see Vanessa's preference in Design 911.

Many people have commented on how quickly Mandarin Antiques made this lamp. If you are in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend them. The customer service is excellent.

Located in Buckhead at 700 Miami Circle, Mandarin offers an endless mix of authentic Chinese antiques, vintage pieces, and more modestly priced reproductions. You can have a lamp custom made from any vase, pot or object you find on the shelves -- or bring in your own piece.

Using one of their objects as a lamp base, prices start at about $240, including the shade and labor, but expect many lamps to cost more. The showroom is open on Sundays, and the atmosphere is friendly and very relaxed. Although, I would not take small children there because the store does have a "you break it, you buy it" policy. Fragile objects costing six and five figures are around, and disaster could strike with one quick turn.