Style Court

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

9.28.2008

First Ingredient: Personal Warmth

It will probably be a week or so before my Cecil Beaton book arrives. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some more enduring advice from Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1969. The tips are universal and relate mainly to the concept of home, rather than to decorating. And they apply whether you have endless resources or a tiny budget, so I think the guidance is timely.

Vogue says houses that are well-mannered and harmonious tend to put people at ease and evoke attractive behavior. Four essential ingredients contribute to this type of home: personal warmth, sincerity, understatement, and consideration. "None of these has to do with formality or lack of it. And none is a matter or money."

According to the book, "Personal warmth is the most appealing element in any room and nothing -- elegance, drama, enormous expenditure -- can take its place...it is the sum total of many things, all of which indicate that people really live in a room, and do not merely pass through it."

Vogue stresses the presence of truly meaningful objects over a contrived arrangement. The wildly different homes of Aerin Lauder and artist Konstantin Kakanias contain layers of meaning, and both exude warmth. Kakanias' bohemian digs are in the hills of Hollywood, carved out of part of actress Barbara Stanwyck's former playground. Lauder's inherited weekend home, in contrast, is stately. But each house is filled with mementos, not trendy accessories.

Signs of the artist's fascinating globe-trotting life are clear throughout his home, and Lauder keeps her grandmother's spirit completely alive rather than worry about being hip.

"Warmth is an inviting, disarming quality that must originate in a person's or family's sentiments and way of life." Examples include:

A collection of mediocre drawings by a long-dead relative grouped without apology over a pedigreed antique.

A worn Oriental rug that children and dogs cannot really harm.

Paperbacks on the shelves alongside the better-bound books.

Lamps in the best spot for reading as well as for decoration.

A pile-up of magazines rather than a careful arrangement of this month's issues.

A lovingly arranged vase of inexpensive flowers.

"Warmth can begin with sunny colors or big hospitable sofas and chairs, but in themselves these are not enough. A warm room suggests in all its parts that comfort, affection -- even personal whim -- are more important than effect." It makes people feel contented, "just as they do in the presence of a warm individual, and they tend to be their best selves because of it. "

Images two through seven show Kakanias' home, as seen in House & Garden
Images eight and nine show the Lauder residence, also House & Garden
The exterior of the Lauder home is from Vogue Living

42 comments:

erika @ urban grace said...

Amen! This "rule" (ingredient) is one that so many break! Brilliant... I need to get my hands on this book of yours... I'm smitten! Beautiful images, great post! (as usual!)

Style Court said...

Thanks Erika! When I found the book in an antique shop, I was so excited but maybe it's not that rare. I should Google it :)

Style Court said...

Also, 1969 is a great year. The book is still quite traditional but deals with progressive issues -- at least topics earlier editions might not have.

Carolyn said...

what a fantastic post. my favorite rooms are always the one that are decorated from the heart - my daughter's bedroom - versus from a book or magazines - my darn living room, ugh. the mags always talk about "personal style"; perhaps they should focus on "personal warmth" instead.

Style Court said...

carolyn -- so glad this resonated with you!

Style Court said...

The 1948 edition written by Millicent Fenwick would be great to own as well.

Chakra Pennywhistle said...

I agree... personal warmth over personal style. It is just like anything in life, really. When you love something, it shows. No dressing up required :)
This is such a lovely post!

Style Court said...

chakra -- well said! Thank you.

balsamfir said...

This is the missing ingredient from so many american homes today. I think mainly because people actually aren't home that much. I particularly like the detail about the worn rugs that no one can harm.

Karena said...

Such a lovely post, and it is all so true. When I go to visit my parent's home, I don't know what I would do if they didn't have their stacks of reading materials, Mom's needlework, and Dad's reading glasses next to his recliner. A home exuding love and warmth

Mrs. Blandings said...

This makes me feel so much better about the slightly shabby hand-me-downs. I love the comparisons of these two seemingly disparate homes. Your careful consideration always shows me something new.

Style Court said...

balsamfir -- so true about people spending less time at home.

Karena-- heartwarming image.

Style Court said...

patricia--glad the comparison worked. There is a section in the book, well a paragraph, about shabbiness vs. dirtiness :)

GrannySmithGreen said...

Love this post. Warmth and hospitality--it's what I think good design really is!

Mackenna said...

Off topic, but, I was reminded by the photos of Aerin Lauder's home how much I miss House & Garden. Any ideas as to what Dominique Browning is up to these days?

the sweet life with olives said...

great post... such a pleasure to read. i love your posts about this book so much I just ordered my own, you can find used copies on amazon. your entires are so soothing and gentile, they make me want to strive to be a better person, not just have a more beautiful home.

Style Court said...

MacKenna -- not sure. Miss the magazine!

GSG -- yes, good point.

Style Court said...

olives -- what a kind thing to say. i'm so flattered.

i hope you enjoy the book! thanks as always for visiting.

Pigtown-Design said...

I think I already mentioned this, but I saw it at Book Thing and didn't grab it and when I realized what it was, I went back, and it was gone. Couldn't have been more than 5 minutes between!

Style Court said...

Meg, the Fenwick version or the swinging 60s?

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

" Comfort affection and personal whim..." YES!

I love this post...and your new book looks beautiful...and loved!

Style Court said...

Linda -- I do love this book! Thanks for your comment!

The Peak of Chic said...

Great post Courtney! Warmth is what is missing from so many homes, and I think it might have to do with the fact that many homeowners are decorating according to trends or peer pressure- and it's therefore not a reflection of that person. You know that saying "Do what you love and the money will follow"? Well, I think "Decorate your home with things you love and the warmth will follow". :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post.

Konstantin Kakanias´ home reminds me in some details the appartment of Carolina Herrera Jr. in Madrid (when she was single), well her apartment was a little bit "girly" than KK´s. And when I´ve clicked the pics to see them in detail, I´ve sawn a framed photo of CHJr. on the table in third pic or your post, then I´ve remember CHJr. has some of his draws in her home in Extremadura. Probably they inspire by the other.

Sorry for my poor English
Elena.

Visual Vamp said...

Here Here! A salute to rooms that look lived in, but are still artful, pretty, playful, and comfortable! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Style Court said...

Jennifer -- great line!

"Decorate your home with things you love and the warmth will follow" should be the new thing for needlepoint pillows.

Style Court said...

elena -- your English is fine!

Great eye! I think CH and KK are good friends. His art was seen all over in her Spanish home (Vogue Living) and Peter Dunham has his art too.

Style Court said...

VV -- glad you feel the same way!

beachbungalow8 said...

oh... this post speaks to my very heart of design. no home should feel precious. A well lived in home with pieces that speak to the owner, make for a welcome, beautiful environment that immediately feels perfectly put together.

Style Court said...

Beautifully put Megan!

susieq said...

I love this post. I think before all else, a home should reflect the personalities of the people who reside there and reflect lives well lived. I adore photos of stark interiors or ordered rooms, but I don't really want to inhabit those rooms. CH and KK's homes are engaging, inspiring, and interesting. I can't think of anything more welcoming! Wonderful post, Courtney!

Style Court said...

Thanks Susie! Love your perspective.

Lecia said...

This is an inspiring post. I just emailed it to myself to read again later. Thank you.

Style Court said...

Wow Lecia -- I'm touched! Thank you.

Courtney said...

I loved this post, and I do believe warmth is the element that makes me most love a room or home. When a home feels lived in and loved, I can't help but feel at home too.

I am also thrilled to discover I have unknowningly been following their advice... I especially have the paperback books alongside better-bound books and the pile-up of magazines down to a tea :)

Thanks for sharing this book with us; it is now on my wish-list.

Style Court said...

Hello other Courtney!

So glad you liked this post. Maybe everyone will start adding the book to their wish list.

Sounds like you truly appreciate warmth in a home.

please sir said...

Found this post via Urban Grace. This is a great series to explore. Thanks for opening our eyes to the details behind decorating.

Style Court said...

Please Sir -- so glad you found it! Thanks for stopping by.

halcyon said...

style court & peak of chic:
two reason my amazon bill is so large!!
Great post and I want that CAR and house!

Style Court said...

Thanks for stopping by Halcyon. I'd like the car too :)

Kathryn said...

'Durable Goods'* is an article/essay/memoir that has come to me to write while reaching the end of a tunnel and, mercifully, finding the light is NOT an on-coming train. Much older than you all, yet I find kinship here among the twins, their colleagues and friends. The beauty, sincerity, wisdom, flair...I had it in earlier times & the energy to see things through...then, well, not so much. Thank you for all these gifts made visible; the 'durable goods' that stay even when we look away. And a genuinely tenacious, wholly stubborn God. 'Bye, bye, bye' (a darling lady's beloved made these his last words to her, which I find the best of 'so longs'). Kathryn*

Anonymous said...

Perhaps reminding folks of what truly makes an appealing home might mean the end of stainless steel appliances and granite countertops! Now there's something to cheer about.

Jeannette