Style Court

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

10.10.2008

Being Trayed


It seems some clients of the venerable firm Parish-Hadley experienced an unpleasant thing known as being "trayed" or "tea-carted." At the beginning of a project (or sometimes years after a decorating job was done) Mrs. Parish would sweep through a room and load all of her client's offending objects on a tea-cart or tray.

So as much as Parish-Hadley was about creating beautiful rooms for family living -- anti-showplace rooms that offered a sense of permanence and reassurance -- the look nevertheless reflected what Mrs. Parish deemed to be comfortable, appropriate and lovely. There was a bit of a decorator-as-dictator thing happening. (Of course, clients hired the firm for these expert eyes.)

No doubt some clients needed far less editing than others. Albert Hadley has referred to client Annette de la Renta as having "the greatest taste of any American woman of her generation." In the 1960s Hadley worked with her on a Federal-style house in Katonah, New York. The entry hall, shown second from the top, has lilac walls and is meant to convey a "pleasing decay."

William and Babe Paley possessed a world class collection of important paintings. Still, I've read that Sister Parish had strong views on which Picasso's to hang and which to store. Shown directly above is the Paley's home, Kiluna Farm, as decorated after 1962.

Most designers working today reject the dictator role. Often they even take pride in finding a way to work with a client's unfortunate belongings -- well, to a point. Thom Filicia is a master at this. And in the podcast I mentioned the other day, Peter Dunham explains that he tries to guide his young clients without being a dictator; in a way, to help them become better versions of themselves. He introduces them to new forms of art, to the concept of collecting, and to books.

The last den shown here is a modern Dunham design from the November '08 House Beautiful. All other images are from Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design.

The wicker tea cart is part of the Smith & Hawken collection available at Target.

31 comments:

halcyon said...

You always feature my favorite rooms. Annette de la Renta's Katonah foyer (wasn't this in the 70s?) remains one of my very favorite rooms. The crewel work on the inside of the chairs, the huge vases, the large table, and what this photo doesn't show are the huge Aubergine glass hurricanes. Mrs. Parish would be pleased to know how well she is remembered. She "trayed" some pretty famous people"

Style Court said...

Halcyon -- I'm so glad. I do indeed have the other part of the room with those gorgeous hurricanes, but I couldn't fit the entire image on my scanner :)

Style Court said...

Oh the book said they worked on Katonah in the 60s.

Ivy Lane said...

Thanks for this informative post. I never heard the expression "being trayed" before. Wouldn't it be fun if they published some of designers and their items that were "trayed" ? :)

Ivy Lane said...

Going online to investigate that wicker tea cart more closely!! Having a tea party in November for my Mom... that tea cart may be perfect! Thanks for the tip!

Style Court said...

Ivy -- so glad the wicker cart may help you out.

Yes, it would be fun to know what kinds of items got trayed. I think in the 60s and 70s, Mrs. Parish tended to remove "bad" wedding gifts. Anything too flamboyant.

Mrs. Blandings said...

My legos would so be trayed.

Style Court said...

Patricia -- I'm not so sure. Legos are just the sign of a happy family, not "bad taste." Do you think Steven Gambrel would tray them?

Mike said...

I had to travel for business for the past three weeks, the last four I was entirely without internet service. I admit that it was very difficult to quit your site, though I knew I'd only be disconnect for such a short period of time. Nevertheless, what a wonderful afternoon of catching up it has been here, as the Santa Anas kicked up outside, while I kicked back inside and read my way through your wonderful posts. And what a crescendo to top off my reading with your lovely post about Sister. Annette de la Renta's foyer has been a long time favorite of mine (and I should say a source of inspiration I bet to Ralph Lauren).

Thank you so much for easing my jet lag with your rich and gorgeous posts.

Style Court said...

Mike -- yes, Annette's hall must have inspired Ralph over the years! Good eye.

I'm awfully flattered that you would spend so much of your Sunday afternoon reading these posts. Can't thank you enough for the kind comment.

Cheers,
Courtney

Mrs. Blandings said...

Not the legos, just the children.

A Day That Is Dessert said...

Love the "pleasing decay"; great driving photo. Lecia

Style Court said...

glad you like it lecia!

The Peak of Chic said...

I guess my coral and my magnifying glass would be trayed???

Style Court said...

And my magnifying glass and coral as well, perhaps :)

Pigtown-Design said...

She would walk around my house picking up the dog's toys. They're in various states of being chewed, but he carries them on walks and when he chills, he props his head on them.

Style Court said...

I think Sister loved dogs, didn't she? At least her own, "Yummy."

beachbungalow8 said...

shut up. that cart is available at target?

i'm buying it and starting a whole new attitude with my clients. enough of this namby, pamby, p.c., "i'm just trying to make a better version of you"

no.no. from now on, it's my way or the tea cart.

(great post. i think there must be a happy medium. between the two schools of thought)

Style Court said...

megan -- great to hear you weigh in, especially since you stage houses.

Reggie said...

Here's a story that I heard about the venerable Mrs. Parish a number of years ago. Supposedly Mrs. Parish asked one couple that she was working with to put their favorite "accessories" on a table for her to review to determine their appropriateness. Upon looking them over with a gimlet eye, Mrs. Parish apparently said to the wife: "My dear, you may put them all away."

Style Court said...

Perfect Reggie. I love it :)

MIMILEE said...

I have to be brief, Court, cause I am in a rush to TARGET to get that wonderful teacart!! Thanks for the info!.......Unbelievable!

Style Court said...

Hi Mimi -- so happy you like the cart too!

halcyon said...

mimilee, while you are at target, pick up some of Eddie Ross' discovery of those linen hemstitched napkins! 4 for $14!

milly (elephants&redwoods) said...

The first room in this post reminds me of something out of the neighborhood I grew up in - Old Irving Park in Greensboro, NC.

maison21 said...

i am absolutely in favor of "trayed" decor- I'M THE DECIDER! but in reality, like beachbungalow said, a happy medium between dictacting and coddling, should be easily reached.

i would, however, be mortified if another designer came into my home with a teacart- it would be so overloaded with tchotchkes, they would need to call in a tea cart tow truck!

and i second everyone else- the pleasing decay of the entry is indeed, quite pleasing.

really great post.

Style Court said...

maison -- thanks for stopping by. it's fascinating to me to get the perspective of professionals working today -- also to picture designers "traying" other designers :)

All Things Bright and Beautiful... said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
All Things Bright and Beautiful... said...

dear Courtney, I love your blog because it's your "own voice" I never know what to expect - but its always beautiful informative and slightly quirky - love it :-)

Honestly I wouldn't mind someone occasionally "tea-traying" my place you know!! :-)

Style Court said...

Felicity -- you are so kind. I appreciate it!

Dean Farris said...

We all need to be TRAYED ! It's just that you don't want to hurt the feelings of friends who gave you things...and they are being hidden in some closet. From another angle, the maintenance on a lot of "objet" displayed everywhere can be daunting ! However, I do love the way the french enjoy showing masses of things in their salons. Once, I was taken to a house in Florida, and there were shells EVERYWHERE. I found it personal, and interesting... Dean Farris