Style Court

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


Find of the Day

A petite stool that could add flair to the tiniest of spaces. It's vintage and has been reupholstered in Duralee leopard print fabric. The price is easy on the eyes too -- $89. At approximately 14" x 9" x 8" high, this piece will fit most anywhere. Available through High Street Market.

I also really like the pair of carved and gilded wooden Louis XVI stools seen recently at the Social Primer shop. These are covered in Scalamandre snow leopard velvet. For details, call 310-854-1107, or stop by 644 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood, California.


Simple Abundance

If you're hoping to do more entertaining at home this spring or summer, and you want to sharpen your cooking skills, see if your community has a program like Simple Abundance in Atlanta. All proceeds from these two-hour cooking classes led by the city's top chefs benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The cost of upcoming events ranges from $55 to $90, depending on the lesson. Classes are held at The Cook's Warehouse -- an incredibly fun place to explore even if you aren't much of a cook. (Be sure to view the calendar listing about Ladies of Les Dames. )

On a related note, click here to learn about an initiative launched by Pigtown Design and Easy & Elegant Life.

Design at the top by Schuyler Samperton as seen in Elle Decor, November 2003. Photo by Grey Crawford.

For some free non-food-related inspiration, consider the magnificent National Cherry Blossom Festival. Here's a link to the Post's coverage. Image courtesy the Festival.


A Little Traditional Glam on North Robertson

Last night it occurred to me that Alabama-born novelist and shop owner, K. Cooper Ray, is following the path of those great 20th-century writers who found themselves in Hollywood for a spell. Except for the part about opening a fashionable gentleman's boutique. After staying in the shallow end of the pool for a few weeks, Cooper, a.k.a., Social Primer, recently jumped in the deep end with a splashier official "opening" of his pop-up shop located inside Lily Lodge.

Some of our favorite talents came out to support Cooper -- Suzanne Rheinstein, Ruthie Sommers, Lulu de Kwiatkowski. I'm sure they appreciated the creative vignettes informed by his passion for sailing and classic style. Check out the menswear-inspired plaid "lining" added to the back of the Social Primer secretary -- a Chippendale reproduction on loan from an old family friend. (Even Mad Men costumer Janie Bryant stopped by for a little inspiration, and in a nod to Cooper's trademark attire, Sally Perrin arrived in a dress by Martin Margiela made entirely of bow ties.)

Social Primer has a great mix of fine and decorative art. Click here to learn more about the shop. Photography courtesy Laurent Levy.


Portraits: Another Option

Yes, this image is small and it has already been posted here a few times in the past, but I think David Bates' large abstract of a seated woman, shown above the fireplace, is worth noting again. Or more to the point, its dual meaning.

As Renee Peck explained in a 2007 Times-Picayune article, New Orleans-based decorator, Heidi Friedler, and her husband Tripp selected Bates' piece for their library. It's not a portrait of anyone in the Friedler family (the woman portrayed is actually the artist's wife) yet Heidi says the painting "kind of evokes a feel of me".

I think that occurred serendipitously for the couple -- Tripp Friedler was already a fan of Bates' work -- but for anyone who bristles at the thought of a literal portrait of herself hanging around, a found painting or sketch that conveys her spirit is an interesting idea.

Image at top by Kathy Anderson. If you are growing weary of abstract portraits, I have something more traditional in the works.


Saving Face IV

Lee Kleinhelter remembers sitting in a chair for hours when she was around seven-years-old while an artist painted her portrait. As a grown-up, she can appreciate traditional oil portraits, but they don't really suit her modern style.

Lee is all about clean lines. Even her wedding was crisp, tailored, and super-chic.

She says, "Classic oil portraits are elegant and nice to grow up with, but just too serious and reminiscent of my grandparent's house -- for my taste. Also, I enjoy experimenting and not being committed to a piece forever."

However, Lee adds that one day she might consider some sort of contemporary portraits of her own children -- something with an edge. She finds that a truly outstanding portrait can be rare because often the real personality of the sitter doesn't come through. In the meantime, her dad is threatening to bequeath to her his very large, very stately portrait done with his horse when he was a teen.

Angie Hranowsky also has a modernist bent. She says, "There was not a portrait of me in our house when I was growing up, but it was just me and my mom and our house was cool, but not formal. I don't know that I would want one of myself now. Certainly if an artist friend did one for me as a gift I would love it and cherish it, but I can't see myself commissioning one."

Angie adds, "I opted for Carter Kustera silhouettes of my own children instead of formal portraits. That said, I love to buy old or vintage portraits of other people. I especially love mid-twentieth-century portraits and how they evoke that place in time through the color palette, hair style, jewelry, and clothes as well as the painting style."

Like Social Primer, Ellen Luckett Baker grew up in Alabama with classic portraits of her brother and herself hanging in the house. She describes the paintings as realistic but soft portrayals.

"I don't think I would like a self-portrait as an adult, but I love thinking about them for my children," she says. Last year, Ellen made her own silhouettes of her daughters. If she does commission something, these artists appeal to her right now: Kiki and Polly and Middleburg Folk Art Studio.

Art is a big deal in gallery owner Emily Amy's family. Her dad is an artist, and while there was not a conventional portrait of Emily in the house when she was growing up, he once painted an oil of a seated blond when she was in high school. "It was very abstracted, but I always thought it was a representation of me."

Emily continues, "I do not currently have a portrait of myself in my [grown-up] home. Though, I have plenty of professional photographs from our wedding! I would gladly hang a portrait if I received one from an artist friend as a gift, but I doubt that I would seek one out. Also, I would feel much more comfortable if it was abstract!"

The portraits shown at top (images one and three) are by Andrew Bucci courtesy Cole Pratt Gallery. Lee's wedding photo is from Southern Weddings.

Images four and five are courtesy Angie Hranowsky; Brie Williams photographed Angie's daughter as seen in Charleston Home. The silhouettes are courtesy Ellen Luckett Baker. The last picture is courtesy Emily Amy.


A Self-Portrait

Last fall I mentioned that David Douglas Duncan's Goodbye Picasso is one of those special old volumes that can be found though a vintage book seller, like Paris Hotel Boutique, or, on a good day, at an Atlanta public library branch.

Today I know a little more about the book's cover. According to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the jacket design is based on a photo-collage created using Picasso's self-portrait as an owl -- with holes for his eyes -- and a photograph by David Douglas Duncan.

Beneath the dust jacket, the original book was bound in jute from Bangladesh. This cloth was loomed in England and dyed to match the background color found in a Picasso portrait. The lilac of the title-ink color was also matched to a small bit of lilac seen in a beret in the portrait (found on page 140, if you have a copy).

Thanks for the images Paris Hotel Boutique!


Saving Face III

Regular Southern Accents readers know that the photo on Karen Carroll's Editor's Note page rarely changes. She does not enjoy having her picture taken and says the thought of having her portrait painted for posterity sends shivers up her spine. But Karen does treasure a portrait of her mother -- a pastel done when her parents were newly married and visiting New Orleans. Today it hangs in the magazine editor's own dressing room. (As you can see above, Carolina Herrera also thinks dressing rooms are a suitable spot for portraits.)

Although Karen knows many people who live happily with family portraits in their dining or living rooms, she prefers to keep newer sketches or formal paintings in private spaces.

She remembers a designer once saying, "Unless you're the Queen of England or your child is destined to be the future King, no portraits of your family in the living room." Bedrooms, intimate libraries, and dressing areas are great alternatives.

Many portrait styles are a little too sweet for Karen's personal taste, however, she is a fan of antique oil portraits and doesn't mind seeing those in any room. It could be an old painting of a real ancestor or an "instant ancestor." She knows another designer who describes a collection of antique portraits (of unknown people) as her "instant ancestors," and this designer has a great time making up wild tales of their pursuits and antics.

This large portrait has been in Julia Reed's family for years and she's mentioned it when writing for both Vogue and Southern Accents. It seems that no one knew what the boy in the painting was holding (maybe an oar or a butter churner?) until Julia dated a cricket player and she discovered the object is in fact a cricket bat.

The drawing of Carolina Herrera at age 15 (image two) is by Boris Smirnoff; both Herrera images are from
the Assouline book, Carolina Herrera: Portrait of a Fashion Icon.

Images three and four show Lynn von Kersting's library as seen in Getaways: Carefree Retreats for All Seasons.

The detail image from Reed's apartment is courtesy Southern Accents; photo by William Waldron.

Vintage Books

Just in at Paris Hotel Boutique: A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy and Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1948, the Millicent Fenwick edition. The Vogue book is bound in dark maroon and has a pretty scroll detail. (Oh, and by the way, the 1920s edition of the etiquette tome is available too.)

Back to Bed

Remember when we talked about Rubie Green's "Habibi" back in January?

It's the wonderful graphic print inspired by Billy Baldwin, shown in black-and-white above, and now it is available in bedding through Rubie Green.

The new organic bedding collection includes three of Rubie Green's most popular prints: East Village in pink, Tillinghast in yellow, and, of course, Habibi in black. There is also a solid white, "Classic," which features a double row of black embroidery. RG founder, Michelle Adams, designed the offerings to mix and match. And by the way, she explains that all of her bedding comes from a factory that is certified eco-friendly by the Global Organic Textile Standard.

Prices range from $39 for standard pillow cases to $199 for a King sheet set. When the collection officially launches here on Tuesday, March 24, I think you will enjoy seeing Patrick Cline's beautiful photography along with Michelle's styling. Many of the vignettes were shot at the chic apartment of former domino editor-at-large, Tom Delavan.

Could that be an Elliott Puckette on the mantle below?

The Rubie Green website may be down temporarily today as the team prepares for tomorrow's launch. Congratulations to Michelle for her mention in the April In Style!


The Exotic Series

I may sound like a broken record, but I really love Coleen Rider's taste in art. The latest edition to her online shop, Coleen & Co., is a series of limited edition prints from our very talented friend, Victoria Molinelli. Just for Coleen, Vicky has created a group of watercolor renderings of vintage interiors in wonderfully rich jewel tones. Each room has an exotic bent. Hop over to see the lush colors and patterns. (Prices are under $300.)


A Week of Nice Surprises

Who knew that my friends have so many great anecdotes related to portraits? It's been a treat to learn more about "Boomama," Miss Louise Gaberlavage from Alabama, and Girl with Remote. I love hearing about people's memories associated with home, and their cherished (or not so cherished) belongings. More portrait tales will continue next week.

I was also very flattered that Karen Carroll, Southern Accent's fearless leader and author of Entertaining with Southern Style, asked me to answer a few questions for Miss Gracious Living. The team behind the MGL blog offers all sorts of tips for making life a little more meaningful and enjoyable, so it was great fun to be a part of that. Although, I have to confess, I felt "Boomama's" mama should be answering the questions, not me!

Photographer Liz Banfield captured Charleston-based event planner, Tara Guerard, at her baby shower. Southern Accents covered the luncheon in their March-April 2008 issue.


Saving Face II

There's a common thread running through all the opinions on portraits that I've been gathering from designers, magazine editors, and stylemakers. Julie Miller, Southern Accents' senior editor, sums it up: a portrait has special appeal when it was commissioned or suggested by someone other than the sitter. (Except in the case of the artist's self-portrait. There are always exceptions.)

When Julie was 16, she and her sister both sat for portraits commissioned by their mother. "Her plan is to one day give us each the portrait of the other. I love this idea. Personally, I'm not interested in having a portrait of myself hanging around. Maybe my sister and I will then give them to our children, swapping back, so my niece's family will end up with her mother's portrait, and my son's will have mine," she says.

Julie adds, "The serious commissioned [grown-up] portrait is not for me. I would have one done of my child -- that's the difference. Of course, if it is a casual and impromptu thing, that can be sort of fun. We have a five-minute sketch of my husband done by an artist on a lark. Love that -- it makes me smile."

Social Primer has no problem embracing the stately portrait. His mother introduced him to the idea at an early age. (Apparently along with charming bow ties.)

This the four-year old SP.

"It was painted by a wonderful old Southern lady, Miss Louise Gaberlavage. She also ran the kindergarten that everyone in my little Alabama hometown attended. She painted many children's portraits over the years -- including my mother's -- but had long retired from painting when my mother approached her to paint me. After much cajoling and abundant charm, my mother convinced Miss Louise to let me sit for her. As for my behavior and patience, I seem to remember that copious amounts of homemade lemonade and sugar cookies kept me in line," he says.

"I am nothing if not a traditionalist, so I love portraits in private houses. I would live for a grand portrait hanging above the fireplace in the library of my country estate, If I had a fireplace, or a library or a country estate. But I also love the idea of grand formal portraits splashed on the wall of a contemporary house. The painting would have to be off-beat, though. Perhaps in the style of the famous Sargent portrait of my favorite historical figure, Lord Ribblesdale."

Social Primer is currently preparing for another "grander" opening of his terrific pop-up shop located in West Hollywood at 644 North Robertson Boulevard. Some of his happy customers include, Charlotte Moss, Nate Berkus, Thom Filicia and Lulu de Kwiatkowski. And writer Michael Cunningham and playwright Christopher Durang order stationery at SP. (His prices are unexpectedly reasonable.) I'll share more on the opening soon. Please stay tuned for more family portrait talk too.


The first three works shown at the top are by Francoise Gilot.

Aurelia and Water Lilies
Ink Wash
Image via Gallery M

Self Portrait in Riviera
Ink Wash
Image via Gallery M

Aurelia in Blue with Daisy
Ink and color ink wash on paper
Image via
© Françoise Gilot. Photo, Glenn Holcombe