[Click to enlarge. Unless credited otherwise, all images are from Nathan Turner's American Style: Classic Design and Effortless Entertaining, Abrams Books 2012, and posted here with permission from the publisher. Individual photography credits follow at the end of this post.]
1. One week he's pulling together a soft, laid-back and intimate fall dinner party inspired by the Bloomsbury Group (those early-20th century, quintessentially bohemian artists whose work he admires as much as I do) and the next Nathan is thinking Rockford Files -- finishing a man's mid-century-modern, sharp-angled wood-paneled study. About the latter, he says you can almost hear the ice cubes clinking in the cut crystal glasses. While the two projects are at opposite ends of the style spectrum, both have that unmistakable bred-in-California, relaxed Nathan stamp.
2. He appreciates a really wide range of textiles spanning the gamut from Lulu DK's fresh, colorful, contemporary collection to bold, abstract African patterns to faded English florals. For a couple's bedroom featured in his new book, he used a generous amount of Lulu's groovy Sunburst in a super-sunny yellow. Even combined the bright fabric with a few hits of purple (bed linens and an Oberto Gili flower photograph) to evoke the wife's vision of a West Coast sunset. In someone else's hands it could've all skewed tween girl, but Nathan made it work. And he shares concrete tips on how we at home can do the same.
[Vintage African pillow from Nathan's store.]
The mention of Oberto Gili brings me to another thing:
3. Nathan's penchant for detail views. Really tight shots of flowers and animals, typically enlarged as in Amber Arbucci's work, on the wall pictured below. He often gravitates to earthier, natural subjects captured in a clean-lined, graphic style (and he also suggests alternative sources for affordable yet strong, original art).
4. I think Nathan could persuade those who, presently, are firmly entrenched in the anti-wood-paneling camp to change their views. Perhaps to begin looking at things on a case-by-case basis and not always have a knee-jerk reaction to paint.
5. Nathan seems to be as obsessed with India Hicks' island house as I am, candidly sharing in his book an idea of hers he snaked for himself. Btw, Nathan's spin is an idea readers at home can copy too, rather inexpensively...or expensively, depending on your preference.
6. If I'm not mistaken, India's famous decorating dad, David Hicks, didn't care for framed family photos hung on the wall -- especially not in the public areas of a house. But Nathan has a way of breaking the old rules. He let sophisticated fine art coexist with sentimental pictures and kids' drawings on the walls in Amanda Peet's chic-meets-cozy Mediterranean-influenced house. He seems to be a true art enthusiast as well as a family guy. I love that the book is peppered with images of Nathan entertaining fashionable friends some nights but cutting meat for his young niece at dinner the next.
7. He avoids cliches. Above, in the beachside digs her shares with Eric Hughes, he mixed in Gili's less expected Goldfish and artsy ceramics with more classic nods to the sea.
8. Nathan can do crafty (painted striped lampshade) without getting too crafty.
9. He can admire French antiques and an orange phone.
10. He is very, very funny. Maybe not all that surprising considering Nathan is known as a great host, but I'm not sure I've ever been so entertained before while reading recipes, pouring over gorgeous pictures of seasonal parties and inviting rooms, and just generally getting inspired.
Photo credits: images one through three and ten and eleven by Miguel Flores-Vianna; four (picture of Nathan), six and seven by Victoria Pearson; eight by Coliena Rentmeester; nine by Oberto Gili.