Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Summer Re-Runs

[Because David Netto's Style Chronicle in the August '08 Domino is so moving, and as an homage to Mrs. Blandings, I'm re-posting some information and images from March.]

Sister Parish loved handicrafts -- needlework, basketry, quilts, hand-printed textiles. Maybe this was because she enjoyed working with her own hands, doing decoupage and other crafts. Or perhaps she had seen her share of grand formal homes and longed to warm them up with homespun touches.

Working intuitively, and in collaboration with partner Albert Hadley, she often upholstered exquisite 18th-century French furniture with "primitive" hand-waxed cotton batiks by Alan Campbell. The fresh and inviting bedroom of Brooke Astor, shown above, is one example.

Colorful patchwork quilts appealed to Sister too. She used them conventionally but also commissioned the Freedom Quilting Bee in Alabama to create a patchwork fabric that, according to her protege Bunny Williams, was used in a chic Georgetown dining room. In fact, Parish-Hadley became known for upholstering wing chairs and sofas with quilts.

During her famous refurbishing of the White House, Jackie Kennedy selected Morgantown glassware produced in West Virginia. A political gesture? Probably. But JBK seems to have had a genuine fondness for American crafts. The way she and Sister Parish mixed the ultra-refined with the rustic greatly influenced residential interior decorating in the U.S. for decades.

I couldn't help noticing that both Natalie "Alabama" Chanin and craft artist Nathalie Lete received coverage in the newest Vogue Living. Are arbiters of high style embracing craft again as they did in the 1980s when simple pine furniture was mixed with lavish florals?

Of course, in their own unique ways Jonathan Adler and Lulu de Kwiatkowski have been doing a 21st century mix of sleek with rustic. But it will be interesting to see if more contemporary designers -- those associated with modern glamour -- inject homespun elements into their interiors.

Above, Alan Campbell fabric currently available through Quadrille.

Photo of Sister Parish shown top is from Margaret Russell's 2001 book, Designing Women: Interiors By Leading Style-Makers; The Astor bedroom is from Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer; and Sister Parish's Maine bedroom is from Designers on Designers.


pve design said...

See what one can do with 2 hands and a home.
Guess that the price of gas forces one to stay-cation and what better than to be inspired to make something of it, one stitch at a time. Lovely post.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Thanks, Courtney - funny we would be on the same page today. I can see that chair in my head so clearly; I'll hunt and see if I can turn the image up myself. Mrs. Parish was a needlepointer, too; she stitched the runner on her back stairs at her house in Maine. Idle hands and all that.

ALL THE BEST said...

Lovely post Courtney!!

Style Court said...

Thanks Ronda and Patricia!

simply seleta said...

Thanks for that Re-Run. I love Sister Parish and used to love reading about her work on the white house with Jackie K. Such an amazing transformation that was!

I just finished reading Jonathan Adler's book "AntiDepressive Living" and enjoyed every page. He is quite a brilliant mind. Have you read it yet?

Love this post.

Style Court said...

seleta -- love ja's book!

Anonymous said...

First time poster, but long time reader. I love your blog. I'm also in love with the great fabric that is under the magazine. Do you have any info on it?

Style Court said...

Hi Anon! Thanks for commenting. Welcome. The fabric is "Contessa" from

Also try the source

Type Contessa in my search bar to see more of it.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

How can I find the fabric used on the bench in the photo of Brook Astor's Bedroom? What is it called and who designed it? Thanks!

Style Court said...

Hi Anon -- it's an Alan Campbell design. Not sure if it is still in production. This is the source today for his fabrics:

There's a contact number on the website. Good luck!