Style Court

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


Sea Side

 [Unless noted otherwise, all photos © Tim Street-Porter from Annie Kelly's Rooms to Inspire by the Sea. Rizzoli New York 2012. Posted with permission.]

In her latest book, Rooms to Inspire by the Sea, Annie Kelly observes that, "To see a picture of a young, long-haired, blonde mother with a child leaning against a coconut palm tree is to immediately think of  India Hicks." Since the late 90s, when photographs of Hicks, her family, and her renovated island house first appeared in Vogue, the images have become iconic. At least in design spheres. And I don't think I'm using iconic too loosely here.

[Click to enlarge.]

Years from now, when we look back at the aughts and the teens, I'm guessing the place Hicks and her partner, David Flint Wood, created will stand out. The look -- a highly personal, more laid-back, kid-friendly interpretation of Hicks Chic infused with Flint Wood's own penchant for the Brit Colonial aesthetic -- has been influential (hunt for traces of the duo's style the next time you flip through a spring/summer furniture catalog or visit a beach-side showhouse).

All this to say, I'm happy Kelly and her photographer husband, Tim Street-Porter, offer their own expanded interpretation of the idyllic house. A tome chronicling contemporary seaside living wouldn't feel complete with out it. Kelly is able to share how it feels to be there, but also provides nuts-and-bolts details like which part of the roof came off during the house's expansion and which original elements were preserved.

Of course, few artists/designers lovingly preserve the old and time-worn as John Derian does. In the book, Street-Porter beautifully captures battered details throughout Derian's 1789 sea captain's house on Cape Cod, while, again, Kelly explains what was discreetly renovated and what was left alone. For example, five chimneys have been rebuilt but the patina of peeling paint remains. Above, black-and-white elements, including a Hugo Guiness drawing, contrast with weathered walls.

As I mentioned the other day, Kelly gives in-depth coverage of twelve distinct houses and apartments, ranging from sleek, colorful spaces to charming East Coast shingled numbers, like Chris Mead and Zoe Hoare's home. Snippets of other dwellings are a bonus. The common thread seems to be a strong sense of place and a nod to nature.

On the wall of Tom Scheerer's Caribbean kitchen (with an incredible old fireplace discovered beneath pink-painted plywood) I spied the, well, iconic photo of Picasso in his sailor stripes. The 20th century master is sitting at a table covered with rustic linen very similar to Scheerer's window-pane-plaid sink skirt, and one of the interior designer's favorite elements, Thonet-style chairs, definitely call to mind Picasso in the South of France.

Without getting too theme-y, Steven Gambrel uses a luminous collection to reference his surroundings.

No, it's not Morocco.

It's antiquarian Richard Shapiro's incredibly refined take on graphic pattern in Malibu.

And a completely different kind of California dream: Peter Dunham's small space-maximizing version of the Endless Summer bungalow, directly above and below, made the cover.

Somehow I've come to the end of this post without a single breathtaking shot of a pool or expansive ocean view. In fact, the book has an entire section devoted to swimming pools and loads of sea and sky.  Come April, when you find yourself in a brick-and-mortar shop, thumb through a copy to soak it all in. You'll almost feel the salty breeze blowing through your hair. Meanwhile, I hope this tiny peek has given you a virtual spring break.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh what a lovely and beautiful review of Annie and Tim's new book!

they are the best of the best! They bypass every McMansion; and they find (they have to burrow, beg, steal, and bribe to find them!) the most brilliant, warm. loving houses still around in our world.

In an age of appalling losses of exquisite dwellings; Tim and Annie find more and more treasures......unchanged; and undestroyed!

They are the best of the best!

Thank you for this lovely article on them!

Penelope Bianchi