10/18/08

Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

"Men had to be taught not to blow their noses into their hands or to spit tobacco onto ladies' backs."

"Post dictated her books in a fluttery voice while lying in bed and made her first appearance of the day downstairs for lunch."*

*Read the whole review
here.
Order the book here.


Oh, and Ms. Post said it's ok to put your elbows on the table.
...........................................................................................................................................................................

10/14/08

A Capitol Affair

Please click on any image to enlarge. All photos by Topsy Turvy.

We had a great time in DC – the husband (Tim), his sister (Laurie) and I – and beautiful weather every day.

There was a fun meet-up with Stefan, of Architect Design (see his post about it here); a lot of walking; and a little bit of excitement.

The meet-up: Turns out Stefan lives close to the hotel where I was staying, but he and I got together for an afternoon cupcake at Dean & Deluca in Georgetown, near his office. What a lucky guy to work in such a beautiful part of town, just a block or so from the Potomac! And he couldn't have been sweeter – giving me tons of suggestions for things to see and do!

I chose the Chocolate Hazelnut, and Stefan opted for the Red Velvet.

The walking: Well, there are lots of monuments and historic buildings in DC, and museums and galleries and shopping, too! I can only say I was wishing I had brought along my Body Shop Cooling Peppermint foot lotion. If you've never tried these, I highly recommend the spray, lotion, scrub and soak.

The excitement: There happened to be a world banking conference going on, and since our hotel was a few blocks from the White House and the meeting, our street was blocked off with concrete barricades from our second day on. We weren't sure if we were supposed to feel better about the police presence, or concerned that we might be in a target area. (A Starbucks on the corner DID remain open to help ease our anxiety and we became quite friendly with some of the cops positioned at the barricades.)

Oh, and, that wasn't all the excitement! While walking to a museum, we witnessed a speeding motorcade leaving the White House, with two very important-looking, very long and shiny black limos surrounded by many very important-looking and very shiny black SUVs. In one of the SUVs, hanging halfway out an open window, was a man holding a very large gun! As you can imagine, this was a little unsettling! We never found out who was in the limos, but we could only imagine that it was someone ... well ... very important.

Some favorite spots:
Georgetown
During the week, it's a scenic, hilly stroll among chic stores in a neighborhood of pretty residential streets, shade trees and elegant old houses. However, when I returned to do some more serious shopping on Saturday, the crowds were a bit overwhelming. I did pop into Random Harvest for a peek, and also, an antiques shop called Cherry. I was very tempted there by a cute little horn stool and a very small, interesting-looking starburst mirror (without the actual mirror).

The National Gallery of Art
We only made it through the West Building, but we did see the wonderful da Vinci, below. Laurie comes to DC every year on business, and always stops by to visit Ginevra. Also memorable – a couple of Seurats and some Renoirs. I was also surprised by the brightness of the colors in Van Gogh's paintings.

Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci.


The sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art
Outside the West Building, there is a large pool with fountains, surrounded by modern sculptures placed amidst a garden.

Most of the year, it's a great place to relax with a gelato. In the winter, there is an ice skating rink.

The café in the garden.

I loved Thinker On A Rock by Barry Flanagan, which features the bronze bunny that appears in many variations in the artist's work.

Sol LeWitt's Four-Sided Pyramid looks like stacked sugar cubes and becomes dynamic as you walk around it and the sun creates different shadows and shapes. See my last post for a very different view in winter.

Tiny pine cones in the garden.

The White House

Yes, the White House! And you can walk right up to the gates and fences at the edge of the lawns.

Rear view, from the South Lawn.


Front view, facing Pennsylvania Ave.

Side entrance, along Pennsylvania Ave.

Café du Parc
We had a lovely, leisurely lunch at this French bistro adjacent to the very grand Willard Hotel.

Just a few blocks from the White House, the outdoor café provides an ideal setting for people-watching and a view of Pershing Park across the street. It was also a great vantage point for counting the black Town Cars lined up two- and three-deep along Pennsylvania Ave., in front of the Willard. As guests departed the hotel, their drivers would whisk them away – then, other drivers would jockey for better positions.

Tim, above, at Café du Parc. After a great lunch, we were ready to hit the streets again.


Elsewhere around town ...
That's me, above left, with Laurie while Abe looks on.

The Eisenhower Building, next to the White House.

SunTrust Bank Building. I wish our Temple Terrace branch office looked like this.

The U.S. Botanic Gardens, on the National Mall.

A view of the Conservatory, from the Botanic Gardens.

The Renwick Gallery had a wonderful exhibition of glass art - a Lino Tagliapietra retrospective.

Not sure what this building is, but the decorated facade is outstanding.

We didn't get to eat here, but it's a Washington institution, and supposedly a great spot for celebrity sightings.


Somehow, the Washington Monument seemed to pop into view around every corner!

Washington DC is a great place to visit. I always felt comfortable, on the subway and on the bus (which I took alone to Georgetown). There is so much to do, and people are friendly. It strikes me as a combination of New England and the South, with that little buzz of excitement and international intrigue thrown in! I'll definitely be back!

Thanks cousin Randall and Harvey, for the wonderful farewell Mimosa and brunch at Nage! It was a fitting end to a great vacation.

10/7/08

Topsy Turvy Goes to Washington ...


Not in any official capacity, mind you ... just another adventure in my never-ending quest for beauty in this topsy-turvy world. And it certainly is a topsy-turvy world, judging by the most bizarre candidate for president – ever – and his equally off-the-wall running mate. (Really, could those two be any wackier?)

I hear it's a pretty time to be in the nation's capital ... and it will unbelievably be my first visit. I'm just excited to experience a little fall weather.

See you in a week or so.

Photos of Washington, DC by Elliott Teel.

10/1/08

Sneak Preview II: Santa Barbara Style Wins My Heart







Where Christian Liaigre's style speaks to my intellect (see my Sneak Preview I), classic California architecture and design speaks to my emotions. I've always had a weakness for the romantic appeal of red tile roofs, white stucco walls, and loggias and courtyards with splashing fountains and curtains billowing in the breeze.

Santa Barbara Living*
has all of that and more. We just received a preview from our friends at Rizzoli (the book will be available in November), and TT is officially in love.

We're in love with the French, Italian and Spanish-inspired architecture, design and gardens presented on page after glossy page. We're in love with the mountain and ocean settings that rival the most beautiful landscapes anywhere, and are awash with the perfect golden California sunlight. Little wonder the area is inhabited by folks like John Saladino, Diandra Douglas, Rob Lowe and a few Hollywood movers and shakers. Many residences here are second homes and getaways for the rich and famous.

"In Santa Barbara, designers are always aware of the unique relationship of the interior to the exterior. The Spanish-style architecture that is favored opens naturally to embrace the garden, the courtyards, the view, the outdoors."*

Here's a sampling of the over 22 villas and estates presented in the book.
Please click on any image to enlarge.


El Eliseo
El Eliseo, was built in 1919 by Reginald Johnson, and the design references a classic Palladian villa. Owner Virginia Hunter credits Johnson with inspired architecture and beautiful siting of the residence, since every morning she arises with a view of the ocean. It looks to me like the mountain views from the other side of the home would be rather spectacular, as well.



Las Encinitas
The rose garden at Las Encinitas in Montecito features an antique terra-cotta tiled path and a classic urn atop a column. Espaliered orange trees frame Portuguese tiles on the garden wall.


Interior designer Michael Smith and the owners of Las Encinitas traveled to Portugal for inspiration for the interior design. Smith chose a worldly collection of antiques and art to fill out the spaces. The blue wall tiles are classic Portuguese.

Believe it or not, in this guest room at Las Encinitas, Smith covered the walls and ceilings with bedspreads from Urban Outfitters! (I'm quite certain he stole the idea from me, after seeing the curtains and bed skirt in my master bedroom that I sewed up from Urban Outfitters' bedspreads!) The placement of the prints between the curtain rod and the window frame is quite unexpected. And that jolt of blue on the little side table adds a welcome dose of pizzazz to a mostly subdued color palette.



More blue tiles in a bath in a Las Encinitas guest suite.


Bianchi Residence
Homeowner and interior designer Penny Bianchi’s rustic entry gate was created by Bruce Rapf using branches from a willow tree on the property. Rapf also designed the Bianchis’ water gardens.


The loggia, which overlooks the garden and the pond, is curtained with antique French monogrammed linen bed sheets. (Obviously Santa Barbara doesn't get the amount of rain we get here in Florida, where those bedsheet curtains would last, oh, maybe a couple of weeks.) Radiant heat was installed beneath the Saltillo floor tiles so that the space can be enjoyed year round. Ivy and Virginia creeper cover the walls, creating the ambiance of a woodland retreat.


The neoclassical stone mantel in Bianchi's living room was found in London. The leopard stool dates from the twenties, and paisley textiles used on the armchairs are 19th c Kashmiri shawls Bianchi purchased from a Paris flea market. She certainly is an advocate of the "more is more" style of decorating.


La Quinta
What a grand walk down to this swimming pool! At the historic residence of Diandra de Morrell Douglas, Italianate landscapes were planted on an eight-acre hillside setting. Carlton Monroe Winslow, a Boston architect, built the house in 1922.

Diandra Douglas, ex-wife of the actor Michael Douglas, is reported to be a world-class equestrienne. Here she rides her Lusitano stallion.

A pair of perfect urns (Phoenician) grace the antique French limestone fireplace. Douglas relaxed the vibe of the living room with cotton duck slip-covered sofas and chairs, and seagrass rugs – but gave it a luxurious edge with gauffraged and silver-thread-embroidered velvet pillows and throws and a pair of gilded Italian chairs with silk velvet upholstery.


The stunning chandelier is from Spain, as are the antique monastery table and rustic chairs in Douglas' dining room.

.................................................................................................

Christina Rottman Designs, who works with clients all over the Santa Barbara region says, “... the best interior design for these houses is never contrived but rather evolved and collected so that the overall expression is one of layered luxuries and comfort. There is at the same time the magic of an innate architecture and a very tangible sense of our modern, sophisticated life here.”

.................................................................................................


Christina Rottman Interior Design
Don Nulty designed the Moorish-Andalusian farmhouse-style residence in 2002.
In an upstairs breezeway near the children’s bedrooms, Rottman created a gallery for family games and study. The Moroccan tile pattern carpet was designed by Rottman. Chairs are slipcovered in Rogers & Goffigon linen, and the glass lanterns were invented by Joseph Stoddard from antique French garden cloches. (What a great idea!) The curtains are cream colored linen from Rose Tarlow and terra-cotta linen twill with a Rogers & Goffigon paprika-colored velvet trim. The trim gives the curtains the effect of a wainscot.

Nulty designed the Moroccan arch for the doorway to the kitchen.

The Moorish-inspired wrought-iron bed in the master bedroom was designed by Rottman, and the plaster walls were hand-stenciled in a pale metallic pewter pattern. A gauffraged velvet bolster by Irish/French hand-crafted fine textiles artist Sabina Fay Braxton and a beaded pillow by Nancy Corzine add elegance to the white cotton bedlinens by Sferra.

Home of John Saladino
Interior designer John Saladino's secret garden is shaded by olive trees, and features a table made from a 900-year-old Chinese gristmill stone placed on a pedestal.

Saladino's modern living room is a symphony of blues. Two chairs of his own design are covered with a beautiful pale blue Fortuny fabric. Striped silk cushions, a quilted silk wall hanging, and turquoise pottery add more variations to the sophisticated color scheme. A pair of antique terra-cotta English lions conceal built-in wall speakers.



Home of Travis and Tracy Shannon
The Shannons set out to create their own version of Provence on seven acres near Santa Barbara. The home was built from scratch, working with the traditional materials of Provence for authenticity.

The Shannon's decor was inspired by their favorite provençal inn, La Bastide de Moustier. The antique limestone fireplace in the living room was shipped from provence, along with vintage quilts, pillows, and Provençal pottery, linen-upholstered club chairs (monograms were added in Santa Barbara), and a pair of fauteuils covered in natural linen. The gorgeous lantern was found in an antiques shop in Cotignac.



Il Brolino
The historic Montecito estate of Il Brolino, was built in 1923 by architect George Washington Smith. The eight acres of Italian Renaissance-inspired gardens, designed by Florence Yoch, require daily year-round care by four full-time gardeners — including the head gardener who has been maintaining the property for twenty-six years.




Las Tejas
Reflecting pools, framed by sculptural agaves in urns.

Peter and Stephanie Sperling spent eight years restoring the once-neglected gardens of Las Tejas to closely match archival photos from the 1920s of the original plan by owner and landscape designer, Helen Thorpe. The Montecito landscape and the estate are responsibly managed with the environment in mind: it is free of pesticides, and beneficial insects, birds, and other fauna are actively encouraged.



In Santa Barbara Living, the exquisite photography of Lisa Romeiren perfectly captures the light and mood of Santa Barbara.

Oh, yes, I'm packing my bags ... would you care to join me?
..........................................................................................................................................................................

In 1916, California architect Irving Gill wrote, “We should build our house simple, plain and substantial as a boulder, then leave the ornamentation to Nature, who will tone it with lichens, chisel it with storms, make it gracious and friendly with vines and flower shadows as she does the stone in the meadow.”*
..........................................................................................................................................................................

*Santa Barbara Living, by Diane Dorrans Saeks and the Editors of Santa Barbara Magazine, Rizzoli New York, 2008. Principle photography by Lisa Romeiren. Available November. Preorder now.

..........................................................................................................................................................................

Nightlights

Imoderni is presenting the U.S. launch of Gervasoni's new InOut Collection. Meet the Gervasoni company owners from Italy, and be the first to see the newest products, at a food/wine reception – Oct. 11 from 7-10 pm. at Imoderni, 143 NW 23rd St, Miami, in the Wynwood Art Gallery district. Rsvp to: rsvp@homemia.com.

Light up your night with armchairs and ottomans/tables in polyethelene with internal lighting. Designed by Paola Navone.



A few more items from the collection:
Teak table, with choice of teak-slat or rough-cut slate
top.


Day-bed, with teak frame and woven cordura straps. Designed by Paola Navone.

Coffee table/ottoman in bleu, jade or white ceramic.
Designed by Paola Navone.

Armless sofa in polyethylene, with a handwoven aluminum frame; available in white and brown. Cushions with polyurethane foam, dacron and down.


Easy-chair in teak with adjustable back.
Designed by Paola Navone.
...........................................................................................................................................................................