Thursday, December 15, 2011

WHERE: Winterthur

Almost 60 years ago, collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969) opened his childhood home, Winterthur, to the public. Today, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with an unparalleled collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America between about 1640 and 1860. The collection is displayed in the magnificent 175-room house, much as it was when the du Pont family lived here, as well as in permanent and changing exhibition galleries.

Through January 8, Winterthur will host several events that celebrate the season and highlight some of the best pieces of its extensive collection of American decorative arts and furnishings.  If someone you know loves American decorative arts, treat them to a day at Winterthur!

For more information, please visit, where you will find detailed itineraries for trips of a couple hours or an entire day, plus a full listing of special events, educational presentations and activities. 

Info and image courtesy Winterthur.

WHEN: Art Deco, 1920s - 1930s

"Ruhlman" by Florence Camard is "The most comprehensive and authoritative monograph to be published about the prolific master of art deco interior design. Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann (1879–1933) was one of the most celebrated art deco interior and furniture designers. Known as "The Master of Art Deco," Ruhlmann created opulent, exquisitely designed furniture, homes, and showrooms for the Parisian beau monde in the ’20s and ’30s, and was known for his use of rare woods with exquisite ornamentation provided by ivory, tortoiseshell, lacquer, mirrors, silk, and tooled metals. In addition to his interiors, Ruhlmann also designed lamps, rugs, wall coverings, cigar boxes, and unusually shaped beds and divans. Today, his objects are highly sought by collectors and connoisseurs. Encompassing examples from all areas of Ruhlmann’s output, this book expands upon the author’s previous work, originally published in 1984, and contains much new information, sketches, and drawings, and additional archival material never previously seen. This volume is the product of more than twenty years of research, and the author worked closely with the Ruhlmann family, art dealers, collectors, and curators in preparing this truly comprehensive and exhaustive monograph."

For more information, please visit

Image and info courtesy Rizzoli. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

WHAT: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

If you have $5.85 million to spend on a gift, may we suggest 169 East 71st Street?  The façade is familiar as Holly Golightly’s apartment building from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (though the interiors were shot on a sound stage).  This 3200-square-foot, beautifully finished building was just listed with Corcoran in New York. 
If the townhouse is just out of reach, breakfast with Tiffany’s can be had for a more modest $150 – the price of architect Frank Gehry’s Rock Dish in bone china.  At just over 11 inches long, it can hold approximately two danish. 
For more information, please visit
Image courtesy

WHO: Elsie De Wolfe

Elsie De Wolfe’s well-cultivated popularity and outsize persona coincided with a rise in interior design in the early 1900s.  She wrote The House in Good Taste, and The New Yorker credited her with inventing the profession of interior design.
The House in Good Taste is full of timeless advice such as, ”I believe in plenty of optimism and white paint, comfortable chairs with lights beside them, open fires on the hearth and flowers wherever they ‘belong,’ mirrors and sunshine in all rooms.”  The book is a thoughtful gift for anyone who is curious about the history of interior decorating.
To purchase a copy of The House in Good Taste, please visit
Image courtesy

WEEKLY Ws: Gift Guide – Part One of Two

‘Tis the season for gift guides, so here’s the first of our two-part series.  This week we present gifts for those who love tradition and the classics.  Next week we’ll show you some of the best gifts with a modern theme.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

WHY: Laurence J. Peter

Home is where the college student home for the holidays isn’t. – Laurence J. Peter

WHERE: Global Table

Great news for uptown fans of Natalie Smith’s Soho tabletop Mecca Global Table!  The go-to source for gorgeous, colorful (and affordable!) serving pieces and accessories has a new location on Amsterdam Avenue.  From delicate tea sets to sturdy trays you’ll find inspiring gifts for everyone ‘round your table this holiday.
For more information, please visit .

Sunday, November 20, 2011

WHEN: “Give Thanks, Give Back,” through November 30

Give thanks, give back – and get prizes, too!  Lenox is celebrating Thanksgiving with a great offer to benefit God’s Love We Deliver.  For every three new likes they get on their Facebook page during the month of November, Lenox will contribute one nutritious meal for men, women and children facting the dual crisis of illness and hunger.  In addition, they will select two new likes during the month of November to receive a special Lenox Thanksgiving prize package, including their exquisite platter and gravy boat.
For more information, please visit . 
Info and info courtesy The Editor At Large. 

WHAT: The Bobble Jug by Karim Rashid

Slightly dry turkey?  Too much salt in the mashed potatoes?  Though you can’t un-do Thanksgiving mishaps, you can distract from their effects.  Divert attention from a less-than-stellar dish with the Bobble Jug, a new water filter pitcher by Karim Rashid available at Target.  Designed to resemble a wine carafe, the Bobble Jug is attractive enough to place on the table – right next to that tin-can-shaped cranberry blob. 
Image courtesy The New York Times. 

WHO: Robert Stilin

Robert Stilin is known for effortlessly combining crisp, clean architecture with custom upholstery, antique and vintage furniture and modern and contemporary art to create casually elegant homes that are warm, comfortable and very livable.
His collaboration with Ina Garten on House Beautiful’s 2008 Kitchen of the Year embodied casual sophistication.  His thoughtful touches throughout the space extended to the tabletop, where place cards made of cookies were decorated to echo the Barefoot Contessa’s signature graphics. 
Maybe someday I’ll dress a table that epitomizes easy elegance…  Until then, I’ll stick to baking the Barefoot Contessa’s incredible “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake”!
Image and info courtesy House Beautiful and

Weekly Ws: At Table

We’re serving kitchen style and tabletop inspiration from some of our favorite designers and shops. And this week’s blog comes with a side of gratitude – THANK YOU for visiting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WHY: Simone Weil

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. – Simone Weil

WHERE: New Orleans

Though it’s been more than six years since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans stills needs help rebuilding. A number of volunteer organizations are helping residents find their way home – one of the most inspiring is The Saint Bernard Project.

The Saint Bernard Project rebuilds the lives and homes of Katrina survivors. It assists residents from industrious, working class neighborhoods in St. Bernard and Orleans parishes and neighborhoods including Chalmette, Violet, Meraux, Gentilly, the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East and the 7th Ward. These are communities of veterans and communities who hold potluck dinners to benefit families in need. It is an area where local fishermen and shrimpers give part of their daily catch to the less fortunate. Before Hurricane Katrina, generations of families lived within blocks of one another. Neighbors could trace their friendships back to their grandparents and beyond.

The St. Bernard Project’s Rebuilding Program rebuilds homes for senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with children who cannot afford to have their homes rebuilt by contractors. For clients who can afford supplies, the St. Bernard Project provides supervised volunteer labor. For clients who cannot afford supplies, the St. Bernard Projects buys the supplies and provides the labor.

A typical rebuild project takes approximately 12 weeks of volunteer labor and uses approximately $20,000 worth of building supplies. Volunteers play a vital role in the Rebuilding Program. Every day between 100 and 250 volunteers are in the field working on clients’ homes. Volunteers not only help in the rebuilding but they also provide our homeowners with support and encouragement during the emotional rebuilding process.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please visit .

Image and info courtesy Saint Bernard Project.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WHEN: Holiday House, November 16 – December 11

Next week, breast cancer survivors and advocates will come together to unveil a Holiday-themed Designer Showhouse event benefiting the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Holiday House 2011 will be held at 2 East 63rd Street, New York, from November 16 through December 11. The Opening Gala will be held Tuesday, November 15.

This year’s participants include Bradley Theirgartner, Charles Pavarini, Eileen Kathryn Boyd and other leading designers. Traditional Home will sponsor this year’s showhouse.

For tickets and more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy Holiday House.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WHAT: Furnish A Future

Having a home creates a sense of stability, well-being, and independence. It’s our personal space; a place for peace and security, and a gathering point where important relationships are forged and nurtured.

Home means family dinners around the kitchen table, mom cuddling up with her son on the sofa on a cold winter night, kids doing their homework at a desk in their own room.

Families leaving city shelters for their own apartments can’t usually experience these simple but important joys because they have little to no furnishings to call their own - unless they go to Furnish a Future, the only program in New York City that provides formerly homeless families leaving city shelters with furniture and household goods for free.

With their own personal furnishings, formerly homeless families can design their homes to their liking, creating a much-needed sense of ownership. This past year, Furnish a Future provided furnishings to almost 1,900 households, including over 6,500 parents and children.

To donate furniture, to volunteer or for more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy Furnish A Future.

WHO: Kendra Stitt Robins of Project Night Night

Any parent knows that it takes very few material things to help a child feel at home. Kendra Stitt Robins realized that her young son could fall asleep more easily and feel more secure – more at home – when they traveled, if he had “consistent reminders of home – blanket, book and stuffed animal.” After donating some of his old, spare comfort items to a shelter, she was inspired to start Project Night Night, which works with volunteers to create and distribute care packages including a new stuffed animal, blanket and a book to children in homeless shelters.

In her Classic Woman Award profile in Traditional Home, Kendra said, “Victims of domestic violence are lucky to be able to escape with their children, let alone their children’s favorite teddy bears. Adults need a roof over their heads and food on the table to feel safe; children need to know there’s nothing scary under the bed. A book, a blanket and stuffed animal make them feel secure.”

You can help a homeless child sleep a little more soundly and feel a bit more at home by volunteering with or donating to Project Night Night. For more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy Project Night Night.

Weekly Ws: No Place Like Home

We started this week on an inspirational note, with Traditional Home’s Classic Women Awards Ceremony. Since we can’t start a non-profit of our own – at least, not yet! – we’re taking this week to highlight some organizations that go beyond design, to address the things that turn an empty living space into a home.

Monday, November 7, 2011

WHY: Paola Antonelli

Design's DNA does not come from just the birth certificate of the designer but rather from a combination of personal history and cultural baggage. - Paola Antonelli, MoMA

WHERE: 19th Century Furniture and Art at Sotheby's

On November 16, Sotheby’s will present an auction of 19th Century Furniture and Decorative Works of Art, including sculpture, ceramics, silver and carpets. Prior to the sale from November 12 through 15, visitors can view several distinguished collections including a pendule de parquet after the 18th century model by Andre-Charles Boulle and micro-mosaic table top on a revolving stand attributed to Antonio Aguatti.

For more information, please visit

Image and info courtesy Sotheby’s.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WHEN: Doyle Auction of American Furniture, November 17

Doyle New York will auction American Furniture and Decorative Arts, including Paintings and Historical, Topographical and Audubon Prints on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10am. The sale showcases important American furniture and decorative arts from the Colonial period through the Federal and Classical styles. Silver, ceramics, mirrors, Chinese Export porcelain, American Indian art, and rugs will also be offered. A special section of the sale will feature a broad selection of paintings and Audubon, Currier & Ives, and topographical prints.

Highlights include a set of four federal inlaid mahogany dining chairs, estimated at $30,000 - $40,000.

For more information, please visit

Info and image courtesy Doyle New York.

WHAT: “L’Amour Fou”

“L’Amour Fou” centers around Yves Saint Laurent’s lifelong partner, businessman Pierre Bergé, as he comes to terms with the death of the designer.

Filmmaker Pierre Thoretton uses the 2009 auction of their extravagant art collection to frame the story and bring up issues of love and loss, especially where they relate to material possessions.

In the film, Bergé speaks poignantly about attending to the collection's "funeral" and hoping the precious pieces will "fly off like birds and find a new place they can perch." He adds, "But losing someone with whom you have lived for 50 years … that is another thing entirely."

Copy and image courtesy “In L’Amour Fou, A Life Without Yves Saint Laurent,” published in The Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2011.

WHO: The New Auctioneers

C K Swett (pictured), Lydia Fenet and Simon De Pury are three of the auctioneers profiled in the New York Times article “A Young Auctioneer Breaks into the Gavel Clique” which ran on October 30. While the auction world is often portrayed as stuffy and exclusive, this entertaining and surprising collection of profiles shows a completely different side of the scene. Gold lame cape, anyone?

To learn more about the men and women who are changing the face (and voice) of the auction circuit, please visit

Image courtesy

WEEKLY Ws: At Auction

As a child I was dragged to more auctions than I can remember. My father was always on the lookout for an amazing find – a church pew, artwork, furniture – and my childhood memories of trips to Vermont invariably include a soundtrack along the lines of HeynowdoIheartwohundredtwohundredoverheredoIhearthree... The genetic predisposition to searching out and collecting others’ treasures seems to have skipped me and gone straight to my brother (see The Dumpster Project). However, a recent article in the New York Times inspired us to take a closer look at the auction world. This week we’ll look at the Who, What, Where, When and Why of making everything old, new again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WHY: Andrew J. Razeghi

Given our relative youth as a nation as well as our ideals of independence and freedom, if American design can be categorized as anything, it can be found in its struggle for identity. We do not have history to celebrate and so we celebrate the future: What can BE versus what WAS. – Andrew J. Razeghi

WHERE: It Had To Be U Street

U Street NW has been honored as one of the American Planning Association’s Great Places In America: Streets for 2011. On its website, APA wrote, “In 2009 when president-elect Barack Obama ordered a chili half-smoke at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl along U Street N.W., crowds flocked to the legendary eatery and the street it has anchored since 1958. U Street has gone through difficult times, particularly the lingering aftermath of devastating riots following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today the street is pulsing again with the music, businesses and life that, in the early 1900s, distinguished it as the main street of Washington's ‘city within a city.’”

For more information, please visit

Image courtesy Ben’s Chili Bowl. Info courtesy American Planning Association.

WHEN: “Weaving Abstraction” at the Textile Museum, Now Through January

Explore the richness of the arts of Africa through this fall’s multi-faceted series of programs at The Textile Museum. Based around the exhibition Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa, which showcases the rich tradition of raffia weaving and embroidery from the region, each program opens a window into broader cultural understanding. See textiles in motion during a dance performance by KanKouran, glimpse into the future of African design, or experience the flavors of Central African cuisine. After each event, enjoy light refreshments and an opportunity to visit this striking exhibition.

For more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy The Textile Museum.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WHAT: “The Dos and Don’t of Designing Your Own Line” Comes to DC

You’ve got great ideas for designing a furnishings collection – so where do you start? Before you put pen to paper, learn the practical, legal and aesthetic factors that go into creating a branded collection. A panel of design experts including designers Jamie Drake and David Herchik, licensing expert Kate Verner and Jobi Blachy, President of Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, will share their expertise and answer your questions.

By the way, I’ll be moderating this panel – how lucky am I?!

Please attend “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line” on Tuesday, October 18 (today!), at 11:00 – and afterward, please visit EF+LM’s new showroom at the Washington Design Center!

Image courtesy EF+LM.

Monday, October 17, 2011

WHO: Justice Stephen G. Breyer

Judge… AND jury! Recently Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer was appointed to the jury that awards the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s greatest honor. The appointment speaks both to Justice Breyer’s professional judicial experience and his personal love of architecture. He will join such notable names as Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid for a three-year term.

According to the New York Times, “Justice Breyer said he hopes to advocate for high-quality design in government buildings. ‘The point of all these projects is to say to people – through the architecture of the building and the construction of the building and the use of the building – that the government is you,’ he said. ‘There isn’t a wall of separation. It’s very important to break the idea of the wall down because otherwise people think this is a foreign entity. But this is a democracy, and the government is the community. The wonderful thing about a building is, it can’t do that by itself, but it can help. Architecture can help.”

Image courtesy The New York Times.

WEEKLY Ws: Washington, D(esign) C(ity)

We’re heading south this week for a special visit to Washington, DC for the Business of Design Lecture Series. In honor of our road trip, we’ll take a look at some of the more recent developments on the Washington design scene.

Friday, October 14, 2011

WHY: Sean McPherson

Life comes down to good timing and good lighting. – Sean McPherson

Thursday, October 13, 2011

WHERE: Donghia Opens in D&D Suite 700

Donghia’s flagship showroom finally opens this week in Suite 700 of the D&D Building. Creative Director Chuck Chewning designed the space to honor Angelo Donghia’s iconic legacy while showcasing the largest selection of classic Donghia furniture designs ever displayed in a showroom environment. In addition, the 18,500 square foot space features the collections of house brands Rubelli and Sahco as well as 16 represented lines.

For more information, please visit or

Image courtesy Go Design Go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WHEN: “The Dos and Don’t of Designing Your Own Line”

You’ve got great ideas for designing a furnishings collection – so where do you start? Before you put pen to paper, learn the practical, legal and aesthetic factors that go into creating a branded collection. A panel of design experts including designers Jamie Drake and Marshall Watson, licensing expert Kate Verner and Jobi Blachy, President of Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, will share their expertise and answer your questions.

By the way, I’ll be moderating this panel – how lucky am I?!

Please attend “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line” on Wednesday, October 12 (today!), at 2:00 – and please stay for cupcakes and prosecco afterward!

For more information, please visit

Image courtesy House Beautiful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It rhymes with “Morocco” and it’s just as exotic… KOROKO is a new textile collaboration between Koroseal and one of Holland’s leading fabric companies. This dynamic new line of timeless yet trend-conscious textiles draws inspiration from a range of styles, from Empire to the Industrial Revolution to vintage. These chic and versatile fabrics will suit a range of interiors, from classic to modern.

Carolyn Wolterink will debut the 450-SKU line at Koroseal on Wednesday afternoon. For more information, please call Koroseal at 212 751 1595.

Image courtesy Koroseal.

Monday, October 10, 2011

WHO: Editors and Bloggers and Designers… Oh My!

If there’s a style setter you want to meet, chances are he or she is presenting at the D&D’s Fall Market. From rebranding to reinvention, timeless design to tomorrow’s tastemakers, speakers will share their perspectives on what’s happening in the industry now, and how to position yourself for what’s next. Highlights include keynotes from Editors in Chief Margaret Russell of Elle Décor and Ann Maine of Traditional Home; blogging tips from the creative minds behind Curators of Chic, Demystifying Design and others; design and branding advice from designers Jamie Drake and Marshall Watson; and more.

For more information, please visit

Image courtesy Architectural Digest.

WEEKLY Ws: To Market, To Market…

Inspiring presentations, fabulous new collections, and insider info from top magazines and blogs… Must be the D&D’s Fall Market! This week we’ll look at a few of the highlights of the week ahead, including a don’t-miss presentation on how to design your own line (featuring yours truly!).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WHY: Steve Jobs

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." - Steve Jobs

Friday, September 30, 2011

WHY: Carleton Varney

“Taste is like fog: You can see it and you can feel it, but you can never touch it.” – Carleton Varney

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WHERE: The Greenbrier

“The Casino Club, with architecture by Michael Oliver McClung, includes three restaurants, a shopping concourse, and gaming rooms. The entry foyer combines all the colors I love with a traditional black-and-white checkerboard floor pattern in marble. The eighteen-inch squares are laid out on the diagonal – a Dorothy Draper design must. The columns are covered in a cerulean-blue-and-white-striped wallpaper, while Brazilliance, a pattern of green banana and grape leaves on a white ground, plays along the main walls. I like to think of accessories and special antique pieces as the ‘jewelry’ in a space. In this hallway, the gold acanthus-leaf detail on the black-lacquer credenza and the brass railings on the stairs leading up to the hotel’s reception lobby add a glittering touch.”

Copy and image courtesy “Mr. Color: The Greenbrier and Other Decorating Adventures” (image via

To purchase a copy of “Mr. Color: The Greenbrier and Other Decorating Adventures” by Carleton Varney, please visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WHEN: The Early Days at Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc.

At What’s New What’s Next 2011, Carleton Varney painted a vivid picture of life in Dorothy Draper’s New York offices in the mid-twentieth century:

“We worked in a large room with black walls and white desks – because Dorothy used to say that those were the only color surfaces you could really look at color against. Every day she would go through the design studio, desk by desk, talking to each designer about their work. And she would stand there, rolling her arms in front of her” – and here he gestured dramatically, with arms stretched long – “and she would declare, ‘Show me nothing that looks like gravy!’”

Image courtesy The Museum of the City of New York.

Monday, September 26, 2011

WHO: Carleton Varney

It’s no secret that Carleton Varney is a color person. “I like bright colors, bold contrasts and floral patterns.” But when he feels the need to reflect and renew, the private Varney retreats to the soothing palette of a simpler landscape. “I have done several jobs in Ireland, and I have a house there. It’s a spot for me to recharge.” He sees travel as inspiration and uses the rich landscapes for research. Since becoming owner and president of Dorothy Draper & Company at age 29, Varney has applied Draper’s vibrant style to singular interiors for private planes, yachts, hotels and homes around the world.

For more information, please visit or .

Image and copy courtesy Architectural Digest.

WEEKLY Ws: Mr. Color

Sometimes what seems like a misstep sends you down a new and exciting path. Last week at What’s New What’s Next, Baker hosted two Wall Street Journal-sponsored presentations. I thought I was going to hear staff editors discuss design trends, but instead I wandered into a presentation by Sara Story and Carleton Varney. It turned out to be one of the most informative, entertaining and enjoyable hours I’ve ever spent at a design center! We're sharing Carleton Varney’s wit and wisdom this week, and one word of advice: If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak – GO!

Friday, September 9, 2011

WHY: Albert Hadley

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.” – Albert Hadley

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WHERE: “What’s New, What’s Next at 200 Lex”

Professional development works two ways… Share your insights on what YOU think is new and noteworthy during “What’s New, What’s Next” at the New York Design Center on September 20, and you could inspire someone else to get a bit more involved in the business of design!

Since this afternoon and evening event features presentations from publications including Architectural Digest and House Beautiful; shares design info via open houses and lectures at showrooms from 1st Dibs to Profiles; and covers topics from industry legends to emerging trends, it’s a must-attend for the New York design community.

For a complete schedule of events and information on how you can share your industry insights, please visit See you at 200 Lex!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WHEN: “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line,” October 12 and 18

You’ve got great ideas for launching your own line – but how do you start? Before you put pen to paper, attend “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line” on October 12 (at New York’s Decoration & Design Building) or October 18 (at the Washington Design Center). A panel of home furnishings experts including legendary designer Jamie Drake; legal and licensing expert Kate Verner; Edward Ferrell-Lewis Mittman President Jobi Blachy and other will share their experiences and provide valuable tips on how to create, market and sell your line.

For more information, please visit or

Image courtesy Schumacher.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

WHAT: “Interior Design Industry” at NYU

Everyone needs to start somewhere!

Whether you're considering an interior design career by starting your own company or joining an existing firm, acquire a working knowledge of the principles and business practices of interior designers. Topics include an overview of the industry, governmental standards and professional requirements, design project phases and scope, standard fees and compensation, the essence of good working relationships with clients, and letters of agreement and contracts. The course will also cover the elements of purchasing, including estimates; quotes; placing orders; and specifying furniture, fabric, and finishes, especially on custom goods.

This course meets Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The fee is $495. For more information, please visit

Info courtesy New York University. Image courtesy

Monday, September 5, 2011

WHO: Elsie DeWolfe

Elsie De Wolfe’s well-cultivated popularity and outsize persona coincided with a rise in interest in interior design in the early 1900s. She wrote The House in Good Taste, and The New Yorker credited her with inventing the profession of interior design.

De Wolfe transformed the design of wealthy homes from the dark Victorian style into designs featuring light, fresh colors and a reliance on 18th-century French furniture and reproductions. She helped popularize faux finishes and leopard print.

In addition to being one of the pioneers of American interior design, De Wolfe was a true character. She practiced yoga and stood on her head daily at age 70. She married Sir Charles Mendl, a diplomat, but scandalized Paris society when she once turned handsprings as an entrance to a fancy-dress ball. She inspired lyrics by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

And on first seeing the Parthenon, De Wolfe exclaimed “It’s beige – my color!”

Image and info courtesy Wikipedia. For more information, please visit this month’s edition of

Weekly Ws: The Business of Design

Labor Day got us thinking about what it takes to work in the interior design, architecture and home furnishings industries. This week we’ll reflect on some of the best people, places and philosophies connected to the business of design.

Monday, August 29, 2011

WEEKLY Ws: Summer Break

Call it a staycation, a backyard vacation, whatever you’d like. We’re relaxing in the best city and town in the world this week. If you need us, we’ll be at Billy’s Bakery with a chocolate cupcake and an iced coffee. See you next week!

Image courtesy Catalina Museum.

Friday, August 26, 2011

WHY: Witold Rybczynski

Hominess is not neatness. Otherwise everyone would live in replicas of the kinds of sterile and impersonal homes that appear in interior-design and architecture magazines. – Witold Rybczynski

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WHERE: “Around the House and In the Garden,” by Dominique Browning

Dominique Browning, former editor in chief of House & Garden, writes “My story is about the way a house can express loss, and then bereavement, and then, finally, the rebuilding of a life.” For those who miss House & Garden and Dominique’s lovely essays each month, and for those who have more recently discovered her writing through The New York Times and other sources, this is a really lovely, very personal memoir of time spent renovating a house and rebuilding a life. It gives very personal meaning to Churchill’s famous words, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WHEN: “Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design” by the Museum of Arts and Design

Put this on your back-to-school wish list! This review of the rise of midcentury modern design examines how craft and manufacturing intersected in the years following World War II. Featured artists include Charles and Ray Eames, George Nakashima and more. The book will be released in October to coincide with a major exhibit at the Museum, but you can preorder now.

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WHAT: “The Encyclopedia of Furniture” by Joseph Aronson

Yes, it looks like it’s about 100 years old and some of the photos look like they were printed from slides, but this is hands-down the greatest desk reference for furniture styles and history. Not to judge a book by its cover, but… The funky illustrations pretty much say it all. A must-have for every design afficianado’s book shelf!

For more information, please visit

Monday, August 22, 2011

WHO: “The Poetry of Home,” by Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss once said she always wanted to collect quotes about home and decoration. Rumor has it she compiled quotes for years before putting together this collection, which ranges from classic literature to more contemporary work. It’s a great go-to guide if you are looking a little inspiration – and it makes a great housewarming gift!

For more information, please visit

WEEKLY Ws: Summer Reading, Part 2

Summertime, and the reading is… Well, if not exactly “easy,” definitely more fun than your typical non-fiction! This week, we will share more of our favorite design books. Please share yours, too, by leaving a comment below. Thank you, and happy reading!

Friday, August 19, 2011

WHY: Cicero

A room without books is like a body without a soul. – Cicero

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WHERE: “Home: American Writers Remember Rooms of Their Own” by Sharon Sloan Fiffer

Almost 15 years after it was first published, this collection of essays still captures my heart. It’s one of those rare books that sit comfortably at the intersection of writing and home design. Contributors range from Lynda Barry to Gish Jen to Jane Smiley. The Los Angeles Times Book Review said it best: “These pages are filled with the kind of details that etch a childhood place into the deep recesses of memory, that distinguish the sensual life of one family from another.”

For more details, please visit

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WHEN: “A History of Interior Design” by John Pile

This is sort of the book equivalent of that scene in “Adaptation” that compresses the history of time into a speedy monologue just a few minutes long. This award-winning book was written by a former professor at Pratt, and this edition has been updated and revised to include more non-Western interiors and a greater focus on residential interiors.

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WHAT: “The Decoration of Houses,” Edith Wharton

What’s a summer reading list without Edith Wharton? Before she was legendary for her fiction, Edith Wharton was well known for this book that set the tone for American interior design. This is considered the very first book on interior design and it’s essential for any design library.

For more information, please visit

Monday, August 15, 2011

WHO: “Designing Women” by Margaret Russell

Margaret Russell’s first book looks at some of the style setters she featured early in her career at Elle Décor. It’s not easy to find, but it’s worth it to track down this book for its in-depth, informative and entertaining interviews with style makers from Sheila Bridges to Muriel Brandolini to Suzanne Rheinstein.

For more information, please visit

WEEKLY Ws: Summer Reading, Part 1

Late August is a great time to treat yourself to a new book! Maybe you’ve wanted to read something all summer, and now you finally have time. Maybe you don’t have time now, but you have books on the brain since you are gathering ideas and making plans for that wonderful “back to school” feeling that arrives right after Labor Day weekend.

No matter which W – Who, What, When, Where or Why – you’re most curious about, we’ll recommend some books over the next couple weeks that will capture your imagination and provide some inspiration. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

WHY: Charles Parkhurst

Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners. – Charles Parkhurst

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WHERE: Secondhand Rose

“For those who want a century’s worth of astonishingly beautiful wall-couture, Secondhand Rose is the source,” said New York Magazine. From Oscar-nominated set decorators to legendary interior designers, wallpaper fanatics flock to this shop on Lower Fifth. Suzanne Lipschutz, the proprietor, has “obsessively” sought out vintage papers for almost 40 years, compiling a library of more than 2,500 patterns including designs of almost every influence and finish. Whether you are looking for something Venetian-inspired or velvet-flocked, Secondhand Rose carries a wall covering to complement almost any design scheme.

For more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy Secondhand Rose.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WHEN: “Living Room” at The Jewish Museum through October 30

“Living Room,” a 2009 installation by the Israeli artist Maya Zack, went on view July 31 at the Jewish Museum in New York. The piece comprises four digital 3-D prints, each 4 feet high by 10 feet wide, hanging on the four interior walls of a room built within a gallery. Visitors don 3-D glasses and study the images while a 20-minute English translation of an oral history narrated by Yair Noam, an 88-year-old retiree in Tel Aviv, is broadcast in the space.

“It could have looked like a real place,” Ms. Zack said, “but I chose not to give it texture or pattern so it stayed this nonmaterial material.” There is one exception in a patch of floral wallpaper, mentioned in passing by Mr. Noam. “It only appears in this one area because he spoke about it only in the context of this window,” she explained.

For more information, please visit .

Image courtesy The Jewish Museum; info courtesy The Jewish Museum and The New York Times.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

WHAT: New Wallpaper from Studio E

Studio E, makers of luxury hand painted and finished wallpapers, introduced four designs this summer as part of its new “Line and Circle” collection. “We really enjoyed watching this collection take shape,” said Alexis Greene, President and Creative Director, “The launch is comprised of two very distinct looks, aimed at satisfying the need for earthy calm with a desire for playfulness and whimsy.”

Four types of wallpaper (the only-of-its-kind “Venetian Plasters”, “Metallics”, “Natural Fibers” and “Broken Color/Glaze Work”) form Studio E’s harmonious collection, whose worldwide installations include residential interiors, luxury retail and top hospitality properties. Studio E specializes in custom wallpapers for their clientele of world-class design firms.

Studio E hand manufactures luxury wallpaper in collaboration with its parent company, EverGreene Architectural Arts, who celebrated 30 years in business in 2008. America’s preeminent arts studio, EverGreene is known for restoring the nation’s landmarks (including the ceiling at Grand Central Station and the lobby of Rockefeller Center) and creating murals, ornamental plasterwork and decorative surface finishes worldwide.

Studio E is sold through fine showrooms globally. Prices range from $40 to $75 per yard, net wholesale. For more information please call Studio E at 212 244-2800 or visit

Image and info courtesy Studio E.

Monday, August 8, 2011

WHO: Charles R. Gracie

Charles R. Gracie established Gracie in New York City in 1898. Originally a custom lamp business, Gracie expanded into Asian antiques in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1930s a textile trader brought Mr. Gracie a roll of exquisite handpainted wallpapers that he had discovered in Beijing. Mr. Gracie established a relationship with the studio that created that paper which has lasted decades. Today, handpainted wallpapers are Gracie’s signature product line and the company’s papers have graced interiors from Gloria Vanderbilt’s home to the White House.

For more information please visit

Image and info courtesy Gracie.

WEEKLY Ws: Off the Wall

Wallpaper, wallcoverings, murals… We are all about walls this week, from vintage papers to an exhibit that practically jumps off the wall.

Friday, August 5, 2011

WHY: Henry Anatole Grunwald

“Home is the wallpaper above the bed, the family dinner table, the church bells in the morning, the bruised shins of the playground, the small fears that come with dusk, the streets and squares and monuments and shops that constitute one’s first universe.” – Henry Anatole Grunwald

Thursday, August 4, 2011

WHERE: Embassy Row

Embassy Row lies along Massachusetts Avenue NW from Thomas Circle to Ward Circle, and the majority of embassies are found between Scott Circle and Wisconsin Avenue. Considered Washington’s premier residential address in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue became known for its numerous mansions housing the city’s social and political elites. Though many of the original owners lost their homes in the Great Depression or moved on to more fashionable addresses after Massachusetts Avenue lost its cache, the area reemerged as a center of diplomatic activity following World War II.

Weekly walking tours of Embassy Row are offered through and more info is available on their web site.

Image courtesy Embassy of Indonesia. Info courtesy Wikipedia and Washington Walks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WHEN: Random Harvest Sale, Three Days Only!

Random Harvest is hosting a sale at its pop-up shop this weekend! Stop by 3144 Dumbarton Street in Georgetown and enjoy 30-70 percent off upholstery, furniture and accessories. For more information, please visit

Image and info courtesy Random Harvest.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WHAT: “LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition”

The National Building Museum is made of more than 15,000,000 bricks. Adam Reed Tucker may have used that many in his unbelievable exhibit, “LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition,” which includes models of 15 buildings from around the world made entirely of LEGO bricks. One of only 11 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world, Adam uses his background in architecture to create large-scale models of some of the world’s most famous structures including the Empire State Building, the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Fallingwater.

After viewing the exhibit, try your hand at LEGO architecture and create a building for the National Building Museum’s LEGO community!

“LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition” will run through September 3 at the National Building Museum in Washington. For more information, please visit .

Image and info courtesy the National Building Museum.

WHO: Darryl Carter

“Home is about individual lifestyle. Our work integrates an exacting vocabulary – responsive to both client and venue. Our practice is sensitive to lifestyle, architecture and setting; recognizing that these must be thoughtfully considered to create living environments. Design longevity is our hallmark; produced by honoring classic elements of the past and present.” – Darryl Carter

Image and info courtesy To purchase “The New Traditional” by Darryl Carter, please visit