Friday, May 13, 2011

Time Travelling to Charleston House

5/13/11 Editors Note:
The website crashed last night and my original post about this seems to be lost in the ether. I copied this from my RSS feed (thank God Heather from Habitually Chic told me to always sign up for your RSS feed!) ; alas, your lovely comments are missing.

* * * * *

Wondrous thing, life.

I woke up in LA yesterday morning, but by noon I found myself deep in the heart of the English countryside at Charleston House.

Don't look at me like that.
You know Charleston House.

I'm sorry to press the point, but yes, you do.

Home (and living canvas) to the Bloomsbury Group?
Who moved there in 1916 to live a life devoted to art, friendship and emancipated pleasure?

Ah, it's coming back to you now, is it?


Anyway, I was there yesterday.

And the crazy part is, I didn't have to go all the way to Sussex, England.

I just had to drive down to 819 N. La Cienega Boulevard.

Let me explain.

May 12-14th marks the annual Los Angeles Design Quarter "Legends" event which celebrates style and design. There's lots of free lectures and fun cocktail parties (click HERE for details) but the real excitement is always reserved for the spectacular windows created by prominent designers in honor of legendary artists.

Well, this year designer Schuyler Samperton chose Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant as her inspiration. (FYI, she's just as gorgeous in person).

And Dan Marty, designer/owner of Maison Au Naturel, kindly lent her his showcase window.

~ And Now A Brief Aside ~
* * * * *

Speaking of Dan Marty, have you been to his store? Europe meets California. Old World meets new. Crazy meets fabulous. I highly recommend thou get thee there now.
Maison Au Naturel.

Maison Au Naturel.

19th c. French post office desk with built-in chair. Maison Au Naturel.

Vintage horsehair salon ottoman, into which I carefully stuck a finger.
(Because I've always wanted to touch horsehair, that's why.)

I hereby declare that this chair wins the award for Best Name ever.
"Man Plus Dog."
Am I right or am I right?

* * * * *
~ And Now, Back To What I Was Saying
Before I So Rudely Interrupted Myself ~

Back in March, Schuyler Samperton emailed me. (A big hug to designer Diane James, who connected the two of us. Meeting her has been such a thrill, Diane.)

Hi Lisa,

I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be a part of the LCDQ event in May, and my window design at Maison Au Naturel will be inspired by the Bloomsbury Group! Anyway, I know you're a fan, and wanted to pass that along. We're having the best time recreating the mantel, stenciled walls and painted vases of Charleston.

You can imagine my excitement. But even all of my anticipation didn't prepare me for the incredible spot-on reproduction that Schuyler created. Everywhere your eye lands, there are painstaking details that makes Los Angeles feel six thousand miles away:

A handwritten postcard.
A faded photo of Vanessa.
A reproduction Duncan Grant painting.
Some crinkled-up tubes of oil paint.
Some perfectly imperfect flowers.
Some intricate paintwork on the mantel.

Painter Katie Golden worked her magic on the mantel, the stenciled wallpaper, the planters, the painted pots and the "Duncan Grant" painting. Touché, my dear. Touché.

It's not just an art installation.
It's a time capsule.

At one point as I was standing there, I thought I was growing a goiter. I then realized this was because I kind of wanted to cry. In an "I'm so grateful to be alive to see this" kind of way.

Confession: I made a very small contribution to Schuyler's window. Something I made about ten years ago and which, for at least the last three, has been living a quiet and blameless life in my upstairs closet.

Yes, the pillow.
It's a reproduction of one designed by Duncan Grant and needlepointed by his mother, Ethel.

Thank you, Schuyler, for giving it a beautiful moment in the sun.

* * * * *

Editor's Note:
I made the pillow from a pattern I found in the book "Bloomsbury Needlepoint" by Melinda Coss. If you would like a less arduous option, Charleston House sells ready-made pillow kits (complete with instructions and materials) on their lovely website.


Unknown said...

Oh,oh,oh, still searching for words.....
Let's just say I adore it,love it, been smitten since I first laid eyes on Vanessa Bell's Charleston House!
What a re-production! Absolutely amazing! Yes, you've been there yesterday!!!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Whyowhy, was this not up when I was there!!! I would have grown a goiter, too. I can't remember, did we talk about Virginia? My favourite. A sweet blogger in London just sent me a postcard of her. It's propped up in my kitchen where I can see it when I reach for that first cup of coffee in the morning. This window sounds like heaven to me.

And for goodness sakes, release that fabulous pillow from the upstairs closet!! It's way to wonderful to hide.

Slim Paley said...

Beautiful! I hope I can get down there to see it myself.
I LOVE Schuyler- she's the best, and so lovely... not to mention "Tricky", her trusty sidekick :)
It's a small world indeed.

PS. Love the perfect patinaed tubes of paint- artists, artists everywhere!

Goose Vintage said...

Glorious, thank you for sharing - what a fabulous tribute! I had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa Bell's grand-daughter, Cressida Bell, and visited her studio in London. She creates new designs in the "Bloomsbury" style, lampshades, scarves, she's done some mural painting and published a book on painted furniture which I treasure: Lovely lady...!

24 Corners said...

A dream come true for you Lisa...and for your pillow, this is what it was created for! Schuyler did a brilliant job, the details are truly amazing, so many will be intrigued and awakened to the unique atmosphere that surrounded the 'Bloomsbury's' now, it's a very fine tribute!
Isn't it wonderful how such artistic talent can make us cry, the connection is so powerful...I've been teased for this before, by non-creative lovely it was that the Bloomsbury's had each other to appreciate, inspire, support, and encourage their special talents.
So happy you remain goiterless...
xo J~

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

I'm so glad that Schuyler reached out to you - when she said her room was inspired by Bloomsbury, we knew that she would love getting to know you. How fun that our favorite designer and favorite blogger got together - the room is perfection, and your needlepoint gorgeous!
Cynthia from Diane James Home

Joy said...

Just wonderful - Maison Au Naturel is so pretty!

pve design said...

I love how time can stop and take us away to another time. Today is my sons last day of senior year and I feel like I have time traveled here. It goes so fast.
Embrace your son and all your precious bits in this fast life. I think you need a studio like Charleston House.

Bart Boehlert said...

Hi Lisa,
Wonderful! I would love to visit Charleston House, either in England or L.A....
And weird about blogger :( Better sign up for my own feed.

helen tilston said...

Hi Lisa

I had started to read your blog early yesterday, got interupted, then settled to read it last evening and thought my mind was playing games when I could not find it.

It is because of Charleston House that I was recommended to your blog. Two years ago I was working with Farrow & Ball and a caller asked which F&B colour Charleston House was. I checked the archives and found that Charleston House was a bespoke Farrow & Ball colour. In providing the information to the caller, she told me about your blog.She praised you from a height and told me that your blog was the highlight of her day.I wish I had a note of her name to also thank her for her recommmendation. You had written a post about Charleston House then and the colour blue was the question and my link to you.
Beautiful post and glad you recovered your reader's comments. I know you, like the rest of us, treasure these comments.
Back to my studio

CashmereLibrarian said...

I've been meaning to make that pillow since I bought Melissa Coss's book way back in 1992! You've inspired me to move on it!

beth said...

Thank you for this post. I love Charleston and seeing this display transported me back there. It's stunning (and uncannily accurate).
Beth x

Carly said...

I visited Charleston House a few years ago, it is an amazing and inspirational place. Love the images from your blog of the replica, such a great idea.

P. M. Doolan said...

One of the nice things about the real Charleston House in Sussex is that after your visit you are just a short drive to Monk's House - the home of Virginia and Leonard Wolf. A day spent visiting both places is a memorable immersion in Bloomsbury nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love this! While I've never met her in person - Schuyler helped me with my home in Boston via loads of emails, photos, and fedex packages. I couldn't believe she agreed to do it. I was on bedrest with my first child and had gone completely crazy thinking my home was boring and unfit for new life. We loved her - she is patient, gracious, and funny and yes, she brought a bit of Bloomsbury to Boston!

Allison said...

Oh, I love this! While I've never met her in person - Schuyler helped me with my home in Boston via loads of emails, photos, and fedex packages. I couldn't believe she agreed to do it. I was on bedrest with my first child and had gone completely crazy thinking my home was boring and unfit for new life. We loved her - she is patient, gracious, and funny and yes, she brought a bit of Bloomsbury to Boston!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Drat. I had a comment.... now what did I say??

Something about how wonderful this is, and how I would have no doubt grown a goiter, too! And I'm sure I included an admonition to you to get that gorgeous pillow out of the upstairs closet and into a place of pride! It's gorgeous!!

Sunday Taylor said...

Lisa, please tell me I did not miss this. Is it still up and if so I will go immediately! I had no idea.

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

We are thrilled that you connected with Schuyler - when she told us that her window was inspired by the Bloomsbury Group, we knew that our favorite blogger and favorite designer were destined to meet! The room is gorgeous and your pillow too - we are only sorry we cannot see it all in person.
Cynthia, Diane James Home

Goose Vintage said...

Had a note from Cressida Bell in London - grand-daughter of Vanessa Bell - I pointed out your blog and she was tickled to see Charleston recreated in California. She does wonderful designs for fabrics, painted furniture, etc In the Style Of her Bloomsbury ancestors - had the wonderful opportunity to meet her and visit her studio awhile ago:

Jane the Booklady said...

I have just started to read your blog and loved the idea of a re-created Charleston House. I was there (the English one) last May and it was as inspiring as I had remembered from visits as a student... long ago! Best wishes, Jane

Unknown said...

your design was so cool and wonderful. just like Website design Los Angeles

Karina said...

Woo, that post smacked of Du Maurier's "I dreamt of Manderley last night"... Dreamy.

Anonymous said...

You really need to go and see the real thing now. It is the whole surroundings of Charleston as well as the furnishing, pictures etc that make up the ambience of the place.........................Rosemary

Athena Ballou said...

You inspire me Lisa. You set an example of continual evolution. So important. XOXO

Claire said...

Oh, that is so great! Especially since the one thing that is strictly verboten when you visit Charleston (in England!) is taking a single photo inside the house! I always think it's a shame because not everyone can get there. The perfect solution - make a replica! At first I thought it was Charleston and someone had got special permission....

Alex said...

I really appreciate your design its looking very beautiful. the color combination are very great i really like that .. .. ..

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Unknown said...

wow, Marvelous decor collection. you paintings inspire me to do more efforts on my work-in progress paintings.
~GM Navigation

usman said...

very well designed and creative work
i like your work very much great job

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