Monday, May 20, 2013

The Well-Layered Room, Redux

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on March 29th, 2010.

When you enter a well-layered room, you feel it. It welcomes you graciously and fills your senses with texture and color and vitality. It accommodates all kinds of activities and all kinds of moods. It can be cheerful, cozy or intimate. It speaks volumes, quietly.
(T. F. Simon, "Vilma Reading a Book", 1912)

If you ask me, I'd say there are four qualities to a well-layered room:

1. Comfort
There is always a pleasant chair waiting, a place to set your drink, an interesting book to leaf through, and a vista to settle your eyes on (whether it's a postcard leaning against a mantel or an open window onto Rue Jacob makes no difference). Furniture is arranged with meaning so that even as a first-time visitor, you feel immediately at ease.

2. Passion
A well-layered room reflects the kind of life lived within its walls. It offers an intimate glimpse into the lifeblood of its owners and makes you realize, "Aha, now I see who they are." It's like a journal entry into their soul.

3. Honesty
A well-layered room contains no concealment or pretense. If a piece of much-loved furniture is slightly shabby, it doesn't hide in a dark corner -- it's valued for its faithful years of service. Books and paintings and objets are collected piecemeal over time instead of during one-stop shopping trips. Nothing is overly precious. Curiosity is welcome.

4. Fearlessness
Timidity does not belong in a well-layered room. (Timid rooms are only one layer deep and usually colored beige.) A fearless room embraces the juxtaposition of different sources and patterns and histories. Just like a great cocktail party, it's filled with an assortment of interesting characters taking part in the same conversation.

The Bohemian painter Tavik Frantisek Simon comprehended all of this.
("Interior of My House in Paris", 1909)

So does Peter Dunham.
(Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna)

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) had an innate understanding.
("Interior", 1920)
As does designer Michael S. Smith.

Matisse got it.
("Interior with Phonograph", 1924)

Tim Clarke does too.
(via Hollywood Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks. Her blog is HERE)

And Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947).
("Work Table", 1926)

Nicky Haslam grasps it on a cellular level.
(Photographer unknown. Nicky's blog HERE)

Do you have a well-layered room?

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Good of Small Things

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy.

In fact, I get an inordinate amount of joy just looking at this photo of a row of cups drying on a linen dish towel. It makes me think of order, tidiness, and all the inspiring possibilities that can spring to life over a pot of tea with friends.

It's the small things.
(Photo by LBG.)

And behind every small thing -- the freshly-washed teacups -- there's usually an even smaller thing that deserves a little credit too. An unsung hero, if you will. Something that doesn't get a lot of attention but whose contribution is equally important. 

Stand up and take a bow, scrubbing pads.
These cheerful striped ones are just aching to join your kitchen team, don't you think?
(Kitchen scrubber trio, $16.00. Available HERE.)

Below, some more beautiful small things and the small things behind them...

The Small Thing: 
An errant rose vine that strains for you to notice her while she's at the height of her powers.
(Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
A twine stand with set of scissors to gently give the fair dame a bit of support should she need it.
(Twine stand with scissors, $20.95. Available HERE.)

The Small Thing:
The gleam of a sweaty ice bucket as it waits for guests to arrive.
     (Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
Seeds Merit Silver Polish, recommended by both Tiffany & Company and the Winterthur Museum.
(F. A. Seeds Silver Polish, $10.00. Available HERE.)

The Small Thing:
Freshly-baked pumpkin bread for an eleven-year old who didn't do as well on the test as he hoped.

(Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
Corn broom cake testers. Used since colonial times to make sure there was something coming out of the oven to be thankful for.
(Broomcorn cake tester, $5.00. Available HERE.)

The Small Thing:
Italian parsley. For enhancing frittatas, soups, salads, and almost any other savory dish you can think of.
(Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
Kitchen herb scissors. Made to quickly chop delicate leaves without crushing them.
(Herb kitchen scissors, $16.00. Available HERE.)

The Small Thing:
A tidy laundry nook.
(Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
A dark galvanized pail for presoaking chocolatey napkins, red wine accidents and grass-stained jeans.
(Old-fashioned wash bucket, $18.95. Available HERE.)

The Small Thing:
A corner to call your own.
(Photo by LBG.)

The Small Thing Behind the Small Thing:
A traditional turkey wing whisk broom, ergonomically designed to sweep pumpkin bread out of corners.
(Turkey wing whisk broom, $9.95. Available HERE.)

I'm curious: What small thing makes you happy?


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Won't You Join Me For A Cocktail?

I've never put those words into a headline before, but thanks to MK Collection, I can. :) They have invited me to be the guest of honor at their Thursday open house for Legends 2013: Past Present Future DesignAnd I would love to see you there!

May 9th, 2-5pm

MK Collection, 8629 Melrose Avenue, CA 90069  (310) 436-4995

Lively libations and fresh fare
(All photos by Joel Longnecker.)

Legends is part of the annual celebration of the La Cienega Design Quarter, the renowned style corridor along the intersection of La Cienega and Melrose Avenue. Every year, leading designers team up with showrooms to create fantasy windows and it's always so exciting to stroll the sidewalk and see what everyone has come up with.

Inspired by this year's theme of "Past, Present and Future," designer Hillary Thomas decorated the MK Collection window in the spirit of the WASPy jet-set glamour of the '50's and '60's as chronicled by Slim Aarons. Don't you just love it?

MK Collection is a brand-new kid on the block, geographically speaking, and their Melrose Avenue showroom offers rugs, trims and a beautiful fabric collection inspired by the far-flung travels of designer Melissa Kirkpatrick. 

Here, frequent visitor Kole lounges in a sybaritic stupor on a chair upholstered in "Midsummer Madness" in Turquoise/Lapis.

See you on Thursday, and please do come up and introduce yourself -- some of my favorite people are people who I've met through my blog!



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