Friday, February 12, 2016

Traditional Interiors By Leta Austin Foster

Palm Beach-based interior designer Leta Austin Foster recently published the most beautiful book, Traditional Interiors, which instantly has become one of my favorite design books of all time. Published last fall, I have read it cover to cover at least half a dozen times!

Named among the 20th Century's most influential interior designers by House Beautiful magazine, Leta Austin Foster established her design business in Palm Beach in 1975, which she expanded in the 1990s to include offices in Los Angeles and New York.  One of her maxims is that decorating should be fun, whimsical, and not taken too seriously, and she believes any room can be beautiful and comfortable at the same time. She shares these principles with her three daughters, all gifted designers - Sally Giordano who runs the New York office, India Foster in Palm Beach, and Elizabeth Dinkel who runs her own eponymous business in Los Angeles.

Traditional Interiors takes you behind the scenes of Leta's magical and glamorous world of design, as she describes in detail the key elements for creating your own elegant, comfortable space. The book is divided into four main subjects that illustrate and explain the often complex design process - Curtains, Walls, Upholstery and Trim, and The Details. The purpose is to share ideas and inspiration that will help you create beautiful interiors of your own, while drawing upon the best of traditional design. Here are a few of my favorite images from the book...

This incredible Palm Beach home was recently for sale, and the listing details can be seen here

What I love most about Leta's work is its fresh and crisp timelessness, and her playful approach to traditional decor. These are rooms that will last a lifetime and never feel dated. Each room is warm and inviting, and just begging for you to come in for a cup of tea or cocktail. I would never want to leave!

To learn more about Leta Austin Foster's work, please visit her website and follow her lovely blog. You may also visit the Leta Austin Foster shop in Palm Beach, which she opened to satisfy her meticulous search for the ideal accessories such as linens, tableware, silver, and furniture. And if you haven't yet purchased her book Traditional Interiors, I promise you will want to do so ASAP.

Photographs by Erik Kvalsvik from Traditional Interiors: Leta Austin Foster, Sally Giordano, & India Foster by Brian D. Coleman. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Grandeur in the Garden State

Located in New Jersey’s Morris County just 30 miles northwest of New York City, this neo-Georgian estate had been vacant for 30 years when interior designer Janet Simon and her husband Peter discovered the hidden gem.  “The house was wonderfully untouched,” Janet said. “The grounds were completely overgrown, like Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We had to hack through thorny branches to get to the front door.” 

"Hidden Pond Farm" was built between 1927 and 1933 by architects Delano & Aldrich as a summer retreat for Thomas M. Debevoise, a prominent attorney and personal counsel to John D. Rockefeller Jr., and Janet remained committed to keeping the integrity of the home intact throughout the restoration. 

Hidden Pond Farm

Light streams into the sunporch ensconced in Lee Jofa's iconic Hollyhock chintz.

The enclosed sunporch mirrors the nearby breakfast room with a curved exterior wall.

The dining room features exquisite hand painted Chinoiserie wall coverings, Bergamo fabric on the chairs, Lee Jofa fabric for the draperies, and a Charlotte Moss table lamp.

Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler takes center stage in the garden-like breakfast room. Fabric on the slipcovered chair cushions is by Rose Cumming.

The library welcomes pets as well as people. The sofa is by Ernest Studio Inc.

A timelessly pretty sitting room features watercolors by Stephen Freeburg. The bench is from Second Life Interiors and Upholstery, with fabric by Travers.

The living room owes its serenity to soft blues and creams. Among the many fine details is the custom shell embroidery on the Penn & Fletcher draperies that flank a mirror by R Squared. An area rug by Tai Ping Carpets anchors the sitting area. The ceiling is painted Farrow & Ball’s “Pink Ground.”

This secretary is one of the Simons’ much-cherished and much-used antiques.

The bright foyer features a Damoka rug.

The charming master bedroom has bed curtains by Chelsea Editions and linens by Leron. The bedside tray table is from Charlotte Moss, and the medallion-patterned area rug is by Patterson, Flynn & Martin.

Cowtan & Tout’s Bowood wallpaper sets the palette for another airy bedroom.

Helping the family stay organized is a mudroom outfitted with Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper.

A winding staircase is original.

Small lime-green tables from Lexington Gardens garnish the terrace. The tablecloth is by Dransfield & Ross.

Janet insists on quality, no matter the context. Whether decorating or entertaining, it’s the details that count. “Keep it simple, but do it right,” she says. To see more of Janet's impressive portfolio, please visit Janet Simon Inc. and to read this entire feature, which originally ran in Traditional Home magazine, please click here

Saturday, February 6, 2016

All About Staffordshire Dogs

Decorating with Staffordshire dogs is a timeless design trend that has been popular since the 18th century, and lately I have been seeing these prim and proper pups making a grand resurgence. The Staffordshire spaniel, which has been in production since the 1720s, became the quintessential Victorian status symbol in England and Scotland. No mantelpiece was complete without a pair of spaniels standing guard. Many other breeds were produced, such as greyhounds, poodles, dalmatians, and pugs, but the spaniels were especially popular as royalty favored the King Charles Spaniel breed.

Today, original Staffordshire dogs are collectors’ items, but there are some lovely reproductions available as well. Of course they still appear perfectly poised upon any well appointed mantle, but they are also charming on a bookshelf, as wall decor, on a vanity table, in the kitchen, or as part of a beautiful tablescape! Let's take a look at some images I collected via Instagram and Pinterest...

Jessika Goranson via Lonny 

In groupings, pairs, or as singles, these charming dogs make the perfect addition to any space! If you are just beginning or adding to your collection, One Kings Lane, Etsy, and Chairish are excellent sources for vintage and antique pieces. Here are a few of my favorites, along with some fabulous reproductions... Please note, I am not an expert on verifying authenticity, but you can find a helpful guide here!

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