Beads on a Thread

As I have been trotting out my vintage images, a certain “anonymous” reader has been commenting and giving me much-valued advice. Anon suggested I pay special attention to the Louis Gopp years at House and Garden; he also recommended Mark Hampton’s monthly column in these issues as particularly informative.

I’ve been a bit of a Hampton fan. I was very fortunate to find a signed first edition copy of Mark Hampton: On Decorating at Spivey’s, one of our used book stores “in town.” As I began saving the articles from House and Garden, I realized they had been compiled for On Decorating.

Part of the charm of this book is Hampton’s illustrations, some of which accompanied the articles. One of my favorites is “Long Live the Enfilade.” The word enfilade means strung along like beads on a thread. This architectural approach to design is classic and enduring and creates particularly lovely views.
Vogue Living, Fall/Winter 2007; Port Eliot, Cornwall, England. Photographed by Francois Halard.

As Hampton notes, the enfilade can be used effectively in houses both grand and modest. The advantage of this layout is the feeling of discovery as you pass through the spaces, and the elimination of what are often dull hallways.

Farrow and Ball; The Art of Color, designer Sallie Giordano, Photographed by Edward Addeo.

Hampton speculates that the enfilade passed out of favor because the long vistas were difficult to heat and cool and provided less privacy than a more complicated floor plan. Apparently, it’s difficult to ditch the servants if your rooms open on to one another in this way.

Mica Ertegun, American Designers’ Houses.
As Hampton notes, neither of these factors is a common problem in the modern day.

John Saladino’s Robin Hill in Influential Interiors. Guess where he’s from?
As I am more a decorator, and less a designer, it’s difficult for me to fathom moving doorways three to four inches, but Hampton believes what must be done, must be done.

Spaces Magazine, Zim Loy, designer. Photographed by Landon Collis.
He retells the story of the legendary Albert Hadley and how he threatened to run away from home unless the driveway was repositioned “to form a circle centered on the facade of the house.” This is a guy who needs an axis. And yes, as the tale goes, the elder Hadley changed it.

It is a lovely view. I think I’m drawn to Georgians for this reason.

There’s a particularly striking sun dial at Christopher Filley’s right now (or there was last week) that I’m thinking would be perfection on a stand right in front of that window. It’s not for me, you understand. I think I owe it to Mark and Albert.
Drawings, top, all Mark Hampton, Mark Hampton: On Decorating.
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail      rssrss

13 thoughts on “Beads on a Thread

  1. beautiful post as always! I love a good enfilade with my morning coffee 🙂 I think there is still a place for classic design elements like this in contemporary homes!

  2. P,

    Excellent post. Your home is so lovely. Georgians –or anything classical with balance — are my favorite. I really envy your architecture!

  3. Courtney – thank you. My house is so funny. Kind of,sort of tudor on the outside, center hall on the inside. A little wacky. Like it’s mistress!

  4. Gorgeous post — and thanks for the beautiful photos illustrating the enfilade — another design lesson! Love how the colors seems to work from each room — to the next too! Georgians are such wonderful homes!

    Jan at the tiny less-than-enfilade Rosemary Cottage BUT I’ve tried to use colors from the one-and-only living space along our one hallway to the guest room seen at the end!

  5. Balance is important to me… otherwise it drives me crazy! The Hampton book is one of my faves… a must-have for any design library!

  6. Mrs. Blandings,
    What serendipity! I was up pre-dawn this a.m. with time for a leisurely scan of the Hampton books on decorating and friendship. Love his work, many clippings in my design archives. I’m curious about his “Legendary Decorators of the 20th Century”—missed it when it was published in ’92, recently became aware of it. Is it a “must have?”

    New to your blog, but love it and foresee a long association! (Found you through Peak of Chic)

    By the way, Mrs. Blandings, are you familiar with the wonderful old Vogue article titled, “When In Doubt Act Like Myrna Loy”—a must for you! (MBBHDH is in my top 5 favorite movies of all time—you chose the perfect moniker!)

  7. Jan – my first house was a not-grand split level, but we ignored that and it was cottage-y and wonderful. My oldest still talks about it. Good houses have soul, not matter the floor plan.

  8. Anon – I don’t have Legendary Designers, Peak? you? I’m sure someone can give us a review.

    I do seem to remember that article. I wish I’d kept it. Nora Charles is my icon. If only I could be that kind of wife! Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Exactly why I love the Georgian style, Mrs. B. This was a great post. You don’t see these vistas in new homes unless the architect is really talented. I think this is my favorite post of yours. Very well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *