Kismet

The facade of the residence, the pool area, the gardens, and director George Cukor.
In the drawing room, Chinese Chippendale giltwood pier mirrors hang above Regency chinoiserie lacquer commodes.

Now back down to business. As I was flipping through the vintage Architectural Digests (the HG’s have been scoured and set aside) by the light of my kitchen window (our power was out, horrible ice storm) I ran across this little jewel.

If you were here on Monday, you might recall that the house that is currently the home of Lynn von Kersting once belonged to the legendary Hollywood director George Cukor.

Copper cornice and fireplace, parquet floor.


It did occur to me that a house of such notoriety had likely been photographed during Cukor’s era as well. It seemed a shame that I wouldn’t have the chance to see it.

This image is very dark, even in the original. Venetian blackamoors in each corner. I adore the red chairs, which appear to be leather.


Then, in the warm light of the east window, I paused, coffee cup half-way to my lips. (Thank goodness for the French press.)

Entrance hall. Pair of Louis XVI bronze sconces and a suite of antique carved and silvered wood grotto furniture from Wales.

Architectural Digest, in January of 1978, “visited” George Cukor.

Yes, the bronze head of Tallulah Bankhead is quite a conversation starter, but, oh, those chairs.


The house was originally decorated by William Haines. Cukor said, “Mr. Haines may have asked me some questions, and I might have asked him some questions. But he did the house. That’s not to take away from my personal taste and knowledge. The house suites me perfectly, and I know that I belong here. That’s his skill and talent.”

In the library. I thought this lamp might be friends with Courtney’s.

And Cukor waxes poetic on his home. He had a passion for it and his friends who settled there from time to time. In an age of Hollywood frenimies, this was a man who maintained friendships, many friendships, for a life time.


A photo gallery of friends lines a hallway.

I’ve said before that some houses have soul. This is clearly one of them.

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17 thoughts on “Kismet

  1. I love this house. I have to say, I am far more drawn to this house than Lynn von Kersting’s version. You are so right that this is a house that has soul. You can see it even through the sometimes intimidating AD style. Just love it.

    Recently found your blog. Love it. Hope you are managing through the ice storm. I’ve been through one and all I can say is–it gives you the chance to focus only on what’s important. And, for me, it de-romanticized the notion of living the pioneer life.

  2. tc12 – I’m so glad you’ve found me. The more the merrier. When you hear/see Cukor talking about the house and his life in it you can’t help but be smitten. He loves it – it’s so obvious. Which makes me appreciate the house and creates such a soft spot for the man. He must have been something.

  3. Soul was the word I wanted to use too. Wow, this home has had quite a life. It’s fascinating to see what von Kersting kept (the guilded woodwork and ceiling I think?) and what she changed. It all looks so wonderfully private.

  4. Love the floor, paneling and copper fireplace in the library. Even the guest house if famous as the lair of Tracy & Hepburn. Hepburn had free use of the guest cottage until Cukor’s death.

  5. He once place a walnut in a vitrine and told the lady of the house to tell anyone who enquired, that it was Faberge. That walnut must have sat in that vitrine for some 20 odd years, delighting the lady of the house with her impostor Faberge.

  6. What a wonderful home — and yes! one can tell that it had a soul — and probably wonderful parties too! Can you imagine the guests who sat around that sexy dining room table — and the gossip?? Too fun to imagine!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  7. This was one of the best examples of the colloboration between a great architect, James Dolena, a great decorator, Billy Haines, and a great landscape architect, Florence Yoch – and a client that let them do their jobs.

    Lynn von Kersting’s tropical shabby chic redo of the house just makes me sad. The palm tree? The slip covers on everything? Plantation shutters? The country kitchen? In a James Dolena it’s sacreligious.

  8. ruddigore – you are digging deep into the Blandings’s archives. I agree, this house was complete perfection. I like von Kersting’s style as well -in fact, I like it a lot, but I can see how it would make you uncomfortable in this setting. It’s a jewel. There are houses and owners and designers that come together in a certain way that is nothing short of magic.

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