Now You See It

Many of you will recognize this as the dining room from Reed House designed (between 1926 and ’28) by David Adler.  The Colonial Revival House notes that Adler’s sister, Frances Elkins, “became heavily involved with selecting interior furnishings.”  So, as we finish out the week sprinkled with Chinoiserie walls and screens, it seems fitting to top it off by noting the screen camouflaging some domestic tediousness in the right corner.  Not the only sleight of handsome; there is a hidden door on the left.

Image, The Colonial Revival House, Richard Guy Wilson, photography by Noah Sheldon.

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18 thoughts on “Now You See It

  1. Clever… can you imagine? If my husband's sister was that involved in the decorating… not sure how I'd handle that. I mean, I love to get her opinion, but "heavily involved" makes me a little uncomfortable!

  2. This room is amazing, besides the hand painted wall paper, there is the chinoiserie door surround that is topped off with the pagoda. Do you have any photos of the door surround? Frances Elkins and David Adler–what a pair. Have a great week-end. Mary

  3. This room (and house) has recently been restored (McMansion style) to the very last degree-its sad and cold now. Even in this shot the gaudy chandeliers and pedestrian dinning chairs are those of the second owner….but yes for some reason they never touched the background and it was heaven.

    In your lovely and thoughtful way maybe you can shed some light on the lack of sensitivity of todays rich.
    The forecourt of this house is now heavily planted with a flower display in the manner of the Bellagio.

  4. Marvelous, Mrs B.
    Interesting to note how the bracketed cornice is painted
    to tone with paper as opposed to being a bright off
    white. And then that screen with its own informal
    but thoroughly effective dado, the perfect kind of
    camouflage. Proving once again, that an architectural
    sensibility was at work in this decorated room. It makes
    all the difference.

  5. Gorgeous. The function of the screen is curious. Behind the screen is the same wallpapered door as that on the left [each w/ a mounted plexi push-here panel!]. Probably an ugly view of the stove behind the screen door? Curious.

  6. I think it is still very beautiful, including the "gaudy" chandelier. I actually was drawn to its sparkle and clean lines of the tableware against the opulent richness of the walls and moldings. The simplicity of the chairs also allow the walls to be the star. I am sure it was amazing in its original layout but this is nothing to tip up your nose at. Thank you for sharing Mrs B!

  7. Dear Anon,
    It sounds like you are very familiar with the house, maybe even had the pleasure of visiting it in real life. Please tell us what makes this chair pedestrian. I have a life long love of chairs, and I would not hesistate to characterize some (even one or two that I owned) as pedestrian, even tragic. But I personally can't really tell from this pic. Thank you!

  8. I believe the crown (as well as the door and window surrounds, wainscot, etc.) are bleached, knotty pine, not painted. such a great "country" detail to bring DOWN that gorgeous, antique paper.

    anon is right about the image. it's recent. when Elkins decorated this room originaly, she used humble bamboo chairs, no chandeliers, and a very '30s sculpted wool carpet by Marion Dorn. the horses on the mantle (Tang? Han?) are similar to the original. i don't remember those vases on either side of the fireplace; will have to look at my elkins books later.

    this is one of my favorite houses ever! so crazy chic, and an inspiration for designer for years to come! thanks for reminding us Mrs. B!

  9. Wow its one thing to offer insight and a slant on personal taste to become heavily involved is a whole other story. The chinoiserie is gorgeous the colors so incredibly rich. So fabulous looking!

  10. Oh so lovely! and thank the Lord that they didn't mess with that wallpaper and paint.

    there is a guardian angel in that room. I didn't even notice the terrible chairs.until I read the comments……..whew!!

    those two were an amazing pair! Lucky owners who trusted them…….got the best of the best!

  11. Good eye toby! A detail that makes an enormous difference. Often…..mostly….overlooked! Such a difference!!

    Bravo Mrs. Band Toby W!!!

  12. Oh hi the "french tangerine"! Tee hee!

    I totally agree with you! If that were the owner!

    David Adler was an architect……(the best of the best); and it was his sister who was Frances Elkins….and they collaborated….

    You thought it was the owner's sister……oh dear god that would never work!

    In this case…the architect and his sister the decorator…did magnificent……..and I mean magnificent jobs of houses mostly near Chicago…..

    Triumphs of fantastic architecture and interiors to match!!

    a lovely post! Yet again!

  13. Fun bit of design trivia. I think I need to pick up the book on Frances. I have you on my blogroll Patricia. You have a lovely style of writing. Come visit my blog sometime…Shiree'

  14. So in agreement with Mr. Worthington, as usual—when decoration and architecture are in agreement, things become sublime.

    However, and um, of course one knows that I'd rather die than criticize (ha!), though the backgrounds are blissfully intact—the carefully glazed woodwork (modeled after Gunston Hall, an 18th century house in Virginia), and that glorioius wallpaper, those chandeliers, of which one would be more than enough, and two are two too many, and the perfectly nice but ordinary Chippendale chairs are nothing compared to the sublime furnishings that Elkins originally chose for the rooms, inexplicably sold by the last owners when they put the house on the market (greed makes people do unfortunate things). Those furnishings included an uber modernistic rug by Marian Dorn in a Chinese Chippendale fret, and a glorious set of pale Chinese Chippendale chairs—all with considerably more subtle chandelier. The interiors of this house were among the high points in the history of American interior design.

  15. To Linda:
    I respect that it sounds rather flip to call what must be expensive furniture "pedestrian" but they are. Chippendale chairs (of which there must be millions in the world today?) have been made in scads of different styles and these are some of the least interesting of what is essentially a mass produced chair = pedestrian. Further, because this is such a particularly interesting room one wants more for it… like the curiously effected painted bamboo chairs that were in the original interior. And yes, there are many other styles of chair that would have been as successful as the bamboo ones.

    My flip snobbish use of the term pedestrian
    should also be applied to the chandeliers….…very hotel ballroom, factory made, fancy for fancy sake, and one chandelier to many for the size of the room.

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