Tag Archives: design books

You Should Love Where You Live

Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country arrived about the time I was getting my house ready to be shot for Spaces Kansas City.  While I loved the book at first sight, I was momentarily distracted by an uncontrollable mania to “finish up” some things around here.

Then, earlier this week, I received a lovely email from an old friend that, while completely unrelated, served as a mental nudge to revisit  Joan Osofsky’s book.  If you stop here to visit very often you know that I have an affinity for people who have emotional attachments to things.

Not things like BMWs and the recognizable jewel of the moment, but old things.  Sometimes rusty things.  Often not very expensive things.

So Osofsky, who owns Hammertown Barn, a handful of lifestyle stores in Hudson Valley and the Berkshires, struck a chord with her book of her customers’ homes which echo her aesthetic of cozy sophistication.

Her own houses open and close the book and it was the later (the last) that drew a sharp intake of breath and elicited the thought, “I want to live just like that.”

You can find Love Where You Live here and more about Osofsky and her shop and philosophy here.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli New York; photography John Gruen.

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Kindred Spirit

People who love houses – and the filling-up of them – often recognize that they like and admire wildly different styles.  The leanness of Liagre and the exuberance of Buatta can be equally appealing.

This sort of dichotomy often leads to fantasies of multiple homes in varying climates.  I am this type of enthusiast.

But in addition to an appreciation of different aesthetics, I have a very personal connection to the decorators who make me say not only, “Oh, I want to live there,” but also, “Oh, I do wish I knew him.”

Tom Scheerer has long been one such decorator for me.  He is comfortable with color, easy mixing rattan and Saarinen, block print fabric and black and white photography, deft with decoupage, chintz and wicker.  Oh, yes, I do wish I knew him.

Sadly, we have not met. I feel, however, as if I know him a little better through his new book, Tom Scheerer Decorates.  You will, too, if you take the time read the charming text written by Mimi Read that accompanies the inspiring images.  Read tells us Mr. Scheerer is, “capable of falling in love with a person, but also a coffee pot.”  She notes his motto is, “Don’t make too much trouble for yourself.  Live life now rather than after a torturous renovation.”

These insights – and his suggestions of where to go in Paris that a friend passed along for me before my last trip – convince me that we would have quite a lot in common.

You can find Tom Scheerer Decorates here.

Do ask him to take his jacket off; he’s equally appealing underneath.

All images courtesy of The Vendome Press; photography Francesco Lagnese.

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Gold Smith

I was curious when I heard about Michael Smith’s new book, Building Beauty: The Alchemy of Design.  Close on the heels of Kitchens and Baths and focused on the renovation of just one house, I wondered if it would seem rushed.  Worse, that it would be filler.

As it turns out, it is pure gold.  I read the book cover-to-cover in one sitting and it is the most remarkable tale of the most remarkable project.

A talented designer, trusting and generous clients, a team of exacting craftsmen and a beautiful Malibu setting combine to deliver something incredibly special.

Christine Pittel tells the tale in an intimate and conversational tone; I felt as if I were looking out over that bluff, tip-toeing behind Smith in Will Fisher’s antique shop and overseeing the placement of the pietra serena stone alongside Jim Sangster.

I can with much certainty predict that I will never be involved in a project of any kind that will be executed with the same level of care and precision.  Rather than instilling envy, the story of this process filled me with awe.  Without pretense, it is a story of passion and commitment to that unnamable thing that goes “click” when something is right.

You can find Building Beauty: The Alchemy of Design here.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli; photography from top, Fernando & Gerardo Montiel Klint, Francois Halard, Klints, Halard.

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Book Week – Heirloom Modern

It’s sometimes easy, especially in the on-line world, to be foggy on the concept of friendship.  I’m “friends” with over one thousand people on Facebook, though I interact with a couple of dozen people whom I actually know.  People whose food aversions are familiar, whose mental and emotional land mines have been well-charted and whose ability to make me laugh with a timely look is unfailing.

A few years ago, in an effort to say “thank you” to some of these folks who had been especially kind to Mrs. Blandings, I planned a cocktail party during one of my New York visits.  In an unsurprising but incredibly generous move, my big city friend offered to host it.

It was a terrific crew and the people who were there are still the people I see when I am in the city.  In the crowd were Jean Sagendorph, Hollister and Porter Hovey and, of course, my big city friend, David Epstein.

Hollister and Porter were blogging and working and Jean was toiling as a book agent at a large firm.  David was, and still is, being fantastic.  In any event, some sort of magic was sparked.

The result of which is a really terrific book written by Hollister with pictures by Porter, including both homes of my friend David.  Jean, now on her own, stirred the pot.  Heirloom Modern is an incredibly personal book about people who have filled their homes with the treasures of their pasts.  Fresh and lively it will inspire you to rummage cupboards and live with the things that mean the most.

You can find Heirloom Modern here and, I happen to know, at Rainy Day Books in Fairway.  Kansas Citians, please mark your calendars for a book signing June 1st at Anthropologie on the Plaza from noon until two.

All images, Porter Hovey.

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Book Week – Nicky Haslam’s Folly de Grandeur

I have a friend who says that you find your clothing style in college and never really change it.  I’m glad to say that while I was once a fan of jean jackets and stirrup pants they have not reappeared in my wardrobe since graduation.  Oh, also no denim mini-skirts, though I did have a doozy back in the day.

But I did love chintz, need chintz, surround myself with chintz and that has never changed.  In or out, thumbs up or down, I always seem to have a little (or a lot) hanging around.
You won’t be surprised to know that I adore Nicky Haslam’s new book Folly de Grandeur.  It lived in my car for weeks at the ready for any brief or extended idle.
Painted walls, chipped furniture, hand-dotted brackets and needlepoint, needlepoint, needlepoint.  I love every page.  Haslam’s own words make it a treasure.

You can find Folly de Grandeur here.

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