In Remembrance: Oscar de la Renta

Oscar 3Renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died yesterday, he was 82. I have always been a serious admirer of Mr. de la Renta’s, despite the fact I have never owned one of his pieces. Reading Vogue and watching red carpets over the years, I always thought that when my red carpet moment came, there would be no other choice for me but Oscar de la Renta. While I have yet to have my red carpet moment, my appreciation for and love of Mr. de la Renta’s designs has not waned. Through his designs, Mr. de la Renta showed his understanding of the female form, and her desire to look beautiful. One of his most oft quoted comments was, “Always walk like there are three men walking behind you.” 
Oscar 7His love for designing clothes was matched only by his love of his wife Annette and of gardening, particularly in his home country of the Dominican Republic. He and Annette could often be found on their hands and knees in the soil of their property in Punta Cana. More familiar with the climate and soil conditions on the southern shore of the DR in Casa de Campo, de la Renta had originally envisioned a lush, tropical, flowering garden here in Punta Cana. However, when the couple realized that the climate and soil conditions didn’t support that, de la Renta went on to design a contained jungle-like environment, with a series of garden rooms connected by pathways, gates, and living archways. So today, in memory of an extremely talented gentleman, I leave you with pictures of the de la Renta’s garden in the Dominican, a place that stands as a living and growing memory.Oscar 10 Oscar 8Oscar 4

Photos via Architectural Digest

The Shingle Life

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The Benson House

Good Morning Lacquered Lifers! Happy to be back in South Carolina this morning after a very busy and productive time in Connecticut. Part of that productive time was meeting with a favorite client, a client whose 1903 Shingle Style home I am so privileged to be helping restore. So today we’re going to talk about some of my favorite Shingle Style houses, the Montauk Point Association Houses. Built between 1882-1883 in Montauk, and designed by renowned architectural firm Mckim, Mead & White, these homes exemplify the Shingle Style.

Scan 1The land for the association was purchased by shipping magnate Arthur Benson from a local farmer for $150,000 – how many more zeros do you think that would include today? Benson envisioned a summer colony of like-minded people who would appreciate a relatively casual social life and enjoy time out of doors. Frederick Law Olmsted planned the community, siting the homes and common buildings over looking the Atlantic Ocean and following a contours of the land – connecting buildings via an informal network of unpaved paths.

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The de Forest House

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The Sanger House

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The Sanger House

All the homes are different, but feature common architectural elements that embody the shingle style. As in the de Forest house above, all the houses feature shingled roofs and upper stories, sitting on a painted clapboard base. Gables, and accents such as moulding around the windows, and porches all connect the houses casual atmosphere as well as their distribution along the cliffside. Scan 5The clubhouse burned down in 1933, and the Orr House in 1997 (it was fully reconstructed), however, the majority of the other houses are still intact and privately owned. While lifestyles and needs have changed – kitchens and bathrooms enlarged, heating systems installed – the houses still retain the hallmarks of the Shingle Style and would be easily recognized by their original owners and designers. And how about that view?

Photos via The Houses of Mckim, Mead & White available here.

Book Review: Markham Roberts – Decorating the Way I See It

Good Morning Lacquered Lifers! Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday, despite my plans for being organized prior to leaving for Connecticut, I was not, and LL felt the impact …

Fall is that great time of year when all the fabulous new coffee table books are published. This fall has been no exception, and I couldn’t help my excitement when a box arrived from Vendome Press containing Markham RobertsDecorating the Way I see ItMarkham Roberts_cc MR_022-23Decorating the Way I See It is organized into six sections: Floor Plan, Background, Scheme, Furniture, Collecting, Art, & Custom. While someone can simply browse the beautiful interiors contained within the chic python cover (yes, python!), the book also functions extremely well as a guide to decorating.MR_033 MR_068-069One of the most distinctive features of Markham Roberts is that none of his projects are easily identifiable as his. While that may sound like a criticism, it is in fact the opposite. His decorating range, as illustrated by this book, is very broad, and some of my favorite spaces of his (shown here) are completely unrelated. That fact makes Markham RobertsDecorating the Way I See it, one of the more interesting design books that I have seen in a long time. Because his style is so varied, you never tire of picking up the book to flip through it or reference it again. MR_126-7.2 MR_224For a book that deserves a spot at the top of your stack, order Markham Roberts – Decorating the Way I See It. Congratulations Markham!

Photos courtesy of Vendome Press

Tile Tales

Good morning Lacquered Lifers! Last week, I attended an event where I had the pleasure of meeting Sally Bennett of Mirth Studio. Mirth Studio, founded by Bennett, is a company that manufactures extremely durable painted wood floor tiles. They add such a special dimension to any room that they are installed in, and I am proud to say Mirth Studio calls Charleston home. Not only does Mirth Studio make these beautiful floor tiles, they have now expanded their line to include stair risers. And guess what? On Instagram this morning, Mirth Studio announced a designer collaboration with Celerie Kemble which will be premiering at High Point Market! Pretty great, right? Below are just a few of my favorite patterns … 
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The Art of the Neighborhood with George, Elliot, and Brian

IMG_6696Good Morning Lacquered Lifers! This week I had the opportunity to go to The George Gallery for a preview of artist Brian Coleman’s new show, which opens tonight. As a preservationist and a lover of neighborhoods, I cannot do a post on art at The George Gallery without talking about the gallery first. The beautiful sun-lit gallery space is located at 50 Bogard Street, in Elliotborough, in a nineteenth century building that at one time housed a grocery store. The high ceilings, white walls (Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White), and large storefront windows combine to create a brightness in the space that can only be described as perfect for viewing art. And in this case, Brian Coleman’s art, an artist whose pieces truly shine in a space where the light is constantly changing and allows you to appreciate the nuances of color and texture that appear in his work. IMG_6631It was hard to pick a favorite. For a moment I would think I had found one, and then something in the adjacent piece would catch my eye and my fancy for a while, until another piece would beckon me for a closer look. I  must have done at least five laps around the space. Another wonderful thing about The George Gallery is its owner, Anne, who is so much fun to be around and enjoy art with. Despite the fact that she is in the business of art, her enthusiasm and excitement over the pieces is contagious, and you feel her learning from and appreciating the pieces alongside you. What a treat. IMG_6628I think my favorite is the one on the right in this picture, titled, “Everything We Had and Did.” Anne was convinced it was because I love and respond to architecture, and this piece probably has more boxes and straight lines than any other in the show. I tend to agree with her. Plus, it is very blue – and we know how I feel about blue … ColemanAnd then there was this piece, “Anywhere But In Between.” The green and the blue, the straight lines, I don’t know but this might be the one too … So come to The George Gallery, TONIGHT, from 5:00-8:00 for the opening of artist Brian Coleman’s new show, “It’s All in the Wander.” What a great title for what promises to be a great show.

Perhaps after you feast your eyes on Coleman’s art, you can feast at another Bogard Street hotspot, Trattoria Lucca. And take a tip from artist Brian Coleman, who believes “It’s All in the Wander,” and stroll around Elliotborough – it’s a pretty special neighborhood.