MICHAEL S. SMITH IN GALERIE

Are you familiar with Galerie magazine? I recently picked up a copy, intrigued by the cover story of designer Michael S. Smith’s Madrid home, and quickly subscribed after devouring the issue cover to cover, which admittedly, is a bit unusual for me.

My typical magazine consumption looks a little like this: 1. immediately skim through the entire mag from back to front to see what catches my eye 2. flip through again, this time front to back, reading what interested me on the first go around 3. discard on coffee table/nightstand where I vow I’ll read it in its entirety later while “relaxing” (ha) 4. receive next month’s issue and feign shock that I’ve yet to finish the previous. Rinse and repeat.

All this to say, I’m very impressed with Galerie, and as you may have guessed from my musings in this post, appreciate its focus on art and culture alongside design.

Now, back to Michael S. Smith and his fabulous home in Madrid. If you’re not in the design world, but the name is ringing a bell, it’s likely because of Smith’s work on a particularly high profile project: the Obama’s private residence during their years in the White House.

In fact, Smith and his partner, James Costos, are quite the power couple; Costos served as Ambassador to Spain during the Obama Administration. After exiting the diplomatic arena last January, Smith & Costos relocated from the ambassador’s residence to a comfortable 5,000 square foot apartment in a 19th century former palace.

If you’re familiar with Smith’s work, it will be no surprise that the apartment is chock a block with exquisite antiques. I’m particularly enamored with the red lacquer chinoiserie secretary in the entrance hall and the Coromondel screen in the living room.

Upholstery fabrics and several light fixtures throughout the apartment were sourced from Smith’s own lines. Jasper, in particular, is a personal favorite. I’m still dying to find the perfect project for this fabric.

This will come as no surprise, given my long standing predilection for chinoiserie which has been well documented here over the years, but the dining room took my breath away. The 18th century hand painted Chinese wallpaper panels previously hung in the guest room occupied by the Obamas during their visits to the ambassador’s residence.

It really doesn’t get more beautiful than that, does it? Also, slipcovering the dining chairs in a simple striped cotton was a stroke of genius.

Ochre, turquoise, and light blue, are not colors I would ever immediately consider, but the pairing of the Bryan Organ painting against the traditional climbing vine wallpaper works beautifully. 

In the master bedroom, the walls are upholstered in a Madeleine Castaing fabric with coordinating drapery, and I just can’t get over the juxtaposition with the embroidered banner of a noble family’s crest above the bed.

If I’ve whet your appetite for Michael S. Smith’s work, I’d highly recommend any/all of his books below. I recently finished Building Beauty which tells the renovation story of a Malibu home which Smith and an expert team of craftsmen transformed into a Palladian inspired villa by the sea.

Michael S. Smith Elements of Style

Michael S. Smith Houses

The Curated House

Building Beauty

ART LESSON: MATCHBOOK DIARIES

One of the questions I see being asked most frequently in the world of design is: “Where can I buy affordable art?” Art is one of my biggest passions, whether it be adding to my own collection, or assisting my clients in building their own, and personally, I think it’s one of the most important components in making a house feel like a home.

I’m planning to highlight more sources for original art on the blog, and today I have one I’m super excited about. Back in 2015 I shared my obsession with the Insta account, Matchbook Diaries. It’s continued to be a favorite in my feed and I was thrilled to see its creator, talented photographer Charles Ryan Clarke, is now offering framed prints.

Current offerings include iconic NYC restaurants and hotels, and famed Bermuda and Bahamas outposts. At $150 for a framed, signed, original they make an ideal Christmas gift.  *Hint, hint* the JG Melon would fit in pretty perfectly with my bar set up.

Do you have a favorite? Any spots you’re hoping Charles will add to his collection?

JG Melon

21 Club

Crosby Street Hotel

Lafayette

BITS & PIECES

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! The last of my family departed yesterday, so I’m getting back into the swing of things and sharing some bits & pieces of what I’ve been up to lately.

Last week was a whirlwind, and one of the highlights was photographing a large renovation project here in Raleigh that I’ve worked on over the past year. I’m so proud of this one and can’t wait to share the photos with you.

As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a lot of styling that goes into making a home camera ready (don’t worry the photos you see in magazines or designers portfolios are far from real life – smoke & mirrors, baby!) and I was somewhat worried about flower options this far into fall.

I worked with a local florist, Wylde, on the bulk of my arrangements (they’re lovely, hire them!) but couldn’t resist picking up a few bunches of peonies which serendipitously showed up at Whole Foods. Peonies in November, who knew?

I wrapped up my shoot Wednesday evening, which meant a quick transition into hosting mode with family arriving the next morning. Thankfully, flowers were far from in short supply and easily elevate the most slap dash of tablescapes (which this one certainly was!)

The real victory, however, was discovering this linen collection and this tableware which saved me from using my much loved, but somewhat tired Blue Willow. This set up felt fresh. My last pro-tip: colorful taper candles. They’re the easiest tablescape upgrade. Don’t be afraid to go for a non-traditional hue. Perhaps turquoise or eggplant for your Christmas table?

Lastly, my new (very old) flame mahogany Georgian chest deserved documentation if only because its arrival meant the last of our moving boxes (yes, over a year after moving) have finally made their way to the recycling bin and my sweaters now have a permanent home. It was well worth the wait.

The mini magnolia is serving as a place holder until I find a larger piece of art, but I do love how it works with our yellow silk drapes (better photo here).

 So that’s the highlight reel!  Not pictured, my hot mess of an office or our fridge full of tupperware. 😉

BELPERRON NYC

As I’ve begun to dip my toes back into the waters of a semi-regular blogging schedule, I’ve discovered some real gems (read on and you’ll see what I did there) in my drafts folder. Bright spots of inspiration that have stood out (to me at least) in an increasingly homogenous internet landscape. That’s a conversation for a different day, but for now, let’s admire the literal jewel box that is Belperron.

This draft dated back to 2016, and to the best of my recollection was inspired by this feature, this New York Times article, and likely some low grade stalking of architect, Daniel Romualdez.

So here’s the skinny: Suzanne Belperron was a legendary French jewelry designer in the 1930s with a client roster that included bold face names like Elsa Schiaparelli, the Duchess of Windsor and Diana Vreeland.

Daniel Romualdez | Belperron

Her designs were unmatched, but her legacy has gotten somewhat lost because she rarely signed her work. When asked why, she famously responded: “my style is my signature” which makes me feel equal parts inspired by her self confidence, and also wishing she could have read this WSJ article with Reese Witherspoon and assertively taken credit where it was due. Again, a conversation for a different day.

In 1998, the Landrigan family, helmed by Ward Landrigan, former head of Sotheby’s jewelry, and current chairman of the equally storied jewelry house, Verdura, acquired the Belperron archives. Last year, in partnership with AD Top 100 designer,  Daniel Romualdez, Belperron opened a New York City showroom.

Daniel Romualdez | Belperron

Simply put, like all of Daniel Romualdez’s work, it’s perfect. He was tasked with transforming a previously soulless white box into a space that recalled the Parisienne apartment of Madame Belperron. I think most of us could be perfectly content moving in, so I’d say he was successful.

Daniel excels at what I’d describe as approachable glamour. Naturally, the atelier of a high end jeweler calls for a certain level of luxury, and the black lacquer, mirrored, marble, and brass finishes certainly achieve that, but the casual seating groups and care taken accessorizing with books and art contributes to the feeling that this is more home than showroom.

Daniel Romualdez | Belperron

My favorite details are the reproduction of a Matisse drawing of Dorothy Paley wearing Belperron emerald cuffs hanging above that stunner of a fireplace, and how Daniel chose to sprinkle the display cases throughout the space, at times incorporating them into the millwork. Doesn’t it feel like you’re admiring someone’s private collection?

If you have a minute, be sure to scroll through the Belperron archives. I’ve found so much inspiration in the sculptural shapes and color combinations. This in particular seems like a no brainer for my Christmas list (ha!)

FALL LAYERS

The temperatures are finally starting to dip here in Raleigh, and I’m finding myself craving another layer in my interiors equally as much as I find myself reaching for another layer (this, please) as I get dressed. Here are a few of the places and spaces that have been inspiring me.

Robert Kime | Architectural Digest

I consider British designer Robert Kime the ultimate expert in the art of layering, and with a client roster that includes the Prince of Wales, I’m clearly not the only one. What I admire most about Robert’s work–and this project in particular–is his ability to create an inviting atmosphere in even the grandest of settings.

Robert Kime | Architectural Digest

In the hands of a less skilled designer, massive ceiling heights and imposing oil paintings could have easily become haughty, but a liberal use of jewel toned textiles in a variety of textures–mohair, velvet, and linen–and exotic patterns instantly cuts the formality and lends a feeling of coziness to the space. An enviable collection of antiques act as a counterbalance and tips the scales back towards formality.

Michelle Nussbaumer

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, but with two photoshoots scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m beginning to realize the tablescape at my own home may be neglected this year (at least I’ll have flowers!) In an ideal world, I’d be channeling this lovely situation by Michelle Nussbaumer.

Soane Britain

More inspiration from across the pond care of Soane Britain. My sister teases me for the amount of animal art that has somewhat unintentionally made it’s way into our home (a huge Indian hunt scene on silk featuring a tiger above our fireplace, a wicker giraffe lamp by Mario Lopez Torres on my desk, etc.) so, unsurprisingly, I’m super into that lion above this fabulous suzani sofa.

Pierre Frey | Veranda

I was happy to stumble upon this fabulous bedroom featuring the less frequently seen red colorway of Pierre Frey’s iconic Toiles de Nantes. It’s so lively wrapped above the arch and paired with the Jacobean patterned headboard, bedspread, and leopard carpet. More is more.

Anna Spiro

Lastly, I never cease to be inspired by Australian designer, Anna Spiro. Her use of color, pattern, and art is unparalleled. This sofa is inspiring me to encourage clients to be more bold in their upholstery choices.

And that’s my brain dump and desktop cleanup for you, I hope you found some inspiration as well!