AN ONGOING AFFAIR

Did I entice you with my saucy title? I can assure you that nothing illicit is going on here–unless of course you count coveting another designer’s home–in which case my affairs are numerous.

This particular entanglement started when an ice storm provided the perfect opportunity to start making my way through a design curriculum of sorts that I’d created for myself. Second on my list: Bunny Williams’ An Affair With a House.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and hunker down, this is going to be a long one.

More than a decade old, An Affair With a House is a coffee table book that reads like a novel, chronicling the adventures of Bunny and her antiques dealer husband John Rosselli in restoring and decorating an 1840s Federal in Connecticut.

As the story goes, Bunny’s palms started sweating when she first drove up to the clapboard house. And can you blame her? The elliptical globe glazed window in the pediment is enough to send me over the edge, too.

Boxwoods line the path to the entrance–you get the sense that even Bunny’s rescue dogs recognize that they’ve lucked out. After devouring the book and searching for images to share with you, I was excited to find a more recent tour of the property and gardens (ohh just wait till you see the gardens) and thought it would be interesting to take a look at how some of the rooms have changed over the years.

But really, what’s more interesting to me (and instructive), is how much hasn’t changed. It may run counter to what’s in my best interest as someone whose livelihood is tied to people’s constant desire for change, but honestly, I want to advocate for timelessness and not trends. My hope is that rooms will be refreshed as time goes on, new treasures are found, but they won’t need to be overhauled in a year or two.

Bunny and John’s home, Manor House, is a testament to that sentiment. Throughout these photos–taken at least a decade apart–you can see many of the core pieces still holding court like the regency mirror above the mantle photographed above in An Affair With a House and more recently below.  

Bunny reportedly painted these walls herself mixing a custom tint inspired by the Villa San Michele in Italy.

The view from the library through to the dining room. Bunny suggests: “always build as many shelves as you can–eventually you’ll fill them.” Words I’m taking to heart as we plan our own library.

One change I did notice is that the missing Prince of Wales plume on the antique chair above appears to have been restored (or photoshopped 😉 ) below.

A round table from Bunny Williams home is another more recent addition.

With the exception of new wallpaper, the dining room remains largely unchanged. The tole fixture is beautifully off-set by the new neutral strié paper.

I love how Bunny used seagrass rugs throughout the house. It cuts the formality of all of the antiques.

The biggest transformation can be seen in the master bedroom which opens out to the beautiful lattice porch shown in the last photo.

The formidable wooden four poster was replaced with a more graceful bone bed and the walls and fabrics were enlivened in shades of pool blue.

This guest bathroom (perhaps with the exception of the tub and window treatment) still feels very current. In fact, I pulled a sample of that exact wallpaper a few weeks ago!

The porch with its haint blue ceiling and mish mash of wicker furniture may be one of my favorite spaces in the house.

Again, looking much the same today as it did years ago.

This view wouldn’t get old, would it.

After admiring the many gardens on the property, Bunny’s gardening book: On Garden Style has without question been added to my reading list. Especially considering the sad state of affairs the landscaping is in at our house.

I hope you enjoyed this ongoing affair. Wholehearted recommendations for adding An Affair With a House to your bookshelves!

P.S I didn’t even get into the Greek Revival house across the street Bunny owns and uses as a guest house. Greek Revival is my love language so that property alone will keep my pages dogeared!

REQUIRED READING: CARRIER AND COMPANY POSITIVELY CHIC INTERIORS

Guys, 1. thank you so much for the encouraging words on yesterday’s announcement you are really the best and  2. you need to pick up a copy of Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors. I have not been more excited about a book since Markham Robert’s Decorating the Way I See It, or maybe Tom Scheerer Decorates

Carrier and Compan 1

I received an advance copy last night and read it cover to cover. I texted my friend Hanna telling her to pick up a copy (of course she already had because she’s chic and in the know like that) because Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller just get it. I mean, their clients include names that start with Anna and end with Wintour… need I say more?

Carrier and Company 2

The interiors, of course, are beautiful, but what really resonated with me is their philosophy. I love a beautiful space as much as the next design enthusiast, and have plenty of coffee table books filled with pretty pictures, but when there’s actually substance accompanying them, those are the books that end up dogeared and well worn on my shelves.

Carrier and Company 5

A favorite quote: “Life does not have to be perfect. Furnishings and possessions do not have to be perfect.”

Carrier and Company 4

Let’s get an Amen prayer Emoji in here for that! Although, I happen to think the furnishings and possessions in the room above (which I’ve blogged about before) are pretty perfect.

Carrier and Company 3

Trust that if I woke up early this morning to take photos with my “real” camera in the midst of a move it’s worth your while to pick up a copy of this one!

PRESENT PICK: FOR THE DECORATOR

Absolutely Beautiful Things | The Pursuit of Style

Absolutely Beautiful Things: A Bright and Colourful Life on my bookshelf

For the past two years I’ve done gift guides based on personalities (see them all here) but as much as I love a good round-up, this year I’m feeling gift guided out–so many great guides have already been published, would I really be bringing something new to your inbox or just adding to the visual chaos? I wasn’t sure.

So, this year I’m shaking things up. I’ve edited down my picks to just one perfect present for every personality on your list. The crème de la crème. Because, let’s be honest: at this point, there’s no time left for indecision! We’ll kick things off with my perennial favorite (yes, I’m biased): The Decorator.

If I hadn’t already bought a copy for myself, Anna Spiro’s first book, Absolutely Beautiful Things: A Bright and Colourful Life, would be at the very top of my Christmas list. Her blog was the very first I ever read and I truly credit her for re-awakening my interest in interior design at a time when I was bored to tears attempting to follow a “serious” career path.

As one of my design idols, I’ve been secretly hoping Anna would author a book for years, and having read it from cover-to-cover I can say with authority that this color drenched tome did not disappoint! It’s available exclusively through Furbish Studio which will make it an even more covetable addition to any Decorator’s collection.

REQUIRED READING: DECORATING THE WAY I SEE IT

Markham Roberts | The Pursuit of Style

If you’re a perpetual nerd like myself who kind of misses having syllabi and required reading, consider Markham Roberts’ Decorating the Way I See It THE textbook for furthering your design education. I was lucky to receive an advance copy from Vendome Press and I haven’t been this excited about a design book since Tom Scheerer Decorates.

I’ve devoured it from cover to cover and can confidently say it is one of the most engaging, inspirational, and instructional books in my (large!) collection. Recently I was asked if I could work for any living designer who would it be and why. Without hesitation I answered Markham Roberts.

Why? Senga Mortimer hit the nail on the head in her forward: “I am most struck that there is never a recognizable stamp for which so many decorators become known. None of his projects look the same…There are no jaded formulas. Every project is approached with a clean eye, not to be pigeonholed by the strict restraints of the past or the trendy gimmicks of the fashionable moment.”

YES. The range of Markham’s work is truly remarkable–and well documented in Decorating the Way I See It. I find myself studying each project to ascertain how he layered each fabric and piece of furniture or art so skillfully. I’ve probably ventured into super fan territory at this point so buy it and let’s chat.

Cheers to design nerds!

REQUIRED READING

Required Reading | The Pursuit of StyleDecorate Fearlessly | One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood | Gypsy: A World of Colors and Interiors | George Stacey and the Creation of American Chic

I’ve got an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my wallet, but thankfully I have a wish list a mile long for just such occasions. April is going to be a good one for my bookshelves (err end table). I already have four new titles in the pre-order queue, and if I were to judge a book by its cover, these are bound to be winners.

This WSJ article tipped me off to the impending release of George Stacey and the Creation of American Chic and I have to admit, my interest has been piqued. How do I not know more about the designer who inspired many of my own idols? Next up, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Decorate Fearlessly. Author, Susanna Salk, definitely shares my MO.

Back to that whole judging a book by its cover thing, Gypsy: A World of Colors and Interiors, has one of the best I’ve seen lately. Mark my words, we’ll be seeing that one in a million artfully styled Instagram photos (remind me to put my foot in my mouth when I inevitably share one of my own). Lastly, I buy everything Julia Reed writes so One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood was an obvious choice.

So what am I missing? Anything else I need to add to the queue?