MCGRATH II IN MANHATTAN

I wanted to leave you with something beautiful before I jet off on Sunday and this McGrath II project shared by Architectural Digest certainly fits the bill.

I’ve posted about the mother daughter design duo before–and may even be venturing close to fan girl territory–but there are certain designers that inspire me to be better (writing that all I can think of is this scene): Tom Scheerer, Markham Roberts, Ashley Whittaker, Mark Sikes, etc. and McGrath II is solidly among that group.

What I admire most about their work is the attention to detail. Those details–note the strapping on the chairs and box banded pillows above–are what take a project to the next level, making it completely unique. The details (in my opinion) are why you hire an interior designer.

Chatting with some of my designer friends, we’ve been lamenting the increasing homogeneity of interior design, but McGrath II’s projects always feel fresh and unbeholden to trends. Incorporating antiques and modern art gives each of their projects so much life.

Let’s all agree to push back against the pull of instant gratification and wait to find those perfect pieces. The end result is so worth it.

 The gut-renovated kitchen is a masterful mix of traditional and modern. Inset shaker door fronts pair with more contemporary slab style drawers with sleek pulls.

This space may be my favorite moment in the entire apartment. I love how McGrath II was able to create a sense of coziness in the shotgun style living space by bookending it with seating areas. The silk grasscloth wall and matching silk grasscloth lampshades are next level–again, it’s the details, people!

I love the contrast of the mint Farrow & Ball wallpaper with the chocolate toile Quadrille arm chairs in the master bedroom. A clean lined bench adds a touch of modernity to an otherwise traditional space and subtly echoes the apartment’s steel windows.

The master bath was inspired by bathrooms the clients had admired in European hotels. The custom millwork on the vanity mirror is yet another thoughtful detail that elevates the space.

I’m such a fan of sophisticated children’s rooms and this one is no exception. Lavender and cranberry pulled from the custom Roman shade in a Raoul fabric is an unexpected color combination. The ultimate baller move? A soft pink Christopher Spitzmiller lamp on the shared nightstand. Start ’em young!

Visit Architectural Digest to read more about the project and I hope you have a wonderful week! If you’d like to follow my Parisian adventures, I’ll be oversharing on Insta.

OLIVE YOU

Pantone may have declared Greenery the color of the year, but lately I’ve found myself gravitating towards a moodier hue: olive. It started as I’ve been hunting for an olive green sweater to pair with a fab two tone faux fur stole (no longer available, but seen here) I was gifted for Christmas.

The sweater hunt has been unsuccessful (this and this were contenders but still not quite right), but my affection for olive hasn’t waned. In fact, it’s expanded to interiors. Whether you’re a minimalist, or unabashed advocate for color, olive is exceedingly versatile.

I love the warmth the velvet bolster provides to an otherwise crisp and cool living room designed by Betsy Brown. Red and green normally screams seasons greetings, but a chic London Fashion week ensemble and library designed by Charlotte Lucas prove the combination can be anything but.

Now if I could just find that perfect sweater…

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INSPIRED BY: ZUBER PANORAMIC WALLPAPER

For some designers “making it” might mean a magazine cover, but personally, I have a bucket list of dream fabrics and wallpapers I’m dying to use. At the top of that list: Zuber wallpaper. When I’m finally able to use a Zuber wallpaper in a project you’ll know I’ve really arrived. 😉

Founded in 1797, the prestigious French manufacturer produces the most exquisite panoramic wallpapers all woodblocked by hand using blocks carved in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

The production of the wallpaper is a laborious process involving painting an undercoat, applying the woodblocks (one color at a time with a days rest in between!), and finally outlining the design by hand in gouache. It’s truly a work of art.

Zuber specializes in panoramic papers–scenes that carry across a room without repeat–and were traditionally meant to be installed above a dado (the lower third of the wall–below the chair-rail). My personal favorite is Decor Chinois–shown above with a rare pink ground.

If you’ve seen this month’s House Beautiful you’ll spot Decor Chinois in the home of Biscuit owner, Bailey McCarthy.

Decor Chinois again in the entry of a project designed by McGrath II.

The walls of New York’s historic Gracie Mansion (home to Mayor Bill de Blasio) decorated in Decor Chinois and juxtaposed with a room full of West Elm furniture–this was an interesting read on that choice.

Another favorite scene is Hindoustan, an exotic print with elephants and camels.

Lisa Fine decorated her mother’s Houston home with Hindoustan. The inlaid bench with its silk velvet ikat cushion pairs perfectly with the paper.

Another McGrath II  project (they seem to have hit the Zuber lottery!) featuring a beautiful Zuber paper and even more gorgeous Georgian architecture.

Perhaps the most famous installation of Zuber in America can be found in the Diplomatic Receiving Room of the White House. Jaqueline Kennedy saved the circa 19th century paper, Views of North America, from demolition and brought it to the White House in 1961. It’s still hanging today.

If I’ve left you coveting some Zuber of your own, I found a panel of Decor Chinois available here!

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!

BLUE CRUSH

Nicholas Haslam

Nicholas Haslam

Nicholas Haslam

And just like that, it’s December. I hope you all had a lovley Thanksgiving. It made me so happy to read via your comments that you’re still coming back to blogs for the conversation. I’ve been missing it too.

So let me share a deep, dark design secret I’ve been harboring… I’m afraid blue and white’s becoming trendy. Perhaps trendy isn’t the word, because there really isn’t a more classic color combination, but it’s undeniably been having a moment and I’ve found myself hitting pause.

Until, of course, I stumbled across this timeless Nicholas Haslam bedroom which has completely charmed me. Perhaps it’s the particularly lovely shade of Prussian blue, or maybe it’s those cornice boards–which I may need to shamlessly copy in my own bedroom–but of the moment or not, I’m resoundingly back on team blue and white.

My ginger jar collection is relieved.

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