Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sisterhood

I'm a little obsessed with interior design. I must be, or I wouldn't have two blogs on the subject! But while I enjoy it and think I have a good eye and a natural talent for pulling things together, I'm not schooled in the art and history of design. I'm familiar with the big names of today—Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler, John Derian, Windsor Smith. But the designers who came before them, the ones who influenced them, are little more than vaguely familiar names to me.

So it was with Sister Parish. I'd heard of her and knew she was influential in the world of design, but that was about it. So, on the occasion of what would be her 101st birthday, I set out to learn more about this woman with the unusual name.

Sister, a childhood nickname, was born into privilege in New Jersey in 1910. She began her career during the Depression as a way to earn extra money to keep her family in the style they were used to. With partner Albert Hadley, she formed influential firm Parish-Hadley.

Her collected English country style, while very traditional and a bit fussy from today's perspective, was modern in the sense that she like to mix prints and patterns. She wasn't one for matchy-matchy decor. Another modern concept she applied to her work was her belief that "rooms should be timeless and very personal."

Sister had worked with Jackie Kennedy and was chosen to decorate the White House when the Kennedys moved in. She soon had a falling out with the first lady, saying, "Jackie got along much better with men than with women."

This is the bright and cheerful White House Yellow Oval Room in 1962:

National Archive and Records Administration
Jackie's bedroom in the White House was feminine and quiet, much like the first lady herself:
Her granddaughter and a protege are keeping Sister's style alive with a line of fabrics, wallpaper and accessories.

Are you a fan of the Sister Parish look? Is there another iconic designer you've always wanted to learn more about? Tell us about it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Design Star Season 6: Playing Nice

I'm the first to admit it: Sometimes the funniest thing to say isn't the nicest. When someone zings me in a clever way, my initial instinct is to congratulate them. There's always time to be offended later. Reality TV definitely understands that to be unkind is also to be entertaining.

That said, I'm happy to report that season 6 of HGTV's Design Star has decided to tone it down a notch. We're only one episode in so far, but it would appear that the judges took the viewers' notes. I loved last season and in particular last season's winner Emily Henderson (and her awesome show Secrets From a Stylist), but there were times when it was seriously hard to watch. Vern Yip, whose show Deserving Design made him out to be a saint, was particularly harsh in some of the critiques. Candace Olson and Genevieve Gorder were not any nicer. I'm hoping this season continues along the vein of the premiere episode and has the judges offering a little bit of constructive criticism, as well as words of encouragement.

A few other thoughts on the first episode:

1. Not wild about the host Tanika Ray (who is she? looking at her Wikipedia page, she seems like a random pick) but David Bromstead as mentor is a great fit.
2. Is it just me, or do you want to know how much money they have to spend and what they're paying for the furniture items they choose?
3. Candace Olson is clearly better at designing rooms than she is at dressing herself. Zing!

Next time we'll talk about the rooms ...

French Connection

In honor of Bastille Day, I thought I'd share a few fabulous French treats. Enjoy!

Paris apartment by Elle Decor
Designer Oliver Gagnere's Left Bank flat by Elle Decor
                                                      Source: via Starli on Pinterest

                                      Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Poodle via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dining Room Redo

I've been wanting to give my dining room a bit of a face-lift. Not a total makeover—I like the main elements. But it's been basically the same for a few years, and I'm ready to shake things up a bit.

The color scheme right now is red and yellow. I like that for a dining room, but it kind of limits what colors I can use for table settings. I'm thinking new curtains with red, yellow and blue (and possibly other colors) would expand my options.

I'm mad for these curtains (but they're a little spendy for me):

I think Pottery Barn has something similar. I might have to DIY something, though, because we hung the rods a bit high. Or I could add some sort of fringe to the bottom of ready-made panels.

I also have big plans for the back wall, but more on that later!

Monday, July 11, 2011

For the Love of Windsor

Veranda's House of Windsor showcase house is open for touring in LA's Mandeville Canyon through July 17. The lead designer and namesake is Windsor Smith, whose work I've only recently come to know and love.

Her casual, classic, feminine aesthetic is showcased her own Brentwood home, below. She just might be my design soul mate. There's even a dog!

                                                    Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

                                    Source: via Beth on Pinterest

The LA Times visited the House of Windsor and has pictures.

                                                   Source: via Kathy on Pinterest

Windsor's entry hall for the showcase house is perfect—open, bright and elegantly welcoming. And her ingenious design can pull double duty, serving as a dining room for the "six days of a year when you actually throw a huge dinner party." I like that she's rooted in reality—even if her reality in the world of high-end Los Angeles homes isn't exactly the reality I know.

Other designers taking part include "Million Dollar Decorators" alums Kathryn Ireland and Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. I don't quite get Martyn's over-the-top "man cave" (I don't like the idea of man caves in general, and this one is vertigo-inducing!), but I love him anyway.

Part of the proceeds from the tour benefit two children's charities, P.S. Arts and the Children's Action Network.

How I wish I could visit the house, but with dogs to deal with and "carmageddon" approaching, it just won't work for me. But if you can make it, let us know what you think!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things I'm Digging

Here's some stuff that caught my attention around the Internets this week:

1. Thanks to Beth for alerting me to Crate and Barrel's Marimekko bedding sale. She knows I love me some Marimekko, and I've been looking for a duvet cover to swap out with my beloved patchwork quilt when I am in need of some variety. This blue Unniko pattern would go well with the sheets we already have, so it's tempting! But I'm holding out for the Missoni for Target collection, in hopes that it contains the comforter of my dreams.

2. I am seriously in love with this colorful salvaged wood wall from Design Sponge.

3. I spent the entire time I lived in my suburban home feeling guilty about not replacing my lawn with more ec-friendly greenery. Apartment Therapy blogger Catrin Morris' Case Against the Front Lawn is a great read and makes some interesting points, even if you don't agree.

4. There's nothing I don't like about the living room tour from Picnic in the Park's Greta. The airstream painting  is adorbs, and I'm especially fond of the homemade credenza next to the wooden Eames chair. Basically, it all makes me happy.

5. When I'm looking for eye candy, I head over to Print and Pattern. The first image in this post about surface // philia made me literally gasp it's so beautiful!

6. In case you weren't jealous enough of sfgirlbybay's recent trip to Paris, check out some of these French souvenirs. I like her philosophy: Bring home things you'll use in your everyday life to remind you of where you got them.

I'm Mad About...

These are a few things that made me smile this week.

Juniper Books