18 March 2018


at the moment I am thrilled to be participating in The Artistic Table at Hillwood. Hillwood, the Washington D.C. home of Marjorie Merriweather Post, is a magical place to visit and this Spring is no exception!

The Artistic Table features tables inspired by and using Mrs.Post's porcelain. Selecting from her extensive collection, designers—Timothy Corrigan, Barry Dixon, Charlotte Moss, Alex Papachristidis, P. Gaye Tapp, Hutton Wilkinson and Josh Hildreth, have created settings that are "of the moment."

From writing about Baroness Pauline de Rothschild for my book, How They Decorated, it’s only natural that I turn to her legendary Grand Mouton tablescapes for The Artistic Table inspiration. Never one to shy away from mixing periods and objects, the table blends Danish Modern-used for the salad plates and for flowers pots, Asian influences-Japanese teacups are used for mosses and twigs, practical red wine stemware, (noted in de Rothschild's tablescapes), vintage pottery water glasses, murine dessert plates, and a mix of modern everyday flatware with heirloom pieces.

 Read the Washington Post story for more details about the exhibit here.

& at AD here.

Part of the Artistic Table Lecture Series.

While setting a table has a formal protocol, today it should be fun. It’s another way we can express ourselves. The sixteen women of How They Decorated were no different. This lecture speaks to their table style: Pauline de Rothschild’s famous tablescapes, Louise Vilmorin’s family dinners, or Sybil Connelly’s Irish inspired collection for Tiffany. All were natural aficionados at making any table in their homes beautiful—it’s just how they decorated.

I will be giving this lecture on the 28th—and would love to see you there. More Details here.

the beautiful rendering of my table is by friend Jimmie Henslee who did the illustrations in my book.

10 March 2018

Lessons from Thomas Jayne & The Decoration of Houses

Pink walls in Jayne's New Orleans apartment—from the Color chapter

Thanks to designer Thomas Jayne, the principles of The Decoration of Houses live on today- and are perhaps more relevant than ever. When Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman wrote their treatise on interior decoration they were rebelling against the oppressive and stagnant Victorian rooms of the nineteenth century. There is certainly a need for something similar today. Jayne—scholar, interior designer, self-described Classicist, is just the one to take on the task. Along with Ted Loos, he revisits the book, applying the principles set out by Wharton and Codman set out well over one hundred years ago.

Wharton was yet to achieve acclaim as a novelist, and Codman was a young architect, but the pair were determined to set the 19th-century house a fire! Jayne and Loos re-introduce the principles (as if they needed to be)—but alas they do. The book is illustrated with Jayne's work and organized into thirteen lessons, each a discussion of an aspect focused on by Wharton and Codman. Having read TDH, the book Jayne describes as sacred, a number times, I can attest to its wit, wisdom, and absolute irrefutability. Jayne's Classical Principles for Modern Design—Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses should find its way to that shelf of much worn books that are referred to and revisited often.


Proportion is the good breeding of architecture. It is that something, indefinable to the unprofessional eye, which gives repose and distinction to a room... in its effects as intangible as that all-pervading essence which the ancients called the soul. -Wharton & Codman

A Jayne project in Montana—from his chapter about Halls and Stairs
(& one of my favorites of his projects in the book)

Tout ce qui n'est pas necessaire est nuisible. -Wharton & Codman

(All that is not necessary is harmful.)
another scene from the Montana project—from the Halls and Stairs chapter

The decorator is...not to explain illusions, but to produce them.
from TDH

a remarkable entry and stair featuring an Adelphi Paper Hangings wallpaper and floorcloth
(from Chapter 7 on Halls & Stairs

One of the first obligations of Art is to make all Useful things Beautiful: were this neglected principle applied to the manufacture of household accessories, the modern room would have no need of knick-knacks. It is one of the misfortunes of the present time that the most preposterously Bad Things often possess the powerful allurement of being expensive. One might think it an advantage that they are not within everyone's reach; but, as a matter of fact, it is their very unattainableness which, by making them more desirable, leads to the production of that worst curse of modern civilization- Cheap copies of Costly Horrors. from TDH

a stair at Drumlin Hall

Jayne's new book promises to be another go-to, must have, for serious interior designers, readers—those that already love TDH, young designers entering the field, and others that really need to read both books. Jayne's idea that "tradition is not about what was," appeals to me. He goes on, writing, "Tradition is an active word—tradition is now." Classical Principles for Modern Design—Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses will dust away a few of the cobwebs from the original TDH, maybe it's just polishing things up a bit, regardless— it's time for rethinking the superfluous, the out and out "costly horrors", the how we approach the decoration of houses today.

05 March 2018

light, and dark

Sarah Burton continues to manifest her mentor the late Alexander McQueen and his eponymous house season after season in her collections. That uncanny genius is apparent in these two gowns—she brings McQueen—with Black, and a lighter more hopeful Self—in Pink.

images from Vogue.com

best dressed LADY BIRD

Oscar got it wrong, but actress Saoirse Ronan got it so right.

Her dress, by CALVIN KLEIN BY APPOINTMENT— now under the helm of Raf Simons, who once reigned over DIOR and created some of the most beautiful clothes I've seen yet since Alexander McQueen died.
Veteran stylist Elizabeth Saltzman chose the dress and the star wore it—Beautifully.
At the age of 23, Ronan to is a veteran. She was nominated for her portrayal of Lady Bird in 'LADY BIRD.'  It is her third nomination. Sadly she did not capture Oscar this time, but she did capture the (obviously) less coveted—Best Dressed.
In a continuing sea of colors the actual shapes, necklines, and designs are static. PINK was only the beginning of what made this gown so right, and the train comes off for afterparties. There's no changing to wear another dress. Why when it's tough to get one dress right stars insist on changing into a second dress. In today's important movements—inclusion riders, #metoo, fashion frenzy, feminism, Individualism is rare.

Read about the dress at Vogue. com here.


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