Wednesday, November 30, 2011

...about a holiday giveaway WINNER!

Congrats to AMANDA KENNEDY!!!! You have 24 hours to comment below to claim you custom-made wreath!! And don't forget to check out all my wreathmaking tips here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

...about Holiday House 2011, Part 5

Traditionally… Unconventional

Several designers took slightly more traditional takes on their holidays at Holiday House 2011 (well, more traditional than Avram Rusu and James Rixner), but managed to make the picture fresh and inspired. Ally Coulter Designs' “Mother’s Day” room was as feminine as the inspiration day demanded, but Zsa-Zsa-voomed and Hollywood glammed.

A Lucite cocktail table, Machine Age Deco armchair and x-base consoles gave the room just enough edge to anchor all the froth.

Turquoise-eyed Jennifer Duneier of Duneier Designs interpreted Easter as a Spring-sweet lady’s retreat (with ensuite bath) that also kept the sugar levels low, thanks to a limited palette, glass-beaded geometric wallpaper (in a pale turquoise, just like those eyes!), and spare furnishing. But what the pieces lacked in number, they made up for in curve, detail and character.

A tufted round upholstered piece and desk chair were heady confection, while modern botanical photography added contemporary snap and made the room more “The Women” than Girlie Show.

Suzanne Eason Interiors spun a haunting and haute yarn with her “Dark and Stormy: A Cautionary Tale of Halloween.” All the motifs of Halloween were here, but in a room that was totally bewitching any day of the year. It maintained a luxurious feel and buoyant sense of humor even through its macabre veil of bare branches and shadowy corners. In a tell-tale moment of context dictating interpretation, the normally abstract patterns of the woven Ikat rug formed distinct skulls, fashionable apparitions in this Halloween fun house.

A clean-lined fireplace surround, tile mosaic wall, and bright orange (another color seen on several floors) painting created an unexpected and fresh backdrop for aubergine velvet sofas, traditional crystal chandelier, deep color and a grid of black and white photos. And Poe’s “The Raven” met Hitchcock’s “The Birds” in a Trove wallcovering used to great, spooky and room-expanding effect on the ceiling.

Felicia Robin Zwebner, of Felicia Zwebner Design had the toughest tough act to follow for me, since this same room in a past year’s Holiday House was perhaps my very favorite showhouse room of all time. In that past version (a design of this-year's host Charles Pavarini), also a Thanksgiving theme, a room-stretching table matched the space’s proportions and the contents held fast against the room itself, with its Biltmore-scaled fireplace and barrel-vaulted ceiling. This year, the room was zoned into two dining areas flanking central seating which bracketed the grand hearth.

But the story here, this year, was all about the table-top… jewel-toned (and encrusted), hunt-inspired, pheasant-feathered, and regally layered. Surrounding these two tables, an equally layered assortment of upholstery fabrics on delightfully mismatched chairs.

Eileen Kathryn Boyd was chosen by Ann Maine of Traditional Home, and delivered “Sunday Repose” … all the joys of a leisurely Sunday morning. The traditional paneled room was wrapped in a custom-printed lavender (removable!) wallcovering by Black Crow Studios, making the entire space a violet hued, water-colored idyll to idle. That grand gesture was countered by largely traditional, quiet furnishings (if emerald green tufted cubes can be considered quiet!) and a minimal and feminine touch.

Holiday House 2011, to benefit the Greater NYC Chapter of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, is open to the public November 16th through December 11th, 2011 at 2 East 63rd Street, in New York City. Buy tickets here.

Get Social! Find Holiday House, Black Crow Studios, and Traditional Home on Facebook.

All photos: Patrick J. Hamilton

...about Holiday House 2011, Part 4

Two Ways In to a Challenging Space

In show houses, a designer is often faced with details they can’t touch, change, or paint out. Sometimes, that means features worth amplifying, and sometimes they’re elements better swept under a room-sized rug. They’re then faced with two options: go with the flow, or paddle furiously against the current.

Bradley Thiergartner, Inc. and Jolie Korek each took one of those tactics when faced with rooms at the Holiday House 2011 which already possessed outspoken period features (it is a magnificent house, full of character) and strong personalities even when empty. The boys behind Bradley Thiergartner’s unconventionally colored Christmas entry (a tough space to deal with as is, as it serves as the building’s primary entrance, sometimes lost in the shuffle) took those color cues from the wildly patterned marble mosaic floor and daunting stretches of stone walls.

Pulling a palette from elements traditionally associated with the Christmas season in a more supporting role (the warm clove browns and citrusy oranges of pomanders, the rusty underside of magnolia leaves ) they pushed these Yule players to center stage. Beige damask upholstery (on high-backed fireside chairs, nicely scaled to the room’s soaring height) carried on civilized conversation with the stone, while the citrus notes managed to quietly upstage a floor that could have been the loudmouth guest at the Christmas party. The traditional choices they made (a large contemporary artwork the only exception) made the powerful pre-existing details of the room all seem deliberate choices, not afterthoughts.

It's not always a bad or boring starting point of a showhouse room that proves a challenge... sometimes flexing your design muscle in a room that has gorgeous features isn't easy, either. And that was the case for Jolie Korek. Her room, with original paneling, leaded and stained glass, fireplace and window seat was full of character and notable detail before the very first tchotchke.

Ms. Korek took an opposite tactic to how the two gentlemen of Thiergartner worked their magic. She went full-on modern in a room with the details and dark spirit of a medieval mead hall, in her room honoring Hanukkah (including a Star of David painted on the ceiling) and the event's benefactor, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with bright ribbon-pink reference notes.

She worked hard to bring a bright contemporary vibe, pulling out all the stops: lots of installed lighting, a TV-in-mirror piece of technological magic, a vibrant over-dyed vintage carpet from ABC Carpet and Home, a heroically-scaled bulls-eye canvas, infilling the built-in bookcases with light wallcovering, sleek tablescaping, a lightened floor and lots of white accessories. But it’s hard to keep a good room down, and the lodge-y details still almost upstaged its deliberately chosen contents.

Go Big, Go Bright

Inson Dubois Wood took a large room, a vibrant holiday rich with symbolism, cultural implication and visual inspiration, and turned out a firecracker, a room sure to garner most of the event’s press coverage. Chinese New Year was his holiday, and Wood brought it alive with literal reference and artful interpretation, a time-traveling line-up of furniture eras (fitting for a New Year theme) and bold confident art, all served up in a brilliant lacquered box.

In an instance of a designer taking a change of course from his typical approach, Inson went over the top (literally) with pagoda-shaped pelmets at each of the soaring windows, and that red-orange that’s a big leap of paint from his more frequently understated color choices. Wood also uses one of my favorite tricks, matching wall color precisely to the outer panels of the silk window treatments, melding and marrying the room’s hard and soft stories.

The huge cube of a room could have swallowed up its contents like a hungry dragon, but a long stretch of matched sofas, a 6 x 8 geometric canvas and hand-painted wall covering tame the scale and bring the focus down into the room… no small feat when that room is lacquered brilliant crimson (“Moroccan Red” to be precise).

An absolutely exquisite dining set manages to hold its own against all the party around it, partly due to a slightly surreal tablesetting, its front-and-(off)center positioning, and the sheer beauty of the elegant lines of the spare chairs. Kudos to Inson for daring to inject some quiet elegance into such a riot of a room, proving that a perfect piece can still command any space with a whisper.

Tomorrow: Ally Coulter Designs, Duneier Designs, Felicia Zwebner Design, and Eileen Kathryn Boyd.

Holiday House 2011, to benefit the Greater NYC Chapter of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, is open to the public November 16th through December 11th, 2011 at 2 East 63rd Street, in New York City. Buy tickets here.

Get Social! Holiday House is on Facebook.

All photos: Patrick J. Hamilton

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

...about Holiday House 2011, Part 3

Make a Social Statement

The room created for Holiday House 2011 by friend and talented designer
Charles Farruggio warmed my heart at first glance, and not just because of its dark and swarthy masculine good looks (his or the room's!). His moment worth celebrating was “The Marriage Proposal,” and the room made a most elegant case for marriage equality.

Charles’ division of the room into three zones was both smart and poetic. Smart, since the ample room could easily serve multiple functions, with an architectural set-up which supported it, and poetic, since he compared the zones to the evolution of a love affair… “the anticipation or the getting to know each other, (then) the proposal…” and what he coyly calls “the post celebration,” no doubt played out fireside, beneath a custom oil painting

The room also proves you can maintain a decidedly masculine vibe without losing a sense of romance… a smoky-gold chandelier and gold-touched place settings are butched up by the room’s midnight-meets-menswear palette and strong shapes in the furnishings (like the pieces from Donghia, including White-Webb’s “Clearly Classic” collection and an exquisite console from 145 Antiques, beefed up with simplified obelisks, also courtesy 145 Antiques.

Also taking a bit of a philosophical stand was GRADE Architecture and Interior Design’s “Independence Day.” A small, flannel-clad and tailored room with highly personal art choices remained free of technological entrapment… no TV, phone or iPad. Cerused oak kept things calm, a Julian Opie canvas (not pictured) turned up the volume.

More about personal freedom, freedom of choice, self-expression and the pursuit of happiness than true red-white-and-blue, the tiny room made a big statement about what defines a modern sense of independence.

Later: Bradley Thiergarten Inc., Jolie Korek, and Inson Dubois Wood.

Holiday House 2011, to benefit the Greater NYC Chapter of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, is open to the public November 16th through December 11th, 2011 at 2 East 63rd Street, in New York City. Buy tickets here.

Get Social! Holiday House is on Facebook.

All photos: Patrick J. Hamilton

...about Holiday House 2011, Part 2

Little Moments, (Un)Missed Opportunities

Some of my favorite moments in show houses are exactly that: moments. A bit of art or room glimpsed through a doorway… a tiny space made grand… a perfect light fixture… a showstopper painting. And there are more than a few here, at the 2011 Holiday House.

Charles Pavarini’s “Opening Night” moment, a celebratory tableau (bon) vivant tucked beneath a grand sweep of staircase is one of them. Just a few pieces paint a vivid picture, a place to gather after an opening night success, martini in hand.

A stunning, grand-in-every-sense-of-the-word (and high tech) piano (paired brilliantly with two Jean Michel-Frank chairs, for the perfect Brothers Gershwin collaboration), a brash swath of art (against given limestone walls), and an elegant cabinet, sharing a mirror-like ivory to the piano’s ebony, hold their own against the space’s architecture and circulation. The piano’s notes flowed through the house and set the party tone even during a daytime preview, so fitting since Pavarini is the event’s designer event Chair.

Also a moment made perfect, in a space and for a holiday somewhat less than, was Bryant Keller's, of Bryant Keller Interiors, take on Columbus Day. A stairway landing/hallway, and a holiday not necessarily known for its decorative sense came to lovely life and managed to enchant with muted color, a stairway-sweeping grisaille mural, drop-dead shell chairs, and exquisite tabletop styling.

One can almost see Mr. Chris himself making the pitch to Isabella to fund his travels, across this very table, in the glow of candlelight and one more glass of Rioja.

Also taking a subtle hand with color, but in a far larger space, was penthouse designer Aline Matsika, with silver, black and white. The space apparently required some major reworking (like flooring and electricity) before the fun stuff could happen. That fun stuff came in in the form of Aline’s signature modern organic touches and African artifacts, against billowy white floor to near-ceiling drapes.

In a showhouse, there is no such thing as a throw-away space… just the potential for missed opportunities… and Dineen Architecture, like Bryant, made the absolute most of a pass-through space with her “Roman Holiday,” and didn’t miss a trick or the opportunity to tell a story. Perfectly framed through a doorway leading to a more major room, the small intimate area was defined only by desk, chair, lamp, flokati rug and wall-filling custom painting.

A corally-cognac color (a tamer version of James Rixner’s red and Inson Dubois Wood’s lacquer) on chair and styling details made the tiny space glow, beckon and seduce. Inspired by the Audrey Hepburn film and envisioned as a space where love letters flow with the Campari, it was one of my very favorite vignettes, a romantic story itself told with just a few carefully-chosen notes.

Holiday House 2011, to benefit the Greater NYC Chapter of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, is open to the public November 16th through December 11th, 2011 at 2 East 63rd Street, in New York City. Buy tickets here.

Get Social! Holiday House is on Facebook.

All photos: Patrick J. Hamilton