NAPA 2013 A

As of last Sunday, the 2013 Napa Valley Showhouse at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena California is history. Sometime next year, many of its beautifully designed rooms will appear in the glossy pages of Traditional Home Magazine,  but nothing tops visiting a quality show house in person and seeing it firsthand. And speaking of firsts, it was a first for me. Not just doing a show house: I’ve been privileged to take part in a number of good ones over the years.  But I had never done one on the West Coast before. And if you haven’t been there, let me tell you, the Napa Valley is one of this country’s most beautiful areas.  So of course I said Yes when they asked me! Yes yes yes!

Napa Show House 3

Trad Home has been sponsoring showhouses for a number of years but the house they chose this time was unique: an expansive hundred-year-old farmhouse owned by vintner Peter Mondavi and designed by Willis Polk, one of San Francisco’s most important historically architects. And while you know I always love to see what’s new in the design world, I also love history, so this was a perfect chance for me to do one of my favorite things–blend the two!

Napa chairs

The dining room still retained its historic wood paneling, so we introduced color with fabric–the fun Kravet Kelly Wearstler print upholstery on their custom chairs (thank you so for a fabulous job with expediting), the crazy cool Jonathan Adler for Kravet fabric sourced for the roman shades and the glistening Maya Romanoff wall covering above the plate rail-one of my favorite local Chi town vendors. Thank you also to Benjamin Moore   for donating the paint for the ceiling and another shout out to Bloomingdale’s for supplying all the tabletop accessories. Speaking of my dining room tabletop…. the showstopper was a one-of-a-kind ceramic masterpiece by Ohio artist Tara Winslow. I became obsessed with Tara’s works when first spied at the High Point Market last Spring.

One thing I didn’t do was use any wine-themed motifs–old labels, bottles, grape leaves, that stuff–because those things were all around us already.  What would be the point? Instead, I used a series of blues & greens in our room: some soft, some vibrant, all beautiful, and, together, perfect complements to the warm tones of the wood. Plus a gigantic table big enough for the whole Peter Mondavi family. It featured a glass-topped gearwheel out from a historic European water mill, and let me tell you, getting that beast into place was a real feat for our heroic installers, who had to roll its ancient wood–very carefully--through the other designers’ rooms without wrecking the floors. When we finally got it into place, we were all ready for a glass of wine. Maybe more than one!

NAPA TABLE A

But it wasn’t just the installers whose efforts I need to mention.  To everyone involved in this massive project–the magazine that invited us, the other talented designers I got to meet, the Charles Krug winery, the Napa Film Festival that benefits from all the visitors, and all the patient and professional work crews, a big Thank You from all of us at BID. Thank you for making me feel welcome at my first California showhouse.  And to my own team–back in rainy, cold Chicago, while I was basking in the glory of a California autumn–you are the best! (But you already know that.)





Related Posts with Thumbnails

Birds, like colors and shoe shapes, fall in and out of style. Flamingos were hot in the Depression and they came back in the Miami Vice era. Wood-&-copper mallard ducks flew across family room walls in the 1950s and a few years ago, we had a short, meaningless fling with owls (what was that all about?) but still, the list of birds used in decoration is pretty short. When was the last time you saw, say, a flock of crows used as a decorative motif?  It’s been a long time.

Let’s face it, certain birds are simply more popular than others.  I mean, its hard to think decoratively about birds that wreck crops or carry away cute baby bunnies for their midnight snacks! With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that, this season, peacocks, the quintessential Art Nouveau bird, are having yet another one of their many moments, the same way they did in 1966, at the beginning of the Psychedelic era.  Like the poet says “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 12.00.44 PM

I spotted the beautiful mounted specimens above while treasure hunting for antiques in Paris last summer and when I got back to the studio, I found an addition (one of many!) to our recently renovated conference area: this incredible PEACOCK DARK rug  by English fashion designer Matthew Williamson, whose brand is known for incredible prints.  It was gifted to BID from our good friends at The Rug Company!

The Peacock designed rug is available in a light colourway as well as this dark one.

The Peacock Rug is also available in a light colourway.

And for those who might hesitate to put such such a gorgeous piece of art on their floors, I have good news! Matthew Williamson’s new Autumn 2013 collection of fabrics and wallpapers for Osborne & Little also features one of his signature peacock designs:  “The Eden Collection  is as heavenly as its name suggests: a riot of colours and patterns reflecting the British fashion designer’s diverse influences, from exotic birds to 1970s-style animal prints” - ELLE Decoration.  This richly colored jewel toned collection (filled with lots of deep emerald, cobalt blue, plum, and gold tones) will be sure to inspire you as we enter into late Fall. It definitely inspires me!

How insane is this wallpaper?

How insane is this wallpaper? And I love how the polished chrome of the furniture echoes the metallic sheen of the paper!

For years, there was a silly prejudice about combining certain colors.  ”Blue and green must never be seen” used to be a common saying.  Didn’t those folks ever see a bed of iris? Or blue hydrangeas against bright green grass? Or–hello!–a peacock? For people not so hemmed-in by arbitrary decorating rules, peacocks have served as the direct inspiration for a lot of  to-die-for rooms.

The Peacock Room at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Peacock Room, now at the Smithsonian in Washington, has been all over the place, but it started out in London, as an 1870s collaboration between shipping tycoon Frederick Leyland, the English architect Thomas Jekyll (who designed the room’s walnut paneling and shelving to display Leyland’s collection of Oriental porcelain and panels of antique Spanish leather) and the American artist James Whistler (yes, that Whistler) who proceeded to gild Jekyll’s wood and completely paint over Leyland’s treasured antique leather panels. The big reveal must have been like the Victorian version of Trading Spaces–OMG!–and not in the good way, either.

Yes, the finished room was stunningly gorgeous–it is in a museum, after all!–but it wasn’t at all the what client asked for and the whole thing ended up in a nasty lawsuit. Quelle hot mess! So this room contains two important lessons for designers, one good and one bad:  1) Blue & green DO go together,  but 2) Ignore the client’s wishes at your own risk.

Driehaus Museum, photo by Steve Hall of Hedrich-Blessing Driehaus Museum, photo by Steve Hall of Hedrich-Blessing[/caption]

Fortunately, that kind of  disaster doesn’t happen very often. In fact, here’s another interior of the same period and with the same kind of richly glowing colors (this time, in glazed tile, not painted leather) and this time, the client loved the results! The room is in the Driehaus Museum in Chicago–just off Michigan Avenue, so don’t miss it–and if you visit in the next few weeks, you can see another peacock-inspired creation in the museum’s current Tiffany exhibit:  this iridescent gold-mounted Favrile glass vase.

Louis_Comfort_Tiffany_Peacock Vase_c1897-98_mounts_c1898_Photographed_by_John_Faier_©_Driehaus_Museum_2013

OK, this beauty isn’t for sale, but these are exactly the kind of colors I’m always drawn to, so if you see the show and decide you’re wanting a swirly glass piece in those colors–one that you could actually buy, that is, not just look at–we have the little piece below  in the BID Studio. With a coat of Tiffany Blue lacquer on your walls and a few feathers in a tall nickel-plated cylinder,  you can create your very own Peacock Room!  And if you do, send us a picture!

photo copy

Last stop: a rendering of a Peacock Room (painted for the Crane Company of Chicago) that doesn’t contain a single peacock reference, only the colors of its plumage. This subliminal approach is often the most interesting, because instead of stating a theme explicitly, it lets the room’s occupants discover it on their own. Sometimes, less is more,  although, considering the level of finish in this room, “less” isn’t quite the word. Either way, it’s a knockout!

Crane Roman Peacock Bath

The takeaway lesson is simple: inspiration is everywhere.  How you use it is up to you.

Related Posts with Thumbnails



Related Posts with Thumbnails