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.





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{Chinchilly, Essie}

{Buckingham Interiors + Design}

Fall has officially come to Chicago, and chilly it is!  Today it barely broke 60 degrees and what does cooler weather mean besides boots, scarves and jackets?  Autumn nail polish, of course!

Today was the first time I got my autumnal manicure/pedicure for the season, and what better color to choose than Chinchilly by Essie!  I discovered this color around this time about two years ago, and it has been a cool weather staple ever since.

Here are some of the colors that I am look forward to painting my nails this fall, and in the spirit of MG, here are some cool interiors to go along with them!

{Carry On, Essie}

{Lonny Magazine}

{Very Structured, Essie}

{Elle Decor}

{Glamour Purse, Essie}

{Rue Magazine}

{Power Clutch, Essie}

{Lonny Magazine}

{I Break for Manicures, OPI}

{Architectural Digest}

{Suzie Takes the Wheel, OPI}

{Decor Pad}

{Roadhouse Blues, OPI}

{Decorpad}

{I Eat Mainely Lobster}

{Architectural Digest}

{Are We There Yet}

{Decorpad}





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Take a Tour!

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Aug 29, 2011 | 6 Comments | Category: Decorating, Designers, Magazines

I’m sure many of us have seen the marvelous photos of the 2010 San Francisco Elle Decor Showhouse.  I myself can say that I am eagerly anticipating the 2011 Showhouse!  If you want to get a more interactive experience of the 2010 home, Elle Decor offers a 360 tour that even includes links to how to buy certain pieces featured in the home.  Seems like we can never escape $$$ now can we?  Take a look for yourself…it’s very cool!

Yellow Chairs by Ironies Design

Light Fixture by Urban Electric

Art Panel Wall Treatment by Christopher Jones Marino

Sofa by Restoration Hardware

Hanging Pendant by Circa Lighting

Fabric on Bulletin Board by Sunbrella

Wall Covering by Suzanne Tucker Home

Sconces by Circa Lighting

Floor Tile by Akdo

Overhead Lighting by Circa Lighting

Sconces by Urban Electric

Curtain Fabric by Serena and Lily

Bathroom Light Fixture by Circa Lighting

Tile by Akdo

Bathroom Fixtures by Kohler

Library Accessories by Gumps

Bookcases by Kraftmaid

Picture Lights by Circa Lighting

Wall Tile by Akdo

Sink by Kohler

Cabinets by Kraftmaid





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Casablanca

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Feb 24, 2011 | 8 Comments | Category: Designers, Fashion, Magazines

After having done a recent post on the most enticing warm weather destinations featured in the Travel and Leisure 500 Best Hotels of 2011 issue, I came across this remarkable Moroccan home in Elle Decor that I would be more than happy to visit and soak up some rays.  As the home of fashion designer Liza Bruce and artist Nicholas Alvis Vega, the home was destined to be remarkable from the start.  The home is brimming with color and light…a perfect combination of antique, honoring the home’s Moroccan heritage, and modern touches.  Check out the kitchen…who would have thought that a tree trunk would work in a space!?  In such an exotic locale, bending the rules of convention may be permitted.  While the home may be in Marrakech rather than Casablanca, I couldn’t help but dream of Humphrey Bogart  whispering “we’ll always have Paris” to Ingrid Bergman in this sensual abode.





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Garden Fit For a Sting

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Jan 15, 2011 | 9 Comments | Category: Home Exteriors, Magazines

{Margaret Russell, now editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, formerly editor-in-chief of Elle Decor}

I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the January issue of Architectural Digest since the fall.  Why?  Because Margaret Russell, former editor-in-chief of Elle Decor, is now the head honcho at Architectural Digest.  Elle Decor has long been one of my most favored shelter mags, and although AD has been losing my interest in recent years, I think that Russell’s arrival will really breathe new life into one of the industry’s oldest publications.  Margaret Russell will be replacing AD’s longstanding editor-in-chief, Paige Rense (who held the position from 1971-2010).

I was very impressed with the January issue, particularly the feature on the unbelievable Tuscan estate of Sting and Trudie Styler.  Villa Palagio, built in the 16th century as a hunting lodge for the dukes of San Clemente, is now used by Sting as a vacation home, working vineyard, and also hosts private yoga retreats (I’m in!)

The feature focused on the fabulous gardens, designed by landscape architect Arabella Lennox-Boyd.  Arabella, you have a standing invitation to visit my garden anytime!





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Christmas On My Mind

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Dec 14, 2010 | 5 Comments | Category: Decor Accessories, Gifts, Holiday

{Ikat Bowls, Anthropologie, $14…featured these back in September of 2009!}

It’s most definitely that time of year again, but doesn’t it seem like last Christmas was just yesterday? Where did 2010 go?!  Beats me!  Anyway, Elle Decor is featuring a Best of 2010 gift guide (all under $100), all great ideas for that design junkie in your life.  But what really caught my eye were the Ikat bowls from Anthropologie, a cool find that I had previously featured (all the way back in September of last year, I guess we were ahead of the curve!).  It really was the year of Ikat, wasn’t it?

Take a look at what else you might be placing under the tree this year…

{Rwandan Baskets, Trading4Treasures, $48-90}

{Nautical Print Hammer, $26, Alice Supply Co.}

Postcards from Penguin, Penguin, $25}

{Patterned Books, Victoria and Albert Museum, $13 each $48 boxed set of 4}

{Grapefruit Muguet Scented Candle, Belle Fleur, $48}

{Postcard Holder, $48, Jayson Home and Garden}

{Cream Mugs, Ancient Industries, $22}





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Tags: , ,

Shiny cars, shiny mirrors, shiny windows…shiny walls?  While the aforemetioned are pretty much preferred shiny across the board, not everyone is head over heels for lacquered walls.  Personally, I think when done right they give a space an elegant sophistication with an undeniable “wow” factor upon walking into a gleaming room.  It is no doubt somewhat of a design leap of faith, but I think the following rooms featured in Elle Decor hit the mark.  Lacquered walls seem to appear frequently in libraries, dens and foyers, but these photos suggest that the finish can actually be very versatile.  What do you think?  Could you get your shine on?





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Showcase in the Bay

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Nov 16, 2010 | 5 Comments | Category: Uncategorized

I love a good showcase house…showcasing the latest from various design talents is an exciting way to unite the design world.  I am also a big fan of the annual Lake Forest Show House that takes place every other year in the North Shore suburb of Lake Forest.  I am thrilled to have been asked to design a space at the Showhouse this Spring! The three week long event benefits the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago while uniting many talented Chicago designers and outfitting a stunning manor home. Stay tuned for more on this soon…. My design board is hot off the press as we speak.

I stumbled upon Elle Decor’s first San Francisco showcase house recently on Casa Sugar, and I am pretty impressed.  San Francisco has a very cool design aesthetic, and this exhibition represents San Francisco well.  It is not my 100% favorite showcase home I have seen, but it pretty amazing how much of a design transformation can take place.  The 5,000 square foot home was built in 1911 and is located in SF’s historic St. Francis Wood neighborhood.  Elle Decor called on some of the Bay Area’s hottest designers to transform the home from drab to fab!

Check out the pics below (there were 160…I had such a hard time choosing!) and stay tuned for more amazing showcase houses from around the country.





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Running Wild

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Nov 08, 2010 | 9 Comments | Category: Decorating, Fabric, Fashion, Trends

{LaRok Luxe, Wild Thing Moto Jacket, $468 Shopbop}

Animal prints are all over the place right now!  I myself am considering investing in a faux leopard print fur jacket (too out there? I think I might have to go for it!)  I stumbled upon this feature on Elle Decor about animal print in interiors, and I must say I am a huge fan.  Bringing the outside in, I like!  Adds a little spice and whimsy to any room, especially a traditional space.  Don’t be afraid to add a touch of “wild” to your space.  Whether it be in a big (armchair, headboard) or small way (throw pillow, accent fabrics) let your wild side out!





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Print Happy

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Oct 26, 2010 | 3 Comments | Category: Decorating, Design Inspiration, Fabric, Fashion

{Diane Von Furstenberg at Claridge’s Hotel, London}

Diane Von Furstenberg’s name has become synonymous with the printed wrap dress.  Her latest venture is the print, minus the wrap, plus a bolt of fabric.  The designer has snagged 87 of her own prints and rather than put them on the body has gracefully created upholstery  for the couch, chair, pillow and more.  The prints are super chic, fun and innovative.  Such a great idea, as just about every DVF print is fabulously eye catching.  Want to see the fabrics in use?  Check out these photos from her decorating collaboration with Claridge’s Hotel in London.  What are your thoughts….would you rather wear them or lounge on them?

Photos courtesy of Elle Decor and Claridge’s

{Dress from fall 2008 collection…see a resemblance?}

{Claridges Room with China Vine pattern}

{Room at Claridge’s}

{Claridge’s}

{Claridge’s}

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