Feb. 18


#OLIOHOP #CHARITY CAUSES: Preserve a National Landmark

by Lynn Byrne

Bartow-Pell mansion Museum

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is beautiful and fun for families in all seasons

Hi everyone!  It’s Oliohop Monday, sponsored by Olioboard, and I am thrilled to be participating!  What’s an Oliohop?  It is when a group of bloggers express a design theme using the online tool Olioboard, and then share links to each other.

This go around, the folks at Olioboard are doing a wonderful thing.  Instead of having bloggers develop a plan for a new room (for which Olioboard is amazing), they asked us to showcase the needs of our favorite charity.  We hope you, the  reader, will “hop” around to all of the participating blogs to see what we have created using Olioboard on behalf of 10 very worthy causes.  Links to all of the participating blogs are at the end of this post.

Don’t know Olioboard?  It is a wonderful, free, online design application that allows you to create a virtual moodboard in either  2D or 3D format.  You can upload your own images, as well as draw upon Olioboard’s extensive image library of  home products developed with their brand partners.

Olioboard is often used by designers, home stagers, home furnishing companies and homeowners to communicate room designs, but as you will see with this Oliohop, one can use Olioboard to convey almost any type of visual concept.  If you want to try it out, click on any of the Olioboard links.  To learn more about Olioboard, get tips on board creation, and to see other folks’ moodboards, follow Olioboard on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Today, I will use Olioboard to showcase the needs of national landmark, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, where I am a member of the Board of Directors.  If you love the setting and romance of Downton Abbey, then I am certain that you will be charmed by this stately and historic home on our own shores.  There is stunning architectural detail, beautiful period furniture and lovely grounds that feature a walled garden designed by famed architectural firm, Delano and Aldrich.  

But Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is not just another pretty house.  It is a true oasis for its local Bronx constituency.  School children visit weekly.  In addition, there are regular concerts and lectures, and its holiday celebrations are legendary.  Outdoors on the grounds, city kids can actually dig in the dirt to plant their own vegetables.  And I have just scratched the surface  regarding the mansion’s programming.

bartow-pell mansion museum

Family-friendly programming at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Caught under the spell?  Most visitors are  captivated.

Although the property originally was settled in 1654, the current mansion was built circa 1840, in the Greek Revival style.   Bartow-Pell is the only country estate on Long Island Sound in New York City to survive, primarily due to the efforts of the International Garden Club.  In 1914, the International Garden Club obtained a lease from New York City for the mansion to use it as their headquarters.  The Club saved the mansion by raising $100,000 (a fortune in 1914) for its restoration and the development of its formal gardens.  So, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum has a big birthday coming up–the centennial celebration of the International Garden Club’s stewardship.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum- International Garden Club-Zelia Hoffman

Portrait of Zelia Hoffman hanging in the Bartow-Pell Mansion. Under her leadership, the International Garden Club secured a lease on the mansion from the City of New York and raised  funds for house restoration and the addition of the formal gardens in 1914.

Birthdays are fun, but 100 years is a long time to wait for major work.  Both the gardens and the house are showing their age.  

Fortunately, Bartow-Pell has funds to restore the grounds.  Last spring, the mansion won a social media contest that led to a large grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the restoration of its formal gardens.

Unfortunately, unlike the outside, Bartow-Pell has no money in its small operating budget for repairs to the inside of the mansion.  Take a look at this Olioboard that shows the top three problems.  Paint is peeling all over the mansion, the drapery is in shreds, and the cracked and discolored entry hall floor cloth makes a horrible first impression. 

Olioboard-Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Top Problems

We all know how costly an interior paint job can be when done with the correct preparation, andBartow-Pell is a very big house with a lot of peeling paint.  Some years back, the kind folks at Benjamin Moore (a site partner with Olioboard) assisted Bartow-Pell with paint analysis.  At that time, Benjamin Moore identified the paint colors shown below.  In addition, all of you interior designers out there know that period-appropriate drapery is quite elaborate.  It requires a lot of yardage and custom fabrication.  And, as I have shown below, don’t forget the trim!  Finally, while a floor cloth is the historically accurate floor covering for a Greek Revival home, the one currently installed at Bartow-Pell is in ruins.  A new floor cloth must be handcrafted by an artisan.


It would be wonderful if Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum could attract corporate and major donor sponsorship  as leaders to help properly address these problems.  Of course, donations of any size are welcome!

If you are interested in helping preserve Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum (a beauty in every sense of the word) for another 100 years, please contact me.

architectural detail at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Architectural detail at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. The more angels the better!

To see more examples of how to use Olioboard’s free site to showcase in either 2D and 3D what your own #CharityCauses might need from potential donors, please click on the links to the other blogs who are showing the needs of their real world #CharityCauses today.  

It feels good to give back, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading.

Feb. 11


Ready for a Tropical Vacation? Get To Know Doris Duke’s Shangri La

by Lynn Byrne

Doris Duke- Shangri La

The pool area at Shangri La

I couldn’t make it to Hawaii this winter so I went to Columbus Circle instead.  And you know what?  It worked for me.

If you live in the NYC area, you can feel like you have gone on a tropical vacation too, even with all of the snow we got this weekend.  All you need to do is visit the exhibition on Doris Duke’s Hawaiian home, Shangri La, at the Museum of Art and Design located, you guessed it, on Columbus Circle.  Hurry up.  The exhibition closes February 17.

I am not sure why, but I didn’t expect much from the show.  I didn’t think that photographs of the estate could have such power.  Geez, was I wrong.  The exhibition blew me away.

The stunning images by Tim Street-Porter are life sized and backlit in a manner that make you feel like you are standing in each room.  I hope my sneaky phone snap of Tim’s photograph of the dining room gives you a sense of scale and how crisp and rich all of the colors are.

I knew that Shangri La, built in 1937, was Doris Duke’s private paradise built to showcase her passion for Islamic art and design.  I was surprised to learn how Duke contrasted contemporary influences with her love of ancient art.  She was the mother of today’s sought-after global eclectic mix.  Look at the window screen, ceiling, lighting and tables together with what one docent described as the first modular sofa!

Shangri La living room. Image by Tim Street-Porter via Style Court

And the objects in her Islamic art collection?  Exquisite.  I adored this little box, and the Indian bracelet dating from the late 1700′s is divine.  I wonder if Doris ever wore it.

The photographs and artifacts from Doris Duke’s life also are fascinating–voyeurism at its best.  It is hard not to be intrigued by glimpses of the life of the world’s richest woman.

shangri la doris duke vuitton trunk

Duke’s Vuitton traveling trunk. She discovered her love of Islamic art and Hawaii on her year-long honeymoon trip around the world. Sigh.

Doris Duke- Shangri La

Doris Duke, with surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, far right.

Like anything, once my eyes were opened, I saw images of Shangri-La and it’s influence everywhere.  My prized vintage Horst book featured the home.

Then I remembered that New York has it’s own historic home with an Islamic influence: Olana outside of Hudson NY.

And it didn’t take long for me to unearth images on my Tumblr feed that immediately reminded me of the gorgeous tile featured throughout the exhibition.

Doris Duke- Shangri La

Left image, Turkish tile panel, c.1650 from the exhibition.


If you can’t get to Columbus Circle (or Hawaii), I have some options for you.

First, order the book on Amazon (it’s currently on backorder, but I am assured more are on the way).  I looked at the museum’s copy and it is fabulous–a necessary primer for anyone interested in creating a global feel in interior design.

Shangri La-doris duke- book

Second, the web has many marvelous images of Shangri La.  The Museum of Art and Design has a great video on the exhibition.  The website Gotham has one too.  Elle Decor has done a nice slideshow.

Finally,  the exhibition is traveling to  six other cities, so maybe it is coming closer to where you are.  They include: the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach (March 16 – July 15, 2013), the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University (August 29, 2013 – January 5, 2014), the University of Michigan Museum of Art (January 25 – May 4, 2014), the Nevada Museum of Art (May 31 – September 7, 2014), and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (October 23 – December 28, 2014).  It will end near Shangri La, at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts (March 4 – July 5, 2015).

So go ahead, get that warm and sunny feeling.

Photo credits: First image and black and white image from everettpotter.com.  Tile panel and bracelet images from the Museum of Art and Design.  Other collage images here, here and here.  Book image from here.  Remaining images by me. 






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