Feb. 12

 

Why Don’t You?

by Lynn Byrne

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

WDY celebrate winter’s spare minimalism (while reminding yourself of spring), by  framing some prints of Ellsworth Kelly’s plant drawings.  Did you know that when Kelly placed a pencil to paper to commence drawing  a plant, in many cases, he did not pick up the pencil until the drawing was complete?!  A perfect composition in a single stroke.  Genius.

Where to get such prints? Why simply buy the book of his drawings and cut it up.  The book is perfectly suited to this task with extra thick paper, lovely borders and no page numbers to mar the drawing.  If you are shocked that I would suggest such a thing (Mon Dieu!), go wild and buy two copies of the book. 

ellsworth kelly book

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This new column, which will appear periodically whenever I discover an especially innovative or charming design idea,  is directly inspired by Diana Vreeland’s famous “Why Don’t You” column first published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1936.   diana-vreeland-photos-2

Jan. 10

 

DESIGN BOOK ADDICT: In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

by Lynn Byrne

Hey "sis," can I borrow that bag. Jennifer Boles' Entryway from In with the Old, photographed by Erica George Dines

Hey “sis,” can I borrow that bag?
Jennifer Boles’ Entryway from In With the Old, photographed by Erica George Dines

Just like Alexa Hampton, I vainly congratulate myself for having a shared love for whatever Jennifer Boles, the author of the well known blog “The Peak of Chic” and a brand new book, is extolling. But I go even farther.  I dare say that we are sisters from the same mother.

Now granted, the popular phrase ” brothers from the same mother” may have a more catchy ring, but a look at the objects around my house and the photos I snapped at design events this fall bears out fully the sister thing. Jennifer and I not only share a love for similar objects, I think the girl lives inside my head. How else would I have been drawn to all of the same decorative elements that she likes.

Jennifer and I have never met “in real life”. I am basing our relationship solely on her fabulous book In With the Old.  If you care a wit about interior design, you simply must have it.

In With the Old is a collection of essays where Jennifer features her favorite classic and charming decorative elements  from the past and suggests how they might work in today’s homes. She reveals the secret to great traditional decorating: “sometimes something old requires a little tweaking  through color, finish or scale to transform it into something altogether new.”  But of course you first must know what that something old is.

And that is where the book comes in handy.  Each essay is a little history lesson about a decorative element with fascinating design tidbits and pithy quotes. Then Jennifer goes on to suggest how to use the element today, and many times suggests modern sources for it.

Take her essay on acrylic.  You may not think of that as a traditional material, but it was used back in the 1930′s.  At that time,  Helena Rubinstein commissioned an acrylic bed with an illuminated head and footboard.  Helena found it the perfect locale from which to conduct her business meetings. Who knew? Jennifer obviously.   Jennifer goes on to suggest acrylic’s virtue when it comes to small space decorating.  It doesn’t add any visual weight.

In With the Old  is peppered with similar charming tales.  Beyond charm, however, I can truly say that I learned SO MUCH! I now know, for example,  that  this attractive Asian lady that I bought from Katie Armour’s Etsy Store  (way back when she had time to run one) is called “blanc de chine.”  Page after page revealed some type of insight like this one.  I read the book cover to cover (yes the words, not just glancing at the pictures).

blanc de chine2

Speaking of those pictures. While the book isn’t laden with them, the photographs that are included are quite inspiring. The photographs of Jennifer’s own apartment are my favorites.  I like this one of her bedroom.  The walls aren’t upholstered.  Rather they are an example of tromp l’oeil wallpaper.  Jennifer tells you where to get it, plus sources for other similar examples.

Wallpaper that looks like upholstery. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Wallpaper that looks like upholstery. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

In addition to the photographs, some of the essays are illustrated by Jennifer’s sister with delightful drawings like this one.

Illustration by Laura Boles Faw for In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Illustration by Laura Boles Faw for In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Now that we have come around to that sister thing, let me just give you a few examples where Jennifer paid a visit to my brain.  Up above I showed you my blanc de chine.  Here is the one shown in Jennifer’s book.  Twinsies.

Blanc de Chine. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Blanc de Chine. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Jennifer does an essay on card motifs accompanied by this photograph.  I snapped picture after picture of these demitasse cups at this fall’s International Fine Art and Antique Dealers show (IFAAS) long before I saw her book.

Card motif.  Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Card motif. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Card motif china spotted by Lynn Byrne at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show

Card motif china spotted by Lynn Byrne at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show

Also over at IFAAS, I was fascinated by this shell panel–it is a perfect example of Jennifer’s advice to tweak something old, in this case coquillage (which is covered in the book), to make something new.

Shell panel spotted by Lynn Byrne at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show

Shell panel spotted by Lynn Byrne at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show

Malachite? I kept zoning in on Philip Johnson’s little box on the coffee table at the Glass House, only to find a near identical one shown in Jennifer’s book.

Malachite box at Philip Johnson's Glass House

Malachite box spotted by Lynn Byrne at Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Malachite. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Malachite. Photograph by Erica George Dines from In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Faux bois? Here is the drawing of a faux bois bench in her book above a snap of the one in my backyard.

Illustration by Laura Boles Faw for In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

Illustration by Laura Boles Faw for In With the Old by Jennifer Boles

faux bois bench mine

My house and photo library are rife with more examples but I am sure you get the connection by now.  All that’s left to do is for Jennifer and I to have lunch (coming to NYC anytime soon Jennifer?) and for you to buy the book.

in with the old book cover

Although I am an Amazon affiliate, all opinions are solely my own.  Photography by Lynn Byrne and  from In With the Old is by Erica George Dines and illustrations are by Laura Boles Faw.

 

 

 

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