Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes



[Image above, New York Public Library ID: 74797; Creator, Séguy, E. A., from Papillons, circa 1920s]

Way back in April 2007, I mentioned some images of Séguy butterflies found in an ornament and pattern collection belonging to The New York Public Library archives. These are included in the library's vast online digital gallery along with old textile designs, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and illustrated books. Reproductions can be ordered as framed or unframed prints, starting at $30.

So of course the E. A. Séguy works used above in this striking bedroom from domino's June '08 issue caught my eye right away as I flipped through the new magazine. I'm in love with the juxtaposition of bold red upholstered headboards against soft, icy-blue walls, not to mention the graphic striped rug. Kudos to the stylist!

And heartfelt congratulations to Rubie Green founder, Michelle Adams, (and "my" chevron chair fabric "East Village") for making the issue too.

domino bedroom photo by Justin Bernhaut


Tara's Nursery

[Above, Tara Guerard at her shower photographed by Liz Banfield for Southern Accents, April 2008.]

You've seen her refreshingly unfussy baby shower. You've seen the chic weddings she designs. Now see her baby's nursery, done by South Carolina-based designer-to-watch, Angie Hranowsky.

Hranowsky told me that the nursery's palette, modern feel, and subtle African animal accessories inspired the baby shower. The fabric on the slipper chair, the bumper pad and the bolster pillows on they daybed are all Quadrille's "Contessa" in Blue/Yellow/Taupe. "Tara fell in love with it as soon as I showed it to her," notes Hranowsky. The bed skirt is China Seas' "Petite Zig Zag" in Inca Gold, and the Roman shades and pillows are Élitis' Lins Sauvages in Aqua.

The crib is from Nursery Works. The small slipper chair along with the bed (two twin headboards made into a daybed) and antique side table were inherited from Tara's husband's family. The giraffe lamp is a Jonathan Adler.

If you have not yet checked out Hranowsky's portfolio, be sure and surf over to her site. I think you will love what you see. BTW: Julia Lynn photographed the nursery and the project below.


Curators Rock

An unexpectedly chic guitar store. That's what respected music insider and entrepreneur, Cory Lake, got when he married museum curator and creative director of The Bonnie Cashin Foundation, Stephanie Iverson. Their innovative Maple Grove, Minnesota boutique, American Guitar and Band, has garnered national praise from serious musicians and suburban moms alike for its fresh design, exceptional wares and customer service.

It has been written that both Cory and Stephanie have a passion for functional beauty: he appreciates a well-crafted guitar while she admires Bonnie Cashin's practical-yet-fashion-forward handbags and coats. But Stephanie's refined aesthetic is in evidence throughout American Guitar and Band. Note the graphic compositions she creates with products, emphasizing line and color, and the subtle Hollywood Regency (also acoustically correct) carpet. More understated squares and horizontal lines on the ceiling and walls keep customers' eyes stimulated.

The large clock above, Stephanie told me, is notable too. "It is from Donaldson’s, the department store where my grandfather was President. My parents fell in love through the store -- my mom worked in the fashion office, my dad dated the models and she thought he was unbearably arrogant until they worked on a fashion show together. Who knows how many times they may have crossed paths under the clock, pretending to ignore one another."

Ultimately Stephanie found the piece in a local antique store, and for two years she tried to figure out how to use a four-foot tall, four-sided clock. "When we built American Guitar and Band, I could finally bring it home."

And speaking of coming full circle, the dynamic Lake duo is working with accessories master, Carlos Falchi, on a line of bespoke guitar straps. Carlos’ first work was designing stage wear for musicians -- The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Tina Turner, Jerry Garcia -- and Stephanie's first job was selling his bags at Neiman Marcus. Chic really is where you find it.

Photography above is by Pete Crouser and courtesy Stephanie Lake, as seen in the May issue of Music Trades. Read the story for more on the Lakes' shop.


Chic is Where You Find it (Part II)

This summer we all need to find a corner in our homes or offices where we can copy Bonnie Cashin's inspirational "graffiti wall." With smart and thought-provoking quotes scribbled on graphic blocks of color, it's just genius.

Stylish Stephanie Lake, art historian and creative director of The Bonnie Cashin Foundation, is the fortunate woman who now gets to glance over daily from her desk at original Cashin graffiti doors. But the doors aren't the only Cashin artifacts that surround Lake; she also inherited Cashin's extensive collection of clothes -- supremely functional and chic pieces similar to the luscious turquoise leather coat shown top. (That coat, a gift, was once offered for sale though Sotheby's when Lake worked at the auction house.)

As an ambitious graduate student Lake interviewed Cashin and studied her work in-depth, forming a fascinating bond between the two talents. When Cashin died in 2000, she bequeathed her clothes to the young scholar. For all the intriguing details, visit the press section of The Bonnie Cashin Foundation and read Beth Hawkins' story for Macalester Today.

Just an afterthought: Bonnie Cashin had a George Nelson Marshmallow sofa in her living room; this made me smile because the High has one in its collection and it was always a popular stop on tours I gave through the galleries.

See also the online exhibition, Chic is Where You Find It at the UCLA Library.

Image at top and last picture of Cashin working on her wall are courtesy Macalester Today; images of Lake in Cashin's sweater closet, and the George Nelson sofa, are via New York Times Magazine.


Churchill's Marrakech

Initially I wanted to mention the Andy Spade and Anthony Sperduti short film for J Crew, The Exchange. But I figured it would be all over the blogosphere by the time I got to it. So instead, I'm drawing attention to Sir Winston Churchill's painting, Marrakech, given to U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, in 1951.

Enamored with Morocco since the 1920s, Churchill had some moving experiences there in the desert during World War II. After the Casablanca Conference of 1943, Churchill persuaded Franklin Roosevelt to make an arduous journey to see the wonder of the sun setting over snow on the Atlas Mountains. A passionate painter, Churchill captured the scene and later in the 1940s depicted other Moroccan landscapes. The gift to Truman was auctioned by Sotheby's in December 2007.

Welcome Summer

[Photograph by Robert Capa, Magnum Photos, Copyright 1996 Estate of Robert Capa]

First, to get in the mood, it's time for the annual posting of two of my favorite summer images: Robert Capa's famous 1948 photo of Francoise Gilot and Pablo Picasso in sunny Golfe-Juan, France, (that's Picasso's nephew, Javier Vilaro, in the background) followed by designer Bonnie Cashin's "graffiti wall" circa 1962. In all of her homes Cashin created a wall like this to display quotes from her favorite intellectual heroes, such as Einstein, Ghandi and Picasso.

In recent years, some designers have said that decorating with shells is overdone. But others feel shells are just a natural element, like fresh flowers, that always enhance a room. In an old book from 1992 (House Beautiful Decorating Style) I spotted this starfish casually propped by stylist Sarah Shaw on a wall with varied art, and for a few summers I copied the idea. To keep my starfish in place, I even purchased a special removable wall adhesive invented for renters.

Schuyler Samperton's take on the starfish -- a tiny starfish -- as seen in Elle Decor, November, 2003.

Decorator Anne Coyle seems to like the idea too. [Image above is from Elle Decor, May 2005.]

Here, a classic tablescape in a Billy Baldwin-designed villa in Mallorca. The homeowner, Mrs. Gilbert Miller, has in her living room a guest book surrounded by personal objects: shells, an ostrich egg, summer flowers and a framed seascape. Image circa 1971.

Apart from gathering seashells, I've logged enough volunteer hours working with kids at children's hospitals and museums to know how popular summer crafts are. If you have a sophisticated tween or teen in your life, French General offers boxes filled with luxurious notions and supplies. (I realize these are a bit pricey for an 8-year old, but depending on the child, a lovely gift idea. Nice for grown-up girls too.)


Inspiration for the Weekend

Decanters are a fun thing to look for at vintage and antique shops because, depending on the age and rarity, they are more attainable than furniture, they are portable, and they can be enjoyed forever (assuming they don't break.)

The narrow openings of decanters make them perfect containers for a few flowers, as well as elegant bar essentials. I'm partial to old glass with geometric patterns; despite being 130 to 200 years old, geometric pieces can feel very modern. Just for fun, here are some rarer Regency-era and late Georgian decanters from Butler's Antiques.

I Love The '90s

A reader asked to see more examples of library-living rooms. While I was searching for fresh images, I revisited the Nancy Goslee Power residence, circa early 1990s.

Power really composed a symphony of soft luscious color here, with a classic balance of light and dark notes. (Click images to enlarge and better see how she offset pastels with rich umber and black painted pieces.) For me, some of the elements scream the '90s: pale peachy-pink walls, the painted floor. But I've read that Power was actually inspired by the 1940s when she chose her palette. She definitely proves that it's possible to use multiple pieces of painted furniture in one room; if you look closely above you may spot a clay-red desk, black chairs, and a cream table.

Jennifer's beloved Brunschwig & Fils print, La Portugaise, makes an appearence too. And the furniture is supremely timeless and elegant. Magic comes, though, from those open French doors painted aqua. It's a fun room to analyze.

The top image above is from California Country: Interior Design, Architecture, and Style. All others are from House Beautiful Decorating Style, 1992 edition.


Seeing Sofas in a New Light

Somewhere along the line, English and Early American camelback sofas became associated with attorneys’ offices and doctors’ waiting rooms. In terms of glamour, curvy French settees and deeply tufted Hollywood Regency sofas got all the credit.

But included in the May issue of Southern Accents is the best quote from antiques dealer E. A. Mack that frames the camelback in a fresh light "It has to have grace; it can't be a stumpy elephant's foot of a piece," he says. "I want that camelback to be as sexy and gutsy as they come."

Mack goes on to explain how important it is to seek out a sofa with a truly elegant serpentine curve. Shown here is a mahogany Chippendale. See page 64 of the magazine for more tips.