Last year when I saw the preview cover for John Stefanidis' new book, An Island Santuary: A House in Greece, I anticipated a lavishly illustrated tome that would offer some smart, tangible ideas but mainly give readers a chance to escape. Sort of the decorating equivalent of Giada's vacation specials. Respite from the vitriolic atmosphere we're all hit with every time we catch up on the news. Now, having read it, I have to say An Island Santuary goes far beyond escapism.
It's about how a house becomes imbued with the spirit of its occupant.
Teddy Millington-Drake (1932-1994), still, Stefanidis is convincing when he talks about all living spaces, one-room apartments included, having the potential to become highly personal sanctuaries. Maybe the unexpected looseness of the rooms is what sold me. (More on that here.)
Susanna Moore, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award-winning author, contributes to the book too, covering the history of the Greek island and the restoration of the house and gardens. For architecture enthusiasts she includes details about the local stone, tile and other natural materials and she discusses construction. For me, as mentioned a couple of weeks ago, elements that really bring the book to life are the cotton fabrics and Millington-Drake's work.
The guest bedroom, shown here at top, was once the late Millington-Drake's art studio. The four-poster Stefanidis-designed bed was made on the island and, as seen in image two, was painted an ecru shade known as "Dust of Paris." A red-lacquer Japanese barber's chair can be spotted in the foreground. Lots of Millington-Drake's abstracts appear throughout the house, and his wonderful watercolor renderings of the island, the gardens and the interiors also add charm and layers of meaning to the book's pages.
That said, if all you desire is a little escape, a little Fantasy Island, Fritz von der Schulenburg's photographs provide it.
And there are other beautiful spring releases that we need to explore soon. I expect to see them covered from different angles on many of my favorite blogs, such as The Peak of Chic.
Mrs. Blandings' curtain fabric (the ever-popular Le Lac) turns up as a chic tablecloth on the cover of Joe Nye's delightfully down-to-earth Flair. It's an illusion though. Just learned Joe's fabric is actually from Travers. (Everyone's going to want black-handled flatware now.)
Rooms to Inspire series, Rooms to Inspire in the City, offers a different kind of respite (read a bit of a tease here).
The Great Lady Decorators is an amazing survey of 20th-century design that delves into the history of women in the workforce. If you aren't sure who Candace Wheeler is, or how she relates to interior decoration, you'll know after reading the book. I think this one is a candidate for college libraries. Plus, room portraits by interiors painter Jeremiah Goodman and large photographs add appeal to the in-depth text.