Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chic in NYC

This chic apartment of Trey and Jenny Laird in NYC was featured in Architectural Digest recently. The designer was Jeffrey Bilhuber.  I love the eclectic mix of styles, colors, and artwork.  It's extremely lively and there is a freshness to the mix that I really like.  I think it goes a little against the grain of what seems to be popular just now...maybe that's why I find it so appealing.  Will it feel dated in a few years, or will it feel timeless ?

 photos by William Waldren

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Praise of Primogeniture??

Watching Downton Abbey has got me thinking about how so many fantastic Georgian and Edwardian manor houses and Palaces have stayed intact all these years, and in some cases are still lived in by the original families.  One of the main reasons is because England has had a practice of primogeniture; which is the passing of money, property, and titles down to the first male of the family.

I always thought it was a little unfair that eldest son would inherit everything and the second or third, or daughter would inherit very little.  But now I see, historically speaking, this has been incredibly important in sustaining the architectural heritage of Great Britain. In this way estates were passed down whole, not broken up into pieces and given to differently family members. It also meant that the family's wealth stayed connected to the property, meaning the money to keep up these estates stayed with the estate.  During the early part of the 20th century, some of the English families were having trouble keeping up their estates.  One solution was to import rich heiresses from the US, where primogeniture was not practiced, and where women could inherit fortunes. Thus theses large manor houses got an infusion of money and were able to stay whole.

Blenheim Palace, all of the photos above, is one of the largest examples of a palace that is still lived in by the owners, the Duke of Marlborough.  It was built in 1705 and 1724, it was designed by John Vanbrugh.  In the 1890s, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, facing bankruptcy, married Consuelo Vanderbilt for much needed money to keep the estate solvent.  

Attingham Park




Angelsey Abbey


Castle Howard

Castle Howard



Hardwick Hall

Longleat House

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lily Pond Lane

In the 1990's Martha Stewart purchased and renovated this house on Lily Pond Lane in the Hamptons.  Most of these photos were published in 1996  in her book called "How to Decorate".  I used some of the photos as inspiration for the first couple of projects I designed, and now more than 16 years later, I find I am still quite fond of this house and of her old decorating style.  I find the scale of this house and the rooms within, to be so much more appealing than the giant suburban monster houses people have been building during the past few decades. Those McMansions, no matter how filled with mouldings and paneling, still lack the charm and intimacy of this house.  The interiors are not as modern and cool looking as some of the more popular styles of today...but I still love the casual, cottagy feel of this house.

 photos from Martha Stewart Living