Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Architect Bill Litchfield's stunning new website

One of my favorite architects, Bill Litchfield, has just launched a new website, and it is full of beautiful images from the homes that he has designed.  Before starting his own firm, Bill spent ten years with the firm of the great Atlanta classicist architect Norman Davenport Askins; Bill is clearly continuing the tradition of classical residential architecture and period detailing with adjustments for the 21st century way of life.  

One of the jewels of the portfolio is a beautiful home whose exterior was featured recently on Limestone & Boxwoods (click here for the post) - but this time we get to see the inside through Litchfield's new website.  Click here to see the pictures; I feel pretty certain that Jackye Lanham was responsible for the interior design on this project. Can anyone confirm?  Here are a few of my favorites:

Note the beamed ceiling and great arches in this room.  I love the symmetry of the wall hangings, the graceful curve of the chandelier and the charm of the game table in the corner.

This is one fabulous staircase, with its sweeping curves, stunning window, and iron railing.  

This has got to be one of the most beautiful rooms I have seen in a long time.  This is my favorite kind of paneled room - softly and subtly painted in a neutral color that is hard to define. The architectural and design details in this room are beautiful - the recessed windows, built in bookcase under the window, limestone fireplace, and the stunning chandelier and mirror. 

This bathroom has a great vintage feel to it, in part because of the lighting fixtures and the subway tile.  The detail on the door at the end of the bathroom is absolutely perfection.


Well, maybe the detail on the paneling of this room is absolute perfection!  The circles carved over the door and above the mantel seem so French to me (and are also seen in the master bathroom panels).  I wonder if the paneling above the fireplace conceals a TV?

Click here to see more pictures of this exquisite home, on Bill Litchfield Design's new website:

I am intrigued by the 'Featured Projects' page, which features this beautiful house:

I love the mystery that surrounds this house, which is emphasized by both the picture and the password protection.  How I would love to see the images contained within....Bill, if you read this, can you please send me the password? :)

Please visit Bill Litchfield Design's website for incredibly beautiful and inspirational images, and keep him in mind if you are ever in need of an oustanding architect!

All photographs used with permission - photography by Tom Namey of Namey Design Studios:
Namey Design Studios is also responsible for the outstanding website design for Bill Litchfield's new site.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Design thoughts: the Mad Men master bedroom

I am counting the hours until the season premiere of one of my favorite shows, Mad Men.  In honor of the big event (Sunday at 10 pm on AMC), I am featuring the bedroom of Don and Betty Draper…perhaps in memoriam, as I have read that they are divorced in the new season.


The room from the Mad Men set actually feels quite familiar to me, as it looks very similar to the bedrooms in my husband’s grandmother’s home (which was built and decorated in the mid-60s).  Note the wall to wall carpet that flows out into the hall, the gauzy and frilly curtains, the tufted headboard, and the bedspread that fits over the pillows.  How many times have I made a bed with a bedspread like this – as a child of the 70s, my own bedspread was designed like this!

As far as the bed is concerned, many designers would consider it a ‘no-no’ to place the bed this way in a room – where the bed is to the side of the door.  When my designer and I were talking about furniture placement for the new house, my designer emphatically stated that she does not like to walk into a room and run into a bed; she prefers to have the bed placed so that you face it when walking into the room.


A view of the other wall…looks like a laundry hamper, and perhaps a vestibule with a closet?

A view into the master bathroom.   By today’s standards, this is a very small master bathroom.  I wonder if this is how most houses were built back then?  My architect actually prefers for master bedrooms and bathrooms to be ‘normal’  (even cozy in some situations); so many homes built in the past 20 years have cavernous master bedrooms and bathrooms that are simply not necessary. 

Personally, I could not deal with a toilet in right in the middle of the master bathroom.  Now that I think of it my parents’ master bathroom in Connecticut was very similar to this bathroom.


I searched and searched and had a hard time finding images of the other side of the master bedroom, and this is all I could come up with. It appears that a window is on the wall opposite the bed, and a dresser is on the other side of the door to the closet/bathroom.  If anyone has an image of the other side of the room, I would love to see it!

Don Draper and Betty Draper[1]

So, back to the bed wall.  I can understand now why the bed is placed this way in the room – with the windows and doors on the other walls, there really wasn’t  any other option. 


I can’t say that the Mad Men bedroom is my design inspiration, but for those who want to take it one step further, Club Furniture has created a Man Men inspired bed called the ‘Draper Bed’

It makes me wonder, what will Betty’s bedroom look like in her new home this season? All sorts of things to look forward to in the new season of Mad Men.  Will you be watching?  What do you think of bed placement in a bedroom?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Exclusive sneak peek at Suzanne Kasler’s new line for Ballard Designs

During the summer of 2009, designer Suzanne Kasler told me that she was hard at work on a new line of accessories for Ballard Designs. I have always admired how the accessories that Suzanne incorporates into her designs really give a room a layered and nuanced feel, so I was excited to see the results of her new venture with Ballard Designs.

Flash forward to this summer – the first part of the collection is just about to be launched. I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the ‘look book’ for the Suzanne Kasler for Ballard Designs line (available online July 31), and I was really impressed with the quality and beauty of the designs. Suzanne’s line for Ballard Designs contain items that can’t be found anywhere else, and more importantly the line contains items that are inspired by some of Suzanne’s favorite accessories that she has used in her designs through the years.


Case in point: a vignette from a room that Suzanne styled for the summer market at AmericasMart in July of ‘09. Note the horns and the lovely brackets.


Here is the Gabrielle bracket, part of the new line for Ballard Designs.

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I love these Atelier Horns, also part of the new collection – note the wonderful detail, and they are priced at only $49-$65.


Suzanne is known for her love of interesting mirrors, often arranged in unique groupings. Pictured above is a beautiful room she designed a few years ago, as seen in House Beautiful, that features original antique and vintage mirrors.


Her collection for Ballard Designs contains a great selection of beautifully designed, vintage inspired mirrors priced between $79-$149.



Two of the designs from the mirror collection.


The Eiffel Tower Picture Holder is another item that caught my eye, inspired by Suzanne’s extensive collection of Eiffel Towers.


The Zinc Harvest Basket would be beautifully at ease in any kind of setting.


A casually elegant burlap wrapped vase.

A collection of leather wrapped desk accessories has a great vintage look to it.


I have my eye on the Petite Carriage Lantern, which would be great on the sideboard in my kitchen.


Also intriguing is the 1937 map of Europe.


However, my absolute favorite item in the new collection is inspired by the architectural models in Suzanne’s own collection (seen on the mantel of her family room of her previous home)…


Here are the architectural models from the Suzanne Kasler collection for Ballard Designs. They come in two finishes, and are priced at just $129. I am definitely ordering these as soon as the collection is available online on July 31!

This is just a small preview of the collection, and I look forward to seeing what other designs will be featured in the collection. Do you have a favorite item from what I have shown?


The Ballard Designs showroom in Atlanta celebrated the launch of Suzanne’s new line last week (alas, I was not able to attend), and the showroom is now selling items from the collection that were displayed at the launch. The rest of us will need to wait until the official online launch of Suzanne’s collection for Ballard Designs on July 31!

For the latest news and information on Ballard Designs and their new Suzanne Kasler line, please visit their website:

Also, Ballard Designs has an online ‘Style Studio’ full of great articles, solutions to decorating dilemmas, behind the scenes information, peeks into customers’ homes, and so much more. Please visit for great inspiration!

Finally, if you want the latest and greatest information on Ballard Designs, become a fan on Facebook! Ballard Designs Facebook page can be found at

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Astor Courts – a magnificent estate (and possible location of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding)

Rumors are swirling about Chelsea Clinton’s impending nuptials; a recent article in the New York Times intimated that the likely location of the celebration will be at Astor Courts, a 40,000 square foot estate in Rhinebeck, NY. Astor Courts was built for John Jacob Astor IV and completed in 1904 (designed in 1902); the estate is described as Beaux-Arts style, and was designed by American architect Stanford White (1853-1906), who was partner in the firm McKim, Mead, and White.


Although I am not particularly interested in Chelsea Clinton’s wedding (doesn’t every bride deserve a little privacy if she wants it?), I am happy to be introduced to Astor Courts and Stanford White. Astor Courts is a beautiful house, with stunning architectural details. It is also on the market for $12 million (although the NYT article indicates that it was suddenly taken off the market in early July). According to the New York Times, the house was designed to evoke the Grand Trianon at Versailles. (Image source)


On the top: Astor Courts. On the bottom: Grand Trianon.


Astor Courts, after decades of neglect, was thoroughly restored in recent years.


The restored living room, with its herringbone floors and ionic columns, measures 35’ x 60’. The domed skylight is my favorite feature, although I also appreciate that the scale of so many elements in the room match the size of the room: the fireplace is 9’x10’, and the crown molding is 30”. Note the lampshade on the hanging light; it is a copy of the shade that was original to the home. Image source.


The herringbone floors continue in the hall. Image source.


During the recent renovations, the house was brought back more in line with the original plan, but with modern updates such as a new kitchen. This is a pretty solution to the sink on a wall dilemma I discussed in a post earlier this year.


There are some exquisite architectural details in this house, restored after many decades of neglect. Image source.


The home also features an indoor pool with a groin vault ceiling, painted in a serene shade of turquoise, and views out a series of arched windows.


A detail shot of the ceiling and columns in the pool room. Image source.


The house also boasts as an indoor clay tennis court with an industrial style ceiling. I love the fretwork on the railing; this room has a Gothic feel to it.


A New York Times feature from 2008 indicated that when the bathrooms were redone, the fixtures were copied from the original plans. (Image source)


For a time in the 1960s, Astor Courts was used as a nursing home after Brooke Astor donated the house to the Catholic Church.


Stanford White was considered to be the best-known American architect of the late 19th century, although his career and his life were cut short when he was murdered over a love triangle gone wrong.


A Stanford White designed Palazzo in Manhattan.


Washington Square Arch (New York City) is attributed to Stanford White; it was built in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration.


Stanford White designed my favorite house in Newport, Rosecliff. When I first saw an image of Astor Courts, it reminded me of Rosecliff. No surprise, given that Rosecliff was also modeled after Grand Trianon. Rosecliff was completed in 1902, several years before Astor Courts. Image source.


The inspiration: Grand Trianon (source) was constructed in the late 1600s, and designed by architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. Yet another case of Americans being enamored with the French architectural tradition!

I came across several good articles while researching this post:

A Fixer Upper to End Them All, NYT , 11/6/08

Astor Courts, Estate of the Day, 9/27/09

It will be interesting to see whether Chelsea does indeed celebrate her big day here – reported to be the weekend of July 31st. What do you think of the house?

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