18 January 2012

Downton Abbey

Are you all watching Downton Abbey on PBS? I highly recommend it!!

A kind of updated "Upstairs, Downstairs", it takes place in a more interesting time: the first season in the year leading up to World War I ; the second season (airing now) during the war. Interesting because the world of servants, butlers, footmen and housekeepers is coming to an end in a most extraordinary way. Technology is advancing faster than they can keep up with (sound familiar?), and the kitchen staff are  afraid of the newest additions to the house,  electricity and the telephone.

From a design perspective, it's a glimpse into a Great House, and I often find myself re-winding a scene because I was scanning the details of the room rather than listening to the dialogue.

Highclere Castle in England, the home used as  "Downton Abbey"

I have to say, I am much more interested in the "Downstairs" interiors than the "Upstairs"~ all of the excess, gilding, marble  and fringe trim is beautiful and inspiring but does not speak to me in a visceral way. Whenever  I am on an historic  house tour, I always wish I could tour the attics and the kitchens and the see the linen closet instead of the marble ballroom.

A Drawing Room at Highclere Castle

Even the downstairs room names ~ servery, buttery, larder, pastry room, butlers pantry are more resonant ~ they conjure for me images of darkly aged wooden built-in cabinetry with fabulous hardware, old marble counters with that patina only age can achieve, huge scrubbed pine work tables, copper cookware lined up on endless shelves, dented soft silver or soapstone  sinks. I am much more apt to pull from images like these for design inspiration:

19th c kitchen floor plans : what a great inspiration for an updated
kitchen project.

The kitchen of The Breakers in Newport, RI. That mortal and pestle makes my heart stop.
The copper cookware, the butcher block on legs........

Such great light! Note the marble topped table with drawers; I would
copy that for a modern project in a heartbeat!

Note the tile walls - a huge trend in kitchens right now.
That plate rack is spectacular.

A 19th c Butlers Pantry. Sigh.

That soapstone counter on the right: how beautiful. That could be
re-interpreted now as a work station in an updated kitchen; a place
for the mail, the charging station, the keys, the ipad.
Double height Butlers Pantry at The Breakers. Only he would have the keys
to access the space, where the family silver was kept.

When Martha Stewart bought Skylands in Maine, a former Ford family estate,
she kept the pantries largely as found. These shelves and table are original;
the porcelain table was for preparing fish.

12 January 2012

Display Your Everyday

I know it is a bit of a cliche to talk about organization at the start of a new year. Still, even though I am by nature a very organized person, I delight in looking at images like these. As it relates to design, if space is an issue as it is for so many of us, storage may have to be visible, and therefore visually pleasing.  Here are some ideas:

Who says you must have drawers  and cabinets for everything?
The everyday item can look quite good displayed, especially in multiples.
Photo: Country Home  

Again, if you are not blessed with endless cabinets, display the everyday!
It helps also to keep like with like and colors or finishes similar.
Photo: Country Home

I imagine that all of the small items that can be put into these bins, if kept in their packaging and put in a drawer or closet, would use up 10 x the space.

Ah. Tricia Foley. I worship and adore her.  Everyday items: paper towels, soap bars,
dish soap and laundry detergent. Decanted into pretty vessels and grouped into
multiples, maybe a pretty label and ....perfection.  ! I'd never close the door.
Photo: Country Home

And Martha. Oh, Martha, These are photos of the inside of her various
kitchen drawers. Seriously.
Photo: Martha Stewart Living

06 January 2012

New Year, New Gear

Hello! I know, I know. I have been told both in person and via comments that you all have been checking back faithfully, only to be disappointed that I haven't added any new postings. Mea Culpa.
I feel very lucky indeed that you all have been hanging in there regardless of the silence on my end. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I resolve to get back to blogging! An upcoming posting subject will be the long awaited and overdue design and set-up of my home office, which is currently an unused bedroom filled with....well, you all know the "extra" room drill; unopened boxes from my move, extra this, extra that.
Follow the transformation! I'll document it step by step as it goes from that to something like this.......

Photo: Annaleena House Interior Design..I love a painted floor!

Thomas O'Brien in Elle Decor...he is my God

Thomas O'Brien...a genius gatherer

Elle Decor...already have my folder full of collage images

Tricia Foley...she is my Goddess