Let’s talk color

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

A friend of mine was discussing the decor of her lovely apartment this weekend — a topic of endless fascination to me. I don’t know exactly when it started, but over the years I have amassed (and read) piles of books on interior design, learned to tell my Finn Juhl from my Hans Wegner, fallen in love with countless chairs, tables and other bits & bobs, and spent a great deal of time finding just the right shade of whatever wall or fabric color that I have in mind. And I do it all joyfully. (Well, most of the time.)

One of the most excellent parts of my trip to France this past spring was a visit to Versailles, where I made a point of seeing Marie Antoinette’s “Grand” palace and her slightly-more-famous-in-decorating-circles “Petit Trianon”. Yes, I had to walk six miles to get there and back, but it was completely worth it, as both places have some of the most beautiful color combinations one could dream up…

This is one of the combinations that I just keep thinking about. The pale minty gray on the chair frames with that pumpkin custard velvet is enough to make me weep. Then the black and white floor and the pale, creamy walls sets the chairs off in such a fantastic way that makes it even more interesting. Really, if I ever needed to line up a bunch a chairs in my castle, at least I would know my color scheme.

Ok. There is a LOT going on here. But really, take your time with this one because I think it is really wonderful. The obvious thing to react to is the raspberry upholstery, but I can’t help enjoying that and then moving on to the teeny pockets of deep blue, lavender, and bright green. And then all those cocoas, soft greens and mustard yellows. Lots to take in. And while one might not being doing too much along the line of gilt furnishings, I can’t help but think of ways to use these kinds of colors in more modern rooms and what effect they might create. Worth thinking about, I think.

Back to the how oranges and pale grays work wonders together. I don’t know how a room can feel quiet but actually be somewhat loud, but I think this one does. Perhaps it is the fabulous leopard print carpet. It is the one thing that I love, love, love but have yet to find a place for in my own rooms. (Although I do have one Giambastista Valli sheer silk top that makes up for it a little.) Again, the furniture and its placement might not be something I would choose, but I can completely see these colors working in a cozy room somewhere that combines the old and new, with a few piles of books, beautiful art and a few personal trinkets to keep it from feeling staged. Oh…and maybe some flowers. But I always like flowers in a room.

So this one is all about the colors in the painting. Aren’t they delicious? (Nobleman in the painting less so.) But I also like how the vibrant colors there didn’t stop anyone from putting a pretty ornate pattern filled with more color on the seating and adding more color on the floor. Do you see that purple and yellow in the carpet? Gorgeous.

Here it is again for good measure. And need I point out the little bursts of blue and pink as well? None of it clashes. The French know what they are doing.

I’ve read my share of books on Marie Antoinette and know that her true love at Versailles was the Petit Trianon. At the time that this project was started, she was an ardent student of Rousseau and had become somewhat consumed with the idea of going back to nature. In addition to creating quite the scandal by dressing in white, sheer cotton dresses with no corsets (!!), keeping lambs and generally doing very non-French Court things, the buildings, gardens and decor reflect this interest.

While I can’t be sure, I feel as if the shift begins at this little overpass:

Compared to the gardens in front of the palace, this is pretty informal, no?

But this is nice, too.

OK,  back to Nature, pre-French Revolution Style…

Just a little place to unwind a bit. Neither palace was as large as some of the monstrosities that are being built today for families of four and five to live in. But still, Petit Trianon was not that petite. Yet the plantings here are a tad less grand and the building itself does not read “palace”. I am pretty sure that was the goal.

Inside was an interesting mix a pale, soft colors and fabrics in the private bedroom and cooking areas, with a few more “public” rooms that kind of echoed the palace’s ka-POW color scheme.

If this were fondant, I would have eaten it. (Yes, I eat fondant even though some people do not. Whatever.) Let’s just enjoy the variety of whites that calm down all that carving. OK, I now totally want a slice of cake.

I love this surround and the walls here. Gray on gray on gray. And then some black and gold to keep if from feeling too cloudy. And speaking of eliminating interior doldrums, color wasn’t exactly shunned while getting back to the land:

Yes, those curtains are far from retiring, but do check out the mossy green chairs with white piping, which in this setting seem almost subtle. And that light purple urn. Grand and fanciful. Love it, even if I could not live in it.

Bad photo of a chair that I am sure that Charlotte Moss has lusted after.  (If you don’t know of her, here is some info: http://charlottemoss.com/designs-and-books/. While I am more of a Stephen Gambrel and Thomas O’Brian fan, Ms. Moss knows how to pile on the fabrics. ANYWAY…the fabric on this chair certainly seems like a shift to the more “natural” feeling that Marie Antoinette was after in this place. And if only the crowds would have allowed me to shoot a little more, I would have loved to include more of the gardens and the follies. But sadly, fatigue and claustrophobia resulted in this being one of my last photos from this most magical place:

But hopefully I’ll be back to shoot what was beyond the doors sometime soon. And until then enjoy the colors!


(Photos: Some Cozy night)

And then there were three

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

A+O had a visitor at the office the other day. W is a beautiful dog who somehow manages to completely change the balance of power in the pack:


Everyone is laying down. No one is whining. No one is jumping. Needless to say, this makes me consider the sanity of a third dog. Or maybe I have just watched one too many episodes of “Sister Wives”…


(Kind of blurry photo of the dogs and a waste basket at my office: Some Cozy Night)

Puppies make you feel better

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

So here is a photo of one of my adorable terriers at about five months old, on one of his very first walks on grass:

He looks so serious, but still, I think any puppy pic is going to yield a smile. I hope this one does.



I would not be a good supporter of the animals that I love if I didn’t mention that buying a dog from a reputable breeder (check out the AKC website) or adopting from a local shelter is the best way to personally contribute to the elimination of puppy mills. Ok, I have stepped off my soap box now.

(Photo: Mr. H)


June 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

In my teens, attempting to look “good” centered on pimple and nail management.  I added eyebrows, cellulite (we’re besties now), and figuring out my hair in my twenties. More of the same in my thirties, but I also began began to combat those “early signs of aging” that I kept hearing about, super dry and sensitive skin and gray hair. I completely understand those who give up:  It takes a lot of time to look human and maintenance is a b****.

One of the best things about turning forty is that I know things. Lots of things. And some of them help keep me looking human and feeling less insane. Here are some of my top picks:

1.) Cellular Patch Cream by Sonya Dakar

The packaging is so unattractive that I keep it hidden at all times, but all of this company’s products are top flight. I have been using them for just shy of a decade now and anytime I try some other line, I regret it. The facial washes, daily hydration lotions, eye creams and various other concoctions are staples in my Skin Maintenance Routine, but I think the one product that has truly kept me from looking eighty at forty is the Cellular Patch Cream. For get Le Mer, this is the stuff. I don’t know how, but I believe it stimulates collagen which keeps things bouncy. And bouncy is the goal. Who cares if you don’t feel that way….


Not inexpensive, but not negotiable for me.

2.) Astara Daily Refining Scrub

If your skin is like mine, you cannot use this every day. But I use it at least three times a week for the exfoliation portion of my SMR. Gentle, but serious. Also good on the elbows if you accidentally squeeze out too much.


3.) Astara Golden Flame Mask

Let’s say you fly a fair amount and have hideously dry skin. Pre-flight, put a light coating of this on your face, carefully avoiding the eyes (really…it burns), and prepare to have air travel stink a little less. I sometimes put it on again as a mask post-flight for a little extra hydration.


You’re welcome.

4.) Kiehl’s Ultimate Something or Other Hand Cream

Should you be in a situation where you are washing your hands constantly, or live somewhere so inhospitable to skin that your hands look like cured meat, this is your new hand cream. We’ve had a thing going on since Mr. H and I decided that getting two puppies at the same time was a great idea. Trust me: This works.


5.) Esse’s “Sugar Daddy”

Now that your hands are all nice and pretty, you need a polish that isn’t needy. This is lovely and shows very few dings and cracks, especially if you are diligent with your top coat applications.


6.) Bliss Foot Patrol

We’ve been together since 2000. Get yourself some kind of pumice/paddle thingy and this lotion and enjoy wearing sandals again.


7.) Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien Soap

Sadly, my beloved soap won’t be available until the end of the year per my sources in Paris. (Yes, I confirmed with contacts in France. Or rather Mr. H confirmed with contacts in France, since my French is non-existent. He likes me. He really, really likes me!)

This is the world’s most perfect soap and while it may not make you more human-looking, it will make you feel that way. In the meantime, their Eau du Sud soap is an extremely able substitute.  Thank you Kind Gentleman at Annick Goutal near the Place Vendôme.


8.) Aqua di Parma

Moving south to my “homeland”, let us celebrate all that is lovely about the classic Aqua di Parma fragrance. The bath gel is divine — especially when mixed with epsom salts per prior posts — and the candle is a little bit of humanity accessible via match. (Remember those matchbooks, people.) Go classic yellow on this — none of that blue stuff.


And aside from suggesting that you get cozy with your hairdresser, find a good dermatologist and facialist and — most importantly — try to  have as much fun as possible given one’s Life Contraints, that is all I have for this evening.


Ms. M

(Photo of the Magnificent Eight: Some Cozy Night. For the record, this was a hard photo to take.)

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