Quite Continental Charm School: Day 2 – Class Up Your Bedroom

02/02/2012 § 8 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Image via House to Home.

Day 2: Class Up Your Bedroom
In my opinion, the most important room in the house is the bedroom.  It is where you sleep, where you recuperate, where you reclinate, where you conjugate irregular verbs, but far too often, bedrooms suffer a bit of neglect, especially in those years when we emerge from university or the home of our parents.  Generally, what little attention (and budget funds) we have for decor tends to be concentrated in the common spaces — the parts of our home we usually share when entertaining guests — leaving our bedrooms woefully mismatched or shockingly haphazard.

My tip for you today is to cast a slightly more critical eye where you lay your head and find ways to take pride in your boudoir — I actually touched upon this last year, when I strongly advocated you wear pajamas.  Today, I want you to extend that feeling of “extra” to the room itself, and class it up.  When you take time to create a sanctuary, you will be more rested and you will feel refreshed when you emerge from it.  And gents, a well-done bedroom will definitely assure you the higher probability of repeat guests (only slightly augmenting your dazzling personality and mind-bending technique, of course), for no one enjoys sleeping in what could pass for a shanty town.

Were I one for feng shui, here I would discuss colors and placement of furniture and whatnot, but alas, I am not.  I simply recommend you create a comfortable, calming space with minimal distractions.  This doesn’t automatically mean running out and buying new things so much as it can actually mean clearing out.  Here I will strongly advocate you remove the television, as having one in the bedroom actually tends to cause more insomnia than relaxation.

But of course, the most important — and frequently the most expensive — element of a bedroom is the bed.  Do buy the best mattress you can afford, whereas the bed frame is less important — just please, please, please don’t let your boxspring or mattress sit on the floor.  When it comes to bedding, yes, thread count does matter, but as long as you have a bedding ensemble that pleases the eye, you’re fine.  Matchy-matchy is not required, but do make it look like you put some thought into it.  Above all, the most important thing to remember, no matter where your sheets came from and even if you are sleeping on a futon, is that simply making your bed every morning goes for miles.  I can’t describe how fabulous it is feels after a long day to walk into your bedroom with an immaculately made bed.  It’s like living in a hotel…even though you did it yourself.  Pure class.

A few helpful hints:

  • My mother swears by having her sheets ironed — says it makes even low thread counts feel luxe.
  • Choose a clock that won’t stare you in the face at night.
  • Turn down the wattage of your lighting, or install a dimmer switch.  You’re relaxing, not being interrogated.
  • Make it smell nice: burn candles or try these scented wax pendants from Diptyque.
  • Keep a beautiful bedside carafe nearby, for late night refreshment.
  • For bedroom inspiration, I like to look at House to Home, Elle Decor, Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge.
  • For bargains on sheets and bedding, be sure to check out One Kings Lane and Gilt*Home.  If you live in New York, give Century 21 a try (just be sure to have your elbows out).

What do you do to make your bedroom a more relaxing environment?

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Real Property Lust: Umbrian Palazzo

31/01/2012 § Leave a comment

A bathroom to live in.

The 16th-century Italian palazzo of Antonello Radi, in the Umbrian city of Foligno.  I adore the way he has decorated his home, the old with the new, completely color drenched and magnificently luxurious.  The bathroom is my absolute favorite room.  I could soak in that tub forever.

Decorating mastery aside, one must really give Antonello’s bio a brief look:

Antonello was fortunate to be born into a wealthy and prominent family in Foligno, a commercial center surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and rolling hills. Radi, a bachelor, studied jurisprudence, found he didn’t like the life of a lawyer, and now works in the family business, finance, when he isn’t traveling.

Didn’t like the life of a lawyer, so he works in finance…when he isn’t traveling.  Must be very nice indeed.

Images via Elle Decor.

Real Property Lust: Los Feliz Hacienda

08/01/2012 § Leave a comment

I attribute the fact that I feel an irresistible pull toward Spanish Colonial Revival style homes to my childhood in California and to a beautiful hacienda a very special former Mister of mine owned. There is just something about the dark wooden floors, gleaming white walls, hidden spots of beautiful tile work, wide open windows, wrought iron and streaming light that sings to me.

This home in Los Feliz, California, was gorgeous even before Commune Design (the design firm also behind several commercial projects such as the hotel design for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs) got their hands on it, but the finished product is quite amazing. The multitude of styles, colors and textures on display is the type of inclusive approach to decor that I find most interesting.

All images via Commune.

Real Property Lust: The London Apartment of Broosk Saib

04/01/2012 § 2 Comments

London-based interior designer Broosk Saib may originally hail from Baghdad, but his style is quintessentially British, with a bit of an irreverent twist.  At once masculine and luxurious, Saib’s apartment immediately gives me the impression of a well-travelled and good-humored gentleman who I earnestly hope will allow me to move in…and give me an invite to his next dinner party:

But it’s at night that the rooms truly come to life. Sometimes the entry hall’s hanging light fixture is taken down and the peripatetic table is moved to make way for as many as 70 guests; the walls of the drawing room reflect the warm, clubby glow given off by lamps with red-silk shades. An exotic Vietnamese incense fills the rooms, while the aroma of roast lamb escapes from the kitchen. “I love to entertain at home,” says Saib, “to cook and feed my friends. My doors are always open.” (via Elle Decor)

I especially love the Union Jack upholstered chairs and this gorgeous entry way shown below.  I like how Saib manages to accent what is obviously an amazing collection without turning his apartment into some kind of jumbled antiques roadshow nick-knackery.  The restraint really allows the pieces he has chosen to shine.

All images via Elle Decor and Broosk.com

Real Property Lust: Revival

14/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Built in 1925, this farmhouse in Österlen, Sweden sat quietly rotting until it was bought in 2000 by its current owner.  Initial plans called for a serious overhaul, but as the new owner took stock of the little house, she realized all it needed was a good scrubbing and some fresh air.  I love how it turned out, especially the surfaces of the walls and floors — gorgeous.  I also love the old Range Rover, and if you added a horse or two, I’d be apt to lose my head.

If you’d like to read more about this darling house, hop over to Skona Hem.

Study: Deco State of Mind

11/11/2011 § 2 Comments

Ralph Lauren Home Fall 2011: One Fifth Collection

I found myself in an Art Deco sort of mood this week.  While sometimes a bit too glamourpuss for my taste, Art Deco’s simultaneous obsessions with luxury, eclecticism and aerodynamic lines are always alluring to me.  I’m just not confident I could live completely surrounded by it.  This notion was seriously challenged when I happened upon the Fall 2011 One Fifth Collection by Ralph Lauren Home.

All images via Ralph Lauren Home.

A new look indeed from Ralph Lauren Home.  I expected duck decoys, plaid and burnished leather (nothing wrong with that, mind you!), but I received a dramatic pairing of black and gold, chevron patterns and sleek piles of velvet and fur.  However, I suppose this departure from de rigueur should have come as no surprise once you reflect upon Mr. Lauren’s glorious Spring 2012 collection.  Interestingly though, where Collection Spring 2012 was weightless shimmers and light, Home Fall 2011 is solidly, albeit luxuriously, grounded — jewel-box deco.

If you’d like to peruse the One Fifth collection, head here.

The Great Gatsby at the Washington Ballet.

It seems Mr. Lauren and I are not the only ones with the 1920s on the brain.  This last weekend the Washington Ballet revived Septime Webre’s production of The Great Gatsby, an original ballet based on the Fitzgerald novel set to live 1920s jazz, for a short run.  Looking at the production stills, I kick myself for not hearing about this sooner and making my way down to DC to see it.  I’m hopeful they’ll bring it back in short order.

Doesn’t this look great?!?  So jealous.

All images via Washington Post.

I’ve decided the best way to comfort myself for missing out on the ballet, is to head over to the Brooklyn Museum to catch the new exhibit Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties.  Featuring 140 works by artists including Aaron Douglas, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Edward Weston, the exhibit examines how American artists represented the Jazz Age.  I’m going this weekend, but if you happen to attend on the evening of 17 November, there is a free live jazz performance.  Find more details here.

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052

The  Chrysler Building.  Classic New York Deco.

Real Property Lust: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

26/10/2011 § Leave a comment

There were plenty of things to love about this Spanish-style California ranch home belonging to supermodel Tatjana Patitz: the endless light, the double high living room ceiling (Patitz actually knocked out a floor to make way for it), dark wood and white walls, gleaming concrete floors, the horse stables that are on the two acres of land that surround the house, the ocean views, the jumble of mismatched furnishings…

What sealed the deal was the bedroom.

This is a place to disappear for hours.  For days.
In. Love.

All images via House to Home.

Real Property Lust: Parisian Dream

26/09/2011 § 3 Comments

Come away with me to Le Marais?

We could be artists, you and I?  Or intellectuals?

We can sit on our chevron floors and discuss Sartre.  Or Duras.
You know how I love Duras, Cherie…

You can sit in your chair and roll your eyes at Le Monde,
while I laze on the bed like a Siamese cat…

…or perhaps draw.

I shall read to you in bed…

and you will cook for me…

…while I fill your glass with wine, and your lips with my kisses.

There will be no time…

Only Paris.

All images via Designsponge.

Real Property Lust: Massachusetts Beach House

08/09/2011 § 1 Comment

This is damned close to perfect…

Love the use of paint-by-numbers kits here.

A deft balancing of glam Hollywood Regency with beach shack antique chic (a la Nantucket by way of the tropics), and a liberal use of the colors white and turquoise?  I’m going to need whoever decorated this beach house in Massachusetts to remove themselves from my brain immediately…and of course from the house itself because I’ll be moving in.  Decided!

This picture is like a dream.
The colors, the map, the radio, the frame, the lamp.
Every time I look at it, something new appeals to me.

Driftwood mirror, driftwood on the table…

…driftwood lamp!

A little high on the kitsch, but we can fix that in no time…

All images via BHG.

About Last Night: Gentleman/Budoir at Overbey & Dunn

25/08/2011 § Leave a comment

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening for the newest installation at Overbey & Dunn in the West Village.  Why do I love Overbey & Dunn so much?  Mainly because the owners — Tom Dunn and Molly Kavanagh — have embraced a concept (that I adore!) of constant recreation and evolution for their darling interior design boutique.  This may actually be a bit of an understatement, actually, as every 8 to 10 weeks, the shop undergoes a complete transformation all the way down to the light fixtures and the paint on the walls.  It then reopens with a new “theme,” stocked to the gills with gorgeous antique finds for the home, all of which are for sale.

Last night was the official launch of the latest installation, called “Gentleman/Budoir,” which was curated by designer Russell Piccione.  Far and away my favorite installation thus far, it is refined masculinity personified: deep, rich colors; lush patterns and textures; bar carts in brass and glass; crystal decanters; leather bound books; taxidermy (isn’t that massive caribou a beauty?); classic games; smoking accessories; and the like.

With the party-goers crammed into the small space, it was difficult to get pictures, so I plan to return in the near future and do a full rundown with the lovely Mr. Dunn.  Be on the lookout for that over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, do drop by Overbey & Dunn to view “Gentleman/Budoir.”  Just don’t you dare buy anything that I already have my eye on…

Overbey & Dunn
19 Christopher Street
West Village
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