13 December 2007

David Easton and his Balderbrae


Years and years ago, when I still formulating my design aesthetic, I stumbled across a magazine article that featured Balderbrae, the summer home of David Easton and his partner, artist James Steinmeyer. The home was large, but consisted of just a few rooms - a living and dining room, master bedroom, and a study, along with two large porches or loggias. This house, a study in symmetry appealed to me on every level: the studied, cluttered look similar to English country estates, the copious use of antiques, mostly rustic rather than signed, formal pieces, the casual linen fabrics, french windows lending the house to indoor-outdoor living, the beautiful fireplaces, terra cotta pavers, lighted sconces and pedastals mounted on walls, blue and white porcelains everywhere, mirrors - in short, the house was everything that I loved - then and now. Over the years, the house was used in advertising campaigns for Lee Jofa, the fabric company where Easton has a popular line. For twenty years, Easton and his partner reworked the property, added gardens, rebuilt the existing stone cottage on the property as a guest house, and built a swimming pool.


Last year, the two decided to move on. They sold the house and the entire contents went into a warehouse. Rather than keep everything there, it was decided to sell the lot at Doyle's auction house last March. A family friend works for Easton and mailed me the gorgeous catalogue. Item after item - there's not a stinker in the bunch. Realistically, I couldn't find much that I wouldn't want for myself - the catalogue is that impressive and desirable. In all, 600 items were auctioned off to a tune of $1,600,000 plus. The original estimate was $773,300 to $1,154,800 - so the duo must be happy with the results. Asked if he was sad about selling 20 years worth of possessions, Easton said he wasn't, he was looking forward to building a new, modular, modern home in Virginia, featuring a two story library. Looking over the entire contents on display at Doyle, he planned to buy back a few items that he said had slipped by him.

Here are pictures from the estate before it was dismanteled. And following, are pictures of the most publicized items that went on sale. Even though these pictures are at least a decade old, Balderbrae still appeals and serves as a design inspiration to me personally and in my business.





The great yellow room at Balderbrae: the symmetry of the room and it's furnishings is apparent despite its cluttered appearance. I love the center table piled high with books - a look I have copied in my own home. The terra cotta pavers, yellow walls, and wood beamed ceilings add a warmth and coziness to the large room that might have seemed cold and overwhelming.



A close up of one side of the living - dining room. Note the tea table in front of the blue french chair - this was a much publicized piece from the auction. Also notice the blue and white pieces hanging on the walls - this is just a very small portion of the blue and white from the auction, which featured over six pages of these pieces in the catalogue.



Another view of the living room - close up of the skirted table. I like this version of the table more than the previous image. I prefer the airy branches over the green plant in the blue and white vase.



The gorgeous master bedroom with the same high ceilings as the living room. Two story french doors bring the outside indoors.




The master bedroom again. This mirror is one of the more well known pieces from the auction.




One of the porches. I love the outdoor fireplace.

Updated view of the same porch or loggia, as it is called.




Artist and home owner James Steinmeyer's painting of the loggia.



View of the interior courtyard looking towards one of the two loggias.



Auction item: $27,000.

Rare Victorian Tilt Top Tables bought from Geoffrey Bennison! These tables were the most talked about items of the auction.



$14,400.


Louis XV commode (this reminds me so much of the Amy Howard chest).




$12,000.


Dutch chandelier from the living - dining room.



$18,000.


Set of 4 Swedish style chairs designed by Easton




$10,200.


Another Louis XV commode.




$10,800.


Italian sunburst mirror. Oh my - Easton, way ahead of the current trend, had quite a few sunburst mirrors. Non antiques, valued in the $1,000 range, these items went for outrageously overpriced sums.




$14,400.


Set of 4 Louis XVI gray painted armchairs.




$12,000.


Italian Mirror from the bedroom. Another well recognized auction piece made familiar from Lee Jofa ads.




$10,200.


Painted sunburst mirror. Ouch.



$20,400.


Set of eight painted armchairs. I love these chairs!




$12,000.


William IV gilt wood mirror.




$18,000.


Unusual Dutch colonial brass and walnut side table.




$12,000.


Italian Sunburst Mirror. Oy! What a crazy price.




$24,000.


Italian chandelier.




$15,600.


Regency style center table designed by Easton.




$10,200.


Carved antlers. Easton was again way ahead of this current trend with his faux stag heads. Estimated to go for $1,000 - the sale price was ridiculously overpriced for a non antique.



The auction was a huge success for Easton and Steinmeyer, but still, I can't imagine selling my possessions like this and completely starting over. Apparently, his new home will be very modern as Easton has said this is the direction design is taking him right now. I'm anxious to see his new summer home, and something tells me there will be lots of press accompanying his new venture.

30 comments:

  1. Joni, every post gets better than the last, and I would have to say this is my favorite you've done. I've always loved David Easton's style. Usually I'm thinking "well, I'd change that or switch that table", but not whith Easton.

    I find it hard to believe they could leave that house. I am so attached to our little shingled cottage I doubt I could ever leave it, but with that house....only way I'd leave it is with a toe tag. I've lived in mostly older homes and can't imagine trading this beauty for a modern one, but if anyone can pull it off it's D.E.
    I'm going to find that catalog. Auction catalogs are wonderful ways to learn.

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  2. omg - so true!!! A toe tag!!! Ben and I say the only way we're leaving our house is in a box. haha. Get the catalouge - it's the best book I've gotten this year! Page after page - you'll want everything in it.

    Joni

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  3. Joni, This an absolutely fascinating post. What an amazing personal collection.

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  4. Joni! The gifts just keep coming! Thank you for this outsanding post!Easton is an all-time favorite!!Another online source for Easton is NY Social Diary (April 07) showcasing his NYC loft. His new home, in Charlottesville, in a planned community situated near the famed Kluge Estate, which he decorated.

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  5. Excellent post Joni. Don't you just love the sets of chairs shown here? Especially the ones upholstered with leather? I still really like the yellow room, the beams -- I think that loggia is in one of my Caroline Clifton-Mogg books :)

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  6. Hi Joni
    I can see why this house has been an inspiration to you. I love everything about it. Every item is a feast for the eyes and it all comes together as being very comfortable. I also find it interesting how David Easton could sell all his treasures and start over in a completely different direction - modern. That takes guts and requires a joie de vivre for life. Great Post and great inspiration!!

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  7. Great photos and auction info, Joni. I'm with you (as usual) on this wonderful house. On my wish list for my own home is that terra cotta tile treatment, like in the great yellow room. (Although my entire house would fit inside that one room.)

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  8. This house was perfect. It was one of my favourites as well. I bet David Easton ( the only designer who springs to mind who has become a commercial success without all that hideous self promotion) will make modern so beautiful even the most die hard traditionalists will even consider it.

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  9. I did one of my early posts about the Doyle Auction and just fell in love with Easton's look. His was also one of the book interview links.

    Great post, as always.

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  10. So many gorgeous pieces! I especially love the painted sunburst mirror.

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments and for the tip with the mirror. :) My surgery went well, but I should get all of the details at my post-op appointment on Thursday. I'm doing much better!

    I need to go find the new Paper City so that I can see that girl's new house. I remember seeing her old house on HAR. I totally fell in love with it. I only saved the picture of the bedroom, but I remember loving the kitchen and the tall windows. I wish I had saved those!

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  11. I remember those pics from way back...always loved the house, especially the oustide. Hubba, hubba. Never knew the story behind it all...THANK YOU once again for sharing such a great story.

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  12. Oh, be still my heart. I love this house. THANKS for sharing it.

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  13. When I saw that blue commode, I immediately thought about the Amy Howard chest, then saw your comment! Great post. I have an Italian suburst mirror that looks like the twin of one of Easton's. I paid a fraction of that price, though!

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  14. Dear Cote de texas - another great pst!! thank you! My favorite is the porch shot. What a beautiful home

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  15. You picked the best pieces of the auction Joni! (Although, I know it was hard to choose b/c there were so many great lots.) I was a little surprised at the prices- way beyond the estimates!

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  16. Joni - I have always loved this house. Those klismos chairs are my dining room ideal. No kidding. Perfection.

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  17. Hi Joni
    I just had to come back to this post once again and feast my eyes!!!

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  18. i NEED that dutch colonial table. what a lucky duck to get the catalog! happy, healthy, peaceful holidays to you and your family!

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  19. My tiny three year old granddaughter has been feeling a tad under the weather! We've been spending time with her. She's better now!

    I've missed coming here! I'm delightfully catching up today!

    Pat

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  20. THis house has taken my breath away - BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing this! I have saved the first picture in my files!
    XO
    Anna

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  21. Oh, the porch with the fireplace is absolutely beautiful!

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  22. Joni, I haven't found the catalog yet, but I did find it online. OMIGOD! Those Steinmeir drawings are enough in their selves. I didn't know he was that talented. I wrote another friend and told her to check out the Majolica. I continue to lament their moving from this beautiful home!

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