If you, like me, admired the beauty of the person that was Diana, the once Princess of Wales, this weekend you are probably thinking of Diana and of your own special memories of her. Everyone that knows me, in real life, is keenly aware of how much I adored Diana. There was a point in time where books on Diana and the Royal Family dominated my library. I have scores of these books, books about Diana's outfits, books about the Royal Jewels, books about the Royal castles, and books about their private lives written by fired or disgruntled past employees. The one book I own about the royals that I think would be of interest to design bloggers is The Garden at Highgrove, written by The Prince of Wales.

It is a beautiful garden book, somewhat similar in tone to David Hick's garden book, My Kind of Garden. It chronicles how Prince Charles bought a rather plain country home and turned it's barren land, save for one magnificent, aged cedar of Lebanon, into a magnificent parkland, filled with secret gardens, wildflower pastures, and garden paths, all the while using a environmentally sensitive approach to gardening. It details the help Charles received in designing his gardens, and how special care was taken to how the garden would look from inside the home, not just from the outside. It is a wonderful book, and is a companion to another book by the Prince written a year prior titled Highgrove, Portrait of an Estate. Filled with glorious pictures of wildflower fields, garden sculpture and pottery, garden gates and pathways, one does not have to be a horticulturist to enjoy it.

Aerial view of Highgrove. Note the cedar of Lebanon behind the home. Over 200 years old, the tree is now overtaken by fungus and other nasty things and is being dismantled.

A garden walk of yews, with another picture of the cedar.

From inside the home, a view of the yew walk. Doors are held open with the help of blue and white garden stools.

A garden walk through an arched wall.

A touch of whimsy in a garden.

A wildflower field at the front of Highgrove.

A dewy morning shot of Highgrove.

Cows grazing at Highgrove.

A door covered with climbing roses leads to a secret garden.

In the ten years since Diana's death, the Royal family has gone high tech. Prince Charles' own web site is top rate and if you are interested in visiting any of his homes or learning of their history, I highly recommend a perusal of it. Most interesting, is the fact that you can actually stay as a vacationer on his land. In cottages owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, a huge land holding that is the Prince of Wales' birthright and his main source of income, you can rent out these rather fashionable vacation homes. The information is on the Duchy's web site, along with pictures of the cottages that apparently are rated a 5 star by the English travel bureau.

One of the charming cottages available for holiday rental on the Prince's land. Interior shots of a few of the cottages are below:

With all this talk of Prince Charles, you may, like me, still have trouble believing that Charles would give up a wife like this:

To marry a wife like this:

If so, perhaps you are better off siding with the Spencers, Diana's own blood family. The Spencers home base is at Althorp, where Diana once lived. Althorp also has a wonderful web site. Her brother, the Earl of Spencer, currently lives at Althorp and opens it each summer to visitors. You must have a ticket prior to going though, don't expect to show up and visit without one. Diana is buried on an island in the middle of a small lake at Althorp and there is a wonderful exhibit of her childhood, life as the Princess, her wedding dress, and her charity work in the former horse stables. Another book I highly recommend was written by the Earl of Spencer and it chronicles the history of Diana's ancestral home:

The small lake which surrounds the island where Diana is buried at Althorp.

The monument at her grave.

Diana's handsome brother, Charles, has cashed in on all the fame as her only brother and heir to the estate of Althorp. He currently sells reproductions of the antiques at Althorp. Theodore Alexander is the company that markets this very expensive line of furniture.

Charles, the Earl of Spencer is ruggedly handsome and single, though it is reported he has a new girlfriend following his second divorce. But, if you want to try to catch his eye and become his new Countess, the Earl will be in Houston at Louis Shanks, of all places, on September 7 from 10 to 12 noon. Good luck!

O at Home

The new issue of Oprah's magazine O at Home is on the stands, and usually, it's not exactly something I would blog about. But isn't this cover beautiful? I adore it and it really caught my eye today! Gosh, I wonder why? Could it be because of the ultra-chic woman pictured below?

Probably. Thanks to my favorite fashionable blogger from New York, the fast-becoming famous Habitually Chic, I already knew Charlotte Moss was going to be in O at Home this issue. Those of us who devour every word Habitually Chic writes, were informed by her that Charlotte's new "must see" store in NYC had been photographed by Oprah's staff. This picture of Miss Moss was snapped by none other than Habitually Chic herself at their meeting last week. In case you missed this interview, read it here.

The current O at Home is wonderful, for reasons other than Charlotte, but she is certainly the star. I'll give you a sneak peak of the bedroom featured on the cover. It's typical Charlotte and it's to die for! Enjoy.

No one does four posters better than Charlotte. Styled to utter perfection, the photograph is typical Moss, with attention paid to everything, down to the smallest detail.

Guardian Statue by Annechovie

My very second post to my blog, Cote de Texas, was entitled Concrete Statuary and in case you missed it, this was the post:

My favorite shape is the urn, as in a crusty, old, concrete garden urn. I love placing urns inside the house with or without something inside of them. Another accessory I love using inside the house is garden statuary. This lady has been guarding my front window for many years. She is not an antique, but a copy of one. She is concrete, of course. I abhor all those "light weight" fake concrete items on the market today and would rather pull my back out moving real concrete than using the faux thing. My lady had been in the corner of the window for years, but recently I moved her to the middle of my window, framed softly by the silk curtains. She's much happier now that she can be easier seen.

Ok, ok, like I said, it was one of my first posts! Hopefully they got better along the way. Truthfully though, I've always liked that post because I adore the picture that accompanies it. I like the way the statue is framed in the draperies, I like the lighting, the glimpse of my tree outside the window - I was proud I had taken this picture.

And so, when I noticed that quite a few of the design bloggers were having an artist paint a special vignette, I wanted a painting too! The question became, of what? Style Court had had her newly upholstered chair immortalized, Patricia Gray chose to have a client's room painted, and online, there were renderings of pictures from design magazines that I liked. The artist behind this work is none other than Anne Harwell, aka, annechovie. Anne takes commissions for her renderings of interiors in the Mark Hampton style, but she also does exteriors or anything else you might want. If you have a special "view" you like or perhaps you have something else in mind you would like painted, Anne is more than happy to work with you to create exactly what you want. She's very pleasant to work with, sweet, kind, and most importantly patient while you make your final decision. My experience with Anne was first rate and I highly recommend her. To see all the work she has posted online, visit her Etsy store here. Below, is Anne's lovely vision of my guardian statute.

Anne, thank you so much, I adore my piece and I am most grateful to you!


Two from Texas

Interior designers from Houston have gotten quite the national press this year. House Beautiful had a cover story of Carol Glasser's design of my friend's Swedish home in River Oaks. Elle Decor did a cover of another Houston designer, Randy Powers. Veranda this month featured Houstonian Renea Abbott's work on its cover. But none of these veteran designers had quite as much press as Joe Shaffer. Joe's client, an owner of a real estate company, has two homes - both of which he designed, and both of which were featured this year. The Houston home is shown in Veranda and the country home is in Elle Decor. It's fascinating to look at how one woman, one designer, and two homes are either alike or different. The Houston home is a vision in soft celadon. The color weaves its way throughout the home tying the upstairs with the downstairs. The Houston home features predominantly French antiques juxtaposed with contemporary art work. The country home outside of Fredricksburg is also filled with French antiques, but some are of the more provincial kind. Again, there is a continuity of color, but this time it's creamy and gray tones. Both homes feature patternless, neutral fabrics and both homes share an air of sophisticated intelligence. Which home would you prefer to own, given the choice?

A tablescape sets the mood of the city house, contemporary art work mixes with sophisticated antiques.

One end of the living room with a French antique sofa, French chairs, a whimsical collection of antique suitcases, and an antique carpet.

A larger view of the living room showing antique Fortuny draperies, antique barometer, and important contemporary art.

The dining room takes on a relaxed atmosphere with a short, flirty skirt over a curvy iron table. I adore this room.

The sitting area of the master bedroom. Note the striped blue and white dhurri and blue and white garden seat set underneath the tea table. I love the symmetry of the mirrors and lamps on the commode between the two windows framed further out by the striped pillows.

The other side of the bedroom showing the gorgeous bed.

Country Home:

Texas limestone house with original tin roof set in the Hill Country. This type of architecture was popular with the German settlers who populated this part of Texas. The Hill Country is Texas' Provence.

Limestone walls in the kitchen, chandelier dresses up the rustic antiques.

Pale neutrals set a quiet tone in the living area. These antiques would work in the city house too. The lack of drapes in the country home gives a sparser look as compared to the cosier Houston home.

Another view of the living room. Striped pillows are the only patterned fabric. Linen fabric dresses down the French settee.

Another living area matches the mood of the other room. Love the architectural piece over the door.

French provincial commode with gold mirror. The owner had been accumulating antiques she bought in France for years in anticipation of owning a country home.

Crystal sconces are an unexpected touch in this rustic bathroom.

Gorgeous, curvy iron bed in guest room.

Louis XVI adds elegance to the attic styled bedroom. The owner, a single woman, hired a local landscape architect to help with the project. Apparently, he now lives in the house with her - according to Star, I mean Elle Decor magazine.

As for me, I'm unable to choose which house I prefer - I like them both too much!

Check Mate!

One of my favorite fabric houses these days is Chelsea Editions or Chelsea Textiles, depending upon which side of the pond you are located. Chelsea specializes in hand embroidered fabrics made in India. Besides selling fabric, they also sell reproduction furniture based on Swedish antiques. Though Chelsea is famous for their embroidered fabrics, it's their check fabrics that speak to me. Chelsea sells checks in every colorway, but, apparently, they must not be very proud of them because the checks are absent from their web site! Despite their second class status, I've become check crazy. I recently came to this conclusion looking around my house and going over projects I've worked on lately. I just can't get enough of checks. Here's what I mean. This is my sitting room with it's checked daybed and checked french chair:

And here's my unfinished bedroom with it's Chelsea checked headboard and drapes:

And here's a client's Swedish sofa that I covered in a Chelsea check:

And here's a pink Chelsea check:

Oh, look, here's a taupe check:

And here's another Chelsea check on the bench and a Chelsea embroidered duvet.

I'm not the only designer who loves checks. Mario Buatta has a thing for them too. Here he uses a check on the settee:

And here in a Houston home, Buatta uses a red check for the draperies:

Buatta must like big scaled checks, he uses a yellow one for these draperies:

Mariette Himes Gomez uses checks in the traditional way, on the back of a French fauteuil:

Someone who loves checks more than me, New York designer Jeffrey Bilhuber surprised people with his excessive use of checks in his new apartment:

Bilhuber's dining room:

Houston's Michael Siller also covered an entire room in his house with checks. Do you think he inspired Bilhuber?

Dallas designer Cathy Kincaid uses checks to line the bed's canopy.

Michael Smith is known for using this blue and white check in his designs. It shows up again and again:

Kathryn Ireland uses checks alot, also. Here she uses a dark blue check to contrast with the all white French styled bedroom:

In this vintage photograph, socialite Gloria Vanderbilt sits under one of the collages that she was famous for making. The check in the collage matches the fabric on the couch. The two matching Venetian mirrors are drop dead gorgeous! Playing next to her are her two sons. One is the famous CNN reporter: Anderson Cooper. Are you aware of what happened to the other son?

In France, checks are frequently used as a secondary fabric to toile:

John Stefinidis, interior designer extraordinaire, likes to use checks:

New Orleans' Gerrie Bremermann uses checks often. Here one shows up on the duvet:

Houston Designer Ginger Barber uses a check as the only pattern in an otherwise neutral room:

Despite the luxurious fabrics used in this room, a simple check shows up on the pillows:

Interior Designer Diane Burns uses silk checks in her French styled bedroom:

A checked fabric livens up a bedside bench:

Victoria Hagan puts the check on the floor with an Elizabeth Eakin rug:

Here, Ikea gets in on the check act with it's slipcovered sofa:

And finally, here on Chelsea Edition furniture, is, of course, a Chelsea Edition check!