Jackie Blue Home

Not one to usually toot my own horn, I did want to let you know that if you were the slightest bit interested in my blog about my new family room furniture, you may want to visit the Jackie Blue Home blog. Written by published author Jackie Von Tobel, she has taken the story of my family room and critiqued it picture by picture, pillow by pillow. Oy! At least Jackie's comments are quite nice and flattering compared to the anonymous commenter who obviously wasn't so enamored with my room! Oh well, you can't please everyone, but at least I pleased Jackie!

If you aren't familiar with Jackie or her delightful blog, she lives and writes in Las Vegas and has a new book coming out any day now. Tittled "The Design Directory of Window Treatments" the book features Jackie's own wonderfully drawn illustrations of draperies and other soft goods. There is another book by Jackie that is already in publication: "From Design to Delivery" and a third book about bedding is slated to be published next year. Besides being a self described "accidental author" she is also an interior designer with her own firm: Plush Home. Her blog chronicles her experiences in getting the new book completed and lots of other design topics that interest her. She also has a web site that you might want to visit.

Jackie and I have exchanged a host of friendly e-mails and she is a sweet and genteel woman. If you don't yet have "Jackie Blue Home" on your favorite blog list, I'm sure after visiting it, you will want to add it. She's a total delight!

Thanks again, Jackie, for all your kind words! I am completely flattered.

Jackie's illustrations for her new book, above and below - a few of my favorites:

Here's a picture of one of Jackie's design through her company, Plush Home:

And lastly, the lovely Jackie before her much discussed hair cut:

Three Chairs


As you may recall, Anne Harwell, the artist on Etsy and on her blog as Annechovie - created this painting of my statue a few weeks ago. Recently, she has been doing silhouettes of chairs in gorgeous, rich colors. These are original hand cut silhouettes on paper.

When I saw these chairs tonight, it struck me that they should be purchased together, as opposed to separately, and they should be framed as one piece of art. I've created a facsimile with Mosaic Maker via Flckr Toys to show you how it might look. I love this! If you are interested in buying all three chair silhouettes, or even just one, go to Anne's web site and inquire. The price is uber reasonable.

My Design: Family Room


Well, the big day finally arrived. The sofa, pictured above, that I picked out months ago was delivered this week. It's an old cliche, but very true: A designer can decide in a nanosecond what her client needs, but when it comes to the designer's own home? Forget it! The hold up was I couldn't decide what chairs would look good with the sofa because it has dramatic lines, with a high curved back, great depth, low - almost nonexistent - arms, and gorgeous, dark wood mouton legs. The truth is, I have waited my whole life for a George Smith sofa and arm chairs and I guess I'll be waiting for another life time. It's just not going to happen this time. As hard as I tried to make a pair of Smith's club chairs work, they just didn't look good next to the French styled sofa. So, after a few months of turmoil and indecision, back and forth, I finally decided on French wing chairs with mouton legs. The lines of the chair are very similar to the sofa. Decision finally made, chairs built, voila - it's here. As big of a change that it is to me, if you walk into my family room today, you may not even notice there is any new furniture at all, unless, of course, you're a design freak. Both my old and new sofa and chairs are slipcovered in white linen. The old wicker arm chair, my former perch, is now gone, replaced by the wing chair. But still, the overall effect is the same: white slipcovers contrasted with dark wood furniture. While the new furniture is not from George Smith, it is custom made, with all down cushions and it is tres comfy. Here's what my family room looks like with the new couch and chairs:

The only decision left concerns the pillows. This is what I'm thinking about - it's new from F. Schumacher, thick linen, gray and white - birds, of course, with the Quadrille negative-color toile feel. The fabric pops on the white sofa and repeats the high contrast of the white against the dark wood. What do you think? Should I use this fabric, or perhaps zebra, or even, dare I say, kwid or lulu?

Below, is another F. Schumacher fabric that seems to coordinate with my first choice. Or would a solid in deep raspberry or dark charcoal be better? What is your opinion? Do you have another suggestion?

AND.... One last design note. On my coffee table (which I would like to replace with a zinc one!!!) is a large blue & white Oriental bowl. It's huge and it's from Tozai Home, the upper-end division of Two's Company. Inside the bowl, I keep tons of loose photographs and old Christmas cards. I suggest this to all of my clients, especially the ones with myriad tacky picture frames cluttering every table and shelf. I've discovered that loose photos placed in a bowl invites conversation. At family gatherings, inevitably, one or two people will sit by the bowl and go through the whole thing, picture by picture. When was the last time anyone really looked at all your pictures in their frames? Toss those frames, put the photos in a big bowl, and watch your friends actually look at your photos for the first time.



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!