06 July 2009

Cote de Texas - Top Ten Design Elements

imageA popular thing that magazines and bloggers alike trot out once a year is their Top Ten List of What’s In and What’s Out. I love those lists, but reading them, you take what is said so personally that the titles might as well be: “TOP TEN THINGS THAT DATE YOUR HOUSE AND LET YOUR NEIGHBORS KNOW YOU HAVE NO TASTE,” or: “TOP TEN THINGS TO THROW OUT IMMEDIATELY WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM OR NOT – THEY’RE OUT!!!!” or how about this one: “TOP TEN LIST OF THINGS THAT PROVES YOU ARE A SHOPAHOLIC.” A list that would speak personally to me would be: “TOP TEN THINGS THAT SCREAM - YOU ARE A SLAVE TO TRENDS” – something I know I am terribly guilty of. Every “What’s In/Out” list I read promptly makes me cringe when I realize I can’t pass up a trendy decor item to save my life. I can’t help it – I see things in design books and magazines and I covet them, I want them in my house. It’s not that I see a zebra skin in a magazine and think – gee, zebra skins are “in” – I need to get one today so I’ll be with-it. I didn’t get a zebra skin rug to be hip or cool or trendy, I bought one because I loved it and thought it would look good in my house. But now, the lists are telling me to get rid of it. Why should I? I still like it.

image My trend alert table: coral, no longer red, but trendy big and white, and alabaster marbles – fast becoming passé. Shells are so out, they are in.

Today, we all read the five or six design magazines left standing, and we see the same things photographed over and over and over again, until we collectively say “ENOUGH!” No more coral! No more suzanis! No more sunburst mirrors! No more (insert your favorite trend to hate here.) Yet, I like my suzanis. Every time I see another Top Ten list that tells me “ENOUGH SUZANI” – it makes me doubt myself. Why? What do I care if magazine editors or other bloggers say suzanis are overdone. They ARE overdone – in magazines, that is, but not in real life. Let me prove my point – quickly name me two not-in-the-design-business friends of yours who actually know what a suzani is. I said quickly. The truth is, most, if not all of my friends wouldn’t know a suzani from a lazy Susan. Yet the design aficionados, tired of seeing them in every single magazine for the past two years, have decreed suzanis are out and probably will be the #1 dreaded trendy item on every Top Ten What’s Out list this year. Well, shoot me, I still like them. And I still like coral, though I don’t care for red coral on wood pedestals or stamped on my toilet paper. And anyway, all my coral is white, thank you very much. And no, I don’t have any deer heads, faux or real. But I do have the marble grapes. Like I said, shoot me. Maybe I don’t want to see suzani’s in every design magazine I read, but I DO love seeing it on my bed each night.

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My suzani is staying and so is the sunburst mirror – and I don’t care who reports me to the Top Ten List of What’s Out writers!

So, if the Top Ten Lists of Overdone, Over-Exposed Design Elements seems to be targeting my personal taste and my house, why not put out my own Top Ten List of FAVORITE Design Elements? What are the things that I see in a house that make my heart skip a beat? What items cause me to go green with envy when I see them in someone else’s house? What are the 10 items that I think together create a wonderful place to live? There are dozens, if not hundreds of things I adore, yet there is a short list of elements I consider vital to an interior for me to like it. And please understand, I can appreciate houses that don’t fit into my Top Ten ideal. I can even love a house where all the furniture is covered in chenille and the flooring is wall to wall carpet. But my TOP TEN list is the things I design with, the choices I make over and over again because I like them. So, now, in no particular order, my Top Ten List. Note: I will post one or two items from the list at a time. This way, I can really explore each item and explain it’s appeal and really drag this out for a while! Hopefully though, I will finish this Top Ten Series quickly, as opposed to the Top Ten Designers list that still has two left to go!!!!

COTE DE TEXAS: TOP TEN DESIGN ELEMENTS

1. LINEN: Show me a house with linen, and I’ll love it. Period. I love both solid and patterned linen – especially patterned linen that is faded and soft from age. I love Belgian and Irish linen – that thick, heavy, rough kind of linen. I love linen with a strong, visible weave. I also love soft linen that is almost see through. The truth is – almost any linen will do and sometimes the least expensive linen is the best! I love linen – in my house and on my body. It’s my favorite fabric – it’s the one that I instinctively reach for when given a choice. I know it wrinkles, but that’s one of its appeals – it’s casual and unpretentious. I probably love white linen the best. But I also go weak in the knees over gorgeous, soft seafoam colored linen or a sweet apricot and dusty pink. I love a glazed linen – Rogers and Goffigon makes gorgeous solid glazed linens. But tea-stained and muted patterned linens are intoxicating. Lee Jofa showrooms, with all their linen prints, can hold my interest for hours. And nothing is prettier than hand blocked linen from Bennison or Robert Kime– though ultra expensive, it’s worth every penny and the wait while you save up for it. Nothing, nothing looks better than a sofa or chair slipcovered with Bennison linen. Just saying the name Bennison or seeing it written thrills me.

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Bennison in London. Just the name alone makes my heart flutter and conjures up all the reasons why I love design so much!

In Los Angeles a few years ago, visiting the Bennison shop, I loitered there like a wino waiting for a handout, drunk on all the exquisite beauty. I gently touched each sample – some I had never seen in Houston before. The woman running the shop was pleasant and very quiet. A male friend waited with her, quite talkative – telling me stories of his grown children. We talked and talked for over an hour – any excuse for me to linger longer. The elderly couple were charming and from England and were quite understatedly dressed to be working with such expensive merchandise. The two were certainly not the usual young fashion plates that one finds in the more upscale showrooms. They looked more like they couldn’t afford a yard of Bennison, nor even want any. They were both so down to earth and unaffected.

They were also the owners of Bennison, filling in for a vacationing employee!! To say I was star struck when they finally admitted they were Gilly and Geoffrey Newberry would be a huge understatement. I walked on clouds for the rest of my trip! Imagine waltzing into Stark and being assisted by the owners or the designers. Right, it’s not going to happen. On that trip, we ate at the Ivy several times to catch a glimpse of stars, but I could not have cared less. I had already spent a hour with the two biggest stars in my book!

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Gilly Newberry, looking quite glamorous here, became the sole owner after Geoffrey Bennison died. Bennison is famous for bringing back centuries old patterns that were long forgotten until rediscovered by both Newberry and Bennison.

What IS it about linen that makes a house so welcoming? Perhaps because it’s organic, a natural fabric, and like cotton and silk, it’s been around for ages. The imperfection of the fabric – the wrinkling, the irregular weave – certainly makes it more casual – and casual is so welcoming. Or maybe it’s the simple quality of the fabric that helps make a home cozy and inviting – two desirable traits. It’s not a dressy fabric, yet pair white linen with deep chocolate velvet and suddenly the opulence level goes way up. Regardless of how it’s used, whether it’s made into curtains or slipcovers, linen is always essential to my aesthetic.

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I live with and wear white linen. This linen, from Duralee is quite inexpensive, yet it’s heaviness, thickness and obvious weave makes it resemble pricier Irish linen from Travers!

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Houston interior decorator Carol Glasser mostly used one pattern, Bennison Roses, in her former bedroom. The room remained unchanged throughout the entire time she lived there. Why mess with perfection?

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Houston designer Pam Pierce’s living room. The simple fabric dresses down the exquisite French antiques.

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In this study for a client, I used Bennison for the curtains and pillows and seafoam Rogers and Goffigon linen for the sofa– two of my favorites!

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Simple white linen pops against the richness of all the antiques and pricey art work – design by Axel Vervoordt.

imageYum. I love the dark gray walls against all the white linen.

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Houston designer Renea Abbott used Belgian linen on her dining room chairs – this is how I LOVE linen: white, wrinkled, slipped! And, it also looks great freshly ironed!

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White linen and antiques – is there anything prettier?

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The Obama’s designer Michael Smith (I LOVE saying that!) uses a lot Bennison linens in his designs.

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And Charlotte Moss used Bennison linen to cover the furniture AND the walls!

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I especially loved striped linen. This fabric gives a little pop to the room. In my first house as a young married woman, I copied Dan Carithers and used this striped linen on every piece of furniture in my living room:

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My real first house and my first slipcovers! This was about 18 years ago – and that’s not seagrass, it’s horrible Coir!

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The famous Something’s Gotta Give dining room. I’m convinced this room’s large appeal was due to the plates and the slipcovers in linen. At the time I thought this was Bennison, but a reader alerted me that it is Lee Jofa linen. In person this fabric is divine!

image The quiet elegance of Phoebe Howard. White everywhere!

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Suzanne Rheinstein used a famous Robert Kime linen in this room. She carries Kime in her showroom – of the few places you can get it.

image Was this the prettiest Vernanda cover ever? Renea Abott, again, white linen and gilt French antiques. Cy Twombly adds the perfect touch!

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The English love faded, tea stained linen – especially from Bennison and George Smith. Isn’t this inviting and cozy? Exactly the appeal that linen holds for me.

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Charles Faudree from Tulsa uses Bennison frequently. Rogers and Goffigon linen is on the sofa, Bennison is on the chairs.

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Linen is especially nice for shades and window seats, isn’t it?

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Barbara Westbrook used white linen to pop in an all dark gray dining room.

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Linen is nice when it is mixed with different prints in one room. The room is painted the color of the fabric’s background creating a softness throughout.

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Everyone’s favorite blogger Velvet and Linen, aka Brooke Giannetti, used Bennison in her own living room on the pillows and curtains. Cote de Texas’ Bennison House used the same stripe for curtains below:

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The Bennison House shares the same curtains with Brooke. Almost every fabric in this house was made of linen – maybe that’s why I like it so much!

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The dining room has gorgeous Bennison in a custom color way. This is my favorite room in the house.

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This chair upholstered in Bennison linen made me like this room by Christopher Maya immediately!

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Gerrie Bremermman uses natural fibers only: cotton, silks and linens. I love the way she makes her curtains.

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I used Bennison Roses in my living room.

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What is prettier than one sofa in linen? How about a two-sided sofa? Jeffrey Bilhuber used a Travers linen here. Travers makes the most gorgeous linens – patterned or solid.

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In Dallas, French antiques wear natural linen – a perfect pair in my book.

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This house is in New Mexico – and rather than go all Navajo, they went Bennison! All the fabrics are Bennison. To me, this room is what linen is ALL about – warm, cozy, soft, muted, and beautiful. The house was designed by Beverly Jacomini from Houston, Texas. Judith Thibaut the blogger of Studio Judith sent me the photographs by Erika Blumentfeld.

image And the bedroom from the above New Mexico house. Notice how the Bennison curtains divide the sitting room from the sleeping area. What a luxury! Work by Beverly Jacomini of Houston, again.

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OK – I had to show this. Blogger of What is James Wearing, James Andrews, posed in the Bennison showroom (a few times actually). I can’t remember exactly what he IS wearing, but go here for the description. James – you are TOO handsome! You need to model instead of doing interior design.

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A typical English cottage – with nice, heavy, lined linen curtains. So softly beautiful.

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In Dallas, Lisa Luby Ryan went from dark English design to a light Swedish look using white and khaki linens. I love the simplicity of her linen bedskirt.

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After Roses, this is probably the most well known Bennison pattern that is on the chairs – Jeffrey Bilhuber, again.

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TO DIE FOR: My mother, the famous Betty Rae, called to warn me I was going to love this house in Southern Accents. And boy, was she right (as usual!) I’m not sure that if I actually designed this – I would change one thing. Hmmmm – maybe the pillow fabric! Hey – it’s all personal, you know! This is design that I LOVE: – white linen, slips, seagrass, zebra, skirted table, taffeta, cane, chandelier, mirror, books, and antiques. What – no sconces? What’s wrong with Jeff Woosley? haha. But seriously – this probably doesn’t appeal to you as much as it does to me – because that is what makes it “all so personal.” To me, it doesn’t get much better than this. The rest of the house is even better.

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The Tanglewood House: we used a gorgeous, heavy linen on the curtains and on the lampshades. Hi MIMI!!!!! I miss you!

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English designer Mimmi O’Connell uses yards and yards of French linen in her bedroom in London. How wonderful can a bedroom be?

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At the Octagon House, Tami Owen used linen throughout. These shades were a personal favorite of mine.

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Seafoam linen and French antiques (probably from M. Naeve!) – in a Houston house that is one of my favorites, EVER! The sofa is a true beauty and the linen just enhances it.

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The same Houston house with a linen tablecloth and curtains. Greens, creams, and a blue striped rug – magnificent!

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Bennison linen: today the company is branching out. After years of tea stained, muted fabrics – new vibrant patterns are coming out daily. Some are vivid blues, but many are just vivid! It’s quite a difference, but to grow as a company, you need to change. I would guess that the new fabrics are flying off the shelves - the color combinations are fabulous.

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Gilly and Geoffrey Newberry, owners of Bennison (and my personal friends now!) added this conservatory onto their English country manor. The house is filled with gorgeous fabrics, as you can imagine! Bennison sells these wonderful oversized blue and white lamps.

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Belgian design is all about linens and limed woods. The two seem to go hand in hand. Notice the lovely linen shades – that kind of folding is hard to achieve with just any fabric – linen seems to be the best.

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Suzanne Rheinstein loves linens. This Florida house is one my favorite of her designs.

image White linen pops against black accents. I love the dark nailheads used with the white fabric.

image Sometimes, a fabric is so special, just a piece of it “makes” an entire room: here a Robert Kime linen on a club chair plays that role perfectly.

image This farm in Fredericksburg is furnished quite sophisticatedly for the country, don’t you think? If I had a farm, I would furnish it exactly this way – with lots of linen!

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Linen and silk taffeta: what Lars Bolander does best!

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This house for sale in Houston is so simple, it almost does resemble a place of worship! The white linen sofa are just gorgeous I think – so Belgian in style and mood with their high, elegant backs.

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And finally, the family room in the Tanglewood house. We used all linen in here – mostly slipped except for the ottoman for easy cleaning. The curtains aren’t Bennison, they just look like it! By choosing a substitute to the extra pricey Bennison, we were able to do more in the room since we didn’t have to pay for 40 yards of Bennison!!

I hope you have enjoyed my first installment of Cote de Texas - Top Ten Design Elements. Can you guess what #2 will be? Why not play along and make up your own Top Ten list and then we can see who comes closest to my list? I hope you all had a safe and healthy Fourth of July!

112 comments:

  1. I'm with you on the white coral. I'm was wrapping my grandmother's bunch moments ago in preparation for our move.

    Too bad that suzanis have been so overexposed in shelter magazines these past few years. They are glorious and I would love to own one.

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  2. SPECTACULAR post! Thank you, thank you, thank you... so much inspiration. I would consider myself 'not in the design' business (more of a big picture/gross motor builder junkie) and didn't have a clue what a 'suzani' was until I googled it 5 seconds ago. It's all a bit ridiculous really, isn't it!... the whole what's in, what's out. I had a look around my evolving 'new place', while consuming 2 red wines while reading your fabulous post, and realised that I have more linen than I thought I had. I have more style than I realised! Design Element Number 1 - tick. I'm with you on number 1!.... and you have FABULOUS taste. Can't wait for number 2. A-M xx

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  3. Joni
    What a beautiful post. I agree that if you love it use it. Thanks again for the joy!
    Marion

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  4. Dear Joni,

    I am so curious to read the other 9 of your top 10 list!

    What a post!
    May I ask you how much time you spent making this post - or how much time blogging including answering emails and comments consumes of your day?

    You must be such a quick worker!
    And you still have time to come over and visit my blog? Amazing!

    What I like and would repeat if moving to a new place: combine modern classics with antiques: A dark wooden antique cabinet or commode from France, Italy or China look always great.

    Also I want to answer your question on my blog (what I did overthere) but to save your time: we are not done inside the house yet. It just looks great fromt he outside, but its not liveable yet!
    Have a great week!!

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  5. Ok...now I am feeling guilty. Just this weekend I threw away a very worn and faded linen duvet cover (thought about making pillows out of it...for a minute) No bennison, however. Just Pottery Barn!

    It is just about all I wear, too! And have chairs and loveseats and duvets all sporting various linens. Where do you find that thick heavy raw french/belgian linen? I don't come across it ever.

    Love your suzanni. They have been around since the dawn of time practically (like a good persian rug)...just not in our country.

    Fun list idea. I imagine sea grass will be next. And what is wrong with coir, BTW??

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  6. Wonderful images, and I particularly like your "Yum. I love the dark gray walls against all the white linen." image, except the way the pictures are arranged...the lack of symmetry would kill me!

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  7. Fabulous post Joni,
    I'm looking forward to the next nine!
    Sharnel

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  8. That is a classic CDT post, I loved it!

    I am slowly but surely adding more linen to my home, although I must admit that I tend to be more in the camp of not wanting so many wrinkles. But - when I selected a fabric for my headboard and custom bedskirt - I selected linen! I also recovered my antique chairs with linen. The chair and headboard are tightly upholstered, so wrinkling is not an issue. The bedskirt still looks amazing - barely wrinkled! It has a very thick lining, though, to keep it crisp.

    So funny about feeling like you were meeting celebrities when meeting the owners of Bennison - I just finished a post that I will be posting this week, and I wrote about a designer that I had seen, and I was more excited to see this designer than I would have been to see Brad Pitt!!! I swear I wrote this before reading your post. We are on the same wave length!

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  9. Thanks for the fantastic pictures. I always gravitate to the linen while everyone else is going for the silks.
    Like Linda, I'm guessing your next post will be on sea grass.

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  10. Wonderful post as usual! My guess is seagrass will be next on your list! LOL
    Love you Joni!

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  11. Love this post! What a great way to wake up on Monday morning. I am trying to add more linen to my home, and all the images from your post certainly provide inspiration! And I agree, whether or not something is "in" or not, if you love it, proudly display it.

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  12. I absolutely love your thoughts on trendiness! Just yesterday I was lamenting that my red dining room might be getting dated. I spent an hour looking thru housebeautiful.com for dining room ideas -- but mine looks so great red! It's like fashion - high style takes a while to trickle down to us regular folk, and then we can't afford to toss it after 1 season! Love the linen, btw!

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  13. LOOOOOVE this post! Lovelovelove. And your rooms stand right up to the magazine designers!!!! THANKS for sharing. I will not get a thing done today because I will keep going back to look at this delicious post. Please don't get rid of your zebra! You love it (I love it).
    Also, it is funny that you said what you said about things being out-- I just had this exact same conversation the other day. So maybe the magazines are showing a lot of something, but how many times do you see that same element in other people's houses???? And if you truly love it, who cares!

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  14. I do think you're right that most of my friends wouldn't know a suzani from a lazy Susan - can't wait to see what's up next.

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  15. I didn't want this post to end. I would see the scroll thingy getting closer to the end and sink! Can't wait to see the other items on your list. I also think seagrass and sconces will be coming soon! But seagrass is so scratchy or is that just the cheap kind..HaHa!
    More please.

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  16. Adore linen! A friend used to say "Linen makes the party" and I think that you've shown us that!

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  17. Joni- You make a good point with this list, and really, as long as you love it, who cares if it's in or out!!!

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  18. Loving this post! Can't wait for #2......mmmmm....

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  19. Joni - I could not agree with you more on so many levels!!

    "Live with what you love" is my motto. I didn't realize it until I entered the world of blogging and now I find myself constantly saying that. I love shells - always have and always will, regardless of what some list says. And you are right - who even knows what a suzani is unless they are well traveled and educated in textiles, or design fanatics like we are!! Still love them. And those alabaster grapes? I have collected stone fruit, including grapes, for years now, and they are treasures that would be hard to gather again today.

    Your post on linen is fabulous, as always. I have blue linen Roman shades in our den, and your post makes me wish I had used more of it in my house. Maybe next time, right? As always, wonderful post and my design fix for the day, especially since I have covered all the magazines for this month!

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  20. I think number 2 will be seagrass. I hope I am right!!!

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  21. Wow, loved this post as well! The pictures were glorious and I can't wait to see the rest of the list!

    Nancy W.

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  22. What a massive post! I have linen curtains in my bedroom and the guy at the curtain workroom tried to talk me out of it. He kept saying - you realize we can't get these ironed out perfectly and you'll have to live with some wrinking(!) Glad you still love your white coral and seashells - I love mine. Looking forward to #2.

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  23. What a great post!
    I'm really looking forward to the next nine!

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  24. I am sooooo Happy you did Linen first. My jaw hurts from holding my mouth opened while reading and going over every photo.
    I love linen, and like you,I love to wear linen. There was a time way back when I was a child that I hated the stuff. I remember the coke bottles with the sprinkle tops that was used with water to iron all the linen my mother had. ( I am really showing my age.) I thought we were so up town when she got rid of the stuff and it was replaced with man made fabrics that were the then rage. How Sad to think of this now.

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  25. Linen for days! YUM! Your posts are better than any magazine! I love everything about linen - the understated elegance, comfort and beauty - delicious!
    Can't wait to see what's next!
    xo Isa

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  26. We 100 percent agree with you that coral, alabaster marbles, sunburst mirrors and the zebra rug are not going anywhere for us as well. We love those design elements and wouldn't trade them for anything. All you pictures of the rooms with the linens are great and this top ten design elements is such a great idea! We will have to start thinking of our own. We are definitely going to make a trip to the Bennison showroom in Manhattan to check out all the lovely linens you suggested. Can't wait to see what Design Element #2 will be!

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  27. "But now, the lists are telling me to get rid of it. Why should I? I still like it."

    I'm officially in love with you. I adore this quote.

    And what a wonderfully comprehensive Ode to Linen--I'm pretty sure that you are linen's biggest fan.

    Can't wait to see the rest of your top ten!

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  28. I'm with all the others-- seagrass is next. And then... now I'm trying to think of how to categorize this properly, but something to do with antique wooden tables? You seem to find some wonderful gateleg, French wine tables, and other types. And... lanterns must be on there somewhere, right? Number 10-- The Husband Fan?? Heehee.

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  29. I just hung a sunburst mirror over our bed yesterday. Glad to hear you are keeping yours too.

    I'm always intrigued by the top 10 and in & out lists but I always stick to what's true to my heart.

    And I agree wholeheartedly with you on linen. Definitely a top 10 item.

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  30. Love the linens against grays, deep or soft, a fresh look. I still covet that suzanni, as I still haven't one in my home! Exited to see the next segments!PS My home has many items that I have had 25+ years, some recovered, some as is....my feeling is that yes, if you love it and it is a classic it never goes out of style.

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  31. Your post illicited comments from me OUT LOUD while home alone! My dogs think it strange...to be sitting at the computer w/coffee in hand. Every picture/post of yours gets an: "Mmm!" or a "aaah, yes." Suzani and lazy Susan made me laugh out loud. Counting down with you, Joni!

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  32. Oh Joni, could this post have gotten any more enjoyable!?! Your plethora of beautiful images leaves me loving linen even more than before, which is almost scary but at least I know I'm not alone! Can't wait to see your other top elements whether they're "trendy" or not!

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  33. Great, fantastic, amazing post! I agree with everything you said. Love the linen symposium. Thanks.

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  34. I believe you are more than one person...haha. Loved this post! I'm still looking for the lettuce coral someone has decided is "out".. so I can snatch it up for a song! A few years back I tossed the alabaster grapes my mom had, I've regretted it ever since.. "Too soon old.. too late smart"... Libba

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  35. Yes, like what you love and love what you like and who cares what the experts say!! Beautiful photos today. Can't wait to see the rest of your Top Ten! Hmmm, I'll start thinking about mine too.

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  36. Bennison is the best! I remember when I discovered their showroom on Melrose. I thought I had gone to linen heaven. That's when I re-did my living room. I think I would have wrapped Steve in Bennison if he would have stayed still long enough. The amazing thing about Bennison is that it is incredibly durable and it doesn't wrinkle. I don't know how they do it. I've washed the slips on my chairs at least 50 times, and they still look great.
    This was so much fun. Thank you for including my little living room.
    I can't wait to see what is #2
    I'm not going to make a list of my top 10 because I think they are all "out" now! I'm so behind the times.

    xo
    Brooke

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  37. ...oh mercy me...what to do?!...close the drapes...turn out the lights...pull the plug on the computer...and hope the design police do not find you?...you are living in YOUR HOME...so live as you love with what you love and with whom you love...nothing else much matters...

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  38. Great post, Joni. If the next nine are as thorough as this one, you'll have to publish your own style journal!
    I completely agree with your take on what's in/what's out as it applies to "design world" vs "real world". None of my friends, and quite probably none of my prospective clients, have a clue what a suzani or sisal or steampunk are. So when I'm talking to them about design, they either glaze over and nod off or think I'm a decorating genius! (Hopefully, the latter more than the former!)
    And if the design police came to my own house, as Laney suggests they might, well, I'm in BIG trouble!

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  39. So funny...I am quite the opposite when it comes to trends. If it's "IN", then count me out! I'm sure it's some sort of mental condition, but there you go.

    I do adore linen with a passion, whether it's in or out, and my house is covered in it. Colefax and Fowler floral linen covers my office, Ralph Lauren linen swaddles my bedroom and Bennison upholsters my library. Just the best fabric ever! So I shall be back all week to drink in more of this fabulous post!! Thank you, again, Joni!!!

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  40. But your suzani is used with discretion and a purpose. And the colours are soft rather than strident, so it doesn't suck all the air out of the room or demand too much attention.

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  41. So very pretty! I love your "shells are so out they're in" comment. I tend to collect a lot of rocks...

    Gorgeous post as usual, Joni!

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  42. Can Joni or anyone tell me what you would call those type of linen shades (are they considered balloon shades?). And, can anyone recommend a pattern I could use to make something similar? I have made some shades (nowhere NEAR as beautiful) sort of like that, but not working ones. I'd love to do something like that for my bathroom, but need them to actually go up and down! I am drooling over this post. I want to wrap my entire house in linen now. I'm beginning to understand Cristo's art!!!!!!!!!!

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  43. Unbelievable collection of the best in linen! I can appreciate the muted patterns, but I literally swoon over white or unbleached versions. How exciting to know that Bennison is doing some vibrant hues, too!

    I too fall prey to some of the designer "trends," but really, does a vintage, handmade fabric like a suzani, or an elegant sunburst mirror ever lose it's timeless appeal? I think not!

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  44. I love it that you have no shame in just sticking with what YOU love, whether it's "IN" or "OUT".
    We are way too peer-pressured in this country with our decor.

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  45. I am aiming always for timeless. If a trend catches up then moves on, I don't worry.

    Also, I wondered how you replied to comments. Joni, you needn't, I would read if I never heard from you. Your work is that important.

    Be well.

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  46. Joni, what an amazing post. I completely agree with you as far as if you own something you love use it until you hate it. You always make me laugh by the way. Have you thought about writing your own book? Please, stop by when you have a chance I would love to see what you think of my latest project. I'm calling it a Forest in our Master Bedroom.

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  47. I am in complete agreement with you about the "top-ten" lists. It's so refreshing to know that there are other's that design using things they love, rather than the things that are supposedly "in". Thank you for the great post. I love reading your blog!

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  48. I am finding lately that I really could care less and less what is "in" and what is "out". As long as I love it.... that's all that matters!!! Great post and fabulous eye candy :o)
    ~Des

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  49. I love your blog, but I find it hard to believe you have never mentioned Lynn Von Kersting.
    Marietta Kelt
    Montecito, California

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  50. * DEFINITELY one of your BEST BLOGS EVER, Joni! (Oh gosh, but do I ALWAYS THINK a-n-d SAY that? It's SOOOO T*R*U*E, tho!)~~~

    I love sooo/tooo many different "things"/styles/accents, & throughout our 18 years of living in Europe, the middle east & mannnny different states here, I've seen SOOO MUCH, & think that's "WHY" I JUST a piece or two into our home...

    (B-U-T, for me, ANYTHING done W*E*L*L is a sight to behold~~~ and ENJOY!)~

    I DO think I've found "MY" real SELF/personal STYLE" (good OR bad as it may be!), more NOW than ever, and some of that comes from "exposure" and some simply from "age".

    While I personally MISS lots of greenery outdoors, I have fallen in loooovvvve with the desert~~~ our INCREDIBLY COLORED SUNSETS, all the natural rock, the INCREIBLE blue sky, all the stone and glass~ anything "natural", UNcomplicated & UN"fancy" floats my boat & makes me, and luckily my husband, just calm, happy and satisfied.

    "It" speaks to you, you love it, you buy it, you enjoy it, it makes you happy and SOMEONE tells you it "SHOULDN'T"????~~~~ NOPE, I'm with you... (Just NOT gonna happen in MY life.... "not no way, not 'no how'", kiddo!!! "And THAT'S the TRUTH!")~

    I simply CANNOT WAIT for the NEXT BLOG!!!! Hurrrry, please, as THIS was as wonderful to read, as it was to read EVERYONE ELSE'S thoughts on the issue at hand!!!

    Yer my girl, Joni~~~ As Telly would say, "Who luvs ya baby?!"

    MANY THANKS n' hugs,
    Linda

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  51. Joni - what an amazing post. I kept waiting for #2 but soon realized it was all LINEN. I love linen also and had an amazing time at the Paris flea markets where there are piles and piles of old linen. I went through piles and bought myself a couple of tablecloths, but regret I did not have more patience to bring home more (just didn't have luggage space - should have shipped it!).

    I am thinking of doing my dining room chair seats in linen - natural coloured I think, although I love the wide stripe you showed on your slip-covered chairs. I love blue and white or grey and white wide stripes.

    Great post and thanks for the tips on the chandeliers - yes, I have visited many of the online sites and, like you, looked at thousands of chandeliers! It is so hard to buy sight unseen unless it is something that looks utterly amazing and you are willing to take the risk! I didn't find anything I HAD to have, so I am mostly now looking at the lines that are available locally.

    No need to reply!!

    xo Terri

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  52. Oh, slipcovers. That might be in your top ten. Or is that too close to linen since they usually are linen? But what comes to mind when I think of Cote de Texas is your UNIQUE, cleverly detailed slipcovers-- the scallops, ties, buttons, ruffles, pleats, as well as the tailored.
    Really looking forward to the rest of your top ten.

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  53. Oh, oh Joni!!! Love this post.......can't wait for the countdown to continue!!!!!
    XOXO

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  54. Among my top ten would be antique books, beautiful tea-stained fabrics, transferware, painted beaded full-inset cabinetry, embroidered pillows, antique botanical and bird prints... hhmmm, maybe I will make my own top ten list. :)

    Oh, and I LOVE that Houston house with the seafoam green French sofa and that gorgeous dining room, too!

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  55. Love this post! I'm having a giveaway at my blog - I do hope you can stop by!

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  56. My feeling is that if you love something (a color, a style, a collection), then use without caring what other people think. And in the design world, something will start with being trendy, then overexposed, then dated...but if you can wait it out, it will eventually become a classic. As for your top ten, the only fabric I love to use more than linen is burlap. There is just something about a naturl fiber in a coarse weave that I love.

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  57. Thanks Joni for the way you inspire and challenge us. Love your ideas and your thoughts. I think the 2nd element will be PAINT. Just a guess, but we'll see! Look forward to reading on. I also love "The Skirted Round Table." Congratulations on your successful blog. It's a delight.

    Decrenew.com
    Ruth Staalsen

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  58. Over the top post!!! My head is spinning!!!

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  59. Wonderful post and I cant' wait for the next 9 -- very inspirational. It's embarrassing to admit but I've never considered using linen for upholstery but now you've got me thinking of choosing a linen couch (we're looking for a new one)or slip covered in linen. However, we have a dog and folks eat on our sofa so I'm wondering what linen you'd suggest that would not be high-maintenance for cleaning? Or is this the reason I've never considered linen?

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  60. Joni, I love them all, but my heart skip a beat at your own rose fabric covered chair in your living room. I can't wait to read the rest of your list.

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  61. I'll take the Bennison over Navajo. (It's all personal, as you say....). Love the natural, and light and airy look and feel of linen!! And, no, no, no...shells cannot and will not go out of style -- at least in not in my book of what's-out. Love the shell in your family room, which unfolds like a flower. cheers, -susan

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  62. Joni!!! This post was amazing! I loved all of the great pictures, love the linen! I've been torn the last few months, as you and Brooke (V&L), over the color in my home or to paint everything neutral! I also have some great rugs from Europe, do I replace them with Seagrass? It is really rough on the feet. I bet seagrass will be next! Thanks for all the time you put into this! Tina

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  63. I am addicted to this blog. I love linen too!! Thanks for the wonderful post! I have been reading all your old posts as well but this one has sold me to paint my kitchen walls a dark grayish blue and paint the cabinets white?? My kitchen came with custom natural linen drapes that need a bit of style and I think this will do it!! Plus some seagrass and I should be headed down the right direction...

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  64. I LOVED this post!! Linen is amazing, but you have to be very careful to keep it real clean all the time!

    Thanks for the inspiration and the lovely pics :)

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  65. Linen, linen, always linen!!!
    Image after image of covet & lovliness. Gratitude for the gracious views.
    I abhor those ridiculous lists. What's In really means...buy all this new stuff so we can pay the bills & please our advertisers.
    I stick with what I like since many many times whats now in is ugly!!!

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  66. Joni!
    I am sooo with you on the "design trends". There are plenty of designers out there including you (and me) that have great taste and can put great elements that are supposed to be "passe" and the room is fabulous. I like your white coral and the suzani's. I would love to have one and am looking for one in some bright colors to go in one of my guest rooms. To me some of those "in the know" that come up with what's in and what's out have their own opinions and they try to shape the industry to make more sales!

    You cannot go wrong with linen and I will be doing my FR sofa over next year (just did it last year and am not super happy with it, so figure I can justify changing it if I have lived with it a couple of years and hopefully DH won't go bezerk!). I will be looking at a heavy linen, I love the cozy look. Those DR chairs you showed that had the monogram....lovely. I don't think I would put them in my own DR because I can just see serving something really juicy and someone's hand being juicy as they grab the seat to pull forward. YIKES.
    Great eye candy you have shown.
    Blessings Girl!

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  67. The house in New Mexico was done by Beverly Jacomini's firm of Houston...It was in Southern Accents...so I do not know who your friend is claiming to have designed it....but I think she owes Beverly a great big Apology...you might owe her one also.

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  68. joni, anytime you want a picture from my blog... it's yours!

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  69. ok - listen everyone! the house in Santa Fe WAS designed by Beverly Jacomini - I thought I knew that BUT I was given these pictures and was told something that I totally misunderstood. Rather than upset anyone, I wrote what I THOUGHT I had been told. I apologize. Here is the story:
    Beverly Jacomini designed the house in Santa Fe for a client from Houston. Once Beverly Jacomini went back to Houston, Ms. Thibaut - who lives in Santa Fe - was hired to keep the house in tip top shape, replace fabrics, furniture, etc. as there were a few dogs that lived there that caused things to be updated periodically. The INITIAL design was by Ms. Jacomini. I apologize if I misled you, I am very sorry, but thank you for alerting me to this asap so I can fix it on my blog. The misunderstanding was my fault. It was told to me in an email and as everyone knows all my emails were lost last week. When I went to write this - there was no backup email and Ms. THibaut was on vacation and I thought I had the story correct. I was wrong. Thank you again for understanding. And as always - when I get a fact wrong I appreciate you correcting me.

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  70. Loved this post. The way you feel about linen, I feel about white cotton. Thick sturdy duck or light, airy and sheer. Old natural, waxed floors. Period black and white tile. Thick molding. Old chandeliers. Seagrass and white ironstone. Stacks and stacks of books and old wicker. Just a few of my favorites. But while reading the post it occurred to me that this is so well written, interesting, current and SO much better than anything I've read in a long time in ANY magazine. I didn't want the post to end. I really mean it. Thank you so very much. Janet

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  71. Yes, yes, yes!!! I completely agree with the earlier comment about your needing to develop a style journal! It could be a gorgeous coffee table book--maybe "My French-Texas Life". I'm going to Amazon right now to place my preorder!

    I am so grateful to you for continuing to educate us. Thanks for doing what you do!

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  72. Janet - thank you! I loved your list.

    Angela - I'd hold off for a while on Amazon. hehe. why don't you do it for me like your graduation book you wrote ?????

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  73. This post was so much fun!!! The incredible photos just kept coming...I really do learn so much from you.
    This has absolutely nothing to do with linen, but I read recently that "karate chopped pillows" are out. So, just wondering if the photo of Gerrie Bremermman's room, with it's oddly off centered pillows, is the new "pillow" thing to do??? Hmmm, not sure I like it.
    Thanks for another great post. I can't wait for the rest of the list.
    Rhonda

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  74. okay, I want to live in any and all of these rooms!! Linen is such a treat. Now that I sleep on Belgian Linen Duvets {I finally broke down and started selling them}I can't imagine anything else, ever, on our bed. It's the perfect fabric!
    xo Lidy

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  75. Joni,
    You seriously are inspired. To come up with this idea and then devote a whole entire post to it! I was waiting for the second one and it wasn't until i was about 1/3 of the way down that I realized it wasn't coming today!!

    Great post, thanks for educating us! And it's a great idea, I might have to do it too!
    xo
    Maria

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  76. Fantastic post, Joni. Can not wait for the rest of your TOP10.
    X
    V

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  77. Joni--You really outdid yourself on this post. I say it again, you always go so in depth--eye candy for days and days. thanks!!

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  78. Doesn't Elton John's song say "lay me down in sheets of linen"?

    Joni, back in 1988-90 time frame I did some wonderful curtains in a heavy weight beige on lighter beige striped material - linen I think - the company was called Velco - they offered this same combo in three different widths of stripes - can't find them in google or anywhere! Velco now in google is something totally different. I am hoping you may know what happened to this line of
    fabrics as they were so wonderful and I would definitely order again!
    If you know could you write to me at suzhil@msn.com

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  79. Joni - This is perhaps your best post EVER!!! Good gosh, thankfully you've stated what everyone else thinks. If you love it, keep it. Be yourself and let your home reflect who you are.

    I love linen, I love your zebra print and I love the Suzani's. Long live the Suzani. And you are correct. 99 percent of people don't even know what it is. I didn't, until I read one of your posts.

    Now, here's my linen story. My neighbor is a talented woman who runs a window covering workroom for a Chicago designer. She knows my sewing abilities, especially hand sewing, tiny stitches. So, she calls me one day and says, "I've got a project that I need some help on". It seems the designer has a client that wants linen drapes that are smocked in a wide band across the top. My friend applied the smocking tape and then realized that it still needed to be hand stitched.

    Yes - - we sat for two days and hand stitched each point, over 1,000 tacks. OH MY. The results were spectacular. I'll see if I can get some photos.

    - Suzanne

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  80. Yum is right! Dark gray walls and white linen. Love too that herringbone fireplace!

    xo
    Eddie + Jaithan

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  81. Joni, LOVE, love this post. The "in and out" lists make my blood boil. How dare the magazines/editors who shoved all these perfectly-wonderful-design-elements-in-their-own-right down our throats in magazine after magazine because they decide something is "in" and then "they" get tired of it and have the nerve to tell us it is "out". Seriously, who died and left them the "Design-God?!" I've collected alabaster grapes, and white coral years before they appeared ad nauseam in design magazines. My stuarburst mirror hung over my bed long before some magazine decided they were "in". I had a red study in my last house for 15 years. I watched as it went "in" and "out" over the years, but didn't care as my heart always jumped an extra beat just walking in the room.
    I think with magazines, as with many things in life!, one needs to know what to take away from it that is valuable to you, and what to leave behind.
    Oh, and I love linen too and can't wait to see #2!!

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  82. JONI!!! I share this obsession with you... can't get over linen.
    xoxo

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  83. And I thought I knew allot about linen...This is a lovely written post Joni...thanks for the all the info!!

    Your spaces are magnific!!!

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  84. You are just soooo smart! I never thought about it, but you are so right. The folks that make those rules are just tired of seeing them in their photo shoots. It's really kind of a contradiction for them to say "this is in, this is out", but don't go for any of the decorating fads! If you get what is "in" the potential for it to be a fad is a real possibility. Especially when next year it may be on the "out list"! What beautiful photos of linens. I copied a lot of them for my inspiration file. I look forward to seeing number 2 on the top ten list! laurie

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  85. Now, I must redo my whole house!

    I am slowly adding linen, and amazed at how many people try and talk me out of it. Both my husband and I adore linen. We are currently saving for a luxurious set of linen sheets.

    Thank you for reminding us that design, especially in our homes, is what we love.

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  86. I loved this post and cannot wait to see what comes next. When you decorate a room, I see that you use sea grass rugs. I need to do 3 large rugs for my house. Is seagrass the softest to walk in as far as natural rugs. Why do you always choose it?

    Thanks for your help..:)

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  87. Oooo...Love linen!!! And I love the pics you put with your first Top Ten!

    So...what are my Top Ten? Gosh...so hard to narrow down. But here is what has remained tried and true in all my 23 moves (in 33 years :yikes:):

    1. White Wedgwood
    2. Waxed pine furniture and other antiques (preferably with a worn patina)
    3. Minimal window coverings (lots of light!)
    4. Dark wood floors
    5. Linen...silk...cotton...real fabrics
    6. Dark wood accents (1830's cherry cupboard, for example)
    7. My Great-Grandmother's hand-painted Limoges
    8. Lots of down cushions
    9. Real linen bed-sheets (mine are 10 years old)
    10. Fresh flowers and houseplants

    And then there's little French fauteuils, old mirrors, books, artwork, lamps made from architectural salvage... :grin:

    I'll be waiting for your other Nine, Joni. Thank you for this peek into your decorating heart.

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  88. i want to know when you sleep... you are amazing... this post was so wonderful and i agree with everything... live with what you love...and forget what anyone says...and bennison... what more can we say...you either are addicted...or for the unfortunate, not. i am with you! have a wonderful week! x pam

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  89. TheGardenersCottageJuly 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    Joni,
    This post was so great, I have been wanting to start my own blog for awhile now. Reading this was the impetus. Thanks for your incredible article and inspiration to share my journey.

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  90. You still checking comments in this thread, Joni?

    I was poking through the interior design section of my favorite second-hand book store and came across "Perfect English" by Ros Byam Shaw. I am totally in love with English design, especially English Country.

    Anyway... page 104 - 113 is the English Rose chapter, and has a feature called "Material Wealth" about none other than Gilly and Geoff Newberry... It has a bio and a ton of gorgeous pictures of their Norfolk rectory.

    I am sure you have this book, but I thought I'd share. :)

    Love, Puckles

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  91. Great post, Joni. I like the zebra rug moved to the living room. Wouldn't it be pretty to have Bennison/knockoff linen pillows with a bright floral to pick up a color in your Suzani?

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  92. Joni,

    These pictures were inspiring. I'm ready for a blog on bookshelf editing. I need some inspiration. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm with you on every thought!

    Jennifer

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  93. We have all been seeing Suzani in every single book and magazine that was published in the past 2-3 years and I still love them, a lot. Never cared for what is in or out, nor should anyone. GREAT post. Beautiful pictures

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  94. You've got almost one hundred comments on this post, so I'm not sure mine is needed, but still: Thank you for writing this! I think it's really annoying that others should tell me what not to wear and what to get rid of in my home - when it's the same people who told me to buy it a few months ago. It's superficial and unsustainable bordering on immoral, especially since people like this tend to judge others by what they own, not by who they are.
    I'm not without guilt though, because part of me wishes that people would get rid of their scull-patterned clothes and bags and stuff...

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  95. Great post! I love the Bennison linen. As always, I learn something new from you. Thanks!
    Angela

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  96. So. I figure if I just keep reading your blog, ASID should award me a Masters Degree in Design. Or should I stomp my foot and demand a PhD? (love, love, loved this post - can't wait for the rest.)

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  97. This is another great one from queen joni... I don't really have a list of things I always do, however I can make a like of things I neaver do. First on that list would be fussy window treatments, I always go simple on every job. Thanks and I can not wait to see what's to come.

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  98. Joni, I think that this is my favorite of your posts. Linen may be the unifying factor, but almost all are elegant while still being elegant in their own way.

    Trends can help us stretch to see the good in something we might not have liked or known about. But the final design will endure only if you really like it. We have been picking "new colors" and have found that the samples are very close to what we have picked through the last 35 years.

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  99. Joni - Such pretty pictures, & wonderful variety for a range of styles. I second Hill Country - "live with what you love"!!! I'm so happy your voice is being heard in new & more varied media -- keep it up! Libby

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  100. here's what I do-I open CDT blog, enjoy it,leave it on a gorgeous picture, and minimize it. That way I can run in any time and open a photo that inspires me. Right now it's set on a green and cream dining room, with a wonderful blue rug. There's always a little bar on the bottom of my computer that says "Cote de Texas"- (the best).

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  101. Love linen even when it is wrinkled. Look forward to reading the rest of your list.

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  102. Joni,

    Fabulous post! I must say that I don't follow the Top Ten In or Out Lists! I believe it's the perfect blend of furnishings, accessories and architecture of a room that make it fabulous! So, who cares about the "Lists"- you keep on loving your zebra, suzanis, linen and everything else on your list! You have fabulous taste! My favs are: linen, textured linen and burlap, zebra, suzanis and ikat - some may say they are out- that's ok- it's all personal taste and the overall picture!

    XX
    Michelle

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  103. My goodness you have it covered!! I love linen, so this was a fabulous post. Thanks for all the time you put into this. And if I were you I'd just keep on loving what you love (and, of course, adding to that list)!
    marcie

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  104. We'll lead in with-- once again, I've gotten a bit behind in my reader, so I am late to the game with this comment, but... Joni, I love you for this post! I find myself feeling frustrated when something (item, look, etc) I love gets "too big," because I know it means that soon it will be declared "over" and "done."

    At times, I am totally guilty of tiring of something if it seems to be omnipresent, but at the same time, I often will still love a piece even after it has been declared "done" (oh, hello, suzanis! I would still love to own one of you!)

    And I think you are so right that often it is only those who live and breathe design who know what some of the "dead" trends are (like the suzani- I don't know if many, or any, of my friends could identify one.)

    And, I love linen. It is such a beautiful fabric that can be as easily dressed up as it can be dressed down! I'm enjoying this series so far, and I can't wait to see what the remaining 8 items on your Top Ten list are.

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  106. New to this blog, found it while searching for cottage decorating ideas. I especially love the photo of a typical English cottage, with the linen curtains the two french chairs and distressed table. Could someone tell me where this picture is from? I want this style in my home and need to know where to get the linen fabric, the lamp, chairs and what color was used. Is it blue or grey? Thanks for such beautiful pictures, my mind is racing with ideas.

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  107. hi every person,

    I identified cotedetexas.blogspot.com after previous months and I'm very excited much to commence participating. I are basically lurking for the last month but figured I would be joining and sign up.

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  108. Hi,
    I am late on this but I just came across this post and had to add more compliments! :) I agreed so much with your words about "the real world" and most of the people out there not knowing what a suzani is and whethere something is in or out. Maybe you said this in a later post that I haven't gotten to yet but my Top 1-10 would be: "things that make you feel content and inspired - whatever that is and whatever the year!" Great post and LOVE your blog.

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  111. All the pictures are inspiring....a wide varieties and a range of styles...love all.

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  112. Joni. I love your blog and follow it regularly! You have beautiful style! I have been on a month long search for the perfect white linen...not stark white...not too yellow(most of the off white are!), washable (preferably prewashed), thick enough to cover a faded pattern underneath but to still have a soft hand...I would love to know the duralee linen you prefer...or any other particular linen names (maybe from Pindler or Kravet) that you love to use on your gorgeous slipcovers! This may be top secret info but would be soooo appreciated!

    Toni

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