The Shoe Czar

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image Cote de Texas author, Joni Cohen Webb, 1975 – check out those eyebrows!!!

 

In 1975, when I was just a mere babe of 20,  I was enrolled at the University of Texas majoring in Interior Design, which happened to be a Bachelor of Science degree from the Home Economics department.  Whoo-hoo!   As a junior, we were given a design project that involved taking the floor plan of our classroom and turning it into a living space – an apartment, condo, or a  loft.   I had just returned that spring from a trip to NYC to visit my then boyfriend, Bert Wolf (I’ll give Bert a nice little shout-out here:  Hey Bert!) and it was in NYC that I got my “inspiration” for my classroom project.   You see, while I was visiting in NYC I stayed with my aunt and uncle at their United Nations Plaza apartment building, a somewhat famous address where a few years earlier Johnny Carson had also lived.    My aunt and uncle, Annette and Lee Evins,  were not ordinary people – they were well known in New York due to the shoe business they owned, and staying at their two story apartment (complete with a private elevator) was truly a special treat.  They both were terribly stylish, Lee was a dapper Englishman,  and Annette  had  tremendous taste - she was probably the chicest woman I have ever  known – she just instinctively knew in an instant what looked good, or didn’t.   I stayed in NYC for about two weeks and each day was wonderful – the Evins apartment was filled with French antiques – and I absorbed much about design just being there surrounded by it all.   Even the bathrooms were spectacular:   finished in wall to wall white  marble, they resembled a Five Star European hotel.  Surely it was the first time I had ever seen such simple luxury and beauty in a bathroom and the vision of it has stayed with me for all these years.

The Evins daughter, Melissa, still lived at home which was normal then in New York for single girls, but their son Reed, who is my age, already lived in his own apartment - and not just any apartment either.    That year, he had a then up and coming designer, Joe D’Urso, create a space for him that was cutting edge contemporary, so much so that his apartment is still talked about today.   Back then the apartment ended up on the cover of Interior Design and in the even headier Design Quarterly.     The D’Urso designed apartment consisted of a series of carpeted platforms that you sat on in place of chairs.  The platforms also divided the one room apartment into areas with different functions – eating, sleeping, living.    The open bedroom area could be cordoned off with then in-vogue vertical blinds (the first place I ever saw those!)  It was all very high tech - D’Urso used Pirelli tire material as floor covering in the kitchen and bath and Reed’s custom dining table was also covered in rubber and banded in steel.   At that time, what D’Urso designed for Reed – the carpeted platforms, the blinds, the tract lighting, the rubber floor –was all unheard of, all totally contemporary, and all the rage.  After a young Calvin Klein saw Reed’s apartment, he immediately hired D’Urso to design one for himself.      

Since I was majoring in Interior Design, I was, of course, eager to see Reed’s fabulous apartment that I had heard so much about.   Just imagine the sheltered little Texan, in the big city, taking it all in!    I was given the grand tour of the minimalist apartment and was so impressed  that I consigned even the smallest detail to memory.    Later, back at school in Austin, I was studying my project that was due  – turning my classroom into a living space – when I suddenly realized that the dimensions and proportions of the classroom looked very similar to Reed’s apartment – and then it hit me.   I had a brainstorm that bordered on genius.   I was going to copy his apartment for my project!   I was so thrilled because I was convinced I would get a  much-needed “A” for my brilliant design.   After all,  Reed’s apartment was the talk of the design world, but of course it wasn’t actually my design at all – it was D’Urso’s.  

 

 

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My actual project board from 1975 – I’ve kept it all these years for some reason.   The floor plan is based on our classroom that we were to turn into a living space.

 

Looking at my project board, you can see how I transformed the classroom with its one wall of windows into  Reed’s apartment.   It may be hard to see, but when you walk in the front door – on the immediate left was the kitchen.  The bath was on the right.  The doors leading into both these spaces were sliding metal doors.  Walking into the space, past the kitchen and bath, on the left is the sleeping area – elevated high up on a series of carpeted platforms.  The dotted lines shows the tract of the vertical blinds that hid the bedroom from view, if needed.   Straight ahead of the front door – you can see two steps which lead to the carpet covered platform that becomes the seating space for the long, oval, streamlined table that is focal point of the entire apartment.   A bench serves diners on the other side.  Behind the dining table is the living area with a contemporary sofa and chaise.  I added a work room to the right of the bathroom – I don’t remember if that was my idea  - or if that was  actually in Reed’s apartment.    I was so proud of this project!   After all, I had turned a drab UT classroom into the chicest, hippest, most happening designed space in all of NYC.    And, yes, I did feel just a teeny bit guilty about not being original, but hey – who could have resisted?

 

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That’s moi!  Joni Cohen, May 1, 1975 – the day I turned in my classroom project – exactly thirteen years before I was to marry Mr. Slipper Socks Man.

 

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I even saved some of the elevations – disregard all the dust bunnies that are clinging to this – I found these boards in a bag in my garage and I haven’t looked at these in probably over 20 years!   But here – you can see in the top elevation – the bed, with a  built in shelf behind it that was hidden behind some type of high tech screen, no doubt.   In the cross section, you can make out the three different platforms that lead up to the bed, which was actually just a mattress on the floor.   The bottom elevation shows the sofa in the living room, again on top of the carpeted platform, and the table with the bench – there’s even a plant on top!  And be sure to admire the wonderful art work I created!!    At the right of my drawings is the gray carpet that covered all the platforms.  I guess I couldn’t find Pirelli tire material for my kitchen floor and resorted to totally inappropriate brick patterned tile.     So…..what do you think I got on my project – an A, a B, a C…..?

 

How about an F?!!  Yes!!!!  An F.   A big fat stinking F!!!    My teacher lectured me that it was unoriginal, boring, bland, etc. etc.    Through my tears, it was all I could to do to not blurt out the truth:   that is wasn’t MY design that was boring and bland, but one of the hottest designers in the country and if she didn’t recognize that, or see the genius in the work, then you know what – I was out of there!   And I was.   I left the interior design program two semesters before graduation.   This melodramatic episode  has stuck with me all these years.   Tonight, looking over my other projects that I’ve saved, I didn’t even remember doing them.  At all.  I couldn’t even remember doing any of my other projects 35 years later.  But this one, I never forgot the grade, the discussion with the teacher, the humiliation, nor me thinking that the teacher really knew nothing about design except what she had learned in her  out-of-date textbooks.  

 

 

 

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Reed Evin’s actual apartment with the rubber topped table and the carpeted platforms that divided the long room into different living areas.  The bedroom area hides behind the vertical blinds. 

 

 

Do you think I am exaggerating the importance of my cousin’s apartment on the newly emerging minimalistic design?     Two years ago  New York magazine (HERE) did a story on Hall of Fame honoree,  Joe D’Urso, and included this picture of Reed’s apartment along with a discussion about it.   This photograph really does look almost exactly as  I had portrayed it in my project that I got an “F” on.  Yet here, three decades later, New York magazine is writing about that same apartment and the effect it had on contemporary design in New York.  Amazing.   Should I contact my former teacher and ask for a higher grade?     In this picture, you can see the long platform that served as the seating for the even longer table.  Behind the screen on the back left is the bedroom with the built in bookshelf  – Joe D’Urso himself is sitting on the chaise.  This picture was taken in 1978, three years after my visit there.   As the magazine notes, Reed’s apartment had all the hallmarks of what D’Urso came to be known for:   “Glossy white walls adorned with little more than an occasional black-and-white photograph. Built-in plywood platforms covered in charcoal-gray industrial carpeting and decked out with pillows. Track lighting on the ceiling, black rubber Pirelli tile on the floor, white vertical blinds rustling in the windows. And a mechanically rotating cleaner’s rack in the closet.”

D’Urso describes Reed’s apartment this way:   “There were those long, low platforms.   Everyone hung out on the floor, vertical blinds to hide the bed, a Corbusier chaise, a long table with a stainless-steel edge and a reflective black rubber top, and a metal meat-market door leading into the kitchen.”

And further, New York magazine says - “Everyone who saw it wanted to throw out everything they had and hire D’Urso. Wire-and-glass coffee tables, hospital-curtain tracks, restaurant stoves, exposed ductwork, doctors’ sinks, security mirrors, marine hardware, gym lockers, and cyclone fencing: Those were the materials that D’Urso brought into the New York living space called the loft.”

 

image D’Urso today.

 

Imagine - “Everyone who saw it wanted to throw out everything they had and hire D’Urso” and I got an F!!!!!   An F!!!!    It might be funny if it wasn’t so typical of the unimaginative minds that were teaching design in those days and probably still are.   D’Urso started it all, the whole loft, minimalist movement that today is creeping back into style with the current trend towards industrial design.    Asked who his mentors were, William Diamond of Diamond and Baratta says:  “Joe D’Urso – we still think Joe D’Urso was the greatest designer of the 70s – bar none.”  William Diamond of bright pink and green plaid  fame said that?  Today, D’Urso is still working and continues to be relevant.  His famous metal and glass coffee table recently went for $10,000 at auction and his designs regularly turn up on 1st Dibs.   He continues to design furniture for Knoll and his white marble conference table is absolutely heavenly.

 

 

 

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This steel coffee table designed in the 80s by D’Urso for Knoll is currently on 1st Dibs for $18,000.

 

 

 

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This gorgeous conference table designed by D’Urso for Knoll would make a fabulous dining table – if one could only afford it!

 

 

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Though D’Urso has slowed down lately, he still takes on design projects.  This beach house in the Hamptons was recently featured in Elle Decor.   Fabulous!

 

 

 

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And fashion icon Narciso Rodriguez lives in a D’Urso designed apartment complete with a David Weeks chandelier. 

 

 

imageLast year Town and Country featured this Hamptons house designed by D’Urso, again with the brilliant chandelier by David Weeks, a Vladimir Kagan sofa and a Warren Platner chair. 

 

 

 

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Reed Evins, young and gorgeous!

 

So, WHO, you might be asking is my cousin Reed Evins and why was he living in such a chic place at the age of 19 when most of us had just barely moved out of our parent’s house? 

 

Reed Evins is actually quite famous himself, I’m proud to say.  His father, Lee Evins along with his brother David – both from England -  owned a shoe company called simply, Evins Shoes.  It was not just any shoe company, their shoes were worn by royalty, First Ladies, and all the greatest Hollywood stars.   In fact, some of the shoes that Princess  Grace had designed for her trousseau were custom made for her by Evins.   Every first lady from  Mamie Eisenhower to Hillary Clinton wore shoes made by Evins!    Shoes were custom designed and hand made for Jacqueline Onassis, Cher, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner, among others.   The Duchess of Windsor routinely had Evins custom make her shoes, which she described as “genius.”   Each year Lady Bird Johnson would commission just one pair of Evins shoes, but Nancy Reagan ordered six pairs  – two styles in three sizes:  one size for cold weather, one for Washington DC, and a third size just for Air Force One – she must have really suffered from water retention!    Evins shoes were not inexpensive, in fact, they were once the most expensive shoes you could buy:    during the 1950s, the company designed a shoe that was considerably lighter and more comfortable than most had been up until that time.  The shoe weighed just 6 ounces and sold for $175 a pair, when other quality heels were just $45.    With a heritage like this – growing up in his father’s shoe factory – is there any doubt that  Reed Evins would become a shoe designer himself?  

 

 

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Shoes made by Evins for the First Families.  Reed has a private collection of over 3,000 pairs of shoes and this is just a small part of his museum quality collection.

 

After a short stint at Rhode Island School of Design, Reed was quick to leave college -  he already knew everything about designing shoes and considered  school a waste time.     That’s how he landed at 19 in NYC, living on his own in the D’Urso apartment.    For a short while he worked at Evins Shoes, but he had ambitions of his own.    He started his own company, apart from his family, and joined by his sister, Melissa who became his life-long partner, they named the new business Two City Kids – for that is exactly what they were!   Two City Kids were fun shoes, mostly flats, that appealed to the younger generation.   Reed and Melissa worked hard to keep their prices affordable for their target audience.   The company soared to early success when Mick Jaggar wore their jazz shoes on stage.    After over 10 years running Two City Kids, they were hired to design shoes for Anne Klein – a job they worked at alongside another young shoe designer Manola Blahnik.   The job for Anne Klein was so labor intensive that Reed was forced to close Two City Kids, though for many in the shoe business, he and Melissa will always be known as that.     After eight years with Anne Klein,  Reed was hired by Cole Haan to bring a fresh contemporary look to their shoe line – which he did, designing five years for that iconic company.   Besides all this, through the years, Reed has created runway shoes for fashion lines such as Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Halston to name a few.   Has he designed shoes for stars like his father did?    Well, if you consider Beyonce, Sharon Stone, and Oprah stars  - then, the answer is yes!      Today, he and Melissa are now designing under their own label again, this time simply named reedevins – tirelessly traveling back and forth to Italy where their shoes are made.   It’s great having shoe designers in the family.  For years and years I wore Two City Kids religiously.    Now, my daughter proudly wears  reedevins.

Besides eating, breathing, and designing shoes, Reed also collects them.   To date, he probably has the largest private shoe collection in the world:  3,000 pairs of shoes worn by household names.   Included in his collection are:

 

Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina” pump for the 1954 movie.

Rhinestone mules worns by Ava Gardner in the Fred Astaire movie “Dancing in the Dark.”

Shoes worn by the two movie Cleopatras:  Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor.

Nancy Reagan’s two inauguration pumps. 

The Herbert Levine shoe – the only shoe ever on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

Loretta Young’s thigh high boots.

And on and on,  just amazing!   Of course he has many original Evins shoes from his father’s day in his collection, as does the Costume Institute of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.    

 

 

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Hollywood Stars – more shoes in Reed’s personal collection.

 

 

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Today – Reed’s label is simply:  reedevins – made in italy.  Less is always more!

 

 

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A sampling of Reed’s past collections – so adorable!

 

 

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This summer his tie die line was a huge hit!   So many style blogs were talking about this line, which Reed said he designed for the downtown girl, as opposed to the uptown girl.

 

 

 

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And even EBay currently has a page worth of his old designs.  In this picture you can see Reed’s shoe box – which he designed using his own drawings of shoes, of course!

 

 

image A small part of Reed’s newest winter collection – based on floral sleeve tattoos that are so popular today.

 

 

image  And boots for this winter – I love these!!

 

 

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And a preview of Reed’s spring line for 2010 – such pretty colors!

 

 

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And more of Reed’s 2010 spring line, very fashion forward.  My daughter saw these and her mouth started watering.   She would wear the thong boot with shorts!!   Ah, to be so young again.

 

 

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Today, Two City Kids, Reed and Melissa – a little older, a littler wiser, but still – just as much fun as ever!

 

 

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The gang’s all here but me!  Reed, the famous Betty Rae – my mother, Cathy – my sister, and Melissa Evins!  Do you think there is a family resemblance here? 

Elle Decor & Beds & The Peak of Chic!

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The new Elle Decor magazine is out – celebrating twenty years of publication.  Wow.  Twenty years, really?   Time flies when you’re looking at beautiful houses.  This month one of the standouts is a new design by President Obama’s interior designer (yes!) Michael Smith.  It’s the cover story.  But the one picture that really caught my eye was this one:

 

 

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Muriel Brandolini’s design – using a lit a la polonaise in the master bedroom aka living room  – gorgeous, no?     I am smitten with these beds and in fact just ordered the copy (this one was custom made in France) from Anthropologie for my daughter’s room which we are redecorating.  This time, she is letting me help her – last time, she did it all herself – so she is getting a definite French vibe in there.

 

 

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This one.  We ordered a twin bed because it doesn’t come in double and the queen size is just too big for her tiny room.  Right now I have a room full of West Elm furniture to sell.  If you live in Houston and want a bed, end table and bookshelf from West Elm, bring a truck and a few movers over!

 

 

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And in Skirted Roundtable news –  Linda, Megan and I are SOOOOOOOOOO excited to have Jennifer Boles aka The Peak of Chic join us this week.  We can’t wait to ask her a million questions.   Look for the interview to be up on the web site around Wednesday or Thursday this week.

A Good Weekend To Read and Celebrate Hard Working Women:

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What a weekend this will be!  Amazon has been wonderful to me today!  I received two new, long awaited books delivered to my front door – no hassles, no bothers, no long lines, no gas guzzling, no red lights.   Ah, the beauty of Amazon, my most faithful love.  These days I order almost everything from Amazon, not just books.   I have ordered light bulbs, shoes, a microphone (for the Skirted Roundtable) and even a new laptop!  And if you just  happen to need one – you can order a chandelier from Amazon.   I’m not aware of anything you can’t buy from this fantastic company.   Alas, they make it too easy to spend money.  They keep your credit card on file and you just have to hit –SEND – and it’s delivered, usually the next day.  Amazing.  Just amazing.   I had preordered these two books and had no idea when they would be released,  so it was a complete and delightful surprise that they arrived just in time for this long weekend.    And, at first glance, they are both winners.    The first book is Rachel Ashwell’s – the Queen of slipcovers, pink, turquoise, and crystal –  her newest effort is Shabby Chic Interiors HERE.  The cover is so beautiful,   I could stare at it all day – the pink, the gilt, the settee, the crystal, the peonies.  And  there is Rachel, as always, looking ravishing in her favorite low waisted jeans.   Oh, Rachel, it makes me sad to think about your current financial woes!   How disappointing it all must be for you!   Hopefully, this book will be a new start for her company, certainly she has no place to go but up at this point, it’s all such an awful shame.   The book certainly looks promising – perhaps her best effort since this one:   

 

 

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The Shabby Chic Home (HERE) is almost ten years old now (!) and it remains a favorite of mine.  I love books that tell the story of one house – from its run down, unattractive beginnings to its perfectly furnished and remodeled finish.   Both this book and the new one are certainly my kind of design books.    If you have never read The Shabby Chic Home, it makes a perfect companion to Rachel’s newest book, which is very similar:  the story of her latest house – room by room, just like her fans like.  The pictures in Shabby Chic Interiors - by Ashwell’s favorite photographer Amy Neunsinger - are gorgeous and worth the price alone. 

 

 

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I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I’ll just show you a few vignette pictures from Rachel’s newest book Shabby Chic Interiors.   Here, the kitchen with its charming wall mounted faucet – I love this!   Only Rachel can make washing dishes look romantic.

 

 

image Pink, green, and blue- Rachel’s palette. 

 

 

imageHer bedroom is my favorite room in the new house, the curtains are a luscious silk taffeta in a very, very pale amethyst.  

 

 

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White marble and English styled faucet.  Notice the old fashioned drain stopper - so Rachel.

 

 

imageRachel has a wood cart just like the one in my office!  She calls hers a shoe cart, I call mine a wine bottle cart.  Who’s right I wonder? 

 

 

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The other book Mr. Amazon Man delivered today was Kathryn Ireland’s second, Creating a Home (HERE.)    I wrote about this book a few months ago HERE when it was available for preorder only.   But, it’s out now and it looks beautiful!   The photography is bright and bold – all of her newest fabrics look tempting.   It’s a book for me, that’s for sure – the story of a dilapidated old ranch in Ojai California that Ireland takes under her wing and transforms into a fantasy country estate – although, in the end -  she couldn’t afford its rehab and had to sell.   My favorite series of pictures are of Ireland, dressed in a ball gown, posed around the swimming pool with her three teenaged sons.   Her middle son decides he is through with the photo shoot and the look on her face as she bribes him, scolds him, pleads with him is priceless!    What those pictures say about the manipulation of the family members during those “fun” totally uncandid photographs speaks volumes.   It made me think of all  that Martha Stewart’s daughter must have had to endure as a child – after all, Martha’s husband bolted from that media storm as soon as he could. 

 

 

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Some of the pictures have been seen before in a few magazines, but the majority are new.   I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Ireland to sell something she had poured her heart and soul into.  She writes that she bought the ranch thinking she and her boys would live there fulltime – the only way she could truly afford it.   Her boys resisted – they had no wish to move from Santa Monica - dashing all of Ireland’s hopes and dreams. 

 

 

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The master bedroom suite, separated from the main house.  I love how the three flooring surfaces come together here: tile, wood, and seagrass.

 

Both Ashwell’s and Ireland’s books are remarkable for this:  they tell the story of two highly independent women, both from England, who came to America on a lark and penniless.   But, through hard work and gritty determination, they both reinvented themselves and became international successes.    Ireland and Ashwell share so much biographic history – it truly is uncanny.   And what better weekend than Labor Day to celebrate what hard work and toil can bring to you – regardless of where you are from, and how little you have to start with.    And though Ashwell is currently suffering through this  economic downturn, I have no doubt that she will rise again, like a Phoenix.   Hopefully, just like Ani DiFranco, another true American success story, says here:

 

Thirty-Two Flavors:

And god help you if you are an ugly girl
'Course too pretty is also your doom
Cuz everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room
And god help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
While you are just flying past

 

From our house to yours - I hope you all have a safe and healthy Labor Day Weekend.

The Skirted Roundtable: Home Offices

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image Ah, yes, what a nice, organized home office!   If only it really looked this way. 

 

This week on the Skirted Roundtable (HERE), Linda, Megan and I take the discussion on home offices that started  last week with Vicente Wolf a step further.  Renowned interior designer Wolf thinks a home office is a terrible idea and that one should look for a “real” office, not matter how small it might be.   His opinion on home offices elicited a lot of comments from listeners and provoked much thought on our part  - you see, all three of us have home offices ourselves!

 

 

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My pride and joy:  an antique map of Rome glued onto a board that weighs about 1,000 pounds!   I had to hire three moving men just to get it upstairs.  Yes, upstairs.   You see – besides having a home office, mine is actually located upstairs in one of our extra bedrooms.   Do you understand now why I mostly see clients at their own house?   

 

 

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I am thinking of remodeling Webb Design’s office and putting up a wall of bookcases where the red cabinet is, which truly needs to be painted black anyway.  I have no idea why I bought it in red, but that was years ago during my English Country Manor phase and I had many red accents in my house.   It came from a store in the Rice Village called The El Paso Import Company.    If I do put the bookcase there, the map would need to go and I’d have to call those three men again and have them lug it back down the stairs to my real office – the garage!     My desk is actually a small dining room table that I bought from Pier One.  The  big tin box on top of the desk holds all the office necessities like staplers and scissors and rulers – since I don’t have drawers.    For some reason, desks are much more expensive than dining tables so I often recommend that clients look for a table at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, etc. instead of trying to find a reasonably priced desk.  In addition – table tops are usually bigger than desktops which is wonderful to spread out papers and computers and furniture catalogues.     The lamps all came from Tar-ge’ as did the window shades.  The antique bamboo chair is from my friend, Mindy Brown’s childhood bedroom!  Hi Mindy!   I’m not sure how I ended up with that one!

 

 

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On one side of my office I have this antique work cart that I bought from Chateau Domingue.   It holds all my clippings folders and furniture catalogues which I really never use anymore.   Most companies are online now and the days of catalogues and binders are slowly going away.  I truly never open a binder anymore.   It all comes from the internet. 

 

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I redid the closet in my office to make it into a sample room.   The entire closet is filled with baskets of samples and the closet floor is piled with bags filled with more fabric samples.  These are the ones I don’t even use.  The more current samples are in my other office, you know, the garage.   Hundreds of sample books are piled against the wall of the closet and the newer ones are, you know where.    I have run out of space in my office – perhaps Vicente Wolf has a point after all.   I really need either more space or I need to throw things out.    I recently got a flyer at my from door from Green Junk.  You hire these people to come to your house and they clean it out and take it all away and recycle it!   They take away things like old appliances, electronics, computers ( I have my fair share of old computers!), papers, boxes, fabric samples, binders of obsolete furniture companies – they come in and haul it all away.  I am seriously thinking of calling them because what always stops me cold from reorganizing my office myself is the thought of lugging all the trash down the stairs – to put it where?  On the curb?   Green Junk may be the perfect answer for me.    Maybe I should just call that communist Van Jones and ask his advice on Green Junk. 

 

 

image What is really looks like when it’s not cleaned up for the pictures!  Hey, I actually look like a busy interior designer here!           

 

Be sure to listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable where we discuss home offices AND what goes on during our first meetings with clients.   To listen, go HERE.                                                            

A Visit With M. Naeve

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Last week I paid a visit to my favorite antique shop in Houston – M. Naeve.  Darling Margaret, the proprietress,  had just gotten in her new shipment so I wanted to see it and share it with you.  Don’t worry – this time my pictures are all in focus, unlike last time I was in M. Naeve and all my snaps were totally blurry!     The most exciting news ala Miss Margaret is she is now on 1st Dibs!   Yes!   So, anyone in the country that wants to share in everything M. Naeve can now do so here.  What I enjoy most about M. Naeve is everything here is authentic and period, which is a real rarity these days.  It’s antiques for the privileged few I know, but looking is free and it’s a lot easier to look in Houston than flying over to Provence!   I’m an addict needing a fix, every so often I just have to stop in and look around and dream.   Margaret knows that when I win the lotto, my first stop will be at her shop.   If you have ever wondered where all the chicest of Houston interior designers get their antiques – rest assured, M. Naeve is at the top of their list.  

 

 

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At the front door was the biggest surprise of the day – chairs from Spain that Margaret bought in Belgium – got that?!   This purchase represents a departure for Margaret who is looking to broaden her appeal, but just a little.    This summer, she spent a few days shopping in Belgium and she couldn’t resist this set of chairs.   We spent a long time talking about Belgian design in general and where she thinks design and the antiques business are headed – in between giggles and cups of coffee, of course!

 

 

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OK, enough talk about  mid century modern and Belgian design, let’s get back to the subject at hand – French and Swedish antiques.  Margaret has two high tea tables, both period, both to die for.  First, there is this table.   And the chandelier -  I just so love this with the amethyst cut crystal.

 

 

 

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And then there is this table – period, again!   Margaret said she just had to buy this table – she couldn’t resist it.  Imagine putting your accessories and books on a table that someone used in the 1700s.    Hard to imagine what that must feel like.  And notice the charming bench in front of the table.  

 

 

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Another period piece – the red chest.   A-maz-ing is all I can say.   J’adore the settee atop it too.

 

 

 

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A rare set of period Swedish Bellman chairs.   Twelve in all.     Isn’t this a gorgeous vignette?  The chairs, the sofa, the chandelier – love it all!

 

 

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I’m crazy for this desk – and especially the book on top of it  – Style by Saladino. 

 

 

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Yummm.   No other word for it!   This would be so great in front of a bed or in a living room or on one side of a dining table. 

 

 

 

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VSC:    Very Special Chair – period, leather, nailheads.  VSC!

 

 

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Painted enfilade with two adorable stools on top.   Nice mirror too!

 

 

 

 

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Check out this banquette!      Too cute!

 

 

 

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Iron park chairs flank an armoire.  The window is full of metal flowers.

 

 

 

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One day I am going to own a fireplace like this – one day,  I promise you!  It might be when I’m in heaven, but one day, I will!

 

 

 

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This table is actually a black stone!   Wonderful set of painted Swedish rococo chairs.

 

 

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I love that Gustavian day bed in the window!    Great chandelier and lantern. 

 

 

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And speaking of lanterns, Margaret sells this line of reproduction lanterns – here are the square ones.

 

 

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And here are these – do they look familiar?

 

 

 

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Yep, it’s where I got my lantern that caused so much upheaval in Mr. Slipper Socks Man’s life with his missing ceiling fan!

 

 

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The South of France – overlooking olive tree farms.  I wonder if Vicki’s farm is one of these?

 

 

 

I asked Margaret about hotels in France that she likes to stay at and first we talked about the South of France. 

 

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Margaret said her favorite town when antiquing is the charming St. Remy de Provence.    She really loves this hotel – the Hotel Chateau del Alpilles.   An old farmhouse, with ties back to medieval times, the hotel was in total disrepair when the current owners bought it and restored it in 1979.  

 

 

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You reach the property through a long allee of traditional French plane trees. 

 

 

 

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At night, it becomes magical.

 

 

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The main building, or the mas, was constructed in the 1800s to take the place of the old farmhouse.

 

 

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The hotel is surrounded by many acres of parkland.  Meals are taken outside in good weather. 

 

 

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Rest spots are found throughout the park.

 

 

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Springs and fountains dot the area along the paths.

 

 

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There are several outbuildings on the property where guests can stay – this is La Chapelle, where weddings used to be held.

 

 

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Even the old wash house was converted into guest rooms!

 

 

 

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The old farmhouse has been converted into several different suite arrangements with meeting rooms on the first floor.

 

 

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The pool area is hidden in the park.

 

 

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Some rooms are filled with antiques, some are more contemporary.

 

 

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What a view – I would set up my lap top right here!

 

 

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The rooms are all furnished differently. 

 

 

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Whenever I look up hotels on their web site, I like to get a “true” idea of what the hotel “really” looks like.  The best way to do that is to search Flickr, Webshots, Picasa and other photo hosting sites.    Most amazing was I found pictures taken by a very young newlywed couple on their honeymoon.  They actually stayed in BOTH hotels that Margaret recommended!   Here is the room they stayed in – so far, so good.  It looks amazingly like the hotel’s web site – a good sign, for sure. What a mirror!

 

 

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The view across the river in Avignon.

 

 

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The next town where Margaret stays is Avignon and her favorite hotel there is La Mirande, which she says is one of her favorite hotels anywhere!

 

 

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Located in a centuries old building that has a long and illustrious history, the hotel is very beautifully decorated with wonderful fabrics.   There is a also a cooking school at the hotel. 

 

 

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The decor is pure French Provencal.   Everything I  just love!  

 

 

 

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Like, the terra cotta floors, the jugs, the stone console, the candlesticks.

 

 

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In the dining room – this looks more like a still life painting!

 

 

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The courtyard at night, where all the action takes place – taken by our famous honeymooning couple.

 

 

 

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In the hotel there are historical salons that you can rent out for private affairs.   This is the Garden Salon.   What a beautiful room to host a wedding shower in!

 

 

 

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Each salon is more charming the next!

 

 

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Beautiful sofa!

 

 

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How does the salon look in “real life” to a visitor?  I found this picture on Picasa – looks as good as the hotel’s web site, I have to say!  The wallcovering is so beautifiul!!!  And notice the gorgeous French doors.  There is nothing prettier than French design in my book.  It is so pleasing to the eye  - don’t you think?  Just pleasing to the eye and that is what it all about.

 

 

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I particularly love the decor of this one – the Red Salon!

 

 

 

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A visitor’s “real” picture of the Red Salon.  

 

 

 

 

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The rooms all have painted paneling with fabric walls above.  So beautiful  - I can see why Margaret loves this hotel so much!

 

 

 

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So charming with these fabrics!  So Pierre Frey.   Just beautiful.   They even have seagrass – what’s not to love?

 

 

 

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I might have to chose this room though with the toile fabric and the heavily veined Carrara marble bathtub!!!!

 

 

 

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This suite is quite charming too – I love that shaving stand.

 

 

 

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So where did our young honeymooning couple stay?   In this suite – and it does look true to the web site actually. 

 

 

 

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Even their bathroom seems the same.

 

 

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Another couple posted their room at La Mirande.

 

 

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And finally – Paris!  Where does Margaret recommend staying in this wonderful city?  

 The Plaza Athenee – is first on her list.   Her absolute favorite place to stay in Paris is the hotel where the last episode of Sex and the City was filmed.  She also likes The Ritz, “so classic" and Hotel San Regis.   

 

 

image But Margaret Naeve’s secret source in Paris is Maison 1400.   Owned by American interior designer, Tom Scheerer, it is a townhouse which also happens to be one of the oldest houses standing in Paris.   The townhouse dates back to the 15th century and is a designated landmark.    It has been completely restored – and it is quite beautiful.  The entire townhouse can be rented for up to 10 people, or each floor can be rented by one or two people.   There is a kitchen or kitchenette in each apartment, so they are totally self sufficient from each other.  

Since the house is 500 years old – more than 20 generations have lived here – amazing!   There is even a medieval limestone well in the basement.   The circular staircase was built around a solid oak tree - “carved down with a handrail its entire 3. 5 stories!”   Even more amazing!

The townhouse was featured in March’s Elle Decor and it is decorated in true Sheerer fashion with Saarinen tables, circular motifs, and even the famous Swedish bird prints he loves so much!     Seeing this townhouse makes me almost give up my fear of flying just to go stay here!!!   Sure.  Well, it sounds good.

 

 

 

 

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The main floor apartment is entered through this foyer with its oversized Flemish chandelier and vivid orange curtains. 

 

 

 

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Styled for Elle Decor, the same foyer looks just a tad more finished!  The famous 500 year staircase is seen here.  I would love to see it in person and try to go up and down it. 

 

 

  image The main apartment has a beautiful limestone floors and a mix of  contemporary and French antique furnishings.

 

 

 

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Across from the sofa is Scheerer’s trademark Saarinen table flanked by a mix of his beloved Thonet chairs and Os de Mouton chairs.

 

 

 

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The master bed is a four poster – the closets are hidden behind the prints on the doors.

 

 

 

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Hard to believe this townhouse is 500 years old!   All the mod cons are here.

 

 

 

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This apartment is two stories – with a mezzanine bedroom overlooking the living area.  There it is – another Saarinen table!

 

 

 

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Scheerer designed the staircase in this apartment leading up to the bedroom.   Les Indiennes fabric at the windows.

 

 

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The bed is so Scheerer!

 

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This apartment is just darling – I would have to stay here.  You can see the staircase that winds around one tree trunk through the doorway.

 

 

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This apartment is definitely the most French styled one.  Notice the Swedish bird prints he uses quite a bit.

 

 

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And, last, the top floor is designed like a tiny tent.  There is even a tinier kitchenette and bathroom in this apartment.  

 

 

 

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Thank you Margaret for the tour of your favorite hotels in France!   Don’t forget if you live in Houston to go see M. Naeve’s new shipment – it’s gorgeous.  And if you don’t live in Houston, be sure to visit her at 1st Dibs, HERE

 

 

And don’t forget the photography giveaway!  You have until Wednesday night to enter!!!