I am so thrilled to have been asked to announce the publication of Phoebe Howard’s book - “The Joy of Decorating – Southern Style” by Phoebe Howard. I’m sure you are all familiar with Phoebe Howard since over the years, pictures of her interiors have been in almost every design magazine published. She has such a lovely style, her interiors are so soothing and comforting, they are hard to resist. They are tranquil. In fact, one of her chapters is even called Tranquil. Her aesthetic is classic and traditional, yet she doesn’t shy away from trends which keep her rooms looking up to date. She uses the finest of fabrics and furniture. Her curtains are always perfectly executed, and her paint choices are heavenly. Nothing is ever jarring or out of place. A Howard interior is perfection, plain and simple. Don’t ask me which is a favorite project, because there are too many to name. Don’t believe me? Peruse her web site and you’ll be lost for hours in the beauty of it all. The book is a wonderful compilation of Phoebe’s work. Finally, a collection of her favorite projects in one easy to reach location.
Phoebe Howard is one of those women I am so in awe of. Not only does she run a very successful interior design business, she also, along with her husband Jim, operates several design shops: Mrs. Howard and Max and Company in three different states. I’m not sure how she does it all, but she does. And now, on top of everything – there’s the book, written with Susan Sully, and the book tour! I’m exhausted just thinking of it all! Her tour starts today in Jacksonville, then on to Atlanta and Charlotte. Check her blog for more upcoming dates and the list of the cities she’ll be visiting. Oh yes, she has a blog too! It’s a great one and I read it regularly, HERE. Each week she shows a before and after and on other days, Phoebe answers design questions from readers. I’m always perusing her blog for ideas. Actually the first time I became aware of Phoebe is when a client brought me a picture of her work from a magazine, using it as an inspiration. I can only imagine how many others have used her work as inspiration. Phoebe’s portfolio is incredibly prolific and they are all winners. Now, with the book, it will be such a useful tool to study and learn from, gain ideas and insight into the process of interior design. Along with each image, Phoebe opens up on how she came upon the design and what inspired her. It’s a very rich and rewarding read.
Read this part of the introduction to the book – it gives you such a great insight into Phoebe and her love of design:
“I am not an interior designer. I did not attend design school and have no formal training. I have never even worked for another designer. When I reflect on how I happened upon this career, I realize that I did not choose it. It chose me. I was lucky enough to have an incredible mentor in my life—my aunt Myra Thompson from Montgomery, Alabama. Aunt Myra touched many people in her life, and the world is a better place for having her in it. She was poised and ladylike, but also acutely observant and intuitive.
I always loved to listen to stories of Aunt Myra and the house she decorated as a newlywed. The floors were stained a deep shade of ebony and waxed until they gleamed. White cotton-duck slipcovers so tight you could bounce a quarter off them covered all the furniture. Large vases filled with fragrant white lilies from her husband’s floral business stood in nearly every room. I was intrigued by this vision of dark floors, white slipcovers, and lilies. It seemed so basic and simple, yet so elegant. I realized that anyone could live surrounded by beautiful style if they chose to do so.
Aunt Myra affected my life more directly when I was the delicate age of thirteen. My parents had divorced, and we’d moved from Florida to Alabama for a year. I was having trouble adjusting to the move and fitting in at my new school. My sweet Alabama relatives could see that I was struggling and did what they do best: They fed me! Chicken and dumplings, fried green tomatoes, ham and gravy, biscuits—the food was incredible, and I consoled myself with it. I also gained thirty pounds almost overnight. I was struggling and everyone was at a loss about what to do. But not Aunt Myra. She decided to decorate my room. She painted the walls pale blue. She found an iron bed, which she had sandblasted and lacquered white. She made café curtains from floral sheets, scalloping the top hems and hanging them with light-blue grosgrain bows. She cut off the sheets’ borders and appliquéd flowers around the edge of an aubergine skirt for the bedside table. She painted an old dresser with an attached mirror in sage-green strié. A white wicker desk appeared. The final touch was a satiny-blue quilted bedspread.
I can still close my eyes and recall every detail of that room. It embraced me and allowed my wounds to heal. When I think back to the impact the room had on me, I realize how powerful our environments can be. They affect us far more profoundly than we realize. In every room I decorate, my goal is to re-create the same sense of inspiration and comfort I felt in that bedroom. I want to make a difference in my clients’ lives—to give them what they hope for and dream of in their surroundings.”
From her words, I can see her Aunt Myra’s house with its dark hardwoods and white slipcovered furniture. And I can also envision her own bedroom with its white lacquered bed and floral curtains made of sheets. It all sounds so lovely, and exactly how Phoebe decorates today. Here’s a peek at a few images from the book. Enjoy!
One of my favorite bedrooms by Phoebe has been this pink confection. Could you just die from the serenity????? The story behind this design as Phoebe tells it, is quite sweet too.
And notice this darling sofa and slipper chairs from across the room.
I love the back of the chairs with the ribbon trim – and the pink lining peeking out from the skirt.
This house in Bermuda became special when the stone walls and wood ceiling were washed in gray giving the house a different color scheme than most pastel Bermuda houses.
In the dining room of the same Bermuda house – Phoebe used paint instead of wallpaper. The talented Bob Christian created this beautiful mural. I love the chandelier here and the mixture of the white chairs and dark wood furniture.
Have you ever had the pleasure of visiting one of Phoebe’s shops? This is not a house! It’s actually a room in her shop. I wish they were in Houston!!!
Serene and tranquil – two adjectives that describe her work perfectly. This living room is in the Howard’s high rise apartment in Atlanta. That mirror! That pillow!
An all time favorite dining room with the Peter Dunham wall covering. I love the mix with the zinc lantern.
In another coastal house, Phoebe used blues and whites. I love the fabrics here. Notice her gorgeous curtains.
Phoebe loves to use canopy beds. Soft blue is such a soothing color for a bedroom.
And, finally, she is a big believer in white marble kitchens and bathrooms. Notice how the walls are slabs, not tile and the sinks are marble!! I’ve always loved the antique bench which is just the perfect touch!
One of the neatest things that comes with the book is a pocket sized paint chart showing Phoebe’s favorite colors and brands for walls, trims, and ceilings. This is a great tool to use when trying to obtain the serene and tranquil look of a Phoebe Howard room.
To Order “The Joy of Decorating”
Phoebe Howard has agreed to generously offer Cote de Texas readers a discount when buying her book. To purchase the book, please go HERE. The price is $50.00 but for CdT readers there is a 20% discount, reducing the price to $40.00 To get the discount, enter this promotional code: CDTJOD. Don’t forget, you will also be getting the handy paint chart with each book you purchase!!
Phoebe will be traveling around the country and would love to meet you! Here are some cities she will be visiting ... details to come! Let us know if you would like us to come to your city:
Jacksonville (Feb. 14)
Atlanta (March 7)
Charlotte (March 8)
New York City
And finally, to visit the Howards’ stores, go here:
425 Peachtree Hills Avenue Suite #23
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
2400 Third Street South Suite #304
Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32250
4128 Herschel Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32210
1001 East Morehead Street
Charlotte, NC 28204
One of the benefits of being a blogger is you get free design books in the mail! Books that you didn’t even ask for or even know were published just show up on your doorstep. But, with that – you do feel obligated to blog about the book and say buy it, but it! I’ve tried to only review the ones that I really like, but still, even then – I would recommend you look up the reviews on Amazon first before you decide to buy a book recommended by me or any other blogger. That said, the new Southern Living book – Style – was sent to me and it took me back to another time. It’s more like a blog in a book than something fancy written to grace your coffee table. It’s filled with helpful tips, and how-to’s, just like those found in the magazine. The pictures are great, and many are old favorites from Southern Accents – and they are a rare treat. It’s not filled with houses decorated in colors and patterns that don’t match just to be hip. The rooms instead are cluttered with books and accessories and pleasing fabrics. The interiors are like old friends. They are comfortable and cozy, warm and inviting. Some of the book’s images I hadn’t seen before, and others I hadn’t seen in ages. Truthfully, I couldn’t put the book down. I read it through twice and still go back just to browse. It’s like a super huge issue of Southern Living mixed a bit with Southern Accents – all without the endless advertisements. If you like those two magazines and Southern style in general, I can assure you, you will enjoy this.
Remember this cover of Southern Accents???
The first section of the book is called “Defining Southern Style” and I had to laugh. Their list of what is Southern Style sounded a lot like my list of Top Ten Essential Decorative Elements (even though I haven’t even finished up the series with #10 yet!)
Here is their list of their Southern Style elements:
Color and Pattern/Slipcovers/Collections/Monograms/Wicker, rattan, and bamboo/The Hearth/Painted Floors/Luxe Curtains/Portraits/Antiques
And here is my list of Top Ten Decorative Elements, but I guess I should call it Southern Style now:
Linen/Slipcovers/Seagrass/Curtains/Light Fixtures/Wall Décor/Antiques/Symmetry/Trends/tba
OK, so I didn’t name monograms, nor even mention them as something essential to a room, but some of our lists is so alike: slipcovers, antiques, wicker, rattan and bamboo – (I’d put that under my seagrass element,) fireplace – (a typical symmetrical device,) curtains, portraits – (I named mirrors and portraits under Wall Décor.)
Their list didn’t mention trends – I suppose southern houses are so classic, that they think trends are forbidden. But their list and my list were more alike than not. No wonder why I loved the book! And it really got me thinking. I always call it a “Houston” look, but it probably is just Southern Style. See, your education never ends.
This beautiful living room by Gerrie Bremermann is used to define their section on Slipcovers. I also used this same living room to illustrate slipcovers in my Top Ten Elements #2 (here.) Spooky, I know.
This living room by Fiona Newell Weeks is shown in the Color and Pattern section. I would have put this in my Seagrass settings.
This photograph illustrates the Collections section – but really, I think of this as antiques. Who collects anything that isn’t an antique?
This corner of a living room represented the Antiques section, but it could be Collections also. Beautiful!
This photograph of curtains by Lars Bolander used in their Luxe Curtains section was the same one I used in my curtain chapter (Here.) I mean of all the photographs in the world – we used the same one to illustrate gorgeous curtains? Well, these are pretty much perfect. You know what they say, great minds think alike!
Some images in the book are new to me, like this one. I must have missed the original story. Anyone remember it?
Who could ever forget this Southern Accents cover of a living room by Amelia Handegan? That mural!!! I’ve used this photograph on my blog many times before.
Houstonian and Indulge shop owner Cynthia Davis’ house was featured several times in the book. Here, her breakfast room first shown years ago in the old magazine “Cottage Living” was the first time I had seen the now famous Kooboo wicker chairs – and I’ve loved them since then.
Davis’ headboard, a huge seller at Indulge, is also shown.
There are lots of how-to stories, so well done by Southern Living magazine. This one takes a wire shelf….
And turns it into an office. So cute!
Along with the book, Southern Living sent me a copy of their new magazine. It really struck me how much it has changed in the past few years. It’s much more sophisticated than it used to be, appealing to a wider audience, including younger women. The images are bigger and the stories are longer now. This month they had a section on comfort foods that had my mouth watering just looking at the pictures of home made macaroni and chicken. Their feature of Interior Designer Fran Keenan’s house illustrates what Southern Style is all about and then some. It does seem that the houses they show seem more of a cross between Southern Living and Southern Accents, which is a good thing.
I’m still hoping that when the economy picks up, the magazines will come back strong. Blogs are wonderful, but it takes a team to produce their photographs of houses that we all show, over and over again. Bloggers continually need fresh blood and the magazines supply a lot of that. Most design blogs couldn’t operate without magazine’s photographs. Yet, despite bloggers needing magazines, Southern Living does seem to be reaching out to bloggers. In this issue, a before and after of a bedroom that famous blogger Eddie Ross did is simply amazing. Plus, there is a column called “Ask Phoebe Howard” – which is exactly like a regular feature on the interior designer’s own blog HERE. Despite all the changes at Southern Living, there are a few suggestions I would make if I were invited to a decision making meeting. I think the layout and design of the fonts and pages needs a bit of an updating. But, this throwback to another era might be intentional. Southerners don’t do change well. And I would also suggest they put out a huge book on the fabulous houses that now defunct Southern Accents featured over the years. Maybe even a series of two or three books. I think it would be a hit!
To order Southern Living Style, go HERE.
A few months ago, a reader emailed me asking if I would like to tour her house. She said her friends had encouraged her to contact me, saying I would really love it. And I have to say, they were completely correct! Located in a close-in, gated community in Houston, the house was around 15 years old when the current owners bought it - then totally gutted it. Before, it had been a rather bland traditional with large, nicely proportioned rooms. But, the decorative elements were all wrong for Kay, the current owner. Upon meeting the quiet and somewhat shy Kay, it is quickly apparent she is highly intelligent. Although not schooled in design, she undertook the massive project with more knowledge than many who are. Her exquisite taste drove the renovation. The house was stripped bare of all its superfluous details. Today the house is sophisticated and elegant with classically correct moldings and trims, executed by expert tradesmen. Kay read “The Theory of Moldings” before the renovation, and it shows. No detail was too small to be overlooked. The window placement and stair rail were executed with mathematical precision. The floor plan is near perfection – it would be hard to imagine changing a thing. Throughout the house there is a continuity of color and décor. White rooms flow together from one to another, evoking a quiet, museum like atmosphere. The repetitive design theme is one of the more alluring aspects of the house. There are three teenage boys, each with their own bedroom and bathroom – yet the decorative choices for each are the same. Their baths all have the same marble, tiles and plumbing fixtures. Their bedding is the same. Why choose different elements, when the first choice is so perfect?
If the architecture is the star, the hardware by Nanz is the supporting cast. The surfaces are alive, allowing a patina to develop, aging the handles and pulls. Some hardware is burnished brass, others are burnished nickel. In the kitchen, cabinets open with knobs made out of silver, a luxurious and beautiful choice rarely seen. The house is clutter free – scattered about here and there are leggy slipcovered antique sofas and chairs – allowing one to see the house itself instead of its contents. But, this is not to say that Kay doesn’t collect. Her library is filled with almost every design book ever published and her cabinets are laden with gorgeous antique place settings. Creamware is another much collected item – her pieces made me green with envy. It’s been a few months since I visited with Kay and since then the house was put on the market. Some of these photographs are from the professional real estate brochure and some are from before the renovation – most are mine. Enjoy!
BEFORE: Built in 1993, the house was hidden behind the landscaping.
AFTER: Now, you can appreciate the clean lines and perfect symmetry of the façade. All the windows were replaced and the shutters were removed. The entire front entrance, with its three sets of French doors, was also changed.
The large foyer with staircase is in the middle section behind the three French doors. To the left is the living room and to the right is the dining room. Past the foyer, large double doors open onto the family room. The house is 7,500 sq. ft. with six bedrooms and bathrooms and 2 powder rooms. There is an elevator which reaches the third floor, seen here behind the dormer windows.
Before: The layout of the house was nice, but typical, with its large foyer and public rooms. Those drapes!
AFTER: The staircase was completely replaced, as were all the windows and doors and floor. Today the hardwood floor is Carlyle 8” wide, old growth planks, done in a natural Belgian finish.
The elegant floating staircase is the focal point of the foyer. The staircase is inspired by one Kay had seen in a hotel in Argentina.
To the right of the staircase is the dining room, to the left is the living room. Past this table are double doors that lead into the family room.
The view at dusk.
The front door is slightly indented from the French doors on its left and right. Here you can see the living room which sits at the end of the front hall. This hall runs from there to the living room.
The French settee is slipcovered. I love the detailing at the bottom. To the right of the settee is the back hall that leads to the powder room and the library.
BEFORE: The Living Room. Its cabinets were replaced with French windows which lets in more light. The fireplace was also replaced. The library is through the double doors on the right.
AFTER: The Living Room today. The fireplace, from a John Staub house in River Oaks is a French antique made of Bresia marble. The firebox is ISOKern. The walls are paneled and painted in a dead flat white oil. Amazingly beautiful.
One sofa is antique, the other is a custom copy. They are both slipped in an elegant white damask. The scalloping on the sofa’s back is repeated in the hem. All the windows let in light from each direction. As Kay says – the house is about light and subtle color. Beside white, soft aqua is the second color found about.
A close up of the fireplace – notice the beautiful firebox, a feature rarely ever seen.
BEFORE: The library was paneled and rather boring.
After: The Library. This room is Kay’s private domain. French styled bookshelves ring the room. Each section has a pull out shelf. The paneling is also painted in a flat oil.
At dusk. The French doors overlook the patio and the swimming pool in the back yard
The owner has collected almost every design book published! I see so many titles I recognize. “Paris Interiors” looks well read! Totally swoon worthy.
The long front hall, from the living room – looking into the dining room.
Almost at the dining room. I love how the light from the street is reflected back into the house as pink stripes along the stair wall!
BEFORE: The Dining Room: The cabinets and moldings were removed. The one door to the kitchen became two doors on each end of the wall. All the windows were replaced with those with a slimmer profile and fewer panes.
AFTER: The DeGournay hand painted wallpaper was custom colored in a soft grayish celadon which matches the blue green gray eyes of Kay’s white cats.
I love the scalloped nailhead trim on the chairs. The gorgeous dreamy chandelier is antique from Kay O’Toole.
BEFORE: The family room windows overlook the swimming pool.
AFTER: The Family Room is off the foyer, to the left through double doors. New cabinets and fireplace with Calacutta Ora marble. The two French doors were replaced with a wall of doors in the 2 over 3 panes. The room is divided into two sitting areas with matching tufted ottomans. The kitchen and breakfast room open onto this room through large French doors.
The flatscreen hides behind the cabinet.
BEFORE: The kitchen and breakfast room was divided by brick columns that were removed. This entire area was completely gutted and taken back to the studs.
BEFORE: The Breakfast Room - the beams, bricks and fireplace lend a country vibe. All these elements were removed, including the fireplace!
AFTER: The kitchen island, with seating for 8, is topped with a gorgeous Calacutta Ora marble slab. Included here is 2 sinks and 2 dishwashers, 2 Wolf ovens and a range. The subzeros hide behind cabinet doors. The marble slab behind the range along the back wall is a focal point, as is the fabulous pot rack. On either side of the range along the back wall are the two doors leading to the dining room
Notice the silver hardware – it is just stunning. Here you can see into the family room on the left and the breakfast room area on the right.
A row of lighted cabinets in the breakfast room area hold collections of creamware and antique place settings. Two sinks sit side by side under the arched window.
What can I say? The marble is incredible.
The fireplace was removed and replaced with a bay window. An antique style French library ladder sits in front of the cabinets for ease.
Charming antique French table and check covered chairs in aqua, the second color found in the house.
An antique French day bed sits in front of the cabinets. In the middle, is the back hall that leads to the back stairs, butler’s pantry and garage.
A close up of one of the display cabinets, fitted with sapphire glass shelves. Pull out shelves come in handy when setting the table. The silver knobs, handles, and hinges are left to patina instead of polishing.
The Paris Ceramics gray and white marble floor is a rare pattern found in the mostly white house.
At dusk, more gorgeous Calacutta Ora marble countertops.
The powder room is off the library back hall, next to the elevator. The Waterworks crystal wash stand has a Calacutta Ora marble countertop, along with a hammered French nickel sink. Notice the marble mosaic tiled floor and gray-brown lacquered walls.
BEFORE: The bedroom suite was completely redone.
BEFORE: This all became part of the master suite.
AFTER: The Master Suite. Double doors lead into the European styled master bedroom suite on the second floor. The new bay window sits atop the matching breakfast bay window downstairs. The room is wallpapered in Scalamandre’s Oriental toile in soft aqua. The 8” old growth hardwood floors are continued upstairs. The ceiling was raised and coffered.
Matching antique French bedframes have a scalloped head and footboard. The footboards wear cute little corner slips to guard against the cat’s claws!! I love how the duvets are extra long and fluffy – note: order king for a double bed to get this effect. It’s so much more luxurious!
Across from the bed, a wallpapered jib door to the left of the built in cabinet leads to the bathroom and closets.
The same elements in the powder room are repeated in the master bathroom: Waterworks crystal marble vanity with hammered nickel sinks and Etiole faucets. There is an exposed Etiole thermostatic shower. Kay’s vanity to the left has its own tiny hammered nickel sink. The floor is Calacutta Ora mosaic tiles.
There are His and Hers private water closets in the suite. Against the back wall, the linen cabinet is lined in Scalamandre Oriental toile.
Across from the sink vanities, is Kay’s makeup area with its own tiny sink. It sits between two linen towers with lined fabric doors.
A close up of Kay’s tiny hammered nickel sink and corner faucet. So cute!!
The freestanding bath sits under an arched window.
Kay’s closet is all behind glass and wood doors.
The three teenage boys each have their own bedroom and bathroom – all on the second floor. Each has a built in desk and their black and white bedding is also the same – providing more of the continuity seen throughout the house.
Their bathrooms have washstands and mosaic tiled floors.
Their showers have an Etoile thermostatic rain shower system with white subway tiles. To dream – I want this!! I want this!!!
The second floor laundry room has its own marble countertop. Wait – this isn’t Calacutta Ora! Shock!!! Actually, here, and in the third floor bathroom, the marble is Imperial Danby.
BEFORE: The third floor wasn’t finished. Today, it has a study and 2 huge storage closets, along with a bathroom. The elevator goes up to the third floor, which is a huge luxury when you have packed luggage.
Today, the third floor is finished out with lacquered book shelves – this would make another fabulous library – if you needed it!!
The 3 car garage is so cool. The doors were removed and replaced with carriage house styled double doors. The floor is painted in large gray and white squares. The garage now doubles as a sports haven for the boys and their friends.
BEFORE: The back yard was a landscaping mess.
Today, seen at dusk, the back yard has a pool set simply in the grass, European styled. Surrounding it are vine covered fences. Here you can see the layout of the house – the garage is on the left. In the corner is the family room and at the far right is the library.
And, finally, the swimming pool is vivid blue when seen during the day. Dreamy.
I hope you have enjoyed this second installment of the Readers’ Houses Series! A huge thank you to Kay and her family for welcoming us in for an in depth look into their beautiful house. (I just had to show this photograph again – I think the foyer is so gorgeous!!)
To see the HAR listing, go HERE.
And remember to send in your own house for the Readers’ Houses Series. Don’t be shy. Not all houses are as fabulous as the first two have been. In fact, I’m hoping to get a lot of small, redone on a budget houses. AND, the Readers’ Kitchens Series is still going strong. If you have sent in your kitchen – don’t worry, I’ll get to it. I have a lot of kitchens still left to show. And if you haven’t sent in your kitchen, do. I hope to show these two series into 2013!!