21 May 2014

A Folly: Don’t Ever Change

 

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My Dining Room

The other day, a friend asked why I had never changed my look?  Didn’t I know that big slipcovers were out of style?  Didn’t I want to try something new, like Belgian Design (well excuse me, but I’ve yet to see a Belgian house without a slipcover, but I digress.)   Her point was, I was stuck in my own aesthetic.  That,  just because you still like slipcovers or white linen, you are aesthetically dead and need to branch out, move on, change, hang Sputnik chandeliers and mod wallpapers.  I mean, really!  Go all Palm Springs or die! 

OK.  I can see moving on a bit and tweaking your aesthetic.  I certainly have over the years.  I mean, my own living room was filled with variety of printed fabrics until just a few years ago.  My bedroom is green, my library is dove, my guest room is blue.   But still, I like a sofa with a slipcover.  Kill me.  I like antique tables and consoles and chandeliers.  Kill me again.  And just how far do you take it? 

Who else do you tell to change their aesthetic?  Do you tell Charlotte Moss that Classic English is out?  That she needs to go to Belgium and change her aesthetic – even though she goes there all the time and has yet to go all Axel?  Or do you say to Mario Buatta, forget it.  You’re washed up and no one is interested.   I guess you do if you are under 40, but what if you like gorgeous porcelains and beautiful handprinted fabrics?   What if a room full of junk from the 50s and 60s doesn’t cut it for you?  What if you prefer accessories that were made over 100 years ago?  How far does it go?  Do  you tell Rose Tarlow to redecorate her house?  Or how about redecorate her English apartment, the one she hasn’t changed in over 25 years?   Why doesn’t she change her look for God’s sakes?   It’s boring!  

Not.  

 

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Rose Tarlow’s London Apartment

Why do you have to change if you LIKE something?  Just because it isn’t sold in Z Gallerie this month?  Or maybe it’s not Swedish or Belgian?

And when is too much too much?  People come over and complain that it looks like an antique store in my house, it’s way too cluttered.  I see other houses in magazines, in books, in person – when all the accessories are swept away, edited, and just one or Swedish toy horse sits atop a table…but, I can’t do that.  I love porcelains.  I want more of it.  I wish I had more space to put more around.  I like my eyes to dance from one piece to another to another.   My eyes get bored when they rest.  Should I change just to please a few visitors?

After this conversation with a friend, I sat down to read One Man’s Folly, the new book by Julia Reed about Furlow Gatewood.   The book is about one man’s estate or his home, really, in Georgia’s countryside.  He has a few acres – and a few houses that he moved there or built.  He has no formal training, except working side by side with antiquarian John Rosselli for years and years and being besties with his wife Bunny Williams. 

Gatewood doesn’t have a fortune to spend, yet he has spent a lifetime collecting furniture, architectural elements, and accessories, and he keeps on buying – even at 92 years old. 

His houses are filled with things – sets of dishes are everywhere.  Chairs are in each corner.  There are desks and consoles and tables cluttering his various houses.  And it is all fascinating and beautiful and so Furlow Gatewood.

Has his look changed?  Not much.  Oh sure, his palette has lightened through the years, but whose hasn’t?  Where some walls were first yellow with red, the newer houses have white and gray walls, a nod to today’s look.  But besides the walls, nothing much is different.  He didn’t sell his old, antique dishes and buy new sets from Pottery Barn, not did he go to a thrift shop and pick up dishes from the 50s.  Vintage holds no place here.  Sputnik won’t be landing here.

Furlow Gatewood grew up on this land and he inherited it from his mother when she passed away.  He only started the building while in his 80s, which is amazing.  The first house was once the carriage house, now called The Barn.  There is another house he built and two more that he moved to his property.  There are several outbuildings – a tiny temple, for one.

Gatewood’s property is all so amazing that Veranda has shown it twice.  It’s a true labor of love for design, especially, HIS design, the things that make his eyes dance around – not anybody’s else. 

I can’t imagine telling Gatewood to move on – to get a new look, this one is now dated.   It sounds so silly even saying that.  As if HIS aesthetic isn’t good enough because it’s his.

 

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The new book is at the top of my heap this year.  I can’t get enough of it.  I remember his first Veranda story and just being struck by how attractive and cozy and welcoming it all seemed.   To see it put together in one book, I realized how much I shared with Gatewood:  his love of natural fabrics, of linens and cottons, his love of blue and white, his love of both dark and light furniture.  And clutter.  I loved the clutter – the sets of dishes, the collections of porcelains, the masses of books.   His houses made me feel freer to quit worrying about my clutter and embrace it without feeling guilty that I don’t have that one lone Swedish toy horse on a tabletop.  And whoever degreed that a lone, tattered toy horse is prettier than a set of beautiful Mason or creamware?

Gatewood’s houses aren’t perfect.  They aren’t styled within an inch of their life.   And that’s the charm.  You can look and look and look and still not see it all.  I love that about the houses.   I love that he never used an architect, he just told his carpenter where to add a wing or a bedroom, or where to build a room around a set of antique shutters.  I love that about his houses.    

 

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The compound is on 11 acres, although it was once much larger. To enter Gatewood’s property – you cross a small wood bridge on a dirt lane, lined with ages old pecan trees.

 

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Gatewood planted masses of potted hydrangeas on each side of the main lane. 

 

 

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On the right side of the main lane is the Cuthbert House. 

 

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And across from The Cuthbert house is the newest addition to the estate, bought for the gorgeous front door, the Lumpkin House.

 

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From the porch of the Lumpkin house  you can see across the lane to Cuthbert House.

 

 

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At at the end of the road – tiny twin pigeon houses, on each side, lead to the main house, called The Barn were Gatewood now lives.

The road to his property has been renamed Peacock Lane in honor of the many peacocks that live here, along with a number of beloved dogs and cats.  At 92 and with no children, his animals are precious to Gatewood.

 

 

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One of the two twin pigeon houses that flank the end of the hydrangea lined lane.

 

 

 

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The main house – The Barn - was once the carriage house to his mother’s house which now belongs to his nephew.  The property has been subdivided over the years.

 

 

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Inside the Barn.  Looking back towards the main dining room.

 

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This dining room was added onto the barn.  Gatewood designed the lattice  around the room.

 

 

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Leading out from the dining room is the large living room – where once the cars were stored in three bays.

 

 

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Looking at the same setting from the other direction.   This room is mostly blues and whites.

 

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The back part of the living room with the fireplace and wall of French doors.  It’s a visual feast – a cluttered design of accessories and oil paintings, interesting furniture and simple cottons and linens.

 

 

 

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A closeup of the fireplace.  Beautiful vignette.

 

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A closer view of the back part of the living room.  The walls are like this throughout the estate  - simple boards with water-based white paint over them. 

 

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Another view of the back of the living room – with the mass of pillows and books.

 

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On the right side of the room – is this console.  Throughout the estate are oversized oil paintings, along with plates and vases.  The living room shows Furlow Gatewood’s aesthetic.  No, there isn’t a Sputnik chandelier, nor is there anything from this century – unless it is reproduced.  And no, there is no table with just a lone Swedish toy horse.  Should he change?    Should he update his look?  Would that make him more with it?  More “today?”

 

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And a final view of the living room – looking back through the French doors that lead to the dining room.

Even though this is Gatewood’s aesthetic – a 92 year old bachelor from Georgia – I could move in here and feel at home.   

 

 

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The kitchen – in another extended bay Gatewood added onto the Barn.  Up to date appliances and lots of blue and white plates. 

 

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In his bedroom – the bed is his mother’s.  Antique toile hangs from the wood.  Is this Georgia?  Or England?

 

 

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Another view – this shows the bedroom with its yellow walls.  The Barn is the only house on the estate with yellow walls and it is reflective of a change he has made. 

The newer houses on the property all have gray and white walls – a nod to this century’s trend.    It is interesting that the only change Gatewood has made through the years has really been in wall colors.

 

 

THE PEACOCK HOUSE:

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Behind The Barn, is the Peacock House.  Aren’t the peacock’s gorgeous? 

 

 

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Gatewood built this house – as a place for plants.  Originally it had dirt floors.  The plants didn’t take to it, so he gave it to his peacocks, but they kept hitting the rafters.  Instead, it has now been turned into a guest house.  It’s across from the Barn and next to the pond on the estate.

 

 

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The front room with its wood floors painted to resemble marble.  You can see the white walls with gray trim – how much lighter the house looks than the Barn.  When the house was first built as a greenhouse, it used to end with the French doors – seen on the left.  These doors were once the back wall of the house.   To turn it into a guest house, another room was added to the back of this front room, reached through the three sets of French doors.   Along with the back room -  Gatewood added a kitchen and bedroom.

 

 

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When you walk through the front door – you see through the three sets of French doors to the room behind the front room.  This table under the Dutch chandelier sits in the center of the front room.

 

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The other side of the front room, seen through the French doors.  As always – a large oil hangs on the wall, along with plates and prints.

 

  

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This view shows most of the front room – with the wall of French doors that leads to the back room.  This must be so gorgeous when you walk through the front door and see these French doors!!!!

 

You have to realize this.  Gatewood has been working on changing his estate for just the past ten years or so.  And he is now 92!!!!   What an amazing feat!!!

 

 

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 And, a view of the back room.  The new kitchen wing is through the door.  Love the symmetry here – the back demi lunes, with chairs and lamps, with paintings above. 

Notice another trademark – no curtains!  And usually no rugs – or just a simple cotton striped rug or sisal.  Gatewood has so many dogs, he says it’s just cleaner to not have too many rugs.

 

 

 

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A French bed, black and white striped floors, and red toile and quilts.  This room has Gatewood’s  palette  - the white, the black accent, the red and the blue.   These are practically the only colors seen throughout the estate.

 

 

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 The back porch at the Peacock House – the blue and white striped rug, the pagoda, the floral fabrics.

 

 

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If you go back on the entry lane – the other two houses are found there. 

 

The Cuthbert House

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The third house on the property is The Cuthbert House – one that Gatewood moved to the property after looking at it for years.  Two stories – it took 1 1/2 years to renovate.

 

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There is a large center hall.  He had his carpenter copy the porch’s walls – here in the entry.  The paneling looks like blocks of stone. 

 

 

 

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One of the front living rooms – filled with Gatewood’s possessions.  White slips, red and blue fabrics on pillows, prints, mirrors, books, blue and white porcelains and oil paintings.

 

 

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Across the main hall is the other living room.   Behind this room is the dining room.  Notice Gatewood put shutters on these windows and he laid a sisal rug here in the front rooms. 

 

 

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And the view from the entry hall into the left living room – through to the dining room, behind the fireplace.

 

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An early view of the dining room – behind the front living room.  Here – he used an antique Fortuny tablecloth, which now has been removed.  This is the cover photo that was used for Veranda. 

 

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Today – Gatewood lets the table be bare AND he added the only crystal chandelier on the estate.  I wish he liked them more because this really looks gorgeous here.  You can see here - through the living room - the beautiful arched casing between the entry hall and the living room.  This dining room is one of my favorite rooms on the estate – along with the living room in the Barn.

 

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The French doors are mirrored to add to the sparkle.  You can see the grisaille reflected in the mirrored French door here.   So gorgeous.  I love all the blue and white and the symmetry here.  

 

 

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A side view of the dining room.

 

 

 

The Lumpkin House

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The newest house on the estate is the Lumpkin House – another house Furlow Gatewood found and moved to his property.  He bought it for the gingerbread trim on the porch and the beautiful front door.  The house is right across from the larger Cuthbert House.

To me, what is most amazing about this rescue is Gatewood was 89 when he bought the house and embarked on a new renovation.  89. 

Think about that. 

 

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The beautiful front door is what sold Gatewood on the Lumpkin House.

 

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The center hall with its painted red floor.  There is a living room on each side of the center hall.

 

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The house is small with just a bedroom, living room, kitchen and tiny dining room – all on one floor.  There is a sitting room on both the left and right of the center hall. 

 

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The other side of the living room.  The shiplap walls are painted here.

 

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The other living room – with Gatewood’s favorite colors – red, white and blue.

 

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The dining room is at the end of the center hall.  Gatewood installed that beautiful window there to turn the hall into the dining room.   

 

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The first antiques Furlow Gatewood ever bought when he was young.

 

 

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Furlow Gatewood, reading Suzanne Kasler’s design book in the main room at the Lumpkin House, keeping up with all the design trends.

While the changes on his property took about 10 to 15 years, Gatewood has been collecting the furniture and antiques and accessories for decades.  When putting the houses interiors together, he culled from his caches of stored furniture and bought even more to fill in the spaces – but he never changed his aesthetic. 

 

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All the furniture is the same now as it was when he started collecting.  All the plates and porcelains and paintings have been collected for years and years.  The only change he has made to his aesthetic is to go from more colorful walls to a more neutral gray and white background. 

 

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Did he change his wall color to keep up with the trend or did he become more enamored of a gray palette after seeing the trend?   Probably it’s the later.  I doubt he woke up one morning and decided he better “get with it” and paint those wall gray, like the rest of the younger generation.  Instead, he probably spotted the trend towards gray in all the design magazines and realized they spoke to him.

 

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I can’t tell you how much I loved this book.  Not only did the interiors inspire me, but the man – Furlow Gatewood inspired me more.   His zest for life is so infectious – to keep decorating and adding to his environment – even at his age – is amazing.  To continue to CARE at this age – is a wonder.    It also gives me such hope!  Life doesn’t have stop at 70 or 80!  You can still redecorate and update your environment, your house or apartment or condo no matter how old you are.   You can still care about life and live the life you always had, no matter what age you are.

 

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And damn it!  Decorate it the way YOU want to!   Decorate with the same red, white, and blue that you have used for sixty years!   Use the same antiques you collected over 70 years ago if you still love them!  Change your paint color if you discover you like the new lighter colors better – but don’t repaint just because everyone else is.  Resist that trendy Sputnik chandelier that is all over the magazines if it doesn’t speak to you!  A classic crystal chandelier will never go out of date – EVER. 

Don’t use rugs if you don’t like them or if they aren’t pet friendly.  And use slipcovers if love them – or if they make sense for your lifestyle, no matter if they aren’t trendy!!!

I dare you to tell Furlow Gatewood his aesthetic needs changing!  Go ahead – make my day!!

To order One Man’s Folly – click below. 

 

130 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Wow! Never heard of him, but so impressed with his vision and energy. Is he assisted by a designer or do it all himself? There's an art to both purchasing well and assembling things well. I wish I were his neighbour -- I'd visit often just to see and talk about his things.

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  3. I think in this day of seeing a trend everywhere - mags, blogs, instagram etc etc etc one can get sick of anything after inundation but having said that I think pretty never goes out of style.

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  4. Now I’ve got to buy the book. I’ve been considering it, but now that I know what he has done at his age, he has become my inspiration. As always, thanks for sharing your perspective and analysis, Joni.

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    1. Bingo! Yes! This guy is a genius! Be sure to read the prologue and the end "logue" by Bunny Williams!
      This man could have been the best decorator of the century (in her opinion and many others) He just didn't want to! So he was an antique dealer and collector.

      Without Bunny....we would never have seen this! And Julia Reed is such a brilliant writer who captures all of it!

      Brilliant Beyond!!

      Brava!!

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  5. I love that book. I remember when I first saw his work on Veranda, my mouth dropped. I went on a search to find more work by this designer... did not find much. I wrote his name down in a book so I would not forget it. When I did find more info on him, some time later, I could not believe he was an older man ! Recently a fb friend was talking about a designer favorite of hers and I asked her who she would give her house keys to and walk away... she returned the question, guess who made my short list....lol Love him ! Thanks for the post. Vicky Darnell

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  6. Charlotte NorthbrookMay 21, 2014 at 6:01 AM

    Thank you Joni!!! I have loved Furlow Gatewood's houses and property since I first heard of him reading the comments section of one of your posts a while ago when you asked readers which were their favourite houses. I decided to do a "Google" on him and then I bought the back issue of Veranda (which I had also never heard of as I live in England) featuring the Cuthbert house. On the internet I found more pictures of his buildings. I was therefore absolutely delighted to see that he has a book out and I have just ordered it!!! As you say: timeless, beautiful, comfortable, inspiring!!!

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  7. Great post! I love your closing remarks. Amazing man. Now to order the book!

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  8. Love, love , love this home. It is not only beautiful but it is real and lived in. I am so tired of seeing the same interior styles now on various popular blogs. Thank you, Joni, for remaining an original.

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  9. I have been meaning to buy the book and after your post a trip to the bookstore will be a high priority. Love it, love the fact he started "later in life." As for your house, it looks comfortable and inviting and I love that you surround yourself with what makes you happy, I think people need to learn to give themselves permission to live with what they want instead of succumbing to trends or other folk's opinions.

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    1. "...I love that you surround yourself with what makes you happy, I think people need to learn to give themselves permission to live with what they want instead of succumbing to trends or other folk's opinions" Yes. This.

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  10. Blogging has created a narrative of ever changing rooms and over consumption. Endless rooms filled with fiddle leaf fig trees, grain sack pillows and chippy paint and yes the Sputnik light..Hence the nearly as frequent blog posts about purging and de-cluttering I say find your style, build on it with well made pieces and embellish with what you love. Which is what you have done Joni. What I love about your house (and blog) is that it is NOT a never ending tale of your latest find and re-do. When you do freshen a room, Such as you living room cabinets or your family room drapes, you keep the major pieces you invested in and update it slightly, and in keeping with your style. I love your style and I am happy you are not hanging Sputnik lights over your table. (by the way have you ever sat under one of those things.....glaring.

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  11. I definitely would not call his look cluttered. That is all personality! This will be one of those postings of yours that I will go back and visit time and time again. Love the property and love the homes. My dream one day, once out of the suburbs, is to have a home where every single window can be curtainless, and now I can add a new wish - roaming peacocks. Leigh

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  12. What an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this incredible story, and I applaud your perspective. Didn't think I needed another design book, but I'm ordering this one right away.

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  13. The best post I've read on Furlow Gatewood's book. And a resounding YES to your affirmation to decorate the way that brings you joy!

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  14. How serendipitous, I pinned the Pigeon House just this morning! I was introduced to Furlow Gatewood through my friend Meg's blog, Pigtown Design. I am so besotted with him that I immediately scrolled to comment and I'll be savoring the photos you have shared for a long afternoon break involving tea and an ottoman. BTW Joni, your points are well taken. One should collect and display what he/she likes, not with what is currently popular. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. To thine own self be true - Furlow certainly lived by that. While I love looking at and reading about design trends, great classic design will stand the test of time. And we all should feel comfortable designing our own homes and making ourselves happy without fear or worry that the design posse will show up. And Joni, horrors, who would ever ask you when you were going to change! omg.....

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  16. Fascinating and exciting man. And to each his own- it is sheer arrogance to assume to have the right to dictate someone else's taste!

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  17. Hi, I believe that the book identified as Kassler's is actually "The Age of Elegance" by Alex Papachristidis.

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  18. You are an evangelist!! Amen, Amen, Amen!! If anyone else tells me they don't like my brass...well...they can kiss my...grits!! That book has been on my list and now...it's going to be mine. franki

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  19. when I first saw the huge pots of beautiful hydrangeas in Veranda years ago I thought they they were perfect.. I still do …if all South Georgia looked like his beautiful homes….

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    1. I also LOVE the Hydrangea pots.. Love.

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  20. Joni, I love your blog and have been reading it forever. This is the first time I've ever commented on any blog, but I just have to say, I can't believe a "friend" would say those things about your house and your furniture and your style!!! WHAT??? Honey, you just keep doing what you're doing, it's great, and I'm right there with you. Love Furlow Gatewood, too. Life is too short to try to please "friends" and keep up with trends. Just sayin'...

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  21. ...mr gatewood and mr carithers are two georgia treasures who will never go out of style...not ever...blessings laney

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  22. I recently bought his book and love it. I have always admired his home. The driveway lined with the blue hydrangeas is so beautiful. You know that seeing that, there is something extraordinary around the bend. I love his collections and I have changed my style to more of yours. So please don't change lol I am just getting there. Another designer is Dan Carithers. I love his gardens and his home and the beautiful collections-and his creamware. This was a fantastic post and an't wait to read it in more detail this evening. Have a wonderful day Joni !

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  23. Joni,
    What a fabulous post! Am thrilled this book has been published to highlight the life, interests and talents of such an incredible man. What an inspiration. By the way, my mother, who will be 92 in August, has completely renovated two homes over the past 8 years - down to the studs. Major work; yet, she said recently she wished there was reason to begin another one! I suppose Furlow (and my mother) know a wonderful secret......If you love your home keep at it, have fun, be creative, don't stop, and always remember you only have to please yourself and whomever else might live under the same roof. You do not have to do what everyone says is "au courant". Furlow's homes are magnificent reflections of one man's incredible life's journey. Thank you for sharing that with us Joni!

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  24. You GO Joni!!! I'm with you. My house is full of with white linen slipcovers, and lots of antiques. I decorate in a style that I love. The people that love the look stick around, and those that don't are welcome to move along. And yes he inspires me too!! Thanks for the fab post.

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  25. THANK you for this wonderful impassioned post on Furlows book! You are spot on correct- live with what you love, and live with what moves your heart and don’t be influenced to buy into ‘trendy’ unless you like that vibe.
    I was just thrilled because I too admire the creator of these wonderful houses that were just of such breathtaking beauty to me.
    I heard of the book on Mrs. Blanding's blog and of course since I respect Patricia so hugely, I was intrigued, so I bought a copy as a birthday gift for my sister, and then, I had to have my own.
    It is going to heaven with me when my time comes to depart this life,as it will be my blueprint for sure.

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    1. I so agree! Your house should be a "scrapbook" of your life! Filled with "old friends" and memories! Never ever get rid of anything that means something! And if it doesn't mean anything.....what is it doing there?

      Love this post and the comments!!!

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    2. Gee Penny, what an original thought.

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  26. Joni this is truly one of my very favorite books of the season, Gatewood is an incredibly fascinating man!

    Xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  27. Furlow Gatewood has an innate talent and an incredible eye, I suppose that's why he's worked for so long with John Rosselli. Clearly he's a rare talent, and yes his book is gorgeous and very inspiring. I'm just starting off decorating our home, it's nothing like what most Americans live in I imagine, it's a small semi in a very large city, but still it's taken me three years so far and no room is "done" because I refuse to buy something I don't love. I would rather live without and I've received many comments about how I should "just go and buy some chairs" from friends and family.
    I do think though, Joni, and forgive me as I don't mean to be rude, your home, though lovely, is very trendy. Is it not the Houston "french texan" style incarnate? I thought that was the antithesis of the style of someone like Mr Gatewood? I think when your home is very trendy and then those trends pass then people expect you to "keep up to date" like your "friend". If it was never trendy at all (like mine, lol) then no one really notices or cares (and I certainly don't). thanks for the post, such gorgeous interiors, could look at them forever!

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  28. Agreed - trends are just for people who have no taste of their own!

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  29. Joni, I love your style and I come to you (always) because you are so certain...steadfast....with your design. The Cuthbert House. J'adore! Loved this post. Oh Feisty You! xo

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  30. What a stunning post. I would love to have peacocks wandering around . Joni, don't ever change. You have a great sense of style and taste. Shakespeare said it best, "To thine own self be true"

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  31. Joni, I had just finished reading that book when I read your post, and I have to say your post should be required reading for everyone whole buys the book. The book is beautifully photographed and written, but it lacks any clear connecting pictures or floor plans. In it, you see lots of individual incredible rooms but sometimes it is hard to understand how they flow from one to another. You have done a masterful job of showing both the rooms and the flow, which makes the rooms even more amazing. Gatewood is incredible, and I would love to read more about his contractor. That grizzled man with a full beard in rural Georgia seems to "get" Gatewood and can make his ideas a reality.

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  32. This is my very favorite post you have done! And I agree with you, Furlow Gatewood lives with what he wants to live with and forgets about trends. He has been a favorite of mine since a Veranda feature in the 90's of a house he bought and restored in Savannah with John Rosselli. He is my hero and I have never been more influenced by anyone. I, too, like to live with china and books and I have them all over my house. The fact that much of this has been accomplished in the past ten years and he is 92 is amazing! I ordered the book the day I saw it listed and I, too, look at it constantly. What an inspiration and thank you for so beautifully showcasing it. Your blog is the best and you are a great decorator. Stick to your own design aesthetic and you can never go wrong! Barbara

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  33. I just want to say THANK YOU,THANK YOU,THANK YOU!!!I completely AGREE!Live with the things you really LOVE!!A classic is a classic!

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  34. I love this post. What a unique person Mr. Gatewood is and his property and houses, STUNNING. Furthermore, I agree that we should each be able to live with whatever style and things we like, not what someone else says we should. Besides trends are fleeting and when they are done all you have left is useless junk. BTW, I love your house and your dining room and I don't think any of it is out of style. I would be in heaven if only my house was as fabulous.

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  35. Oh THANK YOU FOR WRITTING THIS!! We just started building our home after waiting over 13 years and I have a very traditional style and feel exactly the same way. My house - My style - a house that reflects ME!! www.equusvilla.blogspot.com

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  36. Love this post and you are so right!

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  37. The houses are beautiful and so livable. The photography is jaw-droppingly stunning! Wish I could get those results with my camera. Amazing. Thank you for your weekly inspiration.

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  38. BRAVO Joni! Well said, loved it! Laurie'

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  39. I think you need new friends!! Seriously, my house is far from perfect but not one friend has ever walked in and asked why I don't "update my look" or told me something was out of style! Unless those friends are decorators (and I doubt they are) they should be quiet!

    Love the book, by the way, I'm going to have to get it:)

    Sheila Irwin
    www.maisondecinq.blogspot.com

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  40. Here are a few people who say what I think:

    “Fashion changes, but style endures.”
    ― Coco Chanel
    “Why change? Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it.”
    ― Audrey Hepburn
    “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”
    ― Yves Saint-Laurent

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  41. BEST. POST. EVER. THANK YOU! A feast for my eyes. I needed to see this. I am so weary of the current trends.
    Wonderful wonderful wonderful!!!

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  42. Absolutely love it. To thine own self be true....especially in decorating! As a blue and white lover, Mr. Gatewood's houses are a dream come true.
    p.s. I have never seen an all white peacock. What a treat. I would be looking for new friends, as well. How pompous and rude!

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  43. God bless you Joni. Out of all the amazing posts you've ever done, this ones my favorite. I've just ordered Mr. gatewood's book.

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  44. I agree with you. Know what you like and stick to it. We have antique furniture and decor that we've had for years. The 200 yr old antique never ceases to wow. If you decorate with classics, and not trends (tuscan anyone?) you will always have great style. I only disagree on one point... Furlow Gatewood's houses are perfect. They have that collected ease of a beautiful home, not a "look at me" showplace. There are very few places that I can say I'd just move in with my toothbrush, but I could move into any of his houses. The book is wonderful too...full of inspiration.

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  45. Amen. Such a visual feast Mr. Gatewood offers. What an inspiration he is! I had to laugh at your comment about the lone Swedish toy horse style of decorating. I mean, where's the stuff? Am I remembering correctly, Joni, that you have stashed away some of your china and porcelain you used to display? Maybe we need to do like Mr. Gatewood and just put up another house! As I look back at magazines I have clipped and saved, I have found that my basic style has remained fairly consistent for the last three decades. I still love the things I did then. But I do wonder if classic traditional design seems old fashioned to those under 40. Here in the south we've held on to tradition longer, but, really, I have no need for the silver coffee/tea service I inherited. And as we've purged, and lightened, and put things away to get our 1928 house ready to go on the market, I wonder what young couples will think. Will it seem outdated with my 18th and 19th century mahogany furniture? Our furniture suits the style of our Colonial Revival house, and I've tried to keep it fresh without totally redecorating. Interesting enough, the house next door which is a 1920's Spanish style is filled with very contemporary furniture and that is why the realtor thinks it is taking so long to sell.

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  46. Slipcovers out of style?? I don't think so! Don't change style! It is timeless. And beautiful!

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  47. Joni, I wouldn't have said this but it fits in exactly with what you are saying here. Please forgive me ahead of time! Here goes: I liked your living and dining rooms so much more before you changed them. If you had started from zero when you moved in and done it this way I probably would have liked it better but to change what you had to this seems like you did exactly what you are saying people should not do, i.e., following trends too, too much. (The long, gathered frilly skirts really put it over the top for me. Straight skirts with corner pleats girl here.)
    I know, I know, I'm a terrible person. And I will probably be starting WWIII here. But your more traditional décor you had before was so lovely. But of course you needed to do what makes you happy.
    Sheila

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    1. haha. don't worry,no WWIII. truth is - i miss my old fabrics. and I'm getting to wear I might want more prints in my life which is why i changed my curtains to a print. but i wanted white and i still love white. and that's what i mean, i don't want to have to apologize because i like white, i just do.

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    2. I love white, too, in some instances a barely off white. I am, however, getting very tired of white painted furniture. I feel like it's really run it's course. I've been afraid that every piece of antique furniture was going to end up painted. Ugly pieces that are improved by a paint job don't bother me, but I've seen some gorgeous pieces just ruined.
      I love a room painted white with beautiful wood against it. (Even though I don't have that...)
      Sheila

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  48. Those houses are stunning, and +1 to what Sunny said upthread.

    People suffer from major insecurities, and demanding conformity from others (chasing trends, for example) is evidence of that. "Herd mentality" is such an uncharitable term, but really it describes what retailers and other cult leaders have understood for years - subduing individuality is paramount if you're going to exercise influence over people and monetize it in any substantial way.

    Thank goodness for the Mr. Gatewoods and the Joni's of the world (whose style is darling) for not being assimilated by the Borg, Belgian or otherwise. Can't wait to get the book.

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  49. Joni, Mr. Gatewood's houses have what most houses lack: character and true comfort, the ultimate luxuries. I am pinning all the interior images from this post, probably my favorite of everything you've written in the past two years. It is so easy to be seduced by the latest trends in design, but STYLE transcends popularity and finally relates to the individual's unique tastes. (That's why your own home still works: you have taste and your house reflects YOU!) Otherwise, interior design becomes a cookie-cutter pastiche, a farce and a waste of money -- folly indeed. Thank you thank you thank you for your honesty and clarity! Best wishes!

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  50. Unless your "friend" is a cast member of Real Housewives of West University, I can't imagine anyone telling a friend that her home is dated and needs to be freshened up a bit. Who does that? Especially to a woman who writes one of the best design blogs on the net. I would suggest that you keep the slipcovers and lose the friend.

    Now about the post. Sort of. While I abhor the single rocking horse look, I have come to appreciate a less is more approach to many things including design. We recently emptied and sold my aging parents house after they move to an assisted living home. Almost every square inch of that house had some sort of decorative element covering it. My sisters and I were unable to part with many cherished items but there was just so much of it. We ended up selling most of it at auction for pennies on the dollar. My advice, choose carefully before you purchase anything for your home.

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    1. If you want to edit your cluttered look to one lone accessory - you might have never really liked the cluterred look or realized how good it looks. When I updated, I just went from red and black antique accessories to cream ones. there was still masses of it. but notice - you didn't clear out your house and go to a vintage store and pick up a 50s or 60s styled accessory that might have come from California in the 1960s. That's the difference. My friend meant well, it was more of an intellectual discussion.

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    2. Maybe your friend did mean well, but in the introduction of the blog, you seemed rather perturbed at her suggestion that you update your look. While I really enjoy your style and Gatewood's as well, I just would prefer a little bit less of it for myself. My advice was certainly not directed at you, but more of just a statement in general. Not only was my parents house full of decorative accessories, but the closets were jammed pack full of clothes, much of it with the tags still on them. Emptying the house was one of the most physically and emotionally draining things I have ever done. Perhaps that is why I am trying to live a little bit more simply.

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    3. I am hearing this!!
      We can do our children a favor....all of us have "stuff" we don't want or need! (not antiques....but clothing and other things.....!!!) Do our children a favor by decluttering!

      My neighbor Oprah has all kinds of great stuff about this on her website! Good stuff about everything in life; actually!!!

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  51. Excellent post and much to digest. Obviously, you were insulted by your friend, (and hence the anger in your post), but none the less, he/she may have been attempting to get you out of your design rut. I do not think your design style is to be confused with Mr. Gatewood's in that while he has remained true to his taste, he is never repetitive in executing the look. These pictures and this book is a crash course in the elements of classic and enduring interior design and showcases the spirit, talent and value of investment designing. Notice how all of his pieces are so precisely selected that they can move from space to space without having the total look interrupted. What an incredible talent that takes. One cannot copy it because it reflects a lifetime of collecting - that is the key. Can't wait to get my hands on the book and bravo Mr. Gatewood for remaining engaged with life.

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  52. Just food for thought, Joni - how many times have you shown homes on this blog that were from real estate web sites and opined that the interiors are dated? You cannot live all your life surrounded by things you love and expect that they don't reveal their age. It is a very hard line to walk. If you had no idea whose home this belonged to or the back story, how would you have narrated the rooms - timeless perhaps or needs updating?

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  53. Joni, one of your all-time best posts and that's saying something. I agree with everything you've touched on here. And are you being paid a commission on this book? Because I bet Amazon is going to see an uptick in sales after this post!!

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  54. Joni, I love this post. This man is truly inspiring and I have that book on my list! Of course, I love the everything, he has done a wonderful job and he is true to his aesthetic. When I was young and naive, I was going to "change" my look - I sold a ton of good old things. My "new look" lasted less than a year - I hated it. I wasn't ME! I was around 30 or so when I did this - never again! I am past the point of thinking about trends - yes, we should do what we love - forget the rest of it!

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  55. WOW. i was shocked by the quick response. Yes, This was true. It was a discussion I had about my house. And, there wee several other events that sparked this. Yes, I did recover some furniture around five years ago and yes I did put away some accessories, but I also replaced them too with a more creamwae instead of masonware. I think of that more of a tweaking of a color scheme than a change of style, but you may disagree. To me, Gatewood did the same thing when he went lighter in his houses. Maybe changing colors schemes is too trend and so what I am saying is hypocritical, but that's for you to decide.

    This might be more of a generational thing - but Gatewood and I are not from the same generation. My main point was if you find a style you love - like so many greats have - you should feel ok staying the course - like Rachel Ashwell has. Or Rose Tarlow.

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    1. I agree with your reply above, Joni, but as a blogger you are constantly selling "your look" to your readers many of whom happen to have been recent clients for which you rather adroitly copied your look and put it into their homes. Now obviously the client may have insisted on the look rather than take the time to explore their own design style, but the fact remains that there is a look associated with you and with this blog that is trendy and associated with Houston. Do you love it for what it is or do you embrace it because you believe you must because you live in the Houston look beehive?

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  56. one other thing - i forgot to say, the photography is by Rodney Collins and Paul Costello. Rod Collins: http://rodcollins.smugmug.com/Beacham-Realtors/Rodney-R-Collins/8963055_KqdkR9#!i=595508333&k=pFRWVqM and Paul Costello: http://www.paulcostello.net/html/main.html

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  57. What a wonderful home! Houses don't look cluttered if everything looks like it has a place. And, you know what? If you like your home the way it is then who cares what anyone else thinks? Everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinions. You would probably hate my home decor, and I'm not a fan of slipcovers and seagrass, but so what? It doesn't make either of us wrong, just different. It's like someone else mentioned earlier, how many times have you yourself criticized a home for being dated or ugly? The owners of the home might disagree with you but that's ok.
    Anyway, I had the privilege of visiting Bunny Williams/John Rosseli's Connecticut estate during the Garden Conservancy's Open Days last June. The gardens were spectacular, and they opened their guest house to the tour. There was a lot of "stuff" in the guest house but no one could ever say it was cluttered! Miss Bunny Williams herself was there that day and was just lovely, serving cookies and bottled water to all of the guests, and taking time to answer all of our questions.
    Thank you for sharing this book with us! Now it's on my Amazon list!

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  58. I adore Furlough Gatewood's style. I did a post on his home last July (2013) with some additional photos. I appreciate his aesthetic and approach. At his age he continues in pursuit of his passion, admirable, and it is probably responsible, at least in part, for his longevity. Love the book. Thank's for some additional photos.

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    1. I think you are right, Charisse! He is actually, I think 94 now! I think he has lived this long because he has followed his "passion"! And how much we all have to learn from him!

      Bravo! Joni; Bravo to Bunny! and most of all Bravo to Furlow!!

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  59. Love the post!! ------A quote I heard, "You were born an original, don't die as a copy:)

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  60. You have inspired me to go and get this one. Taste never goes out of style. I try to keep "relatively" current but I love my collections of things that I have gathered over the years, and yes my slipcovered sofas and chairs. Bravo Joni for speaking up for all of us!!

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  61. Agree with you, dear Joni! I love your house and aesthetic.
    -Linda, NY

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  62. So glad you featured Mr. Gatewood and vented a bit and what a good string of spirited posts! Most of my daily blog reads have been a little bland lately so this was fun! I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gatewood with Julia Reed at their Thomasville, Ga book signing recently. He is a delight to chat with, so full of energy for his years.

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  63. I have tired of the young, "fresh look" blogs. My list of blogs has shrunk considerably over the last year. I find the looks they fawn over are often awkward and a real hodge podge (NOT eclectic!!). I lived the 60's and 70's--I don't need to do midcentury modern again, for sure. I have awaited the release of Mr. Gatewood's book and it is FANTASTIC! Don't change your look--I need a blog to read that I enjoy! I hear ya sistah!!!

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  64. Joni
    What an inspirational man. That is not my definition of clutter. Keep to your true self.

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  65. Furlow Gatewood's designs are livable.decade.after.decade. I love too that his designs aren't pretentious! Wonderful post Joni! I'm so tired of seeing chalk painted furniture and all white.everything!

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  66. I just love the hydrangea's in the pots - anyone know about doing this? I wonder if they can winter over, etc...

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  67. Joni, I feel I must comment on the hypocrisy going on here. I loved your blog when I first found it, and you did have a look that was your "own"... for better or worse. But then you starting doing posts pointing out things that were "dated" in other's houses and saying things were too cluttered, hating yellow, or hating red, too many accessories, etc. You even talk about hating art in one of your posts! You state that mirrors are better! And now you are fawning all over "clutter" and "art"! I'm not saying I disagree with you. This house is lovely and it really shows great taste. However, you cannot have it both ways (as others above have said!) Sorry, I just had to say something because you are literally disagreeing with everything you have been saying the last couple of years!

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    1. Anon May 21 at 10:40
      What you are calling hypocrisy in your above comment is not fair to Joni--- the fact is that every time she shows a house or talks about a "style" on her blog -- she is throwing out a challenge for us to learn from. The reality is that most woman do not know how to decorate -- that is not to say that all decorators know how to decorate either -- I know a lot of decorators who have horrible taste and put all the wrong colors and styles together trying to sell some new look that they hope will get them another decorating job. The truth is Joni needs to be teaching interior design at Parsons or at some college level school because she has a true natural ability in design that 95% of woman do not have. Here is an example of the kind of designers that are coming out of the schools today ---- my daughter is a museum curator who worked for Colonial Williamsburg foundation before she married and then she moved to Europe with her husband's job. She has only original art in her home. She has a college friend who has a degree in design and while still living in the states this friend came to my daughter's home and saw all of her artwork and she was so ignorant of what she was looking at that she asked my daughter if she got her artwork from Chelsea House Interiors. This poor girl with a degree in design did not know what she was looking at--whether it was a "print" or an original piece of art. That is why we need people like Joni to teach good design. I have seen Joni show on her blog where builders who are not very "bright" build ugly houses with horrible challenging window designs for example---- and women buy these houses and try and drape windows as best they can --- and Joni will come along and try and educate people on how to deal with the problem of a poorly designed house in general whether it be the windows or wall placement. She tries to show the average woman out here how to deal with what they have to get the best design possible. Most women cannot afford to hire designers like Frank Babb Randolph or Dan Carithers or David Easton or some of the wonderful women that Joni has featured on her blog-- but if she can open ours eyes to how poor to average design differs from great classic design ---then women who want to HAVE better --can learn how to do things for themselves and make the choices that work for them --- It is all about being informed and Joni brings the information in spades that we are sorely lacking.

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    2. Whoa - thank you! I don't deserve any of your praise. But, I will agree that I do try to show how if you use a few basic principals, like symmetry, or curtains/rug - lamps instead of overhead can lighting - mirrors instead of bad art - an ikea slipcovered sofa instead of an overstuffed leather one - just things like that, that you can have a great looking house without spending a fortune.

      I understand what your daughter went through with her friend and that's the issue I have with some of the interior design school grads. They are great for commercial, hospitality design, but some are just not talented.

      Thanks so much again.

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    3. To Anon - the first one. Honestly, I hear what you are saying and I do agree. But this blog story is as honest as anyone I have ever written. Someone whose taste I really admire, etc. said all that about me, and it made me think. Am I in a rut? Should I change? Just a convo with myself. Then, several younger people I know hired younger designers because they want that look - tufted velvet, David Hicks wallpaper, etc. And that added to my internal convo - which was coupled with this book that struck me - hey - why do you feel guilty for not changing? I think I am internally drawing a distinction between updating and changing. ie. Updating your wall colors, editing, changing lamp shade shapes - just doing a few trendy looks, but not throwing out your antique accessories in place of colored crystal ashtrays and contemporary designs.

      And I realize there is hypocrisy, but going from red walls to gray walls, or from mostly english antiques to french antiques isn't what i am talking about. it's more like going from english country manner to palm springs 60s.

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    4. Joni, You do deserve ALOT of praise! Imagine all the people you make happy with your blog. I love reading it! It is one of the highlights of my week! Keep up the great work and thnak you!

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  68. Love this post...First of all, a home full of beautiful things passed down, inherited because a family member loved them and new things collected because we love something will never go out of style! Reminds me of one of my daughter's childhood books. My nest is best. "I LOVE MY HOUSE ,I LOVE MY NEST IN ALL THE WORLD MY NEST IS BEST." The birds look around trying out new options and return to their own nest. I've had and done so many things in different homes. I've changed it when I changed and evolved. If we are lucky, our homes reflect who we ae and how we live. I'm in simple, peaceful, and comfy mode. No complicated patterns...ahhhh. My father has an expression "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins!" We always laugh a little but mostly, in this case, If your "friend" doesn't have to live in your house then what does anyone care? And if somehow your friend is living in your house...she has more to worry about than you changing your style! LOL Sometimes people project their own thoughts onto others. Maybe your friend is feeling stuck in her aesthetic and wonders why you are still comfortable in yours.... I'm making myself laugh so I'll stop the psychology now!
    e

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  69. Yes! Amen! and Amen! Preach it sister! I am so tired of trends and everybody thinking their homes have to look alike. Just be yourself and dare to love what you love and if your style is the same year after year, it is after all your style and nobody else's business. Did I already say Amen?

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  70. The rooms are so liveable you could curl up with a book on that blue checked sofa. He has great collections that give personality to the home. I fear my kids will be tossing my traditional and mostly inherited family furniture for ikea (daughter) or RH/pottery barn (son). I've never understood the need to redecorate from scratch every year or so. In my hometown that happened! No need to keep up with the Jones family. And 70 is not old! It's about being interesting and creative at any age.

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  71. I love this post and this man. You don't have to love every thing. I think some of it is a little dated, but you know what he is interested in, you have lots to look at and talk about in one of his rooms. His rooms tell stories and I love that. I don't think you should ever consider a home, "Done".

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  72. When I saw the title of this post on my reader, I was so excited, Joni Webb is going to write about Furlow Gatewood! This is just fantastic! His estate is so elegant and livable, just so much beauty. Amazing that this has been done at the end of his life. He is one talented man with exquisite taste. Thank goodness Julia Reed wrote the book to share his homes with the world. I will be reading this over and over. Well done Furlow and Joni!!!!!

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    1. I love this comment! Furlow would completely "cringe" if he heard the word "estate" linked to his "houses"! And it is more of an "estate" than any of the cringe-worthy "estates" on the market today all over the country!!

      Not one McMansion could even get "close" not even one percent....to the charm, livability, and comfort of this bunch of lovely cottages!

      May Furlow live forever!

      I adore all of it. It is the penultimate example of my philosophy of decorating......and then it takes 5000 steps beyond! Lordy!!!!

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    2. Please say it ain't so, Penny. You know Furlow also? We would have never guessed.

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    3. Penny has a lot of class anxiety, doesn't she?

      She has the money, from her third husband, and desperately wants to sound like a lady who has had it all her life.

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  73. Amazing. I could look at these photos over and over and over again. Thanks for a beautiful and fun read!

    Jenna

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  74. I was so incensed when I started reading this post I couldn't even finish right away or comment. People can be so rude, even good people have rude moments. I would be shocked if anyone I know ever offered an unsolicited criticism of our home's style. There are a couple of good friends whom I ask from time to time and I value their input but I don't always heed it. In fact, most friends and family come to me for design direction and we have a style not suited to everyone, every surface covered and more waiting in the closet, many many colors and patterns. I LOVE it and so do all who enter because it is us and they love us. After 40+ years you have a lot of stuff. Fortunately our grown kids want it and take almost everything we offer plus they have their names taped to the bottoms of other things they want. Early on my mom started giving special things from her home as Christmas gifts, a custom we all love. Like another commenter i once changed the whole look and got rid of things I could kick myself for. Guest what look that was? French Country! Pierre Deux and all but we called it Country French back then. Of course i change things because when you love design you just do. This book looks amazing and I look forward to pursuing it with many cups of English breakfast Tea...unless that is out of style too ;-) Pamela

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    1. Is your name Miss Mash?

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  75. I loved this book. I loved hearing the voices. I've heard Julia Reed, but I think Furlough Gatewood must sound like a bass version of Bobby McAlpine. Deep, resonant, Southern down to the last vowel. I'm still laughing about the doors flying off the top of his car and falling into the Hudson River. How the pull of the doors took off the rack on his car roof. I appreciated the story and in this book every picture was a story and so much beauty while having so much fun.

    As for style, I think we eventually come to a place that feels like we got it right—for us. Other opinions don't really matter.

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  76. Okay, that's it. I'm buying the book! I have/had 2 male friends, both single, both shared homes/home on one property with their mother during their lifetime. They were the most fabulous untrained decorators. One a painter/artist, rather well known and the other self-taught accumulator of gorgeous things. Mixing styles, colors, placement of things in unusual places. Lunches at his home in Placerville was so much fun, hauling out all the dishes from his mother and grandmother. The sets were all intact and perfect. The Christmas tree was all done in the vintage lights (careful of fires). He died suddenly of pancreatic cancer and his modern family had little use for his treasures. Everything was sent off to auction--we all miss that time in our life but look back with gratitude and fondness. Don't you change your decorating either.

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  77. You go Girl. I couldn't agree more. What a man; what taste. Have ordered the book. I tried going minimilist for five minutes. Couldn't do it. And then I had a thought. Why the hell should I. It's my home, well mine and the MOTH (man of the house) kids, grandkids, dogs etc. It's welcoming, warm and makes us happy. I so love your blog and can't wait for the next one. I make a coffee and lose myself in beauty. Thank you. Deidre. (I am not anonymous but don't have a clue what the other profiles are about. Must ask a savvy grandchild.)

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  78. I recently finished the biography of Beatrix Potter. She had a similar experience. In her later years, she bought lots of property so that it couldn't be developed and mess up the beautiful views. She was one of the first big donors to the National Trust. She bought a few historical houses to preserve them and she would create a new garden for each one. Sigh. Loved that book.

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  79. Beautiful home interior designing and furnishing! I like the architecture design very much!

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  80. You are so Brilliant! I love all your posts, but this one especially! Thank you so much for posting this Joni!

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  81. Fabulous fabulous fabulous!!! Joni--another stellar post! Simply must go reheat the coffee and pour over this again! XOXO--Amanda

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  82. I think what you're describing here is that elusive quality of AUTHENTICITY. It's why I always prefer the interiors that designers have created for themselves over the spaces they create for their clients, even when the clients have given their designer free reign and a generous budget. There's just a warmth that exudes from a home that is filled with objects, furnishings and collections that have real meaning to the people who live there. The formulaic, trendy approach to interior design works commercially because it can be packaged and sold to consumers, and because it is intentionally obsolete in a year or two so the customers must replace everything in order to remain "current." Selling "timeless interior style" is not as successful of a business model. :-)

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  83. "What if a room full of junk from the 50s and 60s doesn't cut it for you" - a great line which sums up my thoughts on the current trend for mid-century furniture. I consider people who use only mid century furnishings to be people who don't know what they like and are scared to put a foot wrong or have an opinion. I grew up 1950's/1960's furniture in the 1970's (yes, we were very behind the rest of the world) and I never, ever liked it. For years I associated this furniture with junk shops and retirement homes.

    I can't wait to buy Thurlow's book and linger on each page. If I were him I would move to a different one of these houses each week, how lucky he is.

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  84. Amen! :0) what a beautiful home. Those peacocks and the hydrangea lined lane are stunning. I think it's always best to follow your heart and not trends! Take care

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  85. Joni........be still my heart and AMEN. I couldn't agree with a post more and enjoyed this more than I can say. My birthday is around the corner....and this book is my wish! What an amazing man! I am so inspired by him! Thanks for giving me such a gift on this long weekend!

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  86. I am in love with the man and his homes. I would be happy to move into any one of those rooms. I would want to dust them but man would I love to live there. I wonder if he has house tours? The driveway lane lined with hydrangea is my screen saver and has been for years. It is my favorite picture of all time.

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  87. I have some of his rooms saved in inspirational files! I don't know WHY anyone would tell someone you are stuck in 'any design'. Our HOMES are ours to do with as we please, and our budget restrictions kind of keep our changes at bay. We live in great times when we can access ANY design we want. We are no longer bound by the 'one size fits all' mentality. We also must think more global as our times change. I think the fact that you 'publish' your house is why someone might think it is OK to critique it. I think you are confident enough not to let it bother you, nor would I listen to someone who tells me that my latest love with the late 1800's British Colonial look is outdated (with my own twist of course). I think we all ought to go on an adventure to discover exactly what we do love and what makes sparks fly for us. After all, it is OUR life, each and everyone of us had his/her space in the world and I for one and grabbing my little corner of the world and nesting the way I like it, and what motivates me to be creative and love waking up to. Thanks for this great feature on a great designer (I can see some of Bunny in his taste and staging!). What a lucky man to have such GREAT friends too! What a life!

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  88. My dear Cotie,

    Longtime reader, first-timer commenter.

    Item One: thank you for spreading the inspiration of All Things Furlow. As soon as I can get deeply south of Michigan, I'm buying some damn peacocks. My mother said they make great watchdogs.. I only wish I'd had his vision to put my 50-plus hydrangeas plants in massive pots when I planted them last year. Before the 20-plus days of below-zero winter. Then I could transport them south. With the help of Jethro & Ellie Mae.

    Furlow is so smart. And walking inspiration. But also....I love a fellow imperfectionist. Making things beautiful right now with what you have. Granted, the man has a lot (especially in friends, family, fortiune, health, taste, energy...) But not so much time. And look at all that translates to a low-budget challenge. Old floors? Paint 'em. Ugly walls? Shiplap them. These are highly DIY-able. Too many of us think the manicured lawns must come before the hydrangeas in pots. Gotta love a renegade!--especially when he brightens our lives with possibilty and beauty.

    Item Two: thanks for launching the counterattack on midcentury totalitarianism in design. I got so sick of seeing images of Chairman Mao all over Apartment Therapy, we now have a beautiful portrait of George Washington over our fireplace. I'll take my stand.

    There are some fun things to think about here.

    Does anyone else think that the mania for open concept in homes is consistent with apathy re privacy rights? Why can't a young mother enjoy the privacy a foyer provides and still keep an eye on her children from the kitchen? .

    Is this era's new design dictate any more obnoxious than the advent of any other new style? It does feel like there is less tolerance. Should heaven help you if your design aesthetic suggests history has some value --whether you hold other conservative values or not.

    Is 'old lady chic' always a pejorative?

    What if someone (maybe you?) were able to design the world's first breath-takingly pretty MIDCENTURY interior? Google on that and see what you find. Not so much. Sarah Richardson has come closest in Sarah's House--with that suburban home and her Sarah 101. Is it possible to design a ranchburger that makes both our team and the Mies van der Rohe group cry with delight? Maybe someone's daughter has done it already. I would love to see that.

    Again, many thanks.

    #furlowfurever

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    1. To Anon just above:
      I agree with you completely with your comments. First of all I am sorry that you have to live in Michigan. I and my family lived there for 6 years due to job transfer and we could not take it another winter and my husband left his company and we high tailed it back to Charlotte North Carolina where we came from. I hate mid century modern. I was a teenager in the early to mid 1960's and I grew up with my friends mother's who had that modern junk in their house--- but my mother had enough sense to continue on having good taste for the classics. I also do not like the total "open concept" way of living because how do you decorate a space that is mostly all one room. The only place where an open concept look would work for me is in the kitchen area that would partially or mostly flow into a large family room---but even then I would have to have a somewhat formal kitchen look to work with a more dressy family room. I have never thought that open concept belongs in the front of the house in the formal areas. I like the defined areas for formal living room and dining room and foyer as this gives more options for decorating-- making each area a different feel. Who would want to walk in the front door of a house and the first thing you see across the room would be a kitchen sink or stove?? Can you even imagine how you would have to dumb down the decor of your living room to blend in with the look of a kitchen sink or refrigerator across the room. How do you think it would look with a beautiful Southwood or Hickory Chair sofa or an expensive Henkel Harris mahogany dining room table sitting two feet from the kitchen sink or stove ?? Young people today want open concept because it is what the builders sell because it is cheap to build --- less walls -- less doors and trim moldings. But I guess since a lot of people out there have poor taste in home furnishings--it is best that they invest in ugly houses that go with the furniture they choose. I think you should leave Michigan, come south and get you some peacocks and don't forget to bring your George Washington portrait with you.

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    2. If God gave theU.S an enema, Michigan would be the starting point. You have my sympathy on so many fronts I don't want to mention here. Indeed, hydrangeas look awesome in pots and it's not to late. It's Memorial Day week-end - go buy some and plant. While you are at it, put some roses in pots as well and herbs, you can have a veritable feast for the eyes and still live the sh*t hole of the world.

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    3. From #furlowfurever...

      Thank you, fellow Anons! Great suggestions! The divine Miss C de T and your responses provide a lot of southern comfort. Let me just say that I start each morning swinging a pocketwatch in front of my face and repeating, "I LOVE Michigan. I LOVE Michigan." In fairness, we must grant that they can grow some peonies up in here.

      Now I'm off to buy some tubs and more hydrangeas. And a peacock feather.

      Peace/Out

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  89. Joni: Must get this book. As you said, very inspirational and instructional! Judging by all the comments, this post struck a chord with many of your readers. Whatever your style, such a great message about being true to your aesthetic and design that makes you happy. Like many of the commenters, I, too, am tired of all the mid-century and I even like some of the individual pieces! IMO: Almost as bad are all the images that permeate the internet done by so-called designers of over-styled, preppy colored, faux, cheap-o chinoiserie that is often referred to as "fresh" and "young". Again, love a piece or two of quality chinoiserie and/or a lovely fabric that references chippendale geometrics. And I'm all in favor of some fun color in interior design. Unfortunately, most of these "in" looks are just that---trends. They seem to possess a certain design formula done with furnishings that will be discarded soon should the homeowner be so fortunate as to afford redecorating.

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  90. The purpose of home is to surround yourself with all that you love. I buy whatever takes my breath away. I don't care one whit about the current fashion, for it will be dated looking in about ten years. Your home and your style of dress is unspoken communication. Fashion fades, style endures. Do what makes you happy now and fifty years from now. You will be at the height of fashion five or six times along the way. I adore your blog and look forward to new post because I know you will never embrace trends purely for the sake of current fashion.

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  91. Michelle ViggianoMay 26, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    It is ever so interesting how design and aesthetics in general brings out the best and worst of human nature. Some develop a slavish bent to their preferred look rather than seeing it as an enlightened choice to be developed and cherished wherever their knowledge and exposure takes them. Others, have a less perennial approach and treat it as a temporary accessory to the background of their life. It's very much like most endeavors where there are arbitrators of taste ~ on a personal level it is a culmination of desire and aspiration ~ on a commercial level it is fueled by consumption and economics. In any event, I always enjoy the impassioned discourse on your blog and most certainly the extraordinary places you take us.

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  92. I can only respond to your post! (haven't read the comments!) You are SO correct! This man is a complete genius! I met him 30 years ago or something when he was at John Rosselli in New York City.....he has the most beautiful accent you can ever hear! "Melliflulous" And after I met him; then Miles Redd was there at 19 or so! I adored them both!!

    Another nail in the coffin of "change for change's sake"!!

    My mother had the most exquisite taste; and she recovered the sofas in the "sunroom...a two story courtyard room in the center of our house with a greenhouse roof!!" eight times with the same fabric! I asked her "why??"/ (I was 13 to 26 in that house)!

    She said; "I got it just right the first time; why would I change it?" Bingo!!

    Did you read the obituary of one of my very favorites of all time Betty Sherrill in the New York Times? She decorated her apartment at 1 Sutton Place South; 50 years ago. She "freshened it up" a few times; in fifty years, but never changed it. My opinion: "she got it right the first time!!" Gatewood is a genius.

    I have literally hundreds if not more books. If I had to pick one....this is it. A true genius with the best eye. I will be studying it with my magnifying glass for the rest of my life!!

    Fabulous post, as always!! Thank you , our Joni!!!

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  93. I forgot to add: I adore Ganna Walska's proclamation......"I am the enemy of the ordinary!" my darling friend Hutton Wilkinson gave a speech at Lotusland on that subject!

    "trends" (I know we disagree about this); in my opinion are "ordinary" ! I have never followed one; and I never will!

    Mario's book is a perfect example.....Same with Furlow! Completely different! Totally timeless.....classic......I wouldn't change one single thing!

    Fantastic!!!

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  94. We like what we like. What pleases us visually should be understood to be pleasing to us and not someone else. The silliness and intolerance (and dare I say childishness) of telling someone that what they like is not allowed or "with it" in the visual arts says a lot about the intolerant person saying it. It implies a lack of empathy that someone cannot appreciate that others like something different from themselves. It is a herd mentality unfortunately.

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  95. Your home is stunning, I would not change a single thing, your home should be a reflection of you and what makes you happy not others....
    I don't do trends they come and go with the seasons, and really who has all the energy p, not I that's for sure...lol....for what it's worth to me your home is timeless and beautiful ;-)

    Smiles~
    Mari

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  96. Fabulous post! Ordering the book now!

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  97. I think the book you referred to above is one I read to my children, The Big Orange Splotch, "My house is me and. Am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams."

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  98. Happy to hear that it is now acceptable to "do your own thing". I have NEVER liked gray or stark white and have ALWAYS liked shades of yellow and gold. The first room I ever did by myself was when I was 13. It faced northwest and only received light reflected off the neighboring house. For that room I chose a sunshine yellow with accents of herbal greens and ivory. The last 10 years of reading design magazines and design blogs have been excruciatingly painful with all the frigid, ghostly gray interiors. About the only thing that has kept me in the blogosphere is Betsy Speert's colorful and irreverent blog.

    Hubby and I are head over heels in love with Marston Luce's little house in France made of rough hewn, golden stone. It is featured in this month's issue of Veranda. One of the first houses in a shelter magazine in a long time that seems to have some warmth and life in it. I like Mr. Furlow's homes but could not live in them - too much clutter. Do love the verdant grounds and the peacocks, however!

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  99. I wonder how many of the mommy decorator blogger color specialists would be chalk painting all the antiques into something the color of a Skittle and also those gorgeous brass candle holders "because they're just so nineties"?

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    1. AnonMay 28 2:35pm
      Good one!
      Sheila

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  100. Joni, Loved this post. His style is refelected by his life and what he enjoys, it's clearly stated in all his collections! I would change a thing in your home, it's timeless and beautiful. I have to love love love something to buy it, or design it or do it! It narrows down the need to get rid of mistakes later! Thank you for the detailed post, a special gift to each reader...
    xo
    Gail

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  101. Absolutely LOVED this post. Love, love love. I've been reading your blog for a long time now. I don't comment much, but I do read your posts. I don't think there is another design blogger that compares. I have to say, the posts that I look forward to the most are the ones featuring your work. I love your aesthetic. Like, love it. I found you when I was in design school and you've had such an impact on my own personal design style.

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  102. I love the phrase "styled within an inch of its life" - can't tell you how many times I have thought/said that! Ha. Since when is style a verb, anyway?? Loved this.

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  103. I have this book in my library and love it! I love this gentleman's way of collecting things he loves to make it his own look. What bothers me is your friend criticizing you on your look! I love your look because it is your look. My look is different but it, like my fingerprints, are mine and only mine. You keep your look for you, don't change for anyone else and you might send your friend to etiquette classes!

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