Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How do you know it is Spring in Georgia? Because of the Home Tours!

When the third week of March arrives, my girlfriends and I pile into our cars and head south to St. Simons Island, Georgia. No, we are not driving down I-16  for Spring Break. But we are as excited as any teenager heading off for a week of fun in the sun! We are off to see the Annual Tour of Homes sponsored by Christ Church. These beautiful homes are located on St. Simons Island and Sea Island, two of the wealthiest areas of Georgia. This years selection  did not disappoint!. The architects, builders and designers all had out done themselves this year.
The mission of the Tour of Homes is to raise funds for local charities primarily benefiting women and children. It takes about 350 workers to put on the day long tour. Approximately 263 work at the homes. Also open the day of the tour are several historical buildings.

Hawkins Island Drive
Our first stop was on Hawkins Island. This home was five years old and belong to the busy family of local interior designer Stacey Anderson of Hampton & Hawkins Interior Design Inc. Special features like the mud room with custom design fishing equipment storage and lockers for each family member shows what special attention to detail was used in this house. A home suitable for entertaining with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace on the screen porch. Another unusual touch was the grass and tile checkerboard designed patio.
Cottage 56
This 1930's Spanish Colonial Home was built just two years after the famous Cloister resort on Sea Island. The home is full of asymmetrical arches  and details and a  combination of doors and windows let the sea air blow through. The building materials for this home where brought over on ferries or barges as the bridge that connects to the mainland had not been built in 1930. The grounds and patio areas are as wonderful as the inside of this unique home.
Cottage 133

The next Sea Island home is a perfect example of Island Entertaining. With its open floor plan, it is ideal for formal or casual entertaining. The front exterior has been completely redone and the columns are made of salvaged brick with a slight taper at the top. The house also has a cedar shake roof and the exterior is a combination of brick and tabby. A new pool, spa, outdoor kitchen area and remodeled porch add for the perfect spot to gather with friends. The back porch has beams made out of wood that came from an old cotton gin.

Cottage 84
Our only ocean front home was celebrating a 50th anniversary. It has had only two owners The original deed to the home was on display along with a number of island artifacts. All the wood used in the house is cypress. There are seven bedrooms and seven baths in this home. Along with a "first" beach near the house for the children to play, on you will find a spectacular view of the ocean and all the privacy you need. Along with the children's art that is scattered in the rooms and hallways you will find a number of family pictures and even a celebrity or two!

16 Forest Lane
One of two homes on the tour designed by Atlanta architect, Keith Summerour. This Spanish influenced home has the same North Carolina gray brick that was used when the Cloister was remodeled. The owner has a beautiful collection of antiques and oriental pieces.  This home also has pecky and clear cypress beams.The kitchen and keeping room have beams that were originally in textile buildings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  A lovely outdoor area that include a courtyard and separate entrance to guest house are visible as you exit this home that is perfect for gracious entertaining.

Pikes Bluff
 (Frederica Township)

There is no question that this house out at the north end of St. Simons Island was the hands down favorite of our group. The owner, who is the principal of Windmere Interiors of Short Hills, NJ, designed the interiors to show their love of all things nautical. There is a tremendous respect for the history of the area. As you enter the foyer of the house, three antique flags hold a place of honor. There is a special bookcase in the living room to display their exceptional collection of staffordshire pieces. The owner has a wonderful talent for choosing beautiful fabrics and trims and no attention to detail was missed. The back of the house has a large porch and garden room that overlooks the infinity pool and a beautiful view of the marsh and  boat with boat house completes the owners love of ships and water. 

Our last house took us back to East Beach on St. Simons Island's. It overlooks Gould's Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. The house designed by Keith Summerour is situated to show the spectacular panoramic view of the water. As we entered the property from the side street we were shocked to see a live Arabian horse being moved into a stall under the guest quarters to join another already in a second stall! But as we toured the grounds, they seemed to fit right in with the home.The owners love for horses is apparent in the fountain in the courtyard and other areas of the home. The house is called Villa de Suenos, “House of Dreams” and is inspired by a 15th century Spanish home. The floors in the main house are limestone and heart pine with venetian plaster on the walls and ceilings. The quatrefoil design is used often in this beautiful home. There are large windows to showcase the view, many balconies and a courtyard where an infinity pool seems to flow right into the Atlantic. This Spanish Style Villa was the perfect ending to a day spent appreciating the beauty, both man made and natural, that the Golden Isles has to offer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The highs and lows of "Inside Design"

I had another Interior Designer that I found inspiring. When I was in college pursuing my design degree, I stumbled on the book Inside Design by Michael Greer.  On the back of the book it
states: Michael Greer is one of the handful of interior designers practicing today who is famous not merely for his fertile imagination, but also for flawless, undeviating taste. He has worked on five of the available six continents; his clients represent a dazzling roster of business, social and theatrical celebrities, and include both crowned and elected heads of state.

(Michael Greer, on left, at the White House)

I had tremendous appreciation for his talent, but what I enjoyed most was his witty way in discussing his interiors. The following are some examples:
Whether or not you have much money to spend, but especially if you haven't, you need one marvelous decorative object which you love outrageously, which you may have spent far more for than you could afford and perhaps which no one else in his right mind would ever have spent as much for as you did.

I wish family rooms didn't have to be called family rooms, but this or anything is better than calling them Florida, Texas or California rooms---asinine as calling a pea, a garden pea, as menus or restaurants along throughways do.

The place to start in decorating any interior, is with color. Colors must be sorted into three categories: those the client can't bear, those it can, and those it prefers. Since the wrong (for you) colors can drive you as surely crazy as Chinese water torture, color is the first consideration chronologically and the first in total importance as well.

Maybe because there's so much of it locked up in Fort Knox, gold has the reputation of being a more pretentious decorating device than silver. It is not. In fact with its mellow warmth, gold and gilt can be a lot friendlier and more hospitable than silver, which after all has the exact cold hard color of steel.

Far less demanding and in the long run far more economical, unreal flowers can be as attractive though not in the same way, as real ones. For me they're at their best when patently unreal---made of porcelain, glass, fabric, wood, metal, stone. Plastic ones produced to date, with their embalmed oily-transparent look, should be led away and shot, and beaded ones, created by the Italians for graves, painfully destroyed.

These are just a few of his pearls of design wisdom. I would love to tell you that Michael Greer, a native of Monroe, Georgia, is remembered for his talent, but in later years his lifestyle not only caused his fall from grace, but also his death. I am quoting from People magazine, May 10, 1976:

At the height of his career, Michael Greer had everything. He was rich, handsome and celebrated. A decorator of considerable fame, he volunteered to beautify the diplomatic reception room of the White House. Actresses Joan Fontaine, Mary Martin, Geraldine Page and Ethel Merman graced his list of clients. He supped with the Queen of Denmark and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He drank from Baccarat crystal and travelled in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. With his French cook-butler, he entertained the Vanderbilts, Revsons, Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson.
Late last month, the tall, silver-haired, 60-year-old Greer was found dead in his Park Avenue apartment. His body, clad only in a short, blue kimono, was sprawled across one of his prize possessions, an antique steel bed. His ankles had been bound with a silk scarf of his favorite color—red. He had been strangled, police said, with a cord of some kind. Several photographs of Greer with famous friends had been turned face down. Otherwise, his apartment was not disturbed. The door had not been forced open.
The bizarre murder ended what friends call "a period of deterioration" in Greer's life. "He was on the road to self-destruction," says one close friend. "No one could help him." Greer, a homosexual, frequented Manhattan's gay bars and, according to a doorman in his building, "often entertained young men in his apartment." The murderer, police believe, was a homosexual pickup.

Link: People magazine article (May 10, 1976)
Though his lifestyle was questionable, his work is a pretty good epitaph. I enjoy his book as much today as when I received it years ago. The man had talent!

Source: Michael Greer "Inside Design"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Passion for Carolyne......

Back in 2001 my husband and I went to visit some dear friends in Birmingham. My friend Bimi left a copy of a new book she had received in her guest room.  It was At Home with Carolyne Roehm. She knew I would enjoy seeing it during our visit. That was a big mistake, because when handed a great design book it is very hard to get me to be social until I have studied every page and picture. Needless to say they did get my head out of the book for the rest of the weekend, but as soon as I arrived back home I immediately purchased my own copy! This became my “go to gift” for my friends that year. If I was forced to choose a favorite of her many books it would have to be this one. It is a wonderful blend of home d├ęcor, flowers and recipes. Or maybe it is because it introduced me to this fascinating artist.

Previously she had published A Passion for Flowers in 1997. Carolyne spent time working in the famed French Flower Shop, Moulie Savart. She has wonderful stories about her experience there. She certainly shows in this book what a talent she has for flower arranging.  This book has  250 gorgeous photographs and has been dubbed "the bible of floral design" and remains the gold standard for florists, brides, party planners and flower lovers alike.*

It was after A Passion for Parties was published that Carolyne came to ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center) to promote her books and speak about her fascinating life. She started out as a fashion design assistant working for the legendary Oscar de la Renta. She could easily have been a model rather than an assistant and is an extremely entertaining speaker. This she proved again last Thursday when she returned to ADAC to enchant a captive audience. She talked about her latest book A Passion for Interiors and told us about her three homes that are the focus of this beautiful book. Carolyne has nine dogs right now and you will find them in many of her photos. She told us of her two Westies that proceed to use a pair of “extremely” expensive antique console tables as chew toys. She said if they had been a husband or even her Mother that did the damage; they would have been long gone. But the Westies are still with her. This I can understand from having the divine Miss Priss, our Jack Russell, who in her youth enjoyed chewing on a convertible top, chain link fence and sheetrock! She has managed to digest most things she nibbled on. She is also sixteen years old and still with us!

I highly recommend any of Carolyne Roehm’s books and if the opportunity arises by all means go and hear her speak. She never disappoints! And yes that is one of the console eating dogs in the picture sharing the table where she autographed our books!
She is just one of many talented and creative people that have influenced my love of design. In the future I will share some others with you.
If you would like to read more about Carolyne, be sure and go to the below links: