Georgetown in fall

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My favorite time of year - crisp air and beautiful leaves. This image of the Georgetown C&O canal near my office. Enjoy your weekend!
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St Regis Bar

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My new favorite place to hang out in DC is the bar at the newly renovated St. Regis hotel! Recently renovated by Sills Huniford, the space is truly amazing. The historic hotel has been beautifully renovated but updated with modern furnishings and light fixtures that are easily reversable so no fears of the space 'dating'.They have some creative cocktails and probably the best sangria I've ever had (the fruit is strained out so you don't get those nasty bits in your teeth!)But it's the atmosphere that truly gets me, especially at night. Ebony paneling, an antique ceiling and tall windows.We had our local dc design bloggers happy hour here a few weeks ago and now I'm hooked! If you're ever in dc check out the hotel!
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Michael Smith Lecture

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I had the pleasure tonight to attend a lecture given by Michael Smith (seen on the left, with Ali Wentworth speaking to his right) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art here in Washington, DC. Michael is a very talented and now very FAMOUS interior designer thanks to the coverage of his work in the private quarters for the Obamas at the White House (which he would not talk about). However, no stranger to publicity, he had his first project published at the tender age of 24 in a major publication! Images shown are from his website of one of my favorite projects he has completed, a townhouse in Eaton Square. Michael showed a great deal of images: both published and unpublished, older and recent as well as a brief rundown of his many product lines. While talking about the bedroom shown above, probably one of my top favorite published bedroom images, Michael mentioned his philosophy of a bedroom as 'a crib' or a cozy retreat. He is a fan of patterned walls and beds nestled against the wall.Michael quickly broke down his design philosphy in a very clever way and you can see examples of this throughout all his work: the mixture of 2 ideas (often opposing) that bring out the best features of both. Whether it be mostly modern with an antique painting thrown in or English country with a few pieces from Marrakesh, this tension is where the interest lies in his work- the true definition of an eclectic interior! He believes the discord "brings you into the moment by its contrast". At the same time, Michael is concerned with balance. He never wants a room to be 'too simple, too fancy, too cluttered', etc. In a very formal dining room he'll throw in a sisal rug in contrast to a patterned or scenic wallpaper.
Another of the mainstays of his work is investing in quality, classic pieces. He mentioned in his own homes (as he is always moving) keeping the same couches for decades and uphostering them when they get a bit shabby. I noticed throughout many of his own houses that he showed the same pieces kept showing up. If you love something, you will always make it work: Stay away from the overly trendy and never start from scratch!Michael said that being an interior designer is one of the most personal and private fields you can ever go into. You get to know your clients very intimately and you should never betray their trust, hence the 'don't ask don't tell' policy on the White House! He did however mention that his work there was to 'highlight the best of America' and not neccesarily the traditions of the White House.
Some of the most interesting things he talked about were during the Q&A which was cohosted by his hilarious friend Ali Wentworth, actress and wife of George Stephanopoulos (whose house was recently in Elle Decor magazine). He mentioned his use of layering numerous smaller carpets in a large room. The reason? Not for the 'look' per say, but more because he felt it was hard to find rugs he liked in appropriate sizes!
Michael easily (and often) admited to being proudly high maintenance. He said "I'm not the easiest decorator to have" because he wants to challenge his clients to be invested in their houses. He wants them to think about their choices and for their spaces to be true reflections of not just Michael's taste, but their own lives. He claims all of his projects are incredibly individualistic and won't ever take on a client who merely wants a copy of one of his previous jobs.
I hope you all enjoyed these little tidbits I gleamed from the lecture; it was an entertaining and charming way to spend a rainy evening! All quotes are in italics.
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When it rains it pours!

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When it rains, it pours. First my HVAC broke, then my refrigerator (beware of GE monogram), I broke my favorite teapot, a pair of sunglasses split in half this weekend and then today my dvd player died after I was sick for a week. Better days must be ahead.
When one door closes, another opens: here's hoping it's true. I've already rediscovered a new favorite teapot in my kitchen cupboards! Back to our usually scheduled programming tomorrow.
Paris doorway & detail
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Miniature set designs

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In honor of the miniature interiors that Peak of Chic blogged about today, I thought I would show you the set designs displayed in the library of the Garnier Opera House in Paris.
The Paris Opera House is also known as the Palais Garnier, after the architect who designed this magnificent structure, Charles Garnier. Designed in neo-baroque style, the opera was completed in 1875 and is truly one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. I can't wait to show you more of it at a later date. However -onto the miniature set designs!
These small boxes line part of the library you can see above and aren't more than 12 inches high and are lit from behind. I'll never know what it is about miniatures that are so fascinating. Can't you see yourself viewing an opera in one of these?

This seems to have been part of the tour of the opera that visitors tend to linger at the longest! Everyone loves a miniature: I suppose it brings out the child in all of us.

At the end of the library is this really beautiful painting, definitely not in miniature as the ballerina is shown at full scale!
Make sure to click on the images to see them at a larger size -the detail is amazing!
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Telephone Booth collecting

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While in Western PA with JCB and friends, we stopped by Kentuck Knob. Owned by Lord Palumbo, many of his collections are displayed at the Frank Lloyd Wright house and grounds.
One of many of these collections are British Telephone booths from the early 20th century.
They delightfully dot the grounds like items from The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. I kept looking around the corner for the lamp post! The brilliant scarlet color really stands out in stark contrast to the Pennsylvania green.
The most fun thing, you can actually go into them and be transported into a Murder Mystery, ala Hercule Poirot! Sad to admit this was my favorite thing at Kentuck Knob, other than the spectacular Wright designed house of course!
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Wedding Photos

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Every city has its' iconic location where couples like to have wedding photos taken. Here in DC it is either down at the national mall in front of the capitol building or with the cherry blossoms in front of the Jefferson Memorial (season permitting), Chicago has Buckingham fountain and Paris has....the Eiffel Tower!
What do you think of this? I tend to think these photo op moments are maybe a bit cliche (especially when you throw in the rolls royce above!) but do they speak of where the couple was married and therefore have more meaning (good taste be damned). What do you think - tacky or appropriate?
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Paris, I'll return

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Going through my photos from Paris tonight, I was trying to organize them to make a printed album when I realized: they're all my favorites, they're all beautiful! I was wondering where I would spend my next birthday and now I've decided: Paris here I come! There is so much Heather and I didn't get to see last month and I just can't go another year. Heather, you're forewarned: Start saving now!
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Last weekend I toured Fallingwater, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright designed country house for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr while in Western Pennsylvania. This is the famous view as seen from across the waterfall. I hadn't visited in a few years and was hit again by how modern this house really is: hard to believe it was designed in 1934. Edgar Kaufmann Jr. was studying with Frank LLoyd Wright (a low point of FLW's career where he taught to make ends meet) and convinced his parents to hire him to build a country house on their land in Bear Run, PA. The highlight of the land was a beautiful waterfall and Wright ingeniously recommended building ON the falls rather than facing them (the common approach). The Kaufmann's would escape here with friends or alone for years: lots of parties and drama, trust me! The commission revived Frank Lloyd Wright's career, even making the cover of Time magazine shortly after it was completed. Not bad for a private country house!
The living room connects you to the outside in many ways. You can hear the falls situated right right underneath, as seen below. The natural stone walls and flooring also connect you to the site as do the large open expanses of windows.
Numerous seating areas in this large entertaining space make for a great party room. The house is much smaller than you would think, about 2,500 sf, and this is the only public space. A very modern idea which many of us have in our own homes, one room for living room, den & dining room.
The Kaufmann's must have really kept Tiffany's in business. The house is littered with beautiful objects such as these bowls on the low tables in the sitting area.Unfortunately, an overly zealous maid had attacked them with a brillo pad, scrubbing the gilding off!
The falls are connected to the living room directly with a set of stairs which take you down to the stream right before the waterfall. The windows telescope back allowing access.One of the nicest features is that the house is set up as if the Kaufmann's might walk in at any moment with many personal items and fresh flowers in every room. As air conditioning was rare in 1934, cross ventilation was extremely important, even in the mountains of Pennsylvania. In the guest room on the 2nd floor, these small windows are located above the bed along with a large wall of glass facing south.Even Mrs. Kaufmann's bathroom is set up as if in use: much of this beautiful glass is from lalique. Extraordinary! Love the planters screening the bathroom from the master bedroom's terrace.More Tiffany pieces on Mrs. Kaufmann's dressing table.The lamp seen here on Mr. Kaufmann's nightstand is located throughout the house and was designed by FLW for the house. They're available for purchase in the giftshop: I was so tempted!!Mr. Kaufmann's desk in his bedroom (yes, seperate his and her bedrooms) had fresh flowers and a Tiffany inkwell: the most important thing to note is the notch in the desk to allow the window to open bringing in the sound of the falls.One of the most noted features of the home are the linen shelves with reeding to allow air to circulate: I wish I had this at home!Mrs. Kaufmann sadly committed suicide here at the house but her memory lives on. Besides being buried here with her husband, this photo of her with fresh flowers lies in her son's 3rd floor bedroom.My favorite part of the house is probably the ascent to the guest house, built a few years after the house which contains additional guest & servant quarters along with a carport.
The path of stairs is covered with this cantilevered roof which is really breathtaking: A true structural feat!The guest sitting room is really comfortable and as beautiful as the main house. One bonus feature is the taller ceiling! Additional guests could sleep on the built in sofa along the window wall as well as in the guest bedroom next door which housed many famous luminaries of the day, including Einstein.

Edgar Kaufmann, Jr realized the importance of this house and donated it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in October, 1963 after his parents deaths. He remained an active supporter of the museum till his death when his ashes were strewn over the grounds, near his parents.
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