A portrait of Louis XV in the Salon de Mercury at Versailles

The Fabric of Design

In their introduction to The Decoration of Houses, Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., write, “In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the conditions of life, and men camped in their castles much as they did in their tents, it was natural that decorations should be portable, and that the naked walls of […]

Chambre Bleu painting

A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne

  The narrow sidewalks push their black iron batons up out of the ground to protect the buildings hemming them; the rain turns the cobblestones to muted mirrors of damp light—I’m visiting her again on the anniversary of her 155th birthday, and it dawns on me that I’ve never seen the statuesque green door with […]

Three children painted in the Elizabethan style.

Narratives That Illuminate Design

  Narratives That Illuminate Design If you believe that design-centric coffee table books contain nothing more than visual surveys of portfolios, I am out to change your mind today by presenting my choices for narratives that illuminate design. What has prompted this quest? Two intelligently written books in Rizzoli’s holiday catalog—both of which were published […]

The luminous stained glass dome in the bar area of The National Arts Club in New York City.

The Red Carpet Treatment

There is a momentum to writing that, once interrupted, is challenging to reboot. I’ve experienced this first-hand during the past two months as I have made some significant life changes, the most chaotic being a relocation of sorts. I’m no longer a full-time New Yorker, as I will now be splitting my time between New […]

Bernhardt's Marquesa dresser on Saxon Henry's blog.

Harmony and Proportion

Love of beauty is taste…the creation of beauty is art. -Emerson I’ve been a fan of Alexandra Stoddard since I came across the designer’s book Living a Beautiful Life in the mid-1980s. She has since become a prolific author with an insightful list of releases but Living a Beautiful Life remains the book I return to […]

Conservatory at NY Botanical Garden on a bright summer day

Beatrix Farrand Gardens

  Powerful things happen in a garden. Beyond the miracle of riotous color and the vibrancy of burgeoning life, momentous occurrences have transpired on the garden bench through the ages—marriage proposals uttered, business alliances formed, treachery divulged, fatherhood revealed and affairs of the heart commenced (or terminated).   Beatrix Farrand Gardens As time telescopes into […]