Friday, August 31, 2007
"my husband was experimenting with concrete to pour a new hearth for our fireplace. the table top was his test piece - the mix made a great pattern that i wanted to be able to use and highlight somehow. i started by using the antonius laundry basket frame - but it was too tall and the metal was too thin to visually balance the concrete top.
i found the planter box and decided to give it a try - it lends a bit of a tropical look to the yard now - i call it our pagoda table. i finished the table with the clear varnish from ikea just to be safe - although i think it's fine outside, i wanted to preserve the rich color as long as possible."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
james says, "we have a very small dining room which we also wanted to use to house a part-time computer desk. as we had a mac-compatible flatscreen lcd tv, and a lovely tiny mac mini, we were already half way down the line to super-minimalism. the solution was to adapt a faktum 92 x 40 kitchen wall cabinet with its abstrakt door (note: i can't find the faktum on ikea's site but the akurum works the same).
the unit has been reduced in width, height and depth (in fact it would have been cheaper to create the cabinet from scratch with mfc) and we've fitted ikea’s 0-protrusion blum hinges so the two surfaces (the base of the cabinet and the door when opened) align correctly. two brass stays hold the desk/door horizontal.
i would have got chromed stays but i can't find any. there is an additional little flap, made from a strip cut off the depth of the cabinet, which makes the desk deep enough to comfortably use a mousemat.
when it’s all folded up, the cupboard is almost invisible and less than 20cm deep, and is perfect just for tv watching. the keyboard, mouse etc and all the cables fit inside the cabinet – there's trunking running along the inside top, and of course the broadband is wireless, so only one power cable needs to exit the cabinet which runs the tv and mac together. we’re understandably proud of it!"
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Well, shortly after I ran that post, I got a comment from none other than Slim Aarons' daughter, Mary Aarons! How amazing! She mentioned that magazines like to refer it it as "paying homage". Aren't they nice? I asked Mary to email me and not only did she email me but she invited me to the upcoming retrospective in New York being organized by Hearst Magazines and Getty Images. She also agreed to a little interview!
All the biography and background information about your father starts with him joining the army at 18 (my dad was born in 1916 and enlisted in 1939. I have his honorable discharge paperwork...and after looking at it recently realized that the dates mean he was 23 (not 18) when he enlisted.) and becoming the official photographer for the US Military Academy at West Point and then a combat photographer. None of this could have happened overnight but yet no story has told how he learned to take photographs. I feel like at that time, photography wasn't as easy to learn or as inexpensive as it is today with digital cameras. I'm curious if you know the rest of the story and how he learned photography.
My father did not enjoy talking about his early years. He considered the army to be his education and after a pretty sad childhood it was the beginning of the good years for him! Only recently I've learned from an elderly relative that when he was a young boy living in the NYC area he used to go to Broadway and wait outside stage doors to take pix of actors and actresses. He would apparently send them the pix and ask for autographs which they'd send back. I'm not sure if this is totally true...but it's family lore. I know his first camera was a "Brownie"...sort of the precursor to the "Kodak Instamatic". I will send you the link to an interview that explains a bit more. I do know that while serving in the Army's press corps he had the opportunity to meet and work with many of the men and women who would go on to become famous photographers and journalists. His years in the Army were his education in photography and his entree to a world beyond NY and New England.
Do you know if any of his war photos have survived or are ever exhibited? I always thought they'd make a wonderful book to benefit Veterans.
Yank Magazine archives and other military archives. Many of them have appeared in various books about the War. Check out the Life Magazine dated 9/21/42 if you'd like to see a very funny article in which my Dad was used as the "model" in a story regarding American servicemen in Britain!
I know he was asked to cover the Korean war and declined. That's news to me! I don't blame him. Then he and his friend Bill Mauldin drove out to Hollywood where he started photographing celebrities. The Kings of Hollywood photo of Clark Gable, Van Helfin, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart taken at Romanoff's in Beverly Hills on New Year's Eve 1957 is probably one of his most famous photos and is said to be the one that really put him on the map. It's so appropriate that it's on the invitation to the retrospective. I've heard that perhaps the men were enjoying a joke at your father's expense. Did he ever explain what they were laughing about or how he came to take that photo?
My Dad had a bit part in a movie starring Sophia Loren and Clark Gable called It Started in Naples which IMDB says was released in 1960. It must have been shot a few years prior. My dad and Clark Gable were in a scene together at the very very end of the movie. My dad's role was one notch up from "extra" and he plays a loud mouthed American. He was telling the "Kings" of Hollywood the story about the many many "takes" that were necessary. And in fact they ended up dubbing my dad's voice! What a great story!
I think the best story is how he was asked by Leland Hayward to take photos of apartment buildings in which he thought a writer for Life magazine might live. He took a few shots downtown, midtown and uptown in wide angle, normal and telephoto. He said you could see into one of the apartments that just happened to have been his in the telephoto shot and Alfred Hitchcock liked them and decided to change the character Jimmy Stewart plays in Rear Window from a writer to a photojournalist and based the set on your father's apartment. Do you ever watch the movie and get a kick out that?
The Leland Hayward part is news to me, although I know he was a friend/colleague. I've seen the movie many times (I love Hitchcock!) and indeed the furniture/layout in Jimmy Stewart's apt is very much like the furniture in my parents' early apt (I have some pix.) How fabulous! There is also a video on the web that was taken of Slim Aarons after Getty aquired the rights to his photos discussing this story.
Your father shot for Life, Town and Country and Holiday and Travel & Leisure and Venture and a few stories for other magazines here and there, and seemed to travel the globe quite a lot. Did you and your mother ever travel with him? Did you ever get to meet the beautiful people and celebrities he documented?
We both traveled with him a lot...my mom before I was born...the both of us with him a few times, and me several times while in boarding school and college. My mom met lots of exciting people including Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda and the list goes on. She has some fun stories (putting sunscreen or after tan lotion on Henry Fonda, a holiday dinner with Bette Davis, the offer of a car to borrow from Marilyn Monroe etc.) I was given a bottle of perfume by Roman Polanski and Robert Evans while in Rome when I was a young teen on a story with my dad. I helped the Princess of Lichtenstein (sp?) pick out a dress to wear for a shoot (when my dad rejected her first choice), I met Richard Nixon at Le Cirque one Christmas-time lunch when he came by to say hello to my Dad who he had met years prior. Joan Fontaine recommended Elizabeth Arden skincare lotions and potions to me when we ran into her (a former girlfriend of my father's) in Vienna while we were there working on a story the weekend of my 21st birthday. I spent one summer doing captions for him in Greece while doing a story on shipping magnates (lots of tough tough names to spell!)...and more!
The most striking thing about your father's photographs is that they are relaxed and informal. There was no stylist or makeup artist. He prided himself in that! It would infuriate him if someone went to the hairdresser in anticipation of being shot. He wanted natural, unfussy, unposed etc. --and in homes...casual clothes...not formal ones (back to the princess in Lichtenstein mentioned above!) He only (not true) used the natural light (he used cameras with flash/strobes sometimes but not elaborate lighting...I'm not up on my precise camera/lighting terms but he used simple handheld equipment as necessary.) and shot his subjects in their own environments, not a studio or in front of a set. True. I swear everyone in his photos looks more beautiful than models and celebrities shot today and airbrushed to death. Do you ever notice that too? Do you think he ever noticed it? Certainly! Certainly! Photographers and art directors working today often pay "homage" to his work through "imitation" as you've noted! As a child he used to take me to museums to look at the work of the masters...i.e. Mona Lisa etc. "It's all in the eyes", he would say. He learned about lighting, poses , expression, settings etc. from these great paintings.
I'm sure so many people are thankful that the association with Getty Images has resulted to the release of Once Upon a Time in 2003 and A Place in the Sun in 2005 and now Poolside with Slim Aarons due out in November 2007. Do you know if there will be more books down the line?
There likely will be but I don't know any details.
What do you think about A Wonderful Life becoming such a collector's item and selling for thousands of dollars? Was your father aware it was selling for so much?
He loved to have people update him on the going price at Amazon/Alibris etc. He was extremely flattered and amazed!!! He had a few friends with books and he loved to compare "selling prices" with them!
I know this upcoming retrospective must be somewhat bittersweet for you since your father is not here to celebrate with you but it must give you some comfort to know that he really did live a long and wonderful life.
My dad lived a wonderful life and in fact those were his final words to us a few days before he died. About six months before he died Smithsonian magazine did a story on him and he was amazed...to him that meant he'd become an American legend and he was so proud and excited by that. He was very humble and not boastful but for a young "Huck Finn" type kid he knew he'd done pretty darn well! My family and I are looking forward to the retrospective. There are so many pictures no one's seen for years and years and years...and it will be great seeing them again! The folks at Hearst have worked really hard digging into the archives so that the show will feature lots of these seldom seen pix.
I want to thank Mary Aarons for taking the time to give us the real story behind some of her father's most famous photographs and clearing up a few of the inaccuracies. It's such a treat to hear her wonderful stories and get a glimpse of the man behind the wonderful photographs who really did lead a wonderful life!
"i always wanted a good-looking laundry bin, something i wouldn't mind having in my bedroom. i had some ivar shelving at home and always thought it would make a great frame to build on. a few slats of pine from home depot, some plexiglass, hinges and floor lamps and voila - a laundry bin. i cut a small opening into one of the shelves to serve as a door with hinges on one side."
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I love their website where they describe themselves as "Exquisitely masculine, British hints, rarefied décor, an understated display, calm and luxurious. There are only 20 rooms. It is immediately clear that this place could never be ordinary, as the sounds of the city fade away and a slower, more thoughtful rhythm prevails."
Ahhh...Firenze...don't you just wish you were there right now? Sigh.
the skinny: paint the lack side table a handsome charcoal background colour. then, stick on black and brown bisazza glass tiles (which are gorgeous, by the way), tile by tile with a dab of weldbond. lastly, grout the tiles and smooth it into the spaces. leave to dry.
for the full blow-by-blow mosaic table making instructions, click here. also check out the video how-to.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Giraffe Manor was built in 1932 by a Scottish lord and was modeled on a Scottish hunting lodge. In 1974, the grandson of a Scots Earl, Jock Leslie Melville and his American wife Betty bought the Manor as their home and soon after moved two highly endangered Rothschild giraffe onto the estate where their future generations have thrived and live today.
"Jock and Betty founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW). The Giraffe Centre (AFEW Kenya) was built on the property so that Kenyan school children could learn conservation/ecology and feed giraffe eyeball to eyeball! Visitors touring Nairobi have a chance to visit and pay an entrance to the Giraffe Centre. Profits go to various projects in Kenya. Betty's son Rick has led AFEW USA and AFEW Kenya since 1983."
When Jock died in 1984, Betty returned to the USA and opened her house, now called The Giraffe Manor, to visitors where it is run by Rick and his wife Bryony.
Isn't this the most fabulous place ever?! Ok, I'll admit it's slightly scary to have giraffes poking their heads into the window even if they are cute, just take a look at some of the other photos on their website, but I love any place that has a mission and a purpose. Plus, it's actually not that expensive! But that only matters if you can actually secure a reservation. Apparently, Giraffe Manor is as popular with the tourists as it is with the giraffes!
Friday, August 24, 2007
I got home last Saturday after a day of shopping in the city to find an email from, I almost fell off my chair, Charlotte Moss. I had to look at it a few times to make sure no one was playing a trick on me but apparently, Ms. Moss had learned about the wonderful world of blogs! She was so gracious and flattered that I had included the shop on my blog and wanted to meet me! Me! Crazy! So we planned a little interview and meeting!
I thought I would be too nervous to ask questions and write down all the answers legibly and comprehensively at the townhouse so Ms. Moss was kind of enough to answer a few questions ahead of time with the help of her very sweet assistant Cathy. After the interview section, I'll get to the tour!
Yes, I was creative as a child but got sidetracked to Wall Street. In college, I wanted to major in interior design but was too intimidated to complete the portfolio required because I couldn't draw. So instead, I majored in English and took all my minor credits in art history... and as the story always goes on Wall Street...mergers. When the firm I worked for was acquired by a larger one, it was the perfect time for assessing the future. It just seemed like the right time to get a business plan together, take the bonus and go buy a container.
You had a shop on Lexington Avenue from about the time you started your business until it closed in 1996. What made you decide that now was the right time to open another shop, especially one on such a grand scale?
When I started the business in 1985 it was done with a concept similar to an English decorating shop which was foreign in the US. A couple of years ago, I started to get the retail pang again because I felt that something was missing in the shopping experience. As an interior designer and after having done 13 decorator showhouses in my career, I've heard the oooos and aaaahhs from visitors to those rooms - hence I know the value of the finished product. The finished product more often than not isn’t only about the contents but about the atmosphere. I wanted to again create my own retail atmosphere as if I were inviting people in to my own home.
Very simple - the restrictions imposed by being in a historic district as well as what the city of New York and the landmarks commission will and will not let you do - it's as simple as that.
I couldn't possibly name a favorite book! I have 3 libraries so it would be like naming which is my favorite library. I've read too many books to only name one but let me just say if someone gave me a day off I would spend it locked in my library. I have 3 books I'm working right now, Hermoine Lee's biography on Edith Wharton; Istanbul and Deluxe by Dana Thomas. I usually read 3 or 4 books at the same time - all very different. I do that too but my problem is that I never finish half of them!
Child welfare, literacy, immunological research…Unicef, Operation Smile, The Leukemia Society.
Maybe sometime in the future (first I have to decorate the next Winterhouse - but that's after I merchandise the store for Christmas) but before that you will see "A Flair for Living", a lifestyle book being published by Assouline for Spring 2008. You heard it here first folks!
My previous store, lectures and books have always had a strong Southern following - after that all you can do is pray.
And finally, what can we expect from you next? What other fabulously chic ideas do you have up your sleeve? After the Townhouse, I can only imagine!
Well of course we won't let the whole cat out of the bag - BUT - as I mentioned above, my next book "A Flair for Living" will be published by Assouline next spring. We'll have a new fragrance at the same time and depending upon how much energy I have a great CD as well. We also have two new collections of bedding to launch in February, two new china patterns this fall, and of course lots of Christmas goodies so please come shopping! We’re going to have a great article in the October issue of O Home hitting the newsstand soon – check it out. We are soooo excited! And so are all of us!!!
I have to say, meeting Charlotte Moss today and having her show me around the shop was such a treat. She pointed out so many details that I would have otherwise missed and was so passionate about everything. She was very eager to point out that the shop was specifically designed to have a diverse array of points, not just so everyone can find something for their price range but because "that's the way we live". We now live in a culture that mixes their Manolos and vintage YSL with current J.Crew, just the way she does!
Charlotte Moss has so much going on, that I cannot understand how she is not exhausted! She is so passionate about the items she has chosen for her shop and she very much appreciates the craftspeople who continue traditions that are slowly dying out, it's hard not to get excited too. There is so much forward momentum with her that you get the feeling she must wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for her next project!
I was very honored that she would take the time out of her obviously busy day to take a little blogger like me on a personal tour. I think that speaks volumes about the graciousness of Charlotte Moss. She also assured me that I am welcome back any time and there will be no need to sneak around taking photos! So sweet! I definitely look forward to reporting back on what I can only imagine will be some spectacular holiday decorations and accessories! Many thanks to Charlotte and Cathy for such a special and memorable tour!
Oh, one piece of advice, if you want to buy anything online or in the shop at Charlotte Moss, I'd do it soon because you know the minute Oprah's O at Home magazine comes out, there will probably be a mad dash to buy up every fabulous item...but if that happens, I have a feeling Charlotte Moss already has a few new tricks up her haute couture sleeve to keep us coming back for more!
Until then, I'm going to enjoy my glorious day off today and pretend I'm a lady who lunches while getting my hair done. Happy Friday!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
the ikea items used:
vika artur legs (x2) — $60
queensize malm headboard(x1) — $10 in the as-is
lack shelf (x1) — $25
wall shelf metal tracking, 48" (x2)
pipe insulation (to dampen the rolling sound)
it involved lots of dremeling work the end result more than made up for it.
total cost: ~ $130
cost of milk desk: $4700
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I was surprised to learn that the Chateau had a golf course, which I think would make a fun couples trip. Of course, I'd be laying out by the pool and drinking some of that wine while everyone else was out chasing a little white ball. You didn't really think I played sports did you?
But, I love the way she mixes the modern furnishings, including furniture from her six easy pieces line for Ralph Pucci, with the 19th century interior full of period moldings and hardware. Even though I love color, I feel like I could easily live her it's so serene and relaxing. I think I might need to have multiple homes to accommodate all of my different design personalities.
I've seen her do this type of vertical garden in the courtyard pictured above at the Perhing Hall Hotel in Paris and I hear she has plans to install one at the Morgans Hotel in New York that she originally designed 20 years ago and is currently in the process of redesigning.
I think modern gets a bad wrap sometimes but Andrée Putman actually manages to make it look pretty and inviting. I just hope she didn't get any cigarette ashes on the white carpet!
Photos by François Halard
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- concrete and wood side table
- unclutter your desk with this super minimal set up...
- Bon Voyage!
- Slim Aarons' Wonderful Life
- how's this for a big capacity laundry bin?
- Habitually Chic Hotel: JK Place
- a touch of glass for the humble lack side table
- To the Manor Born
- J'adore J.Crew!
- Charlotte Moss Townhouse - Part III
- Orange You Glad It's Friday?!
- Highland Fling
- a minimalistic desk that doesn't max out your budg...
- Absolutely Beautiful Hotel: Chateau Les Merles
- Life with Andrée
- 59cent ikea diaper bag and changing pad
- To My Shagreen
- Give Me Libertine or Give Me Death!
- Pop Paradise - Part Deux
- from drab to fab bathroom remodel
- Apres le Deluge - Part Deux
- Charity Begins at Home
- an ikea turntable ironing board
- Bibliophile Extraordinaire
- It's Raining Men
- jewelry storage and display racks
- from birch to baroque bathroom cabinet
- In Vogue
- People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones
- kid's chalk board table with storage
- David Jimenez: Hallmark's New Hall of Famer
- Thom Thom Club
- I Heart New York!
- In Memoriam: Brook Astor
- Charlotte Moss Townhouse - Part Deux
- Charlotte Moss Townhouse - Part One
- light table
- more fira mini chest hacks
- Picture Pages
- Orange You Glad it's the Weekend?!
- new look for the lampan lamp
- Is Philip Gorrivan the New David Hicks?
- a flat tv wall combo unit
- Yves Klein Part Deux
- Too Chic to Eat!
- ikea wall lighting stand mod
- Apres le Deluge
- Breaking the Rules is Chic!
- Fabulously Chic Darling!
- Rare Find Indeed
- Do Not Disturb
- jail cell to modern baby crib
- California Dreamin
- simple ideas for cat litter boxes
- Habitually Chic Store of the Week
- Art Imitates Life
- Thank you!
- microsoft surface started as an ikea hack
- ikeahacker joins liferemix
- Chic at the Beach
- Orange You Glad It's Friday!
- ikea catalogue 2008 is out!
- alicia's craft corner
- Show Stopping Stairs
- Slim Chic
- cook up a work-at-home desk
- Circular Chic
- dining table with vika fintorp legs
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