Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Lacquer is often considered one of Asia's greatest contributions to the decorative arts. It is about achieving a surface of perfection. Layer upon shiny layer of varnish is applied over and over again, to obtain a mirror finish. Pacific Connections, a California company that offers chic end tables and trays, has just introduced juicy new colors with jaunty white trim. Perk up a powder room, create a tablescape, or become a neatnick and store tiny things in their cute little boxes.

The new hinged box would make a great presentation piece. Palm Beach Polo, what do you think?

Tropical tones are a welcome sight come spring.

Evoking raspberry and lime sorbet, these happy colors in shiny finishes are a breath of fresh air. There is a box for just about everything-- jewels, business cards, stationery...

Monday, September 21, 2009


Hollywood at Home is located in the ever so charming Almont Yard in Los Angeles. It is where Peter Dunham creates his comfortable, chic, casual interiors. His relaxed fabrics have the right blend of charm and pattern, and his shop provides clients with the key elements for this look. Carrying his signature furniture, lighting and accessories, his haven is heavenly. I have talked about his neighbors, Nathan Turner, Harbinger and Lucas Studio, and thought it was time to talk about this prolific Brit! The English have the makings of an interior designer from the day they are born, and Peter was certainly destined for great things after working for David Hicks. I recently spoke to Peter about what inspires and influences him as an interior and product designer:

Who did you work for or study with to learn the trade?

My first summer job when I was 15 was for a company on Sloane Street in London called Zarach. They did a lot of glitz. At one time they had David Hicks and Alessandro Albrizzi working for them. Then I worked at David Hicks while I was in college. I worked for 15 years in Real Estate in New York which gave me a good grounding in business practices, renovating, developing. I learned how to negotiate and to read contracts. It was maybe the most important preparation for what I do now.

When did you know this was your calling in life?

I remember doodling floorplans when I was in high school. My best friend at school’s father was David Hicks. He was the only decorator I had ever met and his work had a huge impact. But he along with other friends in my early 20’s such as Jacques Grange, John Stefanidis kept on saying that it was a terrible way to make a living so I listened and went to work in Real estate in New York. Many of my friends were designers, antique dealers, editors at Shelter Magazines so I was always in that world. I really plunged in when I moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago and had to do the classic re-invent and became an interior designer.

What is your signature look and how would you define it?

David Keeps of the LA Times Home Section called it “Merchant Ivory Moderne”. I don’t think I have a signature look but the common threads to my interiors are generally:carefully defined space and furniture plans, warm and inviting atmosphere, mix of high-low, interesting vintage “finds” mixing with custom made furniture, variety of wall coverings, use of vintage fabrics, tribal and ethnic touches, color, pattern.

What other designer or architect do you most admire?

Jacques Grange. His interiors have a great sexiness to me. There is a very relaxed feel but everything is made by the best French craftsmen often from impossibly esoteric materials. The mix is unexpected and you find yourself loving something that you may have never clicked with before because he uses it in a new way. People look seductive in his interiors.

What material do you love?

Natural fibers: anything made of woven grasses, straw,rush, reed, abacca, sisal, jute etc.. I love their natural colors. I like to use them on floors, walls, upholstery, lampshades, window treatments. I love the colors and textures they have. I try and source different ones all the time.

Do you have a go to fabric resource?

Obviously I love and use my own fabrics a lot. I tend to create things that I need for my work rather than what I think will sell. I love Claremont. They have amazingly sophisticated colors. On the opposite end of the pay scale Pindler has great basics.

Is there a reproduction collection you frequently like to use?

I use a lot of my reproduction collection at Hollywood at Home.
I love the rush chairs from the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire” or my dining armchair from the old Downtown New York Athletic Club that closed, my sofas come from 12 years of refining custom sofas: the Elsie De Wolfe sofa or my Grant Sofa are good classics with a twist. My four posters get used a lot in my projects.

Is there a trade or retail store that you drop by often?

J. F. Chen

What is your biggest antique splurge?

My big red painted (chipped)Regency partners desk. I bought it at Christopher Gibbs’s big auction in England a few years ago. It used to be the table in the office of his shop, but it was featured on the cover of the NY Times Home section just before the sale so I had to pay a lot for it. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

Of all the work you have done, do you have a favorite project?

Designers find it hard to pin this answer down. For me it is the house I worked on with Pamela Levy, one of the two creators of Juicy Couture. It’s a beautiful 1930’s house in Beverly Hills. The collaboration with someone who is so creative was both challenging and an amazing learning experience. I love to have my boundaries pushed and to push those of my clients. Pamela and I did that a lot!
What city do you visit to get inspired?
New York

Every designer collects and uses certain books as a reference. What is on your bookshelf?

Old-ish: The Christies Catalogue to the Sale at Groussay at Paris is an amazing reference. I use it all the time. New-er: The private world of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. Those guys took decorating and collecting to another orbit.

Do you have a favorite country house in England and America?

In England: Stanway near Bath. Its been used in many films. It’s an early house 15th or 16th Century. Not very grand by English standards. The outside is a pale gold color. The inside goes from Jacobean to William Morris (who was a family friend)

If you were not doing this what would you do?

Maybe Antique dealer. I love the hunt and find found objects very poetic.

What are your trade secrets?

Diamond Fabric on La Brea, Bonham’s, Big Daddy’s Antiques, Blackman Cruz, Nathan Turner, Harbinger, Pat McGann, Lucca, Denmark 50, J.F. Chen, Obsolete, NK Antiques, Waldo, Y+B Bolour carpets, Rugs and Arts, Berbere Imports, LA Modern Auctions, Lief, Bourgeois Boheme, Voila, Little Paris, Liz’s Antique Hardware, Reborn, Christopher Farr, Lee Stanton Antiques, Downtown, Claremont Textiles, Noho Modern, The Collection, Dispella Antiques, Dragonette, Wertz Brothers on Lincoln, and The Rosebowl Flea Market.

His upstairs office is packed with textiles and inspiration. That red desk he splurged on is worth it, since it adds a great shape and pop of color to the white room. Great California light for drafting and decorating never hurts.

A custom lipstick red barn door welcomes designers and shoppers to Hollywood at Home.

Let the shopping begin!

A peg hook runs the length of the wall showing full width fabric pieces, and small swing arm lamps provide essential good lighting.

A feature wall provides a closer look at full length designs, and the deep sofa makes you want to sit and stay awhile.

Little moments like this chaise vignette make the shop more like a home. It is hard not to just say, "I'll take it all."

The table provides plenty of surface area. Viola, room schemes come together.


Raised in Paris, Peter is seen here as a toddler, taking in the architectural sights at Fontaine St. Michel in Paris.

His room at boarding school in England was greatly influenced by his best friend's father,David Hicks, the legendary designer he later worked for.

One of Peter's favorite Beverly Hills projects for a founder of Juicy Couture.


The After All Sofa has a deep seat and tailored arm.

The Holmby Sofa is great for conversation, with its kidney shape and cut corner back.

The Barrymore Chair, a small wingback, has nice proportions.

The Gobbs Chair is a quintisential English piece.

The Tub Chair, a charming little thing, would be great by a fireplace.

The Syrie Maugham Chair with wood frame and upholstered seat and back makes a good addition to a living room seating plan.

A Comfy reading chair will stand up to high traffic in a slipcover.

The Tufted Chaise would make a great addition to a dressing room or bedroom corner.

The Moorish Mirror is a clean shape with a hint of Moroccan flourish.

The Hudson table with column base would work well in a center hall.

The Garner Ottoman makes an easy coffee table, perfect for stacking books.

The Rope Lamp is so chic! I love anything with this natural material, so naturally, I am smitten.

How to Marry a Millionaire Chair flies out the door.

Your search is over! The New York Athletic Club Rush Chair is an easy piece to use, it can go casual at the beach or work in a city apartment.

The New York Athletic Club chair with Upholstered Seat takes on a more formal air with the nailhead trim.

Athletic Club Barstool with Upholstered Seat has the best of both words: height and comfort.

Dogs in LA is the norm. But four of them? A group this cute deserve their own special billing.

The Westie line up! Bo, Bella, and Buster and Jazz are blase when it comes to having their photos taken.

Photos Courtesy of Peter Dunham
Bella reflecting on classical influences in her garden.

Friday, September 18, 2009


A Moroccan fantasy is about to woo Emmy nom attendees this Sunday night. As they step into the Architectural Digest sponsored tented space, created by Hollywood darling Martyn Lawrence- Bullard, the response will be "ooh la la". The results of which are full on fabulous--- Dorris Duke will surely be there in spirit.


A deep red, olive and navy color scheme fills the tented space with exotic tracery, textured fabrics, rich leathers and silver accented lamps.

Konya Suzani from Schumacher


Cher Sofa from The Bullard Collection


Custom Agadir Screens with mirror detail

Bullard's custom Mamounia for The Rug Company

Photos Courtesy of Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging
The Bullard effect combines Schumacher and Martyn Lawrence- Bullard fabrics, his new rug and furniture of his own design, Edelman Leather floor tiles, and North African accent tables from JF Chen through 1st Dibs. But beware: getting the cast of 30 Rock and Flight of The Conchords together might get a little crazy!


Thad Hayes creates beautiful spaces that exude calm and quiet elegance. His recent book, The Tailored Interior from Rizzoli, focuses on twenty-one city and country residences. Tailored is just the word for his work, which he refers to as "rigorous and restrained". He achieves a harmonious balance mixing the finest antique period pieces. Until I pored through the pages, I knew him mainly from his published Architectural Digest projects, where mid century modern minimal decor was often featured. His clients, often uber private with stellar art collections, agreed to participate in the book, and lucky for us, we can be inspired by his discerning eye.

A few standout pieces can take a dining room from simple to outstanding. Each choice antique says something here. Art Deco-inspired agave leaf sculptural lights on pillars flank an abstract painting, and a feminine Russian Neoclassical chandelier gives off flattering light. The curve backed chairs around an English mahogany table add visual interest with their rounded edges.

The dining room of a New York apartment owned by collectors. They chose this vibrant color combination, a sure fire way to keep dinner conversation lively. French blue walls and a Donald Judd red and white woodblock print series animate the walls, while the x- patterned 1940's dining chair backs create their own visual geometry.

A Maryland living room awash in a soft pink highlights the collection of museum quality Chinese art.

Neutral equals serene in a high ceilinged, traditional New York penthouse apartment. In the bedroom seating area shows off an outstanding art collection-- a Klimt hangs above a French mantel.

In the same Maryland home, a George III style shield back chair plays off a Bagues crystal sconce in a hallway.

An antique Aesthetic Movement octagonal library table in a New York apartment works well with an inset dark bookcase, proving dark ebony and a light birds eye maple can coordinate successfully.

A classic 1930's Neo-Georgian Palm Beach house sits on magnificent curve along Ocean Boulevard and belonged to Estee Lauder. The landmark house got a freshening from Hayes. The Lauder family works with him frequently, and his ability to mix design eras is seen here.

The entry foyer welcomes with a black and white marble floor, 1930's Venitian glass globe and matching demi- lune tables. Soft yellow walls offset the graphic floor pattern.

A relaxed and tropical living room plays into the 1930's period without being kitchy.

In the Lauders Florida dining room, Gracie painted wallcovering, a deco mirror, Neo- Classical mantel and 1930's Venetian glass chandelier allows for formal entertaining at its best.

By working with history, a restored 1950's kitchen is all out authentic. The latch pull fridge doors, cabinetry and stools are key touches. Even the stove has a diamond patterned stainless steel back splash, a nod to the classic American diner.

If you are working in a particular vernacular, go with it! A Citrus bright tropical leaf Second Hand Rose wallpaper with original graduated leg sink are , 1950's through and through. It is Florida after all.

The perfect view out onto the Atlantic and hot pink vintage shell backed chairs.

Photos Courtesy of Rizzoli
I had to show this insanely gorgeous bathroom. A 1930's vibe comes from large swaths of pink marble, no cornice detail and a girly, French antique crystal orb. Make bath time a luxury.