Last month, our local Borders book store shut its doors forever. I know… bummer!! The only bright spot for me is that I was able to pick up a fantastic, recently published book, The Finest Rooms in America, for 40% off.
This compilation of 50 gorgeous rooms, selected by interior decorator Thomas Jayne, celebrates the most elegantly designed rooms in America, dating back 200 years, beginning with George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf, even at full price! Here are some of my favorites, though I could have easily share dozens more….
Winter Garden Room: New York City
This room, which overlooks Central Park, was designed by Henri Samuel around 18th century painted Chinoiserie panels taken from a Belgium chateau. Notice how the lovely raised trellis pattern on the shutters is echoed in the plant stand and gold chair trim. The other photo in the book shows that the room is filled with an abundance of potted plants and flowers, as well as being bathed in natural light.
Sitting Room: New York City
I simply adore this blue color accented with gold and “framed” in the black and white mini-print wallpaper. Simply stunning and stunningly simple interior design by the legendary Albert Hadley.
Living Room: San Francisco
This Nob Hill living room, owned and designed by Jeffry Weisman, features many elements that were gifts from the great Tony Duquette, as well as amazing and expansive mirrored walls. Mirror and more mirror. My kind of place!
Dining Room: Palm Beach
Designer Thad Hayes had commissioned Gracie to replicate the original Chinoiserie hand-painted wallpaper for this 1938 home designed by Marion Sims Wyeth. Lynne Rutter has written a fab article on Chinoiserie for the new Artisphere Online magazine, BTW!
Reception Room: Portland, Maine
What is now the Victoria Mansion began as a stately brownstone villa decorated in the mid 1850’s by Gustave Herter (of the Herter Brothers firm) and saved from demolition (thankfully!) in the 1940’s. The extensive and inspiring decorative painting was done by a leading decorative painter of Herter’s time, Guisseppe Guidicini.
Bedroom: New York City
Designed by the late Mark Hampton, this bedroom in his family apartment’s prominent feature is the Chinese wallpaper hand painted on a silver ground. Hampton took the risk to roll the paper into tight balls to crease it before installation to give it some “age” and surface texture to reflect the light inevenly. Way to roll! It’s super lovely.
Dressing Room: Vizcaya
If you ever, EVER find yourself in South Florida don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of this country’s great historical houses, Vizcaya. I’ve been there twice now, and would easily go back in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to photograph in the house, so seeing this dressing in this book was a special thrill. The fully restored linen canopy is completely hand-embroidered. I did a post several years ago on my now abandoned blog, The Art of Living, if you’d like to see more of Vizcaya.
This book is full of many beautiful examples on Chinoiserie, antique mirrors, tasteful interiors, and tasty design ideas. I hope you enjoyed a little peek!