Monday, July 25, 2011

My favorite trend prevails

Menswear is everywhere. And I'm perfectly happy with that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home Visit: Fallen Gentry

Josh Adair's home has the kind of formal intimacy that only a fallen gentry like himself could pull off.  Continue on, if you can handle the jealousy.

Q:  There's a lot of fascination with history and detail in your home. What influences/inspires your style? 

A:  I've always loved the interior decoration of Colefax and Fowler, the English firm that pioneered "English Country Style" in the 40s and 50s. I'm particularly enamored of John Fowler's work and you can see his influence most clearly in my "family" room. In the same vein, I also love the work of Nancy Lancaster and Sister Parrish. Each of these decorators understood that perfection is imperfection, to include the deshabille is to perfect ultimately. Lancaster and Fowler were both famous for buying new fabrics, dousing them with tea, and leaving them out in the sun to bleach and fade. I love that sensibility: some things are beautiful, but too bright or new-looking. I love things that look a bit down-at-heel or suggest a tart-y past.

I also love Neoclassicism, particularly as it was interpreted in this country in the first half of the 19th century. About 90% of the wooden furniture in my house is American Empire and was hand-constructed between 1830 and 1850. I love the gorgeous mahogany veneers and faux bois paint treatments. American Empire furniture has never been considered particularly chic; collectors favor its French counterparts complaining its American cousin is too ponderous. I love its heft and masterful construction and its age.

In terms of accessories, I love the bizarre: funeral mementoes, religious artifacts, and steampunk-esque items always capture my heart. I love the work of Joseph Cornell and I see my home as an assemblage/collage in the tradition of Cornell.
Q: You have all of these awesome things but no clutter! Everything seems to be put to good use. How does someone with such eclectic collections keep everything so well curated and still relaxed? (You seem to have a lot of Feng Shui going on, whether you've meant to or done it subconsciously, I don't know. )

A: I worry a lot. I'm a relentless editor and rearranger. I love to collect, but I'm always concerned that my house will look like a hodge-podge or a tag sale. I love that William Morris adage, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I think if you can stick to that, you can't go wrong. I like to trade furniture up for better items and I try to take something out when something new comes in--resale works beautifully and feeds my habits of acquisitiveness. I also try to imagine other people moving through my house, too--this always helps me position furniture and other creature comforts. I don't know much about Feng Shui, so any homage to that approach is accidental...
Q: What's your advice when it comes to buying for your home? Do you have to have a purpose or intention for every item or do you buy things and figure it out later?

A: Invest money on quality when you're buying upholstered furniture or you're having something reupholstered. There's a HUGE difference between an IKEA couch and one purchased from Restoration Hardware or Ethan Allen. IKEA-type couches are stuffed with cheap poly-foam that breaks down quickly and shows wear almost immediately. There's nothing more depressing that discerning the imprint of an owner's butt in his/her couch. Buy the best you can afford--and don't overlook flea markets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Craigslist, etc. One of my living room sofas is a 1950s Chippendale reproduction and it looks like it's never been used. That's because it's high quality and filled with down. A sofa like this would cost at least $2500 new. I bought mine for $80. Live without or trade up until you get what you want. I resell a lot of stuff on Craigslist and Ebay. One caveat: if you're truly attached to something, think carefully before you trade it out in a fit of desire for a new object. I've done it and regretted it.

I shop intentionally sometimes. I almost always have a list of things in my head that I'm searching for: green majolica, Florentine ware, American Empire objects, architectural salvage. These are easy to place because they become part of collections. Some of my best finds, however, are just serendipitous. I didn't know I wanted them or had a use for them until they present themselves. Recently I bought a 5x8 hand-hooked wool rug from the 1910s for $2. I didn't necessarily need it, but the booth-owner was there when I picked it up and she said her husband was harassing her to get rid of it. These rugs typically cost at least $150. I might not keep it forever, but I could easily resell it and bring something else home if I want to.
Q: The ultimate dinner party scenario: Any five guests, dead or alive. Who would it be and what would you serve? No pressure! :) 

A: Ha! I'm guessing all my guests would probably be dead--my dream life is based entirely in the worlds of the past. I'd love to meet Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. She was such an amazing style icon in the realms of fashion and interior decoration. I think someone said she was "relentlessly well-dressed." She also know how to spark a scandal, and that makes for great dinner conversation. I'd love to meet Nina Simone. Her passion and dedication for social justice enthralls me. Plus, she could sing and entertain us. I'd also invite Beverley Nichols, my favorite author. He was witty, urbane, and obsessed with houses. I hope he'd come with John Fowler, who I'd ask for decorating advice and I'd also ask him to tell me whether he really did think he was Marie Antoinette reincarnated. Finally, I'd ask Ben Cohen, who is actually very much alive, because he's my hero these days. He's doing a lot of great advocacy work for the LGBT community fighting against bullying and discrimination.

What does one serve such luminaries?

Salade de poire 
Potato tart Tatin 
Almond cake with buttercream frosting and candied blackberries. 

Thanks so much to Josh for letting us snoop all the exquisite intricacies of his home!  

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Monday!

Which means, new Closet Visit.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Anthropologie just sent out an e-mail today about their new July catalog featuring colorful jeans. Rather than drop $158 a pop, I think i'll take an old pair and buy some Rit Dye and see what happens.

I think i'll take a pair in mustard...

Friday, July 8, 2011


enter coupon code "virginiaisforlovers"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Shop Update

Saturday, July 2, 2011

right now

local farmer's market downtown

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