Sunday, April 20, 2014


I think I am always writing about Decorators’ Colours—pink, lavender, aqua,  (as I am sure everyone of you readers know, Benjamin Moore even has a Decorator’s White!), but maybe I never write about one of my favourite colours of all, green.  

Green truly is the colour of Nature—here in South Florida, where it can be hot, hot, hot ! , green shade from leafy bowers and cool, tall trees, is what we are always seeking.

Society of the Four Arts
Palm Beach

Society of the Four Arts
Palm Beach

And when we can’t find shade, we make it and cover it with greenery.

Society of the Four Arts
Palm Beach

All of these pictures were taken in the Society of the Four Arts Garden in Palm Beach where you can see every shade of green imaginable, from the deep green of the water in ponds to the newest yellow greens of spring leaves (and variegated leaves all year long).
But, much as I love this spot—and I do and am always taking clients who are new to our area there, so as to show them the amazing diversity of South Florida—what I am talking about is green in decoration.

Green is restful—use it on the walls as in this charming attic bedroom by Tom Scheerer.

Room Design by Tom Scheerer

Use it in upholstery, a little (the way that David Easton did here on a rattan chair)

Chair by David Easton

or a lot, the way Mario Buatta is doing here.

Room by Mario Buatta
Be bold with it, although I will hesitate and tell you right up front that this is genius-class decoration here from the great Mario Buatta.

Room by Mario Buatta

Just look at the play between the different greens and then the contrasting pale coral!
You can be light with it as above or go for a darker, richer colour, and you will just not be wrong.

Room by Mario Buatta

You can be whimsical with it as in this fabulous bedroom, another room by Mario Buatta,

Room by Mario Buatta
Architectural Digest

or Semi-serious as Mark Hampton did in this dining room.

Room by Mark Hampton

Or just go on, get serious, and paint the whole damn place green as the great Alberto Pinto did in this 18th century room in England.

Room by Alberto Pinto
Architectural Digest

I use green all the time, in Living Rooms...

Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photo by Edward Addeo
Farrow & Ball, The Art of Colour by Brian Coleman

and Dining Rooms

Remaking History in Virginia
Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photo by Edward Addeo
Farrow & Ball, The Art of Colour by Brian Coleman

Remaking History in Virginia
Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photo by Edward Addeo
Farrow & Ball, The Art of Colour by Brian Coleman

and even on the bed linens of this charming bedroom, which happens to have green woodwork, though you can hardly see it.

Remaking History in Virginia
Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photo by Edward Addeo
Farrow & Ball, The Art of Colour by Brian Coleman

I love green.  XOXOXOX  LETA

Monday, April 14, 2014

Christopher Cope—A Very Talented Young Man 

About two years ago, a young florist came in to show me pictures of flowers and arrangements which he had done.  They were awfully, awfully pretty, and I asked him to do an arrangement for a photo shoot I was doing.  Since that day, I have recommended him over and over, and people always seem to really like him, so I thought I would show you some of his projects.  Always fun!

I guess I already knew about Christopher, because my dear friend, Carol Jankowsky, had already told me about him, but you know how it is.  Someone recommends someone, and you nod and say, yeah, why not? And then forget all about Said Person.  But Christopher followed up, and that’s why we really got together.  Morale of the Story: Follow Up.  Don’t say yeah and then forget about it.

Table setting by Leta Austin Foster
Palm Beach Illustrated Diamond Anniversary Issue

Now. Believe it or not, this picture shows how really talented Christopher actually is, because today, with flowers emphasizing, and rightly so, David Austin roses and lilies and eucalyptus seeds, Christopher was brave enough to do a 1960’s “do” of chrysanthemums and red roses, because the photo shoot’s subject was Jayne Wrightsman and her perfect house in 1960’s and 1970’s Palm Beach, so we were using the Luneville china and the embroidered cloth from Noël of Paris (all of which are still in fashion and thus sold in my boutique) and the flowers  (which are not still in fashion) needed to represent the period too.

Later, we were invited to do a table for the Lenox Hill dinner in New York which was to have a springtime theme.  We chose Springtime in the Serengeti, for which Christopher made a fabulous centerpiece of a giraffe made from leaves and flowers  (the adorable little “leopard skins” were made by Zenon Toczek while the cloth was made by Ven Tran in West Palm Beach out of a perfect Quadrille fabric, "Nairobi” in spring green)

Table setting by Leta Austin Foster
Lenox Hill Dinner in New York

 Every Monday he brings a new arrangement to the boutique—you need to come in on Monday afternoon or on Tuesday, so you can understand how really perfect they are—always original, always beautiful.  And they are usually small, so you can see how much you can do with small vases—even bud vases


Christopher Cope Collection
Images from

You can see how lovely they are—and how different.  These flowers have done him a good turn, too.  He has gotten several customers from them—he already had clientele as varied as Mrs. Rudolph Giuliani and Tiffany’s, and now he is being courted by others.  But he still takes the time to do each bouquet himself and to care about all the details.

Tiffany's 2011
Christopher Cope Event Florals

Christopher Cope Event Florals

That’s Christopher for you!  XOXOXOX  LETA

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Aqua--What Is It? Why Is It?

People are always asking me, “Do you like aqua?”  The answer is, “How could I not?” but maybe also, “How are you going to use it?”

Aqua can be a peaceful, soft colour, and I use it all the time.  Aqua curtains?  I love them.

Room by Leta Austin Foster

 Aqua printed fabrics?  I love them.

Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photograph Credit: Edward Addeo

 The checked fabrics on the sofa and the stool and the curtains are from Chelsea Editions while the printed linen on the walls is from Colefax & Fowler/Cowtan & Tout.  How could I not love these?

Room by Leta Austin Foster
Photograph credit:  Edward Addeo

 Of course, I love the old aqua paint of this lovely 18th century console which was sold by N. P. Trent when he had his beautiful shop on South Dixie in West Palm Beach.  This is just my kind of thing.

Room by Leta Austin Foster

Here we used various tones of aqua in the upholstery to pick up the beautiful pale aquas in the wallpaper (Brunschwig & Fils) and from the usual colour of the ocean outside—the day that picture was taken it was, sadly, more of a blue, but that’s the nice thing about aqua: it looks good with other aquas, blues, greens, and wonderful with beige or brown.

Room by Leta Austin Foster

I don’t just use it in fabrics and wallpaper, but I paint with it too.  This little chest, one of a pair, was painted in the Swedish manner, using Farrow & Ball’s “Pale Powder” and “Pointing”, separated by a thin gold line, by Adra Brown, a remarkably talented (and beautiful, even though that’s besides the point) artist in West Palm Beach.

Room by Leta Austin Foster

Heavy aqua linen makes the most luxurious curtains, especially when they are embroidered along the edges and lined and interlined as these beautiful curtains done by Paul Maybaum were…and the walls are the same “Pale Powder” painted talked about in the blurb about the furniture above.  I consider that paint my neutral.   

Room by Leta Austin Foster

I have used the pale powder blue again in the picture above, this time in the Swedish painting on the walls, again by the very talented Adra Brown and James Garza, both of West Palm Beach, which made a small Dining Room cum Sun Room look bigger and more important.  We used glorious aqua curtains with the leading edges and bottoms embroidered by Michael Savoia, one of America’s great embroiderers (  With the beautiful fabric and the rich linings and detail work by Paul Maybaum, these truly are works of art.  The aqua colour scheme is picked up again on the chairs and even in the table linens.  You can peek into the room behind this room, another Sun Room, and see that I am carrying my aqua colour scheme on in the rattan chairs painted in aqua green, a la Nancy Lancaster.

Room by Leta Austin Foster

So do I like Aqua as a colour inside the house.  I love it, but with a caveat.  Don’t go too strong.  What looks great in a picture in House Beautiful may not be too livable in the long run.  Look at the two pictures below.

These rooms are just not livable—at least for an appreciable length of time.  Those blue-greens are just too! Too!  And they are just too cutsie.  And that brings me to my philosophy.  Houses are NOT fashion.  They are not done with tricks.  No matter how many cunning articles (“101 ways to Use Aqua in Your House” “Fun Tricks with Aqua as shown by a Master”), a house should be decorated to last a l-o-o-o-ng time.  Decoration, especially good decoration, is just too expensive to try and be fashionable.  I will never forget reading the “In” and “Out” columns of a famous fashion newspaper, and in November of one year, they said that the really “In” thing was to have all your linens by Porthault.  Only the following January, Porthault linens were listed on the top of the “Out”.  Might make good reading; certainly wouldn’t make happy readers.

But surely you won’t do any of those horrible things, not you, my loyal readers.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What About Lavender

What do you think of when you think of the South of France?  Besides Cezanne and ratatouille and bouillabaisse and limestone villages with verges of broom along the roads?  I always think of lavender……great fields of it….

With the air around it all perfumed.  Whenever I smell lavender, it makes me remember France and how much I love it.  I must be Nancy Mitford at heart.  And thinking about lavender makes me think of the colour, lavender, that most quintessentially French of all colours.  Lavender as walls…..

 Mario Buatta’s 1984 Kips Bay House Master Bedroom
Photo credit Architectural Digest

Everybody loves this room with its beautiful blue and white curtains and the lovely, airy bed hangings, but did you realize the walls are lavender?  Yes.  It’s the lavender walls that set off so wonderfully those same blue and white curtains.  What genius!

And so are the walls in the two rooms by Katie Ridder shown below.

Pictures by Elle Décor Magazine

Those rooms above had painted walls, but what if the walls were hung in lavender and white striped paper?

Or in a lavender toile?

It’s such a versatile colour that you can use a little or a lot.

A little...
Fabrics  by Cowtan and Tout
Or a lot...

Those were rooms with a lot of lavender, but notice how the little bit of lavender in this whimsical pattern by Clarence House perks up the pillow on the almost white settee.

Fabrics by Clarence House

I love lavender in linens such as these from D. Porthault available at my boutique in Palm Beach (e-mail

 Pois de Senteur 

And if Porthault is too staggering for your budget, then look at these really nifty linens which Matouk has made in collaboration with Lulu D. K. (Lulu de Kwiakowski)—so chic and also available at my store.

Or you could have a desk set including a wonderful lamp from one of our companies which I love the best, Isis Ceramics in Oxford, England.

Picture courtesy of Leta Austin Foster Boutique

I love antique porcelain such as this dressing table set—an early 19th century English one—you could find beautiful ones like this at Sotheby’s or Christie’s, or if you don’t like auctions, go to James Robinson or Bardith in New York City.  They have all sorts of beautiful antique porcelain in lavender.

I love lavender glassware such as these “olde” French glasses from Ballard Designs.

And I can’t help but love this little shield lamp shade from Abat Jour in New York (although I would not have used shiny passementerie on it).  Put in a little dressing room with lavender and white shirting-stripe walls—over a lovely dressing table with a skirt of dotted swiss,  I mean, how could you not?

April is my birthday month, and its flower is a sweet pea—my favourite and the best smell.  Long Live Lavender!!


P.s. While I love lavender, do not—repeat—do not use lavender coloured candles in hurricanes—yuck!  And for those of you who want to read the really “French” books in Nancy Mitford’s oeuvre, they are

The Pursuit of Love
The Blessing

Don’t Tell Alfred

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Outdoor Rugs

I usually hate artificial things—I am your old-fashioned Luddite in love with silk and cotton and cashmere.  Well, who wouldn’t love those?  And when it comes to rugs, I am absolutely Miz Sisal, Miz Wool, etc.  but  now, there are new rugs on the market which really have to be considered.  They are the new outdoor rugs from almost everybody—everybody good, that is.

I think credit for the Really Big Idea and Marketing of these has to go to Dash and Albert

I love this company—their outdoor rugs truly look like cotton throw rugs, and they come in jolly wide stripes such as “Catamaran”, shown here in denim and ivory.  This pattern comes in several colours, including a really bold coral for those of you who want to really say something.

Catamaran by Dash and Albert

They make wonderful multi-stripes too, and over-all patterns.  Go to their website, and go to Outdoor Rugs.  And when you are finished the rugs, you will even find Outdoor poufs.

And if it were your desire, Outdoor Woofs, which are really great looking dog beds.

Just great!

I am working on my project of redecorating The Hillsboro Club in South Florida, and I noticed how tired and stained the rugs in the great Living Room and Reception were.  This is a heavily trafficked area, since the guests come here to read and chat and have tea in the afternoon and cocktails before dinner.  I spoke to my dear, dear friend, Luis Ventura, at Stark Carpet down in Dania, because he told me that Stark was making some wonderful polypropylene carpets for indoor/outdoor use.  I begged for samples.  Luis drops into our office every Thursday, but I am not always there.

Anyway, a month passed—no samples.  I called up and grouched.

“But I brought you those samples a month ago,” protested Luis.

“But where did you put them?” I replied.  He told me that he had laid them on a small stack which I had right by my desk chair, and he had.  There they were.  I just thought they were sisal samples, and didn’t go through them right away.  That’s how real they looked.

Here is one used on an outdoor porch at the Hamptons Show House

 Room by Christina Murphy, Christina Murphy Interiors. Photography by Marisa Marcantonio,

Stark has great sisal designs, with patterns woven in them, but you will need to go to your Stark Showroom (you will need a decorator or architect for this), since they are not yet on their website.  It will be worth the trip, I promise you.

When I finish the big Living Room at Hillsboro, I promise I will post pictures of it, and you will be able to see for yourself how great the rugs are.

Now, look at these rugs.

You can get really almost whatever colours you want, and there is a plethora of designs.  Just remember, don’t go over the top—what you would have like indoors is pretty much what you would like outside.  And don’t get cute.

And remember Astroturf?

It doesn’t have to be like that anymore.