Wednesday, July 30, 2014


ON WALLPAPERING AND WALLPAPER HANGING

We started work this week on the main reception rooms for The Hillsboro Club (www.hillsboroclub.org), which we hope will be just the loveliest reception area imaginable—at any rate, our idea is built around a plan based on a beautiful wallpaper from China Seas “Lyford Trellis” which is one of their oldest designs and one of my favourites.



For this job, we had it specially coloured with a beautiful south-seas-ocean blue background with the bamboo designs in white with highlights in beiges, because the colours of The Hillsboro Club are a brilliant turquoise and white.  These colours are used in their awnings in bright happy stripes, and they show in the windows of the club.  They, themselves, however, would be too shocking as the colours of a room—remember the pictures I showed in the post on Aqua?—although they look lovely when seen near the blue that we chose for the background of our paper.

The first thing we had to do was come up with an artist’s rendering of the wallpaper in the colours which we wanted.






And then this was sent to China Seas for them to use as the guide.  This required a strike-off because the colours in the paper had to match the colours in the rendering exactly, since the ceilings in the main living room were coffered with quite large beams separating the squares.   These would be painted by an artist to match the wallpaper with a design taken from the wallpaper, so that, in the end, the effect would be almost of a giant trellised garden room with the ceilings held up by trellised beams. 




"Before" picture of Hillsboro Club's Living Room


Step one was to remove all those hanging fixtures and replace the giant 1970’s can lamps with small, almost unseen, down-lighters that could be controlled by dimmers.  Rooms are most beautiful when they are lighted by area lamps, so having the ceiling lights dimmable was imperative.  That necessitated removing the wooden squares between the coffers and putting up the lights and replacing the wooden squares with new ones, which would all be painted in a beautiful white paint, a white we call “Hillsboro White” because we use it everywhere.  We used an architect for this, Joseph E. Dixon, III, from New York, who in addition to a lighting and paneling plan for the ceiling,







also redesigned the railings at the stairway entrance and the shutters which would go over the front windows. 








Hint #1—using the same colour on woodwork and ceilings everywhere keeps maintenance easier, and in a hotel/club such as this, corners and edges get banged up all the time by luggage rolling racks, tennis racquets and golf clubs and just ….people.  Hence…Hillsboro White which is used in a matte finish on walls and ceilings and in a semi-gloss finish on woodwork and anyplace that is to be perceived as woodwork—such as the wall below a chair rail when the idea is to make  all of the dado look like wood.  In this case, we wanted the very strong columns that are a main design motif of the room to be perceived as wood as would be the extruded pediments above them.  These were part of the original scheme of the room and would fit in very nicely with our plan.

Hint #2—always, and I mean always, use the best painter you can afford—never, never, never skimp on your labour.  As I have said many times in this blog, your labour is your most important part of your design—I mean the fabrication of your design, of course.  You have to come up with the design first, but if you are any good in this field, you will be able to find good fabrics and such at a cheaper level, but not your labour.  On this set of rooms, we are using Gary Lambert, Jr., (561-312-4325) whose father was a fabulous painter before him.  Not only is he painting the ceilings and woodwork, etc., but he is also preparing the walls for the wallpaper hanger—absolutely of first importance.  Here you can see him conferring with the decorative painter, in this case, Ivan Rizov, over some walls which have become problematic.  It is imperative that these people be able to work together.  Lee Cushnie, the wallpaper hanger (516-236-2959), doesn’t really like to work on walls that are not prepared by Gary, since both of them, and myself too, are fanatics about preparation.  Here are the steps used, but just knowing the steps is not enough—get the best people who will not scrimp here.







Step #1:  Go over all walls, finding any irregularities (ie. former paint drips, tiny cracks, etc.), sanding all these and general walls smooth, spackling as necessary, and sanding again.  Paint walls in one coat of flat wall enamel, and then, just before hanging paper, size the walls.  Certain wallpapers, especially Chinese hand-painted ones or antique reproductions from companies such as Mauny or Zuber, require lining, and this should be done horizontally, so that there is a firm bond between the two layers.  (If you are thinking of ever taking these murals down, you should canvas line the walls before putting up the paper liner—this extra layer is usually hung vertically.)  The paper we used on this job, the Lyford Trellis, is vinyl coated, so it does not—actually should not—have lining.

Step #2: Lay out the paper for the final time—you will have already done this when you planned your room, but this final layout is important, since it exactly lays out where the stopping and starting points are.


Lee Cushnie laying out the paper

and then cutting the paper


Above you see pictures of our paper hanger, Lee Cushnie, laying out the paper on the floor.  He has taken some of the boards from his table and laid them down to put the paper on for cutting.  Ordinarily, we like to double cut when the design match is so important, but these are sheet rock walls, and the double cutting could go through both of the paper layers and open up little cuts in the rock which could later expand and contract, ruining the paper.  Notice how he is lining up as he goes.



                          



Here you can see the paper hanger hanging up the sheets, carefully lining up the matches.  Because this was a straight repeat paper, it was easy to line up the tops, but because we did not design the paper for the room, there were places where we had to cut away some of the paper and put in a part of the design so that the design would work best.  This was done on the chimney extrusion, although I don't think you would know we did it unless i showed you.

The paper is lovely hung.  I will show you more pictures when the room is complete.  For now, I will also show you the artist, Ivan Rizov, (www.nimbusstudio.com) 561-655-0955, studing the patterns he has made from the designs of the paper which will be fit onto the broad beams.  Can you see the little pin pricks which will make his pattern up there?





Ivan Rizov transferring design onto wall



Until next time......

XOXOXOX
LETA




Tuesday, June 24, 2014


ON USING DHURRIES

I recently got a new brochure from Stark Carpet, saying they were bringing back dhurri rugs.  Well, that is certainly good news—especially since it means they are broadening the collection of cotton dhurries, but actually, they never went away.  Classic things rarely do, and certainly dhurries are classics.  But they are usually right here with us, just maybe not having the same name.


Dhurri Rug from Guinevere Antiques



Probably most people wouldn’t have called this rug a dhurri, but that’s what it is.  Great design—those dear stars—would go in any room.  The one above is from Guinevere Antiques in London, one of my favourite sources, but a wool one like this would be available from Stark or Patterson, Flynn and Martin or several dealers.  Below, I show a room we did in a modern apartment here in Palm Beach where the dhurri rug was used to set the living section apart from the rest of the large loft-like room.



Room by Leta Austin Foster

That rug was from Stark who, with their partner, Darius, has lots of dhurris—both old (this one) and new.  And you should try them.  Greater talents than I will ever have, have been using them over and over, such as in this wonderful, cozy liveable room by Sister Parish.


Room by Sister Parish


Or this cool and airy bedroom by Bunny Williams.



Room by Bunny Williams


Please note the sheets—just the kind of sheets we sell every day here in the boutique.  Beautiful linens and cool casual rugs—great combination.



Tom Scheerer used a dhurri, pictured here below, to dress up a library that was basically very plain fabrics—a wonderful way to spread design when print is not desired.



Room by Tom Sheerer


Dhurris are fun.  They can be cheap—as this cotton dhurri from Wisteria.



Wisteria Dhurri

Or very, very expensive...




Room by Albert Hadley


As is this beautiful antique dhurri used in a dining room by the late, great Albert Hadley.


Here are some facts about dhurris that might be useful for you:
-Dhurris are in the group of rugs called flat-weaves.  That means they can be reversed and used on both sides.
-They always need a pad, but the pad should be more like a non-skid flat pad.
-Because dhurris are flat-weaves, they do not “mark” badly from furniture legs, and they are easy to use with spindley-  
  legged pieces.
-Wool dhurris are more expensive to buy, but easier to keep clean.  Cotton dhurris are much cheaper, but they do get       
  foot-traffic dirt very easily.
-Although Indians and tribal people wash their dhurris, do not do this.  They know what they are doing. You do not.
  The colours are vegetable dyes and will run.
-Don’t try to “match” things to the dhurri.  Use it more as a neutral, although, of course, you don't want it to clash or,       
  even worse, look as though you bought it off the back of a truck.


You can even buy dhurris in indoor/outdoor rugs such as these new ones from Perennials.




Perennials Dhurri


Or our old stand-by, Dash and Albert who has loads of dhurri designs, all ready for you to wash if you are anxious to do so.



Dash and Albert Dhurris


Or go back to Guinevere Antiques and get yourself a wonderful trunk covered in a remnant of dhurri and use it as a bright splash of charm in your summer house



Dhurri-covered trunks from Guinevere Antiques



XOXOXOXOX LETA

Monday, June 9, 2014


SMALL STEPS—THIS MIGHT BE BORING BUT READ IT ANYWAY!!!

This morning, on the front page of the New York Times, was a rather dire headline and a new map of the United States and how it has been affected by Climate Change.


        U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods


                     






Climate Change.  Hmmmmm.  It’s really a new name for those words no one wants to acknowledge—Global Warming, but global warming—like it or not—is what it is.  In the last century, the earth has warmed by two degrees, and the article in the Times was telling us just what that means.  Right next to it was an article saying that of the Western World, the United States was the leader in denying that this is just what is happening.  This was no surprise to me since I live in Palm Beach which is absolutely filled with what would have been called, in a different time, Flat Earthers.  But rather than bemoan our fate—or ignore it and Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, I decided it might be better to start collecting little things you can do to help.  By yourself, you aren’t so powerful, but together, you can make an impact.  This impact could be brought about by the Small Steps.  Those are those little steps that if we all take, we really can make a difference.

NOW REMEMBER, THESE ARE SMALL STEPS—NOT BIG ONES SUCH AS INSTALLING SOLAR PANELS IN YOUR ROOF.  THESE ARE LITTLE THINGS YOU CAN DO EVERY DAY, AND THEY WILL BECOME HABITUAL.

First of all—it probably takes less than 5 minutes a day extra, but recycle—because we are an office, we generate a lot of paper and we get a lot of junk mail—thus for us, recycling really is imperative.  When paper is recycled, then companies like Soundview Paper Company—formerly Marcal Manufacturing—uses it to make recycled paper products which are really good.


Marcal Green Tips
Learn how easy it is to take "small steps" to a
greener earth with some of our favorite recycling tips



Then buy the recycled products.  Usually recycled products are more expensive, but not Small Steps.  I first started using them in Maine—of course, Maine, being in the vanguard of movements like recycling, would have products like this in the grocery stores, but you can even buy it in Florida which is in the rearguard of any such movements.  If your store doesn’t have them, ask for them.  Most grocery stores are happy to order for you—especially if you buy by the carton.

Then, just to make sure you cover the bases, plant trees.  Plant shrubs.  Plant anything you can.  If you remember your old tenth grade biology, plants gobble carbon dioxide.  According to North Carolina State University, a medium size tree  consumes about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.  That’s just a medium size tree.  Just think how much my favourite tree, the Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) consumes.  The same goes for shrubs—all kinds, hedges, border plants, etc.  Go to Cotap.org and use the calculator to find out what you are saving.



Live Oak



Turn off lights when you leave a room or when they are not needed.  It drives me wild when I see lights left on when a switch by the door would turn them both on and off.  (Such as in the individual lockers down by the warm pool at the Bath & Tennis Club which are left on ALL DAY even when no one is there.)  There used to be neat little signs by the doors of the bedrooms at my club in New York that said, “Did you remember to turn off your lights?”  I think they were there then to help economize, but they have disappeared.  THEY NEED TO COME BACK.  And you need to turn off your lights.  It becomes habit.  I am not even aware of doing it, and it saves tremendously—plus it saves you money.  You can figure out how much by Googling, but you will have to wade through so many ads that you will need a lot more patience than I have.






Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.  My daughter, Elizabeth, who lives in Los Angeles, which is always in a drought, said she wouldn’t even dream of leaving the faucet on while she brushes her teeth.  Water is just too precious for that!  And leaving the water on consumes mightily.  So start doing this.  It is another little thing that just becomes habit and you don’t even think about it.







Use your dishwasher—well, you probably already do, but for most people, the dishwasher cycle, even if it is not an energy efficient one—wins here.  And it will be even better if you just scrape and then put the dishes into the washer.  And turn off the drying cycle after about five minutes—leave the door cracked so the steam can escape.  A bonus here—if you do this, you can use your dishwasher for a lot more things, even higher grade pottery and faience, since it’s the dryer that is so damaging.






Wash your clothes in cold water—big, big savings here, since 90% of the energy usage in a washing machine cycle goes towards heating the water. (see Treehugger.com)  Another bonus—your clothes last longer.  And if you have a clothes line, you’re way ahead of the game.  Another bonus for this section—your clothes will smell better, need less ironing, and last longer.








Don’t leave the refrigerator open when not needed.  This is hard to do in houses with small children—and snack-seeking husbands, but The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at The University of Florida estimates that being careless about the refrigerator door wastes between 50 kWh and 120 kWh a year.  50 kWh can run your dishwasher 20 times and 100 kWh gives you 100 washing machine loads.  Think about it!  And don’t leave it open while unloading your groceries either!






Recycle your plastic bags—they are washable and can be reused time and again.  I am talking about things like zip lock baggies here.  But should they be used at all?  You can answer hard questions like these by going to “Ask Umbra” on Grist.org.  Remember VOCs can be in lots of things besides paints—and all plastic bags and containers have them.  They are carcinogenic, so try to wean yourself from plastic as much as you can.



Maybe a No-No




These are just some Small Steps—if you have any, I’d love for you to share.

XOXOXOX  LETA







Sunday, May 25, 2014


DOTS..DOTS..AND MORE DOTS

My love of dots spills over into choices I make when selecting merchandise for my boutique.  My shop is filled with dots…from guest towels…



Terrycloth Guest Towel by Noël of Paris $65.



Hand-embroidered Linen Guest Towel by Lin de Château $220.



to dotty frames covered in Liberty of London fabrics.


Liberty of London Frames
4 x 6 $84. 5 x 7 $90.
                                      

Our wonderful Italian embroidery house, Baroni, makes the most adorable designs with dots.  I showed you their dotty bedlinen designs in the last Dot Post, but they also make dotty towels ! This is just one of the dot designs, and you can custom-colour it any way you like.


Baroni Polka Dot Towels
Bath $306. Hand $154. Wash $128. Mat $440.


Our china department is also feeling polka dotty these days. We have carried the French flatware line, Sabre, for many years and their dot-handled knives, forks and spoons are always in demand. The best news is that they make every conceivable service piece to go with your set and in so many colours!



Sabre 5-piece Flatware set $99.



Sabre Handle Colors


New for us last season was Terrafirma Ceramics' pottery, which is designed and produced in New York. Their textural designs come in 9 colorways and have such names as Dot, Rain, Bubble and Luna, which are all variations on a Polka Dot theme.



Terrafirma's "Mini Dot" Dinner Plate $53.


Dots will always be alive at Leta Austin Foster Boutique because, like Polka Dot, we are obsessed with them.

XOXOXO
LETA

Saturday, May 24, 2014



Polka Dots in décor?  Yow!

When my Elizabeth was 10 years old or so, she loved certain comics, Little Lotta (a fat little girl) and Little Dot (a girl who loved polka dots to obsession) were her favourites.  Well, why not?  We all love to eat and everyone should love polka dots or else they’re just strange!!!




Look at the price !! Can you buy anything today--non-edible--for 15 cents?
                                               

Well, the things I love don’t look like the comics, but dotty they are.  Such as polka dots embroidered in any colour in the rainbow on the scalloped edges of sheets and pillowcases—or for that matter, on the edges of blanket covers or towels.


Embroidered Linens by Baroni



Or dotted wallpapers and fabrics.  No one was more of a lover of dots that the late great Albert Hadley who was able to take the joy and charm of Sister Parish’s wonderful décor and minimize it without losing any of the same joy and charm.  Look at these three examples of “dotted" rooms....




"Van" wallpaper by Hinson

This is “Van" wallpaper, still available, with much frustration and waiting around, from Hinson.  Hinson is having problems, but REMEMBER, it’s always worth it to wait for something wonderful.  I am using it on the walls of a bedroom here in Palm Beach along with white piqué and red and white seersucker from Holland and Sherry.  It will be adorable when it is finished.


Room by Albert Hadley
The chairs pictured above sport a spotted fabric in a room by Albert Hadley, tres chic and very, very fresh.




"Spatter" wallpaper from Hinson
Bed and Bath by Albert Hadley



And these wall, a spotted wallpaper, used in both the bedroom and the adjoining bath.  The pattern is “Spatter,” also from Hinson.  



Speaking of Sister Parish, her wonderful grand daughters have used her fabrics and come up with fabulous accessories such as desk blotters and pencil cups and pillows and ice buckets, and so on and so on forever, in all kinds of fabrics including dotted ones such as “Chou Chou” shown below.



Chou Chou dots and other assorted Sister Parish Designs fabrics


You can buy Chou Chou in fabric,




Chairs covered in Chou Chou fabric by Sister Parish Design


Or wallpaper, too.



Chou Chou Wallpaper by Sister Parish Designs


Of course, Sister Parish Designs have lots and lots of things – all of which we sell—with many, many designs, and any of them could be in Chou Chou—even the dog bed and leash below



Dog Collar and Leash by Sister Parish Designs



XOXOXO LETA