Tuesday, June 24, 2014


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


Monday, June 9, 2014


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.


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.


Sunday, May 25, 2014


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.


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


Sunday, May 18, 2014


Supposedly, you know you are getting older when you don’t know the celebrities anymore, and maybe that is so, since I certainly don’t understand people like the Kardashians, but neither, apparently, do my young friends, all the way down to my teenage grandchildren, who just say, “Yuck!  We’re not interested.”   But I always thought that there were certain things that just wouldn’t change, at least, not for a downward trend.  But this morning, as I sat out on my terrace and read the morning’s New York Times, I was actually horrified to see the ad for the children’s clothes in Bergdorf Goodman’s ad.  

I love Bergdorf’s.  It has always been my favourite store (besides my own, of course).  I buy my clothes there; I buy my daughters’ Christmas presents there.  If I have nothing else to do when I am in New York (this doesn’t happen often), or if I finish up working early, I wander over to Bergdorf’s just to see what’s what.

But the clothes in this ad—and from some really good brands—are just awful!—the Burberry dress looks as though they didn’t have enough fabric to lay the dress out correctly during the cutting; the Stella McCartney dress is just shapeless and dour; the Dolce & Gabbana might have been designed for the said Kardashians, and what is this new trend that all boys’ clothing is shown with the shirttails out?  I just can’t understand it—Bergdorf’s had the most beautiful children’s department in the world under Mary Lowey back in the early 70’s and 80’s, and even in our own times, they chose Best & Company (such beautiful clothes) from Greenwich, Connecticut, to run their department.  What a departure from those!  Are they trying to say that now the young people of New York have just terrible taste and will buy anything if it has a name brand? That’s certainly what it looks like.

I just got a picture from one of the customers of my boutique with the caption: “I love my shoes”.  Well, who wouldn’t?  Perfect little pink leather ankle straps from Pèpè in Milan, which we carry in the boutique in pink and white and gold for the summer. 

I love little girls in pretty shoes—and in pretty sweaters (that one is an adorable little cardigan from Baroni in Florence) and in pretty dresses such as this lovely pink cotton damask from La Stupenderia in Milan…..

La Stupenderia Damask Dress $300.

This dress is so beautifully cut that it looks like a miniature Balenciaga.

And as for boys, I notice that Prince William’s son does not wear jeans and a scruffy tee when he makes his formal appearances.  

While we all want—and need—casual clothes such as jeans and shorts, there is a time and a place for everything.  I’m sorry—that’s the way it is.  Just as you still need to stand up for people older than yourself, open and hold doors for anyone, and write thank you notes, you also need to dress yourselves and your children appropriately. 

I went to a very pretty wedding on Saturday where everybody looked so nice, except one little boy who walked down the aisle in jeans and a shirt—with the shirttails out yet!--and who looked ridiculous.  Maybe a proper little sailor’s suit is not for you,

sailor boy's outfit
Giacomo Sailor Suit by Anichini $260.

then get a nice set of trousers and a blazer

"Gary" Blazer by Anichini $405., Pants $162.
Otello shirt $120.

Or maybe even a white suit for summer wear.

Armando boy's 
"Andy" suit by Anichini $565.

And children love to look pretty! We sold the dress below, even though it was very expensive, almost completely out in one week.  The little girls helped choose them.

La Stupenderia's striped party dress $475.

As for babies—you only have them little for such a short time—enjoy it. 

Baby Boy's Linen/Honeycomb Cotton Set $225.

Baby Girl's Linen/Honeycomb Cotton Set $200.



P.S. Sorry it was such a rant—I did tell you that I am getting old.