Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another Great Asset: My Daughter Lizzie




Lizzie, (Elizabeth Dinkel), my eldest daughter, started work with me back in 1990.  My New York office needed a new managing partner, and my husband, Ridgely, suggested that I ask her.  She was understandably reticent, as she worked in the financial world, but we explained that she would be free to leave at any time if it wasn’t what she was thinking about for her Life Choice.  She later told me it was, regardless of her trepidation, the best decision she ever made.  Certainly it was for me.

I love Lizzie’s work.  I know you are thinking, “Well, duh, she’s your daughter,” and certainly, I must be biased, but everybody else who has seen her work loves it too.  She has a beautiful soft but vibrant palette, and a wonderful ability to blend contemporary with traditional….


Room by Elizabeth Dinkel, 
Photo courtesy of Karen Millet 


To get such a great eclectic blend—comfort, beauty, as always, Form Follows Function.  Don’t you love the acid green on the curtain fabric juxtaposed against all that white?

She uses that same green and white combination above in a powder room showing the same concern for detail as in the larger area.  Notice the fretwork mirror overlaid on the Cowtan and Tout wallpaper.




She does it again in the bathroom below, green and white, but this time with marble “subway” tile and bright green glasses and accessories.




She uses this cool combination in the lovely bedroom below, where she dilutes the two-tone combination with the addition of a soft blue….




And again in a traditional dining room where the use of a hand-painted wallpaper softens the mahogany table and chairs.  I like to think that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the way she makes her beds—lots of luscious linens there—and in the clean dining room table.  Dining room tables should not be set until it’s time to use them.  Sorry—I’m pretty firm about that!




Anyway, to show you that Lizzie’s palette is not limited, here’s a room in grey and white.


Photo by Karyn Millet

And one in all white.




And one in cream and navy.


Photo by Karyn Millet

And even a blend of reds and beige.




And I am sure you noticed the blend of both traditional and contemporary.  Like all good decorators, Lizzie is comfortable with it all, so long as it’s good.  Rather than describe more pictures, I will just let you look and decide for yourself…..


Photos courtesy of Karyn Millet

I could show you loads and loads of rooms by Lizzie, each more livable and pretty than the one before, but the best thing about Lizzie is that she is fun!!!  She makes decorating a house a joy—she laughs and giggles and teases, and so my favourite picture is not of a room at all.




XOXOXOXOX  LETA

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Marie-Chantal—A Very Nice Girl And A Talented Designer




Quite a few years ago, as I was walking the aisles in the children’s clothing show at the Jacob Javits show, I saw the daughter of friends of mine who shouted out, “Mrs. Foster….I’m over here.” 




Over there was the booth of a brand new children’s clothing line, Marie-Chantal, where the designer was the wife of Prince Pavlos of Greece, nee Marie-Chantal Miller.  We were introduced, and she told me how she was designing clothes, because she hadn’t been able to buy the kind she wanted for her children.  Well, that certainly sounded like me and how I started my store, so I looked through the clothes, was just enchanted by her designs, and placed quite a large first order. 




Marie-Chantal has made it through the years—even the bad ones economically—and grown even better.  In the beginning, her sizing was a bit off and we had to sell people larger sizes than they thought they needed, because the clothing ran small.  But they have gotten more and more professional, hiring a very good,  French, I think, pattern cutter, and getting the sizing correct. Through it all, the designs of Marie-Chantal, herself, shone through, and it has become one of our very good lines and one we continue to sell very well.  Certainly, the line shows her own personal style.







I love these clothes—probably one of my favourite things in the store is the little onesie with angel wings—we sell it and sell it and sell it….




And I love the Liberty baby dresses with bloomers we had last season





And the Liberty dresses for little girls.  I love the tana lawn fabric made by Liberty of London and always try to have both children’s clothes and personal accessories made from it on display here in the boutique.



Big girls too—she made skirts and blouses of Liberty.




As well as lovely things from other fabrics—such as this party dress last Christmas made from tulle and silk.



Which was a sell-out.

She also made wonderful classic boys clothes.



And boys clothes which weren’t so classic.



And great sweaters.



Come in and see (or e-mail betty@lafinpb.com) what lovely things we have.  There’s tons to see in all sizes.



XOXO LETA

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Can You Believe It? More China Seas





One of the things I love about China Seas (Quadrille, China Seas, Alan Campbell, Haute Home and Charles Burger) is their wonderful and extremely useable wallpapers.  We recently finished an apartment for a client who wanted a pink room—a really pink room.  I have often said that one gets the biggest bang for their buck with wallpaper, and this room really proves it—with the clients’ own furniture –repainted, recovered, and the addition of white wooden blinds for a more modern feel and a great poster from a wonderful auction source (Palm Beach Modern Auctions) and some Matouk linens, this room really pops—and mostly because of the wallpaper.

Wallpaper can be used when there’s no space for anything else—such as in this bathroom by Julie Massucco Kleiner, shown in Traditional Home—where “Edo” in brown on white give chic to a tiny, unprepossessing area.



Or here, where bright orange “Ziggurat Reverse” does a bang-up job of an even tinier bathroom shown in The World of  Interiors.



But these wallpapers aren’t only good in small spaces—here one of their vibrant prints, “Aqua IV” is used on the walls in John Knott and John Fondas’ own house where it serves to pull together the wonderful crazy-quilt of their fabrics—all China Seas/Quadrille/etc. Since they are the owners of the company, this is a great way to showcase some of their amazing designs. 



Of course, these wallpapers appeal to people besides the owners of the company.  Here “Arbre de Matisse”—one of my favourites—is used with its companion fabrics for an all-over look for the offices of fashion designer Tory Burch and her fashionista crew.  Tres francais, tres chic!




This nifty room was designed by Daniel Romualdez, and it is worth studying to see how he juxtaposed the vivid blue of his paper and fabric with the crisp white of the ceiling, woodwork, blinds and chairs, all positioned on the shiny dark floor.

In the bedroom below, I think the use of the “Balinese Batik” paper in a nice bright but soft aqua kept the bedroom from looking “little old lady” while still having a nice summery feeling.



And I don’t think any design which is actually traditional could look more modern than “Bangalore Paisley” because, probably, of its wonderful different colours.




These are just wonderful, wonderful wallpapers.  As I said in my previous post, we are using these wallpapers in the bedrooms of the Hillsboro Club in South Florida.  They make such a great entrance to a room and they certainly dress up bathrooms.  Here are some of the designs we are using.








I promise that I will come back with pictures at a later date.  In the meanwhile, try using some of these wonderful wallpapers on your next project.

XOXOXO LETA

Monday, July 1, 2013

China Seas- Again and Again


I, just this week, returned from beautiful Figure Eight Island, off the coast of North Carolina, where we installed a job for some of my favourite clients, whose many projects you have seen pictures of here in “Decorating with Sheets.”


Petite Zig Zag used in a room by
Leta Austin Foster and Della Lee

And I couldn’t help but think about how much China Seas fabrics and wallpapers I use.  Hopefully, I will have pictures of this job in the next half year, but in the meantime, I thought I would show you China Seas (part of Quadrille Fabrics which also owns or represents Alan Campbell, Haute Home, and Charles Burger from Paris).  Decorators love this company—and for good reasons:

It is sturdy
It is original—although mightily copied right now
It is classic yet new
It certainly says something—each time it is used




I mean, talk about saying something!  This is one of my favourite designs which, hopefully, I will be using in our redo of The Hillsboro Club in Hillsboro, Florida, where we are using so many Quadrille fabrics—in fact, all the bedroom wallpapers are from Quadrille, and much of the fabric—with large additions by Sister Parish Designs.  You will see these later.

Here is an ikat—an ancient design now much in favour—called “Kazak” used imaginatively by Eddie Ross and featured in Elle D├ęcor. 




Very clever—and lots of fun.  You wouldn’t need a lot of fabric to have these runners made, and in this colour scheme, they could be used in the spring as they are here, but would also look great on a black undercloth for Halloween or on a deep green velvet one with lots of red holly berries and poinsettias at Christmas time.

In an absolute turnaround, here is a room done using “Veneto,” a somewhat new and hip rendering of an ancient Venetian design.


Photo courtesy of House Beautiful
Room by Ashley Whittaker 

Also in the “baroque” look is this paper, Este Reverse, shown here with Porthault linens, always a favourite of mine since I sell them—and love them!




I love using lots of their fabrics together—here is a room with Henriot Floral and Nitik II as just two of the fabrics in this cool, airy summer house.  And I love the way they sometimes take a fabric such as “Monty” and reduce it down to just its outline as in “Monty Outline”, so that you can put them together if you want a rather hip look.  One of the wonderful things about this company is that they will print to order, so you can have the colours match if that’s what you want.


Photo credit At Home 2009
Monty by China Seas is used on the chair



Some of their designs harken back to a former time such as “Tulip Multicolor”




But the nifty thing is that if “vintage” weren’t your look, you could use “Tulip Background” and be a bit more up-to-the minute—imagine a sun room with all white wicker and this bright coral-y orange Tulip Background.  Get your sea grass rug, your bamboo blinds, and some wonderful dark green rhapis palms in terra cotta pots, and you’re ready to go!




You get the same idea when I show you the more traditional “Paradise Garden”




And the pared-down “Paradise Background”




Same basic fabric but the interior design has been taken away, giving the fabric an entirely different look.  They did it again with Independence Toile (used as the fabric below) and Independence Engraving (the wallpaper) which allows a wonderful combination look.




This picture was taken by House Beautiful for the charming summer house of John Knott and John Fondas, the owners of Quadrille (et al).  It is on Little Cranberry Island which is a quick boat ride from Northeast Harbor’s main dock, and I am lucky enough to have been there for dinner, since both the Johns are great pals of mine.  And what a wonderful dinner it was—all pies!  Chicken pie, Vegetable pie, and Blueberry pie.  We waddled back to the boat and home!!!!

Now that was only fabrics in the Quadrille section.  I will be back next time with some from China Seas, so it will again be “China Seas, Again and Again and Again.”

XOXOXOX   LETA