Oh what a treat I have for you, dear readers! If you find winter as dreadful as I do, join me in saying sayonara to the cold and hello to Palm Beach. To put us in an island state of mind, gracious hostess Carol Jankowsky is dishing her best entertaining, decorating, and lifestyle tips. We’ll also enjoy a look at Mrs. Jankowsky’s Palm Beach abode, designed by Leta Austin Foster and most recently featured in the December issue of House Beautiful.
Carol is no stranger to a beautifully orchestrated event—she is adept at throwing many a soirée at her homes in Virginia and Palm Beach. Her hostessing prowess was honed early on in her marriage to a DC lobbyist as she learned to navigate a large gathering, meeting each guest. These days, Carol upholds the tradition of gracious entertaining to delight the pair’s colleagues, friends, and family.
Muffy: Carol, what a pleasure to profile you on Stuffy Muffy! Please do share with us how you prefer to set your table.
Carol: I adore using lots of Leta’s plates, plus I have a massive collection of inherited china, antique show finds, and plenty of Herend from Bluck’s in Bermuda. I use linen from all over—lots from my mother, mother-in-law, Leta and I also adore India Amory.
Muffy: As for flowers?
Carol: I usually prefer doing my own flowers. I’m not snobby about where they come from. I like Publix, Trader Joe’s, and Christopher Cope—a wonderful florist in the Palm Beach area that often supplies me with his gorgeous stems and always decks out my mantel in Palm Beach with his pretty hydrangeas. He gets the cream of the crop!
Muffy: Does your entertaining style in Palm Beach differ from your usual Virginia set-up?
Carol: The dining area in Palm Beach is more casual than in the DC area. I always mix everything up, nothing is ever too matchy. I think of it almost as a painting, being a former art major.
Muffy: Speaking of, what is your taste in art?
Carol: I love Contemporary art but not too “way out.” More Washington Color School, Diebenkorn, Gene Davis. Plein Air, Impressionist, Wolf Kahn. Very lucky to have acquired a few of these.
Muffy: Back to entertaining—are you cooking for guests and what do your menus look like?
Carol: I love to cook, I adore anything from Alex Hitz and Cathy Graham, very inspiring. I do keep things rather simple, nothing is too ornate. Like Ina, I am not afraid of filling in the menu with dessert from elsewhere! I feel if we make part of the menu, it’s just fine.
Muffy: What are you wearing?
Carol: I try to wear something that I am very comfortable wearing in order to freely move around. Nothing too precious that I have to be too careful in. Comfort is key. I must admit that I have a very generous and kind husband who loves seeing me wear pretty jewelry. I was lucky enough to inherit lots of nice things.
Muffy: Do you have a sort of Palm Beach “uniform” that you stick to?
Carol: I love wearing pretty tunics for dinners at either house. I love black pants, silk pants, velvet jackets that I’ve had made, and a black cocktail suit for many occasions. I once thought I had to wear Oscar de la Renta, which I still love, but I’m more into accessorizing simple clothes now. I love pearls and all the pretty things my thoughtful husband has bought me over the years. I remember Mom telling me to stand back, look in the mirror and take one thing off! I detest seeing overly done, too-much-at-a-time jewelry. I also love estate jewelry. I try to edit before going out!
Muffy: How do you set the tone for the evening?
Carol: Once the doorbell rings, I am a guest at my own party. All my worrying takes place earlier! I also have a little cocktail! Not too early!
Muffy: And your cocktail of choice?
Carol: I enjoy vodka on the rocks with a zillion olives or occasionally with a splash of grapefruit juice! I like a little wine at dinner when out. In the summer, vodka tonic, a rosé, and Bloody Mary’s at brunches! Always in moderation.
Muffy: What kind of ambience music do you have playing?
Carol: I love music from the 50s, Sinatra, Elton John, and my husband loves Jazz!
Muffy: Where do you like to have guests gather in your home?
Carol: We have a pretty loggia inspired by my idol, Billy Baldwin. We enter you there whenever the evening permits. I never want my guests to be uncomfortable so I always have a plan B. I put too much time and thought into all the details to have anyone be uncomfortable.
Muffy: A hostess has to have a night off once in awhile! What are your favorite Palm Beach restaurants?
Carol: I love Imoto, Chez Jean Pierre, Renato’s, and Cafe Flora for a fun, casual dining out evening. Pamela and Henry are a darling young couple who have built a very nice outdoor dining experience. I Love the Honor Bar and enjoy Sant Ambroeus for a festive night. I will try Todd English soon and I’m happy to see a new Chinese place, Hai House, in the Esplanade. The Peking Duck was yummy! Pizza al Fresco is another favorite restaurant—the best pizza in town and really fun for families and large groups.
Muffy: For your shopping fix, where do you wander to?
Carol: I love Peggy Daven and Seaman Schepps for jewelry. For decor, the treasure hunt down Dixie! Such fun and the house is filled with its treasures! Then there is Leta Austin Foster’s beautiful shop. Someone from Palm Beach years ago called it “the most beautiful shop in the world.” It is jam packed with everything you would possibly wish for! The most beautiful linens, embroidered in Europe, china, vintage cocktail napkins, and children’s clothes from Paris and London. Don’t forget the potpourri, lamps, and painted furniture. Everything for you and your home. Her workplace—the studio upstairs—is where all the magic happens! She has a great staff who are always there to help you and on call!
Muffy: I’m always on the hunt for lovely hostess gift ideas, what are some of your mainstays?
Carol: I will often take an orchid in Palm Beach—the gift that keeps on giving. Everyone hangs them on their trees later. I love to take the scented oils with the little sticks, not candles. Cocktails napkins if the hostess is a really close friend and wine if I don’t know them too well.
Muffy: I know we are honing in on your Palm Beach tastes, but I’d love to know more about your Virginia home too!
Carol: My wonderful decorator in DC, Lavinia Lemon, really got me started. I met her many years ago and she was considered the finest. She’s still busier than ever and I owe my beautiful home in Virginia to her! She taught me so much and she is a great friend. She also found some wonderful paintings for us!
Carol: Everyone loves the library, cobalt blue with a zig zag floor! She found Robert Jackson to do our painted floors and walls many years ago. They’re more beautiful after 30 years! Patina! Robert Jackson was the best. Mark Hampton, Mario Buatta, and probably Bunny Mellon used him.
Muffy: Any special interests in Virginia that you are involved in?
Carol: My husband sits on many nonprofit boards while my love is the National Children’s Hospital in Washington. I also love my ladies club downtown. We still dress for lunch and dinner, not easily found these days. Sadly, the dress code has seemingly disappeared, unless in a private club!
For more of Carol’s enchanting tastes, please do follow her on Instagram here. Details of her delightful Palm Beach home can be found in the December 2018 issue of House Beautiful.
P.S. I will be in Florida later this month to deliver a sneak peek of the spectacular Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach. I can’t wait to share the goodness with you all! For show house information, admission, and tickets to the opening night preview party (hope to see you there!), please visit here.
House Beautiful images photographed by Francesco Lagnese and produced by Doretta Sperduto.
‘Tis the season! Last week, I had the pleasure of touring the 10th annual Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse orchestrated by Atlanta Homes & Lifestylesand I’m thrilled to report that it is dreamy. The home, built by Harrison Design architects in partnership with Blackstone Custom Homes, is a brand new English country house nestled in Buckhead’s Chastain Park neighborhood. Inspired by 19th century architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, British features such as a sweeping roof, gables, and symmetrical design are masterfully incorporated. For the interiors, 18 local talents were selected to deck the halls with spectacular design. I hope these images will whet your appetite to visit as the Showhouse doors are officially open! Ready for a sneak peek?
Lovely Living Room
Living room design by Lauren DeLoach.
Designer Lauren DeLoach does it again! DeLoach always delivers feminine, layered spaces that feel sophisticated and classic. While wholeheartedly Southern, I find her designs to also have a timeless New England sensibility about them. The room, peppered with rich textiles, fine art and French antiques, is ensconced in curtains done in Peter Fasano, Ltd. fabric, lending a comfortable air to the first-floor area.
Dining Room Delight
Dining Room design by Carole Weaks of C. Weaks Design.
Showhouse Honorary Chair Carole Weaks transformed the dining room into an emerald oasis. The painting, by Ukrainian artist Serhiy Hai, is so striking in person and the perfect piece to admire during dinner. Gathered around a glass top table are Frances Elkins chairs painted black just for the space. Everything feels intentional and effortless at the same time!
Ground Floor Powder Design by Susan Brady Interiors.
Decorator Susan Brady created the most delightful jewel box using my favorite color combination—pink and green. The paper, a Clarke & Clarke confection, climbs to the ceiling where it’s met with light green trim and a pink ceiling. Lovely touches like framed art and intaglios tie it all together for a formal welcome into the home.
Ravishing Laundry Room
Butler’s Pantry design by Lauren Elaine Interiors.
When given a canvas of contemporary grey finishes, Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors knew just what would imbue her traditional aesthetic into the laundry room and butler’s pantry. She chose Schumacher’s iconic Hollyhock wallpaper in charcoal to dress up the space and spared no small details. Monogrammed towels, art, books, and a small bar set-up add charm in spades.
Laundry room design by Lauren Elaine Interiors.
Kitchen design by Liz Godwin and Kingdom Woodworks cabinetry.
While the kitchen is a decidedly transitional space complete with a modern hood and grey cabinetry, it also feels quite classic thanks to designer Liz Godwin. Slipcovered barstools in a timeless fabric complete with tassel trim detail play beautifully off the large marble island perfect for today’s busy family. An heirloom quality is added with an equestrian painting and her mother’s china mixed with other beautiful porcelain pieces.
Master bedroom design by Jessica Bradley.
Jessica Bradley wanted to go the unexpected route with her master bedroom design and rightfully so. Contemporary accents like a velvet and nailhead bed are tempered with aged antiques. Dotting the Designers Guild wallpaper are framed botanicals and perfectly placed mirrors flanking the bed. The generous view into the backyard through double doors is complimented by flora and fauna adorned curtains.
Master bathroom design by C. Socci Interiors.
Walking into Chris Socci’s master bath and closet design is like exhaling and leaving all the day’s stresses at the door. Inspired by nature, Socci kept all the incorporated elements organic, down to the mirror shapes and lily pad side table. Cole & Son Hummingbird in Viridian wallpaper and blue and green curtains mimicking watery ripples accentuate the serene scheme. In the master closet, chic ensembles by Danielle Rollins are ready to take off the hanger and wear.
Master closet design by C. Socci Interiors featuring ensembles by Danielle Rollins.
Mud room design by Gordon Dunning.
No strangers to a Showhouse, the ladies of Gordon Dunning have created yet another delightful space. The thoughtful design starts in the mudroom that leads into a vibrant baker’s passage with an adjoining pantry and pool powder at the end. The hallway, covered in an ethereal blue and white Anna French fabric is pure magic. Sentimental elements such as vintage spoons hung in an arched doorway and framed recipes in the pantry hint at familial history.
Hall design by Gordon Dunning.
Upstairs Bedroom Design by Montgomery Gratch Interiors.
Montgomery Gratch Interiors created a chic retreat any teenage girl would be happy to call hers. Their design, created for a young lady about to leave for college, is filled with unique elements such as tribal textures and antique furniture like the bedside chests. The pièce de résistance is a hand-painted wall by Kari Fisher Designs based off of a pillow pattern by the same artisan.
Breakfast Room Bliss
Breakfast room design by Margaret Kirkland.
Designer Margaret Kirkland’s signature classic style is in every last detail of this charming dining alcove. Baskets, fine art and topiaries galore lend a collected flair while a bamboo lantern and chairs are teeming with timelessness. Verdant tones are carried throughout from the curtains to the rug and even the green stemmed wine glasses. With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the backyard pool, Kirkland paid special mind to making the room flow seamlessly with the superb view of nature.
I hope you enjoyed this sampling of some of the gorgeous design represented at the Showhouse, there are many more breathtaking rooms to see and admire! If you will be in Atlanta between now and December 9th, I encourage you to visit Home for the Holidays. In addition to regular tour hours and a marketplace, there is a stellar lineup of events with something for everyone—I will most likely be back on November 29th for an evening candlelight tour. Proceeds from the ticket sales will directly benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a very worthy cause and essential resource for families in the Southeast. Interested in purchasing the property? It is listed with Dorsey Altson realtors.
The curve of an antique secretaire, a swath of silk curtains and the movement of a master painting live exquisitely in the renderings of artist to the grand, Jeremiah Goodman. His works are so outrightly splendid, viewers want to walk right into the marvelous milieu the late Mr. Goodman created. Revered interior decorators and social fixtures alike called on Jeremiah to immortalize their spaces in paint and it is our good fortune that in 2006, he published a tome celebrating their cherished quarters. Yesterday morning, I was in the doldrums; a place of plain thinking only cured by the art of inspiration. A quick survey of my coffee table books later, I was transfixed by the elegant living rooms, worldly dining rooms and enchanting bedrooms in A Romantic Vision. A few pages in, I realized that the one year anniversary of Mr. Goodman’s passing is in two weeks and I’m grateful for the timely opportunity to celebrate his art by sharing a few of my favorite renderings below.
Interior designer Leonard Stanley’s Hollywood Hills bedroom, 1976.
Carolina Herrera’s Manhattan sitting room in rich hues.
Jeremiah imagined his arrival in New York City as a young artist to be an exciting welcome full of professional promise and he was spot on. He started out as an illustrator for Lord and Taylor’s newspaper adverts showcasing interiors and fashion which caught the eye of Interior Design magazine’s editor. Goodman illustrated the cover of the magazine every month for 15 years all while having work published in House and Garden, The New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Esteemed commissions from decorators the likes of Billy Baldwin and Henri Samuel led to him painting the private homes of First Lady Nancy Reagan, Cecil Beaton, Besty Bloomingdale and Diana Vreeland to name a small few.
President and First Lady Reagan’s Bel-Air living room, 1992.
A Mario Buatta decorated bedroom; well-appointed frills abound!
Many qualities of an artist transfer to that of a designer such as proportion, scale and color all of which are punctiliously mastered in a Goodman rendering. It comes as no surprise that Jeremiah had wanted to become a decorator before pursuing a career as a painter. Photographer Bruce Weber once remarked “In reality our rooms are a mess and filled with books and dogs’ beds. But Jeremiah’s interpretation of these rooms always makes one look as if they have the crèmede la crème of taste.” A fine balance of real life recording in combination with artistic liberty keeps the viewer guessing as to what Goodman drew from directly and what was added for flair.
Bruce Weber and Nan Bush’s living room interior in Golden Beach, Florida. 2001.
Decorator David Hicks’ living room.
Jeremiah’s expert impressions have become a historical archive of interior decoration in the latter part of the 20th century. The pieces from his patrons’ collections of art, decorative objet, books and artifacts have been preserved in their interior habitat, a rare treat to look in on. To capture these distinguished delights, he would travel to Europe, Asia and beyond. Goodman would return Stateside to his Big Apple apartment and a carriage house in East Hampton that he painstakingly restored. He once had friend and decorator Albert Hadley come by and help him rearrange his entire living room only for them both to realize that it was perfect in its original state. Of his varied aesthetic aptitudes Jeremiah mused “the artist today should be a Renaissance-type man who applies his talents in many fields.” I hope Mr. Goodman’s inspired ouvre helps you, like it did me, to take a break from the bustle of life and rouse a dormant passion or two – whatever they may be!
Designer Henri Samuel’s country living room. Lush & lovely!
Diana Vreeland wanted “a garden in hell” in her Park Avenue pad and Billy Baldwin delivered. Note the playing card needlepoint pillows behind the sofa!
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might like a similar one I wrote about portrait artist Aaron Shikler. It’s a bit more history heavy and full of beautiful portraits of faces you will most certainly recognize! Read it here.
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a new series here on Stuffy Muffy where I will be sharing the treasures of talented ladies in decorating, art and beyond. I am most pleased to welcome our first guest, interior designer Louise Cronan. Louise was mentored by some of the most revered names in the decorating business before starting her own firm, LWC Interiors. From decking out show house rooms to undertaking projects like a Fifth Avenue duplex, Louise is an authority on good taste when it comes to the home. You can find her work in New York City, Atlanta, where she currently resides in West Palm Beach and beyond. I hope you’ll enjoy a glimpse into her venerable career and learn a thing or two about gracious decorating from our conversation.
Disclaimer: most of Louise’s projects spanning thirty years have not been photographed, the images in this post are a very small sampling of the breadth of her work.
The fabulous Louise Cronan!
Muffy: Louise, thank you very much for agreeing to this profile! Let’s start from the beginning; what was your first job in design?
Louise: after graduating with a degree in interior design, I realized to be successful I would need to train under some of the best residential designers in New York. I packed my bags, jumped on the shuttle and landed in the Big Apple. After much cold calling, I landed a position in the residential department of Dorothy Draper & Company. Working there was glamorous and Carleton is a fun and wonderful person – it was an honor to work for such a prestigious firm at such a young age and have so much responsibility and direct interactions with clients. I certainly was not a gopher!!! I still run into Carleton in Palm Beach and he always has something up his sleeve!!
The living room of Louise’s Florida home.
Muffy: Incredible! At the time, what were clients requesting for their homes?
Louise: Although Dorothy Draper & Co. is famous for the use of very bold color, when I was in the residential department of the firm in the early eighties, soft pastels were becoming a very popular color palette. Requests were often flowered chintz galore, stripes, wallpapers, needlepoint, dhurrie, wilton, hooked and cotton rags rugs, lacquered furniture, custom upholstery with all down cushions, mirrored walls, bleached floors, built-ins, skirted tables, custom lampshades, the “preppy” style, Sisal and raffia were entering our lives!!
A light filled space with a heavy dose of charm.
Muffy: what are some signature Dorothy Draper elements you still use today?
Louise: Saturated colors, mixing color and pattern, comfortable and practical interiors, black and white patterned floors, tropical leaves, balance and scale, a bit of “wit and whimsy” and lacquer.
Muffy: Your position at Dorothy Draper was followed by another distinguished gig. We have to talk about your tenure under Kevin McNamara. How did that come about?
Louise: After a visit to the Kips Bay Show House and seeing a room designed by Kevin McNamara I was dying to work with him! The room was the epitome of taste and talent! I was able to get an interview, but how was I going to convince Mr. McNamara to hire his first female designer? According to my dear friend Alan Campbell, over lunch at Gino’s he told Kevin “you are a fool if you do not hire her.” Within the week, the most exciting moment of my career began! I was hired as one of two senior designers in Mr. McNamara’s office and the rest is history!
A layered showhouse room.
Muffy: what is your most memorable project from working under Mr. McNamara?
Louise: This is hard question as all the projects were very memorable and interesting! The most beautiful apartments, country houses, summer houses and private residences! A palatial apartment in the River House – a 1930’s Art Deco building – with a gated cobblestone courtyard and fountain located on 52nd street overlooking the East River. It was described as “arguably the city’s, if not the world’s, finest apartment building.” River House is the epitome of “swell” living. This apartment was memorable as Kevin gave me free rein!
Louise enjoying her former Buckhead home.
Muffy: I am cuckoo for curtains and have long admired Mr. McNamara’s use of them. What are your curtain musts and what should you avoid?
Louise: For length, I prefer to break at the floor – no puddling – in any case make sure curtains are flush with the floor. I never want to see light coming through, line and interline with flannel and use blackout lining, this is what gives curtains their body and fullness. The luxury of the visible lining being a small scale “squiggle” of chintz. Hang curtain panels as high above the window frame as possible – just under the crown – this will add a sense of height to the room. Make sure to use the best quality rings, poles and finials when you do this “style” of treatment.
Curtains in a New York apartment done right!
Do loads of detailing – biased banding, tape, cording, tassel fringe etc. I hide the heading of tassel fringe in the seam – often doubling the yardage for fullness. I add a contrasting bias banding to the leading edge which the fringe “lays” on – instead of looking like tassels are drooping off “the edge.”
Plans for ravishing valances and curtains.
Use the proper type and weight of fabric to ensure the curtains will “fall” correctly, no skimpy panels! Beautifully shaped valances that are well thought out are a lovely touch. Most importantly, use a knowledgeable workroom and know how to communicate with them and submit detailed purchase orders.
An “in-progress” room in Louise’s Florida home.
Muffy: Speaking of prolific designers, you are also close with venerated decorators John Rosselli and Furlow Gatewood. Tell us about your connection to these two!
Louise: We just bonded from the beginning is all I can say—and as John’s nephew said to me a few years ago—“you are considered a part of the family.” I walked into John and Furlow’s little shop on 72nd Street late one Friday afternoon in a panic- I had to accessorize a coffee table the following day and did not think I knew how to do it right. John said “Weeze get down on the floor and I will show you how to do it!” I was in my twenties and was so flattered! We have remained close and stayed in touch over the last 30 plus years! One of the first things they did for me that is still special to me—they bought me a silver cup they saw at flea market that was engraved with my name on it!
Muffy: After a successful run in New York City, you moved back to Atlanta with your husband and two sons. Aesthetically, how are the two cities different or alike in interior design?
Louise: They are distinctly different and to answer this question would probably get me in trouble! To be honest, I ended up leaving NYC as I had a very sick baby. Fortunately, lots of my work has remained in New York. I have been lucky to have very loyal clients! I always felt like clients in Atlanta changed designers like one changes shoes!!!!
A city skyline peeks through this lovely living room.
Muffy: I can’t help but notice the effective use of color in your work. How do you recommend infusing some bold hues into decor?
Louise: Familiarize yourself with “the color wheel” and remember that “in design, Mother Nature is our best teacher,” a quote by Van Day Truex. The best color combinations can be found right outside your back door. Besides flowers, look at the color combinations of birds, butterflies, fish, shells, reptiles, crabs, lobsters etc. Here are some suggestions for adding color:
Paint the back of bookshelves a bold color- I just lined the back of a bookcase in a marbleized paper from Il Papiro.
Lacquered coffee table, accent chair, mirror etc. You pick the color!
Throws, needlepoint and accent pillows
Every room needs a touch of black
Paintings, prints, collages- even frame a colorful Hermes scarf!
Colorful chintz curtains
In your dining room use bold colorful china!
Porthault bed linens and towels
Kitchen backsplash and floor tiles
Vibrant and sophisticated!
Muffy: your former Mediterranean-style house in Atlanta was featured in Cottage Living magazine. In the article, you mention making every inch of the 1,800 square feet count. Funnily enough, this is the exact size of my home! For those of us thinking we have to renovate to accommodate our growing families, what are your tips for making our smaller homes work smarter space wise?
Louise: Absolutely declutter —it is not easy—I have to pay someone by the hour to do—so ridiculous!! I have used an armoire as a linen closet—also as a kitchen pantry. Hire an experienced closet designer—mine was able to get 60 shoe boxes in a very small closet along with too many clothes. I am a clothes horse! The closet space was 6’x4’ and all my scarves and pocket books were also stored. A closet designer is invaluable!
A distinguished assemblage.
Use built-ins galore—but tasteful and discreet ones with concealed slide outs. Any piece of furniture that will provide storage is essential, for example, a chest with drawers in the dining room for silverware. Bunk beds for your growing children with drawers as the base work well. Put those tacky storage boxes under beds too!! If you are lucky to have a garage, hire the closet designer for that space too.
In the kitchen, have cabinets going to the full ceiling height—get yourself a stepstool. Make some of your cabinets between 15” to 18” deep to store smaller items. If possible, have kitchen banquets with storage below. Don’t forget hooks and storage options on the backs of doors.
Louise’s inviting Florida kitchen with those ceiling height cabinets!
Muffy: Do you prefer a more traditional home blueprint or are you open to knocking walls down for the ever-popular open concept?
Louise: I am not big on open floor plans, but at the same time I do not like a “warren” of little rooms. I am certainly not opposed to knocking down a wall, if it will allow the space to flow better. For example in my new house, I went as far as taking out a powder room to open up the kitchen to the sunroom (which has become the family sitting room) but I do have a framed opening with deep reveals/jambs to define the two spaces. Within the same area, I knocked down a half wall and doorway so I could have a one wall kitchen, so to speak, and gaining space to have a butler’s pantry with an informal eating area.
Gorgeous in green!
Muffy: What is your favorite part of a house to make a splash?
Louise: An entryway should make a statement because it’s the first thing guests see. It’s the “calling card of the house.”
A foyer designed by Louise for the 2013 St. Phillip Cathedral Antiques Show Inspiration House in Atlanta.
Muffy: Your painted floors are a dream! What are your tips for getting them right?
Louise: Floors must be properly prepared, primed and have a clean surface. Use a high quality floor paint and seal with a coat of polyurethane when completed. Choose an interesting design that is not too intricate or busy—I prefer a design with a bit of sophistication.
Louise’s signature painted floors in her Florida home.
Scale is of great importance— I have seen too many floors that were wrong in scale and proportion. Know when to use a border or not, and good color combinations and placement. I prefer a satin finish when sealing—with a shiny floor, more little dings and scratches show. I used a spatterware pattern on a staircase of a lake cottage in Harbor Springs, MI and it is so charming!
Muffy: What are the makings of a truly hospitable guest room?
Louise: As my grandmother was noted for saying—sleep in your guest room before you even think of introducing it to a guest! Here are my must-haves:
This little guest looks right at home, non?
I love a guestroom that has two full size beds-
Best mattress you can afford
Custom linens—lightly starched
Blanket cover and duvet, no heavy bedspreads
Quality pillows—boudoirs and necks rolls, Euro shams are optional or put in the closet with extra pillows (hypo allergenic) and blanket.
Bed side tables with a good reading lamp and a drawer and shelf
Chair and ottoman or a chaise with a small flanking “drink” table
A flat surface with a chair for laptop or writing if possible
Chest of drawers with a mirror above—line the drawers with a pretty paper
I like to paper the closets with a very small scale print, include padded hangers and trouser hangers
Extras: flashlight, water carafe and bottled water, tissue boxes, wastebaskets, updated magazines and a few new novels, extra reading glasses or magnifying glass, phone chargers and Wi-Fi access, robe and slippers, notepad with pen and pencils, small vase of flowers, a full length mirror, luggage rack and Tiffany clock with an alarm!!
Lovely linens making a welcome impression.
In the guest bathroom:
Built in vanity with counter space and cabinet below for extra t.p., tissues, small magnifying mirror, towels, hairdryer, soaps, bath oils etc. It’s nice to have drawers if space permits.
On the vanity top have toothbrush holder & cup and laminated small trays for makeup and jewelry
Medicine cabinets with mirrors on the backside and electrical outlets are wonderful! Stock with basic toiletries and shower cap
Fluffy towels and hooks
Muffy: what is your advice for someone starting to decorate their home on a tight budget?
Louise: regroup your furniture and reuse existing furniture by adding slipcovers. Spend the money on that “favorite fabric with throw pillows and incorporate stylish accessories—there are so many reasonable ones available. Use green foliage, flowers, seagrass, giclee prints, colorful throws and books, books and more books! Invest in quality, timeless upholstery—even if you do it one piece at a time. Group your artwork, make a statement with crown moulding and frequent flea markets and thrift stores. The old saying “paint and wallpaper work magic!” applies.
Foilage and wallpaper work wonders in any space.
Muffy: What is your advice for someone decorating their home with an all-out-sky-is-the-limit budget?
Louise: Hire a competent architect and get the “bones” right before the “decorating” begins. Hire a well experienced interior designer who is familiar with blueprints, space planning, architectural elements, bath and kitchen design, and being a project manager. Hire the architect and designer simultaneously—do not just bring the designer in when the architecture has been completed. An excellent decorator gets most of their jobs by word of mouth.
Is anyone else eyeing those porcelain flowers on the brackets?
Muffy: I have a Westie who will not stay off the furniture and I don’t have the iron will to discipline him. What can we dog lovers do to keep our sofas and beds looking lovely while being pet friendly?
Louise: Use throws and quilts on upholstery. Arm-covers and antimacassars (haha) are a must—hide them under the cushions when company comes. Be aware that sisal/seagrass are going to get stained and will reek! Pretreat your fabric before you even send it to your workroom. There are many stain resistant fabrics now on the market that are quite attractive. I think children and husbands can do more damage than pets!!!! My 2 year old took a hammer to a lacquered coffee table and my significant other left water rings on our antique side table—I have plenty of linen drinks napkins and coasters he should have used!!!
Fabulously festive decor by Louise.
Muffy: you are having a dinner party, what is your go to menu?
Louise: A decadent Chicken Tetrazzini—everyone begs for the recipe and then find out it is made with Velveeta!!!!! Spinach Salad, and for dessert lemon mousse with raspberry coulis or the best vanilla ice cream with a heavy splash of Cointreau.
Muffy: it’s five o’clock, what is in your cocktail glass?
Louise: A cold glass of Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc with a clean starched Porthault napkin or linen monogramed one! Kidding—Duckhorn is only for guests!!!
I will toast to that! A grand thank you to Louise for indulging my burning design questions and I hope you all enjoyed her delightful, insightful candor. You can find Louise on Instagram here for continued inspiration.