Jacqueline Kennedy once said of the White House: "It would be sacrilege merely to redecorate it — a word I hate — it must be restored and that has nothing to do with decoration."
A true patron of historical architecture and interior design, Mrs. Kennedy was disappointed by the lack of heritage furnishings in the White House when her husband took office. So much so that she referred to it as "the dreary maison blanche," and decided that her first project as First Lady would be to restore her new home to its former glory. She sought out many original furnishings that had belonged to former presidents and reinstated them at the White House.
Here you can watch Mrs. Kennedy eloquently describe the beautiful fixtures she reclaimed for use in the State Dining Room that aired on CBS in 1962. Isn't she charming?
To the left, the State Dining Room in 1962 after Mrs. Kennedy's extensive restoration. And on the right is the State Dining Room during the administration of George W. Bush, where thanks to Mrs. Kennedy, gold flatware that was owned by President James Monroe and china services from the Eisenhower and Truman years are still in use.
The Kennedys hosted a gala in early 1962 after the restoration. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
Jackie's commitment to restoring the White House got me thinking about the difference between redecorating and restoring. It is satisfying to bring new life to something worn and well-loved — reupholstering your grandma's old wingchair or refinishing your home's original hardwoods, say — rather than getting caught up in the vicious cycle of consuming and discarding the latest trendy decor.
I'm pretty far from living in the White House, so to suit my more modest restoration needs, I like to check out the Habitat for Humanity Restore, where you can find great used building materials and furnishings, and all proceeds go to charity. I've scored more than a few bargains there, most recently a panelled wood bathroom vanity ($50!), a Sub-Zero fridge (with tags still on), and a fellow H&H editor recently found a beautifully crafted kitchen for less than a thousand dollars!
This weekend, why not check out your local Restore and give something used a second chance? Somehow I think even Jackie would approve.
I am by no means an experienced art collector, but I'm an absolute believer in the transformational power art can have on the character and livability of a space. No room is complete without a few pieces of art, be it sculpture, photography or perhaps even your own kids' originals! Art adds unparalleled personality to your home, and needn't be overlooked no matter how shallow your pockets. Here are a few of my favourite websites to peruse for affordable prints by both established and emerging artists.
London's Saatchi Gallery has a mandate to promote the careers of little known international artists. So it follows that they would have one of the best online platforms for connecting unrepresented artists with contemporary art lovers from around the world. I love checking out the site's weekly roundup of noteworthy pieces and flipping through the spectacular galleries arranged by guest curators (this week was Duran Duran's Roger Taylor!) While the artist originals may run you in the thousands, budget-friendly prints are also available starting around $20.
Vancouver's Ieva Baklane injects incredible atmosphere into her pieces. Pool and two yellow chairs by Ieva Baklane, original oil on canvas, $5,000, prints from $20 (left); House in the desert by Ieva Baklane, original oil on canvas, $2,450, prints from $43 (right).
This website was recently toted in the New York Times Home & Garden section as a great place to find limited edition digital prints, with a special focus on illustrations. The prints are reasonably priced, starting at about $100 for an 8" x 10" unframed print or $200 framed. A new artist is featured every week and their work is for sale on the site for one month.
Featured artists this month include Stockholm's Bo Lundberg, who's work has been shown in countless publications including Wallpaper, Elle and Vogue, and Bella Foster, who's whimsical drawings of interiors are inspired by greats like Henri Matisse and Charles and Ray Eames.
This Toronto-based site sells affordable contemporary art, with a focus on photographic and digital print-based works. Limited edition prints (runs of 500) are sold in three standard sizes: 8" x 10", $30; 11" x 14", $60; 16" x 20", $120. The site also sells gift certificates, so if you love the idea of supporting local artists through gifting art, but are wary of selecting something so personal for someone else, you've got options!
4. Eye Buy Art
This is a great Canadian site that promotes the sale of work by emerging artists. Prints range in price from about $25 (8" x 10") to $1,000 (40" x 30"). I have my eye on these two ghostly botanicals by Beatrice Díaz.
Last but not least, 20x200 has an outstanding array of high-quality affordable prints. You can shop by category (travel, flora fauna, architecture, etc.), price, or even colour, so you're sure to find something that fits with your home's aesthetic.
How fun would these be in a kid's bedroom?
For more great resources, check out Joel Bray's blog post on collecting art.
1a. Pool and two yellow chairs by Ieva Baklane, Saatchi Online
1b. House in the desert by Ieva Baklane, Saatchi Online
2a. Los Angeles 69 by Bo Lundberg, Stampa
2b. Hands by Bo Lundberg, Stampa
3a. Interior by Bella Foster, Stampa
3b. Love American style by Bella Foster, Stampa
4a. Petalhead Portrait 17: circa 1944 by Toronto artist David Grenier, Circuit Gallery
4b. Fold 5-10 from the series Folds and Études by Robert Bean, Circuit Gallery
5a. Eryngium bourgatii from the series 99¢ Archetypes of Natur by Beatrice Díaz, Eye Buy Art
5b. Nigella damascena from the series 99¢ Archetypes of Nature by Beatrice Díaz, Eye Buy Art
6a. 1959 (Thames estate car) by Don Hamerman, 20x200
6b. Copper by Don Hamerman, 20x200
7a. Baby monkey No. 6 by Sharon Montrose, 20x200
7b. Baby white tiger No. 5 by Sharon Montrose, 20x200
According to researchers, January is the most depressing month of the year. Consumer debt, failed New Year's resolutions and bad weather all add up to a kind of almanac rock bottom. Personally, I believe February is even worse because of its relative distance from a recent holiday. The best medicine is to spend a few minutes Google-imaging plush resorts and daydreaming about vacation getaways. So on this dreary Monday, I invite you to join me on a little trip south.
When H&H interviewed J.Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons for our January 2012 issue, we learned of her love for Aman Resorts. The high-end chain has more than 20 hotels in off-the-grid locals from the private isle of Pamalican in the Philippines to the pristine central and western valleys of Bhutan.
Situated just a few minutes from the ruins of Angkor Wat, Amansara resort in Cambodia was once the guesthouse of King Norodom Sihanouk, where he played host to dignitaries and celebrities the likes of French president Charles de Gaulle and Jacqueline Kennedy.
If you're a looking for a little adventure (think safari hikes and tiger sightings) Aman-i-Khás resort is in fact a camp in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan, India. Now this is my kind of camping.
And how about a romantic Valentine's Day getaway to Bora Bora? Nothing quite says "I love you" like a thatched bungalow with panoramic views of turquoise ocean and Mount Otemanu.
The Four Seasons resort in French Polynesia.
Okay everyone, back to work!
For more daydreaming, read about Gwen McAuley's favourite Thai resorts.
Right now we're working on the March issue of House & Home, which has an exciting focus on colour! There's perhaps no better place to find colour inspiration than a big beautiful art gallery, and I had just that opportunity during a visit to Cleveland before Christmas. (Read our food editor Amy Rosen's thoughts on the city here.)
The Cleveland Museum of Art had organized a great exhibit called "Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965)," which actually ends today, but will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until the end of April.
The show was interesting from a design perspective because all of the walls were painted deep rich hues rather than the usual stark white gallery backdrop. It's common convention that artwork is best displayed on white walls, so as not to distract the eye from the masterpiece. But in fact, red walls were historically used as a backdrop for art, as the warm engaging colour was thought to draw the onlooker in. I was blown away by how the painted walls of the Fu Baoshi exhibit enhanced the atmosphere of the show.
This is one of Baoshi's most famous pieces, Heaven and Earth Glowing Red, 1964, on loan from China's Nanjing Museum. Baoshi's work speaks to the political and cultural context of socialist China during a turbulent twentieth century, and the wall colours were carefully chosen by designers to reflect this theme. The colours were also used to draw visitors from room to room in a strategic way. Glidden's Matador red (16YR 16/594), for example, captured my attention immediately, giving prominence to specific works, while a deep blue called America's Cup (10BB 11/126) set a dramatic tone at the show's entrance.
Below are the Glidden paint colours used in the exhibit, available through The Home Depot. I think they would make an equally sophisticated palette at home.
Matador (16YR 16/594)
America's Cup (10BB 11/126)
Great Grey (50BG 14/036)
Whetstone (30GY 27/036)
Barn Swallow (30YY 30/106)
Sea Gull Grey (30YY 42/083)
Secret Affair (60YR 83/017)
To get an inside look at how gallery exhibits are designed, here's an interview with the museum's Associate Exhibition Designer, Jim Engelman.
As an aside, admission to The Cleveland Museum of Art's fantastic permanent collection, which boasts works from Monet to Warhol, is free. Beyond the art, the building itself is impressive and really merits a visit.
Originally built in 1916, the historic building was expanded in 2009 by architect Rafael Vinoly.
Vinoly's contemporary East Wing addition beautifully complements the historic façade.
Manageable in size, the gallery is a treat to walk through, complete with sunny glass corridors and gorgeous views of the Fine Arts Garden designed by Frederick Olmsted in 1928.
Cherry blossoms bloom around the banks of a lagoon in Olmsted's garden. I visited when there was snow on the ground, but look forward to going back and experiencing the garden come summer!
For more great paint picks, see our Editors' Favourite Paint Colours photo gallery.
1. Tony Dejak, courtesy of the The Associated Press
2. Heaven and Earth Glowing Red 1964, by Fu Baoshi, The Cleveland Museum of Art
10-13. The Cleveland Museum of Art
We recently had our first snowfall in Toronto, and as a Winnipegger used to nothing less than a bright white Christmas, I was happy to see it. Although it wasn't here to stay, I’m excited to do a little holiday decorating. I don’t have the storage space in my small apartment to house boxes of decorations, so I’ll be keeping it simple. For me, it’s twinkly lights that make a space feel festive, so I’m looking for ways to incorporate them both inside and out.
Here are some inexpensive projects I’d like to try:
I love the arts and crafts feel of lights piled inside beautiful glass containers.
I’m going to try to bring nature indoors by wrapping fallen branches in white lights and hanging a few shiny baubles. (Similar to the ones made in this Online TV segment.)
This hallway is magical. The dreamy ambience is something I could live with all winter.
And finally, if I ever own a beautiful brownstone such as this (Santa, are you listening?), this will be my decorating inspiration. Over the top? Maybe. But it certainly gets me into the spirit. Happy holidays!
Bookmark our Christmas & Holiday Guide for more decorating inspiration.
It's official; the holiday season is upon us. All the signs point to it: Starbucks has rolled out their snowflake printed cups, the blogosphere is abuzz with holiday gift-guides and Christmas decor (don't miss Suzanne Dimma's tips on simple holiday decorating) and most alarming, my hometown of Winnipeg has been blanketed with snow — "always a severe blow," my parents wrote in a defeated email.
But the most obvious indicator that the holidays are here is always my waistline. I've already begun hibernating in my leisure suit most weeknights and we're all gearing up for another season of over-consumption at holiday fetes.
So, a few weeks ago when celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's book Now Eat This! Diet (2011 Grand Central Life & Style) came in the mail for our food editor Amy Rosen — with the promise of losing up to 10 pounds in two weeks — she and I took a good hard look.
Of course, Rocco's up to the usual tricks, writing in the fine print that we'll need to begin rigorous exercise regimes and stop eating out at restaurants (not happening). While we are both deeply impressed with Rocco's tight abs and sculpted arms, neither Amy nor I will be following his weight-loss plan in full.
The book is, however, chalk full of recipes for low-calorie everyday meals that we are both excited to try.
First up, a mouthwatering cheeseburger (always my guilty pleasure at local restos), that weighs in at a mere 368 calories compared to the usual 850. (Dubious, I know...)
Amy is excited to test the Blueberry Silver Dollar Pancakes (292 calories), the Fettuccini Alfredo With Shrimp (374 calories), and our most highly anticipated recipe, 110-calorie fudge bars!
Stay tuned for Amy's recipe reviews in an upcoming blog post.
Grand Central Life & Style