11 August 2010

getting the Picture & what I like


Susan Gutfreund's Henri Samuel decorated Paris Drawing Room

The most beautiful rooms have something.
Incredible Art?  Architecture? Period Furnishings? Austere Modernism? Frivolity? Perfect Balance?

Is it Color that sets your heart on fire for a ROOM, or maybe Color sends you right into a Zen Zone?
Each of us has our own measuring stick-as it were- that defines Our most beautiful rooms.

Which of these speaks to you? Is it one criteria-
All of the above?
None of the above?

Samuel's own apartment 1960
photographed by Mark Shaw
(Nico and her two dachshunds)

For Me- Many of these elements can be present and the room is a huge let down. The "rules" can be executed to the utmost and still they fall Flat.
What do I look for? In my personal choices and professional design choices- I try to envision myself or my Client in the room: Daily routines, family dinners, Social Occasions, Dogs, Skateboards in the Hall- crayons on the floor-and in the carpet. Get the Picture?
A Room has to connect to the Dweller. Someone has to live there. Each time I pick up yet another magazine and flip through the pages- I ask myself-

Who lives here? or WHO Could possibly live here?
Inevitably someone does and they love it Whether We do or not.

It is all subjective. The two Samuel rooms are touchstones for my  own room.
An old house for me, worn floors, carpets- Please NO perfect floors-I die.
I can be perfectly relaxed in a formal setting- No not wearing period silks-but fleece, maybe cashmere-if I really dress.
I care absolutely Not if the door squeaks or floors creak- practically a prerequisite for my perfect room-
Yes- a dog or two must be happily ensconced-whether hogging the sofa or resting peacefully in his own little bed.
What makes You "tick" with a room? What makes your "grade" in a MAGAZINE room?

More on the ELEMENTS OF MY ROOM and how I found elements from these Samuel Rooms for my own room next week.

1st Samuel image from Town and Country
2nd Mark Shaw Samuel room from here


  1. I agree with most of your observation. Whenever I look at a shelter mag, my first question is usually, but what you want to live there? Generally, no.

    Rooms need character and characters

  2. Of course, I look for the story. I agree that rooms need character AND characters. I look for tables (and lamps) next to chairs. I look for a room that talks to itself when no one is there. I look for books. I look for patina and not all surfaces being in the same genre. I look for a life well-traveled (if only through books) and collected. I look for history revealed and honored. These "styled" rooms in too many books and mags makes me yawn.

  3. What makes me tick? Makes a room come alive? Symmetry is a must. A room with good bones and a ceiling over 9 feet in a another. Everything else is gravy.

  4. I don't think I can tease out the individual elements that make a photograph of a room attractive to me -- it's a je ne sais quoi type of quoi. The ensemble of elements, but also the way it's photographed, for sure. I've seen the space in different magazines (sometimes even in person) and gotten a very different vibe/had a very different response. So when it's a photo, I don't know...

    ... when it's a room in person, though -- it's definitely the harmony of many different elements. I've even been in modern rooms that I felt good in, felt as if I could live in, that I thought would look sterile and unappealing in a photo.

    My favorite rooms, for sure, are those that are imbued with the essence of the person who lives there -- even in a photo, a show house room photo has a different vibe than a really lived in room.

  5. A room must be a place into which one would step by spontaneous choice, not by laborious persuasion. I do see great adherence to precaution in these rooms. The investment banker's is the most catastrophic failure; social climbing without identifiable character or wit. It's the difference between Dodsworth and his desperate wife. But I respect that people wish to feel they have touched the bases of unobjectionable custom.

  6. Any room Henri Samuel has wrought is worthy of praise none can deny and to study and refer to his work is learning from the maestro.

  7. I love the deep colours but the top picture has perfect balance and the cream and gold are so uplifting xx

  8. Interesting indeed. I note that one of your commentators has posted previously on the most bland and uninspiring of rooms in flowery glowing terms. Somewhat of a chameleon methinks.

    Rooms that work for me are those that contain all the elements of daily life, put together in a considered manner. I like very little color, white walls, dark wood and a certain serenity. And most importantly, a sense of ease that encourages one to relax and linger. A hound or two, essential.

  9. Remember I said it was subjective-so do try to be a bit objective.

  10. The best thing about all the decorating mags is that I can tear out the pages that speak to me. I can put my finger on one and say this is it without out having to pick apart things I know nothing about - just whether I like it or not. And, even better, I can change my mind on a whim, and for no reason at all.

  11. I loved this post! I don't know if it is ever one particular thing, but that feeling when a space catches your breath and starts your mind fantasizing about what it would be like to live there!

    And, I agree with so many...most of what you see in the mags does not seem like real living. I want a room to be "photo ready" for viewing, but with things you believe the occupants to love and use!

  12. History, personality and even drama; I like my curiosity to be stoked

    It's the details - the style of the decor and furnishings; the trinkets and books; the lighting and colours; the textures and surfaces that mainly appeal to me

    And finally and fundamentally, a sense that the space is for inhabiting, not merely for show

    Thanks for provoking some thoughts, Gaye

    All best,


  13. Donna-now that does not cost a thing! I love this philosophy. Over the years, there have been many "rooms" tossed in the trash. pgt

    Acanthus- Yes, thats what I'm talkin' about.

  14. Layers and contrast - of age, patina, pattern, color and light. Something worn and tattered next to a more recent souvenir. A fine antique with grandma’s natty old throw on it. An Enfilade is always nice too . . . KDM

  15. My oldest daughter went to preK with Susan Gutfreund's grand daughter...interesting to see that top room! For me, its all about balance! And, I always want to know WHO lives here!? And what does it really look like after the magazine crew has left...probably why the Selby is such a huge hit..no? :)



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