Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guiding Light

Have you ever lost your way? I mean, really lost? It's something that happens gradually, a left turn when you should have made a right, and a right turn when you should have made a left. Eventually you're so far off track that nothing looks familiar anymore, and you're ready to give up all together. Know you're not alone ... for I too, had lost my way; I left the strong and passionate design voice I had in search of the popular and new, and in the process made too many left turns and ended up in a place I didn't understand ... or like, quite frankly.

It wasn't until I started working on the dining room that I realized how desperate I was to impress all of you. I'd self edited, redirected my vision and my design ability into a style and a trend that I don't really know how to do, doesn't fit with this house, and I'm not sure has staying power. I had to take a moment - a long moment - and figure out how lost I was so that I could get back to where I am happiest. Thankfully, I'm there ... and RUNNING down the path where I'm most productive, inspired, and I believe - inspiring. What was the beacon of light that pulled me back on track?

This cover page. The minute I saw the richness of it - the layering, the play of pattern, and the depth of space and finish I knew that this was truly where I am, where I love to be. Ralph Lauren - be my guiding light! (Okay - no more soap opera cheese from this point forward, I promise!) So what is it about Ralph Lauren that inspires me? What about these images reminded me why I love this style so much? It's the controlled chaos, the artful clutter, the textures, the layers ... it's an English Country style that (though Veranda will tell you is so 2004) is classic, lasting, and always beautiful.

Here, in the dining room of the Lauren home in Bedford, NY as featured in Architectural Digest in 2004 you can completely see the RL preference to layer and mix. In fact, layering, lighting, and color are the RL staples of building a room. The beautiful blue and white porcelains, paired with rich warn leathers, equestrian plaids and wools, along with glass, silver, brass, and crystal. It's a combination that speaks leaps and bounds about the sophistication of the people who live in a space, and I believe, separate true visionaries from the rest.

In the same home, from the same feature - the Lauren study. Now, what don't I love here? The eclecticism of the space, paired with it's obvious English study foundation makes my heart go pitter pat. I could be well appointed here, with a good book and glass of brandy. Something I've always loved about RL is the fabric pairings. Things that seemingly wouldn't dream of working in the same room come together effortlessly: cheetah, zebra, tribal Persian rugs, suzani's, plaids and paisleys ... all working together, sometimes on the same piece of antique furniture.

The creative mixing and matching, done so masterfully, shows us that you can insert your personality in any space and still live in covetable, magazine worthy room, at home. The only rule seems to be: don’t be afraid! Throw it in and watch the symphony hum.

The RL bedrooms are always spaces you can curl up in and fade away, enveloped in luxury, and surrounded by beauty. Mixes of fabrics, textures, and the sheer volume of layering is so indicative of the RL style, and IMHO, among the most beautiful of any "catalog" bedrooms.

And even when the RL collections change, and the foundations move to more solid palettes, it still remains instinctively recognizable. Why? 1. Layers. A RL room, and really an English Country base is all about layers, layers, and more layers; dark woods, rich textures and patterns, and warm metals - golds, brass, and copper.

Check out the many layers upon the floor here: 1)hardwood, 2)seagrass, 3)vintage turkish rug, 4)antique Persian rug - it's gorgeous! And the rich infusion of rosewoods and mahogany along with the deep sapphire of the wall and curtains provide the most sophisticated of backdrops for the mostly white bedding and artful display of genuine Asian porcelains.

Just like Mary McDonald, and Barclay Butera, RL rooms are infused with Blue and White. They're as mandatory as drapes and rugs, and are always well positioned.

So many bloggers, interior designers, and novice decorators are using inspiring RL vignettes like this one to style entry tables, bedroom dressers, and hall consoles. The attention to detail, the pairings ... it's awe worthy really, and best of all - classic.

I've loved so much about blogging. Especially meeting all of you, and being invited to many of your homes via the Internet daily. When I happened upon the blog: The Adventures of Tartan Scott and I found my way to his delicious website: smwdesign I had a feeling he shared my love of RL and the RL way. Little did I know it was because he had worked for RL as a window/showroom stylist in San Francisco prior to venturing into his own business. More than all of that, Scott had clarity of his vision. He knew himself well enough to create inspired and beautiful spaces without fear. So beautifully obvious in his own apartment in San Francisco.

Here in his living room, immediately you recognize the RL way. Tweeds and herringbones, mix with plaids, floral, and animal hides all on the same piece! The layering of supreme accessories, all with seeming history and definite star quality work in the same space without overpowering it. Large scale renaissance art, mixed with smaller modern black and white photography with a harmony unparalleled.

Dark walls throughout the apartment allow Scott's artwork, furniture, and accessories to take center stage - so appropriately. Skirted tables, layered and sumptuous bedding, the mix of antique with modern, strange with traditional - it's welcoming, sophisticated, and inspiring.

Yet again, Scott teaches us, like RL, that patterns can work together in tandem creating awe worthy spaces in even the smallest of rooms. No doubt, Scott believes that lighting is key. Look at the lamps doubled up on tables, just below sconces. Some say overkill - I say send it my way!

I understand that the look isn't for everyone. Shoot, I bet staunch minimalists are in hell over the clutter ... but I love it, and I know that in the depths and hollows of my design soul, this is where I am meant to play - forever.

With that said, I can't wait to show you the dining room ... but I need some time. Till then, feel free to share your favorite Ralph Lauren links in the comment section of this post. I know there have to be a great deal of RL lovers out there! See you soon!