Sunday, January 6, 2013

Accidental Before and After

I've been so sick the past couple of days that I've been confined to bed, getting absolutely nothing done. I decided that I would take the time to do a little design post today, and what started out a simple post on some of the beautiful work of Jeffrey Bilhuber, featured in Architectural Digest turned into a hunt for before photos that I knew, without a doubt existed.

You see, when I bought Bilhuber's new book, The Way Home a few months ago, I put it under a pile of ther stuff, and completely forgot it even existed. Then, yesterday, while looking for my car keys, there it was! I started reading and came upon the photo of Trey and Jenny Laird's Manhattan brownstone:

Now, I knew I had seen the room before, as is. Couldn't figure out where though,so I started going through all the design magazine websites until ... 

there it was! In Architectural Digest. Styled by the photography team of William Waldron, you can see that there are some small, and some really big changes to the decor from the photo above in Bilhuber's book, mainly the curtains and mirrored wall above the fireplace. But I knew that there was even more. You see, some rooms just stick with me ... this one was one of those rooms! I knew it had been published before ... a while ago, not looking nearly as bohemian. And that's where the dig began, and the post transformed into a before and after ... taking literal hours of digging through magazines, books, the internet ... all to find:

There you go! Same room! Featured in Elle Decor in 2004. Now, this is where they get a little iffy. While this looks like an old, layered Jeffrey Bilhuber room, I don't find it anywhere in his portfolio. The wife/homeowner is an art director, and according to the AD article, she was integral to the process of revamping the townhouse. So, let's assume that she decorated this space, along with her husband, who is one of New York City's best advertising executives creating branding for stores like Tommy Hilfiger, the Gap, and more. Then, they met Bilhuber - who decorated their beach house in the Hampton's first, and asked him to do the townhouse. Bilhuber's book shows his work looking like this:

A little bare for Bilhuber right? But this was an in-progress shot, as proven by the Architectural Digest shot that shows the beautiful after like this:

Fully mirrored from floor to ceiling all the way around the bump out, the fireplace now looks like a Bilhuber piece, and the room feels far more finished. The more I look at the curtains, I really like them too - although I think they were a prop for the shoot.
Here again, from the Elle Decor shoot, you can see that the fireplace had full visibility from the staircase hall. Not something that the new arrangement allows for, which I rather like. The big thing here is that you start to see that room is symmetrical to the fireplace, so there's quite a bit of space behind this chair. Here it is captured for the book:

And a different view for Architectural Digest:

Glad to see that throws over the sofa are en vogue. This whole room feels so beautifully eclectic - but still glamorous - just like we're so used to from Bilhuber, right?

And a close up, from the book. Check out the patterned rug, beautiful! Now those french doors to the left of this arrangement, open up into what used to be their dining room: 

But with the addition of some french doors, the room extends the living space from the living room and creates the perfect space for this office: 

This photo from the book shows Bilhuber's often quirky styling. Same room below from AD article:

I think I prefer this arrangement. Overall, though, it is hard to believe that this is the after, right? The recesses on either side of the fireplace, made for the perfect place for bookcases. And the high gloss walls are a Bilhuber favorite. The room looks onto the living room, as I said - through added french doors more easily viewed in this photo from the book: 

Also from the book, the office/library: 

And the same view from the AD article: 

The Andy Warhol 1966 Screen Print of Jackie O is no longer there, in favor of other art. Don't worry, the piece didn't move far though. It's now in the dining room. 

Beautiful, and colorful, right? The pattern pairing here is so beautiful! This isn't the first time though that we've seen Bilhuber use checks throughout an entire room and pull it off. It is however the first time we've seen him mix it with such other graphic patterns! Check out those chairs!

I mean - that's quite a vivid fabric - and yet they seem to work, right? Legendary Charlotte Moss says that every room should have something that wasn't intended. Something that looks like it walked in after all was finished and made itself at home. I think these chairs fit that bill.

And here, the dining room without the Warhol. The dining room looks out onto the patio, easily seen from the book:

And just the terrace from the Architectural Digest photos:

The entire terrace is fences with mirror backed trellis work. Stunning, and a wonderful way to feel atmospheric and still be insanely private. This space is behind the house on the first floor. You see, the brownstone is 4 stories tall. On the first floor, you have the entry hall:

Which, from the photo just looks like the perfect blue room right? But in a detail shot from the book:

You can actually see that it's applied wallpaper. Gracie's Papier Chinoise, wallpaper to be exact! They get the effect by layering sheets of artists paper over one another until the entire wall is finished. This color is called Winter Sky.

From the entry way, you walk back into the kitchen, photographed by AD:

As you can see from the floor here, the black hex and dot tile extends from the entry hall all the way through to the terrace, with carpets in both the entry and the dining room. Really, quite a beautiful family space, don't you think? And a far cry from what the breakfast room looked like in their Elle Decor article:

There's that Andy Warhol again! Do you see it? On the floor! Now of course, I'm sure the budget was far more than I can fathom. The entire house was done. But one of the biggest transformations was in the master bedroom, which, in the Elle Decor article looked like this:
I mean, it's ok right? A little ho-hum. Those floors and that wall color. It's certainly not the room that it is today! Here it is from Bilhuber's book:
And yes ... I'm serious! That's the same room! AMAZING, right? But wait - the view from the AD article is even better!

WOW! I mean, WOW! Not only is the room stunning, can you believe the before and after? This is why this post took me so long! You had to see what a genius Bilhuber was with this house. That canopy, fully extending the ceilings which must be atleast 11' high, is made from Rogers and Goffigon, the walls are upholstered in Vervain linen ... it's spectacularly sumptuous in every way! A far cry from this: 

I just had to show the before again. I'm sorry! WOW~!  Moving on. The master bedroom is on the third floor, with a master bath and closet one would likely swoon over. Featured in AD like this:

Um, yes! It's that good! I think that most of the renovation of the house actually came on this floor, when the entire thing was taken over by the master bedroom and ensuites. The bathroom as photographed by AD:

Is not only stunning in every way, and clad in that same Vervain linen - it shows the furniture arrangement at the foot of the bed, which we don't see in any other photos of the house. However, I do know there is yet another fireplace in that space, thanks to this photo of the bedroom from Elle Decor in 04:
Can you believe that these are the same floors? Proof in the pudding that staining your floors as dark as you can is never a bad thing! On the fourth floor, the children's rooms:

The daughter's room, with the chair covered in Kathryn Ireland's whimsical paisley. I've always loved the pairing of green and purple, and we know that Bilhuber does too!

In the son's bedroom, antique french sidetables make for interesting guitar stands and pair up with leather upholstery and ikat bed fabrics. It's simple, masculine, but chic. When I saw the photo of the family from AD:

I just didn't seem to think that the bedroom fit the boy though. I mean - do you? I suppose you can't judge a book by it's cover - but I would have thought his room would be a bit more trendy - maybe even lacquered, like the library. No matter, it's a lovely home - from floor to floor, and absolutely a departure from it's very humble decor beginnings. And just in case you were wondering, they're tried and true Bilhuberians - as I mentioned before, he also did their home in the Hampton's which you've no doubt seen a million times floating around the blog world:

Yep! Oh if I only had the time ...

So what do you think? If you had a million dollar budget and an early 1900's 4-story brownstone once owned by the grand-daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, would you hire Mr. Bilhuber? I sure would!


  1. Great Post! His mix of colors gives such good energy to the rooms.
    And how can you be anything except happy with those surroundings.
    Love his use of tables, the 2 small round tables in front of the sofa.
    And you can't buy in France and not love lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

  2. Great "decorating detective" post! Love Jeffrey's work too!

  3. That's some good detective work for a man not that well :-)

  4. Fabulous post!! It's like you just took us through a tour of time and space :) Really interesting what an interior designer's touch can do - it's staggeringly gorgeous in parts, some I'm not crazy about but there's no doubt that the tranformation is incredible. Thanks for this, really enjoyed it :) x