What better way to usher in the holiday season, than to visit a designer show house centered on the celebration of holidays, and more importantly, life. Holiday House NYC is celebrating its 3rd year, bringing talented designers together for fifteen days during the heart of the holiday season to raise much needed funds for the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

With the importance of raising Breast Cancer awareness as well as finding a cure, we were delighted to be able to participate in this amazing event again this year and present a holiday that is near and dear to our hearts: Snow Day. 

While not on the list of traditional holidays, Everyone Loves a Snow Day!  And when a really good one happens to come along, there is no better place to spend it than in our cozy, warm Snow Day room at Holiday House.

When Irwin first decided to do Snow Day and saw his room, he knew that the centerpiece of the room had to be the magnificent Tommi Parzinger chandelier.

With a peculiarly shaped room containing four doors, two windows an oddly placed mantel, walls in horrific condition, carpeting cemented to the floor AND no partridge in a pear tree, he knew this was going to be a challenge. But Irwin is always up for a challenge and despite becoming sick with Pneumonia just days before Thanksgiving, did more than deliver an exceptionally designed room; he presented the essence of a perfect Snow Day.

Paint played an instrumental role in transforming the odd room into a Snow Day Cinderella story and the expertise of Fabricio Fabri of F&F Faux Finish Painting was key.  Not only are he and his staff immensely talented, they are equally as nice and were, as always a pleasure to work with.

And no Snow Day would be complete without…SNOW, so we brought the outdoors in by collaborating with Tracy Hiner of Black Crow Studios and had her take my image of snow, taken in Central Park during last year’s blizzard, and creating wallpaper that we then layered with several bird photos taken during the same day.  The result is staggering and the layered wall has so much depth and dimension that the beauty of the great outdoors truly enraptures you. 

Our fourth son also makes an appearance in the room because no one loves a Snow Day more than Charlie!  With his nose buried in the snow, he is the epitome of a Snow Day enthusiast. He is joined by a skiing foursome replete with cigarettes in hand, enjoying “Fresh Air and Good Company” along with our “deer” friend who found his way into our fireplace. 

Numerous other “snow” references abound in the room, filling glasses, bowls, jars and our imaginations with sparkling, glistening flakes.

Everyone loves a Snow Day....Even the mouse!

With mugs and plates from our favorite Stamford CT neighbor Juliska, we are ready to weather any storm.

And the furnishings, a sensory delight to both eyes as well as touch, all available in our gallery, covered in an array of plush fabrics including mohair, corduroy, faux fur, lace and a splash of orange velvet. Cerused wood along side dreamy French polished as well as lacquered pieces and a supremely phenomenal Norman Mercer Lucite sculpture entitled Stelladron I.

 

 

Sitting on a beautiful rug, hand knotted in Tibet courtesy of Kooches, Snow Day reigns supreme!

If you are in the NYC area, please stop by and become inspired while helping to raise funds for Komen for the Cure.  Housed in a magnificent limestone mansion located a 2 E. 63rd Street, Holiday House offers the perfect respite for a busy holiday shopping or work day. Now through December 15th.www.holidayhousenyc.com

And, please remember our Pretty in Pink 4 Life Mid Century Bench is still available with ALL proceeds of its sale going to Komen CT.  It can be seen in the Rizzoli shop at Holiday House.

Batter Up: Just Another Wednesday Night in the Country

Last week I read a post by my good friend, interior designer Jonathan Legate and it reminded me of an experience I had written about two years ago.  In keeping with sharing the good bad & hysterical experiences of country living, I decided to go back and edit this never before published piece and share it with all of you. Enjoy!

 

Talk about confronting phobias head on.  Tonight I came face to face with the granddaddy of all of my phobias, BATS. And I’m not talking about the kind that A- Rod swings.  I am talking about the Titans of Transylvania.  Those webbed- winged, blood-sucking vampire vermin of the night.

 

A transylvanian Titan

 

Anyone who knows me knows that despite being an avid nature lover, I loathe having anything fly over my head.  As far back as I can remember, I had been petrified of low flying birds.  When my grandmother let my budgie, Billy Boy, out of his cage for his daily exercise, I ran out of the room screaming.  Over the years, I have attempted to analyze the reason for this phobia but have not been able to come up with anything concrete.  I often wonder if, as an infant, I was traumatized by a bird mobile hanging over my crib, or could it possibly be the flying spoons of soft-boiled eggs that my grandmother piloted from the bowl to my mouth each morning that set this irrational fear in motion.   Perhaps it is simply because I spent the first twenty years of my life living directly under the Kennedy Airport flight patterns; whatever the reason, I am petrified of all low flying creatures especially ghoulish, rabid mosquito slurpers.  

 

just like my billy boy

 

My Fright Night began quite normally enough.  With Irwin in the city and my chores complete, I settled down in front of my laptop, icy cold cocktail in hand and prepared to begin my first attempt at serious writing.  Before I was able to type my first word, I saw something from the corner of my eye that sent a chill down my spine.  I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs of the cocktail when it appeared again.  It was big and black with the wingspan of a stealth bomber and it was traveling through the den at what seemed like Mach 1 speed.  Shockingly, just as I was about to begin writing a bat-tale, a new one was unfolding right before my somewhat bloodshot eyes.  Being known to occasionally overreact, it should come as no surprise that I immediately began to freak out.  I catapulted myself off the couch and barely missed the low farmhouse ceiling as a high-pitched shrill escaped my lips.  I frightened myself and can only imagine what it did to the not-so little fella, who was blinded by all the lights on around the house. Thankful that my screams were not confused with a bat mating call, I did what any bat-o-phobic person would do; I began to rant and cry, calling for help from Charlie, our laid-back, Flat Coated Retriever mix.  Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, he offered no support, so I immediately pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and ran to higher ground. 

A lovely summer evening....at bat-o'clock

 

 


 Icy Cocktail


Our master suite is located on the newer side of the house directly above the great room.  It is separated from the staircase vestibule by a pair of French doors, installed in classic “local country” manner: upside down and accordingly, they do not close properly.   Being a quick witted adaptive Manhattan native, I grabbed a small towel and tied it around the handles to attempt to secure them.  Actually, I am sure there were about a gazillion other choices that would have been more effective, but it was the best I could come up with in my semi- catatonic state. 


secured french doors


All the lights were on and my not so adorable, winged friend was charging the French doors like a “ bat out of hell” as I began to hyperventilate and mumble to myself.  He seemed to be trying to leave through the porch screen door located at the bottom of the stairs and being the naturist I am, I knew that bats can fit through openings as small as an eighth of an inch so I began to pray that this winged creature of the night would exit stage left through a gap on the side of the screen door.  But, that wish was not realized and my nemesis continued to swoop and fly aimlessly, crashing into walls, doors and windows. 

 

 

 

escape route below

As I stood, peering out from my temporary safe haven I realized that, in my haste to escape, I had taken nothing with me; not my cocktail, not my computer, and most importantly, not even a phone. I was now sobbing uncontrollably and screaming “ I don’t even have a phone with me, I don’t even have a phone”, as the enormity of my dilemma set in.  Irwin, who had always come to my aid during  “bat-ventures”, was miles away in NYC and I was left with Charlie to deal with the situation.  And what a situation it was.  While I was sobbing, Count Batula was storming the palace.

 

The Count and I had one thing in common; his exit was paramount to both of us. As he repeatedly attempted to escape, I became his biggest fan, cheering him on and offering words of encouragement.  Unfortunately his sonar must have been on the blink because he was just not able to find an escape route and resumed his erratic flight pattern.

 

As I stood trembling behind the French doors, my flying nemesis took off in search of an alternate egress, leaving me a window of opportunity.  Understanding that I had little choice, I wrapped my hooded self in a towel for extra protection and opened the French doors (not a difficult task considering the fact that they don’t actually close).  With the speed of a jaguar- okay, so maybe it was more like a highly caffeinated tortoise, I ran back to the den and retrieved a phone, my drink and my laptop and retreated once again to my tower.  I took a couple of swigs of my lukewarm cocktail and waited for the pseudo-courage of the vodka to set in.

 

 

That's me...the speedy tortoise

 

After what seemed to be a millennium, the bat no longer appeared in the vestibule and I hoped that, like that infamous season of Dallas, it had all been a terrible dream.  Armed with my trusty phone, I called my husband and sobbing uncontrollably, filled him in on my predicament.  In truth, I knew that he could not help me, but I had to talk to someone and Charlie was just not interested.  In fact, despite my insane behavior, he was sprawled across my bed, dozing.   

 

 

Sound asleep

 

Irwin confirmed what I already knew.  I was on my own with no safety net.  I was forced to confront one of my greatest fears head on and despite my somewhat unstable emotional state, I was enveloped by a sense of inner calmness.  I closed the vestibule light, took another sip of my cocktail and began to write this tale.  In truth, I knew that after turning off the light, it was only a matter of time before the bat resumed his pursuit of freedom and although I was still shrouded in panic… and a bathroom towel, I also knew that I could not sleep until I set my airborne enemy free. 

 

As I continued to write, I heard a gentle knock on the wall and knew that “Darth Vader” had returned.  I attempted to quell my rising panic with another swig of vodka as I pondered my next step. Feeling as fearless as a marine, I formulated plan of action.   I would brave the elements, run down the stairs and attempt to release him by holding open the screen door on the porch.  At the time, it seemed like a simple solution.  If ‘Bat-zilla” saw the open screen door, he would simply leave- end of problem.

 

I barricaded Charlie in my bedroom and flew down the stairs.  I flung open the screen door and held it from behind as any courteous doorman would.  I waited and waited as my worthy opponent continued to fly around the great room and vestibule performing feats any Blue Angel would be proud of.  Unfortunately, he came nowhere near the door.  As I stood, paralyzed in the cloak of darkness, a frightening thought occurred to me: I might actually be inviting more bats to enter rather than assisting the departure of this single bat.  Despite this, I continued my bat-watch.  When I realized that there were no bat sightings for over forty-five minutes, I closed the screen door and did something I would not have believed possible an hour before.  I relinquished the role of victim and in its place, assumed the role of hunter in pursuit of prey.  Allowing myself no time to reconsider, I grabbed a flashlight from the porch and mounted an expedition both in and around the house, shining the light into the darkest recesses, looking for my unwelcome guest. Although life altering, the unsuccessful mission brought me back, once again, to my screen door post, prey-less.  Hunter or not, I was really tired and just wanted this adventure to come to an end.   As if hearing my prayer, Sir “Bat-a-lot” reappeared and resumed his air show.  Then, as suddenly as he reappeared- he was gone again and all was quiet on the screen door front.  I was baffled because he had been at the top of the stairs near those shoddily installed French doors just a moment before.  Where could he have possibly gone?  A quick walk up the stairs answered my question.  My very own flying “Fear Factor” was now on the other side of the French doors swooping over Charlie as he napped on the bed.  

 
Blue Angels could learn a thing or two from my little winged angel

My sense of calm immediately dissipated as I envisioned Charlie being attacked by the bat. I threw open the French doors and shrieked at Charlie who followed me down the stairs and out the screen door.  Now we were both on the porch holding the door open waiting for our uninvited guest to leave.  It was like “déjà vu all over again” and although I can’t speak for Charlie, my patience was running thin and I was rapidly running out of steam.  It was now after one a.m. and I had been dealing with this situation for over four hours.  I knew I could not leave the perpetrator in the house but had no idea how to evict him.   I am not a quitter by nature but enough was enough.  I was ready to give up, take Charlie and sleep in the car. It was a small convertible car – but it was also a bat- free car.  Anything had to have been better than this “Cat and Bat” chase.

 

 It was just at that moment, a moment of complete and utter desperation, when it dawned on me.  If The Count was not going to come to me, I was going to go to him. I went back up the stairs to watch the latest flight exhibition when I noticed “Bat Masterson” trying to escape from my room by climbing on the open window screens.  I considered closing the window, trapping him between the screen and the window but could not bring myself to get that close.  What if he was startled and flew right at me?  Who would be there to call 911 when I started foaming at the mouth?  Although like the Cowardly Lion, I too had found courage, I was not totally bonkers: I was not about to go “Rambo”.   Instead, I immediately knocked out the screen from the window closest to the door, closed the door and waited.  Finally, miracle of miracles,  “Bat-dini” made his escape and flew out the open window.  I instantly ran in and closed it and was immediately flooded with relief and awash with sheer joy. 

 

I was absolutely giddy.  I wanted to call everyone and anyone I knew and tell them that I had indeed completed my “Mission Impossible”.  I yearned to shout it from the rooftop, to write it across the sky.  I had beaten my foe.  I conquered what I thought was an insurmountable fear.  I outwitted my blind friend and won the battle.   Unfortunately, it was just before two in the morning and most of the world was sound asleep so….I climbed into bed with Charlie, who had resumed his snoring, and recounted my tale to….my laptop. Just another Wednesday night in the country.

 

Last Wednesday night we had the pleasure of premiering Irwin’s interpretation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Spring Awakening, a Broadway inspired Tabletop Show to benefit the Summer Theatre of New Canaan.  Charles Pavarini III and Randall Tarasuk assembled an amazing collection of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey designers who displayed settings that rivaled any Broadway opening night.  We were humbled and honored to be included in such an auspicious group.

Immediately upon entering the spacious room at Le Beau Chateau, Irwin knew exactly what he wanted to do.  The space and the show (a musical that never made it past previews in 1966) buoyed his imagination and the magnificent Stroheim fabric became the inspiration and the foundation of the scene he began to build.   Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a very NYC story; elegant and sophisticated, with a sense of humor that Irwin made sure to reflect in his interpretation.

So please, make yourselves comfortable and turn off all cell phones as we raise the curtain on Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The scene begins with George Ratkai’s oil on canvas entitled Man & Woman symbolizing Holly & “Fred” the main characters of the show, who in reality, need no names.  Below them is an Edward Wormely for Dunbar Bench and a Lucite and chrome cigarette table

They find themselves on Fifty Seventh Street, just around the corner from Fifth Avenue where they are greeted by a Frederick Weinberg horse cart offering up bubbly along with the sweet smell of spring’s flowers in Central Park.

The MCM floor lamp graces a custom handmade shade reminiscent of a Hepburn chapeau.

The beauty of NYC surrounds them and Norman Mercer’s incredible Lucite sculptures atop the mirrored pedestals represent New York’s majestic skyline reflected magnificently by our scrolled mirrors.

 

 

The massive Tiffany doors stand erect, beautifully built and faux finished by our wonderfully talented friend Fabrizio, of F & F Faux Finish Painting and are accented by our brilliant glass rod sconces placed strategically as handles.

The Baughman Love Chair is covered in hot pink and is …well, it just is and does not require any further commentary; you can just let your imagination go wild.  It is marvelously comfortable covered with splendid pillows, a copy of the work and a vintage piece of Marcy Feld Jewelry.  It is paired with a white Sculptura floor lamp and the "Atomic Scientist" lithograph by John Brunsdon, along with a Pace end table.

The inspiration for the setting, the striking Stroheim fabric covers the unique barstools which Irwin has re-sculpted to mimic the shape of a woman’s body and appear as incarnations of Holly sans the sunglasses: The peaked corners are our homage to Cat.

The “Tiffany” table is our custom designed MCM inspired piece that Tiffany’s purchased several of for the fifth Avenue store and is flanked by our sexy Grosfeld House chairs covered in dazzling Donghia fabric.  The entire scene is set upon the exquisite Yardo Silk Rug courtesy of Kooches.

And the tabletop?

It is brimming with painstaking details from the layered Juliska “fountain” topped with our little MCM rooster to the coffee bean filled cups.  Breakfast treats, including Tiffany box inspired petit fours adorn this magnificent mercury mirrored table with baguette edges and iron base.

 The table, trimmed with Tiffany blue ribbon, is set with glorious Juliska crystal and our personal Bernardaud Limoges china designed by Josef Hoffmann.  The cereal bowls are filled with pewter coco puffs and Juliska napkin encircled by our “Engaging” napkin rings designed by Irwin. 

 The details are unending and may require several viewings so please feel free to enjoy the visual feast and remember no flash photography is allowed during the performance.

More than a Message in this Bottle

 

"Simply Intoxicating"

I first shared this picture with you last Thursday, taken on my walk home from the Architectural Digest Show.  It became our Photo of the Day, entitled “Simply Intoxicating”, because that accurately described the entire day.

Although I’ve lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for over thirty years, I have just recently begun to walk the Hudson riverfront daily, as part of a New Year’s resolution to get fit and had never even taken notice of the giant work of art before.  I was so intrigued that I walked around the mammoth bottle and peered into its many port holes. What I saw delighted me so, I had to share it with you.

first sight

 

divine deco

 

stainless kitchen

 

 

compact quarters

I had no idea when the giant bottle had “washed up” on the shores of the Hudson, so I did a little research.  I discovered, thanks to an article by Albert Amateau in the Villager, and another in The Weblicist of Manhattan, that the oversized wine bottle, entitled “Private Passage”, was designed and created by Malcolm Cochran, a renowned artist and professor at OSU.  It had been placed in that area of the Hudson River Park, entitled Clinton Cove in May of 2005.

"extra firm" mattress

And while the exterior was quite a surprise, the interior of “Private Passage” was even more astounding.  Who would have imagined that the familiar message inside this oversized wine bottle was: “Great Design is Timeless” and how perfect to have stumbled upon this stainless steel recreation of a stateroom loosely based upon photographs of the ocean liner R.M.S. Queen Mary, on my way home from the AD Show. It was serendipitous!

Of course, knowing this, I had to look for some photos from the R.M.S. Queen Mary and discovered these photos on The Queen Mary Deck by Deck as well as ssmaritime.com.

R.M.S. Queen Mary Lounge

 

R.M.S. Queen Mary 2nd Class Lounge

 

R.M.S. queen Mary 2nd class stateroom

The Art Deco inspired interiors and commissioned art installations for this “Grand Dame” of the sea were amazing.  What began as a walk home from the Architectural Digest Show and an interest in an outdoor art installation quickly became a journey back in time. While Irwin and I marveled at many of the photos on the websites, my interest in the interior designers for the ship piqued and I began to look for additional information.  While it is noted on wapedia, that much of the interior of this majestic ship was designed byThe Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, I was not able to find more definitive information so… that voyage continues.

 

 

Mother Nature's "Purge-ery"

Although I had anticipated posting a new ‘In Voice” post today, this morning’s walk along the Hudson inspired me to do otherwise.  The originally scheduled post will appear later in the week.

Manhattan was fortunate.  While this past weekend’s storms hit the outer boroughs, along with parts of New Jersey, Westchester & Connecticut, the island of Manhattan came through practically unscathed.  The weather was so tolerable, that I was able to resume my brisk walking Sunday afternoon.  While I fully expected to see downed branches on the street and throughout the park, what I encountered at the Hudson shore shocked me. 

The debris left after the storm

 

It seemed that the river’s waters had risen quite substantially during the storm and overflowed onto the docks and shoreline.  While the waters had receded, the Hudson’s gift to us remained: Miles and miles of trash.

While I understood the significance of this gift, nature’s “purge-ery” after the deluge, the impact of this event did not hit me fully until I returned to the Hudson for this morning’s walk. 

debris remaining today

 

Today is a glorious day, the antithesis of the events of the past few days.  And while the parks department has removed a considerable amount of the refuse, the clean up continues still.

Garbage bags filled with trash that washed up on shore

 

An unsightly reminder

 

I know that we are all working very hard to improve our environment by recycling, repurposing and using greener alternatives.  I know that the once polluted Hudson is far cleaner than it once was, but the evidence of our neglect cannot be overlooked and cannot be swept under the rug or into trash bags, even greener, reusable ones, without a moment of reflection.

re-usable trash bags

 

We need to step up our game.  While some of the debris from the storm could not be helped, most of the trash on display consisted of water bottles and soda cans, both of which are so easily recyclable, yet there they were, strewn along the river’s edge for all to see: A clear message from Mother (or Father) Nature. 

understandable debris from the storm

 

The ugly truth-What most of the debris consisted of

 

It’s as if Mother (or Father) Nature had had her fill and literally threw up all over us- returning to us what she could not digest.  It is definitely payback, our karma, which we all know can be a “B#@*%”.

So, here’s the memo directly from the front office, don’t turn your back on Mother (or Father) Nature, whose wrath we have seen so often as of late.   Take five extra seconds and properly dispose of cans & bottles, or even better, stop purchasing bottled water all together.

don't turn your back on mother (or father) nature

 

Let’s not have to wade through debris while on our nature walks at the shoreline.  Because while galoshes can be cute, nothing can replace the feeling of sand in between our toes.

 

 

Polka dot boots from zappos

 

sand between our toes

 

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