Thursday, February 27, 2014

Preppy & Pretty Chinoiserie

I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois and know that much of my interior design aesthetic is a result of it. Gorgeous classic homes both grand and small abounded there by architects like David Adler and Frank Llloyd Wright. My parents came close to buying a Japanese style Wright home that had a koi pond in the foyer. I've never forgotten it.

Homes in Lake Forest are very much the style of where I live now in Belle Haven in Alexandria, Virginia. Many were built in the 1920s. The decorating is a modern take on old school, with lots of color, trims, classic fabrics and wallpapers, antiques, chintz, red dining rooms, ancestor portraits, crystal chandeliers and lots of Chinoiserie. The decorating could have been done today or thirty years ago.

I was so excited when I received the latest issue of House Beautiful to find this stunning 1926 French provincial Lake Forest home by noted architect Ralph Milman decorated by one of my favorites, Ruthie Sommers. It is a home I could so happily live in. I'm sorry, but I feel like walking through Restoration Hardware sucks the life right out of me. I could never live in a home filled with beige unless I was heavily medicated.

This home is filled with pink, blue, and green, with lots of yummy chocolate brown to ground it. Sommers used all of my favorites - Benjamin Moore Aura paint, Farrow & Ball wallpaper, and fabrics by Brunschwig & Fils, Cowtan & Tout, Fortuny, Rose Cumming, and Clarence House. It has a definite Greenbrier/Dorothy Draper vibe as well. It is preppy, happy, cheerful, and feminine.

You can read a fascinating interview with Ruthie Sommers about the house with full details here.


  1. What a happy, cheerful home! I am loving the pink lamps in the first photo. I agree with you about beige, definitely my least favorite color!

  2. This home was so well done it took my breath away. I love the color mix and art work!

  3. I'm on a magazine diet, but will brave the cold to get this issue. Thanks for the cheerful, beautiful, beautiful images. Oh, and I am right with you about beige and RH!

  4. Beautiful! The hardest part about decorating like this for me has been finding the outstanding tables w details. GORGEOUS pink and blues! XX

  5. Today is the day I'm convinced to leave a comment. I personally love beige, white, bleached wood, the patina of age... But beige would be the colour of the world if we all were forced to like the same thing. love the same kind of person... It's wonderful to have variety, be inspired. I also like great fabrics, blue and white, pretty things... Most of all, not too many things at once. I'm with you on the non-upholstered furniture trend though? Why pay a good used car price for what looks like it needs work?

    I was recently traveling in Rome and thought of you in chinoiserie chic Roma Cavalieri hotel (though I personally preferred our first more personal hotel better). Then look at this blogger's hotel Daniel in Paris:

    There's nothing like travel to stimulate all kinds of ideas.

    And I wonder what they call Chinoiserie in China (home?).

    Thanks for the eye candy and diversion.

  6. I completely flipped when I saw that dining room in House Beautiful. Such a happy place. Chinoiserie rules!

  7. Everyone is going ga ga over the Amanda Nisbet feature, which was quite gorgeous, but my maximal loving heart truly swooned over Ruthie's. On point. Every room.