Saturday, July 29, 2023

Frances Elkins

Dining Room by Frances Elkins

If you follow Chinoiserie Chic, you may recall that I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois among the great estates of the Chicago area. I was fortunate to visit many of these fabulous homes of classmates' families.

Frances Adler Elkins was the sister of famous architect David Adler and considered one of the twentieth century's most prominent decorators. She collaborated with her architect brother on 15 homes including in Lake Forest.

Although she is not perhaps as well known as others like Billy Baldwin or Dorothy Draper, she left an indelible mark on design. She, for example, was one of the first designers in the 20th century to use antiques and modern pieces together.

One Adler/Elkins collaboration was the Kersey Coates Reed House in Lake Forest, Illinois. The dining room is shown above. Homeowner Helen Shedd Reed's one instruction was "Don't let us make this a stuffy house." Elkins was the decorator on the project. She collected parquet flooring for the home from a château owned by Comtesse duBarry, lined the library walls with goat skin leather; and covered the guest suite's walls with Chinese silk. Interior designer Mark Hampton described the library as "the most boldly stylish room I have ever seen in this country." Reed had a high regard for Elkins's taste, living nearly fifty years in her house without altering it. The Kersey Coates Reed House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The dining room show above is so timeless, with its dark wood floors, chinoiserie covered walls, Chinese Ming horses, and Chinese Chippendale chairs.

Kersey Coates Reed House

The loop chair was created by Elkins in the 1930s. The loop chair was her crowning glory. Its timeless modern elegance will define any room in which you use it. This iconic chair is still very popular today and loved by interior designers. It mixes beautifully with chinoiserie.

Meg Braff - Coastal Living

A wonderful new Rizzoli coffee table book was just released on Frances Elkins.

Frances Elkins : Visionary American Designer by Scott Powell

Showcasing never-before-published material, Frances Elkins: Visionary American Designer includes more than sixty interiors that illustrate her outstanding sense of color and her gift of mixing periods and styles - from her early work on the Monterey Peninsula, to houses she designed with her brother in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s, to iconic hotel commissions such as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, to homes for film star Edward G. Robinson, banking heiress Celia Tobin Clark and advertising legend Albert Lasker. With images by top photographers of the day as well as newly commissioned images of extant Elkins interiors, this volume will serve as a revelation and inspiration to fans of design.

My gardeners are due over soon with 100 bags of black mulch for my garden. My yard is happy to be getting back to normal after months of construction activity with the roof et al. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I love the timeless dining room! It is perfectly beautiful.