Friday, May 27, 2011



Rick 's creative insights were once again tapped by the senior editor, Christine Pittel, for House Beautiful Magazine. Here's what he had to say about how to make a quick fix using color.
"In a studio apartment, we painted the walls a pale blue-gray in a flat finish and did the moldings about two shades darker in a semigloss. And then we took all the wood furniture and painted it too, in that slightly darker blue-gray. Suddenly a dull room became powerful and tranquil at the same time. The two tones created a shimmer almost as if there were a breeze blowing through the room."

Two Pillows, 1976
Lilo Raymond
Represented by The Witkin Gallery

Thursday, May 19, 2011



The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is one huge building dedicated to the design industry. Right now, tucked in the back of the first floor is a series of rooms called the “DreamHome”. This is the seventh year the Merchandise Mart has transformed this part of their real estate into a dreamscape of nine rooms designed by regional interior designers and architects. The breadth of style and innovation covers the best Chicago has to offer. An entry donation helps the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation Women’s Board and for your donation you reciprocated with splendor.

The rooms wind like a maze through the first floor labyrinth of amazing ideas. The first threshold you cross leads you into the foyer designed by Julia Buckingham Edelmann of Buckingham Interiors. The intent was to create a well lived in Parisian apartment.  The international impact of the space is immediately felt.

The Tony Duquette center table takes your breath away with its serpentine form and silver leaf finish. It’s so dramatic you have to force your eye to take in the rest of the room, but you have to make sure you do or you’d miss a hundred more touches of perfection.

The foyer possesses that delicate balance between masculine and feminine from the leather walls by Lee Jofa to the cascading crystals of the Boyd lighting chandelier.

Michael Del Piero of Michael Del Piero Good Design pulled the feel of majestic horse country into the home office.

The wooden floors, the rustic metal table, the asymmetrical arrangement of the barrister bookcases, and the English riding saddle mirror from Michael Cleary make the room seem to smell of fresh hay and bluegrass.

The living room designed by Scott Himmel Architects is the most eclectic of the Dream rooms. The melding of the raw wooden walls with the trendy painting technique on the adjoining walls, the contrast of the contemporary art with the antique Asian rug unexpectedly draped over the coffee table,

the culture clash of the Tibetan carpet with the antique painted Swedish sideboard all blend into one satisfying space.

The Hollywood sophistication of a grey on grey palette bleeds luxury in Michael Abrams swank bedroom.

The breast-plated fireplace with the deco surround and stacked wood are especially effective in creating the allusion of Veronica Lake having once swooned against the mantle. The use of fabric wallcoverings by Donghia is a genius touch in soothing the soul and bringing serenity to the bedroom.

You walk through the bedroom and into the clean austerity of the dressing room designed by Luca Lanzetta. Mirrored sliding doors hide the Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Manolo Blahnik treasure trove on a unique system of lit shelves, lights that make finding and choosing the perfect outfit all the easier.

The smoky elegance of the dining room makes one lust for a five star gastronomic feast served on silver plates. The earthy mushroom tones of the limestone fireplace by Paris Ceramics and the flanking draperies by Summer Hill add to the comforting warmth of the room designed by Frank Ponterio.

The earthiness of the dining room elevates from shitake to truffle in the kitchen designed by Shawna Dillon for Snaidero Chicago. The combination of the Ashley grey paint on the walls from Benjamin Moore, the Calcutta gold marble countertops and backsplashes by Granite Innovations and the rich dark chocolate cabinetry make for a sleek contemporary kitchen ready to become the venue for creating a sumptuous repast.

Everything in this kitchen speaks to perfection in detail. It deserves a four-woof rating.

The media room is a hidden treasure in more ways than one. Crafted in a way where the ugly part of technology is verboten, hidden behind secret panels that open and close revealing nasty pleasures like “The Housewives of New Jersey” when no ones around or hidden behind automated back panels when the in-laws unexpectedly drop by. The casework is beautifully crafted in this room designed by Lauren Coburn with the ability to either entertain royalty or suffer the hoots and screams of the Monday Night Football crowd.

The last of the rooms transports you outdoors to a Zen retreat where meditation prayers can be said to the sounds of running water from the Gabion water feature. Designed by 1 Design Group, Inc the richness of the orient travels through the horizontal lines of the wall tiles, the red accents that give balance to the room and Cubic sofa, arm chairs, and ottoman from Brown Jordan.
The Dream Home rooms will remain open until December 9, 2011. That means you still have seven months to get yourself to Chicago to walk the rooms. If design is your passion, these rooms are well worth a trip to the windy city.


Jack Delano
Union Station, Chicago, 1943
Represented by Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco

Friday, May 13, 2011


Twice a year the Madison art crowd hosts an event they call gallery night. On a miserable Wisconsin winter night last year we had accidentally stumbled on the event. It’s an event where businesses and artists open up their stores and studios for Madisonians to tour. Our neighbor, Kevin Earley a furniture designer, stopped by last week trying to encourage us to open our doors for this spring’s gallery night. We’d missed the sign-up deadline but Kevin told us not to worry. We put out our shingle anyway and hoped for the best

That night the weather fell into that perfect range of not too hot and not too cold. The rain that had persisted for most of the week had held off. We set the porch with hors d’oeurves laid out on Dan Levy porcelain platters, and white wine and bubbly water iced in galvanized garden buckets. I'd fashioned a makeshift chandelier out of some old rusted hurricane shades we had brought with us from New York.

We struggled to get everything displayed; we gave up with struggling over getting everything priced. Sometimes you have to choose your battles and pricing lost out.

A techno wizard I am not. I had spent the last week working on creating a slide show of our projects and press. The creative process here was filled with temporary failure and laced with profanity. As hard as it may be for any of you to image my succeeding at this; to all of you I say, “bite my butt”. Possibly due to the profanity you can now come and spend 23 minutes and 36 seconds reveling in the video genius of my technical triumph.  I even got the thing to loop.

Our little bungalow, now design studio and retail store, consists of two rooms: a front room and a back room,  with a bathroom off of the front room and a basement hidden under a secret trap door. Very cool.

While both front and back rooms share retail and design responsibilities,  the front is a little more retail while the back is a little more design. We’re not even close to dealing with the outside but when we’re ready to open that part we’ll let you all know.

Leslie Watkins, a college friend, has helped us out smearing the black paint under her eyes and going after some guerilla marketing.  She persuaded her Friday-after-work cocktail group to show up for the event, plus every friend from her facebook page, which I think includes half of Madison. With some of Kevin’s group meandering over the turnout for the event was perfect. At the end of the night all that was left was half a bottle of white wine and three lonely boccancini. 

Thank you to all who were able to show up and for those of you who couldn’t make it I’m including some photos of the event and the space we now refer to as Pleasant Living. 


The Critic, 1943
Represented by Hulton Getty

Thursday, May 5, 2011



We’ve been doing our version of before and after’s for a long time. We’ve had a passion for 30’s barkcloth and vintage French ticking way before Martha put them in her magazine.  We’re horrible when it comes to curbside finds and bargain furniture. With an eye to seeing beyond what it is to what it could be we’re not at all phased by our daughter’s mortification at stopping on the street and picking up a piece of discarded furniture. It’s the going through someone’s garbage she objects to, once the piece is back and we’ve nursed it into a showcase piece her mortification disappears and there's a glint of pride and envy in her eyes.

These stools were your garden variety box store unpainted furniture cheapies. What we did was paint the bases semi-gloss black, then added a cushion to the top and upholstered it with vintage French ticking. The little pleated skirts are dish towels we found at a kitchen store. We made six of them and they were never enough.

DeWayne Lumpkin began graphically reproducing British route signs onto fabric and then used the fabric to upholster furniture, cover pillows,  drape windows, or simply framed the fabric in big oversized frames. His company can be found at British Route Sign Designs. His ingeniously upholstered pieces are among my favorites and would make a strong statement in any green environment. 

Last week when the weather once again refused to let go of winter we decided it was time for a little road trip. It was too wet to plow and too cold to mow the lawn. We’d driven to Milwaukee more times than we could count and every time right outside of Madison we’d pass a sign for a little resort town, Waterloo, and the Antique Mall of Waterloo. We decided a drive to Waterloo was the best alternative we could come up with to shake off the late winter bluest. It was worth the trip.

We discovered a designer and upholsterer combo with a unique perspective on how to reclaim abandoned furniture with vintage fabrics from blankets to patio cloths to quilts. The thing I like best is the unexpected pairing of the Rococo furniture styles or French Empire curves of the aristocracy with textiles you wouldn’t expect.  Gone are the silks and damasks and instead here are the cottons and canvases originally found on the shelves of early twentieth century mercantiles. The loveseat is a perfect New York size. I'd do a one-eighty from the obvious country cottage look and pair this loveseat with a Saarinen chair and Warhol painting in a funky Tribeca loft.

The Hudson Bay blanket ottomans and the quilt upholstered chair would be a welcome change from the ubiquitous burlap plaids seen in way too many cabins by the lake. 

And the patio cloth chair has moved out of the grimy kitchen and into the sexy bedroom. There’s a real freshness to the cheery motifs of fifties cloths usually used to protect picnic food from the dew off of summer grass. We're really high on these designs.


Boys will be boys and sometimes it’s hard for a boy to give up his toys. At Modern Anthology you can find your old Tonka crane, the one with the red bucket now transformed and turned into a table lamp perfect for the man cave.  I’ve got an old Howdy Doody doll I’d like to try this technique on.
At the other end of the chic spectrum you’ll find this Marie Coquine chandelier for Baccarat designed by Philippe Starck. In case a major storm brews up your light’s prepared. It’s a very practical use of light and reflection. The up lighting of the chandelier arms is bounced right back down from the reflective cover of the white umbrella. Who wouldn’t want to be seated at the dining table under the light cast by this brilliant adaptive use of an ordinary umbrella? It might be a great idea for a DIY project.


Andrew Moore
Palace Theater, Gary Indiana, 2008
Represented by Yancey Richardson, New York City