Friday, April 3, 2009

Caveat Decorator

Just a few weeks ago I was lauding the decorating virtues of matching in moderation -- emphasis on the moderation. And lo, this month Elle Decor has taken it upon themselves to beautifully (albeit unknowingly) illustrate the dangers of swathing an entire library or sitting area in a single fabric. In fact, I think the designer responsible for the spread in question deserves to stand trial for violating ordinary standards of good taste and style.

So who, precisely, stands accused of these decorating crimes? The alleged offender is none other than Lee Radziwill, international socialite and sister to the late Jackie O. In not one but two houses, Ms. Radziwill has elected to decorate the majority of her rooms in entirely one fabric. Walls, curtains, furniture: you name it, she covered it. The result is, in my opinion, too intense to be appealing, too "decorated" to be comfortable -- and, above all, incredibly dated. But I'll leave it to you to play both judge and jury. I'm just the prosecutor, ready to submit the following evidence:

Exhibit A

I'm with Decorno on her general hatred of skirted tables. While I'm sure this table cloth is hiding a table worth more than the entire contents of my house, I can't help but assume that any floor-length table cloth is only hiding some plywood and cardboard monstrosity that the owner purchased at Garden Ridge. I also have a bias against carpet in dining rooms, which just seem to beg for serious stains. On a positive note, I do love those chairs though, and the color scheme of pink and orange is rather fun. In fact, if we strip away the carpet and the table skirt and maybe ditch the coordinating roman blind, I think I'd like this room.

Exhibit B

To her credit, I actually rather like the fabric Lee Radziwill selected for this sitting room; it's very unique and rather lovely, in fact. But of course, I would've preferred it in a smaller dose -- an accent chair perhaps or just the sofa. But the walls, sofa, chairs AND curtains is just going beyond. Let's just call this one "too much of a good thing".

Exhibit C

I think this room looks especially dated. The fabric's color and motif just seem so "Miami hotel in 1985" to me. As my husband so succinctly put it when I showed him this room: "That picture is giving me vertigo." I really can't put it any better than that.

The prosecution rests as these pictures largely speak for themselves. So what's the verdict? Is Lee Radziwill guilty of crimes against design or should all charges be dropped?

All photographs courtesy of Elle Decor, April 2009.


Liz said...

Totally guilty!! I have the utmost respect for designers, but I cannot get behind those rooms. Yeesh.

Quotidian Grace said...

Yuck-a-rama. Looks like a bad optical illusion!

Kristina with a K said...

I feel like I'm looking at one of those "Magic Eye" posters from the '90's. If I stare long enough a giant peace sign will jump out at me! I'm all of consistance but good grief.

Jamie Sava said...

Here is my decorating mantra that I repeat when buying new furnishings, etc..."Do not mimic your parents or grandparents style (even if they have good taste), and do not over-decorate or your place will look like The Shining." I really do have to say that to myself because my eyes are drawn to the decor I grew up around, and it's just not youthful at all. Those Lee Radziwill rooms are just too much and kind of creepy.

Christina said...

All I can say is 'whoa'. Can I be related to someone famous too so I can decorate rooms like that and get paid big $$$?

Averill said...

Jamie -- I totally know what you mean about avoiding decorating like your parents/grandparents. My grandmother was really into Asian art and gilded EVERYTHING and sometimes I have to stop myself from going that route myself. Yes, it's lovely, but I'm not 80.

Patch said...

Yikes! These rooms are weird. I love how the furniture blends into the wall chameleon style. Hehehe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting these photos. Most of these were taken from from far, far back in Ms. Radziwill's past. Only those who have followed her over the years would know this. So during that time, those rooms were very avant garde in terms of decorating. Now they appear to be a little passe, with the minimalist pretensions and sensibilities we have today. While her personal accroutements are very minimal, it escapes me why she would want what her homes to be decorated within the style of her mother. Although she appears very much to have been her mother's child. The only updated rooms to me were her Parisan apartment. For her to have allowed the photographing of both places tells me she is reflecting on her past and it shows in your comments as well, the photographs are very revealing. The bedroom I admired, as well her desk. Perhaps Ms. Radziwill is in her "Past is Prologue" period. She should write a book, a real book about her life, that would be her way of stepping out from a far to go to the beyond. All who would normally have mocked her or blocked her way are dead now. I say that not negatively so, but I think she has led, while mostly adrift, a somewhat charismatic life and she should write about it or put it to film. It would be the modern day "Breakfast at Tiffany's" sequal. I have read she was but one of the women Truman Capote wrote the prototype for Holly Golightly's character in his novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

I am sorry I missed the issue of Elle Decor. By the time I found out about this, the May magazines were out and it wasn't even half out of April yet, Rats! I have photos of Jaqueline Onassis apartment and it is interesting how their styles were somewhat alike. Jackie used chintz in her rooms as well, but not as much as Lee. I must say I can't grasp the wall coverings. I would be choking from feeling closed in, but to each his own. I did find the her London house prints designed and decorated by Renzo Mongiardino, as being far from my taste palette, but I did find it interesting.

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