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Gold Coast Mansions: Coe Hall

(Reception room at Coe Hall)Deep in the famed Gold Coast lies a grand estate that even Jay Gatsby would feel at home in.  The estate is the 400+ acre Planting Fields in Oyster Bay, Long Island, with the mansion, Coe Hall, as its magnificent showpiece. 

Coe Hall was the home of Englishman, William R. Coe and his wife, Mai Rogers, whose combined fortunes arose from marine insurance and Standard Oil. Coe brought a little of his English homeland to America by building an Elizabethan stone country house amidst landscaped garden walks.    

Walker & Gillette designed the mansion of limestone, displaying beautiful carvings throughout. Inside, they built wooden beams interspersed with Romanesque arches over the Gallery and the hallways.

(Coe Hall, courtesy of Planting Fields)Below are two photos of the Gallery, looking at opposite ends. The painting of the English Lenthall family is by artist James Weesop from 1645. The tables and chairs are reproductions of early 17th century furniture with the seating reupholstered in modern fabric. Behind the furniture is a coromandel screen with pearl inlay from China. The trophy heads of the stag and gazelle hanging on the walls were brought back by W.R. Coe from African hunting trips. 

(Gallery, courtesy of Coe Hall)

(Gallery at Coe Hall)

(Library at Coe Hall)The round Reception Room below exudes warmth and elegance.  The style of the room is the classical Louis XVI. The lyre back chairs are designed in the style of Sheraton. Covering the double length windows are Scalamandre draperies.

(Reception Room at Coe Hall)W.R. Coe's first wife, Mai Rogers, gave him three sons.  Below is a photo of what Mai Rogers' bedroom looked like in her day.  The centerpiece was a wall to wall hand-painted mural of a fantasy in nature.  Unfortunately the mural was destroyed in a later fire. In 2010, the mural was reproduced by artist Polly Wood-Holland. Presently, the bedroom stands empty but with the second photo you can see unobstructed the beautiful mural that graced the walls. 

(Mrs. Coe's bedroom - Present day) 


Tracing America's House Styles and Exterior Paint Back to Colonial Times

Do you have fond memories of the homes you grew up in? Better yet, can you describe them architecturally? (Most people can't, so don't feel bad.) How about an easier question: Can you remember what color your houses were? Here in the United States, there's a marvelous tradition of residential architectural styles, and a solid heritage that many of us aren't completely conscious of.
California Paints recently came out with A Guide to Color, Styles and Architectural Periods - a great brochure that's part of their Historic New England paint collection. Here are the styles and paints that they surveyed for U.S. homes. Click on each period name to see California Paint's color collections, historically accurate recreations of how our homes were once painted (both exterior and interior colors are shown - usually the bolder colors are how the interiors were decorated, versus the more subtle exterior hues).
  • Colonial - Mid 1600s-1780: European settlers set these style precedents as they brought over what they were familiar with back home. A limited number of colors were available at the time, mostly made from naturally-derived pigments (earth, stone, etc.). Framing and trim elements were painted in colors that boldly contrasted with surrounding or untreated or neutral wood and masonry walls. 18th century homes show Georgian England classicism and are mostly found on the East coast, while colonial architecture in the Southwest shows off their Spanish Baroque roots. These homes usually had white trim and strong contrasting colors. Bold and bright.

  • Federal - 1780-1830: Georgian boldness gave way to more delicate house detailing, and "federal" got its name from the new American republic. Interest in Greek and Roman antiquities was high at this time as Americans were fascinated with newly-excavated classical sites. Colors were lighter, paler, and delicate with whites, pale shades of gray, off-white, and ochre used on exteriors.

  • Greek Revival - 1825-1855: This was America's first "national architecture." A growing population fueled a big home building boom, and this style was carried across the country, spreading out from Eastern seaboard cities. Greek temple inspired, there are classic columns and pediments even on the most simple of homes, with exteriors painted white, off-white, ochre, and gray along with white trim. Shutters and window sashes were primarily painted dark green or black.

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A Day at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House

(Study by Brian del Toro)Sweeping views of the Hudson River as well as the penchant for green colors were the major features of the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.  Every year interior decorators have the opportunity to design a room to their heart’s desire – rather than a client’s – with only their imaginations as their limits.  The location of this year’s show house is a beautiful condo complex, the Aldyn Residences, overlooking Manhattan’s river.

Our first room above by designer Brian del Toro is a jewel-like study rich in beautiful materials and a brilliant blue-green and lime green color scheme.  The walls are painted in a teal grid-like pattern and the sofa upholstered in a matching teal strie velvet. The throw pillows are wrapped in Japanese obi, the sash used to tie kimonos. The gold, silver, and champagne check rug is from F. J. Hakimian Antique Rugs. The cubist glass mirror by Verner Panton further contributes to the sparkle of the room. Del Toro worked for the famous duo Parish Hadley before opening up his own firm. 

(Dining Room by Todd A. Romano)Todd Alexander Romano designed this ultra-sophisticated dining room with many tongue-in-cheek accessories.  The dining centerpiece is a Mexican Hilario Madrigal sculpture of a purple pineapple.  Can you spot the brass giraffe? The long-neck animal by Sergio Bustamante brings your eye up to the spectacular two-story space and the Venetian Murano glass chandelier. Providing elegance to the room are the French Directoire chairs. They are upholstered in Brunschwig & Fils fabric of the popular lime green color, brightening up the warm chocolate-painted walls. 

(Family Room by James Rixner)This sunny family room designed by James Rixner is suffused with chartreuse touches complemented by a rich blue.  The walls are covered in Lotus green grass cloth and the chartreuse is picked up in the velvet pillows and the linen curtains from Osborne and Little. The blues are picked up by the dreamy Nocturne rug by Orley Shabahang. To create the serene atmosphere and pull the lively colors together, a white leather upholstered sofa and chair were chosen.

(Living Room by Susan Zises Green)The zen living room designed by Susan Zises Green was fittingly called, “Living Room: Surroundings Inspired by the Flow of the Hudson”

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Wood Story

(Twist Table from Thai Handmade Gifts)When one thinks of wood, usually the popular ones come to mind: oak, maple, walnut, cherry, and mahogany.  Other cheaper woods such as birch, poplar, and beech have become more prominent in the market due to deforestation.  But have you heard of the following exotic woods?

Acacia is a beautiful hardwood found in Australia and Hawaii that has a wide range of appearances and hence can fit in a variety of interiors – from sophisticated to rustic.  Acacia has a warm color, varying from light to dark tones, as shown in the photos above and below.  The wood also shows off a highly-figured grain, as seen in the Twist Table above.  A darker version with a less wavy grain is seen in the Rustic Table from West Elm

(Rustic Acacia table from West Elm)Mango wood is a popular hardwood from Thailand and the Philippines that is eco-friendly.  Mango wood is cut from the mango fruit tree once the tree has finished bearing fruit.  Since these trees have to be chopped down anyway in order to make way for new trees that bear fruit, the resulting timber is recycled to other uses such as furniture and accessories.  Mango wood has a yellow-orange tone as seen in the sideboard and the ball table below. 

(Mango wood sideboard)(Mango wood Ball Table by Thai Handmade Gifts)

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Interior Design 101: How to Finish Fine Furniture

Studio furniture maker and interior designer Diane Paparo sat down with us recently and kindly shared with us her tips on where to begin when it comes to dealing with wood finishes, stains, and treatments. It's one of thosepractical decorating considerations that most people "wing it," but we wanted to hear what a strong furniture maker had to say. Diane has designed furniture for fine homes around the world - even the executive office suites at Revlon. Let's see how someone who combines luxury, quality, beautiful detailing, and thoughtful functionality handles furniture finishes.

Choosing a furniture finish can be a tall order. First, you'll want to consider the design scheme and how the finish can be integrated into the whole, but you'll also want to think about maintenance and repair.

1. Let's tackle color first. You have four options: natural, stained, dyed, and painted. Some woods are naturally beautiful with just a clear protective finish, but most look richer when they're stained. Stains give you the option of deepening a wood's natural color or mimicking another wood's color. 

Stains don't penetrate the furniture's surface deeply; they lhave a transparency that enhances the grain. Stains can also accentuate imperfections, so inspect the finish carefully.


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