My Travel Notebook: France

“Work, travel, save, repeat.”

I’ve been traveling through France and Italy recently, celebrating a belated tenth anniversary with my husband, Frank. We engaged the services of the talented Janet Simmonds from the Grand Tourist, (she writes a fascinating blog she calls the Educated Traveller –British spelling!) She put together an itinerary for us that moved us from Southern France, beginning in Beaulieu-sur-mer to Venice, Italy, with elegant meals, private tours, and spectacular sights.

 

I found design inspiration everywhere–in the food, languages, colors, architecture and interiors–and I want to share my inspiration with you. I thought we’d begin with France, since that’s where we went first.

 

 

The creamy tones of the La Reserve Hotel got our trip off on a calming note. The bright pink roses that punctuated the patio were the perfect compliment, and added life to the scenery.

 

 

Indoors, the coral exterior evolved into dazzles of orange with grey and taupe. It reminded me of a favorite project I did for an Hermes orange loving client in Manhattan. Here’s my take on orange and neutrals, below:

 

 

Orange is eye-catching in floral arrangements, too. Both across the room…

 

 

…and close up!

 

 

We loved our room, which was a delightful blend of old and new. I loved how the interiors of La Reserve combined contemporary furnishings with priceless antiques, which adds such depth, warmth and richness! Much more interesting, I think, than all modern, which doesn’t take a location’s history into account.

 

 

The thread of good design holds true throughout the ages. Good design from the 18th century can play off good design from the 21st century. Here’s an example from my own design work, below: an 18th century buffet against 21st century lacquered walls. This is in a Manhattan apartment.

 

 

Meanwhile, there were no complaints about the shades of blue that met us in the pool and sea outside our door.

 

 

The saltwater pool was heated, and free of chemicals.

 

 

Wandering through the charming medieval town of St. Paul de Vence meant finding history of more than 1,000 years at every turn. In the 20th century, artists began coming to St. Paul to paint its famous brown stone buildings in the silken light of southern France.

 

 

As we walked through St. Paul, I couldn’t stop thinking about the rustic stone, and how that might translate into a modern home. Using natural materials is simple but stunning in its impact. Natural stones are endlessly elegant and eco-friendly. They bring a richness of texture and color to a room.

 

 

Here’s another of our Dujardin designs in Manhattan, where we used rough stone to create a dramatic backdrop to the sleek-lined furniture. We used antique horse blankets to cover the pillows–unusual materials and unique applications make an interior innovative!

 

 

Back in St. Paul, I was struck by how a mosaic of small stones could be one way to add movement and depth to a space, and offer many natural hues to work with.

 

 

Next stop: the bar at La Colombe d’Or, where we had an aperitif before dinner. The rough stone walls with muted colors depicting leaping stags was a masculine touch.

 

 

Aged paint on stone walls paired well with these surprisingly glitzy silver pillows.

 

 

The beautiful dining room at La Colombe d’Or, where Frank and I enjoyed our much delayed anniversary dinner–at last!

 

 

The simple stone building was once a weekend haunt for artists.

 

 

It’s still filled with their artwork–incredible pieces by Matisse, Miro, Calder, Picasso and Chagall.

 

 

Imagine eating dinner in an art museum, with comfortable surroundings and delicious food.

 

 

Everywhere you turn, there is priceless art.

 

 

Anybody interested in a fireplace with a sunken gathering area? Winters in New England seem to require one of these. The placement of the seating would concentrate the heat nicely while enjoying a brandy after dinner.

 

 

No one was eating outdoors, but aren’t these weathered urns planted with greenery just gorgeous with the stone tile floor?

 

 

Colors aren’t limited to artwork, as you can see in the purple irises growing in the field.

 

 

This quiet beauty in pink and white is the former home of David Niven, the British actor. We took a walk from Beaulieu-sur-mer to St. Jean Cap Ferrat to see the house. One scene from Niven’s last movie–the Pink Panther–was filmed there in 1983, the year before his death.

 

 

Gold doorknobs on the white door are the perfect accent. Pink and gold and white is stunning.

 

 

An ornate gate that simultaneously invites you in and says, “not so fast! Are you invited?”

 

 

A marble sign with the name of your home is always elegant. Especially if you’re David Niven.

 

 

We’ll be back soon as we continue our journey to Italy! Come along with us next month. I have so much more to show you!

 

 

Let the Sun Shine In!

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After a long, cool spring in the Northeast, the calendar–and the weather–have agreed that summer has finally arrived. Let’s throw open the windows and doors, and rethink the way we live at home. it’s easy to feel as F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he said, “I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

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Start with spring cleaning: To fully embrace the beauty of balmy breezes and abundant sunshine, we need to remove winter’s dry stuffy air from the house, and scrub the hidden spaces where dust collects. We don’t need to bring toxic cleaning products into our homes. It’s better to clean with baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar, or else choose environmentally friendly products, rather than dousing our living space with chemicals.  I’ve written about how to Clean Green before: read more here. 

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Think about re-establishing order. Stacks of books and blankets left by the fireplace should be put back where they belong, and then you can recreate the room for a completely different experience. Once the room has become a blank slate again, bring out the things of summer! Bright colors and garden stools definitely belong inside.

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Add beauty and fragrance with fresh flowers. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then you have a florist shop at your fingertips! Cut flowers early in the morning while the sun is still low in the sky and the dew has not yet dried. They’ll be fresher, and last longer. Immediately plunge the stems into a bucket of water, then put flowers or a flowering plant in every space you can, including the bathroom. Summer is a celebration of things that grow!

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The days of blocking our windows with heavy draperies are behind us. Make sure your windows are sparkling clean, then let the natural light pour in with minimal window treatments, or if you need the privacy, wooden blinds are a good choice. Simplicity is beautiful.

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Change your bedding from heavy down comforters and dark colors to light and white. Your spirits will be lifted each time you enter the room. Color affects our emotions in powerful ways.

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I love this room in my Nantucket fisherman’s cottage, decorated with vintage sand pails. Go ahead and celebrate what you loved about summer from your childhood, when the hours between sunrise and starlight seemed to last forever.

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Red, white, and blue always works in the summertime. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, let your patriotic flag fly.

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Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

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Go nautical, and let your rooms remind you of  beaches, boats, and ocean breezes.

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The time it takes to change your home’s look to sunshine and summer shouldn’t be seen as work. Homes need to be loved, just as people do. By making your home a welcoming, bright and sunny space, you will effortlessly bring more laughter and joy into your life.

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So go ahead: let the sun shine in!

 

Inspiration Starts Here

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On my new Dujardin Home website, I say that “Inspiration Starts Here!” I want to inspire all of you to see your home with new eyes, to be delighted with the very special items we’ve searched the world to find, and to find new ways to bring elegance, beauty and health to your lives.

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I thought you might be interested to see where my inspiration comes from. My life and my work have taken me to some of the most wonderful places on earth. I have seen so many beautiful sights just this year, from the shores of Long Island Sound where I make my year-round home…

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…to the harbor of Nantucket Island…

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…from the excitement of New York City…

Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Financial District at dusk

…to the town of High Point, North Carolina…

 

… from the castles of St. Andrews, Scotland…

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…to the canals of Venice.

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Add to that the many showrooms I visit in the Decoration and Design Building and at 200 Lex in New York City, and in Design Centers in other cities around the country. I see and handle sumptuous fabrics, brilliantly designed lights and chandeliers, hand carved wooden case goods and deeply comfortable upholstered furniture. All of it becomes part of my thoughts and my dreams.

 

Now I’ve realized one of my dreams, which is to bring this beauty and elegance to you. Our curated collection is inspired by the best of what I see and live every day, and the many creative and talented people I meet and work with.

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 Here I am with John and Chad Stark, of the Stark Carpet Corporation

 And we’re just beginning. Stay with me. We’re going to some wonderful places, and I have some more wonderful things to share at Dujardin Home!

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My Seaside Inspiration

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My life on two coastlines (Long Island Sound in Connecticut, and Nantucket Island) inspires my design work in a very personal way. I have always been drawn to the colors of sand, sea, sky and sails.  As I walk the beaches near my homes, I see exquisitely colored shells, small sea animals and picturesque harbors, all of which find their way into the interiors I create . Let me show you my seaside inspiration.

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Horned Ghost Crab

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Conch shell on beach

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Seashells close-up

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Rope Knot On Wood

Abstract shell

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“I felt the full breadth and depth of the ocean around the sphere of the earth, back billions of years to the beginning of life, across all the passing lives and deaths, the endless waves of swimming joy and quiet losses of exquisite creatures with fins and fronds, tentacles and wings, colorful and transparent, tiny and huge, coming and going. There is nothing the ocean has not seen.”–Sally Andrew

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