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Magazine    December 2001

East Coast Rooms

A vintage French apothecary cabinet warms Linda Chase's Connecticut kitchen, with its stainless steel appliances

Thomas O'Brien's living room

L.L. Bean chairs for Jeffrey Bilhuber

It is fascinating to see how America's leading interior design tastemakers live, and whether they prefer an over-the-top decor or a more casual environment. In East Coast Rooms, writer Anna Kasabian presents portfolios of 31 interior designers and architects from Maine to Washington, D.C., and many of them provided glimpses into their home settings.

Thomas O’Brien turned his Manhattan apartment, with 18-foot ceilings and huge casement windows, into a quiet retreat from his busy world of designing boutiques for Giorgio Armani, streamlined bath fittings for Waterworks and a line of contemporary furniture for Hickory Chair. In the entry O’Brien stationed a large mahogany armoire, “rescued from an outdoor market,” for guests’ coats and paired a 19th-century-style English chair with a modernist walnut and polished-aluminum Parsons-style table (left) in the living room.

Jeffrey Bilhuber, who lavishes luxurious details in the New York apartments he is asked to decorate, created a sublimely simple seating arrangement in a 1920s Pennsylvania house using quaint L.L. Bean canoe chairs around a simple, low slatted-wood table—a straightforward, yet totally original composition (left).

In her 1817 Haddam, Connecticut, house Linda Chase mixed and matched to her heart’s content, upholstering antique carved dining chairs with bold purple and lipstick-colored silk. In the kitchen (above), where she needed some type of island counter or butcher block, Chase combed her antique sources until she found a unique solution: a French apothecary cabinet with lots of drawers for storage, which provided a warm counterpoint to the stainless steel appliances. Two vintage lamp bases with antique chandeliers in lieu of lampshades add more charm to the space. (A source for butcher blocks and antique cabinets similar to Chase's is The Butler and the Chef in San Francisco. See www.thebutlerandthechef.com.)


The Genius of Robert Adam

The music room at Harewood House Corinthian chimney-piece with "brass lace" detailing

Section of a Room for Sir George Colebrooke
by Robert Adam, ca. 1771

Robert Adam was one of Britain’s greatest, most prolific architects of the second half of the 18th century. Working in some of the most famous British country houses and London townhouses, the Scotsman was a master at creating extremely elaborate interiors—the kind one might see in films like The Golden Bowl—and he also designed furniture.

The Genius of Robert Adam chronicles the architect’s magnificent legacy, including ballrooms, entrance halls the size of a gymnasium, sculpture galleries, drawing and dining rooms, bedroom suites and libraries. Pictures abound and are accompanied by charming drawings of the plans of those rooms, as well as designs for furniture, fireplaces, carpets and decorated ceilings.

Author Eileen Harris, an architectural historian, has expertly assembled a massive collection of archival photography (there are black and white shots of Northumberland House, with its famous glass drawing room, before it was demolished in 1874) and pictures of buildings that are extant, such as Harewood House. Adam had a field day in his design of Harewood's music room (above left), whose ceiling is decorated with ten roundels depicting the nine muses and Minerva from Ovid; the motif was echoed in the carpet with rosettes and patera.

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East Coast Rooms
by Anna Kasabian
Rockport Publishers, $25.00

The Genius of Robert Adam
by Eileen Harris
Yale University Press, $85.00
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