Best Dressed Walls

Sep 022014

My last Blog on Best Dressed Walls focused on period walls. Ever since I have had an eye out for beautiful walls created for today’s classical lifestyle.  I would love to credit this magnificent work.  If anyone knows please send it to me.

wall mural

Timothy Corrigan

Tented room with colorful fabric

classical library designed by timothy corrigan

Classical walls have so many possibilities.  Using molding to create a grid, panels and symmetrical designs are the beginning of turning the modern intrusion,  drywall, into beautiful walls.  

Mr. Corrigan used mirrors with a lovely patina, great moulding in this elegant hallway.

patina mirror paneled hallway

This is so special.

fretwork panels

Vintage Best Dressed Walls – Villa Perosa, The Chinese Gallery, Architectural Digest September 2014

Chinese Gallery - Villar Perosa

Majolica Plaques ornament the walls of the Dining Room in the Villar Perosa Estate

majolica plaques ornament dining room walls

painted panels

coffered effect on the walls

Plain drywall with a lovely collection of framed images.  I would go further and add panels which I would then organize the collection in.

drywall with framed prints

panels with artwork

wall grid with panel moulding


Alidad Embossed leather





Venice Luxury Hotel, Gritti Palace

Gritti Palace Panels

Gritti Palace Panels

gritti palace paneled guest room

Love the color palette.

Gritti Palace wall panels

The Gritti Palace used very similar styles for the panels in the guest rooms with different color palettes.

Gritti Palace

wall panels and mirror

wall panels with lovely faux finish

blue and white porcelain







Dec 092013

Just bought a great book on the Empire Period Empire by Madeleine Deschamps. Here is some food for thought from the Introduction.   “The end of the eighteenth century was a tumultuous and remarkably rich period that laid the foundations of modern times.”  This can be said of our times,  the end of the twentieth century laying the foundations of the new age.   “In the course of the century the philosophy of Enlightenment had opened minds to realities veiled until then, and it had awakened hopes of social and political change in many lands.”  Once again, this can be said of our times with the expansion of knowledge, technology and physics all contributing to powers we could not have imagined just 30 years ago.  “In France this new consciousness culminated in a major cultural rupture, the Revolution.  The fall of the Bastille in 1789 and the death of Louis XVI in 1793 marked the end of a monarchy that had shaped France, its society, and its economy for ten centuries.”

It goes on to establish that the Revolution did not immediately find a language to express the social order they were striving to establish.  So there was no real break in the styles and art forms that characterized the reign of Louis XVI and the subsequent Directoire, Consulat and Empire Styles. The Empire style was a natural development of the neoclassical art born in the preceding decades, which explains why Empire also includes styles that predate the coronation of Napoleon.  “Despite a strong connection to its stylistic preedecessors, the Empire style was highly influenced by the personality of one man, Napoleon Bonaparte.napoleon Once in power he not only wished to dominate European countries but also to control their trade. “He also wished to give grandeur and splendor to his reign, a purpose best served by the arts. Thus the short years of his rule were a period of extraordinary development for arts and crafts in France and in the countries he controlled.”

What will be said of this time in terms of the development of the arts and crafts.  The decorative arts business had products and technologies which will enable today’s artists, artisans, architects and designers to surpass anything that has been created.  Hopefully there will always be patrons to support today’s masterpieces and with the advantage of technology the middle class will be able to create interiors rich with artistry.

“When Napoleon came to power he found a country that had been torn apart by civil war and lay in partial ruin. He also inherited royal residences that had been stripped bare by the Revolution.  Today’s interiors are in a sense are stripped bare with large expanses of drywall.  In his ten years as emperor he not only refurbished palaces and chateaux throughout France and Europe but also gave France one of its most superb collections of decorative arts. To accomplish this he provided massive help to workshops and nascent industries, encouraged and publicized technical inventions, and instituted schools, competitions and prizes. No one since Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert had been so concerned with the economic status of France and the international image of its arts and crafts.  Just as Napoleon knew how to surround himself with the best political and military counselors, so too did he call some of the best artists in Europe to his service.”

Let’s look at the glory of the Empire Period and dream about our expression of the decorative arts in the 21st Century.

The Chateau de Malmaison, Paris is a country house in the city of Rueil-Malmaison about 12 km from Paris. It was formerly the residence of Joséphine de Beauharnais, and with the Tuileries, was from 1800 to 1802 the headquarters of the French government.


Mythological Frieze, Chateau de Malmaison


Josephine’s  Bedroom

Chateau de Malmaison-Josephine's bedroom-2

Chateau de Malmaison-Josephine's bedroom--3787628155_4595c69647_z

Today’s Mansion - The Enchanted Home







Hotel de Beauharnais, Paris


Salon of the Four Seasons – The paintings of the four seasons were formerly attributed to Pierre-Paul Prud’hon and now to Anne-Louis Girodet, who painted works on the same theme for the Platinum Study in the Casa del Labrador in Aranjuez, Spain.

Salon of The Four Seasons

Salon of The Four Seasons




Bathroom at Hotel de Beauharmais


The Turkish bath in the Hotel de Beauharnais


Beaux-Artes designed and executed this Powder Room using technology to create the pietre dure design on the vanity and reproduce it below the chair rail with venetian plaster.


Inspiration vanity.


Empire has a section on wallpaper since it was becoming a convenient and attractive way to decorate an interior.  Manufacturers as Jacquemart et Benard, Dufour and Zuber made papers of great artistic and technical quality in lavish colors.  It was a young industry when the Revolution broke out.  Wallpaper answered the demand of a clientele that could not afford expensive silks for decorating the home.  The extension of the Empire opened Europe to their production.

Great article by Barbara Clark in Artisphere Online showcasing the work of Alan Carroll

“My old business partner, Mark Kusek, really opened my eyes to the digital world. Without him I never would have embraced computers as a tool for decorative artists in the same way. More importantly, he taught me that you can be true to the same creative spirit that flowed through the old guys while at the same time embracing new technology.

You don’t have to be mired in the past, trying to copy stuff that was done way better hundreds of years ago. ”


“Imagine you have a piece of artwork on your computer. You’ve either painted and scanned it, or created it directly on the computer. Want to make fabric? Wallpaper? Flooring? ceiling murals? Area rugs? verre eglomisé? You can do all those and tons more from the same piece of artwork now by combining the power of digital printing with traditional skills. We are only beginning to touch on the possibilities.”

“We even developed a way to print gold size. You could get a sheet of ebony veneer for example, and literally print from any design you have on your computer screen in gold size right onto the wood – no masking/stencilling necessary – then gild it. The computer is used just to expedite the hand-done finish, not to supplant it. It’s still a hand-gilded product.

Or forget about printing the size. What about printing the ‘painted’ image on the reverse of glass before you gild it? Mark is now in the middle of printing verre eglomisé polychrome designs right onto glass from ornamental panels that I painted using a Wacom tablet and some computer software. This is groundbreaking stuff. Print the image onto the reverse of the glass, and then gild it. He even printed the patina onto the sheet of glass before gilding it. Time savings are huge, and that’s just with this one thing!

“I think that’ll be my theme for the future: exploring how to expand and truly incorporate digital technology into the decorative artist’s toolkit. I don’t mean simply painting something by hand, then selling prints. But how about this other experiment we did with the Glass department of OSU in Ohio: We printed our gold size directly onto paper in super-detailed ornate designs. then we simply applied leaf, and dusted off the design. The gold only sticks to the areas we printed. Then we took these gold leaf designs on paper to the glass furnace. The guy blows a vase out of molten glass, then rolls it carefully across our design. The paper burns off completely, and the gold design is instantly transferred to the glass. Never been done before, but we just came up with it by experimenting.

It’s not just about coming up with ways that save time over traditional methods. It’s also about creating new hybrid techniques that could not be conceived of any other way. That’s the future.”

Josephine and her Entourage at Lake Garda, 1805-6 by Hippolyte Lecomte.  Available as a 12″ x 15″ print for $181.


Chateau de Compiegne


Chateau de Compiegne

Chateau de Compiegne


The Ballroom


Empress Marie-Louise’s Second Salon later called the Salon of Flowers.  Would love to do a variation of the panel art in this room.  The Book Empire has a wonderful closeup of the panels.


Hotel de Charost

Hotel de Charost

Hotel de Charost



The Sala di Marte near Naples

Sala di Marte

Sala di Marte

Beaux-Artes Arabesque Panel



Casita del Principe, El Escorial, Spain

Casita del Principe-El Escorial-Spain

Platinum study in the Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez, Spain

casa-del-labrador-platinum study

Charlottenburg Castle, Berlin


Queen Luise’s Bedroomcharlottenburg-castle-queen-luise-bedroom















Sep 242013

The most important surface in a room are the walls.   The Architecture of the Classical Interior by Richard Semmes’  states that  the essential task of the wall treatment in any room is to make a strong connection between the floor and the ceiling.  “The wall must artfully carry the lines of the ceiling down to the floor in accordance with the principle of fictive structure.”    The order is the primary organizing device of the wall, so every wall is treated as an order.  The classical order organizes the wall giving  it the proportions and its ornaments. “The use of a complete order (pilasters or columns) is usually reserved for the grandest or most elaborate rooms.  Nothing endows a room with honorific character as powerfully as a fully articulated order–particularly the Corinthian.”  Spencer House, Princess Diana’s home.












Cream Dressing Room (1)



“You can also have a perfectly classical room in which there are no columns, pilasters, or any other explicit evocation of an order.  In many rooms, especially in more intimately scaled and domestic interiors, the appearance of a full order would be overbearing.”   A typical tripartite division of wall surfaces into dado, panel, and cornice is seen in nearly all classical wall treatments regardless of material or elaborateness of detail.  Most classical rooms are astylar or without columns or pilasters.  French designers of the mid- to late eighteenth century developed a style of wall treatment in which the paneled room reflects an implied order.  The order is infered from the proportions and ornamentation of the boiseries which divide the walls into bays by phantom pilasters.  


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panels-'wren scott paris apt vogue may 2012










Aug 272013

It is not so easy to find beautiful walls.  Beautiful rooms where furnishings are the focus are abundant.  I think you will find these walls spectacular.  My contribution is #10.

1.  As seen in September issue of Vogue the 1820s-era dining room at Schloss Damtschach, near Corinthia, Austria.  Love the over-sized ornament painted in grisaille .  I have written a blog on Heavenly Home Designs, about the famous Austrian spa, Viva Mayr which had the picture of this fabulous wall.




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4. A 2208



25.  barbara tfank spring 2013 michael smith

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9.  schleissheim-new-palace-germany

10.  Ornamentation design by Beaux-Artes.   Arabesque Wall Panel on gold leaf with mother-of-pearl.  All ornament is from Decorators Supply.



 August 27, 2013  Posted by at 12:44 pm Best Dressed Walls, Interior Design 3 Responses »
Jul 082013

This month’s Architectural Digest is a gem and here is a glimpse of a few of my favorites from  a fabulous restoration of a 1930′s Louis XV style manor which was originally designed by John F. Staub who worked mainly in Houston from 1920s to 60s.  The renovation was completed by Newberry Campa Architects and the interior design was done by Kara Childress.

Love the ornamentation and pilasters in this dining room.  I am sure the pilasters are marble, but this look of the pilasters connecting with the marble below the chair rail is a great idea for a faux project.  The companion panel paintings  are wonderful.


Use this Decorator Supply ornament with picture molding below to create the look of the crown.

Greek Palmette 9″ x 12″


Focusing on great doors, windows and entries add so much character.  Love the shape of this entry.  Particularly as it continues the symmetry of the wall panel design.  The embroidered silk on the ottoman is perfect.


Ceiling Inspiration in the Library –  the 16th-century Italian painted-canvas ceiling panels.  Refer to my blog on Architexture’s Tattoowall which would be perfect to create a version of this.



Another beautiful paneled room incorporating the windows and mirrored panels.




Jun 252013

Whatever you choose for your wall decor make it fabulous.  Large scale architectural prints are a powerful use of  framed artwork and photography.


London Designer Richard Adams, Budapest apartment.



4. bernhardt high point habituallychic

The artistry of Paint


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Love gold leaf and paint.  Instead of the entire wall frame panels.  Beaux-Artes classical wall panels would be a beautiful frame for this.



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Hand painted wallpaper.




Sargent Architectural Photography


Faux Paneling Wallpaper by Young Battaglia







Lincrusta Anaglypta


Textured Wallpaper


Beyond a Mural







 June 25, 2013  Posted by at 1:40 pm Best Dressed Walls, Interior Design, Wall Treatments 11 Responses »
Jun 182013


It is my pleasure to devote this post to Leslie Sinclair.  Her beautiful book Segreto Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors is my current favorite.  I was prepared to just give a sampling of great plaster, faux, trompe l’oeil, color palettes, interior design, art and architecture from the book until I discovered even more amazing work from the premier finish design firm in Houston, Texas Segreto Finishes.  Leslie’s talents along with the work of the  20 amazing artists she has brought together are responsible for this  most impressive body of work.  The Segreto style is the result of what they do with paint, plaster and color on the  walls, ceiling, doors and cabinets.

The architects, designers and builders that came together to create these spaces are all to be complemented.   Excellent.  I give the book 5 stars.

Selections from Segreto Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors.

Book Tip  “When plastering the walls and ceilings of a newly constructed home, the sheetrock should be taped, floated and lightly sanded.  There is no need to fix imperfections in the sheetrock or to texture, prime or paint the walls.  This savings can offset the overall cost of applying plaster.”  Leslie Sinclair


The plaster on the walls, cabinetry finishes and beams achieves the feel of Provence.

Designer – Cindy Witmer, Architectural Consultant – Sarah West, Building Design – Robert Dame Designs, Builder – Parker House, Inc.

Cindy Witmer_wm

French Chateau

Love the panels and plaster.  Love it.

Designers – Margie Slovack and Sarah Herndon, Architect – Sullivan, Henry, Oggero & Associates, Inc., Builder – Memorial Builders, Inc.

Slovack Designs_wm (1)

European Farmhouse

The plaster walls for this master bath achieve a feeling of  serenity along with the neutral and warm color palette.  Very flattering.  Rustic, elegant and classic.

Design – Eleanor Cummings

Eleanor Cummings_wm

Louis XV Revisited

It was very difficult to choose what pictures to show you because they are all so wonderful, but this one is very special.  “Changing the background color of this cove creates the illusion that the antique columns are integral parts of the design.  Evoking a celestial sky, friezes that decorate these ceilings enhance its architecturally interesting details.”

Antiques and Furnishings – Joyce Horn Antiques

segreto-Joyce Horn 1_wm

Ranch Style Chateau

“Bringing artful touches to the walls and ceilings of this large 21st century construction transforms its newness into the richness of a home with history.”

Designer – Talbot Cooley, Building Design – Colby Design & Brandon Breaux, Builder – Darryl Dieciedue


talbot 2_wm

Fabulous design for this ceiling which would look great with one of Beaux-Artes decorative grilles or recessed light trims painted in the same color palette to replace the standard industrial features.

talbot 1_wm

talbot cooley_wm

Wonderful wall treatment – tinted artist’s gesso troweled through a stencil over a silver metallic paint and then tea stained, giving the appearance of dimensional wallpaper.

Designer – Sheila Lyon

Sheila Lyon_wm Continue reading »

Mar 152013

Vatican Hill  is a hill located across the Tiber river from the traditional seven hills of Rome.

It is the location of St. Peter’s Basilica. The  masterpiece designed principally by Donato BramanteMichelangeloCarlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.   St Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world.  Because of its location in the Vatican, the Pope presides at a number of services throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Vatican Basilica, or in St Peter’s Square.

Treasures of St. Peter’s

Michelangelo’s Pieta

Bronze of St. Peter attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio

Continue reading »

Feb 132013

Inspiration From The Hermitage

This room in The Hermitage is our inspiration for the foyer we are designing.  Panels of gold leaf and the ornamentation in porcelain.  Anyone know the name for this room.  My pictures were from a friend. It was actually quite a coincidence that my client had a trip planned to Russia prior to seeing this inspiration room.  She took a lot of closeups of the ornamentation to assist us in our design process.

The foyer adjoins this outrageous living room or salon as my client has named the space. The coffered ceiling and crown molding was in the room and Beaux-Artes designed the wall panels, pilasters, capitals and empire frieze.  We installed all the ornamentation and executed the finishes.  The powerful presence of this room was a major factor in our design decisions for the foyer.  It is a lot of ornamentation and gold which we wanted to soothe with an elegant and complementary ornamentation design and color palette.


Before Pictures

The foyer is small, unlike the grand space of The Hermitage. Part of the inspiration is to use molding to frame all the walls.   This increases the amount of space for our panels and will make the lack of symmetry less apparent.

Right Salon Wall Facing Front Door

Left Library Wall Facing Front Door

Stair Bulkhead over Entrance to Middle Foyer

Note the existing molding and the space between the salon entrance and the stairway bulkhead.

The second floor wall space and dome.

Actually our first inspiration  came from this fabulous porcelain from Historic Houses of Paris, one of my absolute favorite books.  We would use gold leaf for the walls and the ornamentation would be a porcelain finish. Perfect!  Just like the look and feel of the grand room in The Hermitage. Reverses the color palette of the Salon.

Continue reading »

Feb 062013

1. Wall panels add value.

At Christie’s The Opulent Eye–500 Years:  Decorative Arts Europe Auction,  this spectacular Louis XV period room comprised of six sets of double doors, four mirror surrounds, two architraves and 16 wall panels were estimated at $240,000-$410,000, the ensemble brought $666,000.

For those with a big budget Feau Et Cie specializes in antique wood paneling as well as the reproduction of paneling.  They have several thousand documents which enables them to recreate the most beautiful decors, antique or new.  They have over 120 complete room panelings dating from the 17th and 18th century and from the French 1930′s and 1940′s by artists such as Eugene Printz, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, and Emilio Terry.  They work with decorators, architects, museums and private collectors.

The design of this door reminds me of the door in my last blog of a white marble bathroom from Architectural Digest.


Installing new wall panels can be very affordable and will increase the value of your home just as adding any architectural features will.  They transcend style, creating a timeless backdrop for any style furnishings.

2.  Wall Panels give the walls symmetry.

Wall Panels organize whatever you choose to hang on your walls.  Manola Blahnik chose to disregard the panels and I still love it.

 3. Panels are all you need.

No art, pictures, wall hangings, etc. This very simple paneled wall is so elegant with the molding in gold.  You don’t need anything else on that wall.  It is such a great design for hallways, uncluttered and elegant.

Continue reading »

 February 6, 2013  Posted by at 4:10 pm Best Dressed Walls, Interior Design, Wall Treatments No Responses »