Friday, October 2, 2009

Reading & Wallpaper

"We wallpapered the stairs and hallways--it looked like an orange grove. Leafy light and dark green branches with Ping-Pong ball-sized oranges nestled here and there. The floors and stairs were painted a cream color, but we left the original walnut banister untouched. I loved that hallway. I used to just go up there and sit in it and be proud of myself."

- Isabel Gillies in her memoir, Happens Every Day.

Have you read this book? While it's not really about interior decorating, it has its moments. It's actually about making a home away from home, the never pleasant end of a marriage, and is all based on the author's true story.

Actress turned author Isabel Gillies, photographed above for Vogue in February 2009. (Is that Brunschwig & Fils "Les Touches" I spy?)

The book came to my attention, not from the Vogue article, which I missed, but from reading an interview with Whit Stillman, writer and director of one of my favorite films, Metropolitan. He mentioned that one of the actors in the movie (Gillies) had written a "very good book" about her family's move from New York City to a small town (with arguably disastrous consequences).

"We had ended up in Oberlin — in a big 1877, redbrick house we never could have afforded on the East Coast. It was our second year in Ohio. Before we bought the house on Elm Street we had lived for a year in a rented faculty house, but when we saw "Bricky," as we called it, we could not help but buy it and renovate it into our dream house. We spent all our money and took out a home-equity loan for William Morris wallpaper and a new water heater. I wish I had a picture because I'll never be able to write how great it was."


Though she never says for sure, I believe the William Morris wallpaper pattern to which Gillies refers, could be "Arbutus", designed by Kathleen Kersey in 1913. I wish I could find and example of it being used in a chic way, but all the photos I come across are from rather unfortunate bed & breakfasts.

Anyway, that concludes one of my infrequent suggestions for a good read. Those in NYC can catch author Isabel Gillies in person at the New York Society Library on October 15, 2009.

17 comments:

Visual Vamp said...

Love the wallpaper, and the book looks intriguing.
xo xo

sarah @ realestatestyle said...

looks interesting, will have to check it out

LindsB said...

That wallpaper is so amazing, I want it for my hallway now :)

Alicia B. Designs said...

This looks really great. Thanks! I'd love to go to the book signing too.

Anonymous said...

Isabel and her book are fabulous! She by the way is the daughter of Linda Gillies, director of the Vincent Astor Foundation. They both appeared in Whit Stillman's film Metropolitan

Decorno said...

In the same way I wish you blogged more frequently, I wish Whit made more movies.

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Good recommendation. I love that paper too...

highglossblue.blogspot said...

I can feel myself in that hallway thanks to Isabel Gillies
powerful description. Love the irreverent interiors posts-such a breath of fresh air.

Sanity Fair said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I'm going to pick this one up. And having wallpapered myself, I'd have to say I'm proud no MATTER how it turns out :)

Musette said...

I remember this Vogue article! The wallpaper was fab then, fab now. I'm glad she came through her trials and I WANT THOSE SHOES!

xo

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Your entry sounds lovely. When I do design right (for me anyway), it is always such a proud moment to sit back & admire again & again. Looks like a fabulous book!

Gypsy Purple said...

Great post

pve design said...

I read this book and I enjoyed this and always thought it would make a great movie.
pve

Anonymous said...

Isabel Gillies is on Law & Order: SVU as a recurring role of Kathy Stabler, Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler's wife.

Since you missed the Vogue article, where did you get that picture? I've seen it on Vogue but is there another place where it's at?

Tara Dillard said...

Saw a vaulted ceiling in a loggia at a villa in Italy. It was painted, almost, to match that wallpaper.

When I build my villa I know exactly where to put the wallpaper.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Anonymous said...

http://www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk/products/morris/arbutus/764

i know you posted this some time ago, but since you helped me, i thought you might be interested in this (:

- b xx

Anonymous said...

I love Isabel's smile. She just brightens up a room with it.

-Zane of ontario honey