"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.