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Design Inspiration

by habituallychic

12 . 07 . 09

I had no idea that my Blue Christmas post would lead to a little chat with Dick Bories and James Shearron of Bories and Shearron, the architecture firm behind the renovation of the Fifth Avenue apartment that Miles Redd decorated. The entire apartment is featured in the December 2009 issue of Elle Decor but it was the library dining room that intrigued me most since the paneling was copied from Marie Antoinette’s private mirrored Boudoir at the Petit Trianon since I had just visited this very place and room in September! (I took over 900 photos so I am still working on posting some of them.)

The couple who owns this apartment both have European connections and the wife specifically asked “that there be books in the dining room since it reminded her of the manor houses in France where she spent a lot of her childhood,” according to Dick Bories. “We were thrilled to combine the two because there is no better wallpaper than books. I also lived in France for a time and found that they do, in fact, often eat in their libraries which create an amazing sound quality as the books absorb much of the sound.” I wish this would become the new American tradition since many families don’t even use their dining rooms and maybe if they served a dual purpose more would actually use them!

Bories mentioned that he was given a first edition of the book “The Petit Trianon Versailles” by James A. Arnott and John Wilson from 1929 by his firm partner James Shearron. “The two architects completely documented the inside, outside and gardens of this amazing pavilion. While flipping through, I noticed that the proportions of the Fifth Avenue dining room and the Boudoir were almost exactly the same! The room heights are within an inch of each other.”

You can in my photo from the Boudoir or “cabinet des glaces mouvantes” that the mirrors can be lowered into the basement to completely block out the light and create a private area for Marie Antoinette to “nap” or have complete privacy. If you travel to Paris, I highly recommend a visit to Versailles! It was an amazing place and I can see how the architects could be very inspired by it’s design!
Bories goes on to say, “I literally copied the scaled details of the mouldings and applied them to our room, without all the carving and gesso appliques of course. The mill worker simply imported my CAD drawings into their computer and had the knives cut from my details! Amazing technology today!” I love that the advanced technology can help to create architectural details that match those of the past since there aren’t many artisans and craftsmen left to do it by hand!

“We copied the finish from original rooms that James saw as a child growing up in Lake Forest, Illinois in a couple of the beautiful David Adler houses from the 1930’s. The finisher used bleach, a wire brush, light stain, and hand rubbed wax to get that dry ‘thirsty’ finish on the quarter sawn white oak. It’s truly gorgeous in person.” I can imagine! Especially since Dick says that the clients decided to forgo a chandelier instead opting for dinner by candlelight! It must be even more spectacular at Christmas too! Above is a detail of the door in the library and below is one of my photos from the Petit Trianon and you can see the detail.s are very similar, although the hardware is less opulent now!

I want to thank Dick Bories and James Shearron for this glimpse into this amazing project. I told James earlier that sometimes readers have no idea how much work goes into those pretty photos that they see in a magazine and this project took about a year from start to finish. It was such a pleasure to speak with them both since their passion for architecture and design is as inspiring to me as the Petit Trianon was to their design!

Photos: Miguel Flores-Viana for Elle Decor, Randall Bachner for Bories and Shearron, and Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic

Comments Closed

  1. style chronicle December 8, 2009 | 12:05 am

    Great “inside look.” On a side note- I have been trying to locate sconces like the ones on the bookshelves in that dining room. I have also seen Jeffrey Bilhuber use them and they were all over Tory Burch’s home. After scouring ADAC in Atlanta, I still came up empty handed. Any clue who makes those with the metal rimmed shades?

  2. Habitually Chic December 8, 2009 | 12:24 am

    Style Chronicle – Lamps Plus has one http://www.lampsplus.com/Products/Chase-Collection-Antique-Natural-Brass-Swing-Arm-Wall-Lamp__10649.html, or you could call Just Shades, http://www.justshadesny.com/, in NYC. They might be able to help you. I will also ask the architects and my friend who used to work for Jeffrey!

  3. The Designer December 8, 2009 | 12:36 am

    I love all the details of the woodwork. It adds such beauty to any space.
    Check Visual Comfort for the sconces.

  4. Modern Traditionalist December 8, 2009 | 12:37 am

    I agree, it is a blessing that we have such advanced technology to create so many beautiful things in the blink of an eye – but the traditionalist in me mourns the passing of the artisan. Craftsmanship will become extinct and I don’t think one can ever feel the same about something an automated machine produced as they would for something created out of hard work and talent.

  5. the NEO-traditionalist December 8, 2009 | 1:19 am

    I just adore Versailles! I love that how Bories and Shearron drew from something “old” and reinvented it somewhere new. Brilliant!
    XXX Kate

  6. Habitually Chic December 8, 2009 | 2:20 am

    The Designer – thanks for the lamp suggestion!

    Modern Traditionalist – part of the problem is that some people don’t understand how long hand made products or designs take. They want everything yesterday and they don’t want to pay for it so unfortunately until their attitudes change, I’m afraid for future of of the craftsmen!

    Kate – Isn’t it funny how Versailles has come to New York! I love it!

    Style Chronicle – one of my readers come up with the source of the sconces, http://www.galeriedeslampes.com/front/catalogue_accueil.php?page=1&cat=3&typ=cat&ss_cat=&lib_cat=Wall Lights. So glad because it’s one I’ve never used before!

  7. Karena December 8, 2009 | 4:36 am

    Heather, beautiful images, very elegant!

  8. style chronicle December 8, 2009 | 5:31 am

    Thank you all! I am so thrilled to finally have a source. I have been looking for these for quite sometime and they are nowhere to be found in the South!

  9. jones December 8, 2009 | 1:43 pm

    Great post–I love it when I have new sources and new insights. Mary

  10. ArchitectDesign™ December 8, 2009 | 1:55 pm

    I have that same book, which is where the floor plans I have scanned on my blog come from. It is inspirational!
    I believe B&S work often with Miles, correct? Their website is probably my favrite source of inspiration online!

  11. Teresa Hatfield December 8, 2009 | 2:46 pm

    My daughter went to Paris on a 10 day school trip. We plan to go on another trip before she graduates from college..
    These photographs are beautiful. Thanks for sharing! You have inspired me to get the good camera out before I go.

  12. Gwen Driscoll December 8, 2009 | 2:55 pm


    Beautiful project. I love the way the wood is finished. So calm and beautiful. My library was originally the Dining Room in our house. We use it only as a library because it’s small and we needed a bigger Dining Room for entertaining so we gave up our Living Room. I just love it. I’m hoping Americans too will start letting rooms have duel function. It’s such a more eco-friendly way to live.

    Thanks for the beautiful post.

    Ragland Hill Social

  13. TheCluelessCrafter December 8, 2009 | 4:05 pm

    Gwen, I can’t agree with you more. The dual function of rooms, at least for me, makes design seem less modulated, less about the designer and more about how the client uses spaces. Wouldn’t it be lovely to grab a book from the shelf when dinner conversation turns to the literary? How engaging!

    Books are elements of design, a fact I saw at Miami Basel this past weekend. One artist made mock books and added neon lights to highlight their quality to decorate as much as illuminate the mind.

    Will post pics later this afternoon of Art Basel.

  14. Gramercy Home - Atlanta December 8, 2009 | 10:07 pm

    I had decided months ago that my next dining room would be a combo dining/library/office. Books do a room make. Great feature.