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