Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Outstanding New Books for Garden Inspiration

‘English Gardens From the Archives of Country Life Magazine’ by Kathryn Bradley-Hole, and ‘Garden Design Master Class 100 Lessons from the World’s Finest Designers on the Art of the Garden’ are newly published by Rizzoli Books.

I was one of the founding editors
Garden Design magazine, with the great Dorothy Kalins — and I’ve studied, visited, and written about gardens around the world.

I grew up in the beautiful countryside on the South Island of New Zealand, surrounded by gorgeous gardens in the English tradition. No wonder I gravitate toward these two wonderful new books, with page after page of English and English-inspired gardens.

I highly recommend these two new essential garden reference books, which offer garden enthusiasts and beginners hundreds of pages of beautiful photographs and a lifetime of expert knowledge, information and ideas.

Each of these books is an essential reference that covers dozens of styles, locations, and both practical and poetic information.

‘English Gardens From the Archive of Country Life Magazine’ by Kathryn Bradley-Hole

In this weighty and beautifully designed tome of 494 pages, more than, sixty-two gardens are portrayed in full glory.

It is one of the most beautiful books on gardening, and a most profoundly inspiring book on the art and practice of garden design and maintenance.

Gardens shown and described in detail include gardens that are centuries old, and others that are as modern and visionary as tomorrow.

I like the way the book is organized around twelve stylistic groups. On its pages are castle gardens, cottage gardens, historic gardens, along with grand estates (Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth) and exquisite small garden plots.

Among the famous gardens in ‘English Gardens’ are Sissinghurst (a favorite of mine) as well as Kew and Wisley, and Gertrude Jekyll’s garden.

I love also the classical elegance and style of Rosemary Verey’s Barnsley House, and many other gardens by noted women gardeners.

Horticultural greats also include ‘Capability’ Brown, Piet Oudolf, David Hicks, the Bannermans, and Arne Maynard.

I admired also the fine examples of plant collections and plant collectors, cutting gardens, abstract gardens, glasshouses, formal gardens, informal wild gardens, and visionary gardens.

Also notable in ‘English Gardens’ are magnificent topiary gardens (you will want to pick up the hedge cutters and shears) along with kitchen gardens, borders, rose gardens, walled gardens, wild gardens, modern planting designs, and gardens with ponds and fountains.

Kathryn Bradley-Hole’s text is highly informative and enormously entertaining. There is a lot of horticultural information and practical and useful details.

There’s also a map of garden locations, and lists of gardens that are open to the public.

Oh, and there’s a charming Foreword by the Duke of Devonshire.

I admired also the index, as well as a bibliography with lists of important and useful gardening books for reference.

‘Garden Design Master Class’ Edited by Carl Dellatore

This beautifully designed and very comprehensive book consists of one hundred essays by world-famous garden designers/ landscape designers/horticulturists, garden visionaries and garden experts including Dan Pearson, Edwina von Gal, Jinny Blom, Charlotte Moss, Michael Trapp, Charlie McCormick, Arne Maynard, Nancy Goslee Power, Elizabeth Everdell and Dominique Lafourcade.

‘Garden Design Master Class’ spans hundreds of ideas and expert details on garden genres, principles, color hues, plant palettes, structures, ornaments, meadows, roses, perennials, bulbs, kitchen gardens, and trees.

I admire the way Dellatore selected essays that are philosophical, optimistic, abstract and theoretical. Each garden designer selected personal concepts, and some of them are wonderfully provocative and fresh.

‘Garden Design Master Class’ offers a comprehensive garden education. It’s rich with theory, practical information, and encouragement for gardeners to experiment and think long-term.

I found Dellatore’s 290 pages extremely original and very inspiring and helpful.

There’s an excellent index.


‘English Gardens From the Archives of Country Life Magazine’ is published by Rizzoli.

Garden Design Master Class’ is newly published by Rizzoli.

Photography published here with express permission of the publisher.

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2020

The forty-third annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase has a dazzling array of designs, and interiors by vividly talented San Francisco and Los Angeles designers.

This year, the rooms are polished and lively with ideas and great style.

This showcase is not open to the public, and no-one can visit. Online only.

For the first time in its historical almost five decades, the house is presented virtually, with a beautifully produced tour of each room of the house, along with exciting features and tools for design fans to study and gain more information.

The Details

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase is widely considered to be the West Coast’s premier design showhouse event, renowned for featuring the work of the region’s top interior and landscape designers. All the funds raised through the Decorator Showcase benefit the San Francisco University High School Financial Aid Program.

Virtual tours launch Saturday, September 5, 2020

Tickets for the virtual tour are $25 and will be available online starting September 5 at www.DecoratorShowcase.org


“For the multidisciplinary Sundown Lounge we pulled from history, fashion, art, and contemporary culture, The Sundown Lounge of this grand William H. Toepke (1870-1949) Seacliff home is a moody and comfortable environment for game nights, cocktails, music, and lounging. The decorative painted ceiling, lime wash walls, and custom area rug are inspired by historic Spanish style patterning and materiality. The furnishings are a mixture of vintage, contemporary, and custom pieces spanning from the 1940’s to present day. Modern Nordic and Brazilian masters, Palle Suenson, Paavo Tynell, Arne Wahl Iversen and Jorge Zalszupin in dialogue with emerging contemporary visionaries Vincenzo De Cotis, Wonmin Park, Trevor Paglen, Davina Semo, and Noam Rappaport. The space is a saturated and layered escape.”

Leann Conquer and Alexis Tompkins

DZINE Gallery

“I wanted to presenting this serious gallery program for Elina Frumerman botanical photography in a new context. Clearly the matte black walls, composed of paint that incorporated black ink is a dramatic backdrop to the photography by Elina Frumerman, similarly with their own shadow backdrops. I wanted the stairs to be punctuated with glowing plants and flowers, like jewels.. On the landing, I added additional and larger format depictions to continue this dialog, but not too much. On the landing the framed botanical photographs are fewer in number, and equally powerful in their presence and arrangement.” — Philip Bewley, DZINE Gallery Curator and Gallery Director

It's extraordinary to see work that reinvents a canon of art —the dramatic depiction of flowers, plants and trees in contemporary way that is relevant to today. This exquisite photography by Elina Frumerman expands upon the meaning we assign to plants. There is technical virtuosity, artistic sensibility, and no effort and expense was spared by Frumerman, and by DZINE Gallery to get every detail of this project to be of the highest standard. There is the work itself, sublime and restrained in composition, glorious in its depiction that gives the viewer an emotional connection.” — Philip Bewley Gallery Director and Art Advisor, DZINE Gallery


Applegate Tran Interiors

“The initial concept was an artist’s retreat. As our vision progressed, the design morphed into an art collector’s gallery retreat with favorite pieces to surround themselves with and gain inspiration from. As designers, we are always inspired and affected by art and truly feel our concept is a reflection of this.

The art we selected is a mix of bold and bright contrasted against calm and serene. The large black and white is a bold geometric piece that we’ve placed next to the painting in calming green tones is a signature. Hongtao Zhou's Textscapes are the perfect example of an overall aesthetically pleasing work that is created by rigid text and cityscapes. We also threw in a nod to pop art with the David Bowie piece in the colorful custom frame. We wanted to add something soft and inviting and included the landscape in the corner of the room; it draws the onlooker in and makes you want to enter the painting and live in its serenity.

Vernon Applegate and Gioi Tran

Dina Bandman Interiors

“I love the vibrant and joyful mosaic tile pattern inspired by the iconography of the Otomi tribe in Central America. It is from New Ravenna, and sourced from Da Vinci Marble in San Francisco. It’s a very elevated level of art for a children’s bathroom. Foxes and Llamas prance in jewel-toned glass tiles. In contrast there’s a rich Venetian red, with classic white subway tiles. Art and design to inspire children.”

Dina Bandman

Tineke Triggs | Artistic Designs for Living

“The Liquid Lounge media room/bar is for a family’s fun and pleasure. I’ve created a romantic moment in the corner, secluded by a gold mesh screen. Family and friends can linger on the rose-color banquette with a dramatic geometric table. The star of the room is the digital art on the wall, by Danial Canogar. I also love the molten glass chandelier floating overhead that adds to this cool glamour.”

Tineke Triggs

Jeffrey Neve | Interior Design

“The gallery lounge offers quiet retreat. The focal point is the oil painting by Judith Rothschild from Hackett Mill. It floats elegantly above the marvelous vellum—top console from C. Mariani Antiques. I found the perfect chairs and lighting and tables from the De Sousa Hughes showroom.

Jeffrey Neve

The Virtual Tour

The 43rd annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase will launch its first-ever virtual event on Saturday, September 5 showcasing the distinguished work of more than 20 top interior and landscape designers who have transformed 27 distinct spaces.

Due to public health concerns around COVID-19, in-person tours will, unfortunately, not be permitted. However, this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase will include a comprehensive walk-through video tour of the house and landscaped spaces; an interactive 3-D self-guided tour, links to designer interviews and more.

The Mediterranean-style house at 22 · 22nd Avenue is located in the charming West Clay Park neighborhood and adjacent to Seacliff and the Presidio.


Sam Frost Studio 
Christopher Stark 

Applegate Tran: 
Jose-Manuel Alorda 
Christopher Stark 
Christopher Stark
Christopher Stark


Tickets for the virtual tour are $25 and will be available online starting September 5 at www.DecoratorShowcase.org.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Exciting California Design News: The Dramatic New RH Marin Opens in Corte Madera

I recently attended the opening of the dazzling new three-level RH Marin gallery that presents furniture, art, and accessories in a handsome light-filled setting overlooking San Francisco Bay. It’s an exciting new destination

The gallery building is superbly sited with the dramatic silhouette of Mt. Tamalpais framing views to the west, and a surprising and serene unobstructed view across the bay to Mt. Diablo to the east.

Gary Friedman is to be congratulated for his clearly expressed vision, and his bold clarity. The RH team has created a masterpiece.

The handsome new gallery features a rooftop restaurant and coffee bar, a wine bar, an art gallery and a garden courtyard atrium.

There are also the beautifully airy and well-lit design studio and consultation rooms where clients can view swatches, samples, hardware, fabrics, and leathers with an RH designer.

It’s a compelling new destination that feels very residential and welcoming, and showcases the new Outdoor collections with great panache.

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RH Marin is the newest expression of the RH brand and the first design gallery in California with integrated hospitality including a glass-encased Rooftop Restaurant and Wine Bar that open onto an expansive landscaped terrace.

The experience at RH Marin is at once luxurious, inspiring, and understated. Clients can study and test-drive the upholstery, step into fully-designed bedrooms, and get a close-up look at the excellent General Public art collections.

Galleries feature installations of home furnishings devoted to exclusive new RH Interiors, Modern and Outdoor collections. I admired the bed linens, accessories, rugs, lighting and bathroom decor.

RH Marin also features an interactive Interior Design Atelier, providing professional design services.

Conceptualized as a transparent, multi-level contemporary structure filled with fresh air and natural light, the Gallery features a charcoal grey Venetian plaster exterior with an expanse of glass-and-steel French doors that open onto lush garden courtyards and terraces.

A walking path marks the Gallery’s exterior with decomposed granite and bluestone pavers, surrounded by handsome 100-year-old heritage olive trees.

At the top of a grand double floating staircase, visitors arrive into the Rooftop Restaurant with skylights and the sparkle of chandeliers. I admired the ingredient-driven menu and the year-round open terrace/ garden escape beneath a dramatic atrium with retractable glass walls, sparkling crystal chandeliers and heritage olive trees. 

Seamlessly extending from indoors to out, the restaurant opens onto unobstructed views of Mount Tamalpais to the west and San Francisco Bay and its wetlands to the east. The concept of classical trees and seating areas was influenced by the great classical gardens of Europe.

Situated just off the grand stair on level three, a climate-controlled Wine Bar houses wine and champagne selections from around the world, as well as limited production offerings from some of Napa Valley’s most renowned small vintners.

On level two, visitors discover RH Modern – the largest integrated assortment of modern furnishings, lighting, textiles and décor under one brand – as well as the RH Interior Design Atelier. This interactive studio features private client presentation rooms with state-of-the-art technology, and an RH Rugs showroom presenting an exclusive collection.

On the main level, guests will pass through a 25-foot threshold of retractable glass and steel doors, and continue into the central hall with its soaring 13-foot ceilings. Along the periphery, barrel-vaulted passageways lead to a classical arrangement of rooms featuring RH Interiors collections from international designers, as well as one-of-a-kind antiques and artifacts from Gary Friedman’s world travels.

NEWS:  Since Northern California is one of RH’s largest and most loyal markets, the company is busy planning more galleries in the region.

Next year the company will open RH San Francisco in the newly chic Dogpatch area at San Francisco’s Pier 70. There are plans afoot to re-design the RH gallery in the Design District.

And in the next few years, expect new gallery locations in Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, and Sacramento.

RH Marin is located at 1750 Redwood Highway in Corte Madera. 

Photo by Diane Dorrans Saeks

Photo by Diane Dorrans Saeks

My Favorite Bedding

I’ve always admired the RH Italian bed linens and cashmere blankets and throws. They’re classics and very elegant.

One throw this season I highly recommend is the new cashmere double-face blanket / throw with ivory on one side and pale grey on the reverse. It’s sumptuous and light and looks beautiful on the bed.

Look also for new embroidered bed décor and throws, along with blankets.

Photo by Diane Dorrans Saeks


“RH Marin is a deeply personal project given its proximity to our Center of Innovation and Headquarters in Corte Madera. It’s a reflection of our very best work to date – an architecturally inspiring and immersive experience that blurs the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, home and hospitality. Our entire team is proud and honored to bring this innovative concept to the town we call home.” — RH Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Friedman 

RH Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Gary Friedman made the following comments:


“The Bay Area is our home. It’s where we live, where we work, where our Center of Innovation & Product Leadership is located, and therefore where the vast majority of our strategy is conceptualized and brought to life.”


“Everything you see at RH Marin is a reflection of a hierarchy that leads to harmony. We believe the most pleasing environments are a reflection of human design. They are a study of refinement, balance, symmetry and perfect proportions. We respect the hierarchy between the environment, landscaping, architecture, furniture, and decor that create harmony. Ours is a discipline of addition by subtraction where less becomes more and calm is created through continuity. We subscribe to the principles of Vitruvius - that perfect proportions exist in human design, and beauty is produced by the pleasing appearance and good taste of the whole. Our hope is to both integrate into and elevate the local environments we inhabit.”


“Our RH Burger was called the best burger in New York by the Financial Times, and our Shaved Ribeye on Charred Garlic Bread just might be the best sandwich on the planet, so I generally flip and coin. For breakfast or brunch, the RH Scramble with shaved truffles should also be in the conversation, and on occasion rises to the top of my list, along with the truffled grilled cheese.”


RH Marin's Executive Chef is Paul Arenstam and the Hospitality Leader (GM) is Brandon Wilson

One of the highlights of a visit to the RH Marin gallery is the rooftop restaurant, which has wide-open terraces facing west toward Mt. Tamalpais.

The all-day menu is highly focused on fresh produce and simple, elegant flavorful preparations.


I was very impressed with the brilliantly flavorful coffee when I visited the RH Marin restaurant recently. The beans are intensely fragrant and I asked for more information.

For enthusiastic coffee lovers I pass on the following details about the exclusive RH coffee:

The coffee offered at RH Hospitality was inspired by Hiroshi Sawada, world-renowned barista, latte art expert and founder of Streamer Coffee in Tokyo.

The highly trained baristas at Streamer produced lattes showcasing perfect art and balance, only achievable through Sawada’s practice-makes-perfect philosophy emphasizing simplicity, teaching and community building around coffee.

RH uses Metropolis 'Project X' coffee beans (exclusive blend for RH).

This proprietary blend of beans is from Mogiana, Brazil. They are given a darker roast, creating a rich, chocolaty, nutty, flavor profile.

These beans are used for the espresso, drip coffee and cold brew and the flavor characteristics remain consistent through all of these extraction methods. Metropolis, the RH Hospitality coffee supplier, purchases only Arabica coffee beans. 

Photo by Diane Dorrans Saeks


Photos of the galleries and exteriors of RH Marin courtesy of RH.

Photos of vignettes of bedroom settings and new RH Modern designs by Diane Dorrans Saeks.

Find RH galleries in New York (Meatpacking District), West Palm, Chicago, West Hollywood, Boston, Houston, and Yountville. Each of these galleries has a restaurant or café.