Thursday, October 24, 2013

Deja Vu All Over Again

One of the most talked about features of Architectural Digest magazine is their annual "Before & After" issue.  Some of the articles in these past issues have been real "eye-rollers" with the only difference, it would seem, in the photos being that one photo was taken before furniture -- perhaps with a large cardboard box and a ladder as props -- and the other photo taken after the furniture had been installed.  Other projects were truly interesting transformations, however, showing great design insight and inspirational style.

In the November, 2013 issue, Mitchell Owens takes a look back at ten of the best in the article "Second Chances."  (Click the title for the on-line version of the article).  While it is no secret that I praise Mitch as one of today's best design writers, when I saw that title I thought to myself that he would be crazy if he had overlooked my architectural project decorated by Bunny Williams that had appeared in the February, 1994, issue.  (If you do not recall it being featured on The Devoted Classicist blog last May, take a look here).  Well, Mitch had not lost his senses, of course, and did indeed choose the Park Avenue apartment renovation for his article.  (I know he does not write the captions, so I will forgive omitting my name which was included in the original article).  The Entrance Hall image with those incredible painted panels commissioned especially for the space and the restored terrazzo floor is one that has received so much praise over the years that I appreciate it, of course.  But it was the exceptionally large Dining Room that really had the biggest transformation into a Library that was the show-stopper for visitors to the apartment.  (Since the clients only used the apartment as a pied-a-terre and always went out for dinner when in Manhattan, there was no need for a formal Dining Room).  In any case, it was a real treat to see these pictures in print again.  Many of my clients read Architectural Digest, so I appreciate having my work included.

Before photo by Glenn Keyes Architects.
After photo by Steven Brooke.
All photos are from the Conde Nast Archive.
Another project included in the article was the restoration of an 1803 plantation house on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, by my friend and former architecture school classmate, Glenn Keyes.  In a team associated with architect Chris Schmitt, the piazza was reconstructed and modern conveniences were provided in additions that allowed the existing rooms to be restored to their original form.

Take a look at this and other Architectural Digest articles and blog posts by Mitchell Owens here.


  1. I recognize the Vanderhorst Plantation and...interesting, had totally forgotten you know Glenn. In fact I had to go back and search my blog to rediscover your comment on my Wadmalaw Island project, a Glenn Keyes house.

    1. Thanks, Scott! Glenn has made a great contribution to preserving the historic architecture in the Charleston area. Plus being a Nice Guy too.

  2. All too often, the AD Before & After series was unconvincing---at least in terms of the Before. Yet those shots of the entrance hall had genuine impact and I have that issue of AD still upon my shelves because of it.
    It must have been quite thrilling when the terrazzo floor was revealed for the first time!

    1. Toby, Bunny was hoping for wood parquet so we were thrilled to find the terrazzo. There was some damage from the "tackles" carpet strips, but a craftsman was brought out of retirement to make the repairs. Some might have flinched at the two tones of green with the bronze dividers, but Bunny really pulled off a smart decorating scheme to showcase it. Thank you for commenting.

  3. Hi John -
    I remember that Entrance Hall when it was published and I was SO impressed by that beautiful transformation at the time that I never forgot it and suddenly here it is! Congratulations on that job.

    Also, I wanted to give you a heads up that there is an article in the NYT today about the behind the scenes situation at the River Club and River House.

    1. Thanks, Chip.
      A River House resident had given me an update just yesterday and a Devoted Reader had sent me the NY Times article this morning. I am glad they had retracted the old story about Joan Crawford having the Pepsi sign installed for spite.
      I appreciate your comments.


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