Last weekend, I stayed at the enchanting Wolterton Hall with a group of design friends following the Design Leadership Summit in London. After jam packed days of learning and inspiration following in the footsteps of the great British architects and designers of centuries past, the retreat to the countryside was pure heaven. Our home for the weekend was the charming Garden Cottage on the grounds of Wolterton Park. Under the expert care of Peter Sheppard and Keith Day, the 18th century Palladian villa is lovingly being restored and brought back to life. We received a behind the scenes look at what it takes to restore such a significant property while enjoying the spaces in the main hall, east wing, and cottages that are already complete. Peter and Keith have an incredible master plan for the estate that includes creating more guest cottages, restoring the walled garden and adding a pool, equestrian facilities, additional dining faclities, and possibly a spa which our house party encouraged.
The beautiful estate has been featured in the World of Interiors and landed on House and Garden UK’s list as one of the best places to stay in England. Peter and Keith along with Laura Foster and Chris Patten took excellent care of us entertaining us with their hospitality beyond measure. Their precious pugs, Coco and Trump (after William Hogarth’s pug) captured our hearts and even let us take them out for their daily strolls. Our days consisted of shooting parties, country house hopping, antiquing along the coast, gin tastings, and long dinners by the fire hearing fabulous tales from our hosts.
The final post of the Rayner’s Haute Bohemian oasis in Palm Beach reveals their beautiful gardens and magical Moroccan pool tent. There was a delightful surprise around every bend in the serpentine path of their lush tropical gardens. As I mentioned in Part One, we entered their property through an intricately adorned Turkish Pool Pavillion designed by Peter Marino. Once we passed through the Pavillion and a beautifully manicured lawn adored with parasols, painted elephants, and chaises, we entered the “jungle” leading towards the main house detailed in Part Two.
Yesterday, I shared one of the most original homes I have ever experienced. Click HERE to read the first part of the background of this bohemian gem. The main house of Kathy and the late Billy Rayner’s Palm Beach compound is a modest one bedroom home. Tiny guesthouses posing as”potting sheds” are scattered throughout the property connected by serpentine paths in the lush tropical landscape. I think the best interiors are always constantly evolving. These interiors perfectly reflect that concept showcasing items accumulated from their travels through North Africa and the Near East.
Once in a blue moon, I experience a house that makes me weak in the knees. It is the kind of emotional response that one has to a great work of art or experiencing a heavenly moment in nature. I was fortunate enough to visit this beauty last winter on an architectural tour in Palm Beach. What started as a non-descript ranch was transformed into an exotic compound in a tropical garden by architectural genius Peter Marino. I had first read about this property in the book Palm Beach Chic by Jennifer Ash Rudick. I was instantly enchanted by the home of Kathy and the late Billy Rayner. Images do not do this magical oasis justice…Enjoy the tour!
This is the last weekend to see the Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens presented by Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine. Nestled in the heart of Buckhead, this stunning home is on one of the most magnificent pieces of property in Atlanta. Overlooking a beautiful forest, valley and polo fields, one would never know they were in the midst of the Southeast’s largest city. Click HERE to get tickets.
I am not sure where Ernest Hemingway wrote this, but I would like to think it was on his terrace overlooking the Grand Canal while staying at the legendary Gritti Palace in Venice. We were fortunate enough to stay in this beautiful palace on our recent trip to Venice with the Rubelli Group who had supplied many of the fabrics for the restoration overseen by Donghia’s creative director Chuck Chewning in 2013. My pictures and words did not do this masterpiece justice so I found these wonderful articles from Architectural Digest detailing the process. My own candids follow at the end.
I am battling the Monday blues by studying more Marrakech history. One of our first stops on our trip will be Le Jardin Marjorelle. These famous gardens were started by the painter Jacques Marjorelle in 1937, opened to the public in 1947, and eventually purchased by Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Berge in 1980.
Jacques Marjorelle was a French orientalist painter and the son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Marjorelle. He fell in love with Marrakech and purchased a palm grove in 1923 which is now Le Jardin Marjorelle.
As Marjorelle travelled the world, the artist would bring back specimens to add to his garden including hundreds of rare varieties of trees and plants that included: cacti, palm trees, bamboo, coconut palms, thujas, weeping willows, carob trees, jasmine, agaves, white water lilies, datura, cypress, bougainvilleas, and ferns. He laid out the gardens in the same way he would arrange the composition of a painting playing with light and shadow and introducing bold color through painted walls and pottery.
He began introducing color by painting the facade of his studio, and then gates, pergolas, pots and the various buildings in a scheme of bold and brilliant primary colors. His favorite shade was, an ultramarine, cobalt blue, “evoking Africa” which came to be known as “Marjorelle Blue”. This intense blue accentuated the various shades of green found throughout the garden.
In 1931, he commissioned the architect, Paul Sinoir, to design a Cubist villa for him, constructed near his first house. His workshop, where he would paint his large decorations, was located on the ground floor, and he established a studio on the first floor where he spent much of his time. Balconies and an Arab-inspired pergola were added to the construction in 1933.
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the Jardin Majorelle in 1966, during their first stay in Marrakech.
“We quickly became very familiar with this garden, and went there every day. It was open to the public yet almost empty. We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature… And when we heard that the garden was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, we did everything we could to stop that project from happening. This is how we eventually became owners of the garden and of the villa. And we have brought life back to the garden through the years.” – Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent, “Une passion marocaine” Éditions de la Martinière, 2010
In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle, saving it from real estate developers. The new owners decided to live in the Villa Bou Saf Saf, which they renamed Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle.”
The painter’s studio has been transformed into a museum open to the public, dedicated to Berber culture, housing the personal Berber collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.
Yves Saint Laurent would say he was able to find an unlimited source of inspiration in the Jardin Majorelle, and that he dreamt many times about its unique colours.
Yves St. Laurent dies in 2008 in Paris. His ashes were scattered in the rose garden of the Villa Oasis; a memorial was built in the garden, designed around a Roman pillar which was brought from Tangier and set on a pedestal with a plate bearing his name, so that visitors can remember him and his unique contribution to fashion. “It is a way for artists to live on… ” After Yves died, I donated the Jardin Majorelle and the Villa Oasis to the foundation in Paris which bears both our names.” – Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent, Une passion marocaine, Éditions de la Martinière, 2010