Posts Tagged: Mary McDonald



Carolina Herrera’s 2016 Spring Collection had me swooning!  Set in the Beaux Arts courtyard of the Frick Collection, the show delighted guests with its pink palette of couture confections.“This is my rose period,” Herrera said during a preview. “Fashion should be optimistic.”

I have never encountered a pink I did not adore…from Chery Blossom to Schiarapelli , the hue always lifts my spirits and makes me want to surround myself with any shade whenever possible in how I dress and how I decorate. Take a peek at my favorite looks from the Spring 2016 Collection along with gorgeous pink interiors from my favorite designers and a few of my own…





























ines de la fressange









Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Stanwyck Entry Hall

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Stanwyck Dining Room

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Stanwyck Dining Room Detail

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room





For more inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe to Bespoke Banter. Thanks for reading and please come back again!

*Images of the Carolina Herrera Spring 2016 Fashion Show via the New York Times



I fell under the spell of Greystone Mansion seeing it in the pages of Veranda magazine as their showhouse in 2009. Designed by favorite talents Mary McDonald and Nathan Turner, the courtyard was transformed into a chinoiserie themed backdrop in crisp apple green and white for the opening gala. (Gala images via Veranda Magazine)






I finally had the chance to see the house and gardens with a group of fellow designers and was not only mesmerized by its beauty, but captivated by the story behind this grand estate filled with murder, mystery and intrigue. Special thanks to Tricia Jacobs and Leslie Newsom Rascoe for sharing their articles and stories about this incredible work of architectural history. Rumor has it that the ghost of Ned Doheney occasionally reveals himself…only to guests who appreciate the beauty of Greystone.



HISTORY (via website)

Greystone Mansion, and the surrounding grounds it shares its magnificent beauty with, are rich in California history. Edward Laurence Doheny, the original proprietor of the Greystone land, was born in 1856 in the small Midwestern town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By the time he was a young teen, Doheny’s adventuresome spirit and love of the wilderness led him to prospecting for gold and soon thereafter, oil. In 1892, Doheny and his friend Charles A. Canfield, were the first to strike oil in Los Angeles. They later discovered large oil deposits in Mexico which, combined with their Los Angeles holdings, made them the largest producers of oil in the world at that time.




Edward Doheny and his wife Carrie Louella Wilkins had two children. Their first, a daughter Eileen, passed away when she was just seven years old. On November 6, 1893, their only son, Edward “Ned” Laurence Doheny, Jr., was born and grew up as heir to one of the world’s great financial empires. Ned went on to marry Lucy Smith of Pasadena and in 1926 Edward Laurence Doheny Sr. gave his son as a wedding gift a premium parcel of land consisting of 12.58 acres with sweeping citywide views.

Construction of the palatial manor home began February 15, 1927 and although Ned, his wife Lucy, and their five children moved into the residence in September 1928, the estate took three years to complete at a cost of over $3 million, an almost unimaginable sum in real estate at the time.
The original cost to construct Greystone’s entire estate was $3,166,578.12, the Mansion alone cost $1,238,378.76. The extraordinary result became known as Greystone for its abundant use of stone construction and its rather somber gray appearance. In addition to the Mansion, originally located on the grounds were stables and kennels, tennis courts, a fire station, gatehouse, swimming pool and pavilion, a greenhouse, a lake, babbling brooks and cascading waterfalls.

But on the night of February 16, 1929, only five months after the family had moved in, Ned Doheny was found shot to death inside the home, at the age of 36 and the victim of an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by his longtime personal friend and aid Hugh Plunket. Lucy continued living at Greystone until 1955, after which she and her second husband Leigh M. Battson sold the majority of the original land to the Paul Trousdale Corporation, developers of Beverly Hills’ prestigious “Trousdale Estate” homes. The following year Lucy and her husband sold for approximately $1.5 million the remaining 18.3 acre parcel, including Greystone Mansion, to Henry Crown of Chicago-based Park Grey Corporation. Mr. Crown, however, never formally occupied the site but instead leased it out as a popular filming location, a legacy Greystone still maintains today.

The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property from Mr. Crown in 1965 for approximately $1.3 million with plans to install a 19-million gallon water tank on the property as its hilltop site provided tremendous natural water pressure. This site continues to serve as the City of Beverly Hills’ largest reservoir. On September 16, 1971, the entire 18.3 acre site, including its centerpiece Greystone Mansion, was formally dedicated as a public park by the City of Beverly Hills. Five years later, on April 23, 1976, Greystone Estate was officially recognized as a historic landmark and was entered into the Registry of Historic Places.


Greystone Mansion was designed by the renowned Southern Californian architect Gordon B. Kaufmann and was constructed by the P.J. Walker Company. The landscape architect was Paul G. Thiene who used a potpourri of Gothic and neoclassic architectural styles.

The structure of Greystone Mansion was built of steel reinforced concrete, faced with Indiana limestone and is roofed of Welsh slate. Upon entering the Mansion, the hand railings and arch-framed stairway typify both the opulence and craftsmanship of the era and of the entire Greystone property. All of the oak banisters, balustrades and rafters were hand carved, while each of the seven chimneys was designed and crafted by a different artist. The floors of the grand hall showcased black and white inlaid marble and an elaborate living room held a balcony where musicians often performed on special occasions. The kitchen featured a pantry built to secure a large adjoining wall safe that was used to store the family’s silver and gold services. The Mansion was built with a servant’s quarters which occupied two floors of the east wing and accommodated a live-in staff of fifteen.

There are fifty-five livable rooms within the 46,054 square feet of living space in the Mansion. While the Mansion’s bedrooms were spread throughout the second floor, the master bedroom suite was located in the west wing and featured an accompanying sitting room, two baths, a dressing room and a massage room. All the rooms with southern exposure offered a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin, from downtown to the beaches of Santa Monica Bay. In the north wing where the two oldest boy’s bedrooms were located, a circular staircase led into an adjacent recreation wing that contained a movie theater room, an original Brunswick bowling alley, billiard room and a hidden bar.












00019602-thumb-600x478-78193Greystone, ca. 1928 | Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… or was it Wuthering Heights, or Henry James’ Bly House, home of the ghostly children of “Turn of the Screw?” No, it was not a fictional English country estate, filled with regrets and windswept gardens. And it was not a dream. It was Greystone, the awe-inspiring, grey-green estate built by the oil rich Doheny clan in the 1920s. Looking down on Beverly Hills, with its bright blue sky and terra cotta Mediterranean mammoths, this stone-faced Tudor mansion looms above a field of honeysuckle. This capitalist dream is now a public park, and the grounds are open year round, although the mansion’s interiors are rarely subjected to mere plebeians, most probably for reasons of economy.

00019617-thumb-600x473-78195‘Cyprus Lane’ at Greystone, ca. 1928 | Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

As if by design, the day I visited Greystone was one of those rare days of lovely Los Angeles gloom. It was drizzling and warm as I made my way up the winding hillside. I stepped into the rain, and into another world. Beautiful terraced gardens, more akin to the palaces of Europe than L.A., were filled with outstanding views, trickling fountains, towering trees and overgrown paths leading to cozy nooks. The house itself was silent, its grey walls of Indiana slate glimmering like an exotic pearl, slightly darker than the overcast sky. I peered into the windows of the mansion, trying to imagine which ground floor room was the guest bedroom where, on February 16, 1929, Ned Doheny and his best friend Hugh Plunkett died — each man killed by a single bullet to the head.

00019615-thumb-600x477-78189Greystone, ca. 1928 | Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

But I was snapped out of my gothic reveries by the sound of children belting out the lyrics to the musical “Grease.” A quick walk to the mansion’s large circular driveway and further up to the filled-in Gatsby-esque Grecian pool revealed gaggles of children, the enthusiastic members of a local summer camp. They were practicing with the unfocused ease of children, shrieking and dancing, unaware and unafraid of their macabre surroundings. Life goes on even at Greystone, a palace of dreamlike beauty borne out of the deadly dealings of corrupt commerce.

Give Them Everything

00075969-thumb-250x325-78232He had developed the Midas touch. Gold flowed out of the grounds at his command.- The New York Times 1

Ned said to me at the dinner table, “Mama we could be awfully happy if we were poor couldn’t we?” I asked him “Dear, dear little tot, why?” He said “Because Papa wouldn’t go away so often.”– Letter from Estelle Doheny to E.L. Doheny 2

The story of Edward Laurence Doheny is one of Wild West legend. The son of poor Irish immigrants, clever Doheny spent his early adulthood kicking around the rough and tumble mining towns of the West, searching for gold and other precious metals. By 1892, he was in his late 30s, broke, with a troubled wife, and a sickly daughter who would die that same year. But sadness over his personal life was matched by sudden professional success. That fall he struck liquid gold, when on a hunch he dug his first oil well in the sticky tar fields of Los Angeles. He was further overjoyed when on November 6, 1893, his wife Carrie gave birth to a son, E.L Doheny Jr., known to the family as Ned. Doheny viewed Ned as his second chance, “swearing that he would achieve great wealth to provide a secure life for the boy.” 3

He made good on his oath. Over the next two decades, Doheny would become wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. In addition to virtually controlling the oil markets in California, he would make even more money at Tampico in Mexico, where he drilled some of the most productive oil wells in the world. Tampico was practically his own fiefdom, and he developed close and (according to many critics) questionable ties with the Mexican government. To his great sorrow, he lived apart from Carrie and Ned, who resided in San Francisco. The couple was divorced in 1899. E.L. soon married Estelle Betzold, a telephone operator whom he had fallen in love with over the phone lines. Carrie, always fragile, killed herself by ingesting battery acid, and Ned came to live with E.L. and Estelle. Estelle took the job of raising Ned seriously, and the pudgy boy was soon very attached to her. The two became close, playing games in their big mansion on Chester Place while E.L. was often away, overseeing his kingdom of oil.

Ned was educated at private Catholic schools, and spent a year at Stanford before graduating from USC. He grew into a spoiled, easygoing, funny and handsome man with a “heart of gold,” who idolized his father and adored his step-mother. In 1913, while courting his future wife, Lucy Smith, he met a working-class young man named Theodore “Hugh” Plunkett. Hugh worked at the Smith family’s gas station near Chester Place. They became great friends, and soon Hugh became one of the Dohenys’ many servants, acting as chauffeur for the entire Doheny family. Both men served in the Great War. When they returned from service, Hugh acted as Ned’s personal secretary, often traveling with him as he became more involved with his father’s businesses. But according to Attorney Fredrick R. Kellogg, although Hugh acted as secretary to Ned, “their relationship was more than that of friends.” Another associate, Dr. E.C. Fishbaugh, put it more succinctly — “They were like brothers.” 4

But, they were “brothers” with wildly different bank accounts. Upon their marriage, Ned and Lucy were presented with a mansion adjacent to the elder Doheny’s Chester Place castle, while Hugh and his wife, Harriet, lived in modest accommodations. The younger Dohenys were L.A.’s elite darlings. Their exploits were often the lead story on society pages, whether sailing on the family yacht, Casiana, or attending a dinner at a table that “glowed with a handsome mound of Richmond roses.” 5 They lived a life of refined excess, bankrolled by the Doheny millions. In 1919, even a car Ned purchased for Lucy was newsworthy. It was described as “the classiest creation of the year,” custom made by Earl Automobile Works:

A silver engraved monogram inlaid in red enamel is mounted on each door. On the panel between the door over the little extra fender [there are] specially designed coach lamps; these lamps were designed and constructed by the Tiffany Company in New York City. These lamps give the car a very foreign touch. The car is upholstered in bright long-grain red leather, which forms a great contrast with the body and wheels which are painted Willey’s battleship gray, with a satin finish.

mrmrsneddoheny-thumb-250x504-78234Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Doheny, Jr., in Fancy-Ball Costume | Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929

But life for Ned Doheny was not all play and no work. In November 1921, Ned and Hugh checked into a suite at the Plaza Hotel. On the 30th, Ned walked into the New York banking house of Blair and Company. He withdrew $100,000 from a banking account he shared with his wife, and put the bills in a small black bag. He and Hugh then traveled to Washington D.C. where they met with Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior for the Harding administration, at the Wardman Park Hotel. Ned handed over the money to Fall, a friend of his father from the rough and tumble mining days. Fall handed Ned a promissory note. Within a month, Doheny Sr. had deposited $100,000 back into Ned and Lucy’s account.

This simple transaction would turn Ned and Hugh’s world upside down. E.L. Doheny was soon awarded the contract for the Elks Hill Naval Petroleum Reserve in Kern County, California. The exchange of money, which Doheny would call a loan to an old friend, and numerous government officials would call a bribe, was part of the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, which would consume the rest of the 1920s. In 1924, Albert Fall, fellow oil man Harry F .Sinclair, and E.L. were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. At a grand jury hearing in D.C. in May, Ned refused to answer questions regarding his role in the delivery, although he testified that neither he nor his father had done anything wrong. E.L. was acquitted in December 1926, with Estelle, Ned, and Lucy by his side. However, due to endless political duels in Washington, E.L. was soon charged again, this time with bribery.

In the midst of this chaos, doting (and perhaps grateful) E.L. decided to present Ned, Lucy and their five children with an extraordinary gift. Built on 429-acres overlooking the still sleepy village of Beverly Hills, Greystone was designed by Gordon Kaufmann, a prominent architect whose work included the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building. Begun in 1927, the 55-room mansion included a bowling alley with a hidden bar, walls made of leaded glass, a main hall of checkered Carrara marble, a personal switchboard, secret passageways, and grand rooms filled with European antiques. The exquisite grounds, including an 80-foot waterfall which could be turned on with a switch, stables, riding trails, a swimming pool, kennel, and the still awe-inspiring Renaissance inspired “Cyprus Lane,” were designed by landscape architect Paul Thiene. According to Thiene’s main designer Emile Kuehl: “The sky was the limit. I would ask Mr. Thiene what the client might want. ‘Give them everything, was the reply.'” 7

Bitter Death

We know so little about another. Not a ninetieth part. In a moment of fever and excitement, this man was not himself and his moment came. We leave him in God’s keeping.
— Eulogy of Hugh Plunkett 8
But to have to say goodbye to one in the full flush of manhood, to have to stand at the grave of one in the full bloom of life-this, in sober truth, is bitter death!
— Eulogy of Ned Doheny 9
It was to be Ned and Lucy’s home, but it was Hugh who oversaw the construction of Greystone. Ned was frequently in Washington supporting his father through the Teapot Dome scandal. According to another family retainer, “Hugh often signed checks for Mr. Doheny totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. He attended to most of the details of the new home and actually paid the contractors bills with checks made out in Mr. Doheny’s name.” 10

In the fall of 1928, with the house nearing completion, the Doheny faithful claimed that the once quiet, even tempered Hugh was starting to unravel. Some blamed trouble with his teeth, others a dependence on sleeping pills, the breakdown of his eleven year marriage, and other “unknown problems.” What no one, including the Los Angeles Times, mentioned was that Ned and Hugh had been called to testify in the upcoming bribery trials of Albert Fall and E.L. Doheny. And although Ned had been assured immunity, Hugh had not.

Against this tense backdrop, the Doheny clan moved into Greystone before Thanksgiving. Ned and Lucy celebrated their first holiday season at Greystone with a thirty-foot Christmas tree adorned with piles of presents. They hosted a party featuring one hundred couples dancing to Christmas songs played by an orchestra sitting in a special gallery above the mansion ballroom. On Christmas Eve, Hugh supposedly suffered a complete “nervous breakdown,” and was put in the care of the family doctor, Dr. Ernest Clyde Fishbaugh.

By February, the Doheny circle claimed Hugh was completely unhinged. According to Dr. Fishbaugh, on the afternoon of February 16, he, Ned, and Lucy confronted Hugh at Greystone. They urged him to take a “rest” at a sanitarium. Was this to get him mental help, or to exempt him from testifying at Fall’s upcoming trial? Or both? We will never know. Whatever the case, the doctor claimed that “Hugh refused. He simply sat there. Almost shaking at times. Hands clenched. Jaw set at times. He said he would come out of it all right. I could see it was no use to push him further and so I left.” 11

nedeldoheny-thumb-600x420-78237Ned Doheny with his mother and father | L.A. Times, February 18, 1929

According to the “official story,” in the early evening of February 16, Ned and Lucy went to visit Hugh at his apartment, again urging him to get help. During this visit, Ned uttered some “impulsive remarks” that upset Hugh. Ned and Lucy left Hugh, and went to the theater. They returned to Greystone. As they were getting ready for bed, Hugh called. 12 He was at the garage at the gates of Greystone, and said he wanted to come to the mansion. Lucy implored him not to. A little while later, Hugh let himself into the main house with his pass key. Ned found him in the guest bedroom he often slept in, and sat down to talk with his troubled friend. An hour or so passed, and the two men had drinks and smoked cigarettes. Lucy was in another part of the house. According to Doctor Fishbaugh:

I received a call at the Hollywood Playhouse from my maid at 10:30p.m. and was told to go to the Doheny home immediately. Upon my arrival there, one of the watchmen, whose name I do not know, let me in the house … As I entered, Mrs. Doheny was standing in the middle hallway approximately eight feet back from the door and greeted me. She said her husband was in a guestroom on the first floor, to the left of the hall leading from the front entrance. Both Mrs. Doheny and I started down the hall, side by side. A door, which partitions the hall, was slightly ajar, and I saw Plunkett walking toward it. ‘You stay out of here,’ he shouted at me and slammed the door shut. I then heard a shot. ‘You go back,’ I told Mrs. Doheny, and she returned to the living room, which was about 75 feet away from the guest room. I pushed the door open and saw Plunkett lying on his face opposite the door to the bedroom where I later found Mr. Doheny. Plunkett, to the best of my recollection, was fully clothed. The door to the bedroom was open, and when I looked in I saw Mr. Doheny lying on his back, a chair overturned between him and the bed. 13
Both men had been shot in the head and were dead. Frantic calls went out to Lucy’s brothers-in-law, to D.A. Fitts, and to the Beverly Hills police. Old E.L. Doheny was awoken at his home at Chester Place, and rushed to the scene. 14 Doheny arrived at Greystone and refused to heed the advice of family members to not go to Ned’s body:

“No, I must see Ned,” he said with a bowed head as he walked down the hall that leads from the front entrance to the chamber where his son’s body lay. “Yes, it is Ned after all. I had hoped against hope there was some mistake. “He staggered slightly, and then with a slow tread passed close to the head of his son’s murderer, who lay in the hall close to the door of the chamber and walked into the room. He gazed at his son’s body for a moment and then knelt beside it. He shook with emotion as he reached down and took young Doheny’s right hand. “Ned, my Ned,” he sobbed as he was half carried from the room. 15

00074554-thumb-600x410-78197Original caption reads: ‘Photo-diagram below illustrates police officers’ theory of the dual tragedy in which Theodore Plunkett killed his employer, Edward L. Doheny, Jr. and then committed suicide. According to the police theory, Plunkett held the gun at his waist and shot Doheny seated in a chair.’ | Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

The ensuing, if brief, media storm cast Ned as a hero who had “died the finest kind of death,” trying to help a troubled friend. Many in law enforcement, including forensic investigator Leslie White, doubted the pat story of murder-suicide. 16 While photographing and processing the scene, White found a smoldering cigarette in Hugh’s fingertips, a curious thing for a man who had just killed his best friend in a fit of madness and was about to kill himself. The gun used in the murder lay under Plunkett’s body, very warm, as if someone had heated it in the oven. Dr. Fishbaugh — the main mouthpiece for the Doheny family — was caught in several lies, including withholding the fact that Ned had been alive when the doctor burst into the room, breathing although already unconscious. White also observed that it appeared that Ned had been shot at very close range, while it seemed that Hugh had not.

The city of Los Angeles was titillated by this tragedy of titans. E.L.’s private security detail guarded Greystone, determined to keep lookey-loos away. Ned’s funeral at St. Vincent’s, the beautiful church funded by E.L. and Estelle, was filled to capacity. Hundreds stood outside the Catholic Church, held back by a special detail of traffic officers. Ned was buried at Forest Lawn in the magnificent temple of Santa Sabina, which once contained the bones of an Italian Saint of the second century. A day later, Hugh was buried only a 100 feet away from Ned on Sunrise Slope. Both his brother and sister collapsed at the graveside. Lucy Doheny sent a huge floral arrangement to Plunkett’s funeral, and two of her brothers served as pallbearers.

After the huge explosion of coverage in the local papers, all reporting on the murder ceased within three days. And after promising a “sweeping investigation”, District Attorney Buron Fitts proclaimed there would be “no inquest” and officially closed the investigation. Old E.L. was eventually acquitted of his bribery charge, but his heart had been broken. Rumors of a love affair between the two men, of a cover-up and bribes, linger to this day. A reporter at the Los Angeles Times summed up the whole saga within 48-hours of the tragedy, aware that this was a story already forever muddled by power and pride:

What transpired in the bedroom of that long, rambling mansion in its woodland setting, halfway up the side of the Beverly Hills mountainside, may never be known. Both Doheny and Plunkett are dead. 17

Diagram retraces the events that led to the deaths | Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929

A Pleasant Kind of Palace

“I never got stuck,” declared Tim Doheny. “But I dreaded it, really did. Nobody would hear you, and you would be a skeleton by the time you were found.”
— Los Angeles Times, 1985 Lucy stayed at Greystone with her five children, and life began again. She married investment dealer Leigh Battson in 1932, in front of the living room fireplace at Greystone.

Spring blossoms and American beauty roses decorated the room in which the wedding took place, and at the wedding breakfast which followed it ,the brides table was laden with white flowers, orchids, gardenias and lilies of the valley … Her gown was simply made and it was set off by a single piece of jewelry, a baguette diamond and jade pin which was a gift from the bridegroom…While the wedding breakfast was in progress, Mr. C.C .Moseley, a family friend, flew low [in a plane] over the home and dropped a bouquet from himself and Mrs. Moseley upon the spacious lawn. 18
Despite its horrific beginnings, Greystone became a happy place, filled with opulent parties, and children scurrying across the expansive grounds or spraying away with a fire extinguisher in the attic gymnasium. Lucy and Leigh were regulars on the social scene, dancing at jet set balls, and hosting real European aristocracy at Greystone. Lucy was also heavily involved with charity work, and her daughter Lucy Estelle, called “Dicky Dell,” was one of the “loveliest and most popular debutantes” of the 1930s. Her engagement, during a dinner party at Greystone in 1936, was straight out of a Noel Coward play:

Guests were informed of the betrothal when each was served a decorated plate on which was an oyster shell containing a large pearl. Under the shell was a gold card with the engraving- “The pearls of wisdom within these shells predict for Van and Dicky wedding bells.” The bride to be found in her shell a solitaire diamond engagement ring… An orchestra played for dancing, and gaiety continued until late, with other amusements afforded guests. 19
After the children were grown, Lucy and Leigh found the giant estate burdensome and too large. Lucy sold it in 1955. In 1965, Greystone was bought by the city of Beverly Hills. It became an increasingly popular filming location, so it was fitting when AFI leased it from the city from 1969 to 1982. It is now a public park, and used for private functions. It continues to be a popular filming location, and numerous movies have shot scenes there. These include “The Holiday,” “The Bodyguard,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” and fittingly, “There Will Be Blood,” based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!,” which many say was inspired by the elder Doheny’s rise to power. Greystone is indeed a place of dreams and illusions — the sublime, the sophisticated and the just plain sad.

1 Richard Rayner, “A Bright and Guilty Place”
2 Margaret Leslie Davis, “The Dark Side of Fortune”
3 Ibid.
4 “Doctor asserts madness caused double death” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
5 “Luncheon Party” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1914
6 “Some class to this body” Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1919
7 “Mansion’s history rich, tragic” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1985
8 “Brother and sister collapse at Doheny’s aide’s grave” Los Angeles Times, February 21, 1929
9 “Final tributes paid to Doheny” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1929
10 “Plunkett rose from tire job” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
11 “Doctor asserts madness caused double death” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
12 “Doheny murder inquiry discloses controversy” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid.
15 “No inquest on Doheny” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1929
16 “Doheny lauded for friend aid” Los Angeles Times February 18, 1929
17 “Doheny murder inquiry discloses controversy” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
18 “Mrs E.L. Doheny Jr., reweds” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1932
19 “Spinsters engagement announced” Los Angeles Times, December 17, 1936

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter.  Thanks for reading and please come visit again!



I can not think of another designer more glamorous and fun loving than Mary McDonald. Anyone who has lived vicariously through her Instagram feed knows she always travels in style (with great company!) and absorbs the local culture wherever she goes. I love seeing her inspiration manifest itself into her latest collection for Schumacher. Every detail reflects her recent adventures to Bora Bora, Puka Diamond and Moorea.  The shapes and colors of the South Pacific blended with Mary’s love of fashion make each fabric, trimming and wallpaper extremely unique. The scale and pattern placement of the fabrics allow for maximum versaility to create banding and borders with just the fabrics alone. The exquisite details such as fringe, beading and embroidery are the perfect finishing touches for her collection as well as her wardrobe for the photo shoot below…


Schumacher describes the collection as being “inspired by the South Pacific, the cotton-linen prints and embellished fabrics and tapes include primitivist geometrics and a breezy floral. The colorways are effortless—Lava, Sea Oyster, and Marine pair beige and sandy tones with hues of black, gray, and indigo. McDonald tapped into her background to incorporate distinct dressmaker details. Fringes, embroidery, and beading come together to create a couture-worthy collection that’s at once casual and sophisticated—exuberant and fabulously easy.”

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For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading and please visit again!


Surrounded by Good Vibrations

Forgive me friends….it has been 368 days since my last post! After a year dedicated to volunteering and fundraising for The Mint Museum Auxiliary, I am back to solely focusing on interior design and easing back into the world of blogging.  Special thanks to my VERY patient and supportive clients that allowed me to fuel my passion for arts education and acquisitions while working with them this past year.

Over the past twelve months, I have met some of the most inspirational and creative people I have ever encountered. From fashion designers and fundraising gurus to interior design icons and volunteers, I have been blown away by the passion and energy of these talented individuals. The common trait that they all possess is their positive energy and their willingness to share their passion with others.

I was fortunate enough to attend a design conference in Paris this fall and visit Maison & Objet for the first time. I was blown away by the words of the Maison & Objet Observatoire, a small group of French design experts that analyze the current dynamics and changing influences in art, media, home, fashion, and architecture each year. This year’s theme was “ENERGIES” as described below….

The time has come to recharge our batteries. Where design is concerned, we should not save our energies. Quite the reverse. We are encouraging use when circulating GOOD VIBRATIONS… Positive , optimism-inducing waves are electrifying the established order.  This is a beneficent motion that is freeing our imaginations, reinvigorating unexpected aesthetics and activating alternative currents. (To see the full video, click here.)

This idea summed up everything I have been experiencing over the past year and strive to apply to my design practice. From collaborating with clients and workrooms to brainstorming with fellow colleagues, feeding off of each other’s positive energy only yields better results.

Tomorrow, I am off to Nashville on another adventure to attend The Southern Coterie Summit with designers Holly Hollingsworth Phillips and Margaret Fisher for more inspiration with some of the South’s most creative minds. The organizers have put together a fabulous line up of speakers to help us connect, collaborate and create. Stay tuned for details….updates to follow!


My last post was all about famous red interiors where the color is used as a backdrop.  This post shows how red can be used as an accent to punctuate an interior.  In all of these images, red is repeated in small doses around the room.  The color draws the eye around the room to visually connect the dots. Even a small amount of red can make a very big impact. See below for some inspiration…
Sarah Ruffin Costello’s Bedroom
Courtesy of Domino
The red shade above plays off of the bossoms of the cherry branches and makes this bedroom sophisticated and feminine, without being too girly.
Interior Design by Mary McDonald
Interior Design by Mary McDonald


Mary McDonald is a master of using one color repeatedly to create maximum impact.
Interior Design by Katie Ridder
Katie Ridder illustrates how something as easy as painting the back of the bookcases and adding a red lampshade can add drama to this Moroccan-influenced playroom.
The Coral Bar at the Tides Hotel
South Beach
Interior Design by Kelly Wearstler
The coral red used here plays beautifully off of the cusom rug which is like a painting for the floor.  Kelly’s graphic punch makes this bar cozy and glamourous.
Interior Design by Alessandra Branca
Alessandra Branca is well known for incorporating red into her interiors. This library is accented by the red border at the ceiling as well as the vibrant red pillows and ottoman. These solid touches all bring out the red pattern in the print fabric on the sofa and window treatments.
Interior Design by Alessandra Branca
Courtesy of Elle Decor
Alessandra repeats the red on the back of the bookcases, chair fabric, window fabric and accessories.
Interior Design by Alessandra Branca

I love how Alessandra used something as simple as red grosgrain ribbon to outline the room of this guest bedroom. The small lampshade and garden seat stand out becasue they are the only solid red accents against the red ticking used everywhere else.

Interior Design by Alessandra Branca
Courtesy of House & Garden
The red chairs animate the monocromatic room.
Interior Design by Alessandra Branca
One strong red piece such as this chinoiserie cocktail table contrasts beautifully with the neutral sofa.
Interior Design by Miles Redd

Courtesy of Elle Decor

What I love most about Miles Redd’s work is his unexpected and daring color combinations. He proves that any colors can work together when used in the proper amounts and treatments.  It is hard to imagine anything other that a bright red door to hold its own with the boldness of the cobalt blue walls. The red chair seats, shades and flowers connect the red dots.
Miles Redd’s Living Room
Courtesy of Architectural Digest
This is one of my favorite rooms of Miles.  The red corner banquette is stunning the pink walls.  The art hung “salon-style”, the zebra upholstered door, and the patterned floor are brilliant. Who would not LOVE to attend a cocktail party here?!?!
Interior Design by Miles Redd
Another favorite from Mr. Redd.  The vibrant sofa and rug anchors the space in this New York apartment. The abstract black and white painting converse beautifully with the zebra footstools and the chair fabric.
Interior Design by Suzanne Kasler
Suzanne Kasler uses a pink tinged cranberry red in this serene living room to accent the shapes of all of the furniture.  The color borders each sofa cushion. The striped fabric accents the rectangular shape of the Louis 16th chairs, and the red stool seat draws attention to the curve of the seat.


Interior Design by Yours Truly
My daughter Evelyn absolutely adores red.  When she saw I was doing a post on the color red, she asked me to include this image of her old bedroom. Her room consisted of sveral pieces of inherited furniture that we tried to pull together and update.  The bedside tables and bookcase were orginally stained and we lacquered them black. The graphic pillow is from the 1950s and was a gift to her great grandmother. We were able to reuse all of the fabrics in her new room, but also added a red grosgrain ribbon border around the room inspired by Alessandra Branca. Ms. Vreeland would be very proud!


is like a lady without lipstick,” said the inimitable Diana Vreeland. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am sharing my favorite red rooms by legendary designers, artists and trendsetters…

Photo by Horst P. Horst
Interior Design by Billy Baldwin

Ms. Vreeland is worthy of a blog solely dedicated to her larger than life personality and style.  She worked as the fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar from 1937-1962. She left to become editor in chief at Vogue for the next decade. She gave all of her models, editors, photographers and stylists total creative freedom.  After leaving Vogue, she worked at the Metroplitan Museum of Art as a special consultant to the Costume Institute. She organized several blockbuster shows including the Ballet Russes, the World of Balenciaga and Romantic and Glamourous Hollywood Design. When she lost her vision in the 1980s, she said it was because she had looked at so many beautiful things.

Ms. Vreeland used her surroundings to reflect her dynamic personality and was always drawn to red.  She worked in a lacquered red office, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day followed by a shot of scotch. She only liked red flowers, used red ink for her notes, and preferred to be dressed in red from head to toe. She asked Billy Baldwin to design a room for her that looked like a garden, but a “Garden in Hell” which is illustrated in the image above.

The Red Room at the White House
Interior Design by Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen
The Kennedy Archives

The Red Room at the White House was the favorite stateroom of Jackie Kennedy. The color red has always been associated with power, excitement and celebration. It grabs your attention and gets people to take action. It is the Chinese color of luck and prospertity and the offical marriage color in India.

Interior Design by David Hicks

Using red in an interior space can be tricky.  Red makes a statement and is typically used in rooms for entertaining or in small rooms to make an impact.  In the examples shown here, most of the designers (except for David Hicks and Billy Baldwin) have offset the use of red by adding, white, black, cream and blue to create a graphic punch.

Interior Design by Mark Hampton

Mark Hampton worked for Billy Baldwin before venturing out on his own.  His daughter Alexa says her father used their apartment as a design laboratory to try out new ideas such as the red lacquered walls with the white contemporary sculpture above the fireplace.

Mrs. Astor’s Library
Interior Design by Albert Hadley
Interior Design by Miles Redd
Influenced by Mrs. Astor’s Library
Photography by Francisco Lagrisse

The library of Brooke Astor by Albery Hadley has always been a personal favorite.  Mr. Hadley’s use of brass inlay to define the bookcases and add detail to the walls was pure brilliance.  I love how Miles Redd reinterpreted this idea for a modern day library seen above.

Interior Design by Mary McDonald
Photo Courtesy of the Kips Bay Showhouse

For the Kips’ Bay Showhouse, Mary McDonald took a narrow, obscure hallway and added her glamourous touch with a red backdrop, ebony accents and wonderful contemporary art.

Interior Design by Ruthie Sommers

Town and Country

Ruthie Sommers created this cozy interior for cocktails, reading and entertaining.  Imagine how it looks by candlelight!

Interior Design by Miles Redd
Elle Decor

Miles works his magic once again with the charming window treatments playing off the red walls.  The room is sophisticated, yet playful at the same time.

Interior Design by Mary McDonald
House Beautiful
Interior Design by Mary McDonald
House Beautiful

Both of the images above illustrate how Mary McDonald used red as a backdrop and then punctuated the spaces with black accents. If committing to red walls sounds overwhelming, consider using red in small doses which still has a big impact.  A red door, pair of red pillows or lamps, or even painting the back of your bookcases red can add a livley finishing touch to any room….just take Dianne’s advice!