THE TITANIC: TALE OF A  TENACIOUS WOMAN

THE TITANIC: TALE OF A TENACIOUS WOMAN

Helen Churchill Candee (at center) with 5 other women on horseback led the historic 1913 “Votes for Women” suffrage parade in Washington, D.C.

 

Titanic survivor, Helen Churchill Candee and her extraordinary life will be celebrated at the Titanic Centennial Commemoration at the Spring opening of the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Avenue,  Norwalk, Connecticut, on the evening of April 21, 2012.  In her life, she made important contributions to society and to our country.  Please see the invitation to the commemoration below.

Much to my surprise, in addition to known first decorator Elsie de Wolf,  Helen Churchill Candee fancied herself a decorator during the same era in the early 20thcentury.

Helen Churchill Candee 1905

The decorators of those years were self-taught and had important, influential connections.  Helen had impressive clients that led to her being commissioned by  President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 to advise on the purchase of a set of Louis XVI chairs for the First Lady’s dressing room.

She was admired and well-respected as a decorator and historian. Helen’s specialty was antiques and period decoration.  She was critical of manufacturers and department stores that sold cheap imitation furniture. She did not approve of upscale decorators like de Wolfe endorsing good quality reproductions of period pieces for modern interiors. Looking back into history, de Wolf was very well connected and worked for the Vanderbilt’s and others of the same ilk. Society was moving away from the cluttered overstuffed rooms of the mid to late 19th century.  De Wolf’s interiors were fresh and uncluttered.  This room by Helen is cluttered with antiques in the Victoriana style.

Decorated interior by Helen with antiques

Despite her impressive clientele, Helen Candee’s work as a decorator was intermittent. It was through her writing in books and articles on the history of furniture, textiles and art, that she made an impact on early 20th century interiors.

Candee was a strong feminist, as evidenced by her best-selling first book, How Women May Earn a Living (1900).  Candee’s first book on home decor was the profusely illustrated Decorative Styles and Periods , published by Frederick A. Stokes, Co. in November 1906. It was well received and quickly became a standard reference on period furnishings and their modern use.

Readers of Decorative Styles and Periods , a deep green cloth-bound volume with an inset portrait of an Empire room on the cover, were treated to the warmly delicate prose that already distinguished Helen Candee as a novelist and journalist. The book was long and thorough, addressing all major trends and designs, but was also full of human interest and historical sidelights that made it as entertaining as it was instructional.

More than any other book she wrote, Helen’s philosophy of design (and living) can be gleaned from Decorative Styles and Periods .

Authenticity was the prime principle of her credo. Candee was a purist in the extreme, insisting on genuine antiques and unswervingly faithful period atmosphere in the arrangement of rooms. The “perfection of the old,” she said, was all-important, adding that the “best is of the past.”

She along with Edith Wharton wrote books on decoration.  Helen wrote about period furnishings and tapestries for various magazines.

Based on my recent research, Helen, in her time, was a strong image as a decorator, antiques consultant and writer.  I am delighted to make her acquaintance, thanks to Wikipedia.  In the twenty years and more that I taught interior design and architectural history and criticism, I had not heard about this woman, Helen Churchill Candee until now, while working on the Titanic’s epic journey.

Helen, who broke her ankle when jumping into the lifeboat, was together with the unsinkable Molly Brown. They rowed and rowed and rowed.  Where were they going?

More to come…

Here’s the invitation for April 21, black tie.  Buy a table, buy a ticket,  bring guests.

 

WINDOWLESS ROOMS

WINDOWLESS ROOMS

The sun warms our planet, provides us with light and is crucial to all life on Earth.

One of my readers asked me to talk about windowless rooms.  I sent a query back to her explaining that rooms w/o windows can be so depressing.  “What tactic do you want me to take? ”

Her answer:  Safety from natural and man-made disasters. Not depressing.

Well folks, with my 40 plus years of interior design work, I can tell you that a windowless room can be depressing.  So, before I talk about creating one that has live-in possibilities in case of disaster, I want to let you know that without access to natural light and fresh air, bacteria has no way to dissipate.

It’s the ultraviolet light of the sun that grows our veggies that make us healthy, and kills the bacteria that make us sick.  Oh sure, you can get special indoor artificial lighting that does some sun imitation, but living in a space where there is no natural light of the sun, is not ideal.  Not ideal physiologically or psychologically.

The president of the company always gets the corner office.  The one with the windows.  It’s not priority by seniority, it’s productivity by possibilities.  The ones who make the decisions get the best window(s). Important decisions are made in this conference room.

Conference room with natural light, lots and lots and lots.

The more important it is, the bigger the windows.  The industry tried to change this philosophy, but it did not work.  The natural light makes the grade.

When’s the last time you gazed upward and marveled at the mysterious, life-giving force that is the sun?

If you believe the whole staring-at-the-sun-makes-you-go-blind thing (which is actually true), you’re probably not doing a whole lot of sun-gazing. But it’s a real marvel: The sun warms our planet every day, provides the light by which we see and is necessary for life on Earth. It can also cause cell death and make us blind. It could fit 1.3 million Earths inside its sphere [source: SpaceDaily]. It produces poem-worthy sunsets and as much energy as 1 trillion megaton bombs every second [source: Boston Globe].

All of this, and our sun is just a plain old average star, by universal standards. It’s really just proximity that makes it so special to Earth. We wouldn’t be here if the sun weren’t so close.

And what about cruise ships?  My son Paul frequently goes on cruises with his friends and family.  He gets an exterior stateroom with a balcony, but there are interior staterooms as well. But those staterooms have no balcony and are windowless.

Ship interior stateroom windowless

They use the old mirror trick to give the impression of light.  The mirrors are in the oval/round shape of the ship windows.  Not too shabby.

I prefer windows, even on a ship.  A windowless room, bah, humbug.  Even if you got stuck in a basement apartment when you got out of college, just a slit of a window inspired a happy dance.  But if you have one of those theatre rooms,

Windowless Theatre Room

most likely in a lower level with no windows or you cover the window or eliminate the window.  Now we are talking about an on-purpose windowless room.  This room is not to live in unless…unless there has been a disaster and you must stay in this room until the disaster ends.  The room pictured here is pretty fun to spend some time.  Light colors and reflective surfaces, and if you turn out the lights and put on the movie projector, turn up the sound, munchies at hand, not too bad.  Add battery powered lighting, shelving, canned/dried food/water and potty, some warm clothes, you got a great place to wait out a disaster.

A safe place, a secret room below ground, a tomb in a pyramid.

King Tuts Tomb

New for 2020.  Tomb construction with all the amenities for windowless winning spaces.  Protect the people, protect the environment.

King Tut's tomb map to make your own passage

Will this go over big in the future?  Will we need to construct windowless rooms with secret passages to protect our sanity, our children, our lives?

 

 

 

 

Sun photo above courtesy of NASA

 

BEHIND CLOSED WALLS

BEHIND CLOSED WALLS

Extraordinary bedroom of Louis XIV in the palace at Versailles

Did you ever figure out how to make hidden spaces behind closed walls?  This is more than storage.  Hidden spaces are where you save stuff out of sight.  My daughter-in-law Joanne reminded me how they have pretty kool storage ideas—turning unused wall space into a computer closet, housing an attic behind a bathroom mirror.   Great storage in a 1/2 bath  in the Woodcliff Lake house behind mirrors.  And those areas are good for the large things.  Small things can be tucked behind outlet/switch cover plates, behind bricks, in door panels,

inside drapery linings, behind decor and more.  The movie “The Man in the Iron Mask” was on AMC (American Movie Channel) on Sunday past.  The wooden panels tickled me to see them open allowing King Louis XIV to leave his mistress’ bed chamber undetected. Getting any ideas?

The most interesting hiding places are behind moving walls of a library or walls that open between rooms.

The Queen’s bedchamber.

Queen's bed chamber in the Versailles

There is a barely discernible ‘hidden door’ in the corner near the jewel cabinet by Schwerdfeger (1787) through which Marie Antoinette escaped the night of 5/6 October 1789 when the Paris mob stormed Versailles.

 

Secret room/hidden door

Hidden rooms and secret passageways are the stuff of legend. Only found in ancient castles and fantasy books, nobody actually has a hidden door in their house, right?  Wrong. There is now an entire industry devoted to providing the slickest, most beautiful and subtle hideaways for adults who still have the dreams, and now the cash, to make fantasy a reality.

Would you like a secret store to stash your stuff?  How creative can you be? A moving wall, bookcase, panel might work.

HOW TO BUILD DRAWERS IN BOATS (YACHTS)

HOW TO BUILD DRAWERS IN BOATS (YACHTS)

The bottom line responses to the storage blog of the last two weeks…no one has enough.  For those of you that have survived life on a boat, you would probably agree storage space is premium.  So boats are a good example to use for storage.

The Challenge:  Since quarters are tight on a boat, the challenge is to figure out how to build drawers for storage on a boat.  One of my readers suggested I write about how to design storage on a boat.  I think the suggestion was tongue-in-cheek.  However, I am up for a challenge, and since I am not an expert in the area, I Googled some ideas.  These can also be used for tight spots where you live, except leave off the latch unless you have curious little tykes.

The latch is meant to keep boat drawers from spilling their stuff in rough seas. According to Will, boats “rock and roll” with the water’s movement. If you leave a drawer unsecured on a boat, it will eventually pop open and may even end up on the floor with its contents scattered.

So, please go to the link below for instructions how to build those drawers. They would be in the walls of the boat of course, as they could be in your home.  Remember, since most homes have walls, in my last blogs I suggested building storage in the walls between the rooms.  Sort of like closets.  Did you ever notice that closets are usually back to back or next to each other and reversed for the room(s) they are in?  Closets and drawers also create sound barriers, especially with the soft clothes inside absorbing the sound.  You see, storage does more than provide a place to put stuff, storage also gives privacy and quiet.  Book storage also give more than books on shelves, they are sound barriers.

If you click on the link below, you will have how-to instructions to build those drawers.

The following is by Will Charpentier, eHow Contributor:

“If you’ve ever built or expanded any cabinetry in your home, you know that measurements make or break a project. Most often cabinetry afloat has few special requirements, save that the exterior should be painted, stained or varnished. The drawers, though, do require a bit of attention, since they must fit in spite of the beating the boat gives them. The drawer slides – like slides used ashore – are adjustable.”

Read more: How to Build Drawers in Boats | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_12152758_build-drawers-boats.html#ixzz1l5jPK0oT

Do you have an interesting place to build new storage? Maybe on your boat?
Word count: 431 Draft saved at 10:43:48 pm. Last edited by gailingis on January 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

 

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