Are we visiting a house on the Seine visualized in a Parisian poem or novel?
Jeanie Diamond’s home could have been a European movie set or just along the Ramblin’ Raft Race of years past. The wide, green and calming Chattahoochee is the backyard that creates a breathtaking panorama with intense hues of lime, olive, emerald and forest greens.
Jeanie knows what she likes and how to get it, so she sought out interior designer Linda Rickles to employ the secrets in her fashion vault and combine couture into this natural setting.
Listen in as Linda and Jeanie recall their design execution, and the fun they had doing it.
Marcia: What were the initial plans you chose for Linda to implement?
Jeanie: I wanted a chic interior with a contemporary twist. I asked Linda to compose a total visual effect throughout the house inclusive of the architecture with few walls, no heavy furniture, no “chopped up” rooms, modern, comfy, livable, bright and open with personality. That’s a tall order!
Marcia: What was the grassroots process between you and Jeanie?
Linda: I knew that she had European tastes in clothing and furnishings and combined that with her timeline and budget. I set out using her existing furnishings and added new items and accessories tailored to the space and function. It’s my job to maintain the correct balance, harmony and proportion within each room.
Marcia: What’s the importance of lighting?
Linda: To achieve the effect of dramatic lighting, we used the giant arc by George Kovacs to showcase the great room, and I hand-leafed an unusual silver design for the kitchen chandelier. I suggested an Italian sputnik chandelier in the guest powder room and several by Angelo Donghia and Baker throughout the house to replace the “old fashioned” feel of the original fixtures.
Marcia: What are some of your professional designer touches?
Linda: I found an 1865 armoire and applied a pearlized glaze to restore it to its original glamour.
I chose the Benjamin Moore paint and brought in pigment powder from Italy to add luminescence to reflect the sparkling changes in the lighting from the Chattahoochee. We combined the new and original hardware to retain authenticity.
Being challenged to create a “Chanel den” was certainly unusual. Even the magazine rack is Chanel. In this room, I chose the built-in furniture’s silver hardware and covered the sofas in Robert Allen “Denim Indigo” – all against a sophisticated, cobalt blue background. I paid special attention to unique pillows by Elitis, and framed six Lagerfeld sketches to command the west wall.
Marcia: Why Chanel? I see you are wearing a Karl Lagerfeld suit today.
Linda: Coco Chanel was reputed to have taken women out of the “corseted” dress into a style that could be both classic and casual. She was considered youthful and liberated since she originally started as a dressmaker in a cabaret. She also designed jewelry and created perfumes. Chanel No.5 is a classic.
The “hands-free” handbags known for their chained straps appeared in 1955. Some may not know that their burgundy interior is a throwback to her [Chanel’s] uniforms from her convent days. She was the first to make sunbathing fashionable, emphasizing a tanned, as opposed to a pale, porcelain complexion. Her mark on fashion is indelible and Harper’s Bazaar (1915) said, “The woman who does not have at least one Chanel is hopelessly void of fashion.” Karl Lagerfeld took over Chanel eventually.
Marcia: What are your go-to furnishings?
Linda: We brought in a good bit of Roche Bobois for the leather sectional, dining chairs, another sofa and love seat. Christopher Guy (Harrison) is a favorite of Jeanie’s. He grew up on the French Riviera and is known for his international lifestyle designs with names like Le Salon Parisian, New York Penthouse and Country Estate. I especially like his benches and mirrors. In the master bedroom I placed his cream bench “31 Rue Cambon.” Also Kreiss tables are bookended in the master.
Marcia: What are some of your most unusual pieces?
Linda: To surprise her, I commissioned four “Photographs of Jeanie Diamond” in the style of Andy Warhol (1984).
In the master suite, Linda placed the decorative Factice collection of oversized perfume bottles that designers use in department stores to introduce a new fragrance. Names like Givenchy, Dior, Balenciaga, or Guerlain were collected in Palm Beach, Atlanta and Boston. One must pay special attention to what’s etched on the glass to assess its value.
I used some small touches like placing an Elsa Peretti bowl in the kitchen with a Lalique floating goldfish to create a whimsical note. You have to love the custom pillow about finding Prince Charming!
Marcia: You mentioned the house’s harmony; you are an expert in feng shui?
Linda: Way back when it wasn’t part of our vocabulary, I was taking feng shui courses at Harvard. It’s a 3,000-year-old Chinese “science” that affects flow and boosts the energy in a home. The placement of things is very important.
Marcia: Perfection doesn’t just happen. Diamond has her eye on living and dressing well. Last word.
Jeanie: I think folks should know, perhaps young people starting out and hiring a designer, that the process can be a joy. A good designer will help look for ways to pull in things you already own. Through the years, Linda and I have had tons of fun and forged a friendship.