Recently, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal by Ralph Gardner, JR called Beyond the Chintz. Mr. Gardner met Mr. Buatta when they were seated next to each other at a charity event. He mentions when he first met Mr. Buatta, he was a bit intimidated since he is such a well known designer, having decorated the homes of Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Barbara Walters, Blair House…the list goes on. It’s funny how we sometimes prejudge folks before we ever meet them, based on their work or notoriety. In the interview Mr. Gardner said:
“I suppose I was expecting a figure of high stuffiness, a snob of such refined taste and exquisite social antennae that he’d cut me off at the knees as soon as he realized I didn’t have the pedigree, or certainly the budget, to make conversation interesting.
Mr. Buatta quickly disabused me of that notion, and anybody else at the table who might not have known him previously—though I expect everybody else did, the decorator seeming to know people everywhere he goes, from all strata of society and introducing himself when he doesn’t—by producing from his pocket a pair of chattering teeth.
My recollection is that he might also have donned a wig: not an expensive hairpiece but a piece of matted fur pulled from another pocket and plopped unceremoniously on his head.”
HA! Is that not hilarious? Can you imagine this elegant charity event, everyone in beautiful evening attire, dressed to the nines and Mario Buatta pulls out a set of chattering teeth? Love it!
I’ve been pining away for years now, wishing Mario Buatta would write a book. I may have mentioned it once or a hundred times here on zay blog. I am pining away no more; at last, Mario Buatta has written a book! YES!
The book is set for release in mid-October. It can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. I am so excited, at last a book filled with rooms designed by one of my very favorite designers.
Here’s the book description from Amazon:
“The eagerly anticipated first monograph to celebrate the fifty-years-and-counting career of decorating legend Mario Buatta. Influenced by the understated elegance of Colefax and Fowler and the doyenne of exuberant American decor, Sister Parish, Buatta reinvented the English Country House style stateside for clients such as Henry Ford II, Barbara Walters, Malcolm Forbes, and Mariah Carey, and for Blair House, the President’s guest quarters.
The designer is acclaimed for his sumptuous rooms that layer fine antiques, confectionary curtains, and sublime colorations, creating an atmosphere of lived-in opulence. This lavishly illustrated survey—filled with images taken for the foremost shelter magazines as well as many unpublished photographs from the designer’s own archive—closely follows Buatta’s highly documented career from his professional start in the 1950s working for department store B. Altman & Co. and Elisabeth Draper, Inc. to his most recent projects, which include some of the country’s finest residences. Buatta shares exclusive insights into his process, his own rules for decorating, and personal stories of his adventures along the way.”
I love that description “sumptuous rooms…layer fine antiques…confectionary curtains.” Doesn’t that sound delicious?! I can’t wait to read the insights and his “rules for decorating.” I’m in awe of his style and his talent and can’t wait to hear how he approaches designing a room!
Just to wet your decorating whistle, I’m sharing a few of my fave Mario Buatta designed spaces. The photos below with AD in the corner were found online at Architectural Digest.
Though Mario Buatta has long been known as the “Prince of Chintz,” chintz has always been one small part of the his decorating scheme. He still loves it (so do I) but he uses many types of fabrics. His style is classic and timeless which is one of the reasons I love it so much. The room below was one of his earlier rooms when chintz was still very popular in design. Personally, I would love this room today!
Another beautiful bedroom designed by Mario Buatta…love the chandelier and those draperies!
I wonder if this room was for a male client? It’s over-the-top gorgeous but I could easily see this being a bedroom for a gentleman with its elegant and somewhat masculine design.
I love this! Look at all the kitty pillows! I wonder if the owner has 7 cats.
I would so love a bed like this one day. You would have to have some seriously high ceilings, but isn’t it wonderful?! The bed is an antique and the chintz is by Colefax and Fowler. They produced the most beautiful chintz patterns! Beautiful room! It’s timeless, absolutely timeless!
Awww, I just realized this picture includes a cute doggie and kitty.
A blue and white bedroom Mario created for the 1984 Kips Bay Decorator Show House.
If you like a more subdued look, Mario can do that, too. This bedroom is in a Manhattan penthouse. Note the hand-painted green/white wood floor. Love the striped silk draperies!
One of my most favorite things about the way Mario Buatta decorates/designs is the expert way he mixes and layers patterns. He talks a bit about that in the video at the end of this post. Whenever I listen to or read an interview with Mario Buatta, I often find myself throughout the interview saying, “YES, YES.” He totally speaks my language. He says exactly the things I feel and think about design and decorating. This pic below cracks me up. Do you see the phone? 🙂
In the video below when he talks about how he decorates and mixes fabrics in a room, he says he decorates the way a painter paints a canvas, a dab at a time. He goes on to point out, a painter doesn’t finish a painting all in one day.
I so GET that! It’s exactly the way I have discovered over the years that I tend to decorate. I start with something I love, it could be a chair, a beautiful bed or a fabric. I go ahead and use that in the room the way I envision, then I build from there. Often I have no idea how a room is going to turn out because it just evolves. My rooms tend to pretty much decorate themselves.
When I begin I only have a few pieces of the puzzle in my head and in my heart. I build a room one piece at the time. Of course, you already know that from watching me put together my home office over the course of a year. Normally I will not add a chair or a lamp or a piece to a room unless I absolutely LOVE it. I can’t like it, I have to LOVE it. That’s why my rooms tend to stay the same for a very long time. When I decorate a space, in the end I do love it and since I decorate in a fairly classic style, it suits me well for a very long time. Good thing since my pocketbook can’t afford to redecorate every time the design winds blow in a different direction.
The tulip fabric used in this bedroom is by Scalamandré. It’s hard to see in this pic but the walls are striéd in a warm shade of apricot.
Look at that beautiful Venetian glass mirror. They are as beautiful in a bedroom as they are in a dining room. They even look great in baths. I love the shape of this one! I have a rectangle Venetian glass mirror in my dining room here: Red Dining Room.
Don’t you just want to curl up on that chaise, pull the soft blanket up and take a nap or read a good book?
It would be impossible to feel sad in a room designed by Mario Buatta. This room feels like sunshine! Even a rainy day couldn’t make this room feel gloomy.
Another beautiful room designed by Mario Buatta…cozy, masculine, yet with a feminine touch, too.
Love those green walls. Notice how the room doesn’t look “decorated.” It just looks as if it evolved, like the owners collected pieces gradually over time. It’s cozy and though elegant, it’s a room you feel you could really live in and enjoy.
The video is very short, not quite 6 minutes. I love Mario’s sense of humor. It can be subtle sometimes so you have to pay attention and listen for it. He’s the master at keeping a straight face while he’s pulling your leg. 🙂
Here’s another fun interview with Mario back in March 2011 and it’s a great one! Thanks to Cecilia for reminding me of this one. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it. He talks about some of the famous designers he worked for in those early years and the room that inspired him beyond all rooms. It’s a room that was designed by Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler and it is stunning! You’ll see it in the interview.
To see more of Mario’s beautiful designs, check out my Pinterest Board here: Mario Buatta or click on the picture below.