The Wandering Eye: Doris Leslie Blau Lands in Hudson
Our blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his partner Hermes Mallea, an architect, are principals in the M (Group).
Hermes is getting worried. My favorite NYC resources keep establishing outposts in Hudson, so I’m able to do ‘city shopping’ in the country. I have even more excuses for my office absences (yippee).
So, Naga North is showing rugs from Doris Leslie Blau. For the uninitiated, Doris Leslie Blau is to rugs what Harry Winston is to jewels—the best. (OK, one of the best, but the list is short. I can think of three….). Mrs. Blau has been a powerful (loved and feared!) force in the design world for decades. Doris is elegant, refined, intellectual, and has a mouth like a sailor. Love that. Talk about a Man’s World—women in the rug world are rare. She’s spending less time at the gallery these days (our loss) and Nader Bolour (of the Los Angeles rug dynasty) runs the show. I was worried about that transition—there are a lot of designers that are very devoted to Doris—but Nader has won us over.
You go to DLB when you want something really special. The taste and the quality are tops. We’ve gotten pieces from France, Persia, China, Tibet, Morocco, the Caucuses, yadda yadda yadda. Their specialty is the truly Special with a capital S.
We love rugs. They truly make the room. Sure, we’ve all done the beautifully finished floors (oxidized, hand colored, polished) and thought “perfect as is.”. A few months/years later, you throw down a rug, just to try it, and go figure—a new, vastly improved room. Softer, quieter, more substantial.
We like our rugs old and aren’t afraid of wear. An aged textile whose colors have faded (blues go first) and that has even wear and has been given good care is so much more magical than a new ‘fake’ old rug. (That said, there are some amazing fakes!)
Old rugs can be good value—this nursery has a really charming Persian garden motif rug with hunters and maidens. It cost less than sisal would have. It is softer for the baby—and these things wear like iron.
Naga North’s focus is Asian art and the rugs Jim has chosen for his gallery are soft Persians and, my personal favorite, Samarkands—cross cultural Spice Route motifs and pale colors. Sadly, they’re usually long and narrow so limited to corridors. When you find a room-sized Samarkand it is WAY pricey. The front hall in this penthouse on lower Fifth Avenue has a Samarkand. Pale and simple and good in the space.
We like our rugs big—hate ‘area’ rugs, love room-size rugs. If the rug is right but the size is wrong? (“OMG – it has olive and purple! I thought we’d look forever..”), don’t despair—get creative. I’ve folded plenty and cut a few down (ouch!) A River House living room we did was long and narrow and I suggested carving the rug out around the fireplace surround to allow for a wider rug. “Cut a big hole in a $125,000 rug? Are you crazy?” Well we finally found the rug, an Oushak that was almost monochromatic and without pattern and I continued to whine “It’s perfect if can we cut it.”. So we measured and pondered and looked again and damned if someone hadn’t cut a 3 foot ‘notch’ within inches of where I wanted one and then repaired it! Vindication. The rug was bought and cut (again) and installed and those gained inches indeed spread the room out… I was a design hero—for a moment.
This dressing room sports a Khotan. They look almost medieval to me—love them in a slick room. This rug fit to the inch…maybe to the half inch.
I broke one of my own rules (my prerogative?) with this dining room—the rug is a bit smaller than ideal. In a perfect world, the rug would have extended over the herringbone floor to the border, but the world isn’t perfect, is it??? Doris described the color as “snow,” and we loved it. The room was glazed sort of tortoise shell to show off the Roman and Greek marbles.
Rugs and Carpets (a size issue—carpets are bigger than rugs) is a subject that is way too complicated and vast for a blog. (Thank god—wonder how long I can hide behind this dodge??) The more you see, the more comfortable you’ll be. So start looking.
Check out the Stair Gallery sales. Rugs are hard for people to grasp/envision, and rug photographs are big-time misleading. Color, texture, even pattern gets blown away by the flash and when you venture to the auction house or gallery to see your internet or auction catalog ‘find,’ you’ll often be surprised (sometimes pleasantly—usually not) at the completely different animal you see in the cold light of day. Always try them in the space, on the floor, before committing, if you can. A good dealer will let you; an auction house cannot. At auction, you are often bidding against dealers, not private buyers (which is a good thing—dealers spend less!). You can get some amazing bargains. Our kitchen sports a 7 x 9 Moroccan that cost $75.
Maintenance with textiles is always a big concern. Moths are the enemy—they can decimate a chunk of rug in days. And sunlight (rotate annually!). Today’s super duper vacuum cleaners are too efficient. Only use the flat sucker side, NOT the rotary brush thing… Way too abrasive. I finally ordered an old fashioned, non-electric carpet sweeper for our old rugs and banished the Electrolux.
This website gives some good advice – check it out.
Our dining room in the country has a big sisal rug covering the room and a 19th-century Tibetan rug on top of that. The sisal allowed us to fit into a big bay window and fill the room. The Tibetan is eye candy. This is also the MOST IMPRACTICAL rug ever. Every time he sees me, Nader says, “You can return it”. Very old and very fragile and VERY wonderful. Butterflies and ‘pop’ flowers surrounded by cloud motifs. I love this rug but it tears if you look at it. Only a designer could live with it.
And for those problem spots, a rug is invaluable. Rugs can cover a multitude of issues—psychological and physical. In the ‘hood, we hear, “Hey Pancho. Lookin’ good, Man!” But I know they snicker behind our backs. “Por favor! Is he blind? What is he thinking!? He’s a born blond. No way he can pull off brunette.”
Pancho has a thing for Adam—“El Cartwright mas caliente.” Poor Pernell—a hat and a rug. All that head gear must have been miserably hot on the Ponderosa.