Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oh what a divine Webb she weaves!

Today, I'd like to share with you some delightful and fascinating thoughts, straight from the mind of the extraordinarily talented, Joni Webb. If you aren't familiar with should be!
Joni loves interior design and home furnishings — and has coined her aesthetic, “French, Houston-style.” Joni's blog, was born in 2007, and it has since become a favorite of interior designers, and design enthusiasts, worldwide. Joni certainly has a way with words when it comes to beautiful interiors, but has admitted that "even her dear friends may fatigue when conversation turns to the finer points of, say, placing a vaisellier versus a trumeau on a wall."

As for how she feels about the creation of her blog, she says, “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done”.

I whole-heartedly agree. :-)

The Interview:

You are (temporarily) stranded on a deserted island. You've created shelter for yourself. Describe it.

Oh - well first, it would be a deserted island near the equator of course. No shivering around England or South America! It would be a romantic tree house, with lots of rattan & seagrass, and banana leaves & white slipcovers, made from the sails of our wrecked sailboat. There would be huge glass hurricanes, dark woods, blue & porcelains, and plantation shutters to keep the rain out, but let the air in. Of course I would be shipwrecked on the island with Ralph Lauren, no doubt.

Why is it so easy to love neutrals?

Because they are easy on the eye. With patterns or high contrast - your eyes jump. White, khakis and linens - is there anything better? I don't even wear patterns. Only black in the winter, and white linen in the summer. That's about it. I have about 10 of the exact same white linen shirt that I rotate each day. Accessorize it with huge turquoise or silver jewelry, and off I go. I don't like high contrast anything. Any patterns I have will be the muted Bennison type linens. But you know, just as i say all that, I'll go and order a hot pink and white damask, just to drive myself crazy.

If you could add a room to your home, what would it be and why?

A library! A two-story library with a fireplace, and a balcony with beautiful iron railings at the second story. There would be a huge clerestory window for the ceiling. Lots of dark woods and white fabrics, and a marvelous antique, library table, piled up with all the newest design books. Of course, the library would house MY books only - design, landscaping, art, fashion, jewelry, biographies - whatever I read. No "History of Texas Football" books, thank you very much. I really need this library! My home has been overtaken by design books. Amazon loves me - I'm their biggest client.

Rummaging through an open-air brocante in Paris you come across the most perfect item you have always wanted for you home. What is it?

No doubt or hesitation about this - a gilded barometer from the 18th century! Yes - that's the elusive item (for my wallet, that is.)

Recessed lighting. When do you think it will go out of style? I've heard some call it a "pockmarked ceiling", and compare it to "the kind you'd find in a meeting room at a convention center".

Cheese ceiling. Rose Tarlow wrote in her book about recessed lighting years ago and that was the first time I realized how ugly they were. When we built our house 15 years ago - recessed lighting was an upgrade. And boy, did we upgrade! Once we moved in, we had to unscrew half the bulbs - it was like a lighting showroom. To this day, I don't think we use any of our overhead lighting except in the kitchen and bathrooms. What a waste. Out of style? Never. People love bright houses - why I will never know. My sister's home is lit up like a jack o lantern whenever I go there. I'm happiest in a dimly lit home, with sconces and lamps and chandeliers - on dimmers. I can't stand bright lights. On the other hand (of course!) - I keep my house lit both day and night. My sconces are never turned off - they are on 24/7. I always have the chandeliers on in every room, on dimmers though, of course. Just barely lit. I think there is nothing more depressing than a house with no lights on during the day - it seems so dead ! Or - no lights on in the dining room or living room - it's like there is no life in those rooms. My husband doesn't understand any of this, but he knows not to argue with me. He loves to finally turn off the chandeliers at 11 at night and go to bed. He loves that! It's his way of taking control of the light bill.

Can a Kitchen that's longer than 20 feet still be "easy to use"?

YES! Just look at Ina Garten's new kitchen in her barn. It's wonderful. If you cluster all the appliances towards the middle, then flank the counters with the pantries and storage - it becomes a smaller galley kitchen. Her kitchen is fabulous - I would love to have two counters 2o' long and just spread out. Even though I don't cook. It sounds good.

The following is a list of descriptive words. Say the first word that comes to your mind when you read them:

a) Home = love
b) Blue = walls
c) Smooth = shiny
d) Delicate = lace
e) Love = family
f) Green = grass!
g) Texture = seagrass
h) Perfect = my family!
i) Yellow = happy, sunny
j) Wicker = beach
k) Soft = cashmere

Favorite room to design? Why?

The bedroom. You can do it more feminine. I don't like to decorate for men, in a masculine style. I prefer feminine decorating. I love curtains and most clients are at least willing to use curtains in the bedroom. And I love patterned, two color wool carpets - the bedroom is the perfect (and only) place for those.

Favorite room to be in at any given moment? Why?

My family room - it's so cozy. My chair is next to the fireplace and it's a gas one that stays on all winter, it's so toasty.

Describe your childhood bedroom.

Hmmm. My first real decorated room - I was allowed to help with it. My parents built a house. I had a chandelier - a real crystal one! The wall behind my beds was lilac. I also had a lilac sink in my bathroom. White bedspread. White "french provincial" furniture that was so popular for girls in the 60s. I hadn't thought of that room in ages!
When I was 13, my parents redecorated - and we had an interior designer do my room - the beds were pushed together and I had a king sized bed with a yellow rattan headboard and flowery chintz bedspread and curtains. The chandelier was replaced with the same type of Italian flower iron fixture that are making a comeback today. I had a matching rattan chair, and a floor lamp. The wall behind my desk was covered in a coordinating stripe fabric. The lilac sink was replaced. Those are sad memories because that bedroom was so nice, really nice, and because my mom died that year. We moved, so I only got to enjoy it for about a year. Sad times. My poor mom. So sad to think about.

Which wood/fabric/metal combo appeals to you the most and why?

A) Whitewashed, rustic wood + khaki-colored burlap + touches of pewter
B) Medium, time-worn wood + creamy-colored linen + touches of iron
C) Dark, smooth wood + sage-colored velvet + touches of antique brass

Probably B first, then A. No C, ever.

I love gilt wood mirrors and accessories mixed with painted woods and fruit woods. You left gilt wood out!

I love iron tables from France, the ones that are take offs of the classic bakers tables. I love painted woods, and fruitwoods. That's a toss up, and a constant battle - dark vs. light. Linen fabrics only with silk taffeta's for curtains. I love linen - hand blocked - gorgeous!

Secret design-related obsession?

It's not really a secret: seagrass, slipcovers, linen, giltwood, mirrors, and ironstone/ transferware. I think every room in my house has each of those in it.

Favorite shelter magazine?

Veranda, Southern Accents - toss up. Those are the ones I'll go out at 2 in the morning looking for.

Tell me about a time a piece of furniture stopped you in your tracks.

The last time? My new dough table. I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw it. And inside I knew, that no matter what the price was, it was going home with me. Luckily for me, the owner gave me a great price. I blogged about it. It was just so gorgeous - chestnut wood, tall, French, curvy, sexy - everything you would want in a coffee table. Perfection!

Thank you for letting me pick your brain Joni! I am a huge fan of your work, and look forward to gazing at, analyzing, and learning from, many more of your designs.



Anonymous said...

Oh, that was great. Getting into the mind of Joni is like opening a new, long awaited decorating book!

kristin maynes said...

Great Post!!

I would love to put in a request to have her LIVING ROOM!! OMG, I'm in love with it!!

Unknown said...

I especially love Ina Garten's kitchen and dining area. It's bright and comfortable.
And I'm also a fan of the coffee table.

Kasey said...

I've been following the Cote De Texas blog for a while. Thanks for sharing this interview with Joni.

alice said...

What a great post!
I loved your questions just as much as her answers. Merci beaucoup!

Anonymous said...

Layla - I've followed your blog for months and this is the first time I've posted. I have two blogs in my favorites - yours and Joni's. LOVED this post. Love all of your creative ideas. Keep the inspiration coming! (Especially the French, linen, slipcovered, texture, neutral inspirations!)

Michelle said...

What a great interview! It's so fun to get a glimpse of what other people are thinking. And my favorite picture is of Ina Garten's kitchen. What a dream!

Pigtown*Design said...

Great questions to get great answers!

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Love her!

Bethany Christensen said...

Thanks for posting this great interview. This is my first time on your blog (linked from Joni's)- But I will be back. It is so much fun to see the way you have transformed your home and I am excited to see more of your "virtual decorating"

SeaWorthy said...

Joni is an awesome gal, I love her blog..she weaves the best stories with her photos. A great teacher..AND so totally down to earth and funny. I love the hyperventilation factor when she finds something she craves..I thought that was only me!
Nice blog Layla!
coastal nest

Robyn said...

Great post!!! Would love for Joni to come to Birmingham to decorate my home.

Misti of Studio M Designs said...

Wow! I love getting to know Joni! Her family room is just gorgeous, and I would love to have her coffee table. But, Ina's barn kitchen is MY dream kitchen...ahhhhh. Have a great week Layla!

cotedetexas said...

omg! those comments! How can you not love bloggers? They are all so sweet. I esp. love the anon who says we are her two favorite blogs - isn't that amazing.

Thanks Layla for this - I'm so excited to be your guest - one day - in real life, for sure!!!!

My Galveston Cottage said...

What a great interview. I'm a fan of both you and Joni. She is such a gracious lady....Nice job!! -susan

vicki archer said...

Layla, a wonderful interview with great questions - I always love hearing Joni's thoughts. I am very happy to have found your blog and look forward to reading lots more. xv

Things That Inspire said...

What a great way to get to know Joni a little bit better! She has so much knowledge, and shares it so generously with her readers.

Julie at Belle Vivir said...

I love this interview. I also find more interesting to decorate on the feminine side Joni. First time in your blog. I came through Cote de Texas and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Oh, I love that Joni too! You beat me to the punch. I'm having her guest at my blog too in a couple weeks. See you soon!

niartist said...

Wonderful interview Layla, Joni's Cote de Texas was one of my very first design blog obsessions!

Anonymous said...

oooooh.... my two most favorite bloggers ... great interview... and great answers... loved it.

Lauren said...

Great questions!!! Joni's so great!!

Debe said...

Love Joni and have for quite some time. She is a hometown girl and glad she shows us some of Houston those of living north of town wouldn't see. LOVE that she introduced me to your blog!! Can't want to read back and back and back. Love what she posted!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


I am so pleased to find your blog...and am so impressed with your 3,000 plus readers...incredible.

I love your interview with the great Joni.
You asked fabulous and rich an detailed questions--and her answers are fresh, witty, frisky and bright and informative.
The perfect inspirational and full of detail.
Cheers--I am going to add you to my favorites blog roll on THE STYLE SALONISTE