Feng Shui by Clear Englebert

Feng Shui, Real Books & Frances Elkins

Feng Shui, Real Books & Frances Elkins

(Note: there’s a photo gallery at the bottom of this article.)

In my last post, I wrote about fake books that get placed in a home to make the owner look well-read, until of course someone tries to pick up one of the books & realizes the falseness.

In this article, I’ll present an anecdote to to that rubbish. I’ll review the wonderful new book Francis Elkins by Scott Powell. She was an interior designer from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, and is finally receiving the recognition that is due. There are dozens of pages where books (real books, of course) play a major part in the décor.

Something happens with this book that should happen with every design book, but doesn’t. The excitement builds! Showing the homes in chronological order is not only logical, it’s a revelation. By the time I got to the living room on page 273, I was feeling thrilled to have just “witnessed” what led up to it. The homes Frances Elkins created were masterpieces, and it’s fitting that the same thing can be said of this new monograph about her work—the pictures combined with Powell’s writing are excellent. Rizzoli Publishers has given the book a rich treatment, something Frances was very good at—rich treatments.

The photos on page 157 are of the home of Mrs. & Mr. Harry Hunt. In showing Mrs Hunt’s bedroom, we see a seven-tiered, revolving bookshelf beside the bed. The other side of the bed has a regular bedside table with a lamp. This looks like an ideal arrangement—a selection of books on one side & a lamp on the other—a balance of yin & yang. This is only one of very many examples in the book of books beside beds—a selection of nighttime reading.

Elkins designed homes with formal libraries, but books are basically everywhere in her designs—on shelves, tables, and strewn here & there. The photos in this book are a real treat for book lovers.

There are some amazing examples of puddled drapes (which lift energy). The truth is, I’ve never seen puddled drapes done as well anywhere.

As a Buddhist, I very much appreciated the respect she showed in the placement of Buddhist statues in the many homes in which they were on display. They were always placed in a very balanced way. That’s a very basic way of expressing honor. I recommend it for the placement of any religious imagery in a home.

Living in Hawaii made me take special interest in the hotels she designed on Oahu. They’re not the least bit kitchy and these photos are seldom (if ever) seen.

I recommend this enriching book to everyone, and especially those interested in early midcentury design.

And more books
And even more books
Books everywhere
For a moment I’m forgetting the books and getting lost in the extravagant fringe & tassels on the bed canopy!
Is this not the cutest little round bookshelf that you ever saw? I love the sweet little panel built into the bottom shelf.
These books are in a club room.
Books galore in this room
I love this space, and I love that there’s room for more books.
Books, with room for more.
More books, and note the respectfully placed Buddha statue over the doorway in the left photo. In the right photo is “Beegle” Duquette who was married to the famous Tony Duquette.
Note the respectful formality in the placement of the meditating Buddha statue.
These stunning red velvet drapes puddle extravagantly. They gather low energy in a room and pull that energy upwards, following the folds of the drapes.

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