When the March-April 2013 issue of Veranda arrived, I was blown away. Yes, indeed! I'm referring to that drop-dead gorgeous cover and divine spread on designer Frank Babb Randolph's home in Georgetown, DC. I must have read the article 3 times and studied the photos all week.
Frank and I met almost 10 years ago when he visited our first shop after reading about it in the Washington Post. Of course I knew who he was. As a longtime admirer of his work and inimitable style, I remember being very nervous - the equivalent of, say, a fashion graduate meeting someone like Anna Wintour of Vogue! (BTW, did you know Anna loves Swedish painted antiques? Google her homes. You will see.) Well, Frank couldn't have been nicer and more charming. Today he is a dear friend and a true supporter of our shop. Thank you, Frank, for everything!
I recently visited Frank at his home, and asked if I could share a few photos of his stunning abode. And, I asked if he would share a few design tips from his 45-year career in the industry. Shall we take a guided tour?
Though built in the 1950s, the house looks nothing like a mid century home. That's because Frank dramatically changed much of the architecture since moving in 17 years ago. The latest change is the front courtyard now clad in Belgian block, gravel and thick limestone. And also, the newly painted front door in Farrow and Ball's Brassica.
The stately door surround was added by Frank. His love of classical architecture inspired this handsome masterpiece.
Above is a vignette from the foyer. The modern painting is by artist Tom Nakashima (nephew of George Nakashima).
Going up a few steps, you come into the grand drawing room located on the backside. The room overlooks a private courtyard - so Georgetown! The oversize silver leaf and acrylic abstract painting by Annapolis artist, Elizabeth Dax, adds even more drama, especially during cocktail hours when the room is illuminated by candlelight.
Draping one of the club chairs is a cashmere blanket edged in Chinese silk. The pair of French side tables, in the classical style, are from the early 20th century.
Hello, there! I asked Frank, who is over 6 feet tall, to stand in front of the niche to show the scale of the 13' ceiling.
One of the covered urns with beaded rim, draped laurel swags and pine cone finial.
Three sets of tall French doors flood the drawing room with sunshine. The bisqueware plaque of "Spring" is by Royal Copenhagen. The 19th century painted sap bucket is from Vermont.
Frank designed the monumental pier mirror and console table. The red lacquered dowry trunk is Japanese. On the console is an early 19th century French faience brasero, which was originally a portable heater most likely from a chateau. Frank and I both love and collect brasseros in white faience.
On the other side of the living room opposite the fireplace is this chic sitting group. Flanking the sofa is a pair of Zuber grisaille screens. The painted armchairs are from Tone on Tone.
Below is a portrait of Frank at age 29 (charcoal and pastel, London).
Directly above the foyer is the dining room, which faces the street. Notice the recently faux painted walls by Lenore Winters. Lenore is an amazing faux painter / artist, and her studio is right around the corner from my shop. For the dining room, Frank and Lenore chose a sublime hand-combed striated pattern.
I love this photo! Though simple, it reminds me of the pared down Gustavian interiors of 18th century Sweden. The chartreuse taffeta silk curtains are unlined for movement at the slightest breeze. And, the leading edges are deliberately frayed - a signature Frank Randolph detail! Silk is from Taffard.
Above the Swedish blonde wood commode is a French plaster plaque of Thomas Jefferson. The dining room is only illuminated by candlelight hence all the candles. Frank is not a fan of chandeliers or hanging fixtures. Why? "It brings the ceilings down!"
Frank found this French bleached wood console table at our shop. The pot is Chinese and the cartel clock is most likely Swedish.
One last look: a contemporary painting by Cory Daniels (Maine) in an antique lemon-gold gilt frame.
After the tour, we sat down for a chat. So, Frank, we all love your style, and want it!! Can you please share 3 ways for us to get your look? :)
1) Start with a neutral color, and build from there.
2) Pick an accent color that inspires you.
3) Don't be afraid to mix classical antiques with contemporary art.
Thank you, Frank, for everything - the tour, your sources and design tips! --Loi