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 Joni…you should be!
Joni loves interior design and home furnishings – and has coined her aesthetic, “French, Houston-style.” Joni’s blog, http://www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com 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.


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