Veranda’s New Look

Veranda magazine’s new look is comfortingly like its old look. Gratifyingly the new table of contents for the features actually gives you an idea of what the feature contains. In the old iteration this was always a peeve of mine, and don’t think in the 10+ years I wrote for them I didn’t say so. What, I whined, does “An Idyllic Aerie” orĀ  “A Pretty Pastiche” tell you? Not all that damn much: Not where or what the subject was. Definitely not who the decorator was. Not who the writer was (ahem). It used to drive me crazy. But the divine Lisa Newsom and the magazine she founded in 1978 did a lot of things right, so who was I to complain.

Now with the estimable Dara Caponigro at the helm and Hearst the owner, a few changes are afoot, but they are subtle. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Overall it has a crisper, fresher feel. The front-of-book departments have been revised; a few fonts are different; and the listing of features includes the name of the designer. Now I can see right up front that David Easton’s done a house in Aspen–yay! David is one of my favorites, and lo, this house belongs to his longtime client and friend, the fab first wife of His Grace (aka my cowboy sweetheart). I’ve been fortunate to be a guest in this house, and clearly the First Mrs. Dittmer (also named Frances, if you can believe) has a great eye for art as well as impeccable taste in interiors and cowboys.

The house following is by Kelli Ford and her sister Kirsten Fitzgibbons. Hmm, Kelli used to be married to my sister’s old boyfriend. I am not making this up. Is it a ridiculously small world or have I just been around so long that … don’t answer that.

I am delighted to share the projects of these two respected design firms here, though they couldn’t be more different. That they are in the same magazine is what makes the magazine exciting and fresh, even if it’s still singing the same three notes. The notes are beautiful.

Oh, and there is a very nice piece on acclaimed New York jeweler and friend Mish Tworkowski’s beautiful new downtown atelier in Bond Street, but we sure do miss him in the sleepy ol’ Upper East Side. Please do see and read the full features in the January-February issue of Veranda, out now.

All photographs here by Max Kim-Bee.

David Easton Aspen
The snowy, tranquil view from Frances Dittmer's living room in Aspen.

Of this Aspen project and the perhaps uncharacteristic minimalist aesthetic guiding it, designer David Easton said, “A simplified interior need not obliterate the richness of living or defeat the beauty of the past.” His use of neutrals, rich textures, organic elements, antiques, African textiles and totems creates warmth, while stunning and graphic contemporary art creates excitement, and a bit of an edge. The result is an environment that is alternately restful or stimulating, depending on your focus.

Dittmer living room Aspen
The spacious living room is airy and uncluttered but inviting and cozy. The dramatic aluminum abstract by Rudolph Stingel dominates one wall; a Martin Puryear sculpture hangs above the hearth.
Dittmer Living Room Aspen
A large Christopher Wool piece centers this view of the living room; above it a wry series of photographs by Friedrich Kunath.
Dittmer Art Aspen
At left, above a custom oak cabinet is a Will Cotton portrait that just happens to resemble strongly the owner's beautiful daughter. Right, a Richard Serra charcoal punctuated by an African mask.
Dittmer Bedroom Aspen
All bedrooms need a comfy chair with good light. A Donald Judd desk peeks across the bed.
Dittmer Bath Aspen
A bath with a beautiful view is my idea of heaven. This custom Japanese-style soaking tub is nestled in a bed of polished river rocks.

Vive la difference. I love the dramatic juxtaposition of these two projects, going from a whispered wow to a rather loud OMG…

Ford-Fitzgibbons Dallas
A pair of Matisses, ikat upholstery, an over-the-top table, and exquisite cobalt sconces winking through the branches set the tone for the house, as an entrance should.

My first thought is of the scene from Gone With the Wind where Mammy trails behind Rhett and Scarlett entering their big, new house in Atlanta after the war. “Lawd Mistah Rhett,” Mammy exclaims, “we sho’ is rich now!” Nothing wrong with that, I hasten to add. This house is not in Atlanta but Dallas, and is ravishingly lived in by designer Kelli Ford and her family.

Ford-Fitzgibbons Dallas
This room is just a knock-out, described in the text by Jeff Turrentine as a dazzling piece of walk-in Delftware.
Ford-Fitzgibbons Dallas
Lighting a sunny gallery are custom chandeliers conjured of shimmering gold leaf and glass hearts. Good gracious. A David Hicks-inspired geometric pattern enlivens the stone floor.
Ford-Fitzgibbons Dallas
A mahogany paneled room is saved from its seriousness with bold, colorful pattern from Lelievre in the curtains and vintage Turkish fabrics on the pillows. The art, however, is quite serious, by Magritte, top; and Picasso, below.
Ford-Fitzgibbons Dallas
This bedroom's neutral palette gets a fat drop of color in a small slipper chair, a handy thing to have by the bed, by the way. It's also nice to see that sunny yellow from the gallery repeated, like the strain of a symphony's theme surfacing at an unexpected moment.


  1. Veranda is certainly one of the best interior design magazines available. We owe so much to Lisa Newsom, who had an amazing vision for what she wanted to create. I am enormously grateful for the many opportunities that the magazine has provided me. And “new management” is doing a better and better job each issue! I look forward to reading it for another 20 years!

    1. Oh, Mary Douglas, you are so right. Not only are the design and publishing worlds indebted to Lisa Newsom, they are enriched by her gracious manner and her generous spirit. She is just one of the loveliest people on the planet, and Veranda was and is a reflection of that. Heck of a legacy.

  2. Hi, Frances. Thanks so much for including us on your blog! So appreciate it! And, I couldn’t agree more, Lisa Newsom is AMAZING! Happy New Year to you! Best, Dara

  3. Kelli and Kirsten are a fabulous decorating duo, I have loved their collaborative work from day one. Bravo on another beautiful creation!

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