Quince and Lace Curtains

I love flowering quince. One of the earliest blooming shrubs, usually right behind forsythia, or “for Cynthia” as I used to call it, quince is one of those things you can just stick in a vase and it’s beautiful. Going through seven million photos the other day I ran across this one taken few years ago in my New York office-and-guest room, with the morning sun coming in just so through the lace curtains.

Quince branches in Mottaheda urns.

Here’s a better view of the lace curtains, now gone, along with the beat-up French café chair. The sweet bust of the little girl is in another room. Our lives change, and our things change with them.

NY Apt Office
Lace curtains - panels, actually - are great for letting the light in and keeping the view out. The apartment building across the street, formerly FBI offices, is not, as you might imagine, a paragon of architectural poetry.

I’m not sure what that chair’s doing up there. Probably there wasn’t space for it anywhere else.  As you can see there’s a lot of stuff in this room. Longtime friend and designer the estimable John Oetgen gets it just right, and then I come behind him and mess it up. (Please do yourself a favor and visit his beautiful website.)

NY Apt Office
My New York office-slash-guest room, several years ago. Above the daybed is a mirror decorated with old postcards of Paris. To the right is a small landscape by Roger Muhl, below it a map of Paris. The daybed has since migrated to Bee Cottage in East Hampton.

The lace curtains went away after His Grace (now my husband) came into the picture, and my office-guest room took on yet another task as His Dressing Room. The lace gave way to more manly stripes. But I love the wallpaper on the ceiling (still there) and the grosgrain ribbon trim with the silk camellias glued to it (gone girl). The framed pages of an old sketchbook are today re-hung in Bee Cottage. The Palm Pilot is in a museum.

NY Apt Office

I’ve found myself getting nostalgic about the old 69th Street apartment, because I’ll be leaving it soon. We need a little more space when we’re in the City. It’s all good, but still…

Meanwhile I found a place at my (other) new home in California to plant some quince. I’m excited about that. I could never have planted quince in 69th Street.


  1. Frances: Being a minimalist myself (tuition broke with no confident creative flair to speak of), I absolutely love to see how you decorate! How wonderfully talented you are. I take it you are enjoying married life as your posts are a little less frequent. Makes me look forward to them all the more. Love and kisses, Amie

    1. Oh thank you dear Amie. And yes, I apologize for the fewer posts these days as life is hectic and happy indeed. Things should settle down a bit in the second half of the summer, and I’m looking forward to it. Hope all is well with you and thank you for your kind words and for writing. Love and kisses to you too, Frances

  2. Excited new retiree. My dream of being a New Yorker for a brief time is coming true. I will be in the City (Nov-Dec). Now I can scope out some of your recommended places. Please keep listing them.

  3. Frances,love the bust of the little girl,remember her in your Christmas photos with a Merry red bow around her neck..Always look forward to your blog.
    Love, Becky

  4. Your beautiful apartment filled with so much love and style will soon be gone. Moving for you will be bittersweet, but think of the fun you will have decorating a new home this time for two. We all hope that you will share the results!


    1. Thank you Nancy, and yes you are right! I will give y’all a little tour of the old one before I leave 😉

  5. Hi Frances
    Don’t know what the chair is called but remember it from one of your books. It was sort of a wing chair but had a rounded top and was in a bedroom. I think it was blue and I loved it.

    1. Hi Harriet. You know I am embarrassed to say I can’t remember where that chair came from. Some flea market somewhere – but i do like its shape and its narrow depth works well in a small room. Thank you for writing and for remembering more than I do! x Frances

  6. Love your post – was excited to see that you own a Roger Muhl painting. I have a small oil of his that came from the estate of Slim Keith. It is a view of the Seine in winter.

  7. Oh, Miss Frances, your posts always inspire some decorating project for my cocoon and make me laugh. Love that first shot, so beautiful. I am in love with that daybed! And the old French bistro chair. The Palm Pilot in a museum, too funny. Back in ’98, ’99, I pitched one of those out the car window, my “better half” was paying more attention to it than to my conversation (I was driving). His jaw just about hit the floor, he was so shocked. So looking forward to the tour of your old apartment and to posts featuring your no-doubt fabulous new place!

  8. Frances,

    As always, your posts are just great. I have toyed with the idea of a tiny UES escape, but decided recently that for the 3 or 4 times a year I would make the effort a wonderful hotel is much more practical and offers all the amenities (room service, maids, turn down)! I am so happy that your life is on this wonderful journey….your Mama is sending more good stuff your way.


    1. Thank you dear Danny. And I think you are right about this NYC apt business. One little studio would cover quite a few hotel rooms – and good ones! Give a holler when you do come this way in case our paths can cross. xox Frances

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