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Not since Gervase Jackson-Stops’ triumphant 80s exhibition, Treasure Houses of Britain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has there been something as potentially influential as the release of Mario Buatta’s tremendous tome, Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration.

Just as the aforementioned exhibition created a frenzy of interest for the English country house look, I believe Buatta’s book will go far towards creating a similar trend in today’s design aesthetic (along with a particularly renewed interest in using the many glorious incarnations of fine chintz that one might find, for instance, at Lee Jofa).

Lee Jofa Floral Bouquet Chintz

Lee Jofa Floral Bouquet Chintz

Buatta’s magnificent monograph celebrates over fifty years of design and decoration by one of America’s preeminent decorators – the history, influences, and of course the brilliant body of work, all sumptuously illustrated and photographed. Needless to say, there are a great many lessons to be learned and endless inspiration to be had here – its a true masterclass in interior design.

Buatta's 1984 Kips Bay show-house room depicted by artist Jeremiah Goodman

Buatta’s 1984 Kips Bay show-house room depicted by artist Jeremiah Goodman (click to enlarge)

As many of you may know, decorators have been upgrading peoples lives for years and Buatta did just this—elevating all with a distinct impression of class and heritage. Known for his elegance, exuberant color palette, and riotous mix of pattern, Buatta’s rooms were design of the highest order, yet never sacrificed a sense of cozy, livable comfort.

Buatta design: Hilary and Wilbur Ross Pied-a-Terre

Buatta design: Hilary and Wilbur Ross pied-a-terre (click to enlarge)

Many of my own younger clients (some of whom never really experienced the opulent 80s) are asking me for versions of these kinds of rooms, so that they might live and entertain in similar style. I, of course, have been happy to oblige!

Buatta design: Hilary and Wilbur Ross' former Pied-a-Terre

Buatta design: Hilary and Wilbur Ross’ former Pied-a-Terre (click to enlarge)

Do pick up your copy on Amazon and prepare to be inspired! Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration

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  1. Dean says:


    Where would we all be without dear, charming, Mario?

    Truly a designers’ designer! (or a decorator’s decorator)

    I love his book- it’s great for weight resistance training!


  2. Dean says:


    Great post on Mario’s iconic new book!

    I enjoyed reading your take on the huge tome- a true
    tour de force.

    Surely we’ll see a similar book coming out by you as well!


  3. betty barrett says:

    I worked for Mario for 8 1/2 years. Long before he was named “Prince of Chintz”. I am mentioned in the last part of the book. I worked in his first studio apartment in the hall, moved to 117 E.62nd Street and finally to 120 East 80th Street. Regards, bb.

  4. La Contessa says:

    I think Penelope has been talking (in BLOGLAND) about this book a lot!
    I adore the GOODMAN drawing………..ADORE.
    Which gives me food for thought!Wouldn’t it be grand to have the rooms in ones home done like this and then framed and hung on a rather large wall as a map to ones’s own home!

  5. Danny says:

    Is there not something unsettling about the statement “decorators….upgrading peoples lives”?
    It sounds vaguely like social engineering…


  6. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Dean,

    It is a very special book- one that will have a huge impact on design and decoration!



  7. James Andrew says:

    My Darling La Contessa,

    I am sure Penny has been promoting this tremendous tome. It is such a celebration of an incredible career, “pretty decorating” as Mr Buatta would love to say!

    Love your idea about creating renderings of all the rooms in one’s home.

    Mr McBee is brilliant at doing these room renderings!



  8. James Andrew says:

    Hello Betty Barrett,

    Well you must hold a record for the longest someone has been in his employ!

    I know of so many that have worked with him over the years but none for very long.

    That is just incredible!

    I have known Mario for many years -since my days at Parish Hadley- we had a brief falling out when he was annoyed that I did a story entitled- Fresh Prints of Chintz and thought I was trying to steal his title.

    We ran into each other at the Palm Beach antiques show and kissed and made up.

    All the best,


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