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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Book Friday: Irish Houses and Castles and American Fashion Designers At Home

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The cover evokes a dreamy scene of never-ending green.

1 The cover evokes a dreamy scene of never-ending green.

How crazy and lavish is this living room of the Bantry House. Those are portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte; astonishingly elaborate.

2 How crazy and lavish is this living room of the Bantry House. Those are portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte; astonishingly elaborate.

The Regency entrance hall of an Irish estate that covers most of Fota Island.

3 The Regency entrance hall of an Irish estate that covers most of Fota Island.

The Wedgwood room/library of the Italian embassy in Dublin, both examples of some of the oldest remaining Adam style interiors.

4 The Wedgwood room/library of the Italian embassy in Dublin, both examples of some of the oldest remaining Adam style interiors.

The octagonal staircase in the Provost's House at Trinity College, Dublin, is lit by an incredible Venetian window and lined with amazing ironwork and rich plasterwork.

5 The octagonal staircase in the Provost's House at Trinity College, Dublin, is lit by an incredible Venetian window and lined with amazing ironwork and rich plasterwork.

The gothic entrance hall of the Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin, includes a most interesting French tufted red velvet chair simply set in the center of the room.

6 The gothic entrance hall of the Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin, includes a most interesting French tufted red velvet chair simply set in the center of the room.

Surprisingly, the breath-taking and intricate detail filling this dining room of the Luttrellstown Castle was produced in the 1950s.

7 Surprisingly, the breath-taking and intricate detail filling this dining room of the Luttrellstown Castle was produced in the 1950s.

What an impressive collection of family portraits in the Newbridge estate as well as elaborate Rococo plasterwork.

8 What an impressive collection of family portraits in the Newbridge estate as well as elaborate Rococo plasterwork.

This dining room was added to the Carton estate by the third Duke of Leinster and inspires some deep pondering.

9 This dining room was added to the Carton estate by the third Duke of Leinster and inspires some deep pondering.

The crown jewel of the Carton estate: the Saloon.  I am mesmerized by the baroque ceilings, the work of the Francini brothers in 1739, that depict

10 The crown jewel of the Carton estate: the Saloon. I am mesmerized by the baroque ceilings, the work of the Francini brothers in 1739, that depict "the courtship of the gods."

A view of Castletown, the first great Palladian house to have been built in Ireland.

11 A view of Castletown, the first great Palladian house to have been built in Ireland.

The entrance hall of the Castletown, designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce.

12 The entrance hall of the Castletown, designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce.

The Print Room, added to Castletown in 1775, is the last remaining of its kind in Ireland.

13 The Print Room, added to Castletown in 1775, is the last remaining of its kind in Ireland.

This amazing box garden and formal parterre sits on the property of Castletown in County Kilkenny and designed by architect Davis Ducart.

14 This amazing box garden and formal parterre sits on the property of Castletown in County Kilkenny and designed by architect Davis Ducart.

The handsome exterior of Castletown in County Kilkenny is built of dressed sandstone and very fine, unpolished Kilkenny marble.

15 The handsome exterior of Castletown in County Kilkenny is built of dressed sandstone and very fine, unpolished Kilkenny marble.

It's usually thought that exquisite plasterwork like this is Italian, but in fact, it's the work of Patrick Osborne, a true Irishman.

16 It's usually thought that exquisite plasterwork like this is Italian, but in fact, it's the work of Patrick Osborne, a true Irishman.

The subtle shade of orange on the walls of these two Georgian drawing rooms at the Malahide Castle perfectly sets off the numerous gold framed paintings.

17 The subtle shade of orange on the walls of these two Georgian drawing rooms at the Malahide Castle perfectly sets off the numerous gold framed paintings.

A charming corner turret room in the Malahide Castle.

18 A charming corner turret room in the Malahide Castle.

The wallpaper in the Blue Drawing Room at Abbey Leix is over a hundred years old.

19 The wallpaper in the Blue Drawing Room at Abbey Leix is over a hundred years old.

These two rooms are part of the Glin Castle, which was built in 1790 on land owned by the Knights of Glin.  These knights managed to keep this land for the last 700 years.

20 These two rooms are part of the Glin Castle, which was built in 1790 on land owned by the Knights of Glin. These knights managed to keep this land for the last 700 years.

At Dunsany Castle, these images of the staircase and dining room show a successful collaboration of gothic styles throughout different eras.

21 At Dunsany Castle, these images of the staircase and dining room show a successful collaboration of gothic styles throughout different eras.

The Westport House sits on a natural park in the forefront of the far Atlantic.

22 The Westport House sits on a natural park in the forefront of the far Atlantic.

Love that mirror, held within the Yellow Drawing Room at the Birr Castle, and made out of a Dublin brass gate.

23 Love that mirror, held within the Yellow Drawing Room at the Birr Castle, and made out of a Dublin brass gate.

It's hard to believe that this beautiful river garden, filled with magnolias and other rare Chinese trees, is a park set on private property.

24 It's hard to believe that this beautiful river garden, filled with magnolias and other rare Chinese trees, is a park set on private property.

The grand character of this dining room at Mount Kennedy is due to the beautiful plasterwork by Michael Stapleton and grisaille roundels by de Gree.

25 The grand character of this dining room at Mount Kennedy is due to the beautiful plasterwork by Michael Stapleton and grisaille roundels by de Gree.

This serene image of the Powerscourt estate with the Sugarloaf mountains says it all.

26 This serene image of the Powerscourt estate with the Sugarloaf mountains says it all.

I love the wild and romantic pages of Irish Houses and Castles by Desmond Guiness and William Ryan (Viking Press, 1971), which documents the development of Irish architecture on wind swept hills and through family traditions over the centuries. The crazy nature of island living, coupled with religious and English challenges makes a most engaging historical book. Last I checked, there was only one on Amazon so get there soon.

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Marcella and Johan Lindberg grace the cover.

1 Marcella and Johan Lindberg grace the cover.

At Eva Chow's, actual gold-leaf walls offset the sofa and armchairs by Pierre Chareau. An 18th-century Murano glass chandelier hangs above.

2 At Eva Chow's, actual gold-leaf walls offset the sofa and armchairs by Pierre Chareau. An 18th-century Murano glass chandelier hangs above.

Nautica founder David Chu, now owner of David Chu Bespoke, owns a Mongolian rug to protect a limestone entrance and an antique Buddha next to lucky bamboo presides over the rest. Painting, left, is by Dutch artist Jan Grotenbreg and the wooden sculpture is from a Thai temple.

3 Nautica founder David Chu, now owner of David Chu Bespoke, owns a Mongolian rug to protect a limestone entrance and an antique Buddha next to lucky bamboo presides over the rest. Painting, left, is by Dutch artist Jan Grotenbreg and the wooden sculpture is from a Thai temple.

Francisco Costa's Muray Hill, New York, apartment includes a swing-out seat under the kitchen window for a view of the Empire State Building and a magnificent photograph of a horse's mane.

4 Francisco Costa's Muray Hill, New York, apartment includes a swing-out seat under the kitchen window for a view of the Empire State Building and a magnificent photograph of a horse's mane.

Donna Karan's dreamy escape in the Caribbean .

5 Donna Karan's dreamy escape in the Caribbean .

Love, love, love Randolph Duke's Los Angeles pad.

6 Love, love, love Randolph Duke's Los Angeles pad.

Designer of Virgins, Saints and Angels Cheryl Finnegan lives in a colonial Mexican town and her house has everything from a fishpond to stone walls.

7 Designer of Virgins, Saints and Angels Cheryl Finnegan lives in a colonial Mexican town and her house has everything from a fishpond to stone walls.

Its just so magical.

8 Its just so magical.

Swaim and Christina Hutson live in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, with a clock obsession.

9 Swaim and Christina Hutson live in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, with a clock obsession.

The designers behind Generra love quirky contemporary and vintage pieces.

10 The designers behind Generra love quirky contemporary and vintage pieces.

Wild child Betsy Johnson stays true to her crazy roots with a pink New York apartment.

11 Wild child Betsy Johnson stays true to her crazy roots with a pink New York apartment.

Got to appreciate the boldness.

12 Got to appreciate the boldness.

Actually, the pink almost becomes neutral.

13 Actually, the pink almost becomes neutral.

Reem Acra's wallpaper is her first ad campaign shot by Ruven Afanador in 1999.

14 Reem Acra's wallpaper is her first ad campaign shot by Ruven Afanador in 1999.

Gary Wolkowitz's palette in his apartment is so lovely.

15 Gary Wolkowitz's palette in his apartment is so lovely.

Closer to home, I have a first-look at Assouline's new book American Fashion Designers At Home by Rima Suqi with an introduction by Elle Decor Editor In Chief Margaret Russsell. The book is not out until September (lucky you to get a preview) but pre orders are being accepted (click on the book title above) and I suggest you get to it. Who wouldn't want to see the inside the homes of Diane von Furstenburg, Kate Spade, Cynthia Rowley, and Randoph Duke. And, as usual, Assouline does it right, with great images and a top-notch writer.

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