An intriguing vintage interior design book recently fell into my lap. Not literally, but my husband’s uncle gave me several of his old books and I was struck by one, Inside Design by Michael Greer, published in 1962 exactly 50 years ago.
Wanting to find out who this Michael Greer was, I did some internet research. Apparently he was well known at the time and redesigned the diplomatic reception room of the White House during the Eisenhower administration. Some of his other famous clients were Geraldine Page and Ethel Merman, Broadway and Hollywood icons. Mr. Greer is on the left in the photo below.
He died tragically however and was murdered in his apartment on Park Avenue in New York City, wearing a blue kimono. What is so eerie to me is that he grew up an hour east of Atlanta in Monroe, Georgia and is also buried there. I think this book was meant to find it’s way to me. Thanks to Uncle Scott, and cheers to Mr. Greer!
It is a very easy and entertaining read, with an explanation of the basics of the design subject on each page. Some of his opinions are also amusing and very formal, although there is a great deal of merit at the root of them. Below are some of my favorite categories and photos from the book. I like to think of Mr. Greer reading the quotes aloud in his southern drawl, which apparently he never lost..
FLOWERS ~ “Too many flowers in a room imply the presence of a corpse and should be avoided unless there is one, and even then too many flowers can distress anyone of delicate taste.”
STAIRS ~ “Uncarpeted stairs are less luxurious, noisier, and more perilous than carpeted ones. Carpets on stairs should be specially woven, their borders designed with any idiosyncrasies of the particular steps in mind, and held in place with brass bars, as they are in Europe but rarely are here.”
COLOR ~ “The place to start, in designing any interior, is with color. Colors must be sorted into three categories: those the client can’t bear, those it can, and those it prefers.”
BLACK ~ “Black is dramatic and elegant and a faithful foil for other colors of all kinds and intensities, subtle to pyrotechnical. Women are their most radiant in black rooms; even men muster a glow.”
LACQUER ~ “In the eighteenth century, the term for lacquering was japanning with a little j. It could just as easily been chineseing with a little c.”
ANIMAL SKINS ~ “Stuffing and retaining the heads of the animals themselves is discouraged. Heads invariably look fierce or pathetic and besides, when they are three dimensional, you trip over them. ”
GOLD AND GILT ~ “Maybe because there’s so much of it locked up in Fort Knox, gold has the reputation of being a pretentious decorating device than silver. It is not.”
If you are interested in finding out what happened to Mr. Greer, here is the article regarding his life and death..
And where you can find copies of his book..