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Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott Blair, Palm Beach, Florida, 1936

Artist/Designer: Ruby Ross Wood

Project Location: Florida, United States

Figure 1: In 1936 Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott Blair of Chicago asked Ruby Ross Wood to decorate their house in Palm Beach. The living room featured a floor of parchment-colored marble bordered by bleached oak; at the room's center was a Louis XV frame table covered in leather banded with plain white carpet tape. This was one of the first projects that the young Billy Baldwin who had been hired by Mrs. Wood in 1935 worked on with her. About the Blair House, Baldwin wrote: "The decoration was pared down to the essentials of beauty and comfort-an appropriate scheme for a house in the tropics, but also proof that simplicity does not age: any of the rooms could be published in a current magazine and never betray that they were designed and lived in in 1936. Mrs. Wood and the Blairs had an uncanny sense of classicism, and together they conspired to strike at the heart of timelessness."--from Billy Baldwin Remembers, 1974 ( Photographer: Architectural Digest, January 2000, page 236 )
Figure 2: One end of the drawing room/central loggia of the Blair House, Palm Beach. About the interior design of this room, Billy Baldwin wrote: "The color of the drawing room was buff, pale, almost not there at all. The trim was purest white, and the floors ancient Cuban marble the color of parchment."--from Billy Baldwin Remembers, 1974. ( Photographer: Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), page 58. Photo by Samuel Gottsche. )
Figure 3: Central loggia. Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott Blair, Palm Beach. Watercolor by Mark Hampton. ( Photographer: The Great Lady Decorators by Adam Lewis, page 59 )
Figure 4: The white library in the Palm Beach house of the Blair's "with its blue-and-white chintz, immaculate bare floor." (Billy Baldwin, 1974) About the room, Baldwin wrote: "The library was beautifully proportioned, cool, and tall. The walls were painted and glazed the color of bone-very white, but very soft; the carpet less floor was contemporary parquet in a beautiful rich chestnut. For the curtains and most of the furniture, Mrs. Wood used an English chintz of rather strong bright-blue flowers on a white background. By the window stood an extraordinary scarlet lacquer desk, an eighteenth-century meuble; Mrs. Blair had bought it years before from Elsie de Wolfe herself." (Billy Baldwin Remembers, page 56) ( Photographer: Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), page 60. Photo by Samuel Gottsche. )
Figure 5: Mrs. Blair's pale pink bedroom. Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974): "The walls were tinted so slightly pink that they appeared white. The bedcover was beige linen, completely filled with exquisite trapunto embroidery. Most of the furniture was done in creams, off-whites, or beiges; the curtains were of ice-cream pink cotton satin from Syrie Maugham's London shop. There was a small collection of very good eighteenth century drawings, an Aubusson rug of pinks and beiges and lovely soft brown, and, on the writing desk, two lamps made of crystal blocks-very much of the thirties AND the seventies." ( Photographer: Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), page 59. Photo by Samuel Gottsche. )
Figure 6: From Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974): "The guest room: white carnations printed on pale-blue fabric, with a chest of drawers painted to match." and "One white-carpeted guest room was painted a barely discernible blue. Only one fabric was used in the room: a delightful pale-blue chintz with fluffy white carnations and dark-green leaves. Mrs. Wood thought it would be fun to paint the chest of drawers to match." ( Photographer: Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), photo by Samuel Gottsche, page 57. )
Figure 7: "The pleasure dome as it looked from the Ocean."--Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974) ( Photographer: Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), photograph by Samuel Gottsche, page 61. )
Figure 8: "The pleasure dome as it looked from Lake Worth."--Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974)

Classical Revival

Primary Material(s):
Stone, Fabric, Wood, Paint

Residential Structure

Related Website(s):

Significant Date(s):
20th Century, 1930-1939, 1936

Additional Information:
Designed for the Blair's of Chicago, the Palm Beach house decorated by Ruby Ross Wood, assisted by Billy Baldwin, was published in Vogue Magazine in 1936.

Baldwin, Billy. Billy Baldwin Remembers (New York: Harcourt Brace Javonovich, 1974).

Hampton, Mark. Legendary Decorators of the Twentieth Century (New York: Doubleday, 1992).

Lewis, Adam. "Ruby Ross Wood." In The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955, 52-69. New York: Rizzoli, 2009.

Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott Blair's House at Palm Beach
Vogue; New York Vol. 87, Iss. 12, (Jun 15, 1936): 66, 67, 68, 69, 100.

Owens, Mitchell. "Ruby Ross Wood: An Idiosyncratic Eye That Brought New Verve to American Interiors." Architectural Digest 57, no. 1 (January 2000): 232-37.

Smith, C. Ray. Interior Design in 20th-Century America: A History. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

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