[morning everyone! aaron and i are on our "mini-moon" in charleston today so i'm going to posting katie runnels' guest blog posts over here today. they're also on the guest blog, but i thought you guys might enjoy the interiors over here, too. so, welcome katie!]
Winifred Ross Riley or Fu (as her friends call her) is an artist and designer whose home environment is thoroughly an extension of her art. Several years ago I got to tag along with her good friend, Kathy Thompson on a visit to Fu’s when she installed a sculpture made for her friend’s garden. I fell in love with the Reilly’s funky modern dwelling, entirely enchanted by the deliberate and artful choices made throughout. Fu’s artwork runs the gamut from mixed media sculptures, ceramics, painting and screen-printing, and many may remember her decorative lighting designs that were featured heavily in design magazines throughout the nineties. Her current artwork is available exclusively through Ann Connelly Fine Art in Baton Rouge.
Winifred and husband, Kevin Reilly purchased the 1970’s home in 1988 and renovated it entirely and adding the colorful stucco sections present below. The house sits on a three-acre flood plain that does occasionally do just that, hence the house is raised 8ft amid a lush marsh-like setting that visitors often refer to as the “treehouse”. The redesign was a collaboration between the Riley’s and New Orleans architect, Leonard Silvado (deceased).
Winifred’s side entry opens up the family room to a multi-tiered modern deck overlooking her organic garden and pool. The vintage Russell Wright folding chair was purchased by Fu’s mother in the 1940’s and the contemporary prayer flags are by Kathryn Hunter of Blackbird Letterpress. The art construction over the mantle is from Fu’s new series that utilizes scrap honeycomb boards left over from a boat yard.
In the living room an unusual mantle was created from a Cypress tree that had to be felled to make way for Fu’s studio. The lounge chair was handcrafted with two-by-fours by Fu and then professionally upholstered.
The master bedroom is an oasis of natural fibers accented with vintage Tommy Parzinger lamps (for similar try 1st Dibs) and painting by Michael Crespo. Fu also had four vintage charcoal drawings framed that she found at a flea market.
This is a view of Fu’s desk with convenient built-in shelves to the side concealing personal effects. The lamp was made by Fu using a vintage fiberglass shade. The photographs are by New Orleans artist, David Halliday and the resin piggy bank is by Harry Allen available through Unica Home.
A peaceful corner of the master bedroom with a muslin chaise lounge facing a collection of Fu’s Swamp House series.
Fu has been creating these small ‘swamp house’ sculptures for several years. She often begins them as an exercise to get re-acquainted with her studio.
“If I need to loosen up when I get to the studio I’ll make a house out of whatever is in front of me. When I travel I’ll pick up leaves or sticks or something that will remind me of the place and bring it home to make a little swamp house. The form of the house was a fairly random choice as I was just looking for a 3-D shape to test out different surfaces and textures. After about ten of them I just kept going and now have close to one hundred. They are not for sale because I become attached to each of them.”
My favorite spot- a deck integrated into Fu’s lush herb garden. Chairs from CB2.
The beginnings of an organic veggie garden. Fu’s cut bamboo to stake her tomatoes in
beds raised with the same colorful stucco element featured on the home’s exterior.
Mixed-metal pod sculptures by Kathy P. Thompson (those installed during our visit) play and spout along the poolside. I love how they have aged over the years!
Fu’s studio sits to the side of the main house like a private hideaway enveloped in cypress trees. Studio design by Joey Wild of Domain Design.
Interior of Fu’s bright studio with more from her collection of Swamp Houses.
A construction piece in progress. Fu summed up the main difference between her home and studio in one word: clutter.
“Since I work with so many materials and I collect just about anything I find visually interesting, it starts crowding me out of the studio unless I use it in a piece. In my house I like things neat and in place…I am working on consuming less and getting rid of things, like a lot of other folks, I know. What were we thinking in the last decade?” On the subject, Fu recommends artist, Nigel Poor’s project, Relative Value. She also likes to keep tabs on fellow creative Southern re-use designer, Alabama Chanin through her online journal for Alabama Studio Style.
Thanks for the tour, Fu! And thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities!
The Constant Gatherer
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