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Friday, September 23, 2011

New Orleans Decorating~"Big Easy Style:Creating Rooms You Love to Live In" by Bryan Batt

Published by:  Crown
Release Date:  October 4, 2011
Pre-release Price:  Available
Pages:  208 including photos

Overview :  (Taken from book)

An enchanting space that’s truly unique calls for a sense of humor, whimsy, and an open mind.
From a charmed New Orleans childhood to a successful acting career on Broadway and the award-winning TV show Mad Men to the opening of his popular Big Easy home furnishings boutique, Hazelnut, Bryan Batt has always turned to home design as a creative outlet.

To him, the best rooms are unexpected yet refined and, above all, evoke emotion. He doesn’t think twice about hanging over sized decorations from a Mardi Gras float in an elegant dining room or bringing home vintage etchings of sconces when he was actually shopping for real ones. He believes that a vibrant orange wall can be a neutral backdrop for an antique writing desk and earthy accessories, and that an artist’s whimsical bird’s nest sculpture hung in a lavender entryway couldn’t serve as a better welcome into a cozy abode. New Orleans has taught Bryan so much about how to pull together a space that’s fearless and colorful with plenty of panache. With the city as his muse—its strong roots in history, its celebration of tradition, and, of course, the wild festivities of Mardi Gras—he believes that designing a fabulous, livable home that truly reflects a dweller’s passions need not be intimidating.

Big, Easy Style showcases rooms that make Bryan smile, with pages of rich photography featuring the work of many designers—and plenty of Crescent City interiors—framed by his own entertaining maxims on color, pattern, collecting, living areas, intimate spaces, and more. Explore rooms he’s personally designed and others that inspire him; from an old-world kitchen imported straight from the heart of France to a luxurious Art Deco media room, these homes are enticing and unique, and through their surprising details, completely inviting. 

Decorating your home to reflect your personality and taste takes practice and patience and can be a daunting undertaking, but Bryan proposes that we not worry about making mistakes, that any decision we make is better than no decision at all. With Big, Easy Style, learn how to put aside your hesitation and surrender to the wild side of home design for a big statement that’s easy to achieve.

Let's Meet Bryan!

BRYAN BATT (actor, designer, civic activist, and author) is most recently known for his two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winning performance as “Salvatore Romano” in AMC’s critically acclaimed dramatic series MAD MEN, which has been lauded with awards including Emmys, Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild as well as the Peabody awards.

Bryan is also a designer. He and Tom Cianfichi, his partner of 22 years, are the nationally recognized creative forces behind HAZELNUT, a fine gift and home accessories shop in his home town of New Orleans. HAZELNUT has been featured in the NEW YORK TIMES, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, IN STYLE, FOOD AND WINE, TOWN AND COUNTRY and many more publications.

His debut book, a memoir, or as he calls it, a momoir, “SHE AIN’T HEAVY, SHE’S MY MOTHER,” celebrates his Steel Magnolia / Auntie Mame of a mom and depicts growing up in wildly colorful  New Orleans in the 1970’s. The book has received wonderful notices… “I Loved, Loved, Loved This Book” – Whoopi Goldberg …and was on Janet Maslin’s NY Times top 10 summer read list.

As a Broadway veteran, Bryan’s leading and principal roles include: 2005 revival of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SUESSICAL THE MUSICAL, SUNSET BLVD, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, STARLIGHT EXPRESS, and CATS. Off Broadway: FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Drama Desk Nomination). Theatrically, Bryan is most proud of originating the role of DARIUS in the N.Y. and L.A (Drama Logue Award) productions, as well as the film adaptation, of Paul Rudnick’s ground breaking comedy JEFFREY.

A civic activist, Bryan champions many causes including Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, Habitat For Humanity, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Human Rights Campaign (Equality and Visibility Awards), the SPCA, The Preservation Resource Center, The Point Foundation, N.O. AIDS Task Force, and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré.

His next book is a design book for Clarkson Potter entitled “BIG, EASY STYLE” and will be released October 4th.

Bryan (left, back section of picture!) 

The Dame's Review :

"The Big Easy..." is a beautifully written book in addition to being a book with gorgeous photographs of homes in lush details and sophisticated tastes.  Bryan Batt displays his Renaissance man characteristics not only in acting, it seems, but in writing, decorating and presenting himself as an entertaining man-about-town in New Orleans.  This is a book of many surprises, one that you'll be pleased to reference, and have available for friends and family.

I love 1800's period homes.  Having been an interior designer myself, and having owned a few houses in that time period, I know the joys and the challenges they can present.  Mr. Batt has shown them off and led us through those with panache!  It's a real joy to see and read his excitement over the smallest of details that makes a house a home and a room spectacular.

In terms of learning to decorate for oneself, Bryan gives so many practical examples and easy lessons covering such things as:

~  attention to lighting
~  importance and use of paint, which paint co. he uses, and
    some color choices specifically
~  sophisticated small things that enhance
~  how to use a splash of strong color for taste and drama
~  bars that set a mood and sparkle
~  art to bring a home to life

It was particularly heartening to read how much support Bryan gives to clients and readers of his book in the very common area of decorating fright.  Here, I quote him:
"..never make a decision based on fear; one can never be truly stylish without taking a risk or two." 

Regarding our color education and use in our own home design, he urges us to keep our eyes open in nightclubs for colors, in art galleries, museums, books, and when we travel.  In "Big Easy..."  he also shows the gorgeous home of one of his school friend's, a local New Orleans artist, who employs her own artwork and crafts to fill her house with personality and punch. 

 I loved when he wrote:
"...think of this (your powder room, specifically,) as a perfect chance to express yourself and get your ya-yas out!"

So funny, and so true!   He suggests an antique gold enamel paint, a piece of art inspiration, a theme that can set the tone such as; "The Last Emperor" or "The Secret Garden."  I once had a powder room designed around the small mistress eye paintings that were done for noblemen during the Renaissance to carry with them in secret.  These beautiful eyes, peeking out of knot holes of alabaster, exotic woods, agate and the like gave me a jewelled palette from which to decorate that little room for guests.  It was such fun and I called it my "Little Jewelry Box."

With his homebase of New Orleans, his apparently fabulous decorating shop (it has to be spectacular!) called "Hazelnut," with a nod to his beloved mom; and, including the cultural mix of Mardi Gras...Bryan Batt has shared with us his whole heart and gifts in this special book.

It's visually a treat, it's a happy read, it's helpful and it's a reference for interior decorating.  I would recommend it for everyone who loves their home, who wants to gift a loved one or newlywed, or friend; and a decorating professional looking to build her/his reference library.

5 stars


*Oh, and one more thing;  I would love to share with you Bryan's delicious recipe for "Tequila Mockingbird II"  his signature drink for parties, but you'll have to get his book to find out for yourself.  Yum--mie!  I've enjoyed mine while reading "Big, Easy Style:  Creating Rooms You Love to Live In"   Hope you get a chance to enjoy!   Cheers, New Orleans style!



Kitchen countertops chip and break. Also grout lines tend to look bad after a while unless you plan on cleaning it really good every day.You can't just wipe the counters down you have to scrub the grout lines with a brush often to keep it looking good.

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