Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wasn't She Lovely...McMillen's Betty Sherrill Dies

Hello friends!

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know I'm busily preparing for our wedding in (less than) 5 weeks.  

I'm also taking an 8-week class at the Chronic Pain Clinic, so together with working and getting the garden into shape for spring (i.e. supervising David who does all the heavy lifting), I haven't had much time lately to think about decorating! 

However, I was very sad to read this week (here) about the death of Betty Sherrill, at age 91.  Mrs. Sherrill was the amazing traditionalist designer who headed McMillen (a NYC interior design firm said to be the oldest in the country) for over half a century.  I have McMillens prominently in my family tree, so I always found it interesting to read about a namesake...

She sounded like quite a charming character, in addition to having (of course) exquisite taste and a very deep knowledge of traditional furniture and interesting it would have been to have known her.

Architectural Digest has published a wonderful tribute here so I won't pretend to try to duplicate the effort.

Here is a photo from that article, showing Betty Sherrill with her daughter Ann Pyne (left) and granddaughter Elizabeth Pyne, both designers who work for the family firm.

I had read about her several times over the years and was doubly-shocked as I'd just finished re-reading (last week in fact!!!), the New York Social Diary article about her Manhattan apartment (here), posted in February 2007.

I had actually just emailed myself a link to her dining room, which I think is fabulous.

So I thought I'd share a few photos from that article with you.

Here is the wonderful dining room with leopard-spotted dining chair fabric and carpet.  Perfection.  This room is just so classic and chic - it feels very French to me, very Paris apartment.  I love this look. The article lists the chairs as Louis VI.

Here is the living room - very, very traditional - but such beautiful things never go out of style.  I love everything here, including the sunny yellow walls and that abstract painting that adds whimsy and just tips the balance so it doesn't get too serious:

The library - I love the deep coral walls and the taxidermy impala head (I'm not really up on my wild game so I could be wrong, and don't ask me how I knew it was an impala) on the wall above a charmingly romantic impressionistic floral painting.  I also love that cane desk chair and another animal print on the little armchair.  All of these elements are like reading a list of traditional classics...all combined so perfectly.

The other end of the living room and a passageway - more classics - the treillage, the portraits, the chevron floors, a skirted (velvet?) table, a bouillotte lamp, that gorgeous floral flatweave rug...such density of design, but the cheery colour scheme keeps it light and pretty.

I hope you can read a bit more about this amazing lady for yourself.

Sometimes (oftentimes!) I wish I were in the Who's Who world and could meet some of these fascinating people.  I find people like Mrs. Sherrill just endlessly fascinating and I love their old-fashioned traditional ways of keeping house and decorating one's house.  I learned a lot from my grandmother, but sadly nothing about French Furniture.  Haha.  It is a lost art form, really - this resolute dedication to pure traditional decor.  

Luckily she has passed down her wisdom to the next generation.  They are so blessed to have known her!

With my regards,  Terri


  1. What an amazing woman! And, as you say, "Luckily she has passed down her wisdom to the next generation". I'm seriously coveting that leopard fabric!

    I hope all is well with you.


    1. Hi Denise! I know - that dining room is just perfection. Hope you are well. xo

  2. Such taste, sophistication and style! She was someone who understood proportion, color scheme, layering, etc. I feel that many of today's decorators lack those. Thanks for this post on Betty Sherrill. xo

    1. I think you're right Loi. Her interiors are so layered and her use of colour so proficient that one doesn't even notice the rooms are chalk full of stuff.

  3. Those are amazing, classic rooms - investments that will last. Love her use of color - so pleasing and happy. Re: the St John pics, was there in April for the tenth time, love it there :)

  4. In addition to a great decorator she seemed like a great lady. Hope everything is going smoothly re. the wedding!

  5. Yes so lovely and such a loss to their firm. Her family will carry on her tradition.

  6. Anonymous6:33 pm

    Hi Terri:
    Betty Sherrill was a fabulous designer with fine taste -- She reminds me of Nancy Lancaster only she was more into french and Nancy was into English. I really love how she always put everything together in just the right way. She truly had an eye for the best of everything. I hope all is going well with the wedding plans -- I can't wait to see the photos of your wonderful day. I hope you will share a lot of them with us.
    Susan in Charlotte N.C.

    1. Thanks Susan - I owe you an email! I watched the wedding DVD - wonderful. xox

  7. I had not heard of her heretofore. Some of those rooms are wonderful.

  8. So much talent and an icon interior designer. I am so pleased that her daughter anf granddaughter ate taking over the reigns!

    The Arts by Karena

  9. Dear Terri! I been to a lovely and so sad (Aischwitz/Birkenau) trip to Krakow in Poland. Look at my fist pics here. More to come.


  10. Terri,
    In many ways, Great Dames like Betty remind me of kinder gentler times and the priority of creating a home full of love.
    Over the years, my own style has been reflected by many fantastic women in my life and then influenced by time and the
    power of practicality and "pretty" - Off to read the link. I have good friends in the city with the same family name but no relation to Betty. I have always admired her ladylike taste.
    Surely the family has big shoes to fill and follow.

  11. hi!!
    congrats on your wedding - can't wait for the pictures! I also have to tell you - Ben has been so sick this year, only making it to work for just a few days total. awful. we've done everything - lidocaine shots to the head, botox shots (waiting on the next round in a few weeks), topamax (worked! but had to stop because of awful side effects) - ER visits for IV DHE45 - (kind of works) and Dilaudid, well. nothing worked to stop the migraine from emerging each morning.

    we finally got the cephaly headband - finally - and it kind of works! omg! i am so cautious, so scared, BUT - it got rid of his migraine yesterday - after two treatments - from a 8 pain out of 10 - to nothing. nothing. no pain. he woke up this morning with a pain 4~~~!!!!!! not an 8 or 10 out of 10, he took just 2 advils and two treatments with the headband and he is fine right now. omg. it's like a miracle. right now he has 1 pain out of 10 on just 2 advils he took hours ago. he is talking and laughing!!!! and reading!!! and doing housework!!! he took two treatments today.

    write me - at my new email address if you want -

    you probably already tried it? i hope not - i hope it might help you!!! right now, it's like a miracle. i hate to jinx it. but, well, at least he's had two free days right now. omg. a miracle.

  12. thanks ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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  14. Don't know what to say may her soul rest in peace. These are wonderful collection of furniture sets. Have blessed and fruitful years ahead wedding planning apps

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