The Crowd: Newport designer hosts Decorative Arts Society in her home

The Decorative Arts Society launched its 2011-12 program series with considerable style last week in Newport Beach. Led by society chair Elana Donovan, Decorative Arts Society members welcomed the first guest of the season, designer and author Thomas Jayne, at a reception hosted by Newport designer Mary Buckingham in her Big Canyon residence.

The quietly elegant Buckingham home — created on a palette of crème and celadon, with accents of French grey-blue — combines classic American upholstered furniture with French-inspired bergere pieces, and tastefully selected and collected English antiques. The crowd toured the Buckingham residence and admired an art collection featuring, among works from various periods, Southern California coastal plein air landscapes of exceptional quality.

It was the perfect backdrop for designer Jayne, based on the East Coast but raised on the tony west side Los Angeles in Brentwood. Known for his passion of mixing period styles and combining the modern and the antique to create an original scenario, Jayne enjoyed conversation with local design aficionados, as the exceptional catering staff known as "Fork, Knife + Spoon" delighted the crowd with their delectable fare.

The gracious Buckingham embraced the large gathering as the catering staff mingled about, passing hors d'oeuvres on silver service. Standing by the fire in the living room, world-class designer John Benecke visited with Choo Choo Boyer, Sharon Henwood and one of Newport's talented arbiters of design and taste, Barbara Glabman.

The ultra-charming Marion Hartwich enjoyed the Buckingham hospitality scene, chatting with consignment design star Kitty Canada, proprietress of The Find Consignments on Coast Highway. Linda Colton, Sandra Ayres, Diana Miner, Jackie Glass, Toni Berlinger, and Janet Curci were also front and center supporting the Decorative Arts Society.

One of the interesting elements of the Decorate Arts Society receptions is the enjoyment and attendance of the husbands. Dick Bertea is on duty and handles the bar, assisted by a rotating crew who keeps the party in high spirits.

Bill Donovan, Barry Fraser, Bill Brady, Bill Dennis, Bob Hall, Jerry Harrington, Mike Howard, Roger Palley, Bart Porter, Barry Steel, and Dave Tingler were among the gents supporting their decorative arts gals and enjoying the camaraderie on the Buckingham brick terrace, illuminated by artistically-lighted enormous trees creating the impression of an enchanted forest.

The society will next welcome author Deborah Davis on Nov. 8. Her subject: "The Secret Lives of Frames."

Proceeds from the design series benefit local charities supporting the needs of women and children in Orange County. Benefactors include Laura's House, Casa Teresa, Mariposa, Women Helping Women, New Directions for Women and Girls, Inc. For more information, visit

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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