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Monday, January 2, 2012

Bemelmans Bar

Nowhere is the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie more palpable than in this bastion of post-war decadence: think white-jacket waiters, 24-karat gold leaf ceilings, and nickel-trimmed glass tables splayed around the ivories. Settle into a leather banquette and order something strong and adventurous—perhaps with champagne and cognac or fresh mint and muddled lemons. Murals of frolicking animals painted by bar namesake and former Carlyle Hotel resident Ludwig Bemelmans offer a whimsical counterpoint to what might otherwise be suffocating sophistication (and they repay a close viewing—can you spot the armed rabbit stalking its brethren'). Feel an extra boost knowing you're enjoying pretty much the same thing as the folks across the lobby at Café Carlyle, for a fraction of the cover. — Julie Mehta and Andrew Yamato
At 18 years old I moved to NYC and fell in love with it. I will always consider it my home.
I still am and regret my move to Florida , for the most part everyday since.
Except that I had my beautiful daughter in Florida.
I came to Florida for a mini winter vacation (while still living on E 58th. St), and I ran into my childhood sweetheart (we both grew up in Miami Beach on Palm Island – next to Star Island ) , we became inseparable, had a child, and the rest is ……
I never wanted to up-root her from her home town ( Boca Raton ). Her father and I are divorced. We remain very close friends today. But now, all these years later, she is in her 3rd year of college and I haven’t been able to move back.
I talk about it , think about it……
And given an opportunity , I would be back in a heart beat.

‘Andi ‘ is my daughter’s name, and
when she was 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old she
was obsessed with the children’s book Madeline. ( so was I )

She used to dance around on the cocktail table top singing the song from the story....

"I'm Madeline, I'm Madeline..... "

Which brings me back to the bar at The Carlyle Hotel,
and when I first moved to NYC. ……

I was married before I married my daughters father. I was very young, he was
11 years older, a doctor, "yada yada yada"

'The doctor' came to NYC and stayed at the Carlyle. It was there that I became engaged.
…….By Mistake .
What can I say ? I am Jewish from Miami Beach, I thought it was what I was supposed to do.

And here is how this all ties together; there are amazing murals at the Carlyle. One mural is in the Famous Carlyle Café where you can spend an evening with the likes of Bobby Short, Ertha Kitt, etc etc.

And the other ( and the subject of this post ) is in Bemelmans Bar.

In exchange for lodging, Ludwig Bemelmans painted murals of central park on the walls.
Hence , the name of the famous/landmark bar, Bemelmans Bar.

Just in case you've forgotten, Ludwig Bemelmans was the author and illustrator of the Madeline series of children's books .
He even put a group of the orphans in blue hats from the Madeline story in the mural .

I love that !!!

They offer a beautiful High Tea for the little ones
And someday maybe, I will take my grandchild there and bore her to death telling her Dorothy Draper stories, along with showing her fabric swatches and paint chips.

Madeline's Orphanage in Paris

Sites to go to :

Ludwig Bemelmans with his daughter Mimi and wife in Munich.
If you want to go, here is a map.

BTW, it just happens to in my favorite area in Manhattan.
I would just love to have my kitchen / family room painted with a mural just like this one..
Hmmmmmmmmmmm...great idea for a wallpaper.
It could be done,
because today you can get anything made.

make sure and play video-
this is a recycled post from 2008 - HAPPY NEW YEARS!!

( enlarge any picture for more info and a closer look )

Renee Finberg 'TELLS ALL' in her Blog of her Adventures in Design,Owner of 'The Trade' Interiors, ,Boca Raton,Palm Beach,Boca Raton Florida,All custom upholstery,case-goods,window treatments,Antiques, Accessories and Antique accessories, built-ins, and all built in seating  bemelmans bar, the carlyle hotel nyc


  1. Renee,
    What a fabulous post!
    As a fellow displaced New Yorker longing to go back, I really loved this.
    The Carlyle was the epitome of glam for me when I lived there, a real treat for a a date with a guy who had a few bucks to spend.
    I loved Bobby Short so much!
    And the murals in the bar!
    And of course Madeleine!
    What a great story about your daughter singing: "I'm Madeleine"!
    Later I had a few clients who actually lived at the Carlyle!
    So darling soul sister, maybe one day you and I will have a drink at the Carlyle!
    xo xo

  2. Every time I'm in the city, I have a drink at bemelmans! I love hearing about it :-) I love the atmopshere and the fantastic live music! They also have the most delicious salted nuts on the tables, I always wondered what spices they used on them. I must have 6 or 7 of their matchbooks with portions of the wall mural as the jacket.

  3. i am so happy you came by. XXXX

    yes, one of the coolest places for sure.

  4. Anonymous12:42

    I am new to your blog and I just love, love, love this post! Someday, I will go and drool all over the murals in Bemelman's Bar and when I do I will recall your blog post with a smile.

    Do you know the mistake in the book, Madeleine? It was first pointed out in a children's literature class I took in college. The scene where Madeleine is in the hospital and all the girls are sitting at the table with Miss Clavel, there are 12 girls sitting around. There should only be 11 as Madeleine is in the hospital. I used to read the books to my students, and then to my own girls, and challenge them to find the mistake.

  5. Beautiful post.

    Love you.

    May Peace and Love be always with you.

  6. Renee,

    What a lovey post, such fond memories, wonderful history, excitment in your tone of such a near and dear part of who you are.

    Posts like this validate our place in this big world and the fact that everyone has a story to share. Love it!

    I have really really enjoyed everything you've shared with me both personally and professionally. You are a gem in Florida shining brightly in that corner of the world.

    You are well aware that when you set your intention, you set your path, when you travel your path you reach the star that you've been aiming for.

    Look at where you've been, done, and expienced since you were five years old. What a great journey you've been on and you STILL have wonderful things ahead of you.

    WRITE IT DOWN, MAKE IT HAPPEN by Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph.D (her book tells you just how to)

    Happy Happy New Year Renee...Cheers! All the best in 2012!

    XOXO Bette

  7. I am from Virginia and I never thought I'd be back. I spent nearly 20 years in awful Western Pennsylvania (apologies to Pittsburgh lovers)and wanted to come home after 5 minutes of being there.
    Well, now I've been back for a year. Never say never.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Whats not to love about the gorgeous Carlyle? Its fabulous in every way, and makes me feel like I have gone back in time to a much grander, more elegant genteel time. Plus the first time I went it was to see the legendary Bobby Short, then I really felt like a full fledged adult! What a special night that was!
    If you ever move back to the big apple..I will meet you there for a drink! Cheers to that and a happy new year!

  10. Madeline was/is one of my favorite children's books, ever. I have my mother's copy - she read it to me, and I read it to my child. Wonderful post.
    Happy, happy New Year!
    xo isa

  11. Lets all plan a drink together there sooner than later!
    All the best for will be great!

    hugs Heather

  12. Please come back to 58th Street, we will be neighbors... have coffee in the morning and end the day with a drink at the Carlyle. As I am writing this, my husband is threatening to move to Florida... the cold does that to him, turns him into a grouch.... Loved reading your post, with boys i had to read different stories, my favorite being Le Petit Prince!

    Happy warm sunny New Year to you, my friend, Francine

  13. Very well done!
    Happy New Year Mamma xxxxx

  14. enchanted T

    if i ever move back.....we will definitely meet for a drink or dinner there!!!

    it would be such fun! xx

  15. concrete

    what a great plan.
    i would do it !!


  16. blue,

    my daughter and i loved her.
    i still sing the little song!!


  17. bette

    thank you so much for the compliments.
    i am beginning to wain ....
    and how did you know???

    i am going to write it down-
    i need to make things happen!!

    love to you
    happy new year!!!

  18. Well, Renee, you have certainly convinced me to go there. This is such a bittersweet story. Too bad we can't all be where we want to be.
    Have a great week.

  19. What a great story Renee. Now I want to go there because of this post.

    What a lucky grandchild you will have some day. Stories and paint chips!


  20. Happy New Year!

  21. See what having 5 boys has done to me, it's taken til now to be exposed to the magic of Madeline! Such a lovely post Renee, I feel a rendezvous at The Carlyle coming up gorgeous one.
    Millie xx

  22. Renee what an amazing story. The way it all ties together is truly wonderful!! It all comes full circle you know!!

    Happy New Years to you and yours!


    Art by Karena

  23. well renee i suddenly have this urge to go to NY and the carlyle

    love that you shared your story and that indeed contributes to your being so special, no bs, no airs.

    after a divorce i escaped chicago for florida and regretted that decision as you, near immediately. after 6 long years i found my way back, but i do not have children. it is hard indeed to live in a place longing for another. you never know what the future will bring

  24. How beautiful. Shall we meet there for our afternoon tea or perhaps cocktails? xxx

  25. karena

    thank you so much.
    'full circle' .....
    i sure hope so!

    happy new year my dear!!!

  26. deb

    just reading your comment brings tears to my eyes.
    because it is so unbelievably true.
    the other great love of my life in NYC.

    love to you
    happy new year
    xxx hugs

  27. millie

    if can you can
    go there!!!
    you and moth would have a very romantic time!

  28. jules

    nothing would make me happier!!

    happy new year my love
    xxxx hugs

  29. ah the beautiful and glamourous Carlyle...almost a caricature of impossible eccentricity...

    and well NYC is just one of those places which really gets under one's skin, can't let go, have to go back, so I can imagine if one had actually lived there, the pull would be even WORSE...

    I love how you wound this story around and around, like a richly embroidered fabric, with sour tangs and sweet threads, to define the tapestry of your life. I reckon though, that everything in life is grist in the mill, the bad as well as the good, and it is what makes life so interesting. For an interesting life you have certainly lived so far, therefore I see no reason why it will continue to be so. And NYC will wait till you are ready to return...Virginia xx

  30. oh Virginia
    interesting indeed
    was my life before moving back to this horrid place.
    the heat.
    the people.
    the heat.
    my life in the last 24 years has gone by without noticing.
    - that hurts me from my core up through the top of my head.

    pleasepleaseplease send me a way to get back home!!!

    you write so beautifully VIRGINIA xxxxx



Thanks for participating!!

About Renée Finberg

I have been in this business since the age of 22.

I love what I do and cannot imagine my life without Design.

Design Challenges are great.

And because of those challenges

I have imported fine antique pieces from Paris,

Designed and Manufactured Furniture,

Created Fantastic Window Treatments,

And solved all kinds of spatial & architectural issues

With my unique style.

If I can't find it, I create it.

My rooms would make excellent movie sets.

I am a visual, tactile and audio sensitive individual.

Creating is what I live for, not math, not spelling, not science.

Just Great Design.

Just imagine how it would be if each of us,

If only for a few hours of everyday,We could be in a space that is our very own.A place that is exactly the way we want it to be

Surrounded by all the things we wanted to see,

The atmosphere we wanted feel, smell and the sound we wanted to listen to.

Private Paradise



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