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The Isaac Bell House, in Newport, Rhode Island, designed by McKim, Mead & White and built in the early 1880s, was a precursor of modern architecture.
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Conservators have left a reception room unrestored. Even in this state, visitors can "read" the story of the house: the easy flow from room to room, the open-plan layout, and the organic color palette.
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Stained- and leaded-glass windows fashioned with organic shapes echo the house's colors: robin's-egg blue, red, and brown.
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A brass andiron made to look like a sunflower is original to the house's era, but not to the house itself.
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A wallpaper reproduced by Scalamandre has a gilded Japanese wave pattern; the original wallpapers were French and attributed to the company Balin.
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The front hall is rooted in the English Arts and Crafts style. McKim, Mead & White designed this inglenook and paneled it with pieces of carved beds made by craftsmen in Brittany, France -- essentially recycling folk items into a custom design. They are laid over polished tin, which reflects and stipples light like the brushstrokes of an Impressionist painting.
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A detail of the ornate paneling.
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Woven rattan, a common Japanese material, was used for the dining room walls and ceiling. (In the mid-19th century, trade routes were opened to Japan by Commodore Matthew Perry, a Newporter, and that country's art and architecture were all the rage for decades.)
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North African braziers serve as decorative elements against the rattan.
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The living room door is on rollers, like a barn door might be; the gilded wallpaper was reproduced in France by Atelier Offard.
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