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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remembering Mildred


On Wednesdays we are going to try to "Think Martha" in order to boost your entertaining skills---because really, what good is a beautiful home if you don't share it with friends and family. In working on some ideas I cast back to my Grandmother for inspiration and Mildred was an avid fan of Makers Mark Bourbon! These days I celebrate her memory with a favorite drink of mine which I have named in her honor. It is very simple but I think that the best drinks are. Test it out with a few friends around the fire!

1 Highball filled with Ice
2 shots Makers Mark Bourbon
Fill to top with Ginger Ale, I like the Jamacian style which has more spice than usual in it
Angostura Bitters to taste
Add a Cherry or two for some color and something yummy to eat at the end


Monday, October 27, 2008

If Walls Could Sing


I fell in love with a beautiful French hand painted wall paper recently. I originally spotted something similar (turns out it is from the same company) in a magazine but I lost the edition before I could nab the name out of it....as luck would have it I came across it again recently and was even more astounded by the variety of patterns and the versatility.

These fish have really caught my imagination. I am not so sure about the Chicken Figurines but I just find the whole idea so whimsical and fun. I look forward to using this in some delightful place!

Check out all of the wonderous designs at de Gournay

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Monday Reading List

The plan on Monday's is to post books that we like or think might be interesting reading. To be honest I have been a bit overwhelmed with Halloween festivities to buy any new books (I am still pawing over the Geoffrey Bilhuber book too), but I thought it might be interesting to post a few things from my Amazon wish list.

It's funny my list is now quite long, so every now and again I like to revisit it and see what caught my interest and maybe it will for you too.

Cotswold Gardens, by David Hicks


Well, any book by Mr. Hicks will catch my eye, but this is one that I don't have in my collection. I thoroughly enjoy his other garden book, My Kind of Garden, so I am looking forward to this one, which starts with his own home, and then goes on to describe his other gardens in the area. I think after I nab this one I will have a complete set of all the books by Hicks, perfect for a rainy weekend.

Hampton's Havens, by Hampton's Cottages and Gardens Magazine


I love the Hampton's, I think that they represent the best of classic American beach going. Warm water, rolling lawns and great garden parties. I am just about to start work on a house out there too, for one of my best and oldest friends, so I am studying up on the style and I think this book gives a great overview of the best homes, from Manors to Cottages.

Piet Boon: Beach, by Piet Boon


I am a huge fan of Boons work, and I came across this book on Amazon today. The description is brief to say the least " two beach houses in different regions by Piet Boon". But I am very excited to see hi clean sense of modernism applied in such a casual setting as the beach. If anyone has this book, let me know, my interest is piqued.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One More Thing....

While it may seem that I am a bit Schizo, but these blog postings are being written by three different people. I am Mark and also Kate and Ashleigh contribute as well, but we haven't quite worked out yet how to add those extra signatures to the postings, if anyone has any tips, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Anyway, I have lately been checking on a blog that I am quickly falling in love with: Unclutterer.com . It has some great tips about ways to simplify your life, from keeping your desk tidy to organising your computer files. A lot of the stuff is a bit sophisticated, but for instance this morning there was a terrific post about how to develop a self-purging filing system.... I loved that!

Check them out and let me know what you think.

Weekend Homework...



Happy Friday! From now on, each Friday I will be posting a bit of “Weekend Homework” for our readers. Maybe it will be a book or a website to check out, or maybe it will be a challenge to you to try something different with your current space, or a space you may be working on.
This week I encourage you to check out the wonderful sites I have used while designing a nursery for a longtime client. Through trial and error, I have found there may be a ton of nursery furniture out there, but not a whole lot I actually wanted to use. To save you time and energy, bookmark these great sites and refer to them next time you are creating a welcoming space for a brand new bundle of joy!

1.) Posh Tots- Beautiful cribs and other pieces of furniture.
2.) Oopsy Daisy- Fun, playful, wall decor.
3.) Little Castle Inc.- Rockers and gliders for mom and dad.
4.) Lulla Smith- Luxury baby bedding.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maybe its the Time of Year...






I was looking around at the Pacific Design Center the other day, and it seems that there is a lot of red around. Perhaps its the time of year, perhaps its just that everyone is sick of pale blue, who knows?

Anyway, I thought I would post some red images of my own, what good is a bus, if no one is one it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

When life gives you lemons...


While leaving the office the other day I almosty tripped over a huge lemon that had fallen from our office lemon tree. I looked up to see many others, almost ripe and ready for use. I thought of making a batch of fesh squeezed lemonade right away, but realized there were enough large lemons there for much much more. Below are some of my favorite uses for this fruit when it is not in a yummy pie or tall glass of cold lemonade! Hopefully you will discover a few and use them in your home as well...

1.)Eliminate fireplace odor. Next time you have a fire that sends a stench into the room, try throwing a few lemon peels into the flames. Or simply burn some lemon peels along with your firewood as a preventive measure

2.)Clean tarnished brass, copper or stainless steel. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt and coat the affected area; let sit for 5 minutes. Wash in warm water, rinse, and polish dry.

3.)Refresh cutting boards. To get rid of a smell and help sanitize the cutting board, rub it with the cut side of half a lemon or wash it in undiluted juice straight from the bottle.

4.)Get rid of tough stains on marble. If washing won't remove a stubborn stain, try this: Cut a lemon in half, dip the exposed flesh into some table salt, and rub it vigorously on the stain. But do this only as a last resort; acid can damage marble. Rinse well.

5.)Absorb odors. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours.

6.)Whiten fingernails. Rub a wedge on the surface of your nails.

7.)Remove soft cheese or other sticky foods from a grater. Rub both sides of the grater with the pulp side of a cut lemon.

8.)Ant deterrent. Pouring lemon juice around areas where ants frequent is said to repel them naturally.

9.)Clean Hands. The smell of fish can linger on your hands, even after scrubbing with soap. Rubbing hands with lemon juice will neutralize the smell and leave your hands smelling wonderful.

10.)Quick d├ęcor. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny dining table centerpiece.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Enough to Eat




I have to admit that I would probably not be a dream client. I am very particular about what I want, but at the same time have no idea exactly what that might be. So it was with great trepidation I started a search recently for new dinnerware. My old sets were still great, a plain white one from Crate and Barrel, mixed with some from Calvin Klein, and some vintage pieces, but I felt it was time to do something new and fresh.

I looked at all the usual suspects, but everything seemed a little overdesigned to me, what I wanted was something that had some style, but was able to work with hot dogs on the plate or some of my attempts at gourmet cooking, not an easy order to fill.

I came across this company MUD, from Australia, and their work is absolutely beautiful, it is porcelain, that has had the tint added, so the color permeates through the whole piece, and then there is a clear glaze applied on top. It makes for the chicest blend of matte and gloss, and the colors are soft like old plaster. 

There are some great colors in the line, and I couldn't decide which to get so I went with a blend, so now wgen I set my table sometimes I will set each person with a particular color and other times a random mix. I love that the colors are soft enough too that I can still mix in my old sets as well.

Check them out, and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Buying Antiques


I love old pieces of furniture, no matter how hard I try, the patina of an antique is impossible to match. Also, the feeling of an antique is hard to replace, one of my favorite things is to blend the old with the new, and i think it makes each feel stronger. However, for the novice buying antiques can be pretty daunting, for that matter being sure that the piece you are looking at is even an antique at all, can be half the battle.

Here are some tips that might help:
  1. It is best if you can maintain a constant interest, whether through auctions, dropping by your favorite shop, or the mega-site 1stdibs.com, the more you look at antiques the better you will get at recognising both quality and value.
  2. Take your time in making the decision, few good decisions are made in haste. Look at it in natural light to get a better sense of its real color.
  3. Remembering that some imperfections can actually add value, so don't expect it to be perfect. Having said that be wary of things like worm holes that's are all the same size, they may be created by a nail not a worm.
  4. Be aware, especially on old pieces that sometimes the hardware will have been replaced, so check closely for changes in wood color around the hardware locations, also look under the piece to see if you can see hand made marks, rather than machined perfection.
  5. If the dealer seems to be hiding things or be a bit shifty about the provenance etc, move on.
  6. Lastly, fall in love with the piece, it will bring you years of pleasure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Perfecting the Thank-You Note

Being in the design industry, I have come to learn how important positive relationships are. It may be a vendor who goes out of their way to track your shipment, a sub-contractor who refers you to a potential client, or a rep who finds you that perfect fabric just in time…they all deserve a thank you! So lately I have made it my new policy to write two thank you notes a week to let those people know just how much I appreciate their extra efforts. Last week, it was a brief handwritten note to a client to thank them for their continued support, and this week it will be to a vendor who always seems to make my issue her only priority. For those of you out there who love the idea but don’t quite know how to begin, or what to say, I have included some tips for a fail-proof thank you note…
1. Open with enthusiasm. “What a (blank) sweater/book/vase!” or “You really know how to throw a (blank)!” says just what the recipient wants to hear — that you enjoyed the gift or the event.
2. Be specific. By thanking that person for their specific action or gift, you are letting them know exactly what they have done to assist you or make your life better, easier, happier…
3. Don’t repeat yourself or it will come off as filling space. Even “thank you” said over and over begins to seem less than genuine.
4. Don’t waste time! Send your thank you as soon as you think of it, or you will probably forget.
5. Reflect the effort made on your behalf with the effort you put into your note. Do not send a casual e-mail unless you’re thanking someone for a casual favor.
6. Don’t stress about making every note unique. If you have many thank-yous to send, write a template that you can personalize in parts. People aren’t literally going to compare notes.


Now, next time you write a thank you to a client or a friend it won’t be generic or repetitive, it will be just as warm and heartfelt as you had intended. Happy writing!

Must Have New Book

My copy of the new Jeffrey Bilhuber book arrived today. I have to say it has been a long while since I have been so impressed with a book by a single designer (Bunny Williams I think was the last one that I loved like this).

What I love most about the book is first of all the great pictures, clear, well lit and shot in a way to give the reader the most information possible. Secondly, his work is just amazing, it all seems so fresh, but firmly rooted in tradition. If I had to show one book that highlights why I love design, this is that book.

Just click on the link above and check it out, it would be the perfect Christmas gift!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Look at Life a bit Differently




I came across the work of a Texas based artist today, that I think is just tremendous. His name is Paho Mann, and I love the way his photo's force you to look at the world in a whole new way. The series pictured above is called "Junk Drawer" and its images of junk drawers from around the country. It is such a piercing look into our dark nooks and cranny's. His other work includes "Medicine Cabinets" ( I am less a fan of this after seeing a similar series by Damien Hirst), but his series on re purposed Circle K's is great.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Even More Recycling



It seems that we are verging on turning this into a Blog about recycling, but I came across the work of Amy Hunting and I just could not resist. She is a furniture maker/ artist from Norway and she went around to a whole bunch of wood mills and scavenged their scraps, from which she has made a line of furniture that seems to be inspired by patchwork quilts. At first I was not entirely sure whether I thought these were beautiful or just a little ugly, but the more I come back to the images, the more convince I am that they have a real folksy beauty.

Check out more at Amyhunting.com

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reduce Reuse Recycle

In thinking about today's post, while watching the stock market plummet farther and farther down, I realized that all design work will have to become as much about beautiful new pieces as about using old things in new ways and taking ones own belongings and using them in different applications. I had a look around my own home and discovered that in a way, we have already begun doing so.


My partner worked in a grocery store in his younger years and managed to "nick" some old 7-Up Bottle Boxes. Up until recently they were at the top of a storage rack in the garage but while searching for a new way to maintain some semblance of organization of my magazines, I came across them. What a fun way to bring in some personality, memories, beautiful wood and a bit of kitsch quirkiness!


Additionally, in my weekends worth of magazine organization, I came across some wonderful pictures in Home & Garden UK (March 2008) of different uses of the "under stairs" area which so often is one of the most impossible place to utilize space in a useful, dynamic, and beautiful way. I particularly fell in love with the idea of the wood piled artfully. The simplicity of leaving the under stairs open looks elegent in quite a modern application and the wood creates a bit of texture and interest in an all too commonly looked over space!

Monday, October 6, 2008

I’m not quite sure how I first stumbled upon Stray Dog Designs… I think it was one afternoon as I was tediously doing my catalogue reading when I saw it… the bright blue “artichoke lamp.”
Not only was it funky and different, it intrigued me to venture to its website and see what other treasures might be hidden among the pages. I didn’t have to look far, as Stray dog designs is a diamond in the rough. Their lighting is fun and whimsical, perfect for a kids room, or a room that needs a shot of color or a bit of personality. Their accessory pieces are bold and dynamic, like the customizable “peace antelope” that is available in 14 different colors and made from recycled materials by artisans in Haiti.
Who knew being “green” was going to be so fun?
Best of all, the pieces on the site are hand-made with custom colors, and a portion of each purchase price is donated to a charitable organization. A company with bold design, and a heart… now that is refreshing. Check out Stray Dog Designs at
http://www.straydogdesigns.com/