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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some of My Favorite Dining Rooms

Dining Rooms are some of my favorite rooms to design, because they can be light small flights of fancy. I really like to entertain, so creating a room where you hang with your friends on special occasions are very special events for me. Here are some of my favorites:

This one is in an old Hollywood mansion that we remodeled for a client who was a writer. So we decided to move the Dining Room into the Library. Unfortunately when we shot this for Met Home, they wanted clear shelves, but normally this room is full of books, which makes it a very cozy and inviting Dining Room to be in. 

I always like the contrast between old and new and in this home , we deliberately created an older Tuscan feel and then used cleaner more modern furniture. The chairs were from Hinson and the chandelier was Dessin Fournir.

We have newer Italian modern chairs in this room now (I need to get new pictures), but this room is a great collection of pieces, a chandelier from the South of France, a ruf grom Tibet with a huge Floral pattern and a modern Industrial table.

This room is interesting, the architect designed a two story high Dining Room, which felt a little stark, so by using a linen sheer we were able to create a lower ceiling that felt almost like a wonderful tent. The polished concrete floors add a little sparkle too and stops the room from feeling too feminine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trolling 1st Dibs

I was watching TV the other night, and one of the characters walked into her office, took off a jacket and hung it on a coat rack. It struck me that it has some time since I have shopped for said item, so I thought it would be the perfect subject for my 1st Dibs trolling session. Let me also say that I am not a lazy coat rack shopper, I just happen to live in sunny southern California and no one seems to wear coats, so no need for a rack it seems.....

An elaborate hat and coat tree with sculptural turned teak tapered dowel posts on an x-form base.

United States
Early 20th century
A versatile and functional halltree. coat rack, umbrella stand all in one.

1820 to 1860's
Ten-horned hat stand with mirror, horns have original rounded metal tips, mirror is beautifully aged with inner gold leaf accent framing, original finish has deep sepia-tone. Horn avg. is 10 inches. Mirror diameter is 11.5 inches.

French Art Deco Coat Rack

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post- 3 ways to Decorate Outside

If you’ve spent any time at all looking at decorating projects for your outdoor living space, you know how much time and money it can take. When you start adding up the cost of all what you want to do, it can be a truly staggering sum! But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little creativity, there are tons of options for decorating for less outside the home. Here are 3 of our favorite ways:

Change The Small Stuff (Finish, Pillows, etc.)
            -           Perhaps you’ve got a sectional outside that you just don’t think works with the area anymore. Or maybe you have a glider bench that’s starting to show its age. What do you do in this situation? Purchasing new furniture can be very expensive, so that’s out of the question. The solution? Change the small stuff. By changing the accessories to an item, you can upgrade its look and give new life to something old. For the sectional, you could change out the pillows on it to seasonal colors. With the glider bench, a new finish will have it looking great and take years off its appearance. The best part about both these options? They’re much cheaper than buying something new!

Repurpose (tin cans for lanterns)
            -           Another great way to decorate for cheap outdoors is to repurpose items around your home. Not everything out on your patio has to be new, and by putting something old to a new use, you’ll create a unique, one of a kind environment. For example, a drape that no longer matches the furniture in your home’s living room might look perfect when hung from one side of your pergola. About to throw away some old tin cans? Save them, paint them, create designs in the sides using a knife or nail, and you’ve got a great set of candle holders!

Faux Greenery
-           Faux greenery is most commonly used on the inside of the home, but it can work just as well outside. Whether it’s arranged in a window planter, a hanging basket, or a traditional urn, it gives you an easy way to keep some color in your outdoor area all year long. Plus, you can always bring your planter indoors if you want to add some greenery to the inside. When you consider the lack of maintenance (no need for fertilizing or watering) and the fact that it can last through all seasons, including fall and winter, it makes it an obvious choice for pairing up with your favorite annuals and perennials.

While decorating an outdoor living space may seem like a costly, time consuming task, it doesn’t have to be. Keeps ideas like these above in mind and you’ll be able to decorate your outdoor space and have it looking fabulous without breaking the bank!

About The Author – Marissa Alan is a writer with Outdoor Living and loves to talk decorating (indoors and out), gardening, and healthy living. For more on items like outdoor fountains, planters, and heating elements like outdoor fireplaces and a wood burning fire pit, visit OutdoorLiving.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In Defense of Quality

It is always with great fascination that I read the plethora of articles that extoll the virtue of spending less. It seems that every magazine or blog has articles about getting the “same” style for less. They have alluring images of great design pieces (that have equally great price tags) and then they throw in some images of things that have the same look for less.

What really is the message here? Is it that good design and quality are totally divorced from cost? I would like to make the case that this is true. What you are not seeing in those images that are usually beautifully shot photos (perhaps retouched as well) is the true difference between the high and low price points.

Here are a few things to bear in mind next time you think that you are buying a bargain piece:

  • ·        Longevity, I always encourage people to buy pieces that will last if not a lifetime, but many years. I am reminded of those beautiful images of Billy Baldwin’s apartment in New York. It went through two or three major redecorations, but if you look at the images it’s the same pieces, moved to different locations, reupholstered or refinished, this is precisely because they were of a high quality that they could be used time and again.

  • ·         My motto when designing is “The Luxury of Simplicity”. So I am not a fan of buying a lot, since that is the case, buying fewer higher quality pieces will not only allow you to appreciate them better but it also gives you the opportunity to build  a collection of pieces that really resonate with you. I love it when I visit homes and the story of the people who live there is told by the pieces they have collected. I don’t want my story to be “this is almost what I had in mind, but it was less expensive”

  • ·         When you decide that things are going to be with you for a long time, things like quality of construction, such as 8 way hand tied upholstery, or quality of finish, become very important, because it’s the subtle details that you notice over time that really make you attach to the piece.

  • ·         My last thoughts on the matter have to do with a sense of confusion I have about this phenomenon and how it continues, wouldn’t it seem strange if Kia had a campaign that you should buy their car cause it sort of looks like a BMW? Or would you buy a fake Rolex? All of these things you spend less time with than the things in your own home….. Embrace the Quality!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Powder Rooms

When I am designing a house whether it is in Los Angeles or anywhere around the world, one of my favorite rooms to design is always the powder room. It is one of the few spaces in the house where function is so limited that it frees you up to explore almost any fantasy.

I have a few examples of some of my personal shown below. You can tell I am a fan of wall decoration and trying to find things that are unusual and unique.
This is a home by the beach, but we wanted to do a more sophisticated feel, so the paneling painted black really added some formality and then a collection of old prints of a variety of coral gave us just enough of a nod to the ocean for it all to make sense.

This home was in Northern California and I wanted the room room to have a carefree formality. The wallpaper gives it a bright, garden quality, but the crystal bird sconces stop the whole arrangement from getting too cutesy. Instead of a framed mirror I just mirrored the whole wall, which simplified the design and opened up an otherwise small room.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trolling 1st Dibs

Fridays are great days to spend some time catch up on the flotsam and jetsam. There is no better place than that than 1stDibs. I especially like the more esoteric things you can find, today I was in the Outsider and Self Taught Artist section, there are some cool things here. I am totally in love with the Ruler Bouquet!
 A Bouquet of Folding Rulers
21st Century
An original assemblage of vintage folding rulers. Can be adjusted as needed.


21st century
Oil and graphite on plywood.


Howard Finster is perhaps the most famous self-taught artist of all time. Born in Alabama, he attended school for 6 years. Howard married Pauline Freeman in 1935 and had 5 children. He was a jack-of-all-trades: house painter, bicycle and lawnmower repairman-anything to support his family. Howard was a Baptist Minister for about 40 years until, in 1965, he realized no one in his congregation was listening to him. At this time he was directed by the Lord to transform his swampland in Pennville, Georgia into Paradise Garden. In 1976 an angel appeared upon the paint on his finger and said“paint sacred art”.
Howard never stopped. He was inspired to get out the Lord’s message. Finster was a master promoter. After his first dealer, Jeff Camp, failed to sell his painting, he found Phyllis Kind who brought his work to prominence. Finster and his family produced some 50,000 works many of which were signed, dated and numbered.


c. 1950's
Variable Speed Control | Working Mechanical Carousel with Animals and Men


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pink Makes me Happy

It's raining in Los Angeles today, something that rarely happens at this time of year. 
Pink Makes me happy :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Book Review: Home Sweet Home by Oberto Gili

The experience of a lot of really great interior design for a lot of people is through books and magazines. By necessity then, their experience is seen through the filter of a photographer, and what better lens to look through than Oberto Gili.

Gili has been documenting interiors since the 1970's and his eye for the dramatic and unexpected creates not just a wonderful photograph but a tangible experience of what that space would be like.

Another great feature of this book....no text! Now I don't even have to pretend to have read it all. In fact, too much verbiage would get in the way, when you look at the projects you can almost tell the story just from the pictures.

There are many favorite projects here but two really stand out. One is the apartment of Richard Meir the other, the painter Ellsworth Kelly. Both of these chapters manage to tell the story of two huge personalities through small vignettes and insights to the way the relate to their built environment.

So if you are like me and enjoy a voyeuristic tour of homes of the likes of Renzo Mongiardino, and Isabella Rossellini you will definitely enjoy this new offering by Rizzoli. It comes out this month so look for it, it will make a great addition to your collection.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interiors Magazine

It seemed that for a long time you knew just what to expect from Magazines, each issue was essentially a version of the one that came before it. Then the huge shuffle occurred and it was hard to keep up with who was where, and who was staying in business and who folded. Well out of all of this came Interiors Magazine. It seems that this was a magazine that never really got a lot of traction, but in the last few months it has pretty much reached the top of my monthly must reads.

This issue is no exception. Michael Wollaeger  who was featured on this blog when he was Editor of Western Interiors has transformed this magazine into the bright shining upstart we have all been asking for. With a collection of amazing projects Vicente Wolf and several others and Photography by Tim Street Porter and John Ellis (two personal friends and design favorites).

Well congratulations to everyone at the magazine for an amazing job, it gets better with each issue. Now run out and buy a copy, this is one to support.

I should also mention here too,,,, one of my pet peeves is most magazines do not show the outside of the houses, so there is no context. Not the case here it is about the WHOLE home.

Lamps Plus Interview

Today my Interview with the Lamps Plus Blog was posted.

I am a big fan of Lamps Plus, they offer a huge variety of manufacturers and they have great customer service as well!

The Interview talks a bit about my philosophy of ""The Luxury of Simplicity" and a variety of different inspirations and obsessions. I hope you enjoy!