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Monday, November 26, 2007

Kate's First Post

As promised., members of the team at Mark Cutler Design will be posting here regularly with some of their thoughts on design. Today we are posting Kate's first post, with some of her Holiday Gift Giving Tips:

Kate’s Favorite Things 2007

Oprah may compile holiday lists of hundreds of her favorite things, but I have decided to keep it to a simple list of five. My recommendations may not make these holiday items fly off the shelves, but they just might help you find the perfect gift for that special someone on your list. -Kate

Instead of the tired fruitcake or chocolate array, how about the newest in gingerbread creations for your favorite Designer, Architect, or lover of all things mid-century? The Modern Gingerbread House from http://www.redenvelope.com/ is every bit as edible as the original, but with a style all its own. A unique gift and sure-fire conversation piece, it arrives with its own garage and rock garden and ready to enjoy.

This year it’s time to have Mom retire the snowman tree skirt, and use one with a little holiday flare. The Nicholas Tree skirt from
http://www.eq3.com/ will show her that less is more, and that decorating for the holidays does not have to mean throwing all those design principals to the wayside.

Since no holiday table should be without a little touch of “bling” this year, my favorite hostess will be getting these fantastic 14karat gold leafed cake-stands from Neiman Marcus. They come in white and black and add a touch of glamour to any holiday cake or cupcake tower.

For my sister, a fun set of pitchers with oversized cork tops from
http://www.paigerussell.com/. Now she can have her very own version of afternoon tea without having to use Mom’s heirloom china… which is a good for everyone!

For my nephew I couldn’t resist adding this item to my list, even though the design was not what inspired me. This laptop is part of a special program created by OLPC. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program. You can donate the XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. What better way to help a child in need, get a gift for my nephew, and show him that during the holiday season, it is not all about what we receive, but what we give to those we truly care about.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Really Like Window Seats

I Really like window seats, there is almost nothing better on a chilly day than to curl up with a good book, and sit in the morning light. This is why in a lot of my Children's Rooms you will see me putting these in. I think it's a great habit to get the kids in and its also a great tool to use to expand into a desk/bookcase/ storage unit without overwhelming the room.

A few tips:

  • Include storage under the seat, it will make it a bit higher to sit on than normal, bit its the perfect spot for a blanket or two.
  • Be generous with the pillows, that will give you maximum flexibility. Also if possible go with 100% down pillows as they will be a lot softer and easier to mold to the shape you need.
  • Make sure you have good lighting. Remember you are in the corner of the room, a ceiling fixture in the middle of the ceiling, may not get you the light you need. I added downlights over the top of this one to give great task lighting.
  • Try to incorporate a small bookcase as part of the experience, it will be the ideal spot for those favorite books.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Presents For My Favorite Recipients

There are always presents to be bought for colleagues, the boss & various people who help me throughout this hectic life of mine but I thought I would cover the "core" group of gift recipients. They are often the hardest to shop for and mine never seem to have a good list of wants at hand when I ask. Happy Holiday Hunting! Ashleigh

~For Mom, there is nothing more luxurious than a silk duv
et! This year I love the Silk Duvet from Williams Sonoma Home. It can be used as it is in the beautiful white or inside your own duvet cover. Silk is hypoallergenic, does not support allergens and is wonderfully warm.

~For Dad, I have been having portraits done ever since I was a little girl. A simple black and white in a silver frame is a great idea for the guy who has it all. Simple, elegant and understated is always the way to go. Any local photographer can help you with the shots and printing is simple and easy. Find a lovely frame in leather, silver or bone and you have a personal and cherished present. Here are a few frames that I particularly love.

Silver Frames from Pottery Barn

Brown Mother of Pearl from Restoration Hardware

Horn Frame from West Elm

~For the New Home Owner, my Brother, I have been searching for those wonderful accents that every home needs. I love these polished nickel lanterns from Weego Home, which can be used year round!

Also I just love candles everywhere, try mixing scented and unscented in a 25% to 75% ratio. All of the lovely effect without creating overwhelming scent. Try these scented ones or these unscented ones from West Elm.

~For the Significant Other in my life, I am looking at starting our collection of glassware. So much entertaining goes on in our home and I know he will look forward to serving his favorite mixed drinks and wines in these! I love this set from Waterford, they are sold as a set for two but feel free to buy LOTS of sets to fill your glass rack.

The hand blown glassware from Riedel is magnificent and worth the investment.

~For my Best Friend Jackie, I have to admit I am going to be a bit selfish this year. I hate sitting on her lumpy sofa and make every excuse to not spend time in her otherwise delightful mid century modern home. So this year I will be making an investment for the both of us! The Ditte Slipcovered Sofa from Anthropologie fits the bill, as she can always change the look as she updates her d├ęcor.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Real or Fake: The Great Christmas Tree Debate

Ok, it's that time of year again, Christmas is literally just around the corner. So I am starting my planning already, gift lists are being drawn up, guest lists and Christmas Card lists are being assembled, and the question of decoration has arisen. Each year I consider what to do about the tree, I have always been a proponent of the real thing, it makes for an authentic Christmas I would always say. But recently I have seen some trees that have given me pause, and also heard some arguments that really do make sense.
There is the obvious "green" argument that it is better for the environment. Well, people argue this on both sides, that the mulch created by old trees makes up for this, so that's not real convincing to me. Safety though is. I love to come home from a long day of work to a house with the tree already lit. I can do that with an artificial tree, not areal one. With a real tree please make sure you are home, if not, in the room whenever the lights are one, every year there are tragic stories of people who have lost everything to fire caused by their Christmas tree. The other argument is that my dogs will search out any water left sitting in the house and I don't need them drinking tree water, I know that's a bit shallow but there it is.
So what tree to buy? When looking for a tree, go with your instinct. I went to Balsam Hill, because I liked their site and the variety of trees that they offer. But look for the number of "tips" the higher the number the better the quality of tree.
Let me know your thoughts on this, I would be interested to see what other people decided to do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Using a Screen as a Filter

The project I am showing today is one that I particularly like which I recently did in San Francisco. It is a great little house which had a very small but nice Entry, so the previous owner had opened up the wall to give it a greater sense of space and allow a view of the Dining room. Great idea ,right? Well yes, sort of. What ended up happening was that there was now no privacy in the dining Room, so the owner then went and put shutters up, to provide some privacy.
Well I came on board when the house was sold and thought that the opening was a great idea, but a screen would be a terrific buffer between the two spaces. You can see in the lower picture how using an old screen from India, becomes almost like an art piece, and a wonderful transition between the spaces.
Using old architectural elements like this can really liven up a space and add warmth and personality to boot. So take a look around at old architectural salvage places and see what you can find, or even places that sell pieces from India and throughout Asia, they can be tremendous resources for those found treasures.