Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Magical Mind: Maria Llado

I've been crushing on Barcelona based designer Maria  Lladó's work lately. From curtains to carpets, at some point all the "vintage finds" and boho color on color in and around the blog world looks eerily similar to me, so when I came across these unusual bright bursts of unique furniture/art combinations, I sat up and took notice. Apparently Woody Allen did too. He fell in love with the photos of some of her interiors and featured her work in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  Giorgio Armani is also a fan {she designed his Madrid showroom}. What I love about her sensibility is how she combines stunning art with equally stunning interiors so one never outshines the other, and all works together in a unique harmony that feels like an art form in itself. 

What are your thoughts on her work? Are you a Maria Lladó fan too?

p.s. Stay tuned because I'm teaming up with art.com again for a great giveaway I think you're going to love!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Eight Magical Cleaning Tips: From Blinds to Linen

It's that time of the year when throwing open the windows brings on the urge to clean, but as you probably know, not all DIY cleaning tutorials are created equally so this is a little round up of eight of my favorite tips. Btw, I'm not one of those people who lives to clean, but in the spirit of full disclosure I'll admit that I like things {eat-off-the-floor-but-I-don't} clean and there are some great tips in this roundup!

Cleaning Dusty Blinds
I have large plantation shutters throughout my house and keep the windows open during the day, so dust build up happens fast. I always dread cleaning them because it takes forever, but this tutorial makes it go a lot faster!

Shining Chrome Facets, Knobs, etc.
I touched on this in my How To Get Gleaming Chrome tutorial when I had to get rid of rust on my Breuer chairs. The same concept will work on kitchen and bathroom hardware. Just cut reynolds wrap into approximately 3" squares and use the shiny side with a dab of water to shine up your chrome hardware.

How To Clean Your Coffee Maker
This is a great thing to do when you want to feel cleaning productive. It's easy and will make you feel like you have brand new appliances and make your coffee and/or tea taste better. Just add one part vinegar to two parts water and run a cycle followed by a couple cycles of water. It works like a charm!

Dishwasher Facelift
My fancy Bosch dishwasher was a complete mess up until a few months ago; the powder build up was making me think it was time to replace the entire thing. Then I read about the vinegar cure. In the beginning I ran a cup of vinegar through an empty dishwasher once a week and used a sponge afterward to get rid of any loose powder residue. Then I researched a little more and started adding a half a cup of vinegar with every wash to keep it shiny clean and it will also make your glasses shiny too.

Kitchen Sink Deep Cleanse
I really love this cleaning tip. Call me crazy but it's soul satisfying.

Washing & Drying Feather Pillows
I've heard Oprah says to throw them away after a year, but did I get that bells and whistles steam cleaning washer for nothing? Here's the lowdown: if you can fold them in half and they return to the original shape, they're good to keep awhile longer. If you fold the pillows and they're lifeless, make sure to toss them. The steps couldn't be easier. The main thing in my mind is to make sure they are thoroughly dry. A couple of tennis balls thrown into the dryer are supposed to make them extra fluffy but I skipped this step.

How To Wash Natural Stone floors
Mild dish soap and warm water to clean natural stone floors is overrated and after awhile looks very dull. If  you switch to Murphy's Oil Soap made from vegetable oil, your floor will look and feel much cleaner with a little shine.

Whitening White Line
I'm partial to Restoration Hardware white linen bedding and am secretly convinced that I keep this company in business. I ordered more white linen pillow cases recently and for some reason they're slightly more yellow than my sheets and don't match at all.  Linen is a natural fiber and you have to be careful with it. Fabric and antique dealers are adamant that you should never use bleach or vinegar with linen and luckily the advent of enzyme detergents has made a lot of old cleaning methods obsolete. If your linens aren't vintage, it's recommended to whiten them by soaking them in hot water with a mixture of Biz overnight. If you can't find Biz, the next best thing is Oxi-Clean.

Do you have some stellar cleaning tips? Would love to know! 

images: Gil Evgren 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Temporary Turn of Blue

Sorry friends for the recent absence. Life has been busy and while I was hoping that my window treatments and new sofa would be ready soon, sadly none of it worked out. I actually purchased the Petrie sofa and twenty yards of flax linen to recover it. Then it sat in my house and felt way to big for the space. Finally I unloaded it on craigslist and it was gone in less than a few hours.

Update: Several months passed with no couch. I was perfectly happy with my chair by the fire {now moved to another room} but my friends were not. Yesterday I suddenly remembered the roll arm sofa I had upstairs in the master bedroom.

I was thinking of getting rid of it because it's not the shape or style that I would get now, but it does have sentimental value, not to mention I purchased it at Anthropologie and it cost a fortune, especially after I had it recovered in velvet. It's nice to have even a temporary sofa again and even though I was planning to go more neutral in color, I like the cooler tones for a change. I switched out all the art and recycled my old Magino lucite coffee table, a garden stool and rattan chair. If only getting window coverings were as simple as restyling a room--but more on that later.

For now I'll sign off with a couple of links:

* An oldie but a goody: DIY a Union Jack Pillow {like the one on my sofa}

* {Unrelated} but favorite quote of the week: "Palace of Versailles is the shit" ~ Kanye West
I love Kanye and felt kind of the same way when I was 9 and saw Versailles for the first time. I know it's so not okay to admit these kinds of maximalist feelings here in the bastion of California midcentury cool, but for me, that giddy feeling about all things over the top never really went away. Read more about The 9 Best Things Kanye West Taught Us About Decorating.
Friday, February 28, 2014

Magical Mind: Eva Zeisel

I came across an Eva Zeisel coffee table the other day in my furniture shopping/wanderings, designed in 1993 when she was 87 years old, and remember how discovering her designs was love at first sight.

Eva Zeisel is the definition of a magical mind. She lived to be 105 years old and her work spanned 9 decades. Everything about her life and creative output inspires me, and I've slowly been collecting pieces she designed through the years. 

This little cream and sugar set is something I picked up recently; they're from 1961 when Federal Glass added a second Zeisel design to their line in the more modern Stockholm shape. But this set hardly gives you a glimpse of the vast and beautiful body of work that she's known for.

Eva helped usher in the clean and casual shapes of modernist design, but was not afraid of baroque impulses and claimed that her playful quality is how she continued a long life of design without creatively drying up. She considered herself "a maker of things" and in her TED speech said that her intent was to make things more beautiful, elegant and comfortable. 

If you want to feel inspired, check out her working life at 102 years old!

Eva Zeisel: Distinguished By Design from Jeremy Bales on Vimeo.

Eva in her studio in 1926

Eva with her "Shamberg" designs in 1930

Eva's dishes featured in Vogue during the 1940s.  

In 1946, her all-white modern dinner service – a first by an American designer – was honored with an exhibition at MoMA. She was the first to ever have a one-woman show at the museum.

Eva with one of her designs for Hallcraft in the 1950s

Eva stopped designing in the 60s and 70s and returned in the 80s to work on numerous projects including glassware, ceramics, furniture and lamps for The Orange Chicken, porcelain, crystal and limited-edition prints for KleinReid, glasses and giftware for Nambé, a teakettle for Chantal, furniture and gift-ware for Eva Zeisel Originals, rugs for The Rug Company, one of Crate and Barrel’s best selling dinner services "Classic-Century" and a coffee table and stoneware/dinnerware set for Design Within Reach. She went on to design lamps, furniture, space dividers, wall tiles before passing away in 2011. 

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Eva at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, with a piece from a porcelain table service introduced in 1946; behind her is a chair she designed.

Eva in front of her dimpled bellybutton rug in 2010 when she was 104.

Are you an Eva Zeisel fan? Would love to know your favorite home designer(s)!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Magical Obsession: Design Au Naturel

Bamboo, rattan and wicker pieces give me a bizarre rush of euphoria. I've felt this way for as long as I can remember.

Back when I was 12 years old, we got a beach house and I remember begging and pleading to please please put in a rattan sofa and chairs. It seemed to me that there would be nothing nicer than sitting in them and gazing at the ocean. There were much grander ideas in play--think Waterford crystal chandeliers and things that go with them, and my plebeian suggestion was kicked to the curb. All these years later I'm still not over my attraction to natural materials. My pinterest boards are littered with every shape and size of bamboo, rattan or wicker chair imaginable.

I don't know how much time I've wasted obsessing about finding a hanging bamboo chair or the perfect midcentury rattan pieces but as John Lennon said, 'time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.'

For reasons I can't explain, a little touch of au naturel at play with dark woods and the weird contrast it makes against metal pieces makes my heart skip a beat. 

I love mini woven accent pieces too and scoop these up whenever I find them.

With sunny days already arriving, I've started thinking about summer and patio living. In my part of the world, rattan sets are plentiful on Craigslist but veer to the mid-80s chairs-on-coasters-with- matching-glass-table variety so you have to be quick when something older comes up. 

Of course things on Craigslist rarely come looking like these posh styled magazine spreads...

The unfettered reality below is the slightly off kilter dingy picture you might come across online styled with lumpy pillows, faded carpeting and what appears to be a cane. It takes a little bit of imagination to see the possibilities, but two of these chairs {much better in person} are now in my garage awaiting a magical transformation.

And that my friends is how part of my week has gone so far. What have you been up to? Are you a rattan/wicker/bamboo lover too?

photos via pinterest

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bedroom Redesign: Let's Get Personal


Everyone has their own way of pulling together a color palette. I've never been able to connect with online palettes and color swatching, they just feel too unreal. Even painting a color palette never translates completely for me--the colors are always so far off in opacity and hue from actual leather or fabric swatches.  Since I started designing bags 14 years ago, I've always pulled from actual 3-D things. By the way, that pretty mint McCoy planter is a recent flea market find, not part of the color scheme--the blooming Narcissus just has such an amazing scent I couldn't resist moving it temporarily into the bedroom.


Ever since the walls changed from gray to white, I've been wanting to redesign my bedroom with hits of an amorphous color that I couldn't seem to name--rosier than nude, but not pink or peach. In the end, I looked to a couple of things on my night stand to help define my palette. 

The crystal is all about my attraction to white and light--I've got a few lucite pieces in the bedroom and this would probably explain how they've survived my endless de-cluttering and zhushing. The candle I picked up at West Elm a few months ago, thinking it was close to the color I'm looking for, but now it feels too pinky-brown...how's that for design direction? I am not sold on exact glib answers about design plans--they don't always seem to translate and it's important to have the freedom to change your mind as long as you have an inner sense of direction.

In some ways the color of the rock is closest to what I'm looking for. It's actually a sea shell morphing into a rock and was given to me when I was a little girl. I can still remember how awed I was by this object that was plucked out of the ocean maybe centuries ago as it was transitioning from shell to rock, and I still feel that same sense of wonder whenever I gaze at it. To me there's something so peaceful and magical about it.


Now that the house is white, it feels calmer and I've just been luxuriating in the pleasure of all this whiteness, barely re-hanging any art. That, and I'm addicted to Restoration Hardware white linen and couldn't be bothered to fix a good thing. But deep down I knew I was being lazy and luckily this gorgeous DKNY Harmony bedding arrived in the exact color I was looking for! The bedding color is called 'Ivory' but to me it's the perfect shade of--let's just call it pale blush.

You're getting just the barest sketch of the room today because it's so far from being finished. There's a headboard on order but it's waiting because the floor is about to get replaced and all the furniture in the house has to be moved out...ugh, the thought alone makes me want to crawl back under my new DKNY coverlet and pretend it's not happening. There's also a giant couch under the window {not pictured} - not sure what I'll be doing with it. And then of course, there's the whole question of switching out all the furniture for vintage midcentury walnut pieces...decisions, decisions. Thoughts? I would love to hear them. I'm serious, please weigh in before it's too late! {and keep reading, there's more}.

As you may have picked up if you've been reading for any length of time, I'm a fickle chair hoarder and am constantly rotating them out of my house and into the garage to make room for new ones. This Philippe Stark Ghost chair is the only one that always makes the cut and has yet to be sentenced to the garage, although it does change rooms from time to time. Right now it's in the corner of the bedroom with this soft and delicious Donna Karan Urban Oasis knit throw that I love. It's so soft I want to wear it, and I like the sandy color for a change of pace from all the white and blush. Remember the DKNY Raw Diamond pillow from Christmas? It made it's way in here too.


Maybe because I grew up in a house where flooring, roofing, shower doors, cabinets, cement slabs and light fixtures were nightly dinner table conversation, there's a nuts and bolts aspect of interior design that makes my eyes glaze over a bit. But I can never get enough of a soulful little corner of a house styled with books and flowers and knick-knacks. It's the same reason I've always loved fashion: styling a corner is a lot like putting together a great outfit. Something vintage paired with something new and something reinvented makes it totally wonderful and personal.

I thought I'd leave you with a little glimpse of some of my favorite treasures. A vintage horse head from the flea market, a vase I had sent over from Venice {Italy} - there were many more but sadly I've broken a lot of them...seashells in a salt dish I picked up when I visited Williamsburg in high school. The paper weight is even older. It's from a little gift store in Laguna - I bought it with my allowance money when I was around 10 or 11 years old. The store is still there only now it's a pizza place. Oh, and then there's the Ferruccio Laviani Kartell Bourgie lamps. I was having a baroque modern moment when I first moved in, and although they're not what I'd pick now, I don't really think about them much. What do you think? Yay or nay?

I keep a book of poetry written my friend Ron nearby. He passed away 2 years ago but whenever I need a hit of his voice, one that I used to speak with at least once a week, I can go here. Sometimes just seeing it on my nightstand is enough. 

What I Wanted by Ron Keyson

1. Everything
2. Nothing
3. Peace
4. Excitement
5. Vision
6. Acceptance
7. Love
8. Relevance
9. Distance
10. Days on earth, without regret, without confusion, 
without wars, long years that flow as rivers flow, 
when the sky is warm and a cool breeze plays over surfaces, creating patterns that announce 
all that is beautiful, effervescent and real.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on color, bedrooms, furniture and more!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's A Wonderful Life!

My new tray from the Novogratz Dinnerware Collection kind of sums it up; my offline life has been pretty wonderful lately and blogging has fallen a bit by the wayside, but it doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about you!

Since Valentine's Day is on Friday, I thought I'd feature the fun new collection that Courtney and Robert Novogratz designed for Macy's because it makes for some cool little gifts that you can easily run out and nab. The Novogratz' used elements of modern and vintage that make these pieces an easy fit into almost any home. It's very affordable {$9-$29} and it's the kind of design that will make you happy whenever you look at it.

I wrote about the Novogratz' a few years back when they rehabed a deserving school in Florida. I've always been a fan because they take big risks with their flips and design aesthetic. But mostly I adore them because they are the first contemporary interior designers I'd ever seen who weren't afraid of using cutting edge conceptual and pop artists as the focal point of their interior design plans.

If you watched 9 By Design on Bravo, then you know that Robert backed up traffic on the West Side Highway to bring in a Richard Woods faux wood installation for the exterior of their 6 story home--just the tip of the iceberg on that renovation. I love the boldness of their vision!

P.S. The simplest Valentine date ever:

Fill the Novogratz Melamine Popcorn Bowl {only $7.99 on sale at Macy's.com} and pull together your--I'd say 'romantic' movies, but my idea of a good film often involves guns, violence and a few French swear words, so I'll leave it at favorite movies--and it's the perfect Valentine Movie Night.

P.S. {The candies on the tray in the top photo are chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Trader Joe's; a handful is very satisfying and a good substitute for M&Ms.}

Hope your week is a wonderful one!