Friday, July 30, 2010

To Mr. Drucker, a love letter

Dear Stephen:

When I heard last spring that you were leaving House Beautiful to take over (and make over) Town & Country, I'll admit I was a bit surprised -- and even more skeptical. Wasn't that just a step down? House Beautiful has long been my favorite interiors magazine. I anxiously await its arrival each month and, when it does finally arrive on my doorstep, I read it slowly, savoring every image, every word. Town & Country, on the other hand,...well, it started showing up at my house unannounced a few years ago and every now and then I'll flip through it, but I never would have paid for it.

T&C seemed to target a wealthy, high society, New York-centric audience that struck me as ridiculously dated. The magazine seemed more like an extended advertisement for this narrow lifestyle and rarely included any articles of substance. To be crass, I thought T&C sucked.

But then you came along and breathed new life it. You gave it a clearer voice and more substance. Who would have thought my favorite home of the year would be featured in T&C? I nearly gasped when I saw the feature on Miles Redd's Atlanta chateau. Not only was the home beautiful (and beautifully photographed), but the copy was entertaining and well written as well (yes, I always read the stories!).

So thanks for giving me another magazine to look forward to every month. And keep up the good work.


Averill at Odi et Amo
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Okay, enough of the mushy, sycophantic stuff. Let's get on with the house ogling, shall we? The reason I love this house so much is because it's so quintessentially Miles (colorful, traditional with lots of chinoiserie touches, plenty of animal print, lots of lacquer), but with a good dose of Southern style and architecture thrown in for good measure.

Check out the gorgeousness that is this atrium. I love the classical architecture paired with the chinoiserie wallpaper and cheeky cheetah slipper chairs. There's something grand and yet playful and even cozy about this room that seems perfectly suited to the young family that lives here.

The living room's slate blue and orange rug really blows me away. What a wonderful color combination! It's bold and current, but also very livable, and I love it paired with the camel-colored furniture in particular. I also love the modern art paired with the more traditional furnishings and architecture.

Another shot of the living room. Isn't that dental molding incredible? I also like that they went for a softer, yellower white for the trim. It creates less of a contrast against the blue than a strong white would and it works beautifully with all the natural light flooding in from the large windows.

The Butler's pantry. Like a powder room, these small, infrequently used spaces are a great opportunity to really experiment and go all out. The ceiling of this space was inspired by the zodiac ceiling of Grand Central Station (my favorite spot in all of NYC, after the NYPL). The bold turquoise continues onto the cabinetry and even the marble. The hits of brass in the fixtures brings a warmth and contrast to all the blue that nickel fixtures never could.

For me the oxblood study very, very Miles. It actually reminds me of a room in my grandmother's house, which was painted out in a similar shade of red and with plenty of gilt (my grandmother loved gilt). The brass trim on the built-ins adds such a sense of luxury -- and lightness to the room.

When you're working with a strong color like this, I think it's best to follow Miles' lead and keep everything as monochromatic as possible. It keeps the room feeling more calm, despite the brilliant red walls. The real interest here comes in the plays of texture and subtle patterns. I'm particularly fond of the pairing of the paisley print sofa, with the ikat pillows. Because the scale of the sofa's print is so much smaller (and more subtle) than the bolder, larger ikat print, it really works beautifully.

What Southern bedroom is complete without monogrammed linens? And what Miles Redd bedroom is complete without wall-to-wall cheetah carpet? [Hint: the answer to both questions is "none".] Of course I love all the soft blues here, the coolness of which are cut by the tans and browns of the walls and carpet. But what I love most is how sumptuously this bed is dressed. The thick duvet, the velvet coronet and bedskirt (all trimmed out in satin). Yummy.

What I wouldn't give some days for my own closet -- let alone my own dressing room! And how soft underfoot must that patchwork pony-skin be. Sure, it's probably not especially practicable, but on a cool morning, fresh out of the shower, how luxurious it must feel on your bare feet. Another great detail here is the tray ceiling, which is wallpapered in a beautiful de Gournay print of trees and birds. I'd take this idea and put it in a bedroom: it'd be like looking up int a forest canopy every night before bed. Very peaceful.

The lady of house enjoys not only her own dressing room, but her own bath, luxuriously appointed in Carrera marble (naturally). Note how Redd painted the bathroom door to mimic the veining of the marble. Isn't that fun? The wallpaper and the fashion drawings are both so wonderfully feminine but the color palette of soft blue and tan ties it all in with the adjoining master bedroom.

If this is the kind of aspirational living that the "new" Town & Country is intent on giving its readers, then I say "yes, please, and more!". After all, who couldn't use a little more fantasy material?

All images courtesy of Town & Country and via The Love List.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: Simplified Bee

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Cristin of Simplified Bee, organizer extraordinaire and the final world in baby chic. True to form, Cristin will be sharing with us some of her best tips for pulling together an amazing nursery (or, if you aren't exactly at that phase in your life just yet, then finding the perfect gift for the new mom or mom-to-be in your life).

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Hi everyone! This is Cristin the editor of Simplified Bee and it’s exciting to be part of Averill’s “Shop Like a Design Blogger” series. Thanks, Averill!

Because this is one of the last posts in the series and so many of my resources have already mentioned, I’m sharing resources for what I love designing most: the baby’s nursery room. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several women expecting their first child. Some have been here in the San Francisco Bay Area, while others are virtual design clients located throughout the United States. When working with virtual clients, typically the home décor furnishings and accessories selected can be easily purchased online. Here are some of my favorite nursery room décor resources.

For Crib Bedding

My favorite resource for classic nursery bedding is Serena & Lily. Their crisp, fresh prints are fun, yet sophisticated and several are organic. Serena & Lily sell fabric by the yard which is nice if you’d like to have some custom upholstery or window treatments. They also offer low VOC paint and accessories that coordinate beautifully with their bedding collections.

One design trend making its way into the nursery is Eastern-inspired block prints. The Rikshaw Design offers a romantic and whimsical collection of crib sets, pillows and accessories, all hand block-printed on soft Indian cotton voile. The line is easy to mix-and-match with coordinating prints, florals, stripes and motifs.

For Nursery Furnishings

When selecting a crib, expecting parents have a lot of terrific styles and options today. Classic cribs are always in style, but many are now designed to grow with your child and transition from crib, to toddler bed, to full-sized headboard. When shopping for cribs and changing tables, I search Pottery Barn Kids, Rosenberry Rooms, and All Modern Baby.

A good nursing chair is also an important piece and investment in a newborn nursery. I advise my clients to think long-term with this purchase. Will it look okay in a big boy or big girl room? Can we move it to a family or another sitting room? Serena & Lily and Restoration Hardware Baby & Child {above} carry gliders with great lines and customizable fabric options.

For Lighting

Lighting is an important part of the overall design of a nursery. It can set the overall mood and provide needed task lighting. My favorite resource for lighting a nursery is Posh Tots. They have a wide variety and styles to choose from. Recently, I also found some great and economical lighting options at Target.

For Storage

Compartmentalized storage pieces are essential to keeping a nursery organized and efficient. The MacBeth Collection {above left} offers tons of stylish storage tins that are easily tailored to the room’s color palette and best of all can be personalized with your child’s name, monogram or name of item it may be storing. Pottery Barn Kids {above right}, Ikea and Target also have fun storage options for nursery rooms.

For Rugs

An area rug might be necessary if the nursery room has wooden or tile flooring. I always visit first to see if they have any rugs on clearance that might work in the design. Another great resource is Rosenberry Rooms {sampling above}.

For Wall Art

There are so many great options for decorating the walls of a nursery. One trend is the use of wall decals. They are wonderful to use in nursery rooms because the can be easily removed or changed out as your child outgrows the space. I am also a huge fan of original artwork. Etsy has loads of talented artists that will personalize pieces for your little ones. Another favorite spot for art is Polka Dot Peacock where I found the artwork above.

It was a pleasure guest blogging here today. Many thanks Averill!

Cristin, Simplified Bee


Monday, July 26, 2010

Master Bedroom Design: The Beginning

Now that I've completed (or nearly completed) decorating our family room, I'm turning my attention to our master bedroom. Since any great "after" needs a "before", this is what I'm starting with right now. No, it's not bad -- and I am still very fond of the wall color (Farrow & Ball's Parma Gray, which is really more blue than anything), but it feels...imcomplete and just not as "wow" as I'd like it to be.

While the furniture and accessories from our old house were working just fine from a functional standpoint, the much larger scale of this room made things a bit awkward from a design standpoint. Not only is there a lot of wasted space, but the queen-size bed, two small rugs and tiny end tables look positively pint-sized. Hardly the cozy, sophisticated look I'm going for in the room.

So what am I keeping? Quite a few things actually: the paint color, the Japanese wood block prints, the Jonathan Adler lamps, the clean lined grey linen armchair and the very cool wingback chair I had reupholstered a few years ago in a fun Mod Green Pod damask. Everything else is going. The bedroom set I'm actually selling to my sister to help offset the costs of the redo. If you're interested in either of the rugs (a 2.5' x 9' wool runner and a 5' x 8' wool rug, both from Pottery Barn and in excellent shape) or the tall silver candlestick lamp, email me and I'd be happy to quote you a great price and provide more pictures.

In any case, after swapping out my existing bed, side tables, dresser and rug, the new floor plan will look something like this:

As you can see, a larger (king size) bed and (6 x 9') rug go a long way towards filling out the space. I also decided that swapping out a side table for a long, low dresser would further maximize the long wall opposite the door (and, I'll be honest, give me tons of space to stack all my books and magazines). So, armed with this general space plan, I set about looking for the specific pieces that would not only suit the space, but bring in some much-needed luxury and glamour.

I like to start a design out with a single, amazing element that ties everything together -- and that something is usually fabric or a rug for me. Having a one truly wonderful print or piece as a jumping off point makes design a room so much easier. After seeing a whole lot of things I just felt lukewarm about, I stumbled on DwellStudio's new peacock dove duvet a few weeks ago and realized that it was exactly what I was looking for. Not only does it pull in both the gray and blue tones of the existing paint, but it also brings in a wonderful Chinoiserie pattern that will play off beautifully with my existing artwork and the more modern choices I'll be making in furniture. And once I found my inspiration, everything else just seemed to quickly fall into place:

First off: the bed. The focal point of any bedroom and my first big "want" for this room. I decided to go with a spare, modern canopy in a dark wood stain to add some volume and strong architectural lines, both to create a cozy, "room within a room" effect and to provide a strong visual frame for the fussier, more feminine pattern. The too small 5' x 8' rug will be swapped out for a 6' x 9', which will enable me to comfortably fit two chairs on the rug itself rather than having them awkwardly hang half on/half off. When I saw this Madeline Weinrib rug's quatrefoil and greek key design, I felt like it was just meant to be. The darker gray will also play off of the darker gray ceiling, further tying the room together and enhancing the cozy feeling I'm going for.

Next, I'd like to do away with the heavy, dark wood side tables and dresser and replace them with some much more glamorous pieces. To up the glam factor, both pieces will be mirrored, and a great, bold contrast to the dark frame of the bed. Nestled between the grey linen chair and my wing chair will be a gorgeous greek key silver table that I picked up on the cheap from One Kings Lane to replace the heavy wood pedestal table and bring in yet another element of sparkle (and yes, even more greek key!). And finally: my big "wish" (and major splurge) would be the silver bamboo tufted bench for the foot of the bed. Given it's cost, I'll be holding off for either a sale or a finding a great lookalike.

Finally, I'll be adding curtain panels to frame out and soften the wall of windows and add some additional art (or maybe a screen?) on the wall across the bed to help balance out the room more. I'm ordering some wallpaper samples (including this one from Osborne & Little shown above) and may end up using one of the patterns to create a large triptych. Regardless, I'll keep you posted!

P.S. - I'd like to apologize for my sporadic posting of the past few weeks -- and even more sporadic reading/commenting on all my favorite blogs. There have been a lot of new (and good) developments both at work and at home that have kept me a bit distracted, but I promise to get back to blogging in earnest very shortly!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: From the Right Bank

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Ally of From the Right Bank here to Odi et Amo. I've been following Ally's blog (and her many relocations) for a while now and I'm consistently amazed at her impeccable taste, which always manages to strike the perfect note between modern and traditional, American and European, so I'm not surprised that her favorite shopping destinations reflect that balance.

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Hi, I'm Ally of From the Right Bank and you could call me a serial mover. As an adult, I've lived in 10 homes, in 5 cities and in 2 countries (so far). Some people think it's whackadoo but I actually like moving. To me, moving means I get to decorate a new house and there's nothing I love more. It also means I get to scout out new local design resources and I'm happy to share some new local finds as well as some old standbys with you today.

At the beginning of the year, I moved to Atlanta and before arriving, I had no idea how great the shopping is here! The antique malls alone could keep me busy for years to come. Aside from the antique malls, there are three stores that I'm mad for already:

Provenance. Stepping into Provenance, I almost feel like I'm at the Marché aux Puces in Paris. (By the way, that would be on the top of my source list, if we were going international.) As it says on their website, the owners "personally hand-select, pack and ship French, Italian and Spanish pieces to a 13,000 square foot warehouse in Atlanta’s award-winning Westside shopping district." It really does have the most special items; you can rest assured that you will not see anything you buy here in everyone's houses.

Providence. Not to be confused with Provenance, Providence is a pretty little shop that carries a mix of European antiques and new objects. All of the furniture, lighting and art is so tastefully curated that on my last visit, I didn't see anything in the store that I didn't want. There's also a French Bulldog in residence so of course, it got my seal of approval right away. (I have two.)

Pieces. I'm sure you already know about Pieces, the super chic boutique that everyone seems to be talking about lately. It's no wonder because it carries the most covetable things. Pieces focuses on repurposed vintage finds, giving them fresh new life. The good news for everyone is that its website has most (if not all) of the current inventory so you don't have to be in Atlanta to shop there.

Picture 84

With all the moving around, my source list is constantly changing, but one store that has stayed on my list is the Conran Shop. My homes have always been a mix of styles and I always turn to the Conran Shop to balance out all the antiques and vintage pieces. When I lived in New York, I used to love visiting the store under the 59th Street Bridge (it's recently moved downtown) and in Paris, I furnished half of our apartment with things from the Conran Shop there. Now that I don't have a local one to visit, I shop their website.

Another national store that's been on my list for years is Nordstrom. Not all of the stores have very large home sections but if you're lucky enough to have one that does, it's worth a regular visit as the inventory changes frequently. The website also has a limited selection. I have picked up a lot of stylish accessories over the years such as pillows, throws, candles, and vases and the quality is always great and the prices really reasonable.

Finally, in every city I've ever lived in I was thankful to have an Ikea. It's my go-to for all those miscellaneous things that we need: frames, hangers, storage bins, etc. It always comes through when I need something in a pinch. I also love that everything has a Scandinavian touch because that is definitely one of my favorite styles!

Thanks for having me here today, Averill!

Next Week's Guest Blogger: Tracy from Comfort & Luxury


Monday, July 19, 2010

Speaking of Lucite...

I think that Lucite (or clear acrylic) is a bit of a tricky element in the design world. Sure, it's fun and irreverent, but it can also veer all too easily into seriously tacky territory (see also, stripper shoes). But, like most other things in design (both interior design and in fashion) it's really all about context. Put Lucite in the right setting and it can be wildly successful (see also, Prada, Michael Kors), but pair it with too much animal print, patent leather and uplights, and you've suddenly found yourself in some terrible '80s flashback.

So how then, can you get it right? While my advice for fashion is pretty simple (keep the rest of your outfit relatively conservative, and keep the Lucite confined to a (preferably lower and chunkier) heel, I think it's worth delving into the question in a bit more detail when it comes to design.

As with a single outfit, it's best to keep your Lucite pieces in a single room to a minimum. Just as you wouldn't want every hard surface in your room in the same, dark wood, so too do you want to eschew matching your Lucite coffee table to your Lucite side table to your Lucite get the idea. Keeping your Lucite pieces to only one or two standouts allows them to be the stars that they are. Here, DC-based designer Sally Steponkus successfully incorporates a Lucite coffee table into an otherwise fairly formal, traditional living room. The Lucite injects a youthful, more lighthearted note.


There are a ton of wonderful examples of designers incorporating acrylic coffee tables into their designs available on the web to inspire you. I particularly love using an acrylic coffee table when the room is tight on space as it almost disappears, avoiding that cluttered/cramped look I generally dislike. Like glass or mirrors, Lucite is a great material to use when you want to add function, without taking up any visual space.

A pair of small acrylic side tables work beautifully as a single coffee table, allowing an uninterrupted view of a particularly striking rug while the two smaller tables give you maximum flexibility to move them around when entertaining.

Leslie Klotz via House Beautiful

The shape of this coffee table is particularly stunning, but its clear base means it doesn't compete with the bold fabric choices on the bench, club chair and pillows.

Ken Fulk

Another great example of how Lucite works particularly well when you don't want to lose sight of a particularly striking rug. I also love the tension in this room between the thoroughly modern coffee table and zebra hide against the much more traditional moldings and upholstered pieces.

I'm so charmed by the idea of a Lucite trunk. The visual joke of having closed storage be completely transparent strikes me as particularly fresh. I'd do as this homeowner did here and fill it with my favorite books and/or magazines.

Of course tables aren't the only place where Lucite is welcome. Lucite seating can also be incredibly attractive. I love these Lucite barstools, with their upholstered seats and I think they work particularly well in this more traditional kitchen. If you're looking for a similar look, you could always add an upholstered seat to these Kartell charles ghost stools.

Jamie Drake

I don't think you can ever go wrong with an acrylic chair for your desk. It's practically foolproof, though I do think it's best to pair these chairs with more traditional tables and desks. Remember: it's contrast that creates interest!

Having said that though, I do think a Louis ghost chair from Phillipp Starck works beautifully with a clean-lined Parsons desk. But then again, they're both design classics.

I love the combination of these very modern Lucite chairs with their more traditional, tufted seats. The clear acrylic further lightens the sunny yellow walls and are great counterpoints to the very traditional wood pedestal table.

Christina Murphy

The mademoiselle chairs from Kartell are some of my favorites (I particularly love them in Missoni prints). They work perfectly with this dining room's glamorous, highly reflective atmosphere and add a sense of weightlessness to the heavy round pedestal table and dark wood floors. Can you imagine how boring this room would look with more traditional dark wood dining chairs?

I love a set of Lucite legs peaking out from underneath a bench or chair. This is a great way to incorporate a little bit -- but not too much -- acrylic into a design or when you simply want a fantastic print or shape to dominate. Note too in this room how there's also a Louis ghost chair from Phillipp Starck used as a desk chair: I think multiple Lucite pieces work in this space because it's young and fun and because they're really not the dominate players here (the fabrics are).

I love the idea of a Lucite headboard when you want the stability of a headboard without blocking any of the wall behind it (perhaps because, as shown above, you have particularly a fantastic wallpaper or mural). Sure, you could forgo a headboard altogether, but I do think that creates a very modern look that can even look a bit unfinished (and, as an avid reader in bed, I personally just don't find a total lack of headboard to be particularly comfortable). This trick would also be very effective when you are placing your bed in front of a window.

If you're looking for a few good sources of Lucite and other acrylic pieces online, here are my suggestions on good places to get you started:

CB2 (for occasional tables and desk accessories)
CSN (for Kartell chairs)
The Paris Apartment (for ultra feminine seating)
Plexi-craft (for just about any Lucite/acrylic furniture you can imagine)
Dabney Lee at Home and iomoi (for Lucite trays and desk accessories)

So what are your thoughts on Lucite and acrylic furniture? Do you have any pieces in your own home?


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: Inglenook Decor

This week I'm excited to have Maureen, the proprietor of Inglenook Decor, a lovely e-boutique, and author of the equally lovely blog Ingle Talk that I've been following since their launch last year. Maureen has recently moved to Austin, which has got to be one of my most favorite cities on earth (and where I spent 3 years in law school incidentally). Austin is, unquestionably, a very, very cool town with a ton of very, very cool boutiques and shops -- a few of which Maureen has been so generous as to share with us today. I'm actually going to Austin this weekend for a bachelorette party and I hope to squeeze in some serious shopping time while I'm there.

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Awww! I am so honored that I got invited by the lovely and talented Averill to participate in this series. Hi all, this is Maureen of the online shop, The Inglenook Decor & my blog and occasional musings, Ingle Talk. I am in love with my newly adopted city, Austin. I've only lived here for less than a year & I'm sure I haven't seen everything. I sort of shop of the beaten path, looking for only one-of-a-kind stuff and the most unique items. I still peruse the Pottery Barns & West Elms of this world {and adore Restoration Hardware & Ballard Designs}, but when I'm out and about in the fascinating streets of this lovely town, the following are my must-go-to shops:

1. Uncommon Objects If you're visiting Austin, you absolutely must check this shop out! It's vintage heaven & when they named the store, Uncommon Objects, they weren't kidding. It's in the heart of So Co {South Congress} amidst other lovely shops, restaurants and food trailers. The shop truly epitomizes the towns slogan, "Keep Austin Weird." We just did a photo shoot there this week, and the owner and their creative stylists and associates couldn't be more helpful and may I add, so, so talented! Don't know what to do with your found objects? You'll find amazing ideas and vignettes here.

2. Whit Hanks Antiques This shop boasts of more than 10 antique dealers like Negrel Antiques, Antique Swan and Pat Monroe Antiques. If you're looking for the best of European antique case goods then this is the place to go. It's in an area of the city called Clarksville which is on West 6th just right across the Whole Foods flagship. When you get hungry, just hop on over to Z Tejas, a restaurant built around large oak trees and for some pastries {and a cafe au lait of course!}, the charming Sweetish Hill Bakery.

3. Fortney's Home Another favorite spot is Fortney's Home, also in the Clarksville area. More treasures to find here, inside and outside of the store. It's bigger than you think if you look at it from the outside. With more amazing finds on the second floor, garden treasures in their courtyard and more in their back house, your eyes will have a feast!

4. Mercury Design Studio Let's move to the fancier part of town, shall we? Boutiques and restaurants galore line the second street district and one of my absolute favorite shops is here, Mercury Design Studio. They carry Thomas Paul items, Roost Decor and the like. They also have custom vintage chairs and case goods they re-purposed and refinished themselves.

{images via the featured shop sites, yelp & Design-Crisis}

5. The Container Store I know, I know, it's a bit weird that I suddenly went mainstream as far as store choices. There are more vintage and unique shops in Austin of course but the list above are places I absolutely check out on a regular basis. Now, The Container Store, a girl must have staples right and one can never have enough storage or organization, for that matter. So, when I need this fix, I quickly go to this store which is located in the Arboretum area off of 183. Here are some items I have my eye on right now.

Thanks again Averill for letting me participate in this series. Design bloggers abound and each has a unique take on the world of decorating and design. I am truly honored to be a part of this amazing group!

Next Week's Guest Blogger: Ally from From the Right Bank...

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On a far more serious note, I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends (and especially her husband and two young children) of Marija Stephens of Holding Court, who died in a car accident just days ago. Marija was one of my most favorite voices in the design blogosphere (not only was she an incredibly talented designer, but she was a wonderful writer as well). While we never had the opportunity to meet in person, I nevertheless considered her a friend and kindred spirit as an attorney cum designer. My thoughts and prayers are with those whom she left behind far, far too early.

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