Wednesday, January 31

Paper Stories

For better or for worse (probably for better) sometimes we just can’t say what we’re really thinking! On those rare occasions you can always let these witty little note cards from Paper Stories do it for you. Of course it will take the right recipient to appreciate the irony of these beautiful letter pressed cards juxtaposed with bittersweet sentiments.
All note cards are printed on Crane paper and comes with coordinating envelope.

Tuesday, January 30

Profile: My Marrakesh

Maryam of My Marrakesh

Fascinating was the first word to came to mind when I read the blog My Marrakesh. So, what is the first thing to do when you find a new blog? You click the ‘About Me’ link of course!

Maryam - Democracy and governance specialist (if anyone knows what that means, please let her know so she can finally explain it to her mother). Loves kickboxing, interior design, watching foreign films, making altered art, and musing about life in general.

Yes, fascinating was definitely the right word to describe Maryam! And did I mention that she is an excellent writer with great taste, just read her comments on my blog—she loves all the same things I do!

If you are not familiar with My Marrakesh, you MUST go to Maryam’s blog. And for the big news—My Marrakesh is a finalist in the 2007 Annual Weblog Awards in the category Best African or Middleastern Blog. If you are so inclined (and I know you are) go to The Weblog Awards site before Feb 2 and vote for My Marrakesh!

Which interior designer would you most like to meet?
Alberto Pinto. Stunning use of color and I love his modern interpretations of Moorish style.

What would be your favorite way to spend a day?
My most favorite day in the world would be shopping the Paris flea markets with my best friend and muse, Anna, who lives in the South of France.

What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Anything by Norah Jones or Bosso Nova.

What personal characteristics do you most dislike in a person?
Miserliness and close minded-ness

If you could vacation anywhere in the world where would it be?
An incredible spa on an island somewhere in Indonesia. Ideally spending the morning in outdoor yoga and innovative cardio classes and all afternoon getting spa treatments. Sigh. One day, one day....

What is your favorite luxury in life?
I have a personal trainer who comes to my house two to three times a week. A former kick boxing champion, he pushes me to my absolute limits. We start every workout running through the fruit orchards. I also have an unfortunate penchant for Armani makeup:-)

What is your favorite place to shop?
The Marrakesh souks, esp the old hole-in-the-wall antique shops.

What is your most prized possession?
My wedding album. Our photos are all black and white and photo journalist style. That day was pure magic for me.

Who is your favorite style icon?
Christy Turlington. She is beautiful, graceful and strong. She also seems so balanced and mindful, traits I aspire to.

Maryam's wedding album

Saturday, January 27

Zia-Priven Design

Zia-Priven Design was born out of passion for dramatic lighting and a love of the 40s era sleek, sophisticated style.

photo one: Private Residence Thompson Table Lamp Ivory Silk Pongee Shade
photo two: Private Residence Fioretti Cylinder Table Lamp ZP Studio Collection Cole and Son Pale Blue Fioretti Wallpaper Shade on Lucite Base

Chan Luu

It’s always so exciting when I find a new designer (new to me anyway). Just by chance I discover Luu Chan’s amazing jewellery while surfing the web (a bad and expensive habit!)

Using hand cut semi-precious stones and beads, Luu combines unusual forms with beautiful colors to create truly striking pieces.

Luu left Vietnam, where she was born and raised, to further her education at Boston University in Massachusetts majoring in Business Administration. Following her dream of becoming a designer, she later moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising earning a degree in Fashion Design in 1975.

She has taken her business globally with major retail stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman in the U.S., Harvey Nichols in London, Isetan and Mitsukoshi in Japan and many other specialty stores. Chan’s pieces have been featured in Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle.

Despite being worn by wealthy celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Mischa Barton and Sandra Bullock, some of Luu's jewellery is really quite affordable.

photos: Chan Luu

Friday, January 26

Eric Prokesh

I love Dallas decorator Eric Prokesh. His fantastic home has been featured in Southern Accents magazine and books. His use of color is just incredible!

"I wanted the colors [in my home] to be clear and confident," says Prokesh. "Rather than buy period paintings, I decided to let the walls add color." The effect manages to be simultaneously classic and bracingly fresh.

I will try to find more information on the talanted Eric Prokesh, as I am enamoured with his refined yet flamboyant style.

Interior design by Eric Prokesh, 214/520-0946
Southern Accents

Thursday, January 25

Profile: The Peak of Chic

Jennifer of The Peak of Chic

When I received the comment, “I too admired Babe Paley's style, and I loved her taxicab yellow living room designed by Parish Hadley,” I knew I had met my match. So of course the first thing I did was go to The Peak of Chic blog site.

And, just as I had suspected, it was fabulous! I didn’t know there was anyone else under 4o that loved out-of-print design and lifestyle books, C.Z. Guest, Dorothy Rodger’s My Favorite Things and scoured vintage issues of House and Garden (I don’t have any as far back as 1936!).

Jennifer, the mastermind behind The Peak of Chic, like me, is new to the blogging world. Let’s find out more about her:

Which interior designer would you most like to meet?
It's a tie- Albert Hadley and Miles Redd

How would you spend the day?
We (meaning Albert, Miles, and me) would spend the morning at the D&D Building (in NYC) going through showrooms and looking at fabrics and wallcoverings. Then, in the afternoon, we would go to their favorite shops. By early evening, we would have drinks and Triscuits in Albert's chic apartment (I read somewhere that he serves Triscuits to his guests!), and then we would proceed to Miles' glorious apartment and have dinner in his David Adler marble bathroom!

What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Bobby Short- "Late Night at the Cafe Carlyle" (and no, I'm not 75 years old but my husband sometimes wonders with my taste in music)

What personal characteristics do you most dislike in a person?
Insincerity and insecurity.

If you could vacation anywhere in the world where would it be?
Venice or St. Petersburg.

What favorite luxury in life?
Curling up in bed with a good design book!

What is your favorite place to shop?
Bergdorf Goodman

What is your most prized possession?
A sterling silver revere bowl that my sister gave me before my wedding. On it is an engraved inscription of a saying that my sister and I used to have when we were little girls.

Who is your favorite style icon?
I have two- in terms of fashion and all-around style, it would be Diana Vreeland. In terms of design, it would be a man (!)- Van Day Truex, the late design director of Tiffany's back in the 1960's (he had truly great taste).

Wednesday, January 24


I've been tagged by too cute Jessica at I Do Declare (Southern Fried Fashion for the Rebellious Debutante)—love that tag line!

So, what are the top six weird things about me? This should be easy, but I’m struggling. If my husband were awake I’m sure he could rattle several off very quickly.

1. In the winter I have a cup of soup everyday around 10 am and I LOVE leftovers for breakfast (especially cold stir-fry).

2. I pay an outrageous amount of money to have my hair professional straightened (nothing beats Japanese Thermal Reconditioning). It’s changed my life!

3. I have 10 years worth of binders that I have filled with magazine clippings of houses, gardens, recipes and clothing. I refuse to part with any of them. I even moved them to the UK from the States.

4. I probably own 50 tubes of lipstick (30 of which I bought when I was pregnant) but only wear 2 of the shades (Bobbi Brown Raspberry Shimmer and Cherry Cognac).

5. We lived in our previous house 5 years and each room was painted at least 4 times (by yours truly). I even had my own account at the local hardware store.

6. I start listening to Christmas music in September.

There it is…I’m sure the list could go on. I am now tagging (if they have not been tagged before) The Peak of Chic, Design DNA and Style Court. And Jessica, send me an email. I want to profile your blog!

Tuesday, January 23

Profile: Absolutely Beautiful Things

Anna of Absolutely Beautiful Things

When I started my blog at the beginning of 2007, it was purely a personal style file. I had NO idea anyone else would come to "visit" so to speak! I also had no idea that I would find so many fantastic blogs.

The first fantastic blog I stumbled across was Absolutely Beautiful Things. The name alone was enough to hook me, and then I fell for the talented Anna. Anna is the creative genius behind the blog and owner of Black & Spiro.

Which interior designer would you most like to meet?
Kelly Wearstler
How would you spend the day?
Shopping at all her favourite haunts.
What is your favorite CD at the moment?
All of Katie Melua’s c.d.’s
What personal characteristics do you most dislike?
I don’t like it when people are rude and ungrateful.
If you could vacation anywhere in the world where would it be?
I can’t just choose 1 place so I have to choose 3– Paris, Hawaii and Venice oh and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Sorry that’s a hard question.
What is your favorite luxury in life?
Shopping at Chanel, oh and having my nanny/housekeeper – I don’t know what I would do without her.
What is your favorite place to shop?
Alamoana Shopping Centre in Hawaii and my favourite junk shop in Sydney—which I can’t name because it is my little secret!!
What is your most prized possession?
My David Bromley painting which is called “Poh”
Who is your favorite style icon?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

David Bromley painting

Monday, January 22

Lynn Von Kersting

[Images removed at the request of Darra Baker]

One designer I like and see work from time to time is California based designer Lynn Von Kersting. Her home has been featured in a couple of Chris Madden’s books, but there is little information about her on the web. At one time she owned (and perhaps still does) Indigo Seas in Los Angeles. I believe she and her husband also own The Ivy in L.A. If you have more information about her work or other photos, I’d love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 21

Source Perrier

Today I stumbled across the most amazing Brazilian amethyst votive holders on the Source Perrier website. The same Perrier that provides the world with bottled spring water. They have a great selection of reasonably priced housewares and gifts. I especially like their glassware and barware. Can’t wait to order the votive holders.

Saturday, January 20

Birkin Bag vs Kelly Bag

As if this were a real debate, which of these two iconic bags would I choose? Kelly or Birkin? My husband’s vote is for neither, as he claims, the cost of either bag is more than the gross national product of a small Central American country. But for today I can weigh the options and daydream!

While both bags exude money (old, new, discreet, flashy), each signals to the world, or at least to an international pack of fashionistas, a very different style. For the uninitiated, these bags, which start at about $7,000 (£3000) and can top $25,000 (£12,000) depending on hide and hue, are named for a duo of beautiful women.

The Kelly Bag:
Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly had been wed less than a year to Prince Rainier of Monaco when she deftly obscured her royal pregnancy with a structured, crocodile Hermes purse on a 1956 Life magazine cover.

The Birkin Bag:
By contrast, it was during a 1981 airplane flight that the British-born actress-singer Jane Birkin's overstuffed purse spilled in the vicinity of Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes. Three years later, the firm introduced a bag for Birkin's more bohemian lifestyle based on an 1892 design. In a splendid bit of irony, Birkin recently confessed she barely used her bag because it had proved hazardous to her health (citing tendonitis).

Both the Kelly and the Birkin are crafted entirely by hand by a single artisan from start to finish, and embellished with a petite padlock, keys and gleaming hardware made of white or yellow gold.

But why, exactly, are they so expensive and so obsessively coveted? For starters, they are beautifully made. A single artisan can spend up to 25 hours painstakingly constructing a Kelly or Birkin. And, of course, there is the immutable law of supply, and demand at work here. Make something fabulous, in famously limited quantities, and people will clamor to own it. Myself included.

So which will it be? A Kelly or a Birkin? Fortunately (or unfortunately) it is a decision I don’t have to make today.

Friday, January 19

Room of the Week

Going through my files I came across this dining room designed by Peter Dunham (House Beautiful 2005). I LOVE the wallpaper, lamps, mix of textures and the table setting. Dinner anyone?

Balsamic Vinegar

Not all balsamic vinegars are created equal. True aceto balsamic vinegar comes in 3.4 ounce bottles and sells from $50 (£25) to $500 (£250) per bottle. It must be aged a minimum of 10 year. The better balsamic vinegars are aged 25 to 50 years (considering the price these are not to be poured, but used by the drop!).

Balsamic vinegar can only be produced in the regions of Modena and Reggio in Italy. The first historical reference to balsamic vinegar dates back to 1046, when a bottle of balsamic vinegar was reportedly given to Emperor Enrico III of Franconia as a gift.

The only approved woods for aging balsamic vinegar are oak, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, a cacia, juniper, and ash. The age of the vinegar is divided into young – from 3 to 5 years maturation; middle aged 6 to 12 years and the highly prized very old which is at least 12 years and up to 150 years old.

I love balsamic vinegar drizzled over Parmigiano Reggiano or with olive oil for dipping fresh bread. But one of my all time favorite recipes is balsamic vinegar and strawberries.

Place slices strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar over strawberries, and sprinkle with sugar. Stir gently to combine. Cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but not more than 4 hours. Just before serving, grind just a bit of black pepper over berries.

I know it sounds strange, but it really is delicious!

Thursday, January 18

Feedback: Hostess Gifts

I loved the Chinoiserie Baby Shower feedback on Style Courts blog this week. I thought I would post a question to all of, as I love all the varying ideas and opinions.

I believe that being a gracious guest is giving a gift of thanks to your hosts. I always bring a small gift to let the hosts know how much I appreciate the invitation.

Of course the best gifts are thoughtful and personal, but so many times it’s easiest to grab a bottle of wine. And, I’m well aware that some people say flowers are not the best hostess gift because it requires the hosts to stop and look for a vase. Kate Spade suggests having flowers sent ahead of time as to free the host while greeting guests. What do think? What gifts do you like to give? What gifts do you like to receive?

Jan Showers

“A serene Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief might have been Showers’ perfect client.“ -Rebecca Sherman, Papercity Magazine October 2000

Understated glamour, the combination of a variety of periods and styles, and the creation of comfortable, inviting rooms are the foundation of Jan Showers & Associates' style. Jan has been quoted as saying, "An element of glamour is always necessary in a room, whether it be silk, glass or books—what is more glamorous than being surrounded by books?"

I am in love with her use of sculptural table lamps, Venetian glass, books and of course, glorious mirrors.

All photos Jan Showers & Associates

Wednesday, January 17

Style file

I thought it would be fun to do a posting on style icons. When it comes to classic style, I usually take my cues from women like Diana Vreeland, Elsie De Wolfe, Coco Chanel and Jackie Kennedy. Each had a unique ability to transform the vulgarity of existence into a living work of art on a daily basis.

I especially like Babe Paley. During the 40’s and 50’s Babe Paley was the high priestess of the social arts, beauty, fashion and entertaining.

Barbara Cushing Mortimer Paley was one of the four stylish and beautiful women that Truman Copote referred to as his “swans”. The others included Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness, and C.Z. Guest. Of all four, Babe was the most exalted.

No one could entertain with the grace of Babe Paley. Guests who were invited to join the exclusive "Paley" club were treated with the luxuries only offered in the grandest of hotels in Europe. Servants were bountiful; food was spectacular, and the surroundings breathtaking. It is this legendary entertaining that made the Paleys the most sought after couple in New York.

In addition to this lavish entertaining, Babe maintained her position on the best-dressed list fourteen times before being inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958. Her personal style was inspirational to thousands of women who tried to copy her, but as Bill Blass once observed, “I never saw her not grab anyone’s attention, the hair, the makeup, the crispness. You were never conscious of what she was wearing; you noticed Babe and nothing else.”

So, who are some of your favourite style icons?

C.Z. Guest, Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness

Monday, January 15

Kate Spade Style

I love the way Kate Spade uses color—sophisticated with a touch of whimsy. Kate has been quoted, as saying, that while some like to write color off as "fun" and "fanciful," she believes color is all that and so much more. Think peony pink leather handbag with a charcoal gray suit or yellow accents in a bedroom. Color and sophistication are where Kate Spade excels.

I especially appreciate Kate’s use of textiles, pattern and strong geometric shapes, inspired by the classics. Kate’s winning formula for a timeless style is a merging of cheerful colors, clean shapes and well-chosen embellishments. Great style!

Sunday, January 14

Ashley and Allegra Hicks

Ashley and Allegra Hicks have been designing interiors together since their first married home in New York in 1990. Ashley Hicks is the son of the late, talented, David Hicks.

Ashley and Allegra work for private clients in the UK, Europe and the United States. Many of their projects utilize the growing range of interiors product designed by the couple, from Allegra's rugs, fabrics and home accessories featured on their website, to Ashley’s furniture. Their style has been described as 'wonderfully modern interiors, which manage to happily blend old and new with a subtle, ethnic style'.

Their first book Design Alchemy, features eight of their projects.

photos from Design Alchemy

Steven Stolman

If you’ve spent time in the resort town of Southampton, New York, you might be familiar with designer Steven Stolman.

I first learned of his clothing line from a fashionable, Dallas friend. We had invited friends for dinner and she walks in with the most amazing yellow chinoiserie pants I had ever seen. After oooing and ahhing I learned that the designer was Steven Stolman, and that many of his designs are cut from decorators' fabrics—pique sundresses, toile pants, chinoiserie shifts.

His novel use of decorator fabrics and hand-loomed knits for resort wear instantly captured the interest of those who ‘summer’(used as a verb) and became the uniform of the moment.

Apparently a few brave men have taken a liking to Stolman’s designs as well. At a summer event in the Hamptons a few men turned heads in their colorful chinoiserie and toile de Jouy cotton print trousers. Summer+Hamptons+Money=anything goes! I love it!

Saturday, January 13

Katharine Pooley

I first learned of interior designer Katharine Pooley in December 2004 on my first trip to Scotland. The talented Katharine has led a peripatetic life. She worked as a banker in Asia for 15 years and has visited 179 countries. Unsurprisingly, this has influenced her distinctive approach to design. Her style is all about mixing up classic furniture, luxurious textures and unusual objects.

Her shop in Chelsea, London is dedicated to luxurious living and interiors, selling furnishings from Vietnamese tableware to Japanese antique kimono cushions and offers an upmarket interior design service inspired by her travels.

Friday, January 12

Works of art

For more than 30 years, a Judith Leiber handbag has stood for the ultimate in craftsmanship and design. It has become an icon of fashion and style and has evolved into a coveted status object for celebrities, socialites and collectors. Yet, beyond the glamour, a Judith Leiber handbag stands out as remarkable works of art.

One Leiber beaded handbag can be encrusted with as many as thirteen thousand Swarovski crystals and take up to five days to complete. While the bejeweled minaudière bag may be the style with which Leiber is most often associated, she has designed handbags using a broad range of unusual materials. These include antique fabrics, seashells, metalwork, carved wood, and exotic skins. Most recently stylist Rachel Zoe has added a few designs to the collection including the Cleopatra (top photo). An elegant python skin clutch accented with Austrian crystals.

Maybe one I will be fortunate enough to own one of these works of art.

Random rooms

When it comes to decorating styles I am all over the board. I buy and decorate more by gut reaction than by the book. If I like it I buy it, and usually it works. Not always, but most of the time. Most importantly I love to mix, not match. Each of these rooms are very different, but each has a unique and eclectic style all its own, and I adore each one.

top and bottom photos: Southern Accents
center photo: designer Matthew Smyth

Thursday, January 11

Chinese New Year

Style Court’s posting yesterday got me to thinking about hosting a Chinese New Year dinner party. Not only does it seem like a great excuse to gather friends, but also perhaps I can justify purchasing the green Wedgewood Chinoiserie plates I'm dying to own. I did a little research on Chinese New Year and here is what I learned.

Most of the dishes served during Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) are symbolic of something positive and hopeful. Chicken and fish, for example, symbolize happiness and prosperity—especially when served whole. Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and good fortune because they are China's most plentiful fruit. Noodles represent longevity; therefore, they should never be cut! Duck symbolizes fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.

The photo posted is Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs. I’m not sure how they taste, but I think they would look beautiful as a centrepiece.

8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons black tea leaves
2 pods star anise
1 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon tangerine zest

In a large saucepan, combine eggs and 1 teaspoon salt; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and cool. When cool, tap eggs with the back of a spoon to crack shells (do not remove shells).

In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups water, soy sauce, black soy sauce, salt, tea leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, and tangerine zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 hours. Remove from heat, add eggs, and let steep for at least 8 hours.

Suzi Roher

Suzi Roher handmade belts have been an open secret with style connoisseurs since they first appeared on the scene over 24 years ago.

Designer Suzi Roher creates eclectic, handmade belts in the belief that women appreciate an element of style and fantasy. 
Each creation is crafted in the European atelier tradition.

Today, Suzi Roher’s handmade belts can be found at prestigious merchants throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The belt in the top photo can be found at Neiman Marcus. The bottom photo is available from Searle NYC.COM