Tuesday, April 29

New Address Same Blog

I have a new blog address: www.allthebestblog.com but you can still read All the Best using the old address www.allthebest2007.blogspot.com

Not only is it a much shorter address, but more accurately reflects the blog. Many thanks to my fellow Houston bloggers for the tip!! Just one of the many new things I learned at dinner the other evening.

Monday, April 28

Profile: Katie Stassi

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Houstonian Katie Stassi. We meet at Starbucks for coffee and soon one hour turned into two. Talented, amazing, beautiful, driven and kindhearted are only but a few words to describe this wonderful woman. I truly felt as though I had known her forever. Katie began her design business less than three years ago and this year was named one of domino’s top 10 designers for 2008. Yeah Houston!

Katie says that she knew from an early age that she had a gift, “I could visualize and see things that most other people could not. My bedroom, which should have been filled with dolls and teen beat posters, turned into what my family called my apartment.”

Katie is a minimalist with a discerning eye for the finer things in life but used sparingly in a traditional yet modern way that is light hearted, sophisticated, youthful and fun. “In my opinion, a house is more than just a home. It is a sanctuary. A place you can call your own. An extension of your personality. An escape that takes you away from life’s unexpected twists and turns. A friend that you care for, share memories with and relish all of the days in your life.”

She is currently working on projects in Houston, TX, Aspen, CO and New Orleans, La.

How would you describe your personal style?
The best of both worlds! Antiques and modern furnishings! Highs and low's! I am always caught in the middle! My feet are always positioned in different doors! I love fine antiques that are old, crusty and dilapidated. Why repair or restore? Displaying it's age and history is where true beauty is revealed!

I also love classic, modern furnishings and bright, colorful art. It adds life and
character to a home. I feel as though my job is that of an explorer. Hunting and discovering the treasures of many talented and brilliant minds! I consider my days "field trips"! There is always something new to be learned and someone new and interesting to meet.

What is the one thing in life you can not live without?

What books are currently on your bedside table?
There are too many to name, but a few are:Bible; City Chic by Nina Willdorf; The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell; A Quick Word with Beth Moore by Beth Moore

What inspires your designs and creativity?
The simple things in life! Sunshine, water, flowers, words, symbols, books, magazines, headlines, churches, music and, of course, God!

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
Oprah! She makes a difference in the world and she defies the odds. She exudes confidence and power but in a positive and constructive way. I would love to spend the day with her in a casual relaxing way. Just as a friend would...talking about life, curled up in a chair, drinking coffee, taking a walk with the sun shining down upon us and being surrounded by nature.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Down time! Relaxing outside by a pool or open water with a stack of books and magazines next to me, sun shining, breeze blowing and music playing!

What is your most prized possession?
My family!

Who are your style icons?
Gwynth Paltrow - naturally classic and beautiful, yet in a modern way
Katie Holmes, classic and innocent
Cameron Diez - bright and fun!

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
The world living as ONE, LOVING not hating, having FAITH and HOPE for a better life, BELIEVING and being intimate with the HIGHER POWER who created this beautiful world, being THANKFUL, being UNITED as we should be, as it was DESIGNED to be......UNITED STATES!

Profile by Ronda Carman

Friday, April 25

Dinner with Houston Bloggers

What a great night. As I have said many times before, the best part of blogging is the many wonderful people I meet when I travel. Last night was no exception. I had dinner with four wonderful women and fellow bloggers at Armando's.

me (All the Best); Courtney (Inside the Loop); Joni (Cote de Texas); Paloma (La Dolce Vita)

Courtney (Inside the Loop); Joni (Cote de Texas); Paloma (La Dolce Vita); Carolina (Carolina Eclectic)

I have wanted to dine again at Armando's for awhile now. Armando Palacios and his eponymous restaurant of Mexican fare, has reopened after a long hiatus. Centrally located in the River Oaks area of Houston, Armandos engulfs you in an environment reminiscent of fine dining in early 20th century Mexico City (not that I know first-hand, but so I've been told). The food was delicious, but the company was by far the best part of the evening. It was great seeing all of you!

Wednesday, April 16

Profile: Nupur Tron

Beautiful is the perfect word to describe Nupur Tron, her personality, and the jewelry she creates. Four words came to mind the moment I saw her stunning creations, “I want it all!”

Nupur left India at age 16 for a summer holiday in Connecticut to visit her aunt and uncle. She was so taken with the States she stayed to further her education and graduated from F.I.T New York. Through extensive travels to Asia and Europe she learned the technical and production side of the fashion industry.

But it was Paris that would change her course of history. After a brief period at the Paris Fashion Institute, and on her last day in the city, she met future husband Frederic Tron at a couture show. They were engaged within two months and married two years later in St. Tropez. Her jewelery collection launched in Paris at the LeBon Marche in the summer of 2006. "Paris is a magical city I am so lucky to be part of it,” says Nupur.

What is the only other occupation you would consider?
I love what I do. I cannot possibly imagine any other occupation. Creativity seems to come naturally to me in every shape and form.

Which fashion designers have most influenced your style?
There are so many great creators but the one that has influenced me the most is Hubert du Givenchy. His style has timeless elegance.

How would you describe your personal style?
Chic and sophisticated.

What inspires your designs and creativity?
Everything! A woman sitting in a cafe just watching the world go by. Nature is a symphony of endless beauty. My own tradition and heritage that goes centuries back…ancient old architecture deigns, cultures, history and people.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Travelling, discovering cultures and people and inviting my friends over for dinner, as I love to cook!

Who are your style icons?
Audrey Hepburn for her enduring elegance of timeless beauty and charm. Maharani of Jaipur Gayatri Devi for her personification of beauty, grace and elegance. Most of all it would be my Grandmother for her beauty and strength. She is still strong at 97!

What is your most prized possession?
There are quite a few but the one closest to my heart is the coral Ganesh from my mother.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
Oh…there are quite a few to name, but the one I would love to meet most of all is Mahatma Gandhi, father of our nation. I would love to spend the day with him by simply listening to his utmost enriched life experiences and non violent fight for freedom.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Tuesday, April 15

Modern Design Blog

Many thanks to Modern Design Blog for the very complimentary profile. If you have yet to check out this blog you are in for a real treat.

Monday, April 14

All the Best

As the title suggests, readers of this blog truly are the BEST! I am always so humbled by the kind emails I receive from people around the world. I am also inspired by so many of you. Over the weekend I received a beautiful email for a reader who saw my post on the Oberoi hotel in Udaipur.

She wrote to say: "It is indeed one of the most spectacular hotels ever! I was just there in November on a 3 week trip through Rajasthan with two girlfriends and out of all the fabulous hotels we stayed at (including the Oberoi in Agra, the Amanbagh, and the Shangri-la-like Ananda Spa in the Himalayas), this hotel took the cake. Utter unrivaled luxury. We had two lakeside rooms with steps leading to the semi-private 'moat' pool which encircled the front of the property. I have some photos I am enclosing. Every doorway, window and corridor open onto an unforgettable vista. It's chic, chic, chic!"

Thank you Lisa...you're the best!

Saturday, April 12

Shopping on Saturday - nora fleming

I love it someone takes a clever idea and turns it into a successful business. Such is the case with Nora Napientek founder of nora fleming. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science, Nora decided to explore a completely different vocation by starting her own paint-your-pottery-shop. Wanting to create unique serving platters for special occasions Nora came up the idea of an interchangeable dinnerware collection. She began by drilling holes in plates and gluing sticks on to anything miniature to adorn the plate.

After research and development, Nora took her “dressed up interchangeable dinnerware” concept on the road. Just as she had hoped the plates were a hit. “We were amazed at the response and still are,” she says. “People are clamoring over the platters and minis. Well done Nora!

What do you enjoy most about owning your own business?
Being in control of my own destiny. I never feel trapped. If I want to change something I can. If I want to change the look of my line, create something new, nix something old...I can. I also love working in my pjs with my babies running around. Not something most moms can (or want) to do.

What books are currently on your bedside table
The Varieties of Scientific Experience-A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan; Second Glance by Jodi Picoult; Spider-Man versus Doc Ock (my son's early reader we are working on).

What inspires your designs and creativity?
MY KIDS...without a doubt. Number one. They are so creative. They juxtapose, inverse, turn things inside out everyday. As we grow up we have these learned traits of what design should be. Color wheels and trigonometry...watch kids. Watch them draw, play dress up...they do what feels right. It is super inspirational. They rely on instincts.

What is your most prized possession
My family. There is not a single material possession that would really upset me if it was lost or destroyed.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Inner peace. Tranquility. Contentment. Not sure if it will ever happen.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Worry. I worry all the time. I wish I didn't. I worry about worrying too much. It is exhausting, stupid and a total waste of time and energy. I am trying to learn that old lesson of "what will be will be."

Thursday, April 10

Profile: Thomas Burak

Late last year I began corresponding with designer Michael Devine. In a short period of time a long distance friendship began and we arranged to meet for dinner at Brasserie Balzar while in Paris for Maison & Objet.

Of course I was excited to meet in person; however, first time meetings can sometimes be strange situations. Luckily that was not the case at all. My husband and I got on brilliantly with Michael and his partner Thomas Burak. Michael was as entertaining and delightful as I had imagined and I was equally enchanted with the charming and debonair Mr. Burak. I knew that Thomas was a well-respected interior designer whose work has been showcased at the Hampton Designer Showhouse, but I was not fully aware of his genius and many talents.

After a few glasses of wine and talking until the wee hours of the morning, I learned that his real passion is tabletops and floral design. Not just pretty plates and a few cut flowers, but artistic displays of orchids, delphiniums and white quince. Thomas’ work has graced the tables of many private homes and functions as well as the famous Macy’s Flower Show in New York.

Michael and Thomas’ partnership is a clear case of one plus one makes three. On their own they are enormously talented but together they are magnificent. Our evening in Paris ended with an invitation to their home in New York this November for Thanksgiving dinner. I can’t wait to see the autumnal table Thomas creates; I also hear he is quite the cook. The occasion should provide tons of photo opportunities.

What artists do you most admire?
Renoir, Boucher and John Singer Sargeant. I also love and have a large collection of Russian Impressionist portraits from various artists painted in the 1950's. Some of these artists are recorded and recognized and others are not. What I love about this period and style is the depth of character and emotion.

What is the one thing in life you can't live without?
I possess many many things that I adore and greatly enhance my life. However, I can live without all the "Things" that I own because they only bring temporary happiness. There is one person I cannot live without and that is my partner Michael Devine, for he is truly divine and brings lasting happiness.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
Having spent my entire career in the creation of home furnishing products and interior design, my greatest accomplishment is having brought beauty and happiness to those that are affected by what I have created.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Earthly happiness has so many facets. From the simplest form of spending an evening with dear friends, a loved one or a interesting new person to experiencing a new city or an old favorite such as Paris or Venice.

Having said that I wouldn't turn down a day of pampering at a Spa. The more I think about this question I could go on and on because if you live your life correctly each day should bring a form of earthly happiness knowing that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Mame, The old girl had the best philosophy on life.

What books are on your bedside table?
I am currently obsessed with the Tony Duquette book, it is just such
great fantasy. Visions of Paradise, a beautiful garden book published in 1985 always seems to surface from time to time, particularly in the spring when you can't wait for your own garden to start flourishing. Also every imaginable shelter magazine, I'm a magazine junkie.

Who are your style icons?
John Fowler, Van Day Truex, Giorgio Armani, Grace Kelly and Nancy Lancaster.

What designers do you admire
Charlotte Moss, Bunny Williams, Albert Hadley, Jamie Drake, Madelaine Castaing and Tony Duquette.

What do you enjoy most about your work
The fact that I am surrounded by beautiful things on a daily basis and mostly because I was blessed with the talent to appreciate and enjoy them.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Wednesday, April 9

Happy Birthday

First trip to Martha's Vineyard in the summer of 2000.

Seven years later. Mallorca 2007

Today will be a light posting day. You see my 'baby' is turning 11 today and I have a house full of boys coming over to spend the night (sigh)! I still can't believe I am old enough to have a preteen!! Lucky for me he is truly the sweetest child in the world. Last night we went out for a pre-birthday celebration (wonder where that comes from) complete with large steaming bowls of mussels. It was such a fun and delightful 2 hour conversation with our son. While a part of me is sad to see him getting older the other part of me delights in having "grownup" conversation.

Happy Birthday buddy! We love you!

p.s. Did I mention the birthday gift...an electric guitar! There goes my sanity, what's left of it!

Tuesday, April 8

A Note From Palmer Weiss

Thank you to everyone for such nice comments! I was so honored to be chosen by domino and then by All the Best for an interview.

Here are answers to questions:
1) My mom is Kathleen Rivers - a little old school for a website, but she has been published and you might have seen her work.

2) Fabrics:
Green Floral - China Seas Macao
II; Color, Jungle Green Multi
on Linen
Girls' Room - Kravet - Genuine

Thanks again!!

Monday, April 7

Profile: Palmer Weiss

Named one of the domino 10 for 2008, San Francisco-based interior designer Palmer Weiss knows a thing or two about mixing traditional elegance with contemporary, playful details. Pretty interiors with bursts of color and a touch of Southern eccentricity are Palmer's hallmark and a nod to her Charleston, South Carolina upbringing.

Palmer credits her Southern roots as a major influence on her design aesthetic; however, 14 years of living in Northern California has allowed her to develop a unique style that reflects both cultures.

Palmer may not have any interior design degree but she certainly has an impressive résumé and a well-trained eye. Weiss attended Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school, Brown University with a BA in History of Art and received her MBA at J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Not to mention her mother is an accomplished interior designer. Palmer spent much of her childhood in her own version of on-the-job-training plugging away in her mom's sample closets and dissecting design magazines for inspiration.

Seeing as how the classics never go out of style Palmer Weiss is a name we are certain to see for years to come.

How would you describe your personal style?
I guess I am pretty classic, but with a pop or a twist. I like clean lines, but with very pretty or unexpected details – zebra runners, custom trims or using bright, patterned fabric on an antique bergere chair.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Outside of the obvious (my family), it would be SUN!

What books are currently on your bedside table?
The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan – just finished this very touching and witty recount of a young mother’s (successful) struggle with breast cancer.

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person by AJ Jacobs – just about to start. The author read the entire encyclopedia A to Z in attempts to “fill in the gaps of his Ivy League education”. It is supposed to be hilarious and educational.

And then there are the magazines. There are always too many to fit ON my bedside table and they are instead piled mile-high to the side – they include Domino, House Beautiful, Bazaar, Vogue, Elle Décor, Travel and Leisure etc, etc. I create books of clippings that I reference constantly.

What inspires your designs and creativity?
I find a great deal of inspiration in nature and the colors found there. Living in the Bay Area, we are fortunately surrounded by so much natural beauty and can take advantage of it 365 days a year. Sometimes you think that colors could not possibly go together and then you see them occurring naturally in a flower, a bird’s feathers, etc and you think, actually, they can and they do beautifully!

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day
I am sure I should say the usual like Abraham Lincoln or Jesus, but I have to admit I would most like to meet Sean Hayes (the actor who played Jack on the Will and Grace series). He is the single funniest human being I have ever witnessed on television and I watched the show (and now TiVo’d versions) religiously.

To me, laughing and maintaining a sense of humor are the keys to life and he has provided lots of help in that aspect. As to what we’d do, ideally, I’d like to turn back the clocks so that I could be on the set while filming, but otherwise, I don’t really care – just hanging out would be fine!

What is your favorite luxury in life?
I am a working mother with 2 small kids. It is sleep. Hands down.

What is your most prized possession
The Temple St Clair necklace that my mom gave me with two little cherub pendants – each inscribed with one of my daughters’ names.

Also, my very cool mid-century Lucite/brass lamp with ram’s heads on it. It was a great bargain find and also I am an Aries so I love the zodiac nod!

Who are your style icons?
You know I was asked this question in an interview before and I have to say, I am not really a big “icony” kind of person. This is not to say that I have not been influenced by others…I have! There are so many incredibly talented and stylish people that have definitely shaped my aesthetic both consciously and subconsciously – Oscar de la Renta, Jackie O, to name a few.

I was also fortunate to grow up with a very stylish and beautiful mother who probably had more influence on my sense of taste that anyone else. She is an interior designer (30 years) and even though our decorating styles are not exactly the same, I learned so much about creating warmth and beauty from her.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Doing what you love for a living (preferably, well!), having your health and spending as much relaxed time with your family and friends as possible.

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photos Matthew Millman

Sunday, April 6


A reader would like to know if anyone could advise as to the manufacture of the wallpaper/fabric that was used in Geoffrey Beene's dining room (original post March 5, 2008).


Saturday, April 5

Shopping on Saturday: Perfect Pendants

I love a great pendant and I am still obsessed by the Renee Lewis Shake Necklace worn by Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. With summer just around the corner I can finally shed my turtlenecks and show off a few necklaces. I had a field day shopping FRAGMENTS.com this morning. Here a just a few of my many finds (you may notice a pattern):

Dana Kellin
Gold filled chain link necklace with four gold filled wrapped links and rutilated quartz drop. Length: 19 inches. Price $415.00

Erica Molinari
18k gold circle branch necklace with diamonds on chain. Length: 15inches. Price $2,445.00

Arman Collection
22k gold chain with tear shapes turquoise drop and wrapped gold snake design with one rosecut diamond. Price $1,800.00

Dana Kellin
Gold filled link chain necklace with gold filled wrapped citrine drop. Length: 16 inches. Price $205.00

Dana Kellin
14k gold fill winter mix pendant necklace with moonstone, quartz green amethyst beading on open link chain. Length: 16 inches. Price $525.00

Friday, April 4

The Oberoi Udaivilas

One of Oberoi Udaivilas's private pools.

A serendipitous email once again has me thinking about India. It seems so exotic, far away and wonderfully romantic. In the heart of Rajasthan, overlooking the picturesque Lake Pichola and the City Palace, is a resort that is on my list of places I must visit in this lifetime. Voted the number one Hotel in the World in the Travel + Leisure 2007 Readers’ Poll The Oberoi Udaivilas captures the beauty and splendor of a royal era.

Unfortunately there are not many high-resolution photos available for me to post. You will have to visit their website for a photo tour, if for no other reason than a moment of escapism. However, in my search for photos I did come across these beautiful images and felt they were too wonderful not to share. As the revered Diana Vreeland remarked, “Pink is the navy blue of India.”

All images flickr

Thursday, April 3

Amanda Jaron Jewelery

If you’ve been a reader of All the Best for a while you have certainly read about jewelry designer Amanda Jaron. You may remember her very chic diamonds, pearls and recycled glass Coca-Cola bracelet. A Florida native, Amanda Jaron combines the vivid colors of her landscape and surroundings with inspirations from her extensive world travels to create jewelry that is unique, sophisticated and romantic.

Not only do I adore her beautiful designs, I adore the designer herself. Amanda is warm, gracious, inspiring and very talented—all fantastic qualities. Here is a sneak peek at her Spring/Summer 2008:

18kt, sterling, white topaz and diamond

tassel bracelets

onyx, 18kt, sterling and white topaz

photos Michelle Tricca

Wednesday, April 2

A Burning Question?

I'd love to hear from all of you today. I have a very exciting new project in the works (more to come on the specifics in a few weeks) and I am continuing to plug away at my book. What I'd love to know from you dear reader is this—if you could ask your favorite designer any question (within reason of course) what would you ask. You can name the designer too if you so desire.

Tuesday, April 1

A Fashionable Fundraiser

Up for auction this week is an original Illustration by Christian Lacroix Pret-Porter Fall/Winter 1999-2000

I received an email this morning from Style.com that appealed to me on many levels. Having spent the vast majority of my adulthood as a professional and volunteer fundraiser I love to support a great cause. It’s also well known fact that I have a weakness for clothes and fashion. But being a woman and having lost family members to beast cancer is the main reason I want to support the efforts of Style.com in raising money for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer.

For the next three weeks there will be eBay auctions of original illustrations featured in Fashion Illustrations by Fashion Designers, the recently published book by Laird Borrelli-Persson, senior features editor at Style.com.

All proceeds from the auctions directly benefit Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC), a worldwide charitable initiative of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. You can visit the slideshow for a preview of illustrations and dates to bid on each.