Monday, March 30

The LIST: Preston Bailey

I have huge admiration for creative minds. But more than admiration, I have great respect for those who refuse to settle for mediocrity and use their talents to live each day to the very fullest. One such person is the incomparable Preston Bailey. I have long been a great admirer of Preston’s work and his raw talent. As you can imagine, I was more than delighted when the wonderful Susan Moolman facilitated an introduction.

Born and raised in tropical Panamá, Preston grew up short on riches but long on imagination. He moved to New York City in 1968 at the age of 19 and began his career in the design world as a fashion model, eventually opening a men’s clothing boutique. When his store closed in 1980 Preston was out of work and in need of a job. His best friend, interior designer Vicente Wolf, suggested that Preston create floral arrangements for clients.

After several years of building his reputation as a floral designer and event planner, Preston had the good fortune of meeting Joan Rivers. She asked him to design her daughter Melissa’s wedding, propelling his talent into the limelight.

I adore the way Preston combines the fruits of his imagination with the beauty of the natural world to create energetic color palettes, sensuous textures and architectural shapes. 
Twenty-seven years after the closing of his store, Preston has designed events and weddings for countless celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Donald Trump, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby and Uma Thurman. Preston is living proof that necessity is the mother of invention.

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style can be described as “generous as nature”—I find that nature is very generous in what it gives to us day to day and I aim to be equally as generous.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Beauty and abundance of nature. The texture and smell of a flower, the beauty of the colors, all of these things inspire me.

What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is my health. I work out 7 days a week and try to eat very healthy. I meditate often and take time out for myself daily to write about my thoughts.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Peace of mind. It is the most important thing you have to have in your life. It helps balance out all other things.

Who are your style icons?
My best friend Vicente Wolf, John Galliano and David Rockwell.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I would love to collaborate with Vicente Wolf on a huge event. The collaboration of styles would be magnificent.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
A New Earth by Eckhardt Tolle and The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Flying first class.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Peaceful sleeping. Though I travel often, I am very fortunate to manage to sleep at least 8 hours a day. I understand how important rest is for the body and spirit.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I would love to meet President Obama and I would spend the day picking his brain for insight into Politics.

What is the most memorable event that you have attended as a guest?
Oprah’s 50th birthday party. The entire event from beginning to end was memorizing. Oprah of course was quite stunning and the party was filled with so much energy.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, March 29

Soup on Sunday: Roasted Red Pepper

Sorry for the late post today! We awoke to a glorious sunny morning, a rare occasion in Scotland (sort of) and went out for a long family walk and early lunch. Instead of making soup today, I was treated to a wonderful steaming bowl of roasted red pepper soup at one of our favorite dog friendly pubs.

I’ve had a copy of Giada De Laurentiis’ Creamy Red Pepper soup in my files for a while and thought today was a great day to share it with all of you! Enjoy!

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
6 cups chicken broth
2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers preserved in water, drained
1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bell peppers, potato, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool the soup slightly.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup in the pot until it is smooth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Serves 4 - 6

Friday, March 27

Thank You House Beautiful

Thank you House Beautiful for naming All the Best as one of the sites they love. What an honor! And a big thank you to Amy Claire Preiser for the wonderful write up.

Update From Amanda Nisbet

So many people have asked about the shade of green in Amanda's library and the eglomisee (a French technique of reverse painted glass ) above the bed, that I emailed her to find out more:

"The green is something I mixed myself. I used Fine Paints of Europe as their finishes are so lovely. The color is one of their high gloss paints. I will try to dig deeper and find the colours mixed. The eglomisee seaweeds above the bed are something I designed. They are custom coloured seaweeds on mirror. One can contact Soicher-Marin to order one’s own design."

Casa Duquesa

While doing online research I came across the magnificent Casa Duquesa, a 17th century Spanish Finca in Mallorca. The photos were just too beautiful not to share with all of you.

Casa Duquesa is a private and secluded villa set in 150 acres of beautifully maintained grounds, with a large pool, a summer kitchen and outdoor dining area.

The house boasts 9 bedrooms, a large sitting room with a fire place, a dining room that seats 16 comfortably, two fully equipped kitchens and a chapel. Enjoy the photo tour!

Thursday, March 26

Amanda Nisbet

It probably comes as no surprise that I have a list as long as my arm with all the names that I would like to profile on All the Best. Amanda Nisbet’s name has been at the top of my list for a while now, so I was thrilled when Tobi Fairley recently introduced us to one another.

I have long been a fan of her colorful approach to design, and the beautiful palettes of citrine, jasper and amethysts that infuse her Manhattan home. There is no mistaking her inimitable approach to both life and design. I especially love that Amanda is undeterred by rules, yet she masterfully brings a playful and energetic approach to traditional interiors. As Katharine Hepburn once commented, "If you follow all the rules, you miss all the fun." And, while Amanda may not play by a prescribed set of design rules, she always delivers on elegance and comfort.

Amanda’s work has been published in Elle Decor, House and Garden,House Beautiful, O at Home, Town and Country, Quest, Traditional Home, Home, New York Spaces, New York Home, Hamptons, The New York Times and The Washington Post. An impressive resume, but Amanda takes great pride in keeping both her company and number of projects small to afford personal commitment to each project.

How would you describe your personal style?
My style is based in the traditional vernacular to which I have infused distinct colour combinations, clean lines and most importantly humour and whimsy.

What inspires your creativity and designs
I am forever inspired by my friends, children, fashion, nature and the world around me each day.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Jeff Koons. I love the exhibition he did at Versailles. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to design a house with him?

Who are your style icons?
Tony Duquette, Oliver Messel, Albert Hadley, my mother, my grandmother, my sister and my father.

What is your most prized possession?
I know that our children are not our possessions, but my children are what I love most in this world.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Laughter and kindness.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Peonies in abundance, perfume, really strong coffee, great music, but most of all a beautiful and soulful home. I am so happy in my home. I’m a bit of a homebody.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Being with my friends and family at home.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
My parents and my sister.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
I like to meet all sorts of people. I am fascinated by what makes people tick. I love to be with people who appreciate and have a zest for life. In my opinion, to spend the day with someone who is inquisitive, thirsty for knowledge and has a good sense of humour is a day well spent.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
To the One I Love Best, Episodes from the Life of Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe) by Ludwig Bemelmans; Billy Baldwin, an autobiography; Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

What are your favorite cities?
New York for its vibrancy and inclusiveness and Florence for its architecture, history and approachability.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Wednesday, March 25


I am sitting at my desk playing catch up today, and daydream about restyling my space, when I should be working. I blame Cassandra, founder of Coco + Kelley, for my distraction. I have been so inspired by her posts the past few days, especially the desk of Melissa McElhatton Davis (below) it is simply wonderful!

I am working on several new profiles and will post again tomorrow. In the meantime you can savor theses beautiful photos.

Update: For those have asked about the notepad is it from iomoi and the candle is Diptyque’s Geranium Rosa.

Tuesday, March 24

Santorini Grace

Judging by the comments and emails yesterday, I am not alone in suffering spring fever. A big thank you to Elisabeth and Jay for directing me to Santorini Grace, the sister hotel to Mykonos Grace.

Santorini Grace is located on the north coast of Santorini, in the picturesque village of Imerovigli. Imerovigli is a traditional village that boasts both beautiful and unique architecture. Most of the homes are carved into cliffs, creating small whitewashed caves that stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Facing Santorini Grace is Skaros, a rock famed for its Venetian castle ruins. The castle was completely destroyed during an earthquake in the 19th century. Skaros rock is uninhabited with the exception of a small church, the Chapel of Agios Ioannis Apokefalistheis, on its north side. Only a few ruins remain, but all are accessible for viewing by foot.

Following the success of the sister hotel on Mykonos, the Grace Hotel Group has perfectly replicated the same level of style and sophistication. The property was designed to integrate sympathetically with its unique geography. I especially like the simple interiors of the rooms—understated elegance.

All rooms enjoy stunning views of the Caldera, Skaros and the Aegean sunsets, Korres toiletries, WiFi, iPod speaker, flatscreen satellite TV and DVDs. In a perfect world, I would opt for one of the rooms with a plunge pool facing the sea—pure bliss.

Monday, March 23

Mykonos Grace

Travel and cooking rank high on my list hobbies. When I’m not planning a trip, I am daydreaming of the next place to travel. I am forever reshuffling my top ten places to visit, but one that always remains on the list is Greece, specifically Mykonos.

A picturesque fishing-village, dotted with whitewashed organically formed buildings, narrow alleyways and unique Cycladic architecture, boasts the title "the jewel" of the Aegean Sea.

Panagia Paraportiani, pictured above, is perhaps the most famous and most photographed church of Mykonos. It consists of four tiny whitewashed churches (Agios Sozontas, Agioi Anargyroi, Agia Anastasia, Agios Efstathios) forming one main church which dates from the 15th century.

Mykonos is one of the smallest and liveliest island of the Cyclades complex, due in part its natural beauty, rich history, cosmopolitan nightlife and magnificent sandy beaches. The place that I have read much about, and most want to stay, is Mykonos Grace, one of the island’s most beautiful boutique hotels.

Located just north of Mykonos town, the compact roadside resort appears to be just an average Cycladic white cube, but the hidden rooftop restaurant and pool provide guests with amazing views of the sea.

The atmosphere is cool, calm and minimalist. Traditional architectural elements (the work of Athenian architect Nikos Travasaros) and local craftsmanship coexist effortlessly with modern conveniences. Mykonos Grace was awarded the European Hotel Design Award in 2007. I love the peaceful and tranquil vibes of this hotel. I for one am ready to book a room.

Sunday, March 22

Soup on Sunday: Watercress Soup

With the arrival of warmer weather over the weekend, I am starting to think that spring may come after all. For the first time, in a long time, I am searching out 'lighter' soups in hopes of ushering in a new season. Beautiful purple sprouting broccoli, watercress and asparagus are all making their debut at the local market.

Prior to living in Scotland watercress was not on my kitchen radar screen. This quintessential leafy green superfood is hugely popular in the UK. It has a wonderful peppery taste and is brimming with over 15 vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than a glass of milk and more iron than spinach.

3 large bunches watercress, destalked and chopped
4 oz butter
5 leeks washed and chopped (the white parts only)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pints vegetable stock
4 tablespoons crème fraîche, plus garnish
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large stockpot. Add leeks, potato and watercress. Stir until coated with the melted butter.

Sprinkle a little salt over the vegetables cover with a lid and let the vegetables sweat over a low heat for about 20 minutes. At the 10 minute mark stir the vegetables.

Add stock, bring to a simmer, cover for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Puree soup in batches.

Return soup to the stockpot, swirl in 4 tablespoons of crème fraîche, season to taste and reheat very gently. Serve in warm soup bowls and garnish each one with a dollop of crème fraîche and watercress leaves.

serves 4

Friday, March 20

All the Best on Twitter

First it was the blog, followed by Facebook and A Small World. Now it's Twitter. I'm not 100 percent sure what to do with Twitter just yet. Any advice is much appreciated. In the meantime you can follow All the Best Blog while I figure it all out. Perhaps it's all very simple and I am over thinking the whole thing...that is quite possible.

Thursday, March 19

Congratulations Tobi Fairley

Congratulations to my sweet and super talented friend Tobi Fairley. Tobi was named as one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America by Traditional Home Magazine. You can read more about Tobi and the other talented designers in the April 2009 issue on newsstands now.

All the Best LIST

With the demise of a few prominent shelter magazines, most recently and notably the beloved domino, I am striving to provide a place for those in the ‘creative enterprises’ to share their work with fellow enthusiasts. I hope this growing LIST will reacquaint you with a few favorites, introduce you to new names and serve as an inspiring resource.

A personal thank you to each of you for your time and considerable efforts in pulling this project together.

Here are the newest additions to the LIST:

Mark Dean:
Pioneer Art Dealer

Work of artist Tim Berg
Exhibition - All Good Things

Peter Dunham:
Interior Designer
Textile Designer
Founder of Hollywood At Home

Monika Biegler Eyers:
Freelance Design Editor
Creative Consultant

Robert Passal:
Interior Designer
Arbiter Elegantiarum

Peter Pennoyer:
Man of Distinction

Chris and Suzanne Sharp:
Founders of The Rug Company
World Travelers
Global Tastemakers

Image 3 Photographer Max Kim-Bee
Image 6 Photographer Scott Frances

Wednesday, March 18

Fun + Flirty for Spring

Photo via Garance Doré

I was pondering Hollister Hovey's post on nail polish when I fortuitously came across the above photo while searching my files. It got me to thinking about spring and the fact that it may be time to abandon my dark nail polish for awhile. I have also switched my perfume in anticipation of warmer weather. Here are a few of my favorite finds for the season. What must haves are on your list? Either real or imagined...we can always dream.

Bold tones rule for Spring 2009. Just as brighter colors turned up the runways for Spring 2009 Fashion Week, nail polish colors have followed suite. For a quick update try Essie One of a Kind Poppy Red Kiss or Deborah Lippmann Purple Rain, a shimmering lilac frost created by Zac Posen.

For spring think pink! I love the color pink, but can't force myself to wear pink clothes. Now I can added it to my wardrobe in a very fashionable way. The ever-popular Plasteramic Watch goes Neon.

The asymmetrical silhouette is huge for spring. Shoshanna's version, with a banded waist and ruched skirt, makes for the perfect little black dress.

The one-piece wonder is back! I for one love the jumpsuit. Of course, my sisters tell me that's because I am 5'9. I think this Alice + Olivia flutter sleeve jumpsuit is super stunning. Very Studio 54.

I recently received a bottle of Lea Extreme by Lea St. Barth from the gracious Christine Elia. I am in love with this scent! A powdery almond scent, mixed with hints of vanilla and musk, it's perfect for warmer months.

A pop of color is a must for the men too. This Michael Kors Tie-Dye Shirt is very cool. For a fun look at fashion, visit

The biggest must have on my spring list is a bee friendly flower garden. My son has been studying the alarming trend of bee decline and is determined to make a difference. Together we are encouraging everyone to plant chives this spring.

Any flowering plant is helpful but bees love chives, which are very easy to grow. Rosemary, comfrey and lavender are also good options. If you don’t have a garden, plant a few in pots or window boxes. Every little bit helps.

Photo credit: model Mélanie Bernier/photo via Garance Doré

Monday, March 16

Profile: Carlos Souza

When it comes to sophistication and style Carlos Souza defines both words. An internationally recognized style icon, Carlos began his fashionable and formidable career with the incomparable Valentino. In his 20+ years with the Italian fashion house, he served as vice president of worldwide public relations, celebrity liaison and confidant to the legendary designer.

Inspired by his upbringing in Brazil, life in Europe and international travel, Carlos founded his own jewelry line—Most Wanted Design (MWD). An unpretentious mix of metals and precious stones are the foundation of Carlos’ unisex jewelry. Yes, unisex. Carlos publicly acknowledges the fact that it takes “guts" for men to wear his jewelry designs, yet many have wisely followed his fashionable lead.

His Most Wanted Design millennium debut took place on a yacht in the Caribbean with Claudia Schiffer, Liz Hurley, Tim Jeffries, Giancarlo Giametti and Valentino. Carlos gave Valentino and Giancarlo his unique, inscribed Charlemagne crosses, and thus his collection was born.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
My travels, fabulous friends and my sons.

What are your most prized possession
I prize my health, sanity and acute intuition.

What are the things life you cannot live without?
Love, peace of mind and yoga.

Who has inspired your personal style?
I have lived and worked in the very high altar of Haute Couture when exercising my PR activity for the house of Valentino. Nowadays I find that inspiration comes in the simplest forms and from nature.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
My sons. They have very good direction in these hectic times that we are living.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Coetzee and always some Rumi.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
I love to retreat to my farm outside Rio when I want to shut off the phone and my PC .

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To feel love, peace and harmony inside my heart and to share that feeling with the people closest to me.

Past or present who or what has most influenced your direction in life?
The love of my family and close friends. They influence me daily in my quest to be a better person. A good direction indeed.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, March 15

Soup on Sunday: Étouffée

Growing up in Texas I developed an insatiable appetite for the Creole/Cajun cuisines that are much revered in Louisianan and the Southern Gulf Coast States. I have always been a huge fan of gumbo and étouffée, but have never made étouffée at home, until last night. Actually, my husband is the chef in the family when it comes to Cajun and Creole dishes.

In French, the word étouffée literally means "smothered," which is a good way to describe this Cajun dish, as it is basically smothered crawfish or shrimp over rice.

The base of an étouffée can be either a dark brown-red roux or a blonde roux. It is usually seasoned with celery, onions, green bell pepper (a.k.a. the ‘holy trinity’), cayenne pepper, garlic and salt. Étouffée has a thicker consistency than gumbo. Here is my husband’s version, adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe. I'm not sure if étouffée is technically a soup, but it is delicious!

1 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock or vegetable
1 pound shrimp (or crawfish tails if available)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Cooked long grain white rice, accompaniment


In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a medium brown roux (about 30 min). Add the onions, jalapeño, celery, bell peppers, green onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and Tabasco and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the sherry and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and shrimp (or crawfish tails) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Remove from the heat.

Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve over rice.

Serves 4

Saturday, March 14

All the Best LIST Update: Nathan Turner + You

click image to view larger

In celebration of Nathan Turner’s newest furniture collection with Elite Leather, and its New York debut at Bloomingdale’s, All the Best readers are invited to chat with designer Nathan Turner and view the newest collection.

To schedule a one-on-one design consultation on March 27 or March 28, phone 212.705.2400. Nathan can provide easy design tips on small space living, color therapy, economic décor updates and indoor/outdoor design topics. Let Nathan know you are an All the Best reader and be sure to send me a few photos.

Friday, March 13

Susanna Salk Weekend Retreats

The older I get, the more I live for the weekend. It is a time to stay in bed just a wee bit longer, make a pot of soup, enjoy an extra glass of wine and just hangout with family and friends. Most importantly it’s my time to relax and re-energize for the week ahead.

For the past few days I have been engrossed in my advance copy of Susanna Salk’s new book Weekend Retreats. I have anxiously awaited the arrival of this book for months. In my opinion a good book should, at the very least, provide an entertaining escape. If a book does just that, plus offers beautiful photos and inspiring interiors, it’s a winner as far as I am concerned. Weekend Retreats hits the mark, affording readers with a perfect escape from the ordinary.

I especially love the diversity of this book and the array of designs it presents. Each home is quite different, reflecting the owners' unique tastes and whimsy. Susanna’s own gorgeous home is included in the mix. Weekend Retreats is now available for preorder and is set to be released the first week in April. A huge thank you to Jessica Napp of Rizzoli for providing me a copy of Weekend Retreats.

Photo by Michael Mundy

Q & A with Susanna Salk

This book is very different from a Privileged Life, what did you enjoy most about working on Weekend Retreats?
I loved meeting the owners, even if I didn't get to meet them in real life! Writing the stories of how they fell in love and then nurtured their weekend retreats, was so inspiring. They were all labors of love. And in some many instances they were told not to buy the house but they did it anyway. Their commitment to then creating an intensely personal space and then throwing the doors open to share it with the outside world, is to me one of the great gifts you can give others.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Seeing what other people do at all levels of creativity: from how they decorate their entry ways to how they dress while on vacation. It constantly reminds me to push my boundaries out and take big and little risks.

Photo by Geoff Spear

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife. It's SOOO good. Also a Gloria Vanderbilt memoir. I just interviewed her and now I want to go back and read everything about her life. She is such a courageous, artistic woman.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
My iphone.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
The ability to let go.

Photo by John Gruen

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Designer John Derian who can turn a dead branch into a piece of sculpture just by hanging it from a ceiling. Also editor/writer Wendy Goodman. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
Past: my grandmother Anne Weld. She had so much style without it ever being forced. She was this classic beauty who thought in such a modern way. Present: My two sons: everything I do is influenced by their curiousity, humor and kindness.

Photo by Miki Duisterhof

How would you describe your personal style?
Evolving! I am still learning how to best express myself. It's definitely gotten edgier as I've gotten older. I try always a mix of high and low and maybe a dash of surprise in between.

Where is your favorite place to retreat?
Our little modern lake house on Lake Waramaug or Sconset in Nantucket

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Body surfing with my sons and husband on some fabulous beach in Corsica, France.