Wednesday, April 29

New York

Off to the Big Apple for three very packed, fun filled days. I cannot wait to fill you in on all of the details and post photos. It is all very exciting! The planning of this trip started months ago when Eddie Ross and I discovered that we share the same birthday. The wheels of planning went into motion when our mutual friends Michael Devine and Thomas Burak decided to host a joint birthday dinner party in their home.

During the course of organizing this excursion, I began talking with Vicente Wolf about an exclusive partnership. The timing of my trip proved to be quite fortuitous. We are withholding the fine points of the partnership until Friday May 1, 2009 when there will be breakfast at VW Home to announce the details. I wish we could have opened it to the public and invited everyone, but the space it limited! I promise to tell you everything on Saturday and post a ton of photos!

Judging from the early response to our ‘hold the date’ invitations, it should be a great turnout. A few acceptances include: Philip Gorrivan, Robert Passal, Rita Konig, Thomas Burak, Michael Devine, Scott McBee, Tobi Fairley, Nick Olsen, Amanda Nisbet, Mary Alice Sherrill, Sara Story, Patricia van Essche, Newell Turner, Tori Mellott, Ashley Whittaker, Thomas Paul, Christopher Spitzmiller and James Andrew.

Also on the agenda, a meeting with Thad Hayes, drinks and dinner with Tobi Fairley, lunch with Peter Pennoyer, Melissa Morris and Luke Ponitfell, a cocktail party hosted by Amanda Nisbet and dinner with James Andrew and Scott McBee. I will be doing a review of Union Prime, a new steak and sushi house from Andrew Silverman, designed by Carleton Varney who was inspired by decorating’s grande dame, Dorothy Draper. Can't wait to take photos of the interior!!

Fun, fun, fun, fun, to catch a plane...

Tuesday, April 28

Profile: Patricia Gray

I adore the words of Jan de Luz, "Style…isn’t something that you apply like hand cream. It comes from within, as an emanation from your own being.”

Vancouver based interior designer Patricia Gray is the perfect case in point. For those of us who follow her blog, we are well versed in Patricia’s inimitable style. Her designs are both studied and precise, while being completely livable and inviting. It is one of the main reasons Patricia never fails to excite and inspire.

As I have alluded to numerous times, my design tastes run the spectrum. Patricia’s timeless and classic designs, with an undeniable modern edge, are the perfect prescription for my neuroses.

Patricia received her training at the Parson's School of Design in Paris. She is a member of the Inter-Society Color Council of New York, the National Council for Interior Design, the Interior Designers of Canada and a certified Feng-Shui practitioner. Patricia's portfolio includes feature projects throughout the US and Canada, as well as in Japan, Singapore and Africa. A few notable design clients include John Travolta and Rob Feenie.

Photo by Roger Brooks

How would you describe your design style?
I like furniture to have good lines, rooms to have good ‘bones', Juxtaposition of good antiques and artwork with modern design.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Travel, being around young people, the ocean and the desert.

What is your most prized possession?

I don’t know if you could call her a ‘possession” but my 4 ½ pound Yorkshire Terrier, Nicole.

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

My cup of coffee in the morning.

Who are your style icons?

Interior Designers: Michael Taylor, Andree Putman, Antonio Citterio

Fashion: Coco Chanel, Dianna Vreeland

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
The great Albert Hadley.

What is your favorite luxury in life?

Travel. The best holiday I ever gave myself was a cruise from Rio to Barcelona. 10 days at sea crossing the Atlantic. It was the most relaxing time I have ever had. Nowhere to go, nothing to do….eat, sleep, eat some more. 

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Clients that allow me be creative.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
My Mother for nurturing my creativity in childhood.
My Father for teaching me good values: integrity, self reliance, and perseverance.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
The dowager Queen Noor of Jordan. I have admired her for years from a TV interview with Larry King. Her style and humanitarianism left an indelible impression on me. However she would like to spend it!!

Profile by Ronda Carman

Monday, April 27

Profile: Jamie Drake

Confidence and color are two of the first words that come to mind when I think of designer Jamie Drake. Of course to limit such a talent to just two adjectives would be criminal.

Jamie Drake, the man behind some of the country’s most vibrant and distinctive interiors, knows how to create delightful environments that range from traditional to contemporary, and always remain comfortable and inviting. Drake’s device of choice is color—always used fearlessly, confidently and with great flair, “There is little that doesn’t inspire me,” Drake, boldly proclaims.

Like many great designers, Jamie seems to have been to the manner born. While still in high school, he worked for the state’s leading contract design firm and during his undergraduate years at Parson’s, he held a student internship in the office of the late Angelo Donghia. Completing his degree in a mere three years, Jamie launched his firm, Drake Design Associates, immediately after graduation in 1978.

Since then, he has amassed an impressive roster of clients. Notable residential interiors include a Los Angeles showplace for Madonna, a Martha’s Vineyard vacation retreat, and a stunning Manhattan apartment for Phyllis and Victor Grann. Drake has also completed multiple projects for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—a client for almost twenty years—including the recent renovation and restoration of Gracie Mansion, the longtime ceremonial residence of the Mayor of New York and the redesign of various rooms at City Hall.

Jamie’s book New American Glamour, derived in part from the motto of MGM's Louis B. Mayer: "Make it big! Do it right! Give it class,” remains a darling of the bookshelf and offers great insight to the genius behind the designs.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Bold, bright, polished and optimistic.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Inspiration is everywhere. Films travel, fashion, magazines a;ll provide me with the spark to be creative.

What is your most prized possession?
My sense of humor. Without that I’d be lost…and depressed!

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Good friends with sane minds. I need to poll the world at times when formulating a decision, or facing a dilemma.

Who are your style icons?
Valentino, Zaha Hadid, Jacques Grange, Piranesi, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Mogiardino, John Galliano; I could go on and on.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Team Obama.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Food. Even though I am super lean, I love to eat, the richer the food the better. And I eat a lot.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Traveling to an inspiring locale with good friends.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
My long time client Mike Bloomberg is smart, kind and enthusiastic. His influence in leading a life that benefits others is the mold I aspire to everyday.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
Nostradamus, as 2012 approaches I’d like to know did he really write any of what is attributed to him. We would spend the day talking over a table groaning with good food and drink.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, April 26

Salad on Sunday: Salade Niçoise

I’ve never met a Niçoise salad that I didn’t like, and it seems that I am in good company. Julia Child once wrote, “Niçoise is my all-time favorite, with its fresh butter-lettuce foundation; its carefully cooked, beautiful green green beans; its colorful contrast of halved hard-boiled eggs, ripe red tomatoes, and black olives; all fortified by chunks of tunafish and freshly opened anchovies."

I’ve reprinted Julia’s basic version, but in theory you can use anything that you happen to like or have on hand. There is also a very good Salmon Nicoise Salad from Martha Stewart and former supermodel Paulina Porizkova on the Martha Stewart website.

1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried 

1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed 

1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots 

1/3 cup basic vinaigrette 
(my recipe below)
Salt and freshly ground pepper 

10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 or 4 new potatoes potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked 

Two 3-ounce cans high quality chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed 

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved 

1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets 

1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives 

2 to 3 tablespoons capers 

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl. Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, tomatoes, spoonfuls of vinaigrette and salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans and tuna. Add halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each egg. Spoon more vinaigrette over salad. Scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.

1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon hot water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together mustard, shallot, sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar and 1 teaspoon hot water in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Serves 6

Friday, April 24

All the Best LIST

The LIST of creative tastemakers just keeps growing. Thank you to everyone for your contiuned support, friendship and involvement with this expanding resource. Please welcome the newest additions to the accomplished LIST of talents:

Patricia van Essche

Suzanne Aaronson
Lifestyle Curator
World Traveler

Katie Ridder
Interior Designer
Style Arbiter

Amanda Nisbet
Interior Designer
Arbiter Elegantiarum

K. Cooper Ray
Event Planner
Lifestyle Connoisseur

Rural Intelligence

I am so proud of my friend Michael Devine. He is everywhere these days. Most recently he is featured in Rural Intelligence. Rural Intelligence is the brainchild of journalists Marilyn Bethany, who lives full-time in Columbia County, NY, and Dan Shaw, who lives full-time in Litchfield County, CT. Both have worked as editors and reporters at The New York Times and New York Magazine.

Rural Intelligence treats this uniquely sophisticated rural region of the country as one big neighborhood and provides a place for full-time residents and weekenders to come together to share their passion for culture and country life.

A big thank you for mentioning All the Best. I loved being described as an "influential website out of Scotland" and The LIST being called the equivalent of "Hall-of-Fame" status. Very cool! Thank you.

Thursday, April 23

The LIST Updates

Last month Nathan Turner launched his furniture collection with Elite Leather. Elle Decor and Elite Leather hosted a cocktail party at Bloomingdale’s to kick off the collaboration and Nathan's New York debut.

Nathan Turner and Margaret Russell

Nathan's collection

Lisa Fine, Nathan Turner and Milly de Cabrol

Marie and Emily Turner

InStyle's Suzanne Karotkin, Nathan Turner and Elite Leather's Gabrielle Galardo

Elle Decor's Karen Marx, Jeff Lincoln and Margaret Russell

In less than a year, interior designer and style maven James Andrew continues to reach new heights with this blog WhatisJamesWearing. His blog is now read in more than 85 countries, with many exciting things in the works. Nice work James!

Not only was Little Rock designer Tobi Fairley recently selected by Traditional Home Magazine as one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America for 2009, she has also been awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” from the Prestigious Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas where she received her MBA.

World renowned caterer Peter Callahan introduces his newest venture, PCK catering, specializing in glatt kosher catering. PCK catering has OK kosher certification and, as expected, their work is performed under strict orthodox rabbinical supervision abiding by all kashrut requirements of the OK kosher certification and Jewish law.

Congratulations to Victoria Amory. Victoria’s book Delicious Flavors has received the SILVER medal at the first annual Living Now Book Awards given by the Independent Publisher in the General Cooking category. The Living Now Book Awards are intended to promote newly-published lifestyle books and their creators.

Delicious Flavors has also been nominated for Veranda Magazine's Art of Design Award, in the Environments category.

Wednesday, April 22

Style File: Jane Green Warburg

I have long been a fan of New York Times bestselling author Jane Green (now Jane Green Warburg). Born and raised in London, it was Jane’s Englishness, wit and style that first drew me to her books. Jane found fame with her first novel, Straight Talking, thirteen years ago. Since then she has written ten novels as Jane Green.

Jane is one of those special writers who you feel you come to know personally through her writing. And, as luck would have it, I have come to know Jane through emails and phone calls. It goes without saying I admire her as a writer, but I also adore her sense of self and style. Jane’s passions include food, gardening, decorating, throwing parties and writing. A kindred spirit indeed.

Early this year Jane married her soul mate Ian Warburg. The two live in Connecticut with their blended families of six children. When not attempting to juggle the lives of small people, a household and a career, Jane says she can usually be found either cooking or covered in dirt planting vegetable seeds.

Jane’s much-anticipated book Dune Road will be released this summer (June 2009), just in time for a poolside/beach read. It is the story of life in an exclusive beach town after the tourists have left for the summer and the eccentric community sticks around. I will keep you posted on the release.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Simple and classic.

What items are a must for air travel?
Ear plugs, Dramamine, thick socks and three good novels.

What accessories can you not live without
An old orange lizard planner – I still have to write everything down or it’s gone, a bunch of Helen Ficalora alphabet charms with the initials of our children on a leather cord, and my wedding bands: a beautiful Jude Frances and a tiny Cathy Waterman heart wedding band.

Which pair of shoes do you wear most often?
Running around during the day, ballet flats from J Crew or London Sole or the dreaded fuzzy Merrell clogs (it comes with living in the suburbs I’m afraid – sometimes you just have to choose function over form), and at night, Henry Begeuelin boots with jeans.

How would you describe your morning routine
Frenetic. I try and grab time on my computer in bed before the children discover I am awake, and then it is downstairs to feed four Smalls, make snacks, find coats, before a Smoothie and very large mug of coffee while I retreat to my office. Once washed and dressed, I take my MacBook down to the library to work. Am always done by lunchtime, and back to being Mummy for the rest of the day.

What is your favorite indulgence?
Fresh flowers. I am obsessed with flowers and arranging. For my wedding I wrapped simple low glass straight-sided bowls with vines of twigs, and filled them with hyacinths. We are about to build a house, and I am desperate to cut straight from the garden again.

What is your most prized possession?
A pair of very old and beautiful Topaz earrings, and matching necklace, which belonged to my husbands Great-Grandmother, and have been passed down through the generations.

Who are your style icons?
I am fascinated by the look of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy – so simple and elegant. And Nan Kempner was amazingly stylish: I love that on Sundays she had wonderfully informal dinner parties: buffets and balancing plates on knees. ‘The secret to a great party, she once said, is not lavish menus, place settings and flowers, but "imagination and great friends." She was comfortable enough in her skin not to have to try too hard, and that, for me, is true style.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
My sparkly assistant, Elise. Without her there I would still do events, give readings, sign books, run my life, except I'd do it all on the wrong day, at the wrong time, and send everything to the wrong address...

What is your all time favorite handbag
I couldn’t possibly choose just one – too much of a handbag addict for that. I have a series of clutches for evening that I love. My first was a Nancy Gonzales bright pink crocodile, and have picked up various others, in different leathers, along the way.

What handbag do you carry most frequently
A brown Hermes Paris Bombay tote.

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photo Credit Chris Floyd

Monday, April 20

The LIST: Charlotte Moss + Michael Devine

Charlotte Moss' room at the Kips Bay Designer Show House swathed in Micheal Devine's Beekman fabric is just too pretty not to share. Charlotte and Michal are both design geniuses. I love the pleats of the fabric. Of course attention to detail is one of Charlotte's trademarks. Beautiful!

Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist Giveaway

It just so happens that this month the Global Shortlist giveaway coincides with my birthday. And, as much as I love getting gifts (some very sweet and lovely ones from my boys today), I especially love giving gifts to friends and family. So, I was thrilled when Stefan Hurray was chosen as the winner of the Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist book giveaway! Congratulations Stefan! I just know you are going to love this beautiful book.

Photo by Amanda Pratt

Sunday, April 19

Salad on Sunday: Couscous Salads

As much as I adore soups I can’t help but to be drawn to salads this time of year. One of my staple recipes include couscous salad. Not only is it super easy to make, but you can create almost any combination using ingredients on hand.

The basic recipe includes:

2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 10-ounce box couscous

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (generous) grated lemon peel

Bring 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan. Add couscous; stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Transfer to large bowl to cool. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and lemon peel in small bowl. Drizzle over couscous.

Then add anything your heart desires. Possible combinations include:

almonds, toasted
green onions
Parmesan, shaved


sun-dried tomatoes
kalamata olives
pine nuts, toasted
feta, roughly crumbled

Toss in selected items and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.

Friday, April 17

Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist Giveaway

Château de Massillan

There will be a giveaway of the Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist book on Monday, April 20 (my birthday). To enter send an email to [] subject line: 'giveaway' and one lucky reader will be chosen randomly and announced Monday morning.

All the best,

VIVRE + My Favorite Things

I recently had the fun task of coming up with my favorite VIVRE items for their List With a Twist. My favorites are now posted to the VIVRE website. What are some of your warm weather favorite items for entertaining and a change of wardrobe?

Ruthie Sommers Book Update

The Pool House

I know that we have all been anxiously awaiting the release of Ruthie Sommers' book. Yesterday Ruthie emailed me a few pictures from the party and an update (in her own words) about the status of her pending book:

Judith Regan first approached me about working on a book. My initial title was called Reinvention—A Decorators Notebook. However, the original idea was put aside and I was asked to make it more accessible, include all that is hip in LA, and to focus on branding. After Judith Regan, we decided to get back to the basics, which was thrilling for me personally.

The latest version now feels more genuine and more me. I do not want an empire and do not want to stop decorating for the sake of feeding the engine of a decorating empire. At times it seems that everyone and anyone needs to put out a book asap. Making an interesting and lasting book takes time.

The more experience I get, the more I decorate, the more mistakes I make, the better I get. I want to produce an interesting book with lots of experience behind it. I now have two years of shooting in Paris, Virginia, LA, NY and the film is divine. Now, it is time to get back to basics and get back to my original idea about being a decorator and all the funny, laughable, challenging and rewarding things it has to offer.

The book will also include my drawings and other designers that inspire me. I am waiting to hear the publish date, but it will be at least a year.

Thursday, April 16

The LIST: Cortney and Bob Novogratz

Seven kids and two cool parents will be the focus of a new TV show. BRAVO announces the new series Design SIXX. Self-taught designers and developers Cortney and Bob Novogratz have created a lucrative business transforming dilapidated buildings into upscale residences. Having refurbished or built from scratch more than 10 homes, the Novogratzes have a history of turning nothing into something, and creating real estate value where little existed before. Not to mention, they wear all the hats from general contractors to interior designers.

Their new book Downtown Chic includes the completion of their latest project—a 6 six-story glass residence facing the Hudson River. Downtown Chic, published by Rizzoli, is set to be released May 2009. You can read my full profile with Bob and Cortney published this past January.

Wednesday, April 15

Cocktails with Ruthie Sommers

I could have left Los Angeles on Tuesday, perfectly thrilled with my first and very brief visit to LA, but my trip was made complete last night thanks to Ruthie Sommers. Ruthie hosted a cocktail party at her home for me to meet the great and the good in LA. It was such a fun night, complete with stellar company. I was so engrossed in conversations that I didn't take nearly enough photos and therefore missed out on capturing everyone who attended.

A few new friends include, K. Cooper Ray, Sally Horchow, Mary Luby, Johnson Hartig, Josh Brown, Coleen Rider, Brian Ferrick, Ames Ingham, Shawn Silver, Andrea Stanford, Joe Lucas and Lulu Powers. Thank you Ruthie for a wonderfully fun evening.

Fellow Texan Sally Horchow; the wonderful hostess Ruthie Sommers; celebrity stylist Estee Stanley and lovely Lulu Powers

It was a thrill to meet Johnson Hartig. His home remains one of my all time favorites. Ever the designer, Johnson did a little rearranging of Ruthie's outdoor living area last evening, to favorable reviews.

Ruthie's amazing living room. As you might imagine, her home is so cozy and comfortable, yet at the same time it's a visual feast for the eyes.

Joe Lucas, Lucas Studio, Inc.; Andrea Stanford, Design and Style Editor C Magazine; Brian Ferrick, Ferrick Mason Textiles

Childhood friends Sally Horchow and Lulu Powers

Coleen Rider, Coleen & Company; Joe Lucas, Lucas Studio, Inc.; Ronda Carman; Andrea Stanford, Design and Style Editor C Magazine; Artist and Illustrator Victoria Molinelli; Brian Ferrick, Ferrick Mason Textiles

Shawn Silver co founder of Dutch Touch Art Company and Interior Designer Ames Ingham

The beautiful bar and flowers

Ames Ingham and Ronda Carman

Ronda Carman, K. Cooper Ray, Ruthie Sommers and Coleen Rider

Books, books and more books