Friday, June 26

Shopping on Saturday

I am obsessed with this entire ensemble from Elie Tahari. I am currently loving yellow and have been searching for the perfect yellow handbag and python belt for months. I thought I would share with you what I have discovered and a few of my favorite internet finds for summer. Tell me what you are coveting.

Michael Kors Python Embossed Tabs Stretch Straw Belt

Elie Tahari Emma Tote

Other obsessions include:
A White Plasteramic ToyWatch
Matt Bernson Sandals
The Essie Summer Collection
Sampaquita by Ormonde Jayne
Anything CC Skye

Top photo: Eli Tahari S/S 09 ad campaign (photographer Terry Richardson - yes, Terry Richardson!)

Wednesday, June 24

Vintage Travel Part Two

Look at this amazing photo! This is my neighbor's cousin, Frances, who sadly died of cancer at only 32. She was an 'air hostess' for British Airways - so glamorous! Thank you for all of the great comments today, and thank you Kay for the photo.

Vintage Travel

I am packing up and leave for a six week trip to the States. My last project before leaving was to redecorate our son's room. His new love is fencing, and I found several great vintage fencing posters to complete the project. During my search I came a across a few vintage travel posters and luggage. One company that I am simply mad for is the Vintage Luggage Company, an Australian based business established in 2005 specializing in rare and vintage pieces from the Houses of Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Oshkosh and Hartmann.

Their site is a visual treat! Beautiful luggage artfully designed and expertly crafted by famous trunk makers of a bygone era. There once was a time when getting there was just as important as the wardrobe and luggage selected. I do wish a degree of travel decorum still existed.

I will post as often as possible, and I have a full lineup of profiles for you this summer. I will endeavour to catch up on all my email before leaving and you can follow me on Twitter as well!
All the Best,

Monday, June 22

Can Shana + Global Shortlist Giveaway

Always ones to do it right, Mr & Mrs Smith are now offering some amazing self catering properties as a part of their collection. Over the past few years I have been converted to the world of self-catering, especially for long-term holidays. It’s a great way to live like a local and not a mere visitor.

It’s especially fun to seek out homes with local flavor and ones that are vastly different from your everyday surroundings. Can Shana (Ibiza) is just such a place. I could instantly imagine myself as a guest for a week. Rustic on the outside, thoroughly modern on the inside, the restored villa is light and airy. Situated in the countryside of Santa Gertrudis, the villa boasts not only alfresco dining and a swimming pool, but an outdoor pool table! I can only imagine that my husband and son would go nuts for the pool table, and then I could have the pool all to myself.

Next Monday we will giveaway a copy of Mr & Mrs Smith Global Shortlist.
To enter send an email to [] subject line: 'giveaway' - one reader will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

Sunday, June 21

Happy Father's Day+ Salad on Sunday

Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful father and husband. Two men whom I adore and have profoundly shaped my life. I owe much to my father. He is one of those rare people who is curious of mind, quietly self-confidence, can bring people together from all walks of life and possesses amazing negotiation skills.

For Mother’s Day I posted a salad recipe for my mom and stated that I would have made it for us to share had we been together that day. I thought that I would do the same for my dad. The good news is we leave for a 6-week trip to the States next week. I promise to make dinner for both my mother and father very soon.

Arugula Salad with Manchego, Apples, and Caramelized Walnuts

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

8 cups arugula
2 Fuji apples, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced
6 ounces Spanish Manchego cheese, shaved
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, sliced
1 cup Caramelized Walnuts
4 large shallots, minced

Boil balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 4 minutes.

Whisk oil and Champagne vinegar in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature. Rewarm balsamic syrup before using. Rewhisk vinaigrette before using.)

Toss arugula, apples, half of cheese, dates, walnuts, and shallots in large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Mound salad in center of each plate. Drizzle balsamic syrup around salads. Sprinkle remaining cheese atop salads.
6 to 8 servings

Source Epicurious

Thursday, June 18

Wonderful Mention! Home Plus Scotland Magazine

click images to enlarge

click images to enlarge

Many thanks to Home Plus Scotland for the fantastic coverage. The savvy magazine has begun an exciting new feature called Blog Watch--a two page spread no less! I couldn't be more thrilled. Maison21 was the first to be featured...I wonder who is next?

Wednesday, June 17

Profile: Arriz Hassam and Suzanne Dimma

Back in February, while surfing the web, I came across the home of Arriz Hassam and Suzanne Dimma. Suzanne is the editor-in-chief of Canadian House & Home and Arriz is a partner in the design firm 3rd Uncle. I was instantly captivated after seeing a few photos of their amazing home. Now having had the chance to see more images and connect with Arriz and Suzanne I am delighted by their responses to my questions and stimulating design aesthetics.

When Suzanne mentioned that her style icons include Muriel Brandolini, Agnes B, Allegra Hicks and Ines de la Fressange, I knew I had met a woman after my own heart. And I love the borrowed quote from Arriz, "A friend of mine once said 'fashion costs money but style is free.'"

I hope you enjoy the photos of Arriz and Suzanne's home and their answers as much as I enjoyed finding out more about this super talented couple. Many thanks to everyone who emailed me information about Arriz and Suzanne after my last blog post.


How would you describe your own personal style?
I like combining contemporary and vintage style together to break the mold of purity. I am not a perfectionist and don’t like a style that appears too prescribed, formal or fussy. A friend of mine once said that fashion costs money but style is free, and I agree with that sentiment.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
I believe that traveling is the best source of inspiration and learning. I often draw ideas from other cultures and how they incorporate design in their lifestyle and interpret them for my solutions on projects. I have always drawn inspirations from other applied arts such as music, film and sculpture. The ultimate design resource comes from observing Nature.

What is your most prized possession?
My experience with designing and building our off-the-grid cottage is most precious to me. Generally I value life experiences more than I do possessions.

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

Who are your style icons?
Charles & Ray Eames and film maker Jacques Tati. I have an affinity for vintage style of the 60’s.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I enjoy collaborating with people who are not designers but genuinely believe in its value. I would be very excited to collaborate with artists like Brian Eno or Anish Kapoor - both of them work with ideas of perception, space and form.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, A Year and Swollen Appendices by Brian Eno, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Great meals with close friends. Sharing stories by the beach campfire on a starry night.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Living with peace of mind and without worry. Being playful with everything I do.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
Joseph Beuys. Marcel DuChamp. Muhammed Ali.


How would you describe your own personal style?
Like my design style, my personal style is elegant, relaxed and eclectic

What inspires your creativity and designs
Nature and culture. Travel and experiencing other cultures are a great influence. My time spent in France and Indonesia has definitely influenced my design sensibility.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Laughter first and swimming second.

What is your most prized possession
Free time. Especially the time we spend at our off the grid cottage in Northern Ontario. It’s on a gorgeous quiet lake with the most unbelievable scenery and almost no one around. We’ve been building it this past year and it should be finished this summer.

The experience of living and working without regular luxuries like hydro, running water, and a furnace have been invaluable to me – putting things in perspective and realizing how easy it is to shift to a greener lifestyle.

Who are your style icons?
Muriel Brandolini, Agnes B, Allegra Hicks and Ines de la Fressange.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Muriel Brandolini. I think we could become fast friends and I know I could absorb so much from her.

What books are currently on your bedside table
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, A Short History of Nearly Everything (Arriz and I are reading it together) by Bill Bryson and I just finished A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Sitting on the dock at the cottage, having a glass of wine, eating a great home made meal while watching the sun set on the lake, then later sitting by a campfire and talking and laughing through the night with all of my favourite people.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Feeling connected and committed to something that’s personally meaningful and creative.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
There isn’t one particular person but possibly Terence Conran for the way he holds so true to his brand and for never resting on his laurels. He got my attention when I was really young and still has it.

Profile by Ronda Carman
Photos: Rob Fiocca
Photos: Michael Alberstat

Monday, June 15

The Home Office

The Desk of Amy Fine Collins

The Desk of Charlotte Moss

When your home is the office, how do you balance your work life and your personal life? How do you keep everyone happy and most of all, yourself? I must admit that I find working from home very challenging. That said, I would not trade this opportunity for the world. Each day I feel very blessed to sit in front of my computer and write. Starting this blog was truly a godsend and has opened so many new doors.

I have spent the last few days dreaming, mapping out my goals and looking at various ways of becoming more organized (a challenge), whilst taking on new projects. For the time being, I am going to try blogging on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. I have found a few good books that I am looking forward to reading this summer: When Organizing Isn't Enough; The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life; Order from Chaos; Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, and I stumbled upon a fabulous website See Jane Work (a great excuse for shopping). As always, I would love to hear your best tip or suggestion.

Wednesday, June 10


I will be away for a few days. Check back on Sunday for a new recipe.
All the best,

Tuesday, June 9

Profile: Christopher Prain

It’s always exciting to learn of new designers (at least new to me), especially one with innate talent. Such is the case with London based interior designer Christopher Prain. I have come to know Christopher through email and I am most impressed with his talents and good nature.

Shortly after Christopher and I started corresponding I sent him an email by mistake. Thinking that I was sending it to my husband (also a Christopher) I wrote, “Hi honey I tried you at the office but no answer. Can you please look at these photos and tell me your thoughts. I LOVE YOU!” To which Christopher Prain replied, “Dear Ronda I love the photos but I may be the wrong Chris(topher). Are Texans meant to be this passionate?” I liked him right away. And, after viewing his portfolio, I was equally impressed with his design aesthetic.

Christopher established his firm, Christopher—Chanond, in 2000 with former business partner Chanond Purananda (who now practices in Thailand). Chanond, a fully trained interior designer, and Christopher, a product designer, quickly caught the eye of The Times writer Lucia van der Post. She commissioned the two men to redesign and refurbish her drawing room. Clearly pleased with the outcome, she referenced their work in her book Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me – A Guide to Living With Impeccable Grace & Style.

For some people design comes naturally, as it obviously does for Christopher. “Having no formal skills means that from a technical point of view I have no constraints. I design with a freedom rarely afforded to most people. I am also a big believer in surrounding yourself with the best support team and qualified consultants.”

After several years of making an impact on this side of the pond, Christopher is taking on the American market with a project in New York. “It’s very exciting and will bring with it a whole new fresh set of challenges.” I am certain he will rise to the occasion.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Stolen lunches. Great friends. An honest life. Health. A good business. The perfect tailor. A beautiful house and a family to fill it with love and laughter.

What inspires your creativity and designs
A whole list of things: proportion, colour, balance, rhythm, layers, imagination, tradition, technology & craftsmanship.

Which talent would you most like to possess

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
On one level it would be building up a really good and successful interior design practice. However, creating a beautiful house for a happy client is always such a satisfying feeling.

What is your most prized possession?
Our two Cocker Spaniels Lulu & Cooka. They are endearing, loyal, boundless and charming dogs who love jumping fences and messing up the house!

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Work or rather creativity, as it allows me to express myself and it brings me into contact with a fascinating array of people.

Who are your style icons?
Harry Creighton for teaching me to dress. He was always impeccably dressed and had a great eye. Also, Yves St Laurent for his marvellous collection of art, furniture, sculptures & style.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
A top-drawer builder with the best suppliers and craftsmen/women and, of course, the perfect client! One with oodles & oodles of taste, time and personality.

What book is currently on your bedside table?
12 Books That Changed the World by Melvyn Bragg.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day
I would love to meet all the members of my family alive and dead, introduce them to my world and try and understand my past.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Monday, June 8

Do You Know This Man...

Do you know this London designer? If not, be certain to read All the Best tomorrow!

Friday, June 5

Profile: India Hicks

To simply say that India Hicks possesses a remarkable number of talents and titles would be to state the obvious—television host, mother, model, hotel owner, entrepreneur and author are only but a few. In the past year she has hosted the second season of Bravo's Top Design and launched her second fragrance for Crabtree & Evelyn. But perhaps what impresses me the most is her ability to make it all look effortless.

I am most grateful to Nathan Turner for introducing me to his friend India. I have long been fascinated by India’s innate style and zeal for life. It’s difficult not to be mad about anyone who includes scuba diving, bungee jumping, parachuting, snow skiing, water skiing, running and wake boarding amongst her hobbies.

Born in London, to famed interior decorator David Hicks and Lady Pamela Hicks, India was named in honour of her grandfather, Lord Mountbatten. Lord Mountbatten was the last Viceroy to India, serving until the country received independence in 1947. Though raised by impressive parents, India has created an amazing portfolio all of her own.

Following school, India backpacked around the world for a year before moving to Boston to take a degree in photography and graduating with honors. She soon caught the eye of Ralph Lauren following a feature in W Magazine, thus giving life to a new career on the other side of the camera.

For the style arbiter and island dweller, the Bahamas has long played a significant role. As a child her father designed a home on the island for family holidays. Now the Bahamas is home for India and her partner David Flint Wood, along with their four children Felix, Amory, Conrad, and Domino.

The family live in a plantation-style oceanfront house called Hibiscus Hill complete with two guesthouses. Inspired by her life and love for the Caribbean, India has created a line of fragrances for Crabtree & Evelyn. Of her most recent fragrance, Island Night, she says, “It captures the essence of twilight in the islands, a mood of barefoot elegance on an evening lit only by the stars and moon.” It sounds just about perfect to these ears.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Whether you are creating a home, beauty collection or decorating a house you have to find a story. My story comes from my environment and nature. They are always conjuring up moods. And hopefully, incorporating pragmatic design with smart useful solutions to every day concerns, like sandy dogs and hooligan children.

Which talent would you most like to possess?
Susan Boyle’s!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
No longer being the daughter of, the grand daughter of, or the god daughter to...finally being recognized for me: a mother, a model, and designer living a life less ordinary

What is your most prized possession?
My home, Hibiscus Hill, a house filed with love and memories

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Lee Miller: muse, model, photographer, and journalist—enigmatic pioneer, talented, fashionable and strong.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
There are four, my children.

Who are your style icons?
My grandmother, Edwina Mountbatten, another fiercely individual women with a huge sense of style, and a charitable heart, and Keith Richards who really doesn’t give a shit!

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Christian Louboutin. He would push me to my limit and it would be enormous fun, if he ever bothered to turn up on time.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Zoe Heller’s first novel Everything You Know. I keep meaning to get started. I worship Zoe and she is a dear friend.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
When the clocks change and you find you have another hour in bed.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
David, my partner and father of the hooligans, who always allows my motor to be revving. He has opened up my world.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
Gandhi, but not of course when he was standing on his head during a day of silence.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Wednesday, June 3

I Heart All of You!

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes and kind emails. A summertime cold + an upper respiratory infection = no fun. The antibiotics are starting to kick in, my husband is now home and I have a large vase of pink peonies. Things are starting to look up it would seem. One more day of rest and I will post a profile on Friday.
All the best,

Monday, June 1


I am still suffering this dreadful cold and upper respiratory infection. I am going to try and rest for a day or so, but I promise that I will post a few amazing profiles this week, including one that I am really excited to share with all of you. I'll give you a hint...her initials are IH.