Monday, August 31

Profile: David Phoenix

Diverse was the one word that kept coming to mind as I looked through the brilliant portfolio of David Phoenix. An effortless melding of New England Aristocracy and West Coast Style is where David excels.

Of course, his east coast/west coast trademark style is no coincidence. As a young boy growing up in New England David dreamed of becoming a world renowned Chef. At the age of 18, he realized that dream and landed an apprenticeship at La Cote Basque in New York. After much deliberation he soon discovered that while he wanted to create “beautiful things” the culinary arts were not his true calling.

With only a suitcase, $2,000 in his pocket and uncertain of his next direction, he arrived at LAX to start a new life. In need of a job David answered an ad for a baker at “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland. After a brief stint doing the graveyard shift David figured he didn’t trek all the way to California to be a baker at a “Mickey Mouse” operation.

David, following his instincts, went to work as a sample librarian at Brunschwig in the Pacific Design Center. His eagerness to delve into the design world was ignited. Following his time at Brunschwig he went to work at Pierre Deux and finally the Ralph Lauren Flagship store in Beverly Hills.

While at the PDC one day, happenstance intervened and David encountered none other than Maria Shriver. After he convinced her to let him help with selecting fabrics for her office, Shriver was hooked on David’s aesthetic. David became the choice designer for the Shriver’s, as well as the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

With a lifelong passion for America’s cultural and architectural heritage, David has received a well-deserved honorable appointment to the (SHRC) State Historical Resources Commission of California.

Which talent would you most like to possess?
To be a painter is a talent that has always impressed me. California Plein Air paintings are my favorite, but pop art and abstract impressionism is also captivating.

What do you consider your greatest achievement
Beating stage 4 Cancer last year. It was a life changing experience that has blessed me with a new appreciation for life.

What is your most prized possession?
A lamp that belonged to my great grandmother, which was passed down to her. It was in the front window of her home in New England. Every time I would visit her she would wave goodbye to me and I remember her warm smile and the lamp in the window. I always told her that I admired the lamp, and then one day I received a box from her. In it was the lamp.

It’s Italian Majolica, very colorful, and it sits in my front window today. It makes me smile every time I drive up to my house.

Who are your style icons?
Valentino. He is the most talented and legendary fashion designer in recent time. I love his clothes, the way he lives, his passion for details, and as his sense of humor. I also love the way he entertains. In interior design, Alberto Pinto is a master of sophistication, and Jacques Garcia, Rose Tarlow, and Sister Parish are also designers I love.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I would love to collaborate with the Bel Air Hotel. It’s walking distance from my place, and I spend quite a bit of time there. I’d love the opportunity to take this classic piece of California design, and create new spaces that are sophisticated, yet clean and comfortable… Think, Californian Elegance.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Currently on my bedside table, “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Creative Thought,” by Thomas B. Ward, and “The finest Rooms by America's Great Decorators" by Russell Lynes. The last one is an out of print book that I refer to occasionally. It features some of the great decorators that paved the way for the design community.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Sleeping in on Sundays, and spending the little free time I have with the ones I love. Being able to walk down to the Bel Air Hotel for breakfast is a daily luxury that I enjoy as well.

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day
My soulmate. And we’d spend a leisurely day in the kitchen cooking and enjoying each other’s company.

How would you describe your personal style?
Someone once told me that I’m grand but cozy, and that really stuck with me. I think my personal design style is all about quality and comfort within sophisticated spaces. No one wants to enter a space and feel like they are strangers in their own home. You want to create a space that is chic, yet at the same time so comfortable that you wouldn’t want to leave.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
I’m inspired by the rich, diverse landscapes of New England and California. As a native Bostonian living in L.A., my projects meld a dual design perspective that I often call “California Elegance.” As well, the co-creative process with my clients is always very inspiring for my work. I love to hear about a clients needs and ideas, soak up their lifestyle, and let that provoke me to create a beautiful environment to live in.

Which iconic interior decorator or architect do you most identify with
David Adler is an architect I truly admire. I love the homes he built in Chicago. One in particular is The Amour Residence (1931.) I love the formality and symmetry of the house, and find it do be so innovative for the time period. Another favorite Adler house is in Lake Forest, Chicago, called the Lasker Estate (1925.) The floor plan is amazing. His use of detail adds to the richness of the estate.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, August 30

Gone to the Dogs

Gone to the dogs about sums up the start of my day. I took our wee Izzie out for a walk this morning and managed to lock myself out for 2 hours. Thank goodness for good neighbors who offered us shelter and a cup of coffee until my husband could let me back into our flat. Looking at these photos brought a smile back to my face. Of course dinner with friends at Mother India made me happy too!

Image 1: Ditte Isager Image 2: Melanie Acevedo Image 3: Lucas Allen Image 4: Laura ResenImage 5: Lisa Cohen Image 6: Miguel Flores-Vianna Image 7: Paul Costello Image 8: Paul Costello

Salad on Sunday: Roasted Potatos with Arugula

Many thanks to the wonderful Carrie Carr of Fynde for this super yum recipe. If you are not familiar with Fynde, then you must visit their amazing site. A showcase dedicated to art, photography, antiques and contemporary designs, Fynde gives independent artists, dealers and designers fanatic web presence. Enjoy!

3 pounds red potatoes, quartered
8 unpeeled cloves of garlic
coarse salt
1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bag arugula (about 3 cups)
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Freshly ground pepper

Add potatoes to roasting pan with garlic and olive oil, toss together add salt to taste. Bake potatoes at 300 for 1 1/2 hours until they are fork tender, lower heat to 250 if cooking too fast.

To make vinaigrette, whisk first two ingredients together, slowly add olive oil while whisking until the vinaigrette thickens.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, put into a bowl and add the vinaigrette and toss, add the arugula and toss again. Sprinkle with goat cheese, season with pepper, drizzle olive oil if you wish, serve at warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 25

Caribbean Houses

Over the weekend I poured over the stunningly beautiful book Caribbean Houses published by Rizzoli. Author Michael Connors, a West Indian decorative arts scholar, provides a fascinating account of historically significant houses in the West Indies.

The book is divided into five chapters, one for each European heritage: the Spanish Antilles, the Dutch Leewards, the English Islands, the French Lesser Antilles, and the Danish Virgin Islands. And, with the disappearance of much Caribbean historic domestic architecture, it is wonderful to see the rich history documented in such a gorgeous book.

The colonial residences presented in Caribbean Houses represent an important historical record of the Caribbean’s material culture. I especially enjoyed learning more about blending of European styles with the vernacular island forms and decorative motifs.

A rare look into the interiors of these historic houses, complete with exotic tropical hardwoods, indigenous stone, local crafts and contemporary furnishings, Caribbean Houses is one for the bookshelf.

A detail of the Whim Plantation, showing the well-laid stonework and neoclassical column and inlaid pediment "eyebrow' above the window. Whim Plantation was founded on St. Croix in the 1740's, only a few years after the Danish purchased the island from the French and colonization commenced.

The seventeenth-century cookhouse and kitchen wing of St. Nicholas Abbey. The massive chimney, with its Dutch-influence design, is the largest on Barbados. St. Nicholas Abbey resembles mansions built in England during the same period. St. Nicholas Abbey is one of the only three surviving Jacobean-style houses that exist in the Americas.

Rose Hall, an eighteenth-century Jamaican house, is one of the grandest English island great houses. The carved mahogany woodwork displays th highest quality of craftsmanship. Rose Hall is now maintained by the Georgian Society of Jamaica.

Cinnamon Hill, another great house located behind and to the south of Rose Hill,was purchased and owned for years by Johnny Cash. It is currently being restored to its original condition and will be featured in the Georgian Society's Heritage Tour.

The grounds of Whim Plantation and the three steps of processing sugar during the colonial era: a livestock mill, a windmill and a steam engine smokestack.

The Alcázar de Colón, sometimes called the Columbus Palace, was built to house Diego Columbus, son the explorer, and his aristocratic wife, Maria de Toledo. A portriat of Christopher Columbus and his son Diego Colón hangs in the Alcázar library.

The Penha townhouse in Willemstad, buit in 1708, is the finest example of Curaçao's baroque style. The four story masterpiece of Dutch-colonial West Indian design has cartouchelike scroll gables and plaster leaf and flower ornamental motifs.

Photo credit © Caribbean Houses by Michael Connors, Rizzoli, 2009.

Sunday, August 23

Soup on Sunday: Simple Vegetable Soup

Using a few odds and ends from the garden, I came up with a really simple and delicious soup this afternoon. The ultimate comfort food when you're chilled and hungry.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
5 cups vegetable stock
10 cherry tomatoes, whole
a handful of young spinach
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stockpot. Add zucchini, carrots, garlic, basil and oregano to the stockpot. Sauté until vegetables are tender. Add vegetable stock, cherry tomatoes, spinach, parsley, cilantro. Bring mixture to a low boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with additional parsley.

Serves 2 - 4

(If you can get Chipotle Knorr Mini Cubes, a tiny pinch adds a nice zip)

Friday, August 21

Contest Starts Today

To enter the Best Bedroom Contest, submit clear, unpublished photographs of one bedroom designed by you. Photos can not have appeared in any printed periodical and/or their related website(s). If you write a blog, and your work has appeared on your blog, you are eligible.

You can submit up to a maximum of five photos of one bedroom designed by you to ( It can be your own personal bedroom or a bedroom designed by you for a client, just as long as it is your OWN work.

Only one room per contestant. You must own the rights to any photos submitted.

Photograph every angle of the room, including close-ups of the bed and special details. Attached images should be no larger than 1MB combined and in jpg format. Provide your full name and address in the body of the email. Good luck!

Due to concerns sometimes associated with large email files, I will acknowledge receipt of all submissions. If you do not receive an acknowledgment, please email me at (

Full details here.

Thursday, August 20

All The Best Bedroom Contest

Finally I can announce the big news that I have been waiting to share with all of you! The entire reason that I began blogging in the first place is simple—I LOVE beautiful homes and great design. It was a wonderful, almost magical experience, when I stumbled upon Style Court almost 3 years ago. I soon found The Peak of Chic and Absolutely Beautiful Things. It was thrilling to connect with Courtney, Jennifer and Anna, and it wasn’t long before I joined the wonderful world of blogging. Much has changed since the early days, but there remains one constant—I still love beautiful designs and personal connections.

Each day I come in contact with so many super talented people that it’s almost insane (in the best possible way). So, in the spirit of celebrating those blessed with good design genes, All the Best Blog and SFERRA are hosting a Best Bedroom Decorating Contest. Both interior designers and design enthusiasts alike are eligible.

To enter, submit clear, unpublished (in any printed periodical and/or their related website) photographs. You can submit up to a maximum of five photos of one bedroom designed by you to ( It can be your own personal bedroom or a bedroom designed by you for a client, just as long as it is your OWN work. Only one room per contestant. You must own the rights to any photos submitted.

Photograph every angle of the room, including close-ups of the bed and special details. Images should be no larger than 1MB and in jpg format. Provide your full name and address in the body of the email.

Judges include: Ronda Carman, Michael Devine, Amanda Nesbit, Todd Romano, Nathan Turner, Kelly Wearstler and Vicente Wolf. Contest entry period begins on August 21, 2009, and ends at 11:59 p.m., E.T. on September 25, 2009. Winners will be announced on October 5, 2009.

The grand prize winner will receive a complete set of Celeste Sheets by SFERRA, spun from the finest Egyptian cotton ($550 value). The second place winner will receive a pure cashmere Dorsey Throw by SFERRA ($400 value). The third place winner will receive a Marquetry Throw by Kelly Wearstler for SFERRA ($255 value).

First, Second and Third place winners, as well as three honorable mentions, will be published on ALL THE BEST BLOG. Log on to every week to see a selection of entries and check out the competition.

You can read all the rules at here!

Top Image: Michelle Adams for Rubie Green/Photo Credit Patrick Cline
Second Image: Elizabeth Mayhew/ Photo Credit Annie Schlechter
Third Image: Eric Prokesh /Photo Credit Pieter Estersohn
Fourth Image: Amelia Handegan /Photo Credit Pieter Estersohn

Tuesday, August 18

Exciting New Partnership + Contest

I have been working on several side projects this summer, but the one that I am most excited about is my partnership with SFERRA Fine Linens. I first became a fan of SFERRA after owning a set of their beautiful sheets. Woven in Italy, SFERRA Egyptian-cotton sheets are super soft and, equally important, well priced for a luxury item. Once I got to know company president Paul Hooker, I was sold hook, line and sinker.

It seems that I am not alone in my appreciation of these great linens. Carolina Herrera, Jr. recently named SFERRA a favorite in Vanity Fair magazine and Thompson Hotel Group and Kor Hotel Group exclusively use SFERRA in all their rooms.

Come this fall I will be acting as an ‘ambassador’ to promote the company and their new ‘Lose Count’ campaign. Lose Count is a simple, yet important premise—when it comes to bedding, thread count is only one part of the equation. It merely tells you how many threads there are in a square inch of fabric. It does not tell you as much about the quality of the linens as many seem to think. To adequately judge the ‘quality’ of linens you also need to know the weight, fiber and the way in which the linens are finished. Of course, at the end of the day it comes down to what you like and what makes you happy.

In my opinion, this is a perfect partnership. Every day I search for the ‘best’ to share with all of you. However, as I have written many, many times, I do not believe that the ‘best’ necessarily means the most expensive. I can certainly think of several times I have bought or received ‘high quality’ (read: expensive) items and have been disappointed.

At its core, I see this campaign as an educative program that will remind people they can have the best without over-spending.

To introduce the partnership and promote the 'Lose Count' campaign we are hosting events in NYC and LA this October. The LA event will be at Nathan Turner's shop with Kelly Wearstler as our special guest. The NYC event will be at Todd Romano’s exquisite showroom, housed in The Fine Arts Building. Due to space limitations both events are strictly by invitation only.

However, I would love invite 10 readers to join me for the parties and a glass of Prosecco. Five (5) people will be drawn at random to receive an invitation to the LA event and another five (5) people will be drawn at random to receive an invitation to the NYC event.

To enter for a chance to have your name added to the guest lists, please send an email to with the subject ‘NYC’ or ‘LA’ depending on your geographical location. The body of the email should contain your full contact information. Only one entry per person. Invitations are non-transferable and limited to the named guest only. Invitees will be announced September 15, 2009.

In just a few days I will announce another super exciting contest! Stay tuned…

Monday, August 17

Coco Before Chanel

(No spoilers)
Over the weekend I finally had a chance to see the long-awaited Coco Avant Chanel. It’s always exciting when a film opens in the UK before it does in the US, as is rarely the case. The astonishingly beautiful Audrey Tautou, best known for her role in the 2001 French film Amelie, is mesmerizing as Gabriel ‘Coco’ Chanel.

I have been thinking about Anne Fontaine’s beautiful biopic all weekend, trying to get my head around the portrayal of the young woman who would become the grande dame of 20th-century couture.

Like many, I have long been fascinated by Chanel’s fragility, power and resolve. No question she was tenacious and very clever. The fact that, “She made up things up”, the first sentence from Axel Madsen’s book Chanel: A Woman of Her Own, hooked me immediately. She fabricated life to a point that her official biographer gave up in frustration because she would not admit to the most readily verified facts, including her time in the orphanage.

Without a doubt, the cinematography is stunning and the film is highly entertaining. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone that is a fan of Chanel; however, I personally felt that it never really conveyed the great lengths she went to in order to create her life story. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the film was made with the collaboration of the house of Chanel.

Coco Avant Chanel will be playing stateside September 25th. I look forward to hearing thoughts from all the American readers next month. You can read a fantastic review written by my friend and journalist Alison Kerr.

By Ronda Carman

Friday, August 14

Thank You The Naptime Chef!

A HUGE thank you to the wonderful Kelsey (a.k.a) The Naptime Chef for naming All the Best as her favorite design blog in an interview with CafeMom. Kelsey is one of the Best!

On a separate note, jet lag has gotten the better of me this time around. I promise to resume blogging over the weekend. With this Scottish weather, I'm not sure if it will be soup or salad on Sunday. Plus, I have a VERY EXCITING announcement to share with all of you next week...more to come!

Tuesday, August 11

Heading Home

I am heading home to Scotland. Back in a few days with new profiles...
All the best,


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Monday, August 10

Random Post Part II

While I am posting random thoughts, I thought that I would add one more! I truly apperciate all of you who read All the Best each day! You bring great energy to my life. I am blessed. You all are the BEST!!

Sunday, August 9

Random Post

The greatest thing about writing a blog is sharing a small part of your life with readers. After two-and-a-half years of blogging I feel a certain connectedness to my blog and readers. It is a wonderfully surreal relationship, and one that is difficult to explain to anyone who doesn’t read blogs.

As most of you know, my focus is supporting creative minds, forging relationships and supporting the design community at large via blogging. But sometimes it’s fun to do something unexpected and out of character, hence the reason for this post.

Last night I took our son to a Green Day concert. Unfortunately my husband returned home to Scotland last week, so I was going solo. I’ve not been to a concert in a few years and this happened to be our son’s first. A few hours before the concert I felt a slight feeling of panic. What in the world does a 39-year-old wear to a Green Day concert!?!

Once we arrived, I realized that it really did not matter. To use a Green Day line, I had the time of my life. It also served as a good reminder: some things never change, age is a state-of-mind and most importantly, it’s really cool to witness your child’s first concert!

PostScript: In the end I decided not to worry and not try too hard! Quite honestly, there are few things worse than not being true to who you are. I opted for a White + Warren T-shirt, Levis, Converse and a CC Skye bracelet—casual and comfortable. And, for the record, my son is on his skateboard. He is not taller than me, yet!

Tuesday, August 4

Tobi Fairley

I have just returned from a wonderful visit to Little Rock. I have so much to share with all of you, but unfortunately it will have to wait until next week. I am working on a very exciting new collaboration (details coming soon) and I need to take a blogging break this week. In the meantime, I thought that I would leave you with some photos of Tobi Fairley’s beautiful design firm. I know that many of you are fans of Tobi and her wonderful blog.

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with Tobi as a houseguest. Not only is she a great girlfriend, she is a gracious hostess. We sat around in our pajamas late into the night drinking wine, chit chatting and talking blogs and business. Tobi’s unique combination of degrees in interior design, accounting and an MBA gives her a unique perspective, not to mention that she willing shares and encourages ideas. Thanks for a great weekend Tobi!

Monday, August 3

Thank You CasaSugar!

Thank you CasaSugar for linking to All the Best and the post on the Soniat House.

Sunday, August 2

Thank You The Times-Picayune

(click to enlarge)

A huge thank you to Susan Langenhennig at The Times-Picayune for her coverage of All the Best.