Tuesday, March 30

Thank You Tory Burch

Words cannot describe how honored I am to be featured on Tory Burch's fabulous blog. It was actually fun to answer the questions for a change. A huge thank you for including me. I will post my Q&A with Tory in just a few days...stay tuned.

Monday, March 29

Blogger + Designer Dinner in Atlanta

I will be in Atlanta for the next three days hosting several events on behalf of SFERRA. Last night we hosted a blogger/designer dinner at Craftbar in Atlanta. One word - YUM!

It was so much fun to meeting Jill Sharp Brinson, Holly of Things that Inspire, Niki of Yummy Scrumptious, Shameeka of The Broke Socialite, Brian Patrick Flynn of Decor Demon, Millie of Brilliant Asylum, Ally of From the Right Bank, Helen Young and Jane Douglas Reynolds of Whitehaven.

It's always a treat to meet the bloggers behind the blogs and the designers behind the name. This group did not disappoint! There was such an amazing energy and the conversation was fascinating. It was so interesting to hear about each person's creative endeavors. I, for one, was very inspired. And, if the company were not enough, the food was fantastic. Craftbar certainly lived up to its reputation. Again, thank you all for coming and sharing your energy. You can see more photos here.

Shameeka Shy Ayers, Ronda Carman and Hollis Smith

Brian Patrick Flynn and Jill Sharp Brinson

Niki, Holly, Shameeka, Helen, Ronda, Jill, Jane and Millie

Sunday, March 28

Happy Birthday One Kings Lane

It was one year ago this week that Susan Feldman and Alison Gelb Pincus launched One Kings Lane, a private online sales destination specializing in designer decor, furniture, accessories and gifts. Members have access to limited quantities of high-end designer goods at up to 70% off. One Kings Lane carries only the best of best – such as John Robshaw, Missoni, Vera Wang and Wedgewood to name a few – at affordable prices.

For Susan, a former fashion sales executive, and Alison whose background is in digital media, One Kings Lane is a perfect blending of their love for home decor and their combined experiences in retail, apparel and the online world.

On Thursday Susan, Alison, Scot Meacham Wood and Alexis Traina hosted a lovely party welcoming me to San Francisco. Thank you all for such an amazing evening. The bagpipes were a wonderfully thoughtful touch. You can see photos from the party here.

Wednesday, March 24

WestWeek:The Editor at Large Panel

If you are in LA come by the PDC (Pacific Design Center) today for The Editor at Large panel a 3:30 PM. It will be moderated by Sophie Donelson, and is open to the public. The panel includes:

· Michael Bruno, founder of 1stDibs.com

· Ronda Carman, founder of AlltheBestBlog.com

· Brian Patrick Flynn, designer, founder of DecorDemon.com

· Brad Ford, designer and founder of DesignTherapy.com

· Jilllian St. Charles, vice president and site director, HGTV.com

· Vanessa De Vargas, interior designer and host of Designer Tag Sale

Tuesday, March 23

Loving LA + Exciting New Venture

The last few days in LA have been amazing. In addition to being greeted by wonderful weather, my friend and fellow blogger Scot Meacham Wood flew in from San Fransisco. He was both my lunch and dinner date yesterday, what a lucky girl I am! We spent a magical afternoon as guests of Hutton Wilkinson at Dawridge and then joined several LA designers for an unforgettable dinner at Kathryn Ireland's beautiful home. Today looks to be another fun filled day.

I wanted to share some exciting news with all of you, and the city where dreams come true seems to be an appropriate place to announce the launch of my new website and business - All the Best Portfolio.

ATB Portfolio is a bespoke consultancy firm dedicated to brand building, event planning and social media marketing. It was founded to address the unique needs of the design and lifestyle industries. You can visit my new website to learn more. I will be adding more photos to the 'Events' and 'Buzz' sections in the next week, and you can also get live Twitter feeds in real time on the 'Buzz' page (unfortunately the Twitter widget does not work well on Internet Explorer). Again, thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported me in launching the new chapter of All the Best.

Saturday, March 20

On the Road Again

I am leaving for a three week trip to the States in the morning. First stop is LA for WestWeek. I will be speaking at the Pacific Design Center on the Editor at Large panel on Wednesday, March 24th at 3:30. If you are in the area, do come by and say hello.

On Thursday it's off to San Fransisco for a few dinners and meetings. Scot Meacham Wood and Alexis Swanson Traina, along with Alison Pincus and Susan Feldman, the founders of One Kings Lane, are hosting a party to welcome me to San Fransisco. I am truly honored and can't wait to experience the City by the Bay.

Then on Sunday I head to Atlanta for the SFERRA & All the Best LoseCount party with Phoebe Howard. I am very excited to meet several of the wonderful Atlanta bloggers while I am in town before heading to NYC to enjoy Easter with our friends.

I will be blogging and tweeting along the way. If you want to know what I'm doing in real time, you can follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, March 18

Acorn Cottage: Before and After


Ask and you shall receive. After my post on interior designer Susan Anthony's Acorn Cottage, many of you left comments asking to see the before photos. Susan was so delighted by all of the wonderful comments that she graciously agreed to share the before photos. Thank you Susan. Enjoy the photo tour.

After-Outside Patio

Before - Dinning Room/Kitchen Area

After - Kitchen Area

Before - Living Room

After - Living Room

Before-Basement Steps
Now Entry Foyer

After - Entry Foyer

Now Entry Foyer

After-Basement Entry Foyer

Before - Guest Bathroom

After - Guest Bathroom

Before - Master Bedroom Alcove

After - Master Bedroom

Tuesday, March 16

Susan Anthony's Acorn Cottage

Prompted by an empty nest and a change in marital status, New York based interior designer Susan Anthony decided that she needed a fresh outlook on life and a new place to hang her hat. She envisioned a cottage in the woods with a beautiful garden and all of the amenities of a much larger home. “I needed a house to heal myself and one that felt like a family home. Really, what I wanted was a place to write the next chapter of my family history,” Susan recalls.

Wanting a home that was both small and manageable, she looked at dozens of houses over many months before finding the perfect place. Or, more accurately, Susan found the perfect garden. The house was a tired and ugly affair built in 1950, but the garden and setting were lovely. It was exactly the kind of house she told her agent never to show her—a raised ranch.

I love Susan’s account of finding and renovating her home, and thought that I would let Susan tell you the story in her own words:

The moment I saw this house I knew exactly how to fix and correct its multitude of design deficiencies. After I purchased the house my friends and family thought that I had lost my mind! For a moment, their responses made me think that I had a momentary lapse in judgment, but it was too late to turn around. I was a determined woman who was already in love with her own vision.

I wanted to recover much of the mid century architecture without tearing it down and building new. The day after my bid was accepted I put pencil to paper and designed the entire renovation. I placed my furniture in the plan and started to fill in the blanks. As soon as we closed the work began. I was lucky to have wonderful contractors who completely understood my vision.

We reused much of the original construction and used only products made of recycled materials for the insulation and roofing. We put in energy efficient appliances, windows and doors and recycled the old appliances. All of the old appliances were sent to a charity that reworks them and resells them to lower income families at reduced prices.

Making use of natural resources we sliced through boulders on the property for siding, patios and walls. We then used ground up tiles from the demolished bathrooms for aggregate in the concrete.

When we were finished some nine months later I had added a full bathroom, an entry foyer, a bedroom, a laundry room and four closets just by adding forty- eight inches to my garage and changing some outdated duct work. The master bedroom was expanded to include a sitting room and I was also able to add some storage to my garage and still have plenty of room for my car.

Perched on a hill surrounded by oak trees I chose to name my new home Acorn Cottage after nature’s perfect food - the acorn. This home has fed my soul and nourished my heart.

Sunday, March 14

Soup on Sunday: Michael Devine's Sorrel and Zucchini Soup

I love the dark green perennial herb sorrel with its slightly sour flavor. My friend Michael Devine recently shared his recipe for Sorrel and Zucchini soup that he learned when taking the Bistro and Brasserie course at the École Ritz Escoffier.

He serves it both hot and cold with an almond chive cookie on the side. A word of caution about sorrel—its lemony flavor is great, but it changes to a drab color when cooked. For a more vibrant soup, try mixing spinach and sorrel.

Sorrel and Zucchini soup

4 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, chopped
1/2 lb young zucchini, diced
1/4 lb sorrel or spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup crème fraiche

Garnish: blanched lemon zest (optional)

Melt butter in stock pot add onion, zucchini, garlic and bay leaf. Cook 12 minutes over medium heat, stirring regularly. Remove the bay leaf. Add sorrel and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add stock and bring to boil for about 5 minutes. Add crème fraiche. Remove from heat, puree and pass through a chinois (a sieve with an extremely fine mesh). Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, swirl a small spoonful of crème fraiche through soup and garnish with blanched lemon zest.

Serves 4 - 6

Thursday, March 11

Profile: Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller

In the past few years Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, the husband and wife team behind Carrier and Company, have cultivated an enviable A-list of clients. A few include Anna Wintour, Vogue, Bob Pittman, Jane Rosenthal and Jason Wu. Named Top 20 Young Designers by Traditional Home, their work has graced the pages of The World of Interiors, Vogue and Elle Decor.

As the design principals of Carrier and Company, both bring a high level of refinement and a keen sensibility to all their projects. And, most importantly, they bring experience. Both have worked with some of New York's premier designers. Jesse worked with Jeffrey Bilhuber and Mara worked with Sills Huniford before opening their doors in 2005.

On their own they are both great designers with a well-educated eye, but as a team they are unstoppable. Whether fashioning traditional or modern spaces, their interiors are undeniably chic, with an air of effortless sophistication. A look and feeling that is not always easy to pull off.

As evidenced by their thoughtful answers, Jesse and Mara are grounded and in tune with both their clients and one another.

How would you describe your personal style?
Understated elegance, edited, tailored and timeless 

What inspires your creativity and designs?
We’re most inspired by people and place. Each project presents a unique set of circumstances, based upon client’s needs and sensibilities combined with the physical attributes of the space and setting of the project. It’s inspiring (and often challenging) to figure out creative solutions that marry our client’s needs with the inherent details of the space while maintaining a cohesive and stylish design.

Any specific examples of combining a client’s needs and sensibilities?
We recently worked with a client who was taking a temporary apartment in a 1970’s contemporary building while they planned for the renovation and decoration of a townhouse. It was not their ideal, but offered an interim space to live that was near the job sight, and offered spectacular views of Central Park. However, the client found the architecture “depressing” and bland, and at odds with their collection of Art Deco furniture they were bringing with them.

In addition to being a short term living arrangement, it was also a rented apartment, so there were limitations on what we could do to transform the space. Taking cues from what the client was bringing to the space (a collection of furniture and artwork) we selected wall treatments, floor coverings, light fixtures and window treatments that complimented our client’s collection, but remained true to the bones of the building. The results were truly handsome and our client was amazed how it all came together.

What is your most prized possession or the one thing in life you cannot live without?
By way of “occupational hazard” we’ve come to possess many, many things. However, I can’t say that there’s one we prize most, or couldn’t live without. However, if a house constitutes a prized possession, our country house in Dutchess County (upstate NY), is one we couldn’t live without. The ability to escape from NYC to our little blue farm house is truly a revitalizing luxury.

Who are your style icons?
Frances Elkins, Jacques Grange, Billy Baldwin

What books are currently on your bedside table
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
I’m Down a Memoir by Mishna Wolff
Busy Town by Richard Scarry

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Those first few quiet minutes of the day, before the phone starts vibrating, when you can enjoy a cup of coffee and morning cartoons with your kid before you head to work.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Creature comforts. Everyday things that make life enjoyable.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
We were both deeply influenced by European friends in early adulthood. We both learned about quality of life and graceful living by their examples. More importantly, the tenants of simplicity and quality we witnessed had nothing to do with wealth - which is perhaps the most important lesson.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Tuesday, March 9

Aaron Sewart: Creative Director for SFERRA

I mentioned on Friday that I would share Aaron Stewart's top tips for sheet shopping, creating a dream-worthy bed and caring for your linens. If you want to learn more visit LoseCount.com or leave your questions in the comment section.

What are your top tips for caring for linens?
Only wash sheets with sheets. Don’t wash sheets with bath towels or washcloths. The abrasion from other items will shorten the life of your linens.

Also, don’t over dry your sheets. Many people have a tendency to put sheets in the dryer on extra dry. When sheets are hot to the touch you’re basically overcooking the fiber and you’re causing it to break down. Not only does it shorten the life of the linens, but it causes your sheets to pill. You should take the sheets out of the dryer when they are still a little bit damp.

What is the biggest mistake most people make when buying linens
Relying solely on thread count, or thinking that the most expensive sheets on the market must be the best. Often times you will see '800 thread count' boldly printed across a set of sheets that cost $79.99. The $79.99 sheets may be as hard as a rock, but people believe that if they wash them three or four times they’ll soften.

After several washes they actually feel worse. This is because the finish has washed away. Some costly brands also add a finish to their linens, giving them a soft feel in the store, but it wears away too after washing.

SFERRA sheets are the perfect combination of the best Egyptian Cotton yarns, a time-tested weaving technique and an amazing bleach/dye house that uses our special formula. It gives our sheets that wonderful feel of luxury.

What are the essentials for creating a cozy and inviting bed?
I think the absolute essentials are a great set of sheets, a blanket, and a really soft down comforter.

As far as design, what new trends are you seeing?
One of the biggest things everyone is asking us for is gray. For the past decade it’s really been about beige. And everyone wanted beige, beige, and beige. Everyone was looking for taupe and tan and beige and cream, all mixed together. Now everyone is looking for beautiful shades of gray.

Sunday, March 7

Soup on Sunday: Caramelized Onion Mushroom

3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons Cognac
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef stock
1 cup dry white wine
1-inch-thick slices French-bread baguette, toasted
8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large pot over high heat. Add onions and thyme; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to medium bowl.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until soft, about 12 minutes. Add Cognac, balsamic vinegar and garlic; stir 20 seconds. Stir in onion mixture, then broth and wine. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until onions are very tender, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Place baguette slices on large baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on baguette slices, dividing equally. Broil goat cheese croutons until cheese begins to brown in spots, about 30 seconds. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Top with croutons and serve.

Image via Misspfui

Friday, March 5

You're Invited to Lose Count

For too long thread count has been considered THE measure of quality linens. In an effort to demystify thread count and educate consumers about quality linens, SFERRA has launched LoseCount.com. While thread count is one factor, others to consider are fiber, weight, finish and feel (you can learn more about each here).

Aaron Stewart, Creative Director for SFERRA, suggests the following to anyone buying linens. Ask yourself these questions: Do I like the pattern? Is it within my price range? If yes, then open up the package and feel it. If you like the way it feels (at that moment—not after being washed) and it fits the other criteria, then you have found your sheets. You will find that you don’t need to buy the most expensive linens on the market to enjoy luxurious sheets.

For more information on thread count, buying linens, video tips and a bedding glossary visit LoseCount.com. On Monday I will share with you Aaron’s top tips for creating an amazing bed and caring for linens.

Once again I will host parties with SFERRA to promote the Lose Count campaign. This spring we will be in Atlanta (Mrs. Howard—Phoebe Howard); Chicago (Branca—Alessandra Branca); and Dallas (Ceylon et Cie—Michelle Nussbaumer).

Our fall parties with Kelly Wearstler and Nathan Turner in LA and Todd Romano in NYC were a smashing success. Our spring events look to be equally popular. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, both events are by invitation only. However, I would love invite 15 readers to join us.

Five (5) people will be drawn at random to receive an invitation to the Atlanta event; five (5) people will be drawn at random to receive an invitation to the Chicago event; and five (5) people will be drawn at random to receive an invitation to the Dallas event.

To enter please send an email to allthebestevents@gmail.com with the subject ‘Atlanta’/’Chicago’/or ‘Dallas’ depending on your geographical location. Or leave a comment below. Invitations are non-transferable and limited to the named guest only. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM EST Friday, March 12, 2010. Invitees will be announced here on March 15, 2010.

Thursday, March 4

Thank You for Asking Home Tour

Remember the post that I did on the blog Thank You For Asking? Well, yesterday I got an email from Julia at CasaSugar letting me know that photos of Kim's (the author) 1920s Beaux Arts home in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood are on the CasaSugar website.

It is a stunning home that Kim has decorated herself. Before moving to San Francisco, Kim lived in London for seven years and took courses in Fine and Decorative Arts at Christie's. Go to CasaSugar and take the tour - it's beautiful.

Wednesday, March 3

William Yeoward: Town & Country

I thought it would be a fun study to look at William Yeoward's London apartment after posting his country guest house yesterday. Like the guest house, his London apartment is filled with William Yeoward fabrics, interesting accessories, fabulous art, and a mixture of textures, colors, patterns and soft furnishings. You can see many similar objets d'art and fabrics in both homes, and yet the look and feel is completely different. The hallmark of a great designer.

Photographer - Simon Upton/ Editor at Large/ TIA Digital Ltd