Monday, August 30

Profile: Kendall Wilkinson

While some children make believe to be a nurse or an actor, as a child Kendall Wilkinson pretended to order Brunschwig & Fils fabrics for her imaginary clients.

For the daughter of a well-known interior designer, the handwriting seemed to be on the wall. However, it wasn’t until after she went to work in the film industry that Kendall had an epiphany. Prompted by studies abroad in Paris, she realized that perhaps she needed to change course and pursue her passion for interior design.

It was during her time in Paris that she became enamored with French architecture and antiques, and began traveling extensively, importing select pieces to the US. Upon returning home she enrolled at San Francisco's Academy of Art University and began honing her skills and style.

Kendall’s true expertise lies in her ability to artfully mix traditional and modernity. I love that while Kendall’s work tends to be tailored and crisp, she is not afraid to use bold color. Likewise, she is classic in her overall approach, but never stuffy! “Antiques will always be one of my truest loves, so you’d be hard pressed to see a project that didn’t feature my vintage treasures among newer ones,” she proudly proclaims. The wonderful juxtaposition of a slick Lucite piece paired with a French antique is what gives her rooms character.

The San Francisco native is a regular participant in the prestigious San Francisco Decorator Showcase, and, in 2007, was awarded California Home + Design's Award for Showcase House Design. Her work has been featured in Town & Country, Traditional Home, and InStyle, as well as numerous other magazines, local publications, and various shows on Home & Garden Television.

How would you describe your personal style?
I would say that my personal style, like my design aesthetic, is a balance between classic and fresh. For example, I love French fashion, with ruffled hemlines high collars, but try to pair them with fun textures like leather or modern sleek shoes. Fashion, like design, is about layering and pairing things that are unexpected.

What is your most prized possession?
Without hesitation, my two children.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Often referred to as a devoted Francophile, my adoration for all things French is no secret. I attribute my travels in Paris and Provence as being the launching points for my career- as I am continually inspired by the architecture, culture, art and fashion. But closer to home, I’d say that the beauty of the Bay Area landscape always inspires a new color combination, or design concept.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Because my business is so paramount in my life, I would say that my professional team is something I could not live without right now. They support me, inspire me and help to keep the business fresh and creative. We also make each other laugh- a lot.

Who are your style icons?
Albert Hadley and Sister Parish have left an indelible mark as inspirations in designs. Andree Putman is also a huge icon- I appreciate how she found strength and beauty in what was sometimes difficult and dark.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Rather than approach this question as who I would like to work with, I’d rather think about who I’d like to work for. Tom Ford has an amazing eye for resurrecting midcentury style and design in a very authentic, sophisticated way. Recently inspired by his film “A Single Man”, I would love him to hire me as designer set or an interior that totally channels the stylistic glamour and repression of the era. It’s a beautiful balance.

What books are currently on your bedside table
Lift by Kelly Corrigan and On Meditation are my grown up reads, and I keep Raising Happiness for my little ones. 

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
I think earthly happiness comes from finding an environment in which you truly feel in your element, physically and mentally. For me, that would be in a French Chateau with my little boys, watching the landscape outside, laughing and just enjoying the precious time we have together.

Who has most influenced your direction in life?
My mother, Alice Wiley, was and is, not only an inspirational designer, but also an inspiring figure as a woman. She cultivated a career for herself during a time when women were not widely recognized as being able to have independent professions. Her classical taste details definitely rubbed off on me as well, although I try to infuse my own modern twists. I had the fortune of an influential mother and mentor all in one.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, August 29


Tonight, listen to the ART OF LIVING MAGAZINE! I will be up first, then Scot Meacham Wood, James Andrew and Andrea Schroder. To listen, click here, then click the listen now button. It should be a fun and lively converstion. The online program starts at 9:00pm EST.

Soup on Sunday: Lentil, Coconut, Wilted Spinach Soup

The sun may be shining today, but there is a crisp, cool, chill in the air! Can't wait for this one tonight!

6oz puy lentils
1½ pint vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
9 oz canned coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
4 small handfuls of baby spinach
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils, then put them in a large pan and add enough cold water to just cover. Boil for ten minutes, and then add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Put a small handful of the spinach in four warmed bowls and ladle the hot soup on top (the heat from the soup will wilt the leaves).

Serve immediately with warm flat bread, pita or naan.

Photo by: Amelia Pane Schaffner

Tuesday, August 24

Congratulations Michael Boodro: New Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief

Margaret Russell and Michael Boodro

Elle Decor has promoted executive editor Michael Boodro to the post of editor-in-chief, replacing Margaret Russell who is moving to Architectural Digest.

Boodro rejoined Elle Decor as executive editor in 2009, after previously holding the post between 2004 and 2006. In the intervening period, he was chief editor at Martha Stewart Living.

Prior to that, he was launch editor for Culture & Travel, an editor of the Style Section for The New York Times Magazine, chief editor of Garden Design Magazine, and features editor for Vogue.

Boodro has also served in editorial roles at HG Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and GQ.

Photo: Christie's Auctions

Monday, August 23

Profile: Kristen McGinnis

Kristen McGinnis has a wonderful way of fusing fun and funky with a formal, artistic edge. Originally from North Carolina, Kristen attended the prestigious visual arts program at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Acting on her passion for design, and advice from Bill Blass, she moved to New York to study fashion at Parsons School of Design.

As fate would have it, she focused her attention on interior design and landed a coveted senior position with Sills Huniford Associates. Using her acquired skills, innate talents and heightened sensitivity to fabrics and textiles, Kristen went out on her own in 2005 and founded the New York-based firm, Kristen McGinnis Design, Inc.

Kristen affirms that having a background in fine arts and fashion design has been an invaluable component of her career. With each new project she goes “back to her roots” for guidance and inspiration. The couture level of detailing that she brings to her projects is clearly anchored in many disciplines, including architecture, and of course, fashion.

In 2009 Traditional Home Magazine selected Kristen as one of the Top 20 Young Interior Designers to Watch and most recently she was honored by Jamie Drake and the International Furnishings and Design Association as a Rising Star of Interior Design.

How would you describe your personal style?
As I grow as a designer my style has become more confident and much more eclectic. I love twentieth century and contemporary design. I find that when integrated confidently with art and antiques a stronger vision can be achieved creating a look that appears to have evolved over time.

What is your most prized possession
This is a tie between my vast library where I become inspired every time I open a book; and my collection of artist designed jewelry, specifically a necklace by Louise Nevelson.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Happiness is waking up to the purring of my two Himalayans. They love the mornings, and I cherish spending time with them before starting my day.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
I love nothing more than art. For me no room is complete without it. Through the years I have acquired work by artists that are dear lifelong friends, work by college friends, as well as pieces made by artists whose work that I have long admired. Seeing these pieces woven together is like looking at the story of my life. It simply feeds my soul.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Architecture is a continued source of inspiration. At present, I have a fascination with the strict lines of 1920’s Berlin, and find the restraint and purity of the form refreshing. In fact, a simple walk down the street to spend an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be just as motivating as a trip to Amsterdam or to Paris. What matters is what you cull from the experience and how you apply it to what you are working on.

I enjoy the scholarship that can be involved in doing research for a project. As I have been working on the color palette for a modern downtown apartment, I have been inspired by Picasso’s Rose period, a Matisse painting, and Marni’s fall collection. It never ceases to amaze me how inspiration can come at any place at any time.

Who are your style icons?
Yves Saint Laurent, Joel Arthur Rosenthal, Tina Chow

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
To have the opportunity to collaborate on a project with Joris Laarman would be the experience of a lifetime. I believe we are in the middle of a design revolution and are only just beginning to grasp its direction. Luckily, we are living in a time where experimental innovation in design is being celebrated. Joris is reaching a new plateau with his work utilizing cutting edge technology and positioning himself as a standard bearer for the new evolution of design.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Alongside my stacks of fashion and shelter magazines, I have my stash of summer reading. I just finished The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser; and am now starting Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim by Mary V. Dearborn.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
The ability to be able to carve out time from my hectic schedule to be with the people that I love is my life’s biggest luxury.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
As a child I wanted nothing more than to be a fashion designer. When I was in the 9th grade Bill Blass came to my hometown for a trunk show. The night before there was black tie pre-show event which I attended. Somehow I mustered up enough courage to ask Mr. Blass his advice as to where I should go to school. He was incredibly lovely to spend 10 minutes speaking with me, and told me in that distinctly raspy smoker’s voice, “My dear, if you want to work on Seventh Avenue you MUST go to Parsons School of Design.”

Advice coming from someone so influential was all I needed to hear to put my head down and focus on my journey to Parsons where I discovered my true passion, interior design. Inside my sketch book, I keep a photo of Mr. Blass and myself from that memorable evening. It serves as a constant reminder to continue to pursue my dreams.

Sunday, August 22

Soup on Sunday: Zucchini, Garlic & Basil Soup

A simple and healthy soup using summer's abundance of zucchini and basil. This smooth puréed soup achieves a near impossible feat, it's velvety and creamy without any cream! Enjoy!

2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup packed basil leaves

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add 3 cups vegetable stock and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée soup with basil in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids). Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with basil leaves. Crème fraiche, optional.

Serves 4

Tuesday, August 17

A Week in France at Kathryn Ireland's Home

I am counting the days until September and my highly anticipated trip to France. Imagine staying in a beautiful, private home in the tranquil southwest region of France. Now envision that the farmhouse belongs to interior designer Kathryn Ireland. Sprinkle in glorious food, bustling markets, beautiful vineyards, wonderful wine, superb scenery, delightful company and you have a recipe for sheer splendor.

I was recently invited by the delightful, Scottish born, Australian Nikki Maxwell to join her and Kathryn on this weeklong escape. Nikki, a passionate cook, world traveler and Francophile, is proprietor of Picnics in Provence—a company specializing in off the beaten track tours of France.

The trip is infused with tours of small, local vineyards and meals prepared by fantastic French chefs. There are even hands-on cooking demonstrations so those attending can try to recreate a little bit of French cooking when they return home.

This trip will coincide with the launch of Kathryn’s new book Summers in France, featuring her exquisite house. The outdoor entertaining area has been named “one of the 100 most beautiful outdoor rooms in the world” by Vogue Living magazine. Come and see it for yourself. Picnics in Provence groups are always kept small, between 5 – 10 people, and Nikki has said that there is room for just one or two more guests for this fantastic trip.

To learn more visit here or contact Nikki.

Sunday, August 15

Profile: Madeline Stuart

I began corresponding with the extraordinarily talented and sophisticated Madeline Stuart in the fall of 2009. It wasn’t until April of this year, however, that we finally met in person when I had the privilege of spending a few days with her in the magical city of Venice. Armed with a quick smile and infectious charm, it is difficult not to like Madeline right away. In addition to exuding great charisma, she is also smart and wonderfully opinionated. Not opinionated in a way that is off putting, but rather in a manner that is refreshing and comes from a wealth of knowledge and a passion for her craft.

Once you know Madeline and view her work, it is obvious that she values the fundamental marriage of integrity and beauty above all else. What I like most about her work is that it rarely reflects the latest trends, offering her clients truly timeless design.

Over the past 15 years, Madeline’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including Elle Décor, House & Garden, House Beautiful, Town & Country, AD, Western Interiors and Veranda. In June of 2010, Elle Décor’s A-List included Madeline as one of the top 25 designers in the country.

A Fun Fact About Madeline
Always a lover of books and literature, it comes as no surprise that we have Madeline to thank for the classic 1971 version of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, starring Gene Wilder. According to her father, director Mel Stuart, his 10-year-old daughter inspired him to pursue a Willy Wonka movie based on Roald Dahl's classic book. “I would have never read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but Madeline liked it and asked me to make it into a picture,” he recalls. “Otherwise it would have never been made.”

How would you describe your personal style?
While I wouldn’t describe myself as a chameleon, my style is constantly evolving. I don’t necessarily mean changing—the emphasis would be on striving towards an expanded vision. Without question I feel my work becomes better, more refined and more confident as I gain knowledge and experience.

Fundamentally I would describe my personal—as well as my design—style as more tailored, less contrived. My work tends to be understated and timeless as opposed to hip and trendy. Good furniture, good lighting, good clothes—all are expensive and should be treated as an investment rather than something that can be abandoned after a single season. And I have a reverence and appreciation of the past which is evident even in my contemporary work.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
What a difficult question!!! It would be a real toss up between chocolate, music and having a dog. (Don’t tell my husband I said that!)

Who are your style icons?
Yves St. Laurent, Frances Elkins, Jacques Grange, Betty Catroux, Millicent Rogers.

What is your most prized possession?
Aside from the obvious answer, my beloved Beatrice (my Jack Russell terrier)?
It would probably be my childhood copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I so loved this book as a little girl that I asked my father if he would make a movie out of it. And he did. (The original Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder.) It’s signed by the author, who wrote “To Madeline, who started the whole thing. With love, Roald Dahl’. Almost everyone I’ve ever met has seen the film and it’s a legacy I’m very proud of.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
I’m inspired by everything. Nature, architecture, art, history. A typeface. A colour. And my books. Inspiration can be found anywhere...everywhere.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
No longer living? Armand Albert Rateau or David Adler. Living? Jacques Grange

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Being at home with my husband and Beatrice.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Ian McEwan, Jeffrey Steingarten, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Harold McGee.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Good food and wine.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Soup on Sunday: Orange Carrot Soup

Now that I am home, and in a cooler climate, soup is back on the menu. Even so, I am not ready to rush the end of summer. This soup is so light and refreshing, perfect for a summer night.

1 tablespoon butter
1 1-pound bag carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Fresh tarragon sprigs

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; sauté until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add broth; cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in orange juice, brandy, and chopped tarragon. Simmer 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish soup with tarragon sprigs and serve.

Sunday, August 8


Sorry for the silence this past week. I have been in the States for the past two weeks, trying to balance work and vacation. I just returned from a great three days in Vegas with my husband. Lunch by the pool each day was a fun indulgence.

I was invited by the Las Vegas Market at the World Market Center to participate in a panel on blogging and building community through new media. The panel was hosted by Julia Noran of The Editor at Large and moderated by Sophie Donelson. I was honored to be on the panel with Brad Ford, Tobi Fairley and Jackie von Tobel. Jackie also launched her new collection of eco-friendly fabrics at the market.

It was interesting to hear how each person is using social media to enrich their life and business. For me, it is a topic of endless fascination and a tool with unlimited possibilities. Developing a successful online persona and building a brand takes a considerable amount of effort and time. However, when used correctly, social media allows you to foster amazing relationships.

In the next week I will recap our discussion and share my own thoughts on social media, and how I am using it to help my clients build their names and brands.

Monday, August 2

Profile: Monica Rich Kosann

I love to hear a great story that uncovers the source of inspiration behind beautiful objects, and Monica Rich Kosann’s story is one of pure creativity. A fine art black-and-white photographer, Monica is also the creator of jewelry, image cases and frames.

Searching for unique ways to display her photography Monica began scouring flea markets looking for antique lockets, compacts and cigarette cases. Each one of a kind treasure she discovered was crafted into a unique frame. As demand increased Monica designed her own line of heirloom quality display cases, crafted from beautiful sterling silver or gold.

Intrigued by vintage lockets and charm bracelets, she fashioned a collection of modern day jewelry to hold images of her clients’ loved ones. Wanting the collection to be as precious as the images, Monica carefully designed each piece to be a keepsake, persevering special moments to be passed on for generations.

Looking to further share the importance of family and home Monica authored a stunning new book Living with What You Love. Beautiful images of homes, including her own, it is a gorgeous guide to living with your most cherished possessions everyday.

The Monica Rich Kosann Collection is a celebrity favorite and is sold at over 60 specialty stores nationwide and in Japan. In August 2008 Monica opened her own shop on on the 7th floor at Bergdorf Goodman.

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic. It’s funny, if I am going on a photo shoot I wear my jeans and flats with great blouse or a t-shirt and a scarf (I love scarves!). I figure I will be sitting on the ground or climbing some sort of rocks and benches.

Other times I love to wear beautiful fabrics that just feel great. Right now I am obsessed with Stella McCartney, her pieces are so elegant and timeless but with an edge. And, of course, I am always wearing my charm bracelets. I never leave home without them.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
I talk about this in my book Living With What You Love. I love surrounding myself with cherished objects at home. In my library all my family photos surround me. On a Sunday I love to gather all my magazines and newspapers from the week, sit with my 2 dogs, the cooking channel on TV and slowly leaf through all of my reading. It leaves me ready and energized for the workweek to begin!

What is your most prized possession?
My charm bracelet. It holds photos of my family, so they go with me wherever I go. I love the sound it makes when I walk. It makes me feel so feminine. An most importantly, it tells my story.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
I love food. I am first generation American (Viennese and Hungarian) and food and dining was always very important in my family growing up. I am so happy when my two girls cook for my husband and me. I love the entire process of being their “helper”. We first take our time and chop, sauté, sip wine, and then sit down to a meal and enjoy it together. Of course I get stuck with the dishes!

What inspires your creativity and designs?
Art and timeless designs of all kinds. I love to visit flea markets and go antiquing, especially in new cultures. Art has always been important to me. Going to museums and galleries are always a source of inspiration. I love just meandering, and I always carry a little book to jot down ideas and sketches.

New ideas pop up in my head in the strangest places. I came up with our new jewelry collection for fall while I was on a chairlift going up the mountain! Sometimes my own photography sparks ideas, like our gate collection, which comes from a photo of a little girl behind an iron gate. I created an entire group of open lockets from this photo.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Travel. There is nothing like going to new places and destinations. I love exploring a new culture and meeting people. I also love to revisit places I have been, for instance I can visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or the Rodin Museum in Paris over and over and never get bored. My husband and I travel a lot for business and I always feel so lucky to be working with these amazing artisans from all over the world. 

Who are your style icons?
I have to say when I watch old movies I adore the stars from the 30’s and 40’s—Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Katherine Hepurn. I admire not only their style, clothing and sensibility, but I love to watch the accessory pieces from that era. They are so inspiring to me, every accessory they wore or carried was a piece of art!! And, of course, the great Coco Chanel. I love to layer my jewelry, and she did layered so masterfully! 

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I would love to work on a project with Ralph Lauren. He is a lifestyle brand that captures timeless design, and that is what we are about. My collection encourages people to surround themselves with what they love and to wear their most sentimental and treasured pieces—I know he gets that!

What books are currently on your bedside table?
I have piled high tons of Design and Fashion Books. I love to sit in bed with a heavy book on my lap and glance through them before I go to sleep. I also have lots of old Sotheby's and Christie's auction catalogs which I love to look at as well.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
My family, clients and friends. They are my biggest fans and supporters. They are always encouraging me to create more. I am very lucky!