16 December 2011

Teal Walls

Perhaps because I'm prone to hibernation, I'm a big fan of dark walls. I find them embracing in the cold seasons and a refreshing break from the blinding sun in summer. Contrary to popular belief, they don't make small spaces feel smaller. In a large room, they create drama or add coziness where white walls can feel stark and unfriendly. Teal, or peacock blue, adds warmth and richness to the barest of rooms. With the addition of beautiful art and choice furniture, a teal room can feel like a walk-in jewelry box. Then again, it is a member of the family of jewel tones.

27 November 2011

Conversation Pits

It seems to me that conversation pits are begging for re-invention. When I was a kid, my grandfather had them in both his New York city living room and the house he rented during the summers. They were very much a product of their time -- heavily carpeted and populated by large couches and very little else. Back then, and still now, they were generally found in contemporary structures and were designed with a modern aesthetic. Today, houses have expanded in size and so have conversation pits -- which kind of defeats the purpose. My ideal sunken living room would reside in a small mountain lodge. Its focal point would be a simple stone fireplace. A tweed couch and a couple of leather club chairs would surround it and a vintage trunk between them would be filled with board games. All the makings of smores would be stored year-round in an antique jelly cupboard nearby. The space would be perfect for enjoying good company or for curling up alone with a wool blanket and a great read.

Me in the summer house conversation pit.

Images: Ouno DesignRedfinThe Room VoteThe Insane Domain, She Moves the Furniture.

09 November 2011

Shop: Izzi & Popo

Australia is on my short list of countries to visit (along with Argentina and Norway) and European vintage emporium Izzi & Popo is at the top of the grouping of shops I'd have to visit. This place features some of my favorite varieties of vintage -- leather club chairs, suitcases, hat molds and shoe forms, farmhouse furniture, old hardware and enamelware. When it comes to unique vintage finds, I've been known to search far and wide -- even if it means traveling to the other side of the globe.

Store Counter


Perpetual Calendar

Monastery Table

Coat Hangers



Images: Izzi & Popo.

28 October 2011


When I was planning the shop opening a year ago, six large frames of tartan book plates came up for auction and I knew I had to have them. I'm usually able to walk away from something if the price climbs higher than the number I assign to it, but occasionally something like these book plates comes along that I'm willing to be flexible about because I know it's that unique. I don't think I have any Scottish in me, but I've always been drawn to tartans and plaids. With her love of the pattern, Vivienne Westwood can do no wrong in my eyes. And when winter is approaching, a tartan blanket or accent wall of fabric shows that there's beauty in being stuck indoors. Tartan often goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite styles -- gentleman's club (see previous post) -- in a variety of forms from wallpaper to covered boxes. It casts such a spell that it makes me nostalgic about things that have never featured prominently in my life -- fox hunts and hot toddies and chilly castles on the moors.

Images: RevivalSmithLonny magazine, Feb/March 2010 issue. Three Pixie LaneHoscoteElle DecorWasabi PeasApartment TherapyRoom Rx

30 September 2011

Gentlemen's Club

When I opened the most recent issue of Inside Out magazine, I fell instantly in love with the NYC apartment of sisters Hollister and Porter Hovey (names like that belong in a Wes Anderson script). Their style (evident in the first two pics) gives me a chance to tout the glories of the "gentlemen's club" aesthetic -- a style I have long admired for its unapologetic masculinity and for the fact that it reminds me of England. To be clear, we're not talking about strip club decor. The gentlemen's clubs in question were first established in the West End of London in the eighteenth century. They were members-only clubs for upper-class men to socialize, play parlor games, dine, and sometimes retreat for the night. Dark walls, shelves full of books, lit fireplaces, leather club chairs, ancestral art and animal skins and antlers are all welcome in this environment. These are rooms for retreating from a rainy day or an unrelenting winter. They are spaces to sink into with a favored book and a hot cup of Earl Grey while noshing on shortbread.

Images: Inside Out magazine, July-August 2011 issue. Living etc magazine, September 2011 issue. Simply SeletaDecoratualma.

02 September 2011

Film Interiors: Tara Road

Before The Holiday -- in which Kate Winslet owns my all-time favorite movie house -- there was Tara Road. Marilyn (Andie MacDowell) is struggling with her son's sudden death when she decides to escape her Connecticut home and swap places with Ria (Olivia Williams), a Dublin wife and mother whose husband has just left her for his pregnant girlfriend. In Connecticut (Cape Town makes a beautiful but unlikely stand-in), Ria revels in the peace of Marilyn's sprawling house and pool. The sparse modern furnishings and few bright decorator accents are a break from the messiness of her life at home. While in Ireland, Marilyn is confronted by Ria's family drama at every turn and realizes that her marriage is worth trying to save despite its new reality. Ria's house on Tara Road is a character in itself that comes under threat and helps to reveal the full extent of her husband's treachery.

The Connecticut house and pool -- very little adornment.

The Connecticut living room -- the furniture is all right angles
 with the art and accessories adding precise blasts of color.

The Connecticut kitchen continues the house's color scheme of blue, orange and yellow. Pool tile adds shimmer to the walls and the lack of upper cabinets leaves room for art. A decorator's hand seems to have guided the entire house and very little of Marilyn's personality can be seen in the space. It gives Ria room to rediscover herself and her passion for cooking.

The house on Tara Road is shot from below to highlight its importance in the characters' lives. Though it has an imposing presence, the first scene shows Ria being greeted by her kids at the door and we understand that this is a happy home for them.

I've always loved a house with a proper entryway. Here the original tile and doors are offset by modern lamps. Red is the dominant color in this house.

The living room on Tara Road -- red walls bring the focus to a gorgeous black marble fireplace. The large mirror over it makes the room seem even bigger, yet the furniture makes the space feel cozy.

The kitchen on Tara Road -- three walls of counter space and a big kitchen table. This is the heart of the house, where Ria has clearly cooked many a meal for her family. Decorative plates add detail to the walls.

Here are a few items on the market that echo the warm family vibe of the house on Tara Road.

Black Marble Fireplace Mantel from Jamb.

Gold-Leaf Mirror from Jean-Marc Fray.

Handmade Lampshade from House of Chintz.

Vintage Greek Plate from 216 Stitches.

Bench from Primitive Passions.

Farmhouse Dining Table from Hastening Antiques.

Film Images: Noel Pearson Productions.

26 August 2011


Never one to follow the rules of the seasons very closely, my eye has lately been turning to pink interiors. Because I like to balance feminine and masculine elements in my decor, a vast swath of pink would never show up in my house. But there's no denying that pink puts a smile on my face. Whether slathered on the walls or peppered into a neutral palette via cushions and art, pink is an act of rebellion in an adult interior. From dusty to coral to shocking, the hue doesn't matter. It is undeniably girly. And sometimes a woman just wants to feel like a girl.

Images: Achados de DecoracaoBrabourne FarmLonny magazine, December 2010, June/July 2010, Feb/March 2010, House Beautiful magazine, March 2011, Living etc magazine, May 2011.
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