Thursday, September 4, 2014

Post Labor Day Pics

Is summer officially over?  Please say it isn't so.  Thankfully according to the Farmer's Almanac it isn't over quite yet because the fall equinox doesn't occur until September 22.

For most of us though, Labor Day ceremoniously marks the end of summer so I'm including a few pictures of a southern-style Labor Day party we designed over the weekend hosted by my cousins Shane and Suzanne Pavitt who are vintners and winemakers in Calistoga.  Guests dined on pulled pork sandwiches, watermelon salad, root beer-baked beans and a variety of other delicious southern specialties all effortlessly whipped together by our hostess Suzanne.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Love this!

Check out this awesome multifunctional space designed by Cortney Bishop.  To me, this looks and feels like a California home but in actuality it's part of the Flats at Mixon residential development in North Charleston, South Carolina.  To see more images of the development click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

VRBO randomness

It's summer and with a 10 year old son, in order to maintain my sanity that means a few strategically placed summer camps to keep him occupied throughout July and August.  First let me point out that when I was a kid growing up in the Valley we didn't go to summer camps.  We just hung out.  We swam at each other's pools, we had asphalt-standing contests (in bare feet, we counted up seconds to see who could withstand longest the smoldering midday asphalt heat which was so hot you could fry an egg on it) we rode bikes, climbed trees, and the coolest of the street moms, Faye Hogan and Gail Clark, took turns shuffling the kids to the beach.  After heading through Malibu or Topanga Canyon we'd either land at Free Zuma or, in Santa Monica right next door to the very private Jonathan Club. As a kid I had no idea about the Jonathan Club -- just that the public beaches flanking it were warm and pristine.  When I was older, I attended a party at the club and it was strange to be a guest inside looking out, as opposed to a young girl on the outside looking in.

But I digress...

Back to present day summers.  Nowadays there seems to be less spontaneous summer play.  Kids either log onto video games or alternatively some lucky ones attend day camps: sports camps, craft camps, cooking camps, beach camps, academic camps (summer school for the well-heeled).  You get the idea.   I'm exaggerating of course but only slightly.  Anyway, falling into that trap, I was considering a one week basketball camp for my son in Santa Monica which is a bit of a trek from my home in Torrance so I thought, hmmm...maybe, for one week, we could rent something small and quaint in Santa Monica to avoid the traffic and headache that accompanies commuting in Los Angeles.   I went onto VRBO and lo-and-behold, this was the third house that popped up.  (I kid you not. I couldn't have found this listing without the aforementioned string of events occurring in my brain.)

Do you recognize this room below?

Upon first viewing I thought, "Hmmm, that really looks and feels like a Kathryn Ireland designed home."  And then I saw the pool and said, "Wait a minute, I'm pretty sure this is KI's house."

Mind you, I hadn't read the VRBO property description yet.  I was just going off the visuals but while sifting through them I realized I had stumbled upon the home of a Million Dollar Decorator (MDD).  My curiosity took over, along with the sense of kismet that happens when you write a blog, so I kept flipping through the pictures.  The room that confirmed the home's ownership was the kitchen, specifically the seafoam colored Aga stove, which I had seen on a MDD episode where Kathryn's three sons cook her a birthday dinner.  (Seriously, who recognizes someone's design aesthetic from their stove?   Um, that would be me.   You may recognize the stove as well and if you do, we have something in common.)   

But I feel strangely weird writing about this listing like I'm breaking a is for rent after all...and it's 'out there' on the internet and VRBO for anyone to see so I guess I'm just sharing the link in a design blog kind of a way.     :)

Aside from the showcased rooms that are viewable in Kathryn's book, "Timeless Interiors" I love how some of the other rooms are still well decorated but not overdone.  It appears that a real family lives here and it's not perfect.  Case in point the Eames recliner in one of the family rooms is a bit quirky but lovable.  The deco inspired leather chair in the white bedroom is another example of the unexpected.

The reason I'm drawing attention to these elements is that there seems to be a presumption for designer's homes to be flawless but these pictures demonstrate that while even the best decorators strive for ideal environments, rooms are not always perfect.  They are meant to be lived in.  Does that sound too preachy?  I'm writing it for myself as much as for anyone reading.  The quirky detail is what makes it real.  For example my Aunt Terry has a fantastic garden room with wrap-around french windows, overstuffed, shabby chic sofas, wicker side tables, (you get the idea) but she also has a two-foot-tall, illuminated plastic duck that adds the element of unexpectedness and personality to the room.

I could go on about how much I love the rest of Kathryn's house but for today that's enough from my design pulpit.  My guess is you'd rather scroll through these images without my banter.  Enjoy.

It is unclear how long the VRBO listing will stay live but to view it now, click here

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Riviera View: Smitten with for Spring

Here are a few of my favorite things for Spring 2014:

Links to above images:  

Agate Book Ends:
C Magazine:
Helmut Lang Shift Dress:
Katie Ridder Textiles:
Les Indiennes Bedding:
Muji Cuckoo Clock:
My Mom's Illustrations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens:

Saturday, May 24, 2014


If like me, you're a sucker for peonies, and if you live near Trader Joe'syou're in luck. Trader Joe's bi-annually stocks peonies at crazy discounted prices. Single stems that would normally retail in a traditional florist shop for $10 each are now sold in clusters of five for $6.99. But the window of opportunity doesn't last long: I think about a week or two.  So if you seek a sweet indulgence, act quickly.  And Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tim Clarke's Yard Sale

During the Sochi Winter Olympics, I learned a new snowboarding term called a yard sale.  A yard sale describes a snowboarder who, while wiping out, loses their board, gloves, goggles or whatever else was once attached to them but is now strewn haphazardly all over the slope -- leaving the scene looking like, you've got it, a yard sale.

Stay with me here, the design tie-in is coming.  In 2012, interior designer Tim Clarke gave an interview to Apartment Therapy sharing his design process which reminded me somewhat of a knowledge yard sale. Practically giving it away and filled with interesting tidbits, Clarke shared with readers how and why he does what he does to create calm, coastal spaces.  Kind of wonderful when you consider it. Some of this information is also available in his book, Coastal Modern but this Apartment Therapy post provides the Cliffs Notes version.  

For those of you familiar with Coastal Modern and wanting to see additional images never included in the book, visit Tim Clarke's houzz page.

And let me know if this was helpful in the comments section!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Peace out

Found on the website of the newly launched interior design magazine Milieu, I love these white painted wooden beads from Back Row Antiques.  For Southern Californians, you can also find them at Gum Tree in Hermosa Beach.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Southern California Craftsman at the Beach

My design partner Karin and I recently worked on a Craftsman-style home in Redondo Beach, California.  Below are a few pictures of the space.  Our client is creative and loves celebrating the changing seasons by switching out colors and accessories so she asked for a Great Room in a neutral palette.  The fabrics and wood tones in calm gray, beige and black allow her to change things up when she's ready.

The dining room above and below.

Below is the family room where we mixed sand-toned upholstery and fabrics with darker toned wood and wrought iron.

Below is a detail shot of a sofa pillow in Raoul Textiles' Jaipur India.  The drapery fabric is from Southern California-based Le Gracieux.  We learned a ton about custom-printed linen during this gig. 

The bedroom below belongs to an adorable young girl who was very much hands-on during the design process.  She wanted to incorporate bright colors like turquoise and coral so we keep most of the linear surfaces off-white and added contrast color with accents pieces.  The hanging chair is from Serena and Lily.

Below is a detail of the bedside table from Ikea.  The ceramic elephant lamp and drawer knobs are from Cost Plus World Market.

 Photography: Joe Schmelzer.  Styling: Stephen Pappas.

To find out more about our design services contact me at: 
310) 503-3653

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Back to Black

For the past few years I've wanted to design a room solely in shades of black and white.  Pulling off that look takes serious editorial skills (not to mention a lot of huevos). When it comes to design, I lean towards the "more is more" philosophy but secretly pine for living with less.   I really love color too: pinks, blues, reds, greens and oranges are my go-to girls, so it's hard to imagine excluding them from the party.  But I've been mulling it over and thinking the time has come for a large dose of black (or very dark chocolate brown) in my ethereal off-white world of sofas, chairs and curtains.

Black and white have been fashion staples forever.   Here's Julianna Moore from a few years ago looking fab in traditional houndstooth with a little zebra zing thrown in.

New York's Spring 2013 Fashion week was replete with black and white ensembles.  Christina H's blog deCĂ©lie has a quick overview :

(runway photo's from

I absolutely love Emily Weiss rocking this black and white look from NY's Spring 2014 Fashion Week.  Fantastique!

Photographed by Phil Oh

Celerie Kemble's 2010 book explored the b&w premise:

Julie Carlson's recently released book Remodelista, plays with the concept too:

My first black and and white furniture crush was this year's MGBW Draper Chair:

And more recently, this Donegal sofa from Crate and Barrel

A few weeks back I saw this great Marimekko animal print on the fabric wall in their new Beverly Hills location:

All this black and white is a decidedly mid-century turn for someone who up until now was enamored with white linen slipcovers.  So yesterday (as if there wasn't enough to do two days before Christmas) I stopped by FandS Fabrics to check out a few black and white textiles and ponder if this was just a phase or something a bit more legit.  FandS, located on Pico Boulevard, is a Southern California designer staple and one of the last surviving fabric stores in town. Not sure how long they've been in business but I can tell you that my mother, aunt and grandmother all shopped there.

It's a little wild to imagine my grandmother Darlene roaming the same aisles, touching the fabrics and mixing patterns so many years ago.  She made her own slipcovers and draperies and her sewing skills are still admired by our family:  "No simple feat," my mother would say.

Here  are a few black and white patterns I considered.
The first is a plaid...

This gods-eye pattern was fun in either color way:

To quote Sheila Bridges, "I never met a stripe I didn't like" so this ticking pattern would be a safe segue into black.

This pattern has other colors but I loved the Arts and Crafts feeling combined with a black ground.

For this photo it was the bottom bolt, the houndstooth that caught my eye.  The fabric above it is too Escher-esque and makes me dizzy.

Another linen stripe...

These two fabrics, the gold leaf and the white embroidered floral pattern, were both really nice.

A simple woven linen with a subtle sheen.

A faux cow hide could be really fun on the right piece.

Another faux fur in brown with black undertones

This oversized damask was really pretty and not too serious.

Here's the same damask in two other colorways.

I'll keep you posted on what happens. It may be simply starting by painting my front door black on the interior.

photo via nestegg