Blogging from Paradise

November 30, 2011

It’s a beautiful day in paradise – Phuket, Thialand – and I’m blogging from our patio overlooking the Andaman Sea.  Simply amazing.  I have to say the natural beauty of Thailand is incredible, and the culture is inspiring both in spirit and style…  There is nothing quite like the warmth of the Thai people. Our resort the Paresa is a blend of traditional Thai and contemporary design, the warmth of wood and strength of stone balanced with the weightlessness of floor to ceiling glass is combined with woven textures, hand painted silks and exotic wood floors.

Sorry the picture is a bit out of focus and grainy, don’t know whats going on with that, but here is an image of the suites at Paresa Resort.  Infinity pools and luxury bathrooms make the rooms special beyond imagination!  Our room has a vessel tub made from white terrazzo, frameless glass enclosures for both the lav and shower… all with glorious views.  Here’s what you’re missing…

And because I know you’re dying to see it…

Bellocq

November 29, 2011

BELLOCQ, the award-winning tea company and purveyor of evocative artisan blends, has relocated their ‘tea atelier’ to Greenpoint, New York following the success of their Kings Road, London shop, Bellocq Tea Atelier. The business, which offers a unique and evocative line of handcrafted blends, with seductive names such as ‘Kikuya’, ‘Le Hammeau’ and ‘Noble Savage’, also curates an inspiring selection of the organic full leaf teas. Bellocq is refining the luxury tea business to suit the evolving and sophisticated taste of the modern client.

THE STORY of Bellocq is one of passion and discovery. Bellocq’s founders, Heidi Johannsen Stewart, Michael Shannon and Scott Stewart joined creative forces with a desire to collaborate on a shared aesthetic vision that captures their appreciation of traditional artisan work and a love of fine tea.

Bellocq’s award-winning handcrafted blends unite the finest traditional teas with a modern, adventurous spirit. “Tea is an affordable, everyday luxury,” says Heidi, a former Martha Stewart Living editor, stylist and columnist, who’s work regularly graces the pages of various fine publications including ‘Food and Wine’ magazine, ‘O’ the Oprah magazine, and the ‘New York Times’, “Bellocq’s sophisticated approach to flavor and fragrance is tailored to an educated, stylish, and sophisticated customer. Our teas suit the needs and desires of the modern well-traveled client. We use all of our resources to create extraordinary teas and cultivate genuine relationships with our clients.”

Read more HERE.

Hong Kong Hustle

November 28, 2011

…is what we did that today in spades. After an early morning coffee and a trek to the top of Victoria Peak, we went shopping for linens, ceramics, and furniture.  a brief lunch by the pool at the Four Seasons and we were back to shopping this time for clothes – I love Shanghitang – and finally foot massages and pedicures.  Thats my kind of hustle!  Exhausted, I could do it all again tomorrow.  One of the better websites/blogs I have found since being here is hongkonghustle.com.  Young and current it has something for anyone intrested in design, food, nightlife and the whats what in Hong Kong.  Even if you’re not planning on visiting Hong Kong anytime soon, it’s an interesting read with lots of pretty pictures and who knows you might just end up ahead of the curve on the next big trend.

Kathy Griffin Redesign

November 27, 2011

Found on a fellow bloggers site (http://fernexpress.wordpress.com/) I was blown away by this photo of Katy Griffin.  What does this have to do with design?  you might be asking…  Everything.  It’s all packaging.  This woman has recreated herself literally by dieting, going under the knife, bleaching, dying, relaxing, waxing and yes air-brushing.  But, she looks amazing!  How different is it really than starting with a one window apartment in NYC and dressing it up to look like a million bucks? ok several million.  not at all.  It’s the attention to detail, the up-keep and making the right choices to better your space… or face.

oh and… Griffin is an outspoken supporter for LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. She has protested with fellow proponents in West Hollywood, California, and showcased the footage of such protests on her reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.  Prior to the Proposition 8 ballot results, Griffin volunteered for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s “Vote for Equality” campaign, going door-to-door asking Los Angeles residents for their opinion of LGBT marriage rights.  In March of 2010, Griffin helped organize a rally in Washington DC to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Read more on Kathy here.

Secret Garden

November 26, 2011

Love these butterflies with wide-spread wings and beetles with long feelers arranged in a circle with legs next to each other  forming brooches, pendants, rings and bangles. They also occur individually, as an ear stud sitting on the tip of the ear, or as a pin, nonchalantly crawling on the lapel.  All of these are the works of Nikolay Sardamov.  

The insects are their own silhouettes: silver shadows, sometimes gilded or blackened. They sit in symmetric ornaments which grow into three-dimensional constructions and resemble flowers in bloom. The beetles and butterflies turn into petals. and they are breathtaking. And the secret of the garden? Its flowers can spread their wings and fly away.

Hong Kong

November 25, 2011

Who knew there was another city that never sleeps? And, no.  I’m not referencing my internal time-clock that is quite angry with me for traveling half way around – or over as it were – the world.  Last night was or first night in this big crazy city.  I was surprised at how multicultural it actually is.  Young people everywhere, from every walk of life pouring out of the bars and clubs that apparently stay open all night long are fashionable and hip, and they all seem to speak english.  After several drinks with friends from the states and here, we walked to a private supper club for dinner.

The food was amazing, and I was so glad to not have to navigate a menu.  Everything was hand-picked by our host and we ate like royalty.  Whole fried sweet and sour fish, dumplings, cabbage, and far too many others to mention.  After dinner we had a night-cap before taking our friends back to their hotel. I don’t know why I didn’t expect so many hills, so many young people and the old and new to be so intertwined, but there it is.  My first impression of Hong Kong…  Young, diverse and very cool.
P.S. Sorry about the stock images… many good ones from dinner but still having a few minor issues with iphone, roaming, wifi and the like.  Will update when I get all that corrected.
P.P.S. If I decide to post daily about Hong Kong I will intersperse with other things to keep for being too self-indulgent… or check back after the 4th, and I’ll be back to the usual fodder.  Thanks for reading.  BB

Grey is the New Black

November 24, 2011

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  Ok, so this is a mobile post from the Boston airport… I’m on my way to Hong Kong and Thailand! Posts maybe hit or miss for the next two weeks ( and spell check will not be watching my back ) but I’m going to try and keep this going while I’m away. The WordPress App for the iPhone is good, but it ain’t great so cross your fingers for me.

I was checking out the latest and greatest shelter magazines a few days ago and it hit me, grey is the new black. Just look! A grey colorless spread in each of the magazines that came out this month. I will admit that my work has been influenced by this trend towards greys and taupes. They are the perfect compliment to popular purples and lavenders and suit yellows and orange. A refreshing change from greys warm cousin beige, grey seems to be making a comeback!

Here is a snapshot of a clients home in Florida of a taupey grey sisal from Merida. The walls are a soft yellow, we used mostly taupe and grey upholstery fabrics with small pops of lavender in this living room… It’s looking great, but we’re not done yet. Strong accents in white and burnished gold will add needed “umph” to this pretty room.

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Let Them Eat Cake!

November 21, 2011

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Found a recipe for pumpkin layer cake at MarthaStewart.com with a goat and cream cheese frosting, made it last night for family and it was a hit.  Pretty easy to make and the quince ( I used pears ) compote made by poaching the fruit in white wine and sugar was the perfect complement to the tang of the frosting a the mild sweetness of the cake. The cake was pretty straight forward and the frosting couldn’t be easier, so easy in fact I kept thinking I had messed it up some how, but it was great. In fact, even the compote was pretty easy to prepare.  After the heavy meal of turkey, stuffing and all the standard side dishes this cake was the perfect finish, not too sweet, not too heavy and all the flavors of the season… and a few new ones!

My only complaint would be that the layers didn’t hold together too well when it came to slicing and serving.  For me the way a recipe presents is as important as the way it tastes, and in the end it was pretty with the compote puddled on the plate, the slice of cake laying on its side and the fruit just so but it took a little finessing to get all 16 servings to look good.  Note: cut and plate this one in the kitchen not at the table!  Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Layer Cake

Prep: 20 minutes. Total: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Makes one 8-inch layer cake; Serves 12.

INGREDIENTS

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups solid-pack pumpkin (from one 14 1/2-ounce can)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with circles of parchment, and brush with butter. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with butter milk, and beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until golden brown, pulling away from sides of pans, and until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Let cool.

Evenly spread half the goat cheese frosting on top of 1 cake. Top with the second cake, and frost top with the remaining frosting. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Goat Cheese Frosting

Prep: 10 minutes. Total: 10 minutes
Makes 3 cups (enough for one 8-inch layer cake).

INGREDIENTS

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS

Beat cheeses until combined. Gradually add sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Quince-Ginger Compote

Prep: 20 minutes. Total: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Makes about 7 cups

Overly ripe quinces may not retain their shape as they simmer, so it’s best to use ones that have just ripened.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (from one 2-inch piece)
3 pounds just ripened quince (about 4), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (melissas.com)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Bring wine, water, sugar, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add quinces. (Add more water if needed to cover fruit.) Reduce heat, and simmer gently until quinces are tender, 25 to 45 minutes depending on ripeness of fruit.

Transfer quinces to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Bring liquid in saucepan to a simmer, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove, and discard ginger. Stir in lemon juice. Pour syrup over quinces. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate if desired.

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This one is Martha’s

White Kitchens

November 21, 2011

How can you not love the all white alcove kitchen?  When a countertop just appears out of a wall of cabinets and the only thing that really identifies the space a kitchen is the faucet… well lets just say you had me at all white.  Love this space.  I don’t even mind the exposed track lights than in my book are usually a no-no.  The simple honesty of them ( and yes, they are practical ) works in this minimal space.  A more designed light source might have looked like the designer was trying too hard a made this kitchen over designed… You might have convinced me to have used mirror as a back-splash, depends on what would have ended up in the reflection.

This picture is so familiar to me, I’m almost sure I have posted it before.  LOVE! Even the floors are white.  I’m not sure if someone left the lazy Susan corner cabinet door open or if that black detail is intentional but I love the no uppers cabinetry and that there are no trophy appliances surrounded by an overworked tile backsplash and a monster hood of some sort closing in the space.  Oh, and… Trend Alert, you read it here first… I’m going on the record as saying that Corian is the new Granite. I think people will start moving away from the hard cold heaviness of granite and marble and find new innovative ways to use Corian beautifully.  I’ll definitely check back in on that one, stay tuned.

November 20, 2011

Love that the owner/designer of this house decided to paint it black to allow the structure to recede into the forest behind it and not overpower the landscape.  There were many good decisions made in the design of this house actually.  There is a very modern feeling thanks to the lack of too many small traditional windows, instead massive sheets of glass and large french doors finish the ends of several rooms, framing the beautiful views and keep the structure simple.

The texture of the boards on both the inside and outside are another brilliant decision, played up with the high contrast of colors from outside to inside.  Love the washed out “everything bright” interiors with the accents of black.  For me, this house reads like a winter house, a place I’d like to go with massive amounts of snow piled up around the house.  Fluffy down comforters on the beds and plenty of cashmere on hand to hunker down with and some good books and magazines would make for a perfect weekend.

I might need a slightly more “sink into me” sofa for this spot to really be cozy.  I get that the high design sofa looks right in this uber-clean interior but I’d have to have a down-filled sofa  and I might add a slick tall armchair for reading ( when I’m not napping).

Flokati Rugs

November 19, 2011

Yes please!  All those windows, a giant sectional and everything white… I’m in. The only thing I’d add is a flokati.  A flokati rug is a handmade shag wool rug. Making flokatis is a long-time tradition of the Vlachs in the Pindus mountains. The natural color of a flokati rug is off-white, but they may be dyed different colors. The entire rug is wool, including the backing from which the tapered shag emerges. After the rug is woven, it is placed in the cold water of a river to fluff the shag. They continue to be handmade in the mountains of Greece and continue to be highly sought after.  Well suited for modern and mid-century interiors I like them in any cozy space and I think they mix well with other styles.

Beige

November 18, 2011

Today it’s all about beige.  Yes, I love beige… and I’m not afraid to admit it.  For me a beige color palette is like a cashmere blanket, soft and comfortable, cozy but not too heavy, refined.  Not to mention… Timeless.

Hey Pretty

November 18, 2011

We might be staring winter in the face but I’m still delivering slip-covered furniture to clients.  Were putting finishing touches on summer homes before some of my clients leave for warmer destinations BUT slip-covers aren’t just for summer any more.  My local clients that stay local love the relaxed and easy feeling a slip-cover gives an upholstered piece.  plus it’s an easy machine wash when things need a little freshening up… And, the flexibility of swapping out a color or pattern on a whim can’t be beat.  Speaking of fresh, I love this color palette.  I’m pretty sure the small geometric green and natural print is from Lee Industries – but don’t quote me, and it’s great surrounded by all that white.

White is the perfect foil for strong bright colors.  It’s a neutral that maintains a crisp sharp palette and the strength of the white stands up to strong colors like red, navy, lime green and turquoise… to name a few.  I love beige, tan and taupe but choose those neutrals when your using muted colors.

The List – Luis Morais

November 16, 2011

LUIS MORAIS bracelets are available at better retailers ( Barney’s?) and on-line at Mr. Porter.com.  While many are already sold out you can still buy one of these lovely bracelets that add a little something to an outfit, a dash of color, a hint of world traveler… for yourself, a friend or… me. The Luis Morais orange glass beaded wisdom bracelet, detailed with a yellow gold orb containing a small diamond. Taking inspiration from a Tibetan talisman called the ‘Bead of Brightness’, this vivid bracelet will give your look – or mine – an extra layer of style.

Office White Out

November 16, 2011

I don’t have to tell you I’m a big fan of white on white and in a work area it’s genious.  The smart use of this narrow space is impressive but, it’s the all white that really makes it fresh and hip.  Don’t get me wrong I love a good wood-paneled room to cozy up in with a fire and my laptop, but when it comes to getting work done the no distractions, white on white color story keep a work space clean and free of visual clutter.

Of course personal items, supplies and perhaps some art will eventually find its way into the space, if you build in too many details your space could quickly turn into hodge-podge-lodge.  Before that happens commit to a look ( add warm neutrals, pops of blue or maybe just stick with white?) and stick with the game plan, remember this is a place to get work done and the fewer distractions and the better organized the better.

*images found on the modernfindings.com website.

The List – Marc McNairy

November 15, 2011

To up the style stakes, add a slice of sharp colour to your look…I might wear these shoes with a contrasting bright belt or pocket square for an eye-popping detail.  Sold out on Mr. Porter in my size ( 9.5 or 10 just incase you find them for me ) Marc McNairys CHUKKA BOOTS WITH CONTRASTING SOLES are too cool for school.   They have xblood full grain leather chukka boots from Mark McNairy with contrasting bright yellow rubber soles and a simple lace closure. I want, I want, I want.  But at $420 I’m guessing I won’t be seeing them under the Christmas tree, but you never know ; )

Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (born December 4, 1927 in Malmö – died July 3, 2004 in Copenhagen), often known simply as Torun, was one of Sweden’s most important 20th century silversmiths and a master jeweler. She is the first female silversmith to have become internationally famous.  Among her most important works are the watch “Vivianna,” the bracelet “Mobius,” and the earrings and necklaces “Dew Drop.”  Throughout her career, Torun worked in Sweden, France, Germany and Indonesia.

In 1948, saying that she didn’t want to design jewelry for the wives of wealthy men to keep locked up in private, Torun began making what she called “anti-status jewelry” out of twisted silver wire embellished with crystals and stones. In 1959, she designed the Mobius necklace, which included a lead crystal drop to be draped over the shoulder of the wearer. It was described by Barbara Cartlidge, author of the reference book Twentieth Century Jewelry, as a “milestone in the history of modern jewelry.” In 1962, Torun designed a stainless steel bangle-style wristwatch for an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.   It later became the first wristwatch to be produced by the world-renowned Danish silver company Georg Jensen.

In 1960, Torun was awarded a gold medal at the 1960 Milan Triennale and also won the American Lunning Prize for design, given annually to innovative Scandinavian designers in their thirties. She then met, for the first time, Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, for whom she began designing exclusively in 1969.

Torun is the designer behind some of the most famous Georg Jensen jewelry designs, including ‘Mobius’, ‘The Vivianna / Open Watch’, ‘Beans’, Forget me knot’ and ‘Hidden Heart’. She is the second most famous Georg Jensen designer, behind Jensen himself. In 1992 she was awarded the Prince Eugen medal by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for outstanding artistic achievement.  Also in 1992, the Georg Jensen form held an exhibition honouring 25 years of its association with Torun, 45 years of her work with silver and her 65th birthday. In the same year, theMusee des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre held a 45-year retrospective of Torun’s work.

Torun’s jewelry was inspired by natural shapes such as flowers, leaves, swirls and the flow of water. It is described as sober, minimalist and simple. Torun has been praised for her ability to shape solid materials into seemingly flexible forms, so that metal flows like water around the wearer’s neck and shoulders.  She did not use valuable stones, preferring instead pebbles, granite, rock crystal, moonstone and quartz.

Torun’s jewelry has been worn by celebrities including Billie Holiday, Ingrid Bergman, and Brigitte Bardot, and her customers included Pablo Picasso and Duke Ellington.  Her work can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Montreal, the Louvre in Paris, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London, and in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.


Truth is I don’t wear french cuff shirts, ever.  But if I did I’d want these because I think they would look good with a tux or a pair of jeans.  Instead of having 18 pair of cufflinks I like the idea of just one pair ( the cufflinks ) and at $185 they don’t even break the bank.  They look like they cost more than that, not that it matters… These Paul Smith button shape T-bar backed cufflinks have a string criss cross and circle of semi-precious stones including mother-of-pearl, red agate and peach jade. On the cuff of a crisp white shirt these witty cufflinks will really make a statement but pair it with jeans.  I would.

Fresh Palette

November 13, 2011

I love the natural and organic feeling of this room.  I’m not sure if this is a family room with extra beds for over-flow or a bedroom with a really big sofa but I love this room for its bright fresh palette and relaxed vibe.  There is a youngness to this space … the simplicity and simple non-patterned room makes for a great calm to hover in the space, invigorated by the punch of orange, love it.

Dream house – Borrowed Blog

November 12, 2011

Um, Yes please!  I don’t want to be the one to squeegee the roof every other day, but I’d sign on for one or more of these on my vacation/summer/retirement home site in a heart beat.  Enclose the bathroom around back in the “shed” and you got everything you need to sleep out,  in the open but protected from rain, bugs and things that creep around in the night.  I might need to add a screen or two so I could get fresh air, but I love this simple concept… plucked from the pages of dornob.com this borrowed blog was way to cool to not repost. read on…

Fashioned from a prototype prefab garden greenhouse, this garden shed sleeps two by night and engages its gorgeous natural environs on all sides by day.

Ville Hara and designer Linda Bergroth collaborated to craft the non-residential variant, while the latter creator went on to add solar panels, storage spaces and recycled brick steps to make a miniature glass house (or at least: three-season bedroom) for herself as well.

In standard Scandinavian style, a series of cookie-cutter pieces can come together in various ways – in this case, the core gable-roofed, wood-and-glazing element opens up views on three sides while shed-element clutter is kept to the back of the site, away from the waterside view.

Inside, a simple pine wood floor and single beside lamp and suspended light fixture keep the entire composition clean and minimal, focusing the eye and mind more on the lovely natural exterior and few elements (a vintage record player and some potted plants) of additive decor.

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