March 25, 2010

Madly, Truly, Talented – LA Summer house

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Work, work, work, work, work work, sleep, more work etc…. That’s pretty much the way my last couple of weeks have been getting ready to launch  There’s just not enough hours in the day. I need another me!!  So I’m counting the days until we get off to LA.  Been thinking about how many interior designers work I love out there.  Not sure if it’s the entertainment industry, the easy going indoor out door living, the beach, or the casual lifestyle in LA that inspires so many fun, imaginative, relaxed interiors.  Designer Ruthie Summers is definitely one of my favorites.


A dining room done with different colored vinyl chairs.




Summery Hollywood regency.


Ruthie Summers



Aaah again the pool…that perfect accessory to the LA House.


Here are some really cool items from her store Chapman Radcliffe on La Cienega boulevard.



This is the cover to Ruthie Summers book The LA House.

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March 22, 2010

40's Glam for today

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I’m so ready for our trip to LA this Sunday for spring break.  I can’t wait to visit all my favorite haunts, breathe some ocean air and enjoy some glam Hollywood interiors and furniture stores.  There’s a look I’m completely addicted to of late and it’s this feminine 40’s glam that feels like an old Hollywood movie set, yet very current.  Although a bold color addict I would love to do an entire house like this, or how about a hotel?


Via Desire to Inspire.


A perfect 40’s glam look by designer Ryan Korban.


This pale tan zebra printed cowhide could also be nice in this look.


Very Hollywood chic night stand from Patagonia Trading Company. They have great retro glamorous furniture designs.


Love this pale minty green. Another genius vignette by Ryan Korban.

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These two images via Habitually chic – feels like an old Hollywood movie set, but current. Timeless.

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Red leather and light brown velvet…great mix.


Hollywood style sofa from Patagonia Trading Company. Every time I go to the Raleigh hotel in Miami I’m dying to redesign the foyer and put two of these couches in there.  ( It’s one of my favorite hotels but they have yet to do something great with the foyer…)


Again, pale mint with cream fur.  Interior design Ryan Korban…perfect glam space.

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Really like the curtains here. Thinking of doing that in my  dining room.


Chic Hollywood sofa from Patagonia Trading Company.




Two ultra glam coffee tables from LiveLikeYouGreek Key coffee table.


Treillage coffee table.


A simpler look with sisal and muted tones, but nonetheless completely glam.

March 19, 2010

Space for the soul

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The house was small, the rooms were few but there were loggias, terraces, and pergolas all around it to watch the sun, the sea and the clouds  –  the soul needs more space than the body”

– Axel Munthe


Okay so that’s one of my favorite quotes on interiors…

For you not familiar with Villa San Michele on Capri, it’s a beautiful home (now a museum) situated at the top corner of the mountain as you arrive in to Capri from Naples.   It belonged to the Swedish doctor Axel Munthe in the 1800’s. While officially the doctor to the king and queen of Sweden, he traveled to Naples to help poor people during the plague.  During a mountain hike he came across a ruined chapel and fantasized of owning and restoring the property. The chapel, dedicated to San Michele, had been built on some of the ruins of Roman Emperor Tiberius villa.  Axel Munthe realized his dream, and has written a book about his life and love of his home on the hilltop .


I was there years ago, the house I hardly remember, but the view lives with you forever.  To get there you have to take a long winding staircase up the side of the mountain. The vistas during your long hike up, and from the many terraces when you arrive is breathtaking.   And I’m sure….that’s definitely good for the soul!


I know sitting in traffic on route 7 in Tyson’s Corner (which I have to do most days)  is probably really bad for the soul, and driving past endless strip malls not good either.  But you can have great company in the car, play a cool tune in the car, or perhaps take a different route to your destination.

Sure most of us can only dream of a view like this, but we have to do the best we can.  It doesn’t matter if you live in the smallest apartment, and can’t afford expensive things. The tiniest place can be your palace.  It’s up to you!  I was thinking of a few things we can do to create a home that’s good for the soul.

Spring is here so why not…


…live outdoors as much as you can.  Bring furniture outside, hang out door curtains, bring cushions and with some imagination create an out door room. People always forget the yard can be an extension of your interiors.


Put a small table out on the lawn or terrace (if you have one) and eat meals outside.



Make sure to have a really comfortable bed with soft sheets!!


Keep things simple and clutter free.  Things never made anybody happy.


You want a shiny pink bathroom? Paint it.  Create that space that makes you smile– even if nobody else likes it.  Who cares? It’s your home.


Open up the curtains and let the light shine in.


Always have space for a good friend, even if it’s on the floor.


And buy yourself flowers!


March 15, 2010

Casually living with color

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Years ago I avoided bright colors like the plague and everything had to be muted and old looking, and had to go together just so. I will even admit to going in to homes I had designed (Patty you know who I’m talking about…) and complain that the toys had to be removed, because they ruined the color scheme… I know – awful behavior. Amazing what motherhood can do. Now I love a casual, imperfect colorful home. Whether it’s strong colors on the walls, or just a piece of furniture adding a bright pop of color. I want it somewhere! I have to agree with Jonathan Adler, there are no colors that clash! (if used right….had to write that…)


Would I ever have liked a room with cobalt blue, baby blue, black, brown and beige with texture?? NO!!! I would have hated it. Now I think it’s perfect casual imperfection. Perfectly matched colors are boring.

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Flowers mixed with chrome and beige??

Below is my favorite design magazine articles of late from Canadian House & Home. Talk about living colorfully! The brighter the better.

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Why are so many of us cautious when it comes to living with colors? Maybe you want to add just one color to begin with, and see what that does. Maybe you’ll get the bug–

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I’m convinced kids like living with vivid colors. I think the more the better. I told Luke the other day that we can redesign in his room, to make it a little bit more grown up. And I asked him for his ideas. He got all excited and said I want FLAMES all over the walls!!! Hmmm…. art_flames

I’m always game for fun ideas but I have to admit I’m hesitating. I think I’ll give him some time to hopefully change his mind. Flames will be a bit to intense even for me!! But maybe we can paint his bunk bed orange.


Interior design:Barrie Benson


This room makes me smile. I found it on the sweet blog The little Shop and fell in love. It has all the colors you can think of. Do you think it clashes?

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Another picture from the House and Home article. I wish more people wouldn’t be afraid of living with color.

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How can Kirsten Bell ever be depressed coming home to her house LA?

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You can start out with just buying a great accent color on a lamp, or chair, to get used to a punch of color.

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Another great image from Canadian House & Home


Orange, red, brown and white anyone?


March 13, 2010

A growing family's dilemma – Part 1

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Anna and Garrett needed a bigger house with more space for themselves and their three boys.  So they found a great, big house downtown DC with plenty of space, and renovated it extremely well with no professional design help.  (You might remember I wrote about their great Ikea kitchen a few weeks back).   But after renovations of bathrooms, kitchen and cabinets, and after painting the entire house, they realized they had a problem…


(Here is Anna with the boys and Luke)

They had not left any room in the budget for furniture!  Or as Garrett said “The change orders ate our furniture” .  What they brought from the previous house was quickly swallowed up by the larger house.  So the main rooms remained pretty empty, or with furniture that were too small for the space.   So instead of enjoying her new house, Anna felt stressed arriving home, and she didn’t even want to have friends over.


So a decision was made to do whatever needed to be done to get the house furnished — but on a limited budget.  The walls had already been painted in nice pale tones, and all window treatments are white IKEA linen.  Anna likes a streamlined, neutral toned, Scandinavian modern look with a couple of country pieces mixed in.  She has a great sense of design, but how do you create that look on a budget without falling in the Ikea or Pottery Barn trap?  I definitely had to use my clothing analogy here (which makes Anna laugh), because it works the same way for interiors.

Don’t dress top to bottom in H&M, it wont look right. But if you wear an H&M top with old jeans, a designer coat and a vintage purse, you look chic.”

You can’t do an entire house in Ikea or West Elm. YOU’VE GOT TO MIX IT UP! Reuse and reinvent something you already have (paint a table, recover a chair), buy a couple of expensive pieces,  then  mix that with IKEA or other inexpensive sources. The expensive pieces will make the cheap ones look pricier, and the old pieces will add character that you just can’t buy.


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The dining room is the first room you see when you enter, so spending some money here makes sense.  Two things needed to be done. Get furniture that fits the scale of the room, and add some color and contrast while still sticking to neutral tones.   The carpet and lamps are too small and will find a new home in a bedroom.  The sideboard and dining room have the same problem, and will have to be sold.  Anna had purchased a white, modern dining table which looks great, but realized after wards it’s a bit too small for the room.  But for now that will have to stay.

Anna is in love with a big, dark wood hutch from Crate& Barrell and really wants to find a way to work that in to the design scheme.  It’s much heavier feeling then the dining table, but mixing can be fun if you can make it work.


Collecting and storing only white china on the shelves will lighten the look.


To make it work together we selected one of Madeline Weinrib’s chic cotton carpets in gray. You can save money in your budget by not buying a wool carpet.  The style will be able to balance the difference in weight and style of the two pieces. And the color is dark enough for a home with three little boys.  We chose a larger size than what was there.  Even the most expensive carpet will look cheap, if it’s too small.


Modern upholstered dining chairs from Lee Industries with some detailing on the back in a nice, calm brown velvet helps carry the dark hutch.  For the legs we’ve selected an off white finish to create contrast, and allow it to be fun and modern.  Think it will look nice.

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Like any good Swede Anna loves candle light.  So we choose two sconces to go on either side of the main window for some candlelit dinners.  This one from Global Views is fun.

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Anna just received her Madeline Weinrib carpet tonight and was thrilled!! She just called me and wants to now also upgrade the light fixture.  So we quickly e-mailed some images back and forth…hmmm.  Do you like any of these?  Would love your comments!!!!

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From top left (Homedecorators, Arteriors,Vaughan,Oly Studio and Robert Abbey.)

So the last piece of the puzzle –  ART.  I suggested to save money by using a large image of a photo Garrett took of the boys.  He loves taking pictures, has a great eye and why not allow yourself to be the artist in your own home? 949902549c

As soon as the pieces arrive I will follow progress here on the blog.  Next week we’ll visit some more rooms in her house.  Anna said since the renovations were extensive, vacations will have to be at home. So the plan for the bedroom is a “Ritz Carlton suite” for that perfect homey trip.  What a great idea!

P.S.  Benjamin More really liked the orange color mix in the TV room, check it out on their Facebook fan page.