Wednesday, December 30, 2009


For those of you that can remember, Kathryn Ireland, the LA-based designer, had a home accessories shop with her friend Amanda Pays in Santa Monica, CA . That was many moons ago, but she is a retailer at heart. After decorating and traveling for the past several years, the hankering for a store has returned. It has lead her to another kind of shop, the e-commerce kind. The Kathryn M. Ireland Store is now open online! British- by- way- of- LA interior designer and lifestyle guru Kathryn has finally made her fabric patterns and accessories available to all! Scoop up her bright globally-sourced fabric pillows, antique textile pillows, lampshades, her fabric sachets and furniture from her line. She is on a roll. Having just launched her newest book, Creating a Home, and snagging a prime retail space where Peter Dunham's shop was in LA's charmed Almont Yard, there are great things ahead for this effervescent Brit!


The Barley Twist Bed

Chair upholstered in antique suzani fabric has 6-8 week production lead time

An 18th Century French Sofa from the antiques selection

The Safi Suzani Throw Pillow

The Storybook Throw Pillow

A yummy sachet filled with French Lavender

Photos Courtesy of Kathryn Ireland
A lampshade made from a new fabric

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Photos Courtesy of Steven Gambrel
New York designer Steven Gambrel has long done the sort of work I admire. His sense of color, capturing the spirit of place, and mix of old and new amaze me. He started S.R Gambrel Incorporated in 1995. Creating timeless, comfortable interiors using genius color combinations, Steven makes a beach house or duplex interior a seamless mix of historical elements and fresh ideas. Handsome ebony woods and patinated hardware alongside a deep seated tufted sofa have become his signatures.

Steven looks at plans. His Labradoodle is the unofficial office mascot.

Photo Courtesy of Ballustrade and Bitters
Large windows and work spaces to spread out.

Photo courtesy of Ballustrade and Bitters
Assessing plans, constantly.

The interactive, open space allows for shared ideas and materials.

I chatted with Steven about his work and he shared insights about his influences and design preferences. He worked for an interior design firm and architect after obtaining his architecture degree at University of Virginia. Many stellar architects have studied there, like Richard Fairfax of Fairfax and Sammons. Just being around the amazing architecture rubs off on them and influences their design sensibilities. Steven found after working for other people that he liked doing interior and architecture, integrating the two. The idea of interior design is exciting to him, since it brings in the lifestyle element. Combining the two takes the overall big picture and meshes the client's vision from the start. Initially drawn to art color and form as a child, Stephen would imagine how things appeared in a composed setting. Spaces are lived in, and he never forgets this.

This notion of the exterior and interior flowing seamlessly together helped form the firm. On collaborating, he sees Chicago architect David Adler and his sister, Frances Elkins, as a great influence. They worked together to create architecture and a lifestyle over three decades. By asking their clients the right questions upfront, they were able to get a handle on the vision early. The integration is key to the complete concept, and this idea is a core aspect of Steven's work.

Fabrics make a room come alive. For fabric preferences,Steven does not like to repeat certain fabrics that are too specific. Constantly shopping for new things in the market to avoid redundancy, he has an extensive fabric library. Old World Weavers, Loro Piano and Holland and Sherry are go - to sources for favorite heavy woven linens, sheer wools and nubby textures.

Every designer has a piece of furniture they love for its scale, proportion or pitch. For Steven, it is a Klismos dining chair. Since he makes so many custom furnishing for projects, he took the antique and sized it up to work in a new setting. The firm makes their upholstery and buys antiques, so the office is always out scouring the market.

For constant inspiration, he likes to shop in stores that are well edited where displays are a creative mix. Aero, Thomas O'Brien's shop, is a store he knows will entice him, as well as CJ Peters and Eric Appel. When he shops, he always sees something that will work in one project or another, and envisions the room as he goes. Travels to Paris, galleries Blackman Cruz and Obsolete (also in San Francisco) in LA, or Antwerp stoke his imagination .

Books are a key inspiration point for decorators. The Yves St Laurent Catalog, John F. Staub, Leleu, Sir Edwin Lutyens, and Frances Elkins books are what he is loving now.

With this love of architecture, there are historic homes that serve as a wellspring of inspiration. Beauport is a favorite. Known as the Sleeper- Mcann House Museum, it was the summer home of Henry Sleeper in Gloucester, Ma. With this 40 room house, Sleeper created a new style, Colonial Revival. A montage of gables and ornamental chimneys, seaside English cottage and Gothic details converge. Construction lasted 27 years! For the history of American architecture and early American homes, this house set the standard. The interiors are filled with color-- from vibrant wallpapers and aubergine walls to hooked rugs, amber glass and red tole ware. This love of old homes meant, he says, he would have found himself restoring them if he did not have his own firm.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Photo Courtesy of The Printery
Even if you use ical or your Blackberry calendar, it is nice to have a reference calendar on your desk. Make it something special. The Printery, the paper couturiers in Oyster Bay, picks up where the late Mrs. John L. Strong left off. Their sweet little easel calendar with hand engraved Printery motifs is a nice daily reminder and civilized way to make each day count.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Photos Courtesy of Stewart, Tabori and Chang
I adore the color red. So does Chicago-based interior designer Alessandra Branca. In her gorgeous new book, New Classic Interiors from Stewart, Tabori and Chang, she envelops rooms in vivid color and her luxuriously dramatic interiors come to life. Growing up in Rome with a grandfather that was a Vatican Museum art historian, she was surrounded by the finest classical design and antiquities. She frequently returns to her apartment there, where she is inspired by the light, the energy of the Roman lifestyle, and the arts. This book showcases her strength in creating comfort, meaningful moments, and powerful statements in the home. I wish I could show it all--her kids rooms are so inventive and punchy they could be their own book! Writer Christine Pittel (a House Beautiful editor) makes it feel as though you are sitting with Alessandra, and she is taking you through her work, room by room-- not sparing any important details. I would say this book makes a worthy addition to your bookshelf, it is just chock- a- block with great tips and ideas.
In her New York pied a terre, she uses built in banquettes to make the most of the space. Alessandra's mother, an accomplished artist and decorative painter does gorgeous painted porcelain. She painted the blooming dogwood branches separately and they come together in their frames, hung in a graphic grid.

Alessandra's bulletin boards are a snapshot of her life. An office article in Marian McEvoy's House Beautiful was where I first saw her black and red palette and her use of black trim with nailheads. The effect is sharp.

From a tented ceiling hangs a crystal chandelier in this grand entryway. Double height ceilings and grand ebony doors make this a perfect place for an elongating stripe. This narrow red stripe has become a Branca trademark.

This room was planned around the hot pink and chocolate brown toile. The color saturates the setting and makes it lively and fresh.

This has always been one of my favorite rooms of hers. The delicately scalloped linen tableskirt is such a charming detail. Using Scalamandre's classic Pillemont Toile everywhere makes the room feel like a small left bank hotel in Paris.

Billowing yellow silk panels and a variety of seating areas in the living room make this large space more intimate.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Photos Courtesy of Rizzoli
Event planner to the cognoscenti and daring, Preston loves to use flowers by the yard. In Preston Bailey Celebrations: Preston Bailey Celebrations: Lush Flowers, Opulent Tables, Dramatic Spaces, and Other Inspirations for Entertaining by Rizzoli, he wows and amazes with an oversize format and lush photos. In case you want to raise the bar on your flower arranging, you are in luck.
A Flower Tree with dangling crystals and orchids is part of a fantasy world that Preston creates. Caution: this is not found in nature!
A white peacock of flowers---top that.

For your own holiday design fantasy, glitter and gold go a long way.
Photo courtesy of Goldbug Studio
A ladybug in gold foil is a cute addition down the center of the kids table for Christmas dinner. It would also make a good party favor. From southern company Goldbug Studio.

Photo Courtesy of Kmart
The Martha Stewart Everyday Modern Celebration Gold Glitter Starburst Ornament has a festive firework effect. It is from Kmart and a total steal

Photo courtesy of Garnet Hill
Glitter Bird Ornaments with a feather tail can go on a tree branch or mantel. Get yours at Garnet Hill.

Photo courtesy of Paper Source
If a clean and simple Parish Hadley- loved Moravian Star is more your style, then the craft paper ornament from Paper Source is a good option.

Photo Courtesy of Kmart
Martha Stewart Everyday First Snowfall Gold Glitter Leaf works well tucked into a bow on a present.

Photo Courtesy of Paper Source
Preston makes paper creations for events. Add a bit of DIY this holiday by making a Poinsetta Wreath from Paper Source.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Deck your halls with delicious fragrances over the holidays and into the new year. Candles have become ubiquitous, but a few have the scent and package presentation that really rise to the top. Companies have come up with inventive new ways to diffuse air with a nice aroma. Potpourri being potpourri is still not pleasant-- wood chips in a bowl is never a good thing.

Photo Courtesy of Agraria
Years back, the Bitter Orange candle used to be their defining moment. After doing signature fragrance lines with Michael Smith and Charlotte Moss, Agraria has become chic again. One of their newer products, The TasselAire, is a scented tassel, and a great idea. You get the scent delivered in a pretty package, and can use it on a door knob, as a tassel, in a drawer or on a hook.

Photo Courtesy of Kai
After Fracas, one of my all time favorite fragrances is Kai. Well, it turns out Kai has a new Room and Linen Spray. Being surrounded by the exotic white flower fragrance at home makes nesting even more appealing.

Photo Courtesy of Anthousa
The Aegean Sea Collection, inspired by the landscape and light blue waters of the sea is one of the newest transporting scents from Anthousa. Sea Grass, cactus water, lime leaves, and green clover blend with sea notes to create a vacation anywhere.

Photo Courtesy of Belle Fleur
White Orchid Tea is the newest Celebration candle scent to hit from Belle Fleur. With a double wick and white glossy package, it a nice gift for a bridal shower, hostess or someone that adores a white flower fragrance with Champagne notes.

When entertaining at home over the holidays, a nice candle in the powder room always sets a nice tone. The mini's from Belle Fleur are understated in their tortoise glass casing.

Mayan Tuberose Fragrance Spray works well on linens. To sleep better spray away. Ring in the new year with a good night's sleep.

Photo Courtesy of Diptyque
Diptyque's Roasted Chestnut Candle reminds me of street vendors in Paris and is a Christmasy scent that is not too holiday. The red and gold packaging adds a festive glow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Photos Courtesy of Rizzoli
The doyenne of all things glamour, Nancy Corzine, will be signing her new book, Glamour at Home from Rizzoli today at Bergdorf Goodman. In her well- styled showrooms to her retail shops she has made pale, calming blue a signature element and knows what gilding, mirrors and shiny surfaces add in a home. Her interiors are filled with special touches like shiny murano glass, satin upholstery, and billowing silk window panels. Gracious seating groupings and well placed lighting come together in dressy rooms, that make their occupants feel like a star. The snow has not yet started, so head over to BG now to pick up the glittering tome and meet Nancy. She will be there from 2-5, so if you happen to be taking in the Christmas windows near by, pop in and get a dose of chic.

Friday, December 18, 2009


It is getting down to the wire for mailorder gifts. If you want to send something yummy, check out the goodies here.
Receiving nuts for Christmas is almost as popular as Fruitcake. Squirrel Brand, started in 1888, is a Texas-based company that makes yummy artisanal nuts like you have never tasted before.

The wood gift box makes it an extra special treat to get in the mail.

The Creme Caramel Pecans up close and personal.

Creme Brulee Almonds are "bite size substitutes for the real thing."


Photo Courtesy of Graeters
Katie Woolsey, this one's for you. When I worked at Oprah's Home Magazine, Katie, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, would get sent a six pack of ice cream by her mom from her local Graeters. Since 1870, this French Pot Ice Cream has made tongues wag. For the holiday season, order their scrumptious Peppermint Stick and Cinnamon.


And following up on the Papabubble candy post, Alison from Maison 24 let me know that she has had a custom candy made with them for her shop! The Love Peace & Happiness candy mix (large jar $33, small jar $23) is a great gift & $2 from the sale of each jar will be donated to the ASPCA.It is available by mail order on their website, Maison 24 if you can't hit Soho.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Photo courtesy of Harry Allen
This resin and marble box is a nice way to gift a special piece of jewelery this holiday season. A Verdura bauble would really stand out. From the oft tongue in cheek Areaware by Harry Allen.