Thursday, February 27, 2014


Berkeley, CA-based Linea Carte makes charming notecards with loopy calligraphy and images of sweet things like zebras and ocean dwellers painted in watercolor. Dina Piyari, the designer behind the line, recently created an exclusive collection of small canape plates for Anthropologie, complete with the letters of the alphabet paired with everything from animals to sea creatures and varied joyous motifs. The stoneware plates, made from a vintage mold, have a wonderful retro feel, providing their nostalgic appeal. Hang them on the wall of a nursery or use them for tea time, either way, they add a touch of whimsy and wonder.

Photos courtesy of Anthropologie
The plates from A-Z

Each one is cuter than the next, but grouped by animal or theme, they could also be hung as a monogram

The story book quality of the design makes them look like the pages of a book that came to life

The anchor is wonderful-

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Photo courtesy of WSJ by Eric Boman
Just look at the lightness and texture a piece of two of wicker can add in a stylistically diverse setting, as seen in the ever-elegant bedroom, circa 1996, of flawless Italian style setter, Marella Agnelli as seen in the WSJ 

With spring (just?) around the corner, lets turn our sights to summer settings, for a moment, and materials that were once thought of as strictly for summer use only.  Redoing a beach house, or looking to add more natural materials at home? With blonde wood and wicker making a big appearance lately, sometimes its nice to keep things light. The addition of one wicker piece can do wonders for a space, Marella Agnelli knew this well--  just ask Tom Scheerer about this love for the woven material. Wicker and rattan can elevate a casual setting or level a haute one. Here are several woven raffia, wicker and natural material choices to pick from. Enjoy the lite version, sometimes its simply the best thing.

Photo courtesy of Palacek
A round high table with interesting base, wrapped entirely in braided seagrass, is a new, beach-appropriate addition to the Jeffrey Alan Marks Collection for Palacek

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lily
A low profile and extra shelf for storage below make Serena and Lily's natural woven round table a chic option for a sun room or living room seating area. The textured rattan adds a laid back element.

Photo courtesy of Made Goods
The lattice detail bordering the tray table top of Made Goods Sarah Table adds a crisp Palm Beachy feel that could look at home from Maine to Miami.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren
Looking for a generously sized ottoman to fill a great room? Ralph Lauren Home has you covered with the Peyton Ottoman in woven natural fibers.

Photo courtesy of William Sonoma Home
With French accents, William Sonoma Home's woven raffia Farallon Chair is like something you might find at a boutique hotel in Provence.  Notice how the apron is set back to make room for legs making it more comfortable than a straight base.

Photo courtesy of Palacek
Palacek's Retro Lounge Chair, made of rattan, has a slightly inclined pitch, just right for sipping Mai Tai's on the lanai.

Photo courtesy of Selamat
Selamat Supper Side Chair inspired by great Nordic classics mixes a steel frame with curved rattan back and seat for a lightweight option

Photo courtesy of Selamat
Sona Side Chair in bent light rattan from Selamat would add some Old Florida appeal around a brightly colored linen wrapped game table.

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lily
I am often asked about where to find barstools that are attractive and comfortable. The new Carson Counter Stool from Serena and Lily incorporates rustic woven honey colored rush and abaca on the seat and back with a standout stripe for an updated, modern barstool.

Photo courtesy of Soane
With a round back resembling the spokes of a bicycle wheel, the Carousel Bar Stool from Soane is custom made in the same factory that produced Victorian era wicker in England.

Photo courtesy of Made Goods
They call it a nightstand, but Made Goods Marisol table can be oh so much more.

Photo courtesy of Two's Company
Adorable round mirrors of bent rattan  from Two's Company add charm to a hallway or entrance, and look wonderful in clusters.

Photo courtesy of Clayton Gray
The Basket Cloche Pendant, from Clayton Gray, comes suspended from a rope, adding to its rustic chic appeal.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Long favored for its durability as a floor covering and to hold memos on the wall, cork is having a bit of a comeback. I love it for its versatility, texture, and natural, renewable and sustainable properties it possesses. Tree-harvested mainly in Portugal, cork has been valued for its acoustic qualities and fire resistance, often lining the walls of recording studios, not to mention retaining Champagne and wine in their bottles, since it can compress and expand making it well-suited to preserving precious contents. Add a little pop with the lightweight material, to bring the variegated surface appeal home.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Young
Jamie Young's cork pendant light fixture brings textural appeal to a classic design stalwart, the pendant fixture. Over a breakfast nook or in a home office, this fixture is an understated classic.

Photo courtesy of C. Wonder
Serve in style with C. Wonder's gold-flecked cork tray that has a hint of shimmer. Stacked books and accessories really stand out against the neutral surface.

Photo courtesy of Vitra
Jasper Morrison-designed the Cork Stool B, in the "new simplicity" style in 2004. It continues to look great today. Available at Design Within Reach, it is the perfect spot to place a drink.

Photo courtesy of C. Wonder
Beveled edges add a refined element to C. Wonder's picture frame in cork. Try re-framing all your photos in matching frames for design cohesion. It puts the focus on whats inside them, and doesn't distract.

Photo courtesy of Schoolhouse Electric
It is buoyant and not absorbent, so cork works well as a soap dish material, as seen here from Schoolhouse Electric.

Photo courtesy of Robyn Brooks
You CAN take it with you. A simple envelope-closure clutch, the Hailey, ensures an elegant style statement for evening, from Robyn Brooks New York.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Its no secret that I love music, and when my Bose Sound Dock died last year, I was left without an easy way to tap into my Pandora and Spotify playlists. This lack of a sound system at home led me on a quest to find the best Bluetooth wireless speaker. I have written about the mini Jambox before-- I love its Yves Behar design, but it left me wanting in the sound department. A little tech and sound research later, I discovered 5 portable speakers across varying price points that fit the bill for their design worthiness and sound capabilities that also function as speakerphones.  The beauty of these is that they are small enough that you can use them in pairs around a room, for an even bigger, better wall of sound throwback stereo system effect.

Photo courtesy of Native Union

The Switch, Native Union, $150

PROS: A great minimal design encased in rubber from a company that wins awards for design. You know them from their phone handset that was all the rage 2 years ago.
CONS: I wish there were speaker grills on each side for better sound delivery
THE DESIGN: A volume knob at the top is reminiscent of old school stereo knobs, and the device can be used horizontally or upright,  hence the name, Switch
THE SOUND: Three speakers and a sub woofer
PLAY TIME: 14 hours on bluetooth with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can also charge a cell phone.
OVERALL: Nice design for those that prefer something hyper-modern sleek

Photo courtesy of Stelle Audio

Dwellstudio for Stelle Audio Pillar, $399

PROS: It talks to you! Turn on the device and it says hello, in an unexpected British accent. Turn it off and it says goodbye.
CONS: A speaker on the top of the column means sound comes from the top, not every side.
THE DESIGN: A super stylish limited-edition design created by Dwellstudio, with little gold triangles set against a sleek black column is decor aware, and The DwellStudio for Stellé Audio Pillar has off-axis speakers at the top and subwoofer on the bottom that provide 360 degree sound
THE SOUND: Good, but doesn't handle the bass as well as others
PLAY TIME: 15 hours on Bluetooth with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. An added bonus: it comes with international adapters so you can listen globally, but with the pillar weighing in at 3 pounds, it takes up precious space in luggage
OVERALL: Fun design and shape

Photo courtesy of Bose

Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker, $199

PROS: A tiny speaker at 1.5 lbs that delivers huge sound. There are so many new speakers on the market that work with your iPhone and iPad, and I was looking to find one that had better sound than Bose, especially when it comes to the bass. Hands down, Bose delivers without sounding tinny, and a speaker on both the front and back of the device. Their reputation precedes them for good reason.
CONS: The way it looks. It's just not as chic as it should be. Maybe if it was all white?
THE DESIGN:I like clean 90 degree angles on corners, so the curved cube shape didn't thrill me. I also wish the speaker was monochromatic and a bit more high design. It comes with a charging cradle that is easy to use.
THE SOUND: Amazing for its small size
PLAY TIME: 7 hours, it takes 3 hours to fully charge an empty battery, which flashes red on the top control panel when it is running low
OVERALL: The best of the bunch

Photo courtesy of Lowdi

Lowdi Speaker, $129

PROS: A cool slightly retro design and free delivery
CONS: You can only order it through Amazon, and they have a 30 day return policy if you aren't happy with the product
THE DESIGN: The brainchild of a Dutch design firm and a French company, the Lowdi has 2 speakers and fits in the palm of your hand
THE SOUND: Good, but more appealing for its good looks than blow your socks off sound
PLAY TIME: It comes pre-charged to play 8 hours and takes 3 hours to fully charge, through a supplied USB cable or your computer
OVERALL: I like the retro aesthetic but unless it is easier to find at retail, or at least listen to, it might be hard for them to gain a steady following

Photo courtesy of Braven

Braven 850, $299

PROS: The newest of the Braven bunch, they make a wide range of well-designed Bluetooth speakers for portability and indoor outdoor use.  This is the big brother to their best selling mini 600 series.
CONS: Heavy at 3.5 lbs, so probably not going in your suitcase for that vacation
THE DESIGN: The aluminum wrapped design is sleek and looks at home next to your Macbook, it can also charge other devices
THE SOUND: Pretty good-- big, bold sound, especially for its large size, with 20 watts of audio
PLAY TIME:  20 hour battery life
OVERALL: Nice clean design that you don't want to hide, I would rate this second to the Bose

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Rob Lowe shares how cancer has touched his family

Funny man Seth Meyers, an early adapter for the cause

You may have seen commercials for it on NBC, or heard celebs like Rob Lowe and Seth Myers talk about it. With just one week to go till my annual Cycle For Survival team cycling fundraiser on March 3rd, I am starting to get excited about what always turns out to be my favorite day of the year. The reason for this is twofold: I love the energy of cycling in sync with over 200 people, including those battling cancer and the doctors doing the rare cancer medical research, and I love the feeling of giving back to a charity that I so believe in,  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  The momentum of the day makes everything else pale in comparison.
Few things feel as great as doing for others, especially when it relates to finding a cure for a disease that has affected almost everyone at some point or another. The funds directly into research, with over 80 specific clinical trials benefiting thus far. In its 7th year, my 3rd ride, I have started a new team to honor a friend, and hope you will support my ride for Team Amy's Amigos. I also ride for my father, who lost his battle with cancer, and was a patient at Memorial.  The ability to participate in a fundraiser that involves indoor cycling, which I love, and the perfect mix of music, sections led by fantastic Equinox cycling instructors and charity makes the day amazingly memorable.   Just today, I was asked if I would speak again this year, to kick-off the start of my New York City ride, the final event that closes out the 13-city tour that has had over 16,000 participants. Giddy with excitement and pleased that my team tank tops were ordered, I gave them a resounding "yes!" as my answer. Having set my fundraising sights high this year, I am at $4000 raised so far from generous givers, and would love to beat last year's maximum by raising over $7,000. Who's up for the challenge to help others survive and thrive? Sending my thanks with love and gratitude.

Turning and burning on the best day of the year!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Striking accessories have the ability to make a bookcase more exciting, add visual interest to a coffee table, and add personality to the mantel. I have noticed moments of deep, emerald/bottle green recently, and it is looking fresh and new.  Here, some green greats that add a layer of life to bare shelves and surfaces with a touch of lush garden greenery.

Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Whenever I see a gold-hinged Murano glass box like this one from Neiman Marcus, I covet it. I love the colored bubble captured inside the rectangular shape, there is such a fly-trapped-in-amber quality to it.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Young
I spotted this striking green glass and brass footed bowl at the gift show. It has such presence for an entry hall table. The mix of materials and sleek Deco base elevate this piece from Jamie Young.

Photo courtesy of Tozai
With deer in the Art Deco style for handles, Tozai's porcelain vase in imperial green looks beautiful on its own or filled with flowering branches.

Photo courtesy of Treillage
Let there be light, cast with a Greek key shadow. Treillage, Bunny Williams' shop known for entertaining and gardening finds,  carries these statement hurricanes in emerald glass etched with geometric linear classical patterns, great for shedding some light on mantels and dining tables.

Photo courtesy of Gracious Style
The heft of the substantial Kawali glass with circular cuts in a deep shade of green from Christofle at Gracious Style makes cocktail hour an event.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Photo courtesy of Backcountry
Lately it has been hard to go about your business without obsessively checking the weather app hour by hour. This long-winded winter has made stoics out of the best of us New Yorkers, even those that love snow.
Mother nature is dropping her velvet hammer on most of the country this winter, with bone-chilling temperatures and loads of snow and lingering black ice. The Northeast has been especially prone to the Arctic Freeze, Bombogenesis and all, and I am glad I purchased a substantial, puffy parka last year, for it has served me well this season.  Had I not acquired last years coat, the one above from Canada Goose seems well-suited to the rigors of North Pole- by way of New York City living, and seems to have surpassed Moncler and Postcard in popularity. Good luck getting your hands on one, most online retailers and stores are sold out.

Photo courtesy of LL Bean
All of the snow, ice and slush has left the city's sidewalks and corners treacherous, and The New York Times recently wrote a piece on the lack of available snow boots for sale in the city. Other media outlets, like New York Magazine, picked up the story thus creating a frenzy for boots, when they too, wrote about the dearth of winter-appropriate footwear. Even L.L. Bean lists their classic rubber-soled leather lace up boots as temporarily out of stock. I am not sure what happened to my dark brown bean boots I loved wearing in boarding school, but am glad I bought the mother of serious snow boots two years ago, when I stepped up to the heavy duty snow boot of ski lift operators/ pro ski bums everywhere: The Sorel Caribou. My feet have never been happier.
With no end in sight, at least the Olympics remind us someone is utilizing the snow and ice to the best of their abilities.

Friday, February 14, 2014


 Photo courtesy of Verdura

Wishing a Happy Valentine's Day to you! May your day be filled with irresistible chocolates, the aroma of fragrant flowers, and lots of heart-stopping jewels, like Verdura's classic, the puffy heart, wrapped in cabochon red ruby's tied with a diamond bow. It has been stealing hearts since its debut in 1940.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


With temperatures still plunging into the 20's in New York, walking one block becomes an Arctic Expedition. In an effort to stay sane and cozy, there are ways to combat the cold while bolstering thoughts of a happy warm place, with anticipation of spring flowers.

Photo courtesy of West Elm
Wrap yourself in a cozy ivory sheepskin throw, slung over this ash wood-framed armchair with leather seat and back from West Elm.  I love its casual spare nordic appeal.

 Photo courtesy of Lee Industries
Every time I see this chair in the Lee Industries showroom in High Point, I have to sit in it. The diminutive armchair in the style of a French club chair embraces you with its cozy shearling finish.

Photo courtesy of Atelier Demiurge
Distantly related to a shag-haired Cousin It, Atelier Demiurge's Baby Jane Slipper Chair, covered in Mongolian Lamb fur, provides a plush slightly-disco perch from which to watch the Olympics or general nesting.

 Photo courtesy of Jonathan Adler
Upholstered in a sheepskin fabric, the low-slung retro Maxime Chair from Jonathan Adler with brass details is feminine for more of an Auntie Mame-in-winter situation.

Photo courtesy of DWR
Whether you place it on the floor, or cover a chair with it, the New Zealand sheepskin throw from Design Within Reach with its deep pile and soft touch will warm even the most severe minimalists hearts.

 Photo courtesy of Monc XIII
Handwoven of Llama and Marino wool in Buenos Aires, Pehuen's chunky Cloud knit throw from Monc 13 has dramatically long fringe to emphasize the cozy factor.

 Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren Home
Ok, so maybe its more teddy bear colored than winter white, but what's not to love about Ralph Lauren Home's Alpine Lodge Shearling Pillow, especially when used in multiples?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Photo courtesy of Barneys New York
Have you seen the amazing documentary film, Exit Through The Gift Shop? Its a fabulous look at the secret world of street art, created under the cover of darkness by a set of scrappy indie and daring set of renegades. The film, released in 2010,  really focuses on master graffiti artist the elusive star Banksy, but explores the artistic blossoming of another type of celebrity, the marketing machine, Thierry Guetta, or, Mr. Brainwash. Pushing the boundaries of what is art and why, the film tracks the LA-based Frenchman, showing his evolution from watcher to doer, as he becomes part of the scene he is covering as an obsessive amateur filmmaker. Mr. Brainwash is a creation spurred on by Banksy, and his Warholian tendencies have led him to create pieces in other mediums, such as a collection of bone china for the forward thinking English heritage brand, 1882 Ltd. I love the splatter heart design of Fragile Hearts, centered on an all white plate for maximum impact. You can find this, and additional pieces at Barneys. They are fun to serve dessert on, or chocolates, with their dark contrast.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Often called cocktail ottomans,  the ottoman with a large tray for easy serving delivers the ideal dual-function piece. If you have a large scale square ottoman, there are great trays you can place on top, to create a surface area to hold a portable makeshift bar and all that goes along with cocktail hour. If you don't and have been searching for a go-the-distance piece that suits a family room well, here are a few varied suggestions to help you on your hunt.

From the just-launched partnership, decoupage artist John Derian has created a scallop-edge lacquer tray with The Lacquer Company, the highly specialized British brand that has worked with Rita Konig, Stephen Gambrel and Martin Brudnski on trays and small tables.  Available in pea green, vivid red and black, the substantial shiny piece is a statement maker, just the piece that can play bar and tray table, as seen above.

Photos courtesy of Oomph
With crenelated cut out details resembling a fortified castle, high sides and ample handles, the Edgartown tray from Oomph makes an impromptu bar an easy reality. Oversized with a generous surface area, the lacquer tray will look at home on a large ottoman or etagere shelf.

A tray this size can be slightly unwieldy to move around frequently, so the Chatham ottoman below makes a nice perch for it.

Covered in raffia with discreet nailhead trim, this new square ottoman, the Chatham,  from Oomph is an easy substitute when you need a space-friendly square upholstered piece to put your feet up rather than a rectangular one.  The carved bobbin leg adds an additional decorative detail with traditional flair.

Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Howard for Sherrill
A mid-century modern silhouette with an additional shelf for books, Mr. and Mrs. Howard's Un Deux Tray Ottoman has a streamlined walnut base, cut corners and upholstered top that holds a faux shagreen covered tray in a recessed section in the middle. 

Photo courtesy of Bunny Williams Home
With a built in tray, the Tray Chic Ottoman from Bunny Williams Home has the best of both worlds with a tufted edge and inset removable tray, it has versatility to be a workhorse.

Tailored and traditional, Hickory Chair's Bexley Otoman in leather with a sliding tray inside, has an x stretcher and tapered wooden leg on casters, ideal for a subdued chic look in a study.