Thursday, December 31, 2009


The bright young thing mentality: the penchant for fantasy and masquerade had become an expression of the disregard they felt for the immediate past or the immediate future. They lived -or tried to live - outside their time. Philip Hoare, Serious Pleasures, the life of stephen tennant
New Years Eve is the perfect time for fantasy. What do you want your life to be this coming year? Or fantasy could be as simple as dressing up in costume for the evening: full of high hopes for the future and escaping the past year.

Fantasy is not dead, it survives.

Whatever form your fantasies take or whatever you may wear, I hope you have great New Years celebrations!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A modern renovation

Featured in the March 2008 issue of Metropolitan Home magazine was an example of a city apartment with great bones which was renovated efficiently and beautifully. The great bones were there, natural light, outdoor space and tall ceilings on a high floor.Jeffrey Povero, an architect in NYC, renovated the space for himself and his partner in a 1914 hospital buiding which had been converted to apartments in the 80s. The space was a bland box when he found it, but he saw promise in the 11 foot ceilings and views of the brooklyn bridge. I'm sure the huge terrace and three exposures didn't hurt either!
What started out as plans for minimal renovations turned into a gut job, as these types of jobs often do. Why do anything half way? While not a small apartment by New York standards at 860 SF, it still had to operate efficiently for the two.I would buy a rat filled shoebox of an apartment for that terrace. Amazing! I'm in love with the walnut paneling Povero had installed behind the fireplace (top image) and in the kitchen below and with the acres of white marble. I would have used a beefier countertop at the island though I looks fragile and skimpy.
Povero wanted to create a modern men's club, which I think reads very strongly. While a bit minimal for my personal tastes, I think the apartment is stunning.
One thing Povero and I share is a love of organization, although he takes it further than I; his books, seen above, are arranged in Dewey Decimal order! He worked for years at Robert Stern designing libraries: I suppose that will do it for you!
Mirrors were used in the apartment advantageously to reflect the light and views and make small rooms feel bigger. The photo below looks like 2 rooms almost!
The closet is also a work of supreme organization. How many closets get published in magazines? I drooled over this.....
Even if it's not your style, I think everyone can appreciate the work that went into this space!
photographs by Peter Murdock

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Camera

The sad news is that my old camera (2002 canon powershot sds) finally died yesterday and I'm in the market for a new one. The good news is that I get to take advantage of updated technologies, mainly size! My old camera was small for the time (basically pocketsize) and has performed really well, but as the years progressed smaller versions were being released. As I like to carry my camera around with me all the time, size is so important -it must fit in my pocket!
I'm thinking of replacing it with the same model, unless anyone has any other suggestions, the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS. Is anyone familiar with this version of camera?
It also comes in 4 colors and I'm having a difficult time deciding which I want to go with . I value your opinion: what color would you chose? Silver, black, red or gold? I'm leaning towards gold (shown)..... and shying away from red which I feel is a target when traveling. Thoughts?

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I hope everyone is recovering nicely from their holiday activities: Have a regal weekend!
photo by David Seidner

Friday, December 25, 2009

Villa Karma

One of the most beautiful early modern houses, in my opinion, is the Villa Karma by Adolf Loos (primary designer, 1904-1906 - Hugo Ehrlich finished the design). Loos is known as one of the foremost early modernists who abandoned ornament of any kind. The Villa Karma on Switzerland's Lake Geneva was his first major project, and here he was experimenting with what modernism was and yet still referencing the classical tradition more than in his later projects. It's this juxtoposition that I love so much and yet is so hard to find.Loos's life, by the way, was a veritable soap opera, that would shock the most liberal biographer today. His contemporary, Frank Lloyd Wright was a walk in the park comparitively! But I'm not here to talk about his life ( you can read about it on wikipedia HERE if you're interested). The rear of the house, which faces the lake, takes advantage of the views with steep garden terracing, huge windows and numerous outdoor rooms.Here you can see some of the classical Doric columns that are used here on a loggia, but also at the front entrance as seen in the top image. Their presence is striking against the slick and austere facade of stucco. Notice also the statue of a face to the left - a classical element.
While he eschewed traditional ornament, he used beautiful materials on the interior of the house to great effect: nothing boring here. The house is a positive mausoleum of beautiful marbles. In the oval entry foyer, a pattern of black and white marble on the floor contrasts with a rosey marble used on the walls and gold tiles on the ceiling.The upper level of this opening, as seen from the hallway above, was an obvious precedent for Michael Grave's own house in New Jersey (as was much of the work of Loos). Recognize it?The library again shows the decorative (but not ornamental) use of marble and wood with large windows overlooking the lake. I could spend all day in this room! This corner of the library shows another modern take on 'tradition' - a stained glass window.
The most famous room in the house, however (which also appears on the cover) is the master bathroom. Classicism rears its head again, this time in a black marble. The bronze doors are studded and I wouldn't want to walk into them in the middle of the night! The sink is between the 2 doors seen below: this room is enormous - a veritable temple to cleanliness!
The dining room again uses tons of marble, with an interesting metal ceiling. I wish I could find a color photograph of this. Do you think it's copper? Steel? While this room looks cold in this photo,I think with a tablecloth, dishes, chairs - it would warm right up. But this is definitely a cold house, probably better suited for a tropical climate rather than Switzerland!The loggia, off the dining room is similar in form, but the floor pattern from the dining room is echoed on the ceiling out here in a classical motif. The niches at the end of the space are also somewhat classical (and I feel were probably added by Ehrlich and not Loos)The photographs are by Roberto Schezen from the marvelous book, Adolf Loos Architecture 1903-1932 by Kenneth Frampton and Joseph Rosa.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone who celebrates has a very Happy Christmas! I shared my little holiday decorating last year HERE and thought I would share some of my little updates with you.I have 2 'trees' -both artificial - in my tiny apartment. The above is ceramic and is one of my prized possessions as it belonged to my grandma. My main tree, above, is a tabletop size and holds my collection of 'fun' nostalgic ornaments.
Gold edged red ribbon wraps the tree with white lights. You can see my recycled tree skirt (from a halloween costume) - gold lame - wowza!
I've talked about these church ornaments earlier HERE and I've received a few more!The country church is a pretty blue with a red door and a little tree outside. All of these churches plug into your light string and have 'stained glass'. The colonial church has arched 'gothic' windows & doors and some great white tracery details.The adobe church has that southwestern feel. Only 8 more churches to collected (although one is currently in the mail!)
The peanuts gang sits at the base of my own sad little 'snoopy' tree!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kevin Sharkey discovery

Did you know Kevin Sharkey, the editorial director of decorating for Martha Stewart Living, has his own blog? I tivo the Martha show for his all too brief appearances on the show and love his articles in the magazine (one of the few reasons I subscribe!).
We all know his fabulous office with the wall of blanc de chine and color coordinated library, seen here. Visit the blog for his signature style (that I so love!).