Saturday, March 7, 2009


Weather should be perfect here in DC and I hope for you as well! I have an interesting weekend ahead and can't wait to fill you all in! I hope you all get to enjoy your weekends!
Pictures are of the Stratosphere casino in Las Vegas from my trip a few years ago. It is the tallest free standing observation tower in the United States; quite the view! The tallest in the world is the CN tower in Toronto.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Clayton House

One of my favorite places since childhood is Clayton House in the East End of Pittsburgh, the home of the Frick family which now operates as a house museum. The estate houses a great art gallery and concert hall (free to the public), the house of course which is a wonderful example of wealthy victorian home life, an antique car & carriage collection in a newly remodeled building (which is really magnificent!), a great cafe, green house, and a great giftshop located in the former children's playhouse (in the bowling alley portion!). Seriously...the children's playhouse is a 1500 sf HOUSE. Don't you love the purple roof?! The style is referred to as victorian chateauesque -you can see why!
The stair landing's stained glass copper clad bay window seen here over the porte cochere.
Helen Clay Frick died here in 1984 (moving 'home' from NYC to spend her last years) and left it to be refurbished as it was during her childhood. It's really a worthwhile place to visit! Each season it is redecorated with different family objects, my favorite are summer (awau with the heavy carpets and linen slipcovers for everything! and Christmas of course). I think I've toured the property well over 20 times over the past 15 years! One of the entry gates is seen above, the estate is located across from one of the largest parks in Pittsburgh - Frick Park. Below is the caretakers cottage on the property which I've always just LOVED.
If you ever find yourself in Pittsburgh, visit Clayton House!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cuban Tiles

Cuban tiles, as they are known in the United States, are really just encaustic tile made of cement. Encaustic refers to the fact that the patterns or figures on them are produced as part of the material, not applied or painted on. Encaustic tiles are mostly made of clay or cement (as with Cuban tiles). The great part about this is that they last forever. Even if the tile gets worn down from a lot of traffic or chipped somehow, the pattern remains the same hiding the damage!
A traditional floor detail of cement Cuban tiles from Luxetile
They also happen to be a green material as most are done with natural pigments in the mix and won't off-gas or leach dangerous toxins. I love all of the pattern and color these provide! Aren't they fun?
kitchen floor tiles in Cuba from the book 'Inside Havana' -a great book with a link on my sidebar to buy if you're interested.
I worry that the cement would be hard on your feet but you could also use them as a backsplash in kitchens or baths or as wainscotting around a room with wood flooring. Any Cuban interior isn't complete without them. Wouldn't they be great in a hallway? Especially in a mediterranean style house!
A very pretty floor layout from Villa Lagoon
I like that the patterns range from Venetian, Victorian to very modern and in all sorts of colors so they can be used in any style of interior. Where would you use them?
Interior of Cuban Barbershop from Inside Havana
For a great slideshow of a bunch of different historical uses of tile in Cuba, visit El Nuevo Herald
Some sources for Cuban tiles that I could find online are below, no this isn't a paid advertisement or endorsement! I don't think they're available at your local home depot!
Villa Lagoon Tiles
image at top of post from El Neuvo Herald slidehow

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

N street lofts - tour

A few years ago I was able to tour the 'N street lofts' on a construction tour. They're an anomaly in DC as they're strictly modern. However, they nod to the typical victorian row houses so well known here in the city through scale and the large front bays facing the street.Above you can see the street side of the lofts. While not a historical recreation of the typical DC rowhouse, I think they still fit into the neighborhood. Variety is the spice of life afterall! The back though, is another story.

Off of the alley is parking for each unit bounded by a high concrete wall (transitional neighborhood afterall). A large back patio lies below this at the basement level. I love the green! so unexpected!Each unit also features a roof deck off of a small den with bar area. Who wants to run down 2 flights of stairs to get a drink of water!Below you can see to the patio from the roof deck - the parking spot is to the left hand side. It's pretty spacious.I keep meaning to go back and see how they turned out; beautiful I'm sure. The architect is a professor of architecture at Catholic University here in DC, Suzanne Reatig, and also a very prestigious FAIA (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Style house - Pottery Barn?

I have a confession to make: I'm sort of in love with Pottery Barn again. Shocked? I was! While still not really a fan of most of their furniture (which I find too clunky) they have great bed linens and bath accessories and have started to go organic! I've just included a few of my favorites here, please indulge me, more interesting stuff below these images!
I love this sophisticated print called Bettina! There is another one similar to it with different colors too. Shown at the very top of the post is Fiona (why are they all women's names like ships and cars?)
This set called 'woodland organic' reminds me a lot of a very popular and very expensive linen company's popular print (who shall remain nameless here). It's very pretty if not my personal taste.The organic crewel linens are really exquisite. I love it here in neutrals; Just not that ugly clunky furniture!I think this really retro print called 'butterly' for obvious reasons is great for a weekend getaway!
But getting to my point (this is not just a free advertisement for Pottery Barn) on their website they have some GREAT video interviews of designer's homes which they use as backdrops in catalog spreads (don't you always wonder where these houses from backdrops are located?). I can't seem to link any to this post but please go check them out HERE
My favorite is the home of Martha Angus who also is a Carnegie Mellon Alumni like me! The home which is featured second in the list of videos is above: a pared down, modern neoclassical style. She has been one of my favorite designers for awhile now with offices in San Francisco and in New York (where she shares the office with Paula Caravelli). This is the most cheerful, tomato soup red bathroom!
I love her classic sensibilities with a modern eye; clean use of space and her use of well chosen antiques with modern pieces and art. This is how I want to live! Her home outside of San Francisco in Napa is a great example of this aesthetic.Her living room is big, open and bright! What a perfect room this is!
Check out the interview Decorati did with Martha if you haven't seen it HERE and Martha's website, full of interesting projects HERE.