Friday, April 24, 2009

Nature and Stephen Drucker

This past Thursday I was able to hear Stephen Drucker (current editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine with quite an impressive resume behind him) speak here in DC about how Nature informs interiors. Unfortunately, the opening of the DC showhouse at the design center meant a small audience.
He spoke in the beautiful neoclassical lecture hall of the Corcoran College of art and design. One of the first things he spoke about was to rave about this room. I had to agree!His lecture was very informal, extremely realistic and down to earth. Rather than preach about green living and practices, he tackled first how 'green design' isn't something new. Rather, it has been brought about every 30 years on average. He even showed the first 'green' issue of House Beautiful....from 1949!
One of the problems he cited was that people will talk the talk but when it comes to the practice of environmentally friendly living, they don't want to be bothered other than with cleaning products. Green issues of magazines are among the worst selling issues each year. People want fantasy and pretty pictures from magazines (I have to agree). Stephen realizes that and admits it freely; when people want hard information and facts, they turn to the internet. Stephen ended the lecture with a slide show of different 'natural' interiors through time as featured in House Beautiful-starting with Frank Lloyd Wright in the 40s, going through Michael Taylor in the 70s and ending with Axel Vervoordt now. It was such a great opportunity to hear him speak and I hope if all of you get the chance you will go for it! He has really turned House Beautiful into a wonderful magazine and I hope to see its continued success!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Last year I was looking for new knobs to update a console I have. The ones that came with it are just boring and cheap looking, but I love the lines of the piece (see that old post here). I basically wanted to just freshen it up a bit.You can see the old knobs above: Cheap aluminum finish and just a boring design. I've tried out a few different knobs but nothing has ever worked -TILL NOW! I found these Ephram knobs at Restoration Hardware that I just LOVE!
Nickel finish: not flashy or ornate but heavy, good quality and just pretty! You like them? Should I keep them?
I think you can see them here. The new ones are on the left bay -the old ones are to the right. Hmm....maybe this picture is too small to tell the difference? Opinions?

Iron Work

While walking home yesterday I snapped some dramatic looking photos of the beautiful ironwork gate surrounded the Cosmos Club in Dupont.
Aren't the finials really elegant? The ironwork is so fluid: a true art form!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Foreign living....

One of the great things about travel is to see how people live in different cultures. The 'westernization' of the world scares me because I think we're getting too close to a homogeneous culture and I haven't even experienced a lot of the differences yet before they disappear ( I like to call this the walmartification of the world!). A good friend of mine recently moved to India for work and is still adjusting to the differences which are stark even though she is in a very modern, Western city. Above is the view from her balcony - what a view!Although she has full electricity (of course) she says it goes out for hours a day which has taken some getting used to. She has all of the western appliances at home but has to plan their use around times when power is available. All of the outlets are high up on the wall near the light switches.
The place was rented furnished -lucky her, right? Check out this entertainment center, have you ever seen anything like it? CRAZY! Did they follow the instructions when they built it?
Above is the modern kitchen. I love how it all just plugs into the wall visibly! That looks like a scarily overloaded circuit though!
The master bath is very modern with this trendy sink (just don't drink the water!).I think this is the same toilet I have in my apartment! A bit odd that the shower doesn't have walls or even a a humid environment it must be hard to keep it all dry! But how nice must a shower be after a long hot, humid day!
A major difference in the cultures are the upper/lower caste society where the 'white collar' workers have servants and drivers still (which she says is a blessing as the streets are crazy to drive!). Here in the US we have mostly gotten rid of having live-in servants as we let technology do the work. They have the technology (which works when the power is on) but still rely on the help. Above is the bathroom in the servant's quarters. Not as nice as the master bath.Because of the climate, the entire house has marble floors to help keep the rooms cool. Notice the water bottles in the corner -it makes me feel so lucky to be able to drink from the tap! The furniture is .......interesting. It's an Indian luxury apartment after all, you have to have some 'fancy' furniture! It's very western but I still love to see the minor differences as they reflect the culture. I hope you enjoyed the travelogue!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Restoration Hardware

Can we talk about Restoration Hardware for a minute? They really have their game on lately in my humble opinion! I'm not talking about those hideous lamps they're really pushing lately which shall remain nameless here (which i like in concept but they just really got the scale totally wrong. Just wrong like whacked out hard-core beefy lamps and not the delicate beautiful lamps that they really WANT to be....but I digress) but some other items. I'm loving this statement piece they call the entablature mirror (which is what it is really, no weird name here). It's huge; great for taking up a whole wall in a room as shown or in a foyer. Imagine it in a bathroom or dressing room! Now we're talking.... that would be so wonderful.Now, I worry about the quality of this piece just a bit. If you look in the upper corners at the medalian'ish urns - those worry me a bit. They look very pasted on like an afterthought. I'm not losing sleep over it though, I love these mirrors. I wish the mirror itself was done in an antique finish though as they're obviously meant to look weathered and old. That is an easy fix if you're already shelling out the 3.2k for the piece - mirror is cheap. And really...I guess a lot of people who buy new things want them to look new (which is sad in my opinion, or at least not how I see the world).
Now, my #1 hobby, other than writing this blog, is the perpetual search for a better daybed than the crap one I have from west elm (sorry west elm, I still think you're a great place for fun inexpensive home fresheners!). Do you know how hard it is to find a non-feminine and non-ugly daybed? Impossible! I'm really loving this antique empirish daybed that RH offers though called the Marston. They've had it awhile but I'm only recently appreciating it.I logged into their website to see details on it from the catalog but I came across this piece of perfection.This is my dream daybed - the 'Atwood'. When I say I want a real piece of furniture daybed, that isn't girly, old fashioned or bedroomy -this is what I want. This is beautiful and if it was in my currently slim budget I would buy it NOW, EXCEPT...(yes there is an except) for the UGLY visible hinges that are hard to see in this image but are OH so there - right under the mattress and above the runner board. Would it really be so hard to do an invisible hinge, RH? Really? This design choice makes me lose sleep. But no, if I had the money I would go out and buy this tomorrow -no really! I just hope those hinges wouldn't scratch me when I get up in the middle of the night.I really love this 'larkspur' daybed too -even though it verges on being a little 'arts and crafts' which isn't normally my thing for my own house. It's not girly, it's not neccesarily bedroomy and it's simple. It's well designed. Is that so hard to ask for in a daybed? Apparently it is everywhere except at RH. Seriously - go look! I dare you!I've always loved their Delaney collection of upholstery. It's just basic, classic and comfy. LOVE the symmetry of the reading lamps flanking the sofas in this photo. It bothers me there are no magazines on the coffee table though....I mean -REALLY bothers me. The last picture is just for laughs a bit. They have these really great bullseye mirrors that they call their 'portal' mirror -which above is seen in a bedroom. HOWEVER-potential staging problem. Reflected in the mirror is what appears to be a grand a well as a rather un-staged and uninviting room. OOPS! Be careful what you photograph in mirrors people - remember they reflect the room! This can't have been on purpose? Or maybe they just didn't think anyone would notice? Did I let the cat out of the bag?
This has been an unpaid announcement brought to you from me. If you care to purchase any of the said fabulous items, from Restoration Hardware -tell them I sent you. Maybe they'll send me a gift basket.....OR THE ATWOOD DAYBED *hint hint*. In my dreams........ Happy decorating!

Monday, April 20, 2009

a splashy idea

I was watching some home design shows this weekend and most were about kitchens (Divine Design, one of the few shows I like on HGTV). A focal point of most kitchens beside the appliances (big, metal and shiny -sort of boring if you ask me, I'm over all of that stainless steel) is the backsplash. I love a simple white subway tile in an all white kitchen, but something more interesting with a bit of pattern would really be eye-catching, don't you think? Not everyone can live with all of that heavenly white. I love this full wall treatment of star and cross tiles from the Lascaux Tile Co. (featured in House Beautiful, Feb.09). It really is attractive against the painted woodwork and stone countertops. What type of backsplash is your favorite? Tile or stone? 3" or whole wall treatment?