Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lord Palumbo's cars

Recently while in Western Pennsylvania, I visited Kentuck Knob and was surprised to see another of Lord Palumbo's collections; antique cars! Some could barely be called cars as they were merely the first motorized vehicles that looked a lot like bicycles to me. This has happened numerous times, oddly enough: I visit a house museum only to have a collection of antique cars gathered for the day or a collectors convention, such as the time I visited Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, seen HERE.

Kentuck knob is a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1956 for the Hagan's.They were friends with the Kaufman family and for years had been visiting them at their summer home down the street, Fallingwater and had admired it. They asked Frank Lloyd Wright, by then world famous, to design their new house and though he took on the commission, he was far too busy to visit the site after the first visit where he chose the future location of the building.If you have never visited, please do yourself a favor and visit both houses -they are pleasures!Not all of the cars gathered were antiques. A porsche enthusiast club was also holding their event that day and to see 100s of well-designed porsche's outside of world class architecture was truly a day in the making!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mondrian Hotel, LA

While in LA last month, we stayed at the Mondrian Hotel on the Sunset Boulevard strip in West Hollywood.

While alarmingly trendy and popular a few years ago, the hotel has calmed down (a bit) and was a comfortable and pleasant place to stay.

The lobby featured this fun lounge area and bar off to the side of the entrance. The hotel was originally designed by Ian Shrager in 1996 and was more recently freshened up by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. I loved some of the details such as the ball and claw foot stools and the Venetian white glass sconces.

Our room faced the strip with lovely views of the Hollywood Hills (and the restaurant Katana above). Per that time of year, fog romantically shrouded the hills each morning.

Looking down the strip you could see the Sunset Tower Hotel (on the right) where we spent the majority of our time in the lovely restaurant and bar. Just across the street from there is the Chateau Marmont.

The room was enormous, by any standards, and featured this sitting area above seperated from the bed by a bizarre 'stripper pole' with framed tv set behind mirrored glass.

While a cool feature, it was a bit uncomfortable to watch yourself lounge in bed or on the couch staring at yourself. I wish there was a way to turn the mirror off when the tv turned on! Above you can see the reflection of the bed in the tv mirror.

The bed area was draped on one side against the windows while the other side was draped to hide the enormous CLEAR glass shower which could easily hold 4 people at once (or more). Can we say peek-a-boo? Fun feature but hard to maintain privacy in a shared room.

A desk area greeted you as you entered the room via a long hallway with a 12' long kitchenette behind (bigger than my kitchen at home!).

The bathroom had amazing lighting (with a lot of control) including a lamp on the double vanity; a feature I love! The hotel offers Malin & Goetz products which I came to love -especially the rum body wash. While I'm not sure I would stay here again as it's just not my style, it was really a fun hotel and a great location. Be sure to check out out if you make it to Hollywood!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

West Elm Pop up store opens

I had the opportunity yesterday to visit the new DC West Elm Pop-up store here in Georgetown prior to todays grand opening. Despite a massive thunderstorm, the store was a flurry of activity.

I admittedly went mostly out of a morbid curiosity as I had never been entirely impressed with their offerings. I considered them a smaller Ikea type vendor of low quality and boring design household items. I'm pleased to say they have proven me wrong!The store is small at only 3,300 SF, but they pack a lot of punch into their small space.The focus was on things one can carry out of the store and it is decorated beautifully. Even most of the furniture items can be delivered day of.Texture and color seemed to be the order of the day, two characteristics which keep the modern wares from feeling cold.In fact, I have to say the store actually reminded me of an anthropology: decidedly up-market bohemian.Featured were a few items from their new line of leather furniture out this fall and I particularly liked the lines of this chair (the 'Clean Sweep'). The quality of the leather was remarkably good, especially for the price.As a few universities are located nearby, bedding and bath items are part of the store's focus. While I can't talk much on the quality of the items as I haven't used them, the style quotient was definitely met.As the store is tight, inventive displays were used throughout, such as these baskets hung on the wall.As I said, they were busy preparing the store as you can tell by the employee hard at work below. My favorite item was probably this wingback chair named the 'Ellory'.I urge you to check out their new offerings as they have definitely improved upon the brand and if you are in DC, check out the new pop-up store in Georgetown at 3333 M Street NW.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

They have purple trees

Another fantastic doorway from West Hollywood near the Beverly Hills one I talked about earlier. This gave access to an entrance courtyard which just seems to me the height of Southern Californian living.

The other highlight of the area are the Jacaranda trees which fill the streets with a lovely scent and the most beautiful purple flowers you have ever seen! The cherry blossoms of the west coast perhaps?