31 May, 2009

"Me walk long way . . . "


As part of my plan to keep my mind 'in neutral' this weekend - this morning was spent on the "Miwok Trail" (mee-wahk) in the Marin Headlands State Park.

It was only about a 7 mile hike, but good grief, it was beautiful.  Earth.  Sky.  Sea.

There was a brief moment when I was SO reminded of hiking in Scotland - and yes, there was a wee tear of joy at remembering that experience.

But, the best part was being with 'my tribe' - my great friends - who never cease to amaze me with their friendship, their love of life, and the endless laughter that ALWAYS results when we're together.

Ready to face the new week,

30 May, 2009

"The To-Don't-List . . . "

Good afternoon,

Greetings on a warm afternoon here in San Francisco.  I hope everyone is having a quiet, or perhaps productive, weekend - or maybe both . . . lol.  I know I have a few projects around the house that need completing.  But, I'm being very specific about having some 'down time' before the new week starts.  Inspiration only seems to come to me when my mind stops working a billion miles an hour.   So, no over-scheduling.  No chore/errand frenzy.  Relax.  Be quiet.  See what happens.


and don't forget - the voting booths are still open on the California Home & Design "Best Dining Room" contest.  I'd appreciate any support you can give . . . I'm #23.

28 May, 2009

"Shameless Self-Promotion . . . "

click image to enlarge
Greetings and Salutations,

There always seems to be lots going on here at the house - lol - and now, I am quite delighted to announce that my humble little abode has been accepted in the "California Home & Design - Dining Room" contest.   Click here to cast your vote.  I'm #23.  (And you can vote as often as once a day - if you are so moved.)  Thanks in advance!  The voting closes in a week.

If you're a long-time reader of the blog, you might recognize the room - kind of.  When I first re-worked the layout of my flat a few years ago, I really needed a space where I could entertain - but, didn't have the square footage to have an exclusive space for formal dining.

So, I made sure when I first started designing my study, I would need it to transform into a cozy little dining room without too much fuss.  Take a small cocktail table out, put a larger table in, move some chairs around - and voila - instant (well, not really, but you get the idea) dining room.

And clearly, as you know - I have a enormous collection on china and stemware - here all dressed for a Springtime luncheon.  Anytime there are large amounts of fresh cut lilacs in my home, I'm pretty happy.

And now, after having a few friends over, everything is back to its usual place.  No fuss.  No muss.  

Thanks again for your support and for voting for #23.

And a big "thank you" to Nicolas Smith for his amazing photography - and his great sense of humour.

27 May, 2009

"Back to the Future . . . "


I stumbled across this image again recently but, I never seem to tire of it.   

Take a close look.   

A beautiful collection of textiles and wonderful antiques.  A prime example of classic "country design."  An expansive space, but full of intimate emotions.  If by chance you're unfamiliar with the image, take another look.

It is the work of visionary California designer Frances Elkins.

And was designed in 1918.  Seriously.

I recommend that you all read this amazing book.  It's a retrospective of her spectacular  work.  But, be prepared to be impressed.   It always reminds me of the important power of design.  

26 May, 2009

"White shoes, white pants . . . "

" . . . and white furnishings."

Good morning,

We all seemed to have celebrated and survived Memorial Day holiday yesterday  . . . and NOW we can start wearing white clothing below the waist (white bucks, white linen trousers) . . . but, what about the use of white within our own homes?  I've been culling through my "inspiration files" and found a few examples of the exuberance of "white."

Love the white chinoiserie-style dining chairs, the wonderful mill work, and the contrast with the "Tiffany" blue wall treatment.

The beauty of white raised-panel mill work contrasts with the traditional blue and white porcelains and highlights the dark, amazing inlaid floors and furnishings.

Seriously.  Coffered ceilings, charming cabinetry, and again, contrasting with the antiques and wide planked floors.  Stunning. (GrannySmith Green - this one is for you!)

Simple.  Calm.  Beautiful.

White Linen.  White dramatic wainscoting .  And another white coffered ceiling.

Or maybe it's just the shock of a white twig chandelier to bring some excitement to the design.  

25 May, 2009

"Happy Memorial Day . . . "

Good Morning,

I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend - picnics, time with friends, maybe a few "home projects," but also take time to remember those fine people who have served in our nation's military.

21 May, 2009

"Calm and Relaxing . . . "

" . . . and stunningly beautiful."


It's  another kind of crazy week here, so this morning I just needed something calm and elegant.  Maybe just simple shades of ivory and cream - with well placed textures and beautiful antiques.  

So take a deep breath, and let it out slowly . . . . and maybe a sip of tea . . . and enjoy  .  .  .  . 

"breath in . . . . . and out"

"and let's take another deep breath, and let it out . . . ahhhhhh . . . . . "

and . . . . ahhhhhhhh.

I hope everyone has fun plans for the holiday weekend.


20 May, 2009

"To B2B or not to B2B . . . "

" . . . that is the question."

Good afternoon,

How, oh how, does one explain the ING "Bay to Breakers" race to anyone who doesn't live here in the bay area?  Firstly, it helps if you think of it as 4 or 5 races all using the same route at roughly the same time.  lol.  The course takes you from the eastern most part of the city (right by the bay) and travels 12K west to the Pacific ocean on the western side of SF (the breakers.)  Most years there are 50,000 to 75,000 "runners (and I use the word kinda loosely)" who take part in the cross-city trek.  

The first level of the race are the REAL runners (people who come in from all over the world) who sprint across the city in less than 40 minutes.  There are also local athletes who are focused on 'run times' and 'pace' and tend to finish the 7.5-ish mile race in about an hour or so.  And some people simply take advantage to the closed streets and take a walking tour through this beautiful city.

Then . . . trailing long afterwards . . . are the partiers.  Serious partiers.  There were still people wandering to the finish line HOURS after I had already completed the course.  But, they were having a great time.

One should also understand that there are few events here in SF that don't involve people in elaborate costumes - and taking part in a 12K run is no exception.  The great part was seeing people at the starting line in amazing costumes (i.e. a collection of girls dressed as Yellow Cabs (complete with street signs of the race route), several hardcore athletes in super-hero costumes, the GREAT guy dressed as a Monty Python knight complete with a squire following behind - clapping coconuts together) and then seeing them again at the beach at the finish line.  lol.

Here are some highlights from my run - 

"Team Koi Fitness" begins to assemble at the starting line - the 7:15am line-up time required coffee.

Here's the start of the "Hayes Street Hill."  Amazingly, the crowd starts to thin out after this eight-block steep hill begins.  lol.

I ran into friends along the route - just as we got to Golden Gate Park.  Though I was focused on getting a good run time, I took a well-needed stop to pose for pictures.  Seriously, it was gruesomely hot in San Francisco on Sunday.  whew.

We decided to meet up mid-race - so here's some of the gang from bootcamp getting ready to attack the "HILL."

This might give you some idea of the number of people who took part in the race - or the race/run/walk/stroll/wander that is an important part of the event as well.

I finished the race in about 90 minutes.  yay.  I'll have my official time after the race results get posted on-line, but for my first time, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.  and it gives me a goal to set for next year. 

Here's a fun video of the race route . . . if you're curious -  

I'll be back to the regularly scheduled design topics tomorrow.  I'm thinking it's gonna be something kinda pale and calm . . . hmmmmmmm . . . 

18 May, 2009

"One Short Day in the . . . "

" . . . . Emerald City. One short day, with so much to do."


There seems to be no end to the clamor for "green design" these days.  It is so important to examine the effect that the design industry has on our planet.  But, I'd like to take a momentary step away from the well-placed ecological concerns and celebrate the use of "green" in design.

Maybe it was the amazing weather we had this weekend, but it's REALLY starting to feel like Spring is clearly on the way.  Yay.

Miles Redd is massively brilliant.  Clearly.  I have always adored this charming, dramatic dining room.

I love the contrast of the graphic, modern shade on the walls - with the much more traditional, almost homey, furnishings.  It gives what could be a simple bedroom an enormous amount of energy and style.

You do all know how much I love Mini Coopers!  

This is just amazing.  The wallpaper.  The hide floor covering. The black high-gloss trim colour.  Oh, and the spectacular tufted antique fainting sofa.

Sorry for having been away for the last few days - much of the weekend was overtaken with preparations for, completion of, and recovery from the 12K Bay-to-Breakers race here in San Francisco.  I'm getting some pictures together for a later post - stay tuned.  My bootcamp had a big crowd running and we all seemed to be taking pictures.  I'm working to see what I can put together to share.

first image : Timothy Corrigan
Images from Domino Magazine

14 May, 2009

"Good, Gracious . . . "

Barbara Barry at Gumps, San Francisco

It is always kind of worrisome to meet someone in person that you've always found to be fascinating.  There's always that nagging fear that they won't live up to your expectations.  Well, I can gladly report that the delightful Barbara Barry is as wonderfully gracious as one would only expect her to be.

She spoke at an event this afternoon at Gumps, in downtown San Francisco, in a marvelous new space highlighting her beautiful furniture, lighting, and table service.  She opened the afternoon with her memories of living in San Francisco and the beginnings of her career in design.

She told of an early job as an interior decorator, but says she always knew that she wanted to design, 'I felt the desire to create a background for living.  These items, the bedding, the china, the furniture have such a profound effect on our lives.'  'Inspire' and 'create' were words that were used often.  When asked by someone in the audience where she finds her inspiration, she replied how deeply she valued her time in silence - a time when she can dream and create.  'There is so much noise, so much to do, in our modern society, when I get home, I need to be quiet, and think.'

So, I'm going to follow her advice, and turn off the computer, and the television, and think.  and dream.

tartanscot in San Francisco, signing off for the evening.

ps.  Ivan, I gave Barbara your greetings and she said to say "hi!" to you as well.

13 May, 2009

"Open in case of . . . "

Hey everyone!

Just curious about something.  Okay, here's the scenario - you're working madly on a big project in your office, but it's a no-one's-gonna-really-see-me kinda afternoon, so you're just in something really casual . . . and suddenly, you're invited out to dinner with friends - And you're wearing a t-shirt with jeans. 

Other than the basics (toothbrush, fragrance, etc.), do you keep emergency clothes at the office?  Ladies, is there a pair of 3 inch black heels tucked away in the drawer in case of a last minute cocktail invitation?  Guys, is there an extra blazer hanging behind the door? 

For me, thank heavens for the "crisis" cashmere turtleneck and English loafers.   Am I alone with this?

12 May, 2009

"Your room is ready . . . "

Greetings one and all,

Sorry for being away for a few days - had a client arriving back from vacation and had to focus on a few projects that needed to be 'buttoned-up" before their return.  There was only one crazed moment when we had the entire master bedroom in pieces trying to fix the new, and delayed, bed . . . and found out that the flight from Europe was arriving - EARLY . . . lol.  No worries.  There's nothing like double lattes for everyone, some focus, and a couple of power drills. 

So today calls for a calm colour palette, beautiful textiles, and an elegant residence.  This lovely space is the work of perennial Tartanscot favourite - Michael S. Smith.  The project is in a private residence high above New York in the Carlyle Hotel with sweeping view of the city from every room.

Details on a lacquered chest in the guest room.

Who wouldn't want to face the new day if this wonderful room was your first sight.  My heart still flutters at the site of Arts & Crafts inspired wall coverings.  It seems to be inspired by equal parts: England, America, the history of the East coast, and the fresh palette of the West coast.

Smith always seem to be fond of giving a smallish bedroom some drama by using a canopy bed.  The simple iron bed seems to gives the guest room some needed grandeur without breaking up the space. 

Getting ready for a busy week . . . and a chance to meet Barbara Barry on Thursday.  Yay. 

09 May, 2009

"My Mother's Red Sofa . . . "

Greetings and Salutations.

My upbringing was kinda strange, to say the very least.  My father was in the military and I spent the first 11 years of my life traveling around the world.  Being the son of a Southern born, military father had its challenges, but I have a huge respect for my Dad - and for the manners we were expected to display at all times.  I still remember, at a very young age, the first time I answered the phone saying, "Good morning.  Wood residence, Scot speaking," and seeing my Father smile with pride.  

But, this post is about my Mom.  A Southerner as well, she is a gracious, fierce woman.  If my memories of my Dad are about discipline and manners, I remember my Mother for teaching me how to entertain.

My early life, either over-seas or here in the states, involved more cocktail and dinner parties than you can imagine.  I can remember my Mother carefully planning each menu - and almost every Saturday dinner party would involve a Thursday night 'dry-run' when she'd test any new, challenging recipes so that the 'real' party could run smoothly (I still do this . . . lol).  Even from a young age, we were expected to sit down to dinner with the adults and hold our own in the conversation.   Candlelight, sterling silver, delicious meal, three couples - and two children - discussing politics and current events.  It was magical.

But there was more than just hostessing skills in my Mom's bag of tricks.  I firmly believe that there are several genetic qualities I possess from my mother's side of the family.  We all have tiny wrists.  We all have strong muscular jaw lines.  And good lord, we ALL love to shop.  Mother and I still can go on a 3-day antiquing tour through southern Mississippi and Alabama and never show a moment of exhaustion. 

A few years ago, I was having lunch with Mom and my first cousin Ruth.  Ruth was the oldest of my first cousins, and being six years older than me, she always seemed to be fantastically glamorous.  She is, in fact, an amazing woman as well - I think the 'gracious, fierce' thing may be genetic too.  We were talking about the summer that Ruth spent living with us in Los Angeles in the early 70's.  Ruth whispered to me, "And your Mother had that red sofa!  I never knew anyone with a red sofa back at home.  I thought it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen!"

I clearly remember that red sofa.  But, it was part of my 'normal' childhood home, so I never thought it was anything interesting or unusual.  Apparently - my Mother was a gracious, fierce designer as well.  Too often, these qualities are only seen in retrospect.  I see now that she showed me that there was no need to follow any trend.  No need to be true to some 'expected norm.'  Truly, I think she taught me to embrace being an individual.  And to test run any new dishes before serving them to guests.

Happy Mother's Day.

08 May, 2009

"Weekend in East Hampton . . . "

Yay, it's finally the weekend.  And once again I'm featuring another beautiful 'get-away' residence, but this one's a bit different - it's my of my own, and one of my favourite, projects.  So this week, you'll get an 'insider' tour.

The Living Room.  I was working with existing furniture from the previous residence, but needed to shop for a few specific pieces to complete the design.  I wanted to keep everything crisp and classic - so yards and yards (and yards!) of glazed linen mixed with a variety of antiques.  We did a great deal of shopping here in SF as well a some specific buying in NY as well.

Another image of the living room - featuring the massive antique glass-doored bookcase.  The piece anchors the large room just perfectly.  It's filled with a collection of art books, antique porcelain, and these amazing shell specimens.

The Master Bedroom.  Huge windows over-looking the back yard or looking eastward to the ocean fill the room with the most amazing light.  My hope was to keep it the design classic, and let the extraordinary views steal the show.

The charming Conservatory all ready for an afternoon lunch, a good book, or a lengthy conversation.

As the sun begins to set, the Dining Room becomes just magical.  I still love that gigantic Holly Hunt light fixture!  (not so much having to reinforce the ceiling to support it . . . lol)  No window treatments were needed as I wanted the room to feel totally porous to the outside property.

And the well loved (and well used) Guest/Pool house.  It was just this delightful little two room cottage perfect for guests.  We used all indoor/outdoor textiles so it could be beautiful - and hold up to the constant use during the summer.

I think the project has been on my mind because I had the pleasure of having lunch with my clients a few weeks ago.  We still laugh (now) about the fun we had getting everything read - and our favourite snack from "The Golden Pear" that we'd have in the morning - and the ice cream we'd snack on after a long day.

I hope everyone has great weekend plans.  I've got a bit of training before a race next weekend.  Luckily, we've got the weather just MADE for being outside.

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