25 June, 2009

"Three little words . . . "

I'm going to be away for a good part of the weekend - so I thought I'd set out a challenge for y'all while I'm away.

So - here you go - describe your weekend plans in only three words.

Maybe something like this:

1. camping
2. and
3. rafting

or maybe:

1. kinda
2. roughing
3. it


1. brand
2. new
3. tent

have fun - and have a great weekend,

"Blog Stew . . . "

So, kinda cleaning things up before the weekend - so the contents of my refrigerator are being transformed into a yummy stew . . . and I thought I'd also clean through my random ideas for blog topics and some random thoughts from my day.

Michael Jackson. He provided the great deal of the soundtrack to a great deal of my youth. But, he turned into a strange man as an adult . . . I will never forget his amazing music, but the media frenzy is already getting on my nerves. Farrah, maybe. Michael, no.

Yes, you'll think it's strange (isn't that a line from Evita . . . the mind wanders . . . lol), but whilst at lunch this afternoon, I had an oddly lengthy conversation about my dislike of tomatoes on my hamburgers. Frankly, most restaurant tomatoes are much too soggy to be part of my burger, and I would prefer not to even have them on the plate - because, then you have to put them off to the side, over by the fries - and then THEY get soggy. So no tomatoes, not even on the plate. thank you.

Still working on designing some new furniture - toiled for a while with my upholsterer this morning on a few details as we work on prototypes. More later. (and that's an image I pulled from google - it's not part of my new furniture line - you'll have to wait to see that!)

Yay - we started a new opera tonight for a performance later in the summer. Purcell is SO fun to sing and - double yay - it's in English.

Speaking of opera - Many of you have asked for some pictures from the production I was in a few months ago . . . so - here's a few shots from Rigoletto with SF Lyric Opera. It was set during prohibition in Chicago. Great sets. Great costumes. Great music. Great fun.
(if you're looking for me - bottom right, on the floor - with the hooker, seriously.)

On our way to kidnap the soprano.

And Rigoletto's shameful mocking at the hands of the chorus. It's kinda hard to sing and snarl for 10 minutes straight. lol.

And - what am I up to - triple yay - the big camping, white-water-rafting trip this weekend. Just got a brand new tent . . . can't wait to be up in the woods.


22 June, 2009

"Modern by Design . . . "

Good morning all,

The "Metropolitan Home - Modern by Design" Show House opened last Wednesday evening with a lavish party and one of the largest crowds that I've seen in SF in ages. Seriously, there was a line around the block to get in. And though it was tough to see the house through the masses of people, one of my clear favourites was the 'great room and loft' designed by the ever-marvelous and multi-talented Jay Jeffers.

“It’s definitely intended to be a sexy space for entertaining,” says Jeffers.

The custom designed hide rug (yep, that's cowhide - laser cut and custom dyed) was clearly one of the big stars of the night, and the clever mixture of organic shapes (I'm loving those fantastic lamps!) and textiles contrasted with more streamlined elements strikes the perfect chord - brilliant. For a complete listing of the resources, click here.

And here is the small jewel-box powder room - resplendent in cork tile (really, made from wine corks!), beautiful lighting, and staring the custom bronze vanity.

If you are in the San Francisco area, I highly recommend stopping by the house for a view of this and the other amazing spaces. Here's all the information for location and hours.


"Mmmmmm . . . chocolate . . . "


Sometimes you just need a little dark chocolate in the middle of a busy Monday afternoon.

from House Beautiful

from Atlanta Homes Magazine

From Atlanta Homes Magazine

Carolyne Roehm, from NY Times

from House Beautiful

the main dining room at Spruce, San Francisco


for more information:

20 June, 2009

"My Father's Golf Game . . . "


Okay, this one's gonna be . . . mmmmmm . . . well, I don't quite know what this one's going to be. So I'll make you a deal, I'll just start typing - and you just keep reading - and we'll both see where this ends up.

My father and I have always had a somewhat strained relationship. I swear, if you do a google image search for "distant, silent type," there might actually BE an picture of my dad. In spite of this, he had an indelible effect on the man I became. He had strict requirements of his two boys; impeccable manners, promptness, an exacting work ethic, consistent oil changes, and honesty.

I have always looked back, with a certain amount of humour, on what my parents MUST have thought of the practically alien creature that I MUST have seemed as a child. My abiding hope is that my folks would lay in bed at night and smile with wonder at most of the drama that always seemed to surround me. There were four of us in our home. My retired military father. My high school beauty queen mother. My incredibly athletic older brother. And me - rehearsing Bach for hours each day - obsessively fussing over my wardrobe - and pouring through design magazines. My father played golf. I played the organ. To say that we never had much in common is kind of overstating the *very* obvious.

But, I'll call Dad this afternoon to wish him a Happy Father's Day. We'll have a stiff, stilted conversation about his golf game and my gas mileage. We'll most likely both be a bit uncomfortable. But, I know that it would break his heart if I didn't call. I also know that he loves me. He knows that I love him. And, damn it, I'll make sure that we both say so. My father would want it that way. He taught me good manners - and more importantly - honesty.


19 June, 2009

"Living in sweatpants . . . "


So, the exciting life of an interior designer sometimes includes a quiet Friday evening sorting laundry and watching a back-to-back marathon of "What Not to Wear" with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London. It's one of my favourite guilty pleasures. But, it also has me thinking . . .

Tonight's episode was about a lovely woman who's spirit and self esteem seemed to be broken, who just never believed that she was beautiful . . . and thus, never tried to be - spending almost everyday in baggy, ill-fitting clothes. It was almost too heartbreaking to watch. But, it was also spectacular to see her slowly discover the wonderful individual that was waiting inside . . . and how focusing time and energy on herself helped bring out the amazing person that she was hiding from. Chic. Stylish. Confident.

So, why might someone who writes a design blog be chatting about this? Well, I wonder how often our home environments might suffer from the same sort of malady. How many folks aren't 'living in' their full potential? Just as it takes effort not to throw on the sweatpants and a t-shirt . . . is there an interior design equivalent? What might the design counterpart of 'wearing frumpy clothes' be? And what are ways to avoid this?

One of the ways I keep from 'living in sweatpants' is using my good china for every meal. Beautiful bedding helps me keep the 'frumpy clothes' monster at bay. oh, and fresh flowers do wonders.

Comments ? Thoughts ?

17 June, 2009

"Before . . . "

Good evening all,

I'm sure we're all busy salivating over the most recent publication from House Beautiful. I love that wonderful apartment by the ever-groovy and stylish Miles Redd. But, easily my favourite article is the "One Day Makeover." Jonathan Rosen so clearly exhibits the great power of careful styling, editing, and having a 'fresh eye.'

The complete transformation, step-by-step, is available here, but if you want to cheat and cut straight to the big reveal - simply scroll down . . .

are you sure your ready for this . . . . .

Bright, Balanced, Beautiful

Jonathan's top 10 for a one-day makeover

1. Mantel: Make it a focal point.

2. Artwork: Look for pairs, trios, and groupings.

3. Lamps: Evenly distributed, and don't forget dimmers.

4. Rug: Use it to define a seating area.

5. Pillows and Throws: Bring in more layers of color and texture.

6. End tables: Think of every surface as a potential tablescape.

7. Bookcases: A showcase for objects as well as books.

8. Mirrors: More light!

9. Ottomans or Stools: Versatile extra seating.

10. Plants: Every room needs a touch of green.

My overwhelming goal is to survive just one more day of the somewhat gruesome week I'm working through. I was eye-opening to see how much activity there is in the little neighbourhood by my office at 7am in the morning . . . lol.

Early to bed . . .

"Busy, busy, busy . . . "

Good morning all,

Busy day at the office today. Big meeting in the morning. Gotta get those design boards in great shape. Back in a bit.


15 June, 2009

"A Cautionary Tale"


It's an old, old story. The plot line a numerous Summer films. You find someone new. Someone wonderful. And you are immediately comfortable around them. They seem to be able to sense your every mood. They are right there when you need them. They are the last thing you want to see before you close your eyes to slumber. You're even pleased to see them first thing in the morning - when you might not be at your best - but, no worries, they will understand. You love them. They love you.

Then, you decide not to leave well enough alone. You decide that you can start 'fixing' things. To try and make things better. And this is where the 'cautionary' part comes in.

Oh, and did I mention, my 'someone new' is my new bedroom.

If you are a regular reader, you'll know that I re-designed my living space several years ago - and have been as happy as a clam ever since. Until, for some inexplicable reason, last Thursday. I came home from an exciting day at the design center with one overwhelming thought - "What if I put my bed at an angle?" Well, that was Thursday evening - moving things around, but went to bed quite unfulfilled and rose from the bed feeling no better. So Friday evening after work - "What if I flipped the placement of the bed and dresser?" Grunt. Moan. Carry. Move. And that was the beginning and the end of the second day, and tartanscot said, "this is crap." My room wouldn't even look me in the eye.

So after a busy weekend, for my room and I needed some time apart - today was all about putting it ALL back where it started. And after a few hours, and a kinda sore back, it's all in its proper place. And after a weekend of my room staring at me, sullen and disappointed - our original love seems to be coming back. So let this be a lesson to all of us - whether you're dealing with a new room, or a new person, you can encourage them to live to their fullest potential. But, please, don't require them to be something that they never were.

If only I had listened to the wise advice that Lisa offered - and just baked some banana bread and bought fresh flowers, I could have enjoyed my day today.

and they lived happily ever after,

11 June, 2009

"John Saladino . . . "

"We need space that liberates us from terra firma, allowing our spirits to soar and our imaginations to take flight."
John Saladino

I encourage you to go out (or click through) as soon as possible to purchase his book. It highlights Mr. Saladino's amazing work . . . and features his spectacular home and garden. I was honored to hear his lecture yesterday afternoon at the San Francisco Design Center. He was quite profound, and I may need a few days to process all of the information. Inspiring. Challenging. Breathtaking.

I hope everyone has a great weekend,

10 June, 2009

"Hey Mr. Postman . . . "

Good morning,

I'm not in any way ashamed to admit how much I love getting presents - lol - and yesterday was no exception - and packages full of plaid only highlight the giddiness. The gracious and wonderful GrannySmithGreen sent an adorable collection of tartan ties ("one for winter. one for summer. one for fun") in appreciation of the great time we had working together on her recent post "Inside the Designer's Studio" over on GSG.

Thank you SO much for the thoughtful gift.


09 June, 2009

"You had me at . . . "

Good morning all,

Sometimes you just fall in love at first sight - and, seriously, I just love this little room.  The wonderful patina on the walls.  The thread-worn carpet on the floor.  and in my imagination - I can see this magical space after a late dinner, lit by candlelight, surrounded by good friends, sharing dessert, and laughing madly.

08 June, 2009

"A Good Southern Porch . . . "

Greetings everyone,

I was having a long chat with my Mom over the weekend about re-designing our porch at home and it has sent me on a two day 'image search' looking for inspiration and direction for the project.  I love the above image, but it really feels a bit too 'contemporary' for my parent's house in Mississippi . . .

But THIS - this is a classic southern entry porch.  Columns.  Ferns.  Beautiful ironwork.  and of course, the cat.  Simple, yet stately.  Proud, but very welcoming.

And there's nothing like a wide southern porch to get my heart stirring.  Rattan furniture.  Bead board ceiling.  Huge ferns.  Highly polished, dark stained floors.  and the ubiquitous ceiling fan.  ahhhhh . . . .

Or we could re-think the back porch - maybe just simplify the colour story.  but, add amazing climbing roses . . . encircling the conversation.  This one's gonna take some time and might be a bit more construction than we're thinking at the moment . . . but . . . hmmmmmm . . .

But, this, this could be something.  I love the combination of the fireplace and the ceiling fan . . . lol.  It is clearly a space for all seasons.  Stylish and comfortable.  Let me send a few things off to Mom and see what she thinks.

06 June, 2009

"O for a muse of fire . . . "

Good afternoon,

Some days all the cosmic tumblers just seem to fall into place*.  So as I returned from my morning workout at the beach, I switched on the television only to hear a simple flute melody playing in the background and Derek Jacobi utter those stirring words, "O, for a muse of fire."  It could only mean one thing - Shakespeare's Henry V directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh was just beginning.   Derek, Kenneth, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Brian Blessed, and even Robbie Coltraine are part of the impressive cast.

I've been a huge Shakespeare fan most of my adult life.  The magic of the language fascinates me.  And it's ability to transmogrify into most any era and place shows the timelessness of the text.  And of course for any fan of Henry V, there's always the stirring St. Crispin's Day speech.  But, you've got to earn it.  It's a good hour into the movie - and even further into the play . . . lol.  I know deep in my soul, there is little on this Earth that I can't do when I hear this . . . maybe it's just a 'boy thing' - 'cause it's a serious testosterone high . . . lol.

"Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung "Non Nobis" and "Te Deum;"
The dead with charity enclosed in clay;
And then to Calais; and to England then;
Where ne'er from France arrived more happy men."
Act IV, scene VIII

- a bit of trivia - that's actually the Scottish composer Patrick Doyle who begins the "Non Nobis Domine" chant at the conclusion of the battle.  He has scored several of Branagh's films and always shows up somewhere.  and for some real minutia, Kenneth is actually carrying a very young Christian Bale (in one of his early roles) across the battlefield.

I hope everyone's weekend is full of such delightful and inspiring surprises.


* yes, I know that's a quote from "Field of Dreams," but it's another of my favourite phrases.  Shoot me, I'm a film geek.

05 June, 2009

"Hey y'all . . . what'd I miss?"

Oh my, it is so nice to sit quietly for a few minutes.  Between the design work, several client meetings, a charity event, and a few dinner parties - it's been a crazy week . . . lol.  But finally I can relax and enjoy my favourite blogging friends.  So . . . . what's been going on whilst I was away . . .

I see that Grant is home from Italy . . . with a flurry of beautiful images to share.  Oh, and I can see that he's been making a few wishes as well.

Mrs. Blandings, once again, has a array of amazing images celebrating wonderful design.

Oooooo . . . the ever chic India Hicks stopped by to chat with Ronda at "All the Best."

And James Andrew has gone on Safari - right in the middle of New York.  and very stylish as always!

Social Primer is on his ever vigilant task of keeping us on our best manners.

And a 'hometown' view on the Washington Monument over at ArchitectDesign.

And here's a new favourite that I discovered just this afternoon.  Clearly amazing.

Ah . . . . it is SO nice to be back home . . . and surrounded by you sweet souls and your unending inspiration.

and me?  I'm looking forward to my weekend.  Maybe (or definitely) a bootcamp workout in the morning . . . dinner with friends tomorrow evening . . . and hopefully some flea market finds on Sunday.


03 June, 2009

"Tinkling . . . "

Greetings everyone,

There are a few phrases that always bring a smile to my face. "Oh Scot, everything looks wonderful!" or maybe "We've been talking, and yes, maybe we should increase the budget." or my perennial favourite - "Is there room to add a grand piano?"  I've studied piano for most of my life and almost always end up playing at most parties that I attend.  I find that providing that magical place where music and camaraderie collide to be one of the most delightful elements in any project.

This is on my mind because I spent a goodly portion of my day today working in Berkeley, at a new project, working to find the proper placement for an amazing antique piano.  Luckily, I was paired with some very patient piano movers who would indulge me as we found the 'perfect' place.  

I've been lucky to have several pianos in my design portfolio - like this wonderful instrument - with one of the best views of the San Francisco skyline.

Or this charming 7 foot grand piano overlooking a French inspired home in the Palo Alto area, just south of SF.  I was in the great habit of sitting and playing Chopin etudes when I was working at the house.  It was the perfect way to focus my thoughts.  Ah . . . . . . 

image from House Beautiful
I always find the serpentine shape to be so amazingly graceful.  

and it's always the perfect answer for that expansive bay window, and the polished ebony finish is such a great contrast to almost any colour story.

It can be placed in that odd space in the corner -

Or tucked in the small nook under the stairs.

But most importantly, it can fill a quiet, empty room with the wonder of music.  It can provide hours of entertainment on a lonely afternoon.  Or be the focus of any gathering - as good friends incircle the instrument in the spontaneity of song.  

Music.  Style. and Friendship.  What else can bring all of those elements to one's home?  

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