30 April, 2010

"SF Decorator Showcase, Michael Burg . . . "


Quite often when I visit a decorator showcase, I'm always so excited to get to the top floor. When I was part of the showcase house for the first time (good Lord, almost 15 years ago), we were up there. And I loved it. Often the top floor rooms in these grand old homes were designed to only be used as servants quarters - and so they tend to be small, low-ceilinged spaces, with oddly shaped and/or placed windows, or - in other words - the perfect test of a designer's skills.

So, up the stairs to the top floor I go - because with this myriad of challenges - the resulting designs are quite often some of the most creative spaces in the house. And this year, local designer Michael Burg was clearly up to the task. When offered the small, low ceilinged, dark room - with the tiny french doors and even tinier balcony - he simply stepped back, closed his eyes and saw . . .

A retreat inspired by a marvelous, chic European hotel room . . .
the perfect place to retire after a busy day in a new, mysterious city.
Complete with antique secretary for correspondence.
And cutting-edge, modern electronics . . .

A custom-designed tufted leather daybed.
And antique mortician's chest used as a side table.
(and how much do you LOVE the little corner sink. When Michael began to work on the space, the first question asked of him was, "we assume you'd like us to remove that tired, dirty old sink?" "Don't you dare!" he replied. "It's going to be perfect."

The dark tone-on-tone wall coverings (intricately covering every surface - including the multi-faceted ceiling) give the space even more drama and provide the perfect backdrop for the chic, well-edited furnishings.

And what hotel room would be complete without a collection of toiletries and libations in an antique brass vitrine mounted right above that marvelous corner sink!

getting ready to dive into bed myself,

for more information on the SF Decorator Showcase, click here.

29 April, 2010

"SF Decorator Showcase, Suzanne Tucker . . . "

Suzanne Tucker

I'll warn you right here and now - if you're a local and don't want to see any 'spoilers' from the San Francisco Decorator Showcase - you might want to look cautiously here at "Tartanscot" for the next several days.

I was delighted to receive an invitation to preview the house earlier in the week (on a stormy, wet San Francisco morning) - and was equally delighted to see - just upon entering the classically beautiful home - the beaming face of Suzanne Tucker (and her marvelous staff) putting the finishing touches on her lovely room. The dreary, damp day simply melted away -

So, without further ado - take a deep breath - prepare yourself - and take a step into 'The Dining Room" -

How marvelous! Suzanne said that she wanted the space to be more useful in the modern home than simply a room for entertaining or dining. Her aim was to create something much more - she wanted to see "a space for morning coffee nestled in the bay window, a quiet retreat with a book and a pot of tea as the westerly sun pours in; an inviting room for family gatherings or an elegant dinner party conducive to lingering."

I personally love seeing the balance between cool charcoals and silvers against
the warmth of beautiful woods and rich yellows. The comfort of the wool Khotan rug grounding the room. The jolt of amethyst stemware and hurricanes providing the perfect colour bringing everything together. And the windows framed with Suzanne's new line of textiles - in a custom colour (to be introduced this Fall) fitting the room flawlessly.

The table setting.

"The table is skirted with a soft linen floral, topped by
a pale textural matelassé and set with layers of
silver, china, candles, objets, and flowers."

I also loved the use of these comfortable armchairs at each table setting. So beautiful! - especially with the custom embroidered backs. The perfect place to linger in conversation after a long, delicious meal -

Stay tuned,

for more information (regarding hours, tickets, and location) for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, click here.

28 April, 2010

"Coming Attractions . . . "

Greetings all,

The big design news around here is the opening of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase this weekend. You can get all of the details on the space and a listing of all of our local talent (I have SO many great friends designing rooms this year!) taking part here - and a great interview with Brian Dittmar on The Style Saloniste is just the thing to whet your appetite.

Also for your reading pleasure - a fun new interview with yours truly at Style at Home.

Off to the office,

25 April, 2010

"Learning to Read . . . "

Joe Nye from House Beautiful

a poem by Ann Turner.

Do you remember
learning to read?

James Burrow's home by Michael Smith
from Elle Decor

That book full of squiggles
like ants, escaped.

House Beautiful

the teacher's big thumb
on the page,
your heart beating inside
afraid that all you'd ever see
was ants - - -

Mica Ertegun for Architectural Digest

Then a word popped out.

The home of Badgley Mischka
from Elle Decor

"See," and another, "cat,"
and my finger on teacher's
we read "I see cat."

I ran around the room -

from House Beautiful

so happy I saw words -

instead of ants.

I can remember the day I learned to read. It was also the day that a knew that I wanted a library in my home.


24 April, 2010

"Meanwhile at the Hampton's . . . "


Just some quick love for the great article in the New York Times on Duane Hampton's gracious, timeless apartment in New York. If you have a moment over the weekend, read of the great interview with Duane here.

In the meantime, here are some great images of the lovely interior.

Though the space was only most recently re-designed
in 1991, it still feels so fresh and current.
It's a testament to classic design and beautiful fabrics.
The straight forward colour story simply makes the
room so incredibly calm and elegant.

"Alexa Hampton's old bedroom is now her mother's office. The wallpaper
is a copy of paper that was designed for the Houses of Parliament.
Henry Koehler, a family friend, painted the watercolor of
Mark Hampton near the lilies, which, Ms. Hampton
pointed out proudly, are fake."

Mark Hampton's manifesto. Perfectly captured in a tiny silver frame.

"I don't believe that less is more. I believe that more is more.
I believe that less is less. Fat fat, thin thin, and enough is enough."

And a classic red Dining Room. Complete with Venetian mirror, neoclassical etchings, and exuberant custom table linens.

And don't forget that the newest "Tastemaker Tag Sale" today at One Kings Lane is featuring items from the delightful Windsor Smith. Starting at 11am EST. Click over and have a look!


22 April, 2010

"Hey! . . . "


Thanks for those of you who has contacted me - and yes, I'm still amongst the land of the living! Sorry for going 'radio silent' for a few days, it's been almost a week since I've posted - which is VERY unlike me. It's just been a busy, busy week at the office and a wildly productive week here at the house.

Well, to start off this little missive, let's take an alarming trip through the labyrinth of my mental process. So, I'm standing in the shower this morning and thinking - 'I have GOT to get something posted on "Tartanscot" before people send the authorities to my house to make sure I'm alive' - and decided - 'easy, I can just say "hey," and I'll post a picture of a bale of 'hay' (yay, clever. As I said, it was early this morning - and I was still in the shower) and tell everyone how busy I've been - and there you go.

So I'm quietly preparing to give my freshly shorn hair a quick wash - but - now I'm thinking about the hay bales from my childhood on the farm in Mississippi. My brother and I spending hours in the late summer playing in the hayloft of our vintage barn. Hide and Seek. Flashlight Tag. Storm the Castle. Seriously, hours of entertainment. We were under strict parental orders to NEVER play in the hayloft. So, clearly, we played up there ALL the time.

Well, then the thought of those vertical walls of hay bales reminded me of the new grasscloth wallpaper that I just ordered for a project. And of how much I love using Phillip Jeffries Wallcoverings. Their collection is wonderfully vast. The colours are beautiful. I don't think I've ever had a problem with installation. They give a sharp, kinetic energy in every space I've ever used them. And the I also greatly respect the fact that Phillip Jeffries products are very 'earth-friendly.' You know, with this week being Earth Day and everything.

So, we have established several things;

I've had a busy week at the office.

I spend a great deal of my time in the shower sorting through ideas whilst I wash my hair.

I have great affection for Phillip Jeffries Wallcoverings.

And I am, in fact, still alive.

Over and out,

ps. unless there is a pony waiting at the office on Monday morning from Phillip Jeffries, I have received no compensation for this posting. By the way, I'd like it to be a brown pony. Just in case.

16 April, 2010

"Aw, Lighten Up . . . "


I quite often read design magazines from back to front. I think I always have. I want to see the features first anyway, so I usually just start leafing through starting from the back page. That's not really the point if this post (an exploration of my idiosyncratic behaviour could fill numerous entries!) - but, it does mean that I often see an article before I see the title page - so a few weeks ago when I was leafing through the San Francisco Chronicle home section (from back to front) my thought was - "wait. I think I know that house!"

Well, 'know it' I most certainly did. It's the place that belongs to my friends Patrick Wade and Paul DeMattei - a 1905 Edwardian in the Ashbury Heights area of San Francisco.

You might recognize it as well - here it is several years back when it was featured in House Beautiful - all dark and dramatic and delicious. Sparkling crystals and polished silver shining against dark chocolate walls. A gleaming lacquered coffee table balanced by soft wool carpets.

But, good grief! Look at it now. Bright. Cheery. So often, in the design business, we preach about the power of a fresh coat of paint and some new decorative pillows - well, here's the proof. Clearly Patrick and Dave did more to their gracious home than just a few cans of paint and some textiles - but, it truly shows what you can accomplish once you embrace the idea of 'change.'


and after.
Even simple changes can help keep the space fresh and exciting.


and after.
No big changes in the dining room. But even simply re-hanging your
artwork can help the house feel new.

And I LOVE this bright, gleaming kitchen. What a perfect place to start the day.


the beautiful library table in the entry. Classic raffia wallpaper and
beautiful period woodwork in glossy white.


In the master bedroom, again not any dramatic changes. But many times, no big changes are really needed. Fresh, new bed linens can make all the difference.

So take a look around you house - maybe this weekend is the perfect time to add a little something new . . .


Photography for SF Chronicle - Peter DaSilva
Photography for House Beautiful - José Picayo

14 April, 2010

"Captain Tartan, In the Library . . . "


I find simple day-to-day rituals to be incredibly reassuring. I love the ritual of drawing the drapes in my bedroom every night as I get ready for bed. Making one last cup of herbal tea. With a little sugar, and a splash of cream (or more likely some 2% milk.) Curled up in a great pair of vintage pajamas - and grabbing a book from the nightstand.

And every spring, one of my rituals is re-reading some of my favourite books. I have friends who NEVER re-read book. What? I put them in the same category as the people who never see a movie more than once. It's only a small group of people. And I don't understand them.

I treasure re-reading books. Feeling the tousled pages against my fingertips. Seeing written notes in my own handwriting. Discovering something new. Seeing different motivations. Feeling the warm memory of re-visiting well-loved characters. and locations. and emotions.

Whilst the house is in complete remodeling upheaval, the one shining light of organization is my library. So tonight, I'm getting some books ready for the next several weeks of reading - and here's a few favourites just waiting for me . . .

by Emma Donoghue

A wonderful collection of short stories based on odd bits of English and Irish folklore and obscure trials from the 1800's. Whimsical. Imaginative. Heartbreaking.

by Mark Dunn

I love the written language. And I love letters. And this sweet, effortless tale explores both worlds. Imagine a world where we begin to lose letters from our alphabet? Could we survive without the letter 'n?' Or the letter 'q?'

by Thomas Wharton.

The book opens with a small band of explorers trekking across a glacier. One lone man slips and falls into a cravasse - a sees a winged human figure buried in the ice. And a romantic, mysterious tale unwinds from that one random occurrence.

by Josephine Tey

A breathtaking re-telling and investigation into the story of Richard III.
Smart and wonderfully constructed.

by David Sedaris

My hope if that you've already read this once. Or twice. Or maybe monthly. And if you've never read the works of the ever-brilliant Mr. Sedaris, this is one of my all-time favourites. One of the reasons that I need to read this in the privacy of my own home - it's 'laugh-out-loud' funny. No seriously - there are times I've embarrassed myself - guffawing in public. On a plane. At Starbucks.

by Evelyn Waugh

This is one of the few books that I've read SO many times, I might be able to simply recite it from cover to cover. The beautiful romance of England between the wars. And an exploration of love. and ambition.
complete with a teddy bear, named Aloysius.

by Jane Austen

Just read it.
I firmly believe that reading Austen makes you a better person. That's what I'm hanging all of my hopes on.

So tell me - what are some of your favourites? There's always room for more books.


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