Hi lovelies. As I write this, it's raining buckets. I have the fireplace going and am wearing the requisite rainy day attire of fuzzy socks and a big sweater. Not only is it Halloween, AND the San Francisco Giants Parade, but it's also my birthday weekend. Rain was not supposed to happen. I actually don't have any big plans. Since the b-day party a couple of weeks ago, it's been a festival of coffees, lunches and dinners with girlfriends. I prefer it that way – in ones and twos – and feel incredibly blessed to have the circle of amazing friends that I do. So, this leaves a big fat birthday weekend with lots of time to read! As such, I thought I'd share my latest crop of favorites in case you might be finding yourself doing the same.
I was sent a pre-release copy from the publisher and read it over the summer. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Very descriptive especially for those of us who love art, interiors and France.
Here's what Booklist says about A Paris Apartment:
Shuttered for 70 years, the ninth arrondissement apartment is a treasure trove for furniture appraiser April Vogt. Plus, an extended trip to Paris allows her to avoid her troubled marriage. As April uses the diaries of Marthe de Florian to establish provenance of the pieces, she becomes obsessed with Marthe’s Belle Epoque exploits, her rivalry with Jeanne Hugo (Victor’s granddaughter), and her path from Folies Bergère bartender to renowned (if forgotten) courtesan. All the while, April struggles to forgive her husband’s infidelity, a situation not helped by the presence of Luc Thebault, the estate’s solicitor, who seems determined to make sure April doesn’t work too hard. Gable’s debut is strongest when Paris is the focus, whether it’s suffering a rude waiter at a corner bistro in the present day or dripping in jewels and furs and being bored by Proust in a café at the turn of the century. Some of April’s actions late in the book will render her unforgivable to many readers, so if sick parents and infidelity are red flags, pass on this one. Otherwise, vive la Paris apartment! –Susan Maguire
Almost two years ago, when I was going through an extremely challenging time personally, I stumbled upon a TED talk given by Brene Brown about vulnerabilty (watch it below). At that time, there were 7+ million views. Now there are 17+ million. It was a life changing moment, because up until that point, I lumped vulnerabity under the heading of 'Weak Characteristics'. Wrong! Her work on this subject, which is detailed in her book Daring Greatly has words of wisdom for all of us, no matter what place in life we happen to be. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to be vulnerable, especially if you've been hurt. If you are feeling scared to go forward into the unknown – whether it's starting a new business or opening your heart to love again, and everything in between, read this book. You will feel better, I promise.
Design – ModernCountry by Caroline Clifton-Mogg
I was incredibly honored to recieve a copy of this beautiful book from the Publisher. The images are absolutely GORGEOUS! As you might guess, this book conveys my favorite style – comfortable, cozy spaces that also have a modern twist.
Are you familiar with The Scout Guide? In case you aren't – they are beautifully curated city guides for most major US cities, each filled with the best of what's to offer locally in that city. I just discovered they also have a webiste and blog highlighting small businesses, local artists and hometown favorites in the various cities they represent! A visual treat and great resource when planning a trip.
I had this post in mid-completion when I read the new issue of Elle Décor dedicated to luxury. I enjoyed the letter from Editor, Michael Boodro who wrote about luxury not being synonymous with money. The term is often associated
with affluence and can be off-putting especially during difficult economic
times. The working title of this post before was
“Great design doesn’t have to cost a lot!” I've been thinking about this
topic recently, as there seems to be an emerging marketplace for beautiful,
well-made, not mass produced, AFFORDABLE items for the home. I started to
create a list to share here and realized after reading this month’s Elle that
really this is what luxury is all about. We all deserve it, can easily get it and it will make our lives richer for it. No pun
Here are a few items for your modern farmhouse that are truly luxurious and do not
come with a hefty price tag:
Weathered "reclaimed look" 60" Bench – $194.99 from here.
Vintage Tabouret Chair set of (4) – $219.99 from here.
Philippe Stark Black Ghost Chair – $136.99 from here.
12" x 22" Lumbar pillow (without insert) – $34.65 from here.
12" x 22" pillow (without insert) – $38.61 from here.
While I had affordable luxury on my mind, I noticed things in my house
that bring a bit of luxury to the day-to-day routine.
Here are some little things that are within reach to most, but deliver big returns in the
1. A hot beverage cup that you love. I drink my morning cup
of tea in this.
2. Get the best towels you can buy. If you can only get one
or two at a time, do it. The ones I like best are from Bed, Bath and Beyond and
are called Ultimate Turkish Towels in white. I’ve had many a debate about Restoration
Hardware towels vs. these. It’s personal preference, I know, but honestly the
B,B & B Turkish Towels are way better.
3. A great bar of soap. I know spending $10 - $12 on soap
seems like a lot when compared to buying in bulk at Costco, but the way good
soap lathers and adds fragrance to your bathroom is so worth it.
4. Flowers or something green in a vase. I remember reading
in a book years ago by Dr. Andrew Weil about creating and keeping good health
by paying attention to lifestyle. In it he mentioned how having fresh
flowers in your home will stimulate happy subconscious thoughts which release
happy chemicals in your body and in turn, cause a variety of good things to
happen. I believe this to be a little bit of luxury too.
5. Bedding. Recently I decided to completely revamp my bed.
I’m awaiting my new headboard and am in the process of changing the color
palette (from: light blue, cream and brown to: lavender, purple and tan). While a
great mattress is probably the most important household investment one can
make, especially when reminding ones self that a good night’s sleep is perhaps
the most luxurious gift we can give ourselves, the second most important thing is
the sheets. Even if you can only afford just the pillowcases,
it will be enough to get the feeling of luxury as you doze off. If you really want to
indulge, iron them.
Speaking of pillowcases, pillows are also really important!
I bought some pillows recently and ended up exchanging them for better ones.
Even though they were more for decoration and not really for sleeping on, I’m
glad I got good ones.
6. A clean house. Not much more to say.
7. A happy chair. A client once told me she has a chair that
she only sits in when she feels good. If she is not in positive mood, she sits
somewhere else until she feels better. Over time, the chair actually turned her
mood around. This story has stuck with me. I always like to add a ‘one-off’
chair to a room with my design projects . Whether it’s upholstered in a fabric
you love, or so comfortable you instantly relax or maybe it’s an architectural
piece that adds style to your living space – a happy chair is luxury.
I love seeing this chairs all over Pinterest. I bought two vintage chairs in sad shape
a few years ago and re-did them completely. They sold right away. I have two more
now, so please email me if you are interested.
8. Something old. A vintage or antique object, especially one with a story (you
bought it on your honeymoon, it belonged to your grandmother, you found it at a
flea market, etc) has permanence. Customers often come into the shop
conflicted about spending a little more on a vintage piece of furniture when
they can just go to the mall and buy the same look for less. An old piece, has
stood the test of time because it’s iconic and well made.
Well hello stranger… I'm working from home this week. I decided a mental health break from the office was in order. I'm still technically working FOR SURE (hello clients that read my blog!), but I needed to buzz around town so much this week, that I decided to work from home in between errands and appointments. I must say, it's been nice to wear sweats (cute sweats mind you!) and fuzzy socks, a pot of tea at the ready.
With summer drawing to a close, but fall not quite here, the 'theme' of this list of things I'm digging is reflective of this time in between.
First, they had me at the name. Then they had me again at the logo. Ever since I discovered this Australian based company this summer I've been mildly OBSESSED. I have thought about these headboards many times and when/where/for whom I can use them. I find them so incredibly nostalgic of summer homes of my youth.
Since I haven't found a place for them yet, I've decided that I must use them myself…someday…whenever I get a Stinson beach house. Two of these will go in the 'girls' bedroom.
If you're not already familiar, Janus et Cie is a high-end outdoor furniture company. Their lines are on the contemporary side, but they also carry some classic pieces that will appeal to the traditionalists. I recently discovered they have an online outlet that offers 70% off!
I love the settee below. It was originally $3,757 and is now only $1,350!
I would love to add a shed or out building to our property. Whether it's a potting shed, artist studio, office or just a destination, there is just something about being able to escape to your own little cocoon. This company makes shed kits in a few sizes and offers packages for the intended purpose – guest house, gardening, etc.
Finding just the right lamp can be difficult. It's an accessory that is both practical and decorative and often is one of the last pieces to be added to a room. Recently I needed a pop of purple in a gray family room. I was thrilled to find this new line of custom lamps that only take two weeks to make! They are on the pricey side ($900-$1,000/ea), so I didn't use them for this client (otherwise I would show you!), but I bookmarked it for future reference. (I realize this is one doesn't fit in with the 'theme', but the jewel tones they offer made me think fall. Plus, I wanted to share it anyway and it's my blog:-).
Mottega offers a choice of glass or ceramic bodies in many shapes, several shade options, and choice of material for base and finial.
It's been a little cooler here in California lately, so I'm finding myself getting in the fall spirit and daydreaming about being here…
I keep promising that I will blog more often and here it is over a week since my last post… I'm actually currently on a little vay-kay, the kind that's non-stop rather than relaxing, so that's my excuse. I get back home on Wed, so I'll update on the latest news then. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some things I've recently discovered that make me happy. Maybe they will do the same for you!
1. Did you know that the talented crew at Remodelista have started a new blog – Gardenista??? For the landscaped challenged like me, this is a God send!
3. No. 6 clogs. My most fashinable girlfriend has been telling me about these shoes for months. I finally got this peep-toe pair below and LOVE them! So comfortable and the perfect mid-heel. Incidentally, I have never received more shoe compliments! Someone even took my picture the other day (sadly, no, it was not The Sartorialist, but I will keep hoping).
4. Fran's Salted Caramels. I am a severe chocoholic, but have recently decided I needed to cut back (is there an anon for that?) Now, when I do give myself a treat of chocolate it has to be the best most intense chocolate experience possible. While I have known and loved the Seattle based Fran's for years, I only recently discovered the lightly salted dark chocolate caramels. They are the perfect quick fix to my chocolate cravings and they ship in two days.
Selecting wine is not easy. I find that I usually rely on the staff recommendations at the grocery store or else I go with one of my standby favorites. When I want to try something different however, or I'm looking for a pairing with a particular dish or perhaps need something special to give as a gift, I'm usually stumped.
Luckily for me (and now everyone else!) I've been able to call on my friend Elizabeth to help me pick a superb wine even when I'm just looking for an 'everyday' type of thing.
I'd like to introduce you to a new wine resource ~ Elizabeth's List ~ a weekly offering of personal favorites chosen by someone well versed in the Northern California boutique wine community. Consider her like a girlfriend you can trust who truly knows wine and the winemakers behind them.
Let me first say that Elizabeth is not only my dear friend, Tuesday morning running partner, mother of three, Southern Belle and all around terrific peron, but she reeeaaallly knows wine. I often call her from the store saying something like, "What should I get that goes with chicken strips?" or "We're grilling steaks, what's your recommendation?" and she always gets it right.
In her own words…
How did Elizabeth's List come about?
I have been in the wine business for 3 years selling boutique, small production wines to restaurants and wine bars in Marin and Sonoma County. When I travel and go back east to see friends and family in the summer people were always asking about the wines that I was drinking, what the trends were…. how they could purchase some of these wines. After two years of this I asked a wine sales web company who I worked with, Porthos, about doing my own web sales company. They asked me to work with them…Elizabeth's List was then created.
How does your relationship with Porthos benefit Elizabeth's List?
Porthos has been in business for 10 years and are first class. They are the wine concierge for Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report and highly regarded in the wine community. They taste over 10,000 wines a year. So I have access to the small production farm to table wines that are so popular right now and then have access to all of their wines too….domestic and imports. It is the best of the best. No minimum order. Porthos handles all the shipping, which is free on 6 or more bottles to anywhere in the US. Tasting notes come with the wine as well as pairing recommendations. Elizabeth's List offers a wine selection each week or two. I feature a wine and tell a bit about the program. Clicking the link to purchase takes you to check out. Very easy and Porthos is super professional.
How do you select wines for Elizabeth's List?
I choose a wine by the following….. one that I have tasted and love, like the wine program and people, see that the wine is getting good press ( and agree with it), and from what great restaurants and wine bars are pouring across the country.
How can we find you and sign up for your weekly Elizabeth's List offers?
To sign up for my offers go to www.ElizabethsList.com or e mail me at email@example.com
A snippet of what a typical weekly offering delivered to your email (no cost) might look like…
Happy weekend! I hope it invloves something nice to sip. A votre sante!
Up until a few days ago I was unaware that my expectations of having a completely positive hotel experience in nyc were extremely low. I am what you'd call a hotel snob. I would rather stay home than go just about anywhere and stay in a not-so-great hotel. What I realized a few days ago, was that it really never occurred to me that somewhere, if I looked hard enough, there existed a hotel that possessed my two basic requirements (1. well kept – as in really clean and not shabby or rundown and 2. super quiet) plus a slew of non-essential, but highly appreciated extras all at a not exorbitant rate. That is, until I found a little pearl…
233 WEST 49TH STREET NEW YORK, NY 10019 | TEL: 800-801-3457 OR 212-245-4000
I had never heard of The Pearl Hotel, which opened in Oct 2010 until I happened upon it on Expedia, which offered a rate of $175/night and included wifi, continental breakfast, daily wine reception (never went to it, so I have no details). The reviews on Tripadvisor, Expedia, Google, etc were all excellent, so I thought I'd try it.
I checked in, and was immediately upgraded. Without asking. I shit you not.
photo from website
When I saw my room was on the 3rd floor, I asked if it faced the street (incidentally, I always prefer and request rooms in nyc that face brick walls or are so close to another building you could reach out and touch it. It means they're quiet! A view from a nyc hotel room is a total waste on me. Hawaii is another story.) The friendly front desk receptionist explained that they use a special 'sound proof glass' so even if there was noise outside my window I probably wouldn't hear it. Sound proof glass? Ha! Right! If there were such a thing, why wouldn't fancier hotels that rhyme with 'Alice' where I normally stay install them, at least on their lower floors???
The first thing I do when I check into any hotel is open the windows. Judge away! As I opened the incredibly heavy window, the street sounds came barrelling in as quickly as the blast of cold air. I closed the window. Silence. I opened it again. Honking, sirens, etc. Sound proof glass is a beautiful thing.
Are you noticing the cleanliness?
Carrera marble countertop on the bar area. Fridge below and microwave above. Keurig coffee maker and to-go cups.
photo from website
Many of the rooms have patios. I don't mean balconies, but full on lounge-chair-equipped-have-a-little-party-outside kind of patio.
Nice big full-length mirror.
The bathroom was awesome! Spacious shower and standard size tub, the shower had an overhead faucet. There was also a tv in the bathroom that faced the shower and tub.
Yes, those are Philosophy bath products!!!
photo from the website
There is a fitness room too.
I was in nyc to attend the Gift Fair, so as I was delighted to find out that the shuttle to the Javitts Center picks up at the Marriott Marquis only 3 blocks away.
Another great surprise about this hotel is that it is directly across the street from the theatre where Book of Mormon is playing. Tickets for this show are booked a year out. Every day they offer 22 front row seats for that night's performance. You just have to show up and put your name in a box and they will draw the winners 15 mins before the show. The crowd I saw out front was at least 100 people. I wished I had time to see a show and this one would have been my first choice.
As far as the Gift Fair, I found some great new vendors for the shop and for client projects. I posted a few finds on our FarmHouseUrban Facebook page. Please find us on Facebook (button is on the right side of the blog) and like us to see the behind the scenes stuff!