Monday, January 31, 2011


For Valentine's Day: Something shiny.

Tiny, shiny things with bling is always nice to give and receive. They say that perhaps because our cosmic home is a place of beautiful light, our unconscious memory of it makes us naturally attracted to light-reflecting things. All living creatures are wired to seek light, and therein lies the attraction to it and all things that shine and reflect.

It's the magpie in all of us.

Does not have to be diamonds.

Multi Jewelry Box,
Mercury Glass Votives,
Butterfly Jeweled Frames,
Sam Round Frames,

Proudly Philippine Made

Just one of the many fine crafts and furniture made in my hometown of Manila. Here is the blurb from the Z Gallerie website:
                 A long ago abandoned root from an Acacia tree was unearthed in the north of Thailand.  Carefully cleaned of encrusted stones and dirt then judiciously cut to create a warm contemporary form from this organic original.  This table was then shipped to artisans in the Philippines who carefully cast the formed root with resin.  Once pulled from the mold the multistep process begins with a detailed sanding followed by a hand painted silver. Authentic silver leaf is then hand applied and buffed to bring out the final subtle luster.

Sequoia Console Table,

More on Mirrors

Still on the subject of mirrors . . .
They say to be truly sexy, one must always leave something to the imagination. This modern four-poster bed made of mirrors fits the bill for sophisticated and sexy without being overtly so. In fact, despite its size, it is so visually light that the sexy element is incredibly subtle, which makes it classy. The mirrored posts adds great architectural detail to the otherwise plain room.

Design by Jonathan Adler via
Parsons Mirror Console,

Foxed Mirror Nightstand,

Small Bath Solution

What is so great about this bathroom? Besides the beautiful wood tones, this bath, though small, looks airy and spacious. Notice the frameless mirror used for the vanity. Having the mirror go from wall to wall and end on the ceiling doubles the size of the bath. There is no frame that binds it and stops the eye, so the illusion of space is enhanced. Another clever element is the glass counter top. It allows you to see through to the floor, so in effect, you have a counter top that carries no visual weight.
Design by Vicki Ingam via

Friday, January 28, 2011

Desert Rose

Kristen Scott Thomas dying in the desert in the movie, "The English Patient" is I think one of the saddest, most poignant movie scenes of all time. In this scene, she is alone and gravely ill. With each dying breath, she struggles to keep writing in her journal, talking to Ralph Fiennes, the love of her life, who was out somewhere looking for a way to rescue her. The lonely beauty of the desert landscape is only rivaled by the haunting love story and by the outfits worn by the characters in the movie. Though the desert looks hot and dry as a bone, the characters always seemed to be cool and polished in their billowy white shirts, and pants and coats that were almost always in shades of camel.

Forecasts show that desert tones are the colors to watch for spring and summer. Shades of cognac, tan, sienna, burnt orange and dusky coral echoing the striations on a red rock cliff are neutral enough to satisfy even color-phobes. The beauty of it is that it can be minimalistic while being warm at the same time.

The color to watch: Coral Rose (Pantone No. 16-1349). It's a sophisticated orange, with spicy and gregarious undertones.While it looks great when combined with desert chromes of tan and brown, it can also be used with different colors depending on the style.

With Beige
Pair this punchy color with time-tested neutrals for a sophisticated feel. Accent with burnished gold for extra chicness (Notice the Rope Twist Coffee Table by Baker (

In this redder version of the color, the palette is tempered by the beige walls and sofa, allowing the orange be an accent. Designer: Massucco Warner Miller via
The Rope Twist Coffee Table by Baker,

With Blue
Coral and turquoise are beautiful together. Since they are pulled from orange and blue with are complimentary colors, they just naturally look great together. Brighter blues make for a livelier palette, while softer and lighter hues give a more vintage feel.

Benjamin Moore's Calypso Orange is delicious on the dining room wall. Design by Jamie Drake via
Sea Glass Lamp by Pier 1,
With Green
Orange and green look fresh and juicy together. Like the fruit.
The orange is used as a punch in this design, splashed here and there with green. Photo courtesy of
Bamboo lacquerware,

With White
White makes any bright color pop and look crisp and fresh. Looks great with dark wood tones.
Crisp white wainscoting temper the orange walls. Design by Steven Gambrel via
Benchwright Dining Table,

Retro Stoves

If you've always dreamed of wearing a frilly apron and dressing up as a Stepford wife, there's a stove out there that will complete the picture. Elmira Stove Works ( come in a variety of oh-so-retro vintage pastel colors as well as black. It's adorned with chrome, and according to the company, "each custom built stove is true to it's era, while offering the performance and features found in most modern kitchen appliances." Colors include Candy Red, Buttercup Yellow, Robin’s Egg Blue, Flamingo Pink, Quicksilver, Black, Mint Green, Crushed Orange, Bisque and Bright White. Elmira will even custom-paint appliances to match a customer’s decor.
Very Victorian: The Antique line

Oh-so 1950's: The Northstar line
A family business for three generations up in Ontario, Elmira Stove Works started as a supplier of stove parts for nearby Mennonite families and soon began making their own stoves. Now they make high end stuff with all the old designs. There are two lines: Antique and Northstar, offering a full fledged line of stove ($4,000), hood ($1,100) and fridge ($4,000) that all come in multiple colors, retro style and brand new innards.
This is expensive stuff, but reviews say it performs as well as other "new antique" appliances on the market. Elmira says that each piece is made to your specifications, and at these prices we believe it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


One Singular Sensation

Understandably in winter, some people wear their body weight in clothes. There are so many layers to take off, that transitioning between indoors and outdoors is such great pain. There is however, a certain satisfaction to be had in bundling up, especially when it means lovely coats, pretty scarves and hats and a gorgeous pair of boots. People tend to buy more new clothes in winter, and dress up more. Starting in Thanksgiving  and all the way to after-Christmas and winter sales, we tend to acquire things. New coats and shoes, new party outfits, new furniture and decorations to prepare for guests, food for the holidays, etc. All of these apart from the many other things we receive as gifts. Maybe part of it is primal behavior--like hibernating animals storing food.

Then come spring and summer, we itch to peel things off, to pare down. Now there's a thought. Maybe if we lessen the hoarding during the winter, there will be less paring down (read: yard sales) come warm weather. Spring cleaning will be a whole lot easier.

Lao Tzu said: "To become learned, each day add something. To become enlightened, each day drop something."

Until we are down the most beautiful and meaningful essentials. They say real style is all about editing. Mindless acquisition is so yesterday. The 'in' thing is to think carefully about what we bring into our homes. Nobody needs twelve of something, unless they're dinner plates. When an object is meaningful, its story will fill up the space around it. Then you need fewer things to keep it company and the most honored place to put it.

Please scroll down for today's post. 

Solo Act
Left: "Tiny Dancer" by Zoey Riley

Mix Master: Putting Your Style Together

Eclectic. That is how I would describe the style of most of the homes I've ever been too. This is a style that can be described as 'mostly this, but a little bit of that.' Though I have been to some homes that are straight up and down done in one distinctive style, most homes I've seen fall under at least two categories. For example, classic and neutral, but also a little bohemian. Theatrical and unconventional yet spare and modern. Mixing it up keeps things interesting, more original and up-to-date. Limited to one genre, a room and appear artificial, sort of like a showroom. Layering and mixing styles keep it real. One trick is to choose a key piece, like a large console table or a sofa that is cut in the style that you want then surround it with other things. One great piece may be all you need to convey your idea.

Fashion guru Tim Gunn has this to say on color. Save the brighter, more offbeat colors for classically cut pieces, and keep trendier silhouettes from looking cheap by buying them in neutral, classic colors. Alber Elbaz, designer for Lanvin, reinvents heavy, sumptuous fabrics like taffeta, and silk by going heavy on the yardage, keeping edges a little rough and unfinished. Traditionally stuffy fabrics are given a modern edge by giving them a touch of recklessness. Meanwhile, young designer Jason Wu, wowed the world with his very modern take on dresses. Though cut quite classically, he uses bright, saturated colors in unconventional combinations.

Top: A bridal gown by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Left: A Jason Wu gown. 
The roll arms make this sofa quite traditional, but the exposed legs, low back, pillows, shorter length of 68", and most of all the deep blue upholstery keep this piece up to date.  
Kendall sofa in Indigo,

Top: Traditional pieces look edgy and not stodgy when mismatched and done in pretty bright colors., Bottom: Modern and spare living room in classic monochromatic gray.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Allure of Something New: 2011 Design Trends

Go ahead, try something new. (Most of the time), easier said than done. Like a lot of people, I do not often try new foods, colors, hairstyles. I order the same familiar dishes from the same favorite restaurants, stick to colors I know look good on me. Hard to do yet worth the try. I used to hate the color purple, until somebody told me it looked good on me. I tried it on, surprised myself and now I love it in its many different incarnations. It's hard to embrace certain types of changes but sometimes when you do, you wonder why you even hesitated at all.

So for those willing to embrace a change, here are some of the design trend predictions for 2011.

For 2011, Pantone has chosen 'Honeysuckle' as its color of the year. The color is bright without being bold; reflecting a brighter outlook on the future, but not an ebulient one.
See what I mean? Last year when Pantone laid out a Mediterranean-y turquoise, that was not hard to imagine on a wall or a pillow. This pink however, is pretty hard to conceive on a whole of other things besides a little girl's room or an item out of a Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.
Certainly this one is something you may want to take in small doses. A pot of orchids, an ottoman, a lamp. My best challenge? The ceiling or one wall in a powder room. This pink, like a delightful pot of rouge, will warm and complement skin color and makes everyone look pretty in the mirror!
Below: Lamp from

The recession has diminished our need for non-essentials and that will be seen in the simple, geometric design of furniture.  Flourishes will not be noticeable with the eyes, but with the comfort of a chair that looks austere in a geometric form, but is really quite comfortable.
Below: Soren Chair,