Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sisterhood

I'm a little obsessed with interior design. I must be, or I wouldn't have two blogs on the subject! But while I enjoy it and think I have a good eye and a natural talent for pulling things together, I'm not schooled in the art and history of design. I'm familiar with the big names of today—Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler, John Derian, Windsor Smith. But the designers who came before them, the ones who influenced them, are little more than vaguely familiar names to me.

So it was with Sister Parish. I'd heard of her and knew she was influential in the world of design, but that was about it. So, on the occasion of what would be her 101st birthday, I set out to learn more about this woman with the unusual name.

Sister, a childhood nickname, was born into privilege in New Jersey in 1910. She began her career during the Depression as a way to earn extra money to keep her family in the style they were used to. With partner Albert Hadley, she formed influential firm Parish-Hadley.

Her collected English country style, while very traditional and a bit fussy from today's perspective, was modern in the sense that she like to mix prints and patterns. She wasn't one for matchy-matchy decor. Another modern concept she applied to her work was her belief that "rooms should be timeless and very personal."

Sister had worked with Jackie Kennedy and was chosen to decorate the White House when the Kennedys moved in. She soon had a falling out with the first lady, saying, "Jackie got along much better with men than with women."

This is the bright and cheerful White House Yellow Oval Room in 1962:

National Archive and Records Administration
Jackie's bedroom in the White House was feminine and quiet, much like the first lady herself:
Her granddaughter and a protege are keeping Sister's style alive with a line of fabrics, wallpaper and accessories.

Are you a fan of the Sister Parish look? Is there another iconic designer you've always wanted to learn more about? Tell us about it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Design Star Season 6: Playing Nice

I'm the first to admit it: Sometimes the funniest thing to say isn't the nicest. When someone zings me in a clever way, my initial instinct is to congratulate them. There's always time to be offended later. Reality TV definitely understands that to be unkind is also to be entertaining.

That said, I'm happy to report that season 6 of HGTV's Design Star has decided to tone it down a notch. We're only one episode in so far, but it would appear that the judges took the viewers' notes. I loved last season and in particular last season's winner Emily Henderson (and her awesome show Secrets From a Stylist), but there were times when it was seriously hard to watch. Vern Yip, whose show Deserving Design made him out to be a saint, was particularly harsh in some of the critiques. Candace Olson and Genevieve Gorder were not any nicer. I'm hoping this season continues along the vein of the premiere episode and has the judges offering a little bit of constructive criticism, as well as words of encouragement.

A few other thoughts on the first episode:

1. Not wild about the host Tanika Ray (who is she? looking at her Wikipedia page, she seems like a random pick) but David Bromstead as mentor is a great fit.
2. Is it just me, or do you want to know how much money they have to spend and what they're paying for the furniture items they choose?
3. Candace Olson is clearly better at designing rooms than she is at dressing herself. Zing!

Next time we'll talk about the rooms ...

French Connection

In honor of Bastille Day, I thought I'd share a few fabulous French treats. Enjoy!

Paris apartment by Elle Decor
Designer Oliver Gagnere's Left Bank flat by Elle Decor
                                                      Source: via Starli on Pinterest

                                      Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Poodle via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dining Room Redo

I've been wanting to give my dining room a bit of a face-lift. Not a total makeover—I like the main elements. But it's been basically the same for a few years, and I'm ready to shake things up a bit.

The color scheme right now is red and yellow. I like that for a dining room, but it kind of limits what colors I can use for table settings. I'm thinking new curtains with red, yellow and blue (and possibly other colors) would expand my options.

I'm mad for these curtains (but they're a little spendy for me):

I think Pottery Barn has something similar. I might have to DIY something, though, because we hung the rods a bit high. Or I could add some sort of fringe to the bottom of ready-made panels.

I also have big plans for the back wall, but more on that later!

Monday, July 11, 2011

For the Love of Windsor

Veranda's House of Windsor showcase house is open for touring in LA's Mandeville Canyon through July 17. The lead designer and namesake is Windsor Smith, whose work I've only recently come to know and love.

Her casual, classic, feminine aesthetic is showcased her own Brentwood home, below. She just might be my design soul mate. There's even a dog!

                                                    Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

                                    Source: via Beth on Pinterest

The LA Times visited the House of Windsor and has pictures.

                                                   Source: via Kathy on Pinterest

Windsor's entry hall for the showcase house is perfect—open, bright and elegantly welcoming. And her ingenious design can pull double duty, serving as a dining room for the "six days of a year when you actually throw a huge dinner party." I like that she's rooted in reality—even if her reality in the world of high-end Los Angeles homes isn't exactly the reality I know.

Other designers taking part include "Million Dollar Decorators" alums Kathryn Ireland and Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. I don't quite get Martyn's over-the-top "man cave" (I don't like the idea of man caves in general, and this one is vertigo-inducing!), but I love him anyway.

Part of the proceeds from the tour benefit two children's charities, P.S. Arts and the Children's Action Network.

How I wish I could visit the house, but with dogs to deal with and "carmageddon" approaching, it just won't work for me. But if you can make it, let us know what you think!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things I'm Digging

Here's some stuff that caught my attention around the Internets this week:

1. Thanks to Beth for alerting me to Crate and Barrel's Marimekko bedding sale. She knows I love me some Marimekko, and I've been looking for a duvet cover to swap out with my beloved patchwork quilt when I am in need of some variety. This blue Unniko pattern would go well with the sheets we already have, so it's tempting! But I'm holding out for the Missoni for Target collection, in hopes that it contains the comforter of my dreams.

2. I am seriously in love with this colorful salvaged wood wall from Design Sponge.

3. I spent the entire time I lived in my suburban home feeling guilty about not replacing my lawn with more ec-friendly greenery. Apartment Therapy blogger Catrin Morris' Case Against the Front Lawn is a great read and makes some interesting points, even if you don't agree.

4. There's nothing I don't like about the living room tour from Picnic in the Park's Greta. The airstream painting  is adorbs, and I'm especially fond of the homemade credenza next to the wooden Eames chair. Basically, it all makes me happy.

5. When I'm looking for eye candy, I head over to Print and Pattern. The first image in this post about surface // philia made me literally gasp it's so beautiful!

6. In case you weren't jealous enough of sfgirlbybay's recent trip to Paris, check out some of these French souvenirs. I like her philosophy: Bring home things you'll use in your everyday life to remind you of where you got them.

I'm Mad About...

These are a few things that made me smile this week.

Juniper Books

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Making the Most of a Small Balcony

Just like hipsters and PBR, small living spaces and small outdoor spaces go hand in hand. Dumping the house in the suburbs with a generous back yard for an urban apartment has turned out to be the best move I could have made, but I canʼt lie: I miss the back yard more than a little bit.

But having a balcony thatʼs short on space doesnʼt mean it has to be short on style. It just might take a little bit of creativity. I already have a pair of Adirondack chairs that fit nicely, so now I just need to accessorize.

Starting at the top, some solar-powered hanging lanterns that collect light all day and shine all night will provide some much-needed ambiance and visual interest. Since there's no room for planters, I'm going to try one that attaches to the balcony rail. Including a smaller barbecue, in light green, and one or two or three colorful modern birdhouses will tie it all together.

The chairs I have are pretty weathered but they look rustic, which is a nice juxtaposition against some of the more aggressively modern elements. The ratty cushions will have to go, though, and be replaced with this nice green and yellow set with flowers on one side and stripes on the other. Built-in versatility is great in my book, because I tend to get tired of patterns.

Voila! A comfortable but compelling space to spend our summer evenings and lazy Sunday afternoons is an urban oasis anyone would love to come home to.

Solar Lanterns
Egg Bird Houses
Rail Planters
Chair Cushions *

*I don't generally endorse shopping at Wal-Mart but I looked high and low before finding this pattern that I liked, as opposed to others that I could just tolerate. Apparently my values have gone on summer vacation!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looks Like a Million

I'm a design show junkie. HGTV is my go-to channel when nothing else is on. I've seen every episode of every Sarah Richardson, Candice Olson, Emily Henderson and John Gidding show there is—often more than once. And I'm so excited that tonight I get to start flipping out again with Jeff and Jenni over on Bravo.

But when Bravo started touting its latest entry in the deco porn genre, "Million Dollar Decorators," I wasn't interested. I'm turned off by huge egos and conspicuous consumption. I mean, really, even the promo shot is pretentious:

So I missed the first episode.

But then I caught part of the second one and was intrigued. By the third episode I was a regular viewer, and now I'm officially hooked.

The fifth show is my favorite so far. Maybe that's because there was very little of Mary McDonald (the woman has an enviable wardrobe, but she really grates). Or maybe it was because there was lots of Ross (yum!). Or the fact the Martyn's client that week was the gorgeous Daisy Fuentes and not the appalling Joe Francis (I seriously think I need a tetanus shot after just watching him on TV). Or that I love just about everything about Kathryn Ireland—especially her housekeeper, Jacqueline. Or that all the designers have cute dogs.

Whatever the reason, you know where you can find me on Tuesdays at 10—in front of the TV getting my design fix.

Come on, admit it—you like "Million Dollar Decorators" too. Who's your favorite designer?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mad About Missoni

Target hasn't released any pictures yet, but here are some "real" Missoni items that would be great for the Target collection.

Hellooooooooo, rich hippies!

That billboard for the new retro Volkswagen Beetle released in the late '90s made me giggle every time I saw it. I hadn't thought about it for a while, but it came to mind recently when I was reading about Missoni.

As the daughter of hippies (the regular kind), and one with hippie tendencies, I have always found myself drawn to Missoni's rich colors, bold chevrons and stripes, and irreverent designs that just seem to ooze personality and bohemian spirit. Of course I don’t own anything from the legendary fashion house, and am not likely to since I could never justify spending $250 on a towel – no matter how gorgeous!

Enter Target and their brilliantly conceived campaign to bring taste and style to the masses. I call these collaborations brilliant because they work with some pretty great designers to offer gorgeous wares at prices that normal people can afford.

Previous favorites of mine have included the Liberty of London and Orla Kiely collections. I have a few carefully chosen items from each line.  But I'm afraid with Missoni for Target, Beth might have to stage some sort of intervention. I can just picture me on Sept. 13 (yes, I’ve memorized the date AND put it on my calendar) with a basket overflowing with Missoni towels, cups and dishes, brightly patterned chairs, a sumptuous pouf, a new bedspread (I really do need one of those) with matching pillows, etc.

Since I am much more likely to buy a cute outfit for my living room than myself, it’s the home collection that I’m excited about. But if they make any bags, all bets are off.

Maybe Target will do me a solid and botch the collection, so that only a few of the items end up being worth having. I mean really, a pattern designed for bone china translated to melamine? That can’t be a good idea. Yeah, that’s it. The collection will suck and my pocketbook will be saved.

Ha, who am I kidding? Target knows its stuff and they especially know how to get me to part with my hard-earned money. That’s it. We’re doomed. I’ll go to hell in a handbasket. But at least that handbasket will be lined with Missoni.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Matchbook Is Here!

The July issue of Matchbook, one of my favorite online magazines, is out.

Source: None via Matchbook on Pinterest

I can't wait to dig in!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Someday We'll Find It: The IKEA Connection

As a card-carrying hugger of trees and lover of the planet, I am loath to admit it, but I love to shop. And when I get together with Beth, we give new meaning to the phrase “shop til you drop.” This past weekend at IKEA was no exception.

A marathon shopping day this past weekend included, but was not limited to, four hours at the modern design mecca. Beth needed some new throws and was in search of the perfect curtains for her dining room, while I was looking for entryway storage and planter pots for the balcony.

Did either of us need a frog prince pillow? No, but how adorable is this one? Neither of us was in the market for a room divider but we each found one we loved, albeit in completely different styles. A discussion about eco frying pans led us to the kitchenwares department, where I discovered the cutest design ever seen on such a practical item.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Anthropological Study

To kick off this blog, Jana and I got together and did what we do best—we went shopping! I drove up north to check out her awesome new apartment, and naturally we had to buy some things for it. The day started at Ikea (Jana will tell you all about that soon), then we headed over to Fourth Street in Berkeley for our Anthropologie fix.

A typical trip to Anthro involves us exclaiming, "That's so cute!" more times than anyone should ever say in a lifetime. And this trip was no exception.

Anthropologie may be partially to blame for my owl obsession. But really, when the cookie jars are this cute (there's that word again!), how can I resist?

Monday, June 27, 2011

This Cat, That Room

Welcome to the first installment of "This (Pet), That Room." The idea behind this series is to see how a pet and a room match up, whether because of color or style—or just my whim.

Kitten via Desire to Inspire; living room via

This white, long-haired cutie is named Pumpernickel. Long-haired cats shed quite a bit. By putting Pumpernickel in a light-colored room, you won't see cat fur everywhere. That doesn't mean you don't have to clean up after her, just not as often.

This also works on another level. The living room decor is softly colored and elegant, and so is Pumpernickel. I can just imagine her curled up on the back of the sofa, looking out the window at birds flying by, or snuggled up in front of the fireplace licking her paws after dinner on a chilly evening.

What do think? Do you match your pet to your room? Or is that just too fussy? And isn't Pumpernickel the cutest?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm a Little Bit Boho, She's a Little Bit Modern Classic

Design Between Friends was borne out of the same spirit that drew the two of us together over a dozen years ago: An appreciation for each other’s style of living.

At the newspaper where we worked, it seemed unlikely that we’d find each other. She wore cute little suits with heels to work; I wore Birkenstocks. Our personalities were (and still are) different too: I’m a little louder, she more reserved but smart as hell. I think she admired my confidence and my zest, while I loved her style and thoughtfulness.

I remember the first time I invited her over to my apartment. We were both in our 20s then, and I was so proud of my papasan chair and futon covered with Mexican blankets. When I saw her place a few weeks later, with the “real” furniture and a color scheme, I was so embarrassed. I didn’t see our friendship lasting.

Yet here we are, oh so many years later, proud presidents of one another’s fan clubs. We’re BFFs who’ve seen each other through thick (me) and thin (her), disastrous loves, then marriages, first homes, layoffs, second homes, foreclosure, more layoffs, new jobs, the sheer joy of nieces and nephews, and growing our families with “children” of the furry persuasion.

Over the years, our taste has evolved and so has our friendship. Through it all, and with every move, we’ve always shared genuine excitement at the prospect of decorating a new space. She’s in the process of updating her three-bedroom home, and I recently downsized to an apartment, where I’m relearning the ups and downs of urban living.

And although we’re a four-hour drive away (five if she’s driving), we’ll do it together and share it with you. We hope you enjoy the journey.