Monday, March 2, 2015

Time to Medicate

It's foolish, really, to be so bothered by the weather.  When I complained about the cold as a girl my best friend would say, "You just have to let it wash over you." But my heat-seeking mind and body find that waves wash over, while cold is always a brutal assault.

Even as I typed, "I'm having serious trouble with this weather.  Like 'red rum' trouble," to a friend yesterday, I recognized my shortsightedness.  50's and sunny by the end of the week.  Florida coming into view on my calendar.

And then today there was a breath of spring in my in-box.  Green and black and white is one of my favorite combinations and my sofa pillows are so tired. (Dexter and Rosie and I am looking at you.) What could be more harmless than using bold and graphic fabric to assuage the final assault of winter?

New pillows from Angela Adams can be found on her site here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I was particularly out of sorts yesterday.  Nothing was working. The words were not coming. The weather is awful. The wolf is at the door.  I slumped and grumbled through my day.

One of my tasks yesterday was to create a poster for my oldest's swim banquet, and I was struggling with both the details of what to put on it and the cosmic force that encourages mothers to create work for themselves for children who care nothing about things like swim posters. (Maybe girls do.  Maybe some eighteen-year-old boys do.  But I doubt it.)

After loads of time, more than I devoted to work certainly, sorting pictures both in boxes and on my desktop, I uploaded and printed and was ready to paste.  My large, white poster board mocked me.  "I dare you," it said, "to leave me white.  In fact, I double-dog dare you." I could not, of course.  I went out to look for wrapping paper that I could cut to fit, but was dissatisfied with either color or pattern.  I came home surly and empty handed.

Looking down at a picture of my man-child standing on the side of the shallow end of the pool when he was two, his suit and hair dry, the shimmer of the water in the background looked so inviting. I pushed back my chair and opened the craft cabinet (which my boys call the "crap cabinet") and pulled out my watercolors.  In no time the poster and I were better.  Paint, no surprise, was the answer.

While I paint on paper rarely, I paint on walls often. It's difficult for me to keep my brushes from it.  I'm midway through a project in my dining room (dining rooms being great spots for a little extra oomph) that is, again, white on a colored ground; for the last few weeks I've been creatively stalled. The chalk outlines call out to me, but I walk by pretending that I don't see them.  Spaces Kansas City's 10th anniversary issue features a "celebration" on its cover.  The table is beautifully styled, but this week I emailed my editor, "Whose house is that? And who is the artist?" It's a mural that would delight as much at breakfast as New Year's Eve.  It inspired me, like the shimmer of the water in that photograph, to pick up my brushes again to sweep away the gloom of winter.

Mural by Tim Northcutt, T.J. Hawk's Painting Plus.  If you'd like contact information, please email me directly.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Circling Back Around

I wear bracelets every day.  I don't know why I have such an affinity for them.  Even my watch, which is masculine and severe, is more bracelet than timepiece.  Most days I wear the slim, hooked cuff that was my mother's.  Most days I wear the large link chain that I bought for myself to mark a milestone.  Some days I wear the red beads that bring energy. Some days I wear the diamond bangles that mark the birth of my children.

As I contemplated a tattoo, there were a few phrases that lingered in my brain.  For the last three New Year's Eves, I have set an intention for the coming year. I write it on a thick, white card and seal it in an envelope that I keep on my desk. The idea is to open it on my birthday in August to see how I am doing.  I usually cheat and open it earlier.  Not too much earlier, but early.

So now I have three phrases that mean something to me; they have served me well. Too many, though, to ink upon my skin.  But I like the idea of having them close to me.  As with a tattoo, I didn't need other people to be able to read them, not that I cared if they did, but the words were for me. I string some words for money, some for love and some for free, but a few I keep for myself.

I remembered that my friend, Sloane, has bracelets with words stamped into them.  She represents the artist, Elle Binder, at her store, Stuff, and I asked her if I could have one made in gold.  Gold, as you may or may not be aware, is quite expensive.  Too expensive, it turns out, for someone who writes sometimes for money and love and free.  But Binder also works in silver and is happy to finish her pieces in brass for those of us who need a warmer metal that is not so expensive.

"You need to have it sealed," said Sloane when I picked it up. And I will.  Soon.  But for now I am delighted at the clear note it rings when it hits the links, a sound reminiscent of the bells in Mass calling my attention to the transformation, which is where my focus should be.

Please Stand By

I've been doing a little blog clean up and it led to some wacky posts last week.  While I'm blogging more, you can be assured that if you're receiving more than one post in your morning email that something has gone wrong.  I do wish I were in California, but, alas, I am not.  I should finish up in the next few days and things will be back on track.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


As we head into Spring and push back hangers and rifle through drawers sorting what makes sense for the new season, I'm always looking for an easy way to update an old favorite.  I have an antique locket that hits just at my sternum, that I never, ever wear.  My wrists jangle, my fingers flash and my ears are hooped, but my neck is usually bare.  I've been wanting a charm to hang low inside my blouses, right in the spot where I spray my perfume.  When I saw this Celine brass and silk necklace, it offered the bridge between old and new.  The gleam of the metal and the rough of the cord are an irresistible combination and a good way to give an old piece new life.

Image via the WSJ Magazine here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Spaces Kansas City has revamped their look and there's loads more content on-line.  You can see my latest column on trends here.

Image, design Miles Redd; photography, Paul Costello.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Couturier Details

My oldest son is a senior in high school and we've spent a good little bit of time this year working on college applications.  He wants to be an architect, and even as we have sat across from deans and talked to people who work in the field who tell him about the hours and the money, he is undeterred.

"Don't do it because you think I want you to," I told him.  He assured me he is not, but I worried.

As he was putting together his portfolio, I watched as he scanned and uploaded.  (I was encouraged, too, that all the schools to which he applied preferred hand drawings to CAD.)

Generally, he draws elevations and then corresponding floor plans.  Sometimes, he includes furniture designs.  I can't pretend that I would be able to evaluate a portfolio or that I am in any way unbiased, but one "project" caught my eye.

"Have you been in a house like this?" I asked him, holding out a piece of notebook paper, the edge ruffled where it had been torn from the spiral. The penciled marks were dark and sure.

He looked up at me from the bamboo chair at my wicker desk, so clearly a man in a woman's spot.

"No.  I dream about being in buildings and then I get up in the night and draw them." He looked back to the computer screen to check the progress of his upload.  "Do you do that?"

I looked back to the drawing in my hand, noticing the faint lines that had been erased to adjust the width of the garage and the seat height of a chair.  "No.  I do not do that."

Many creative people find their passion at a young age.  Robert Couturier recounts in his book how he developed "personal relationships" with antiques growing up in his home in France.  He became a decorator against his grandmother's wishes. ("You weren't supposed to be somebody who was going to work for somebody else," he recalls.) I've always admired Couturier for his combination of classic design and fearless incorporation of modern art, lighting and furniture.  He plays with scale and color in a way that always inspires me.  Couturier forces me to open my mind.

His new book, Robert Couturier: Designing Paradises,  contains a thorough catalogue of his house and many favorite projects.  You can find it here.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli International; images Tim Street-Porter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Off the Rack - Lee Stanton

I was delighted to see Los Angeles antique dealer, Lee Stanton's, condo in the March issue of Elle Decor.  His shop courtyard became my home away from home one of the days I was there for Legends of La Cienega a couple of years ago. I was equally enchanted by Stanton's warm and easy personal style and his aesthetic.

Distinctly masculine, he never dips to kitsch.  I was struck, as I walked slowly through his shop, how much his taste reminds me of Christopher Filley's, one of my hometown favorites.

You can find more images from the Elle Decor feature on Stanton's blog here.  Once you stop in, do click around.  He posts lovely pictures of his vignettes and thoughts on his travels around town, around the web and around the world.

Two images, top, Elle Decor, March 2015, styled by Robert Rufino, photography Bjorn Wallander.  Image bottom, Lee Stanton.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


You know that I am a supporter of shopping local.  I am devoted to my favorite shops and shop owners.

But I have a confession to make.  I have a burgeoning crush on West Elm.

They opened on the Plaza last Fall and I didn't go in right away. They had been out south a few years ago and when I saw the product there, I was so disappointed in the quality.

But I wandered in on a cold day in December and was delighted by the design.  Are they borrowing heavily from mid-century? Yes, but they are doing it well.

The lamps are heavy.  The furniture is steady and the drawers slide in and out with ease. The finishes are even and lovely.  Lids snap tightly and square.

The Clint Mini Task Lamp (top) was my gateway drug; he sits jaunty and lively on my living room bookshelves. Both the Kate Spade Saturday Globe Table Lamp and the Pillar Table Lamp have mental place marks while I hunt and gather; if I don't find something soon, they may come to live with their cousin.  Looking for a home for a preserved puffer fish from Oracle yesterday, I found the perfect shadow box there.  The clever and charming Pencil Desk may be just the thing for the youngest boy's very narrow space in his bedroom.  The Faux Shagreen Box now rests on my bedside table with my hand lotion, cuticle cream and lip balm tucked discreetly inside.  (They were such a bother before.)

I confess, I cannot help myself.

All images via West Elm, from which I received no compensation.  I don't know why one picture is not centered.  I hate blogger so much.

Monday, February 9, 2015

First Love

There are times when I feel the universe is looking out for me.  While I had planned to go the lingerie show in Paris with my friend, to lend my eye and my ear for her buying trip, my design friends began to message, "Hey! I'm going for Maison & Objet and Deco Off.  Let's meet up!"

Both trade shows, for furniture and fabric, run concurrently in Paris in January.  So while we were there, men's fashion week was ending, the lingerie show was beginning, Maison & Objet and Deco Off were in full swing, and women's fashion was getting ready to begin.  "How was the weather?" a lot of people have asked me.  I barely noticed the weather.

We stayed in a tiny, charming hotel in Saint-Germain staffed by a lovely gentleman named Bruno, who was indulgent of our late night arrivals (which required the ringing of a bell to rouse him) and our charger issues and our constant need for directions.

My friend and I chose the hotel together after about a minute and a half of consultation at her desk.  Cosmic forces, which I think are quite powerful, plopped us right down in the midst of the fabric showrooms.  Truly, I couldn't have been happier.

During the day there were clipboards and meetings, people taking pictures and taking notes.

But many of the showrooms were open in the evenings, and while people rubbed their thumbs back and forth across the cloth gauging the hand of a fabric tossed or hung, they drank and laughed and felt the energy of being in a small room with a lot of people who understood the business of beauty.

Looking at fabric was not what I had gone to Paris to do. Even after I became aware of the show, I had not planned to go to the showrooms.  But there they were, right there in my path.  They called to me, a siren's song of color and pattern and texture.

While in a significantly more charming location, the showrooms there were really no different than the ones I've visited here or in New York or Los Angeles or High Point. But they reawaken in me a love for the art of design.

The images, top, are of the lights strung across the streets made of fabrics from the new collections of the showrooms in Saint-Germain. The top three images I'm sure are are from Hermes; the remaining are Dedar. Do correct me if I'm wrong.