Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In the Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness Day

In an effort to raise awareness, I have posted some of my favorite magazines who decided that PINK was the perfect color for the cover. I hope you all enjoy, and don't forget to schedule that mammogram appointment or give a gentle reminder to those you love!

A big thanks to Mrs. Blandings for organizing a PINK PARTY for this October 1st, Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Check with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the National Cancer Foundation for more information about breast cancer. And spread the word!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stop and Stair

My stair

When we were looking for houses in Sacramento, we fell in love with a neighborhood called Curtis Park. The houses date from the turn of the century and most were completed before the 1940's. We bought our first house in this neighborhood, and started our family there. When it came time to find a larger house, we couldn't bear to leave the neighborhood. So we patiently waited. We contemplated adding a second story to our existing house, but didn't think it would pencil out. So we waited some more. Through a total fluke, we found this house....our new-old house. And one of the things that sold us was this staircase. Every day I climb these stairs and think how fortunate am I to get to see them everyday. The craftsman detailing runs throughout the house, but it is the staircase that really shows it off.

The staircase provides such an opportunity to showcase interesting detailing, and can be such an important feature in a home. I have gathered a few that have been collecting in my "idea files" to show you exactly what I mean.

House and Garden November 2005, Photo by Simon Watson

One might think at first glance that this stair is in an old English Tudor home in England. But It is actually in East Hampton Long Island. Elizabeth Brockman converted a Playhouse built in 1916, empty for a decade, into one of the most wonderfully "authentic" Tudors I have seen. With her keen eye for detail, she has collected architectural details to refurbish the home, one of which is this amazing spiral staircase. She happened upon it as it was being unloaded onto a pier. Another serendipitous moment.

House and Garden October 2007, Photo by Simon Watson

This Staircase is in the Galatasaray, Istanbul home belonging to Furniture and Interior Designers, Asli Tunca and husband Carl Vercauteren. Small wonder that they would create such a breathtaking space.

House and Garden March 2004, Photo by Thomas Loof

The simple white walls create the perfect backdrop for this striking modern stair created by Architect Lee Skolnick and Decorator Sharon Simonaire for a vacation home in the Hamptons. The wood railing looks like it is being supported by an iron Jacob's Ladder.

House and Garden September 2006, Photo by Francois Dishinger

This amazing lattice staircase is owned by Phillips Hathaway and graces the front hall of his shop/home (yes, both!), Ragamont House Antiques in Salisbury, Connecticut. Everything in the home is for sale. It might be a bit difficult to let some of these treasures go!

In Style October 2008, Photo byFrancois Halard

If you haven't seen the home of Christian Louboutin in the September issue of In Style magazine, then you are missing something special. There are pictures of the whole amazing French chateau. But since I am discussing stairs, I thought you might like a little glimpse of his front hall. He has lived in the home with business partner Bruno Chamberlain for 20 years. The Estate has been in and out of the Chamberlain family since the Middle Ages. Really a story that you should go out of your way to read.

Elle Decor April 2006, Photo by Simon Upton

American furniture designer Todd Hase and his wife Amy have created a bit of a furniture empire. And to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they acquired a chateau in the French countryside. I love the seemingly simple stair railing, a painted Louis XVIII wood banister. If you look more closely, you cannot fail to appreciate the way the columns have been precisely carved gradually changing proportion as they go up the stair. Beautiful.

House Beautiful, July 1994, Photo by Jeff McNamara

This home built by McKim, Mead and White in 1882, sports a beautiful screen between the living room and stair . Described as a Japanese influenced Aesthetic Movement screen, it was a style commonly used by the architects early in their careers. When the home was purchased by Dick Cavett and Carrie Nye, the screen was hidden away behind wallboard until it was discovered by Nye. And thank goodness! With it's intricate lathe-turned lattice work, it is one of the most stunning details in the home.

House Beautiful May 2006, Photo by Tim Street-Porter

This stair looks like liquid butterscotch spiraling down from three stories high. This house, interior design by Steven Schubel, is located in Marin County California, but could just as easily be from Morocco. The stair was made by Olivier Garnier of Stucco D'Olivetti of San Francisco.

House and Garden February 2007, Photo by Simon Upton

Just a classically beautiful limestone stair with a subtly painted iron banister. The zebra design runner is from Patterson, Flynn and Martin. Interior Design by Michael Simon. Who would think this was a house built in the 60's in Florida?

House and Garden January 2001, Photo by Melanie Acevedo

This home, owned by Bruno Eugene Borie, owner of Lillet, is an 18th century town hose in Bordeaux. Originally built for a wealthy merchant, it was subsequently divided into separate flats in the 19th century, before becoming a private residence once again. What I found so interesting about this stair, is that it on the exterior of the house on a central courtyard, and one must go outside to get from one floor to the next. Sort of romantic I think!

House and Garden July 2007, Photo by Eric Cahan

Even the simplest of stairs can have a story, create a focal, point, or a mood. I love these stairs, from the Maine beach house of the family of Patricia Lansing,( fashion editor for Vanity Fair and Daughter of Carolina Herrera) and her husband Gerrit. Pristine and white, beautiful in their simplicity.

House and Garden June 2003, Photo by Matthias Petrus Schaller

And then we have the "over the top" and stunning stair designed by William Diamond and Anthony Baratta. The floors were hand stenciled by the Diane Warner Studio. The runner is from the Diamond and Baratta Collection by Stark. And yes, you have probably guessed that the hand-painted wallpaper is from Gracie Inc. The stair railings are original to the house, a 19th century East Side New York town house.

Elle Decor February March 2004, Photo by Pieter Estersohn

This very contemporary stair is not without it's own exquisite details. Notice the steel and fluted glass screen standing 16 feet high dividing the stair from the kitchen, inspired by the "industrial windows in the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley" says owner James Mohn, architect.

Elle Decor October 2007, Photo by William Waldron

I wanted to show this amazing staircase and ceiling because of it's very interesting history. It is the apartment of Valesca Guerrand-Hermes which is found in the Hotel des Artistes, a "Gothic-style enclave on Manhattan's Upper West Side" built in 1917. The owner has turned the stairwell into a gallery and the ceiling is original. Guerrand-Hermes says "Hotel des Artistes is an extravagant place, designed for people who want to be different." I'll take that "different"! Simply stunning.

I am leaving you with the amazing staircase at the Palazzo Reale in Naples, designed by Dominico Fontana circa 1600. For more original photos and information, please check out the brilliant blog, Architect Design. You will not be sorry!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

kaarsKoker: Dutch for "Candle Sleeve"

A recent email led me to kaarsKoker, a new company that produces a wide variety of candle sleeves for $12-$25 a pair. What a great way to transform a wall sconce or chandelier. I went to check out the site and found these:

Blue Fretwork Sleeve

Blue Green Marble Sleeve

Gold Silver Cone Sleeve

Solid Yellow Sleeve

Red Gold Clover Sleeve

A clever idea to add a little more detail to a room, and we all know God is in the details. Head on over here to check out all of the options! There are many more, including skulls, polka dots, stripes, and some very "David Hicks" patterns.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Girlfriend Gifts: Carmel Bay Company

When I take my annual Birthday Trip to Lake Tahoe to spend it with my girlfriends, we exchange gifts. Cuz what's better than giving and getting gifts, right? During a Labor Day jaunt to Monterey and Carmel, I never fail to visit one of my favorite shops, Carmel Bay Company. They never disappoint. I found these wonderfully hefty, and very large, glass pots, which can be used as vases or votive holders, or anything you can conjure up. A pair of those, some large votive candles and a box of matches printed with beautiful Audubon prints of dragonflies and moths all went into these cute straw totes:

All wrapped up and ready to go. It is always a pleasure to shop here, and you can find many of their wonderful items online here.

The shop is full of things for the home: furnishings, books, dishes and flatware, gifts, sportswear....the list goes on. With a casual California aesthetic, there is much to love for every taste. Above is a shot of the first floor main room.

There is also a second level.

I hope you have a chance to visit next time you are in Carmel! I think you will not leave without a few things to take home.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Road Trip: Lake Tahoe, Gardens and Estates

Lake Tahoe as seen from the Baldwin/Pope Estates

Every year toward the end of the summer, I grab an overnight bag and make the drive up to Lake Tahoe to spend the weekend with two of my girlfriends. One of my oldest friends that I met when we first moved to Sacramento almost 17 years ago, Diane, moved to Lake Tahoe about seven years ago. My other friend, Lori, and I make the drive to celebrate all of our summer birthdays together up at Diane's house on the hill above the lake.

This year, we decided to spend time exploring some of the old Lake Tahoe estates. Diane just so happens to be the Master Gardener for the Thunderbird Lodge Estate on the Eastern side of the lake. The estate was built by the infamous George Whittell, Jr.

The Gatehouse at Thunderbird Lodge

"George Whitell was known as one of the West Coast's most enigmatic residents. He was born in 1881 in San Francisco, the child of an economic elite made rich by the California Gold Rush. A teenager in 1900, he was positioned to enjoy the excitement of the dynamic region and new century, Fabulously wealthy, impulsive, and capricious, a youthful Whitell barreled through life at full throttle, collecting exotic animals, elegant automobiles and boats, beautiful women, and contentious lawsuits along the way. He was one of the more notorious playboys of California and Nevada, indulging in a succession of marriages and liaisons that fulfilled the region's gossip mills. A recluse in his later years, Whitell shunned publicity, and, in doing so, inspired speculation about his every move. By the tile of his death in 1969, he had become the stuff of legend." Castle in the Sky: George Whitell and the Thunderbird Lodge by Ronald M. and Susan A. James

Gatekeeper's Cottage

There are a number of cottages on the property which were used by guests and staff. All of the buildings are made of stone. They have been recently re-roofed with cedar shakes, required since they are historical landmarks. The fire risk seems huge, but apparently the shakes have been thoroughly treated.

The Cook and Butler's Cottage

Main House

There is a meandering stone walkway that leads through the massive granite boulders to all of the cottages and to the main house pictured above.

Great Room at the Thunderbird Lodge

The great room in the main house is completely paneled in pine in the Scandinavian style. It is interesting to see how differently things were built and lived in in the 20's and 30's. The bedrooms were quite small by today's standards, and the balcony railings were very low. But the lodge feeling is still quite grand.

Dining Area

Original Kitchen

I loved the kitchen, which is still in it's original condition. The marble topped table is wonderful. Isn't it amazing how many kitchens today still follow this design aesthetic?

Original Kitchen

The range is amazing and perfectly restored. And the linoleum on the floor is original to the period.

Bedroom of Whitell's last wife, Elia

Door hardware detail

Terraced gardens with the Main House in the backround

A view of the Main House through the gardens designed and maintained by Diane Weidinger and all of the other wonderful volunteers. The stone terracing is original to the site and quite extensive. George Whitell was very imaginative with his water features and man-made ponds and fountains. Sadly, many of them are no longer working because they leak into underground tunnels built for quick getaways to his boathouse, home to Whitell's famous racing yacht, the Thunderbird.

Thunderbird Gardens

My friend Diane Weidinger, Master Gardener for the Thunderbird Lodge. Diane and many volunteers work very hard to maintain and enhance the gardens on the estate. To learn more about their organization and events, click here.

Card House

One thing George Whitell is known for were the clandestine card games he would host in his Card House. He had an elaborate system of lights that would shine across the lake informing his buddies if there was a card game happening, if there were "ladies " available, or if his wife was home (so steer clear!). Quite a system.

Door of the Card House

Whitell was also known as "the Captain", so it is small wonder he had a captain's "bridge" where he switched those signal lights on and off.

The Gazebo and private beach

Us girls!

Lake Tahoe. The lake's clarity is legendary.

We also had the pleasure of visiting the Baldwin and Pope Estates in South Lake Tahoe:

The home of Dextra Baldwin, granddaughter of "Lucky" Baldwin, was built in 1921. Lucky Baldwin became a multimillionaire in Southern California through some "lucky" investments during the Gold Rush era, and created a bit of a financial legacy for his heirs. Lucky created a resort and casino in the South Lake Tahoe basin known as Tallac House. Many of the wealthy set built homes at Lake Tahoe where they could race boats, play tennis and socialize their summers away. Dextra was one such socialite. She raced boats, flew planes, and was an all around pampered adventuress.

Original Butler's Pantry

It is interesting how many kitchens today are modeled after the kitchen of the 20's with the white cabinetry and black and white accents.

Original Kitchen

The Baldwin House has been turned into an historical Museum, and the kitchen is the only space that still maintains the original character. The Pope Estate, however, is maintained as it was originally used as a home:

The Pope Estate, also known at the "Vatican Lodge" was originally built by George P. Tallant, son of Drury Tallant, founder of the Crocker Bank in 1894, passed to Lloyd Tevis, founder of Wells Fargo, then finally found it's way in 1920 to the hands of George A. Pope, who maintained one of the world's largest lumber and shipping companies. Quite a history for one house.

The Living Room

Dining Room

I love this wicker furniture painted green and the wall paper and matching drape fabric. Perfect for a summer home in the woods. Tours are conducted daily here. We missed it unfortunately, so please excuse my "peeping tom" photo quality! I was taking pictures through the windows.

There are many outbuildings on the estate including guest cottages, a boathouse, and a theater. There was also a separate cookhouse from the main house. Above is a detail of the eaves of the Newlywed Cottage. Many of these outbuildings were built in the late 1800's.

For more information about the Baldwin/Pope Estate, you can click here, here. There is a Great Gatsby weekend and many other events throughout the year, so check it out!

I wanted to show you my favorite nursery, which my friend and gardening guru, Diane turned me on to:

This is Aspen Hollow Landscape Nursery, creation of John Fellows, and set in a grove of evergreens in South Lake Tahoe. John has managed to create a wonderland of garden inspirations that never fails to get me thinking about spiffing up my poor unfinished yard.

There is not another place that has really enchanted me more lately. Perhaps it is the Fall season that is influencing me, but this is just the kind of place I love.

Looks like we took a little hike near a babbling brook, right? Guess again. This is just more of the magic at Aspen Hollow. This stream is man made and right in the middle of the nursery grounds. A piece of Heaven, truly.

Gerbera Daisy at Aspen Hollow

And so, my weekend drew to a close. But I have to leave you with these images of Diane's garden, which I had the pleasure of seeing all weekend. Jealous? Of course you are. So am I! But it is just the inspiration I need to get going on my own garden.

Thank you Diane for such a beautiful weekend! It has refreshed my soul.