Monday, December 14, 2009

PEACE AND GOODWILL: Pencils of Promise

Happy Holidays to you all!
This is the time of year when we gather together with family and friends and show our thanks to each other through the tradition of giving. Even in these times, when things are a bit harder for us than we are accustomed, there are certainly many in the world who have greater need.
Several bloggers are coming together today in a collaborative effort spearheaded by Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita, in order to make a difference for a very deserving charity. Pencils of Promise is a wonderful 501(c)(3) organization based in New York, that partners with local communities and organizations to build schools of early-stage education in developing nations for some of the world’s most impoverished and undereducated children. Sadly, there are more than 75 million children in this terrible situation worldwide.

Last December, the Pencils of Promise team visited a small village in Laos and by July 2009, they had built a new school for the village children who started attending classes on September 1st. This month, Pencils of Promise will be opening their third school and they hope to open the doors to education for more children in 2010.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are asking for your help today on behalf of these children. Just think of the enormous impact we could have if each person who reads this post donates just $1.00. If you are willing and able to give more (35.00 buys shelves for a classroom, $50 provides pencils for one year, $100 provides a teacher’s salary for three months and so on), it would be greatly appreciated. We are in the midst of the giving season and hope that you will find it in your heart to make a donation to this worthy cause today. You can opt to donate via PayPal if you prefer. Every little bit helps and together, we can make a difference!

If you would like to stay informed about the difference Pencils of Promise is making, be sure to become a fan on their Facebook page.

You can be part of the solution, and that is a gift to yourself.

More information:

To show your support in building community throughout the world,

you may click HERE to give.

Thank you!

May there be Peace and Goodwill for all this season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Silent Monks Singing?

You MUST visit To The Manner Born to see exactly how a Silent Monk manages to sing. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree.....

Living Room Console all ready for the Holidays

It is that time of year again....time to deck the halls and all that jazz. I am finding that this year, the "divide and conquer" method is working for me. I have been working on one room at a time, and so far I am almost done with the Living Room. Granted, I have had help, but the duties are largely up to me. My family has found over the years that I am particular about the tree lights. Guess what? When one is particular, one finds that one is relegated to completing the task oneself. It takes me about 4 hours all together to do the lights.....I know....a bit compulsive.

But isn't it pretty? I do enjoy the fruits of all that labor. I truly do.

Our tree all finished

It all starts with this:

And this is not all of it, believe me. I have been collecting ornaments and "stuff" for a long time, and many of the ornaments were collected by my mother and passed on to me. As Mom has downsized over the years, I have become the lucky beneficiary.

As I said, I did have lots of help, and here are my little elves working away.

All done!

I decided to use burlap as my tree skirt for the first time, and am not quite sure what took me so long! I love how it drapes and the color is perfect for any color scheme. Best of all, it is very affordable and available.

And evening all lit up.

The tree was done first. Then on to the console. Every year I do a little something different on this table for the Holidays. One of my very favorite Christmas movies is the musical, SCROOGE. So I decided to add a little Dickens to my decor this year.

I used ribbon with music printed on it, and brass horns which I have had for many years. I stacked vintage books to add some different heights. I found a vintage star the other day at a shop I love (I will blog about it soon!) covered in tarnished glitter.

I have added silver candlestick holders leaving them a bit tarnished. I may be alone here, but I love a little bit of tarnish on my silver (unless it is to be used at the table). It has a bit of a romantic quality. I cut some boxwood from our garden and put it in silver baby cups (one was my father's, one was mine and a couple were from other family members.) Derby cups would also be pretty, but I do like the personality of the baby cups.

I added some votive candles and some evergreen cuttings.

Oh....and a few gold painted pine cones. (Here's a tip: if you buy wreaths that have pine cones on them, save them for future use before disposing of the wreath after the holidays. They do come in handy and are already pre-wired.)

As I said, I did have quite a bit of help. We put on the Christmas Carols, had some hot cider and had a wonderful evening making things merry and bright! But now it's time to take a little rest, sit back and enjoy........

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deck the Halls with.....FRINGE!

Front Window Display at Fringe

One of the most festive and inspiring things about the Holidays for me is to see the magic that small shop owners create in their windows and throughout their stores. I get my decor "fix" window shopping and gathering ideas for my own home. I also fill in the blanks on my list for Santa (aka my husband!).

One of my favorite haunts is so close to my house that I pass it almost every day. Fringe is a sort of curiosity shop with a little something for everyone. Owner and local imagineer, Audry Wells delights in vintage (and new!) clothing and shoes, antiques and one-of-a-kind furniture, interesting gifts and accessories, unique jewelry and vintage art. Oh...and let's not forget the Cowboy boots!

I was charmed by the front window display last weekend and stopped in to say hello. I found not only the Holiday Spirit I was hoping for , but quite a few things that will making their way to my house. These topiaries were sweet, and the decanters, pretty and well priced. The whole vignette with it's pine cone mantle, vintage pillows, and cut crystal on the twig tray fired up my imagination.

There was a pair of mercury glass lamps that I am mad for that would make an impact in any interior. Um...they may not be there for too much longer. I'm just sayin'. The combination of elements in this display, the crowns and tangerines, the black and white photo of the tree, and the lamps was perfection.

Cowboy boots galore my friends. They buy, sell and trade for all you boot stomping aficionados. (And don't they make a great image all together like that?)

Just so you don't think that Fringe is all about the ghosts of Christmas past, Audrey throws a little 150 into our Christmas punch with this hot fuchsia vanity by Sacramento artist Catherine Greenup. Audrey says this piece draws in as many men as women....they are fascinated by the quality of the Hot Rod paint job!

Another piece by Catherine Greenup is the Faux Deer head Trophy made from natural plant materials like pine cone, elk horn fern and seeds. A stylish alternative to be sure.

All of the festive plants and topiaries in the shop are provided by Tom Kurth of "Rooting Around". He hunts down specialty plants and brings them to all of us. (For more info on Tom, inquire at Fringe).

Audrey has access to industrial and mid century furniture like this stainless dresser. All of the crowns and crosses with the aubergine silk on the chair....scrumptious!

Fringe has a wonderful collection of candles all over the store. I just picked up a Mandarin Orange and Meyer Lemon scented candle...Mmmm! The rectangle shaped boxwood wreath is also from Tom Kurth. (A little bird told me plants will go on sale a little closer to Christmas....ssshhh!)

I loved this vignette in the front window with the contrast of the ornate gilt table and the mid century white leather chair (one of a pair). The Moroccan tea glasses almost came home with me right then and there, but "Santa" says I should wait.

Fringe has a little something for everyone. Vintage French all the way to 60's Psychedelic, Art glass, industrial metal furniture, Art Deco Decor, and glittering Green Deer Heads (another Catherine Greenup piece). Owner, Audrey describes her shop as "Indie Anthropologie" in style and approach.

More of Tom's beautiful Holiday foliage next to an elephant garden stool. You can see here the shop is full of little surprises.

I have always loved the idea of a large farm table filled with cloches covering Holiday treats. This one seems all ready for a party to start.

Vintage and new glassware next to these pretty mercury glass candle holders.....just a few more things to add to my list. (Santa are you reading this?)

New and vintage hats and jewelry can be found throughout the shop. I loved the pink beaded folk art cross.

Such pretty things! Shoes, fine vintage clothing...I could spend a lot more time here...and will before this season is through I'm sure. I mean, I have two teenage daughters.

These shoes were so beautiful, I had to take another look. And the velvet pumpkins bridge the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays don't they?

I had to show you these necklaces by designer Tamara Berg. She collects vintage fobs from all over the globe to make into these one-of-a-kind necklaces. I particularly liked the Eiffel Tower necklace which opens up to reveal miniature postcard replicas showing architectural monuments. attention now.

So here is the scoop on


Location at: 2409 21st St., Sacramento,CA 95818-2409
Phone: (916) 832-4466

The website is a work in progress, but you can find out much more about Fringe and the services they offer HERE.

And you can reach owner Audrey Wells here: She invites any and all inquiries.

Happy Shopping!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Our front porch just a week ago. The leaves have almost gone now, and the Christmas lights have taken their place to warm the chilly nights. It is time to get the Christmas tree inside and decorate it this weekend. The boxes of ornaments are waiting. But I will miss this sight from our front porch.

Until I can get my home in order for Christmas, please take a moment to hop over to my good friend Scot's blog, Tartanscot.

He has put together a beautiful video of his home all set for the holidays. And the accompanying music is brilliant: Scot is a part of the San Francisco Concert Chorale and it will warm your soul. So start a fire, sit down with a hot toddy and enjoy.

Have a brilliant weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What This Room Needs Is A Little Oomph!

How many times have I said that when designing a room? Well, here's a little something to consider: chic little tables like the one above in lots of delectable colors. And where do they come from you ask?

Hop on over HERE to get a little Oomph for yourself!!

Perfect little occasional tables to hold your Martini.

Or lemonade.

Glossy Lacquer finishes in lots of colors.

Pretty designs.

Finished off with Grass cloth tops,

And Fabric tops.

Prices range from $300 for the Tini Table to $1950for this Edgartown Coffee Table.

Read all about the three gals who thought all this up HERE.

Do a little shopping HERE.

All Photos Courtesy of Oomph

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ROOMS TO REMEMBER: The Classic Interiors of Suzanne Tucker

I have been a fan of Suzanne Tucker's work for years now, and had been anxiuosly awaiting the release of her new book: Rooms to Remember: The Classic Interiors of Suzanne Tucker from The Monacelli Press. So you can imagine my elation when I received a copy from the publisher! As soon as I received it, I spent the whole evening perusing it's beautiful glossy pages. These are my personal impressions of the book:

The cover is gorgeous. The book is beautifully put together with huge full bleed photos on most of the pages. The organization of the book is just how I like it: the chapters are arranged by catagories of information. For example, Chapter 1 is titled Bones and Architecture, Chapter 2 is Scale and Proportion, Chapter 3 is Balance, Contrast and Harmony, Chapter 4 is Individuality and Personality, and so on. The other great thing is that the book is written by Suzanne Tucker herself, so you really get an inside look at how Suzanne thinks about design and the processes she uses in her work. It is truly a "great read": fascinating and colorful.

Suzanne Tucker is one of those versatile designers that can create magic in any style and pull it off without a hitch. Contemporary or traditional, classic or "California Style", she can do it all with chic aplomb.

I highly recommend it not only as a wonderful resource and something simply stunning to look at, but also as a book that was fun to read. It will be one of my "go to" books when I need ideas or inspiration for my work, or just my life.

I was lucky to have a chance to coorespond with Suzanne and ask her a few questions. I hope you enjoy enjoy our conversation and some of my favorite pages from her book (these are but a fraction, I assure you!) ....the first of many to come, I hope!

Suzanne, your book is just so beautiful and the projects are so varied. Where and how do you begin the process of conceptualizing your designs for your clients?

SMT: I’m so glad you used the word ”process” because that really is what great design is all about! Too often the client thinks of the tangible “project” but it’s much more about the intangible process – getting to know the client, listening to them, asking questions, learning about their dreams and desires, picking up on their nuances and then of course the house or apartment or room itself – the mood, the quality of light, the architecture, the bones, and the challenges. I’ve developed what I refer to as my design Rorschach test where I’ll quickly show countless textiles, furniture, colors, textures and photo images to a client. Just by gleaning their initial responses I am able to pretty quickly discern what their style and tastes are and from there I begin to paint the picture.

What/who inspires you in your work?

SMT: The “what” can be almost anything around us on a daily basis which is all about keeping your eyes and mind open! But I find I’m most inspired when I travel and the exposure to different cultures, architecture, local crafts, and even indigenous paint colors can become my greatest source of ideas. Travelling with my digital camera is a must (daily!) and I always have a slim one to slip into an evening bag as you never know where or when your curiosity will strike. I take snapshots of everything from the obvious rooms and architecture to floors, grills, ceilings, hinges, bark, leaves, you name it! Sometimes I know what I’ll do with what I’m shooting or perhaps it will evolve like the curve of an antique chair leg, which could end up inspiring a repeating swirl in a mosaic floor pattern. I look for curves, shapes and colors. I’ve even photographed shadows. Returning with 600-800 pictures is the norm!
And the “who” inspires me are certainly the great designers from the past, John Fowler, Nancy Lancaster, Henri Samuel, Frances Elkins, Michael Taylor, Billy Baldwin, the great architects – Adams, Kent, Soane, Le Notre, Palladio, Mizner, George Washington Smith – my library of books! And from the present, there are many colleagues whose work I admire but if I started listing them I could get in trouble with those whom I don’t mention! Ultimately, I feel it’s really my clients who inspire me to be creative, to seek out something special, and to make a house unique to them.

You were lucky to have worked with one of the Masters of Design, Michael Taylor. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Mr. Taylor?

#1 BIG! He was a tall man, had tremendous presence, thought big and designed big! And #2 - That I miss him! And I often times wonder what he would be doing today and think about how his work would have evolved.

How has your aesthetic evolved since your days with Michael Taylor?

I had an entirely unique education with Michael in that I saw both sides of his work – the big, bold, white “California Look” signature rooms which sold magazines, made the phone ring, and paid the bills to the more elegant, collected, exotic, antique filled rarefied world he so brilliantly juxtaposed for others. The latter resonated with me most strongly and I’ve honestly never had a desire to create a “signature look”. I’ve always been much more interested in the mix, in combining antiques, custom furnishings, contemporary art and personal collections. Michael also felt strongly about architecture. From that mentoring I’ve always been in pursuit of “good bones”, expanded my passion for architecture and am always the architects advocate.

Describe your “perfect client”.

SMT: Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as the “perfect client” but there is definitely a really wonderful good client and a truly dreadfully bad client! Most people think it’s about deep pockets and carte blanche but that’s not the case at all. The best client is the one who can trust – trust the process, trust the professionals, trust the time it’s going to take to do the best job. Michael Taylor often said you are as good as your client, meaning if your client has good taste, it’s a walk in the park. But I’ve also found that the clients who don’t necessarily have great taste but know enough to trust me and my taste, then it can be a dream.

How would you describe your own personal style?

SMT: Outwardly my style is fairly classic – elegant, comfortable and timeless. But inside there’s perhaps a little of the mad scientist! An architect friend referred to my living room as my “decorating laboratory” which isn’t far from the truth at times as I’ll bring in furniture or objects to live with for a while, try them out, rearrange the furniture, test a piece, mix it up, get bored and move on to the next experiment!

What are you working on now?

SMT: There are projects all over right now in all sorts of phases, sizes and styles on which my design staff and I are presently working. We have a fantastic Spanish Revival project south of San Francisco on 12 acres, a spectacular mountain house on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, a city apartment with breathtaking views, a massive, very Michael Taylor-scale house in Sun Valley, Idaho, and various others mostly in California.

What is happening next?

SMT: Well, in addition to the September publishing of my first design book, “Rooms to Remember” and upcoming signings and lectures, I am about to launch Suzanne Tucker Home in January 2010 with a fabric collection in Paris at Holland & Sherry! Très excitant! In February we’ll be launching in San Francisco at Shears & Window and in Los Angeles at Thomas Lavin in March. Holland & Sherry’s New York and Chicago showrooms will have my fabrics after February as well, and it looks like Dallas, Atlanta and Florida may be the next stops. I have also been asked by a major tabletop manufacturer to design a line of china which I find so exciting as it’s one of the things in life I love. And I’m constantly working on custom furniture designs for our clients homes so perhaps 2010 will be the year to launch that line! This past year has been quite busy, to say the least, including installing six projects! Those, coupled with the ones yet to be finished or photograph, create enough material for a second book! Stay tuned!

What color are you and why?

Yellow! A buttery yellow…. Warm, flattering, mixes well with all other shades, makes you happy!

What is on your nightstand?

A photograph of my daughter when she was 4 (she’s now 23!), another of my husband and me on our honeymoon 13 years ago, about 2 ½” of stacked magazines (osmosis?), a silver mint julep cup holding pens, pencils, a nail file and a scale, a notepad from the Quisisana Hotel on Capri, a bottle of water, a clock radio which I mostly ignore, The Help by Kathryn Stockett (a wonderful southern read), A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink (fantastic book!), a really lovely pierced porcelain blanc de chine antique lamp (a client “reject” which I love), and we won’t bother going to the shelf below!

What is your favorite place to escape?

SMT: A beach and the ocean - the best for me to really decompress - the Mauna Kea on Hawaii. Capri for decadent, dreamy romance (my husband calls it “Shop-pri”!), Lake Como for La Dolce Vita, and Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda, Italy for the ultimate romantic, indulgent hideaway.

What is your most favorite place to shop and why?

San Francisco antiques dealers because they are knowledgeable and professional; New York because it has everything under the sun and you can never exhaust all the sources; Worth Avenue, Palm Beach for its killer window shopping and the custom linens I order from Kassatly’s; Via Condotti in Rome for the people watching alone!; Paris flea market because one always shops with naive hope that you’ll find the undiscovered treasure; Bergdorf Goodman because it’s Bergdorfs!

Describe a typical day in the life of Suzanne Tucker.

6:30 alarm… snooze button …. Get on the elliptical (pretty rare these days!)…Mad dash to dress, juggle calls, blackberry and breakfast all at the same time… design meetings with staff and/or clients… emails, phone calls, working lunch (always)… put out fires… solve problems… can I ever get out the door to shop… work too late… come home to what my husband calls “dinner-in-a-drawer” (can’t live without my Thermador warming drawer) wonderfully prepped by our housekeeper…emails, read, zone out falling asleep in front of the TV… too late to bed…zzzzz… And thus the “glamorous life” of a decorator!

Classic and full of personality, Suzanne's work is heady and rich. This is just a taste of this beautiful book. Might be a good thing give this Christmas, to those on your list and to yourself!

Oh! And between you and me.....Suzanne is planning to open a Suzanne Tucker Home section on her website January remember to check it out!

All photos courtesy of Suzanne Tucker and The Monacelli Press