Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review: Signs of Our Times: From Calligraphy to Calligraffiti


Books are for so much more than pleasure, don't you agree? They are inspirational, educational, and provocative. Books can challenge you to explore things and ideas that you didn't even know you were interested in, and they can open your eyes to new and different worlds, styles, art, trends, and design. That's why I'm so invested in books about design, art, photography, and decorating - and why I feel the need to share my thoughts on these books with all of you. 

Signs of Our Times: From Calligraphy to Calligraffiti is the perfect example of a book that not only inspires, but provokes, educates, and broadens your look at the world. This wonderful coffee table book, published by Merrell Publishers, tackles the evolution of the 60-year art of Calligraffiti. Never heard of it? Me either! 


Calligraffiti emerged in the 1950s as an alternative approach to art being explored and produced in the Modernist era. Artists in Iran and the Arab world took inspiration from the movement, their own varied cultures, and combined those to create a sort of lyrical art in a new artistic language using ancient techniques in a bold new way. 

Fifty artists are featured in the more than 300 pages of this impressive volume, dotted along a historically accurate and informative timeline on how changes in the Middle Eastern world have affected the art of Calligraffiti and the artistic contributions that followed from the 1950s to present day. Each of the artists is asked three questions: How did writing/calligraphy/ words come into your work, or how did you come to words, writing or the morphology of letters in your work? Is there anything you may want to add in terms of your sources of inspiration, whether poetry, historical events or aesthetics?

The answers to these questions, and the artist work that accompanies the following pages is extraordinary, and gives a humbling perspective to the greater world. 






The book is honestly, fascinating. Looking at each of the brilliant photos of Signs of Our Times is like being in an art gallery of beautiful Arabic and Persian Script, or the morphology of those scripts and letters in contemporary and modern art.

Take a closer look for yourself, and grab a copy for your coffee table or library via the Amazon link below:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Beautiful Bars

I'm still working on my little apartment, and I've found myself somewhat stuck - waiting for the right things to come along, and for inspiration to strike. Last night, nearly two months after I started, I finally finished the floor in the entry hall and dining room. Cutting those final, narrow strips was not the easiest thing I've ever done, so I had left it unfinished for far too long.

I'm planning on taking pictures of the apartment this weekend, and I'm actually pretty excited about sharing the space with all of you. This apartment really has some of my most favorite things, and frankly, some of the nicest things I've ever owned. Last night, as I started thinking about photos of vignettes and angles to get the best pictures of the rooms, it occurred to me that I really needed some fun pieces for the bar I've set up on an antique dresser in my dining room. Bar tables and bar carts are some of the most interesting things to style. Unlike other vignettes which can be purely decorative, these spaces have to function. The pretty things that you scatter on top/bottom/shelves have to be as useful to your guests as they are beautiful to you.

I figured if I needed inspiration, you might, too! So, I'll share with you some of the photos I found of brilliant bar set-ups, and a few fun items that I think might be both functional AND pretty for the home bar. Ready!?


What's great about this bar? Well, to start, it's accessible. Nothing worse than having people feel like they have to dig for things. If you have an alcohol you want to share with your guests, it should be out and free for them to pick up and pour. Secondly, it's purposeful and pretty: books, flowers and art all keep it from feeling like you just put all the bottles of things you own on a table. 


I love keeping lemons, limes, and other garnishes out for dinner party guests to make their own cocktail. Leaving them out all the time is wasteful though, as I don't drink at home by myself. But I share this image for another reason: the silverplate. If you can score it, beautiful silverplate pieces can be a real gem in a bar. A mint julep cup can be a great storage container for straws (above) and tarnished pitchers become great vases. 


I also love the idea of trays on a bar table. Trays allow you to corral things apart from your liquor, like your martini shakers, stirrers, etc.. This burl wood tray fits beautifully here, holding an assortment of leather wrapped bar accoutrements. 


This is really lovely, and pairs up a lot of the things that I love in a bar - both beautiful and functional. Trays: they're great in multiples, and they don't have to match! Thoughtful mixers! If you have the space, keep a few small bottles of ginger ale, soda water, and tonic. Tarnished silverplate. Here they have old silver and glass coasters, and a silver tray that's perfect for cocktail napkins. 


If you have the space, adding lighting to your bar table is also a great idea! Here, there's a ton of space, so matching buffet lamps flank art and anchor that niche. This set up is lovely for commercial use (as it is here) or for a large gathering. Personally, I don't like keeping glassware on a bar table all the time. Keeping your glassware in a closed cabinet after cleaning will ensure that it's ready to go for unexpected company (i.e., no dusting, etc.) plus, it's less likely that you'll have breakage. Afterall, we are talking about alcohol here people. Can you image someone who has had one too many at the corner of this bar? CRASH! Be thoughtful about not only what you have on your bar, but also where it's placed. If you do choose to keep your glassware on the cart or table, try to guard it from easy tipping. Last thing you want to do at a party is clean up broken glass! 


Here's another great bar, with lots of lovely things, and glassware stored correctly! If you are going to store your glassware on a bar cart, do so with the glass facing downward, and corralled in a tray. It'll save you a lot of headache, I promise! Also, things like your corkscrew can be beautifully decorative and also functional! If you happen to have them, you can store your bitters in flasks instead of the brown bitters bottles, and again, cocktail napkins are never a bad idea! 





I am absolutely in love with these white linen hemstitched napkins from Amazon. You CAN NOT beat the price. A full dozen for just $18.95!


I personally prefer cloth napkins to paper. They take a little more effort, washing, folding, ironing stiff - but I think that the little touches like having cloth napkins is something that people remember and appreciate. It's a simple thing that goes a long way. 


Another great thing for styling your bar for parties, beyond the lemons and limes, is a small pot of herbs, like mint or cilantro. We talked a little about lighting for your bar, and lamps are always a great choice if you can fit them in. If you can't, candles may be a better way to go! Candles provide a beautiful ambient light, and if you have the room, a match strike is also a pretty piece you can keep on your bar! 





I did a book review on a really beautiful little book, perfect for the bar, called The Craft Cocktail Party. It's a wonderful book on creating beautiful and impressive craft cocktails for all occasions.


Flowers are lovely in any location, at any time. But cut flowers can be expensive to replace. One thing that is much easier, long-lasting, and just as beautiful (in my opinion) is a nice ivy or fern in a beautiful container or urn. 


My friend Joan, who blogs about her lovely home and her life in New Hampshire on her very popular blog, for the love of a house, is a master of all things interior design, including peppering houseplants into the rooms of her amazing home. Here, her bar, neatly contained in a woven basket has all the things I've been talking about: great lighting with a lamp and candles, accessible space for pouring drinks, and a kangaroo fern to add a little life to the vignette. 

What you may not be able to make out in this photo is the soda and mixers, to the far right of the basket, an antique hotel silver ice bucket, and bitters contained in wicker wrapped flasks. Yes, I think Joan's bar is perfect! Including that soapstone topped iron work table Joan found while antiquing in Maine. She switched the original wood top for the soapstone during her kitchen remodel. 

Now that I'm fully inspired, I hope you are too. I'm off to find a few beautiful things for the photoshoot tomorrow, hopefully these darn tulips will start to weep, and the lilies will open up. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: Art House


Some of you may know the name Chara Schreyer, some of you may not. Let me give you a quick biography that in either case will catch you up to speed, or serve as a refresher. Chara Schreyer was born in Germany to Holocaust Survivors, and immigrated to the United States in the early 1950's. She honed her love of art at UC Berkeley, where she studied Art History, and she made her money as the director of Shapell Investment Properties, a famed Beverly Hills based group she started that is responsible for the building of more than 70,000 luxury properties throughout California.

Chara is a trustee of many museums, including LA's Hammer and Museum of Contemporary Art and over the past forty years, has a collected more than 600 pieces of art, including masterpieces by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Diane Arbus, and Frank Stella.

From the beginning, Chara has worked exclusively with California interior designer Gary Hutton, and for the last forty-years, he has designed five homes for Chara, all of which have one rule: the art must get star billing. And when you have pieces valued in the millions, some that are priceless, why wouldn't they?

Art House: The Collaboration of Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton takes us on a breathtaking visual tour through the rooms of these five luxury homes, blurring the lines of art gallery and home. Let's take a peek:









Schreyer believes that collecting these fine works of contemporary and modern art is her life's work. She sees herself as custodian, giving a place for the art to live long past her lifetime. 

Thanks to Assouline, and the lavish coffee table book Art House, we all now can explore and enjoy the collections that Schreyer has generously curated in her California homes, forever. It's a beautiful book of architecture, design, art, and history that will keep you glued to the volume, page after page. 

Take a closer look for yourself, and pick up your copy via the Amazon link below: 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: Chic Stays


Chic Stays: Conde Nast Traveller's Favorite Peope on Their Favorite Places

Who doesn't love a vacation? Am I right? I mean, it really doesn't even matter where you go, or for how long you respite, if you're away from the reality of your day to day life - you're vacationing; and we all love it! Unfortunately, we don't all have the opportunity to vacation as much as we'd like, let alone as much as we think we need. That's why books like Chic Stays are so important in our homes. They allow us to take vacations vicariously through pictures while inspiring our interiors, and future vacation plans. 

Chic Stays does exactly that, acting as one part inspiring Interior Design book, one part Travel diary. The glorious coffee table book catalogs the world's most beautiful hotels and homes frequented by our favorite super stars during their luxury jaunts across the globe. Actors, musicians, writers, even models all share their personal stories of thirty-six of some of the most stunning locations on the globe. Let's take a little look: 


The palazzo at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, California, which Florence Welch (the songstress of Florence and the Machine) describes as half sanctuary, half madhouse. 



Actress Kate Winslet finds her solice on the Scottish island of  Eilean Shona, where J M Barrie wrote Peter Pan! 


Beautiful siren keys at LES MISERABLES actor Eddie Redmayne's favorite luxury hotel in Italy, Le Sirenuse.


Le Sirenuse. 


Rosamund Pike, the actress from the movie GONE GIRL, and the much anticipated A UNITED KINGDOM, writes about her favorite hotel in Beijing, the Aman Summer Palace Hotel.

Chic Stays is saturated with glorious photographs filling more than 260-pages in a volume that is so large it could also double as a weapon! For years, Assouline has created some of the most treasured and coveted coffee table books in the publishing industry, and this one is no exception. Famous contributors to the book include Sofia Coppola, singer Beth Ditto, Eva Longoria, Guy Ritchie, and socialite Olivia Palermo all on their favorite hot spots, and private escapes from Italy to Oregon, Austin to Sri Lanka. 

It has simply become one of my most favorite books to curl up with on these cold, winter days in Western New York, and I think you'll love it too! Take a closer look, and purchase your copy via the Amazon link below: 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cross Bottles, Cushions, and Chic Stays

Welcome back from the weekend! I hope that everyone had a lovely weekend, and that your temperatures are more welcoming than the inhospitably single digit numbers we have had here. This weekend I took some time to get the Cross Bottle Guy studio back up and running. The move really set me behind, as the organization of the many pieces that are involved in my process for designing these little treasures is a key component to their successful creation.

We are all up and running though, and this weekend I made 9 pieces for the Cross Bottle Guy website, including these two, which are among my favorites;

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It's so rewarding to be back in the studio, creating. I'm sure just about all of you know the story behind these cross bottles. I started making them way back in 2008, and first sold them on this blog. But as I began seeing more and more find new homes, I decided that I needed a proper name and dedicated site for them. Thus, Cross Bottle Guy. 

So pop on over there if you're so inclined to see what I did with most of the weekend. Michelle, my helpful seamstress and creator of all my slipcovers, came by on Friday to measure the sofa for a new cushion cover. 


Sorry for this poor photo, but it's the most recent of the sofa. There's nothing wrong with the white one that is currently on the sofa, but since it's all upholstered, I wanted to be proactive and find a solution for any pesky stains/etc. that would occur between cleanings. So, I found a lovely camel colored velvet by Pindler & Pindler, and I'm having her create that with some inspiration from Jeffrey Bilhuber: 


I've long loved this room, featured in his book Defining Luxury which I'm pretty sure I've said more than once - YOU MUST OWN! Seriously. That book is incredible. Here's the link: 


Anyway, in this Manhattan brownstone, Jeffrey had the details on the upholstered pieces include stitched trim from Samuel and Sons Passementerie. I loved the look then (2008) and I still love it today. So, I'm having Michelle stitch trim to the top face of my new cushion. As soon as I get it I will let you know, along with everyone else, since I am pretty sure I'll be shouting "whoohoo" from the rooftop! 

Speaking of books ... I have a few book reviews to share with you this week, including a beautiful coffee table book called Chic Stays


I got lost in the pages of this book this weekend. Truly. It was a marvelous way to take a departure (even though it was only visually and mentally) from the snow on the ground, and teen temperatures with sub-zero wind chill. I can't wait to share this one with you Wednesday! 

P.S., I know that many of you are (and have been) anxiously awaiting more photos of the apartment. I promise that as soon as I get this cushion cover back, and have a day with good lighting (that's been the main roadblock) I'll get some great photos of the space, and I'll share them with you here. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Eddie Ross Scores The Cover of House Beautiful


The cover of House Beautiful magazine February 2017 showed up today, with an unusual cover image. Instead of the perfectly finished space they typically feature, this one shows the bones of a room filled with an antique dining table surrounded by mid-century acrylic chairs and a jewel toned color scheme the magazine touted would be "in" in 2017.

Who does this mid-construction space belong to? None other than Martha Stewart veteran, Top Design contestant, blogger, designer, author, magazine editor, stylist, and professional vintage and antique shopper Eddie Ross. He and partner Jaithan Kochar purchased a sweet little colonial in Pennsylvania a year or so ago, and have been working on a total gut job of the place, along with an addition to include a family room and office/laundry room. When they bought the house, Eddie posted a blog about the space and his general ideas for the space here.

Nearly 7-months later Eddie teased with pictures of the shoot in the home they're calling Edgewood Hall a few months ago on his Instagram page:


There was no indication of which magazine was featuring the space mid-renovation, let alone that it would be their cover, so seeing it on the cover of House Beautiful was a wonderful surprise for those of us who follow along with Eddie. When the pair bought the house, Eddie took a photo of the living room which looked like this:


A little digging revealed the photos from the realtor:



The house was filled with dated wallpaper and needed some attention, but it had wonderful bones, large rooms for entertaining, and great light, something I am sure that both Eddie and Jaithan were thinking when they walked through the house almost a year ago. Shortly after purchasing the house, they held a christening of the space, naming it Edgewood Hall. This photo of Eddie on his Instagram page showed how the wheels were turning in his head already:


Just before demolition began the room looked like this: 


And then the work began: 


First, the two had their friend (an architect) come out to the house and help with creating a plan for their vision. 


Remember those bookcases from the realtor photos? Well they came out in one piece and will be used in the flower potting and arranging area of the barn. Then the real demo started: 


Out came the plaster ceilings and walls, built ins, old radiator, and then it was prepped ... apparently for the House Beautiful feature! 


I will be the first to say that I think Eddie Ross is an incredible talent and he has a wonderful eye for finding treasure. Even his ability to style this space to this: 


Well, it's just an incredible feat. Whether or not you're a fan of the things, or the colors - you have to admit that House Beautiful knew what they were doing when they put it on the cover. Not only is it eye catching to say the least, it begs the viewer to pick up the magazine and see what's happening in this staged space. 

And what is happening? Well - right now the house is still in the construction phase, and it's a big one. They have a ton of things happening all at once. Apart from the renovations inside of the existing floorplan, the couple are adding on! When they bought their new home, the back of the house looked like this: 


And if you're thinking that Garden window and bad 1970's salt box addition didn't really suit what we all know of Eddie, well you're right. It didn't take them long to pull together this plan: 


And bing, bam, boom: 


Eddie and Jaithan hired Nate Parkyn, and Parkyn Construction to complete their addition, and their new space quickly started taking shape: 




Eddie has used the hashtag "next book" on some of his Instagram posts of Edgewood Hall, so I'm sure that they are cataloging a lot more of the process than they're showing online right now. He has shown enough though to whet the appetite, with pictures of plans: 


The butler's pantry here, and with a collection like Eddie and Jaithan have - I'm sure that even this space will be overflowing. Remember the pantry in their first house? 


Even the pharmacy cabinet in his first apartment:


The rest of the house is just as customized for the way that Eddie and Jaithan want to live:


You can see at the back of the house on the first floor plan that the couple plans on having a large open floor plan kitchen/family room with a large center island. Upstairs, the addition includes a large office and new laundry room.

Eddie also has been shopping for the house, already finding outstanding pieces of furniture, art, and fabrics for Edgewood Hall.


This pair of Tole Lanterns he scored in Des Moines, Iowa. Where do you think he'll use these? Over that massive island perhaps?


This needlepoint chair he scored while thrifting in the Hamptons is going in the garden room. 


These massive tree of life pattern panels may end up on either side of the bed in the Master Bedroom at Edgewood Hall, according to Eddie.


This set of 6 chrome and upholstered stools may be getting repholstered in Mary McDonald's Chinois Palais for the island.


And finally, these two chairs he found for $100 each, that he's having reupholstered for the new family room adjacent to the kitchen at Edgewood Hall. Eddie has really been praised for his eclectic style and masterful styling. He has an ability to pair a lot of things you'd otherwise never consider.


Like here, in the living room featured on the cover of his book Modern Mix antique brass with mid-century acrylic, Native American rugs with Chinoiserie screens and color galore. For those of you who love color and look for pairing suggestions or solutions, Modern Mix could be a great resource book for you!


A huge congratulations to Eddie, and if the House Beautiful feature, or this post have piqued your interest in Edgewood Hall, follow along on Instagram: 


I'm looking forward to the new book!