Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rooms on Film: Mission: Impossible II

So there's this new movie out, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which I definitely plan to see. Action movies are absolutely my thing. But in the course of reviewing the new movie, many people have passed judgment on it's three predecessors, particularly M:I-2. Despite the fact that M:I-2 outgrossed the other films by $10 million to date, it is apparently the least loved in the series. 

But not by me. Oh, no. M:I-2 is one of my guilty pleasures, right up there with The Legend of Billie Jean. Actually, higher.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Color Texture Pattern: Bohemian Winter Retreat

Times like these, when the weather is bouncing between cold, crisp and bone-chilling, all my hopes and dreams are reduced to wishes for a warm shelter, hot food and bright colors to remind me there is a spring coming. I think my apartment does a fair job of providing all these things. But two things my little NYC breadbox lacks are space and natural light. 

So, I'll spend this weekend soaking up the scant five hours of morning sunshine that pools near my bay window while dreaming of this airy, snowbound Alpine sanctuary. 

The eclectic mix is pretty spirited: low couches, bright pillows in kantha and suzani prints, an antique oriental table, a bright blue midcentury chair, chinese lantern frames, sheepskins and rugs in wool and jute.
source: maison francaise;  all photos: frederic ducout

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Exotic Beds: Sumptuous Ikat

When I stumbled on this bedding from N Natori it almost made me scream. Purple, pink and gold, with a hint of indigo. Makes you want to swan dive into luxury. All hail the Chapan comforter collection!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

At Long Last: "Before Sunrise 3"...?

wouldn't it be lovely if their story could be this moment forever?
There's a dirty a rumor going around that Celine & Jesse might be thrice charmed in the reasonably near future. Apparently a rumor that Ethan Hawke regrets starting. I'm actually torn about this. On the one hand, we have a couple about my age whose dynamic so perfectly captures my generation. (Maybe other generations too, but I've only experienced my own.) Seeing more of their growth would certainly be a pleasure, especially for those of us just now accepting the reality of our parents' mortality. And our own. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Earthy Neutrals: Vivaterra's Home Collection

If Vivaterra had a New York store front, my nose would be glued to the window right now. Their home goods are earthy, exotic and really sing out at a time like this, when cozy bedding is the order of the day. My small weakness for exotic mirrors would be well-sated by one of these:

moorish mirror: the perfect shape for my entry wall

Monday, November 28, 2011

Single-Girl Style: The "Sexy Afro Glam" Vibe

Not too long ago, while cruising around Flickr, an image of this room caught my eye. It was in Aphrochic's photostream and over on her blog she had announced the small-screen debut of her wallpaper, The Vibe, on HGTV's Secrets of a Stylist. Being a love-slave to hot pink and all, of course I was desperate to see the episode. Sadly, it has not yet aired. But the show's host/designer, Emily Henderson, recently posted a link to the episode online.  

The phoenix which Henderson dubbed "Sexy Afro Glam" rose from the ashes of this drab box apartment. And naturally, I screencapped the hell out of it for closer inspection:

Some things are so very worth the wait!

Viva Print Media: ELIZA Magazine

Technically, ELIZA Magazine is an online mag, but you can order hard copies. Have you read it? It started pubbing in 2007, but I just stumbled on it about a year ago. Their mission is to address real women with affordable clothes, great deals and realistic models. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bedding Roundup: "Twilight" for Grown-Ups

I'm no Twi-hard myself, but I know a few grown-ass ladies who are and it's to them that I dedicate this roundup of bedding similar to Movie Bella's signature purple floral. Options that aren't stigmatized as "teen" bedding. (Though, for those ladies who broke down and ordered this anyway, be at ease. I'm pretty sure this comforter set made it's acting debut in "Criminal Minds" third season as Penelope Garcia's bedding.) 

I know well that feeling of saying, "Oh, that's pretty" and then stopping short when you realize it's being sold for school girls. So all you moms, aunts and grandma's can have your own Bella Twilight nest instead of buying the real deal only to give it to your nearest teeny bopper: 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Single-Girl Style: Moody, Modern & Eclectic

Of the handful of things I wish I had studied in high school and college, Russian is not one of them. Which left me at a loss when I came across this gorgeous apartment profile. Such a bummer because this lady, whoever she is, has a really cool home. The contrast of the purple brocade wallpaper next to the brown bamboo wall sets the dark, moody tone of the space. The vivid grain in the dark wood floors stands out and contrasts beautifully with the smooth, shiny lacquer table. Not to mention the nubby, wool kilims and the modern leather chair. 
source: glamour russia  photos: will webster
But it doesn't stop there. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exotic Beds: Global Designs for Fall

The time to snuggle is now. The days are short, evenings are chilly, the heat won't be on for a month. Already I'm slipping into winter tendencies having grilled cheese sandwiches and cocoa for dinner. After which I want to retreat to my cushy, soft bed with a good book and nestle under piles of colorful blankets. And the fact that it's fall and jewel tones are in season does not alter my desire for brightly colored, well-patterned bedding. Thank heaven for brands like Echo who bring it like it's already been brung.

My favorite new collection, Mayan Geo, features my favorite colors, hot pink and orange, on an excellent tribal pattern. This looks like it would mix and match well with any John Robshaw you've got laying around.

all good things: echo brand mayan geo

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rooms on Film: HBO's Hung

Have you ever watched that HBO recession sitcom, Hung? I tend to enjoy the mind games the characters play, the hijinks this fly-by-night prostitution scheme leads to and the Sex and the City-style comic sex scenes. And, in particular, I like the down-to-earth set design. My favorite set is Tanya Skagle's modest 1BR  apartment. The cool thing about her place is that it is colorful, eclectic and realistic. It is a rabble of items that are old, low-cost, affordable and occasionally expensive. You believe this quirky, neurotic, creative person lives here. 

This season Hung has come up with a new set: the Wellness Center for Women. Thanks to HBO's thoughtful guided tour video, I was able to explore the space more closely than the show does. I'm actually quite curious as to how they decided to decorate it. Quite a bit of the furnishings look salvaged. We get to see the characters decorate with artwork that supports their seminar, "Orgasmic Living," both subtly and overtly.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Viva Print Media: This Probably Isn't Very Green

On occasion, I go too far. I'm one of those people with old magazines under the bed, on the bookshelf and just plain stacked along the edges of the living room. And sometimes I have been known to buy an entire magazine for one image. Over the past few years I have learned to cut back on that by looking for the image online first. But- sometimes they just aren't available. Such is the case with the latest issue of Glamour (which I no longer actually read). I was checking to see if they had done an interesting home profile in "How To Do Anything Better" when I saw these two lovely images:
source: glamour magazine   image credit: robert trachtenberg

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gray Days: Summer's End

Today was a tough one: cold and overcast. It was 48 degrees outside this morning and my windows were still open. Actually, one window was open about five inches. That's enough to freeze my whole apartment. Living on street level, I refuse to open/close windows without being 'presentable' to passersby. (This one time, when I had just moved into my first place and didn't have curtains yet, I came out of the bathroom in a shower cap and towel. The bathroom door was next to big double windows that overlooked a highway entrance. I made eye contact with a lady in the passenger seat of a minivan. Then I got curtains.)  

So, it was a long day of trying to get properly warm. At the office and even hours after having closed the window tonight, I still feel vaguely chilled. Just a little bit shy of comfortable. A hot bath would certainly help with that. But my tub is so tiny, and the grout so old that I never, ever take baths at home. Instead, I'll settle for a good cup of tea and dream of a warm, relaxing, summer soak...
Source: Elle Decor     Photo Credit: William Waldron

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Retail Odyssey: Pier 1

Over the past year or so, I have really fallen off visiting stores. It is so much easier to hold onto your cash when you avoid the temptation altogether. For several years my habit was to regularly visit places like Target, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Pier 1, and Anthropologie. Those places actually replaced my habit of visiting clothing and department stores. The habit developed from the feeling that I might miss something. A feeling that the retail industry fostered through  marketing and merchandising tactics, I'm sure. Get it before it's gone!

So, I'm actually proud of myself for having reigned it in. That said, I do occasionally still visit some of these places. The other day I went to Target to get a new curling iron. Yesterday, I went to Pier 1 because it was closed for a remodel all summer and I wanted to see the new look. Those stores have looked the same since I was a teenager. As a college student I used to be fond of their $6 tai chi slippers for wearing around the dorm. They were black on black. When Pier 1 stopped carrying clothes I was never able to find that color again. Not even in China Town NYC! Everyone carries black with white soles. Ugh. So, I swung by and had a look. The difference is not drastic. Departments have been switched around: dishes are now up front, rugs are at the very back. The red ceramic tile floor is now a very light color. They had both their longstanding assortment of candles/fragrances, plus a new higher end line. 

Overall, it was a freshened yet familiar experience. Here are some cool items I saw:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bandwagon: Restocked Missoni for Target

Swung by Target for a new curling iron and did spot some Missoni for Target items in stock. This would be the Brooklyn/Atlantic Center store:
one lonely little eye mask in luggage

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cozy Under Foot: An Awesome Flor Tile Carpet

The past few days have brought me quite a few surprises, not least a debilitating and unseasonable head cold. But the niftiest surprise thus far is in the pages of the sneak peak of Rue Magazine's new issue, due to post on October 4th. 
photo credit: emily johnston-anderson
I must confess to not being too interested in tv decorators' homes. That might just be complacency, but it seems like their general style comes across on-air. Also, I tend to think their homes must be neglected since they spend so much time traveling and working. Like when you read that some actor bought a house but its completely empty because they're always working. Anyway, thumbing through the rooms of Chez Soto I noticed two things: 1) a number of the accessories are from West Elm's past year or so of collections, and 2) her Flor tile rug has my name written ALL over it! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Bandwagon: Missoni for Target

purple zigzag pouf - the one item i am seriously considering.
some of the other things i liked: this print is delicious. but i don't need any of this stuff and i'm able to leave it alone. thankfully.
It is hard to know who to blame for my disappointment with today's launch. Certainly, some of the onus is on me. Waking up fully rested at 6am and deciding to web browse was my choice. Forgetting that today was the day, also my fault. And to be honest, I didn't really want anything, delicious though I find the brand. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rooms on Film: The Guitar

Back in 2008, I was perusing the New York Times and saw a review for a movie called, The GuitarThe movie sounded like a real downer: Last Holiday, without the life savings and whirlwind travel spree. The accompanying photo seemed to confirm this as the doomed protagonist appeared pale and emaciated. Her environment however - financed by a credit card spending spree - was…to die for:

image credit: jo jo whilden/cold fusion media  

Some time later, I stumbled on the image in my extensive "style tray" folder and started searching for screencaps. The internet turned up very little, but some of the images really looked promising in terms of the overall set. Then, lo and behold, one evening the movie  - which was a Sundance Festival entrant - turned up on Sundance Channel. Finally, a chance to see this delicious apartment in all its glory! It did not disappoint. This apartment is, to borrow from Pat Conroy, “a feast for the human eye.” The way it is decorated and lived in defines bohemian living. Facing her end, Melody Wilder revels in every reasonable sort of sensory and sensual indulgence. And. I. Mean. Every. She literally takes the time to delight in being able to smell, taste, touch, hear, and see. 

If you've seen The Guitar, you know it does get a little steamy in the middle. And the musical score rocks. And it is a bit unbelievable. But...this sort of urban fairy tale of how it takes a terminal cancer diagnosis to help broken note, Melody Wilder, rediscover her harmony is really pretty fun and uplifting. The environment, moving from a dark, cramped basement apartment, to a sunny penthouse loft on the Hudson River, is as responsible for Melody's reawakening as anything else. 

Witness the transformation: 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Staycation Day: Empire State of Mind

Today's my day out in the city. No destination in mind. We'll see what happens. 

high style on the brooklyn bridge
Source: Anne & Stiil magazine
Photo: Stine Kase

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Color Texture Pattern: My Fantasy Made Real

So, I was flipping through a magazine called Living, which I think is published in Uruguay, when I discovered that my dream home already exists. In fact, someone else built it and has been living in it, beautifully, for some time now. This is what happens when you don't open the mail every day. 

The homeowner's name is Nuria Cobeaga and she designs wonderful South American blouses and bags like these. Her (my) home is a crystal-clear translation of that same style. It combines a mix of rich colors, folksy patterns, handmade textiles, and aged surfaces into a showstopping family home. Were I the boss of this casa, no one would ever cross the threshold. Probably wouldn't even let you sit in any of the wonderful outdoor rooms either. Sorry.

Let the pictures speak for themselves...

color play: reds, oranges, blues, aged wood and patchwork pillow

Monday, August 15, 2011

Far-Flung Fashion: Dressing for Distant Shores

It has been a few years since my last vacation and I'm starting to yearn from some place else again. (To be fair, Paris did hit the spot in a big way.) Sadly, circumstances leave me taking this week off from work and remaining quite local. Thank goodness New York City is one place where a 'staycation' can really count for something! My to-do list includes some of those 'roundtuit items that are so easy to put off, plus a few dashes of fun that life just seems too exhausting for in a normal week. Even sadder? Most of these activities will be attended in assorted denim-and-cotton ensembles.

Of course, glamming it up seems like the ultimate day off. But that's only for people who can afford lots of taxi rides to ease their stillettoed feet, and frankly, for people who don't venture outside the better-heeled parts of town where they're somewhat less likely to run into trouble. (Remember: Carrie Bradshaw's pink tutu was all good 'til the bus splashed mud on it. Reality, folks. Reality.)

So, while my jeans, sneakers and airy tank tops are doing their job keeping me on the go, I'll fantasize about high style in exotic ports of call.

sizzling hot pink against an earthy backdrop of orange and grey

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rooms on Film: Diario de Una Ninfomana

If you follow my Flickr stream, you know I developed a minor obsession with the sets in this film last year. In particular, the leading lady's apartment in the beginning of the film, where her pursuit of pleasure is firmly established.

Based on the book (bio) by Valerie Tasso, the film is set in Barcelona where we follow Valerie through the ups and downs of finding the right man to match her appetites, maintaining steady employment and taking advice from her elderly French grandmother. Later, things gets dizzily better and then tragically worse. 

This movie is so frank and randy that people find it rather scandalous. But I broke down and ordered the dvd and I have to say... it ain't so bad. She's just a woman with a very strong libido who really does want the fantasy of a prince to sweep her off her feet and give her a family. Val goes down some taboo paths to find her way, but she comes to understand the dark side of some her fantasies.

But, oh, that apartment...

the eclectic hallway of val's barcelona apartment

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Single-Girl Style: Bohemian Bourgeois

In the suburbs of Johannesburg lurks the nifty apartment of Ariane Besson. Her style is heavily Art Deco and heavily thrifted. Her walls are an airy sky blue that sets off the salon wall of old frames, as well as all the display cabinets chock full of ceramic kitsch. The most envious detail are those bookshelves with the rolling ladder. Wouldn't say 'no' to that. The eclectic bedroom proves Besson is a woman after my own heart. Colorful bedding, mixed patterns, and those quatrefoil window shutters. 

Bet her cocktail parties are jam-packed!

well-curated livingroom: all sorts of kitsch on display

All Summer in a Room

Now this is what I'm talkin' about. A cozy space to relax, enjoy music, get some Vitamin D and, perhaps manage to look "effortlessly chic" at the same time.

Source: Cosmopolitan  Photo: Diego Uchitel

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Color Texture Pattern: Soothing Blues

So, apparently it is now mid-August and a lot of us are wondering where the summer went. Consensus is that the various heatwaves drove us all indoors seeking air-conditioned relief. While we were burrowing, June and July slipped away. All I know is that I want my 39th summer back! 

Since it is unlikely summers will get milder in the years to come, here's to homes that are built for this sort of thing. Where you can linger indoors and enjoy the feel of cool tiles, in soothing shades of green and blue, arranged in orderly patterns of squares and rectangles. Calm, soothing relief...

timeless kitchen in brussels: high ceilings, shimmering tile, sconces that fade into the walls, rustic wood floors and the slate blue ceiling and chimney wall
source: maison francaise  photo: francis amiand

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Color Story: Ice Pink & Mocha Revisited

The sight of the new House Beautiful cover both thrilled me and threw me for a loop. On one hand, it sizzles (as do all their covers, am I right?). The earthy tones jibe so well from the salmon pink title and throw pillows, to the cool brown wallpaper and that wonderful pink painting. On the other hand, this cover took me back about ten years to when I first started thinking about decorating my apartment properly. 

After visiting for the first time, a friend suggested my little studio was juvenile and in need of a full upgrade. Her plans were too much for me at the time, but that discussion did pique my interest. I started looking at design magazines and considering furnishings. For a few months it looked like some lovely Oriental silk bolsters from ABC Home store were going to be the inspiration. (If you're a New Yorker, you know that quite often they carry very affordable items and have great sales.) The shiny cool shades I deemed "ice pink" and "mocha."

Since that color scheme was never put in place, who's to say if it would have been right for me? But man was it pretty in my imagination. And now House Beautiful not only brings it back, but breaks it down! 

Source: House Beautiful

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dream Palace: Time Enough at Last

One of the key reasons I decided to move from Flickr to a proper blog is that I got a little tired of seeing the same rooms come around time and again. Don't misunderstand, a lot of those rooms from domino, Livingetc, Better Homes & Gardens, etc are my faves too. But they've been circulating and recycling for several years and a new room is more of a surprise now. 

So I started fishing around for other publications we don't normally see in North America. Bless the internet for closing the divide between hither and yon. Not only can you grab a look at mags from almost every continent, I now subscribe to House & Leisure South Africa! (And uh, they seem to be livin' pretty swell down there.)

So, you will be seeing some gorgeous, familiar rooms, but also you will be seeing some new stuff (depending on where you live) like this room. The homeowner's name is Mario Fortunato and he's a writer of many sorts. This house is his retreat and this room is Everything I can dream of to be happy writing is in this room (except maybe a jar of homemade sour cream cookies). Daylight, a fantastic view of lush greenery + open sky, books books books, huge work surface, cushy furniture, bright accessories and a stereo system within arm's reach. 

What is not to love? I ask you!
writing retreat of mario fortunato (pictured)

Source: Io Donna magazine  Photo: Barbara Corsica

Friday, August 5, 2011

Color Story: Jewel-Toned Walls

When Kimhas7cats from Desire to Inspire first painted her kitchen cabinets pink, it was like a revelation. Not only was the independence and ownership of that choice inspiring, it reminded me of a long-ago visit to a classmate's home in grade school. I was struck by the fact that the kitchen was done in white and sage green, right down to the linoleum tile. It was airy and fresh and...the sage complemented the red-haired family. 

Since Kim's bold move, I am somewhat drawn to similar spaces where they're just putting it out there, allowing that color choice to lead to more bold and stylish choices that elevate the whole home beyond basic functions. 

It really is your thing. Do what you wanna do!

kitchen cabinets in a deep rich, pink! the windows keep the room so light that it can bear this level of saturated color

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Exotic Beds: Light, Bright & Darn-Near White

White bedding is not my friend. Historically, it has leeched color from colorfast blankets, the mattress and drawn the ink from uncapped pens with the gravitational pull of a black hole. But most annoyingly, my white bedding tends to get dingy. What in the world causes white cotton to take on a grayish cast? My incredibly handy mother suggests simply using something called "blueing" to put an end to this nonsense. 

Maybe when I'm 40 I will have finally matured enough to simply take Mom's advice without question. She is always right... Until then, here's to airy, exotic, white bedrooms...(with a pop of color).

embroidered paisley overhead, that gorgeous carved headboard and the cool, silky silver-gray quilt

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Color Texture Pattern: Eastern Influence

How can you say no to rooms like this? Dark woods, rich shades of berry, bright woven silks, nubby rugs and glossy finishes? Turn them into outfits that wow at every turn, combining brights, darks, silks, jute, velvet, chinoiserie, animal prints and timeless metallics. 

If you had to choose: would it be the rooms or the outfits?

Photo Credit: Tom Leighton for Livingetc

Monday, July 25, 2011

Single-Girl Style: Eclectic in Copenhagen

Scandinavian style strikes me as both refreshing and cold. The way an all-white room sets off accent colors is striking, and the minimalism certainly gives you a sense of mental lightness. But the white also seems so darn cold. (Maybe it's because I hail from the snow belt.)

This apartment is everything I love in a home. The resident, Trine Harbo, uses eastern influences sourced from her travels to create a home that is grounded, warm and incredibly interesting. The colors, textures and patterns don't clash here. They all work together to create one snug harmony. 

I wonder if Trine does home swaps? I've never been to Denmark...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Call Me When the Heatwave is Over

There was precious little shade at mid-day but, I used what little there was to do a tiny bit of shopping and make it home Frogger-style.  Inside temperature: 90 degrees of sweet, blissful cool. Didn't turn on the air conditioner for three hours.

This is where I'll be 'til the Big Bake is over...

Git Gustavsson's utterly dreamy bedroom makeover featured in House & Home, April 2011 (Photo: Joanna Helli)

Dream Palace: Rooms to Cool Down In

This heatwave is stunning. Like WTF? I left work at 6pm and could not fathom the temperature on the streets. Is there a massive a/c vent somewhere? A massive grill? After much walking and shopping and a cool ride on the local train to Brooklyn, I finally came home to a blissful 88 degree apartment. And it was a sweet relief... 88 degrees! 

So, I hunted around for some visual relief and found it in these rooms which embody all that I am feeling right now. Stay cool and stick to the shade. 

From stylist Christine Rudolph:
this Livingetc photo shoot inspired me to buy a similar console table from target, for my desk. and it has played no small part in my mix of textiles and colors: my place

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Decorating With Textiles: Sloped Ceilings

Back in the '90s, when I was sharing a cramped bedroom in my sorority house, the best we could come up with for decorating our sloped ceilings were posters. That's right. I lay in my little corner and looked up at "The Little Mermaid" (the one that was rumored to have a penis hidden amongst the towers). 

What this room does that we never thought to? Define the "head-bump space" in rich detail. Not only do the colors vary from rug to rug, but also the patterns and textures themselves. This is probably delightful even on a rainy day. (Notice the chair is centered under the peak so you don't get knocked out standing up.)

Any clever display ideas for your best textiles? Decorating odd walls? 

source: marie claire maison

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Color Texture Pattern: Words to Live By

For sure, the same basic things attract me in home design as attract me in fashion. Color + Texture + Pattern. Then throw in Shape as the final criterion. Every item in a space should possess those three aspects. Particularly spaces that are Eclectic or Bohemian. And all of these things work best in some kind of balance that soothes the eye. Brights with neutrals, shiny with coarse, stripes with florals, large prints with small, and round with angular. 

Observe the various bedrooms from each Season of the series Secret Diary of a Call Girl:

Season 1:  the room features an ornate, carved bed with upholstery that has an earth tone smooth background and a bright velvety floral print. the wall is done in a floral brocade wallpaper. and the feature wall is accented in satin, brocade curtains in a rich deep purple. as an eclectic touch: the bedside table is a modern ghost, and the lamp is a retro mod in bright blue and red. and the round cocoa chairs add another opposing style.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Let's try this again...

After a month trying Tumblr, I've decided to try blogspot again. The pace is just so fast over there.  It feels like a beast you have to constantly feed.  And so many of the people seem to be teenagers interested in neo-bohemianism.  So it's back to blogspot to say my peace in my own time. 

One thing Tumblr does well is allow you the visual reference to consider aesthetic balance in the images you post.  I could refer back and say "too much pink, add some blue" or "too much color, add some neutrals."  So The Mermaid's Tongue will live on...