Salzburg

DSC_1039 One of our best moves in Salzburg might have been driving directly to the Modern Art Museum for lunch. The M32 restaurant looks over the city which is split by the Salzach River and also has great views the infamous Hohensalzburg Castle. It was also a good move because we could get light salads- as opposed to the authentic cuisine of various cheese and meats we had been consuming for the last 4 days. The weather was gorgeous, we were able to sit outside and it was a perfect way to kick off our time in Salzburg.

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After we checked out Hohensalzburg Castle, one of the best parts was walking back through the paths in the recreational area of the Monchsberg mountain. It was so lush and green and there were a ton of cool homes and wild gardens along the way.

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We stayed at the Bristol Hotel and it was very convenient to walking to all the sites. It was also on the right bank, which I liked because it was less touristy and busy. The lobby was a cool and dramatic combination of crystal chandeliers, mandarin orange walls and large scale paintings.

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The view from our room

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For dinner and drinks we walked down the cobblestone street, Steingasse and stumbled upon some tucked away restaurants and bars. Fridrich was our favorite as it had an intimate cave-bomb shelter-esque feel. It could probably only seat 20 people. The lighting was cool, a great selection of wines and the fact that they were playing Motown on the record player sealed the deal.

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The next morning the beautiful church that was outside our window started enthusiastically ringing their bells at about 6:30 am, so we got up and decided to hit the road. There was something very soothing about enjoying the early morning breeze, bells and silence of the city.

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Couldn't leave without an early morning look at the Mirabell Palace- which was surprisingly still bustling with activity. Then on the road to Innsbruck...

 

Back in Action!

DSC_0718 As of today we have been back from our Euro-Extravaganza for two weeks. As I typically find when I travel, it takes the amount of time I was gone to get back in the saddle. After two weeks, I finally feel like I can sit down and spend a little time reflecting on the trip. As this was two weeks jammed packed with activities, I will take you on a visually inspiring journey. Our adventure started in Stuttgart, Germany, where our friend, Will, is currently stationed with the Navy. After a few days hanging out on his hime turf, we set off on our road trip that took us to Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Lucerne, Murren, Bern and a ton of little towns in between. I have not gone on a formal road trip through Europe before... typically I have taken trains where you are on a schedule and pass through many quaint towns. I think one of the highlights about driving yourself (ahem, or having someone drive you) is that you can be on your own schedule. And all those cute towns? You can pop in and see them. While we had all our hotels booked ahead of time, we were really free to make up our schedule as we went along. While I did have a serious 7-page itinerary of "suggestions", we also had fun scoping out places and areas as we went along. With the longest leg of our journey being 4 hours it always felt like we were on-the-go, but never in an overwhelming way. And, while I did start out white-knuckled anxious in the back of a rather zippy 2-door sports car, I would say I came a long way in overcoming my tensions with heights, accelerated speeds & twisty roads. I now think I can confidently say I am a road trip convert, mountains and all. Bring it.

First Stop: Munich

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Love that pop of lapis blue.

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Our first night, we ate dinner at a traditional beer hall, Augustiner Braustuben on the main drag. With all the Black Forest carvings and shell grotto-esque center hall it was definitely an overall authentic Bavarian feel.

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We grabbed after dinner drinks at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel. The atmosphere in the bar was a cool juxtaposition of rococo style plaster work accented in a dramatic uplight and a clean contemporary blue lit bar.

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Coming back to our hotel wasn't so bad either. Our hotel, Hotel Opera, felt like we were staying as a guest in a townhouse, a little off the beaten track. It was only about a 15 minute walk to all the action, so far enough away to escape the thick of it all, but close enough that we walked everywhere. There is also a great neighborhood feel around the hotel with great restaurants, cafes and shops.

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Breakfast was also pretty delicious. And, it should be noted, salami and cheese croissant sandwiches are perfectly acceptable breakfast sandwiches.

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I kinda had a thing for all the door handles

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I have to admit, Munich totally exceeded my expectations. It was an easy city to walk and bike around and inbetween the old world European feel (much of which was rebuilt after the war) there was a very modern and creative vibe. Next stop, Salzburg...

 

Bon Voyage!

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Scott & I are taking off to Europe this afternoon and will be returning May 8th. As some put it, I will be immersing myself in some "Field Research". Upon our return there will be stories to share, abounding inspiration and a refreshed creative outlook.

Bon Voyage!

Rising Star

photo Let me start out by saying that I was a kid who always felt hyper inspired by watching other people's achievements. I remember sitting in my family room, in red, white and blue, watching Nancy Kerrigan in the 1992 winter Olympics.  I even created signs with poster board and Crayolas to make the at home cheering experience more personal. To me, she was a graceful image of beauty and I remember my eight year old self thinking that someday I wanted to be in the Olympics. I think I lasted five figure skating lessons before I realized that ice skating is pretty demanding. With this new found awareness, I was perfectly content to hang up my Olympic hopes. I learned how to "hockey stop" to save myself the embarrassment of snowplowing into the boards and that was all the confidence I needed to partake in the Saturday open skates at the local rink.

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I loved old movies and dreamed of being a movie star (the totally casual slash extremely badass Katherine Hepburn type), only to go to drama camp and receive the only non-talking part in "Snoopy: The Musical" with my 2 best friends. Our parents paid for that camp, so they had to find a place to camouflage our apparent lack of talent amongst a bevy of extremely melodramatic, adolescent thespians. Nothing says "don't bother coming back" like making you stand in the corner of the stage donning primary colored overalls and a sparkly top hat. For three hours.

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In high school I tried to give it my all on the golf team (In previous summers, when I wasn't bombing at drama camp, my Dad had me in golf lessons). I was the sixth girl on a five girl squad.  Please keep in mind, this was a five girl squad that had a reputation for winning championships.  When my best friend (of mutual Snoopy fame) finally convinced the coach to move me up to a varsity match, I showed up to the course just in the nick of time. Without my clubs. Then there were the couple times when Coach would drive the team to the indoor driving range (March golf in Michigan isn't necessarily sunshine and rainbows). I think the fact it was implied as the 6th man my seat was in the trunk with all the clubs (probably not in the school safety policy), only solidified my status on the team. Don't get my wrong, these girls were all my friends and I think that's pretty much why they kept me around.

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At Michigan State, I had a retail project be selected in the Top 10 of what was ultimately a national competition. I believe the judge flew in from St. Louis, or somewhere of some sort of importance, to announce the Top 3. Always having deep Detroit Pride and being a fairly social 21 year old, I was beelining it back to East Lansing from a rather chilly Tiger's Opening Day (a tradition with my other Snoopy cohort). I got the times wrong. I completely missed the announcement of the Top 3, which I could no longer be eligible for as I wasn't in attendance. I know that project would have been in the Top 3.  I will never forget the artificial condolences from my classmates, the look of disappointment from my professors or the confusion by the judge as to why someone would work for an entire semester and then show up 30 minutes late.

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All throughout high school my Dad used to ask me, "Anne, what is your passion?".  I would get all flustered and usually frustrated because I thought he wanted my passion to be golf, which it just wasn't (Now in my late 20's I am very thankful I know how to play, especially as this is my husband's passion). I just didn't think we were seeing eye to eye. I kinda get it now. He didn't care if it was golf or figure skating or musical theater, he just wanted to see me have the fire about doing something.

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As a child I don't know that my calling was ever apparent. I had a lot of enthusiasm about a lot of different activities. When I look back now, I think my penny and stamp collection (and the lesser exciting- marbles, shells and rocks) were precursors for my love of curating personal collections and collections for my clients. I think the flea market trips and hours spent in the basements of vintage book stores instilled in me "thrill of the hunt" fever. I think things started to come together for me when I learned to explore my own voice in art classes in high school and then in college when I realized "study hours" didn't necessarily mean long division and biology, but instead meant color theory and space planning. I think my passion- that deep, inner gut excitement followed by the inevitable stress that your tiny human brain won't be able to soak up every last ounce of inspiration- took a while to develop.

When I used to pull into golf tournaments as a kid crying because I was scared, my parents would tell me that these are the situations that build character. When I called my mom sobbing outside the design building because I accidentally eliminated myself from a competition where I had worked so hard to succeed, she said this is a learning experience. Life is filled with small victories and crushing defeats. It's filled with self doubt and uncertainty. It's filled with realities that can either define you or evolve you. Life takes effort. Design, by way of multiple failures and achievements, has become that swell of lightness in my heart- that antsy desire of continuous exploration- that can only be defined as passion.

On Thursday night it was announced at the Detroit Home Awards that I was the recipient of the 2013 "Rising Star" award, I was stunned. I know that's what one is supposed to say when they receive such an honor, but I was so stunned that I didn't tell my friends I was nominated, I told Scott not to come and I think I basically talked through the entire announcement until someone turned to me and said, "You went to Cranbrook and Michigan State, right?". I mean you're talking to the girl whose only job was to hold the glitzy sign through a 3 hour musical, the girl who took a lot of swings to complete an 18 hole golf match, the girl whose intentions were always good, but planner was always messy. In this instance I am so grateful. I am grateful because in the business of interior design the designer truly is the sum of many hardworking parts. I am most grateful, because know I have found my something.

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I have been overwhelmed these last couple days by the outpouring of congratulatory support from the design community, my friends and family. I truly am so lucky to have such amazingly supportive people in my life.  Maybe the sincerest endorsement came last night during family dinner. My five year old niece, Molly, was so excited to see the Rising Star article in Detroit Home Magazine, that she deemed it important enough hang on her ever evolving, yet artfully arranged gallery wall. In this case, it takes one to know one, and I think my biggest compliment is in the form of one savvy kindergartner.

 

NYIGF

 

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Well, people. You know that saying that it takes as many days to get back in the game as you were gone? I think I needed like 3 overtimes. My trip to New York for the gift show was inspirational, as was being down in Florida with family (and a little work in there too!), but when I got back into the saddle last Monday, I really needed to kick it. And kick it I did. Now, on the 8th day, I feel like I can finally take a few moments to sit down and share some of the awesomeness that happened in the Big Apple.

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Let's start by saying, a trip to New York is revitalizing on many different levels. You are surrounded by fresh perspectives, trending designs and culinary exploration all nestled in with the liveliness of the city that never sleeps. As I arrived in the late afternoon I was famished. I met my friend, Brad, and headed straight to Whitmans to get their "Juicy Lucy" (not to be confused with a Loosey Goosey) and some kale chips. While you can't go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger (please keep in mind about a month ago I was considering embracing being a pseudo vegetarian- only feathers and scales- but I am still having intense moments of weakness) it was the kale chips that got me.  I gobbled them up so quickly I was wearing the crumbs as we exited the restaurant, as Brad nicely noted.

a_560x375After Whitmans, we headed over to Kingston Hall to meet my friends, Ashlie & Liz, at a cozy fireside table that was the perfect way to escape the impending snow (that obviously followed me from Michigan!). One would never guess that on the other side of a fairly bland lobby a wood paneled, Jamaican club house awaits.  It was as though we walked into a buzzing secret society of young professionals sipping on anything from coconut rum to draft beer. Where do you go after downing a Juicy Lucy, fried kale and a pint of Brooklyn Brew? To pizza, of course!  We popped over to Nicoletta, a pizzeria that is managed by a fabulous chef in her own right, Tedo, who graduated from high school with us. To say she showered us with delectable appetizers would be an understatement. It. Was. Fabulous. You are probably wondering where the design happens in all of this, but  after partaking in round II of  culinary delights we decided to head home to rest up for the marathon of design inspiration that was about to commence.

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Obviously, one cannot enter into a day filled with design heart palpitations and miles upon miles of vendors without first having some sort of sustenance. First Stop: Breakfast.

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Enter, NYIGF. Many of my pictures might seem to be taken on the run. So much to see. So little time. Next year we might have a more organized approach, but for 2013 our plan of attack consisted of snapping photos, grabbing brochures and moving on (follow up research can be done at home on the computer!).

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I loved these feathers so much it had me hoping that feathered flair a la Chief  Crazy Horse will be in style for 2013.

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Gift Show Warriors.

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It was a creatives work out. Our dogs were barking. Our bags were heavy. Our backs hurt. Whoever said being an interior designer is for the weak has never walked a day in our shoes. This is tough work, people!  So you might ask what one does after putting up the good fight? The answer is simple. Food. Our restaurant of choice was the fabulous Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel.  After gorging on melt-in-your-mouth pasta we decided to hit up some retail destinations. Pictured Above: ABC Carpet & Home. Undoubtedly, to soak in all the inspiration one must spend at least 20 minutes testing out these extra deep and extra comfy sofas.

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By the way, Brad & Ashlie, who were my fabulous hosts, might live on the cutest street in the East Village. Pure atmosphere. There is this constant yet quite noise, mixed with an almost desirable grit that makes this block seem magical. It's like a modern day Dickensian scene- minus all the squalor.

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As Saturday closed, Brad, Ashlie and I headed to Brooklyn to have dinner at our friend's, Lee & Deeva, apartment. It was taco night. And kale salad night. Annnddd... I could have had a cocktail made with the kale salad dressing and have been perfectly happy (is there a theme here?!). We gathered 'round the projector and relived Leeva's recent trip to India. 1,700 images, countless entertaining stories, good ol' friends, a well deserved glass of wine and, of course, the kale all made for a fabulous way to unwind.

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Sunday consisted of a early morning walk to Peels for breakfast and then a quick jaunt around SoHo before heading back to the gift show for round II. This was deemed the follow up, revisit, get-a-second-glace, sneak more photos, take some measurements day.

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It also turned into the day where we ran into multiple friends designing for babies, designing for weddings or just being busy working bees.

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As I parted I felt very lucky on many different levels. The "always" theme is I constantly am reminded that I'm lucky to have such awesome, welcoming and supportive friends. The over arching theme is that I love what I do. I love that I can work in a world where people are constantly surprising me, inspiring me and motivating me. Yeah, I know- me,me,me,me. But in all seriousness, it's a big world out there and people are not afraid to test the limits and take a chance. New York definitely illustrates this take charge, entrepreneurial industrialist attitude and a reintroduction to that, if even for the weekend, is enough to fly back to the midwest with a little lightness in my chest and a wide eyed view of what we can do in this world.

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Today I am off to the New York Gift Show. I booked this fairly last minute after I regretted not go down to Atlanta for their January show. Last year at the Atlanta Market I found all sorts of awesome new vendors, and got a much needed dose of inspiration during these winter months. Not to mention, I think it is an imperative part of our business to keep up on the cool new product- it's what give our projects a current perspective. IMG_2504

And, when you are getting pictures like this from your mother-in-law, how could one not help but feel left out of all the fun that goes on at Market? (Sorry, Nicky).

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Things always get a little tricky before leaving, even if only for a couple days. Yesterday I tried to place calls from my calculator (I mean, it is on my iPhone) and tried to lock my house with my car key fab. Needless to say, I was a little frazzled. But, as I get ready to hit the road I am excited to see all the wares and trends that are going to carry us through 2013. Stay tuned for a visual recap!

Welcome, 2013

Happy 2013!

I hope you all had a nice holiday and are ready to embrace a new year!  There is always something very exciting about January and a fresh start. It gives us time to reflect, set new goals and go forward with an open mind. Here is a little visual recap of the last couple weeks:

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Myself, Scott and a couple of our friends started the Born & Raised Detroit Foundation.  This year we partnered with COTS to bring a little extra holiday cheer to an awesome local family. The car was packed to the brim with all sorts of goodies and we had a fabulous time shopping, wrapping and delivering the gifts.

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With many merry occasions I loved to accent with splashy red. This handbag by sarah oliver, was a gift last year from my friend, Stacey. Not only was it incredibly thoughtful, but I absolutely love that each bag is individually knit by the "Purlettes", a band of sassy seniors (average age 88!) at the Redwoods Community Center in Mill Valley California. I mean, how cute is that?! Not to mention, I visited Mill Valley last summer and it was one of my favorites little towns.

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Due to a fairly hectic work schedule, I did about 70% of my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the festive atmosphere of grabbing a few last minute gifts, but this year I might have saved a little too much for the eleventh hour. Even though I was running around like a crazy woman, I couldn't say no to grabbing a quick coffee and popover with two of my favorites at the Neimans cafe. I mean, you can't shop on an empty stomach, right?

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Christmas Eve we did the early service at Cranbrook (aka the Children's service). Loved seeing all those kiddos in their festive holiday attire!

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We had a gaggle of guests at my in-law's for Christmas Eve dinner. The food was delicious and it is our annual tradition to do a Chinese Gift Exchange. We put all unmarked, wrapped gifts in the middle and according to your number you either pick from the center or steal a previously opened gift. These are not gag gifts, but more so $100 very desirable gifts. It can get... feisty.

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I always love giving socks for Christmas. So much so that this year I think Scott got about 8 pairs. I just think a little unexpected foot flair is very exciting. These PACT socks I saw on the Today Show and bought them immediately because a percentage of the sales goes to support Detroit homeless women who sew winter coats that turn into sleeping bags for the local homeless- providing both jobs and warmth. Looking good for a good cause? Can't go wrong!

photoMy nieces are obsessed with princesses. It was maybe the cutest thing I have ever seen when they found princess tee shirts at the end of a scavenger hunt set up by Santa. Yes, that teeshirt says "Princess Molly is going to Disney World". Yes, she is in Christmas pjs. And, yes, she is test driving the Ariel beach towel. I die.

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Speaking of cute kids, this is my husband, Scott when he was about 3. This picture kills me.

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I hadn't done a puzzle in so long that I thought 1000 pieces seemed reasonable. This puzzle brought us all hours of entertainment on Christmas. I think this reinvigorated everyone's puzzle enthusiasm. It is on.

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Maybe my best gift was a total sleeper. I had no idea creating this memory game from Pinhole Press would not only entertain by excite my nieces. I made a set for each of them and they loved looking at the pictures of themselves with different family members. Instead of playing the game it was more of a show and tell- but all in all very engaging!

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As for my gift for Scott, my amazingly talented friend, Paige, painted this custom crest to commemorate Scott's 30th birthday.  She is a print designer at Lilly Pulitzer, so I knew it would be fabulous, but it even looks cuter in person. I am having it framed in a simple gold frame and we will have to find somewhere very special to hang it!

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What's Christmas without a yule log?

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Something about the way my mom does her mantles and garlands is just so familiarly festive. Their house always seems like the hub of Christmas spirit!

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Santa really stocked my bookcase this year. I cannot wait to dive into these design books. I really want to read them cover to cover, but in the meantime I cheated a little bit and took a sneak peak at some of the gorgeous photos. Also, we got some trusty Eyewitness guide books for a trip Scott and I area going to take this spring. Even with the ease of the internet, I love pouring over guidebooks and then fact checking with the internet resources. I am ready to put on my planning cap!

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I love the quite nights after the holiday rush where you can do super fun things like enjoy an evening crafting with one of your best friends.

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I also like the quite nights that allow you to go on an OCD cleaning spree.  Out with the old in 2013!  I did an efficient closet, basement and car clean out. Did it feel good! It appears I really love colored pants-ROYGBIV 4 life.

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Lastly, we welcomed 2013 with a little dinner party with close friends. With this new year there is a sense of the unknown. Who knows how we will be feeling this time next year, or what we will be reflecting upon. Whatever it may be I am excited to be ushering in a new year and another new chapter. Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

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It seems as though December has just flown by. I hope you all have enjoyed this season. I know it is still in full force as we narrow down to the actual days of Christmas but, as in most years, I always enjoy the days following up to Christmas almost more than the actual day. Don't get me wrong, any time you can be surrounded by friends and family gives one a reason to be thankful- especially with all that is going on in the world. Everyone keeps asking me if the holiday stress has caught up with me. In all honestly, it has not. Everyone on my list is getting one meaningful gift than a bunch of random gifts (meaning less running around!) and Scott and I have not overdone ourselves to make every holiday party or event. All in all I have been feeling very festive this year- here's a few highlights:

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Nothing really says Christmas shopping like popping in at RL. While this always will have one of my favorite interiors (grass cloth, seagrass, blue & white, navy, oils with picture lights, amongst many other things) and they really do a fabulous job jazzing it up for the holidays. This is my #1 spot to get in the retail spirit of things.

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Cookies, cookies and more cookies. I haven't decorated Christmas cookies in years, but when my mom's friend, Barb, had us over for a cookie bake (10 dozen to be exact!) I remembered what I have been missing out on. It was so fun! We also munched on some Christmas bark, warm chicken salad and vanilla coffee. The cherry on top of this Christmas sundae was that while decorating we watched a Hallmark Christmas movie. Boom!

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The cookies were a great thing to serve guests. My guests (pictured above) ate my entire 3 dozen over an evening of Pictionary, cocktails and a white elephant gift exchange. A new tradition for sure!

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Hogan might have snagged a couple of those cookies as he was exceptionally well behaved. Honestly, does this dog know how to be cozy, or what?

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I got really into hosting this holiday. We pulled out the nice stuff for my mom's birthday and I had a lot of fun setting a holiday table.

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I created these vintage inspired Christmas cards to send out to some showrooms and vendors. As you might have noticed, I have old photos on my website homepage and I thought I would continue that trend into this year's cards. Paper Source always is an inspiring place to kick off any craft project and once I was armed with the right supplies I found these photos of my Dad as a kid. He was just the cutest! And, yes, I decided to ditch the holiday stamps and pay tribute to Miles Davie & Edith Piaf, two artists I play throughout the day to get me through the boring hum-drum of paperwork.

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I always try to shop locally. Local Independent, Local Chain and last resort I resort to places like Amazon. Being a business owner, you have to realize the risk others take to open up a brick and mortar location. Also, it's an asset to any community to have thriving business districts. I like to support my neighbors who in turn contribute to making this a better place to live. These candles are from the independent pharmacy down the street from me. They have some fairly obscure European brands, not to mention an awesome market stocked with snacks and wine! For those of you local to Birmingham, stop in at Mills Pharmacy + Apothecary for some holiday treats :)

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Lastly, I have been running around this week to meet holiday deadlines and also get some images together for my portfolio. Last night I got down with my green thumb and made these arrangements to help stage a couple of the photographs we are taking today.

Alright, thats it!  I am signing off through the holidays, but I hope everyone has a safe, happy and exciting new year!

xo, Anne

Photographically Precise

This past weekend I took some time to catch up on little things around the house. Sometimes by purging the old and reorganizing what you already have, rooms can take on a whole new life. Part of what I did was add framed family photos to side tables and tucked them into the nooks and crannies of my bookcases. Family photos can make a space seem personal and intimate. I also like when the photos are taken from different parts of life. It is great to celebrate many moments.  I am the first person to love a beautiful wedding photograph, but let's be honest, life didn't start the day you got married. If every photograph in your home is from that special day- it's time to diversify your portfolio. I probably tend to lean more towards the candids as they are the best display of one's true personality and emotions.  Ultimately, I think it 's really about creating a balance, as naturally some of the most sentimental photos might be more staged and posed. Put on display what really speaks to you and evokes a certain sentiment.  Also, family photos are not a substitute for artwork. They are meant to add personality here and there, not be the entire theme.

The photo above is of me and my cousins, Drew and Kyle. We are about 4 years old, staged by our parents on a clunky iron bench in our grandparent's back yard. I am an only child and I cannot tell you how many photos we have with me sandwiched in the middle of these two chaps. It's not long after this that my grandparents, Bebe and Bupa, packed up and left Michigan for the retired life down in Florida.  Even though I was very young, I still have a lot of fond memories from this house. There was a sprawling back yard with a dog run and a pool (most of which has been sold off now for one of those cookie cutter neighborhood developments), shag carpeting the perfect shade of puce,  and a stocked bar that would have made Don Draper do a song and dance. It is amazing how though styles might change and things will eventually look dated, there is an effortlessly elegant execution that is translated above any trend. While now it might be considered horribly 70's, Bebe and Bupa's house had the sense of a collected interior- a look I strive to achieve in my design style. I cannot tell you how many times I flip through a current design magazine and see items I remember from their home.  That might just be the wise, old truth, "what is old is new again", ringing loud and clear. Bebe followed the trends, but also had an inherent air for flair. Afterall, she was the only Grandma at Grandparent's visiting day in a leather skirt, clunky cocktail rings on every finger and snazzy beaded keds with bright pink ribbon laces (a stylish interpretation for not being able to escape age dictating that practical shoes be a necessity).

You probably wonder where I am going with all of this. After I put the photo of me, Drew and Kyle in the frame, I whipped out my iphone, snapped a picture and messaged them about their new prevalent spot in my living room. In response, I got a picture message from Drew with the exact same picture nestled in between his belongings, front and center on his bookcase. This is awesome in a couple different ways. Not only is this one of probably hundreds of pictures of the three of us, but I also have to admit I'm enjoying the way he has it displayed, snuggled in amongst a variety of objects that define who he is. College diploma, marathon memorabilia, mementos from various travels. I think this photo is also a sentimental reminder of a time when we all got to see one another regularly and oftentimes in the naively delightful world of being a guest at our grandparent's house. I guess some might differ and say this is a typical "bachelor pad" look, but I have to think it is a little bit of the arranging panache that is in our genes. It's also the power of a photograph to stir an emotion, that through the outlet of modern day technology, can remind family that even though they don't get to see each other as often as they'd like they are still, and always will be, family.

Deck The Halls!

'Tis the season. The holidays are upon us and there is an undeniable festive vibe in the air. Maybe it's your traditions, maybe it's the red cups at Starbucks, twinkly Christmas lights or the holiday tunes you hear everywhere from the auto mechanic to the shopping mall. While life is always going to be fast paced, I am going to try to make a conscious effort this year to sit back an enjoy what the season brings. That probably means simplifying, but when you step back and look at the big picture that seems a little easier to do.

Fall Back

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend soaking in what could be some of the last fall color before we go into winter mode. There might be a couple weeks of crisp fall weather left, but when the next season is filled with holiday flair, festive parties and a lot of yuletide cheer, you realize there is always something to look forward to.

Fall Color Collections

Up to now, this fall has been pretty ridiculously awesome. Sandy and her destructive impact on the East Coast falls more under the frightening, frantic and imposing category, but something such as a hurricane must surely remind us that we humans are sometimes... human. In a day and age when we create solutions to test our own limits in order to overcome the constraints of mother nature (the space jump and Palm Islands off the cost of Dubai jump to mind) there are occasionally those moments where it is made very clear that we are all just at the whim of what this crazy world throws our way.

I really wanted to just throw some photos up here that show some of the great new Fall 2012 fabrics that have been showing up in my mail, but I felt it a little insensitive to discuss textiles when there is obviously a serious storm occurring out East. Not to mention, as I type this the winds that have made it all the way to Michigan still seem pretty darn dangerous! It's just a sampling, but every time I get a new padded envelope through my door slot I get pretty excited at the new beauties that are going to be inside.

chartreuse & purple

caribbean blue & tangerine

leaf green & lilac

and the good ol' standard blue & white!

SoCal

As it appears wanting to write the follow up post to my time out in California in September has become defined by procrastination, I am instead going to present the trip as a visual diary. I think you will be able to tell the entire weekend was beautiful, laid back and the wedding was a true testimony of love and admiration. Happy Friday, Y'all!

 

California State of Mind

As it appears, summer is officially over. We have hung up the white pants, started to give up on our annuals, and the neighborhoods are pretty quite until about 4 pm. Summer 2012 was a good one. As many are, it was filled with weekends spent on the water, after work evenings spent out on the deck and times spent celebrating friends & family through various weddings and birthdays. When you get to be an adult there really isn't officially a summer vacation just as there isn't officially back to school, but I cannot help but feel revived as the days are just beginning to feel slightly cooler. Fall will forever have the air of newness and as an adult I think it translates more towards organizing, catching up and having a reinvigorated outlook on life. It's like with every deep breath of fall air the heart begins to pitter patter for the  potential and possibilities to come. For me, this excitement might also have something to do with the fact that fall allows slightly more time to follow ideas, constitute new ones and cultivate what is already in process.

 To officially end summer, we travelled to a wedding out in California the weekend after Labor Day. To fully utilize the time change, 5 hour flight and days off, I went out early to spend a couple days in San Francisco before heading down to Laguna. Sometimes, this is the best type of traveling: entrusting your time to the locals. I did zero pre trip planning. Yep, me, planner mcgee, winged it. That's the beauty of visiting people you totally trust to show you a good and inspiring time. In the typical fun of hanging out with good friends, this trip did not fall short on expectations. We ate at delicious restaurants and I got to feel engrossed in a true California experience. On our first evening we visited Reed & Greenough located in the Marina. They had me at repurposed wood facade. The distressed leather, killer light fixtures, zebra, dark mahogany, copper (!) bar, lovingly worn rugs and antiques all made me feel like I could settle in and stay a while. With this collected interior I felt as though I had stepped right into a turn of the century gentleman's mens club. And as someone who would prefer to visit an establishment based on atmosphere rather than quality of food, it was a pleasant surprise that the libations also proved delightful.

images via yelp

As the fog is particularly thick at the beginning of September, we used the days to get out of the city and go on some day trips. Our first stop in Sonoma County was the Bella Vineyards & Winecaves in Healdsburg.

There are many reasons this place was awesome. Let's start with the fact that we could take our own picnic, set it up on a perfectly weathered teak picnic table, shaded by a crisp white canvas umbrella, and look out at the vineyards rolling indefinitely before our eyes.  There were multiple families settled in for the afternoon, their kids hula-hooping or trying to climb the enormous olive trees that partially shaded the lawn.

The wine caves are carved out beneath the vines and as you walk through they have tastings available and the walls are lined with the barrels. As the feeling is unmanufactured the sentiment is intimate and personal. The attention to detail gives the sense that you are privy to a little secret concealed in the hills of Sonoma, just enough off the beaten path that you are able to feel as though you are having a totally unique experience.

This is the private dining room in the caves. I can only imagine the good times that have been shared here amongst friends and families. The idea of eating well and drinking better, in an cave, surrounded by worn antiques and perfectly detailed ambient lighting must make reality seem hundreds of miles away.  This is a place to dine, focus on your companions and soak in every moment.

  

 Our next stop was the Dry Creek General Store to stock up on some additional snacks. While they are known for their sandwiches, we did not have the pleasure of sampling them. I did love perusing the classic store set up and admiring the selections of food and wine from local vendors. There was also a wonderful array of unique gifts and cookbooks. When I was about 9 I got a doll house that was a general store. I would painstakingly stock the shelves with miniature cans of soup and fill pint-sized barrels with apples- only to sneeze and have everything tumble to the floor and back into an unorganized combination of dry goods. I envisioned myself somewhere between John Boy Walton and Laura Ingalls Wilder- maybe with a dash of desperation of the Oregon Trail and the wild, wild west. Dry Creek General was my childhood idyllic general store come to life- right down to the storage bins and the long front porch where the lucky guests got to enjoy their sandwiches.

  

Knowing me as they do, my friends planned a trip to the Alameda flea market on Sunday morning. As I planned this trip around the timing of the wedding, I believe landing on the Alameda weekend was almost serendipitous timing. I have been itching to go as I keep hearing reviews, but there are only about, ohhh, 2,500 miles separating me from this flea market mack-daddy. This flea did not disappoint. I mean I could have slept under one of the vendor booths and still have not had enough time to see all the treasures that were laid out in rows A-Z and then AA-ZZ. You've got that right... the last row was ZZ. I purchased a pretty awesome pendant light for my kitchen that's not actually antique, but has a very cool patina and will be a fresh way to replace the recessed light over my sink. The flea market is next to a big port and it is pretty cool to be walking all the aisles, looking at a very diverse range of goods, and feeling dwarfed by the large cranes and stacks of enormous cargo units. It's an interesting juxtaposition to be scouring a flea market for items that bring the art and craftsmanship of the past into the present while being in the midst of a sophisticated harbor that imports goods from all around the world. It was a bit full circle on why, when I started my own business, I decided to call it PORT mfg. & design.  It is this idea that PORT can be a haven for inspiring goods, whether they are antique finds or custom designs. It's the idea that the cornerstone of American trade was built in the pride of craftsmanship and the ability to deliver products to customers that were exclusive, unusual and peculiarly remarkable. It's those values that I want to remember as I build my business.  After some discussion with my flea market warriors, we all concluded that the modern day cargo units were all probably filled with thousands of Samsung TVs.

   

When we all left feeling inspired for the day and full on gyros, we decided to walk around downtown Berkeley and then stopped over at my friend's house for dinner. It was an absolutely perfect evening spent with friends, old and new. We all hung out on the porch, which is perched about 4 stories above the street.  The hills allow for the seamless effect of being able to feel like you can see forever.  It was one of those nights where the sunlight, gently diffused through the trees, casts a warm glow over everything in it's path.

We started off Labor Day by taking an early morning hike through the Marin Headlands to atone for all the cheese, wine and other sinfully delicious snacks we had savored in over the last days. It was awesome. First of all, I loved pulling up and seeing all the surfers congregating and donning their wet suits for the early morning dip. We hiked and hiked and eventually ended up above the thick fog. Ultimately, we found ourselves about a mile from where we started due to a little mapping complication, but it was well worth it for the views, scenery and aerobic activity.

After the hike we enjoyed the Labor Day BBQ at Cavallo Point, a turn of the century army based turned luxury resort. I was staying in the Presidio and I think it is so cool how these army bases have been adaptively reconfigured to become housing and recreation areas.  We ended our day by walking around the Marina and popping in different shops. We couldn't pass up the $1 oyster special at Cafe des Amis... delicious!  Dinner was then at a friend of a friend's house, which is another perk of traveling to visit people- you aren't always dining in restaurants but also experiencing the flavor of what it is like to actually live in the visited city.  We watched football and helped create a delicious dinner that consisted of Ina's fried chicken, greek salad and, of course, a selection of fine cheeses.

On my last day in the Bay Area we, once again, found ourselves escaping the fog and heading out of town to Mill Valley.  This might be my new favorite little spot. We grabbed a coffee at the Depot and I loved checking out all the new titles in the bookstore. Since Borders has closed in Birmingham there really isn't anywhere to go and pick up a new book after browsing various titles. Call me old school, but I always try to support the local independent bookstores whenever I come across one. I picked up some reads for the next leg of the trip. We aimlessly walked around and popped in the little shops centrally surrounding the Depot and they all had a wonderful collection of goods. I think what I liked best about Mill Valley was the unassuming essence of the town.  It had a slower pace, a neighborhood feel, tucked in hills with tall trees shading overhead and the discerning quality of goods was consistent in every store we visited.

Tyler Florence's store was a gem. I don't even really cook that much, but I thought it was so beautiful that I was completely inspired. It was like a more boutique-y and creative than any kitchen store I have visited. The displays mixed hand selected objects with antiques and gave a rather homey feel. Actually, when I got home from this trip I cleaned and reorganized my entire kitchen.  It was some seriously inspired motivation. His restaurant, El Paseo, was not open at 10 in the morning, but we walked down the twisty-turney brick alleys with vine covered walls that apparently were inspired by the California missions. It might be worth a trip back just to be able to dine in such a whimsical environment. At the end of the courtyard there is a fabulous antique shop, Moss & Moss, that had a wonderful assortment of items ranging from antiques to custom artwork. Another store worth a visit is Summer House for some cool textiles, jewelry and curated items for the home.

Then we just drove up to Sonoma checking out places along the way. The drive itself is almost therapeutic, and I don't think it just had to do with the fact that I was in the passenger seat. There were antique stores to check out and vineyards to see. We ended up having lunch at El Dorado Kitchen in downtown Sonoma and then turned around and headed back to the city.

Making it back to the city we had a late dinner at the newly opened Corner Store. Delicious! Perfect place to cozy up with some American style comfort food for an evening when a little drizzle set in and it was finally is time to bid adieu to some best friends.

Next Stop, SoCal.

Where You See Fit

The other week I heard that my high school photography teacher, Ms. Goodale, was retiring. Now, this didn't come as much surprise as when I was back in 11th grade she was already in the throws of middle age (at least in my high school eyes) and she had already probably put in a solid 36 years of teaching art classes to less than perfectly behaved adolescents.  Still, I couldn't help but feel that twinge of nostalgia one gets when you realize some things will just never be the same and your memories, as you had them, will cease to exist for the future students that follow in your footsteps. I can remember feeling this way when Mr. Hoffman, the 85 year old "retired" teacher (who starting working at the school in 1944), would still loyally pass out the daily news bulletin, passed away. His tweed suits, smart bow ties and round tortoise glasses were a symbol of another era, one in which students dressed up for school and a certain formal protocol dictated the daily routine. His hallmark style might have become one of the most recognizable traits of his legacy, as back at the turn on the millennium girl's hemlines were inching higher at the same rate as boy's sagging waist lines.

 

To get into photography class you had to take Drawing I. I can remember sitting in Ms. Goodale's classroom at a big drafting table, covered in the typical pistachio green blotter, the sun streaming in through the large windows. Her voice was slow and soft and drawing was such a break from the haste and commotion of a typical school day, that I would find myself fighting off sleep.  Drawing class to the 17 year old me was what recess was to the 7 year old me: I had just exchanged four-square for pencils and pastels. I always enjoyed drawing and could hold my own, but when you go to a school where the most gifted artists go on to attend Parsons, SCAD and RISD, holding your own is not really an invitation to the  semester exhibitions.  What Drawing I did teach me was an appreciation for composition and that sometimes the best work can be done on a whim- without over thinking every stroke of the pencil or smudge of the pastel. Being an interior designer there are most definitely times when perfect is all but necessary. You need measurements in the tenth of an inch, you triple check clearances and are constantly thinking about scale. But, there is something to be said for attempting to perfect the imperfect style. One that isn't a straight line. One where the fabrics are unexpectedly harmonious. One where a gnarly antique chest is juxtaposed with a wildly contemporary painting. At Michigan State every interior design freshmen had to take the collegiate version of Drawing I. Almost without fail, I would get a better grade on the piece I had done on the fly, probably before I hightailed it out of my dorm room, than the pieces I would labor over, edit and redo. This is something that I try to communicate to my clients, you have to trust your gut and give some merit to instinct. You will not necessarily make better decisions just because you toiled over them.  Give yourself a little credit and be sure-footed in the fact that the person who knows you the best is you.

When Drawing I completed it was finally onto Photography I, which was a lot trickier than I had originally anticipated. Fumbling around in the closet in the already dimly lit dark room, in an attempt to transfer the film to the processing canister was only the beginning of the journey. With much anticipation we would hang our negatives to dry to find ourselves (well, maybe just myself) rarely thrilled with the results.  I, for one, found I hardly focused where I intended and while I had spent numerous hours "staging" my subject the light would be captured in a way that the entire shot was overexposed. There weren't too many erasers in that dark room. My photography aesthetic began to unintentionally resemble a creepier, poor man's Film Noir.

 

In describing this process I can honestly say I feel like I sound 100 years old. Have I told you yet how I also had to walk 8 miles to school- even through the snow? Nah. But, seriously with the dawn of the digital age in which Photoshop, digital cameras and the ability to see a photo miliseconds after you click are truly revolutionary.  How many of us capture our lives on our iPhone's and then Instagram them for special effects? I am 100% on this train. With this little hand held device we couldn't get farther from Ms. Goodale's dimly lit dark room. It is a whole new frontier of education and endless possibilities. It is when limits start to be explored and we set out to pioneer new technologies that there are inevitably some casualties.  It is kind of bittersweet.  I heard Ms. Goodale retired because the photography class needed to be more digitally focused. I can imagine that was a pretty daunting thought. Also, I think after 36 years of teaching you have more than earned your right to embrace time for yourself. I guess the big question is while innovation is crucially imminent, how do we work to also remain relevant? This question could be applied to a wide spectrum of professions.  In interior design, like many careers, you can see the discrepancy in filing cabinets vs. cloud storage, website & blogging vs. printed marketing materials, virtual resource libraries vs. physical resource libraries. I am not saying one is better than the other- it's just what you know. I love to use antiques in my spaces and one could question how to incorporate the past and take it into the future.  That topic can be for a different time. I think we can only truly evolve with an appreciation of the past- a debt to those who set the standard to be challenged. Not to only realize how far we've come, but to recognize life, as we know, is a continual work in progress. That should keep us on our toes.

 

 

Oh, Hey There!

I have this feeling lately that time is just melting away. This doesn't have as much to do with the 100 degree + heat we have been having, but more so with the fact that the hours turn into days, the days into weeks and before I know it months are turning into years and I just cannot seem to keep up.  Scott and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and with the amount of emails/phone calls/ text we received from some of our closest family and friends exclaiming "happy first anniversary!!", it appears this sentiment might be consistent across the board.  When I was 8 years old I wrote a poem that went a little something like this:

Where does the time go?

Where does the month go?

Where does the year go?

All to the beginning to start new again...

Thinking I was wise beyond my years, my grandma (hi Nani!) had this little ditty written up in calligraphy and it still resides, framed, in my parents guest bedroom. Now, I don't think as an 8 year old I exactly grasped how true these words would ring as I started to get older. In fact, I might have been inspired more from the chatter of my mature companions (I am an only child afterall, hanging out with lots of adults is basically in our DNA) than I was by my own actual revelations, but regardless, I was on to something.

I guess what I am getting at is that between work, family, friends, weddings & life in general I cannot believe it is August. I cannot believe I have been married two years. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started PORT. I cannot believe it has been 4 years since I moved back to Michigan and 3 since I moved into my house.  Sometimes it seems like there will never be enough hours, days, months or years to follow every idea or be the person I want to be to the people in my life.  I know I am not alone in this feeling, especially when I am apart of a generation that tends to over book, over commit and continually push ourselves to embrace the next big thing.  What I do think is that by taking each day at a time, each task as it comes our way and soaking up each moment as a learning experience or a defining experience, we can figure out how to make this time, that seems so fleeting, really count.

Summa

'round these parts we are known for fabulous summers. Long days, cool nights and an anticipation from chilly winters creates a a lifestyle where people know how to sit back and enjoy the small pleasures of the summer months. And, one of the best perks from being on the western edge of the eastern time zone is that you can leave work at a reasonable time and still be able to enjoy a few hours of daylight...

  

  

  

 

A Universe In Which I Could Live

It is no secret that many of my favorite and best finds come from stalking auction houses. It is the thrill of the hunt, the labor of love and the potential success that can turn any hobby into a passion. There are so many beautiful and distinctive pieces that go up for auction that strategy plays a large part in the risk as well as the reward. I cannot bid on every item I love, as I then might be considered a certifiable hoarder, and I also need to be somewhat conservative and discerning when bidding on items for inventory or clients. Auction items have the "estimated" price range for the believed winning bid, but then there is the buyer's premium (usually hovering somewhere around 25%) taxes and shipping.  All things need to be taken into serious consideration for the overall budget and value. Shipping a $300 armoire might not be worth the additional $450 freight if it is just really a $300 armoire. But, if you are getting a $300 armoire that at your local antique shop might retail for $2,000- then you have yourself a deal. Not to mention, many times wood pieces will need restoration and refinishing and upholstered pieces might need the frames to be reworked and the body to be reupholstered.

This past weekend, I had some bids out there that I sadly did not win.  It is never really that disappointing, because I always know something else will come along, but I did find myself harboring a slight sense of longing for the above commode. First of all, this has many elements I love: black & white, brass hardware and a sheer uniqueness that makes this a chest no one would forget. The piece is very much inspired by Piero Fornasetti, a dynamic Italian painter, sculpture and furniture designer. Born in 1913, Mr. Fornasetti was an artist who pushed the limits on socially "acceptable" art and created pieces that entertain the idea of wit as well as whimsy.  His imaginative style of decoration has been brought to recent times by the wallpaper manufacturer, Cole & Sons.

Cole & Sons wallpaper is distributed through Kravet and this is how I first came to know the Fornasetti style. Basically, these reproductions were all I knew of the famously fanciful artist.  For the right price  you can plaster this woman's face all over your powder room walls. Same expression. Different variations. Almost seems like a more modern day Mona Lisa.  Only when I came across the inspired commode did I start to research the true expanse of his work. I'm obsessed.

Part of me doesn't even know where to begin. Being from Italy, where design almost interwoven into their ideology, I am sure Fornasetti's style, while paying tribute to the past, appeared to be a futuristic approach. Maybe it is because his designs have roots in the classical, but also seamlessly cross the line into the contemporary, that they still seem extremely relevant today.  In reviewing the depth and scope of his pieces I cannot help but think that Fornasetti's work has influenced some of our current modern day decorative gurus, such as Jonathan Adler and John Derain. Fornasetti was cultivating his designs at the same time America and Europe were embracing the Art Deco style and  it is very clear that this was a movement that would aesthetically change and influence our material world for many decades to come.

Top image via Rizzoli item images via Live Auctioneers.

ABC knows whats UP!

Alright, so I have a love hate relationship with the Bachelorette. I am a little embarrassed to admit on here that I have a weak spot for reality TV (you are probably wondering what this has to do with design), but when I saw Emily being interviewed in Bermuda and in front of a blue and white ginger jar I knew exactly where the Bachelorette and her bevy of suitors were vacationing on their first international dating extravaganza.

  

When Scott and I started talking about our honeymoon, I was envisioning myself walking the ancient streets of European cities and, Scott, well, he might have been happiest parked in a remote cabin, surrounded by woods and a golf course within walking distance.  We started to look into Bermuda after a group of my friends went there and, let's just say, had a grand ol' time.

  

In asking around, it seemed that Bermuda was the ideal post wedding experience for anyone who married between 1972-1983, fitting in with my conception- this was a parents honeymoon destination. Then we came across Tucker's Point  and while this new hotel was built on the same property where my in-laws had honeymooned, it looked very much to be in 2010.  Tucker's Point was cozy, relaxing and a true break from reality. It ended up being a perfect, mutually agreed upon, spot for Scott and I to have what was actually our first trip just the two of us.

The interior design was so beautiful. It felt as if you were staying at someone's amazing private home. The attention to detail was, to me, more residential in feel than a typical luxury hotel. There were collections and accessories that looked like they had been curated over the years. Trim detail and fabric choices that suggested comfort and taste over utilitarian practicality. Ambiance is also so much more than the actual rooms themselves- the menus were beautiful printed, the mini shampoos and conditioners in the rooms have clean and crisp graphics, the door men proudly wear their Bermuda socks, navy blazers ties and mesh safari hats. What makes Tucker's Point such an experience is that their brand is carried through on every detail.

The murals in the main dining room, depicting various ports at the turn of the 20th century, were tracked down at an auction and were originally commissioned for the Pan Am building in New York City. Paired with the natural linen, perfectly worn rugs and ambient mood lighting, the dining room created an atmosphere that welcomed intimate conversation only to be shared with the closest of comrades.

Sometimes it's the small things that communicate the greatest care when designing. Quality lamp shades, contrast trim, good framing, diverse ("collected") artwork, all contribute to an environment that is well thought out.  It is these details that almost subconsciously effect us into knowing when an environment feels generously competed.

 

 The lobbies and check in area felt more as if they belonged in a well established seasonal home rather than a cut and dry hotel. I knew Tucker's Point and I would be seeing eye to eye when I noticed they had the same butterfly prints that I have adorning my living room walls.

 Long hallways leading to cozy common areas helped elaborate upon the overall residential feel. One afternoon I didn't even mind a little rain because I could curl up on that sofa and get some good reading done (trashy tabloid and a more well respected novel).

   

In most interiors, I think everything always looks better at night. Warmed by lamp light interiors take on a whole new delightfully familiar feeling. We would sit in this room and play backgammon after dinner. While, I would like to think that they were heated matches, Scott has an interesting way of forgetting any time I win.

I think it is safe to say that Bermuda surpassed all of my expectations. The interior design was just as inspiring as the scenic views and pink sand beaches. I hope Emily and her flock of bachelors were able to leave there as rejuvenated as we did!