It's Day Three of Kate's Favorite Things (and likely the final day... but who knows, there might be more)! I had high hopes of doing many days of this (it is seriously fun to log all of my favorite things), but I'm getting foot surgery tomorrow and will need to take a little hiatus from the blogosphere. I had hoped to cover clothing gifts at some point (amongst many, many other things!), but I just haven't gotten my act together. Forgive me, please? I promise when I'm back to blog all about my favorite fashion picks! In the meantime, I'll give you a tip: Whether you're shopping for a guy or a gal, just go to J.Crew and call it a day. Cashmere sweaters and accessories. Plaid shirts. 30% off. Done. Everyone loves themselves some cashmere sweaters, cozy accessories and wintery plaid shirts come December, and I'm sure that whatever you choose will look ravishing on the recipient and envelop them in your friendly, loving gesture.
But if you don't necessarily want to give clothes... read on! Today's topic is HOME, and I am super excited about everything on this list. Prices range from $10 to $160, and you can't go wrong with any of these items. Enjoy!
Kate's Favorite Things - Home Edition!
Crate & Barrel Camille 23 oz. Red Wine Glass, $10.36 each (on sale from $12.95), from Crate & Barrel
Are you a Scandal watcher? I thought so. I'll bet you've noticed that Olivia Pope likes to relax at the end of the day with a ginormous glass of wine. I'll bet you like the glasses she drinks out of. Who wouldn't? They're awesome.
THIS THE GLASS SHE DRINKS OUT OF. Unfortunately, I'm not the only person who figured this out, and the rest of the world has placed an order and drained C&B's supply, so they're backordered until March. But I have hope that they'll ship sooner. If you've got a real Scandal fan (and a fan of elegantly ginormous wine glasses), I'll bet they're willing to wait a few months to get their hot little hands on these bad boys so that they too can relax at the end of a hard day of crisis control and totally inappropriate affairs whilst wearing the white hat.
Crate & Barrel also has a smaller 13 oz. white wine glass that's a little less cool and isn't quite what Olivia owns, but it has the bonus of being available for consumption now and also isn't so comically large.
Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavender Perfume Diffuser, $25.00, from Compagnie de Provence
I recently tested every lavender scented diffuser that the Gracious Home store had to offer. I bought two, this one (which I'm raving about now) and this one (beautiful and smells amazing up very close, but it overall packs very little punch - also beware that if it drips on a wood surface, it will eat away the finish). The Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavande diffuser is far and away the most incredible scent I've ever smelled. You know by now that I love lavender... but I never would have thought that mixing it with olive would produce such an intensely delightful experience. It smells like fresh air and Provence. It's refreshing, relaxing and just generally amazing. I put ours in the bedroom and plan to place a few more throughout the apartment. Give this to any Francophile or lover of things that smell amazing. And trust me: buy one for yourself.
One note: The company claims that this will last 8-10 weeks. I don't know how that is possible. Mine lasted almost exactly a month (I distinctly remember buying it on Veterans' Day), and the oil has been aggressively wicked away to the last drop. I don't know if I had particularly thirsty reeds or if all of the diffusers are like this, but it's worth mentioning. And perhaps that's why it makes a room smell so darn phenomenal (the other diffuser that I bought has barely budged, but you also barely notice the scent). I am not a fan of how quickly this diffuser must be replaced, but it certainly hasn't stopped me from placing another order (and I just learned that they sell a refill, though it's out of stock). Once you smell this scent, you won't be able to live without it.
Venturi Wine Aerator, $29.95 (on sale from $39.95), from Williams Sonoma
This little thing is just awesome, and everyone should have one in their home. It's a little wine aerator and it works magic by frothily aerating your wine as you pour it into your glass. It makes a very bizarre and distinct sucking/gurgling sound that you'll come to associate with the delightful experience. Give it to everyone on your list who likes wine; buy one for yourself too.
Mariposa Individual Pearled Wavy Bowl, $48.00, from Mariposa
My obsession with Mariposa began in 2010 when my friend Stephanie gave us this bowl as a shower gift. The undulating lines paired with the pearl trim are just gorgeous, and the silver is beautiful. It's a great piece to have in the living room. I like to leave it empty, but it would also beautifully display nuts or candies for a party.
Jo Malone™ 'English Pear & Freesia' Scented Home Candle, $65 from Norstrom.com
Jo Malone is just synonymous with luxury. I've been giving the Lime, Basil & Mandarin candle as a gift for years whenever I want to give something extra special, but I actually did not get to have the privilege of owning one of my very own until last year, when my friend Emily gave me the English Pear & Freesia version. OMG is it incredible. I actually squealed with glee when I got the package -- the package comes just bursting with beautiful scent (I think they spray the box down so it's extra scentsational) and triggers instant euphoria, and as you tear into it, the scent just gets more magnificent, decadent and all-consuming. Emily also gave me the Lime, Basil & Mandarin body crème, $75, which I am pretty certain is heaven in a jar.
Waylande Gregory Green Leopard Print Coasters, $90, from Zhush.com
I'm moderately obsessed with Waylande Gregory pottery and home goods. I learned of him for the first time when Matt and I were in California over the summer, and now I am hooked. Waylande Gregory (1905-1971) was an artist and art deco sculptor from Kansas (yes!) credited with revolutionizing art deco ceramics sculpture. Now his name lives on with Waylande Gregory Studios after the great-grandnephew discovered "a treasure trove" of Waylande's work. Everything from the collection is fantastic -- I seriously cannot pick a favorite, as you'll see below -- but these coasters are a nice price point, super useful (we all need coasters and never think to buy them for ourselves) and that emeraldy green color is just incredible. As is the fabulous leopard. I'm obsessed.
Simon Pearce Woodbury Bowl - S, $95.00, from Simon Pearce
Everything about this piece is beautiful and elegant and would fit into any home. Our Aunt Susan gave this to us as an engagement gift, and I've just loved it ever since. Simon Pearce is a sure bet for holiday gift giving.
Waylande Gregory Small Tiger Gray Bullet Bowl, $135, from Orange and Pear
These little bullet bowls are adorable and a nice little size (4.5" across) to add a pop to your side table. They're also great for holding little things like earrings or rings next to your bed. There are a lot of different options, but I like this tiger. Its lines are very elegant and feminine, but the coloring is masculine, so the overall look of the bowl is not overtly girly. This brown leopard version is also really great.
Note, the bowl is a little bit elevated (1.5") and tapered on the bottom. It's hard to see in the photo, but it's an elegant touch and helps the bowl look a bit more dainty.
Waylande Gregory Gold and Orange Small Square Elephant Tray, $160, from Zhush.com
I'm just obsessed with every aspect of this dish, for reasons you can probably guess based on my previous posts: elephants, orange, gold, whimsy, and a touch of practicality. I love when whimsy and practicality meet! This dish is just the shizz. We happened upon it when we were in San Francisco and bought it as a wedding gift -- and liked it so much that we bought an extra one for ourselves... it's a tad embarrassing to admit, but having this dish in my living room is totally worth the shame.
I'm sure I will be back in a few days, but if not, I hope you have the happiest of holidays!! Let me know what you give as gifts!
There are two things I learned very quickly upon moving to New York in 2006: when you live in an apartment the size of a postage stamp, armoires serve as excellent storage/hiders of things (they work great in large houses too); and, when you have a limited income/budget, Craigslist is an excellent source for finding said armoires and other delightful furniture at extremely reasonable prices.
I started this post with the intention of just focusing on armoires (there are, after all, billions of armoires out there that can be acquired via a variety of different vendors), but I very quickly realized that my love of armoires is very closely linked to my love of Craigslist. I love armoires, and I love Craigslist. Armoires, and in particular armoires purchased via the wild world of Craigslist, have made my life more beautiful, efficient, and organized (and I'm not going to lie... the Craigslist part is pretty exciting). Armoires allow you to have the illusion of cleanliness and sophistication while hiding a big ol' mess behind those gorgeous hardwood doors. They're the ultimate friend: open and welcoming when you want and excellent at hiding your (messy) little secrets when you need them too.
My mother is the one who taught me always to hide televisions in armoires or behind closed doors. When I was growing up, the TV in our house was hidden behind cabinet doors, and I learned that electronics were meant to be hidden in living areas where guests might visit. My parents had a giant built-in over the fireplace in our family room that they created around a massive tube TV purchased in 1988 -- which they adorably still have in place 25 years later and are finally going to replace this winter -- that had beautifully painted cabinet doors that could be opened or closed depending on whether the TV was to be seen or not. So when I moved to New York after college and was able to decorate my very first apartment, it was only natural that I thought to put my TV in an armoire and carry on the decorating TV peep show. My armoire was one of my first furniture purchases and it is one that will always make me feel warm and fuzzy because it was one of the first independent decisions I made post-college and the purchase experience was really great and seamless: I found the piece on Craigslist after obsessive searching for "antique armoire," and the seller was just the nicest guy ever -- he was a Sutton Place high-rise superintendent, his aunt in Mexico had painted the piece by hand, he negotiated on the price (I paid $500, down from his ask of $750, which I deemed reasonable), he offered to drill holes in it so I could use it for electronics and then delivered it himself to my apartment (truly a picture perfect Craigslist deal). It is a well-made piece that has served its purpose beautifully over the years.
Armoires work particularly well for electronics and for clothes (I have one for each, if your curious, but this post is more TV focused). When you have a lot of stuff in a small amount of space, and only a small area in which to entertain (when you live in a studio apartment, for example, your closet is in your living room), I think it's important to be able to hide that stuff, and it's a nice plus to be able to hide the stuff in a piece of furniture that elevates the look of your space.
I have noticed in recent years that with the death of tube TVs and the infiltration of flat screen TVs into the homes of everyone, everywhere, the trend is to stop hiding your electronics and to start hanging them on your wall for all to see. The conversation of "to hide" or "not to hide" was prompted over Thanksgiving weekend when my parents, Matt and I all went to Best Buy to check out the TVs. Matt and I wanted to buy each other a new TV (ours previously was 27" in -- top of the line in 2006 -- and I had to squint to see it from our sofa), and we diligently measured our armoire to figure out just how big we could go with the TV. I told my parents we could go do 40" - maybe 42" or 43" -- and nothing more. Otherwise, it wouldn't fit in the armoire. "Don't you want to get a really big one and just hang it on the wall?" my mom asked. WHAT?! Even my mother wants a giant flat screen TV hanging on the wall with nothing to cover it?! What about all of those childhood lessons I was taught? (Fast forward a few moments to the point of purchase and as Matt hands over our credit card, my dad swoops in and says that he and my mom want to buy the TV for us for Christmas. Unexpected treat! Thank you, Mom and Dad! And that is an excellent gifting idea if you want to go big for Christmas.).
I am not opposed to this TV-on-wall thing. My parents deserve to put a 60 incher up on their wall after having watched that eyesore of a boob tube for 25 years, and I am sure that in the next few years Matt and I too will slap our new 40 incher up on the wall and move the armoire elsewhere (especially if I could ever get my hands on a sideboard/credenza like this Danish rosewood piece on 1stdibs or this gorgeous buffet made by my friend Meg Piercy of MegMade -- more on her fabulousness coming soon!). I guess, as the saying goes, if you've got it, flaunt it. But I still find an armoire to be charmingly demure and a lovely touch that is particularly helpful for those like me who are not only messy by nature but also have, like, 1000 cords and random Time Warner Cable boxes that likely do nothing but might serve a purpose, and tampering with the evil gods of Time Warner Cable is just not worth it (I really don't want to mess with the functionality of my television and internet.). Armoires ground a room and give it weight and character. And they also add an element of height that adds excitement to a room's landscape and isn't otherwise attainable through other furniture means.
Let's face it: Armoires give a room two distinct identities and allow us to mix business with pleasure. It's fantastic! Let's take my living room for example:
95% of the time, our living room looks like the "Pleasure" side: Doors wide open (we have to prop the door open with that wire piece because the floors in our old building are slanted), TV on, feet up on the ottoman, it's a perfectly functional TV room. But for that 5% of the time that appearances matter -- when we have company over or when I just want to feel sophisticated -- we pop those doors back in place, and the living room is suddenly all "Business" and gorgeousness.
Eventually, we'll redecorate. I'll get my swanky midcentury credenza and hang our flat screen on the wall (I feel so hip just talking about it), and I'll remember my time with this trusty little armoire in the living room fondly. We'll paint it (though it would hurt to do so) and put it in our bedroom or in a future child's room, or anywhere, really. And it will stay in the family until it's time to move on (via Craigslist, I'm sure, if ever). Armoires -- if you get a solidly built hardwood piece that you love -- are pieces that can last for years and that is what I adore so much about them. They're like these big, oversized, looming members of the family, comfortably sitting in your living room, loyally hiding your electronic baggage when you want them to and comfortingly opening their big armoire arms whenever you want to hang out and watch TV.
If that doesn't defend the armoire, I don't know what will.
Where to Buy:
Armoires can be purchased from a number of vendors, but as I'm sure you've figured out by now, my favorite armoire finds are on Craigslist. It's convenient (i.e. local), and pricing is negotiable, and if you're discerning in your search, you can find something truly great. There's no shipping of course, so you either need to figure out how to transport it yourself or hire a small mover (man with van or TaskRabbit) to do the job for you - usually around $100. I did a quick search of the local NY Craigslist listings and was particularly intrigued by this antique French armoire -- I love that it has pretty wallpaper on the inside, the wood seems really beautiful, and the piece seems well-built and has some gravitas to it. It's pricey, but that's always negotiable if you go about it the right way (and it looks like it should be pricey). This solid pine armoire is also nice - a bit more plain, but also quite a bit cheaper. A good, solidly made armoire will run you anywhere from a few hundred to $1000+, but shouldn't exceed much more than that on Craigslist. Don't do particle board; only do hardwood. And if you can, try to find something that has a nice history to it. If you wait long enough, you should be able to find something that fits your budget and lifestyle perfectly.
You can also check out local flea markets, antique shops, Etsy, eBay and Chairish (with the latter three you'll be responsible for shipping costs, which can be high), and depending on your budget, 1st dibs and mainstream e-shops like Layla Grace and Horchow. But once you get to the Layla Graces and Horchows of the world, you're looking at $3000+, which is a very hefty investment indeed.
I am also of course more than happy to help you find the piece of your dreams! Just let me know what you're looking for!
Gift Giving Season is upon us, which can be both exciting and totally daunting and stressful. I am here to help alleviate the stress!
Over the coming weeks I will share with you a plethora of fun gift giving ideas. Today? The perfect decorating book... for pretty much anyone who likes pretty books and likes to decorate their home (I feel this casts a rather wide net).
The perfect gift is the perfect combination of delightfully unexpected, delightfully perfect and delightfully what-we've-always-wanted. I also think it should be something you wouldn't normally buy for yourself. My friend Stephanie recently surprised me with a gift that was all of these things, and, as you might guess, I was delighted.
What did she give me, you ask? Why, I will tell you so that you too can purchase several and delight your friends and loved ones with this thoughtful and inspiring gift (and keep one for yourself, of course)! It is founding editor of Domino Magazine Deborah Needleman's fabulous book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well, $20.50 at Amazon.com (free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime members). The colors are fabulous, the writing is witty, the advice is practical, the little watercolor paintings are adorable... all of it is just perfect and perfectly delightful. The concept is: "Style is a luxury, and luxury is simply what makes you happy." How fab?! This is a very A La Recherche-y concept, and inspiration and quotes from the book will undoubtedly surface on this blog many times in the future. (Side note, if you, like me, were devastated when Domino Magazine rudely closed several years ago, you'll be as delighted as I am about the recent relaunch, which is just super fun to explore.)
Some gifts should be shrouded in mystery and others are just so darn cute that no wrapping paper or gift bags are needed, and this book is one such gift. Stephanie wrapped the book up in a big red grosgrain ribbon, which perfectly accented the colors in the cover art and also gave me a hint of the absolute joy I was about to experience upon untying the bow (also, who doesn't love to untie a fabulous red bow?). The colors of the cover go so well in my living room (in that imperfectly perfect sort of way) that I couldn't help myself and photographed the book on top of the new Turkish rug I purchased a few weeks ago from the ABC Home & Carpet Warehouse. (The colors are so universal though that they'll go gorgeously in any living room.) The book now sits proudly on my coffee table (an ottoman with a big tray on top), where I can reach for it and browse whenever I want some eye candy, advice or inspiration (which is often).
Where to Buy
The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well is available for $20.50 at Amazon.com
Happy Monday After Thanksgiving!
After such a gluttonous weekend (both in food consumption and Black Friday Weekend consumption, if you partook in the madness), I thought a little economical freshness was just the thing to cleanse the pallet and start the week and rest of the holiday season off right.
There is very little I love more than when my husband Matt gets excited about something for the home. I spend the majority of my life boring him to death with a constant barrage of ideas for the apartment, and he usually nods along nicely (or stares off into space), hoping that eventually I will forget about whatever grand scheme I've concocted.
A recent "idea" was about how I want lavender and/or rosemary to be everywhere in the apartment - preferably a hedge of it along the windowsill - so we can pretend we're relaxing poolside in Provence even though we're really in the middle of a very cold New York City. Lavender and rosemary are not only two of my favorite scents (rosemary lifts you up while lavender calms you down), but they are also two of the only scents I can tolerate when I have a migraine, and I like my apartment to be both a great smelling and an aggressively anti-migraine space. Per usual, Matt nodded: "Sure, that sounds great, Kate. Whatever you want." Excellent, I thought. Urban lavender and rosemary hedge, here I come. It ended there, but I'd planted the seed.
After a little research, I realized that an indoor hedge of any herb in the city would be a prohibitively expensive/time consuming endeavor for my immediate consumption given my budget and level of laziness. But let no dream be quelled by such constraints! There's always some wiggle room for a girl to dream a little dream and make it a reality.
About a month ago (on one of the rare occasions Matt wasn't working on the weekend), Matt and I borrowed his parents' car and drove up to Westchester so I could make some returns to Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom (instantaneous credit to your card instead of waiting the week+ for a mailed return to be received by the distribution center and processed + ginormous, uncrowded suburban shopping mall experience = excellent idea), and so we stopped at Whole Foods on our way home (because when you can park a car at a grocery store, grocery shopping can be downright exciting - or at least tolerable).
When we walked into the store, something amazing happened: we were hit with an incredible scent of rosemary. We were both immediately energized and searched for the source of the amazing scent: whatever was generating that smell had to come home with us. Lucky for us, the scent generator was not only for sale, but also cheap! Matt was instantly excited (which makes me just brim with joy)... Whole Foods was selling little rosemary trees that look like mini Christmas trees... and to top it off, they were only $20?! I would be able to have the scent of rosemary permeating our home, and Matt would have the ability to use the rosemary when he had the inkling to cook (when he has the time, he is an excellent chef)?? Why, yes! Let's procure a tiny tree! Everybody wins!
While I happily would have bought ten of them and lined them up on the windowsill to make my "hedge," we compromised at one happy tree (an only child!), and it is surprisingly potent and quite cute on the windowsill now. It's also incredibly easy to care for, which is important to me (it makes me sad when I inadvertently kill plants - and I am unfortunately incredibly good at inadvertently killing plants). I've patiently waited for several weeks to ensure this statement about the rosemary's longevity-despite-my-care is true, and I can proudly assure you: it is. Matt has also already put the rosemary to good use, most successfully and deliciously in this Tom Colicchio's Herb Butter Turkey that he made last week for Thanksgiving! And even the guy who came to fix our heater a few weeks ago remarked upon the amazing smell and utility of the tiny tree ("That's incredible! You could make rosemary bread!").
The bottom of the tree is a little too big for any holder or cachepot that I own, but we plopped the tree into a champagne ice bucket for now (we got it from Pottery Barn years ago - it's not this one, but it's very similar), and it works just fine. Part of the charm is having a little imperfection to tame the tree's adorably manicured appearance (or so I tell myself).
Bonus: Given the tree's shape, it's a perfect accent for the holidays without really going there.
Where to Buy
Whole Foods Rosemary Tree, ~$20 (I can't recall the exact price), available at Whole Foods stores
If you can't make it to a Whole Foods, here are a few other options available online - not as cheap, but if you're in a pinch:
Harry & David Rosemary Tree, $49.95
The FTD® Rosemary Riches Tree by Better Homes and Gardens®, $59.99 plus $12.99 "service fee"
Side note: Those elephant bookends in the photo are another item that Matt got particularly enthusiastic about purchasing (he and I both seem to enjoy animal themed items). We got them from Joss & Main for $40, but I recently found them at Overstock.com for $60.99 (and you can usually use a discount code there for further savings). It wasn't intentional, but I kind of love how the elephants look like they are just soaking in the glorious scent of the little baby rosemary tree - it does smell glorious.
Now go get yourself a little rosemary baby... baby! And soak in the glorious scent!
P.S. I haven't forgotten about the lavender. No lavender plants in the works, but more info on that scent coming soon!
I have a little "daily quote" posted to the "wall" of my "office" at work (an open air cubicle pod). It is from an old "funny thoughts for women" daily calendar that a work friend of mine, Dana, gave me as a Secret Santa gift years ago. I dutifully ripped away each day's little piece of paper for a year (chuckling along the way) until December 29, 2009, when I happened upon the one that is still posted to my desk "wall" (and I am someone aggressively opposed to those "life imperative" posters that are so trendy right now, so you know it has to mean something to me):
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
I didn't think the quote was particularly funny, but it was certainly poignant -- poignant enough that, nearly four years later, I still have it tacked to my "office" "wall" (and not necessarily because I'm a hoarder, though my coworkers may beg to differ). The quote is so simple and yet, says so much. It's applicable to every facet of life, and I find myself looking at it daily, reminding myself to either make a change or adjust my attitude.
With the daily grind weighing on us day in and day out, it is often easy to fall into a pattern of complaining and not appreciating the lives that we have and the people that have touched us. When bogged down with stress, the day-to-day can seem exhausting, and we often forget that we have the power to effect change - both in our own lives and in the lives of others. Whether things are going swimmingly or things could be going better, we have to remember to look around, to smell the roses, to be inspired - by others, by the world around us, and in particular by ourselves - and to appreciate the lives that we have, messy as they may be at times (after all, isn't there a certain beauty in chaos?).
If we don't have the power to change certain circumstances within our current situation, we certainly have the power to change our attitude about those circumstances. We have the power to be grateful. Proust said:
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Isn't that just the most fabulous imagery? As Thanksgiving is upon us and a Nor'easter is hitting the East Coast (as bad weather conveniently does so well during the holiday season), making travel to loved ones difficult, the time seems right to take a moment and give thanks to and for those around us who give us shelter from the storm, who make us happy and help our souls blossom.
I am grateful for family, for friends, for the kindness of strangers, and for the beauty of the world around us. For promo codes and Craigslist deals, for antique lamps and room diffusers. For Spotify, for sunsets, for slimming jeans and sleeping in. For ikats and iPhones and Tasti D-lite's Peanut Butter "ice cream." For color, color, everywhere. For sky, sun and smiles. For the warmth of summer and the bite of winter. For animals in general, for dogs in particular, and specifically for my parents' two big poodles and in-law's Norwich terrier, who greet me with the enthusiasm that only family dogs can. I am grateful for love, for lavender, for the lessons I have been taught. For Pinterest, for anticipation, and for putting pen to paper. For this kid who made me laugh today, for my brother-in-law for sending that link to me (and for everything else he does), for the joy that whatshouldwecallme inexplicably brings me, and for traveling the world one journey at a time. For the fact that every moment in New York reminds me of an episode of "Seinfeld" and that I really do feel like I'm friends with the friends on "Friends." For new friends and old friends and lifelong friends who are always there. For family here and there and near and far. For coworkers, who are their own type of family and who are there for us in good times and bad. For my husband, who has proven time and again that he's in this for better or for worse. For gold paint and miracles and throw pillows aplenty. For creativity and sympathy and, above all, for empathy. For the beauty in everything - for big things, for little things and for everything in between. For life as it is, messy as it is - though in some cases not.
As you think about your own Thanksgiving, who you will or won't be spending it with and what you are grateful for, I hope that it brings a smile to your face, that life's joys outweigh life's burdens. Proust said to "always try to keep a patch of sky above your life." Let's remember to be grateful. To say thanks. To be inspired. To wait out the storm(s) and always to look for the patch of sky that may be hiding at times. It's there -- sometimes we just have to change our attitude to find it.
Gratitude is the ultimate gift. And we can show our gratitude by doing something kind -- big or small -- for those around us, particularly for those who could use some shelter from the storm, whatever that storm may be. People don't always ask for help when they need it - and often they want to, but pride gets in the way. We can offer a helping hand and, together, weather any storm, keep a patch of sky visible, and, in the process, help one another's souls blossom.
We can also take the time to capture our gratitude in writing. And what better way to capture our thoughts than in a beautiful notebook? One that beckons to you to bear your soul as much or as little as you dare. My mom recently told me about these Fortuny notebooks, $55-$105, at Gumps - expensive but seriously gorgeouso (and an excellent holiday gift). I also found this fabulous Nepali paper silk brocade notebook, $25, on Etsy - that color is another thing I'm grateful for (there's only one available, and if you don't buy it, I will!). If simple and to the point is your style, you can't go wrong with a classic Moleskine black softcover or hardcover notebook, $12.95, from Moleskine. Whatever your outlet of choice, it's fun and gratifying to capture and share life's happiness. To be grateful to ourselves for "showing up" and being present each day (something they teach in yoga) and to be grateful to and for those charming gardeners around us who make our lives beautiful.
We can give new meaning to having a 'tude.
Thank you everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving!
My "Aunt" Kathy gave me a pair of Ted Muehling Black Onyx Acorn
Earrings when I graduated from business school in May, and they very quickly became a wardrobe staple. I am pretty certain I've worn them every day since then. They're that good.
I am a very picky earring wearer - especially for work. I also have sensitive ears (and hate anything heavy). These earrings are light and face flattering, and there's something perfect and unexpected about the onyx and acorn shape (I wouldn't have normally been drawn to them if shopping for myself, and now I can't imagine not having them - which is part of the magic of gift-giving and -receiving). They're shaped and designed just so, so that I can hold a phone to my ear at work without experiencing both intense pain and the pervasive fear that I'm going to pierce my aorta and die while on a conference call (Paranoia? Maybe. But wouldn't that be a way to go?!). And, as you might imagine, wearing earrings while sleeping is not even close to an option for me (sleeping in jewelry = total heebie-jeebies), but the shape and lightness of these earrings are such that I actually forget I am wearing them (and thus sleep has occurred on more than one occasion with these little nuggets still secured to my ears). They're that comfortable.
Before Kathy's gift, I'd previously never heard of Ted Muehling, and now I'm beyond obsessed. Ted Muehling's designs are inspired by "natural elements" and have really beautiful, organic lines and balanced, interesting proportions. They are delicate and studied. Earthy, yet modern. Light, but there. They go with everything, really (day, night, work, play), but I particularly like them with minimalistic looks and clean lines like the Vince blouses I mentioned here with a well-tailored blazer and the weekend wear I mentioned here (I might even say they inspired those looks!). And they're perfect for a quiet statement at the office. They assert their presence without being loud. They're quiet, but not shy, and that's what makes them perfect.
As you'll recall, my mother has always told me to buy a favorite thing in multiple colors. If I were to get an additional pair, I would get the Carnelian (for a muted but fiery pop) and maybe the Rose Quartz (for a self-confident wallflower feel). Ted Muehling jewelry comes in a range of prices ($170-$2600+), and I think the acorn is the best both in style and in value (which works out nicely for your wallet). They're a bit of a splurge, but you'll wear them forever.
All Available At Bergdorf Goodman with Free Standard Shipping:
Ted Muehling Black Onyx Acorn Earrings $200
Ted Muehling Carnelian Acorn Earrings $200
Ted Muehling Rose Quartz Acorn Earrings $200
Happy shopping and accessorizing... Have a wonderful weekend!
As a child, my parents' home was an endless place for exploration, and I remember going to great lengths to carve out cool secret spaces where I could hang out and just be. We all, children and adults alike, have a natural inclination to carve out our own space -- a room of one's own -- that we create -- that is ours -- and that allows us to find ourselves.
When I took a space-planning class at Parsons, one of the assignments was to figure out what you would do with an awkward, small, 6'x8' windowless alcove that branched off of a hallway. Thinking like a child, this would have been a no-brainer. It would be an empty canvas for play -- for forts and make-believe and escape from grown-ups. For an adult though, this assignment was a challenge. As adults, we are weighed down by practicality, and we need to find a way to be creative within those constraints. Would you make it an office nook? A closet nook? A storage nook? What about a reading nook? What practical purpose would it serve?
I have of course lost the assignment and can't remember what I chose to do (a comfy chair for reading?), but I decided to challenge myself again today. Let me tell you - it was FUN!
This is what I came up with: a space for creativity, comfort and inspiration. A space with a base of white where I can layer as much color and texture and pattern as I can muster. A space with furniture that has beautiful lines, that bridges the world between antique and
modern. A space that you could spend an entire day in and not even notice that time has passed.
A quick note on sourcing: the photo of the white desk with gorgeous ikat covered chair is from French Elle via the blog Absolutely Beautiful Things (fab blog, btw) (I would get two West Elm Parsons Desks, each $349 + $15 delivery surcharge, and since I can't find that exact chair, there is a French Louis XVI bergere chair for $800 that is not perfect, but similar conceptually). The chandelier is from 1stdibs (for "price upon request" = prohibitively expensive, but a girl can dream!). The sheer linen curtains are from Crate & Barrel ($39.95/panel). The sheepskin rug is from Overstock ($201.99 for 3'x5'). The Stacie 16x24" pillow ($129) and the Boho Chic 20x20" pillow ($129) are both by Kim Salmela and available at One Kings Lane right now (sale ends 11/20). The daybed is from Elle Decor via the blog Interior Walls Design (likely too big for the space, but I like the concept). The inspiration wall is from Pinterest. And are those twinkling stars on the ceiling, you ask? Why yes! They are! Click here to see how they're done. They bring both a child-like whimsy to the space and, when all the other lights are off, transport you outside so you can look at the stars and dream as you lounge on your comfy, pillowed daybed. Now - if only I had an awkward nook in which to bring this visual to life! Time to think like a kid again and create one for myself....
Now, here is the real question:
What would you do with a windowless 6'x8' alcove???
I can't wait to find out!
Remember: think like a kid!
Happy Challenging, Happy Imagining!
Staving off apartment entropy is a constant battle; I have to fight hard against my messy nature. I have been trying to incrementally de-clutter our apartment, and sometimes practicality - like having easy access to books (or, more likely, not having a receptacle to store them in) - must win, and clutter must be put on display rather than contained behind closed doors. How to cope? I have found an easy trick ("borrowed" from my good friend Kate P., who has an excellent eye) that easily makes viewable clutter appear "organized" and aesthetically pleasing: organize/arrange along a color gradient! It takes an otherwise visually distracting (and messy looking) display and makes it appealing to the eye. (And the feeling after completing this task
is downright satisfying!)
As you can imagine, this works best with books (though it can be done with other objects too). I have read that people who are hard-core organizers find this method of organizing books by color to be difficult to swallow ("How on earth would I find the book I need if it's not alphabetized!?") and others just take inexplicable offense to it (seriously, I had no idea it was so controversial), but for those of us who remember a book by its cover color rather than its title, this trick is a quick way to turn something displeasing into a lovely rainbow. It appears harmonious to the eye and creates an inner sense of order (and couldn't we all use a little of that?). Also, if you're prone to messiness like I am, it makes you feel downright pleased with yourself to be able to contain clutter in a pretty, organized fashion. It's the book organizing equivalent to making the bed (a satisfactory deed indeed).
(Side note, I love the interplay between the fashion world and the world of interiors. Chanel's Spring 2014 runway featured some major rainbow action, and I
am happy to carry that trend forward in the home. It's like having a little bit of Lagerfeld on the cheap!)
I have arranged books by color in two areas of our apartment: 1) with our cookbooks (left), which are proudly on display on the window sill in the alcove next to our kitchen (and viewable from the living room); and 2) with Matt's and my grad school books in our "office" area (thankfully hidden from living room view, but viewable in the slideshow below). The final product is decidedly less appealing with law and business school books than with cookbooks. Law books come in exactly two colors - blue and red (so stringent, these law types!) - and business school books are either case books with black binding or just atrociously ugly text books - but there is a certain level of satisfaction that can be achieved by finding a level of order and calm amid the chaos that is grad school (or really anything stressful). The real trick for organizing all those school books was scoring a ginormous bookcase from Craigslist (I refuse to pay retail for bookcases, and I'm happy to scour your local Craigslist for you), which Matt and I hauled home from a nearby apartment after work on Valentine's Day 2012 (I would make a joke about marriage and romance, but seriously, Matt's willingness to go along with my insane Craigslist furniture procurement schemes is one of his most loveable qualities).
The best thing about this color arranging process is that there is really no right or wrong way to do it, though I would not recommend removing all of your books and starting from scratch (a truly daunting scene) - much easier to pull out a few and keep the majority of your books upright and intact and then move colors around incrementally from there. I am sure you could get very rigid in following the color wheel (and really, who's got time for that?), but I tend to just go from dark to light and see what works in between. Give it a whirl and see what you think!
Happy harmonizing! :)
I have developed a healthy obsession with Eames or Eames-like molded chairs with sheepskin rugs artfully tossed on them. It's a mix of urban modern and rustic coziness. Love it. Especially as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.
My husband Matt and I are lucky to have a working fireplace, but we still have never outfitted the area with appropriate seating. I've been trying to find the right chair "mood" on a scale of antique/traditional to modern/non-traditional. We want something with some coziness to it but with a good deal of non-upholstery (e.g. wood or metal) to break up the seating experience in our living room (our living room is sectioned into "dining area," "TV-watching/living area" and "empty space around the fireplace area" - the dining area is all loaded up with wood and everything in the TV-watching area is heavily upholstered). So, how to achieve non-upholstered coziness? French antique Louis XIV/XV/XVI chairs with light upholstery? Or something more modern and bohemian involving wood or metal or - dare I say - plastic?? Mix in a little furriness for good measure?
Because I have a lot of antique French and Italian going on in my apartment with a touch of Asian, I wanted to mix the overall aesthetic up with something a bit more modern but with the ability to blend into what I already have going on. The Eames chair achieves all that I was looking for: modern, but not glaringly so, and with a vintage throw-back quality; plus it's got plastic, wood and metal! It's all so very American! (Well, the originals were Fiberglass, but I digress.) Add in a cozy sheepskin throw (faux or real), and you're set for winter-time cozy fireplace lounging.
Full disclosure: I would always prefer to own an original. I am not usually one to promote knockoffs. We could go over the pros and cons and IP issues, but at $500 a pop for the real deal, it's just not in the cards for me right now (if you want the real deal, go here at Design Within Reach - they have the rights and the original chair molds). But for you "chipper" chicken fans (go to 3:30 in the clip!), read on about my hunt for affordable Eames look-alikes and cozy furry throws.
I found a pair of Eames-style Eiffel armchairs with wood legs on Craigslist on Sunday for $100 that I was pretty excited about, but I LOST THE SALE to an even more eager beaver Craigslist shopper than me (the horror). Sigh. Slight devastation, but obviously it wasn't meant to be. Fresh off of this loss, I decided that I need to own these chairs immediately and under mainstream, mass-produced conditions (I couldn't deal with the anticipation and high/low that comes from auction or Craigslist shopping) - so to established online retailers I went. After some Google searching and some helpful advice (and snobby comments) from Apartment Therapy, I settled on the Retro-classic White Accent Chairs (Set of 2) from Overstock.com for $166.99 (down from $219.91) with FREE SHIPPING (little in this world makes me happier than free shipping) and a DISCOUNT CODE that gave me an additional $20 off (the only thing better than free shipping is an additional discount code for extra savings!). (Note: White on White had good recs, but for $320 a pop, I'd rather splurge and buy the real thing.)
Just for fun, let's compare the cost of purchasing the Overstock chairs v. the
real deal from DWR (excluding tax).
Pair @ $166.99 (or $83.50 each)
Shipping @ FREE
Additional Discount: $20 off for spending $150+
Pair @ $998 (or $499 each)
Shipping @ $79.84
Additional Discount: None
What do we save?? $930.85! Man, I love deal hunting.
In addition to that sweet set of cheapo chairs, I am buying two lambskin rugs from a charming Canadian company called Southern Cross Sheepskins Inc. (website: Sheepskinstuff.com) to complete the look. The size (24"x42") runs a bit larger than the rugs I've seen on Joss & Main, Overstock, Pottery Barn, Ikea, etc. (all 24"x36"), which I think will work well with the chairs (I want some of the rug edges to hang over the chair edges). And the cost is reasonable ($67 on sale, plus $23 shipping in Canadian dollars, which is around $150 in total for two rugs plus shipping in USD). (All of the other rugs except Ikea ran in the $70-$80 range and become significantly more expensive when you add square footage. Ikea at $30 might have won my vote, but the items aren't sold online or at any store near me.)
I also appreciate that 1) I'm ordering from an adorable, family-owned Canadian company; 2) it feels like the rugs are not terribly mass produced (and I have to offset the feel of my chair purchase), which means I can pretend that everything was done humanely; and 3) they showed me a photo of the backside of the rug, which is hard to come by online (and was stressing me out); and 4) upon checkout, I got a free pair of sheepskin mittens! Oh, Canada...!
I can't wait to receive all of my loot and to try it out! Here is a mockup of what I think the chairs will look like in my living room! We shall see what really happens!
'Til then, here is some photo inspiration of cool modern chairs with sheepskin throws from Pinterest to get you in the mood!
Happy shopping and fireplace lounging!
Welcome to my blog "A La Recherche" and to Kate Kelly Design! This is something I've wanted to do for a verrrry long time, and I am so very excited to get started. A little bit about me and the inspiration for this blog: When I was growing up, I wanted to be many things -- an architect, a fashion designer, a psychologist, a writer and an editor (all at the same time, naturally). I have flirted with bits and pieces of each to varying degrees over time, but I eventually settled into a career in finance and just finished my MBA. While I love finance, I have always felt a strong pull towards design, and now, in my "old age," I have found that while I am none of those dreamy childhood aspirations per se, interior design, personal styling and helping others find the things they're searching for allows me to fulfill those childhood dreams. Design has been a hobby of mine forever, and I am so excited to get started in a more tangible and real way.
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.