Month: November 2015

4 Lessons I Learned by Visiting LACMA

If you live in the LA area and haven’t visited LACMA, you’re missing out on one of our city’s gems.  With an impressive permanent collection and fantastic traveling exhibitions on display, a trip to this art museum never disappoints.  It’s one of my go-to places to take out of town guests.  Such was the case on the Friday following Thanksgiving, when my husband, in-laws, and I piled into the car and headed to LACMA.

As I browsed around, taking in everything from paintings by Picasso to ancient Indian carvings with mind-blowing attention to detail, I couldn’t help but relate the LACMA experience to home decorating.  It struck me that some of the tactics LACMA’s curators employ can be put to work in the home.  Here’s what I learned…

1. Use Color to Establish a Mood

4 Lessons I Learned from LACMA | Color

Each room is saturated in a single shade befitting the subject matter.  The the ancient Indian art I mentioned earlier was housed in a sea of deep, espresso brown, imparting a sense of history.  By contrast, more contemporary and provocative works of art hung against a background of sterile white.  Furthermore, as I moved around the various exhibits at LACMA, the different colored walls served as a clue as to what world I would enter next: the sobering world of Weimar Republic or the mysterious realm of “The Magic Medium”.  Regardless of the discipline, color made the first impression and began the process of establishing an atmosphere appropriate for that particular room.  This is also true in the home where bedrooms tend to come in soothing shades, while dining rooms are often painted in energizing hues.

2. Diverse Works of Art Can Live in Close Proximity

4 Lessons I Learned at LACMA | Diversity

Although each room in LACMA is thematic, that theme is not always instantly apparent.  Paintings, sculptures, and installations coexist in a space and, when the common thread that unites them isn’t obvious, I find myself more intrigued.  The same can be said for the art in your home.  If the pieces seem disparate, that’s ok.  The unifying element is your individual  taste–a function of your beautiful, multi-faceted personality.

3. Frames (or Lack thereof) Matter

4 Lessons I Learned at LACMA | Frames Matter

A painting’s frame is an important extension of the art, the artist, or even the art owner.  In some cases, the frame is a better indicator of time period than the art itself.  A frame’s color might pick up and emphasize and important shade within the piece.  By the same token, a simple–or even an absent–frame might focus the attention on the art’s message.  If you’ve ever had anything custom-framed, you know that the possibilities are endless and sometimes overwhelming.  If such an endeavor is in your future, take a page out of LACMA’s book and let the art–and how you feel about it–guide you.

4. Plexiglass is Your Friend

4 Lessons I Learned from LACMA | Plexiglass

A friend with an energetic 10-year-old and Chihuly glass art in storage recently asked me if she should retrieve her delicate treasures and display them in plexiglass cases or just wait until her son was older and skip the plexiglass.  I was emphatically in favor of the former and my recent trip to LACMA only reinforced my position on the matter.  While seemingly overtly utilitarian, a protective encasement can denote a sense of preciousness (not unlike the frame of a painting).  If museums like LACMA use them to to surround priceless artifacts, why can’t home decorators use them to display and protect everything from Chihuly glass art to their children’s pottery?

 

Note: All photos in this post are from LACMA’s instagram feed, which I follow highly recommend.

4 Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces You Still Have Time to Make

With all of the madness that comes in the days preceding Thanksgiving, there are often little details that are overlooked.  If your tablescape falls into that category, here are 4 easy Thanksgiving centerpieces you can pull off in the 11th hour and still dazzle your guests…

Sugared fruit thanksgiving centerpieces

Sugared fruit sparkles in candlelight and makes for a festive focal point.  Photo from DiscoverYourJoieDeVivre blog.

Edible cheese centerpiece

If any holiday deserves an edible centerpiece, it’s Thanksgiving!  Steal this clever idea from Southern Living and stack cheeses in a cake formation, adorn them with flowers and herbs, and encourage your guests to nibble in between courses.

scattered candlesticks centerpiece

Modwedding cleverly grouped miscellaneous candlesticks together to light and gussy up this table.  If you have a collection of candlesticks, you might try this easy idea…

Pheasant feather Autumn centerpiece

And finally, why not use season-appropriate pheasant feathers in place of flowers?  Nathan Turner did just that in this lovely Domino feature.

Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Even though it’s my second favorite holiday (behind Halloween), I gotta be honest: Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I didn’t finalize my Thanksgiving menu until Saturday–just in the nick of time to hit the farmers markets on Sunday morning with my shopping list in hand. However, just because I’m a little behind this year, doesn’t mean I’m any less excited or that less care went into my menu.

There was never any doubt that a Peking duck would be at the center of our Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that the hubs and I started a few years. Neither of us are huge turkey fans and our one attempt at cooking a turkey was uninspiring. Not that I haven’t had good turkey, but even the best turkey in the world doesn’t hold a candle to many other proteins. (Let’s be honest.) And when it comes to the winged beasts, it doesn’t get any better than a delectable, Chinese-style roast duck–at least for my money.

Taking my cue from the East, I usually try to add an Asian twist to traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. For instance, last year, I made curried sweet potatoes, added scallions and water chestnuts to my stuffing, grilled bok choy, and used a miso dressing on my kale salad. Still, I wanted to challenge myself to come up with some new plates for this year. Here’s what I got…

Peking duck
A 50-50 mix of the plum sauce that usually accompanies duck the and–of course–cranberry sauce
Wild rice pilaf with shitake mushrooms
Mashed potato medley with miso gravy
Caramelized butternut squash with Panko bread crumbs
And grilled broccoli in a spicy mustard glaze

I will also mull some red wine, using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, and orange slices. It’s like hot sangria and the spicy profile suits the menu and the season. In addition, we’ve amassed a small arsenal of pumpkin ales and various other autumn-inspired craft beers to enjoy Thanksgiving day.

Inevitably, someone always wants to make or bring something at the last minute. So, I leave room in my menu for that. You may have noticed that there’s no salad, appetizers, or dessert. (However, my contingency plan is to whip up a last minute cheese plate & veggie platter if needed.) And if previous years are any indication, my husband will beg his our sister to make her famous chocolate souffle. This doesn’t fit with a Thanksgiving or an Asian theme, but more importantly, it’s about appreciating family–and their culinary talents!  It always warms my heart to see the exchange between the two of them.

With that all squared away, I’ve busied myself with styling little Thanksgiving vignettes around the house. Here are some pictures.

Thanksgiving menu ingredients

With my refrigerator overflowing with Thanksgiving menu ingredients, I had to store some fruits and vegetables on a platter on my counter.  I also stuck my parsley in a glass vase.

Orange tulips with clove-studded clementines

Clove-studded clementine oranges not only look festive, but also smell incredible.  I paired them with some orange tulips on my dining room table.

Cornucopia vase and floral arrangement with little white pumpkins

Cornucopias are holiday-appropriate, but this brass beauty sits in my hallway year-round.  For this year’s Thanksgiving, I stuffed it with with white hydrangea and scattered some mini white pumpkins.

What will you serve this Thanksgiving?

7 Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

In my last post, I suggested 7 paint colors that are pretty much fool-proof–predictably versatile shades that shine in just about any room.  However, today, I’m exploring paint colors that  are a little dicier–unexpected color choices that are harder to pull off and riskier to try.  Still, I hope you’ll agree that–when properly executed–these paint colors pay off in spades.  Here are my humble suggestions for 7 “surprisingly chic” paint colors…

Blush

There’s no doubt about it: blush is having a moment in interior design.  On the one hand, I could argue that blush-colored paint is likely to be a passing fad.  On the other, blush is trending right now for a reason.  It’s both soothing and universally flattering and aren’t those important qualities to consider when choosing a room’s color?  Furthermore…well, just look at these blush-hued rooms…

glamorous blush pink hallway

The late style maven L’Wren Scott chose blush for most of the walls in her Paris home that she shared with Mick Jagger.  Above is an image from Vogue of their glamorous hallway in the pleasing shade, peppered with gold mirrors and frames.

blush pink painted dining room

This elegant dining room from Domino feels feminine, but also allows the more masculine abstract art and moody amethyst goblets to draw the eye, creating tension and contrast.

NY living room in blush pink paint

NYMag captured this fantastic example of a blush room that feels less feminine and more just plain stylish.  Wonderfully edited, gray shagreen cabinets and  flashes of gold harmonize with the pale pink hue.

Periwinkle

Although it’s an undeniably beautiful shade–medium pastel blue leaning ever so slightly towards lavender–periwinkle is rarely a paint color contender for rooms outside of nurseries.  But it’s a damn shame, because periwinkle can look like this…

periwinkle painted entrance

Who wouldn’t want to come home to this periwinkle painted wall?  It’s a “happy” blue shade that compliments exquisite pieces like a Fornasetti chest or antique chair.  Photo from 1stDibs.

periwinkle blue dining room

This periwinkle blue dining room from the pages of Style and Substance is yet another gorgeous use of paint.  The unexpected hue sets off the neoclassical chairs and sculptural dining table and is a perfect foil to the bright red coral light fixtures.

a painted periwinkle moment

The perfect backdrop for an unlikely mix of furnishings, objects, and art?  Periwinkle blue!  In this AD France featured home, color acts as the glue that unites a delightful motley of styles with an air of whimsy.

Terracotta  

A mixture of red, orange, and brown, terracotta is ideal for creating a warm, inviting setting where one can feel at home, enveloped by the color of “baked earth”.  Thus, this hue suggests intimacy and perhaps a humble quality that often precludes it from entering art-filled salons and contemporary entertaining spaces.  However, these homeowner embraced it nonetheless and the risk paid off…

monochromatic terracotta dining room

Old world charm dominates this terracotta dining room that somehow still feels updated in a monochromatic palette.  From Architectural Digest.

terracotta wall & mini bar

Justine Cushing’s apartment, featured in House Beautiful, boasts textured terracotta walls, containing her enviable furnishings, like that mid century chrome bar cart.

terracotta living room in a brooklyn brownstone

Nick Olson opted for a high contrast color palette of terracotta and turquoise–accented with ruby–for this delicious Brooklyn brownstone.  Image via Architectural Digest.

Electric Indigo

This daring shade is simultaneously dark and vibrant, instantly capturing one’s attention and charging a space with excitement.  Made famous by the first two examples below, this paint color has yet to achieve the popularity it deserves.

Jardin Majorelle in Electric Indigo blue paint

A historical and magical place, the Jardin Majorelle was originallly the santuary of painter Jacques Majorelle and later the rescued and lovingly restored by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, catapulting this blue-bathed oasis to iconic status.

Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul

On the other side of the world, another painter by the name of Frida Kahlo had a similar vision for her garden in Mexico.  La Casa Azul, now a museum maintained in her honor, radiates a surreal shade of blue, attracting Kahlo fans and stunning passersby.  (This image is marked www.Gardener.ru, but I was unable to find the right page on their site.)

electric indigo blue paint color

Brought inside, electric indigo blue paint looses none of its vibrancy.  Sieger Design embraced this notion, painting the dining room of their offices in their signature blue-meets-purple, shown here thanks to Apartment Therapy.

Blood Orange

Often associated with the iconic brand Hermès, blood orange is another bold choice for wall color that demands attention.  Generally, colors with this level of intensity aren’t expected to play well with others, but blood orange is an exception to that rule, pairing wonderfully with everything from sky blue to tomato red to charcoal gray.  Just look…

blood orange painted living room

This maximalist living room (featured by Lonny) absolutely sparkles in blood orange lacquer, pairing with black trim, baby blue velvet, brass accessories, and a gray-toned Picasso.

Blood Orange + 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

A tomato red floating shelf is a surprising but clever choice for this blood orange wall photographed by Architectural Digest.  A gilded frame and pair of rock crystal obelisks add an extra dose of glamour.

Blood Orange, One of 7 Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Raymond Goins also opted for a shiny lacquer finish when he coated this small space in vibrant blood orange paint.  Asian-inspired pottery and a pair of whippets punctuate the bold choice.

Butter Yellow

Butter yellow is another paint color rarely seen outside a nursery and another crying shame that it’s so.  This color emulates glowing light, against which softer decor melts right in and edgier decor makes an even bolder statement.  The fact that it’s unexpected choice is likely a contributing factor to its “wow factor” in these rooms…

Butter Yellow Dining Room + 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Jean-Louis Deniot masterfully mixed warm, butter yellow walls with moodier neutrals and edgy metallics to create a dining space that is chic and inviting.  From Elle Decor.

Butter Yellow Living Room & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors for Your Walls

A traditional living room (found on All About Houses) gets a luminous glow thanks to a few coats of butter yellow paint and matching sofa.  The shade is perfect for offsetting the earthtones of the framed art and the zebra rug adds graphic interest.

Butter Yellow Dining Room & 6 Other Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Color plays a dominate role in this chic but sparsely decorated dining room from Architectural Digest.  Again, soft butter yellow coats the walls with little competition from the white panels and tone-on-tone art.  The effect is luminous and serene.

Pea Green

The words “pea” and “green” are rarely uttered in conjunction without at least a hint of disdain.  Let’s be honest: no one ever complimented your “pea green” complexion or asked a sales lady if she had any dresses in “pea green”.  It’s a drab color that recalls a certain divisive soup.  But lately, it’s been popping up in some very chic interiors.  The defense submits the following photographs into evidence:

Pea Green Dining Room & 6 Other Must-See Paint Colors

Designer Sara Gilbane expertly crafted this color scheme of indigo blue, amethyst and–yes–pea green painted walls in a lacquer finish.  Gorgeous, right?

Pea green walls & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

Animal prints and a checkered floor provide contrast to the pea green walls, drapery, and upholstery in this wonderfully eclectic New Orleans home from the pages of Architectural Digest.

Pea Green never looked so good & 6 More Surprisingly Chic Paint Colors

And finally, the room that opened my eyes to the splendor of pea green.  This is Sheila Bridges’ Harlem dining room and every angle of it is delightful.  I chose to post just this vignette (since this is already a rather lengthy post), but I highly encourage you to visit nytimes.com and see the rest of this artfully curated space.  Bridges treated pea green like a neutral (and why not? Mother nature certainly does), bringing in colors like orange, turquoise, cognac, and blush.

So, what’s the verdict?  Have you changed your mind about pea green?  What paint colors did you expect to see on this list and which paint colors surprised you?  I’d love to hear from you.

7 Fool-Proof Wall Colors

It seems like every online home decor publisher is focused on wall colors lately.  Last week, every email in my inbox was trying to convince me of the top shades.  A self-professed color fiend, I eagerly read them all and then gave it some thought…  Naturally, I didn’t agree with every wall color suggestion.  Nor could I resist compiling my own list of top wall colors.  However, for me, the top shades fall into two categories.  First, there’s the tried and true colors–those that almost always look polished, beautifully offsetting a variety of decorating styles.  That list follows in this post.  Then, there are the paint colors that surprise and delight–unexpected hues that are surprisingly chic and versatile.  Stay tuned for that list.  But first, here are my picks for 7 fool-proof, always chic wall colors…

Putty

This is a very pale shade.  Not brown or gray, putty is like a cross between taupe and just a hint of yellow.  Hard to define and conveniently neutral, putty often reads traditional, but compliments modern interiors with equal grace.  Here are some examples of chic, putty-colored walls…

putty colored dining room by Valorie Hart

New Orleans-based designer Valorie Hart drenched the walls of this dining room in putty-colored paint, creating a lovely backdrop for the eclectic mix of gilded frames, periwinkle glass lamps, and ginger-accented dining chairs.

a Putty moment

Here, putty marries with both smoky gray and earthy peach in a more modern-feeling room.

Putty colored living room

In this living room by Zize Zink, putty-colored walls and sofa blend beautifully with a wide variety of pieces, including: an art deco end table, a fun flamestitch upholstered settee, a collection of silver candlesticks, and even modern art.

Camel

This light brown to tan shade can skew warm or cool, but always makes a pleasing backdrop against which brighter color can shine.  Three of my favorite rooms with camel colored walls follow here…

Alex Papachristidis Camel Dining Room

The uber talented Alex Papachristidis chose camel for the walls of this dining room, mixing in neutral tones like chocolate and ivory as well as punchy red and shades of blue from cornflower to cobalt.

Camel bedroom vignette

In this bedroom vignette by sisters and design duo Kristen Fitzgibbons and Kelli Ford, lacquered camel walls balance the canary yellow mirror and leopard-clad chairs.  (Featured in Veranda.)

Amanda Nisbet Dining Room in Camel

This elegant, camel dining room by Amanda Nisbet plays the warmth of the walls and gilded details against cool shades of lavender and indigo, setting a stunning scene.

Dove Gray

One of the most complex and difficult colors to nail, the right gray–like dove gray–is an ideal vehicle for establishing an air of sophistication that compliments nearly any color scheme.  The challenge is identifying a shade of gray that maintains its neutrality.  Grays can often turn blue, purple, green, or brown in different lights.  Be sure to check out these tips for choosing the right shade if you’re thinking of going gray (or any color for that matter).  And, of course, here are some images of super chic homes to inspire you…

Dove Gray bedroom

Jean-Louis Deniot chose dove gray for the walls of his Los Angeles bedroom (featured by AD Russia)–a contrast to the warm wood finish of his nightstands and brass light fixture.  The other furnishings, however, follow suit in shades of texture-rich gray.

dove gray salon decorated by Katie Ridder

Dove gray envelopes this soothing but stylish salon decorated by Katie Ridder and featured in Elle Decor, complimenting a variety of neutral tones, brass fixtures, and pops of crimson.

Dove Gray Paris Apartment

This Paris apartment’s architectural details are highlighted by dove gray paint–a canvas against which works of art and unorthodox color combinations can peacefully coexist.  Photo by Richard Powers.

Aqua

Departing from the aforementioned neutrals, aqua is a pale shade with surprising depth.  Nearly transparent with a hint of warmth, this shade of blue has range and widespread appeal.  Consider these aqua hued rooms…

Aqua, 1 of 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

In this polished living room by the Mendelson Group, aqua sets the stage for an eclectic array of furnishings, energized by a jolt of jonquil yellow.

Aqua room

AD Russia showcased this traditional-leaning space that feels fresh thanks to aqua paint and expressive art.

Aqua living room with minky brown sofa

Any color–from espresso to cobalt to aubergine to tangerine–sings against a wall of serene aqua blue.  A tiny little  aqua pillow ties the scene together for a cohesive look.  (As seen on Vogue.com)

Stormy Blue

Another blue hue that never disappoints is stormy blue-gray.  A bit moody, stormy blue works well with yellow metals and most wood finishes.  It’s a shade you’d find in a museum, offsetting art from nearly any discipline.

Fool-Proof Paint Shades | Stormy Blue

This dining room, featured by Nuevo Estilo, is a gorgeous example of the power of stormy blue.  Mixed neutrals harmonize in its presence, beckoning a motley of styles to intermingle.

stormy blue living room with traditional painting

A sleek silver velvet sofa and traditional painting are equally at home against that perfectly moody, stormy blue wall.

sophisticated stormy blue space

This space oozes sophistication thanks to carefully curated modern art and furnishings and stormy blue walls with gilded panels.

Espresso

With its deep, saturated pigment, espresso lends a space a sense of drama.  However, I think espresso owes its allure (at least in part) to its cool undertones–an unexpected quality in brown shades that typically run warm.  Check out these espresso brown rooms…

Espresso brown walls

Federico De Vera’s espresso brown walls (via Elle Decor) are studded with art and an arresting sight.

Espresso | 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

Also from Elle Decor, this photograph captures Sig Bergamin’s use of deep, espresso paint to offset a rainbow of colors, an array of furnishings, and a riot of patterns.

masculine espresso brown room

A funky, masculine vibe dominates this nearly-all-brown sitting area (from Lonny) where an espresso-hued wall brings out the richness of the chocolaty brown velvet sofa.

Moody Teal

By far the boldest recommendation on this list, there’s just something about a moody teal room.  It feels sultry, mysterious, and impossibly chic.  I can’t help but be moved as look at these teal rooms.  Can you?

teal dining room

This dining room has a whimsical feel, tempered by moody teal walls and drapery.  Found on Tumblr.

a teal and amethyst salon

Moody teal joins forces with ethnic textiles, an amethyst Murano glass chandelier, and a snakeskin coffee table to compose an impressive scene decorated by Landy Gardner.

stunning dark teal dining room

And last but not least, a moody teal dining room with Gothic windows and mid century furniture (featured by LATimes) is the final example of this gorgeous shade.

Ready to paint?  Whether you were inspired by this list or not, leave a comment and tell us what wall colors you considered and ultimately chose.  Happy painting!

Trend Alert: Abstract Metal Wall Sculptures

Abstract metal wall sculptures are definitely trending.  I can hardly turn a page in Elle Decor or review my Pinterest feed without seeing one of the shiny beauties.  However, unlike some of the other recent trends in home decorating, I am totally on board with this one!  Here are some of my favorite examples of the emerging trend…

Trending: Abstract Metal Wall Sculptures

Artist Anish Kapoor seems to be reaping the benefits this trend.  Her polished, concave wall sculptures come in a variety of colors and finishes and are popping up in some of the chicest, new homes.   The above example is from Architectural Digest and depicts the Manhattan home of decorator Laura Santos.

Trend Alert: Metal Wall Sculptures

In his former Manhattan duplex (featured–again–by AD), famed designer Nate Berkus installed this show-stopping, stainless steel wall sculpture by Octavio Abúndez.

Trending: metallic wall sculptures

Anne-Marie Midy and Jorge Almada’s eclectic home (pictured above by House & Garden) boasts a plethora of unique furnishings and decor.  But even with all of its treasures, the burgundy, metallic, seemingly “crumpled” wall sculpture in the upper right of this picture is what draws my eye.  I couldn’t find the name of the artist, but I’ve seen similar pieces (in different colors and finishes) floating around home decor magazines lately.

Trending: metal wall sculptures

This is the picture that pushed my love of this new trend over the edge.  A devoted Jean-Louis Deniot fan, I ate up Elle Decor’s coverage of his latest project: a stunning Paris apartment renovated and decorated for a real-life princess.  The gold “nuggets” pictured here are by artist Romain Sarrot and intended to be displayed on the floor.  However, Deniot–master that he is–opted to hang the gilded resin pieces on the upholstered walls in the master bedroom.  He described them as “24-karat-gold popcorn”.  Exquisite!

Well, I’ve gotta go hunt for my own metallic wall scupture(s) now.  With any luck, I’ll share Cher them in a future post.

Another Twist on a Moscow Mule

Another twist on a Moscow Mule

As promised in a previous post, I’m following up with a Mexican twist on the classic Moscow Mule cocktail.  I’m calling it the Mazatlán Mule.  As you may have guessed, this version calls for tequila in place of vodka, but that’s not the only substitution…

Ingredients:

Gold tequila

Cointreau

Ginger beer

Lime

Fresh cilantro (instead of mint)

Cumin

Directions:

In a mortar and pestle, grind a pinch of cumin seeds to unleash their essence.  (If you really love cumin, you can toast the seeds first.  However, be forewarned: this greatly intensifies their smell…and it lingers.)  Fill a copper mug halfway with ice,  then add 2 shots of tequila and 1 shot of Cointreau.  Throw in a handful of cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and sprinkle with cumin.  Fill the rest of the way with ginger beer, stir and serve.

Lime, cilantro, and cumin act a zesty, spicy trinity.  Cilantro and cumin actually come from the same plant, so it’s little wonder that they work well together.  The lime brings out the subtlety of the cilantro and kicks the cumin into high gear.  The spiciness of the trio is well matched to the equally spicy ginger beer.  Tequila adds a kick and the Cointreau takes the edge off with its citrusy properties.  In other words, it’s delicious.  But don’t take my word for it.  Make Mazatlán Mules the next time you entertain.  Cheers!

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