Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: The Pearl Necklace

For those of you who know jewelry, you know that Mikimoto is probably the most recognized producer of the finest cultured pearl jewelry in the world. For those of you who know books, you probably would agree that Assouline is known as the top publishing house for luxury coffee table and design books. So when the two of them came together to publish a book on quite possibly one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry in history, you could bet on the book being a stunning work of art. And it is! 

The Pearl Necklace offers up an evolution of the beloved pearl necklace throughout history in more than 200 color photos. Worn for centuries by Queens and Maharajahs, First Ladies, and starlets on red carpets from the teens of the 1900's to the teens of the 2000's, the pearl necklace is a ubiquitous piece of jewelry for any woman that has defied all trends. Let's take a little peek inside:

The Pearl Necklace not only catalogs the history of the jewels themselves, in designs from simple strands to the incredibly intricate work of a Mikimoto collar, it also presents pearls in paintings like Botticelli's "The Birth of  Venus".

An absolutely beautiful book, perfect for those of you with an interest in jewelry, beauty, history, and art; this massive, luxurious volume reminds all of us why the pearl necklace has long been the ultimate object of fascination and fantasy.

Take a closer look, and grab your own copy via the Amazon link below:

Also, if you're interested in learning more about Mikimoto, Assouline published a small, 80-page book about the jewelry house in 2008, which you can find here:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mark D. Sikes' New Website

Many of you know by now that I absolutely adore Mark Sikes. His look and aesthetic are nothing short of incredible and have brought back a traditional, casual elegance to homes across the country through his inspiring blog and book, Beautiful: All American Decorating and Timeless Style.

I reviewed the book here, and I told my own personal story of reaching out to Mark in regard to his experience with HRH Lily, his beautiful French Bulldog. Mark released his new website yesterday, posting about it on his extremely popular instagram, so first thing this morning I popped over to check it out! 

One word: WOW! 

If you've purchased Mark's book, (which again, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that there are even more pictures from these gorgeous homes on his portfolio page. 

Take this Pacific Palisades house, which you surely remember from the book. The book features the living room, bedroom, and dining room, but the portfolio page of Mark's new site shows us this attached library/sitting room, which is, in a word, divine. 

Mark's book was divided into chapters regarding color and style. So the many photos in the gorgeous book were scattered among all of his projects. If you're like me, you studied that book, wondering which bedroom belonged to which house, etc.. Well, now you don't have to wonder. All of the houses that were featured in Mark's book have their own link, so you can see how these amazing rooms relate to each other. 

The page also includes photos from the blue and white house that Mark recently had featured in House Beautiful: 

along with some of the special projects that he's completed over the years, including Greystone: 

the Southern Living Idea House: 

and the Kips Bay Showhouse: 

Seeing these new photos of Mark's work is like being inspired all over again. Head over and take a look at the new site: 

And if you don't have a copy of his book, you can get one here: 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Beautiful Bars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: Art House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: Chic Stays

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le Sirenuse. 

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

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

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