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Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is next Wednesday.  I am having a few friends over to celebrate what Wikipedia describes as "not 'an obligatory federal holiday' in Mexico, but rather a holiday that can be observed voluntarily.  While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States (also voluntarily) and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride."  Sounds like a good reason to fire up the grill and start using that backyard that I moved to Atlanta for.  

For now the menu is carne asada tacos (Trader Joe's has a great pre-marinated kind), DIY grilled quesadillas, Elote black beans, homemade pico di gallo and guacamole.  Of course there will be Mexican beer and probably (if I have time) white sangria.  Won't the sangria look great in these Ikea carafes and glasses?  This is not a kid's birthday party, so use real dishes and flatware.  No, "crystal" plastic flatware still counts as plastic.  

For decorations, a few lanterns from Pier 1will increase the festive-ness.  You don't have to spend a lot of money for a big impact.  I also believe that your party decorations should not end up in the trash, so buy reusable supplies.  

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Fireplace Surround

Dear Readers,
I have a design dilemma of my own that I have been working on for several months.  This is my lovely fireplace in our rental home.  The birds and flowers do not go with the global mid-century look of my living room.  I need a temporary and inexpensive way to cover them up.  I have thought of leather tiles, antique mirror, wallpaper, terracotta.  Do you have any other suggestions?

Antique Mirror

Keleen Leather Tiles

Terracotta Tiles

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Design Advice: Intimate Large Bedroom

I recently received an email from a reader asking for advice regarding her master bedroom.  She says "I have a very large bedroom and a queen bed how do I make my bedroom feel intimate but at the same time not cluttered?"  Now, first I wish we all had the too-large-bedroom problem.  But this can be an issue for those fortunate ones and here are some suggestions to help.
1. I suggest getting a poster or canopy bed.  This creates a room within a room.

2. Create a seating area with a sofa or a couple of upholstered chairs.  Lay coordinating rugs under the bed and in the seating area.

3. Use lamps, if you have one overhead light it unifies the space.  But lamps will light up separate areas allowing the eye to take in each individually.

4. Upholster the walls, a pricey option, but this will eliminate any echo and soften the hard corners.

5. Use a pair of large bookcases, plants, sofas, dressers, armoires, etc.  These pieces will command attention and dominate the space.

6. Don't fill every space and avoid small pieces that will clutter the room.

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Watching the IMAX movie "Arabia" at the Fernbank Museum Friday, martini in hand, I was struck by the focus on design no matter the structure.  The architecture in Saudi Arabia is inspiring with close attention paid to the littlest details.  I am perpetually impressed by the innovative and exhilarating designs that come from this area of the world.  

Burj Al Mamlakah - Really commands the skyline!  This and surrounding structures make the capital city of Riyadh a destination in a sea of sand. 

Mada'in Saleh - These ancient traders took the time to carve out these incredible entries and I still haven't put potted plants on my porch.  

Bridge in Riyadh - Why don't we have bridges like this?

Breakwater Beacon at KAUST - This was an engineering feat, yet design won over expense and expediency.  

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Favorite New Color Combination: Orange & Grey

Design One Page also featured on Style Court

Recently, I did the above One Page for a client in a grey / orange color scheme.  Love the muted tones in the Keivan Rug that pull it together.  So, was I pleased to see this color combination popping up  frequently in design magazines.
Melissa Warner Office Featured in House Beautiful May 2010
This is a great idea - big impact, covers the standard-issue sliding doors, and since it is a small area, is inexpensive.  Paper is Osborne and Little Hothouse in Arizona.

Mary Watkins Wood designed living room with orange linen curtains and grey fireplace featured in House Beautiful May 2010.  

Elle Decor May 2010 living room decorated by Philip Gorrivan.  Beautiful charcoal tuxedo sofas with tweedy orange bench.  

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I want this quilt

I want this quilt.  Garnet Hill has long been a favorite source of mine for bedding.  The company has been working with designers and smaller producers to bring great design to the catalog market.  Be sure to check out their lines from Lilly Pulitzer, Simon Pearce, and John Robshaw.  Garnet Hill describes the quilt as "sun-washed shades of sea glass, periwinkle and melon, a traditional large-scale print insprired by world travels."  Absolutely perfect. 

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Anthropologie Striped Kilim Sofa

Love this Anthropologie Striped Kilim Sofa.  First, horizontal lines are unusual and unexpected in upholstery.  A great way to freshen a look.  Second, the detail, the turned legs are not typical of a "of the rack" piece.  On a side note you can buy inexpensive legs online to create a more custom polished look for a sofa or chair.  Typical use of this sofa would be in a bohemian setting, Anthropologie has styled it in a minimal modern room.  Love the travelled, worldly vibe right now.

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Advice Issue

I just received my copy of House Beautiful "the Big Advice Issue".  So in honor of this lovely magazine, one of the few shelter magazines that remains, this is an "Abridged Advice Post" on A Curated Lifestyle.  Feel free to email me your questions and I may answer in a future post.    
WINDOWCOVERINGS: Curtains should be simple, with simple hardware.  Even if you buy premade curtains, have a workroom line the curtains for fullness and substance.

SOFA: Low arms and deep seats for comfort.  I think an English Arm is perfect for this and George Smith does the best.   

Domino March 2006
PILLOWS: More than 2, less than 10, usually.  

Domino September 2005
COLOR: Use at least one brightly colored object in a room.  A vase, a frame, even flowers, or a throw. 


Monochromatic Rooms

I am not sure how I feel about monochromatic rooms, it looks amazing when published, but is it practical?  How do you transition a monochromatic room into the rest of the home?  I suppose that a neutral color would be an easy transition, but color is much more fun.  If you are going to attempt this look, keep a two things in mind:  1) Use different shades 2) Use different textures.

Cildo Meireles' Red Room at Tate Modern

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Restaurant: Flip Burger Boutique

Last week we didn't have anything in the fridge, so we headed to Flip Burger Boutique.  While it was busy and the patio had a wait due to the lovely weather, we got a seat right away at the bar.  Let me say that Los Angeles has about a dozen of these "gourmet burger restaurants" (Umami Burger, 8oz, The Counter, Ketchup, Father's Office) so this review is a little biased.  Was the food good?  Yes, but it wasn't mindblowing, I had the Faux-Lafel and the man had the turkey burger - I guess we were trying to be healthy with a side of fried okra.  The okra was done in a way that I had never had it before, strips of okra fried in a tempura batter, very nice.  The atmosphere and decor was trying to hard, to minimal for their minimal menu.  If the atmosphere is not inviting you to stick around then the menu better.  But the drink offerings are spare and the food comes to you on modest plates in modest portions.  The search continues...

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Painted Cupboards

I have decided to paint my kitchen.  It is an awful shade of pea soup green. The walls are to be a great warm-white-grey (Benjamin Moore Seapearl 961).  This color will be good because it is not too stark, it coordinates with the existing trim, and the warmth in it will help the existing coolness of the kitchen (white counters and white tile floors).  While next to all  the other colors in my fanbook Seapearl looks demure, I am certain that on the walls it will make more of a statement.  So now to the topic of this post, painting the insides of cupboards.  To increase the warmth and as an excuse to use a bright color, I will paint the inside of my cabinets, all of the uppers are open or have glass doors, so this is perfect (you can also do this with solid doors, it is more subtle and a surprise when open).  I want to use a yellow, but I have not decided on the exact shade.  Also, I need to decide if I paint the shelves (with oil-based paint) for maximum impact or leave them as is -white.

Michael Bastian Domino

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I was out, "researching" local stores and stumbled in a store no one had mentioned to me.  This shop is in a bit of an unfortunate, out of the way area, there were no cars in the lot and I was actually unsure how to get inside.  Furniture stores usually fall into one of two categories, 1) clean, well-edited, pricey, bright, and beautifully staged OR 2) dark, musty, dusty, and furniture in all various conditions put where it fits.  The store I stumbled into fit into the second category, but this makes you feel like a treasure hunter.  You find something that is a bargain and just needs a good waxing and you have a piece that is worthy to fit the stores in category 1.  Where was I?  Anne Flaire Antiques.  Walking through is a hunt, but I saw many great tables, a few of which are pictured.  I have an obsession for rustic large tables that was fulfilled by the inventory at Anne Flaire Antiques.  Update: Thank you Vica for reminding me about the price.  Category 2 stores are usually much less expensive than their fancy counterparts and Anne Flaire is no exception.  The prices are reasonable for the quality and condition, but this is no estate sale.   

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My Super Seventies Sofa

Okay, so I did a post about a sofa I purchased on CL here.  It needs to be finished and moved inside soon so that we can use our screen porch because it is getting HOT.  So last week I wiped it down and vacuumed, glued the veneer where I could and put a coat of poly on.  A little TLC made a big and I thought I would share the progress photos with you.  Still loads of work to be done, but it is paying off.


Next step is a light sand, another coat of poly, leg work, a new undercarriage fabric, and getting cushions made.  I think I might leave the original black leather as is for now instead of replacing it with the cushion fabric.  The veneer also needs to be repaired/ replaced in some areas to which I have no experience.  But I will learn as I go!

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Why I Love Atlanta

Spring has hit Atlanta hard.  We were gone for three days and upon our return our yard and neighborhood have been transformed.  The little green buds have turned into full blown leaves.  The weeds grew 7 inches in 3 days - seriously 7 inches.  The black ants are out in full force and it is hot.  So before it gets too hot and humid and I begin cursing my decision to move to the south from too-perfect weather in Los Angeles I wanted to document the reasons for loving my current city.

1- The people are nice.  Really.
2- It does not take long to get to the grocery store, bank, or local pub.  Although I don't know why there is only one freeway through the city.
3- Abundance of free parking.
4- All the parks.  Flowering trees and all over greenness.  Palm trees are great, but Atlanta is GREEN.
5- There are a lot of beer-centric establishments.  I guess that is the trade for the lack of wine bars.
6- It is less expensive, it is a lot harder to find a $15 martini in Atlanta.
7- The neighborhood festivals.  I have heard that the Inman Park Festival is the place to be in a couple weeks.
8- You can see the stars, yes now the city is covered in a sheet of chartreuse pollen and we have lost our view of Midtown, but before that I could see the stars.
9- I have a house with a yard and not barely a one-bedroom apartment with a concrete slab.
10- The weather, okay, this actually scares me but I am practicing the power of positive thinking.