Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh Boy, Summer is Here...

And I am distracted!  It's been busy getting my high-school freshman teenage son through his last weeks of school and final exams, then a quick trip to Vancouver, Canada (pretty close to my home town of Edmonton but much more metropolitan!) and here I am, back at home... trying to pick up where I left off with design clients, feel motivated and energized, and get on track with my diet and exercise regimens again.... oh boy!

One of my absolute favorite things about visiting Canadian cities like Edmonton and Vancouver is being able to browse one of my favorite shops, Chintz & Company.  Chintz used to be a small fabric store in Edmonton about 20+ years ago, when that glossy floral chintz fabric really was "da bomb".  They had a tiny little shop in an old, rich, established neighborhood next door to a great little pie and sandwich shop.  They had a catastrophic fire, which left us all wondering if they would re-build and re-open or if that would be the end of "Chintzy's" as we knew it.

Well they sure did re-open... with a BANG!  They came back bigger and better than ever, and have expanded their product offerings, their inventory, and their locations by a crazy amount. Now, you may think I'm crazy to get so excited about visiting these Canadian design stores when I live just outside of LA and can get to the world-famous Pacific Design Center or the ever-buzzing LA Mart anytime.  But Chintz has something none of these mecca's offer me - a fabulous collection of designer-brand furniture, accessories, fabrics, trims, lighting and kitschy little items all in one place. Sure, I can take a day to drive through notoriously hellish LA traffic and scour the design centers myself for pieces by the same vendors and manufacturers, but once I find them I am required to buy in minimum quantities or dollar amounts that don't suffice when wanting to pick up one tray, three lamps and a couple of stunning silver photo frames.  Chintz has already amassed all of those same exquisite items under one roof for easy browsing, and their pricing can't be beat (even by us professional designers, at our own net cost).

So thanks Chintz & Co., for another fun day of poking through your glassware and kitchen decor, your fabulous collection of lighting and bedding, and your unique and impressive way of displaying it all.  The Rocky Mountains and your stores are what I miss most about Canadian landmarks (laugh all you want - until you've been there).

Sunday, June 13, 2010


One of my fave designers is celebrity Thom Filicia, who you've seen on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Dress My Nest a& Tacky House television shows.  Besides his adorable looks and fantastic sense of humor and style, Thom is amazing at breaking down a crude "design disaster" and rebuilding it into fabulousness.  In my opinion, he is a master at blending texture, color, pattern and chicness.

On Thom's newest show airing on the Style network, "Tacky House" features DIY design disasters that usually highlight a theme-decor-gone-wrong (and I mean wrong!).  This post is dedicated to decorating around a motif - and doing it in such a way that you won't end up being one of Thom's targets.

I think the most common error is that a theme design can end up looking like a themed birthday party, overrun with embellishments hanging from the ceiling and adorning every vertical and horizontal surface. More is not always better. The goal is to communicate a feeling to people when they enter the room, without hitting them over the head with a pinata bat to let them know you love Mexico and all things Mexican!

So let's use a Mexican theme as our example.  I have had some really great holidays in Mexico and love the  people, the weather and my memories of my time there.  Now, let's say I want to impart that same love for Mexico to my visitors when they come to my home.  My fondness for Mexico doesn't come from a sombrero on the wall, or free-pouring tequila bottles being passed around the dinner restaurant I frequented - so hanging a sombrero on my kitchen wall in California or assembling a collection of tequila bottles on my dining room sideboard is not going to accomplish my goal of re-creating a relaxed Mexican-holiday mood. Instead it's going to scream "look at the cheap junk I brought home!".

Instead, think about how people really live in Mexico; think about the textures, materials and colors used in their homes, their restaurants or the hotels you stayed in.  Bring in natural and rough textures such as hand-carved unpolished wood, textured plaster walls, oversized pillar candles, iron light fixtures and furniture accents.  Terracotta roof tiles are abundant all over Mexico, so utilizing pottery or painting a feature wall in that warm rusty color is a wonderful touch.

You get the idea - think about what materials and design style people live with where you want to re-create a foreign locale in your home, rather than thinking about what cheesy tourist loot you can nail to the walls that screams "I was in Hawaii and I loved it, so check out my plastic flowers and hula skirts hanging from the light fixtures!".  So go ahead, express yourself through a design theme - just be sure to use some restraint and subtlety and you'll achieve a relaxed, classy theme instead of a theme-park!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tent Event

Yes, a week in Aruba with my husband was a much-appreciated interruption of everyday life.  We sunned, we slept, we indulged in good food, ice-cold cocktail concoctions, and recharged our physical and emotional batteries.

Aruba is a very small island in the far southeast Caribbean.  It is fine white sand beaches hemmed in by clear turquoise (remember, turquoise is also Color of the Year 2010) waters.  It is also scorching, searing, on-the-equator hot.  Surviving this heat meant seeking out a much-appreciated thatch-roof beach palapa everyday.

Here in southern California, palapas are a common yard decoration.  They are a suitable shade option here where bird of paradise and palm trees grow naturally, however, in other climates they may seem out of place - or perhaps just a bit too casual for your particular outdoor space and design theme.

For those who want a chic outdoor shade option or just a cleaner look, check out these gorgeous shade options by ZGallerie.  Whatever fun shade option you choose for your outdoor environment, just remember to keep the style and color scheme cohesive with what's in the indoor rooms where a sight-line goes through both the indoor and outdoor areas.  (Oh yes - also, don't forget the SPF and the blender!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ahhh, back from vacation

Hello Readers, I've just returned from a great, very relaxing vacation in Aruba... will put up a new post for you all tomorrow.  Hope everyone is enjoying their first week of June as much as I am!