Take Me Away

Take Me Away // Marina Del Rey Hotel

106289528c495b61dc5591dcf98fd25bLast summer I was a bridesmaid for the 6th and (I assume) final time in my life. With the bride being April, my BFF from high school, this is what bridesmaid duty looked like.

IMG_2087Basically I helped the bride get dressed, and did my best to make sure she felt relaxed and gorgeous. So easy and fun!

As an added bonus, the reception of this beautiful wedding was held at the Marina Del Rey Hotel, where the airy lobby and bar became a new source of design inspiration for me. The hotel was renovated by the Pacifica Group, and I found that the thoughtful mix of design elements – nautical, mid-century, Moroccan, organic and more – all added up to a California Eclectic feel that works great for a hotel on the marina. I showed you the wonderful seagull sculpture installation that greets you in the lobby (above). Here are some other things that caught my eye.

Mid-century style furniture mixed with organic pieces like the live-edge coffee table….
image1…all working together with this very contemporary textured wall-treatment.
5ce26ac44da90a89c3d0354a7504a533I’m delighted by unexpected details like this in the floor
image2And this lounge area looked so fun and inviting!
2d8ce043b366952b68adfa0d1d219faeSALT, the hotel’s bar and restaurant, has contemporary lighting features warmed up by mid-century style furniture.87b54bb43606415cd62189ea7b829345I love the mixture of Wishbone chairs with the quilted texture of the vinyl on the lounge-ier chairs.
f928a1e5eeb5bf2030b3826d143494d7The marina itself is a beautiful sight. I don’t get to this part of L.A. very often, so looking at all these boats bobbing around on the water made me feel like I was on vacation.967-0945a1ed05da7f70493d36317c73e363In fact, I think this place would be a great location for a Staycation!ef5fdf5a3b2f65bf8722c48905eb8874Photos 6-10 are from the Marina Del Rey Hotel website, the rest are by me and a kind bartender at Salt.

Take Me Away // Napa Valley Working Vacation Weekend

A design project in the Napa Valley had been a long-held little dream of mine, and in 2015 it has come true twice! Earlier this year, it was the tasting room for a small winery in St. Helena. And then this Fall, I started collaborating with a dear friend on her lovely new cottage in Napa. This is a picture of the bungalow where Emily used to live. So charming, and the scene of many good times over the years. We want more of that feel with the new place – an unpretentious warmth.


Emily’s new house doesn’t come with quite this much vintage character, but it is on its way to revealing its own charms. After a few weeks of Pinterest back-and-forth based on floor-plans and pictures, last weekend I made an overnight trip of it and finally met the house in person. Amid the beautiful distractions of the Napa Valley and time with my friend, the mission was to review design progress, develop some ideas further, and of course get some good shopping done.

IMG_4876I was very pleased about some key pieces of new furniture that had arrived. It’s no secret that I am obsessed with these dhurrie chairs, and this is my favorite colorway.  I adore these hues and that texture paired with the copper Martini table. Emily was initially a bit skeptical when I pinned this chair, but now it’s true love.

IMG_4877This gem of a bentwood rocker was picked up at an estate sale, and Emily is in the midst of re-finishing it. We decided on a rich black stain to contrast with some of the other furniture in more naturally finished woods. It is such a gorgeously sculptural chair, and is going to look great next to a big plant.

IMG_4933This is part of a gallery wall for which I did a preliminary lay-out. Emily has a fair amount of art that she has collected in 20 years of travel, and I love that it’s a mix of media including textiles and photography. We sorted through it all and made decisions about how to frame and hang the best pieces.

To wrap up Day One of our work, it had to be a dinner at one of my favorites in Downtown Napa, Angele Emily and I sat at the bar, where the people-watching and eavesdropping was almost as good as the food and wine!IMG_4892

And then we saw Janeane Garafolo, who I hadn’t really thought about in years, do standup at City Winery. Since Emily and I became friends in college in the 90’s (probably J.G.’s heyday, as far as high-profile work goes), nostalgia made us curious to check out her current act. Happy to say we laughed a lot – her comedy held up!

Day Two was all about shopping. The Napa-Vallejo Flea Market turned out to be NOT what we had imagined (at all!), so we quickly moved on to sourcing vintage furniture online. I introduced Emily to the world of bidding on Ebay. (We missed out on a sweet midcentury credenza, and then found an even better one and won it for a steal!)

Then Emily showed me the brick and mortar stores in Napa that she has been prowling for inspiration.  Poor House is my new favorite, with so many pieces that looked made for my aesthetic – a perfect mix of simplicity and distinctive details.IMG_4923So inspired by everything in the vignette above, from the quilted leather of the chair, to the streak of red on the desk!
IMG_4921The swooping lines and rich walnut finish of the lounge-y chair (above) caught my eye, as did these bar-stools, which hit just the right “warm industrial” note for me with the leather and the leg details.IMG_4915

Antiques on Second is a store I will return to with a truck one day.
IMG_4909I have such a weakness for campaign furniture. My current projects have no room for this folding bench, but I want somebody to give it a home in an entry hall or covered loggia. IMG_4910These chairs also deserve a good home. That green! So much character. I’m going to run with this idea sometime for sure.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday evening and time to head home to L.A.. My farewell to Napa and Emily was made less sad by the spectacular sunset we got to accompany us on the drive to the airport.


I’m not allowed to show up at home after a trip without a special little surprise for my kids, so I made sure to stop at The Roost Napa on my way out to look for gifts. Here’s one I found for myself!

IMG_5042I was going to have so much remorse if I didn’t buy this tote bag. My passion for its playful print is unbridled!! And it will always remind me of this special little trip.IMG_5027

And I didn’t forget my girls, who got these awesome finger puppets. They were only a buck each, and the details are wonderful. As expected, they were a hit with this little monster.
IMG_5022Weekend Mission Accomplished! A bit of work, a bit of play, and lots of fresh inspiration for this project and my work next year. Thanks, Emily!!


Take Me Away // Bemelmans Bar, NYC

This weekend I attended a charming baby shower with a “classic children’s books” theme. It got me thinking about one of my very favorite places to have a drink!  Bemelmans Bar is at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. It is named after Louis Bemelmans, creator of the Madeline series of books. His murals cover the walls of the bar, making it a most unusual and delightful place to throw one back.


Bemelmans’ characters even adorn the lampshades on the tables! I love all the detail – there is so much to take in, but it all feels very warm and soothing.


This bar is the only place where Bemelmans’ work is on display to the public. The space has a dark, clubby feeling at all times of the day, but the whimsical scenes the artist painted on the walls make it an uplifting place to drink. BB7Sitting in this bar for a little while, as I often do when I am in New York, puts me in touch with that part of my childhood self that wanted to jump into the books I read.  Sipping an Old Cuban at the same time makes me very glad to be a grown-up! This place is a treasure.




Take Me Away // Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford

The Napa Valley has been a favorite getaway for me and my husband since we were old enough to drink!  The scenery is unbelievable, the pace is relaxed, and everywhere you go, people are passionate about producing great wines – and food to go with it.
Napa_Valley_from_Auberge_du_Soleil_1Recently, a design project involving an intimate winery tasting room called me up there for a couple of days. I was sure to steal some time to spend on the patio of the restaurant at Auberge Du Soleil. It’s the best spot I know in the Valley to eat and drink something delish, while taking in breathtaking views.

2a357032ada8c52947ec1282c26c2e5cA stay at Auberge Du Soleil could break the bank, but a nice brunch, lunch or afternoon cocktail is pretty accessible. If you find yourself in the Napa Valley, make the drive up the hill and take advantage of this beauty.

d7e3f24207bbd873f6c13393eb424d7cAnd what a fun sculpture garden!a8cbfe33605a108cee77f67f7dd87718

Images // 1, 2, 3, 4

Take Me Away // Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire

I hardly know where to start with Matisse. His colorful paintings captured my heart at a young age, and my affection for his work has never diminished. One place I absolutely want to visit one day is this chapel he designed in Vence, in the South of France. It was  completed in 1951, after Matisse spent four years working on every aspect of the design. He called the result his masterpiece. Who am I to argue? Take Me To Church!

bffdb4155f69a9e061322361a49684b0 Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.04.40 PM
e2f6fda2ea9866af148a3235b8242f1d 79f86481098fc9520a8ff1b4d2b48dae 377480c0c040bbc1e545b1863bc0214aI love this intricately carved confessional door! A concept for some special door or screen I may design one day.
416f1c1bfed005b92be9e74557e9736f 65cae743134a65821ac8393592e0dab7 Matisse even designed the vestments for the priests! How rad are these?80ad40bed8b1597214e91d9d3dcec1b0


Images // 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Take Me Away // Watson’s Bay Beach Hotel

This time of year, I get a little homesick for Australia.  I miss Christmas dinners that look like this.

a9ffb676c1dabf5b01d7693ba981ecbcAnd the sight of a man awkwardly wearing a Santa suit on the beach makes me nostalgic.


I found these images on the blog of the Watson’s Bay Hotel in Sydney, after this gorgeous design by Jeremy Bull caught my eye on Pinterest.


I love the minty shade of the bar, so fresh! Looking at this picture, I can practically smell the sea air and taste a fruity cocktail.

Meanwhile, the indoor dining spaces at the Watson’s Bay Hotel make me think of a contemporary Swedish country house. I can’t resist the combination of white with wood tones, and the overall airiness of the design .


Everything appears so simple, but if you look at the details like the ceilings and the wood panels, you can see that this is a really thoughtful design.

Watson's Bay hotelI haven’t been to this hotel yet, but no trip to Sydney would be complete for me without time at the beach in Watson’s Bay. Now I know where I will be drinking afterwards.


Photos via Watson Bay Hotel Blog and ChicTip.com

Take Me Away // Norton Simon Museum

 The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is an overlooked L.A. treasure.  It is large enough to have some really varied and impressive collections, and small enough to be a low-key outing. Admittedly, the architecture is a bit on the Brutal side for my taste.


But there is magic within these walls!

2011-07-26-basel_muralAbove: Basel Mural I, 1956-58 by Sam Francis

I always feel inspired by a wander through the Modern and Contemporary Art gallery, ending in a stroll through the peaceful sculpture garden, designed by Nancy Goslee Powers .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Maillol lady, La Montagne, is an old friend.


I love to get a little lost in a piece of art, so my favorite spot is a bench in front of this huge painting called Autumn: The Chestnut Gatherers by Georges Lacombe. The scale of the piece and its depth of color make me feel like I’m watching a play. It is mesmerizing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.21.08 PM


Photos: NortonSimon.org and Fififlowers.com