While I totally think the world of my father and his slightly-off sense of humor, I absolutely loathe buying gifts for the man. And as I creep into mid-thirtysomething territory at warp speed, I start to think of what exactly I’d want if/when I have rugrats of my own. Sure, I work in the design industry, so it’s pretty much a sure thing I’m gonna want something decorative, personal and meant for my home; however, there’s a fine line between classic masculine and cliche dude styles. Beer steins and pool tables? No. Pinstripes and Milo Baughman-esque finishes? Oh, why yes, yes indeed, that sounds remarkably wonderful. If you’re struggling, trying to think of timeless home-related gifts for Dad, check out some of these great finds available online or through showrooms. Then, after that, toss those beer can koozies in the trash or set them on fire. Happy Father’s Day!
If you ever thought picnics and Big Daddy mixed together just sounded kinda wrong, think again. Boxsal creates eco-conscious, disposable picnic sets that rock, literally. One of them, Urban Picnic, is a cardboard replica of an old-school boombox. The other, Office Escape, is a cardboard version of a classic leather briefcase. Both open up to reveal components essential to enjoying delicious bites outdoors.
Buck the velvet artwork of dogs playing poker and instead consider wrapping Dad in something classic. The Scotland Forever Throw available through Amazon.com is something that will keep any father warm and snugly as well as timelessly cool at the same time. Made of lambswool, it’s available in several colors and retails for $105.
Last week I received a text from my LA-tastic friend Casey while on a business trip to South Beach which read “Have you ever seen Viceroy Miami? This place has your name written all over it.” I flat out lied to Casey in my response by saying, “Yeah, it’s my fave.” No, truth is I had not been to Viceroy Miami; however, I’d gone to Kelly Wearstler’s site to many times that it felt as though I’d been there in person. Come to think of it, I spend way too much time on her site, so much that I may eventually be considered a stalkerator (get it? decorator + stalker = stalkerator?). Casey was totally right though; from its unexpected use of materials, play on scale and proportion, and love-it-or-hate-it-I-don’t-care use of color, everything about Viceroy Miami is just my style.
But I will tell you where I have been: The Tides South Beach, another uber-amazing hotel that design superstar Wearstler created that manages to actually make beige look interesting, edgy and totally fresh. While both of these hotels are groundbreaking on so many levels, there ain’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’m ever gonna have a budget that large to reinvent beige or hang a school-bus-sized crystal chandelier over an indoor pool. But I will tell you what I do have a chance at: taking some of Kelly the Great’s ideas and adapting them for mere mortal decorators working with budgets more fit for the Motel 6. Take a look at some Wearstler-tastic eye candy and some realistic ways to take that same concept home. PS – Ms. Wearstler, I love you. - Stalkerator
One look into the restaurant at The Tides South Beach and you’ll instantly be drawn to the graphic, textural collection of tortoise shells adorning the wall above the banquettes. Well, I would very much like to have this, too. However, this works well in a restaurant with expansive, open space. In a home with 12-foot by 8-foot walls, notsomuch. But…there is a way to get the same effect on a much smaller level.
There’s a line in my all-time favorite black comedy, Ghost World, where an 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson says to her best friend, Thora Birch, “This reminds me of your little old lady phase.” She was referring to an eccentric non-conformist’s brief stint wearing clothes meant for women four times her age. The character didn’t care that others considered her style of dress lame, silly or little-old-lady; she thought it was cool and rocked it out.
What the hell does this have to do with a decorating blog? Well, I often feel that items deemed little-old-man or little-old-lady-ish are often the most awesome pieces simply awaiting creativity for a fresh new look. In fact, it’s what I search for first as I sift through the inventory at flea markets and thrift stores. Luckily, it’s usually the last thing others pay attention to. Speaking of paying attention, take a look at these pieces once deemed old but show no signs of their secret past thanks to some clever reinvention. You know what else is in the past and I hope it stays that way forever? The mauve and brass combo circa 1986. Good riddance!
Turn Old Spinsters Into Bold Stylistas
I cannot tell you how many clients open my initial consultation with this line: “We want the look and feel of the W Hotel in our home.” Since when did hotels become the leading source of inspiration for residential interiors? Whenever it was, I like that time; I like it a lot. I’ve stayed at or visited three W Hotels. While I appreciated the efficiency and locale of the Times Square location, the buffalo-ish stampede of tourists charging the sidewalks just outside the front doors made me wanna pop a Xanax (and I detest pills). As for the West Hollywood location, the perfect weather and genetically blessed guests soaking up the sun by the pool were uber-dreamy; however, it made me feel horrible for being pale and wanting to scarf down a cheeseburger.
And then there’s superdecorator Thom Filicia‘s designs at the W Hotel Atlanta Buckhead, located in the city’s premiere shopping district. Uh-may-zing. The hotel’s milieu for both for service and aesthetics has been referred to as having (a) urban style merged with the city’s deep history and culture and (b) traditions of Southern hospitality. Taking a stroll through one of Thom’s masterful spaces while on your way to enjoying a cocktail in the lounge or checking into the Wonderful Room for a night or two is a perfect way to experience his work up-close-and-personal, plus walk away with some ideas. Here’s a gander at some of Thom’s clean and classic work in the down-and-dirty South.
Prepare to be Thom Filicia’d, Contemporary Southern-Style
When I was 23, I spent the night in a horrible, it-rubs-the-lotion-on-its-skin-or-else-it-gets-the-hose-again type motel after visiting a college friend. From the sandpaper-ish sheets and sinister guests to the foil-wrapped-TV and smell of mold, everything about it left me scared to sleep anywhere besides an actual home. But Silence of the Lambs flashbacks vanished when, in my late twenties, I encountered the glorious joy known as business travel — the kind that involves gorgeous hotels paid for by the same nice people who issue paychecks. From stunning, big-money chains in Los Angeles to ultra-modern boutiques in Manhattan, I’ve luxuriated in the best of hotel design. However, since I dig fun over fancy, I recently found the mothership of let’s-just-have-a-darn-good-time lodging…Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. As a huge fan of all things retro, this Disney resort is a dream come true, one packed with gigantic, colorful nostalgia and shiny, happy people everywhere. A larger than life time warp journeying from the 1950′s through the 1990′s that will have you saying phrases like ‘remember when’ and explaining to your children the concept of cassettes and mixed tapes.
So, what happens if you fall in love with the overall idea of something over the top but want to adapt it into your own home in a less-is-more manner? How do you take away big ideas from hotels, retail stores or theme parks, then make them liveable? I’m glad you asked! Take a look at some of these jaw-dropping inspiration images, then check out toned-down Aha! ideas certain to add artistic nostalgia without swallowing spaces entirely. Hey, if your significant other won’t let you have a nine-foot Sony Walkman to workout to in the backyard, maybe there’s a next best thing that makes for a better use of space…and won’t scare away the neighbors.
Click Here for the Big Idea
A while ago, I went to Epcot for an HGTV stage presentation assignment. While on stage, I decided to take a poll from the design-savvy guests on various topics including: color, professional lawn care, slipcovers, sofa pricing and wallpaper. At first, people were hesitant to speak up, especially since the crowds were un-small and my Alpha dog, chop-chop, let’s-get-to-the-point personality can be kinda intimidating. While certain topics such as slipcovers and lawn care warranted less interest from the crowd, color doubled both as a design enthusiast’s punching bag and designer MVP. After six presentations over three days, here are the three hues unanimously agreed on as the most beloved for interiors: gray, blue-gray and languid blues. Take a look through these House Beautiful images to see how these tones work in different rooms of the house. Thank the heavens they didn’t agree on beige. If that were the case, this entire post may never have existed.
Designer Albert Hadley - House Beautiful
The Big Three
When I initially meet with new clients, I request they bring tear sheets of their favorite shelter magazine rooms with them. Nine times out of ten, either the spaces are celebrities in their own rights, or the interiors belong to actual celebrities. The usual suspects? Jenna Lyons’ black, white and yellow Brooklyn home from Domino, Thom Filicia’s lake house, or Sarah Jessica Parker’s house in The Hamptons. Over the past year, a whole new batch of famous — or famous people’s — homes have made their way into the mix. Albeit uber-feminine, gender-neutral or bachelor-chic, here’s four different celebrity homes certain to always be ready for their closeups.
Which Rocker Calls This Home?
Back in college, I was so broke that I didn’t even have a phone. Always a month or two behind on car payments, I’d park my shiny, red 2-door Honda Civic a few blocks away to avoid repossession. While being penniless sucked really bad, I made the most of it, even managing to fully design my apartment complete with a good-looking, comfy sofa. In fact, no matter what my financial position has been, I’ve always gone without certain things — some important and some not — to be able to afford great seating.
Sure, those two-paychecks-away-from-living-in-a-tent days are long behind me; however, I still have a financial threshold for how much I’ll spend on a sofa: $2500. Whether it’s recovering a vintage piece or buying something brand-spanking-new, I find this to be the magic number. To prove my point, here are five fantastic sofas all $2500 or less. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What’s the maximum amount of money you’d spend on a sofa and why? Check Out Brian’s Fab Five
Okay, so I’m totally not into all this royal wedding mumbo jumbo—like, at all. In fact, I change the channel immediately when I see graphics sporting the words “Kate”, “William” and/or “April 29th”. When asked to write an article about The Royal Wedding and decorating, I struggled to find an angle until I thought about getting inside the oh-so-proper digs and shaking things up a bit by going unconventional. After a few hours googling terms like “modern royal”, “contemporary English” and “cheeseburger sombrero” (hey, why not?), I came across some great spaces and items that, when used correctly, could reinvent royal interiors in a not-so-safe, less expected manner. Or should I say “manor”? Oh bloody play-on-words hell, let’s get to it already.
Ah, the classic handsome English library—overall a sophisticated man’s world. The graphic lines of the wood paneling are just about the only thing in this space that could even remotely have an iota of modern appeal. Hmmm, what would a totally modern, manly-yet-Victorian-inspired library have? Glad you asked, hit “more” please.
So I have this friend who has a titanic design crush on a particular superdesigner on HGTV, Sarah Richardson. This super smart, super tall friend (whose name I shall not mention) has a lot in common with Ms. Richardson: both started behind the scenes as set decorators before transitioning on to the small screen as hosts, they both run production companies and produce their own content, and they both seem adamant about tailored draperies and upholstery in just about every space. Of all the interiors featured on the network, everything Sarah touches — whether it’s client’s homes on Design Inc. or her own properties on Sarah’s House — looks as though it’s an ElleDECOR cover shot come to life. If you’re unfamiliar with the stunning spaces of Sarah Richardson, allow my friend to serve you up a bowl of eye candy via Ms. Richardson’s HGTV portfolio. Although I’d like to also reveal the identity of my friend, I simply cannot; however, I will give you a hint: I am him.
Sarah’s mixing of prints is often like a master class in both pattern and scale.
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