POSTS BY Brian Patrick Flynn

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Dilly-dally. The word I detest most in the world.

I’m more impatient than a Seacrest-taunted American Idol finalist suffering a commercial break. (I prefer decisions to be made immediately, before the devil on my right shoulder opens his pessimistic mouth.) Plus, I find wishy-washy thinking a major waste of time.

Both reasons considered, I’m not exactly the best person to go shopping with. It’s truly a gift to be so focused a shopper that you can find exactly what you want, whip out the wallet, strap your new-found treasure to the roof of your car then schlep it right through the front door — like a single Hitchcockian take.

For many of us, shopping is more punishment than pleasure. I find it’s not the actual looking/feeling/pricing that’s torturous; it’s the driving/parking/walking. In an attempt to ditch dilly-dallying from Seattle to Savannah, I’ve asked design bloggers across the country to curate the best boutiques in their hometown.

To kick off the series, I decided to start with the Richter-scale-rad City of Angels. The shopper? The genetically-blessed, DIY- and decor-savvy Decorista, Ashlina Kaposta.

BPF: First up Ashlina, since we’re talking L.A., let’s talk Hollywood.

From WeHo to Venice

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Religion and politics: the worldwide dynamic duo of topics unwelcome at dinner parties. Known amongst my social circle as the designated diplomat, neither subject gets me heated since I see the pros and cons of each. However, bring up beige at my table and you’ll be sent home before supper.

A world without color is like a song without sound; it baffles me that bold, high-energy hues are often perceived as juvenile, garish or over the top. Although I love a muted blue-gray as much as the next guy, I also love me some turquoise.

However, instead of going on and on all about MY particular thoughts on color, I turned to two design bloggers who are just as passionate about haute hues: the UK’s own Will Taylor from Bright.Bazaar and Atlanta’s “oh-no-she-did-not-just-write-that” Jenny Andrews from My Favorite and My Best. Proof that color/colour has no boundaries: both the Atlantan female blogger and European male stylist/blogger have the same favorite room — that’s in New York.

The Great Color Debate

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There’s a new gal in town, folks, and although based in small town Arkansas, she’s taking over the design world one shelter magazine, show house, decorating blog and speaking panel at a time. Who’s that girl, you ask? The Natural State’s own Tobi Fairley, a tastemaking interior designer whose crisp, tailored style is knocking the socks off of editors, decorators and designers everywhere.

The southern belle first caught my eye with a cerulean living room she designed which made the cover of House Beautiful (March, 2010: The Color Issue). After reading the article, I was hooked. Next came her blog which hooked me even more.

A few hours later, after clicking up, down and all around the Interwebs, it seemed impossible to choose a favorite Tobi Fairley project. Each space is like a master class in tailoring, color, scale and proportion. Overcome with inspiration, I decided to reach out to the It Girl myself and find out exactly how she does it. From art and upholstery to drapes and accessories, here’s the 411 on all things tailored, all things timeless and all things Tobi.
Tobi or Not Tobi?

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You know how Letterman, Leno and Ellen sometimes surprise their celebrity guests by rolling in D-List footage from their pasts from local commercials to tiny parts in disastrous TV pilots? Most of the time the big shots laugh it off, jump in their limos, then chuckle all the way home as drivers deliver them to the front doors of their $25 million mansions. Why should they care, right?

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

How does this blast-from-the-past situation work in regards to professional decorators and designers? Perhaps earlier, unpolished, shot-with-a-point-and-click images evoke a nostalgic, look-how-far-I’ve-come feeling. Or, on the flipside, maybe they cheapen the refined, respected brand that took years of hard work to create and tens of thousands of dollars to have professionally photographed.

I decided to put myself to the test by sorting through dozens of totally out-of-focus, um-that-angle-is-like-totally-wrong photos. From my first 323 sq ft city apartment to the first paid job, all the way to the first published project, here’s a visual evolution from strapped-for-cash assistant to freelance kids’ room decorator to outdoor living space dude. Are these representative of my work today? Not necessarily. Do I look back and thank my lucky stars I’m not still slurping up ramen noodles and sleeping on a scratchy, second-hand polyester sleeper sofa? Hell yes.

Humble Thyself

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What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod? Mine is the 2002 smash hit “Barenaked” by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Not only do I have it, I actually listen to it. In fact, I consider it a pertinent part of my getting-the-house-in-order playlist.

Admitting, as an adult, that you own the same bargain desk or office chair as college freshman worldwide can feel like sharing the most embarrassing song on your iPod. No need to be ashamed, though; ready-made retail done right can be the secret to pulling off an affordable designer space.

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While tons of people obsess over certain Hollywood A-Listers, I find myself weak in the knees for the unsung heroes of glamour — shelter magazine photographers. My obsession is somewhat justified, because, unless you’re going to barge into the home of my latest client, you’re most likely going to see my work (and hire me) through the work of these photographers. And interiors shoots are kinda fascinating. Not in an OMG-look-what-Suri-Cruise-is-wearing-on-the-playground type way. More like in a WOW-that’s-how-the-Egyptians-made-the-Pyramids kinda way. So prepare to be amazed, like one of those TV specials, as I reveal…secrets of shelter magazine photographers.

After this post, when looking at interior photos, you’ll not only appreciate the work it took to create them, you’ll — like I do — notice the curious absence of everyday things like corners. And toilets. And if you do see them, you’ll know that someone either made a major faux pas or deliberately embraced the photographer’s “kiss of death.”

I could keep typing, but, instead, I’m going to let the professionals do the talking since (a) I find myself irritating after two paragraphs (b) this is all about photographers anyway (c) I have a photo shoot in an hour, and if I don’t leave now, someone else will snatch the peonies, and I’ll be left with Alstroemeria.

EMILY JENKINS FOLLOWILL Photographer

Foyer: Neely Design Associates, Brian Watford ID | Living Room: Liza Bryan Interiors

Clicky-Click for the Q&As

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When people ask me what my favorite movie or album is, I usually lie. For some odd reason, I’m tempted to filter my response with the hope of impressing the person asking the question. Why? I have no idea. While the honest answers are Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead and Tuesday Night Music Club, what comes out of my mouth is an entirely different story.

Christina Applegate in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead

The Rest of the Story

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I have a super-successful older brother who gets a kick out of discrediting my profession. He has a party trick that starts out with him saying, “Hey, wanna see what my overrated, interior-decorator brother considers a “skill”?” Then he picks up a pillow from his own sofa, moves it three inches to the right, hands someone a faux-invoice and says, “I just placed a pillow….so now I’m a designer! That will be one hundred fifty dollars, please.”

As I visualize clocking him in the face with a Christmas ham, I can’t help but think, “Are decorators really perceived as people who simply shop for pillows and paint walls?”

D Vs. D Showdown Cont’d.

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Back in the early 1990s, I sat front and center for the best fight in suburban South Florida history. There were no ropes and no screaming fans; nor were there disgruntled, black-and-white striped dudes with whistles. Featured opponents? My mom and dad. Location: formal living room, 8300 NW 54th St., my tropical childhood home.

Just to fill you in, my parents rarely fought. Even if they did, it would involve (a) coupon-expiration-date-induced bickering over where to eat dinner (b) Thursday Night Remote Control Tug-of-War (Chicago Hope versus NYPD Blue). When they did unabashedly lose their cool like housemates circa episode six of The Real World, I was unapologetically pleased, because it was mostly decorating-based.

The catalyst for that night’s explosion? Straight from the taxidermist, Dad snuck 12 feet of stuffed elk and sailfish in the front door as Mom pulled up from a PTA meeting, dinner in one hand and a 3-year-old in the other. What followed can best be described as the sound of all hell breaking loose.

Meg Ryan Marathon Meets Monday Night Football

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