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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

We’re down to the final four — Courtland, Emily, Casey and Michael — and Vern invites the contestants to brunch at Aarón Sanchez’s Centrico. He wants them to take the morning and relax. Everyone is exhausted and so happy to indulge after all the pressure leading up to this point. I mean, I’d need some rest after being subjected to all those wall murals, am I right?

First course is a tropical fruit salad, second is huevos rancheros, third is an elegant corn tamale and fourth is rice pudding empanadas with a mango chutney. They gulp it all down while patting each other on the back. Suddenly Vern walks in with the chef. Like I’ve said before, you never want to see Vern walk in. It’s almost always bad news.

Turns out chef Aarón Sanchez has one of the biggest hits on the Food Network, Chefs vs. City. The contestants are to choose one of the dishes they’ve just devoured as inspiration for this week’s challenge: to create a dining room space. Casey chooses the tamale, Courtland goes with the empanadas, Emily chooses huevos rancheros, which means Michael is left with the fruit salad. The twist is that they have to start with a very lived-in space and must repurpose furniture and materials to create their designs. As if deriving design inspiration from the taste of a meal isn’t hard enough.

Read the rest over at the Design Star Blog

design-happens_bob-photo267x155We recently featured a tour of designer Bob Richter’s NY kitchen — a space that was more museum than kitchen. Bob is back to talk about his biggest design influences and why you can’t have enough stuff in your space. 

1.What inspires your designs?

I’m an old movie buff. My other dream job is to be a host on Turner Classic Movies. What I love most are the sets. Old movies are full of inspiration — breakfast room with a lovely mural, a formal wood-paneled dining room, a sophisticated living room with a grand piano and an art deco fireplace with lots of built-ins. Watch The Philadelphia Story sometime. That house is fantastic — my dream home!

2. Who are some of your favorite designers?
See Bob’s Answer

Thanks to Jennifer for her lovely work covering the International Home Furnishings Market, this week and last. We knew Hollywood Regency was coming, but never anticipated the explosion of comments we had on her first post. We’re going to have to retire the topic for a while, lest you think we come to work dressed in a silk gown with a feather boa — that attire’s reserved for the weekends!

To give you some inspiration going into the weekend — and erase the mental picture I just gave you — it’s time for a linkfest! Here are some things that caught my eye this past week:

Penguin & Fish
from Penguin & Fish

1. Alyssa of Penguin & Fish posts the cutest softies and sketches on her blog. How happy I was to see she also has a shop and an Etsy store!

Wendy Gold art de toilette
from art de toilette

2. If Wendy Gold and I met on the street, I can tell we’d be instant buds. You can commission a made-to-order toilet seat or browse her nine, quirky bathroom scale designs. The chocolate scale is my favorite.

Jill Dryer's artwork
from Jill Dryer

3. Jill Dryer’s artwork is cheeky, bold and features mid-century modern style. Talk about a girl after my own heart! Check out her Etsy shop.

Saffron Marigold sheer curtains
from Saffron Marigold

4. Saffron Marigold’s sheer curtain panels are back in stock and they’re lovely. I can’t believe these are only $22.99 each! Bonus: All the ethnic patterns are block hand printed. I’ve been thinking about purchasing the Red Poppy (middle) for my living room.

Wall Print decals

5. Graphic adhesive wall decals and murals that — surprise! — aren’t from Blik. Julien Salut’s Wall Print vinyl patterns are as affordable as $20. I’d put either of these patterns on my wall and hang a frame around it.

Up until now, the ‘70s have been the no-fly zone of modern design inspiration. While you can find plenty of bathroom fixtures, tiles and furniture that recall eras ranging from 19th century Victorian to 1920s art deco to mid-century mod, the 1970s have been largely avoided. And there’s a good reason for that: ‘70s interior design could be dreadful, especially in the bathroom. Shag carpeting? Wall-to-wall mirrors with etched murals? Foil wallpaper? Oh, boy.

But where others fear to tread, Walker-Zanger bravely steps forward with its new Vibe Mosaics Collection. For use as either flooring or walls, these porcelain and ceramic tiles take the geometric designs and colors of the ‘70s and give them a fresh feel. Make no doubt, these are bold designs intended for bold homeowners, but I’ll bet they’ll stay in fashion much longer than their predecessors.

VibeOdysseyVelvet2.jpg VibeOvalOrbitBlue.jpg

www.walkerzanger.com

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