Archive for March, 2007


Yellow Parlor

Nancy Lancaster’s legendary yellow parlor in London.

yellow parlor

I love:

This yellow.
The silver accents.
The mirror panels around the door.
Hand painted pillows.
Desk behind the sofa.
Blue chairs peeking from behind the skirted table.
The dirty water in the flower vase.

(Photo from Martin Wood–Nancy Lancaster: English Country House Style)


Hotel Chelsea- A Home In Bohemia

Rosie Lounging

I refuse to stay at hotel chains in NY when there are an infinite number of more interesting places to be that are really no more expensive.  On my last trip I decided I needed creative inspiration so I booked a room at Hotel Chelsea, historic host to folks like Jasper Johns, Joan Didion, Dee Dee Ramone, and Janis Joplin (the list is infinite).    

Online reviews and stories from friends who have suspiciously vague recollections of parties there had me a little worried—no coffee makers in the room because they can be used to cook meth (who knew?).  But the hotel website won me over.  I especially like the resident blog, which is like eavesdropping on conversations in the hall.   

You’re never denied the reality of living in an old building at the Chelsea, but considering the borg-like ethics of Manhattan developers, I was grateful for the lived in smell and the still kicking creaks.  Besides, only the halls smell like everybody’s homes rolled into one (people do still live there after all).  The hotel rooms smelled like hotel rooms.   

Rosie got several good looks at the halls.  She won’t ride an elevator in NY that she can’t see out of, so she walked up to my room on the 9th floor several times (I would make fun of her, but all of her neuroses keep her looking 25 even though she‘s 40).  Good news is that there is art lining the filigreed stairwell all the way up and in the lobby, too.   She never got bored.


Isn’t this a fun room?  Believe me, for an old NY hotel, it’s huge.  I had a dressing room, walk-in closet, a kitchenette and a really nice bathroom.  I fell in love with these black patton woven dining chairs.Kris


Oh, and a nice bouquet of impossibly colored and dead (real, but dead) flowers.   In fact, one flower was actually just a stem.  I would say it was a sign of neglect, but my room was always impeccably cleaned.  And the flowers kind of worked with my minimalist/traditional fireplace. 

 Kris and Robyn

My friends Kris and Robin who were attending the same conference came down for breakfast one morning.  We popped over to Big Booty Bakery across the street at the recommendation of one of the hotel’s residents.  Big Booty doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m., but they warm the milk for your coffee, which I think more than makes up for that shortcoming.  Plus their baked goods are baked greats—try the Nutella Booty Bun.   

HC doesn’t need concierge services.  The gentle residents, who all seem to own smallish dogs, are constantly draped around the desk with the most useful advice (Good bagels?  Melvyn’s, around the corner. Where did you get that breakfast sandwich?  Venus on 9th.) I maintain that Manhattanites are the Southerners of the north.  New Yorkers would surely hate the comparison, but they are so friendly and helpful.  There are some differences.  If you annoy a New Yorker they are more likely to stab you in the front than in the back. That and they are less likely to pay retail.  

When I arrived on Thursday morning, staff happily offered to let me check in early.  They didn’t have a key for me (“Our engineer is making your key. You’ll go have lunch.   It’ll be waiting when you get back.”).  I may be a rube, but I’ve learned to do what New Yorkers tell me. They know the lay of the land and that they and you don’t have a lot of time to waste, so their recommendations are usually the most pragmatic and logical in the end.  Oh, and they use metal keys, handcrafted evidently and impossible to lose, a winning combination.  

 I’m sure the Chelsea has been tidied up some for timid Southern/Midwestern boys like me, but I can gladly say it hasn’t lost all of its happy hospitable edge.  Hopefully I can call it my Bohemian home away from home again someday.      


In The Bedroom

…not our bedroom, though I sure wouldn’t mind lifting this one and tucking it into our house.

A new coat of paint, which I would describe as a “moonglow” (Dave and Ken, what was the name and brand of the color again? I need to do a better job of giving sources) presented a good op to highlight Ken and Dave’s bedroom style.

Dave and Ken Bedroom 1

I asked Dave to talk about what he and Ken feel are qualities of a good bedroom:

-Keep color easy on the eye. He limits his primary color choices to any shade between gold and brown, with the occasional pop of robins egg blue. (I would add that he uses creams to keep things from getting too heavy.)

-“I like bedrooms that are living rooms with a bed in them.” They get bonus points if they can serve more than one puprose. Dave, an artist, often turns this room, which is actually their second bedroom, into his painting studio. I know, I don’t know how he keeps it clean either, but he does.

-Keep it personal. Dave likes to go to sleep and wake up surrounded by pictures of his family and friends. They both feel there is never a wrong place in the house for reminders of family.

-Texture is important. Obviously physical comfort is key in a bedroom. Limiting color allows Dave to focus more attention on the “look” of how things feel. There are no fewer than six different textures on the bed alone.


The principles above can be found in their master bedroom as well.

Dave and Ken Bedroom II

Ken helped me style this photo (the poor lighting is all me). The first thing Ken did to ready the room, which was already cleaner and neater than ours ever is, was adjust the bears on the bed, “This one is kind of slouchy.” We took some photos without the bears, but since this is a personal blog and not a design magazine, I decided they should stay.


Goodbye Winter Buffet


Finally time to start thinking about the transition to spring. This wasn’t my favorite winter buffet design. I don’t think it ever really came together. But it did get me through the season and looking at it reminded me of some good people and times.

Close up

-From left to right, the candle was a Christmas present from John.
-The plate stand was from a trip to Target with Dave.
-The Nautica earthenware was an outlet find of John’s (10 place settings and all of the serving pieces for $110.00) on one of our old trips to Branson.
-Mercury ball and the “C” were birthday presents from Dave. The “C” (a Dave original) is for Claire and is wood painted to look like b and w damask. Little cardinal was a Dave Christmas present.
-Sweet red box was part of a Christmas present from Lori.
-The lamp was “at the auction” with John’s mom.
-The runner was on the bargain table at Williams Sonoma as was the mistletoe garland (from Country Friends).

Sometimes good memories can overcome so-so design.


A Good Find

A Good Find

I don’t typically recommend Restoration Hardware (or Resurrection Hardware as Dave calls it) for unique finds, but sometimes I’m surprised by what I see there. I got a set of tin circus plates for some friends at Christmas time that I nearly didn’t mail because I liked them so much (it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done that). This pair of mirrored nesting tables have a modern lightness I like and their distressed finish would free me up from having to keep the room hermetically sealed.

I love mirrored pieces. I just don’t like the idea of keeping them clean. Our house will never be dust and smudge free so we need sympathetic furniture. This finish would work, I just don’t need small tables at the moment.

I saw these a couple of weeks ago, and they were marked down 50% to 250.00 for the pair. I hope they went to a good home–they could go to yours. Let me know if they do and I’ll rush over for a cocktail and fake smoke. Dave and I found the most convincing fake cigarettes at Turandot in Broad Ripple.