Happy Anniversary to the Urban Electric Company!

I’m thrilled to tell you that my great friends at the Urban Electric Company in Charleston are celebrating a special milestone:  A decade of American craftsmanship.

I placed my first order with UECo nine years ago and instantly fell in love with both their handcrafted lighting and their incredible service.  This is a company in a class by itself, as you’ll see in this celebratory anniversary video.

Thank you, UECo, for including me in your celebration.  Happy, happy birthday and many more!

sunroomThe Urban Electric Company's Garrison Wall Lightkitchen clg052410920053

How to Work with a Color Consultant

nurseryA fantastic article, 17 Things Color Consultants Want You to Know, by lead Houzz contributor, Becky Harris, came out on houzz.com this week.  It is very thorough and really explains working with a color consultant–the process, rough costs and the benefits.  I’m thrilled to be included in Becky’s article because I truly love learning about color and sharing my expertise.  As Becky aptly points out, color consultants love what they do!

Chapter 1: Book-Filled Spaces with Volumes of Style


For someone who blogs on the subject of Slow Luxe Living, the pace around here has been anything but slow. So…..my sincere apologies for the blog hiatus. I assure you I was not snoozing, although that certainly sounds appealing. I’ve been operating at warp speed the past few months.

One of the things I have been doing is working on the La Jolla view project I mentioned about a month ago. Last I posted on this project, we were in schematic design phase. Well, now we are getting close to submitting plans. One of the must-haves on this project was room for lots and lots of books.

I love that!

Books add warmth to a home–and I don’t think you can say that about any electronic reader, can you? Here’s how I see it: Books tell you a story and then they tell your story.

If you’ll allow me a brief rant, I’m just not crazy about the current trends to turn all your books spine side in on the shelf, to color coordinate books or to buy vintage books simply to merchandise a shelf. I’m simply not a fan of any design trend that feels like it’s trying too hard.  To me, books aren’t props or accessories.  But, I won’t belabor this point…..

What’s your take on this?

Anyway, it’s always a privilege when I have the chance to work with clients who value books. And, in this case, we were inspired and challenged to create some very unique spaces for books.

One of these spaces is a “glass box” library that will sit off a main hallway–a bit like that wonderful library in the first image.

Another book-filled space will be the dining room. Finding a spot for this was a challenge because of the traffic pattern and the amazing ocean views. We came up with something like the floating bookshelves in the bottom image by McAlpine Booth Ferrier. We’ll have one of these between the kitchen and dining room, with room for an existing furniture piece on the kitchen side and bookshelves on the dining side.

So tell me, have you carved out any novel spots for books in your home?  And have you read any good books this summer?  Do share!

All images via Pinterest

My Slow Luxe Life, Unplugged and Recharged

I just spent a week unplugged.  Not wireless, but totally unplugged.  Off the grid.  As in no iPad, iPhone, MacBook, iPod or other devices.

First, my husband and I spent a few days in Texas with my parents and my 99 year-old Grandma Lola.  Fortunately, there was not enough time for a Scrabble game because she still beats me every time.  It must be all that practice doing the New York Times crossword puzzle….

After that, we headed to my parents’ cabin in Ruidoso, in the mountains of southern New Mexico.  We loved being in the cabin and in the pine forest, hanging out on the porch with my folks and starting the day together with a long hike.

The deer and elk, by the way, live on the river facing their cabin and they come right up to the house every morning.
As always, I was inspired by my mother’s design sense.  While my parents’ home in Texas is edited and sophisticated and the cabin in Ruidoso is full of unusual collections and it’s a bit intentionally rough around the edges, both homes have a distinctive narrative.  They tell the stories of their city life and their country life, their family and friends and they tell the stories of artisans and craftsmen who have contributed to them.

The cabin is full of art done by local artists (friends of my parents), books, family photos, quirky collections like my mother’s paint-by-numbers, embroidered testers, Western bronzes, bears in trees and the menus she collected when we lived in Paris.  In anyone else’s hands, it would be a horrifying hodge podge, but Phyllis May’s curatorial eye organizes all this into something so wonderful you don’t ever want to leave.

Moving on, we spent the last few days of our vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with my brother and sister-in-law and our cute, cute nieces, Tessa and Samantha.  Hiking through the mountains in the morning is awe-inspiring.  It reminded me of something I was told years ago and try to remember:

All of your design problems are solved in nature.

What do you think of that?  Is Mother Nature ever “off”?  How are you inspired by nature in your own design?

Happy to be back and feeling quite energized by my technology break!  Have a great week…..

It’s a Slow, Slow Summer. In a Good Way.

Via Pinterest

It’s hard to blog about Slow Design and Slow Living if you’re Designing Fast/ Living Fast/Eating Fast.  It’s just a bit disingenuous.  Like speeding to get to a yoga class.

This weekend, thanks to our good friend, Jack Ford, we went into Slow Mode.  Very Slow.  On horseback.  All through Warner Springs, over the Pacific Crest Trail, stopping for a picnic under a stand of old California Live Oaks.  Even the lunch was Slow.  I’m still savoring it.

Jack owns TAJ Farms in Valley Center, a CSA subscription farm in Valley Center (North San Diego County), dedicated to sustainable and responsible agricultural practices.  In addition to households like mine, he supplies pasture-raised beef, chicken, turkey, goat, lamb and rabbit to a number of local San Diego farm-to-table restaurants, like the Linkery and El Take It Easy in North Park.

TAJ Farms

Jack Ford of TAJ Farms

Well, Jack also happens to be an amazing cook.  So, our picnic included a melon salad with mint and balsamic vinegar.  Free range chicken, arugula and sun dried pesto on focaccia.  Grilled Portobellos, Bufala mozzarella and basil on focaccia bread.  And a garbanzo bean salad with roasted garlic, eggplant, olive oil, lemon and  black olives.  It was truly Farm-to-Picnic Table Slow Luxe Food.  I had a hard time hoisting myself up on my horse, Lacy.  I managed.  I love to ride and it was a perfect blue-sky sunny San Diego day.

On the way home, we decided to stop in Valley Center at the tasting room of our friends, winemakers Chris Broomell and Alysha Stehly of Vesper Vineyards.  When we arrived, they were setting up for a wine club release party and welcomed us with a taste of their Mourvedre Rose and a tour of the facilities.  Chris and Alysha create compelling local wines with minimal intervention.  (We ended up staying for the party, by the way.  Oh, twist….)

Cris Broomell and Alysha Stehly

We tried their Vermentino, their Viognier and their Syrah.  They only make twenty cases of each.  All three were delicious and interesting, but the Syrah is notable because it’s produced whole cluster (they throw the stems in, too), foot-stomped and bottled in small quanlities.  Very Old World.

We left with a refillable one-litre bottle of their addictive Rose, a dozen gorgeous brown and aqua eggs, four cantaloupes, half a dozen tomatoes and yellow squash and a delicious watermelon.  Oh, and a few other bottles for gifts.Vesper Vineyards label

By the way, Vesper Vineyards’ one-liter bottles are refillable at Triple B Ranches in Valley Center, while their wines are available on tap at The Linkery, El Take It Easy and Tiger! Tiger!  in North Park in San Diego.  Vesper Vineyards and its growers are constantly looking for way to minimize their impact on the environment.  They’ve accomplished this by reducing their use of glass bottles, corks, capsules, labels and cardboard cases, along with their production and shipping.   Explains Chris, “By filling reusable kegs with the equivalent of 26 bottles of wine we have eliminated so much of our carbon footprint that it’s going to take me a while to figure out the calculation. The wines we keg are the exact same that we bottle, and filled on the same day so that there is no difference in quality.”

the linkery

Vesper Vineyards has Wine on Tap at San Diego restaurants and Triple B Ranch. That’s Slow Luxe Wine!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  I hope you’re also enjoying a bit of the Slow Life.  Drop me a line.  Dash off a digital postcard from wherever you are this summer, my Slow Luxe Sweeties!  Miss you….

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Edwin Blue Furniture

Here’s what it says on Edwin Blue Furniture’s Facebook Page bio:  “At Edwin Blue, our mission and namesake is dedicated to reviving the spirit of a time that treasured things built to last.”

Okay.  My knees are weak.  I think I’ll have a seat.  (This one is the gorgeous Rise Arm Chair…..)

Edwin Blue was founded by industrial designer Clayton Vogel and architect Matthew Hufft.  The two longtime friends set out to put their unabashed idealism into practice, designing and building beautiful, functional, inheritable furniture.  Vogel and Hufft were inspired by the reputation the United States once held as a nation of makers.  They sought to do their part to earn that reputation back with their collection of thoughtfully-designed, hand-crafted furntiure.

Simple lines, generous proportions and a focus on sustainable, high-quality materials distinguish Edwin Blue furniture.

Designed for the contemporary market, the furniture is built through mostly traditional means by a team of craftspeople in the century-old stable that now houses the Edwin Blue studio.

“We create furniture that people want,” Clayton recently told Architects + Artisans.  “To do that, it has to be executed in a timeless manner so that not only will you like it, but your children and grandchildren will too.”

This kind of precise detailing–the type that appears clean and simple–is anything but simple.  The process is excruciatingly precise, much like creating a fine piece of jewelry.

Edwin Blue only uses responsibly-harvested lumber, and chooses locally-produced or salvaged wood whenever possible. Currently they work with locally sourced timber like Black Walnut, White Oak, Sycamore, Sinker Cypress, as well as FSC-certified Machiche. Grown in Guatemala by local farmers, Machiche has the rich grain and durability of a tropical hardwood and is one of the most sustainably-grown woods in the world. Edwin Blue uses only VOC-free finishes on its wood furniture.

“It’s as green as we can make it, and still make it heirloom quality,” he says.

Edwin Blue’s work is aimed at accentuating the owner’s experience (of course, it elevates the maker’s experience, too.)  Every piece is made to order with the client in mind, like a limited edition art piece.

All this, of course, is Slow Luxe Design–the farm-to-table of the home.  Thoughtfully designed, heirloom quality, sustainable materials, handmade in America.

For more information on Edwin Blue furniture, go to http://edwinblue.com/.  All images via Edwin Blue.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Christopher Peacock

I’m delighted to tell you that the one and only Christopher Peacock is in the Slow Luxe house this Mid-Week.  Yes, my dear friends.  That Christopher Peacock.  The Christopher Peacock who has been whipping up some of the world’s most delicious kitchens in his company’s American workshop going on twenty years.  And to celebrate this twenty-year milestone, they’ve recently debuted the highly anticipated Culinarium Collection.

This spectacular collection is a nod to the color, style and the romantic countryside of Denmark, The Netherlands and Flanders. The Collection exemplifies the ultimate in luxury and quality.  “Culinarium is an important part of our global luxury strategy.  I’ve chosen a blend of painted cabinetry and hand-selected white quarter sawn oak to exist together in a room.  Culinarium takes on a more traditional feel as I’ve chosen to use cladding on the end panels in the room and I’ve made the door styles and rails wider.  There is a chunkiness to the entire Collection, including the rounded hutch.  What’s always thrilling for me is the hardware. I’m introducing polished copper hardware for its first showing.  The rounded pulls and chic knobs are truly elegant, stunning and are destined to become iconic, and, I believe, fated to become the fashion.  To say the least, I’m extremely proud of our work,” says Peacock.

Headquartered in Connecticut with showrooms in Greenwich, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, and representation through a select group of design associates, Christopher Peacock products have been manufactured exclusively in the United States for 20 years. Every room of cabinetry is made to order and specifically detailed for the individual client. Using only the finest materials, his team of craftsmen fashion raw timbers into cabinetry suited for every room in the home. From kitchens to libraries, to spectacular bathrooms, Christopher Peacock remains the benchmark of taste and understated elegance.

I find the detailing of the new Christopher Peacock collection entirely fresh.  I admit I was smitten by the hardware from moment I laid eyes on it.   What do you think?  Can you see polished copper handles in your future?  What do you think of the chunkiness of Culinarium and the mix of materials?

Or do you prefer some of the past work we’ve seen from Christopher Peacock Home pictured below?  For me, it’s all about the perfect understated mix of ingredients, whether traditional or modern, kitchen, bath or library and impeccable American craftsmanship.

Drop me a line, darlings.

I’ll be curled up with a good book in that bottom photo waiting to hear from you….

All images via Christopher Peacock Home.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Series: A Sneak Peek at the Urban Electric Company’s New Steven Gambrel Collection

Did you pick up a particularly lucky penny recently?  Are your stars in perfect alignment?  You must be doing something right because today is your lucky day!  Today is the day you are getting a behind-the-scenes v.i.p. preview of The Urban Electric Company’s  drop-dead gorgeous new Steven Gambrel collection.

I sincerely hope that you are sitting down.  I have to tell you that, when I first got a glimpse of this stunning collection, I personally had a bit of an “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” moment.  This sophisticated collection, which officially launches June 1st, is a merging of one of the most talented designers in the country, Steven Gambrel, and the unparalleled bench-made American craftsmanship of The Urban Electric Company.

Based on utility fixtures, such as those from the shipping industry, Gambrel then mixed in elements that were more decorative, so that the collection feels both familiar and completely unpredictable, utilitarian and entirely sophisticated.  The Malplaquet, for example, is based on an industrial light, but it’s fitted with striped custom glass that pushes it well beyond convention.

If you want the full behind-the-scenes experience, I invite you to view this video, The Making of the Steven Gambrel Collection.  It really showcases Gambrel’s inspiration and vision for the collection and the amazing collaborative process that went into the collection.

Here’s a peek at the Gilfroy and the Boxbridge:

Here are some other highlights of the Steven Gambrel Collection–and my personal favorites, by the way.

Kardamyli offers a great-looking flush-mount option, which is not always easy to find.

The Abbott wall light has clean, go-anywhere good looks, smart details and I can see it in so many different finishes.  (Okay, I admit, I’m a sucker for a well-placed slotted screw…..)

I’m completely smitten with the Erddig fixtures for their timeless simplicity.  One for the table.  One for the wall.  One for the floor.  And the split finish possibilities!  Well, for me, these are the classic Chanel cap-toes of the collection.

And then there are the lovely lyrical Suffolk chandelier and the handsome Houghton.

Every time I look at the collection, I notice another delicious detail.  Like the petite glass ball at the bottom of the Suffolk.  Stunning!

What do you think?  Tomorrow is the official launch.  Will you be heading to The Urban Electric Company web site to see the rest of the collection?  Drop me a line, darlings!

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Galbraith & Paul

Yesterday, my very stylish friend and nieghbor, Sue, told me she was ready for a refreshing redo in her wonderful, breezy ocean view La Jolla home.  Immediately, the subtle block printed fabrics of Galbraith & Paul sprang to mind.  They are a perfect combination of elegant handmade artistry, fresh, yet sophisticated, colors and intricate patterns that seems perfectly suited to my friend and her amazing home.  And guess what?  Galbraith & Paul is perfect for today’s Mid-Week Made-In-America Series!

Galbraith & Paul was founded in Philadelphia in 1986 by Liz Galbraith & Ephraim Paul as a hand papermaking studio specializing in lighting.  Now, this studio workshop specializes in hand block printed textiles, handmade rugs, and studio printed wallpaper available to the trade. The wall covering is a newer addition and it is designed by Liz Galbraith.  (I am definitely seeing my friend, Sue’s, powder room in one of these gorgeous papers.)

By the way, these talented artists also make a line of block printed pillows and lighting exclusively for Room & Board.

Artisans in the Galbraith & Paul Studio work together to create fabrics with a subtle and elegant spirit.  In true studio workshop tradition, designs evolve in original and unexpected ways.  In my mind, this is what truly sets the design experience of using a handcrafted product apart from a machine made product.  Galbraith & Paul studio members care about the process of making as much as the product itself–and their dedication to their craft truly shines through.

What I love about Galbraith & Paul are the wonderful tiny imperfections in the hand-blocked surface. These are the telltale signs of craft.  If you take a look at the image of the G & P artist creating this Lotus pattern below, you can see what that is about.  Aaaah, Galbraith & Paul….you’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me. Wasn’t that a Grace Jones song back in the ’80s?

All images via Galbraith & Paul.

These Hand-Printed Made-In-America Textiles Are Spot On

On Friday afternoon, I kicked off a great weekend with a spin around Mission Bay on my bike with my husband. It was beautiful San Diego weather and exactly what I needed. Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid. I grew up in a small-town Texas neighborhood where we spent all summer long on our bikes. Schwinns with banana seats. We rode to the tennis courts, swimming pools, friends’ houses and didn’t come home until dark.

Polka dots have the same energizing effect on me. They never take themselves too seriously. I love them in almost any kind of room to inject a bit of freshness and levity and these are some of my favorites, all hand-printed in America. Some are from Galbraith & Paul out of Philadelphia and some are from Studio Bon Textiles out of Dallas. How about you? Do you connect with the dots? By the way, all of these images are via my Pinterest, although wouldn’t it be awesome if I really did have a bike like that?