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!

Voted Best of Houzz 2013!

Andrea May Hunter Gatherer has been recognized as one of the 2013 Best of Houzz for both Design and Customer Satisfaction. Our portfolio contains some of the most popular images from 2012 among Houzz’s 11 million monthly users. You can see our award-winning work in this “Best of” ideabook.  A big thank you to the Houzz community for this honor.  Thrilled!

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andreamayhg:

Since I completed my True Colour Expert Certification with Maria Killam this year, a lot of my business is color consulting. I really enjoy creating balanced interiors, where color flows harmoniously from one space to the next. Here’s a great idea from Iris Interiors so you can always have a little touch-up paint on hand. Thanks, Iris!

Originally posted on Inspired Design:

I love being organized – it can save so much time if your are able to achieve it!  Pinterest is a great source for organizing and DIY tips, and one day when I have too much time, I will test and implement everyone of those fantastic ideas!

One idea I just recently came up with is to create a paint-touch-up-kit for my clients.  I had been searching for the perfect containers for a while until I realized that small mason jars will do just fine.  With the help of round Avery labels each jar was quickly and easily labelled.

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I kept the jars in the cardboard case they came in which made it is to carry the whole “kit”.

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Lessons learned?  I had purchased mason jars with the 2 part lid.  Next time I will buy jars with a full lid, I think that will work even better. Additionally I…

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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: KGB Limited

As I was agonizing over which Slow Luxe Design company to feature this week–this one or that one or perhaps the other one–a miraculous thing, indeed, occurred.  The decision appeared via email.

I opened my email and the answer was staring at me, in the form of this spare little caramel-colored leather table by KGB Limited.  Otherwise known as My Current Crush, Emile.

The table is handcrafted with a centuries-old technique where water-saturated leather is stretched over a maple frame and molded into shape.  And it’s made in New York City.   So sweet, sleek, chic and altogether irresistible.

Who is this KGB, you ask?   Well, I would tell you but I might have to kill you.  Okay, not really….  KGB Limited is Khouri Guzman Bunce Limited, founded by architects David Khouri and Roberto Guzman and interior designer/sculptor, Christiaan Bunce.  Together, they create a line of handcrafted American furniture which can be seen at their stunning showroom in Chelsea’s Gallery District.

The line is, as they put it, “unapologetically modern but executed in materials and utilizing methods associated with older levels of craftsmanship.”

No apology necessary, gentlemen.

KGB works in some of my favorite materials, including fumed white oak, silicon bronze, Statuario and Nero Marquino marble (and some surprisingly amazing materials I never considered, like Pyrex).

And yes, I am somewhat obsessed over the finger-jointed walnut detail in the Statuario marble.  In fact, it is the thoughtful detailing of all of the KGB pieces that really makes this collection special.

KGB Limited has fashioned sophisticated pieces that employ marquetry, leather molding and precious metal plating techniques.

So, what do you think, my Slow Luxe sweeties?  Which of the KGB Ltd. pieces do it for you?  

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens: New Projects!

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Right now, I’m tying up loose ends on a few projects–and I’m digging into some fantastic new construction projects right here in La Jolla.  I’m so excited about this!

This is one of the parts of any project I love the most:  the blue sky phase.  This is where we bubble out all the need-to-haves and want-to-haves and discover how we can make the home significant for the homeowner.

Then, we go to work on the schematic design.

The lot on my first project has a fabulous ocean view, so siting the house right is absolutely critical.  We’ve spent hours looking at the grading plan, walking the site and scurrying up and down ladders to get onto the existing structures so that we know exactly how everything looks from every spot on the property.  For the record, climbing onto roofs is not my favorite part of the project!

As I said, we’re just beginning the project and everything at this stage is still very schematic.  In other words, we have a general floor plan in place but we haven’t fully fleshed it out–not by a long shot–and everything is still shifting.  So, I’ll wait until we are more finalized on that to post about the floor plan…..

By the way, I’ve worked with the architect on this project for many years and because we’ve done so many projects together, we have an almost telepathic work style.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to team up with her again!

This family wants an indoor/outdoor home, comfortable for entertaining on an intimate as well as a large scale.  Since this La Jolla beach house will be a place for friends and family to visit and to gather, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to accommodate guests of all ages.

So, here are some of the thought bubbles I have so far, via Pinterest.

I’m really liking the idea of using part of the second floor family room for bunk beds.  It’s an efficient use of space.  I love the feel of tucked-away, cozy spots, which can also multipurpose for reading or just hanging out.

Or maybe building a great multi-bunk unit in one of the secondary bedrooms is the way to go.

What do you think of the bunk idea?

Looking forward to sharing this project with you as it progresses!  Hope you are all off to a great week.

Images via Pinterest.