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…..

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: Lindsey Adelman Studio

This week, more than 500 exhibitors showed their beautiful wares at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC.  One of the standouts was the Lindsey Adelman Studio.  And that, my dear friends, is where I will be shining my Mid-Week Made-In-America spotlight today. Of course, if you already know this studio’s work, such as the Bubble Series, you know it shines all by itself, thank you very much.

Since the studio’s inception in 2006, the Lindsey Adelman Studio’s focus has mainly been on hand-blown glass and brass lighting.  (Or should we say mind-blowing hand-blown glass and brass lighting?  You decide….)  In their NYC studio, this team of ten artisans designs, builds and shows their work.  Lindsey Adelman Studio’s globes are hand-blown in NYC by glass artist Michiko and parts are machined out of solid brass in the U.S..  Through 1:1 scale model-making and testing, forms and ideas evolve collaboratively.

Now, this talented team, led by Creative Director, Lindsey Adelman, is branching out into jewelry, vessels, tiles, and wallpaper, in materials including wood, concrete, porcelain, gold, and stereolithography. With skill and care, the team of 10, along with its small network of local artisans, manufactures each piece to order.

One of the truly unique offerings from the Lindsey Adelman Studio is the You Make It lighting series. This democratic design concept is a whole new chic twist on DIY.  Definitely not the rug-hooking kits of my youth.  This is a series of lights designed with standard industry parts that you build with the Lindsey Adelman Studio’s instructions.  You can make a chandelier, a mobile, a clamp lamp or a sconce. As the studio explains it, experimenting with off-the-shelf parts is how Lindsey Adelman herself got started before designing and manufacturing the custom system for the Bubble Series.

So gorgeous.  So amazing. Now, even one of the most luxurious handcrafted American lighting collections is available for DIYers. What do you make of that?  Something stunning, no doubt.

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? 

Mid-Week Made-In-America Series: The New Traditionalists

Well, hello there, Slow Luxe Design darlings! I’m not sure how it got to be the middle of the week quite so quickly, but here we are–and I have a great treat in store for you. Today’s Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design spotlight is pointed at The New Traditionalists.  This is one of my favorite furniture discoveries over the past year!  

In their Soho studio (above Balthazar–how chic is that?), the New Traditionalists design a handsome, timeless line of case goods and upholstered pieces that are custom tailored and handcrafted to order using sustainable hardwoods and stunning nontoxic finishes in their New England  factory.

And who are the New Traditionalists?  Well, they are childhood friends, Phillip Erdoes (CEO) and Brady Wilcox (Creative Director), along with designer David Harris (Director of Communications), who first joined forces to create ducduc, an eco-friendly modern baby and children’s furniture company.  This successful line was the result of Phillip being unable to find any nursery furniture that was both stylish and consciously constructed and eco friendly at the time of his first daughter’s birth.

In 2009, the team created The New Traditionalists.  The furniture is inspired by memories, iconic people and locations–like Park Avenue, Charleston, Truman Capote’s Hamptons, the Colony Club–but, although rooted in the past, this furniture is definitely of the moment, with infinite ways to customize each piece with non-toxic finishes, elegant hardware and a myriad of upholstery options.  The factory where all of the work is done is a renovated and restored 1897 factory in Connecticut.  Here, they bench-make all their furniture using sustainable hardwoods (never any MDF) and lead-free paints.  The proximity to their design offices in Manhattan gives them control over the impeccable fit and finish of each custom piece.  

But, as beautiful as their furniture is, this is a company that has a heart and soul, too.

The New Traditionalists care about the impact they make on their environment and in the communities in which they do business. They care about providing jobs and they offer living wages and health benefits to their employees.  And they believe in giving back to their community through charitable donations and community service.

Handsome. Caring. Intelligent. The New Traditionalists is the whole Made-in-America package.  It is that rare furniture company that cares as much about creating goods that not only look good but do good.  And that, my friends, is truly a beautiful thing.

Images via Pinterest, The New Traditionalists

So Long April Showers, Hellooooo May Flowers!

I don’t know about you, but I am quite ready to stash my umbrella and enjoy some glorious Spring sunshine and all the beautiful blooms that come with it. (Yes, contrary to those lyrics, it does rain in southern California….)  And to celebrate the arrival of May, here are some fantastic florals–from vintage to watercolor–to add to your interior landscape this season. Happy days!

By the way, I gathered up the lovely framed blooms on the wall below in Paris over the last ten years. They are original French textile designs from the ’30s through the ’80s. They can be a combination of watercolor, gouache, pen-and-ink and colored pencil. Some became wallpaper, some became fabric and some became beautiful scarves. There are recognized textile houses and designers, and occasionally I hit upon one of these, but as with most collecting, I just pick what I like. And what I really like is seeing the artist’s hand and a glimpse into the creative process.  The framed bicycle below the textile “garden” is by the German artist, Konrad Klapheck, also brought back from a recent trip to Paris.  Perfect in my home of avid cyclists!

How about you?  Are you ready to bring some May flowers inside?

Images via Pinterest. Photo below by Bronson Pate, Bauman Photographers.

My Mid-Week Made-in-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Leontine Linens

Welcome to the first article in my new Mid-Week Made-In America Slow Luxe Series!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this with you every week.  Sourcing luxurious locally and domestically handcrafted items for the home is so key to my Slow Luxe Design philosophy that I really want to let you in on some interesting Made In America stories.

Well, there are few Made in America companies that epitomize the luxury of local hand craftsmanship more than New Orleans’ Leontine Linens.  So here’s their wonderful story:

While preparing for her wedding, Leontine Linens’ founder, Jane Scott Hodges, came across her grandmother’s trousseau in the cellar of her parents’ 1780s Kentucky farmhouse. Inspired by her discovery, she began seeking for her own bridal trousseau emblazoned with her new monogram. After scouring the New Orleans shops and boutiques where she and her soon-to-be husband lived, Hodges was surprised and disappointed by the lack of custom fine linens, identifying a need in the marketplace. Shortly after, she discovered the Kentucky-based Eleanor Beard studio, an historic all-female company that, since 1921, has hand-created linens known the world over for their superb quality.

Jane Scott began Leontine Linens in 1996 to showcase the artisinal work of the Eleanor Beard Studio.  In 2002, Leontine Linens acquired the historic Kentucky-based studio and to this day carries on its tradition of guiding clients through the selection process and crafting each piece of couture linen entirely by hand.

And, by the way, it is a swoon-worthy selection process!  In addition to all of the exquisite monogram styles Leontine Linens is known for, there are so many elegant border treatments, edge trims, accessories, fabric choices, and of course, there are beautiful quilts, table linens, sheets, towels, blanket covers, nursery accessories……  So many completely delicious choices!

So back to the Eleanor Beard Studio:  Everything Leontine Linens creates is tailor made to order by one of the 25 specialized artisans in the original Eleanor Beard Studio workroom in the tiny town of Hardinsburg, Kentucky.  The Studio’s first product and main focus for the first years of business was the hand-quilted comforter.  A special form of quilting called Trapunto was revived by the studio and is still done today.

I absolutely love receiving an order from Leontine:  Each piece comes with a beautiful card signed by every one of the artisans who created the piece.

Leontine’s flagship store on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans, opened in the late summer of 2005, was inspired by the Eleanor Beard boutiques of the 1950s.  This serene and airy space, designed by local New Orleans architect Brian Bockman, serves as a refuge from the typical retail experience and recreates the “salon” atmosphere that Eleanor Beard herself pioneered in her couture linen stores.

I could possibly go on all day about Leontine Linens, but here are a few things I haven’t mentioned.  First, what Leontine Linens has brought to heirloom linens is a youthful, fresh approach.  It works as well in traditional settings as it does in modern settings.  It goes places no monogram has gone before.  It just plays well with others.  In the room with the punchy yellow monogram (that’s Alcott), I paired it up with Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks Lee Jofa prints on the window and bed drapery and Studio Bon for Schumacher on the bench.  That hardly says “Meemaw”.  In the more classic blue and white room, I used the Trey monogram with an Oscar de la Renta chevron ribbon silk drapery backdrop.  It’s timeless.


Now, here’s the most fantastic thing about Leontine Linens’ couture products: They are meant to be used and enjoyed every day. And that’s the ultimate luxury. Speaking of which, enjoy your day–and the rest of your week! Back Monday…..