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

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…..

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

Driven to Abstraction with Pinterest

Dear Pinterest,

Between you and Mother Nature, I am having a hard time staying focused.  And I have a lot of work to do.

Take all these beautiful pictures I’ve found, thanks to you.  Yes, I just keep obsessively pinning them to my Color board.  As soon as I finish posting, I am going to call my cousin, who is a psychiatrist, and ask her if there is an Obsessive Compulsive Pinterest Disorder in the DSM III.

After I stop pinning.

Hey, these are nice….

You can be sure I’m never going to make a purse out of a pillowcase in three easy steps from somebody’s Pinterest board. I use my boards to gather up thought bubbles for projects. I use them to see things from other people’s points of view. I use them to “own” things I never will. I use them to go places I have never gone and see things I’ve never seen.

When I’m not distracted by Pinterest, you might find me in my garden this time of year.  The pomegranate in the photo “grows” there, right outside my office.  It is a sculpture by the wonderful team of Little and Lewis, a very special birthday gift from my husband.  It has a fantastic Slow Luxe story behind it, which I will gladly share with you soon.  It involves wild berries, the inspiring garden gallery of my friends David and George, Bainbridge Island’s best ice cream and ultimately a trip through the Washington wine country with a truck full of cement Gunnera leaves and my amazing giant pomegranate.  But, I digress…..

What do you pin and why do you pin it? Am I the only one with OCPD?!  What wonderful colorful abstract distractions are growing in your garden?

Have a wonderful weekend!

All images above via Pinterest.