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: 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 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.

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

Is This the Best Design Advice You’ll Ever Get?

I just read my latest issue of House Beautiful, as I do every month–cover to cover. And this month it features an impeccably decorated New York prewar apartment by one of my personal favorites, Suzanne Rheinstein.

Whether or not you like Rheinstein’s restrained aesthetic (I love it!), this article contains what I would say is the single best piece of design advice you might ever get. Says Rheinstein,

Have fewer things, but better things.

So, there you have it. The best piece of design advice you’ll ever get. And it just happens that these six words are the essence of Slow Luxe Design.

What I call “inheritable design” doesn’t happen overnight. Or, as Rheinstein puts it in the HB article, “It’s not 10-minute decorating. But, I’ll tell you what I tell the young people who work for me: If you buy one good thing a year, in five years, you’ll have five really good things.”

To me, having a few good things and working toward adding more good things makes more sense aesthetically, financially and even environmentally than serially consuming trendy mass-produced goods with a big carbon footprint.

Here’s one way to think of Slow Luxe Design decision making. It’s like making a choice to eat a fresh vegetable every day instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips. Is it easy to do? Yes. Once you’ve made that commitment, you know it is pretty easy to choose something nutritious over something filled with fat, salt and chemicals. Is it hard to do? Yes. It means overcoming a strong habit. Is it worth it? Yes! Because, over a year’s time, if you choose a half-cup of broccoli over the chips, you will take in about 65,700 fewer calories. That’s a weight loss of about 19 pounds.

And the same goes for making the commitment to fill your home with good things, however slowly, and not the empty calories of cheap, trendy overseas mass production.

Am I saying that Slow Luxe Design is good for you? I am. In many ways. And it’s not just good for you. It’s the farm-to-table of the home. It’s good for the artisan who creates it. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the economy which makes it good for the community. It’s a thoughtful part of your personal narrative. And I think all of that is worthwhile.

What do you think? Is this the best design advice you’ll ever get? And if so, what are you dreaming of adding to your home?

Inheritability is Sustainability

It’s Earth Day, which means it’s a day to think about how our choices affect this big beautiful place we call home: our planet.

And for me, that ultimately comes down to Slow Luxe Design. Whether I’m designing for myself or for clients, I think the epitome of sustainability is inheritability.

I believe that living with fewer items of higher quality–things that are timeless and enduring–now, that is truly green design. When you have something that is worthy of passing down to a future generation–something that was carefully chosen, handcrafted, and carries a story with it–I say that’s true sustainability. I also happen to think that it’s a great luxury.

Happy Earth Day!

via http://www.galbraithandpaul.com