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…..

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Going to the Flea! Day #28: Have Fun

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Today is Day #28: Have Fun. So, well, I guess you could say I’m just following orders. I’m heading up to the flea market to do a bit of hunting and gathering–which is, like, I don’t know, in my top five things in the world to do. I love love love it.

Usually, I go with someone–my friend, Kerry, for example, who I met while she was working at our former Waterworks showroom; she has a fantastic eye and loves a hunt. Or my friend Emily, a graphic designer who also has a great eye but looks nervous when I ask her if she wants to go to the Flea with me (after I dragged her all over Paris hunting and gathering last year, she knows how seriously I take this stuff.)

But, today I’m on my own and I’m on a mission.
I’ll give you a full report tomorrow, but for now, I’m off to Have Fun. Gotta do it. It’s Day 28, folks.

Day #24: Create a Framework

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

Welcome to Day #24. Today we will be Creating a Framework.

And it’s a good thing, as Martha says. Because, if you’re anything like me, with a tendency to get a little, uh, tangential, in your creative problem solving, a framework can keep you focused.

Your framework is your narrative structure. In my case, the overall framework for my interior design work is Slow Luxe Design–Inheritable Design. Then there’s the framework of the project itself: What is the style? What is the scope? Who are the clients? I design within this framework, with well-considered, high-quality, local, handcrafted, vintage and antique items that tell a unique story.

When I look at products to use in my design projects, I look for those that fit within my framework. If you look at some of the companies I admire, you can see that.

Leontine Linens’ offers heirloom quality, handcrafted linens, made in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. The Urban Elelctric Company’s offers beautifully designed, timeless, handcrafted luxury lighting made in Charleston, South Carolina. Madeline Stuart’s upholstered and case goods combine stylish comfort with a refined aesthetic–and they have a small carbon foot print, being made right up the road from me in Los Angeles.

Without a starting point it can be difficult to even get going on some projects. If you want to flesh out an idea, you have to have a skeleton, right?

Okay, final thought on Creating a Framework. Sometimes, when I start a project, I use a piece of fabric or a tile detail, for example, to help me create my framework. Then, I start building my design narrative around that particular item. The palette comes out of it, the materials and finishes are inspired by it, and I let it guide me through the design process. I’m not trying to “match” it–I’m just using it to stay focused on my vision.

Speaking of projects, I’m starting an exciting project soon. It’s a Slow Luxe Design Project–and I plan to take you along as I post. It’s two lots in the village of La Jolla with knock-out ocean views. I can’t even tell you how rare an ocean view is in the village. Definitely worthy of some Inheritable Design. Can’t wait to share this process with you!

See? I’m off on a tangent…..

Leave Room for a Lizard

I just dropped my oldest son off at the airport.  He’s heading back to New Orleans, where he’s finishing his sophomore year at Tulane.

On the drive home, I was thinking about a parent meeting I attended before school began when he was going into preschool.  Preschool!  Parents were earnestly asking the teacher, Betty, questions about the quality of the education their children would be receiving.  What platform were the computers?  Would they be reading Proust by mid-year?  Calculating pi?  Would they have a solid understanding of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand principle?

Betty patiently answered their questions and then she said, “We’ll do our best to follow the curriculum, but if someone brings in an interesting lizard, we have to get down on the rug and look at it.”

And that’s how I like to think of Slow Luxe Design:  We have a plan.  And it allows for discovery.  Something wonderful can happen.  We can find a great antique.  Discover an amazing artist.  Find a vintage light fixture.  Or keep our eyes open for a handcrafted piece of furniture from a local craftsman.  You never know.  That’s what’s fun.

Did you discover something wonderful this weekend?  Do you have a great tale of hunting and gathering to share?  Are you looking for something special?  I’m about to launch my retail site and I have some great treasures!  And if I don’t have what you’re looking for, I will see what I can do to assist you in your search.


One of four Eiffel Towers in this gorgeous Pol Bury print.


One of the four Tours in Les Quatres Tours Juxtaposes by Pol Bury, father of Kinetic Scupture