The Art of Living: Giving Your (Real) Desktop a Chic Refresh...

Somehow, someway my sweet little office constantly needs a little refresh to feel "alive" again. Fresh flowers, a pretty journal, a zingy candle... periodically this overly familiar work area needs a sensory lift to reenergize my mindset. Do you find this to be true for you too? I'm certain I'm not alone. 

For me it means grabbing a few new notebooks, a diffuser for my credenza, a candle for my desk, bright flowers (or super pale, depending upon my mood) and of course... something gold! Below are some of my recent discoveries (and acquisitions) that have sparked a new round of creativity and injected vitality into my office once again. 

The lesson here: don't hesitate to mix things up if you feel your office (at home or otherwise) needing a jolt of color or even just a remix. Move your desk. Switch out your artwork. Invest in a new package of pens. Open the blinds. Reorganize your books. Do something to create a new flow, a new vibe, a new energy in the space. Life is too short for sameness day after day! 


Shopping: Luxe for Less...

What you may not know about me is that I'm a major deal finder. I am definitely a champagne taste girl. Do you know what I find exhilarating? Scoring exceptional things on a rosé budget. It thrills me in ways I can hardly explain. I'm the luxe shopper who can't wait to share (if asked) about the killer score on this or that.

My philosophy? ONLY purchase what you really truly, truly love. Don't settle. Ever. Simply do without an object rather than "fill the gap" with a temporary "it'll do" substitute. Save up or hold out until you find the EXACT item you have been searching for or dreaming of and then - and only then - do you invest. This goes for everything from plain white tee shirts to high end furniture. You simply wait until you find the precise item of your dreams. One life, one opportunity, right? 

So when I am on the prowl for something nice, I size up the landscape deciding the best source for this or that. While dubious at first, it seems Amazon has spawned a new One Kings Lane style flash-sale site offering everything from copper clad cookware to Saint Laurent bags. The later of which is of great interest to me.

Why is MyHabit so intriguing? That lovely lambskin bag you've been coveting is now seriously discounted. Jason Wu, Valentino, Prada, Chloe, Fendi - the gang is all here. And since we've developed a love affair with Amazon's lightening fast shipping and easy peasy returns, it instills confidence in purchasing high end goods. Have I pulled the trigger on a purchase yet? No. Still stalking. But I'm sharing a few fab finds below and sharing a $20 credit for your first spin around the MyHabit block.

But remember... only invest in what you truly love! Search to find what makes your heart sing - not what's a "good deal" or on sale. But if one of these beauties gives you goosebumps and is on sale, more power to you! 


Beauty: The Quest for that Brit Glow...

There's certainly something to be said about those London ladies. While many American women (or at least some of us) seem obsessed with punishing our skin into submission (guilty), our female counterparts across the pond seem perpetually blessed with hydration and that enviable dewy glow. Notoriously overcast skies and persistent atmospheric humidity help keep their skin youthful, but it's difficult not to notice their preference for more natural ingredients and more loving skin care treatments. It is also noteworthy that many of our favorite beauty icons (Kate Moss, Elle MacPhereson, Charlotte Tilbury and others) hail from the UK.

So... just what are they using? Some of my favorite Instagram accounts are those of celebs who are more than happy to share their beauty essentials. Noteworthy is the emphasis on health and wellness (I'm looking at you, Super Elixir products!) and rose-infused beauty goods. Hydration is clearly a specific goal and by the looks of it these wonder products work wonders. 

I've rounded up a few of my favorites from around the web. But I'd love to encourage you to consider being kinder to yourself and your skin. Try nourishing yourself from the inside out with nutrient dense foods, a sense of wellbeing and carving out time for movement and fitness. Find activities you truly enjoy and do them as often as possible. That inner glow comes from - you guessed it - inside. Your very being is lit from within when you tap into your source of joy and happiness. 

As for your skin? Summer took its toll, didn't it? Consider fall a moment to rekindle your love affair with your skin. Seek out products like these with natural humectants, organic ingredients and nurturing properties. Develop a nightly skin care ritual that makes you feel beautiful. Enjoy the moments you carve out to care for your face and body. 

Self love, perhaps, is the greatest beauty secret of all. 


Shopping: Pink With a Purpose...

When is a new lipstick more than just a new lipstick? When a portion of the purchase price is donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a cause near and dear to my heart. Many of the lovely women in my family have been affected by the disease and (hands up to God) these strong women are still causing a stir today living healthy lives. Survivors. 

While awareness month doesn't officially begin until October, it's already on my mind.What I like about the BCRF products are that they are gorgeous and covetable with or without having a visible relationship to the foundation. Like the women themselves, these items are not defined by their contribution to the cure - they are appreciated for the spectacular creations that they are.

Estee Lauder, the driving force behind the BCRF always offers stunning products and exclusive goodies raising awareness and charitable contributions in the most elegant way. But they are far from the only brand out there waving their pink flag. Also on my radar are Ann Taylor's gorgeous jewelry intros which allow the brand to donate a generous 50% of your purchase towards the cure. 

I've rounded up these and other stylish goods than can bring a smile to your face and help bring a cure to this beast of a disease. Giving directly to the charity is always applauded, but if you were on your way to purchase a new lip color, boxing gloves or a fabulous new candle, why not do it in a way that gives back? Chic goods that give to finding a cure are always a welcome addition to a shopping list. Here's to the undeniable power of pink! 


Color Crush: Electrify Your Style...

Sometimes it's about doing something people don't expect. It's about adding an electrifying jolt of color into an otherwise ordinary situation. All black with neon pink. Yes. Cobalt blue in an otherwise straight-laced situation. Mmmm hmmm. Do something lively today. Wear something bold today. At the very least, invest in the brightest bouquet of flowers you can find. Tell me it doesn't send a thrill down your spine. Be bold, be colorful, be you. And no matter what, don't apologize for the joy it brings you and the smile on your face. It will be unstoppable. 


Beauty: The Secret Behind that Fabulous Sophia Loren Smile...

You know many things about Sophia Loren. Her captivating eyes, her voluptuous bod, her undeniably Italian va-va-voom. But she is also widely known for that magnetic smile. The team at Dolce&Gabbana formulated a lipstick shade specifically in the beauty's honor. Sophia Loren No 1 is not your typical red, it is a berry stained shade that might entice all of us to give saturated lips a try this fall. 

I had the opportunity to ask D&G makeup artist Christian McCulloch his thoughts on the bombshell in an interview. I think you'll love his answers and insights. After the interview, stick around to read how you can get a booking in his chair and let the beauty guru give you personal tips and tricks to reveal your own inner icon. 

Here's what I learned about inner beauty, skilled makeup application and what he's drinking under that Starbucks lid:

Sophia Loren: Italian bombshell and beauty icon for legions of women for decades. She embodies all we love about feminine beauty! packing the power of her sexy confidence into a single lipstick color and gleaming gold tube could not have been a simple task. I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes Sophia Loren No 1 so powerful and why this might be the shade that makes us all dare to bare a red lip. 
Sophia Loren is that classic Italian beauty whose look and style resonates with women and men alike. Sophisticated, sexy, daring, feminine and bold all at once; she exudes confidence and timeless style. Sophia is living proof that women's beauty and grace is achievable at all ages and through the decades. 

This shade is a go-to winner for women of all skin tones. 

Let’s talk fall makeup! The Dolce&Gabbana introductions for #dglovesfall exude feminine romance. Antique rose, mauve, and a some unexpected shades like Tahitian Grey & Jaipur Blue - give us plenty to work with to achieve a wide range of looks What type of street style vibe are you hoping these pretty products inspire? What is your personal favorite “daily” makeup look heading into the cooler months? 
I often love a strong and sexy smoky eye with a pale neutral, soft lip color. Never fails! The eyeshadow shades in the Fall collection are the most incredible hues for big bold sexy eyes with added dimension. I love to play with the color and get it to be bold enough without overdoing it. A statement, but a sophisticated one. That look can be amped up by adding a winged liner. 

Deep bold glossy lips are making a come back. Experiment with red and deep violet / purple tones for this bold, glamorous look. Creamy matte velvet skin, defined brows, two-tone dimensional eyeshadow and a glowing cheek is my hallmark look for the new fall makeup.

In your work with models, celebs and beauty enthusiasts alike, what is a subtle trend you hear them all asking for? Is there a specific feature they are hoping to play up? Are there any emerging trends you’re noticing?
The flushed cheek with a pop of blush, combined with a strong contour and dimension has been on top of everyone’s request list.  The “sculpted” face!  Brows have also been a priority; everyone wants those thick, defined and natural strong brow. This is achievable with the Dolce&Gabbana Shaping Eyebrow Pencil

Since our last interview I’ve become far more familiar with the Dolce & Gabbana skin care line. Great skin is what it’s all about right now. I’m hooked on a few goodies like the Essential Toner and the Aurealux Serum. Hello, healthy skin! Could you offer any pro tips for keeping skin hydrated and radiant as cold weather settles in?
I love removing makeup and impurities with the Dolce&Gabbana Essential Cleansing Oil as it is both comforting and soothing to the skin.  To deliver extra radiant hydration; use the Dolce&Gabbana Aurealux Mask followed by the Dolce&Gabbana Aurealux Serum – velvety skin will be revealed.

Back to the subject of Sophia Loren and her inimitable beauty: What expert beauty tips could you offer us for channeling our own inner bombshell and embracing La Dolce Vita a la the Italian bombshell?
I think that brow shaping and defining is key for Italian bombshell Sophia-ness! Have them shaped gently by someone you trust! Extra lashes and liner on the outer corners to deliver that feline flick, that meets the brow is also key. Then shadow on the lid can be on the paler side for day and amped up heavier for night, I like to use a cream shadow like the Dolce&Gabbana Perfect Mono.Finish the look with luscious lips and contoured cheekbones – that’s how you find your inner Sophia.

And a few fun rapid-fire “get to know you” questions: 

Favorite summer escape? 
If I’m staying relatively local, I love heading to East Hampton, NY for the tranquil setting and boating. I usually spend Labor Day Weekend in Cape Cod; so gorgeous there. If I'm going offshore- Tulum, Mexico is a magical spot I keep returning to for the healthy lifestyle, food, yoga, massage, meditation, etc. 

Your typical Starbucks order?
My Starbucks order is pretty classic:  Grande Cappuccino! A Venti if it's a tough morning! 

Must-have items in your carry-on?
In my carry on:  Aside from my makeup brushes, I love to have a good book or great magazine article to get into. The New Yorker, New York magazine and Time always have something intelligent and current to absorb in my down time. I love learning more about the upcoming presidential race. Also the Beauty & Fashion mags keep me on my toes and inspired to do more great work. Then it's really the basics: iPad, toiletries, (Dolce&Gabbana Skin of course!) a Rose Water Mist and cashmere cardigan helps! 

Last thing you downloaded?
Latest download is the new Lana del Rey album. Always love anything new from Beyoncé - my girl from Houston! Also love that Diplo and Justin Bieber song!

Well don't you love him just a little more now? I do! (If you missed my earlier interview with him, check it out here.) For an up close and personal experience with the brand, Christian himself and that iconic lip color, here's the skinny on his upcoming Houston appearance at Saks Galleria:

Dolce&Gabbana National Make Up Artist, Christian McCulloch Private Consultations

Saturday, September 26th 11AM – 7PM

Saks Fifth Avenue at The Galleria
5115 Westheimer Rd
Houston TX

Call to make your appointment: (713) 627 – 0500 EXT. 5102


For you video lovers (raising hand high!), here's a fun backstage glimpse of Sophia introducing her signature lipstick shade:

Buon Weekend: Embrace Your Undeniable Glow...

Happy (last day of) the weekend! If you're hustling hard, I hope you'll at least enjoy some of the day with a bit of "you" time. And let's talk about you, while we're on the topic. You're magical, you know? Yes you. You are a unique and amazing creature born to do incredible things. Things only you were destined to do. Personal expressions of your individual talents and yearnings. Things that if you don't do will simply go undone.  

It's easy to forget that you have a specific purpose in this life, but you shouldn't. You need to embrace the essence of your true self and celebrate "you" more often. Decide that you're happy being you and do something nice for yourself today. Stretch your mind and your body. Paint your toenails. Read a best seller. Breathe in the early fall air. Embrace today and yourself. You only get one of each.


Musings: On Setting Goals That Inspire You To Take Action...

In a slump? Uninspired? Dragging through your days? I have great news and unpleasant news: the bad is that you are to blame for your lack of enthusiasm.  The great news? All of that can change rapidly with a small commitment from you

If you're in a dull season of life it means you're not setting ambitious goals for yourself. You've given yourself nothing fun to look forward to each day. It means you're coasting along, not steering the vehicle of life. It means you haven't filled your cells with energy that makes you leap out of bed to chase your dreams.

What dreams you say? Ahhh. Now we've hit the root of the issue. Without vision, without growth, without expansion and personal improvement you'll give yourself very few reasons to bound out of bed and get moving. Perhaps this is where you are right now. If so, let's fix that - today. 

Longtime readers know what's coming next: you need to do three things today. Here's the lowdown: 

  1. First, you need to carve out alone time. I prefer to do this while working out. It could be a big walk on a shaded trail, a stroll (or run) along the beach, perhaps a hike or a bike ride. Even a yoga class can count as "alone" time if you're able to get alone with your thoughts and finally hear yourself think. 

    What exactly do you want? What does your ideal life look like? What's bugging you? What issues are you avoiding? What keeps you up at night or holds you back all day? What "should have's" can we move over to your "musts" and "doing" lists? What, my dear friends, is the life you know you should be living but you aren't? Identify that during your alone time. Hear yourself. Uncover the idea you bury under being "too busy" to address.

    For me, this always happens while exercising. For you it might be different, but motion equals emotion and all of my good, positive moments occur while engaged in fitness activities or in water. So I honor that. 
  2. Next: WRITE IT DOWN. Get a notebook (a real one) and an ink pen (remember those) and start pouring it out. Whatever "it" is. Somewhere in this ink-filled visual flow of words you'll begin to formulate ideas. It might begin as a messy deluge of nonsensical words or finally revealed buried emotions. Maybe not. Maybe you can get right to the heart of the matter. Regardless, don't judge yourself. Just put pend to pad and set your heart free to author the story of your dreams. 

    Begin writing out what it is you DO want. Who do you want to be? What do you know you need to be doing? What does that new version of you or your life look like? Okay, now how do we make that happen? Get detailed. The more details the better. Is You 2.0 an avid gardener? Okay... what needs to happen to make that happen? Work backwards from the goal to identify those steps. Is this new improved you an innovator with their creation showcased on Kickstarter? Fantastic. What can you do to get that process going and what steps need to happen to take your product to the open market. 

    Define where you are. Establish exactly where you want to be. Connect the dots in between to see what steps to take. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

    The key here is to set goals so truly inspiring that you are almost bursting with enthusiasm. Dream so big it scares you just a little bit. Make it outrageous. Make it worth the paper and the time. Make it set your soul on fire. 
  3. Step three is the most courageous and the most important. Do SOMETHING bold that makes those amazing plans more real. Privately wish you had a successful baking business? Stop dreaming of cupcakes and start plotting exactly where that patisserie should reside. Look online NOW or go for a quick drive and find the ideal corner location. Take it even further: See what the lease would cost you. Map out the menu. Sketch a quick logo idea. Call a friend and gush about your vision. TELL someone your ludicrous idea and hear yourself sharing your passion. MOVE In the direction of that dream REGARDLESS of whether or not you know how those macaron filled dreams might become reality. It sounds wild, right? It isn't. 

    If your dream is do learn ballroom dancing, do some research and find a few nearby studios. GO one step further and order a pair of dancing shoes. Put them on your dresser as a daily reminder of your goal. Download a few great movies (I recommend Shall We Dance with Richard Gere & Jennifer Lopez). Be BOLD and don't let yourself or this burning desire go slack. If this is important to you, NO ONE else is going to have the passion for your dreams with the same intensity that you harbor. Supporters are good. But the best goal supporter is you. Remember that. 

So let's review the steps: 1. Get alone & get clarity. Clear your head of "fluff" and let that truth rise to the forefront of your mind. 2. Start writing down in detail what those goals are and work backwards to determine the steps required to make them happen. 3. Demonstrate commitment by doing something TODAY towards the realization of that goal. Do not skip the third step. 

That new house you dream of? Go to Lowes and purchase a front door mat. That pastry chef dream? Call a real estate agent and set up dates to see potential locations. The dancer in you needs new shoes. Try a few on. Buy a pair that are so lovely and inspiring you can't wait to wear them. Download a few songs too and get that Samba, Salsa, Tango vibe pumping through your body and your house.

Set yourself free to dream. PUT yourself in motion and start creating energy around your new plans. Free yourself from judgement. Let go of "what if I can't do it?" fears and set your heart free to dream. I've learned (again and again) that when I dream HUGE and get excited about those big ridiculous ideas that things begin to move into place. The pieces begin to come together. It's as if the whole universe or God himself has been waiting for me to get off my chair and start moving in this direction. There's something to be said for boldly moving in the direction of your dreams without looking back. It's momentum, it's energy (real energy) and it has tremendous power. 

Set a course in motion TODAY towards a goal so outrageous, so amazing, so inspiring that you can't WAIT to get up every day and get closer to its realization. Do it. And be amazed. I promise it will be a small price to pay for a huge payoff. Love yourself enough to do this. 



Personal Style: Reimagining the Feminine Home Office...

Into every life a little redesigning must fall. The challenge when it's your own space is that it either falls into low priority (back of the line, baby!) or we become victim to analysis paralysis. In this case my cause for delay is that I'm too busy doing other work to dive full force into my own office refresh. The good news? I have most of what I need ready to go. 

First, let's talk about those plain jane walls. The plan is to take this elegant wallpaper from Milton & King and cover just the back wall behind my desk (shown here). I have an amazing pair of Italian Empire crystal & gilt sconces that I'll flank the inspiration board with. The overall look is very glam, very elegant and very impactful. I'm besotted with the fun twist on typical brocade design this paper offers, Claire Leina gives us a beautiful hand drawn version of the classic design. The result is stunning and classic with a wink. It also softens the look with a deep charcoal rather than smoke black and a bronze-brown design. Thus honoring the current black wall trend with a bit more romance. Love that! Available at Milton & King as well as Burke Decor

My desk is out of shot because I'm revising what's presently there. In lieu of my current situation (which is lovely, but not my "dream" desk) I'm finally going to buck up and outfit my office with the chair / desk combo I've coveted for years. Hickory Chair's Alexandra chair by Suzanne Kasler in gold leaf and rose linen. Hello, gorgeous! This paired with the their Alexa Hampton designed Stephanie Desk. When you've looked around for seven years and can't find anything else you love it's time to bite the bullet and place the order. Agreed? Agreed. 

The paper hanging faced a not uncommon hurtle: textured walls. The workaround will be a fun one. I'm going to create four vertical panels to cover the wall and create a bit of dimension. I'll frame the panels out in super thin frames to create depth and a more seamless finished appearance. But I've got to tackle other client work before my own cravings are indulged. 

Hope you enjoyed seeing my work in progress. Here are some of the fun pieces I've used to pull the look together. 


Similar sconces or for more drama here //  Tory Burch Rae Tray similar trays here // stools // shagreen cabinet

{For more sourcing details on fabrics etc please let me know. More of tour to come as installation continues. Stay tuned! xoxo}

Musings: On Harnessing the Power of Personal Organization...

Once upon a time I had a manager I adored. She led rather than managed, she empowered each of us, she handled challenges with grace and certainty and she served as great inspiration to me then and now. One evening as we were readying ourselves to leave she shared a bit of wisdom that changed my life. I'm not exaggerating. Unsolicited, she offered this bit of genius: 

"I'm not any more skilled than anyone else, I'm simply more organized."

And was she. Weekly manicured, consistently trimmed hair, flawless outfits, and she ran that boutique like a well oiled machine. I never once saw her tackle an obstacle with anything other than ease. It was a sense of calm and confidence that she exuded because she was, indeed, organized. From her personal body, wardrobe and routines to how she handled her business.

Lest you think she was tightly wound, rest assured she wasn't. Freed from the stress of disorganization she was perpetually at ease, laughed easily and radiated positive energy. The few times I saw her even slightly ruffled, it was akin to watching a camera lens focus on a subject. It was a purposeful response to a real life situation. She possessed an admirable fluidity to her being that was enviable and magnetic. Her simple yet profound personal observation about her "secret leadership weapon" left a lasting mark on my psyche.

Her humble statement still lingers in my mind like a soft guiding beam. offering a firm reminder to stay on top of life's loose ends. The mere existence of a to-do list can drum up feelings of anxiety and tension. Yet, left unattended or undone, our required tasks overwhelm us and govern our lives. We'e all no doubt lived to tell that decisions not made are typically made for you by external forces. Loose ends left untied always result in something becoming unraveled - often with unwanted ramifications. 

To me there are layers of chaos. There is the overflow of the physical: laundry, mail, closets, storage, paperwork. There are calendar items or tasks: meetings, reports, projects due, calls to make, parcels to mail, appointments to be made etc. Think of those as "must manage" layers. With those out of control you're doomed. Once you've whipped your physical and mental realm into shape you can then begin (successfully) achieving your goals, tackling your larger life objectives, fulfilling your personal destiny. 

Think of this as a parallel on Maslow's Hierarchy (remember that?) of needs. Handle your business starting from the physical layer and moving to the more abstract to succeed. Without a firm (and orderly) foundation you can't achieve greatness. It makes sense, doesn't it? I doubt great leaders and innovators of the world have piles of clutter and overflowing garages. Even if they personally aren't sorting files on the weekend, they've delegated that task to someone who knocks it out of the park. 

Knowing this, I've just finished going through every possession I own, piece by piece. Much was tossed, much is being sold, much is to be donated. By touching and making decisions on everything (and I do mean everything) I feel empowered, in control and completely freed. It's amazing how much mental energy your "things" pull from you when left unedited. With my physical world in order, my brain is functioning at a much higher level. I am not reacting to life's surprises, I'm responding. I am crushing my to-do list like a beast (level two of the "rise above" plan). I am filled with a surreal feeling of confidence and my creative output has skyrocketed. 

It's hard to believe that a few boxes of receipts, an overflowing closet (or two) and more than a few disorganized drawers could have held my productivity hostage. Yet they did. And I've now been freed to live a better more purpose filled life. I've learned a very powerful lesson and can only hope this post imparts some of the same wisdom and inspiration upon you. 

Organize your surroundings to organize your thoughts. Work from the outside in.  Frankly, it's easier this way. Perhaps lightening your inventory of shoes and sweaters will make you a corner office superhero. Be ruthless. Leave nothing untouched or undone. Take care of every single detail and edit, edit, edit. The resulting emotional, creative and mental freedom will astound you and energize you. You'll be on fire and unbelievably energized about life. I promise! 

Good luck! 


Loving: Modern Ladylike Luxe from Oscar Himself...

Models in teal satin skirt suits and sunglasses. Hello, bold move! Oscar de la Renta is dishing up more than just diaphanous gowns for SS16 (although those were on hand as well). He's offering lace (black, even!), rich florals and saturated colors. In many ways more a fusion between our fall cravings and our spring wishes, the catwalk was a cascade of ruffles, silks and flowers. What did I really love? The undeniable ladylike luxe. The modern fit. The tailoring. The restrained (read: wearable) opulence. It's inspired me to add a bit more lace to my life and reconsider my pencil skirt inventory. For that, Oscar, I thank you. 


Feeling Bookish: Fall Favorites Inspiring Excellence in Design...

Fall offers so many examples of abundance. While many think of the decadence of the upcoming holidays, festive extravagance and food, I think of all things fashion & design related. Designers debut their upcoming collections on runways at NYFW, interior designers descend upon High Point to see the latest wares and publishers release their latest and greatest books. This post will highlight a few that I've just indulged in. While all are home and interiors related, each is quite different in its approach and in its mission to communicate an idea to the reader.

First, I offer you  A Day at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. This is a really intriguing read about a private estate of the Vogue family. By way of revealing beautiful photography, dpucments and rich storytelling, the heirs share the roller coaster history of this world class chateau starting in the seventeenth century want walking us through through the Belle Époque, World War I, and its public opening in 1968. Housed in an elegant sleeve with family crest debossed with foil accents, the presentation of the book alludes to the richness and attention to detail captured throughout. Trust me, it is a feast for the eyes and does not hold back on glorious archived details of this celebrated chateau. For the historian, architecture enthusiast or fracophile, this is a book to be savored.  

For those seeking inspiration on the other end of the spectrum, Life|Style by Tricia Foley washes away your cares with a less is more attitude. Offering us easy tips for streamlining our lives and our bookshelves, we are treated tales of her personal home restoration, her affinity for clean lines, utility and a decidedly less complicated way of living. If you want someone savvy and skilled to help you navigate the wide array of whites, solid tips for editing (even if you're a collector!) and how to perfect your guest bedroom, this is a must-read. I loved reading about her personal journey with "stuff" and the her push-pull relationship with her belongings. Tricia's elegantly simple approach to design and outlook are something to be appreciated as a remedy for our overly complex lives.  

This next book was my "wow" read of the weekend. Multi-award winning designer Greg Natale not only serves up stunning images of his projects in The Tailored Interior, he goes into great detail offering us tips, guidelines and his own set of "rules" by which to play to achieve your own tailored surroundings. His portfolio is astonishing, to say the least, but his easy tone and generous insights will have you cozied up reading this from cover to cover. A must have for designers, design-loving homeowners and casual enthusiasts alike. 

Room for one more treat on your coffee table? This is it. Timothy Wheaton's In Pursuit of Beauty is one of those rare books that dazzles outside (hello, silver spine lettering!) and indulges you via the contents within. Timothy's style is "accessible glamour" for those looking for a label, but I feel his work is fabulously unscripted. Rooms are gorgeous but not "decorated" in an obvious sense. Effortlessly blending modern and classic, this yummy book is great for everyone looking to up their interior style game. I personally love that the book is broken up by property, allowing you to completely immerse yourself in each of his separate projects and deep dive into what the designer was thinking as he wrestled with the unique opportunities that each provided. Add In Pursuit of Beauty to your wish list and your great gift list.

Hope you enjoyed the post, everyone! More marvelous reviews to come!  

Loving: Floating Down the Catwalk with Diane Von Fursternberg...

It's like Studio 54 by way of India. And it is everything I want to be wearing next spring. Billowy chiffon rompers, cascading silk dresses and accents of pink & gold everywhere you look. Let's not underestimate the flower adorned hair and dewy, feminine makeup. No constricting fits, no binding corsets, not a skinny pant in sight. The look is ethereal and dreamy and I want to be a DVF girl now. Stunning, effortless and pretty. Discover more about yesterday's runway show by visiting Vogue


Buon Weekend: Lessons on Laziness...

Let's just put it out there: my definition of lazy will likely not be yours. It's 9:13 on a Sunday and I have yet to workout. I don't even have my yoga gear on. Yesterday I slept until 8:11. To me, this qualifies as SUPER lazy - and I'm sort of proud of it because it is very difficult for me to chill out and work on the art of doing less. 

With my husband out of town and my littles being up for whatever mommy has in store, it's been a phenomenal few days. We shopped, we dined on patios, we strolled into cafes, we spent time by the water, we slept, we laughed, we played. It's been amazing. 

The key? Putting that phone down. Just put it down. Eye contact. Conversation. Connection. With those who mean so much to you. So, this is just a quick post to give you a nudge on your Sunday to perhaps NOT be a super-achiever. Perhaps today give yourself permission to lounge, sip coffee in bed, read a book (not on a screen) and maybe even work on your nap-taking skills. I grant you full permission to be lazy today. You deserve it. 


(Tip: on lazy weekends I like to let a few skin care products do the heavy lifting to recharge my skin. And a cute romper just makes you feel all girly & pretty.)

Spectacular Properties: Stunning + Sparkling Southern Style...

If ever there were a power couple in the design space, Melanie Turner & Stan Benecki are surely that duo. Armed with a husband designing award-winning homes, designer Turner unleashes the awesomeness of her design prowess on lucky buyers in the affluent southern residential market.

If the list of designers I would hire is short (I can think of only three or four I would actually hand the controls over to) the list of builder+designer pairings is even smaller. Yet this husband and wife team has mastered the art of designing spaces you are desperate to call your own. 

I've raved about Melanie before, and this won't be the last mention of here here.  The Atlanta designer is one of a small group of professionals whose work makes me pay retail for magazines when I see them showcased on the glossy pages. I find her style inspiring, intriguing and dripping with accessible glamour. If you're in need of a pre-weekend inspiration, pop over to her portfolio and see if you don't feel the same urge to pick up the phone and book a consultation.

When I study her work I strive to decode her style and identify her hallmarks. Like all great talents, there's no specific "look" that is hers, but I do recognize a few patterns. I see a love of solid upholstery: abundant neutral linen sofas and chairs with pops of saturated color via velvet for dramatic effect here and there. Her light fixtures and wall accessories are stunning and often gilded for that glamorous touch I crave (smartly placed up high and out of reach from pets and children). The decorative objects on surfaces tend to fall the way of natural curiosities: coral, clam shells and weather-worn objects.

I love the push-pull tension of gilt opulence against the serenity that only patina and aged objects can lend. Yet what gives her the star quality to which I am drawn is her ability to surprise you. There's a relaxed vibe to the seating with plumped pillows and a heady mix of textures, that beg you to linger for conversation, but via her decorative accents and artwork she serves up bits of whimsy and curiosity.

All of this is achieved with a vibe of soft modern meets minimal classicist. Nothing is forced. Nothing is overdone. Nothing says "don't sit" or "don't touch" - quite the opposite. These are indulgent, inviting rooms and homes developed with an artistic touch. Melanie and Stan give you light-filled rooms promising you equally sunny moments within them. Yes, please! 

Whatever "it" is, Turner and her husband have it. There's no question living in a home designed by and decorated by this dynamic powerhouse would be a pleasure for anyone - especially me. Hopefully I've given your eyes a taste of something marvelous to crave as well.  



Dreamy Spaces: A Study in Fabulous French Lavender...

Leave it to Nathan Turner to convince me that lavender is completely and truly chic. Purples of all varieties are often done in a way that is too overdone. Yet at the hand of a master, even rich velvet banquette cushions done in this royal color with bold chocolate piping look completely inviting and tasteful.

For these clients, the space is the wife's study in what is an already stunning Bel Air home. Every room featured in the story is exceptional, but this one particular room demonstrates a decidedly more feminine and less restrained result.

Those walls, the Lucite and brass desk (good Lord, I need that) the incredible chandelier. There's a romance here, but there's a very high level of sophistication on display and not a hint of  "little girl sweet" that one might think of when the color lavender comes to mind. Nor is it garish and overthought. It's simply fabulous. 

I'm so inspired by the images it is making me seriously consider painting a room in this exact color. As I consider that, I rounded up what it would take to somewhat achieve the very glam Hollywood Regency look seen above. 


John-Richard Diaphanous Chandelier // Serena & Lily "Wisteria" Paint // Jonathan Adler Lucite + Acrylic Console // Purple Floral Silk Pillow // Lavender Linen Pillow // Linen Side Chair

Loving the ideas above but wanting less commitment and less investment? Here are a few easy pieces to help you ad a touch of the glamorous look to your life. Pretty accessories & accents you're sure to love. 


But this all prompts me to pause and ask you - what have you seen lately that truly caused you pause and deep soul-stirring inspiration? I'd love to hear all about it. 

Essential Elements: Jaw Dropping Architectural Details Accessible to Everyone via Metrie...

**This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Metrie.**

Some of you may recall me introducing Metrie to you last year. While the concept of boiserie-on-demand was very appealing, this was the year I fully grasped the possibilities of the collections and gained true insight into the intention of the creative minds at work behind the scenes. What is Metrie, you ask? It's a brand that simplifies - for designers and consumers alike - the process and the selection of adding architectural details to a residential or commercial project. 

The details are not the details. They make the design.
— Charles Eames

While their dazzling website and catalogs certainly wow, stepping into a professionally designed space that has been elevated with incredible mouldings, exceptional millwork, coffered ceilings and rosettes leads to true understanding of the transformative power of what some might consider details. There's an "ah-ha" moment followed quickly by a "how quickly can I place an order?" urge. 

In July I visited BMC Dallas, Registered Metrie Design Collections Showroom and go-to Dallas source for all things custom millwork and beyond. There, Chris Ludwig (of BMC) and Nate Kuhns (of Metrie) opened my eyes to the true power of the collections and elements for designers, developers and architects alike.

In a sense, the brand has demystified the often intimidating process of selecting and procuring these individual architectural elements by offering them in a series of style families if you will, Modernists will appreciate the crispness of Very Square. Classicists might enjoy French Curves or Fashion Forward. Pretty Simple will appeal to those with minimalist leanings and a love of symmetry. Those seeking a grounded, natural look will gravitate towards the True Craft collection. Something for everyone, regardless of design style, from mod & sexy to classic and sophisticated. 

What impressed me most is how designer-friendly the products are. The beauty of the collections is that it makes building a cohesive visual story very easy to do and gives pros a leg up on delivering a very finely appointed finished look for clients. It demystifies what can often be an overlooked (or avoided) step in design through their intelligent product presentation. It's a system they've built that streamlines the selection process by providing a creative story from which to build upon.

For me, the advantage of the collections are obvious. Serving up runway-worthy looks time and time again for clients - regardless of project size or personal style. The flexibility of the various styles makes it easy (even for the non architecturally inclined) to create a stunning custom design for clients - down to custom paint finishes and stains. Couture for the walls and ceiling? I'll take it.

But for clients who need a bit more convincing, communicating the ultimate creative vision is everything, and Metrie delivers here. Big time. The style finder quiz & room styler make it easy to render the design and flesh out finer points of the resulting look. Again, I find myself smitten by just how designer-friendly the system and the online offerings are. It's a dream come true for those of us looking to deliver incredible finished projects without the largess of a team to sketch out those scene renderings or laundry list the many individual elements necessary to achieve the design. Metrie steps in to save the day. 

Intrigued by what I saw at the showroom but still left with more questions, I interviewed the creative team at Metrie HQ. Here's what the talented visionaries shared about the products and the thinking behind those stunning scenes: 

Q: First, let’s start with how beautifully the Collections help designers, builders and consumers visualize the end result. They are just diverse enough to help anyone achieve the unique look they desire. Can you tell us about the behind-the-scenes thinking and creative process for arriving at the five distinct Then & Now Coordinated Collections? I am envisioning a group tour of Europe to visit some of the most fabulous architectural properties in existence! 

A:  Thanks Franki, I’m glad that we’ve achieved our objective! Although a European tour would have been fabulous, our design team had almost as much fun scouring museums, libraries, online resources and locales a bit closer to home to identify the five key interior design styles that make up our Then & Now Finishing Collections™. We curated some of the most iconic shapes and looks from thousands and thousands of samples and images and then reinvented them with today’s homes in mind.   Our vision was to create collections that were timeless with their nod to the past and the look forward to the future. 

Q: I enjoyed the video featuring the designers tasked with designing rooms from scratch using one of the five Finishing Collections. Creatives  - being the visionaries they are - often push the boundaries or break the rules on what products might be originally designed to do. Can you share with us how designers have inspired your team at Metrie to consider new introductions or demonstrate additional applications for your finishing products? 

A: We are on a constant quest to transform our perspective.  To view design, style and art through different lenses.  Spending time with designers, artists and creative people from all walks of life reminds us that our job is never done.  There is always something new to create, and fresh and inventive ways to bring our ideas to market. My current favorite from one of our interior designers is a layering technique using an inverted baseboard paired with a crown moulding to create more definition and texture where the ceiling meets the walls.  It’s a perfect way to enhance a tall ceiling or balance a larger space like a great room. 

Q: Your site and your Pinterest boards offer tremendous visual inspiration and explanation for uses of Metrie products. However, in terms of practical application and powerful client tools, the Style Quiz & Room Styler are fantastic for helping clients identify their style and visualize the finished look. They help focus the client as well as make specification very easy. Where did the idea originate for the development of the online tools?  

A: As much as this category is what we at Metrie live and breathe, we understand that selecting mouldings and doors can be daunting.  These aren’t products that you necessarily think about everyday yet they are the backdrop to every single space in your home.   So we knew that we wanted to do something really fun to help people hone in on what they like and how they think about their lifestyle.  Once we are able to identify your style through the Style Quiz we can help you bring that style to life with the Room Styler.  The best part about having this visualization tool is that it can also help you feel comfortable to step out of your comfort zone and go beyond the basics to explore new possibilities such as wall treatments and ceiling treatments.

Q: It’s great to see the option for Green building with the SPERO™ products. Have you seen a consumer-driven increase in the interest towards eco-wise building and designs? Or does it feel as though its builders & designers are driving the green development projects these days? 

A: Sustainability is at the core of every action in our company.  We minimize emissions from transportation by sourcing wood from local, responsibly managed forests while working diligently to virtually eliminate waste in our mills.  While most of the Green development projects we see are in the commercial space, we are always excited to hear about the people using SPERO in their homes.  It’s also a really nice feeling to be involved in making products that have a long existence in someone’s space.  

Q: Metrie seems to make marvelous effort to educate designers on the products. Online courses, “grocery” list style breakdowns of what elements are used to achieve various looks, etc. The product lines, catalogs and site are all very user-friendly. Are there any common questions you field from designers who are new to the brand? Are there any “aha” moments you’d like to share to enlighten my professional designer and design-savvy readers to help them instantly understand the solutions that Metrie provides? 

A: Our ‘aha’ moment came pretty early on in our journey to discover what we could do to help designers choose their product.  We found out that there was very little, if any, information and education on interior finishings in design curricula.  This prompted us to get working on developing our Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses right away to help shed light on a subject that is often seen as an intimidating design task.  This was the inspiration for creating our Then & Now Finishing Collections, which we designed to the right proportions and scale.  A designer could be creative and have flexibility in their designs, yet still have the confidence that everything works together as they see their project come to life.

Q: And finally… can we expect any new Collections or innovative new products to be added soon? 

A:  This is my favorite question! Our passion for design, innovation, quality and providing an impeccable experience is what drives us.  We are constantly exploring new ways to make using interior finishings a creative and fun process.  We have some great designs and new concepts on the boards.   So my answer is yes, but you’ll have to wait and see!

Okay, friends. That's all I have to share for now. Thank you, Metrie for inviting me to enjoy a closer look at your collections and your creative process. I definitely gained a rich understanding of the value to professionals (and their lucky clients) by diving deeper into brand. I personally can't wait to put the collections to good use. 

Enjoy their blog The Finished Space for major interior inspiration and idea sparking images. Here are a few more dreamy images from their site and a video of a gorgeous bath worthy of Holly Golightly. Enjoy! 

Shopping: A Fresh Look at An Old Favorite...

I have a confession to make. For that first "real" job I was quite proud of my sophisticated and slightly preppy Ann Taylor wardrobe. I felt so grown up striding into the art department in my flawless wardrobe, courtesy of my obsessive relationship with the brand. 

And then, as so often happens, I began to shake it up and discovered niche brands and slowly steered away from my trusty wardrobe-building mainstay. That's not to say I haven't picked up a cashmere scarf here, a killer jacket there and a few great accessories from the brand over the years - but my once intense love affair definitely waned. While I certainly loved the process of adding new looks to my closet, I definitely missed the predictability of price points and quality that the chain offered.  

And yet... here I am today deep diving the Ann site looking at more modern silhouettes and a slightly more fashion forward overall style. Perhaps even a little boho and a little rock 'n roll edge. Those pencil skirts and work attire must-have's may still be in the inventory mix, but they now stand alongside leather moto jackets, flared denim and spike earrings.

If I were describing Ann like a friend, I'd say she's loosened up a bit and isn't such a workaholic these days. She's the very embodiment of classic with an slight edge. Don't get me wrong, she's not a downtown rocker chick with a bad boy on her arm. She's simply learned to balance those corner office goals with plenty of after hours fun. Oh, and those prices? Those are definitely still very appealing, especially since promotions seem to abound and no one does a sale quite like Ann Taylor (hello, sweet savings!). 

Since my closet is now the epicenter of a major overhaul (buh-bye almost every garment I own), I am feeling the acute pain of needing to source a few new pieces. This is what led me to the site this evening and a realization that I may still have a big soft spot in my heart for the brand. Imagine investing reasonable amounts of dough on quality pieces that last pretty much forever. Yes, it's like that. 

I'm a different shopper now that I was in my early career. I won't be lining my closet walls with a singular dominant label, but this loyal brand has grabbed my attention again. It's time I gave it a fresh look and a new opportunity to shine in the mix with my other longtime favorites. It'll be nice getting reacquainted and seeing how we've both changed.  

(By the way, they are indeed having a major sale this weekend. Use code SHOP60 for 60% off fall & sale items. Enjoy!


Personal Style: Knit Wit: Style Secrets for Wearing Fall's Most Fabulous Fabric.

If I were to choose a fabric to wear forever, it would certainly be knits. I love their forgiving yet body-con nature. They "hug" you without ever feeling binding or restrictive. While summer may dazzle us with airy light cotton dresses, fall embraces us with knits in a wide range of weights and styles - offering something spectacular for every body type. 

Why do I love kit so much? Well made knit dresses are extremely comfortable and unbelievably forgiving. Whether it's a "fit & fabulous" day or you're feeling a little soft, these garments offer the ideal blend of structure and flexibility to feel like a welcome second skin.

Not going for that super tight Kardashian look? Select a flared option with a little movement around the hips. Headed to the office? Midi length will take you from desk to date night without a hitch. Sleeveless shifts can be dressed up with a jacket for added structure & formality. Sandals can be swapped out for boots as the leaves begin to fall. Versatility is definitely the name of the game with knitted pieces, which is why designers and fashionistas adore them. 

For me, these dresses (and frankly, all knit pieces) are true wardrobe winners. The newest iterations are sleek and sophisticated - making them worthy of investment. Here are a few personal tips for choosing the right knit:

  • Fabric is everything: a mix of synthetics like viscose, nylon, spandex & rayon offer stretch and also are fade resistant, meaning they'll look just as marvelous for years to come
  • Know your body: consider whether you want to showcase your bodacious bod or are looking for a more cozy feel, there's a knit for you. Study the description and the images online to determine the fit of a piece
  • Be wiling to experiment: Herve Leger may be best known for bandage dresses, but with that signature tight woven fabric comes considerable structure. The brand offers fit & flare garments guaranteed to fit any frame and enviable slinky fabric. 
  • Know your goals & stick t your price point: before shopping, determine how many dresses you need and how much you're willing to invest. If you fall in love with something out of your range, just bookmark it and watch for sales. They ALWAYS come around, and if you're willing to stalk that yummy item it will eventually go on sale. just be ready to pounce! 



Art & Design: Discovering Cristina Alonso's Elegant Illustrations...

Instagram is by far my favorite way to discover talented creatives. If you speak the language of visual beauty, flipping through stunning images as you fall asleep is about as close to meditation as you can get. The only downside (aside from lost beauty sleep)? Hoping you remember the gems you uncovered when you wake up. Fortunately for you and I Cristina Alonso's fashion illustrations were so unforgettable that I couldn't wait to share them with you.

While they gushing with a sexy modern vibe, there's a bit of Patrick Nagel's stylistic influence in her work. Remember him from that memorable Rio cover? Google it and you'll have to agree. But unlike Nagel's more minimalistic work, Christina's look goes further into the glamour zone. Her designs are lush, multi-dimensional and supremely feminine. I love her Peonies & Coco print the most (featured above). What a simple yet stunning piece to frame and feature over a desk or vanity. Girly and gorgeous, as I suspect Christina herself must be. 

If you're loving her pretty illustrations as I am, pop over to her online boutique and have a peek. Lots of glamorous pieces to enjoy. Want more? Instagram is the way to go. She offers sneak peeks of her process and works that have not yet hit her site. Suffice it to say she is mad talented, my friends. I know you'll appreciate gazing at the work of a passionate and quite talented artist. You. Are. Welcome. ;)