Monday, November 29, 2010


If you were to call this a "trend" it would probably be a summer one, not something that should be on my mind during the holidays. I'm not sure why I've been thinking of scalloped patterns lately – perhaps because a few of the things below are on my wish list – but this post is dedicated to that decidedly timeless design.

If you aren't familiar with the term, this is what a "scalloped" edge looks like.

The shape of the scalloping design is derived from, you guessed it, the edge of a scallop shell. 

If we were to call this a trend, I suppose it's a somewhat out-of-date one at the moment. Scallops had a moment on the S/S 2009 runways of Chloé (lower left) and Christopher Kane, and Alix (aka The Cherry Blossom Girl) took plenty of pictures of her adorable Chloé shorts, pictured below (upper right). The trend eventually trickled down to Urban Outfitters, where I bought this tank top (upper left), a beaded flapper-ish take on the scalloped edging design. Putting scallop designs on clothes certainly wasn't the idea of modern designers, though, if the dress shown here in the lower left (otherwise known as The Most Amazing Dress Ever) is any indication. And if you trust Sartorialist favorite Giovanna Battaglia (lower middle), this timeless look lives on.

clockwise from upper right:
The Cherry Blossom Girl
? - it's done the blog rounds and has been in my file for ages
Giovanna Battaglia photographed by The Sartorialist
Chloé S/S 09
Urban Outfitters

Scalloped edges in decor can easily go in the direction of cutesy country, but here's proof that they can also look polished. In small doses (the hem of the bedding in the upper right or the apron of the secretary desk in the lower left), scallops are downright elegant. The scalloped edging on the bone inlay mirror from Wisteria (center) is incidental and is almost overshadowed by the primary pattern. I'm not a big fan of purple, but I love the color of the Martha Stewart bedroom (lower middle) in combination with the simple scalloped bedding. Last but not least, it's hard not to be drawn to the cloud-like whimsical painted edging in this blue bedroom (lower right), which is prevented from looking too nursery by the harsh, ornamental metal headboard.

clockwise from upper right:
Apartment Therapy
Martha Stewart
(center) Wisteria
antique dealer David Duggan's house, photographed by Gridley and Graves
tablecloth from French General Home Sewn by Kaari Meng

For some reason, I've gone from having too many throw pillows to not having enough. I'm in the market for some for my couch, and this embroidered "Scales" pillow from Jamie's adorable store is at the top of my wish list. If you want some more scallops for your living room, these three mirrors prove how versatile the pattern can be. Most of the bedding I found was far too grandma, but this simple set by Barbara Barry could be mixed with plenty of different styles. Th
e prize of cheapest thing in this entire roundup goes to the black scalloped-edge blanket from, where else, Ikea (and it's cozy, too!). If anyone needs proof that scalloped edging can be stunningly sophisticated, look no further than this gorgeous vintage chest.

clockwise from lower right:
Gio Ponti Fall Front Mahogany desk sold by Brian Kish
Simply Scallop bedding by Barbara Barry, $199 for F/Q duvet at Bed Bath and Beyond
Polarvide throw, $3.49 at Ikea
Amberlyn Wall Mirror, $151.88 at JCPenney
Regina Andrew Square Scalloped Mirror, $99.95 at Candelabra
New Arrivals Scalloped Wall Mirror, $60 at Amazon
Granite Scales Linen Pillow, $70 at Furbish Studio

While I don't suggest decking out an entire table in matching scallops, each of these pieces could be mixed with your basic dishes to add a dash of cute to your holiday setting. 

clockwise from upper right:
Large Cake Plate in Pistachio by Rachel Carley Ceramics
Scalloped-Metal Napkin Ring, $4 each at West Elm
scalloped white bowl from Sheffield Pottery
set of four vintage white linen napkins, $14 from RenaissanceProfessor on Etsy

Fortunately, the shopping guilt you'll get from buying all the rest of these adorable things can be assuaged by giving some equally adorable gifts. Etsy and Martha can always be relied upon to provide cute cards, tags, boxes, bags, stationary, and – for the more ambitious among us – DIY supplies. 

clockwise from upper right:
"Thanks" kraft scallop tags, $5 for 20 by therufflyowl on Etsy
clear favor boxes with scalloped lids, $4.50 for 5 by CCustomCreations on Etsy
Scallop Edge Personalized Note Pad, $17 by LetterLoveDesigns on Etsy
Martha Stewart 1-inch Scalloped Circle Punch and Scalloped Tag Punch, $10.09 each on Overstock
Die Cut Calling Cards, $50 for 50 at Stationary XPress
Scalloped Glassine Bags, $2.50 for 8 by sweetprovisions on Etsy

For those of us who can't afford Alix's fabulous Chloé shorts, the usual suspects (Urban, Modcloth, ASOS, and Etsy) provide some stellar cheaper options. The blue scalloped-edge tank top comes in a variety of colors and would be a great substitute for the usual basic tank. I don't usually like one-shouldered dresses, but this deep blue one edged with festive gold is gorgeous for holiday parties.

clockwise from top:
Debut of Venus Dress, $90 at Modcloth
Lucca Couture Chiffon Scallop Short, $48 at Urban Outfitters
Scalloped Waist Corduroy Skirt, $48 by vivatveritas7 on Etsy
Embellished Scalloped Hem One Shoulder Dress, $129.30 at ASOS
Black Scalloped Hem Dress,  $85 by victorianbird on Etsy
Warehouse Scallop Laser Cut Dress at Selfridge's
VIP Bejewelled Heart Layer Dress, £95 at Lipsy
Basic Scallop Edged Vest, $30 at Topshop

Of all the scalloped products I found, I think the selection of accessories is my favorite. I would happily wear any of these beautiful shoes, belts, bags, and gloves, not to mention the very pretty unmentionables! Plus, a few of these are downright affordable. 

clockwise from upper right:
Scallop Bag, $109.99 at French Connection
Chocolate Brown Vintage Gloves, $10 from AllerRetour on Etsy
Sergio Rossi Scalloped Cage Bootie, $569 at Nieman Marcus
Beaded Detail Snap Clutch, $36.90 at Akira
Pollini Scalloped Sole Shoe, $347 at
Huit Cupcake Full Cup Bra and Brasilian Brief, $72 and $47 from Journelle
Ladies Vintage Long Black Tailored Leather Gloves, $32.50 on Ebay
Miu Miu Scalloped leather belt, no longer available

Finally, no roundup at the moment would be complete without some Christmas decorating options. The cloud-like garland below would be adorable on a tree. If you need something to put under the tree and have some time on your hands, Martha has instructions on how to make the simple tree skirt here.

scalloped felt tree skirt how-to on
A Study in French Scalloped Vintage Paper Garland, $12 by MaisyandAlice on Etsy
Holiday Scalloped Felt Ribbon by Martha Stewart Crafts, $4.99 from


I used to walk by this vessel 

stirrup spout vessel fruit|12th–5th century BCE|1978.412.205

once in a while 
and it always reminded me a lot of Jonathan Adler's boob vase

which is actually part of his "Muse" collection, inspired by various female muses of well-known artists. This one is named for Kiki de Montparnasse.

And while I'm on the subject of things that look like boobs – my ceiling lamps. I understand that landlords want to install the cheapest things possible... but why do these lamps have to be so damn cheap?

Frosted Glass 13" Wide Flushmount Ceiling Light Fixture

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Apologies to my nonexistent blog readers for the very few posts lately - I've been sick.

This week I used the Boston craigslist, which tends to be disproportionately expensive, and 95% of which is comprised of very traditional, nondescript reproduction antiques. I found some great-but-still-pricey stuff and mixed it in with pieces with nice lines that need a little tlc.

I started with the
klismos chairs, which are posted as a set with a (very ugly) dining table and buffet for $500 total. I went with the relatively conservative guess of $200 for the chairs alone. These chairs are so perfect and glamorous that I thought they would be fine paired with a table that's less of a standout, so I just went with this cheap pedestal table, cleaned up with some black paint. The bar cart is another piece that I really wish I had the money/space to take home with me, and the screen reminds me of a much cooler version of my own chinese folding screen. To top it all off, this chandelier - probably my favorite of all the things I found today.

This office is simple, but along with a cute rug it could be pretty adorable (people in this city apparently don't own anything other than oriental rugs – not that I have a problem with oriental rugs, but they don't work in every space!). The fabric on the
chair is Vicki Payne For Your Home Artichoke, which I photoshopped on because the original bad zebra print was driving me a little crazy. The etagere was originally $350 in-store and the West Elm desk is the discontinued black finish.

I didn't photoshop fabrics or paint colors in this next one, so it needs a little imagination.

lamp is obviously VERY expensive, but this is all pretend, so I'm going to pretend that people who shop on craigslist can spend $1000 on a lamp (and it does, as the seller points out, retail for $1645). I love this (really cheap) couch, and in this inexpensive velvet fabric with nailhead trim it could really be gorgeous. The overscaled chair plays off the overscaled lamp, and looks just as glamorous reupholstered in one of my favorite fabrics. The little end tables are being sold with a canopy bed for $50 total and the cowhide is also relatively affordable.

Last but not least, this wing chair has actually been floating around craigslist for a few months; I kind of wanted it for my own place but it was a little rich for my budget and doesn't fit anywhere color-wise. It looks good with this Williams-Sonoma
settee (a great deal - $500 instead of $2600!), but despite the color coordination the chair on its own is a little too boho for the sofa. I thought this rug and the industrial-chic cabinet would tie things together to make for a cozy room for tv-watching or curling up with a good book. 

The challenge here is putting spaces together with very limited options. I started with a few pieces that I really loved and then found other things to combine with them to create rooms. In real life, I wouldn't buy everything at once; instead, I would get that first piece and, rather than settling for some things that look alright with it, wait for other great things to come along.

Meanwhile, if anyone has $250 to spare, please give that beautiful chandelier a worthy home! 

Monday, November 15, 2010


for your Monday night.

Bunny Williams

in Anna Spiro's shop, Black & Spiro, via her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things

Summer Thornton

Tricia Huntley

Eames lounger upholstered in Missoni fabric on the set of Gossip Girl

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Apologies in advance for this ridiculously long and text-heavy post! Perhaps it will be useful to someone somewhere; everyone else can feel free to skip it. 

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 6 years and have planned to get married for almost as long. Now that we're both out of college we've been thinking it's time to actually get around to doing that. We both know that I don't trust him to pick out a ring that I'll be happy wearing for the rest of my life, so we've been looking at rings together. Well, actually, I spent hours looking at rings online and once in a while he asked if I'd found anything I like. I kind of assumed, before we started the process, that finding a ring I liked would be natural – that, like clothing, I would be able to detect differences in quality immediately and have strong opinions about all my options.

After looking at the big jewelry stores' websites (and going to one in person) I just felt kind of lost and 'meh.' I found that [1] everything at jewelry stores is really expensive, even the simple things; [2] everything in stores looks pretty similar, from Tiffany's to Costco; and [3] the size and quality of the diamond is what you're supposed to care about, not the setting. Un[?]fortunately, I'm way more interested in the details of the setting than the diamond. When we went to a jewelry store (that shall not be named), the salesgirl said something like "no, you shouldn't care about the setting; you really want to spend almost all of your budget to get the biggest and best center stone you can. If you have a diamond that's small and not nice enough, all your friends and family will notice and wonder what he was thinking!" I restrained myself from telling her that, unless it's bright yellow and has a giant crack through it, my family and friends really won't give a crap. And so I started looking at antique and estate rings. 

A lot of antique rings are, well, a little
too much. Even though I want some old-fashioned detailing, I want to stay as far from ostentation as possible. (In my mind diamonds are a little ostentatious to begin with and having a big sparkly thing on my finger is going to take some getting used to.) This might have something to do with the fact that almost all my jewelry is from flea markets and cost no more than $5; I think the most I've spent on a piece of jewelry is $20, and the most expensive piece I own (a high school graduation present from my wonderful friend) is a simple, elegant silver necklace from Tiffany's. Most of the time, I forget to put on any jewelry before I rush out the door.

The only family heirloom ring we could have is my dad's mom's ring, which looks a lot like this one, but with a yellow gold setting:

Yeah, like I said: too much. Not to impugn my grandfather's taste, but it looks to me like two creepy little sparkly eyes. We quickly narrowed down our options to either finding an antique ring that fit my taste and was within our budget, or having something custom-made. We actually chose the second option – which we originally thought would be way too expensive – but it took a while to come to that conclusion.

I started by looking at (what seemed like) every vintage/antique/estate ring currently online, ignoring prices and trying to find commonalities among the ones I was drawn to. Here are some of the ones I liked:

left to right:
Replica Belle Epoque Engagement Ring from Leigh Jay Nacht
European Cut Diamond Filigree Ring with Bow Motif from Nelson Rarities
Belle Epoque Engagement Ring from Leigh Jay Nacht

clockwise from top:
Replica Edwardian Engagement Ring Mounting from Leigh Jay Nacht

Replica Art Deco Engagement Setting from Leigh Jay Nacht

Edwardian Style Platinum Engagement Ring from Israel Rose

Edwardian Style Platinum Engagement Ring from Israel Rose

Edwardian Style Mine Cut Diamond Ring from Israel Rose

Art Deco Inspired Diamond Ring from Lang Antique and Estate Jewelry

center, top to bottom:
European Cut diamond & red gold Victorian Ring circa 1875 from Nelson Rarities
Victorian Diamond Engagement Ring from The Three Graces
Diamond White Gold Engagement Ring from Israel Rose
right: Brilliant in the Round Diamond Ring from The Three Graces
cool brass glove mold from Center 44 on

At first, finding similarities among them was difficult. Eventually, though, I realized that there were some common traits:

•round cut stone

•tiny diamonds running down the shoulders
•not too much filigree, unless it's very simple and geometric
•short "head" (center stone doesn't stick up too high above the band)
•squarish profile of the head, rather than the stereotypical inverted triangle
•band doesn't taper out toward the center stone; looks thin and delicate from every angle
•beautiful detailing on the sides surrounding the center stone, seen in profile but not immediately seen from above (most often seen on Edwardian style rings, as in the second picture)
•prongs aren't too claw-like
•white gold

Although we did plenty of research 
(and got some advice from friends) about clarity and color before looking at anything, going to a real jewelry store was really helpful in determining what we would look for (SI1 for clarity; G/H for color) and what size diamond we want. The problem with many of the vintage and antique rings I found was that the diamonds were huge, making the rings out of our price range. Even the replica settings are made for diamonds around 1 carat or larger. When buying a new diamond (with or without a setting), the price apparently jumps hugely between .9ct and 1ct, because people don't want to say that their diamond is smaller that a carat. After trying on some real rings, I decided that I really don't want a stone bigger than .5ct, because anything larger looks silly on my tiny finger.

After doing a little googling, we found a jeweler right down the street who's well known (and well reviewed) for their custom designs within a budget. We've talked to him and are going to create a combination of the one on the right of the first image and the Edwardian ones in the second image. He showed us some diamonds with different grades of clarity and color to train our eyes and now we're waiting for him to pick out some diamonds for us to choose from. Updates to follow as the process continues!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Two of my favorite recent purchases are a dark orange sweater [below] and a like-new J. Crew navy blue coat (on Ebay for $41!). I realized that they go beautifully together, and now I'm a little obsessed with this color combination...

clockwise from upper left:
[a] Poppies Wallpaper by C.F.A. Voysey, reprinted by Trustworth Studios
[b] Velvet robe from Toast
[c] by Garance Doré
[d] Needlepoint Platforms by Rachel Comey, from Anthropologie
[e] Traversa cardigan from J. Crew

Autumn has always been my favorite season, even though some years that perfect crisp air and bright sunlight only last for a few weeks. When I asked my boyfriend to describe this color, he said "autumn leaves" and I realized why I'm loving it so much right now. I have a lot of orange-&-pale-blue interiors pictures in my file, but when combined with navy it makes for a much more moody, dusky almost-winter feeling. 

clockwise from upper left:
[a] William Morris oriental rug from Metropolitan Carpet
[b] Nate Berkus
[c] Terrace House Jacket from Anthropologie
[d] lovely living room from... I don't know the source - sorry!
[e] Kenzo
[f] don't know where I found this either

Incidentally, I bought the jacket in the upper-right yesterday. I felt guilty because it was expensive even at 50% off, but then when I was looking for images for this post and found this in my files, I figured it was fate :)

Friday, November 12, 2010


Katie Evans, a graphic designer for Kate Spade, documents her daily purchases with little line drawings on her Tumblr,

from the special occasion purchases...

to the everyday, mundane ones (oh, how I don't miss you, NYC grocery prices!).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I'm currently obsessed with this blouse from Anthropologie, which I stalked for a few months until it finally went on sale and I could buy it:

Umbrellas, hats, and - chairs! All in the most perfect moody fall colors. Unfortunately, the weather has been playing along. To brighten up a rainy day week, I gathered some lovely umbrellas and chic stands to keep them in.

Clockwise from top right:
[a] Rain or Shiny Umbrella,
[b] {now discontinued} umbrella from Hayden Harnett's collection for Target
[c] William Morris Compton Umbrella, Metropolitan Museum of Art
[d] Cath Kidston Kensington Walking Length Umbrella,
[e] Sky Umbrella by Tibor Kalman, MoMA
[f] Rorschach Umbrella by Bernard Maisner, Tray 6
[g] Vintage Paisley Double-Layered Umbrella, richadsgreatstuff on Etsy

I've been dragging my dripping umbrella into our apartment and lazily dumping it on the floor of the (very tiny) hall; perhaps I should invest in one of these:

from left:
[a] Owl Umbrella Stand by Two's Company, from Amazon
[b] Jonathan Adler Lacquer Umbrella Stand in blue,
[c] "Parapluies" vintage umbrella stand via
[d] Boot Umbrella Stand, Z Gallerie
[e] and [f] Piero Fornasetti Umbrella Stands, Unica Home and Sweetpea & Willow
[g] Vintage Brass Umbrella Stand, Austin Modern on Etsy

I'm sure some of you, like me, love the look of the Fornasetti ones (check out all the other designs at Unica Home) but don't feel like spending $1500 (?!) on an umbrella stand. I think a trash can, adhesive, and some vintage fashion plates printed out large at your local copy shop (I would scan some images from my copy of What People Wore When) could achieve the same look...

this can from The Container Store, $20, and these dashing gents

In the meantime, though, I just might have to buy this adorable bag from Etsy and be ridiculously matchy-matchy with my blouse:

Vintage Leather and Suede Green Messenger Bag from stephparrott on Etsy

Sunday, November 7, 2010

J. Crew + the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

In case I didn't already love Jenna Lyons enough:

John Everett Millais, Ophelia (detail), 1851-2

I have no idea whether this was intentional, but when I got this catalog my first thought was that it must have been: the rippling deep blue rug, flowers (cleverly translated into a floral pillow), mix of textures, and that pale pre-raphaelite skin all evoke the painting so perfectly.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I do realize that I said this blog was going to be focusing on budget items and then went and featured a million things from 1stdibs in my last post. Well, it's nice to daydream. But back to reality: in real life, approximately 80% of my furniture is from craigslist and 20% from flea markets. At this point in my life, even IKEA is too expensive when you add up an entire apartment of furniture. When we moved into our first apartment last year, our budget was about $1000 for the entire two-bedroom, so I got very well-acquainted with New York's thrift stores and quickly became a craigslist convert. 

I still get raised eyebrows when I tell people where things are from – not because my friends can afford better, but because of craigslist's reputation for pure sketchiness and because there are few things New Yorkers are more terrified of than bedbugs. [I'll admit that I have a habit of being overly trusting, and I can't imagine how frustrating it is to have to destroy half your possessions, but I really don't think there are many people who say "Oh no, we have bedbugs! Let's sell all our furniture on craigslist to unsuspecting strangers so we can spread this epidemic even more!"] 

Another thing I've noticed a lot is the "mixing high and low" idiom. As much as I'd love to mix my craigslist finds with designer pieces, that's simply not happening. So I'm here to preach the craigslist gospel in a "low and low" fashion: I'm going to do a (weekly?) piece where I use one city's craigslist to put together a room. I thought of this idea a few months ago in New York and put together all of the following rooms from things I found in one 24-hour span on the NYC craigslist. 






Not everything in these mock-ups is objectively cheap. Most of these pieces are more than I would pay, and some things, like the Weinrib rug, are expensive but cheap for what they are. But all of this was on one craigslist (albeit the city with the most selection) in one day. With some patience, it's easy to collect really cheap, great things over the span of a week or a month. Some of my favorite finds are my set of white Panton knock-offs (4 for $250), my $100 Andrew Martin chair (retailed for over $1000) and the $25 vintage asian screen that's now in use as our headboard (pictures of all of those coming soon!)

What's your favorite craigslist find?