Saturday, December 24, 2011


Since I'm working every day through these last couple weeks of December (except Christmas Day), we're staying in Boston this year rather than visiting family. Between working and last-minute shopping and post office runs, I pulled together some last-minute holiday decorating a couple of days ago, consisting almost entirely of things I already had.

candlesticks, glasses and goblets that I already had (goblets are for the wedding!)

Marimekko wrapping paper from Crate and Barrel

Tree skirt is a Ralph Lauren bedskirt that I found
for $7 at HomeGoods years ago. I painted last
year's urn glossy black to change things up a bit.

Like I said, almost everything I used was from last year's decorations or bits and pieces of glassware and decor I had lying around. The only new piece is the gold garland hanging over the mantel, which I made while watching TV the other night. I couldn't find anyone selling evergreen garland near my apartment, and I've always loved the look of magnolia or bay leaf garlands, so I came up with this easy way to recreate the look in a glamorous gold version. I only needed two materials: gold wrapping paper and thin gold wire. Cost? About $10, and that's only because I bought a ridiculously overpriced $8 roll of wrapping paper. Here are some step-by-step photos, in case you want to recreate something similar next year!

materials: wire and leaves cut from wrapping paper (I made mine
pointed at one end and blunt at the other)

1. poke the wire up through the leaf at one end,
about 1/2 inch from the blunt end

2. poke it back down, close to the blunt end of the leaf

3. pull the leaf you've just attached down the wire,
then begin again with the next leaf, this time at a slightly
different angle

4. continue threading leaves onto the wire,
alternating the angle to create a natural effect

the final product!

Happy holidays and have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I was looking through my files recently when I rediscovered this fabulous series of bloggers' designs for Ralph Lauren Home. With such gorgeous pieces to work with, it's no surprise that all four rooms are fabulous - but the one that really stood out to me was the bedroom designed by Marisa Marcantonio from Stylebeat. She brought an eclectic, colorful edge to the very luxurious and traditional Ralph Lauren pieces. 

The catch, unfortunately, is that everything in this room is ridiculously expensive. No surprise there. But since most of these pieces are so classic, it wasn't too hard to put together a lookalike space for a fraction of the price!


Francis Bench at Coco Blanca | Left Bank Bench at Home Decorators
Bungalow 5 Anjelica Lamp in orange at Harlow's Nest | Style Selections orange lamp base at Lowe's
Melanie Parke's Sun Cloud at Emily Amy Gallery | Abstract painting on paper by juliabrucker on Etsy
Jardins et Fleur stool, no longer available | Urban Trends Ceramic Stool at Wayfair
RLH Tabley House Floral wallpaper in Porcelain | blue floral wallpaper at Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper
Oly Studio Sea Urchin | Micro Porcelain Urchin Bowl by elementclaystudio on Etsy

Although most pieces aren't perfect matches, the unusual but fabulous color scheme translates wonderfully to a budget version. I chose the Surya rug over Ikea's famous black and white Stockholm rug with the identical alternating stripes, for instance, because I felt the color was more important. Although I like the replacement dresser, I'd love to see nailheads added to a thrifted campaign dresser - a relatively easy DIY that could have fantastic results!

The sources aren't all listed, but I improvised a little and gathered these accessories to approximate the styling of the room:

clockwise from upper left:
Vintage Silver Plated Teapot, $35 from BBBDesigns on Etsy
Couleur Nature Bleuet tea towel, $12.99 at I Dream of France
Pocket Botanica weekly planner, $8.48 at Franklin Covey
Faux Bois Cup and Saucer, $24 at Laura U Collection
Ritva throw, $7.99 at IKEA
Diod glass, $2.99 at IKEA

What do you think? Would you love to cuddle up in this room, or is it a little too busy for your taste? What's your favorite deal of the bunch?

Monday, December 5, 2011


With winter fast approaching, I'm looking forward to decking the halls and sipping tea by a warm fire, but starting to dread the solid few months when my wardrobe will consist of flat black rubber boots with black tights and some more black on top. I hate this inevitable rut, but it's hard to be creative when your walk to work regularly involves snow up to your knees. And I've been noticing lately that I'm already falling into my winter habits, before there's even any snow on the ground. I'm trying to nip it in the bud and inspire myself to get through winter with more creativity - so here are some ladies who are staying warm and looking good doing it.
rows, top to bottom:
raquel zimmermann by inez & vinoodh for Vogue via {a glamorous little side project}
Jenna Lyons by Courtney D'Alesio for Elle
via Snippet & Ink
Filipa Fino by Marko MacPherson for Vogue
Amanda Ryan
Facehunter via Habitually Chic

What's your winter uniform? Do you find yourself sacrificing style for comfort when it's coldest out?

Friday, December 2, 2011


This is the fourth and last in my series of gift guides, composed entirely of picks gathered from my favorite museum gift shops! Here are parts I: For the FashionistaII: For the Workaholic, III: For the Hostess.

Some people can never have enough little black dresses - and some of us can never have enough chairs, trays, or candlesticks. For the decor fanatic, here are some truly innovative and inspired designs from artists historical and contemporary...

rows, top to bottom:
Screw Table, $1950, RISD Works
Less Lamp, $499.95, MoMA Store
Masters Chair, $244, MoMA Store
Mughal Elephant Plate, $20, Met Store
Candlesticks by Eva Zeisel (6", 8", 11", bowl), $55-70, Cooper-Hewitt Shop
"C'Mere" Hand Hook, $80, ICA Store
Family Chairs, $1295, MoMA Store
Duck Mirror, $70, RISD Works
Footed Bowl, $25, Met Store
Artist's Ribbon, Suzani, $20, Cooper-Hewitt Shop

And that's the last installment of the gift guides! Which was your favorite pick from the past week's collections? Are you planning to pick up anything for a loved one - or add anything to your own wish list? Or, better yet, did any of these designs inspire you to visit your local museum?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This is the second in my series of gift guides, composed entirely of picks gathered from my favorite museum gift shops! Here are parts I: For the Fashionista and II: For the Workaholic.

From what I hear, grown-parties require the invitee to bring a gift slightly classier than a 6-pack of Bud Light. For the glamorous slew of holiday parties and their glamorous hosts/hostesses, here are some suggestions for thank-you gifts that they'll actually be thankful for!

Clockwise from upper left:
Pantone Mug, $15, SFMOMA Store
Rorschach Coasters, $18, New Museum Store
Pod Box, $40, RISD Works
Venus Apron, $28.95, LACMA Shop
Kaol Mints, $12, Cooper-Hewitt Shop
Botanical Plates, $8.95, The Getty Museum Store
Chess Bottle Stops, $18, RISD Works
Artist's Ribbon, Cooper-Hewitt Cutlery, $18, Cooper-Hewitt Shop
Inset Salad Servers, $22, LACMA Shop
Salt Cellar, $40, RISD Works

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is the second in my series of gift guides, composed entirely of picks gathered from my favorite museum gift shops! Part I in the series, posted yesterday, is here.

Today I've rounded up some adorable things to dress up your desk. Whether you work from a cubicle or the couch, dressing up your workspace can't help but make the day go by a little faster!

clockwise from upper left:
The Fly Push-Pin by Donata Paruccini, Cooper-Hewitt shop, $23 for 24 
Meissen Floral Ceramic Travel Cup, Met store, $20
Baldessari 'Wrong' Eraser, LACMA shop, $5.95
Vera Butterflies File Folders, Met store, $12.95
Telephone Dial Smartphone Case, Met store, $18.95
V&A 'Waterfall' iPhone Skin, V&A store, £12
Frank Lloyd Wright clock, Met store, $75
William Morris Morning File, V&A store, £15
Junghans Table Clock, Cooper-Hewitt shop, $360

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Yes, I took another unannounced little hiatus from the blog. Despite working all the days that most people were on holiday last week, I had an entirely lovely time showing the fiancé's family around Boston for the first time. Getting back to everyday reality is never fun, but the holidays are sneaking up on us and I'm beginning to get excited for finding the perfect gifts! There have been so many amazing gift guides in blogs and magazines this year that I'm not even going to try to compete. So I decided to narrow the playing field and use a resource that's close to my heart. 

As some of you know, I majored in Art History and have spent most of my college and post-college years working in museums. I'm passionate about expanding museum audiences, and a lot of museum shops have been trying to support that goal - often tapping into their collections' design highlights. So here's the first of my four-part gift guide, collected entirely from ... museum shops! Not only have I found a ton of fabulous things, but they all support the wonderful cause of keeping museums afloat and vibrant in this difficult economy.

First up: a fabulous collection of baubles and beads.

Clockwise from upper left:
Gold Bow Brooch by Sarah Cavender, £75, V&A Museum store. 
Portland Vase Scarf, £35, British Museum store.
Gold Half Penny Coin Purse, $38, V&A Museum store. 
Egyptian Snake Drop Earrings, $65, Met store. 
Sterling Bow Studs, $50, ICA store.
Waterfall Earrings by Alexis Bittar, V&A Museum store.
Ice Crystal Tree Earrings, $55, Met store.
Turquoise Tassel Earrings, £55, V&A Museum store.
V Dip Dye Scarf, £40, V&A Museum store.
Egyptian Chevron Ring, $33.75, Met store.
Vera Abstract Scarf, $60, Met store. 
Icon Watch by &design, $70, Cooper-Hewitt shop.
William Morris Persian Watch, $70, Met store. 
Ribbon Scarf, £10, V&A Museum store.
Boulder Ring by Helveta Vyotlag, £50, V&A Museum store.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Some new things in the Etsy shop, just in time for setting your Thanksgiving table! Terrible, grainy pictures brought to you by my ancient point-and-shoot because the good camera is at the repair shop...

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I have some Craigslist for you tonight, by request of Brandi in Dallas, TX. She's looking for a mid-century credenza under $200, and not only did I find plenty of options for her but I also found lots of other fantastic pieces!

We'll get to the credenza in a bit. First up, I set myself a unique challenge: create a board made entirely of pieces under $100. We all know that Craigslist is a great place to find great values on things, but even if a piece is cheap for what it is, that doesn't mean that we can afford it. Most of my friends balk at spending any money at all on furniture, so here's proof that the broke twenty-something need not resort to IKEA...

curtains, couch, rug, end tables, mirror, trunk, chairs, table

Yup, that's a long one! I'm imagining this as the living/dining space of a little one-bedroom apartment. Next up, a space with much more pedigree and elegance: a cozy bedroom filled with gorgeous antiques:

headboard, chair, dresser, lamp, rug

The next was vaguely inspired by the eclectic, exotic Hollywood Regency aura of Charley's dressing room in the movie A Single Man. I know this one went around the blogs, and who wouldn't want to get dressed here every morning? (Those of you who haven't seen the movie, btw, should absolutely go rent it, and prepare to cry a lot.) 

My version is for those of us who live in the real world and don't have the luxury of a separate dressing room. Use the chest as one nightstand and put the desk on the other side of the bed to use it as a vanity/nightstand/desk!

desk, stool, headboard, chest

Last but not least, Brandi's request: a CHEAP mid-century credenza with plenty of storage. Here's one option in this set, and look for some more links below!

chairs, credenza, benches, cocktail table

More credenza options (with some dressers and sideboards and other storage pieces mixed in): one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. It all depends on what sort of storage you're looking for...

Which room would you love to transport into your home if you could? And what city do you want to see next?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


As fall all too quickly threatens to turn into winter, I always find myself drawn to muted colors, antique finishes and interesting textures. Perhaps that's the reason for my recent mini-obsession with shagreen. For those of you who haven't heard of it, shagreen is a type of leather made from the skin of sharks and rays (or from traditional horse's hide treated to resemble it). It has a naturally pebbly texture and greyish tone, and is often dyed to produce vivid colors and ground down to create a smooth surface with a complex pattern of tiny dots. Commonly used in China and Japan to cover the handles of weapons, it became extremely fashionable in the eighteenth century and has recently seen a revival in luxury goods. Today, since many species of rays are now endangered, most shagreen goods are made from leather or manmade materials.

photograph of a man in Central Asia
shaping shagreen leather, c. 1865

I've divided this rather massive roundup into three categories: antique, aspirational, and affordable (yeah, I hate the term "aspirational" too, but what can I say, I like alliteration). First some gorgeous eye candy, then a whole array of items under $100! These examples of antique objects made from shagreen come from auctions, dealers, and museum collections, spanning the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. 

clockwise, from upper left:
Maitland Smith Stingray Tusk console table, 1stdibs
French Deco shagreen and gold leaf vanity, 1stdibs
Movado "Ermeto" hermetic travel clock, Aspire Auctions
Set of drawing instruments in shagreen case, the Met
Jean Michel Frank style coffee table, 1stdibs
Asprey shagreen and ivory clock, found here
Chinese ox horn glasses in shagreen case, 1stdibs
shagreen and ivory stationary box, Christie's
pair of stools, 1stdibs
Chinese eyeglass case, $150 at Requiem Antique

Go ahead and zoom in on that set of drawing instruments - the detail is amazing. (Plus, it's actually on view in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries, for those of you who live in NYC!) The tendency to use shagreen for small objects that had to take some abuse is evident - and understandable, since shagreen made from the skin of rays or sharks is a tough but beautiful material. Nowadays, shagreen is commonly dyed in bright colors and used for a wider variety of objects, from fashion to furniture to home accessories.

clockwise from upper right:
Rebecca Minkoff "Alaina" handbag, $595
Kara by Kara Ross stingray earrings, $119 at Saks
Karen Bizer "Tree of Life" cuff bracelet with gold and multicolor diamonds
Kara by Kara Ross narrow stingray cuff, $290 at Intermix
Chrissie Morris suede and stingray ankle strap pump, $1273 at Luisa Via Roma
Genevieve Jones clutch, image found here
Yves Saint Laurent "Stingray" cuff, $603 at Farfetch
Kara by Kara Ross stingray earrings, $122 at Saks
Anya Hindemarch box clutch, $1595 at Net-a-Porter
Pink pill case by Lotus Arts de Vivre, $225 at Vivre

clockwise from upper left:
Custom shagreen desk with bronze base by Galart International
Fyn shagreen box top and side table base by Hickory Chair

Side table by Lyle and Umbach
Desk Set by Linley, £295 - £395
Pair of side tables, $4995 at Area iD
Nickel etagere with shagreen by Vaughan, to the trade
Lawton grey table lamp, $550 at Clayton Gray Home
Williams Sonoma Home carousel box
Custom shagreen hardware by Turnstyle Designs

Which of these luxurious pieces would you choose if you had unlimited resources? I think I'd have to choose the desk – or perhaps the desk set – but the shoes are pretty tempting too! For those of us who don't have a few thousand to spare, here's my favorite part of the roundup: a variety of pieces under $100 for our realistic wallets!

clockwise from upper left:
Wedgwood "Shagreen" plate, $17 on Ebay
Fitz & Floyd "Shagreen" plate, $15 on Ebay (or $5.57 in teal)
Round box, $20 at C.S. Post & Co.
Vintage tasseled perfume box, $75 at veraviola on Etsy
Bangle bracelet, $40 on Ebay
Small box, $40 at Cobble Court Home
Boxes, $19-24 at West Elm (also available as a frame!)
iPhone 3 case, $39 on Ebay
Cynthia Vincent "Lotus" sandal, $77 on Amazon
Calvin Klein "Arielle" peep-toe pump, $77 at 6PM
Desk clock, $16.99 at The Source Collection
Pocket journal, $70 at Papier d'Amour
Mousepad by Dransfield and Ross, $18 on Ebay
Pencils with matching box by Dransfield and Ross, supposedly $27

And if you want something that makes a bigger statement, this line of faux-shagreen tables gives you lots of bang for your buck! They come as a console, desk, and side table (the desk comes in black and ivory). I haven't seen them in person but they look lovely in the images (anybody want to be my guinea pig and hire me for a design board using one of these?)

console $280, ivory desk $315, black desk $331, side table $170

Are you loving the textures and colors of this material as much as I am, or does the thought of shark and ray skin freak you out? Do you prefer the traditional forms of the antiques or the vibrancy of the newer accessories?

Monday, October 31, 2011


Personally, I jump at my one chance a year to play dress-up, but if you're not the type to dress up for Halloween, maybe you'd prefer showing your holiday spirit in a more subtle manner. I'm possibly one of the least Goth people on earth, but I'm a little in love with the designs of Charlotte Burkhart, an Etsian from New Zealand who makes the most gorgeously detailed gothic-creepy jewelry:

Is it weird that I would absolutely wear the earrings at the top with my average black-and-grey work wardrobe?

Sunday, October 30, 2011


In the past week's process of trying to get stuff done and go to work while having a nasty lingering cold, I completely forgot a certain milestone...

the delicious birthday cake my blog
totally would have had, had it remembered
its own birthday

This little blog's first birthday! I published my first post on 10/26/10, just before making the move from New York to Boston. 

I don't have any particularly profound reflections on the blog itself, but I do want to tell you all how truly grateful I am for –YOU: your thoughtful, lovely comments; your enthusiastic approval of my humble apartment; your fantastic support of my little venture into getting paid to do something that's so much fun; and your continued interest even when I fail at posting for weeks on end. It's been a stressful year in many ways, not least of which is how my dead-end job has forced me to rethink the career I've been working so hard on for so many years. However disenchanted I become with that, it is so wonderful to have such a warm and welcoming outlet for this other passion. 

With that said, the bigger mark on the calendar right around now is Halloween! We threw a party last night, so I've had Halloween decorating on the brain this past week while I sat home sick and sewed our costumes (we dressed up as Elizabeth and Darcy from... Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was epic.) And I realized that Halloween decorations tend to be among the tackiest of tacky holiday accoutrements. I mean, orange and black – how can that be anything but in-your-face ugly? ....Right? Maybe not so much. Some contradictory evidence...

Christine Halcombe


Haynes Roberts

Stacy Zarin

Apartment Therapy House Tour

Ryan Korban via Lonny

Sara Story

Sara Story

What do you think - would you implement this color scheme in your own home, or is it too high-contrast for your tastes? Would you prefer one of these more subtly spooky looks?

is it just me, or does this table scare you too? 

creepy spider lamp. I am terrified of spiders and could never live with this.

Happy Halloween!