Meet Hank

A few months before we found out we were pregnant with #1 I purchased my coveted, yummy, super deep, down cushion, brown velvet sofa. Gorgeous!! In the beginning I barely let my husband sit on it, let alone eat on it. OH my, it all went to shit from there. I got a Hank and had two children in three years. My beautiful, big brown sofa now looks like a tank pulled from the front line.

In the euphoria of my second trimester I decided I wanted a bloodhound; I will first blame myself (then my best friend Sean, then my husband). When they say do not make major decisions when you are pregnant…they MEAN it! Meet Hank.

Meet Hank

Reason I wanted a bloodhound…(this is really good), puppies are cute BUT not always cute when they grow up, but those hound faces are ALWAYS SOOOO mushy, droopy and cute, and you just wanna hug them. Until they weigh 150, eat poo, live in the sandbox and walk into your home with two 8” icicles of dirt, poo infused, frothy slime and shake it off in the core of your home, and the slime literally hangs from the ceiling and slides down the wall until it dries and u-sorbe (yes that word is made up, come over, have a glass of wine and I will show you the phenomenon). Now a u-sorbe removal requires precision and technical cleaning skills, not easy. If you need more info let me know.

So I’ll get to my point…when the frothy slime hits the velvet…let it dry, then flake it off with a dry towel (and this actually works). BUT…when the Enfamil bottle leak, spit-up, banana skid mark, Desitin buns hit the velvet…even a professional clean cannot make it  good as new.  Here is my insider tip…indoor/outdoor fabrics. Virtually all fabric lines (even my favorite high, high end lines) are offering some sort of indoor/outdoor options. The fabrics are bullet proof, stain proof and you can even take some out and hose them off (along with your children). Many companies even offer warranties.  I actually took a sample of a beautiful cream, fuzzy, soft handed chenille poured a splash of red wine, a bit of coffee and a squirt of ketchup and left it for a few hours, and ran it under the faucet; gone, no stains!! It used to be that you could spot an outdoor fabric from a block away; beige or navy that sat like a trampoline or a bold orange strip that belonged on a lounger on the beach in Monte Carlo. Not today, I would choose some of the fabrics regardless of the practicality. I look at thousands of fabrics a month and even I am amazed at how far the fabrics have come, the designs have blurred the lines between the two.

Indoor outdoor fabric samples

Photos do not do them justice but you get the idea, not your grandmother’s Kelly green with white daisy patio furniture cushions. If not privy to the fact they were outdoor fabrics, no one would never know.

“Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.”
- Alicia Keys

On a recent visit to one of the greatest cities on the planet, I spun in circles snapping photo, after photo, after photo. What inspires me you ask? New York City inspires!! It inspires all ages and all senses on many levels. From FAO to the “Tatute of Liverty,” my 5 year old and 4 year old soaked it in and were immediately seduced by the energy of NYC.

FAO to the "Tatute of Liverty"

FAO to the “Tatute of Liverty”

 

One great source of inspiration for me as a designer is hotels; hotels done well and done right. My wonderful husband indulges my desire for hotel inspiration and spoils me with some of the greatest around the world. On this visit to the city he thought it would be interesting to try The Algonquin Hotel, as it had been renovated since our last stay.

The hotel originally opened in 1902 and quickly became home to the infamous Round Table of literary geniuses and home to the likes of Dorothy Parker. ‘The Gonk’ is an iconic, historic midtown hotel (I sound like I’m writing a commercial for the hotel, so I will get to my point). When he first told me it had been acquired by Marriott and renovated I cringed. Renovating an iconic, landmark property is a big responsibility. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  The designers did a great job giving the spaces a modern update while staying true to a New York City classic. In general there was a soothing color palette with an interesting use of some strong black and white elements, successfully softened with some bright colors and welcoming fabrics and contemporary furniture.

I wanted to share my two favorite elements. First the headboards are large screens (probably 84” wide and 9’feet tall) with black and white images of ‘old’ Manhattan, that you can illuminate or put to rest with the touch of a finger.

Secondly, the bathroom tile. They successfully updated the bathrooms with a very slick almost techie feel with a modern ceramic tile, black granite sink basin yet very cleverly toned it down and gave it a timeless aspect by introducing a tile accent that is a somewhat historic element from the original marble tile floors in the lobby of the hotel. Well done!!

Original lobby floor to the shower wall.

Original lobby floor to the shower wall.

 

Provoking inspiration

I must apologize, my first few blogs are going to be a little long as I get going, until we get to know each other.

Recently, I was caught off guard not realizing I was going to be interviewed. I was asked point blank, “What inspires you? Where do you get your inspiration for design?” I stuttered and squirmed in my chair. I did not have a rehearsed, canned answer. I walked away from the interview thinking I best come up with one. I felt like Anthony Michael Hall in the scene from Breakfast Club with his pen up his nose asking, “Who AM I? WHO am I?”

I got home, changed into my running shoes and went for a hike. “Who am I? What inspires me?” Suddenly I realized my first answer had unveiled itself… mother nature, the outdoors, the mountains, the ocean and a beach, bonne terra…the good earth.

whatinspiresme_1

It is hard NOT to be inspired when our playgrounds look like this.

At the very fundamental level my clients inspire me. Their lifestyles, family dynamics, hobbies, passions, dislikes, habits, all inspire me to create a space that is appropriate for them. A space that is wildly beyond what they had hoped for.

That said, I dug deeper for my answer. What I realized is, I don’t have a concise answer for the question. “What inspires me?” I could rattle off the designers that inspire me…Victoria Hagan, Kelly Hoppen, Rose Tarlow, Holly Hunt, to list a few. I feel like as a designer and a creative type everything and anything can and will be my inspiration. They pop up out of no where. I could be sitting down to the Sunday NYT style or travel section reading about a new hotel in the Alps, and before you know it, I am on the web sourcing the stone wall from the lobby, which takes me to an obscure stone manufacturer in Italy. Then suddenly I am museum hopping online and discover an installation at MOMA for an artist that is about to unveil an exhibit over the entire Golden Gate Bridge like nothing we have ever seen; and I am inspired.

Design, fashion, music, dance, art; everything I see, hear, taste, smell and touch billows around in my brain. I pore over magazines and design books studying the good, fixing the bad.  I particularly enjoy the design mags from across the pond. I spend a LOT of time on my iDevices scouring the internet, researching. One of my favorite guilty pleasures and most tangible inspiration sources is 1st Dibs. I can literally get lost for hours clicking, scrolling, linking, tunneling, studying, absorbing. I often find design inspiration watching movies.

OK enough rambling, most recent inspiration you ask? I was strolling through Aspen last weekend and stopped in to say hi to Ricki and John at McHugh Galleries. And I ran into this…

whatinspiresme_2

The piece is by Hunt Slonem, an artist I was unfamiliar with, but wow his work resonates with me: the colors, the textures, the movement. I MUST design a little girl’s bedroom with this as the cornerstone.

Until next time…

The Tree House explained

treeHouse

In the late ’90’s early 2000’s, I was living in L.A. and, of course, working in “the biz.” As a production manager and producer, I worked 16-hour days, six to seven days a week. The who, what and where I won’t get into, but some really cool (now famous) peeps. I had the most insanely fun, intense, fast, furious, rewarding career and got out before I burned out! One of my favorite bosses in L.A. once told me over a Coffee Bean blended in a Malibu courtyard, “This business attracts a very specific type of person, and we all have the ‘Tree House Complex.'”

What is the Tree House Complex you ask? (Cue the perfect song that takes you back to your quintessential moments of childhood: for me, circa 1975-80…)

Do you remember as a child dreaming up, conspiring and building your first tree house? That one moment when someone screeches their bike tires to a halt—super proud of rubber laid—and yells, “LET’S BUILD A TREE HOUSE!” With complete reckless abandon and passion you all set out to create the best, most awesome tree house EVER!  That moment when the group takes inventory, assesses all resources, inventories garages, sheds, sides of houses and maybe the side of “that weird neighbor’s house.” Imaginations explode, problem solving sets in, thinking outside the box begins, because as a child you have no box. The vision is agreed upon, and everyone scatters to hunt and gather. Children are hopping fences, ducking clothes lines and getting nailed with sprinklers as they dash through the hood to beg, steal and borrow. Then they run back through the blocks, dragging their contributions to the meeting point, to the place that will become and house years of friendships, relationships, secrets, heartaches, sleepovers, tears, parties, ghost stories…and so on and so forth (most favorite thing my grandmother used to say to me).

Building your first tree house was the most pure, safe, imaginative, collaborative, authentic, passionate, honest time that you will ever experience. Welcome to…”The Tree House.” On the most basic level this is what I do, why I do it  and the way I feel about what I do.

In my blog I will honor those I admire and that which inspires. I will share inspirational images, articles, art, furniture, thoughts. Creativity is about sharing and exploring and researching—it does not happen in a box.

We will look at what is trending and how NOT to trend. And often it will simply be about us. My wonderful hubby, my brilliant baby girls and our dog Hank, because at the end of the day they are my inspiration. Their honesty, creativity, tenacity, sense of adventure, support, love, fashion sense, design sense and senses of humor get me through the day.