Kitchen Confidential

August 13th, 2013

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We moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 1982 where my parents had purchased a log house outside of town. We had two contractors who did all the work on and around the house, from building dog pens to rewiring electrical sockets. In addition, these two gentleman bore an uncanny resemblance to Daryl Hall and John Oates. So much so, I truly believed they were Hall and Oates and in turn, convinced my first grade class that the two pop stars were indeed under my parents employ as handy men. This proved to ease the typically rough transition every new kid in class endures and in fact seemed to elevate my popularity significantly. My mother then hired the doppelganging duo to renovate our kitchen at a moment in interior design when islands equipped with prep sinks were just becoming en vogue. The fact that they put the prep sink facing into the island, rendering it completely unusable, leads me to think in hindsight that they were not legitimate contractors but rather just two guys with some tools getting by on their collective good looks and the mesmerizing yin yang of their respective hair styles. Watching this process take place (albeit more than a little wonky) is where, I believe, my love of kitchens and their renovations began. I have “Hall and Oates” to thank for that. Not long after this renovation, my mother became obsessed with sponging and pickling and subsequently, we lived in a world of pink, sea foam green and lavender sponge-painted floors, walls, cabinetry and furniture for a number of years hence. It was both insane and amazing though something akin to psychological interior design warfare. My kitchen aesthetic has since progressed from (or directly shaped in opposition to) said pickled and sponged cabinetry of my childhood in the cruel decade that was the 80’s (my mother’s as well, thank god!) and is forever changing and evolving. Throughout my professional career as a designer, I’ve kept an ongoing, ever-growing file on dream kitchens. Here are a few of the ones I’m coveting at the moment.

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DESIGNING WOMEN : DEBORAH BERKE

July 19th, 2013

I will admit that while I had heard of Deborah Berke, as most who work in interiors design have, I wasn’t fully aware of the breadth, scope and what her firm refers to as the “knowing simplicity” that is intrinsic to her work. Whether the Irwin union bank in Columbus, Indiana or the Yale University School of Art, Deborah Berke’s projects are studies in spare, clean line while retaining a sense of warmth, approachability/accessibilty and, as is their goal, the idea that each project is bespoke to the needs of each client.

A graduate of RISD, Deborah has been Professor Adjunct of Architectural Design at Yale University since 1987. She founded her firm in 1982 and has been hard at work all around the world ever since, from hotels to work with educational institutions to private residences.

It was on recent trips to the 21C hotels in both Louisville and the more recently completed Cincinnati location where I really gained a deep appreciation for her work. And once I realized she was the design mastermind behind my much beloved vacation destination, Seaside, Florida, I became a bit obsessed. I have spent almost every spring and summer since I was eight years old vacationing on 30A and I find it to be just about the most idyllic place on earth for me. “The Truman Show” was filmed there for this very reason. Modica Market is the heart of Seaside and perhaps my favorite market on earth. Deborah Berke designs Park Avenue residences and I am most attracted to her little market on the Florida panhandle. What does that say about me?!?
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SELECT AND ARRANGE : THE HOME UPGRADE, pt. I

July 8th, 2013

To paraphrase Charles Eames, A home is a backdrop for ideas and eventually, everything connects. In that spirit, and inspired by a healthy dose of day dreaming, the upgrade is a wishlist of sorts. The pretty and well designed things that make for a well arranged life.

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DOUG JOHNSTON HAND-MADE BASKETS :

Hand formed and stitched on vintage industrial zig-zag sewing machines in his Brokklyn studio, Doug Johnston’s baskets add a soft and sculptural element to any space. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes these are prefect for storing rolled towels, toys or even firewood. I received one of his totes as a birthday gift this year and I have yet to put the beauty down. Available at dougjohnston.net and Steven Alan.
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VINTAGE ANDEAN FRASADAS :

Brilliant and beautiful colors, hand woven in Bolivia, these vintage sheep’s wool blankets are the perfect accent for the back of your sofa or foot of the bed. Truly one of a kind. Available at Spartan.
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HAND DYED INDIGO BLANKET :

It seems as though we are in the throws of indigo hysteria in all aspects of design. This shibori blanket is a testament as to why. Should you have the good fortune to live in a climate where the temperatures dip down in the evenings and a summer breeze blows through the open windows, so nowhere near me, this beautiful blanket would be perfect for said evening. For the rest of us in the sweltering south, it would look lovely on a sofa or foot of the bed as we suffer through the summer dreaming of the fall when we can put it to use.
At General Store.
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FOUTA STRIPED TUNISIAN HAMMAM TOWELS :

A few years ago I purged my house of all my tired, boring white terry towels. These Tunisian Hammam towels are extremely absorbent and give your bath an immediate face lift. These are also ideal for the beach as they take up less space in your beach bag and dry so much faster than traditional beach towels. I love them because on those days I am not feeling fabulous in my bikini (alas, they are many), at least I have a pretty towel to wrap up in. At ABC.
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UTILITY

ELLIPI STAPLER :

Made in Italy, these staplers add a pop of color to your desktop. And it resembles a happy whale. At Nickey Kehoe.
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REDECKER BROOM AND DUST PAN :

What began as standard training for the blind at the time, brush making has become the Redecker family business for over 75 years now. I always find that when preforming the mundane and dreaded task of housework, if I am using something beautiful it makes it a bit more bearable. Available at Joinery.
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SHINOLA BIXBY BICYCLE :

I have been on a mission to get my girls riding on 2 wheels this summer so bicycles are very much on my mind. Shinola, based in Detroit, is a company committed to manufacturing quality goods in the US. These commuter bicycles are a wonderful example of that. Using frame and forks made in Wisconsin, each and every Shinola bicycle is assembled in their workshop. Whether in town or country, it is the epitome of style. In pink, my daughter’s and I would be quite the cycling trifecta… if we can ever ditch the training wheels! Available through Steven Alan or go to Shinola for more info.
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FOUND MY ANIMAL LEASH :

When we adopted our little yorkie/poodle mix we went on a quest to find the perfect collar that is as cute as she is. Which believe me, was no small fete. She now parades around town adorned with a little ombre collar from this line that I am in love with. Ditch the ugly, retractable number for this one. Your pup deserves it. Available at Steven Alan.
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VINTAGE BRITISH ROTARY TELEPHONE :

In such a mobile and connected world, it’s nice to have a place in your home where you actually take calls on a real telephone. Call me nostalgic, but this phone reminds me fondly of the home phone of my childhood. Minus the sounds of four screaming girls fighting over whose turn it is to use it. At Sweet Bella.
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KITCHEN

ANDREA BRUGI CUTTING BOARDS :

With a crazy schedule and children, I hate to admit it but half my meals are eaten standing in the kitchen snacking off of a cutting board filled with various oddities while checking homework, sending a last minute e-mail or staring off into space wondering where my freedom went. I love beautiful cutting boards because they make me feel better about my little snack dinners. Handmade in Italy with no two alike, these cutting boards are as beautiful as they are functional. You’ll hesitate to use it but cut away. The character and beauty is only enhanced with use. Available at andreabrugi.com
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KAICO ENAMEL TEA POT :

Designed by Makoto Koizumi, this is a study in clean simplicity. Whether or not tea is, ahem, your cup of tea this will make any cook top the calm center of your kitchen. At Alder + Co.
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SEA OF CORTEZ SAL del MAR :

A delicious alternative to another favorite, Maldon, this coarse sea salt comes in natural cotton bags hand embroidered from the remote village of Sabinito in the Sierra Madre, Occidental Mexico. Each purchase helps benefit the local women who support their families from their traditional skills. Pretty. A good cause. Delicious. Kind of perfect. At Alder + Co.
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LOSTINE ROLLING PIN :

I love to bake. I spend an alarming amount of time thinking about what pies I will be making for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am that mother that can’t remember the proper school supplies but will stay up all night before a birthday rolling out cookies and decorating them. So as one might imagine, I take my baking tools very seriously. These lovely rolling pins by Lostine have me thinking about buying a new apron (another obsession of mine) and having Thanksgiving in July.
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SIT/READ

THE PIONEER CHAIR :

Made in New Hampshire, Pioneer Chairs is a family run business with a long handed down passion for simple yet thoughtful design and skilled wood working. So beautiful, drag it outside with a glass of wine and a book on a peaceful summer’s evening. At Joinery.
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HOME MADE SUMMER :

Yvette van Boven’s follow up to “Home Made Winter” is a cook book after my own heart. “…ideas for long barbecue nights with friends, perfect salads to accompany the grilled dishes, cold soups for those super-hot days, and festive summer drinks.” Um, yes please.
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DINER JOURNAL :

Andrew Tarlow and co. just do it right. The eponymous offspring of the first of his many Brooklyn restaurants, Diner Journal is full of wonderful seasonal recipes, wonderfully written essays and with yearly subscriptions available, you’ll have something to look forward to each month.
marlowgoods.com
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BLACKBERRY FARM COOKBOOK :

While I have never had the opportunity to stay at Blackberry Farm, it is something I dream of. The photographs are beautiful and the recipes amazing (the blackberry cobbler really is to die for!). Every time I open it up I contemplate taking out a second mortgage to pay for a weekend away in this idyllic paradise. Available at blackberryfarm.com
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48 HOURS IN…. Louisville

May 21st, 2013

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While I am a native Nashvillian, my family roots are deeply tied to Kentucky. My great, great Grandfather was the bourbon distiller JW Dant, who actually made some pretty decent bourbons. My grandmother and great grandmother (who I only ever knew as “Mud”) were both raised in Louisville, are now interred there, and maybe because of that I have always been enamored with Louisville. While it is not far from Nashville (about a 3 hour drive) it is markedly different. Louisville has that flourish that defines so many river cities. While I love a big hat and an excuse to buy a new dress, the bourbon soaked crowds of the Kentucky Derby are more than I can handle, thus ruling out the first Saturday of May for a weekend excursion, but I do love the weeks leading up to the Derby and right after. When I do go, here is how I like to spend my 48 hours in Louisville….

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DESIGNING WOMEN : Roberta Freymann

May 3rd, 2013

My Mother sent me my first Roberta Roller Rabbit Kurta about 10 years ago, and I have since acquired a drawer of these wonderful pieces. Her bright, candy colored block print patterns embody summers at the beach for me. I love her beach bags and hats, and my children are about as cute as can be in their little people sized Kurtas. Born in London and raised on the Upper East Side, her inherent passion for design came from her mother (the muse to the French designer Jacque Fath) and her explorer spirit came from her physician father. Traveling through North Africa with her family, she fell in love with the brilliant, tribal patterns that would later become her signature. She did not begin her own line until 1996, having worked as a buyer for Henri Bendel and Bloomingdales for many years. She was one of the pioneers of the pashmina craze (oh how I remember it well!) selling them out of her apartment on East 73rd to the women of Manhattan. In 2003, the spin off of her Roberta Freymann line, Roberta Roller Rabbit, was launched and the hand block prints and colorful patterns infiltrated the resort wear world. Her jeweled bib necklaces define her accessories line and have become extremely popular as she collaborated with Olivia Palermo on a line. She has opened  multiple stores in New York, California, Florida and St. Barthélemy. Each store reminiscent of a global bizarre, she is one of my favorite designers… especially this time of year.
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HELLO SUNSHINE!

May 3rd, 2013

Yellow is one of my favorite colors. As a pale blonde, it is the least flattering color I could ever wear, but I accessorize my world with it! Canary yellow trays in my kitchen, Designers Guild bright yellow curtains in the dining room, and my new lemon yellow IIIBeCa cross body bag that I love so. These are a few of my favorite {yellow} things…
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