Sunday, May 31, 2009

See Y'all Later

I'm off to North Carolina today to visit the Hickory Chair factory and showrooms! After hearing Suzanne Kasler talk about how she designed her new furniture line, I can't wait to see how it's made. Cassandra of Coco + Kelly and Franki of Life in a Venti Cup took the tour last time and I was sad that I couldn't join them on that trip! I am looking forward to getting out of town and will definitely take lots photos and report back next week but right now I'm off to finish packing. See ya'll later!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Sport of Kings and Hot Men

If you need something to do Saturday, May 30th, then I suggest you head over to Governors Island for some champagne and divot stomping at the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic. Usually polo is played in more bucolic settings like Bridgehampton or Argentina so a match in Manhattan seems a bit out of place but not completely without precedent. Apparently, they used to play polo on the island in the 1930's and 40's. Who knew?! Britian's spare heir, Prince Harry will be playing, as will the only man capable of upstaging royalty, the muy caliente Nachos Figueras. Better start brushing up on your Spanish now ladies because where there is one handsome Argentine polo player, there are many! Adios Amigos!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Williams Sonoma at Home

I was leafing through the March 2008 issue of House Beautiful when I saw a photo of chairs on a stair landing that reminded me of the new Williams-Sonoma Home store in New York. When I looked closer, one of the names of the designers, David DeMattei, sounded familiar. Then I realized that he is the group president for Williams-Sonoma and I actually met him at the opening party last fall. The home has a Williams-Sonoma feeling but is not a literal translation of the store. I'm swamped with work so for more information, you can check out the details at House Beautiful online. Bon Weekend!

Photos by Jose Picayo

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I'm a sunny day kind of girl. There is nothing I love more than one of those top 10 weather days that are 75 degrees and without a cloud in the sky but I have a confession to make. I secretly enjoy gray days like the one we had in New York today. It has to be the right kind of gray day though. Cool but not humid. Cloudy but not rainy. One that feels Parisian and allows me to wear my favorite Gryphon trench. The one with the collar that can be turned up and has three quarter length sleeves. It makes me feel chic and so it's no surprise that the Gryphon showroom is also chic. The founder and designer behind the company, Aimee Cho, was a fashion writer at Vogue so that might have something to do with it or it could have something to do with her very chic parents who you can see on her blog. Aimee also designs a clothing line perfect for the sunny days so rain or shine, she's got you covered!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bachelorette Pad Project Update

A few readers and friends have asked me why I haven't posted any client project updates lately. Since I just spent the day at the bachelorette pad, I thought it would be the perfect time to address them. Interior designers don't just snap their fingers and make a pretty completed projects appear. A lot of hard work and time go into them and I chose to share with my blog readers all aspects of my projects and some of the "during" photos aren't always styled to perfection. Of course, the projects you see in magazines are perfect because there is an army of workers who are paid to create them and professional photographers to shoot them. I have real clients with real budgets who need real solutions to their design needs. It's very easy to create beautiful interiors with an unlimited budget but I think it's actually more rewarding to try to work with what a client already owns and to try not to spend all their money if possible. Unless a designer steals a client from their old firm or knows someone willing to take a chance on them, most designers start with smaller projects.

The reason I mention this is because an anonymous nasty blog took photos of my work out of context and made disparaging remarks about them so for a while I decided not to give them any more ammunition. But then I realized that I don't care what one petty clearly miserable person who hides behind a cloak of anonymity and doesn't share any photos of their home or projects says about me. My clients like my work and that's all that matters so here's your update.

I just spent the day working on some projects so we can get the place wrapped up in a few weeks. Matthew Haley of The Furniture Joint picked up the plaid arm chair that we are having reupholstered and I ordered the fabric for new pillows, all of which should be ready in about 4 weeks and will really finish off the living room. I also hung more art including the new pieces that were bought at the Trowbridge Gallery for the living room and bedroom. We decided to hang the embroidered piece above the television and two other works above the bed. They really look great pull the bedroom together.

I also hung some other works in the bedroom which I can't wait to share with you after the bachelorette gets back from her vacation. I don't want to ruin the surprise! I also picked out some great family photos for a gallery style composition on the entry wall. I think it might need one more frame to complete it so after it's finished, I'll take more photos to show you next week. I also hung the entry mirror and need to go back on Friday to hang some plates on the kitchen wall. We did end up painting the kitchen a very dark blue. Since it is open and right off the entry, it needed something to make it more special and the color is perfect. She's also having a lovely Asian work of art reframed for the entry.

All that's really left is to finish off the apartment with a few accessories. I would love to have two topiaries on the entry table. There is no outlet on that side of the room for lamps and it still needs something. The bachelorette happens to be in Italy right now so I suggested she stop by Il Papiro for some desk accessories and I can't wait to see what she bought. The apartment is really starting to come together and I'm happy that we were able to use much of what she already owned. It's also a testament to the fact that you don't have to spend a ton of money to create a lovely and inviting home. I'll have more updates from this project and my other client's baby room next week. Oh, and I have a really fun trip to tell you about soon! Take that nasty anonymous blogger!

Photo by moi that wasn't staged or styled!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Summer!

Although the calendar doesn't mark the beginning of summer until June 21st, Memorial Day always announces the unofficial start of summer. While it may be too cold for a dip in the ocean, there is the anticipation of lazy days spent baking in the sun, boating on the waves and shopping in quaint little villages. Happy Summer!

Photos by Christopher Baker

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pretty in Palm Springs

I can always count on the latest issue of Vogue to get my lackadaisical diet and exercise regime back on track and the photos of Cameron Diaz posing in Palm Springs in the June 2009 issue are definitely motivating! I also love all the natural colored clothing in the spread including the Phillip Lim dress she's wearing above. Life's definitely not fair. Sigh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Memoriam: Mrs. John L. Strong

I first heard the rumor that the luxury stationery firm of Mrs. John L. Strong was closing from Meg of Pigtown Design and today the rumor was confirmed by An Aesthete's Lament. I bought a beautiful desk calendar and a few note pads for my bachelor pad project and I always thought they were a nice finishing touch. I guess he's going to have to use the easel for something else after the year over. I was hoping to pick up a few things for myself before they closed the doors but I was too late. The entire shop has already been removed from Barneys. If anyone hears of a final sale online, please let me know. I love sending handwritten notes but apparently I might be the only person left who does. Stupid technology!

Perfect Timing!

I love when one of my blog posts leads to an email from a reader who has just the right answer for my design dilemma! Today I received an email from author Cathy Whitlock about her soon to be published book re-de-sign: New Directions For Your Interior Design Career (Fairchild Books, June, 2009) that will be a big help to interior design students as well as already established designers who may be looking to take their business to the next level. Cathy was kind enough to send me a pdf sneak peek and what I love about it is that she gets that creative types are a visual bunch. The book is full of beautiful photos as well as insights from top designers such as Alexa Hampton, Nina Campbell, Kelly Wearstler, and Martha Stewart, as well as magazine editors and book publishers. Whether you want to be a regular interior designer or the next start on HGTV, this book is for you! Cathy wanted me to mention that the book is priced as a text book on Amazon so it's a little on the steep side so she will be setting up a website to offer it at a lesser price. While it's not exactly a how-to guide for setting up an interior design business, it's definitely a good start!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Business, Branding, Blogging and Booze..not necessarily in that order

First, I want to apologize for not posting yesterday. As you can imagine it's a little hard at times to juggle my client work with writing the blog and having any semblance of a personal life. That's why I love talking to other designers about how they started their own business because they all went through the same things and always have great advice.

I got together with June House Beautiful cover star/interior designer David Lawrence last night and he definitely motivated and inspired me. David and I used to work for the same designer, not at the same time, and he understands having so many things to do that sometimes you don't even know where to begin. The business of design is not easy and he really stresses the importance of being organized and getting your business infrastructure in place before you even begin working with clients. He spent a lot of time on the business side of his operations and just four years after he went out on his own, he has the cover of a magazine and a beautiful new showroom/office. I will definitely be listening to everything David tells me!

Sometimes I feel like I landed in business school with no idea how I got here and no idea what I am doing. There is a reason why I majored in art history and not business so I appreciate all the people who have been kind enough to answer my questions, give advice and pass on references of professionals who work with designers. One of my goals has always been to write about my experience and what I've learned so I can help others who want to start their own design businesses. I spoke with a design business consultant and we might partner up on some posts so look for those in the future.

I also attended a great lecture this morning at the D&D Building about branding that was moderating by Newell Turner of House Beautiful magazine. The panelists were Keith Granet of Granet & Associates, a management consulting firm for the design industry that I didn't even know existed, as well as interior designers Suzanne Kasler and Amanda Nisbet. Granet helped both designers set up their product lines and the how that process works is fascinating. I will definitely be putting together a more in depth post about how Suzanne developed her new furniture line for Hickory Chair and Amanda's lighting designs for Urban Electric and both of their new fabric lines.

One of the questions after the lecture was how you get to the point of having product lines and magazine coverage and everyone agreed that you need to build relationships. You may be a great designer but if you don't put yourself out there and meet editors and others in the design community, how is anyone going to find you. Everyone teases me about going to lots of parties but for me it's just as much about work as it is having fun. I couldn't do half of what I do if I didn't get out and meet other designers and interesting people to profile, events to discuss, and exhibitions, artists and authors to support.

I actually have a lot of great things on the back burner that I have to write about and post so I am hoping that I can get caught up over the long weekend. But first I have some client projects to finish and an event to attend. Remember what they say about all work and no play...

Photo from Suzanne Kasler

Monday, May 18, 2009

For Sale

Who knew a little walk down Madison Avenue Saturday would turn out to be so interesting. First, I saw Fran Lebowitz waiting outside the Carlyle Hotel. Then I noticed presidential interior designer Michael Smith and a friend climbing into a taxi in front of the Ralph Lauren mansion. And while walking by the Stribling Real Estate office, a photo in the window caught my eye. Seems one of our favorite interior designers is selling his apartment. The one bedroom is listed at $885,000 which in my New York skewed sense of pricing actually seems quite reasonable. Those of you who live outside of New York will not find it as such I am sure! More importantly, I'm curious as to where he is moving and when we will be able to see it! Hopefully there will be some magazines left to publish it when it's ready!

Photos by Jeffrey Hirsch for New York Social Diary

Sunday, May 17, 2009

At Home and Work with Kimberly Ayres

Kimberly Ayres could have been another casualty of the demise of Domino magazine but since the photos of her home and office were taken by my friend Eric Cahan, I get to introduce you to this Designer to Watch for 2009 instead! Kimberly, like many designers, started out renovating and decorating her own houses while she was practicing law as a way to relax. Luckily for the design world, law was not her calling and as she told me, "friends began to ask for decorating advice and I realized I might have a chance to do something I loved and I couldn't be happier with my career switch!"

"After completing studies at International Fine Arts in Miami and at UCLA in Los Angeles, Kimberly jumped head first into an apprenticeship with internationally renowned designer Kelly Wearstler, and continued her development with designer Michael Lee in Malibu. In 2000, Kimberly launched Kimberly Ayres Interior Design in Los Angeles where she quickly established a notable clientele and reputation for deftly mixing eras and cultures. In 2006, she opened her much admired Kimberly Ayres Home furnishings and accessories store in San Francisco."

In the breakfast room, the parterre and curtain fabric is from Raoul Textiles in Santa Barbara. The table is vintage from Blackman Cruz. The chairs are vintage from Kimberly's friend and boutique owner Gabriella Sarlo. The chandelier is vintage. "For parties, we clear out the chairs and this table becomes the bar," says Kimberly.

The room above is the dining room in Kimberly's apartment. Her description cracks me up! "This apartment was loaded with mirrored walls when I found it. Really scary on a bad hair day. Most were removed, but I kept this one. The artwork is a collage created by Lulu de Kwiatkowski from an Eric Cahan photograph. My all-time favorite ebay purchase is the blue pigskin/suede sideboard. The parson's table and the chairs are vintage. The chandelier is Moth Design from my store."

In Kimberly's bedroom, the bed is from Oly and the lamp is from Christopher Spitzmiller. The wallpaper is the Montague print from Twenty2. The curtain fabric is from Nina Campbell and the table is the Bungalow 5 Jacqui Side Table from Eboniste. The painting is vintage.

A beautiful bedroom vignette close up.

In the guest room, the headboard is custom and the pillow fabric is Christopher Farr - Cloth. Kimberly says, "I love this quilt. It's designed and made by hand by my friend, Michael Pechenski." Moroccan lantern is an ebay find. I think the best thing about Kimberly's apartment is all the new sources and vendors that she has introduced to us all!

Kimberly's desk in her office is by Jonathan Adler but the cabinets and chair are vintage. The wallpaper is grasscloth from Twenty2 and looks like a great alternative to Phillip Jeffries, my usual source. "The french plaster sconce is by Moth Design, one of the lines we sell in the showroom," says Kimberly.

I posted this photo once before and it received a very positive response and now I can tell you that the vintage desk, lacquered in Farrow and Ball Dix Blue, is where Kimberly's lucky assistant, Angel Tasso, sits. The wallpaper is grasscloth in Neptune from Twenty2 while the lamp and chandelier are Moth Design in silver leaf finish. The chair is vintage and the drawing was found at Blackman Cruz.

"This room is in my office in San Francisco. The building is a tiny 1890's cottage in the Design District, serving as both my design studio and a showroom for the furnishings I sell. We carry new lines of lighting, accessories, wallpaper and fabric, as well as all sorts of vintage furnishings."

I think we can all agree that interior designer Kimberly Ayres made a great career switch and the design world had better look out! She's definitely one to watch and I can't wait to see what she does next!

Photos by Eric Cahan