Monday, June 28, 2010

The Softer Side of Outdoor Decor

"Mom. Look at this picture."

"Oh! Look how cute you all are! Where is this? Santa Cruz?"

"Yeah. We were walking down to the beach."

"You have such a beautiful smile. I wish you'd stand up straight though."

"Mom. Stop it. Didn't you notice the tree?"

"What? Oh! Why is that there?"

"Somebody just did it. Isn't it cool? It's called 'urban knitting'. Here, look at these..."

"Wow. That's, um, very interesting. They do that without permission? Like tagging? I guess it's better than spray-painted graffitti. Will it hurt the trees?"

"Oh my god, Mom. No, I don't think so. It's just supposed to be pretty."

"Well, it is that. Where did you find these?"

"Here. And here."

"Can I blog this? Can I use your picture?"


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Crazy Daze of Summer

Chaos still reigns at my house, this first week of summer being perhaps the busiest since it all began. I am working crazy long hours at a job that is ending. Ironic, no? College Girl is still here and has extended her stay by as many weeks as it takes for her future roommates to find them all a decent place to live. We've had a house guest. I've been on two job interviews. Met with a client to consult on her kitchen/family room remodel. Had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in ages. And there's still one more day to go! And one too many cats in my house. I'm pretty sure he's on my dining room table as I type this. He'll head up the coast when College Girl goes. Her I'll miss; him, not so much. If it weren't for my husband keeping us fed and the kitchen clean, things would be much, much worse.

So it was with great delight and a long sigh of relief that I happened upon these photos of a beach house that took me away for a much-needed imagination vacation..... My faux-cation begins with a stretch and a yawn as I wake in this quietly serene bedroom. A bit of vintage makes me feel right at home.

I toddle out through the dining room in my jammies and bare feet—the better to fully enjoy that cool blue floor—

and into the kitchen to pour myself a giant cup of whatever the staff has prepared for me today. Vanilla latte and carrot spice muffins? It must be Thursday.
I take my breakfast into the sun-filled living room. Love that glossy ceiling and the way it bounces the morning light all around. Makes reading my requisite trashy novels so much easier.
My plans for the day include alternating walks on the beach with naps on this lovely private patio. While I have no intentions to play chess—a vacation is for resting my brain, not hurting it— I'll be quite happy to simply contemplate this unique "board". The quiet colors and lush greenery have such a calming effect on me that zzzzzzzzzzz

Sorry, I dozed off! Excuse me while I duck into the bath to splash some cool water on my tanned, relaxed face. I'll only be a few minutes and then we can stroll into town for drinks and dinner. Thanks so much for driving out to join me!
When we return to the cottage and it's time to tuck in for the night, I'm sure you'll enjoy the cozy guest room. Don't you love those twin headboards? I myself am inspired to bring this idea to College Girl's room re-do. After she leaves of course. No bad cats allowed on those beautiful beds.

As much as I love my home full of color and pattern, a house full of white and quiet looks like heaven to me right now. Unfortunately, this is not a beach rental but the Fire Island getaway of one Alex Bates, creative director at West Elm. As seen in the June issue of Country Living magazine. And in my dream vacation dreams.

Inspired By Fridays at The Inspired Room

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pretty Things from the Sea

I spied these unique, sea-inspired accessories in a catalog that I had never seen before and was intrigued enough to share them with you.

What do you think? Sea anything you like?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer-Fresh Fish Shacks

Last year, on the Friday before Father's Day, I wrote this post about my husband's Father's Day tradition: he treats himself and his dad to a big ol' pile of the fresh New England seafoods they love—as good Massachusetts boys do—and miss so much now that they are both left coasters. This pic is from that post about a favorite comfort food:


Because it's "clams on a plane" time again—they may well be flying over the middle of America right now actually—I thought I might write another post featuring the charming seafood shacks that dot the east coast. Luckily, someone else had the same idea way ahead of me. Only, instead of writing about such establishments on a little bitty blog that hardly anyone reads, smart seafood lover Elizabeth Bougerol went and published an entire book that everyone can read, keep on their bookshelves and carry along when they travel (that's what I plan to do anyway).


Now, I am not a fan of the clam or the lobster, but I do love a basket of fresh fish and chips. And, I swear, the best fish and chips I have ever eaten were at Moby Dick's.


One day, I'll go back and prove to myself that I am correct about their crispy, battered fish being the very best ever and that I didn't just imagine it because we were having such a great time stuffing ourselves with all the seafood we could find on that particular trip. To be certain that I'm right, I think I should visit all of these other places in the book and sample their fish and chips too. In the name of scientific research, of course.







Summer is upon us. Time to get out for some fresh air and even fresher seafood. Have a lovely weekend and say Happy Father's Day to your dad for me! Mine was just here and is on his way back to New Mexico tonight. No fish shacks there, though I'm sure he wishes there were.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How the Navy Introduced Me to Designer Lee Ann Thornton

While researching my last post, looking for images of Navy chairs, I discovered this kitchen nook designed by Greenwich Connecticut-based designer Lee Ann Thornton.

I also discovered that I love her aesthetic and affinity for mixing patterns, textures and styles. Check out the disparate pairings in this small corner alone: distressed table surrounded by mid-century chairs and a vintage-inspired bench dressed with a tailored, contrast piping cushion topped by crisp pillows in contemporary patterns and colors. Add one gorgeous pendant light, a modern botanical and the warm textures of a woven blind and wood flooring and yes, please, I'll move in right now.

And—what luck!—look at the kitchen that comes with the nook. The perfect mix of vintage and contemporary (pressed ceiling + modern stools), cool and warm (fresh green walls + deep brown floors), clean lines and textural details (crisp white cabinets and expanses of marble + woven blinds and baskets). And is that a mud room I spy through the door? If there is also a walk-in pantry somewhere nearby (there has to be, right?), then this is most definitely my idea of kitchen heaven.

More of the same heavenly mix in this seating area. Can you find all of the elements I've already mentioned in this single shot? They're all there.

In fact, it seems that every one of Lee Ann Thornton's designs incorporates the same elements even when the look is decidedly different. Here, a living room in soft blues, neutrals and bits of the sea and chinoiserie.

Another living space in periwinkle and white with hits of chocolate, a tropical touch of seagrass and bamboo, and an unexpected zebra or three.

And here, the boldest, brightest pattern-mixing-est room of them all: a casual family space in summery, sea-worthy blues and whites.

To see a bit more (honestly, I've stolen—um, borrowed—more of her images than I probably should have), visit Thornton Designs here. There is also a lovely interview with the designer here. I am so impressed with and inspired by the designs of Lee Ann Thornton... and so happy that the Navy sent me her way.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The New Navy

In 1944, the Electric Machinery and Equipment Company (Emeco) and the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) collaborated with US Navy engineers to design a seaworthy chair for military use.
The resulting 1006 chair—pronounced "ten oh six"— became a staple on Navy destroyers and submarines. Its seamless construction of corrosion-resistant, lightweight aluminum made it uniquely durable, easily portable and virtually maintenance-free.
The originals were produced in Emeco’s Hanover, PA workshops and they are still made there today—offspring of the perfect marriage between American ingenuity and craftsmanship.
The sturdy little chairs soon found themselves on land as well as at sea. First, they moved onto military bases and then into civilian offices.Over the years, as Navy chairs were retired from military use, they began to appear in surplus and resale stores and flea markets across the country.
Perhaps they were, at first, an inexpensive alternative to chairs found in traditional furniture stores, or a way to get a deliberately funky look, but their timeless charm won out. 1006 and similar Navy-inspired chairs can now be seen in even the most stylish, upscale homes.
Their clean lines and casual style allow them to fit into country, modern, eclectic and contemporary spaces. They are most often seen in kitchens and dining areas where their durability and ease of maintenance make them an excellent choice for busy families.
Occasionally, you will spot a 1006—or a few dozen—out in public. The chairs above were photographed in Louisville, KY at a fancy flagship KFC. Below, you see a testament to their ability to span styles and cultures: American-designed and manufactured Navy chairs in a Vietnamese restaurant in London.
If you can't find the real thing, like this vintage 1006 I found on The City Sage blog,
affordable alternatives are out there. Target sells their Cafe Aluminum Side Chairs in pairs for $246.99.
At Stack Chair Depot, the Oceanic Side Chair is only $95.00. Counter- and bar-height stools are also available at $115 and $125 respectively. While the styling of these two versions are similar to the original, I wouldn't expect their construction to be of the same quality. Proceed with "buyer beware" caution.
A faithful reproduction of the original, the Emeco Navy Chair with wood seats in two finishes can be found at
For hard-core design aficionados who want only the best and most authentic, Design Within Reach offers the Emeco Classic reinvented by Phillipe Starck (top of this post). The 1006 Navy Side Chair is the real deal, made to the same exacting standards as the originals.

Featured in the current DWR catalog is the newest member of the Navy Chair family which made its debut only a few weeks ago.
The 111 Navy Chair is made from recycled plastic coke bottles—111 of them—and is available in six fun colors. A collaboration between Emeco and Coca-Cola, this little chair, if sales progress as DWR believes they will, is expected to keep three million plastic Coke bottles out of landfills each year.
What brought on my sudden interest in Navy chairs? Well, I've always been aware of them, but when I received the new DWR catalog, I was really taken with what a great idea the 111 chair is. To the point that I walked around my house trying to picture one somewhere (the jury's still out on that decision). And then, on Saturday, I saw South Pacific on stage at The Ahmanson. Navy guys and gals dancing and singing up a tropical storm - if this current tour comes to a theater near you, go! - and whenever the set changed to The Island Commander's Office, there they were: aluminum Navy chairs at each desk. Ok, so I'm aware that this tiny detail may have totally escaped most people and really has nothing at all to do with the greatness that is this show, but it appears that I simply had Navy chairs on the brain. Or maybe it was one of those moments when, instead of watching the characters in a play or a movie, I'm busy studying the wallpaper behind them. Don't judge me, I can't help myself.

Click on the image above and you'll be treated to musical highlights, interesting commentary, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of a Navy chair on stage plus, for all you Gleeks out there, glimpses of a sometimes shirtless Matthew Morrison/Mr. Schuester who starred as Lieutenant Cable in the 2008 Lincoln Center production of the show. You're welcome!