Sunday, June 19, 2011

Recco, a hidden gem of the Italian Riviera

It's finally SUMMER! Long, hot days make me want to hit the beach, and only eat outside. I love the Italian Riviera, and Recco is one of those little towns that only the Italians visit...small, simple, and exploding with color. Recco is between Portofino and Genova on the coast, and, like the rest of this region, it's famous for their trompe l'oeil on their buildings, which just knocks me out...

There is one other little secret about Recco that the Italians will occasionally has been well known for centuries for making the best Foccacia on the planet! Plain, olive, and the best of all, formaggio...make sure you get it before the panifico closes, and then eat it on the beach...

The Brilliance of Black and White

As much as I love color, I also love the power and restraint of black and white, especially in photographs. This is some new work from one my favorite photographers, Sally Seymour of Seymour and Macintosh, in Napa Valley.  

Her work really captures the essence of the wine country, whether she is shooting in Napa or France (she's a total Francophile!)

Here's a couple that are from her newest show, presented by Preservation Napa Valley, (

I want to hear the stories these hands can tell! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bejing "shabby-chic"

On a recent business trip to Bejing, I had the opportunity to take a day to see some of the countryside, and I asked my guide to show me something authentic. We stopped at a portion of the Great Wall that is not on the regular visitor route,  and hiked through some lovely walnut groves to arrive at this divinely simple house... 

Get ready, the texture and simplicity of this home is simply marvelous...

This is exterior stucco wall, so fabulous!

Of course, the pre-requisite "tribute wall"...note how neatly everything is kept, and so clean.

I love the juxtaposition of the walls against the ornately embroidered fabric at the doorway, the rich red of the cabinet, all the colorful tea tins...and yes, lunch was divine also!

My New Favorite Venice Hotel

This is absolutely SWOON new favorite hotel in Venice, Ca' Sagredo, right on the Grand Canal. It's a private palazzo that's been converted into a boutique hotel. Now, Venice is always a bit over the top from a design perspective, a little ornate for me personally, but you can't deny the impact it has visually...

We stayed on the "piano nobile" or the second floor, right on the Grand Canal, at the perfect bend to hop on the water taxi to everywhere you want to go...

This was the grand salon, complete with art from the 16th and 17th centuries. (Early Luceplan designer at work on that chandelier, obviously!)

As you enter, this is the staircase up to the second floor, complete with period frescoes and perfectly cherubic putti....

If only you could pinch marble!

Ca' Sagredo ( is a member of the SLH Group, which I tend to like, they usually include properties that are unique in some way, with excellent service and staff. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A "Born Again" Church...

Currently I'm working on a fabulous project....we're taking an old (1800's) church building, and converting it into a phenomenal residence!!!

The shot above shows the stripped down structure, how amazing are those windows, and the ceiling is....wait for it.....16 feet up there, and some of the original tin is still there!!!!!

Here's one of the "naves" which will be the dining area. We soda-blasted this amazing ceiling to bring back the texture and patterning, and then we've venetian plastered the walls above the wainscoting in this TO DIE FOR salmon with my favorite finishing artist, Caroline Lizarraga (!
 My favorite decorative painter (Caroline, the sassy redhead) and her all "babe" crew, glazing the main room's ceiling in a metallic glaze to bring back the life and interest in this simply amazing old tin...

Monday, June 13, 2011

To Market

Markets are a such a spectacular display of color and texture...

I simply LOVE European markets, (but really, who doesn't?) and especially Italian markets. This is one of my favorites, Campo dei Fiori, in Rome, which has been there since the 1300's.  I simply adore how they combined the lavender with the pepperoncini...the color is amazing, they are so artistic that even their fruits and veggies look like artwork!

Another favorite market stand along the street...


I just ran across this set of shots of doors I took when I was in Rome last year on assignment, and they just captivated me.

Doors in general are a very important design statement, they express volumes about what they are keeping in, as well as what they want to say to the world.

I love designing custom entryways! I think this must come from working on hotels, where I craft the arrival experience to create the experience I want the guests to have.

Doors are the essence of the structure's tells you about age, distinction, and purpose .

And of course, this is a very important door, the door to Alessandro Dari's workshop in Florence! Check out his jewelry at