After a long renovation, my Brooklyn brownstone project is finally ready for it's close-up. And, what better publication than Better Homes & Gardens to reveal the quintessentially modern project of urban creative living? Produced by Eddie Ross, with a story by Linda O'Keeffe and photographs by David Land, the story could not have turned out more magical.
For more renovation and decorating tips & tricks, grab a copy on newsstands today or download on iTunes here.
Images courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens // Photography by David Land
CREATIVE DIRECTION | bill blass
EBAY COLLECTIONS | PULITZER'S PALM BEACH
Those who know understand that the best way to handle a brutal winter is to escape it! The colorful enclave of Palm Beach has remained the winter playground for the chic and glamorous set for decades, and for good reason. Palm trees, leisure sports, and beach-side formality mix effortlessly – and perfectly – with the technicolor fashion and interior styling. None represented this tropical mix more refreshingly than the Pulitzers – Lilly, of mixed-print fashion fame, and husband Peter – whose high preppy aesthetic became the look of the winter-playground for generations. Here, an imaginary mix perfect for your hurricane club cocktail parties.
Architectural archetypes have been keystones to every decade - the post-modern cubes of freewheeling 1980's contemporary, the 1950's pre-fab pastalized bungalows, or the 1970's sprawling ranch houses resplendent of The Ice Storm. Difficult to classify, though precipitating almost every discipline, the 'Brooklyn' aesthetic has firmly affixed itself to present-day design philosophy. Too numerous are Edison bulbs, salvaged wood, and urban-woodland imagery to count. I think in time we will reflect nostalgically on the second coming of the Brooklyn brownstone as the grand dame house of present day. Here, a more refined variation on the theme - a heady mix of found, tarnished, and restorative.
A slight twist on an established tradition is always in order, and this season the Oscars' red carpet replaced the staid black tie formality with a dose of cool blue. From navy tuxedos to shimmering cobalt gowns, blue lightened the mood just enough to infuse a modern spirit to Hollywood's biggest night. Here, I corral blue for all aspects of your life - from kitchens to cameras, it's the perfect hue for you!
Oscar night always strikes an important note of current trends. Whether it's color, texture, style, or time period, there always seems to be a front-runner in terms of mood. This year, despite the buzz for pastels, metallics took the top prize. Shimmering silver, lustrous gold, and radiant copper all found import on the red carpet. I love metallics not only for fashion, but for all sorts of design. Here, my round up of shiny objects, sure to catch your attention.
I have been in love with Beverly Hills - and in particular the Beverly Hills Hotel - for as long as I can remember. In fact, on a family vacation to Disneyland I recall begging my parents to drive me up to the 90210 from Anaheim. I was possibly 6 or 7 years old. Nevertheless, the romance has never faded - the eucalyptus-scented air, warm breeze and rosy seclusion of fortified mansions and the pink palace. Each time I visit, the faux bamboo chinoiserie and awning-striped upholstery still brings me back to childhood (maybe it was over-watching Troop Beverly Hills?). The enclave evokes a specific spirit of wealth, glamour, and Hollywood royalty at play. Whether captured in a Slim Aarons photograph or seen from the backseat of an old Rolls, Beverly Hills will forever hold a very special place in my psyche.
Growing up in '90's Seattle, Grunge was the perfect anecdote to the quaint Pacific Northwest scene. The capricious spookiness with anything from saturated colors awash with sinister makeup, and all sorts of gothic splendor were highlights of my high school experience. I love the innate drama of devilish iconography and the Baroque underone of church incense. Whether serious and ornate, or garish and hyperbolized, Grunge is a quick-fix for a little provocative drama. For a refresher, rewatch Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet, or 200 Cigarettes whose allsorts use of crosses & crowns remains securely emblazoned on my mind.
Two of my favorite things - Mexico and Christmas - are the perfect pairing for the holiday season. Who doesn't love a little Feliz Navidad to liven up their dreary winter weather? It's also a terrific theme for a Christmas party! Sprinkle a little salt, and take a shot of this peppery tequila-themed fiesta complete with sugar skulls, crepe paper flowers, and as many colorful candles as you can amass.
Sometimes it's out with the new, and in with the old, I say! A little extravagant gilded framing and some dusty needlepoint is all you need to make your bedroom into Marie Antoinette's private love-nest. Silken tufts, frou-frou florals, and a little touch of the insane might be just what the doctor ordered. A little goes a long way with this genre, but I think more is also more when taking cues from the French monarchs! Here's everything you need for a little 'oh la la' in your bourgeoisie.
A successful Christmas party is the apotheosis of every host's year-long social calendar. Sparkle, shine, a heaping dose of tinsel-strewn nostalgia, and plenty of punch on the bowl - there is a distinct recipe for this type of fun. These are a few of my favorite things for my very own holiday celebration, sure to brighten up the yule - from Dorothy Thorpe glassware amidst frosted pine berries, to tufted furniture and the perfect caroling mix. And don't forget - it's not a party until a few ornaments get broken!
Bold & beautiful – anything related to Peggy Guggenheim really strikes a mean note. These selections, often raw and unrefined, allow the artistic medium to express and dictate the form, a steadfast Modernist goal. A Brutalist sculpture or inspired abstract painting can create the perfect balance to a minimalist space or any room that feels too sweet for its own good. I also always aspire to the robust, jazzy, freewheeling spirit of Peggy Guggenheim's world, or to at least feel like a guest in her home.
The uproarious color of optimism and flair, pink is not only an intrinsic part of my life (I've had pink hair for years) but an exceptional category for gift-giving. Throughout history, pink has become popular during times of economic upswing and prosperity - the 1950's for example, was a sugar-coated pink wonderland, as we all know. So, this season why not toss a little peppy pink present into your wintery mix?
Autumn brings to mind the cool nostalgia for an East Coast campus, particularly the landscape and surroundings of JD Salinger's beloved Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. At once country and city mouse, Holden moves between pastoral prep to cold, provincial city while maintaining the elegance and childlike remembrance of the bygone American dream. Threadbare rugs, the Social Registery, stacks of blue delft porcelain, and earthenware jugs are all part of this world, and the bucolic Northeastern life.
There's something fabulous about swanning around a boudoir in amaribou slipper and a silky kimono, no? Girls have all the fun! Sometimes it seems like the ultimate fantasy to step into a Hollywood dreamscape of a powdery ladies' lounge for a quick kitty nap on a tufted chaise lounge, or a langourous chit-chat under a cascading brass-and-rose-crystal chandelier while sipping pink champagne. For all your luxurious needs, the below selections are perfect to go along with your fluffy poodle lifestyle.
Who doesn’t love the idea of life on the moon? The effervescent white lunar glow is something that has inspired me for years—and what would it look like to create the chic life out there in space? Ligne Roset sectionals? A powder-white Land Rover for grocery-pod runs? Possibly a Tibetan lamb fur ottoman? I agree, all of the above. Here’s to our first date with the man in the moon.
One of my favorite movies - Ruthless People - is a milestone of 1980's design and aesthetics. Danny Devito and Bette Midler's characters' house, resplendent of high Memphis Group sensability, is a visual feast of the polarizing movement. Graphic shapes, clashing brights, pastel color-blocking, and awkward proportion, Memphis style will always hold a special place in my heart, at least in the movies.
Chas Addams has always been a consistent source of inspiration for me – the celebrated macabre decor, characters and tongue-in-cheek haunts have made their way into the majority of my design disciplines. A playful take on the “haunted house” can easily work its way into your modern theme in much the same way as the “little black dress” in your closet. Add a little dark drama, especially in Autumn!
Turquoise objects have caught my eye the world over - from midcentury Italian pottery, to African trade beads, to scarce Lachenal ceramics at the marche aux puces in France, the color is one of extraordinary beauty. I have an entire collection at my apartment in Manhattan of every size and shape, a 'turquoise tableau' of sorts, representing true blue treasures and findings from all of my travels.
I love the exercise of converting bad taste into good taste—often the gaudiest, most ornate pieces can be kind of great, when used in a serious way. Shiny silver, gold, brass and chrome can take many forms, but the history and emotional beauty of reflective metals will always remain—even in the most hilarious incarnation.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been going to Palm Springs, California—originally to visit my grandparents, who smartly escaped the Pacific Northwest for the desert sun, and now as a festive weekend destination. Never a place to disappoint in visual drama, Palm Springs’ architecture, glamour and attitude maintain all the kicky decadence of its mid-century heyday as a Hollywood weekend enclave. Bright-colored travel accessories with a tongue-in-cheek flavor are essential—as is powdered aspirin for hazy mornings-after—for the ultimate desert holiday.