Friday, December 10, 2010


I have been to Miami several times but never managed, until this last trip, to make it to Vizcaya. This home, which is now a county museum, is one of the country's most impressive examples of late gilded age residential architecture, landscape and interior design. It has caught my imagination ever since seeing it as the credits role in the last scene of one of my favorite movies, The Money Pit.

Vizcaya was built as a winter home for Chicago industrialist James Deering between 1910-1916. Architect F. Burral Hoffman and landscape architect Diego Suarez worked with (some would say under) the villa's interior architect and strongest personality, Paul Chalfin. Chalfin was a protege of the famous Elsie de Wolfe (who decorated Deering's Chicago townhouse) and Vizcaya was essentially his only project.

The home was designed to look as though it had been sited on it's bay side location for 400 years. Antique construction materials, mature landscaping and an eclectic selection of furnishings and art objects from the 15th-19th centuries lends to this feeling. Above, is the Cathay bedroom, one of eight variously themed guest suites, and meant to evoke a Venetian "dream of a Chinese boudoir." Other guest bedrooms include the Manin, named for the last president of the Venetian republic and decorated in the Biedermeier style; the Espagnolette, a Venetian interpretation of the French rococo; and the Galleon, furnished in the style of 18th century Pisa. Chalfin had quite an imagination and a flair for history.

My favorite room in the entire house is the master bathroom. A mix of marbles and bronze, with a draped linen ceiling, the room is located at the heart of the house and faces out to Biscayne Bay. The sun reflects off the water and makes this room one of the most pleasant bathrooms I have ever seen. The taller object at the window is Deering's shaving stand, an ingenious design which allowed him to stand while shaving and while looking out at the bay each morning. Also, the tub was piped for both fresh and salt water. A nice touch.

Out on the bay, the ruins of the stone pleasure barge, which was once covered in lush greenery and had a pavilion for candle lit dinner parties. Amazing.

Diego Suarez's gardens go on and on... impressive considering more than half the grounds are now gone, sold off and developed by Dade County.

The best garden moment is the Casino, which once faced out to vast naturally landscaped water gardens.
Most of the water gardens were sold off, filled in and developed in the 1940's, so the pavilion's full effect has been destroyed. Below, an old photo shows the Casino (located between the white bridge and the main house) as it was meant to be sited, with the water gardens in the foreground.

One of the garden's grottoes.

Historical and interior images via the Vizcaya website

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Down to Miami for Art Basel. Of course, I didn't see as much art as I would have liked...

... but did get to enjoy some stone crab and the (relatively) warm weather of Florida in December.

The Standard Hotel sits on Biscayne Bay, a quieter spot than the other hotels on the Collins/ Ocean Drive strip.

The classic beachfront Miami Beach deco hotel: the Raleigh. One of my favorite interiors in town.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


If I could decorate the ultimate party of my dreams, I would hire Nicholas Anderson and Julie Ho's Confetti System to do it.  These guys have done great work with some big players: Opening Ceremony, The American Ballet, Urban Outfitters, Bergdorf Goodman.  I actually came across their work for one of my favorite bands, Beach House, at their Webster Hall show last spring.  

The show felt like a fantastical undersea geology themed carnival that washed up on shore in some cloudy New England town.  I don't know if that analogy makes any sense, but it was so beautiful and yet simple, humble and somehow glamorous all at once.  Just wonderful.  I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future... and someday maybe I'll get my dream party.

Check out their website and blog!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Today I spent some time looking for interior design inspiration and wanted to share three of my new favorite blogs.  Together they are a gorgeous collection of interior, food and product photography and links.   Solid Frog is an inspiring blog featuring mostly interior stories including these culled from Swedish Elle Decoration.

Another great one, ::moodboard::, is actually based out of Sweden.  It features interiors as well as beautiful food photography and atmospheric fashion, product and art posts.

Desire to Inspire is another pretty well-known blog that showcases interiors from around the world.  This story of a townhouse in Melbourne reminds me of my time there last winter.  As the days get shorter here in New York, I am thinking of sunnier days down under.

images via Solid Frog, moodboard (from Elle Decoration) and Desire to Inspire


It has been a long, fun, hot summer... with few posts.  We had a couple more trips away, to Maine, upstate, Cape Cod, and were lucky enough to get to end the summer in the sunniest of places, Los Angeles.

It is official: I love LA.  I like the weather, the architecture, the landscape, the food, the proximity to family, even the driving.  While I hatch my plan to get back to California, from whence I came, enjoy the highlights of my week of in our future place of residence:

First of all, Joans on Third is reason enough to want to move.  Above, the cheese counter.  This is where I would eat lunch every day if I lived out there.

Second: the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.  It makes the Union Square market look like a supermarket in 1970's Stalingrad.

Third, and most important... proximity to my family.  I spent a couple days down in San Clemente as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Most people who know me know I am obsessed with both history and geography.  I have found a site that combines these two special things: The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.  The site allows you to zoom in on each map and see an impressive level of detail.  I have spent, and will no doubt spend many more, hours pouring over the 18th and 19th century maps of California and New York.  One of the most interesting finds was viewing this 1844 map of New York Harbor and comparing it with a very similar harbor map from 1866.  You can see how quickly Manhattan grew, and Brooklyn too, in just 22 years.  

The natural features of the harbor and shoreline are detailed beautifully in both maps.  There were so many creeks and swamps and estuaries before it was all paved over and industrialized! A fascinating exhibit currently showing at MoMA outlines urban planning and design solutions for returning a level of natural interface between land and sea here in New York.  I highly recommend seeing it before it closes in the fall.

First map image via

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Here are some shots from our 4th of July/ jam-band festival trip up to Maine... moody, saturated photos courtesy of my new favorite invention: the shake-it app.  It's been a hot summer so far and I am already dreaming and planning for Cape Cod!