Vicente Wolf’s Exclusive Design Seminar

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It is my personal belief that we should never stop learning or challenging ourselves. My formal background lies in teaching, so of course, I am a huge advocate of being a lifetime student. The minute we think we have it all figured out, is the very minute it could all fall apart. You may wonder why, if I am such a huge proponent of education, did I not go back to design school when I switched careers? Simply put– I was over 30 and had thankfully enjoyed a trajectory which had allowed me to explore the interior design industry in various facets and had access to incredible mentors. There are things that one learns in the classroom and then there are the things that one learns by entrenching oneself in their vocation. I am self-taught, but I am always seeking out professional development opportunities. I am fortunate to have friendships and relationships with people who have inspired me for years and when they speak, I listen very intently. I read between the lines, pick up on nuances, and dissect the details. My insatiable desire to learn and better myself has undoubtedly helped to propel me along my path.

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Last year, I had the opportunity to hear design master, Vicente Wolf speak at a conference and I was blown away by his candor and honesty. He was an open book and shared so much with the audience. He inspired us with the story of his personal trajectory and pulled us in closely as he shared the very real details of how he operates his incredibly successful business on a day to day basis. Vicente certainly doesn’t need any sort of introduction, but he is arguably one of the most important designers in our industry today. For over thirty years, his New York design firm has completed inspiring projects for top-tier clientele. His work has been published in every important design publication, including Architectural Digest which has repeatedly named him to its AD100 list.

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I am excited to share that Vicente is hosting an exclusive design seminar next month in New York on July 22 and 23. The Vicente Wolf Design Seminar will allow designers to experience the step-by-step processes and techniques to run a successful design business. This is a comprehensive course, giving you an inside look at the creative and business-side of interior design. This two day event will include guest speakers that will provide straight talk and information to help designers exceed their potential and achieve results. I will be in attendance and am thrilled to have been invited to participate in a panel discussion about social media, blogging, and interior design. The two-day seminar is sure to cover a wealth of information, including the following topics:

How to present
Contracts, billing and procedures
Charging upfront
How to price a job (hour vs. flat fee)
How to get your work published in a magazine
How to be realistic about your work
How to publish a book on your designs and what it can bring to your firm
Website importance (to blog or not to blog)
Round table of problems we all face
When do we say no to a job
How to find out what clients want
Figuring out your style
Can we be designers to all people
Where to get inspiration
Trusting in your gut
Custom or readymade (pros & cons)
How to be good to your creativity
How to create floor plans
Balance of color & furniture
To CAD or not to CAD

Designers of all experience levels will learn how to effectively market and sell their services in today’s economy. The fee is $2,500 which includes: guest speakers, breakfast, lunch, activities and a cocktail party. For more details, visit the Vicente Wolf on Facebook. The seminar is filling up quickly, so be sure to purchase your ticket soon!

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{Image Source: One Kings Lane}

The Style Files: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

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Martyn Lawrence Bullard certainly doesn’t need an introduction. While many of you have likely followed his dazzling design career for years now, others may recognize him from Bravo’s hit show, Million Dollar Decorators, or his award-winning reality show in the United Kingdom, Hollywood Me. Over the years, Martyn has been lauded for his broad, globally-inspired design sensibility which may vary from one project to the next, but always carries with it a touch of eclectic exuberance and an air of sophistication. Continually recognized as a top designer, Martyn’s work has been published over 4,000 times and his is a regular on Architectural Digest‘s AD 100 list, ELLE DECOR‘s A-List, Luxe Magazine‘s Gold List, and has been named one of the Top 25 Designers by the Hollywood Reporter. Martyn’s trajectory, warm persona, and professionalism have allowed him to attract an enviable list of A-List celebrity clientele including Cher, Elton John, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Hilfiger and Ellen Pompeo whose new Los Angeles home is featured in the November issue of Architectural Digest.

In addition to his interior design work, Martyn has expanded into the world of licensing and publishing with several collections: fabric and wallpaper for Schumacher, rugs for The Rug Company, tile for Ann Sacks, and upcoming collections of porcelain, silver, and crystal as well as organic mattresses slated to debut soon. Martyn’s book, Live, Love and Decorate was published in 2011. While our paths have crossed for years now and we share mutual friends, I didn’t actually meet Martyn until recently and have found that he is the loveliest, warmest person. I figured he would be nice, but between his amazing celebrity client roster and proclamations of things being “delicious” on Million Dollar Decorators, I honestly didn’t expect him to be quite so down to earth. It is refreshing to know that someone as talented and accomplished as Martyn is such a lovely person with a huge heart. He truly deserves all of his success. For our interview, Martyn gave such personal and insightful answers. I am sure that you will find this edition of The Style Files to be completely inspiring and “totally delicious”. Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Martyn Lawrence Bullard: My style is always eclectic. I never love one thing, I love many things …. I never have a favorite period or design because I believe that would corner my creative mind. It’s all in the mix anyway. Eclectic, yet able to edit and streamline … That’s my style !

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{A Beautiful Room Designed by Martyn featuring his Signature Fabrics for a Showhouse at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills}

PC: Has living in Los Angeles influenced the way you decorate?

MLB: Living in LA has without doubt influenced both my tastes and work. The very idea of having the sun in ones life daily is very inspiring and has given me a love of color. I infuse my work always with color and often build whole rooms around a colorway. That’s the California thing… also an understanding that real luxury is comfort, something we Californians love to play up. Comfort is key to all.

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{Martyn’s Client and Grey’s Anatomy Star, Ellen Pompeo Graces the Cover of the November issue of Architectural Digest which features her Quintessentially Californian home in Los Angeles}

PC: What does your home say about you?

MLB: My home is my experiment pad. It’s where I let my imagination take flight. I often will try out things there before I try them on my clients. It’s also my sanctuary. A place where I can relax and rejuvenate. Where my friends come to play and see through the window to my decorative soul. I have several homes and each is decorated differently. Guided by the architecture first, and my latest passions next! My homes will tell you a different story on different visits…..and that’s the way I like it!


{Martyn’s Beautifully Layered Living Room as featured in ELLE DECOR}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

MLB: My biggest inspiration is always travel. I love experiencing new cultures, new places, smells, people, colors and textures. Every country, often even city has a new and exciting air to it; a place that can inspire! I never close my eyes to this. Sometimes it’s a ravishing painted ceiling in a church or an apple in a market place; a renaissance castle or a beach cabana. The world is full of exciting new things to inspire the design world, both old and new. Travel is the greatest education a designer can ever learn from.


{A Snapshot from Martyn’s Recent visit to the Castello Santa Eurasia in Umbria, Italy which he Decorated | Image via Martyn’s Instagram}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

MLB: The people who inspire me are too many to list here. Some of my idols however include Renzo Mongiardino for his grand gestures of theater in Interiors. David Hicks for his blend of old meets new in a geometric blurring of history and tradition. Joseph Durand for his graphic use of black and white in architecture. Kelly Wearstler for being fearless and not following the pack. Paul Evans for his magnificent 70’s sculptural furniture and Francois Pinault for his unnerving passion for art and artists.

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{A Stunning Room by the Great Renzo Mongiardino}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

MLB: My guilty pleasures are firstly, my love of collecting…photography, mid century furniture, watches, antique ivory inlaid boxes to name a few, but I also adore comfort food (although my trainer doesn’t!). Fried chicken and mashed potatoes, a good English traditional Sunday roast lunch, and naughty sea salt truffles!

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{A Collection of Iconic Black & White Photographs Surround Martyn in his West Hollywood Office}

PC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

MLB: My greatest achievement is yet to happen. I challenge myself and my team everyday to push ourselves to make something extraordinary. As the old saying goes: seize the day, make life extraordinary!

Schumacher Wallpaper

{A Vignette Showcasing Martyn’s Gorgeous Wallpapers for Schumacher}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

MLB: I listed my design icons, but on a personal inspiration level, I find Tommy Hilfiger to be an amazing man. He has built an enormous fashion empire, yet he is humble and kind to all around him, whether you are a mega star or an intern. He’s a consummate gentleman and passionate about all he does. I recently designed a home for him and was so impressed by his ability to be so connected and excited about a project whilst expertly juggling 25 others and always being a gentleman while doing so. He is for sure an inspiration!


{The Ultra-Sleek Kitchen Martyn designed for Tommy and Dee Hilfiger’s Miami Home | The home Martyn designed for the Hilfigers was recently featured on the cover and in the pages of Architectural Digest}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

MLB: Living “la dolce vita” for me is really about spending time at home with my other half and my baby girl… Daisy dog ! I travel so extensively that when I’m home it’s like I’m on vacation. It’s mad to say it, but being home is my fantasy life…. my dolce vita! Being in my space, with my favorite things and adding favorite people, well that’s really living the life. Good friends, a beautiful home, and delicious food. The perfect recipe to a perfect life!


{Martyn’s Darling Dog, Daisy via Martyn’s Instagram}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

MLB: I am currently working on many commercial projects. The Raleigh hotel in Miami is a great current passion as it’s been my dream to restore this sleeping beauty. I have hotel projects also in Santa Barbara and Istanbul , I’m designing the Four Seasons residences in Los Angeles, several A list celebrities’ homes, and some retail stores for a major fashion brand. I also have a new tile line launching with Ann Sacks called Urban armor , new fabrics added to my eponymous line and collections of porcelain, crystal and silver with three of the most iconic French luxury brands launching in January 2015. Two new rug designs launch now for The Rug Company and a luxurious, organic mattress line will launch before the year ends. I adore designing product and extending my brand this way. It’s beyond rewarding to see the inventive and beautiful ways designers use my products. I’m always so touched and feel very blessed because of this.


{Martyn recently completed the renovation and decoration of the Chateau Gutsch in Lucerne, Switzerland. This beautiful room features some of his fabrics for Schumacher. I can’t wait to see his latest hotel projects and newest product collections!}



Go-To Outfit: For casual, I love a good v-neck, black t-shirt, and a pair of Double RL jeans. For a little extra pizazz, you can’t go wrong with a good scarf or cravat tied at a jaunty angle.

Style Mantra: My style mantra is always wear well-fitting clothes. If off the peg, spend a few dollars and have it tailored to fit you. Always add a splash of color. Whether it is just a pocket square or a pair of blue suede shoes. Those touches show a person’s character and humor for sure.

Scent: The fragrance of my life since I was 14 has been Vetiver by Guerlain. A true classic, it is a clean and uplifting fragrance. Of late, I have added a little Tom Ford Oud Wood for a deeper, night time vibe. Its undertones reek of old school movie star glamour– woody, provocative, and sexy.

Piece of Jewelry: I love jewelry and think a man is never fully dressed without a smattering of bling. A good watch is the signature of style. A chic ring is always both sporty and sophisticated and a fine pair of vintage cuff links can make a man!

Color I Never Tire Of: I never tire of green. I love it in all forms from deepest hunter to bright lime. A spot of green always works in a room, even as a plant or leaf, the color brings in life and for me, a sense of calm. I often use olive green which I match with another of my favorites– eggplant. Grey is a close runner-up. To me, it’s a neutral that truly works with everything.

Flower: Peonies and White Garden Roses

Indispensable Design Element: The dimmer switch! Lighting is everything and this little device can make or break a room.

Era for Design: The 1970s. I love the Italian designs of that period– wild with abandon and new found techniques. Quirky and yet, always with comfort and style in mind. (Giancarlo Giammetti’s Roman Apartment Circa 1975 is Pictured in the Collage Above)

Dream Project: Lady Gaga would be amazing to work with. I’ve worked for so many icons over the years, but Gaga I think would be amazing. If she’s as avant-garde with her home as she is with her clothes, imagine the fun we would have!


Fabric/Textile: Linen– the consummate, chic fabric. It can be casual or smart; elegant yet laid back. I adore linen for so many reasons, especially when screen printed or glazed.

Hostess Gift: Usually my own signature extraordinaire candle with a matching boxes of matches.

Meal:  A good English traditional Sunday roast lunch

Drink: Pinot Grigio– delicious, crisp, light, and goes with everything. Uncomplicated and easy– perfect for everyday.

Hotel: The Hotel Costes in Paris for its eternal Napoleon style and dulcet sound track; the JK Place in Rome for its chic bathrooms, and the St. Regis in Bora Bora for its over water romantic, glass-floored huts. Heaven.

Weekend Destination: I love to go down to my house in Palm Springs for my weekend breaks. As soon as I arrive there, I feel totally chilled out. Somehow, the energy there makes me instantly relax. It must be something about the balmy desert air. Truly my escape.

Museum: The Sir John Soane Museum in London and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: I love to dance and as such, love a good disco party. Donna Summer, Chic, Tavares… all heavenly. I am also a big soul lover… George Benson, Randy Crawford, classic Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green…my icons. But lest we forget Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Pharrell, and of course, Robin Thicke.

Actor/Actress: I love Judy Dench and Maggie Smith– two great dames with the best humor and perfect timing. They are fabulous actresses.

Prized Possession: My grandmother’s cross. It sits by my bed and has done so since I was a child, not really for any religious reason, but more because it has such family ties, memories, and it always makes me feel good to touch it.

Greatest Extravagance: My clothes. I love new clothes and especially, fine tailoring. It makes me really happy, but it makes my accountant sad, though!

Rule to Break: Giving yourself rules. Never box yourself into anything. It stifles the brain and blocks our creative juices.

Movie Set Design: Auntie Mame had my all time favorite movie sets. It is so inspiring whilst hilariously funny. It always gets at least a once yearly re-watch in my house.

I can never have too many… You can never have enough friends! Friends are the spice of life; they color my days with fun, happiness, and inspiration.

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P.S. Domino magazine recently photographed my  home and we shot a cover try for their Holiday issue. They are asking readers to vote for their favorite cover option. My dog, Tate and I are Option 2 and would love it if you’d vote for us! And speaking of Domino, I will be speaking on a panel in High Point moderated by Domino‘s Editor in Chief, Robert Leleux and featuring several friends about how blogs and social media are transforming design. If you’re in High Point this Sunday, October 19th, I hope you’ll join us! Thank you! XO

Untangling The Web Seminar

Two Styles, One Room: Sleek meets Plush

Hello LDV Readers! It’s Rebecca and Paula from Sea Island Drive. We’re back with another great room where two styles come together effortlessly…Two Styles. One Room.

Photo via New England Home

Sleek and minimal interiors are becoming more desired, but so many clients are afraid that this style won’t feel plush or livable for their family. This inviting living room proves you can have both! A sleek room doesn’t have to be hard and cold feeling, it can feel as warm as any rustic interior out there.

All of the big pieces that are in the Living Room have simple sleek, clean lines. The details layered in add that plush and luxe feeling without getting fussy. A tailored sofa in a nubby chenille. Knife edged pillows in luxurious velvet. A simple blanket in a soft faux fur. Everything is screaming, “Curl up on me with a glass of wine and forget your day.”

We are not ones to fight that feeling, so next time you see us this is where we will be.

Follow Sea Island Drive on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter

& follow Rebecca and Paula on Instagram

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Design by the Details: Plaster


New Orleans Race and Religious lets the failing plaster set the tone for their events and photoshoots.

WHAT: A powder usually including a finely ground stone (sand and limestone are most common) mixed with water to form a paste that is applied to walls to harden or shaped into decorative moldings and adornments for walls and ceilings.

HISTORY:  Mixing stone powder with water resulting in plaster has been around as long as, well, stones and water.  But once humans arrived on the scene we could finally do something with it.  There are different types of plaster – generally depending on use and what exactly it is made from, but we’re talking about the type that goes on walls primarily today.  If you’ve ever seen the inside of walls in an old building with horizontal timbers (laths) oozing with lime plaster – this is what was used until drywall was introduced in the 1950s.  Plaster is applied in multiple coats by an experienced artisan- the benefits to plaster are fire-resistance, better insulation for sound and air, and it is highly durable – if it doesn’t move.

USES:  Plaster has been used to build entire structures like earthen dwellings, mold statues, and as a fire retardant.  But I’m focusing on the wall treatment in this post.  While there are products out there that seek to replicate the look of plaster, true plasterwork is a highly specialized craft.  Plaster gives your walls a depth and luminosity that paint could never achieve.  But despite its benefits and superior aesthetics, it is labor-intensive and time consuming.  Venetian plaster has marble dust in the mixture and is polished to a high shine.  While plaster is a old-world technique, it can be used in a modern way.

450 Architects made the plaster walls a highlight with minimal everything else.
A fresh traditional bathroom, Wendy Young Designs showcases plaster in two tones with hand-painted stripe between the two colors.
The home of Rory Cameron originally featured in the April 1984 issue of World of Interiors as seen on The Art of the Room demonstrated the flexibility of plaster in this nautilus inspired staircase.
Sometimes plaster has been hidden under layers of paint and wallpaper, as it is in the apartment of Thea Beasley featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.
The tonal variations and depth of material is evident in this hall designed by Whitman Design Build Inc.

The original walls of the house are tsuchi-kabe (mud plastered), a traditional technique used in old houses. For an updated look, the walls were covered with shikui, or traditional Japanese plaster in this Japanese storefront featured on Remodelista.

The Style Files: Mark D. Sikes


Today’s installment of “The Style Files” is very special as I am profiling my close friend and design mentor, Mark D. Sikes. Mark and I became fast friends a few years ago around the time that his home in the Hollywood Hills was first published and his blog was just beginning in late 2011. Since then, Mark has amassed a loyal following, created an identifiable look and brand, and has completed a slew of stunning design projects. Just last week, Mark’s newly redesigned home was published in the July/August issue of Veranda and I think you’ll find it to be a breathtaking evolution of its original iteration.

Mark spent two decades in a successful career in visual merchandising during which he honed his inimitable eye for style, scale, and attention to detail. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2011 and subsequently having the home he and his partner Michael Griffin share published in the pages of House Beautiful, Mark’s focus turned exclusively to running his eponymous interior design firm and lifestyle blog. Mark’s work– whether in a room or on the pages of his blog, radiates beauty, authenticity, and genuine character– all of the same things that those of us who know him love most about him. Mark is endlessly inspiring. He is an eternal optimist with boundless energy and creativity who possesses the most generous and gracious spirit. All of that and he probably downs more Starbucks Iced Green Tea in one day than anyone else on the planet! I feel fortunate to have Mark in my life and could not be happier for his success. I know this is just the beginning!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Mark D. Sikes: Classic, Timeless, All-American, Consistent….I’d like to think effortless…

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{Mark’s stunning, newly redesigned home is featured on the cover and in the pages of the July/August 2014 issue of Veranda}

PC: Has living in Los Angeles influenced the way you decorate?

MDS: Of course it has. the weather is pretty wonderful here most of the year, indoor-outdoor living at it’s best. Because of this everything is more relaxed and easy, un-complicated, however, my design signatures, the things that I love like rattan, chinoiserie, blue and white, natural fiber rugs, and linen upholstery work anywhere and everywhere…


{Mark’s Bedroom is now swathed in pale blue Gracie wallpaper. | Image via Veranda}

PC: What does your home say about you?

MDS: That I’m a classicist and a collector, that I love to mix old with new, traditional with modern, the outside with the inside, and of course, that I love blue and white.

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{Mark’s Chic Dining Room features Antique Mirrored Walls, Saddle Leather Dining Chairs, a Leopard Rug, and Antique Chandelier | Image via Veranda}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

MDS: I look to the past….. I love Books and magazines (a friend of mind just sent me about 25 old House & Garden’s from the 80’s- I was in heaven), and to be honest, the internet…. It’s unbelievable what we have at our finger tips.

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{Mark’s French Bulldog, Lily hangs out in the Tented Library | Image via Veranda}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

MDS: Weekly manicure and pedicures

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{The guest bedroom received a major overhaul playing host to Pierre Frey’s chic, red Tree of Life fabric. | Image via Veranda}

PC: What is your definition of chic?

MDS: Confidence, knowing who you are, feeling comfortable in your own skin, being thoughtful and kind….having restraint…


{Mark and his French Bulldog, Lily read the new issue of Veranda | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

MDS: I don’t know that this is advice I’ve received, but I do say, “it’s all in the details,” a lot and I do believe that your own personal will is powerful, we can truly live our dreams.


{Mark’s Breathtaking Garden via his Instagram}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

MDS: I’d have to say that Bunny Williams has not only been a mentor to me, she has been a dear friend. Her support, encouragement, thoughtfulness, and kindness has been remarkable. I love it when she reminds to put my phone down, look up, take it all in! Also, my grandfather has probably been the biggest influence on my life. He owned a barber shop for 50 years. He worked hard, loved deeply and was a gentleman.


{Mark was recently invited to stay at La Colina, the home of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli in the Dominican Republic. The house and its owner have been tremendously inspiring to Mark. | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

MDS: Being happy- Living life to it’s fullest!


{Mark and his Partner, Michael on Vacation in Lyford Cay | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

MDS: I’m involved in so many wonderful design projects… homes in Beverly Hills, The Pacific Palisades, Santa Barbara, Presidio Heights, Marin County, Woodside, NYC, and the Bahamas… even working on a few movie sets. My first book is in the works, planning to open a store, maybe two, soon. I’m looking forward to designing my own furniture, fabrics, and lighting…also, working on designing some apparel in the very near future…and of course, the Mark D. Sikes blog is constantly growing and evolving, the blog has been the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, it’s been the greatest gift to me, a gift that keeps giving.


{A Moodboard from one of Mark’s Recent Projects}



Go-To Outfit: A blue oxford, white jeans, a 15 year old army green military jacket, Belgian loafers, ray-bans

Style Mantra: Have a uniform…. quality vs. quantity…less is more… a smile is the best accessory– I guess I have a few mantras!

Scent: Santa Maria Novella Potpourri Cologne

Piece of Jewelry: A thin gold Cartier band that I’ve worn on my finger since 11-10-2004

Color I Never Tire of: Blue…I’m sure that is not a surprise.

Flower: Gardenias, Vibirnum (I love massive arrangements of vibirnum), and all shades of pink Peonies.

Meal: Turkey burger with sweet potato fries (crispy) from Mel’s Diner

Drink: Iced Green Tea

Way to Unwind After a Long Day at Work: Doing a blog post

3 Things I Love About my City: The weather, the palm trees, and the boundless creative energy

Indispensable Design Element: A 17th century blue and white Chinese Bowl

Era for Design: I think today, because we can mix the past with the present.

Dream Project: I’d love to work with architect Gil Schafer, his sense of scale and proportion is extraordinary, not to mention his attention to detail, his work moves me….and of course the White House- I dream big!


Fabric/Textile: I love any blue and white stripe…

Design Book: One Man’s Folly  by Furlow Gatewood… that barn painted blue and green is everything.

Hostess Gift: A Myrtle Topiary

Weekend Destination: Montecito

Hotel: Casa Tua in Miami, Hotel Lungarno in Florence, Sunset Tower in West Hollywood

City: Paris

Museum: The Greek and Roman Galleries at The Met

Artist: Cy Twombly

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Actor: Cate Blanchett

Prized Possession: Lily (a.k.a. HRH Lily), our beloved French bulldog

Greatest Extravagance: An Abundance of Books and Magazines

3 Things I am Currently Obsessed With: The store RTH, Instagram, and the 2014 World Cup– Go USA!