AWAKENING YOUR SENSES

Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of once again visiting my favorite island in Hawaii over the recent holidays – leaving me rejuvenated to the core!

Experiencing warmth and sunshine on a daily basis, in the middle of winter, is a rare treat in and of itself.

However, I think it’s the daily assault on my senses that left me fully awakened, eager to welcome each day with whatever new sensory images might come my way – including an exciting array of foods that thoroughly awakened my taste buds.

From the taste of tropical fruits such as papaya, mango and pineapple, to the daily fresh fish from the sea and the crunch of macademia nuts, it was a delight.

Not to mention the exquisite tastes of thirst quenching drinks made from passionfruit juice and sparkling wine, or cucumber juice mixed with lime & mint, I was in heaven.

As an interior designer, I appreciate beautiful design no matter where it shows up – a luscious presentation of food, for example, with a unique or clever combination of tastes –  this can be a work of art in its own right.

We woke each morning to the song of the myhna bird – loud and cheerful already at 6:30 a.m. Greeted by a sumptuous buffet, we breakfasted on an open terrace, with a view of the pool and the ocean beyond.

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TAKING A GAMBLE

Does your home speak to you?                                       

Does it have a story to tell?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of re-visiting the Gamble House, a turn-of-the-last century Craftsman style home in Pasadena, California.

This 100 year old gem of a house was designed by the architectural geniuses Greene & Greene.

I have to admit, I admired this home just as much the second time around, both for its turn-of-the-century simplicity and its incredible attention to detail.

I use the word ‘incredible’ – yet, this doesn’t adequately describe what the house has to offer.

Astounding is more like it.

The effect of these rooms bathed in a golden light, is almost magical. It literally takes your breath away.

From the moment one first steps into the darkened entry, you realize you are in for a treat as your eyes gradually become accustomed to the light.

You notice first, the lovely image of an oak tree etched into the leaded glass panes of the front door, its limbs stretching far and wide into the transom and side light windows.

You notice it in the smoothly rounded edges of the polished Burmese teak, framing the grand central stair.

You notice it, too, in the delicate silhouette of a lantern in the shape of a crane, a bird that – in Japan – represents longevity.

You notice the repetition of certain motifs – trailing vines and the ever-present Chinese ‘cloud-lift’ – everywhere you look.

It’s present in the leaded glass light fixtures, the carved mantle and friezes, in the stair rail and even the carved inlays on a bed frame.

Good design relies on repetition.             

Designers and architects alike know this, and rely heavily on such simple tools to create an innate rhythm of beauty and celebration throughout a clients’ home.

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HEALING THROUGH CHOCOLATE

I thought I’d share a singular chocolate adventure that I experienced during my recent trip to Asheville, NC.

A group of us had just shared a tasty meal at a local restaurant, and were considering dessert.         

All were in favor of visiting a local chocolate shop called The French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Yes, that’s the correct name.

If it sounds a bit off-putting to you, rest assured that the French Broad happens to be the name of the local river that wends its way through town.

From that perspective, it’s a very fitting name indeed!

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect when I set foot inside the door but was immediately aware of the warmth that greeted us within, after the chill of the night air.

The fragrant, yet subtle scent of chocolate greeted me, and I followed my nose (and fellow diners) to the confectioners case filled with chocolate goodies of every variety imaginable.

This was truly a chocolate lovers haven!

What impressed me even more, though, was the selection of vegan truffles, made with coconut cream, instead of the usual dairy. The flavors had exquisite names like Strawberry-Balsamic, Buddha, and Pomegranate.

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BEAUTY IS SUSTAINABLE

“Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or beautiful” William Morris

Any object that is beautifully made – be it furniture or something more utilitarian – is a joy to behold and a pleasure to use.  

Furthermore, anything that is a pleasure to own will likely remain in your possession indefinitely.  Which, according to author Sarah Susanka, is another way of saying that an object of beauty is ultimately sustainable!

Case in point:

A few weeks ago I decided I needed an apple corer – one of those kitchen gadgets that slices and cores an apple in one fell swoop.

I spotted a sturdy little number in passing, at the grocery store, and bought it on the spot.

The first time I used it, it got stuck in the apple. I mean really stuck!

When I tried to remove it, the darn thing fell apart completely.  My husband spent the next half hour trying to put it back together. Needless to say, that one was taken back to the store where I bought it.

A few days later, I stopped in a gourmet kitchen shop and purchased another apple corer.

This time around, it sliced the apple quickly and perfectly, and I was absolutely delighted.

In fact, it was so much fun I could hardly wait to use it again!

Do you see the difference?

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CELEBRATING BEAUTY

“Beauty …is a doorway to the next dimension.”  Sarah Susanka, architect & author of ‘The Not So Big House’ & ‘Not So Big Life’

Last week I fell in love.         

The object of my affection was a lovely little settee that I spotted in a designer showroom.

As it happened, I was in need of a new sofa, and had been looking for the perfect one for several months. What I’d envisioned for myself was a custom loveseat, perfectly proportioned to fit me like a glove.

Then suddenly, I found something else, that wasn’t at all what I had in mind. And yet…

This little settee was created by the high-end designer Barbara Barry and it was on sale. It was covered in fabric that I loved. Even better, it was available immediately, right off the showroom floor, which meant I didn’t have to wait three months for a customized version.

It was the sort of find that immediately makes your heart beat faster and puts a spring in your step.

So what did I do?

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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

“Do not keep anything in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris

Do you ever feel like you’re a bit behind the times?

I certainly do.

Just by chance, I came across a Facebook posting from life coach Martha Beck, featuring IKEA’s “Life Improvement Project”.

This was the first I’d heard of the Life Improvement Project, and I was beyond impressed, especially since their focus is on building a better Life and Community through good design and responsible environmental choices.

It’s always encouraging to learn of others who share your philosophy. I’m now adding IKEA to my list, along with proponents of The Not So Big House and the Slow Home Movement.

What we refer to as the Butterfly Effect is essentially a ‘ripple’ effect – the idea that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.

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