Monday, May 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions- NO MORE PROCRASTINATING!

Okay, I'm a little late for New Year's resolutions, though Chinese New Year had just concluded when I wrote this, but better late than never. I've grown a little tired of the standard issue resolutions and have endeavored to come up with some newer, more interesting ones.

It's been a busy year for Abode and we've resolved to do a lot of things differently (read -better). At the top of our list - get proactive, not the acne treatment, but the act of anticipating what comes next and preparing for it long before it happens. Starting a business is a time-consuming affair and after one year into it we're finally at a point where we're getting ahead of the curve...hopefully. We're working ahead to finish our new lines earlier, get them photographed (we're planning our first ever printed catalog) and get samples ordered well in advance. Additionally we'll be ordering more product and getting it into inventory earlier. Our goal is simple; to continue making great looking and unusual product and to have it ready to ship as soon as we show it so our customers can have it when they want it- which is typically RIGHT NOW!

My other more personal resolutions are to make time for all of life's pleasures(mine anyway)- the list is as follows:

 make time for the important things; afternoon naps as often as possible, walks with the dogs-regularly, time spent with loved ones

 make time for sketching- every day

 make time for nesting and gardening

 make time for filing- every week (I just finished a six month accumulation- never again!!!)

 make time for blogging- regularly! I've actually made a schedule of blog topics for the next two years (unfortunately I'm an incurable list maker)

 make time to write- in addition to blogging

 make time for wine and women (well one woman -my wife, she goes well with wine)

 make time for listening to music (fortunately this can be done with almost all other resolutions-I can't seem to break my habit of multi-tasking)

 make time for my programs; Mad Men, The Good Wife, Damages, Glee

 make time for a movie at least once a month

 make time to see concerts, plays, or a museum exhibit at least once a month

I also tend to make lists that are impossible for mere mortals to accomplish, but at least it gives us something to strive toward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Season of Giving

It's that time of year again, the holidays. Time to start thinking of gift ideas for family and friends. Ever since Liz and I got into this business our holidays have been more harried than most lay people. Our season is so busy with showroom resets, product arrivals and show preparations that we barely have time to think, much less think about great gifts for the people we love and care about. We always vow we'll get a headstart, but somehow we always end up on Thanksgiving wondering where all the time got to. So, I'm ashamed to say, we've often resorted to the laziest of all gifts- the dreaded gift card.

This year I'm resigning to come up with something different, something more thoughtful, something more meaningful. Just a few ideas are listed below.

1. The Gift of Charity- the lean times of late have been especially harsh on charities. Instead of gifting a token gift card that may go unused or unappreciated make a gift of a donation to a charity of your choice in someone's name.

In fact, if Liz and I are on your gift list- please make a donation to either the SPCA or Rover Rescue in our name (both organizations are links on our blog).

The SPCA is reporting a higher than ever abandonment rate of animals and lower donations and government funding. Rover Rescue is a top notch non-profit pet rescue and adoption agency in California. We've adopted both of our pets from these wonderful and humane organisations.

Please help those that cannot help themselves. That is the best gift of all.

2.) The Gift of Small Luxury- Small luxuries abound, but we often would never indulge in them for ourselves. This year consider a gift of small luxury for someone.

A scented candle from Jo Malone or Molton Brown. I like the Molton Brown Candelas with their heady, wonderful fragrances. At $74.00 a pop they are a luxury but they will light up a room for many nights in many ways.

For Him:

Black Pepper or Thai Vert

For Her:

Naran Ji

Other small luxuries-

A cashmere throw in grey, beige, brown, or cream (beware of strong colors unless you really know the recipient's taste or it's Hermes)

A magazine subscription- there's still nothing like pouring through the pages of a good magazine. You'll give a gift to your friend, and the publishers who are struggling. Some of the best:

Elle Decor
House Beautiful
Vanity Fair
Sports Illustrated
Town and Country

The Gift of a Beautiful Book- coffee table books are continuous treasures a few good new and old books:

Glamorous Rooms
the refined modern elegance of Jan Showers

  Style and Substance
Margaret Russell

Inspired Interiors
The simplicity of Suzanne Kasler's body of work

The style icons Gucci years chronicled in dazzling style

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Freshening Up The Abode With Potted Plants

We just did a splurge on these beautiful pale sage green glazed urns for our yard- the color is so calming and mixes beautifully with our sage green and cream plantings. We potted them up with hardy mounded yaupon holly shrubs that will look great all year. This is after all why we work so hard right?

Check out to see the vast array of beautiful outdoor containers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

White Lilies

As usual Liz has decked out the house with flowers. We're back to my favorite all white color scheme, including a variety of white pumpkins and beige gourds. Here white lilies fill the kitchen (and the rest of the house) with their heady fragrance.

Short Days, Long Nights & Candle Light

With the departure of daylight savings time comes the early evenings and the opportunity for warm candle light throughout the house. We love living by candle light; everything looks softer, warmer, more romantic. We use a layered approach with a variety of candle length and diameter. We unify it with candles of a single shade- ivory- ensconced in clear glass hurricanes and candle stick holders. The play of light flickering on the glass surfaces is magical.

In The Bedroom

Probably the most important room in your home, but often the one least lavished upon. We spend a good one third of our lives in our bedrooms and perform our most important act of living there- rejuevenation and rest. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my bed is something I take very seriously. I can live in a hovel, so long as I have a great bed.

I'm a natural person so I like the feel of 100% cotton or linen (polyester is depressing), 100% goose down feather beds, comforters, and pillows, cotton and linen or wool blankets.

I've long fostered a fetish for great bedding and I recently found a website that sells luxury bedding from some of the best brands; Sferra, Peacock Alley, Brahms/Mount.

Many of the items are made here in America, which for me is an added value. Yes, they're more expensive than the average brand but the quality is well worth the price. Every linen closet should be well stocked with staples that will stand the test of time. Here are a few of my recent finds.

a beautiful herringbone twill weave cotton blanket by
Brahms/Mount made in Maine

a beautiful tailored 100% linen ensemble by Peacock Alley
made in the USA

a handsome masculine ensemble in my favorite color brown
by Sferra imported from Italy (can't you tell)

a sweet and slightly frilly linen cotton ensemble perfect for
a lady of any age- from Peacock Alley- made in the USA

Great looking cotton ticking duvet from Brahms/Mount
as durable and comfy as it is classic- great for a guys
room, a cabin, or country house- made in the USA

When making the bed, Liz and I favor a layered mix and match style rather than matchy match bed-in-a-bag look. We have such a great collection that it's fun to mix things up. We change our bedding with the seasons to keep it looking fresh and we're constantly adding new finds to our linen closet. I like the bed to look and feel great, but I also want it practical. We only buy machine washable bedding (who wants dry cleaninng chemicals in their bed). There is nothing quite like pressed sheets though if you have the time or the money.

We work in bed so we like a lot of pillows, I recommend using standard size pillows for sleeping, and European squares to prop yourself up for reading or watching a movie.

We also invite our dogs to sleep with us, so we also use inexpensive cotton blankets from Target or Pottery Barn to protect the foot of the bed. Lint pick ups are essential with two big shaggy dogs.

Finally, every room needs those finishing touches to make it feel like home; a bouquet of fresh flowers bedside, a fantastic scented candle from Molton Brown or Jo Malone, and really good reading lamps as well as handy bedside tables with plenty of storage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

I've been thinking a lot lately about Spring- since we'll be putting together a spring line for introduction in June and July. As each season or project commences every designer faces the same question- what to do next? Much as the writer faces off with the blank page we designers square off against a blank drawing board, last season's successes and failures. This year I've been revisiting images from the recent past and asking myself what's pretty now- am I completely out of the loop because I don't like much of the recent Mid-Century revival? As I peruse my archives and old magazines I find that I'm always drawn back to the simple basics; painted woodwork, wing back chairs, linen upholstery, wicker and basketry. A beautiful and timeless example of how some of these elements coalesce into a comfortable haven are the interiors from the film "Something's Gotta Give".

These absolutely timeless rooms from the set of Somethings Gotta Give are attributed to Interior Designer James Radin (check out his portfolio at ) the homey style is reminiscent of another great designer Michael Smith (recently commissioned by Michele Obama to redecorate the first family's private residence at The White House ) you can see his work and products at

a recent Michael Smith interior

love the asian influence in the lanterns

Another timeless designer whose work has had a big influence on me is Rose Tarlow. I recently found this old photograph of her California home. I'm still as charmed by it today as the first time I saw it many years ago. The bookcases are perfectly proportioned to house interesting collections and the stray Boston ivy creeping into the room is a masterful, eccentric, and romantic touch.

So what do these wonderful designers have to do with my thoughts for Abode's spring collection for 2011? They remind me of the core values that I always go back to and reassure me that timeless design is best; warm neutral palettes, natural fibers and textures, simple forms that are at once antique and modern, and above all comfort and charm that speaks of a home well tended. I'm getting inspired.