Tuesday, February 26, 2013

American Oil Painting Giveaway

I want to thank everyone for your good wishes and kind words. First of all, Mocha (our 11 year old Tibetan Terrier) is doing much better. Her appetite is back and so is her spunk! She needs further tests on her liver and pancreas - wish us luck! As for me, I am fine and back at the shop.
 Below: Mocha back home, and sporting a pre-spring cut.
Recently, I've received invitations to be friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. At this time, I am not on Facebook / LinkedIn. Many apologies :(

However, I am on Pinterest and you can enjoy my boards here:
And, I recently joined Instagram, where I'll be posting travel, shop, garden and design photos. Look for photos from our upcoming buying trip. My username: loithai
Above: A photo of Brussels, Belgium I shared on Instagram.

Now for the giveaway:  

To celebrate my blog's belated anniversary, I'm giving away one original oil on board landscape painting from a listed American impressionist painter (born 1942, Connecticut). I'm confirming the signatures (signed front and back) and will reveal the artist to the winner. Here are the rules of this contest:

- If you'd like a chance to win, just leave a comment.
- All are welcome, whether you have a blog or not. Including readers outside the U.S.
- One name (by comment number) will be drawn randomly via Random.org. 
- I'll announce the winner on March 12, 2013.
- The painting will be shipped free of charge to the winner. Just not to a PO Box address.
- Only one entry per person.

I'm taking a short blog break, and will be back to announce the winner on March 12, 2013. Thanks for your visit!
 I fell in love with the blues, greens and grays of this painting. Not that art should match furniture, but I think this painting is in perfect harmony with Swedish painted furniture.
 The painting (almost 10"w x 8"h) is probably 50 years old. I purchased it in an antiques shop in Pennsylvania.

Friday, February 15, 2013

February Flowers

Oh, February, if not for your bitter cold and dreary skies, I'd declare you my favorite month! February is kinda special for me. In addition to Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, it is also my blog's anniversary. I just turned one. And, I also celebrated a "real" birthday.

Actually, my birthday celebration has been postponed as I'm feeling a bit under the February weather. (So I guess I'm not a year older yet, right??) I had planned on a special blog post, but feel too drained from this nasty cold

Plus, our little Mocha dog has also been really sick. She barely ate in 5 days! Many visits to the vet's office, Mocha is finally home and doing better.

So when things perk up, I hope to celebrate my blog anniversary with a special giveaway to thank all of you.

Since I like to always end on a positive note, I'll share a beautiful flower arrangement I received from Tom :) The arrangement was made by my friend and talented florist, Ellen Seagraves.
 Here is the stunning arrangement by Ellen Seagraves. Ellen knows my style and favorite colors. She and I have worked together on various projects over the last 10 years.
 Shades of whites, greens and grays are repeated.
Here are white ranunculus, green brunia berries and gardenia leaves.
 I love the contrast of textures and shapes: soft dusty millers, compact lime green hydrangeas, wiry tree ferns and glossy gardenia leaves.
 Above: white tulips with green eryngium.
 Green hanging amaranthus (above) and white roses with silvery white astrantia (below).

Friday, February 8, 2013

Morocco: Reflections...and a Kitchen

My interest in Morocco started when I was working at the Smithsonian Institution. Each day at lunch I'd quickly scarf down a sandwich, and then tour a particular museum gallery. On one outing, I discovered a world of Moroccan tilework rich with colors and complex geometric patterns not unlike a kaleidoscope. I subsequently learned these mosaic "zillij" tilework is used as ornamentation in Moroccan architecture and design.

In 2002, Tom and I traveled to Morocco. We visited the four imperial cities of Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat, as well as Casablanca. We toured ancient medinas, shopped the souks and even stayed in traditional Moroccan houses known as riads. Unassuming, plain and often windowless from the street, all the rooms typically open to an interior courtyard with a garden (and sometimes a water feature as well). Once inside a riad, a beautiful and private world reveals itself. Zillij tilework covers ceilings, walls, floors and even fountains.

Morocco is like no other country. It is a feast for the all the senses! Enjoy these photos from my scrapbook, and excuse the quality as they have been scanned.
In Fes, we stayed at the charming La Maison Bleue, a tradition Moroccan riad.
Above: Zillij tilework on a fountain wall in Casablanca. Below: Impressive arches in Casablanca.
Beautifully painted wooden doors in the capital city of Rabat.
One of the highlights of Marrakesh was Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle.
The Moroccans are warm, friendly and proud. Tom and I were captivated by their charm. Important note: before taking photos of someone, please ask for permission!
Here I am at the ancient ruins of Volubilis, a city founded in the 3rd century B.C. Volubilis was an important Roman outpost. Excuse the baggy jeans :)
*  *  *  *  *

Fast forward to today (and, thank goodness, skinnier jeans!), I am delighted to share my friend Lauren's newly renovated Moroccan inspired kitchen. When Lauren asked me to help with this very special project, I immediately said yes!! Let's start the tour.
The focal point of this beautiful kitchen is the stucco hood (designed by Lobkovich Kitchen Designs) paying homage to the arch found in Moroccan architecture. Lauren selected the lantern from Tazi.
My favorite element is the glazed terra cotta tiles that Lauren found. Tiles are from Mission Tile West and available through Renaissance.
In lieu of an island, I designed this walnut farm table, and we had it custom made by the venerable firm of Therien. Note the notched and shaped corners which I borrowed from Moroccan design.
I found the French cafe style chairs at Serena and Lily, and together with the farm table, they give the kitchen a French colonial feel.
A view of the paneled refrigerator and prep sink. There is also a full sized wash sink (not shown). All the countertops and integral sinks are cast concrete.
The cabinetry is through Lobkovich Kitchen Designs.
Thank you to Lauren for letting me share her fabulous and cool kitchen!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Antiques at Home: Swedish Daybeds

I recently had a conversation with a client on blog post ideas. She suggested showing Swedish antiques in situ...sharing how homeowners and designers incorporate Swedish antiques in their homes and decor. I'm kicking off this new series with the Swedish daybed.

Before I begin, let me thank my talented designer friends, Nancy and Bethany, at Powell Brower Home for inviting me to be their blog guest. Check out Powell Brower's projects and also my post here.

What is a Swedish daybed? To me, it is a long and wide bench with raised ends. Some daybeds can have a backrest but I generally define those as settees. The Swedish daybed is one of the most elegant pieces of furniture. Even the word daybed conjures up images of gracious lounging. And, it is wonderfully versatile. Here are some ways to use it at home:

-Place it at one end of a long living room
-Use it to divide multiple seating groups
-Float it in front of a fireplace or window
-Tuck it under a large mirror or painting in a foyer
-Set it at the foot of a bed

Maybe you'll find room for a Swedish daybed in your home!! :)
 First up is this gorgeous living room belonging to DC area designer Elizabeth Kaufman. This 18th century Swedish Gustavian daybed, from Tone on Tone, was scraped down to its original painted surface. I love how it elegantly anchors one end of the spacious living room.
 Elizabeth put her design career on hold when her young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Her daughter is now in remission, and Elizabeth's efforts are focused on raising funds for the hospital where she was treated. Elizabeth and I invite all our friends to participate in the Heroes Curing Childhood Cancer Gala (at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, DC) to benefit Children's National Medical Center.
  Elizabeth used Farrow and Ball's Matchstick on the walls. The wool curtains are trimmed in Fortuny. I hope to share more of this fabulous house in the future.
 Here is another Swedish Gustavian daybed from our shop. It divides Darby's large and beautiful living room into three seating groups: sofa on one end, daybed in the middle and clubchairs with ottomans on the other side.
 In our long and narrow living room, I placed a daybed in front of the fireplace. Comfy club chairs with an ottoman would've been delightful, but alas they would be too deep.
 Notice how the daybed floats gracefully without blocking the fireplace. Its laurel leaf carvings and circular fretwork are fantastic. The paisley wool throw with suede trim is from De le Cuona.
 ABOVE: This Swedish daybed (sold) would look stunning in a foyer or hall under a tall mirror, painting or screen.
Here is a Swedish daybed currently in our shop. I had a loose seat (linen covered) cushion made. The raised ends with oval rings have wonderful movement. 
 And this small Gustavian original painted daybed is from our latest shipment. It came already upholstered in this classic indigo and off-white checks. Add toile bolster pillows for softness, charm and pizazz!