Friday, February 5, 2016

One More Day ...

Cross Bottle Guy RCFLW
Just a little reminder that you can still enter the giveaway over at Cote de Texas for $100 toward starting your cross bottle collection with my Cross Bottle Guy bottles! There are so many bottles still up for grabs on the site, and we will be adding more bottles to the site as we've been busy-busy-busy in the studio this week.
I thought that I'd take a moment to share with you a few of the bottles here! Above, (RCFLW) is our new floral shape for 2016. We're branching out, creating beautiful abstract, floral inspired, and continuing with our sea shell and coral topped bottles adorned with crystals as well.
Cross Bottle Guy SHL1
As an aside, if you're a shell collector, we will have some new shell pieces available next week! I think most of us have perennial favorites in our interior decorations, don't we? I mean, for the winter months we switch out our linen pillows for rich velvets, maybe we put away the corals and seashells and bring out the mercury glass and holiday decorations. What I love about the cross bottles, is that they really can be year-round beauties in your home. No need to pack them away, they look fantastic in all seasons! 
 Cross Bottle Guy STB8A
People often ask me if I have a favorite. I suppose I do, but it changes pretty regularly, as I really put a lot of time and effort into creating each bottle to be special. At the moment, STB8A might be my favorite.
Cross Bottle Guy GRLF1

Ah, but then there is this one! I love the antique wooden rosary beads and brass! GRLF is one of the only bottles I've made in 2016 with solder collars finished in our signature patina. It's just so difficult to pick one to love more than another when you're creating these pieces by hand. Each one has a lot of love and careful thought in the creative process and creation.
Cross Bottle Guy LFCFR
Recently, we began adding vintage and antique rosary beads and medals/crosses to the necks of our bottles. This one, on LFCFR is a wonderful combination of antique pieces. The rosary beads were handmade in France in the early 1920's, and have a zinc tag, stamped MADE IN FRANCE. The Medal, St. Michael, was made in Italy.
And of course, there are our antediluvian pewter rosaries, which are always a wonderful choice for the beginning collector, or for those of you looking for something special to pepper into your current collections.
Cross Bottle Guy RR04
So take a closer look at the bottles at Cross Bottle Guy, and enter the giveaway over at Cote de Texas before she closes it at 11:59PM on Saturday, February 6, 2016. You can also take a little mini tour of the apartment where Arlo and I spend our evenings when we aren't busy at the studio!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

News, Giveaway, Changes, and More Reviews ...

First off, wow! What a month January was, right? 30 book reviews!? I did a lot of reading over November and December, and again in January and I really hope that you enjoyed them. There are a few more planned for this month, which I'll put at the bottom of this post. But, for now, let's get to some of the other stuff that's been going on around here, shall we?

My handmade Cross Bottles
It seems like an eternity ago, but way back in 2009 you might remember that I started making bottle art. They started being sold on another site, and then I worked my way into selling them on my own site, Cross Bottle Guy. In 2015, I needed to step back from making the bottles though, as I dealt with a break up, a move, and quite frankly, a loss of the studio space I needed to create them. I got tons of emails and requests on the Facebook page, asking when or if I was ever going to start making them again, and I decided that 2016 would be as good a time as any to get back to work! I rented some studio space and pulled all of the antique bottles and vintage chandelier prisms that I had amassed out of storage, and set up a little space where I could make these beauties.

Honestly, it's been like therapy to get back to working with my hands, creating these little treasures, and seeing people all over the country enjoy them as they fly off to new homes. Thankfully, past clients had not forgotten about me, or the bottles of Cross Bottle Guy, and I took advantage of some ad space over at my friend Joni's blog: Cote de Texas.
When I suggested that we do a giveaway, she was totally on board, and having seen some sneak peeks of the new apartment, Joni asked to showcase the new digs on the blog as part of the introduction of Cross Bottle Guy to her readers, and the giveaway. Now, if you're familiar with Joni's blog, you know that she features only the most beautiful rooms and homes done by herself, and other super talented designers across the world. I was honored, but totally terrified to share pictures with her of the space. But I did. And she posted them, along with her giveaway post, here.
As a sidebar, you should TOTALLY go over and put your name in the hat for the giveaway.
My Apartment Living Room

Anyway, the apartment is basically finished. Or as finished as it gets when I say finished. Of course things will change, they always do - but I feel comfortable in the space. I have a few things that I'll need to have upholstered or slipcovered in the not so distant future, and when I do, I'll make sure to show you that here on my blog.
Til then, check out the mini tour over at Cote de Texas after we finish up here!
Oh, and as a second sidebar, some of you will notice that the Cy Twombly copy I made is gone, and if you are wondering where that went - well, we will talk about that next week!
Lastly, I think that most of you enjoyed the book reviews, and I actually have a few more that I couldn't fit into January! I told you, I've been doing a lot of reading! So, this month you can look forward to these babies, back to back, starting Monday, February 8, 2016:
So there you have it! Lots to see, and look forward to, and don't forget to go visit the Cross Bottle Guy website, and enter the Cross Bottle Guy giveaway over at Cote de Texas, where you can also see some pictures of my humble abode.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places

Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places by Manuela Roth
Published by Braun
The colder it becomes here in New York, the more I dream of being able to enjoy warm, tropical breezes. The more snow I have to shovel, drive in, and barrel through (dogs in tow), the more I dream of those tropical breezes being available to me 24/7. I'm sure I'm not the only one, right? And that's what great design books with rich photography can do for us! If you can't afford a house in the islands, a villa on the sea, or even a plane ticket to the tropics - you can take a photographic journey through house after beautiful house, locale after gorgeous locale, and live - if but for just a moment - in the fantasy of having a dream house in an exotic place.
Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places by Manuela Roth does that and more, with stunning photography of homes of all types in places from Miami to the Seychelles. With every page you dot the globe, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, the French West Indies, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and more. Let's take a little journey, shall we?
Photo Credit: Hiroyuki Oki; Architecture Credit: MM++ Architects
Location: Mui Ne, Vietnam from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places

Photo Credit: Leonardo Finotti; Architecture Credit: Bernardes+Jacobsen Arquitetura
Location: Guaruja, Sao Paulo, Brazil from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places

Photo Credit: Adam Letch; Architecture Credit: SAOTA - Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects
Location: Cape Town, South Africa from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places
Photo Credit: Wison Tungthunya; Architecture Credit: Department of Architecture
Location: Bangplee, Samutprakarn, Thailand from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places
Photo Credit: Andrew Howard c/o Wilderness Safaris;
Architecture Credit: Silvio Rech, Lesley Carstens
Location: North Island, Seychells from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places
Photo Credit: Adam Letch; Architecture Credit: SAOTA - Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects
Location: Cape Town, South Africa from Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places

These photos illustrate the epitome of laid-back living: basking in the sun, enjoying the tranquil ambience, in a word: paradise. Every home, or home away from home, whether on the water, in the forest, or faceted firmly in an urban metropolis, is an inspiration for interior design lovers and, in my opinion, should definitely be on your watch list. Take a closer look, and order your copy of Tropical Living: Dream Houses at Exotic Places via the amazon link below:


Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: Portrait of an Island

Portrait of an Island: The Architecture and Material Culture of Goree, Senegal, 1758-1837
by Mark Hinchman, Published by University of Nebraska Press

Dakar, is the capital of Senegal, in West Africa. It’s an Atlantic port on the Cap-Vert peninsula, and is the site of the once famous trading center of Gorée, Senegal. It's geographical position made Gorée one of the prime stops on African and European trading routes, with people of all nationalities, Dutch, English, French, etc. coming to trade gold, books, horses and more.

Demographically diverse, eighteenth century Gorée, saw a great number of people from different nations and wealth settling in the city, bringing with them their own unique architecture from their homeland. They built houses of various forms, using American lumber, French roof tiles, freshly cut straw and pulverized seashells, and furnished them in as cosmopolitan a fashion as the city itself.

Then, as even now, those who were among the elite showed their monetary success in their homes. Features such as free-standing stairs, fireplaces, French doors, and verandas whose specific function was to serve as a visible testament to the homeowners' wealth and standing in the community. And while Dakar is now a much more modern city, some of these homes and buildings of the late 1700's are still standing and in use.

A fascinating book of history and architecture, Hinchman walks you through life in Gorée, Senegal for the transient tradesmen, the wealthy Europeans, working class, and servants of Gorée, how they lived, where they lived, how they used architecture to assert position, showcase class and standing, and flaunt privilege and further, how that architecture influenced architecture in America. Take a closer look, and grab your own copy via the amazon link below:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Once Upon a Pillow

Once Upon a Pillow by Rebecca Vizard
Published by Pointed Leaf Press
Picking up a copy of Rebecca Vizard's Once Upon a Pillow is much like picking up one of her beautiful, handcrafted pillows from some of the finest textiles in the world. This heavy, premier design book, with stunning photography and gold leaf page edges is a absolutely a book you'll want to judge based on its cover, but I can assure you, the inside is just as stunning.
Many of you are aware of Rebecca Vizard's pillow and textile website, where she sells pillows and accessories she designs using rare, antique, and unique textiles from around the world. The evolution of this now highly celebrated resource came from Rebecca's own notice of the void in the pillow market while working on interior design projects from New York to New Orleans. Designers like Gerrie Bremermann, Suzanne Kasler, Barbara Westbrook, Renea Abbott all call on Rebecca when they need pillows for clients, and her work has graced the covers of House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, and Traditional Home.
Once Upon a Pillow takes us through the design process, features designer rooms where Vizard's pillows take center stage, and gives us stunning photographic illustrations of some of the finest textiles in the world, which Rebecca has used to create her beautiful, one of a kind pillows. She even provides an annotated textile glossary in the back of the book, and features some of the other gorgeous accessories you can purchase through her store. Without further ado, should we take a look inside?

Photo Credit: Antoine Bootz; Designer Credit: Rebecca Vizard from Once Upon a Pillow

Here, in her own home, Rebecca Vizard showcases a dilapidated 18th-century chasuble, complete with heavy metallic embroidery. Rebecca truly appreciates textiles as art - and it shows in the finished work of each piece she designs.
Photo Credit: James Patterson; Designer Credit: Annelle Primos, from Once Upon a Pillow

Photo Credit: Susan Sully; Designer Credit: Hal Williamson, from Once Upon a Pillow
Photo Credit: Antoine Bootz; Designer Credit: Rebecca Vizard from Once Upon a Pillow 
Photo Credit: Francesco Lagnese; Designer Credit: Jim and Phoebe Howard from Once Upon a Pillow

An absolute masterpiece, and a remarkable view into the world of one-of-a-kind textiles, Once Upon a Pillow will leave you with even more admiration for Rebecca and her work. There are numerous pictures of Vizard's private home, and the picturesque waterfront landscape that surrounds it, all of which fuel the design process and cater to her creativity when she retreats back to Louisiana after traveling the world to source the finest raw materials for her pillows.
A treat for interior designers, design lovers, decorators, textile hunters and collectors, and more, Once Upon a Pillow is one you surely will want to grab for your library. To get a signed copy from Rebecca, check out her website here. You can also take a closer look, and order an unsigned copy on amazon via the link below:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Mrs. Howard Room by Room by Phoebe Howard
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Few designers can capture the essence of sophisticated Southern design like interior designer, Phoebe Howard. Her foray into the design world started with her store in Jacksonville, Florida, Mrs. Howard. Since, she's decorated dozens of beautiful homes, opened two additional stores, and written two books, her first The Joy of Decorating, and now Mrs. Howard Room by Room.

Page after inspiring page of Mrs. Howard Room by Room, transports you to polished, perfectly layered, and timeless rooms, divided by chapter, illustrating her gorgeous and elegant, yet comfortable style. Throughout, Phoebe shares design tips and secrets to help with understanding the process of creating this look, allowing you to take these inspirations and ideas and implement them in ways small and grand in your own home.

 Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room
Phoebe and husband Jim make for a formidable design duo, taking jobs throughout the country, working together in tandem to design rooms that speak to the warm, comfortable, and classic environment that they have become known for. This Manhattan apartment, with a subdued color palette in the furnishings features high-gloss green walls that were intended to make the space feel inviting and comfortable no matter the season. Phoebe suggests that the living room is a room that should be loved. It exists to be beautiful, not necessarily to always be practical. Because we do not typically "live" in our living rooms, it's an opportunity to push the design envelope and do something extraordinary. I believe that these walls are a wonderful example of that.

Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room 

This bedroom was designed for a client in the wealthy Atlanta suburb of Buckhead. Here Phoebe used a lot of pattern, but kept the color palette similar for a room that is still calm and restful. Phoebe believes that in creating a master bedroom, the room should be soft, soothing, layered, and enveloping, and in her own experience, she says that letting the woman be the room's inspiration has always proven to be a winning formula, as men appreciate feminine bedrooms because they are attracted to women.

When creating a bedroom for yourself, Phoebe says the first element you should see upon entering the room is the bed, fitted with the finest bed linens you can afford. Don't skimp on good reading lights, and make sure that you don't forget the practical measures: changing pillows annually, rotating the mattress quarterly, and ironing your sheets.

Photo credit: Lisa Romerein; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Foyers are typically the first impression of the interior of your home, and Phoebe says making a good one isn't all that difficult. Start with your front porch, with appropriate lighting and landscaping, it helps usher people into your home with a warm welcome. Keep your foyer simple, don't clutter it up with lots of small pieces. Because they are typically small, walls can be a main event, with bold color or patterned wallpaper, like the striped paper in this foyer of a home she designed in Birmingham.

She says that whether the look is glamorous or simple, the ultimate goal is to make a space warm and welcoming.

Photo credit: Laurey W. Glenn/Southern Living; Design by Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room
I love, love, love this kitchen! I personally feel like Phoebe has a wonderful niche for bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. The rooms feel like showpieces rather than fixtures in a home, and this kitchen is a great example of that attention to detail. In this Birmingham house, the client actually took on the renovation himself, but the room illustrates wonderful tips from Phoebe about creating a kitchen as beautiful in your own home. She suggests starting with the layout and organization of the interior of the cabinet space rather than the decoration, "while your living room can exist for the sole purpose of looking beautiful, your kitchen cannot". Be realistic about your lifestyle when selecting materials for your kitchen. Make choices that are durable enough to fit your specific and intended use for them. Everyone loves honed marble counters, but if scratches and surface stains are going to bother you, you are better off with a tougher material, like Silestone.

Photo credit: Josh Gibson; Design by Jim and Phoebe Howard from Mrs. Howard Room by Room

Phoebe's husband Jim designed this paneled dining room, which was finished in an aqua strie that contrasts beautifully with the dark mahogany table and sideboard. A room that is formal, but not at all somber. Phoebe says that you should never overlook any surface in a dining room, no matter the size or décor. Everything, walls, ceiling, floor offers a chance to layer in details. Keep your dining room chairs comfortable, and never have more than 12 chairs around a table.

Phoebe goes on to give ideas and tips on libraries, guest rooms, kids rooms, bathrooms, outdoor spaces, and family rooms in the more than 265 pages of the book, filled with beautiful and rich photography that perfectly illustrates her vision, and will inspire you for projects large and small. It's a book that you will come back to every time you are in need of design inspiration, and a book that will give you a solution or an idea every single time.

Phoebe has graciously given my readers $10 off! To order your copy of Mrs. Howard Room by Room, with this discount, visit her website here: and use the COTLRBR.