Saturday, October 31, 2009

London mews

"Mews" is chiefly an English term describing a row of stables, usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above, built around a paved yard or court, or along a street, behind large London houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The word may also refer to the lane, alley or back street onto which such stables open. It is sometimes applied to rows or groups of garages or, more broadly, to a narrow passage or a confined place. Today most mews stables have been converted into dwellings, some greatly modernized and considered highly desirable residences.

Mews tend to be located in the very best parts of London because their original purpose was to serve as stabling and staff quarters for the grand town houses. The main concentrations of mews houses are to be found in the areas surrounding Hyde Park, Regents Park and Holland Park but wonderful mews streets are also to be found all over London.

Often tucked away from the urban hustle and bustle, the community spirit in mews streets is unbeatable. The diversity of mews houses never ceases to amaze. Very few mews streets in London are listed so the changes that have been made over the years means that very few are even remotely similar. "Unique" is a word that seems to be used very freely these days, but many of London's mews houses seem to define the word!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My hotel in London

I have to say, Anouska Hempel is one of my design idols. Anouska has two hotels in London: The Hempel and Blakes and also Blakes Amsterdam. Years ago I had the pleasure of eating at Blakes in London and it was amazing.

A few years later I had a wedding party in the private dining room at The Hempel, back then the restaurant was called I-Thai (a mixture of Italian and Thai)... fast forward 12 years and here I am again. I-Thai has closed and a gallery space now takes it's place. There's now a bar (No. 31) and a restaurant (No. 35) - both just off the main reception area.... other than that the hotel remains the same.
Reception area:
The gardens in one of London's many squares:

My bedroom:Bathroom:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm back!

I don't know where to begin. I have just returned from a fleeting visit to London which left me hungry for more. I landed at Heathrow, got the Paddington Express straight into the centre of town in 15 minutes and immediately met my friend, Libby! Off we went for coffee and croissants.... after that it was a blur - visiting Fulham and seeing the flat where I used to live, then hopping on a lovely red bus and heading further into town - passing South Kensington, Harrods, Park Lane and finally jumping off at Shaftsbury Avenue and heading to Soho for lunch.

Before we arrived at Cafe Boheme for lunch, Libby wanted to show me a Soho gem. Hazlitt's Hotel on Frith Street. The Manager was so kind to us and even gave us a sneak peak at a few rooms.

I will post more on my trip but am currently scrambling for a client presentation/meeting.... so I will leave you with these beautiful images of Hazlitt's - this is actually in stark contrast to the hotel I stayed at... the Hempel.... but more of that later.

Just look at the beautiful Georgian architecture - my favourite:

The lounge and reception area:

One of the bedrooms:

The "throne" which is actually a fully working, modern toilet:

Another suite:

The water for the bath comes out of the eagle's mouth!

An enclosed patio area off one of the bedrooms - gorgeous for a romantic dinner:

For more information visit their website:

Monday, October 19, 2009

London bound

I'm leaving early tomorrow to go to London.... I'm so excited to see my old stomping ground. I will be back in a week with lots of tales and photos.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cologne & Cotton

When I lived in London I had a small apartment on the Fulham Road.... this was nearly 12 years ago now... I was surrounded by small antique stores, trendy wine bars, art shops and interior stores... it was heaven. All of my girlfriends lived close by too and a typical Saturday would be spent browsing around the shops on the Fulham Road (and inevitably ending up in a wine bar - hee hee). One of our favourites was Cologne and Cotton. This company has expanded a lot since my days of visiting but they still are producing the most beautiful, high quality bedding, towels, bath mats, napkins and tablecloths. I'm actually going to London next week and cannot wait to go and visit again! Oooooo happy days! Take a look at some of my favourite items:

If you can't get to their Fulham Road store then you can visit them online at:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Green Scheme

I was reading the Washington Post's Home and Garden section this morning and was delighted to find this designer showcase home which is eco-friendly. I just wish I could hop on a plane and go to McLean and see it.... but I'll just have to enjoy the photos and text instead.

A team of builders, architects and designers created an upscale yet cozy Craftsman-style family home that will be open to the public for three weeks. It's a green trophy house, expected to use 80 percent less energy than a comparable new one, that's overflowing with ideas for an increasingly eco-aware population.

The brainchild of developer West Group and Green Spur, a Falls Church builder of energy-efficient projects, it was conceived as a model home of sustainable living. Builders took apart a worn-out 1960s brick ranch house (recycling virtually all the building materials elsewhere) and used the corner lot to erect a two-level, 4,000-square-foot house with four bedrooms, a spa and a lap pool. It also has a geothermal heating and cooling system, two green roofs and a "smart home" system that informs the homeowner via iPhone of how much energy is being consumed.
"A lot of people think that a green house has to be some sort of exotic spaceship," says Ralph Cunningham, a principal at Cunningham/Quill Architects, the D.C. firm that designed the home. "This house is an embassy for the green movement because it's in a fairly typical suburban setting and is full of basic solutions."

To bring the green-is-the-new-black message of the house to a broad audience, the organizers decided to turn the project into a show house. They asked local designers to participate and chose CharityWorks, which raises money for community organizations, as the beneficiary.
Designers received 10 pages of guidelines for shaping spaces that would enhance the "health, safety and welfare" of the home's future occupants. They were asked to use sustainable products and reuse, reduce and recycle. And they were cautioned to choose ecologically sound woods and paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds. The project called for energy-efficient appliances and fabrics colored with no harmful dyes or chlorine bleach. Extra points were given for using antiques or repurposed pieces with no shipping involved.

Library by Gary Lovejoy. Lovejoy says that green design and simple, clean lines go together. His restful library, with its two Lee Industries lounge chairs with soy-filled cushions and organic wool fabric, blends neutral colors such as cream, taupe, flax and ginger. The mosaic is made of natural materials including repurposed stone, mica and fossils. The weathered old mantel, found in a barn, was reused in the modern setting:

Family Room by Barry Dixon of Warrenton: Reclaimed oak trusses set the stage for the soaring space filled with furniture made of sustainable wood. The daybed designed by Dixon for Tomlinson has cushions containing soy and velvet created with nontoxic dye. The 27-inch balsa wood sphere lamp uses a Parox LED bulb that will last 10 years:

Kitchen by Barry Dixon of Warrenton: This space blends down-home details with the latest Asko, Wolff and Sub-Zero Energy Star appliances, as well as SieMatic cabinetry made of sustainable wood. The Waterworks terrazzo floor is composed of recycled porcelain, marble and glass. The heat-resistant Eco by Consentino countertops are made of 75 percent recycled materials combined with corn oil resin:

Dining room by Victoria Neale of Washington: The lime and olive colors are a subtle nod to the green theme. Neale chose flax fabric for the settee and the walls; the buffet was manufactured according to Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. Neale hand-dyed the linen tape trim on the walls and settee with water-based dyes:

Guest room by Charlotte Palmer Lekakos of Willard and Palmer Design in Chevy Chase: Lekakos found shed antlers while visiting her parents, who live on a South Carolina barrier island with lots of deer. The curtain fabric is Schumacher's Bryce Diamond pattern, part of the eco-friendly Green Leaf collection:

Spa retreat by Ernesto M. Santalla of Studio Santalla in Washington: The conceptual art piece "Grassland," a tapestry of untreated grass mounted on stainless sets the tone for this room. Santalla designed the credenza, which doubles as a bench, using compressed particle wood and recycled paper. The coffee table is made of corrugated cardboard, a recycled material. The space includes a shower with a recirculating waterfall that conserves water:

Virtual golf room by Lynni Megginson of L&M Designs in Gaithersburg: No burning fossil fuels to fly to Pebble Beach with this High Definition Golf simulator. Hit your own golf balls with your own clubs in this room and see where your ball lands. The wool carpeting has a biodegradable latex back; the lockers are made of reclaimed mahogany:

For more information please visit:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eclectic New York apartment

Now this is what I call eclectic. This New York apartment, on the Upper East Side, right off Central Park is owned by Keith Johnson and Glen Senk. The men behind Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

The decor perfectly suits the circa-1928 apartment, full of interesting corners and alcoves. “The space really straddles two eras,” Senk says, “Victorian and modern.” The couple, who met at age nine when Johnson’s family moved in next door to the Senk residence on Long Island, decided to retain the traditional floor plan, which included a pantry with bedroom. This was due more to exhaustion than a design choice, admit the pair, whose first home together in 1976 was a rented Manhattan studio for $225 a month—“lots of pillow furniture, plants, and a sawhorse table,” Johnson recalls—followed by a dizzying list of locations, among them Philadelphia, London, and San Francisco. They had given their last place a complete overhaul, and Senk says, “We were so tired that when we came here we just said, ‘Enough.’”

They did, however, make some cosmetic changes, such as getting rid of the Pepto-Bismol–pink floors and mint-green wallpaper in the front of the apartment. One of the master bedrooms was remade into a tailored home office and now features an exquisite wood-and-iron table crafted by South African designer Gregor Jenkin and a folk-art chair cast from an old tractor seat. The second bedroom suite was converted into a cozy library, with an antique English sofa (the model for an Anthropologie bestseller) and a pair of multicolor cracked-glass sconces, which lend the room a loungy atmosphere. The lights once lived on a ’60s Italian ocean liner—stare at them long enough and you fall into a La Dolce Vita fantasy.

“Everything in here I found with the store in mind,” Johnson says. Almost everything, that is. Placed discreetly in a hallway leading to their bedroom is a sweet photo of the two as teenagers on Long Island, standing in front of the home of Johnson’s parents. Both are grinning and appear to be sharing an inside joke. Some things, it turns out, can’t be found in a store.

Photos & text courtesy of