Design – seeing everything in black + white

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to perusing open houses.

Mostly because I end up loving a lot of them and hate the fact that I can’t move right in or more likely, cannot afford to. But it’s fun to look.  I realize how many different styles of homes I’ve come to appreciate. From Mid-Century Modern easily influenced by where I’m at, to old world Spanish hacienda and country cottage chic but in a Cape Cod sort of way.  I like furnishings that are modern, vintage, collectible and contemporary but comfortable.  Mixed with vibrant colour or plain neutral.  I don’t like too stark.  I prefer warmth. But then I saw this:

I literally stumbled upon this unassuming ranch style home for sale in my neighborhood when out walking the dogs.  It’s not quite finished being updated (at least on the outside) but I was curious so I wandered inside.

It was not showy; actually kind of simple in a bold statement kind of way. What I like is how clean and elegant black and white looks.  Very parisienne.  Very timeless.  Very me. at the very moment  Could it be I’m suffering from  homestyle schitzophrenia? 

Jia Jia on our walk.

Seeing something opposite to what you already have gives fresh perspective to how you can decorate.  It doesn’t make it better, it just gives it a different personality.  It’s always fun to see what others are doing when it comes to home decor or anything else for that matter.

Do you agree?

Photos: d. king


Interiors + Architectural Design           

There’s an abundance of inspiration in art, design and architecture to be found in and around Palm Springs.chris1I’m always on the lookout for something unique and I found it when I stopped into Christopher Kennedy’s incredible interior design store/studio.



Christopher Kennedy is a nationally-published interior designer and modern furniture designer based in Palm Springs, California. He was just named Best Interior Designer by Desert Outlook Magazine.

His book: California Modern
His book (as in he wrote it): California Modern

Born in San Francisco and raised on California’s Central Coast, he brings a synthesis of big-city style and relaxed resort living to his work. He combines vintage and contemporary sensibilities to create spaces that are layered, liveable, and inviting. Neither trapped by tradition nor tied to trends, the hallmarks of Christopher’s style is easy elegance and casual sophistication.

His current projects include beach houses in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Malibu; lofts in New York; and numerous desert projects in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and La Quinta. Known for his unique brand of luxurious modernism, his work has been featured in Luxe, Dwell, Palm Springs Life Magazine, California chris6Homes, and The Los Angeles Times.chris2

Hockney Swimmer Original
Hockney Swimmer Signed Original


Photos: d. king

Source: taken from website –

Ginger/Mango Candle
Ginger/Mango Candle



We believe that design is powerful and transformative.
We believe in wiping the slate clean from time to time and the power of a fresh coat of white paint.
We believe in hand-written thank you notes and old-fashioned telephone calls.
We believe that there is a place for books in our homes and in our lives.
We believe that food tastes better and is more nourishing when the table is set.
We believe in the importance of travel — of the opportunities it presents for learning, growth, and discovery. We also believe in the joy of returning home, after a long day at work or a long journey abroad.

I believe in ALL of the above

Address: 590 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs    Phone: 760.325.3214

Hermès at Work – What Lies Behind

Whether it be scarves, handbags, watches, saddles, porcelain or clothing  the world of Hermès is made up of style, art, history and luxury at its finest.

The Trademark Orange Thread
My favourite colour – The Trademark Orange Thread
The Saddle
The SADDLE that brings out the equestrian side in all of us
The Saddle Maker
The Saddler, a designer in his own right

The quest for excellence best describes any Hermès objet désirable…and they come in many fabrications or manières, as the French call it. The incomparable workmanship  requires skillful hands with intelligent minds.  It takes time, material, tools, talent and attention to the tiniest detail to produce anything from this famous French house.

The silk roller meticulously adds the finishing touches with silk thread to every scarf.
The silk roller meticulously adds the finishing touches with silk thread to every scarf
A Silk Print
A Silk Print for a scarf

It comes with a price of course, but anything worthwhile does.

I’ve always been curious about the unrivaled craftmanship behind the name, so it was totally amazing to rendez-vous with some of the experts who help produce the famous scarves, handbags, watches, saddles, gloves and porcelain.

The pop-up traveling exhibition was in Vancouver at the Jack Poole Plaza by the Olympic Cauldron with the beautiful mountain backdrop for only five days, September 21-25th.  Whoever was lucky enough to step inside got a little glimpse into a unique world with live on site demonstrations by authentic craftspeople all of whom are of French descent with cute French accents.

Porcelain from Start to Finish
Steps for Porcelain Plates on their way to completion
The Porcelain Painter. They are decorated near Limoges in France.
The Porcelain Painter. They are decorated near Limoges in France.
The Watchmaker keeps time ticking with hundreds of miniscule components.
The Watchmaker keeps time ticking with hundreds of miniscule components.


I have a new found appreciation for my Hermès silk scarves since I know the steps towards completion are time consuming and numerous.  I have yet to come across a silk scarf so lovely.  Or a handbag, or a multitude of other things come to think of it. 

The Glover
The Glover transforms a Skin into a Second Skin
Finished Silk Scarf
Finished Silk Scarf
The Kelly Bag
The Graceful Kelly Bag

The finished product in all its perfection

Photos: d. king

 Have you seen it?

**And, if that wasn’t enough I got a smile from both Will & Kate and a wave from Kate (a royal bonus) from the car they were in (their window was completely rolled down) when their motorcade passed by on the way to visit Vancouver Coastguard.  I was out walking my dog in the direction of the Coastguard at the exact time they passed by.  I was not with the tons of people waiting by the sign that said “viewing area”.  My dog was sitting down where the cars were passing by wearing his bright red bandana.  I was all in leather.  I think we attracted their attention (I like to think of it that way).  A couple was standing beside us and they couldn’t believe it.  A little bit of magic for our Sunday. So I bought a lottery ticket right after.  If  you don’t see any more posts I’ll be in the Bahamas!  I heard it’s better there.


It’s as simple as this:suquet2

the Suquet home tells a story of eclectic elegance, taste and style

La Carinthia Mirrored Fireplaces. Italian Leather Sofas.
La Carinthia Fireplaces among Italian Leather Sofas (you can choose your style and colour).

Last Thursday I attended a designer & artist champagne reception to toast the newly opened Suquet Interiors in Vancouver’s Yaletown.  A feast for the eyes…décor  and art sublime!

Artist: Tanya Slingsby
Artist: Tanya Slingsby
Artist: Justin Ogilvie
Artist: Justin Ogilvie

The building itself has industrial flair with its high vaulted ceilings which melds perfectly to the furnishings inside; an enduring amalgamation of old world charm and modern luxe mixed with captivating art.  A perfect combo.

the entrance
the entrance


It doesn’t get much better than this.

I find the furnishings themselves are works of ART, and

definitely the standout magnificent mirrored fireplaces. Do you get the idea of how much I like them?

Artist: Tanya Slingsby
Artist: Tanya Slingsby
Tanya Slingsby stands beside one of her amazing works of ART
Tanya Slingsby stands beside one of her ART pieces.

I met lovely Tanya Slingsby, an artist who has impressive and varied works of art displayed around the store.  There are some amazing stand-alone pieces.


Mosaic by Jason Dussault
Mosaic wall art by Jason Dussault
Georgina Masana stands next to her paintings
Georgina Masana stands next to a set of her paintings

Georgina Masana is another talented local artist. She is originally from Mexico City.  Her son Ramon Jr. is co-owner along with Rick Bohonis (previously of Urban Barn).  I asked Georgina if there was a meaning to the name Suquet.  Her explanation:

Suquet is the last name of my late husband Ramon’s mother.  It is also a Catalan word that means a broth in diminutive.  When you use the letters ‘et’ in Catalan it means a diminutive. There is also a dish called Suquet that is similar to bouillabaisse with shellfish and broth served in a casuela.  But basically my husband wanted to use it because it sounds nice.”

suquet meal
suquet meal

I agree.  It does sound nice and it’s as nice as the tasty photo she sent me of the eponymous dish.  Best of luck!

Suquet Interiors – 1014 Homer St. (in Yaletown) Vancouver.

Photos: d. king

Did I mention the Accessories?
Did I mention the Accessories?




Travel: On the Road Again – Part Two

Remember the post where I declared my love for the Vintage Airstream Trailer? vintage-airstream That was 10 days ago although it seems like months now. airstream_-_matt_4_500 - Copy

I found out that many travel companies are getting on board the vintage trailer bandwagon: In November, rental company Airstream 2 Go partnered with Texas boot-maker Lucchese (love them too – bought a pair in Nashville) on a custom itinerary through the Lone Star State, which includes a trip to the factory and a pair of custom boots.

mathewairstream - CopyAirstream says it’s selling five times as many trailers as it did in 2009, spent $6 million on a new office space, and recently hired 130 new employees. Sounds like the making of a major comeback story.


If you’re not the road trip type but want to experience the Airstream lifestyle for a night or two, here are five firmly planted and beautifully decorated hotels for your next vacation.

El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas

 El Cosmico Photo: Courtesy of El Cosmico
El Cosmico
Photo: Courtesy of El Cosmico

There is probably no place more appropriate to situate a trailer than Marfa, the art-centric, holistic desert oasis of the Southwest. El Cosmico offers tepees, yurts, and, most important, several models of trailers that are sparsely decorated but seriously cozy. There’s a minibar in each but, intentionally, no Wi-Fi.

AutoCamp, Santa Barbara, California

 Autocamp Photo: Courtesy of Autocamp
Photo: Courtesy of Autocamp

This tiny Airstream-based hotel is made up of five vintage trailers, some of which come equipped with flat-screen TVs, large bathtubs, and Malin + Goetz products. Each trailer also comes with two beach cruiser bikes for getting around the camp.

Hotel Daniel, Vienna, Austria

 Hotel Daniel Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Daniel
Hotel Daniel
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Daniel

Nestled in the garden just outside the boutique hotel, one silver Airstream trailer is available as a room option for guests. The 172-square-foot space was created by interior designers specializing in yachts and has a sleek, minimal feel. It nods to the experience of being out on the open road, but is in the middle of a busy urban center.

Italy Airstream, Venice, Italy

Italy Airstream Park Photo: Courtesy of Italy Airstream Park
Italy Airstream Park
Photo: Courtesy of Italy Airstream Park

The website touts this as “the first Airstream park in Italy,” and it’s certainly the first of its kind on the Adriatic Coast. Recently opened in April, the six Airstreams each sleep up to four people, with a shaded canopy bed outside. It’s 30 minutes to Venice by car, or you can take a longer two-hour ride to reach the Dolomites. There’s also a beach just outside the park.

Caravan Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Caravan Tokyo Photo: Courtesy of Caravan Tokyo
Caravan Tokyo
Photo: Courtesy of Caravan Tokyo

For those looking to skip the Ritz or the Park Hyatt for something a little more low-key, Caravan is the place to stay in Tokyo. It’s a single trailer that sleeps two, parked near the bustling Harajuku neighborhood in a mixed-use office complex. It’s a fantastic example of innovative, smart Japanese design, with a gray exterior, modern pendant lamps and paper stools inside, and a wooden outer deck and lounge area.

I know this is not the same thing but….

It's what I have for now
It’s what I have for now and it’s more easily transportable.  I’ve made many meals in this rig including once in Texas a fully-cooked Christmas dinner.  It’s true! Coffee anyone?

Source: Vogue Magazine Article (by Brooke Bobb) 5 Airstream Rentals That Trump Traditional Hotel Rooms

Modern Furnishings
Sleek, Modern, Comfortable Style


Jewelry re-envisioned…think about it!

 Ooh la la…lucky me!

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

A piece of work! These earrings were a gift from a good friend who knows that I like mixing something old with something new and a preference for pieces that can be worn with everything from jeans to a cocktail dress.

This pair is perfect because they go with everything and they don’t bother my overly sensitive ears one bit.  Even my diamond studs which have a tiny amount of nickel in the backings bother my ears.jewelry2

The designers make each piece by hand by incorporating new ideas and they use simple tools with old recyclable materials from scrap metals like aluminum, sterling, brass or copper sourced from their various travels.  Some feature landscapes of the West and the like.

What a coincidence that just last year I bought two pairs at the outdoor VillageFest which takes place every Thursday evening in downtown Palm Springs.

a necklace incorporating polymer clay with a western design
Southwest polymer clay necklace

Their one-of-a-kind creations are found in various galleries and gift shops throughout the U.S. and online at Etsy.  To purchase:

Find out more at:




Décor – casual island living

When you live on the water I think you want something reflective of your surroundings. These photos from a friends house overlooking a lake show a balance of simple comfy casualness mixed with sophistication. Of course I love all the sea details with starfish, shells and fish strewn throughout the house.

This is a little sitting nook to have coffee, afternoon tea or just relax or read a book.
A little breakfast nook to have coffee, afternoon tea or just relax and read
The view is the main attraction
The view is the main attraction but there’s no shortage of places to sit & chat
Country Style
Country Style hanging pots & pans with lots of sunshine that flows from all directions
I like the wood details & oversized comfortable sofa & chairs
I like the wood details & oversized chair & sofa – well suited for the location


I like this stained glass piece in the entryway
I like this stained glass piece in the entryway even though the owner wants to replace it with something different.

Colourful artwork is displayed all over the house but I’ve decided not to post photos as they are stolen private.

Do you have a favourite home style?

For me, it’s a mix of belongings picked up from various travels.  All that matters is that they have meaning to me and bring back memories of places, people and times.  I like a combination of rustic and modern, colour,  black & white or plain white walls with lots of art.  I’m leaning towards less is more now (don’t laugh, I mean that). Ideally, I would have several small homes and each one would be different. A pied-à-terre in Paris, New York and something on the beach. In the meantime, I will live vicariously through some of my friends. It’s always nice to see other people’s tastes.

Photos: d. king

Contemplating buying a new helmet or shaving my head

I’ve been thinking about buying a new helmet for my scooter for the past three years now. Most of the ones I’ve come across are geared towards men.

This one shouts
This one shouts “look at me” – why don’t they have a female version or is it androgynous?  Too tough looking for me.
when I died my hair RED
So instead of wearing a helmet I dyed my hair RED to match my MiO

A matching helmet did not come with my vintage-inspired creamsicle looking scooter so I’ve been wearing one that a friend gave me (so that he could buy a nicer newer model) that is all scratched up and doesn’t really suit me.  Mine is ‘real’ vintage but not in the good way. I can have one painted to match (that’s too matchy) or just buy a new one but every time I go to check them out I think the old one is good enough because the newer ones are just as ordinary.  I don’t want something that looks like I’m riding a Harley and I don’t want one that looks like I’m riding a horse either.  Maybe I should create some fashionable helmets for women with scooters?  Or maybe I’ll just buy one of these:

the four variations in the series of ‘custom made helmets’
the four variations in the series of ‘custom made helmets’ – by jyo john mullor

Dubai-based digital designer jyo john mullor has realized a series of helmet designs that appear to leave the human head totally exposed to outdoor elements.  The trompe-l’œil effect brings about the illusion that a series of different people with shaved heads are seamlessly integrated into the plush, yet sturdy protective gear. Four variations include a motorcycle cap with ears and earrings, a simple bicycle style with shaved brunette hair, and a vintage safety hat with attached goggles stretching over the surface of the skin. Although not yet physical objects, Mullor’s ‘custom made helmets’ provide a look at the possibilities of extreme personalization, and would guarantee a double take on the road.

A vintage safety hat with attached goggles stretches over the surface of the skin.  I could go with this.
A vintage safety hat with attached goggles stretches over the surface of the skin. I could go with this.
Now this style appeals to me
Now this style appeals to me.  I even like the colour combo.

What do you think?  Would YOU wear one of these?

Jia Jia says
Jia Jia says “yes” to this Vespa in mint condition with sidecar – but then it would be “what kind of helmet do I get for him?”

Link to my scooter board on Pinterest: 

Source:                                                                                            all helmet images courtesy of jyo john

ART/Out There: a guide to choosing ART for your home  

Design, Art, Travel, Shopping – these are some of my favourite things!outthere3

Maria Gabriela Brito is an art collector and interior designer living in New York City and the author of Out There: Design, Art, Travel, Shopping ($60USD – Pointed Leaf Press).  outthere1The book is an insider’s guide to designing interiors and developing an art collection.  OUT THERE is a fresh and exclusive look behind the scenes of a passionate and exciting new design authority on mixing contemporary art with home decoration. It features highlights of Brito’s favorite contemporary artists, photographs of eight New York City apartments that she designed, and an extensive look at favorite galleries, shops, and hotels worldwide.

The following is taken from her interview by Danielle Pergament for Allure Magazine.

Rather than trying to match art to your furniture or throw pillows, look for work that you love but that is on the edge of your comfort zone in terms of brightness.  Color is the fastest way to bring life to a room.   

Go BIG.  The bigger the piece, the more it will transform a room.  Don’t shy away from a large piece. People tend to choose art that is too small for the space.  Take your cue from the furniture your art will hang near.  If your sofa is 70 inches long, go for a piece that’s 50 inches:  if the couch is 96 inches long, try something that measures 80 inches.  If you can’t find one really big image you like, you can cheat by placing two side by side.  The bottom of the frame should sit six to ten inches above the top of the furniture, and the closer the top edge is to the ceiling, the higher your ceilings will look.

Present it Properly.  If you’re buying art from a gallery, follow their framing or mounting suggestions, which usually reflects the artist’s wishes.  As a general rule, stretched canvases don’t need a frame, and large photographs look best mounted in acrylic or Plexiglas.  If the colors of the artwork are muted, consider a colorful frame to liven it up.

Advance your Placement.  Before you automatically hang a new piece in the living room, think about your entire home.  Instead of the predictable console and mirror in a foyer, imagine a huge, vibrant print/painting there.  I especially love to incorporate smaller pieces of art in unexpected places, like a bathroom or kitchen.  In the bedroom, go a bit more subdued – black-and-white photography, for example – to keep the room peaceful.outthere2

How to hang a gallery wall.  Hallways make great mini galleries, but it can be tricky to hang lots of pieces of varying sizes.  Here’s how to do it: take a piece of butcher paper the size of the wall (or tape paper panels together) and put it on the floor.  Arrange all the artwork you want to hang on the paper.  You can play around until it really looks right, then use a pencil to mark exactly where each should go.  Tape the paper to the wall and hang each piece on its designated mark.  Finally, rip the paper carefully.  Voilà  – your own gallery.



Personally speaking…I need more SPACE

What is SHE doing in MY closet?? My dream room (minus the kid).
What is SHE doing in MY closet??  Gwen…GET OUT!
My dream room (minus the kid although he is real cute).

I’m trying to make the best out of a tiny situation, namely my closet space.  The fact is I have more clothes than closet.  My closet is a walk-in but not very deep – more like a “stand in” and now it’s time to edit everything – for the change of season.

A lot of stuff I’ve given away and I used to consign but decided it’s now better to put it into the clothing bins.  I still have closet envy but short of moving to a bigger closet house, I have to make the most of a small situation. That was part of my spring cleaning promise to myself – to clean up my act closet and re-arrange my life it all.  Not an easy task.  Have you done this recently?  Maybe you’ve been thinking about it too.

Hooks help to arrange some hats, scarves & a few bags.
Hooks help to organize a few hats, scarves & bags.  Hanging shoe racks are a good idea too.

RULES.  The first step…

Time to get some of those thin Velcro hangers like they sell at Costco – then you can add a few more items.

Edit your closet. Really take a good look at your lifestyle and realize that some pieces (like the mesh studded crop top) will never see the light of day again.  Divide into 3 piles.

1) Keeper

2) You want to keep it but be strong because you know you won’t wear it – possibility pile)

3) Definitely Not!

2+3 – Giveaways   (if clothes are in good shape, washed and/or dry-cleaned & still in style you can probably consign them).  I’ve consigned many times in the past & after almost forgetting about it after several months would get a phone call to say there’s a cheque for hundreds of dollars (because you won’t get more than 50% of what they decide to sell them for).  Great news.  Of course you can take the money and go buy more clothes right away with it.  But be strong….because remember why you’re getting the cash?  You had to clean out your closet.

4)You’ve heard it before but it’s true…..if something doesn’t fit right but it’s worth keeping have it altered to fit properly.  If not, give it away.  Nothing is worse than an ill fitting outfit.  Your body changes so if something that once fit now doesn’t think about giving it away unless you plan to hire a personal trainer & work really hard.

5)Separate into piles the type of clothing & what you wear most often.  Jeans, other pants, blouses, t-shirts, blazers, cardigans and put them in order of what you’re most likely to wear – so you can grab & go.

6)In the end you’ll feel so much better that you edited your closet.  Then try to resist feeling like you wasted so much money, time and effort in choosing waaay more than you realized you’d have to part with – but know that it’s true.  You wasted so much $$$$.  Some of your friends will benefit from this & vice versa.  You’ll feel good about giving it to someone who wears it better (although a bit envious).  You realize you may have either lost or put on a few pounds (most likely) or that you no longer look good in a teeny Brazilian string bikini (not that you ever did – ouch).  Good news: one pieces, especially retro style that cover up more skin are back in a BIG way. Realize you don’t need to sweat the small stuff.  A well edited tiny closet is a BIG deal.  Simplifying things is much easier…..yeah, yeah that is what my head keeps telling me.  I still want a big walk-in.

Catchphrase: Make the most of what you have

I love this corset hanger for containing some earrings & pendants.
SPACE SAVER:  I love this corset hanger for containing some earrings & pendants.  You can hang necklaces on the back.

You can hang some necklaces on the back.