Feel-good Friday: Giving Gifts

Cards, Candles, Clothing, Jewelry, Accessories, Food, Skincare…

Giving Gifts is all about giving – giving to friends and family, giving to yourself and giving to others around…

Just yesterday I came across an inspiring gift boutique made up of 5 rooms and more than 100 local Vancouver artists, each showcasing all kinds of good quality, fair trade gifts.  I love this concept.

http://givinggifts.ca
4570 Main St., Vancouver

Photos: d. king

Have a fun weekend!

Table Talk: Coffee Tables

Let’s talk about the significance of the coffee table.  A focal point in your living room which serves a purpose.  It can either enhance or detract from the surrounding area.

briers home décor . Photo: d. king

How many people have coffee tables in their living rooms?  Almost everyone we know.  After all, you need something to set your cocktail glass or hot beverage down between sips. Because when was the last time you had an actual cup of coffee sitting on it? Right…didn’t think so.  And if for nothing else, it’s a perfect place to showcase that gorgeous coffee table book. Or maybe a reason to buy a coffee table book.

Perfect side table – briers home décor . Photo: d. king

Recently I wanted to change my living room coffee table from using a matching ottoman to my sofa (with cut glass to fit over top) for something different and smaller.  That’s because I decided to use the ottoman for something else..what it was originally intended for – an area to put your feet up and get comfy.  I also just had my carpet cleaned and the large ottoman covered up a lot of the carpet.  So I went on a hunt and found something that I felt worked for the smaller area and opened up the space and did not cover up the carpet.  A carpet I bought in Cairo and felt did not deserve to be hidden.  This clear tempered glass is perfect for a see-through look.

Photo: d. king
Originally there were 3 tempered glass tables which fit into one another. For time being I’m using the smallest one for folded towels in my bathroom.
3-piece tempered glass: briers home décor . $380.00
One of the tables. The nice thing is that they’re easily moveable. Photo: d. king

After having searched countless places online, I walked into briers home décor in Vancouver and there it was…the perfect fit.  It was that easy.  Cherie, the owner, suggested I do a blog post on ways to open up smaller spaces.  So this was her idea.  I’ll move along to other furniture options at a later date.

For now, this set of clear nesting tables takes up little visual space, can be stacked together when you might need just a teeny more room and moves around your sofa with ease.  I really like it.

The nice thing about coffee tables is that if you get tired of them it’s pretty easy to change them.  Certainly a lot easier and much less expensive than buying a new mattress or sofa.

briers home décor. Photo: d. king

We’ll look at a few options below.  But first…

A little history:

It began in 1652 when the first coffee house opened in London. It was so popular that more coffee houses soon opened all over Europe. The cost to enter was a penny and included a cup of coffee.  Wow how times have changed since then!  I just paid $5.50 for a coffee the other day.  That’s why I don’t want to get into the everyday going out for coffee habit and prefer to make mine at home.  I’m digressing…

These tables, called tea tables at first, were tall at 27″ high, compared to today’s coffee tables at 18″-19″ high.

There are no documents from the 17th and 18th century mentioning coffee tables although there are hundreds of references about coffee houses during the time period. It is speculated that the name tea table was changed to coffee table because coffee became more popular than tea.

Today, coffee tables (also called cocktail tables) still share the same location in the living room in front of the sofa. Yet, the shape, size, and functionality have changed vastly.  A few options:

The ottoman as coffee table – a popular choice. Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck

The ottoman as coffee table – a popular choice because it serves two purposes.  You can put a simple tray or have a piece of glass cut to size over top, or put your feet up when you want to.

Who needs a coffee table when you can have an arm rest tray, instead? It requires no additional space in your living room, but offers all of the same benefits as an actual table.

Awesome Arm Rest Wrap Coffee Table – Etsy

Posh but petite, this sophisticated cocktail table from West Elm will fit just about anywhere in your living space. Buy one for setting down drinks instead of a clunky coffee table, or two or three if you need the extra surface area.

Martini Side Table – West Elm $159

This 5-piece coffee table-slash-stool set may be the coolest. Not only does this multi-tasking table offer up plenty of surface space, it seamlessly holds four faux leather stools inside; for all the extra living room seating you’ll ever need.

5 piece Coffee Table and Stool Set – Wayfair $375

Lastly; you can always use something you might already have around the house – something like this vintage chest:

photo: d.king
 This chest doubles to store excess towels in TV room.

So many choices.  

Do you have a favorite?

briers in Vancouver:

http://www.briers.ca

Vineyard Vibes

I heard it through the grapevine

Trying to replicate the appearance of an outdoor area like this at home can be challenging.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard Patio, Summerland.  In B.C.’s beautiful Okanagan region.

When I had the desire to create the look and feel of a real vineyard patio I looked to photos and my imagination. Like the ones here, but not exactly.  As you will see.

The familiarity of having visited many wineries in British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region, Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Napa, Sonoma, Lodi & Temecula Valley in California and Tuscany, Italy may have helped.  

A little decadence mixed with naturalness and something to take you away and remind you of vacation.  Remember vacation?  How about stay-cation? That’s the idea I was going for.  I want to enjoy the wine regions of my home.  Specifically the outdoors.  After all, I’m an outdoorsy person!

So sitting in the courtyard area with a glass of wine overlooking my vineyard mural under the ivy instead of actual grape vines felt very relaxing and the next best thing to being at the real deal. 

Although over the years, we discovered the ivy started to slowly get out of hand, growing more and more unruly.  What once appeared striking started to take over the whole area and brought some undesirable pests along the way.  So recently I was bummed to have to remove it away from the beams completely.  A dirty task.

My cozy courtyard – Summer 2019.

It took a little while to get used to the bareness on top of the cross beams where the ivy once was, but on the bright side literally, there’s a lot more light to an area where there was no light for quite some time.  So now I’m re-creating the space once more.

It will still have a vineyard feel but without the vines.  Once it’s finished I’ll take a photo and share it. A new potential and a realization that sometimes doing something out of necessity gives you a chance to create something else. Learning to let go of the familiar in any given area takes courage but it can turn out to be a positive thing. Not necessarily better, just different.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, B.C. They offer some amazing organic vegan wines.  “ALIVE” is a new favorite.

Doing so makes me want to modify a few more areas around my home, inside and out.

Maybe modify is a metaphor for simplifying life in general.  A tiny transformation to keeping it fresh.

Anyone else feel this way?

Next: making the most out of smaller spaces

Decked out for Summer

June 21st – the official first day of SUMMER

Formal date aside, this year summer started more than a month earlier than expected. It’s been mostly warm and sunny since I got back to Vancouver in early May.  June is usually an iffy month for unreliable weather.  Now you never know what to expect as normal patterns everywhere are changing.  Some drastically. Most people are starting to get used to diverse changes in climate but I’m not here to talk about climate change.  It’s real and it’s happening and we all have to weather the storm (pun intended) and hope we’re not too late to save this stressed-out planet.  

Personally, if I could control the weather by a push of a button I’d have it on perpetual early Spring mode with a rain shower here and there just to break up the monotony and to make sure everything stays green.  Then I’d have it snow in the city for 3 days a year max – December 24th to the 26th.  Also, the setting for sun would never feel too hot with “0” humidity and not enough wind to throw too many dried leaves everywhere which is a pain to sweep up…again.  But sweep up I must.  And every time I do, I admire the brand new flooring on my two outdoor spaces.  I did some Spring cleaning to be Summer ready.  Starting with…

I had a vision. It came from a magazine entitled “Home and Garden.’  I prefer the clean, elegant yet simple and straight wider floor boards.

Upstairs:

Noticing that some of the wood boards were starting to rot on the upstairs deck,

My deck AFTER.  The large planter used to be right smack in the middle.  A large barbeque and outdoor fridge sit in two corners (not shown).
BEFORE the wood was narrower, lighter and on an angle.

I enlisted the services (after careful consideration) of  Khatsalano Builders who specialize in outdoor decks and patios. I like that they’re local. They were professional, managed everything on schedule as planned (contractors are notorious for not sticking to schedule) and cleaned everything up as promised.  They also helped with added extras like moving two very heavy large items for me.  Thank you Jason, Jeff, Antoine, Davin and Mike.  Great guys.

 They totally re-constructed a large 500 sq. ft. deck pulling up all the wood and replacing it with timber-tech composite flooring. It looks great now, very clean, modern and best of all…bye bye maintenance!  No staining needed from now on.  I’m super happy about that.

Why composite over wood? For sustainability purposes Timber Tech decking is made from a combination of 100% recyclable wood fibers and 73% polymers.  Even their packing materials meet the sustainable forestry Initiative requirements. They’re working to achieve the highest level of recycling in the decking industry with a goal to make 95% of all TimberTech decking from recycled materials by 2020.  Almost there.

Talk about saving trees? Over the past six years, more than one million trees have been saved because people have chosen this type of decking over natural wood. And they’ve specifically designed products to look just like exotic hardwoods like Ipe which is cut from rainforests.

Narrowing down choices to closely match wood grain of door.

Downstairs

Wood in the process of being oiled. You can really see the difference in color and grain once it’s sealed.

For the downstairs courtyard which has French doors opening up to the outside from the main living area, I considered a clean-up only.  A sanding and staining.  That was until one of the contractors stepped onto the middle of the courtyard and his shoe went right through the wood.  He didn’t intend to make a hole but let’s just say it didn’t look good after that.

 So… decided to replace the previous wood with new wood.  I really wanted wood for downstairs with the realization that every 3-5 years it will most likely have to be re-oiled.  So…sorry trees. At a little over 300 sq. ft. it’s not a large area but wow…does it ever look amazing. They did some leveling, sealed up some areas which were bare and added two lights to light the way towards  a step-up dining area.

Finished product

After narrowing down from a few samples I chose an exotic hardwood called Red Balau from tropical hardwood forests in Indonesia which are essentially public lands, managed and protected by the Government of Indonesia.

The rich reddish-brown hue is a durable hardwood that is often compared to teak but less expensive. My concern is that it be resistant to shrinkage, splintering, extreme weather conditions, decay, mold and insect attacks (you know; should that ever happen).  Better to be safe than sorry. It is. I’m very happy with the whole aesthetic of both the upper and lower spaces.

BEFORE with a wood sample from Brazil I ended up not choosing.
It is Jia Jia approved

Khatsalano Builders Website:  http://khatsahlanobuilders.com/ 

Other considerations:

I also highly recommend VanCity Washing for eco-friendly exterior power washing and cleaning.  They made my awnings look like new again.  Of course they couldn’t do anything about the fading but I had totally forgotten that my awnings had stripes until they were finished cleaning them.  Fast, friendly, efficient and cost-effective.  Justin also power washed my outdoor furniture. They use all bio-degradable supplies when pressure washing everything from walkways to windows and everything in between.

Van City Washing Website:   https://vancitywashing.ca/

Hedge Trimming and leaf blowing was from a company called Higher Ground Gardens. I had to book them a year in advance but now that I’m aware of how it works I’m booked for next year.

Hedges + Gardening:   https://highergroundgardens.com/

Lazy Layla…just because I wanted to share a recent photo.

Well that’s my Spring cleaning story.  I’m ready for Summer.  How about you?

Hidden treasures

where Art meets Fashion…

Here’s a story about a most remarkable renovation/restoration

This is something else I’ve been meaning to post because not only is it highly unusual, it’s extraordinary.

The 17th-century oil painting discovered behind a wall during construction of the Oscar de la Renta boutique in Paris. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

A new Oscar de la Renta boutique in New York was undergoing renovations three months ago when something unusual was discovered on the second floor. When workers were clearing out garbage and debris at the end of the space on that floor, something seemed definitely amiss.  As they were clearing and resurfacing, something else resurfaced.

Something had been hidden behind a wall, and it wasn’t asbestos. It was a 10-by-20-foot oil painting of an elaborately coiffed and dressed 17th-century marquis and assorted courtiers entering the city of Jerusalem.

The restoration is expected to be done by May. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

Teams of restorers swab away some of the varnish to allow colors to come through. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

Full Story here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/fashion/the-treasure-behind-the-wall.html

 

 

Hidden Paradise: The Mesa

Hidden Paradise is the very appropriate tour name given by the Palm Springs Historical Society to refer to The Mesa; an eclectic and beautifully secluded hillside neighborhood.  I took all of these photos two days ago, on the last day of the tour for this season.  It was a hot one….and I’m not referring to just the tour.

Beyond this gate was the home of actor Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte among many other well known films).

I was invited to go on this relatively new tour, not being aware of how incredibly close in proximity The Mesa is to where I reside. I’m really happy I chose this walking tour from several the society offers because it’s another hidden jewel that I’m told many locals don’t even know about.  Even though some of the homes you can see from a distance, you may not know how to get there.

As they say on their website it is truly a slice of paradise. The amazing variety of architecture  ranges from the romantic Spanish Colonial Revival of the 1920’s to today’s dramatic contemporary styles.  Even one original mid-century modern home that stands out.

Max Factor (the makeup maven) family mansion.  The gate was open; it felt somewhat inviting.

With a glamorous past it has long been home to the Hollywood elite (Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Cher, Joseph Cotten, Henry Mancini, *Johnny Mercer, Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Studios, among others). Many have been celebrities from the World of Music – singers, composers, lyricists and musicians.  Even the cartoonist Lee Holley, known for Denis the Menace and comic strip Bugs Bunny who passed away in his home here just last year.  Our guide told us that he was so friendly he’d give away some of his original cartoon drawings.

Home of cartoonist Lee Holley – a fairly modest home here.

There are many vacation rentals here now too.  One home had no outside windows at all in the front to keep passersby from peering inside.  But I’m telling you; never judge a house from the outside.

Unless you’re lucky enough to get an invite to one of Barry Manilow’s fundraising shindigs, you can see his home and that of his friend Suzanne Somers from the outside only.  However the area itself which is larger than it appears is striking just to walk around and  see the gorgeous gardens.  In fact, it was really more of a garden/landscape tour than home tour – walking around for 2 hours+.

You can see the home of Suzanne Somers in the distance.  She said she can see Barry Manilow in one of the rooms of his home (which is a compound) – way up on the opposite side of the hill.

A crown jewel of desert architecture, Ship of the Desert, is located here.  Designer Trina Turk (love her clothes) resides here.  I’ve seen this home from afar many times. I know a few people who’ve been to a cocktail party inside (there are no hallways) during Modernism week.  They referred to Turk as a lovely and gracious host.

Ship of the Desert. d. king

This home appeared in this magazine in 1936.

and many years later

Michael, our patient tour guide was very knowledgeable about the homes and the people who lived/lives here and entertained us with some anecdotes and juicy gossip.

I highly recommend one of the walking tours (only $20) when visiting or even living in Palm Springs.

Other tours the Historical Society offers are Golden Era (Hollywood Homes of Old Las Palmas), Inns, Architecture and Glamour, The Tennis Club (Celebrity Haven), Rat Pack Playground (and Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood in the Movie Colony), among Private Tours (Architecture gems and Palm Springs Highlights).

See the 3 guard dogs? As easy as it appears to jump this fence…I don’t think so.  I wonder what lies behind that door….Narnia?

*Johnny Mercer wrote 1,500 songs and won 4 oscars.  He’s probably most famous for writing Moon River for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Also the Days of Wine and Roses, Autumn Leaves, etc.  He was a big fan of Barry Manilow and near the end of his life he donated all of his songs to Manilow.

I plan to go on other tours next season.

https://pshistoricalsociety.org/collections/walking-tours

 

 

 

 

Monday Mood: MODERNISM

It’s that time of year again….Palm Springs hosts it’s 14th annual signature event featuring midcentury modern architecture, interior, and landscape design, art and vintage culture from February 14-24, 2019.

Photo credit: Bethany Nauert

Join us for modernist tours, talks, shows, exhibits, films, parties, and much much more.

Photo credit: Christopher Kennedy

Grace Home Furnishings

Photo credit: Lance Gerber

Tickets still available:

https://www.modernismweek.com/

I’m telling you folks….if you’ve never been….it’s something not to be missed.

 

 

 

 

Art by Daniel Gutzmann

DANIEL GUTZMANN is a remarkable man of many talents. 

Not only does he create unique works of art, he makes the most delicious peanut butter power bars.  And he has an extensive and beautiful shoe collection.  You might say I’m a little envious. I can go on and on.

I met Daniel and his partner Karl for the first time last year when we were invited to  dinner at a mutual friend’s home in the Palm Springs area.  After dinner they showed me around their incredible home which happens to be situated on a golf course and which they gutted and re-designed themselves. That’s another thing; this power couple is licensed to re-design and re-decorate homes. Yes; there are some people who can do all that. They have excellent taste but they work according to the aesthetic of each individual, so it’s continually different but always discerning. At their place there were so many things to take in because the attention to detail is astounding.  And then there is the ART which obviously caught my eye.  Like anyone could ignore it?  Art created by Daniel .

Recently we had dinner again at the same friend’s house and I asked if I could come photograph some of their paintings for my website. So here are some images taken by me of Daniel’s artwork with a little bio about him.

The art hides a flatscreen TV

Daniel Gutzmann began his career as an artist and designer in 1989. His passion, vision and talent in taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary has allowed him contracts with high end corporate and private clients throughout the years.

He began his career with painting public transit coaches across the country into rolling works of art. These hand painted show stoppers have visually delighted such major clients as Pepsi, Mutual of Omaha, Coca Cola, Sony, Mercury, Elktra Records and Disney. He has painted murals and pieces of art for numerous community foundations, public and private clients which included homes, zoos, museums, schools, churches, public libraries and banks. His brilliant large canvas art is designed for high end clients, especially those with large homes and commercial spaces wanting to display beautiful art. With this, he has earned the prestigious Addy Award for outstanding design. Daniel continues to exceed his client expectations in providing stunning artwork that celebrates the atmosphere in which they are placed. He has participated in Rancho Mirage Art Affaire and has attended numerous art shows throughout the country, Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. Most recently, was awarded “Best of Show”in oil painting at the Indian Wells Arts Festival.

Daniel creates his near photo realistic paintings on canvas wrapped panels utilizing all triple pigmented oils with a flat finish glaze. These pieces of art are created with his vision of taking a beautiful object and painting its most unique aspects which sometimes may be abstract. His 3D multi-media modern works of art are created on wood panels utilizing MDO and Oxboard plywood, pvc & metal pipes, wall papers, venetian plaster, drywall joint compound, oil and acrylic paints.

If you are interested in any of his works please contact Debbie@girlwhowouldbeking.com

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b+w – mother’s bedroom

Part of their outdoor living

on a wall outside

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.

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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

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Photos: d. king

Source: taken from website – christopherkennedy.com

Ginger/Mango Candle
Ginger/Mango Candle

chris3achris16

Manifesto

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