Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moving On

It is with heartbreaking sadness and hopeful optimism that I announce that we will be moving to Dallas, Texas from my beloved Southern California (of which I am a native).  My husband's job is taking us there.

We spent a year-and-a-half looking for homes, and when we finally got this short sale after months of painstakingly wishing and waiting, we were thrilled.

I had eight months to decorate everything in my head, including planning our renovation on a budget, envisioning furniture placement, repurposing existing furniture, and selling the rest.

Here is our newly painted home.

We were so anxious to move in that we were able to accomplish what we didn't think was possible: to remodel the entire house in 10 days!  This included demo; new flooring on the first floor; baseboards; renovating the kitchen; replacing the carpet upstairs; ripping out the carpet/vinyl and putting travertine & tile in the laundry room, master bathroom and upstairs guest bathroom; new hardware & door knobs; painting the entire interior; as well as many other details.

It will be incredibly hard to leave our dream home in Orange County and my family and friends who are nearby in San Diego.

My inspiration is Robert and Cortney Novogratz of 9 by Design fame.  They are husband and wife self-taught designers who purchase unconventional spaces and perform multi-million dollar renovations.  Their properties are gorgeous and perfectly styled--they move in their seven children--put their house on the market, only to do it all over again, and make their next property even better.  They now do this with cameras following them for their Bravo television show.  If they can do this with seven kids (7!), being followed by a camera crew, I can surely start over in Dallas.

images via Sixx Design
It feels like a daunting task, but it will be exciting to eventually (hopefully sooner than later) have a new home to renovate, decorate, and furnish, which I hope will be equally exhilarating and satisfying.

P.S.  Even though we are moving, I will still be continuing our home tour in the following weeks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Escapes

I know there are Travel Tuesdays, but I prefer Monday Escapes.  A little bit of wanderlust to start off the week is a welcome distraction. 

Here is this week’s Monday Escape.
It’s morning.  There are no airports, so you had to take a ferry here from a nearby island.  You are on a white sand beach, with palm trees that practically touch the ocean shore.  With your snorkeling gear on, you take a guided underwater tour.   It’s hours before anybody will be heading to the beach, so there is not a soul around (except your fellow travel buddies), and you never even had to leave the States (well, technically that is) to get here.

Images via Travelmoon

It’s Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
There is so much going on this week, I wish it was possible to dream myself on to this beach immediately.  Updates to come...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wisteria Outlet Opening

I have always admired Wisteria's aesthetic from afar (via the internet).  By a stroke of luck, my recent trip to Dallas coincided with the opening of the new (and larger) Wisteria outlet, the only location where you can see their gorgeous furnishings and accessories in person.  I just had to make a pilgrimage there to see it for myself.

Who can forget this ubiquitous picture?  This settee made the design blogosphere swoon.

image via Wisteria

And it was at the Wisteria outlet!  It was much smaller than I had pictured.

My husband was a good sport and posed for scale
I would love to place it in a bedroom.

The showroom floor had so many things to admire, it was unfortunate that I had to rush to squeeze in a visit on our busy trip. I didn't have nearly enough time to take in everything.  

As usual, I was most drawn to the globally inspired pieces.  I could take that Moorish chest home with me immediately.  I have a very strong feeling I will be back sooner than later.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Home Tour: Foyer

The next stop on our Home Tour (also, see here) is the foyer.  Whether you pronounce it neesh or nitch, either way, our entrway niche was completely empty when we moved in.


We needed a place to store all of our lovely wedding China, serve as a buffet/bar for our dining room, (display our Thanksgiving turkey, wink), and use as a cocktail bar for entertaining.  So I designed and had this installed.

We added cabinets: uppers with paneled glass and a lower cabinet to store everything else you wouldn't want in full view; hardware; a mirrored backsplash; used the overage of the limestone from our fireplace for the countertop; and our crowning glory, a wine refrigerator (a housewarming gift from my grandparents).

P.S.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back by Popular Demand: The Singapore Sling

I have had many people ask me what exactly is a Singapore Sling? 

The Singapore Sling was invented by Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender working at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel.  The mystique, for me, began when a professor spoke endlessly about throwing back Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel when he was a foreign correspondent in Asia.  I just had to fork over the exorbitant drink (tourist) price and get an authentic taste for myself. (See here).

The original recipe called for gin, Cherry Heering, Bénédictine, and fresh pineapple juice.  The current recipe differs, as it has been refined over the years.

If you like sweet drinks, then this cocktail is for you.  In my opinion, the saccharine cherry taste is the most overpowering flavor.

Here is a recipe:

1 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Cherry Brandy
3 oz. Pineapple Juice (preferably fresh)
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1/4 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Grenadine
Fill  Club Soda

Shake all ingredients except club soda with ice and strain into a sling glass with crushed ice.

Recipe via Art of Drink

If you want to be like the Long Bar, garnish with both a pineapple and a cherry.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hotel Spotlight: Kamandalu Resort

After a long search to find the perfect spot to stay in Ubud, I finally picked out the Kamandalu Resort.

It is very difficult to pick a place without any personal recommendations and just the glossy website photos that can oftentimes be very misleading.

You can always turn to tripadvisor, where you read 50 excellent reviews, but then stumble across that one review that complains of cockroaches and grimy bathrooms or unwelcome surprises when you lift the bedsheets, or the cynic that can just never be pleased (but there it is, that nagging question mark that maybe he or she is just being honest), and that brings you back to square one.

I have actually stayed at a fair share of places that might match the above description, but those were hostels, and not what you would expect of a Resort where you are paying for and expecting luxury.

After an exhaustive search filled with indecision, I found the Kamandalu Resort, and went for it partly because I was sick of looking and partly because it was heavily discounted off the internet site Agoda (a search engine that is owned by Priceline).

The Kamandalu Resort felt like quintessential Bali.  We stayed in a small villa replete with intricately carved doors, a canopied bed, outdoor shower, and second floor balinese bale (daybed under a thatched roof) overlooking the tropical landscape.

Our Room

Villa with Second Floor Balinese Bale

Above images via Kamandalu Resort

View from the Villa

Rice Paddies on the Property

Pool with Loungers Partially Submerged in Water

Dining Room with Full Breakfast Buffet

But it was the touches like flower petals in a drawn bath, turn down service with chocolates, fresh flowers artfully strewn throughout the property every day, a personal guided tour of spiritual healers, and this:

that turned a luxury stay in to a memorable treat.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Escapes

I couldn't resist sharing a few more pictures of our trip to Bali to start of the week, including a few personal snapshots.

Doesn't everyone crave an escape on a Monday?

Images via Travelmoon

Have a great week!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My NYC Apartment

Tomorrow, HGTV is giving away an apartment at the Residences at W in NYC for their Urban Oasis giveaway. (8:00 PM e/p). 

In my mind, I have already won the contest.
The first thing I will do is change all of Vern Yip’s decor.  Sorry Vern.

I think I will keep the Barcelona style Daybed 

 I am thinking I would rather channel Ralph Lauren's NYC abode:

images via Elle Decor

A girl can dream...