Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ballard Designs Presents James Swan



Something is happening at Ballard Designs.  Something really good.  Just when you thought that everyone’s favorite home decor catalogue couldn’t get any better, it has.  




The evolution of Ballard Designs’ bird cage – from the flea markets of France to the catalogue.


It all started with a contest – in 1982, Metropolitan Home Magazine awarded Helen Ballard Weeks’ condominium First Place in a reader’s competition, and then promptly featured it in the magazine.   Weeks, who was inundated with phone calls praising her interior design, decided to take advantage of all the interest by launching a two page, black and white catalogue which featured a copy of her antique French dining table.  Obviously it was a instant hit and the start of a business that is today one of the largest and most successful of all the home decor catalogues.



The former office of Helen Ballard Weeks, founder of Ballard Designs – the large bulletin board, framed in gold, is a classic Ballard item.  The  lamp with a gold shade made out of a mannequin was once a popular item – today it is no longer sold.   Weeks loved French antiques and used them as her inspiration for her merchandise. 


Another detail, besides the antique reproductions that set Ballard Designs apart were the eye popping colors on its pages:   Weeks favored black and white with chartreuse accents and lots of leopard thrown in.   One of her most popular fabrics-by-the-yard was a velvet in chartreuse, a highly unusual color choice at the time.   Over the years, the company grew and in 1997 Ballard Designs merged with Cornerstone, a conglomerate that also owned the catalogues Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Smith and Noble, The Territory Ahead and Travel Smith.   After the merger, fans of Weeks were distraught, I know – I was one of them!   Selling out would mean a change at Ballard and many felt it wouldn’t be a good one.  Yes, things did change, but Weeks’ initial vision, her love of antiques and her color schemes can still be found  in the catalogue today.  In truth, the company only got better with the infusion of big business.  Weeks remained at the helm of Cornerstone until she retired in 2002.  Today, Barry Diller, head  of IAC and the Home Shopping Network owns Ballard Design.    Now, with two stores open in Florida, Ballard Designs has gone the retail route.  It publishes a new catalogue monthly and distributes 40 million copies yearly.  Quite a feat for a catalogue that started as two pages in black and white.



Ballard in a nutshell:  white slipcovers, seagrass, and zebra!



The catalogue in on-line and that’s where all the fun is.  The web site has gone blog!   There’s a lot more to see online than in print – customers send in photos of their homes showcasing what they bought, there are stories about how antiques are turned into products, and there are endless columns with decorating advice.   Recently Ballard Designs even teamed up in Domino Magazine!    There’s a special section online called Style Studio where this month, the talented Beverly Hills interior designer James Swan is featured.   Swan created four rooms using only Ballard products.   Swan shows how the price-friendly Ballard Designs merchandise confirms that good taste knows no cost.   His rooms are high end, yet VERY affordable to most of us.   Thank you!    Swan was chosen by Ballard Design for his clean and effortlessly elegant designs.    In the layouts, Swan chose to use both new products and the best sellers that Ballard’s customers have come to love over the years.     There is a “behind-the-scenes” story of how the rooms were created, so be sure to look at that too.    Swan has a book coming out, “101 Things I Hate About Your House” – a humorous  look at interior design – I can’t wait to read it!    So – enjoy Swan’s rooms for Ballard Designs below:




The first room Swan designed is this living room – the framed print is the focal point here.  It is based on an original Regency piece by Napoleon’s court painter Jacques Louis David.   The print is a new item for Ballard, as is the wonderful large sunburst mirror.  Two French chairs, painted black, and a velvet sofa were used with dark wood furniture.   The coffee table is actually four leather cubes put together to form a more substantial size.  The ottomans separate for more seating when needed.  Checked curtains add French charm.    Everything pops off the light colored jute rug – a perfect choice by Swan.   the lamps on the wood console are mercury glass, made to resemble glass apothecary jars.  My favorites in the room are the large Regency print and the sunburst mirror – beautiful!




The dining room designed by Swan uses two of my favorite new items from Ballard:  the focal point – a trio of oversized botanicals that are SOOO fabulous!   I think this series is stunning!   The next item – the slipcovered chairs which are also a new design.  The chair, the Gramercy, can be ordered upholstered or slipped – either way it has wonderful lines and is a very sophisticated addition to their furniture line.    Swan paired the chairs with the classic Berkley trestle table, topped with three topiaries and a set of Ballard dishes.  The two light fixtures, The Marianna Chandelier, is a charming new item for Ballard.   The brown and celadon rug perfectly picks up the colors in the chair fabric.  And lastly – the painted wood mirror, the Winslow, is another new item in the latest catalogue.   I would love to order the botanicals and the set of chairs!!!!





In the home office, Swan chose the new Celia Indoor/Outdoor rug as the focal point.  He used a combination of hutches and cabinets in black to create the work space.   The desk return becomes a perfect surface for two people to use at the same time.  Swan again chose to use the new Gramercy chairs, again with slips  - this time in a black and white damask pattern, Marlo, new to Ballard Designs.    Ballard’s popular bulletin boards come framed in small to extra large sizes.   The baskets add a welcome texture as does the lampshade.  Swan used an assortment of decorative items from the catalogue, including the new and charming iron Ferris wheel.   The curtains, another new item,  with the black trim add a soft touch to the graphic and high contrast office. 



The bedroom features the new rattan Grovesnor headboard along with an assortment of fabrics and bedding.  The curtains and pillows are made of a venetian style fabric and the bench is in the classic “Helen Ballard Weeks” chartreuse green.   The end tables are a new design – the Dunstan – with an “X” detail.   The new series of wood coral prints serve as a focal point.  Their background of deep chocolate picks up the browns in the striped fabric, another  new item in the fabric-by-the-yard collection. The series of mirrored butterflies are new to the spring catalogue too.  I couldn’t find the lamps online, but I assume they will be there shortly. 



 The designer, James Swan sits in the living room he created for Ballard Designs.  Job very well done!!


For more information on Mr. Swan, be sure to visit his web site here.  And, to keep up with all his adventures in design – visit his blog, here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Talk About John Mayer For a Moment...

...but only for a moment children, because for some reason that we can not explain, John Mayer makes Your Mama feel a little icky inside.

Anyhoo, there have been some recent rumors and reports that Grammy winning musician John Mayer spent $10,000,000 on a new house in Woodland Hills, CA. Anyone who knows Woodland Hills knows there just aren't $10,000,000 houses in Woodland Hills, so the reports seemed a bit fishy to Your Mama. As we often do when puzzled and perplexed, we checked with Lucy Spillerguts and Our Fairy Godmother in the San Fernando Valley and with their assistance and input have come up with a somewhat different story about Mister Mayer's real estate whereabouts.

According to our savvy sources, Mister Mayer–who already owns a house in Pacific Palisades and an apartment on Lafayette Street in New York City–did not purchase a new house in Woodland Hills, or any any other place for that matter. It is our understanding that Mister Mayer is spending big bucks to lease a big house behind the guarded gates of the high priced horsey community of Hidden Hills, CA. According to records on file with the county of Los Angeles, Mister Mayer's temporary digs measure more than 11,000 square feet of pure, unadulterated faux-Mediterranean mcmansion.

Although we do wish Mister Mayer a happy home in Hidden Hills, Your Mama can't help but think his on again/off again ladee-pal Jennifer Aniston must be all kinds of put off and pissed about this development. After spending bazillions on renovations to her sprawling (and we hear) spectacular new house on N. Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills, we just can't conjure the image of the romantic comedy queen schlepping out to the suburban wilds of Hidden Hills in her Range Rover so that she can hang out with Mister Mayer in a the sort of high end Home Despot lavishness Saddam Hussein would have wanted had he lived in Hidden Hills. But then again, maybe Ms. Aniston is so smitten with Mister Mayer that she'd go all the way to the porn mecca of Chatsworth for a little bowm-chicka-bow-bow.

Kurt Rappaport Is Flipping Out in Beverly Hills

SELLER: Kurt Rappaport
LOCATION: N. Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $28,500,000
SIZE: 8 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...The finest estate available, located on the most prime and desirable block in Beverly Hills just above the Beverly Hills Hotel. Designed by Waldo Fernandez and completely rebuilt using the highest quality materials & craftsmanship. Spectacular 2-story entry, dramatic paneled library/billiard room, incredible kitchen opens to family/great room, magnificent master ste. w/ his/hers, theater, wine cellar, gym, guest hse, huge motorcourt, spectacular gardens & infinity pool.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Kurt Rappaport may not be a celebrity of the film or television variety, but he is a very high profile Beverly Hills real estate agent who has made a fair sized fortune brokering big deals for more people in the bizness of show than we could possibly count. The children who haven't ruined their minds with the dope or booze will surely recall that it was Mister Rappaport who took in thirty-some million clams back in the Spring of 2007 when sold his freshly renovated house in Beverly Hills to that disturbing and robotic Tom Crooz fellow who proceeded to spend many more millions re-renovating.

Shortly after vacating his house on Calle Vista Drive so that the Crooz clan could take up residence, Mister Rappaport snatched up tire tycoon Lawrence Kraines crib on nearby N. Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills. Property records reveal, along with information received at the time of the purchase from both Lucy Spillerguts and Our Fairy Godmother in Beverly Hills, that just last year, in March of 2008, Mister and Missus Rappaport paid $13,200,000 for the 12,981 square foot pile.

Now, just one year later, after noted decorator to the rich and famous Waldo Fernandez worked the place over, the AAA located property has been flipped back on the market with a stunning asking price of $28,500,000. You have to admit children, it takes some serious real estate balls to attempt to flip a Beverly Hills mansion in the current economic climate at more than twice what was paid for it a year ago...even if it was fully renovated with the finest materials and is located on one of the most sought after streets in all of Beverly Hills.

Listing information reveals the Rappaport residence measures in at approximately 15,000 square feet, which would indicate that the couple either added a bit here and there to the house or they've included the guest house square footage in that figure.

Listing information also indicates the double gated stone manor house contains 8 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms including a massive master suite with a vintage Verner Panton shell chandelier, a fireplace, a vacuum unfriendly, fuzzy white area rug that looks like it was woven with the hair bunnies of our sheding and seriously sour pussycat Sugar leaves, and, as expected, marble his and hers (or hers and hers, etc.) everything.

The huge home is entered through an impressive and, indeed, dramatic two story stair hall that sets the traditional meets modern (but not too modern) decorative tone for the entire house. The parquet floors have been picked (or perhaps white-washed, we're not sure), the walls glisten with a light reflecting white paint and vibrant colors pop off the furniture, rug and sextet of Andy Warhol prints (or posters, or whatever) hung high on the wall behind the gently curving staircase. The rear wall of the entry has several sets of French doors that open graciously and informally to the back yard. If we're being truthful, and we always are, Your Mama admits that but for the cliché orchids on the glass table, we're sort of swooning over this crisp and elegantly contemporary entrance hall.

Formal living and dining rooms are available for formal living and dining events, but it's the more informal areas on the ground floor that provide owners and guests with some lovely and casual rooms in which to actually live. The coffered, dentiled and architecturally serious ceiling in the library/billiard room has been de-stuffy-fied but stripping (or pickling, or whatever) the perfectly pleasing paneling that covers the walls from floor to ceiling, and adding contemporary black and white photograph over the fireplace. The effective juxtaposition of old-school and up to date is further enhanced by the simple and modern light fixtures and a couple of Art Deco era club chairs covered in mint velvet (or velour, or whatever). We are not normally fond of pool tables in private homes, but if one must be included, this one from the 1930s–which probably cost as much as a Mercedes–is certainly an acceptable option.

The rear rooms on the lower level include a white-walled step-down family room that is large enough to accommodate several seating areas has has a row of French doors that open to the garden. The family room flows into the newly installed kitchen which appears to have two of everything. For strapping on the feed bag, there is a long counter with a row of iron and wicker stools and a big breakfast area tucked into a bay window.

Additional amenities, according to listing information, that should appeal to whatever 8-figure buyers are still out there shopping for a new mansion include the large motor court, garage parking for several sedans and sports cars, a brick lined wine cellar, home theater, home gym, home office, and art studio and a dance studio, separate quarters for guests or live-in staff and an elevator because, let's face it, who wants to be navigating a long staircase after a long night of gin and tonics and reality tee-vee programs played on the big screen in the media room?

The newly added and simply shaped infinity edged swimming pool and spa sits in the rear corner of the yard and replaces the over-processed backyard extravaganza that Mister Kraines had installed. A very, very long stretch of newly installed sod is a blank canvas where the new owner's landscape architect can go hog wild.

As deeply desirable as N. Crescent Drive is to all those really rich people who know and care about the difference between Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Post Office, it remains to be seen if Mister Rappaport can get anywhere near his asking price. Unless he's got his eyeballs on something else, Your Mama suspects the successful property pusher is not in a hurry to sell and that he can, and will, hold out for a large number that rings his bell, wets his whistle and lines the Missus' Birkin bag with $1,000 bills.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UPDATE: Sexy and The Spice Gurl

Okay children, if we have to talk about the real estate whereabouts of David Beckham and his faux-boobed twiglet wifey Victoria (whom we secretly adore), we're going back to calling them Sexy and The Spice Gurl, which is how we referred to them during their exhaustive search for an expensive home in Los Angeles back in 2007.

By now, everyone knows the couple finally settled on a $18,200,000 house in Beverly Hills with 6 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and a swimming pool Your Mama felt was painfully small for a property of that magnitude.

Not even two years later, Sexy wants to dump the L.A. Galaxy soccer team and decamp con la famiglia to Italy so that he can kick balls with the AC Milan team where he has been on loan the last few months. Meh. Do we care? Not so much. Your Mama is far more interested in Sexy's lurid advertising duties than his soccer pitch statistics, so it's of little relevance what city he and The Spice Gurl choose to live.

Anyhoo, while in Milan Sexy needed a home away from home and, according to the people at People, Sexy recently moved into George Clooney's villa on Lake Como, about 25 miles north of Milan.

We need a damn nerve pill.

ANOTHER DAMN UPDATE, SAME DAY: Clooney's people say it ain't so.

A Lindsay Davenport Double Whammy

Despite the extra junk in our trunk, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are both avid tennis players and fans. Wimbledon winner and Olympic champion Lindsay Davenport happens to be one of our favorites ladees on the circuit. Not only does she have some of the cleanest strokes on the court and a punishing forehand that makes us weep with envy, like Your Mama, shes a moody player with a two handed back hand.

The other day we received a covert communique from Vlad the Revealer and shortly thereafter a second one from Mister Dave at Celebrity Address Aerials who both whispered in Your Mama's big ear that Lindsay Davenport and her investment banker huzband Jon Leach listed their ocean front hideaway in Ventura, CA for sale with an asking price of $5,500,000.

After a quick poke around the internets, we discovered that the California couple have also put one of the two homes property records show they own in Laguna Beach, CA on the market with an asking price of $6,395,000.

We call that a celebrity real estate double whammy!
SELLERS: Lindsay Davenport and Jon Leach
LOCATION: Emerald Bay, Laguna Beach, CA
PRICE: $6,395,000
SIZE: 4,999 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Revel in chic California Riviera style and impressive ocean views from this very private Emerald Bay residence. An abundance of space - a luxury within Emerald Bay - is found here, amid 5 bedrooms, 5.5 baths and an open, flowing floor plan...Each room in this tastefully appointed home is finished with luxe materials, including artisan stone and tile, custom paint finishes, plank hardwood flooring, plantation shutters. Finished garaging for 3 cars plus golf cart and world-class Emerald Bay amenities.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Laguna Beach, once the sort of laid back coastal California town the Beach Boys crooned about, is now a place where old school hippie artists and surfers share the streets with rich white men and their over-injected and prodigiously implanted ladee-friends who look not so different from the too bejeweled and upsetting cat fighters on The Real Housewives of Orange County. Listen kids, we know we're making a broad generalization and not every woman in Laguna Beach has 6 pounds of silicone or saline shoved up in her boobies. But still, a lot of them do. If any of the children have been to Laguna Beach recently, as we have, y'all would know we are speaking the truth.

Anyhoo, property records reveal that Ms.Davenport picked up her house in the guard gated Emerald Bay community in May of 1997 for $2,040,000. According to listing information, the two story house measures a good sized 4,999 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, all of which is sqeezed on to a tight .14 acre lot.

The fancy-pants Emerald Bay community straddles scenic Pacific Coast Highway just north downtown Laguna Beach. Some of the more impressive properties in Emerald Bay perch precariously on and cantilever well beyond the edge of sheer cliffs that drop down to the Pacific Ocean. Other more modest but still atrociously expensive Emerald Bay properties climb the hillside on the east side of the highway. At the northern end of the community is a spectacular private beach accessible only to people rich enough to live in Emerald Bay. Residents of the approximately 550 homes also have access to a community center, six tennis courts, swimming facilities, an outdoor basketball court, three beach volleyball courts and three parks two of which have children's play grounds.

In order to take advantage of the over the roof top ocean views, Miss Davenport's digs were designed as an "upside-down" house which means the main living spaces occupy the top floor. The front door sits at the top of a gently curving and slate tiled stair case and opens a proper entrance hall on the upper floor which includes a large formal living room with fireplace, a formal dining room, and a family room, all of which have ocean views and all of which surround an ocean view terrace.

While well stocked with a full complement of expensive appliances, the island kitchen looks exactly like a million other kitchens in Orange County. We are deeply disappointed to see that someone has placed (probably fake) greenery and a bunch of ceramic doo-dads atop the kitchen cabinets. If there's anything Your Mama loathes more than a damn pot rack, it's fake plants and knick-knacks tucked up between the cabinets and the ceiling. Not only do we think it looks ridiculous, these mistakenly placed items collect dust and cooking residue at an alarming rate.

One excellent feature the kitchen does offer, according to listing information, is a handy-dandy dumbwaiter for hauling groceries up from the lower floor, a convenience our sassy and scrupulously stair avoiding house gurl Sventlana would surely swoon over. To the right of the front door and tucked away beyond the small office and powder pooper is a generously sized and well located guest room with a sweet en-suite, fireplace and balcony. While we love that the architect has been kind enough to put the guest room as far from the master bedroom as can be, thing that concerns us here is that guests will get too comfortable and be encouraged to over-stay their welcome.

Downstairs, each of the four bedrooms has its own private pooper and one of the secondary bedrooms also opens to a small private patio where Your Mama and The Chicken would have sneaked cigarettes late at night during our rather rebellious teenage years. The oddly shaped master bedroom includes a fireplace for the romantic types, French doors that open to a private patio, a large walk in closet and a good-sized if oddly shaped bathroom that appears to have a party sized shower and a separate cubicle for the terlit and the bee-day.

Interestingly, records show that in December of 1999, Ms. Davenport forked over $1,305,000 for a second house just spitting distance from the first one and also in the exclusive and expensive Emerald Bay community. Records indicate she continues to own the 3 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom house.

SELLERS: Lindsay Davenport and Jon Leach
LOCATION: Solimar Beach, Ventura, CA
PRICE: $5,500,00
SIZE: 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Beach front property located on a wide lot with 60ft of ocean frontage. Extensively remodeled, this Cape Cod style property has sweeping ocean and coastline views. 4 surf spots and access to sandy beach, this is an exclusive surfer's paradise. Outdoor patio with BBQ area and gas fireplace.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A few hours up the coast from Laguna Beach is the not exactly glittery or glitzy town of Ventura where Your Mama spent more weekends of our youth than we could ever count. See babies, our favorite, funny and foul mouthed Aunty Jennie used to live in Ventura. On our frequent visits she and our momma would often pile Your Mama, Sister Woman and cuzzins Lois and Toddaroohoo into a dearly loved automobile we called The Blue Vomit and dump us off at the low-brow Boo-ay-nuh Lanes where we were sternly told to spend wisely the five or six clams we were given while the two of them went for a few mid-day mai-tais at the Elephant Bar down the street. Those were some good times children, memories we will laugh about and treasure forever.

Anyhoo, let's get back on track before we digress too deeply into the nostalgic recesses of our gin soaked mind. Just north of Ventura proper along one of the more dramatic sections of Highway 101, where the mountains meet the ocean, sits a line of ocean front homes set on a sliver of land between the highway and the crashing Pacific Ocean. One of those homes currently belongs to tennis titan Lindsay Davenport and her huzband Jon Leach who recently listed the property for sale with an asking price of $5,500,000.

Property records show Ms. Davenport and Mister Leach picked up their ocean front getaway on Solimar Beach Drive in November of 2004 for $2,750,000. Records show the Cape-Cod-ish style house was built in 1970 and measures just 1,955 square feet. Listing information indicates the house contains three bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. It appears the street is gated and the small community has a couple of land side tennis courts where Lindsay and Jon probably humiliated neighbors during "friendly" games of mixed doubles.

On the land side is a front facing two car garage that forms a small courtyard where a fire pit and built in bbq area have been installed. Having spent much of our life on the California coast, we know how the wind can whip off the water in a most unpleasant way sometimes, so this interior courtyard space was a smart idea for providing outdoor space out of the winds way.

Although we don't care for Ms. Davenport's day-core and we would gone a different direction with the kitchen dee-zine, we still find this a very appealing, if somewhat unusually located beach house. The open plan living/dining/kitchen area has a wood burning fireplace for all those foggy mornings and chilly evenings, luscious looking wood floors, a high pitched ceiling and a wall of sliding doors that open up the the rear deck that is, thankfully, tucked up behind a revetment and stretches the width of the rear of the house.

At least one of the bedrooms, presumably the master bedroom, opens to the rear ocean facing deck and also has lovely high ceilings, which were surely an important and welcomed feature for the six foot two (and a half) Ms. Davenport.

Ms. Davenport was scheduled to play in the most recent Australian Open, but backed out after finding out she is preggers with her second child. Mavel-tov to the family. We suspect this might have something to do with the selling of these properties, but since we don't know nuthin' from nuthin' don't nobody quote us on that. Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter wish the couple the best of luck unloading their homes in a slumping economy and we hope to see Ms. Davenport working her stuff on the court soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Changes: Anniversary Presents Now and Then:


image You know when you buy something and it’s just not “right” from the beginning.  Well………when I bought my sofa and chairs a few years ago, the day they were delivered, I took one look at the slipcovers and had to stop myself from crying.  I could see immediately that my new, fresh, white linen slipcovers had NOT been washed prior to being made!  Needless to say, I was devastated.  And shocked.  And beyond angry.  You see, the person who made them knew better.  I mean, how many slipcovers had she  made before mine?  Hundreds?  Thousands?    And what really added fuel to the fire was that waiting in my garage were 40 yards of freshly washed white linen that I had bought just for the job.   I didn’t use that fabric because  the slipcover person had already gone and ordered the fabric herself, so I kept my washed linen for a future client.  Thinking over my options - I didn’t know whether I should send all the furniture back the next day, or try to wash the slips myself and see how much they shrank.  After much discussion, getting nowhere fast,  I just decided to forget it for a while and deal with it, like Scarlett, on another day.  When the time came to wash the slips for the first time  (because with white linen – that time DOES come!)   I used  cold water, and dried them in a barely warm dryer and put them back on damp, while trying to stretch the fabric.   Of course they shrank,  but they did still fit – barely:   the cushions were so tight that the bottom one wouldn’t lay flat.  I always knew it would have to all be redone down the road so eventually I called Shabby Slips to come to my rescue.  



Here you can plainly see on the chair – how short the slips had gotten.  The slip is barely covering the upholstered muslin.   The long bottom cushion on the sofa was so tight it wouldn’t lay flat.   You can see how it is sticking up on the right side of the sofa.   Also – here you can see the original button detailing on the back of the chair.


Luck finally came my way when Shabby Slips sent their seamstress to my house to fit my new slips.  I didn’t even have to send my furniture to them!  Heaven!  They cut the fabric on the furniture right  at my house.   And since I already had the washed linen in my garage, I saved a fortune.  A week later they delivered my nice new slips which fit like a glove and had rows of charming ties instead of buttons.  Thank you Shabby Slips – nothing beats dealing with the best!    I tell you all this because I want you to learn from my mistakes.   RULE:  never make slipcovers without washing the denim or linen first!  The only exception to this is if the material is a blend and won’t shrink OR if you plan to dry clean your slipcovers instead of washing them.   My situation was neither, and here I was stuck in a position that I would never allow to happen to a client.  I could have gone to small claims court over it, but in the end, it just wasn’t worth it.   In truth, I knew that slipcovers don’t last forever and I would eventually have to get a new set anyway – I just sped up the process, unfortunately.  Problem solved.




New slipcover detailing on the chair:  the buttons were replaced with charming ties on both sides. Notice how nice and long the slipcover is now.  Before - the slip barely covered the upholstery.


There’s been another change in my family room, and a rather contentious one at that:  the coffee table.    Ben and I had bought our coffee table when we moved into our house about 15 years ago.  It was once an Irish dining table that had been cut down to coffee table height and it was a dream come true for us.  We bought it from Colin Gibbins in Montrose who specialized in these tables.  Once the table was cut down, he would add a shelf on the bottom for magazines.   He then stained our honey colored table a rich, dark brown.      They weren’t overly expensive tables,  but at the time, the only way we could afford it was with the yearly check we got from my generous and sweet parents for our anniversary.  Each year, Ben and I would eagerly wait for that check because as newlyweds, it was the only extra cash we had to spend on furnishings!   After many years of happiness with the table, maybe 14 years, I had begun to think I wanted to upscale a bit.  The table is very rustic, very wormy, and I wanted something taller and more refined to go with my new, higher sofa and chairs.   So, one thrilling day I brought home this table from The Fabulous Flea:



The Fabulous Flea French Writing Desk, aka coffee table. 


I thought it was the prettiest table I had ever seen!  The top has a black leather inset and there’s a little drawer.  Doesn’t it look beautiful in front of that sofa at The Fab Flea?    It looked great in front of my sofa too.  Except there was one problem.   Ben.  He took one look at it and claimed he couldn’t see the TV over it.  Without even trying it out!!   Now all my clients know my lecture about husbands and decorating.    During discussions about furniture and design, I preach:  you are to look your husband in the eye and say, “and where was it that you got your degree in Interior Design?”   Ben usually falls for this tactic, but this day, over this table, he wasn’t falling for it.   In fact, he told me that either the table goes, or he goes.   So, I thought about that for a while.   It was a tough choice.   When I couldn’t decide, we compromised, and he said he would stay if the table went to another room.  This way, he said, he would save me the humiliation of having to tell The Fab Flea “my husband wouldn’t let me have it.”   The table went here:


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The desk moved in front of my day bed in my living room.


The desk worked out perfectly in my living room,  but it still left me with the worm eaten, cut down Irish dining room table in my family room.   Until last Saturday, that is, when Stefan Hurry and I dropped in on Cindy at Neal & Co. and I saw the prettiest French dough table.   Cindy was sweet enough to measure it for me and I went home to see if it was too tall for Mr. TV Man to see over.    Truthfully, it was a little taller than I told him.  He was skeptical enough at the fake measurement to begin with – if he knew how tall it really was, the dough table was never going to make it home with me.   RULE:  sometimes white lies are necessary to get around non-design savvy husbands.    But,  I knew he would be able to see the TV over it, because it was a few inches shorter than the Fab Flea table which never was too tall anyway.   Hyperventilating back to Neal & Co., because I tend to hyperventilate whenever I buy a French antique  (I don’t hyperventilate for much, certainly not clothes nor cars) I brought the dough table home.   The timing was incredible too – replacing one anniversary coffee table for another anniversary coffee table, 15 years apart.    Here it is:


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I’m in love.


It’s actually called a Petrin.  The top slides off and there is a compartment inside the table where you would place the dough to rise after kneading it, or before?   It’s a rich, dark wood – chestnut, actually – and it weighs a ton!    It’s dressier, but not fancy, just a step up to match the scale and mood of the larger sofa and chairs.     Also – notice the new slips, how much better they fit.  Plenty of room to shrink a little too!!   It’s hard to see in this picture, but even the back cushions are taller and the bottom cushion lies flat now that the slip fits properly.   I even made a new little skirt for my Target ottoman.



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And from the front.  I’m still in love.


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From the side, you can see where the apron drops down to cover the hidden dough receptacle. 


So, did Mr. TV Man approve?   Well, sort of.   I had to endure a little talk from him about not putting anything tall on the table in front of where he sleeps while pretending to watch TV.    OK.  I can do that.  See how empty the table top is on the left side?   And there was a little whining that he couldn’t put his feet up on the coffee table anymore.   So, I moved a small footstool for him to use for that.   He said it still wasn’t as comfortable as before.   But a few days later, I caught him on the phone happily describing it to his mother.    So, that means he’s OK with it. 


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I mean, really.    Does he look uncomfortable to you?  And check out his “sock shoes.”   Mr. Sexy.   OMG.  Do you feel sorry for me?    Who actually wears “sock shoes” in the 21st century?????    Next he’ll be ordering a Snuggly on TV, just you watch.



Yep.    Just wait, he’ll order one for sure.


And on a more serious and personal note - To the sweetest man in the world, the most generous, kindest, and most loving person I have ever known, my best friend and my “cell mate:”    Happy Anniversary!!!     Twenty-one years of happiness.   Thanks for putting up with me, I don’t deserve you – we both know that!    I love you!!! 

Your Mama Hears...

...From two separate singing canaries that the legendary Castillo del Lago high in the Hollywood Hills is soon to be listed with an electrifying asking price between fifteen and eighteen million clams.

(Gasps heard 'round the world.)

The 9-story fortress-like mansion on Mulholland Highway, was designed and built by John DeLario in 1926 and sits in the shadow of the Hollywood sign overlooking the higgledy-piggledy shores of Lake Hollywood. Originally built for oil explorer Patrick Longdon (some resources say his name was Patrick Logan), the house was once home to notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel who allegedly used it as a speakeasy and gambling parlor.

In the 1950s, the house fell into a sad state of disrepair, was vandalized and, at one point, caught fire. The property eventually came under ownership by some guy with the rather impressive name of Baron Patrick de Selys-Longchamps who, according a knowledgeable source we chit-chatted with, lived on the property for a few years in un-restored condition. The Baron sold to a couple named Willfong who did over and did up the house and, we're told, had it published in Architectural Digest. Records show that in 1990, the Willfongs sold to Richard Grossman and Lisa Lyons who happen to be the folks currently selling the old Cecil B. deMille estate in Laughlin Park. The Grossman/Lyons in turn sold it to Her Madgesty Madonna Ciccone in 1993.

The Kabbalah Kween quickly mortified and alienated some of her neighbors when she painted parts of the the exterior with red and yellow horizontal stripes. By some accounts, further renovations by the do as she pleases entertainer stripped the house of even more of architectural integrity. In a sensationally scathing November 2004 article in the Times Online, L.A. based architecture aficionado, noted real estate broker of iconic properties and nearby neighbor Crosby Doe was quoted as saying, "She wrecked it." Mister Doe went on to state, "They took the historic tiles off the roof, threw them in a dumpster and put on these Taco Bell tiles. It was one desecration after another." Oh, ouch!

In 1996, not long after one of her security staff shot a stupid and deranged man attempting to scale the walls of the property, Madge moved on and the house was purchased by prolific and award winning commercial director Joe Pytka who has owned it ever since. Records show he forked over $5,300,000 for the property.

Property records show the house measures 7,783 square feet with 9 bedrooms and 6 terlits. However, her trash talking brother Christopher writes in his salacious tell-all book Life With My Sister Madonna that, "The twenty-thousand-square-foot castle has five bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, stands of four acres of land, and–with its 160 foot lookout tower–feels secure." We'll let y'all decide who's figures are accurate.

Keep in mind puppies, that for now, news of Castillo del Lago coming up for sale is just rumor and gossip. Got that? Rumor and gossip.

photo: Pacific Coast News

Adam Levine Leasing Out Los Feliz Bachelor Pad

OWNER: Adam Levine
LOCATION: Green Oak Drive, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $10,000 per month
SIZE: 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Gated private Hollywood Hills celebrity estate on huge promontory. Half acre lot w/ panoramic views of both city & canyons...Expansive property w/ 3 bd main house & a separate guest unit. Wood floors, fireplaces, theater w/ multi-media sound system, security cameras, walls of glass that open to outdoor fireplace & the hippest private pool & spa ever!

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A quick dash through the rental listings on the MLS reveals that Moby is not the only musician looking to lease out his Hollywood Hills digs. Turns out that Adam Levine, the nicely tattooed and ladee-loving lead singer of Maroon 5, is looking to lease his Los Feliz area house at $10,000 per month.

Mister Levine, a slight but well built man who positively oozes a certain kind of smarmy sex appeal, has been linked to any number of high profile woman including Natalie Portman, Maria Sharapova, Paris Hilton (who seems to get around to a frighteningly large number of men and even a few women), Jessica Simpson, Natasha Bedingfield and a pre-Justin Timberlake Jessica Biel. For the last couple of years, dirty minded Mister Levine has dated a cocktail waitress named Becky about whom he revealed to Howard Stern (and the world) he screwed the first time they met. Some reports say the lovebirds busted up last year, but honestly children, we do not know or much care.

Anyhoo, property records show Mister Levine scooped up his, long, low and louche hillside home above Bronson Canyon in November of 2005. The prop records for Mister Levine's sexed-up bachelor pad that we accessed are a bit whackadoodle and vague, but we do know the property was listed for $3,195,000 at the time of purchase and the always informative Penny Pricegiver swears on her Birkin bag he paid the full asking price. We suspect he paid somewhere just below that number, but don't anybody go quoting Your Mama on that like we're speaking the gospel. Records also show the house measures a modest 2,045 square feet, a number that more than likely does not include the detached guest unit tacked on to the back end of the garage.

Listing information indicates the property includes 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Presumably one of those bedrooms and one of those poopers comprise the guest unit. The open plan main house includes dark wood floors and good sized expanses of floor to ceiling glazing that slide open to merge the interior spaces with the terrace that runs the length of the rear of the house and overlooks the swimming pool and across the canyon to the city lights in the distance.

A large, square cow skin rug anchors the living room seating area where two clean lined white (or very light beige) sofas flank a fireplace over which a flat screen boob-toob has been hung. While we generally prefer to see a nice piece of art hanging above a fireplace, we also understand that above the fireplace is often the least problematic, if not the most discreet location in terms of space planning, particularly in modestly sized homes that do not have separate living and family rooms. However, listing information indicates Mister Levine's crib includes a "theater w/ multi-media sound system," so this tee-vee seems somewhat superfluous.

The kitchen, blessedly bare of overhead storage, is fitted with caramel colored cabinetry, gleaming white counter tops, and a long work island with a row of stools with white cushioned seats. The dining area features a mid-century modern table and chairs lit by a large glass orb chandelier that effectively mimics the round shape of the dining room table and the over-sized circular mirror that is, somewhat strangely, propped up on the kitchen counter. Could Mister Levine be so vain that he needs to check his hair while flipping on the coffee pot?

Mister Levine's bedroom has been sexed up with dark brown walls which may (or may not) be leather, a chocolate brown ceiling, black floor to ceiling cashmere curtains and, naturally, a king sized bed with brown leather head and foot boards. Opposite the bed is a second wood burning fireplace above which a large projection screen drops at the touch of a button for big screeen viewing of high quality porn and the delicious freak show that is The Real Housewives of New York City.

The rear terrace has been laid with very large, square slate tiles and includes an outdoor fireplace where a rustic wood bench and table make a nice tableau but do not look particularly comfortable for chilling out fireside on a cool California evening.

As far as Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are concerned, the best asset of Mister Levine's property is the utterly dee-voon oval swimming pool and spa set up located just down the hillside from the house. A tall and graciously curving line of privet hedges surround the pool deck and ensure Mister Levine, his ladee friends and Your Mama can sunbathe in their birthday suits without fear of being seen by nosy neighbors. Mister Levine, or his nice gay decorator, have selected simply shaped (but no doubt very expensive) patio furniture with thick white cushions shaded by square shaped white market umbrellas.

It's puzzling to Your Mama that Mister Levine would want to lease out his lovely house in Los Feliz for ten grand a month, or any amount of money for that matter. Given Maroon 5's continued success, it's hard to imagine that he needs the money. Listing information indicates the house is only available to lease through October 1st, so perhaps Mister Levine is out on tour with Maroon 5 and doesn't need a home base for the next 6 months or so? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

If the gossip glossy reading children put on their thinking caps, they might recall that during the summer of 2008 Mister Levine's crib was splashed in vivid color across a multi-page article in In Touch magazine in which he claims he does not go out much and reveals that he's hosted some "wild parties" at his house with guest lists that include people like Prince, who probably tried to proselytize to the other party goers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moby Leases Out Hollywood Hills House

OWNER: Moby and Stacey Bendet
LOCATION: Cordell Drive, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $15,000 per month
SIZE: 2,298 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...This trophy property was updated and remodeled with style and sophistication. Formal living and dining room with 12ft paneled ceilings, parquet flooring, grand French windows, gourmet eat-in kitchen, big city views, street-to-street lot with gated motor court off Cordell Mews, geometric0-shaped pool with a classic John Woolf pergola adjacent. Two-car garage and a guest house.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Once upon a time, there was a nice gay architect in Los Angeles named John Elgin Woolf who circulated among and designed homes for Hollywood hotshots. Mister Woolf's client list reads like a who's who of Hollywood in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and includes (but is not limited to) Errol Flynn, John Wayne, George Cukor, Ira Gershwin, David O. Selznick, the dee-voon Agnes Moorehead, Oscar winning actor Ray Milland, the recently deceased Ricardo Montalban, legendary interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, Bob Hope–who got a giant house in Toluca Lake, and snickering Tinseltown comedy queen Paul Lynde.

During his long career, Miss Lynde swished and sashayed through many boob-toob gigs, most notably as the delightfully camp prankster Uncle Arthur on Bewitched. The sharply sarcastic Miss Lynde also spent years in the center square of the Hollywood Squares game show where he shamelessly dropped double entendres about sordid and often taboo subjects and made pithy and barely veiled allusions to his own homosexuality. He was a television treasure as far as Your Mama is concerned.

Some time in the late sixties or early seventies (we're not sure exactly when), MissLynde moved to a house on Cordell Drive just above the Sunset Strip that property records indicate was built in 1926 and later re-worked by the late, great John Elgin Woolf. The house was probably did up and done over with the assistance of Mister Woolf's much younger lover Robert Woolf who became a noted aesthete and decorator to the stars. Together, the couple created what has become known as the Hollywood Regency style of architecture and day-core which, in more recent years, has been revived by big-shit decorator and hair-do trailblazer Kelly Wearstler.

The story of John Woolf and his much younger man-friend Robert is nothing if not an interesting story. See, the elder Woolf ended up legally adopting his young lover Robert. Yes, children, he did. As it turns out, the March 2009 issue of Vanity Fair profiles the odd couple who together went on to bring two more gentlemen into their unconventional family, a situation which Your Mama is quite certain completely freaks out all those "family values" types who are making a colossal kerfuffle about the gays getting married because they fear giving equal rights to homosexuals will turn into a slippery slope where people may soon want to marry their cat or their bathtub. Pleeze.

Anyhoo, as interesting as the Woolf quartet may be and as vitally important as civil rights are, let's move on to the matter at hand which is a hillside house in the Hollywood Hills currently owned by pixieish music man Moby and gal pal Stacey Bendet, the New York City social scenester who–as some of you fashionistas may know–is the designer for the alice + olivia clothing line.

According to property records and reports from the time, the east coast based buddies together bought a west coast crib on Cordell Drive in February of 2008 for $2,950,000. The plan–at least according to Ruth Ryon who used to pen the Hot Properties column at the L.A. Times–was for Miss Bendet to use the house a s style salon for her long list of celebrity clients and for Moby to convert the garage/guest house into a recording studio. However, shortly after buying the house, Miss Bendet up and married Hollywood scion Eric Eisner, son of Michael, which may (or may not) explain why she and Moby have chosen not to shack up together in the Hollywood Hills and have put their Woolf designed digs up for lease at $15,000 per month.

Listing information and property records show the three story house measures 2,298 square feet and includes 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. The house, entered on the top floor, includes a lovely living room with a small wood burning fireplace, white walls, dark stained parquet floors and a trio of arched windows, two of which open to a small balcony overlooking the swimming pool below and the glittery lights of Los Angeles beyond.

The adjacent dining room also has dark stained parquet floors and also has a trio of arched windows, two of which also open to a small balcony with amazing views. The dining room walls, however, have been painted (or perhaps wallpapered) in vertical black and white stripes. This treatment looks very capital "g" Glam, particularly when paired with a glittery crystal chandelier that looks like icicles and a ceiling paneled with what appears to be mirrors. We're not sure a space this visually complex would be a room we'd want to eat in, but we are 100% positive it's a soo-blimely perfect space in which to have stick thin models parade around in high heels showing off alice + olivia fashions for a bunch of rich and famous folks.

The almost all white kitchen has more dark wood floors, a lot of white cabinetry and, natch, a bunch of stainless steel appliances. This kitchen certainly isn't going to win any design awards, but Your Mama can imagine with a custom sized sisal rug, a country style round black table and some orange Panton chairs, this could be a kitchen we could love even if it does look like it may lack as much natural light as is optimal in a kitchen.

The "geometric" swimming pool is labeled so because if y'all look really hard you can see it's not quite a perfect rectangle. A terrific terrace over looks the city and includes an quintessential John Woolf pergola from which someone has whimsically and asymmetrically strung two strands of Christmas lights. While Your Mama is positively swooning over the swimming pool and terrace, we are more than a bit concerned about what happens when one gets thirsty or needs to use the terlit. It's entirely possible the lowest floor of the house, which is easily accessible from the pool deck, contains a bathroom and mini-kitchen. However, we might suggest enclosing Mister Woolf's mansard roofed pergola–as we think it originally was–and installing a more convenient wet bar and poolside pooper.

The property continues to spill down the hillside where a gated motor court, garage and guest house can be accessed from a side street. This is all very agreeable, particularly since there appears to be no off street parking at the front of the house and street parking in these parts of the Hollywood Hills can sometimes be a bit of a burden. However, the number of stairs from the motor court to the top floor of the house where the kitchen is located is sure to give the weak-hearted and thin limbed some serious trouble. It would also give our vicious tongued house gurl Svetlana conniptions on those days when she'd need to haul the vacuum down to and back up from the guest house that sits adjacent to the garage.

None the less, we just might be willing to endure Svetlana copping a 'tude in order to to sip gin and tonics on that small but near perfect pool deck while the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean in the far off distance.

Many of John Elgin Woolf's amazing architectural creations still stand including the Pendleton House on N. Beverly Drive which has long been the home of sexpot producer Bob Evans and a spectacular house in Beverly Hills built in 1962 for Congressman Alphonso Bell Jr., whose family developed and gave their name to number of communities in Southern California including Bel Air. The Bell House, located just off Coldwater Canyon Drive on Lexington Road, is currently owned by notoriously brash, ballsy and foul mouthed super agent Sue Mengers (now retired) whose client list included folks like Barbra Streisand, Sidney Lumet, Jack Nicholson, Bob Fosse, Burt Reynolds, Cher, Peter Bogdanovich, Steve McQueen and on and on and on.

Monday, February 23, 2009

UPDATE: Deborah Gibson

Last week Your Mama revealed that former teen singing sensation turned nood model and Broadway baby Deborah Gibson listed her Sunset Strip area house for sale with an asking price $995,000. There was nothing shocking about that in and of itself, people buy and sell houses all the time. However, listing information somewhat surprisingly stated the property was (and we quote the listing) "subject to a short sale," meaning Miss Gibson is offering to sell the house at a price less than what she owes on the mortgage.

Then along comes her pr peeps who subsequently told Perez Hilton (or somebody) that, "Much to the chagrin of media everywhere, Deborah is simply moving in with her boyfriend." Well, my oh my, isn't that nice? Your Mama genuinely hopes Miss Living In Sin Gibson is truly happy living up with her doctor/documentarian boy-beau. We do. Really, we do. However, that does not explain why public records we accessed through Property Shark clearly show a Notice of Default was filed on the modest 2 bedroom property for which she paid $1,275,000.

Miss Gibson's spinmeister went on to say, "As we all know, [this] is the right time to sell...and, this was it for her." Really? The right time to sell? Come on! Hunny, have you read the papers or watched the news programs? This is most definitely not the time to sell a house if you don't have to and, quite frankly, it's never, ever time to sell a house for less than you paid, you know?

It's entirely possible the Miss Gibson and her man-friend can well afford to absorb the financial hit from selling her house short. And we genuinely hope they can. We do. But listen to Your Mama here Miss Gibson because we are trying to help you. In some situations, and this would be one of them, no comment is so much better than having your pr person go around saying things that simply make no sense.

Houston Shopping: The Bissonnet/Kirby Corridor Antique District

Every few weeks or so, I get an email from someone coming to Houston and wanting to know where to go shopping for antiques and decor.  So, I’ve been thinking for a while about putting together a short series on the best shopping areas to go see the most in one afternoon.    As luck would have it, I recently had a few visitors to test out my itineraries.      Of course, this series won’t cover every shop in Houston – there are too many to name, and how boring would that be anyway?  But, there are several distinct areas where numerous antique and decor stores are clustered, thus making it worth your while to venture out for a few hours.    My visitor is Stefan Hurray, a young architect from Pennsylvania now working in Washington D.C.  Stefan is the voice behind the very interesting and always intellectually stimulating blog - Architect Design - concentrating on, what else, but architecture!    It is so much fun to meet another design blogger in real life after building a friendship through countless emails, and without fail, it feels like you’ve known that person forever.   It must be due to the kindred spirit found between design bloggers and the readers too.   Last Saturday, after a few missteps, Stefan and I met up for lunch at Raven Grill on Bissonnet – a perfect place to start off on a shopping adventure in the Museum District.   Finishing lunch with a drive through at a convenient Starbucks, we are ready to test out the newly named:  Cote de Texas Bissonnet/Kirby Corridor Shopping District.  First Stop:   AREA.


AREA:   5600 Kirby

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The front lobby:   old and new, trendy and classic – the perfect recipe for a successful interiors store.


AREA is a large store, owned by interior design extra0rdinaire, Don Connelly, and run by the man in charge - Daniel.   Daniel’s been with AREA from day one starting at the original location on Shepherd.   AREA is a wonderful mix of antique and modern design, with a heavy dose of trendy.   It’s a great store to pick up accessories and lamps, candles, and vases.  There are always interesting sets of dining chairs and tables,  along with antique consoles and chests.  Be sure to look up at the ceiling  - their selection of lighting fixtures is one of the best in town.  Introduce yourself to Daniel once, and he’ll never forget your name – it’s a gift that’s helped make AREA one of the more successful decor stores in town.   Don travels to Europe and Round Top and the markets to stock the store, so there is always a generous amount of the old mixed in with the newest.


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There are interesting vignettes around every corner:  lamps and tables, pillows and artwork, and  hard-to-find coffee table books.


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  Whenever I have an installation, I stop by AREA first to pick up accessories like baskets and urns.


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AREA has a great assortment of trays and boxes for tablescapes.


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And there’s the cute as can be Stefan, nursing his Starbucks!  I think he really enjoyed AREA.



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Smile!    Handsome Daniel, the energy and brains behind the store.   He should write a book on how to greet and treat your customers the proper way!  OK, we are moving on - next stop is Watkins and Culver.



Watkins Culvers Antiques and Design:  2308 Bissonnet


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Babs Watkins and her daughter Nelta run Watkins Culver – an antique store that will make you think you actually are on Magazine Street in New Orleans – not Houston.  The store itself is sometime to see – the walls are fauxed painted by the brilliant Jay Iarussi which give the shop an appearance of having been built in another century.  Truly beautiful!  Of course, so are the antiques, handpicked by Watkins from France and Italy – this store has been at the forefront of developing the French look in Houston that is so popular with Veranda and Southern Accents readers. 



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Besides all the antiques bought abroad, Watkins Culvers carries the BViz line of specialty pillows from New Orleans.  Each pillow is handmade by Rebecca Vizard using antique textiles and each is a work of art. 



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Watkins Culver has many mirrors of all sizes, lamps, and chandeliers.   The design is mostly French here, but Swedish pieces have been creeping into the store for the past few years.



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Out back in the alley are the design studios of Babs and Nelta, and the Watkins Culver annex.   Hey Stefan, finish up the coffee already!



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The annex’s merchandise is just a bit more relaxed – be sure to notice the Zuber papered screen.  Watkins Culver have the best antique Parisian lanterns that are so hot right now.  


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Watkins Culver has been carrying the oh-so-hot wood chandeliers and metal tables for years – they were way ahead of the trend with these items.    Watkins and Culver Antiques and Design is available online with 1st Dibs here.     OK,  time for the next stop - right next door.


Shabby Slips:  2304 Bissonnet


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Shabby Slips is owned by Renea Abbott, a much in-demand interior designer with several Veranda covers under her belt.  She recently repainted the walls going from dark to white and the effect, along with all the mirrors and crystal chandeliers is stunning – the store absolutely sparkles!   The ceiling is filled with the crystal chandeliers and the Venetian mirror shown above has to be the prettiest one I have ever seen!  Shopping here is such a treat – a true eye candy experience.


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Right in the middle of the store is this limed table with these stunning shell chairs!   What a find!    When Shabby Slips first opened, the focus was on slip covers, but that has long since changed.  Today, the focus is on the finest antiques for the younger set.  To be sure, the store is still stocked with wonderful slipcovered furniture and there are beautiful pillows tossed about, but the antiques take center stage now.    The trendy new lamps and accessories mix in with the old.    The chandeliers and mirrors are exceptional, and there is a large selection of them to choose from.



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Most of the furniture is upholstered in white – making these black and white striped chairs pop in the store. 



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Mixed in with all the antiques and upholstery is a nice selection of modern art.  In fact, one of my favorite galleries in town, the Jack Meier Gallery, is just two doors down.   Shabby Slips always has great pillows like these shown above.   And, while we were there, we learned that the little house behind Shabby Slips, that was once an annex, is just now getting the final touches done on a total remodel and will be back open for business soon!   Can’t wait!   OK, time to cross the street.


Neal and Co:  4502 Greenbriar


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Right across the street from Watkins and Culver and Shabby Slips, is Neal and Co. – another high end antique store dealing mostly in French product.  Cindy Neal, a veteran of the business, moved several years ago to the corner of what has t0 be the heart of  Houston Antiques, and she’s been a great addition.   Sweet and affable, Cindy is very knowledgeable about what she buys and is happy to share her expertise with you.   The store is large and full of wonderful French and Swedish delights.  Not everything is out of the world expensive, which is I why I love to shop here.  She carries lots of smalls, French candles, dishes, and confit pots – perfect for those of us who are on a budget.   But, there is plenty for those who aren’t!   I love this canapĂ© covered in a gray check – the back is almost prettier than the front.  And look at those green lanterns – I lusted after those – and the metal side tables, on the right – the best! 



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There are a lot of nooks and crannies to the store, owing to the fact that it used to be several different businesses, until Cindy bought the entire center, tore down all the walls and made it Neal and Co.    So, be sure you don’t miss anything hiding around a corner.  She carries wonderful botanicals and has a large supply of French wood tables.



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Here’s another wonderful set in Cindy’s office that she explained was one man’s lifetime collection.  Besides being an antiquarian, she is also an interior decorator! 


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As with all the better antique shops in Houston, there is a good selection of Swedish antiques available.



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 Neal and Co. carry the entire Les Indiennes fabric line AND they have a huge selection of Dash and Albert rugs to pick from.   Neal and Co. is available on 1st Dibs, so be sure to check them out here.


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OK,  Stefan needs to leave now, but hopefully he’ll be back in Houston soon.   So I’m on my own to finish the CdT Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Shopping District.   Next stop, down the street:


M. Naeve – Antiques and Uncommon Luxuries:  1926 Bissonnet



Without a doubt, one of the most charming antique stores in Houston, M. Naeve is a must see when visiting.   Carrying hand picked inventory from France, the antiques are relaxed – not stuffy or dressy in any way.  But, make no mistake, they are beautiful – the entire shop is breathtakingly beautiful.   Every chair, every table, every fixture, every lamp – your heart just aches to take it home.   Visiting M. Naeve is almost like a religious experience – such exquisite beauty!!!



The owner is the very young and very adorable Margaret Naeve and she is just perfectly matched for such a shop.   I mean, just look at this settee – with its original linen batting and nailheads – could it get any better?   Well yes, look at the fireplace behind it!



Everything in the store is painted crusty cream…….



or Swedish gray…



or green!!   Be sure to visit  M.  Naeve when in Houston, located right next to the Raven Grill.  Website is here.    Next stop, Carl Moore Antiques, a few blocks down.


Carl Moore Antiques:  1610 Bissonnet



Carl Moore Antiques is located on Bissonnet in a large, old, two story house.  Since the famous Carl Moore has moved on to selling art, Geoffrey Westergaard is at the helm, buying for the store all over Europe.   As a result – Carl Moore has a wonderful, well –rounded array of antiques:  English, French, Swedish, German, and Asian!  There isn’t much they don’t carry, which is a huge part of their appeal.  A powerhouse, a mainstay, the ultimate in class!



Carl Moore is the best place in Houston to find Biedermeier pieces. 



They carry a large array of chandeliers, lamps, and oriental accessories.  The store is well-stocked and the sales people are helpful and friendly – a definite asset to the shop.




And they carry my favorite, French, of course.   On top of antiques,  they have reproduction dining tables available, which is great when the real thing is price prohibitive.  Carl Moore Antiques has a very comprehensive web site for online ordering, so be sure to look at it here.   And finally, we are on to our last stop on the CdT Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Antique District – but you need your car, we’re headed back towards Kirby:


Found for the Home:   2422 Bartlett



Found, owned by Aaron Rambo and Ruth Davis is “industrial chic” and a whole lot more.  It is located in a former factory, right off Kirby, and is filled with objects from each era.  Besides the usual French antiques, there are French industrial items, vintage upholstery, and objects made of found objects, hence the name.  It’s an eclectic assortment – you never know what you will see here, but it will all be great, to be sure.  Those pillows look familiar!



The upholstery is all remade vintage.



The complex where Found is located is itself worth a peek.  Carved out of a former factory and an old apartment complex, many of Houston’s finest interior designers are renting space upstairs, while below are several retail  shops.  In this picture, you can really see the unique space and how the owners have taken the old factory and made it their own.




I’ve got my eye on the pair of Gustavian settees, myself!




Charming!   Rambo and Davis are both very friendly and helpful which makes shopping here so much fun!   Found for the Home is also on 1st dibs, here.


We’re at the end of the Cote de Texas  Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Antique District – what a mouthful!!!  While you are out, Houston’s museums are located nearby at the end of Bissonnet and are definitely worth visiting.   There’s also a wonderful independent bookstore close by, the Brazos Bookstore at 2421 Bissonnet and next door is Jaya – specializing in Asian furniture.    Below is a map for easy driving.  If you are coming to Houston for shopping and need help – be sure to email me for more information!    


A.  Found for the Home

B.  Area

C.  Watkins Culver and Shabby Slips

D.  Neal and Co.

E.  M. Naeve

F.  Carl Moore Antiques