Washing Sofa Slipcovers

Monday, February 27, 2012


I successfully washed the slipcover to my Jasper sofa from Room & Board for the first time this past weekend. It had gotten very dusty during the renovation, so it was time to give it a wash. However, I was a little nervous to launder it, since it wasn't exactly cheap at $549. In the past, I recklessly washed the covers for my various Ikea sofas without much worry (and tons of bleach) because they were so cheap.

I followed Room & Board's instructions to the letter, and everything worked out fine. If you're thinking about washing your own slipcover, note that it will dry faster than you think -- even using the low-heat setting on the dryer, mine was nearly dry after just 17 minutes. Post-washing the cover has a slightly wrinkled look (as you can see in the not-so-great photo above), but I think that's to be expected from any linen that you haven't ironed. Personally, I kind of like the look of a soft, mildly wrinkled linen. There was a complaint of the Room & Board site about fading, but I don't notice any fading of the fabric.

Also, renovation photos coming soon -- I just want to get everything looking great before I share!

Found: Gwyneth Paltrow's China

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I was just reading the latest installment of Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle newsletter (yes, I subscribe, and yes, I love it), which is all about a dinner she cooked with chef José Andrés. The dinner itself is an absurdly long list of delicious and luxurious-sounding dishes, which I will likely never cook. However, what caught my eye was that Gwyneth Paltrow has truly excellent taste in china (see above and below)! What beautiful dinner plates, right?


I loved her blue and white dishes so much that I wondered to myself who the manufacturer might be. With a little bit of sleuthing, I uncovered the source; the pattern is 
Sieger By Furstenberg’s 'Wunderkammer.' The pattern is available for sale on Michael C. Fina's site, which describes it as a pattern that "Celebrates an influence that spans through the ages. Each piece was designed individually with inspiration spanning various eras for an eclectic elegance." You can steal Gwyneth's style, but it won't come cheap: The dinner plate (above, below) is $152 and the service plate (below) is $248 -- that's per piece.




Images: Goop and Michael C. Fina

The Rose Reading Room

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

 During our renovation, I have been displaced from not only my home but also my office, since I work in our apartment. Being without a place to work is a little tough (and would be impossible if I had a shoot to prepare for), but I found an excellent solution to my problem. I've been camping our at the Rose Reading Room at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library.


It's a beautiful, well-lit and quiet space in which to work. Over the years I have spent some hours here when it didn't make sense to return to Brooklyn between appointments. The long oak tables have been outfitted with plugs for laptops and there's free wi-fi throughout the building. There's also a clean bathroom just down the hall and lots of places to eat lunch within a block's radius of the library.


In the last two weeks, I have really come to love working in the Rose Reading Room. Being surrounded by others who are silently hard at work keeps me motivated, and the light and the space give me a boost of inspiration (there are 50+ foot ceilings and luminous clouds painted on the ceiling). Even though we're almost done with the work (tomorrow should be the last day), I may return to the Rose Reading Room more often in the future, especially when I have something to write that requires some focus and doesn't require any time on the phone.


Roasted Asparagus With Balsamic

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Tired of the same old asparagus, I tried this super-simple and super-delicious recipe by Canal House's Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer from Bon Appetit. (I hesitate to even call this a "recipe," rather it's more of an idea of a new way to prepare a familiar veggie.) The high-heat roasting makes the asparagus sweet, and the drizzle of balsamic and the Parmesan really give this dish a little zip. And please, do peel the asparagus; I'm a firm believer in peeling even the thinnest stalks.

From Bon Appetit

24 large asparagus spears (about 2 pounds), trimmed and peeled
Extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Aged balsamic vinegar
Parmesan, for shaving
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle oil over asparagus and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and just tender, 18 to 20 minutes (even less for thinner stalks).
2. Transfer asparagus to a platter. To serve, drizzle vinegar over hot asparagus and use a vegetable peeler to shave Parmesan over the spears.

We're Renovating...

Monday, February 20, 2012


After years of putting it off, I am finally renovating the bathroom and kitchen of our apartment. Both had deteriorated to a point where it had become necessary to do something (I am not sure which was looking sorrier the kitchen or the bathroom). It's been more than a week and a half since we moved out of our place so that the construction crew could start work. We are VERY eager to move back into our own home, so we've got our fingers crossed that we'll have at least a toilet and sink installed tonight. Here are some pictures of the apartment after the demolition last week. I'll reveal some 'after' shots and tell you about our renovations once we're finally back in the house.

Leather Butterfly Chair


My first New York City apartment had a butterfly chair with a red canvas cover. Later, the chair sported a natural, off-white canvas cover, but I always coveted a leather cover for my chair. Despite dutiful internet research and scouring of eBay, I never found one that fit my budget. So, I was thrilled when I discovered that Urban Outfitters is offering a leather butterfly chair for $199, which I think is a very reasonable price. Judging by the multiple 5-star reviews of the chair, it must be of decent quality. Today, my butterfly chair is stored in a friend's basement in New Jersey, but maybe it'll find a place in my home again.

Side note: I love it that Urban Outfitters let's customers upload photos of their products to the site. This image below was added to urbanoutfitters.com by a customer who bought the chair. Neat, right?


A Healthier Waffle

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Not too long ago, my husband and I discovered Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake and Waffle Mix. This hearty mix packs 6g of fiber into each serving and makes a deliciously nutty waffle that's a whole lot healthier than your usual white-flour mix. We served our buckwheat waffles with real maple syrup and a combination of fruits (blueberries that had been warmed with a little water in a saucepan, fresh black berries and sliced bananas). While our waffles and fruit were nice and healthy, the breakfast sausage, on the other hand, was pure indulgence.

Wilder Quarterly, Vol. 1, Issue 2

Friday, February 17, 2012


Back in October, my very dear friend Celestine Maddy launched a new gardening magazine, Wilder Quarterly. I was proud to have contributed to the first issue of this magazine geared toward a younger generation of gardeners, and I am so impressed with my friend for launching her own magazine -- in print, by the way! (Celestine started the magazine because she couldn't find a gardening magazine that talked to her, and found herself subscribing to publications like Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens, which cater to a decidedly older, less urban audience.)

The second issue of Wilder has just come out, and I encourage you to seek out a copy: It's a smart, wonderful publication that even non-gardeners would be sure to enjoy. It can be purchased in a few stores here in New York or online at the Wilder Quarterly storefront. (Note to independent book stores and garden shops: Start carrying Wilder!)

Haven’s Kitchen, New York

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I met my friend Lela when she was working for a public relations company here in New York City. When she told me she was starting a new job at an event space that would also host recreational cooking classes, I was intrigued. Many months later, Haven’s Kitchen is finally open, and after a recent visit, I can say that it's even more exciting than I'd imagined it might be.


Haven's Kitchen is located in a former carriage house on West 17th Street. The space has been completely gutted to create a coffee shop/store at the front street level, a large learning kitchen at the back of the ground floor and events spaces and a smaller kitchen on the second floor. (There are also plans for a rooftop garden and beehives, for later this year!)  While most of us will never be able to afford to rent Haven's Kitchen for a private event, the café and store are open most days and there are frequent cooking classes planned.


The space itself is absolutely gorgeous, and the selection of tabletop and food items for sale in the shop is extremely well-curated. I would have taken every single kitchen and table accessories home with me, if money and space were not an issue.


I didn't sample the snacks, but the La Colombe coffee from the café was perfectly brewed and the pastries looked incredible. Stop by if you find yourself in the neighborhood: It's  a delightful place to spend a few moments browsing or to stop and savor a coffee.

Photos: The New York Times/Robert Caplin and Haven's Kitchen

A Copy of Thomas O'Brien's Star Chart

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


If you've ever seen photographs of interior designer Thomas O'Brien's New York City apartment, you've probably noticed his large-scale Rand McNally Star Chart. I loved it the first time I saw it in ELLE DECOR magazine (above and detail below). When it appeared again in Thomas O'Brien's excellent book American Modern, I began to look on eBay for something similar. (Read all about the star chart on Thomas O'Brien's site.) However, a star chart was not to be found -- in fact, I could find nothing even remotely similar.


Like me, fellow Brooklynite (and former MTV executive) Sheldon Yeager was intrigued by O'Brien's star chart, but unlike me, he decided to do something about it when he couldn't find the object of his desire. Yeager writes, "I quickly began scouring antique stores, print shops and map dealers to find the same one. But it was nowhere to be found. Anywhere. O’Brien’s antique Rand McNally chart dates from the ’40s and is one of those extremely rare finds that few people have been lucky enough to come across.

Surveying the rest of the landscape, I learned that the constellation map print market was either stuck in the antiquarian parchment look a la 15th century Da Vinci, or the Discover magazine mode of science illustration replete with techie color gradients. There was really nothing on the market for someone like myself wanting a tasteful and handsome star map that would serve as a showpiece for his wall."

Yeager decided to start The Municipal Prints Company, and commissioned Jeff Hopkins, an Austin-based illustrator and graphic designer, to recreate a star chart similar to O'Brien's. Currently, the company sells a Compass to the Northern Sky print, and the site promises a  Compass to the Southern Sky and Compass to the Night Sky later this year.


The results are very much like the original that inspired the contemporary print (see above and detail below). At $175 they're not cheap, but they are quite large at 36" x 36". I'd also say it's a small price to pay for something you'll see every day. (Note to The Municipal Prints Company, in the future, you should offer a simple frame that fits the print: Square frames are not all that common and custom framing is pricey!)


David Stark's Wood Shop Pop-Up

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


David Stark Design's Wood Shop, a "surprise ambush" of Haus Interiors has gotten a LOT of press (NYT, Remodelista, Design*Sponge, The Haystack Needle and many other publications). In fact, when I arrived at the store the day before it opened, they'd already sold out of certain items, which had been offered online prior to the shop's official opening.


However, most of the images that have made the rounds of the blogs have been of Stark's more whimsical wood creations. The items I liked most were perhaps the most humble: Denim table runners, simple linen napkins and what Stark is calling "SmartPly Soup Cans."


All 75 of the Stark-designed wares are available in-store at Haus Interiors and online through end of the month.


For those of you unfamiliar with David Stark, he is a genius event designer, whose events are the stuff of legend. I think my first encounter with Stark's work was the Bullseye pop-up shop in the Hamptons in the early '00s, which featured custom Target bullseye wallpaper. More recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Stark at a pop-up he'd created for West Elm. 


David Stark Design's work makes people smiles, so it's no surprise that the man himself is charming, friendly is extremely down-to-earth. If you have a chance to stop by the pop-up shop in New York, do -- I promise, there'll be something -- a Claes Oldenburg-inspired, crocheted paint can or brush (above) or a carve your-own Valentine (below) -- there to make you grin.




Storage is the Best Medicine

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


How adorable is this red, metal storage box from the Land of Nod? I already have some plain metal storage boxes from Ikea that I use for bathroom storage, but I would definitely consider upgrading to this perky model.
Red Medicine Storage Box (12.25" W x 7.25" D x 7.75" H), $40, landofnod.com

West Elm + Shane Powers


Last week, West Elm graciously invited a bunch of bloggers and writers to its Upper West Side store to take part in an indoor gardening workshop with Shane Powers. The event was all about West Elm's new focus on indoor gardening (they're even selling plants these days!) and Shane's new collection.


It was fun to gather with a bunch of design writers and see the latest from Shane's collaboration with West Elm. For this season he has designed a variety of matte-white ceramic vases and planters and a range of glass fish bowls and terrariums designed for indoor gardening. Shane is a wonderfully soft-spoken man who seems like he has enjoyed collaborating with West Elm, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources for the pieces in the collection.


During the demonstration, Powers showed us techniques for planting a wall planter, hanging glass bubbles (above) and terrariums. He also demonstrated how just a few blooms can make a loose and lovely grouping in his Ceramic Bud Vases. 


At the end of the workshop, we all got to try our hand at planting succulents in one of West Elm's Pebble Terrariums. Trying to get my plants to stand upright, I realized how easy Shane had made it look!

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