Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Butler Pantries

(I'm getting super creative with my titles, aren't I?)

I thought I'd post some photos of my favorite "butler pantries". I feel like the whole idea of a butler pantry is the epitome of livin' the dream in the States. I mean, if you have a butler pantry, you don't have a butler anymore (well... most of us don't) but it means if you did, then you could stash them there. AND if you have one, then you've got space to spare in the house for a hallway between dining and kitchen... i.e., you've finally made it. Well, you know what I mean :)

Traditionally, a butler's pantry is the space between the kitchen and dining room and it was meant for staging and stashing -- dumping plates after being cleared (so as not to get in the way of whoever was making the next course in the kitchen) and having new plates from the kitchen within quick access so there wasn't lag-time between serving guests.

Now, you see a lot of variations on the idea of what that pantry is. In some houses, it's a large second pantry that is accessible to the kitchen and dining, but it's not necessarily a thru-way. Other cases show a large second storage area with additional appliances and counter space. These are great, but for all intents and purposes, it's not a "butler's pantry" as a design professor would allow you to call it.

Regardless, if you have the space to devote to beautiful cabinets and accessory appliances, by all means, have at it.

All images are from my Pinterest

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Branca Chicago Store

I mentioned that I was going to Visit Alessandra Branca's store in Chicago on my trip. The warehouse sale is going on right now so the store is stacked and packed with incredible finds. While it wasn't merchandised in her usual vignettes/roomscapes - it was still incredible and lived up to my expectations. She has amazing taste and style and you could see her aesthetic in every item and detail in the store.

I apologize up front for the quality of my pictures - I really need the new iPhone as my 3GS is really not living up to my expectations.

The famous black and white awning with an incredible red Chinese Chippendale bench.

This dinning table made me weak in the knees. And the Cameroon Feather Headdress was amazing.

Furniture stacked high on racks. Those French blue and white chairs are too die for. The back is a dark navy velvet and even the gimp around the nail heads is blue and white ticking. Divine. Wish I had a client who needed navy and white. Anyone?

The other side of the rack had amazing chandeliers in addition to more chairs.

Racks of accessories. I was like a kid in a candy store.

An example of one of her accessory vignettes for the warehouse sale. I can only imagine what it would look like normally.

Loved these lamps and Sea Fan.

The downstairs featured a lot of fabulous tables, artwork and dishes.

An amazing French wire cabinet.

And this traditional Edwardian Library Bookcase circa 1910 England. I would kill for this piece. Kill.

The upstairs was piled high with chairs, glassware and linens. But, the best part was the pop of her signature red in the 2 bookcases that flanked each side of the room and their matching library sconces. Check out that ceiling while you're at it as well.

This side was all clear glass or white ceramic (except for those turquoise pieces)

While this bookcase was mostly colored glass.

I can't wait to go to the store on my next trip to Chicago to see it in it's non-sale state. If you aren't in Chicago or aren't going soon, you are in luck as all these items are available on her website. Sale ends Oct. 1st.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Good Finds: J.Crew + Flat-Rate Shipping (Finally!)

Surprise, surprise! It's a post devoted to J.Crew. I probably defer to them too much, but I find that my clothes from J.Crew tend to be the ones I wear season after season and the jewelry still comes in at the top of my list every time. It's costume jewelry, sure, but it can change an outfit from one look to a totally different vibe.

My good find for today is old news if you have been to J.Crew's site lately, but they FINALLY changed their shipping policy. If you remember, shipping used to be based on the overall dollar amount of your purchase, making it all the more painful to shop online seriously since it meant you'd pay buckets in shipping! It was redic!

Well, now it's a flat-rate and even free on orders of $175+. So to celebrate, I've posted my favorite jewelry -- something small that would have felt ridiculous paying $30 dollars or more to ship that you can now have for a more reasonable fee.

Resin & Crystal Link Necklace

Classic Pave Link Bracelet
Miriam Haskell Multistrand

Crystal Mosaic Bracelet

Oval Heirloom Locket

Mini-link Bracelet (on sale)

Shop away! They have some good prices on sake items right now too, happy hunting and happy weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Chicago Scouting

I can's say it enough... I LOVE CHICAGO.

We went to dinner at Ristorante Quartino the night before the race to carbo-load. My body is built from bread and cheese, no joke, it's practically all I eat (so much so that my family blames my kids' limited diet on my own, naturally). My point, is that an Italian restaurant with free-reign to order any bread and cheese item it absolute heaven.

Even better though, is a carb heaven with good decor!! I snapped these pictures whenever I could. The bathroom especially was so cool. And does anyone else remember the Borax soap? The granular, gritty soap that you'd pile into your hand and then make that great soapy paste? Like a total nerd, I got excited to see it in the bathroom and the youngins' at the sink with me had no idea what I was talking about when I said that it was the soap of my youth. It's what we had in elementary school exclusively. Cue their blank stares at the crazy lady in the bathroom reminiscing.

Love these French bar stools with the yummy leather and nailheads and bent wood.

These floors are what started my bathroom binge of photos. I love the pattern in the tile.

The frosted glass in the bathroom actually butts up to the mens bathroom, so you can get a little bit of commotion behind the glass, but the ladies room still feels private. It's a very cool feature.

The Borax soap sink.

Good little sitting area with mirrored walls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Annual Sushi Party

The weekend before we left for Chicago, Brian and I hosted our annual sushi night with our good friends the Dengers. Brian and Mason have what I can only describe as an intense love-affair with sushi, which unfortunately, I don't share. BUT, I will say they do a pretty good job of convincing me once a year, because together they put together an insane night of food -- it's pure madness in the kitchen.

My contribution is getting the house ready for our group of friends and making sure the liquor cabinet is stocked and the table is laid. I don't know if I've kvetched about this year's Seattle summer (oh... I have?) but thankfully the party fell in the middle of a heat-wave and we ate outside. Not going to lie, a table for an Asian-themed dinner is probably not one that springs a ton of ideas to my mind without going over-the-top theme, so I kept it simple. I used potted Kale plants as my flowers and lit the table with lots of tea lights running the length of a long, extra-wide table. There are so many beautiful serving dishes that go along with sushi, that it didn't take much else.
And more than anything, it's a festive but casual night with friends, so no need to go crazy when the food is the star.

I could post so many pictures of food, but I know this isn't a food blog so I'll just show a few that I thought were particularly gorgeous -- Mason should seriously consider a second career as a chef, especially with his trusty sous chef (aka Brian).

Tuna Poke W/ Rice Chips

Torched Hamachi w/ Honey & Green Apple

Torched Salmon & Brown Sugar w/ Green Onion & Lemon

Mango Marinated in Coconut Milk w/ Radish Sprouts & King Crab

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jonathan Adler - Manifesto

While I was in Chicago I popped into the Jonathan Adler store to do a little client shopping. I was expecting chic furniture, lamps, lighting, rugs - all the usual you would expect from Jonathan Adler. I wasn't expecting a free therapy session. I laughed out loud when I saw their manifesto.

Love it. It adds levity to interior design. I had an amazing trip and I will post pictures as soon as I come out of my re-entry mode.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Alessandra Branca

I'm off to Chicago for a long weekend of shopping... and the September 11th half-marathon. Yes, I'm doing another one. I'm super excited for the pizza and beer post race. But, seriously, I love Chicago. It's one of my favorite cities. The scenery, the people, the food, the shopping.

First stop on my trip is a visit to Alessandra Branca's store. The Italian- born award wining designer is known for her use of color, pattern and layering. I can't wait to see her store in person. I'll try to report back with some great shopping images.

Until then, here's a few pictures of her work.

One of my favorite ideas for a kids playroom. It doesn't get more fun than this.

Have a great weekend!
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