September 30, 2011

Tribal Moroccan Rugs

When I say Moroccan rugs most people automatically think "colorful flat weave kilims."

But my favorite kind of Moroccan rug is the Beni Ouaraum, which is an Atlas Mountain Berbere tribal rug made out of sheep wool that has a thick fluffy pile.  It's super soft and fuzzy, so probably not the ideal choice for people with babies and small pets.  But it's a perfect bedroom rug and an gives and incredible sophisticated masculine feel to any room.

The patterns on the Beni Ouaraum rugs are fun, geometric and almost look childlike.  Each rug is a primitive abstraction that is completely original to the weaver of the rug. The colors will vary in creams, taupes, grays, browns and blacks, but occasionally a few bright threads might be interjected into a design. Borders and exact repeats are rare in these rugs and despite being an old traditional style, they lean towards the modern ethnic feel.

Because no two are alike and because of the irregular sizing, good quality Beni Ouaraum rugs are extremely sought after by designers and are not cheap.  But they add such a traveled and cool look to a room that they are worth the search.

I recently purchased a large scale extremely unique Beni Ouaraum for a home I'm working on and I cant wait for the project to be installed so I can see  the rug in place!

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September 29, 2011

Infinity Edge, Infinity View

Have you ever swum in an infinity edge pool overlooking the ocean? if so, you know exactly what heaven must feel like!

A zero edge or vanishing edge pool  is one of the most visually stunning exterior architectural elements of a home.  It visually unites the two bodies of water creating an optical paradise! To get the most out of the drama created by a zero edge, the pool should be on a higher level than the water. Usually the best examples are built on mountain sides or hills where you can get expansive views.

And what is even better that an infinity edge pool?  An infitiny edge pool + a margarita!

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September 28, 2011

Don't Forget the Laundry Room!

I don't think many meetings are held with the concept of "luxury laundry rooms" in mind.

But the fact is when most interior designers work on a kitchen layout we include and also design the laundry rooms as part of and an extension of a kitchen.  In my case, I tend to use the same kitchen cabinetry as well as the same kitchen counter tops so that the laundry room does not look like an old forgotten back room.

I was recently interviewed for an article on "Luxury Laundry Rooms" for the Wall Street Journal. What do you think?  Do you agree? What does your laundry room look like?

http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/sir-living?WC=TABLiv

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September 27, 2011

Chelsea Harbour Design Center

Do you ever shop in London?

London is one of my favorite cities in the world and I love shopping and hanging out there.  If you are a serious design shopper (like myself) you must stop in to the Chelsea Harbour Design Center to catch up on what's available and stylish across The Pond.    

Just like any U.S. Design Center, Chelsea Harbour houses luxury furniture, fabric and accessory showrooms that cater to the trade and bespoke furniture for unique projects. But because the European aesthetics are different, usually the colors trends and styles will vary.  

There is amazing furniture and antique shopping in London, but a stop at Chelsea Harbour is a must!

http://www.dcch.co.uk

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September 26, 2011

The Shanghai Artist Warehouse District

You can't go to Shanghai and not stop by the new artist warehouse district.  

Ten years ago Moganshan Road was essentially dead, with nothing but a bunch of old 1930's abandoned old factory warehouses.  Then in 2000 legendary Chinese artist Xue Song moved his studio to this area because of the cheap rent and soon other artists and small art galleries followed. Today it's the hottest art gallery area in China and where large scale art and sculture is constantly displayed and exhibited.

I've been through the area several times and it's ever-changing and growing.  My favorite gallery, where I have actually purchased art, is The Art Scene Warehouse.  Don't go there expecting fancy Western style galleries. This is still a very raw area and part of the allure is the edgy creative tangle of spaces.  

Moganshan Road is fun.  I recommend it if you are in Shanghai.

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September 23, 2011

Singapore Airlines Cabins

Outside of flying private ... the most luxurious first class cabin suites are on Singapore Airlines.

Going to Asia anytime soon?  Junp on one of the Singapore Airlines 12 first-class suites offering privacy and double beds and large than standard bathrooms.  Singapore Airlines will sell you a double bed, and give you privacy and endless free champagne ... but beware of the bathroom signage because trying to become part of the mile high club on this airline is completely forbidden.

Since the suites and bathrooms aren’t soundproofed, the airline doesn’t want its non-suite passengers to have to listen to the extracurricular activities of other passengers.

This makes me laugh!  :)

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September 22, 2011

2011 - The Year of Red

2011 was the year of red at the Emmy's award show. Red ruled!

For years critics have always said that red on the red carpet was not the best color because the carpet and the dress blended too much.   However, this year everyone and their stylist chose to ignore the rules and go for the cherry red gowns.  

I'm not a fan of red and cannot ever remember wearing a red dress.  But this year's Emmy girls rocked in red and it was a nice change to see a new rule broken and a new trend starting.

What do you think of red gowns?

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September 21, 2011

So cute, it's huggable!

Have you seen the new Garia golf carts yet?  They are so cute, they are huggable!

I live in a golf cart community and my dogs and I love riding around on our golf cart.  So even though I don't play golf, it's fun to see new models and styles out on the market.   

The Garia is street legal and safe for most roads, not highways.  So apart from using it on a golf course, you can drive around the neighborhood or to the store quickly.  It is manufactured at the same factory that builds the Porsche Boxster and the Cayman.  

With gas prices rising, instead of buying a luxury gas guzzler, maybe we should all buy luxury golf carts!

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September 20, 2011

The Trump SoHo Hotel

I just got back home from a fun trip to Fashion Week in NYC.   I booked a room at the new Trump SoHo Hotel.   And what did I think?

Most people might disagree with me.  But my overall feeling from the moment I stepped into the lobby was - Yawn!    Perfectly decorated, perfectly pretty and so business.  Zero coolness factor, no excitement and just another standard expensive hotel. There was no interest, nothing new or exiting and so standard.Very masculine and very Donald Trump.  The place lacked a soul!

To it's credit, the Trump Soho hotel is new and fresh and the view was amazing.  The restaurant was good and the pool was small and cute.  But truly - for the amount of money, I didn't feel I got any bang for my buck and I was not wowed.  Not on my return list.

Have you been yet?

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September 19, 2011

Is Summer Really Over?

Summer may officially be "calendar over", but it's still with me.

I don't like living in cold or snowy weather so I seek the sun and live in warm places. Because of that, Im fanatic about patio furniture.  I love being outside on a terrace and close to the beach.

Patio furniture shopping is always a bit dissapointing because there are lots of cheap and extremely ugly knock offs out on the market so I am always excited when I come across fantastic designs that I can use outside and inspire me to lounge.

This year I'm in to B&B Italias new Crinoline and Canasta Collections.  With a modern feel and clean lines these groups are so pretty and casual and they exude beach in such a fabulous way.  The Crinoline chair reminds me of the old wicker Peacock chairs from the 70's reinvented for today.

What do you think?  Love it as much as I do?

http://www.bebitalia.it

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September 16, 2011

The best British Florist?

I am a flower girl!  Love artistic and creative florals. 

So when a friend told me about "the best UK florist"  I took note.  Shane Connolly. He is and has been for decades, the  British Royal family florist. He recently completed the big royal wedding among many other projects, most of his work extremely private and elaborate. His style is new traditionalist, reinventing   traditional  with an updated twist.  He believes in using seasonal local flowers vs. flying in exotic flowers that may be out of season.

Shane has written several books on flowers, including:  The Language of Flowers, Wedding Flowers and The Secret Language of Flowers.  His books contain beautiful pictures, and also share Shane’s wealth of information on a vast variety of flowers.  

So for your next super fab London event you know know who to call.  

http://www.shaneconnolly.co.uk/

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September 15, 2011

Bentley Sunglasses

Bentley Sunglasses?  Like the car, Bentley?  Yes !

The luxury car manufacturer has decided to release a new line of high end eye wear ranging in price from $ 11,000  to $ 45,000 offered in white gold, rose gold, and platinum.   They were individually handmade in Germany, come equipped with polarized lenses from Zeiss, and feature the Bentley “B” logo on the temple and are numbered.   And like the car, the sunglasses are made to order and the case can be customized to the match the leather interior of your Bentley. 

These are no ordinary aviators.  Make sure you don't sit on them, leave them at a friend's house or let your dog chew on them!

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September 14, 2011

I woke up thinking of SHERLE WAGNER

When you think of Sherle Wagner Faucets you think:  expensive, uptown, old school and fussy. Right?  Well except for the "expensive" part, you might be wrong.

Sherle Wagner faucets and fixtures have been around since the 1940's and have always been know as the most luxurious and highest quality faucets in the world.  Their original styles which, are very ornate gold fauces and toilets are still prodiced today.  But that old Zsa Zsa Gabour look is a bit dated and the new items rolling out are incredible!

The company has reinvented itself with a line of modern architectural faucets that is beautiful and simple yet of the same excellence in design as the past.  Each piece is hand made and custom ordered and unequaled in quality.  And if you are not a fan of modern, take a look at the rock crystal and matt metal finishes that can update the old designs.   

Casual lux that fits my style.

http://www.sherlewagner.com

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September 13, 2011

Petrified Wood

I'm currently enamored with slabs of petrified wood.

Petrified wood is the remains of fossilized vegetation and trees. It is the result of a tree having turned completely into stone by underground decomposition, when wood becomes buried under sediment and lava.  Due to a lack of oxygen the tree turns to stone yet retains it's original wood look.

Petrified wood can be harvested all over the world but the larger tree diameters make the best and most exotic slabs.  It is a very masculine and timeless finish that can transform any design. 

And if your budget does not allow for a slab, you can always find the small petrified wood pieces and use it as a small side table.  

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September 12, 2011

The Baby Nursery

It seems there babies are popping up everywhere in my world ... and with that comes the baby nursery.  A place for that little prince or princess to sleep.  

The most important part of a nursery?  The bassinet or crib.  And my favorites are the romantic French iron antiques.   They have  lovely curved shapes and great old iron finishes.   They are hard to find so you will have to do some looking to find the right one.  But you can also find great reproductions from designer stores such as Tara Shaw.

http://www.tarashaw.com

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September 09, 2011

my HGTV'd episode premiere

I'm so excited!  Tomorrow Saturday, September 10th at 8 p.m. (EST) on HGTV my new episode of the new series HGTV'd will air.

I worked in Austin, Texas with the Cardenas family to completely remake an unused room in their home.  My favorite part of working on the show?  The big red HGTV'd truck!  It was so cool and fun to see the big red truck pull up.  The entire neigborhood came out to play when they saw it.

I hope you can catch the show and tell me what you think after you see it.

http://www.hgtv.com/hgtvd/

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September 08, 2011

Saturday Shopping on 1st Dibs

I am so jazzed to announce that this Saturday, September the 10th, I will be the featured designer on the fabulous "1st DibsSaturday Shopping".

In case you missed the last 1st Dibs article you can check it out here:

http://sandraespinet.com/news/web2.html

For this "1st Dibs Saturday Shopping" I  curated a collection of Saturday market items I love and would buy.   If you enjoy my style you will get a huge boost of yummy with all of my selections and you will be able see what  my favorite style objects are.  It's an eclectic combination of rustic, elegant and cool furniture, accessories and garden pieces.  It's fun and it's a great web site so I hope you take a few minutes and take a look.

Here is a quick sneak peak. Enjoy!

http://www.1stdibs.com

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Shell and jewel incrusted mirror - love it!

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Antique Guatemalan church bench - super cool!

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Italian Savonarola Style Arm Chair - adore it!

 

September 07, 2011

The Most Expensive Mattress in the World?

The most expensive mattress in the world?

Humans have been searching for the most comfortable place to dream since the beginning of time. And it seems the Swedish mattress company "Hastens" has found the answer with their top of the line model called Vividus at the cost of $59 thousand usd.  It has been described as the sleeping on a cloud experience and its the highest possible quality and luxury in mattress comfort.   It is made by hand and composed of horsehair, cotton, flax, and wool.

The bottom line with mattresses?  It's all a matter of taste.  Some people like synthetic Tempur-Pedic, some like sleep numbers and some prefer traditional mattresses.  You have to experience a mattress in order to really know what feels good to you. Until you try one you will never know.

What do you sleep on?

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September 06, 2011

IRON BALCONY RAILINGS

A small architectural detail that is often overlooked- iron balcony railings.

Europe has a long history of using custom designed wrought iron railings on balconies and it is one of the things that makes their cities so visually attractive. Lasting the test of time, these old railings stand today as a symbol of craftsmanship and design of eras gone by.

It used to be that hand forged iron was one of the most luxurious construction materials due to the amount of time and energy that a blacksmith had to invest to create and produce each piece.   Therefore all estates, chateaus, villas and palaces had intricately detailed iron work.

A lovely way to bring old world charm into your new home.

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September 05, 2011

Porche Baby Stroller

Porche Baby Stroller?  Yup!

In my mind Porche and babies don't quite go together.  But the luxury car maker has designed a new baby stroller that is lightweight and easy to handle for all of those who choose to combine babies and 911's.  The well designed stroller  is constructed of carbon fiber, aluminum, leather and ball-bearing wheels.  And the best part?  It folds easily and fits into the miniscule trunk of the sportster. 

It's not available in the U.S. yet, but for all of you mid-life crisis guys out there who want to marry 20 year olds ... your prayers have been answered!

Po

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September 02, 2011

A Great Carpenter

One of the most important assets a designer can have in their arsenal?  A great carpenter on their team who does unique wood finishes and can translate a designers ideas and drawings into reality.

We use wood in so many creations from cabinets, to built-ins to custom furniture pieces.  It is such a versataile material and can be used in many ways.   The artistry of a good carpenter who knows how to manipulate the texture and feel of wood can make or break a designer's ideas.   Custom designs require the expertise of master carpenters and it takes years of trial and error for a wood worker to reach acceptable designer levels.  Custom wire brush textures, antique finished and painted layers all take time and patience to create.  They are much more complex than the basic staining of wood.

My advice?  Once you find a master carpenter you like working with, make him your friend!  My best friend's name is Mario.

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September 01, 2011

Richard Branson

I'm always fascinated by stories of Richard Branson. He makes me laugh, think and dream.

He epitomises my theory on how to live life.  Large and incharge!  He is not afraid of living and has done all of the silly and fun things we all aspire to do. Not only has been extremely successful in his work and creation of all things Virgin, but he also been wildly succesful in touching the lives of others.  Richard is a huge humanitarian and is involved in many world organizations.  He does not sit back and let life happen.  He makes life happen.

Richard Branson proves that being intelligent, making money and being famous can be cool.  It's not about having 20 staff members, living in a billion dollar home or wearing couture.  As a matter of fact he alsways looks a bit underdressed and casual.  He proves that having massive amounts of money isn't about alienating yourself from  people, but about embracing life, being free to live it and experiencing all of the beauty the planet has to offer.  He is a great example of the new way luxury living has changed and how today the meaning of luxury means freedom - not the showy ostentation of the past.

Go Richard!  Keep inspiring us.

http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog

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