December 30, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

Champagne has to be one of the most popular holiday drinks.  Almost everyone can afford a bottle and it's fun and cheery.  It says celebration like no other drink. And personally - I love it!

But there is a reason champagne is elitist and fancy.  There are champagnes that are so fantastic and so pricy that realistically only a few people can afford them.   They are not readily available at every corner liquor store and they are available in limited amounts.

So if you are looking for over the top and out of this world look no more.  Here is the list that can bring in 2012  with a big bang.


Bollinger Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes Francaises 1997  about $ 650 per bottle

Krug, Clos Du Mesnil 1995  about $ 750 per bottle

Dom Perignon 1966 about $ 1,950 per bottle

Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 1995  about $ 3,500 per bottle

Cristal Brut 1990 “Methuselah”  about $ 17,000 per bottle

... and ...  the Holy Grail of champagne the Shipwreck 1907 Heidsieck which resently sold for $ 275,000 per bottle.




Eva champagne 2

December 28, 2011

The Thriller Jacket

Michael Jackson's infamous red leather "Thriller" jacket recently came up for auction.  It was expected to go for $200 to $400 thousand dollars.   And to everyone's surprise ... it sold for $1.8 million dollars!

The jacket is one of two Jackson wore during the filming of the 1983 "Thriller" video. Jackson wears the jacket in a scene with a troup of zombies who rise from their graves and break into a dance routine. Two versions of the jacket were made for the video.  This version, with winged shoulders, was autographed by the late singer. Another version, which is scuffed from more intensive wear, is owned by the Michael Jackson estate.

The buyer, a Texan gold trader named Milton Verret,  plans to use the  jacket to raise money for children's hospitals around the world.  The jacket will be sent on tour and used as a fundraising tool for children's charities. 

I think Michael would approve of the purchase and end use of his costume.




December 27, 2011

Most Expensive Christmas Tree in the World

Our 2011 Christmas is over and pretty soon it will be time to pack up the tree.  So are you wondering who had the most expensive Christmas tree in the world this year?

A jewelery store in Tokyo created an 8 foot lavish golden Christmas tree made out of 12kg ( 26 pounds) of gold and decorated with ribbons, hearts and orchids.  There was a net value of $ 700,000 usd in pure gold and the rest of the $ 2.8 million dollar cost was in the four months of labor it took to design and create the tree.

 The jeweler says the tree is not for sale and might be reused next year.



December 22, 2011

Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake? Really?

It's one of those old fashioned, kinds  of  foods, like Spam.  It belongs in the 50's and should stay there.  No one really dreams of fruit cake anymore, do they?  It's a gift you put on your counter and look at for a few days because you are scared of it. Then you cautiously re gift it to the housekeeper.  

It's almost universal - no one likes fruit cake.  No amount of bourbon can mask the taste of soggy fruit.  Yet every year someone gives me a fruit cake.  Are they regifting too? Or do they just not like me?

They say you are what you eat. So I'm staying away from a cake filled with "fruit" and "nuts."

Mixed Fruit Cake

December 21, 2011

Decorating Your Mantel for Christmas

If you have a fireplace mantel, its the natural focal point to start your Christmas decorating.

The fireplace is always the coziest place in a room so naturally it will be a good place to create the mood. It does not have to be complicated, just pretty and new.  You can decorate with pre-bought garland, stockings, or fresh flowers.  You can hang wreaths, add nut cracker statues or apothecary jars of pine cones.

It's really all about how you feel and what your holiday theme is.  You can choose to go the traditional route and use lots swagged garland, big ribbons and pine cones and top it off with poinsettias and candles.  If you have kids you can add candy canes to the garland and put a small side table with cookies and milk next to the fireplace for Santa.

Whatever you choose to do, turn on some music and have a happy decorating day!

Mantle christmas homes & gardens








December 20, 2011

Doggie Beds

Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for your doggie?

I know ... most dogs can sleep anywhere.   So what ever we give them is more for us than them.  But how fun are these doggie beds?   Doesn't every dog need an over the top funny bed ?

Don't forget your creature on Christmas!






December 19, 2011

Holiday Yummies

I don't cook, but I love to bake!

I bake for my friends and family every holiday, and of course Christmas is no different.  Baking and making cookies for the holidays has become a tradition around my house and my friends all expect their cookies.  It's a fun way to get creative and show people you care.  

Ok...I know we are all on diets and we all eat healthy most of the year.  But when my cookies arrive - I promise you will be happy to break the rules and live a little.

So off to the store I go.  I have tons of ingredients to buy and I can't wait to get started on my holiday yummies!







December 16, 2011

Celebrity Holiday Homes

I am very excited that the premiere of my new HGTV Christmas Special "Celebrity Holiday Homes" in which I decorate the home of "The Biggest Loser" host Ali Sweeney is this weekend.

Ali's home is in the Hollywood Hills and has an amazing view of Los Angeles.  So I decided to give her and all out Hollywood Glam Christmas.  I invited and had the pleasure of having chef Top Chef Antonia Lafoso prepare the Christmas meal and Sarce sing and play the piano for the evening.  

I hope you can tune in or set your Tivo to HGTV on  Sunday, December 18, at 8 p.m EST.

Here are a few sneak preview pictures!

  DSC_8456 copy1

DSC_8082 copy

DSC_8028 copy 2

DSC_8154 copy

December 12, 2011

I'm a Fan Too

One of my favorite hotel groups is the Mandarin Oriental.  Not only do I love their locations, their service and their style, I also love their ad campaign.

A few years ago Mandarin Oriental Hotels  launched a series of ads with world wide celebrities endorsing the hotel with a simple slogan "I'm a Fan".   The likes of  Harry Connick Jr,   Sigourney Weaver, Jerry Hall, Helen Mirren, and Liam Neesen have graced these ads.   One of the new 2012 celebrities will be Lance Armstrong who also frequents the brand.

This campaign  simply and elegantly connects the hotel with it's famous guest. It makes a strong statement about luxury without being obnoxious.  It is a clear statement of their service and quality in an honest way.  As one of the most interesting and prestigious hotel groups in the world, they succeeded in their a message.

I recently saw one of the celebrity ads featuring architect I.M. Pei.  So if anyone from Mandarin Oriental Group is reading this  ... hello!...  "I'm a Fan Too".  Call me.




December 09, 2011

Diego Rivera

Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera Barrientos Acosta y Rodrigues   a.k.a. Diego Rivera, is one of my favorite Mexican artist.

Diego started painting on the walls of his home when he was three.  Instead of punishing him, his parents installed chalk boards in his room and one of the worlds greatest muralist was born.  Diego painted on canvas and most of his work hangs on the walls of famous museums today.  But his best work are the large scale murals he painted in Detroit, San Francisco, New York and through out  Mexico City.

But no matter his legendary talent, Diego Rivera is mostly remembered for his tumultuos love affair with his 3rd younger wife Frida Kahlo.  They painted, socialized, drank, traveled the world and were married for 10 years before separating due to infidelity. Frida has forgiven many of Diego's indiscressions but his affair with her sister caused them to divorce.  They reconciled, remarried and lived together until her death.  

His work always amazes me. Their love affair fascinates me.



La Conquista




December 08, 2011


Wondering how to incorporate purple into your design scheme? Here are some tips from me on the best ways to make purple work:

And don't forget to check out my new HGTV "Celebrity Holiday Homes" special premiering on December 18th at 8 p.m. EST. I decorate Allie Sweeney's home in all shades of purple to create a super glam holiday look! Check your local listings for times and airdates!

DSC_8509 copy

December 07, 2011

Antique Sliding Doors

What do you do with old or antique doors?  

There is something romantic and timeless about old doors and a  great way to display and use a pair is to have them mounted on a slidding track and use them as room dividers.  Unlike pocket doors, they will show even when they are open and will create an architectural feeling to a room.

Sliding old doors are not only beautiful to look at, but they are functional art.  Anything from barn doors, to old screens can be repurposed and hung on a wall.

No more swing open doors in tight spaces.  Find yourself some cool old doors and put them on a slide mechanism!



Refreshed designs



December 06, 2011

A Beautiful Sunrise

One of the most luxurious ways I start my day is by waking up early and watching the sunrise over the ocean.  

Coffee in hand and puppies by my side, there is nothing more relaxing, more soothing and more inspiring than the simple beauty of the sunrise.  The colors, the peace and the pure majesty of nature are the perfect way to start off a day.

Have a great day!



December 05, 2011

Outdoor Showers

I'm a huge lover of outdoor showers!

As a kid we all loved to bathe outside with a water hose, and its no different as an adult.  Some of my favorite hotels include outdoor showers with their rooms. Hotels like Amandnusa and Amandari in Indonesia, Singita le Bombo in South Africa, Six Senses in Vietnam and Le Tahas in Tahiti all have outstanding outdoor shower experiences. But I also like bringing home that experience and using outdoor showers in homes.  I love recommending clients to add one in if their home can accommodate the space.

Some people get a bit worried or nervous about outside showers and feel exposed. But taking an outdoor shower is so relaxing and so fun. The alfresco experience is so natural and easy.

Don't forget to be a child sometimes.  Enjoy life - take a shower outside!

Outdoor shower from Country Home







December 02, 2011

Celebrity Holiday Homes

I am very excited to announce the premiere of my new HGTV Christmas Special "Celebrity Holiday Homes" in which I decorate the home of CSI Miami's star Eva La Rue.

I hope you can join in and watch me transform Eva's living room into Santa's North Pole workshop. It was a fun show to work on and my elves and I really enjoyed playing with trains, wrapping presents and laughing with Santa.  I invited and had the pleasure of having chef  Brian Moyers  from B.L.T restaurant in Los Angeles serve Eva's Christmas meal and we all enjoyed Laura Tattershal's custom cookies as a treat.

I enjoyed meeting Eva and her lovely family.  At the end of the day, no matter how you decorate your home, Christmas really is about that - spending time with the ones you love!

So put it on your schedule or set your Tivo this weekend.  Sunday night, Dec 4th at 8pm on HGTV.

Here are a few sneak preview photos...

DSC_0027 FX copy

DSC_0557 copy

DSC_0761 fix copy

DSC_0196 FX copy

Decorating for the holidays

I was quoted in this article for the LA Daily News about decorating for the holidays:


Styleist Celebrity Holiday Homes Interview with Sandra Espinet

Here's an interview I did about the 2011 Celebrity Holiday Homes show with Eva La Rue.


December 01, 2011

Cement Floors can Be Fun

I know...most people think cement floors belong in a warehouse!  But Polished cement floors can be fun and very cool.

Ok, it may not be for everyone or for every home, but in the right residence it can be unique and creative.  Polished cement has come a long way and today there are techniques as well as metallic additives that can make incredible patterns.  There are also ways of adding detail paintings over the cement or adding inserted stones as borders. It's really a matter of style.

If you have a contemporary space, a loft or an open floor plan, polished cement can certainly be an option in a luxury home.