Nature Nurtures

We know the health benefits from being in nature.  Those benefits don't stop at the front door.

Biophilic Design (meaning love of nature) is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.  We humans have an innate love of nature, but we are spending less and less time in it!  With longer commutes, more stressful lives, pressures from every direction, including technology, we should make it our mission to seek it out more often.  Being in nature, feeling connected to it, bringing nature indoors, or even having pictures of nature in our living space greatly improves our health on so many levels.  It is a simple (and really pleasurable) way of improving our health and well being.

Studies have shown being around nature improves cognitive function, lowers cortisol and stress hormones, increases mental capacity, creativity and enhances mood.  Bringing it into our home brings with it the same physiological and psychological benefits.

If you want a calming, restorative home, think about how and where you can incorporate more of mother nature's influence.

Can't you just feel your blood pressure dropping?

top photo:Kim Hoyt

Rest In Peace Isabel

via Adrianna Sassoon

I just got the sad news that Isabel Toledo has passed away of breast cancer.  I always admired her for her creativity, passion and pioneering spirit.  She was considered a "genius" and a "cult hero" by those in the art , theatre and fashion world. Her relationship with her husband Ruenben is one to be envied.  They were known for being inspired by one another.

She considered what she did more mathmatical, she engineered garments more than designed fashions for celebrities and high profile clientele. Her workmanship was impeccable, although she did love a raw edge.  She famously created the sheath dress and overcoat Michelle Obama wore for her husband's inauguration.

She shied way from the limelight, did not believe in logos and led the way designing for a plus size woman at a time when few did.

  “Fashion is every woman’s language, every woman’s tool,” 

I did a blog post a few years ago that I am reposting, so if you missed it, you might learn a little about this prolific woman.

This designing duo, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, have kept me fascinated for years.  They are each other's muse and confidant; he is yin to her yang.  After meeting in New Jersey as young Cuban refugees, their love of the fusion of art and fashion and a new vocabulary burgeoning in the New York art/club scene propelled the two to a kind of cult status.

Isabel was experimenting with inventive shapes and designing patterns for clothing, working like an architect that brought such heavy hitters like Barney's to come calling.  I loved her collection for Anne Klein many years back.  It didn't last long because I think it was misunderstood by that customer, but it was memorable.  Isabel shied away from the traditional fashion scene and conventional fashion show productions as they were too fast paced for her.  She sells to private clients and has a loyal following thru Barney's to this day.  Doing windows at Fiorucci's, interning at the Costume Institute at The Met under Diana Vreeland, designing costumes for theatre, and working along side Ruben has led to an illustrious career.  She gained even wider recognition when she designed several dresses worn by Michelle Obama.

via Vogue

Isabel's fashions are considered timeless, elegant, structured, and wearable.  She looks toward the every woman with edge; an artistic woman who feels free to express her individuality through fashion.  Her designs, as well as Ruben's, have received accolades, awards, and several exhibitions in galleries and museums.

Sometimes it is hard to know where Isabel ends and Ruben begins, and vice versa ~

You may recognize Ruben's illustrations from Nordstrom catalogs. Ruben has illustrated books and numerous magazine spreads.  His designs grace product labels and he is often collaborating with fashionable friends.  His ethereal, whimsical, surrealist style, and his profound knowledge of fashion have placed Ruben in a class by himself.

For Louis Vuttion

Most recently Ruben teamed up with Ralph Pucci (again), and is doing an exclusive line of furniture featuring his surrealist painterly illustrations.

For Ralph Pucci

The Toledos live and work in a creative loft space in Midtown.  It's a place where art and life meld together in an unconventional way, just like the two of them.

ph: jason Schmidt

Isabel famously works out hula hooping

After 30 years, the two are still making magic ~
"You've got to love what you do and love who you do it with."

That's beautiful!

She is survived by her husband Rueben. They have been together since they're kids. My heart goes out to him.  They made beautiful music together for 45 years!

In 2012 she published her autobiography, “Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion.” The illustrations were by Mr. Toledo, of course.

This or That

                            I'm taking a pole, which  title do you like best for my book?

The book delves into how our home can help heal us on a deeper level and lead us to our authentic self.  It's about becoming aware of the "messages in the mess" that can become a catalyst for change.  With case studies, science backed information, exercises and inquiry we can find inner peace , more fulfilling relationships with ourself and others, then decorate accordingly.

                                                      DESIGN FROM WITHIN


                                                          OM FOR THE HOME

Do you understand what the book might mean, does either title make you curious and want to know more?

Does anything come up for you when you read this; curiosity, need, confusion?

Thank you for your feedback

Splash of Color

Eco Friendly paint goes airbourne in the hands of photographers Floto + Warner's creative eye.  I am mesmerized by the beauty of this commercial meets artistic project that elevates non toxic paint to star status.

The "Colorant" project using Behar, Benjamin Moore, CB Paint, Farrow and Ball, as well as Sherwin Williams water based paints is the headliner and mother nature's beautiful backdrop elevates the photos to otherworldly.

We call the Colourants floating sculptural events. They are short-lived anomalies that pass you by at an imperceptible flash - fleeting moments that block and obscure the landscape, a momentary graffiti of air and space.

That is sort of what we love about photography, its ability to take the transitory and make it permanent
,” says the duo. 

There was no photoshop involved in the making of these photos.

It is a fleeting momernt captured in time. This is a lovely reminder that being mindful of present moments is a gift because everything is impermanent.

Beautiful Illusion

 "My houses are more than homes— they are temples.  Wherever I go, I create them.  I live in my own temple within my own time, my own music, my own art, my own loved ones. Each element that I select has an aesthetic power or spiritual significance that elevates me.  I don’t think in terms of design, but rather in a layering of my life experiences.  Spaces have their own energies, and each layer that is added changes and influences the energy of a place. "

I was reading an article about Argentine hotelier and real estate developer Alan Faenarecently in Elle Decor and everything this man said struck me.  As I get ready to head south for the winter visiting the famous Faena hotel is on my "to do" list.  If you don't know him, you may  know his over the top properties.  He created an entire FAENA district in Miami, encompassing a hotel, event spaces, retail and restaurants making an immersive experience the goal.

Mr Faena's own Spanish style Miami home, designed with the help of Diego Pereira Luchetta, expresses his desire to arrive at what he calls, his beautiful illusion.  Alan says over the top interiors energize and delight him!

Each piece of furniture whether it be Regency, Louis XIV, Spanish, English, Italian Rococo or a custom Faena design gives energy to another, influencing one another, and the addition of bold art intricately fills in the pieces of a puzzle of a life fueled by authenticity, curiosity and creativity.

Alan Faena's thoughts, values, art, perceptions, religion, spirituality, and desires merge together into some kind of beautifully chaotic harmony.   The deep colors and rich layers are like a tapestry evolving over a lifetime.

Nourishing a childhood dream, a desire to be transparent and magical thinking have given Alan the push to be creative and create.  When thinking about his own home, creating a temple where one is renewed, is a sort of a layering process.  Each piece, each experience, family and friends bring a richness, another layer to the whole.  Every space has energy.  Alan feeds off of the energy he creates.  Spiritual deities and crystals are seen in many of the rooms.  They really speak to energy and not religion.

There are so many great quotes in the Elle Decor article, but I will leave you with this last one.

 "I am who I am because of the spaces I create - they allow me to live in absolute peace with myself and the exterior world."         

OK, one more, " What matters most is not the end goal but rather my daily transformations along the way"

I like this man's energy!!  


photos:Douglas Freidman 

Our Imprinted Past

It is hard to find the time to publish blog posts while trying to write a book.  This shit is hard!

I was so moved by Wendy Goodman's story in Elle Decor that I wanted you to see it.  Click here
so you can read the story in its entirety.  It is about Wendy's beautiful memories of her friend's and neighbor's home in Sands Point on Long Island Sound, NY, where she spent summers as a child.  The reason why I am so enamored with the story is that at this very moment I happen to be at the point in my book where I am discussing how our childhood memories of home are imprinted on us.  We carry many of those memories forward as we design our own homes.  The happiness and safety found in those early experiences influence us, envelop us in the warmth of our recollections of how we felt.  We often  recreate spaces from our past or take a cue from them ~ a color, a specific design aestetic and make it our own.

Wendy's vivd memories, as illustrated because there are no photos, tell a tale of mystery and adventure.  We sense the joy Wendy felt as she remebers the kitchen and the backyard with the smells and feelings it evoked.  Mrs. Harriman's bedroom was mysterious and left the impression it was a place of seclusion with its blue and white decor   ~  It's pretty powerful stuff!

Think about your own childhood environments:  your grandparents' or parents' home, or as in Wendy's case, the next door neighbor's home, that may have influenced you.  Can you trace back how you might have carried forth or been influenced by a beloved environment from your past?

illustration by Maira Kalman

Help Wanted

I am busy, busy over here being an author.  I love saying that!
This is the biggest, scariest thing I have ever tackled to date but that isn't stopping me.  I need  your help.  As I am thinking about the myriad of things that go into writing a book, the #1 goal is to solve a problem for my reader.

If you were reading a book about how your home can heal you on a deeper level, a holistic approach to live your most joy filled, authentic life ~ How can I serve you?

What would you want to learn having to do with how your home is a part of a bigger picture?
The connection between home, mind, body, spirit.

Are you interested in -
                                   better relationships
                                   interconnection between chakras, gut health, positive psychology and home                  

What areas do you struggle with?
                             not enough; time, money, happiness
                             thoughts that cause suffering
                             showing up for yourself

I really want to know anything that comes up when  you think of these questions!  You would be helping me steer my book in a clear direction that hopefully would encourage you towards transformation on your own hero's journey and of course the role your home plays.

Feel free to comment here or drop me an email at

                                                         Thank you

Say Whaaat?

I have come to a fork in the road. I have decided to do something that has been on my mind for some time now. The only thing that has stopped me from taking this next step is fear.  Is fear even a real thing or  a story we tell ourselves to keep us safe. I don't mean safe as in we are literally in danger, I mean safe as in keeping us in our comfort zone. Not taking a risk, playing it small. Life is too short to play it small! SO ~

                                                   I AM WRITING A BOOK

                                                              WISH ME LUCK