Home for the Holidays

Bennett Leifer, ph Marco Ricca

I had the pleasure of touring Holiday House in NYC once again this year right before it closed.  The setting was a 1904 Neo-Federal style mansion.  Launched by Iris Danker in 2008, this fundraiser only grows more exciting each year with the money raised benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Bennett Leifer's salon reminds us that everything new is old.  Our past informs our present, and when you bring the two together a powerful punch is packed in his deft designer hands.

With the holiday season upon us and given the fact that I am writing my book Om for the Home, how our home can heal us on a deeper level and lead us to our authentic self, it made me think about how the holidays and our feelings about holiday and family really begin from within.

To be home in our environment and to be home in ourselves is not that different.  We want safety, we want inner peace.  We want a place to feel good, to make others feel good, to be nourished and happy.  Bringing those we love into our sacred spaces is an intimate endeavor.  Feeding people is an act of love.

Taking a non traditional approach, Elsa Soyars created a Paris at Christmas dining room perfect for a fete, anywhere you call home.  The showstopping porcelain chandelier made by Andreea Braescu created so much rhythm.

Elsa Soyars, ph: Alan Barry 

I understand Elsa had the pleasure of entertaining a small group for lunch in her room.  I love that it actaully got used and enjoyed.  That's merry and bright!

Jasmine Lam's reception, sitting area is a beautiful, artful spot for gathering and celebrating, an essential element when bringing those together that we care about and helping create community. That is good for the holidays and all year long!

Jasmine Lam, ph: Marco Ricca

Aly Coulter embraced the gift giving season in the most luxurious way.  It felt like you were swept up in a dream from a bygone NYC era sponsored by Tiffany's.

Aly Coulter, ph: Alan Barry

Hilary Matt Interiors created an undefined space through the use of lines, shapes, dots, squiggles and a dark color scheme.  It is meant to be reflective and dare I say seductive.

Hilary Matt, ph:Seth Caplan

The Cafe Society of Manhattan in the 60's gives us so much richness to be inspired by.  Everything was a celebration, nothing that couldn't be made better with a good cocktail in hand, and humans aren't the only ones having fun.  These naughty primates with their partying ways are playful on so many levels.  I love this wallpaper by Astek in a fun bar lounge by Barbara Lewis for The Lewis Design Group.

Barbara Lewis, ph:Marco Ricca

Have you noticed that many a showhouse now includes a spa, meditation room or some other wellness destination?  It is a sign of the times that carving out a space for stillness is crucial to our overall well being.  This sacred space by Touijer Designs reminds us to be still, balanced and to breathe.

Touijer Designs, ph:Regan Wood

Whatever the holidays conjure up for you, home is the state of our soul.  It is a time to put away the politics and the divisiveness.  Be mindful, be present, be stressless!

I wish peace for you over the holiday season; to find the stillness at home.

Plant Purifiers

I am busy writing about all sorts of ways to improve your health and quality of life, in and outside of your home in my upcoming book Om for there Home.

Did you know one of the easiest ways to bring a little fresh air and JOY into your home is with the help of a plant?  It enhances your mind, body and spirit.  It's quite the little multi-tasker!

 Without a doubt your environment affects your health. The right houseplant can actually make a big difference in your mood, your stress level, your sleep quality and even your breathing. They pruify the air while providing immense pleasure to look at and has a calming effect too.
House plants improve indoor air quality by increasing oxygen levels .  These silent beauties are masters of air pollutant removal – magically working hard to absorb carbon dioxide, ammonia, benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene and other "nasties" throughout your home. 

"A plant study as far back as 1772 showed the benefit of plants for restoring air that was stagnant and low in oxygen from burning candles and from keeping animals. Plants have also been studied for their ability to purify and revitalize air for use by astronauts in space stations and future moon bases.
In a six month study of a plant filled room compared with a room without plants, the levels of airborne microbes and bacteria were 50% higher in the room without plants. Plants in the home also increase humidity, which reduces irritation from dry sinuses, reduces the severity of asthma and also reduces congestion." Occupants in rooms with plants recovered faster from illness, and studies have shown a higher level of focus.
Some plants to consider are ~ 
Peace Lily
Aloe Vera 
Snake Plant 
English Ivy
Boston Fern
Spider plant
Golden Pothos
Bamboo plant

Make sure to take the plants' growing conditions into consideration. 

Plus, having something alive and green in your home is good Feng Shui, except in the bedroom where it is believed plants are too activating.

Do you need any more resons to run to the nursery?

Quote:positive psychology

Fall Trends

Thank you New Home Source for including me in your designer round up. Take as look at what my  colleagues and I have to say about what we see happening this season.

Trend Report

photo Lily Bunn for OKL

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.