Of Books and Kitchens :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

There are, in my opinion, three musts in my life: great books, great food and a great kitchen. Give me a great story where I can bury myself in the plot, admire the scenery and fall in love with the characters. Or give me a book brimming with gorgeous photographs for me to savor and enjoy. Or give me a cookbook. Definitely give me a cookbook! Give me one that I can read from front to back and all over again, with pages  marked from notes in pencil, or marked from spatterings of whatever dish it is I am making or wine I am pouring, and pages that have been flagged, marking my favorite recipes. I love beautiful, image-filled cookbooks, as well as the instructional, informational varieties such as those from Fanny Farmer, Julia Child and Joy of Cooking. In my own small kitchen I have two bookcases filled with books, a collection that continues to grow. One day I will have my very own kitchen library with copious amounts of books, comfortable seating, plenty of lighting and of course a library ladder - No library is complete without a ladder! 

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

download (5).jpeg
 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

 Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Of Books and Kitchens  :: The Kitchen Library

Are you inspired?!

At Home with Dogs and their Designers, Sharing a Stylish Life

  © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

There are two things I have a weakness for, design books and dogs. And so when I received an advance copy of At Home with Dogs and their Designers, Sharing a Stylish Life, from Rizzoli, it was akin to getting an early Christmas gift. It's the time of year I start to take note of those gifts worth giving, and books are always at the top of my list of favorite items to give. As soon as I pulled this gorgeous book out of the bubble-wrap-lined manila envelope, I knew immediately who must have copies of these stunning pages filled with fun photographs, with snapshots into the lives of these vivacious dogs and their designers, with tips for dogs on living stylishly, and tips for humans on living with their 4-legged friends. As whimsical as it is stunning, this is a must for those designing dog-lovers in your life. 

I remember, about 4 years ago, when fellow blogger Stacey Bewkes and designer Susanna Salk got together to create a series of short videos bearing the same name. Stacey was the talent behind the scenes while Susannah was in front of the camera conducting the interviews. Perhaps Stephen Gambrel summed it up best when he said "I thought that houses were all about dinner parties and decorating but then I realized that you have to have a dog to really make it come to life." 

Inside the glossy pages 22 A-list designers offer us glimpses into the lives with their pets who tend to (more often than not) rule the roost.  In these homes no room is off-limits, no piece of furniture banned. Here clothing is optional and accessories are as chic as their surroundings. And as such as dogs will be dogs, accidents do happen - sometimes on vintage rugs, and antiques can sometimes be mistaken for chew toys.  

Each dog and his (or her) human has his own chapter and we are invited along to watch as they frolic around their stunning homes and gardens. At Home with Dogs and their Designers is as much an inspirational design book as it is a resource. Featured are such renowned decorators as: Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Nathan Turner and Eric Hughes, Jeffrey Alan Marks, Mary McDonald, Betsy Burnham, Kelly Wearstler, Schuyler Samperton, Brooke Giannetti, Hutton Wilkinson, Windsor Smith, Mark D. Sikes, Jonathan Adler, Steven Gambrel, Katie Ridder, Alex Papachristidis, Robert Couturier, Charlotte Moss, Bunny Williams, Carolyne Roehm, Brian J. McCarthy and Michelle Nussbaumer.

ABOUT  THE  AUTHOR:  Lifestyle  author Susanna  Salk has  written  many  books,  including Room  for  Children,  Decorate Fearlessly, and Be Your Own Decorator, all published by Rizzoli. She also hosts (and co-produces) the At Home  With video series  featuring  visits  with  leading tastemakers.  Interior  designer  and  architect Robert Couturier is  the  author  of Designing Paradises,  also  published by  Rizzoli, and an ASPCA  supporter.

Stacey Bewkes is the founder of Quintessence, a lifestyle blog and the co-producer of the At Home With video series, which really must be seen!

AT HOME WITH DOGS AND THEIR DESIGNERS: Sharing a Stylish Life By Susanna Salk Principal Photography by Stacey Bewkes, Foreword by Robert Couturier
Hardcover / 7¼" x 9⅛" / 176 pages/ 235 color photographs $35.00 US  
ISBN: 978-0-8478-6090-6/ Rizzoli New York  
October 2017 www.rizzoliusa.com

 

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

© At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

© At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017. All photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise specified.

© At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017. All photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise specified.

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017. All photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise specified.

© At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017. All photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise specified.

 © At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

© At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk, Rizzoli New York, 2017.  All  photography by Stacey Bewkes, unless otherwise  specified. 

Camouflage, is it a New Classic?

 Camouflage as a Classic. Image via Collage VIntage

Camouflage as a Classic. Image via Collage VIntage

Camouflage has been making its way into mainstream fashion over the past few years. Designer labels such as Valentino, Michael Kors, Burberry and Dries Van Noten have been incorporating this green and khaki-colored print into their ready-to-wear lines for a couple of years now. As it started to capture the attention of the general public, it has become more mainstream. With stylish and affordable takes on the pattern in such places as J.Crew, The Gap and Banana Republic. From skinny jeans to tailored pants, from jackets to dresses, we're seeing stylish, chic and modern takes on the battlefield uniform.  From the front lines, to the runway to Fifth Avenue does Camouflage have what it takes to become a classic?

 Camo worn Stylishly. Image via WHo What Wear

Camo worn Stylishly. Image via WHo What Wear

 Camouflage gets sophisticated when paired with a dress and pretty heels. Image via Cut Y Paste

Camouflage gets sophisticated when paired with a dress and pretty heels. Image via Cut Y Paste

 The French (and Ginger) knock it out of the ballpark! Le Camouflage, c'est classique c'est vrai! Image via Not Dressed as a Lamb

The French (and Ginger) knock it out of the ballpark! Le Camouflage, c'est classique c'est vrai! Image via Not Dressed as a Lamb

 Camouflage takes a sophisticated turn in the form of a pretty blouse, worn with white jeans and heels. Image via Glam Radar

Camouflage takes a sophisticated turn in the form of a pretty blouse, worn with white jeans and heels. Image via Glam Radar

 Because she Camo! She's French... bien sur! Image via Noholita 

Because she Camo! She's French... bien sur! Image via Noholita 

 Mixed Media and Camouflage. Image via Cut And Paste

Mixed Media and Camouflage. Image via Cut And Paste

 Chic Camo! Sequins and Things shows us another sophisticated style to this print that takes on a preppy-like appearance when paired with a black sweater, pearls and oversized sunnies.

Chic Camo! Sequins and Things shows us another sophisticated style to this print that takes on a preppy-like appearance when paired with a black sweater, pearls and oversized sunnies.

 When in Europe... Go Camo! Image via Style du Monde.

When in Europe... Go Camo! Image via Style du Monde.

 When done properly we see that Comfy Camo is not slouchy! Image via Style du Monde.

When done properly we see that Comfy Camo is not slouchy! Image via Style du Monde.

Desired and Inspired :: 15 Reasons Why White is Always Right

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor Image via  Giannetti Home

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor Image via Giannetti Home

Yesterday I wrote a post publicly declaring my love for black houses. I think they're bold, elegant and in short, sublime. (You can read about them here.) Today I will write about my love for white houses. Perhaps a direct reflection of my own Gemini personality, I happen to adore both. Traditional and classic there's a reason why this color has remained a favorite since the Colonial times. Whether at the shore, in the desert or on top of the mountains, the simplicity of this effortless color choice speaks for itself. Unlike its darker counterpart, white paint fares better in the elements, as the darker colors can fade beneath the sun's bright rays, this is never a problem with a white home, (which may need a good power washing on an annual basis.) Although modern homes are very well insulated with eco-friendlier heating and cooling systems, the darker colors do tend to absorb the heat of the sun, whereas white homes do not. 

In my town of Southport, Connecticut - a quiet, coastal hamlet located about an hour outside of New York City, white remains a popular choice among homeowners. Our architecture runs the gamut from Colonial to Cape Cod to Georgian, with a few VIctorian style homes. More modern-Colonials and Farm-style houses are starting to pop up in crisp white colors that seem to magnify the brilliance of the natural landscape. These white houses while no less sophisticated than the black ones I highlighted yesterday, do make a quieter statement, evoking a sense of calm and tranquility.

I've been noticing a few changes over the past couple of years in the newer as well as the older homes.

I've seen more homes removing their shutters and painting their trims the same color as the exterior paint (as opposed to a shade or two darker or lighter) or by complete contrast outlining the trim in black, which I also adore. As though piping has been added along the exterior of the home.

Windows are getting larger and many are starting to remove their shutters entirely. This is an easy update for an older home looking for a more modern look. In the case of the modern colonial, especially those with larger windows, I prefer the no shutter look, yet with the older homes, I'm torn - the jury's still out on that decision. I love the crisp, clean lines of the white home without shutters, yet there's nothing as charming and quintessential New England than driving through a historic down full of light color houses with dark shutters. If one has shutters on their home, I believe they should absolutely be a dark, classic color. What do you think?

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor, Image via  Dixon Architect

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor, Image via Dixon Architect

  Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor Image via  Studio McGee

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor Image via Studio McGee

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image va  Home Bunch

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image va Home Bunch

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via  Apartment 34

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via Apartment 34

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via  Blog and the City.

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via Blog and the City.

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via  Charlie and Co Design

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via Charlie and Co Design

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via  Robert Elliott Custom Homes

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor. Image via Robert Elliott Custom Homes

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via Coastal Living

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via Coastal Living

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via Pinterest

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via Pinterest

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via  CZCAM

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via CZCAM

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via  New England Living

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.. Image via New England Living

 Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.Image via  Simply Seleta

Desired and Inspired :: White House Splendor.Image via Simply Seleta

Desired and Inspired :: Little Black Houses (for you and me)

 Little Black Houses - Image:  Carlton Edwards

Little Black Houses - Image: Carlton Edwards

 Little Black Houses -  MarikaMcMeel

Little Black Houses - MarikaMcMeel

I have a relatively new obsession. I am just mad about dark colored houses. Whether deep charcoal grey or black, these unfussy homes are about as sophisticated as they get. They offer an understated elegance, a subdued glamour and blend into their settings seamlessly, whether coastal, urban or suburban. In fact, they almost seem to enhance the landscape that surrounds them. The color suits both large and small, modern and traditional. Dark colors add drama and depth and beckon you to take them seriously,  a message that you’re not afraid to be noticed. Not everyone can pull off a black home. I find them to be handsome and bold, do you?

 Little Black Houses -  AD Décoration

Little Black Houses - AD Décoration

 Little Black Houses - Image via Remodelista

Little Black Houses - Image via Remodelista

 Little Black House - Image via  The New York Times

Little Black House - Image via The New York Times

 Little Black Houses - Image via Houzz

Little Black Houses - Image via Houzz

 Little Black Houses - Image via  Posh Home

Little Black Houses - Image via Posh Home

 Little Black Houses - Original Source Unknown 

Little Black Houses - Original Source Unknown 

 Little Black Houses - Image via  Chic et Deco

Little Black Houses - Image via Chic et Deco

 Little Black Houses - Original Image Source Unknown 

Little Black Houses - Original Image Source Unknown 

 Little Black Houses - Image via  Style Juicer

Little Black Houses - Image via Style Juicer

I think I have a particular fondness for those houses with white trim. I think the white accentuates the black even more, making it seem all that much more dramatic. Yet there's the classic side to it as well - black and white will forever be classic colors, and there is a part of me that does embrace the traditional, even if the architecture might not be.

A few Favorite Places, Spaces and Things (A Condensed Guide of Sorts)

 The Bedford Post Inn, Bedford NY

The Bedford Post Inn, Bedford NY

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

New York:
Sant Ambroeus, Felidia, Bemelmans Bar (cocktails at the Carlyle), The King Cole (Bar at the St. Regis - home of the original Bloody Mary), The Modern, Balthazar, The Press Lounge (Rooftop Bar), The Standard (Rooftop Bar), BG at Bergdorf Goodman, Bedford Post Inn (Bedford, NY), The Inn at Pound Ridge (Pound Ridge, NY)
 

Connecticut (Fairfield County):
Match (South Norwalk), Barcelona (South Norwalk and Fairfield), Rive Bistro (Westport), The Whelk (Westport), Southend (New Canaan), Le Penguin (Westport), Pearl at Longshore (Westport),  Artisan at The Delamar, especially outside in Summer (Southport), The Schoolhouse (Cannondale), Southend (New Canaan) 

Rhode Island:
The Verandah Raw Bar at Ocean House (Westerly), The Inn at Castle Hill (Newport), Fluke Wine Bar (Newport), Belle's Cafe (Newport), The Midtown Oyster Bar (Newport), FiSH (Jamestown), Dewolf Tavern (Bristol) The Black Pearl (Newport), Clark Cooke House (Newport)

 

 Castle Hill Inn - Newport, Rhode Island

Castle Hill Inn - Newport, Rhode Island

FAVORITE LOCALish DESTINATIONS

Westerly, Watch Hill, Narragansett, Jamestown, Newport (RI)
Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Ocean Park (ME)
Amaganset, Stony Brook, Shelter Island (Long Island) 
Boston
 

 Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

(ON MY TRAVEL MUST SEE LIST)

Cuba, Barcelona, Greece, Sonoma County, Seattle, Venice, The Amalfi Coast, Croatia, the Maldives, Africa (Safari), Reykjavik (Hot springs), Bali.... for now! 

 Oysters on the half shell

Oysters on the half shell

FAVORITE FOODS

Caccio e Pepe (which I don't eat often but I adore), Oysters, Grilled Octopus, Lobster Roll in the summertime (hot or cold), Sushi, freshly picked tomatoes - especially heirloom, ice cream (unfortunately!), fresh fruit in the summertime, stovetop popcorn made with white truffle oil and either maldon or himalayan salt and a glass of rosé.

 Metropolitan, Whit Stillman 

Metropolitan, Whit Stillman 

FAVORITE MOVIES

Sabrina (the original), Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Metropolitan, Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, Dead Poets Society, 

FAVORITE BOOKS

The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger), any book written by Ruth Reichl, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith), Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe), The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules (both John Irving), Gift from the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh), Still Alice (Lisa Genova), My Life in France (Julia Child), Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert), Tender is the Night (F.Scott Fitzgerald), and of the ee cummings poetry books

 Freshly brewed coffee

Freshly brewed coffee

FAVORITE SMELLS

Freshly mowed grass, the ocean, freshly brewed coffee, the rain on the pavement on a hot day, apple pie baking in the oven, Votivo White Ocean Sands and Nest Bamboo candles, lilacs, lilies, gardenia...

FAVORITE SONGS

Clocks (Coldplay), Speed of Sound (Coldplay), Fix You (Coldplay) Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Glitter in the Air (Pink), All the Right Moves (One Republic), Sign of the Times (Harry Styles), El Cerrito Place (Kenny Chesney), Landslide (Fleetwood Mac), Heroes (David Bowie)

 A few Favorite Places, Spaces and Things (A Condensed Guide of Sorts) Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

A few Favorite Places, Spaces and Things (A Condensed Guide of Sorts) Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

MY (FAVORITE) CAMERA

My phone... because I have it with me I never miss a "Kodak moment," but I have an older model Canon EOS Rebel that I use both for work and to capture my favorite images. I'll upgrade the body at some point, but rely on the lenses, the kit 18-55 mm as well as a 75 - 300 mm for city and landscape images and the kit lens and a 50 mm lens that I use for a lot of my food photography. I truly believe that if you have an eye for images you really don't need a super high end camera. Practice makes perfect!

 A few Favorite Places, Spaces and Things (A Condensed Guide of Sorts) Image via Playbuzz

A few Favorite Places, Spaces and Things (A Condensed Guide of Sorts) Image via Playbuzz

FAVORITE SHOPPING

MY STYLE

My style is unapologetically,  unmistakably my own. It starts from the classics. The classics, after all never fade from style. From there I add on to accessorize or emphasize - to create a bit of an edge. I add on to express my mood - Am I feeling particularly wild? Or am I feeling more demure? Do I want to sit back and assess a situation, or do I want to make a statement? I don't really spend much on myself these days, a busy single mom with three kids and a budding business, and I don't have the desire (or the inclination) to scour shelves and racks. I firmly believe that style can be achieved within a minimal budget. I have pieces that I've had for 10, even 20 years. They always look current, alway fresh - and very much me. These are the foundations, the building blocks of my wardrobe and I can create around them. Truth of the matter is that I am complimented often, stopped in grocery stores and on the streets where someone asks about a pair of shoes, pants or sunglasses. Instead of a mere thank you I always give away my trade secrets and people are usually generally shocked to learn where the item may have originated from. With everyday brands borrowing ideas from luxury brands, style is always achievable and luckily for us these days, always affordable. 

My go to places for affordable style:
Banana Republic has the most amazing sales racks!
The Gap has only jeans I will wear. And because they're super affordable I can buy more!
Anthropologie and Free People better reflect my Bohemian side which I love to mix with the classics.
I never discount consignment shops. (Pun intended!)
I'm a true (and devoted) Marshall's and TJMaxx addict.
I also love the boutique shops that dot the streets of my town and the surrounding ones where I can find unique pieces that I won't see on the streets. I like to be individual! 

Elements of My Style - The Classic components

A Little black dress
A great fitting pair of jeans (in numerous styles and colors)
A tailored jacket (blazer) - black, off white, navy, tan - in classic colors
Kitten heel mules or slingbacks in assorted colors that work well with jeans and said little black dress
A little white dress
A few good cashmere sweaters, cardigans and crew necks
Pearl earrings
Diamond Studs
Pearl choker
A well fitted white Tshirt (to wear w jeans and sweaters or jackets)
A well fitted white blouse

Elements of My Style - The Bohemian components

Espadrille wedges, both mules and lace-up
Simple A-line dresses, linen and cotton, both above and below the knee
A little (white) blouse, loose fitting
Beaded anything, especially necklaces and bracelets
Tunics, both dresses and tops
A carefree attitude! 

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

One of the many joys of summer is the opportunity to eat outdoors. For those of us who live in climates that do not allow for this year-long, there's something particularly wonderful about dining en plein air, whether it means grabbing an outdoor table at your favorite local restaurant or setting your own outside your home.

Whether your home is lake-front or ocean-front, whether you have a yard, terrace, porch or balcony, no matter how large or small your space is, there's nothing as magical as dining under the stars or setting sun. Below are some images and ideas to inspire.

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

One day I'll have a pool in my backyard. In all honesty I want one less for swimming and sunning, and more for entertaining. I will have poolside dinner and cocktail parties all summer long. Some will be formal, others casual. Whether you invite your guests to jump in or not, is entirely up to you. Keep it as simple or make it formal - organize a sit-down dinner, or have a casual barbeque-style affair. It's less about what's being served and more about the gathering of friends.

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

Ideas for a poolside (or any outdoor) dinner party

  • Pot luck: assign everyone a dish to bring, from salads to entrees and desserts
  • Set up a salad and sandwich bar
  • Set up a burger and hot dog bar
  • Host a barbeque
  • Hire a caterer, whether formal or informal, and let someone else do the work
  • Have pizzas delivered - Order unique pies that people might not usually order
  • Have a taco party
  • Have a clambake or lobster boil
  • Hire a food truck
 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

While I do love the beach I tend not to frequent it as much during the daytime as I used to. In fact, my favorite time there is at the end of the day, whether I'm setting up something casual for two with a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese or gathering the masses together. When dining at the beach casual is best. Sand does tend to get into food, bugs do happen. Our local beaches have a no alcohol policy, but no one questions what's in plastic cups. We keep our bottles of wine chilled and hidden from view. Barbecuing on one of the provided grills sounds lovely but ends up being an unnecessary production - involves a lot more organization, more to pack and more to clean. Save the BBQ for home. We happen to live in an area where UberEATS is available and popular. They deliver to most beaches and you can order from anywhere. This is best for smaller parties. Pizza delivery is also fun, but I still think an informal picnic is the way to go. Above images: Lauren Nelson    

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

Ideas for an informal beach or lakeside picnic

  • Charcuterie, cheese and fruit platter
  • Sliced baguette (or other good crusty bread)
  • (pre) Grilled chicken, steak or shrimp, sliced as necessary
  • (pre assembled) Sandwiches
  • Roasted or grilled vegetables

Salads of all types including:

  • Antipasta
  • Tomato and corn
  • Greek salad
  • Salad Nicoise (pre-tossed)
  • Chicken salad
  • Watermelon and Feta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Pasta salad (macaroni salad)

Desserts including

  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Freshly cut up fruit
  • Cup cakes
  • Anything that's easily transportable and served
 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

An afternoon garden (or terrace) party with the girls can be simple and uncomplicated. Plan a light menu, salad, finger sandwiches, fresh fruit. Serve lemonade or a sparkling sangria. I love to make finger sandwiches using a thin sandwich bread. Two slices of bread, when cut into triangles, makes 2-4 depending on the size. I prefer them smaller so that I can have a variety. Image below Dear Pearl Flowers

Finger sandwich ideas

  • Watercress
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Tuna
  • Egg salad
  • Chicken salad (thinly cut)
  • Smoked ham (thinly sliced) with brie
  • Apple or pear (thinly sliced) with brie
  • Smoked salmon and Boursin
 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

Or maybe you live in the city and hosting an outdoor party isn't really an option. (Though I always thought it would be fun to gather a group of friends together in Central Park and set up a long table somewhere in the park!) Most apartments don't have balconies or terraces, if you do, you're lucky! Perhaps there's a roof you're allowed to use. Rooftop dining is becoming quite popular these days. This does require a certain amount of thought and planning so that unnecessary trips aren't made. While breaking out the China is a lovely thought, you may want to stick with a lighter weight melamine or even disposable plates. Keep your meals on the simple side. Take out, in this instance is perfect. A table cloth, fresh flowers, music, mood lighting and good wine will perfect your evening. Below image, Ciao Newport Beach

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

Terraces and patios are always a good idea! And since they tend to be located within close proximity to the kitchen or dining area transporting items such as plates, stemware, bottles and food is relatively simple. A simple bar cart is a great option for extra storage, and for placing dirty items when you're done with them. What to serve? Check out the options listed above.

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

How to dress your outside table

Tablecloths are optional and may not be suitable for a windy day. That said there are clips that can be purchased to keep tablecloths anchored for such a situation. I prefer my outdoor dining areas to be slightly more casual. Top sheets make great covers - from florals to stripes in a multitude of patterns. They're easily washed and dried and you likely already have an assortment. For something a bit heavier woven blankets (machine washable only) will also work. I'm a HUGE HomeGoods fan and these can all be purchased there affordably.
Mix and match different place settings, vases, pitchers and glassware, if you don't have enough of one set or pattern. Another place to look for extras are second hand shops and stores like Goodwill. Or invest in a nice set of melamine plates and plastic goblets, from retailers like Williams-Sonoma or Crate & Barrel that will stand the test of time.

 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

Decorating your outside table

  • I always like to work with elements from nature.
  • Large branches in vases or glass pitchers, painted if you wish. These can be used over and over
  • Large scallop and quahog shells can be washed and used to hold candles or even used as dishes to serve salt and pepper, or used as place cards
  • Freshly-cut plantings, plants or store-bought flowers are always a good idea - Stick to a color theme if you wish or just mix it up
  • A small terra cotta pot makes a lovely place setting
  • A small herb container makes a lovely place setting
  • An assortment of white candles can look positively magical
  • A large bowl of fresh fruit or vegetables such as in-season tomatoes and peppers make a lovely centerpiece 
  • Let your meal be your centerpiece
 The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

The Ultimate Guide to Dining Al Fresco

And lastly, and I love this idea.... gather the neighbors together and have a long, communal table. See if it's possible to close off your street - you're likely to need your town's permission - Invite everyone participate and contribute.  It might be easier to assign dishes, or else create a master list of items needed and have people sign up. Who knows, you might even start a neighborhood dining tradition. And I can't think of a better way to meet the neighbors you don't know or know well! (Above Image Grit Magazine)

Summer is too short a season to eat indoors!

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

A couple of weeks ago Coastal Living Magazine unveiled its 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island, built by Horan Building Company with A. Tesa Architecture and designed by Mark D. Sikes to benefit The Boys and Club of Newport County. I was approached by Modenus to attend and feature the home on behalf of Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

The house was first revealed to a select group of guests, designers and participating sponsors and vendors at the end of June and is now open to the public until September. The home is currently on the market and listed for sale, though under contract - I can't say I'm surprised. I am honored to have been a part of the reveal. 

"Wellborn Cabinet is honored to be a national sponsor at this year's Coastal Living Idea Home. Throughout the years, our partnership with Coastal Living has been a tremendous partnership and we are honored to be featured in many rooms of the home."

As always, there's no better way to be inspired than to visit a decorator show house, and there's likely one not to far from you. At the end you'll find my take-aways from The 2017 Coastal Living Idea House. (I happen to love that they refer to these as idea houses!)

 

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

This bay-front home with wood shingles, and clean lines resembles many of the newer coastal homes. It's presence, neither grand nor commanding nor humble and unassuming blends well into the landscape. The 5,000 square foot home, sits quietly out on Easton's Point with majestic views of the Atlantic and the famed Cliff Walk just beyond. It wasn't until I walked inside, however, that I saw a congenial home transform into something spectacular, decorated in a classic style and loaded with decorating ideas to awe and inspire.

Once inside you're immediately carried away in a sea of blue and white. I haven't the words to quite describe the interior - although casual by design, there's an air of sophistication in the décor - the selection of the fabrics, the positioning of the furniture, the way everything is pulled together with the various vignettes found throughout. The blue and white lend themselves to the coastal location, which at times is bold and powerful, and others calm and serene. The home, in my opinion, was created to entertain. From the open-plan sitting area and chef's kitchen, to the large and plentiful entertaining spaces including game room, pool area, outside kitchen, and generously sized third-floor deck.

The Idea House is like a richly woven tapestry, where different threads join together to create a beautiful story. In true Mark Sikes style, contrasting layers, patterns, textures and varying hues of blue and white join forces to create the most complimentary of settings. The home flows easily, smoothly - like a river with a gentle current from one space to the next, from the bottom floor to the upper level. The principle sitting area has a classic feel with timeless sensibilities, an air of sophistication in an otherwise casual setting.

It is centrally positioned with the kitchen behind it, sliding doors to the terrace and the pool on one side and sliding doors to the porch on the other with natural sunlight streaming in from both the east and the west, ensuring a well lit space throughout the day. From the main living area we wander over to the kitchen where the blue and white continues to play a prominent role.

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

The island, lower cabinets and oven stand austerely in a handsome blue, clean and understated. Above a crisp white reflects more natural lighting that pours in from the windows over the sink, off the butler's pantry and by the eating area (not visible from this angle.) In what is often the busiest room of the home, a sense of calm and order exists here. The cabinets, all provided by Wellborn, are the brand's Davenport Square Maple non-beaded inset and painted in Benjamin Moore's NY State of Mind, BM805. The upper cabinetry is shown in Davenport Square with a Maple Porcelain finish non-beaded inset. The beading and ceiling are painted in Farrow & Ball Wimborne White in Full Gloss.

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

The Butler's Pantry has a sleek sophistication. It's a small space and while many tend to shy away from all the activity in the room, Sikes proves that even small spaces benefit greatly from color and texture. The Cabinets, Wellborn, are Davenport Square Maple and painted in Benjamin Moore Blue Dragon and topped with Cambria countertops. The backsplash is Farrow & Ball closet stripe. The ceiling paper is Quadrille Home Couture, Medallions. 

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

The hallways, dressed in a clean crisp blue and white stripe (Farrow & Ball's Block Print Stripe) have an almost river-like flow guiding you from one room to the next, neatly tying everything together. The simple geometric shapes (Kayce Hughes art) give the space a sense of calm creating a nice juxtaposition against the otherwise busy walls.  

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

The first room I wandered into was this fantastic gingham bedroom. The bold check captures your attention from down the hallway. As you enter the bedroom, daybeds dressed in navy anchor the space with oversized pillows in a complementary pattern and the striped rug below. Pops of color appear in the assorted photographs and art.

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Wander through an adjoining Jack and Jill bathroom to what might be a girl's bedroom, reminiscent of a garden room or solarium dressed in blue florals and and blue and white trellis walls with blue botanical prints. Shall we call this room Blue Gardens, perhaps? Directly across the bed, two French doors open onto a nicely sized deck - perfect for enjoying that first cup of coffee or a glass of wine at the end of the day - with sweeping views of coastal Newport beyond. 

(Click on the images below to enlarge)

The Master Bedroom, has a softer, gentler feel while incorporating the same layers of texture throughout. A variety of contrasting fabrics and textures marry well together to create a scene that, in this space, is tranquil and relaxing, a contrast from the two bedrooms I showed you prior. Throughout the home, we see Sikes' immaculate attention to even the most minute of details.
(Click on the images below to enlarge)

Another community space lives in between two of the bedrooms, bridging them together. Here, with light woods, light hues, clean lines and geometric shapes, the room offers a beachy California vibe. Directly across the couch another set of French doors offer up the Atlantic Ocean and the Cliff Walk as a powerful backdrop.

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

With the exception of the bathroom off of the mud room on the main level, the home's bathrooms tend to be simple and fuss-free. White (or pale) walls with simple trim balance out the business of the other spaces. 

 Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Inside Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island. Images property of The Entertaining House

Below deck.... circling back around and back downstairs tothe lower level. To use the word basement to describe the area doesn't do the area any justice. Downstairs are the media and game rooms. 

Contrary to how one might think of a basement, this space, although expansive, is warm and welcoming. A cozy seating area is created around a coffee table adds a touch of sophistication - a word not often used to describe basement spaces! A convergence of varying patterns and pillows create a very easy and lived-in feel. 

In the adjoining space just beyond, lies the game room complete with pool table, chess, backgammon and card tables set up against a cozy banquet seem to juxtapose the the light, feminine-like paper. She'll want to call the area hers as much as he'll try to proclaim his man-cave.

Step outside to find a generously sized lap pool and several seating areas, perfect for relaxing and catching some rays, dining or gathering around a fire pit and making s'mores (not shown.) There's much I haven't shown you, but the house will be featured in the September issue of Coastal Living Magazine. For those of you who have questions of items you see photographed throughout the home, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for product information and details. 

IMG_9897.jpg

I've always found that show houses are great places to gather up ideas for one's own space, more so than flipping through the pages of my shelter magazines as they offer 360 degree views of a single space. It's a good way to see what's on trend, what styles have staying power, and how to give the classics an updated and freshened up look.

My takeaways from Coastal Living Magazine's 2017 Idea House:

  • Blue and white is a classic color combination that will always have staying power
  • The blue and white combination continues to be a popular choice among designers and can be used to create the most casual of spaces and the most sophisticated of spaces
  • Create vignettes in spaces to tell a story, whether it's a styled coffee table, desk or room
  • Mixing patterns - Florals, stripes, checks and plaids, for example - look gorgeous together
  • Mixing varying forms of one hue together creates depth and dimension
  • Mixing textures - wicker, leather, woods, ceramic, glass, for example - create a richer and more sophisticated space
  • Wallpaper has returned as a popular choice to dress up a room.
  • Fabric wallpaper is becoming a popular choice among designers
  • Patterns, whether on accessories such as pillows or rugs, on furniture or walls, are en vogue
  • A home can be both casual and sophisticated
  • Although a classic, wicker, both white and natural, are becoming more prevalent 
  • Artwork doesn't need to be fussy, fancy or expensive - simple geometric shapes and photography (of all genres) are making a comeback
  • Plants and flowers are a must! Every room in the idea house has either a bouquet of fresh flowers or a plant
  • Details matter! From cabinetry to appliances - both large and small - to paint color and trimmings, the details all matter!

If you need any product information please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will do my best to locate the source and vendor!

For those of you planning a visit to Newport this summer, I highly recommend you stop by for a quick visit. It's right on the beaten path and won't take you out of your way from any sight-seeing or eating!

316 Tuckerman Avenue, Newport, RI

* This was a sponsored post and written on behalf of Wellborn Cabinets, LLC. The ideas expressed are solely my own.
 

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

To New Englanders, and those south in the Metro New York area, there's something almost mystical about the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Known for its iconic yellow façade, the luxury majestically watches over the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The resort is as revered today as it was in 1868, when it welcomed its first guests, quickly becoming the premier summer destination for generations of Americans who had the means the means for luxury travel.

In 2003, after 135 years of welcoming guests, the hotel closed its doors. Damage from the salty air and harsh New England winters had taken its toll on the Victorian building. It wouldn't remain closed for long, however, as the following year, plans were drawn up to recreate the original hotel as accurately as possible. Over 5,000 items were carefully salvaged from the original structure, giving the new one the character and charm of yesteryear. Ocean House now features 49 rooms, 15 suites, an on-site spa, several dining options, and a number of luxe amenities. It is once again a sought-after New England destination.

Ocean House has long been on my personal wish list and last month I was able to see that wish come true. On behalf of Yankee Magazine I booked a room so that I could research and write Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island | The Perfect Spot for a Seaside Lunch for the magazine's digital publication. I soon learned that one doesn't to have the deep pockets of a Vanderbilt or Astor to visit the luxury resort. The numerous restaurants on property are open to the public as well as their guests. (Click on the link above to read the article.)  

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

Although it felt like summer in much of the country, May 31st was a chilly, drizzly and overcast day in Rhode Island. Not unusual weather for these parts, but disappointing for those of us who had come to the premiere resort looking forward to spending some time basking in the sun. Luckily for us we would soon learned that the hotel offers much to keep their guests busy during inclement weather. 

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. (The sun rises at Ocean House)

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. (The sun rises at Ocean House)

As we checked in we were treated to a glass of Prosecco and we had no inclination of turning it town. Waiting for the concierge to return with our room keys I couldn't help but notice the trompe l'oeil of a five dollar bill on the floor. (I made a note to ask when she returned. Naturally, I forgot and wouldn't learn the answer until later that afternoon.) Once we received our keys we proceeded up to our room. We could not help but notice the collection of cartoons by the French artist Sem, and paused to look at them carefully on the way to our room. 
Our room was bright and spacious with a fabulous view of the Atlantic Ocean. Even on a dreary day the scene was magnificent, breathtakingly calm as a light rain misted onto our balcony and gentle waves rode in on an ocean as grey as the sky. 

Our initial plan was to drop off our bags, clean up and head back downstairs for a late lunch. We were scheduled for a 4:00 PM tour of the hotel, so a late, leisurely lunch was the perfect plan. We weren't expecting the gorgeous cheese, charcuterie and fruit platter that greeted us, on the counter over the fridge that was stocked with waters and soft drinks for us to help ourselves to at no additional cost. On the shelves above were glass jars (like you'd find at an old fashioned penny candy store) filled with malted milk balls, goldfish crackers and assorted nuts. 

We each grabbed a plate and helped ourselves to the generous assortment which perfectly complemented the Prosecco we had brought up from downstairs. Satisfied and bellies full we headed back down for our tour, and as we waited in the lobby I couldn't help but notice another small trompe l'oeil painted on the floor... We learned that this all had to do with Mortimer Mouse. 

Mortimer Mouse is a fictitious character who resides in the Ocean House. Written and illustrated by Ardith Schneider, the children's book incorporates the hotel's history into a lively story. The animal characters have been drawn, scanned and superimposed on actual photographs of the unique architectural elements of the Ocean House Hotel which include the old elevator, the fireplace and the Palladian window. Throughout the book the mice romp through the hotel rooms taking care not to be chomped up by the encroaching excavators. As the story concludes Mortimer and Max are seen amongst the rubble of the demolished hotel. They pick themselves up and seek refuge in the chapel across the street where they will watch the new Ocean House emerge from a cavernous foundation hole. Adapting to a big change in their life, they explore the chapel and anticipate the new hotel. To play off of the book, a local artist, painted a dozen wonderful images that are scattered throughout the hotel. A treasure map of these fun finds is at the concierge. This grown-up child delighted in this perfect rainy day activity as we toured the hotel. For more child-friendly experiences at Ocean House and Nearby, click here.

Art and Cooking at Ocean House

After we learned about Mortimer Mouse we toured more of the hotel including the Center for Culinary Arts where cooking lessons and tastings are offered in a state of the art Gaggenau outfitted kitchen with a most impressive wine cellar. The day we were there we could smell the freshly baked breads in the ovens from the last class. The cellar was lined with wonderful illustrations of the late Ludwig Bemelmans (many recognize his work from the wonderful Madeline books) each more delightful than the next. In fact, Ocean House boasts an impressive collection of his works from New York City as well as Paris. Read more about it here. In fact, the hotel features a wide variety of art in various mediums, using hallways and salons as galleries. I recommend strolling through the hotel to view the spectacular art on display. For those interested in the vast collection, I highly suggest you ask for a tour.

Classes and Activities at Ocean House

The hotel publishes a beautiful newsletter for its guests, Ocean House Waves, which highlights the monthly and daily events - from wine tasting, to souflé-making, to spa and fitness class offerings. There are many activities geared towards families and children, most of which are at no additional cost to hotel guests. A link to the most recent newsletter can be viewed when clicking this link

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem

Health and Fitness at Ocean House

The hotel boasts a 5-star spa with full offerings and featuring locally sourced beauty products. For the health and sport enthusiast there are a multitude of recreational activities to choose from including tennis, croquet, squash, paddle boarding, surfing, shuffleboard and of course swimming. The hotel also has a state of the art fully equipped gym with the most technically-advanced equipment. Classes, both group and private are available, and schedules are printed out for each hotel guest. For those wanting to work out with instruction a state of the art machine is on hand that offers video instruction for a multitude of of classes from yoga to Barre to Spinning. So you'll be able to eat and drink to your heart's content.... You are on vacation, after all!

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. Image courtesy Ocean House (Oysters Rockefeller)

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. Image courtesy Ocean House (Oysters Rockefeller)

Food and Dining at Ocean House

As a member of the Relais & Châteaux luxury property group, Ocean House prides itself on its fine dining experience . The good news is that you needn't be a guest of the hotel to enjoy them. Nearly all of the hotel’s excellent on-site dining options (including those at its nearby sister property, the Weekapaug Inn) offer the perfect seaside lunch experience for summer, thus making Ocean House a perfect road trip destination for New Englanders. In a recent digital publication for Yankee Magazine, newengland.com, I featured the many and varied restaurants at Ocean House. Click here to read about them all. 

Ocean House's Secret Garden

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

I was excited to check out the newly established Secret Garden created in partnership with Veuve Clicquot. Located "secretly" behind The Bistro Bar & Lounge, on an intimately-sized deck outfitted with wicker furniture, white cushions and dressed up in what I like to refer to as Veuve Orange, the Secret Garden has sweeping views of the hotel property and the ocean beyond. 

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

The "garden" is open to guests and locals alike and features appetizer-sized treats which include lobster rolls and assorted mini hot dogs dressed in various toppings. The newest Champagne, Riche, (pronounced Rich) designed to be enjoyed on ice is served here - one of the very few places on the East Coast to offer the new label. Riche is somewhat sweeter and was designed specifically to be enjoyed on ice. Served in what are referred to as Swimming Pools, large rounded goblets, these cocktails come with an assortment of garnishes, from citrus to spicy. Click here for the menu.

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. A peek inside the Veuve Cliquot Secret Garden

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. 

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. 

The Beach at Ocean House

Beyond the Secret Garden and at the bottom of the hill the beach extends for as far as the eye can see. To the left (as you stand facing the hotel) is the property of none other than Ms. Taylor Swift herself. (For those generations much younger than I, there's even a geotag for your social media posts.) The beach is the only area that is reserved for hotel guests only. 

Beach chairs dressed in the iconic Ocean House yellow are neatly lined up, waiting to greet guests as they arrive. Cabanas are available for use as well, and after a recent partnership with Lilly Pulitzer, are now dressed up in the brand's signature summer prints. (You'll be remiss to notice the waitresses in the Secret Garden dressed in Lilly as well.)

The beach offers paddle and surf lessons, and for those who prefer to comb the sands looking for sea glass.... I can assure you that you won't come up empty handed - especially if you're there early in the morning. For hungry beach goers there's Dune Cottage located in a shady pergola right on the private beach. The restaurant offers a casual elegance with simple, yet sophisticated Mediterranean–inspired menu. An outdoor kitchen offers fresh, brick-oven pizzas, salads, sandwiches and grilled skewers. For more click here

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. 

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem. 

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem - Image courtesy of  Ocean House

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem - Image courtesy of  Ocean House

 Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem - Image courtesy of Ocean House

Ocean House, Rhode Island :: A New England Gem - Image courtesy of Ocean House

Accommodations and Service

As one expects when one stays at any 5-Star hotel, specifically a Relais & Chateaux property, service is nothing less than impeccable. The staff were friendly, courteous and always at the ready to help, offer advice, information or suggestions.

It might have been the charcuterie and cheese platter that initially grabbed our attention, but as with everything else at Ocean House, our room was warm and welcoming as well. With French doors that opened to our own private balcony, perfect for enjoying that early morning coffee. If you're not one to wake early, you may want to consider just once - the sunrises are nothing less than breathtaking. More impressive to me than the bedroom, was the bathroom. Outfitted with the deepest tub I have ever seen, I thought who needs a spa when you have this? It felt like a personal swimming pool. I emptied my sachet of bath salts and soaked until every worry disappeared. Might I go so far as to say that the shower might have been the best hotel shower I have yet to experience? I might! (And I've stayed at my fair share of luxury hotels.) I don't think it was so much the water pressure and the hot water (I like it very very hot) massaging my back, but what was underfoot. Smooth river rocks inlaid at the bottom of the shower offered the most healing of touches. I could have stood there all day. I should not overlook the full sized bottles of Molton Brown shower products, another small but perfect touch. 

At Ocean House one cannot help but notice the incredible, careful attention to detail which is evident everywhere you turn.... from the hallways, to the dining areas to the accommodations, dining and activities. 

In short, Ocean House epitomizes the quality and service expected at the world's top resorts. It is not without reason that the hotel has earned so many awards and top accolades by the most prestigious travel sites and publications. Whether you're visiting for the day or a few days, Ocean House will offer an experience that will be savored and forever etched in your memory.

Book Review - The Decorated Home, Living with Style and Joy

It's a sunny 85 degree day in June and I finally have some time to sit down and savor THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY. As I recline on the couch on my 3-season porch, the leaves on the branches sway in the gentle breeze - I glance up to spy a couple of gigantic yellow butterflies fluttering in the distance and a couple of squirrels chasing each other up a tree. I have a lemonade on the ground next to me (the coffee table is too far a reach!) and Meg Braff's book on my lap.

The images in THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY are as refreshing as a cold bowl sherbet on a hot summer day. Her use of vibrant pastels, bright blues, yellows, greens, pinks and corals not only evoke a sense of calm, but instill a sense of understated sophistication. Her designs are all elegant, are approachable, friendly, liveable and without pretension. 

Everyone wants a house filled with grace and charm. Throughout the book Braff shares her inspirations and advice on creating spaces that are livable and attractive, maintaining both form and function. She explores the key elements of her look—color and pattern—and how to employ them for maximum impact.

Known for her use of color, especially those "offbeat enough to catch your eye" Braff has an affinity for layering several hues together, as we see throughout the many pages. Of the belief that all variations needn't match exactly, she often pairs unexpected colors together to create a great impact. She considers green a neutral - a color with which all others can be paired, like a garden in full bloom, but admits to favoring one color in particular.

However, if I had to align with one color, it would be blue. I am captivated by many shades of blue, from the soothing, expressive Prussian blues in Henri Matisse paintings to the intriguing, muted tones of the French artist Roger Muhl...

Blues evoke the ocean and air; similar to green, it takes on a neutral quality because it works so well with other colors.
— Living with Style and Joy, Meg Braff

Braff is a huge fan of pattern, which she infuses with her love of color, often layering and marrying several patterns together to create rich and storied spaces. 

While there is no exact formula, layers of pattern work best when you mix scales. A small ikat on a lampshade next to a chair covered in a larger pattern creates a mix that’s visually intriguing. Aim for interest at different heights in the room; don’t concentrate all the pattern at eye level or on the the floor.”
— The Decorated Room, Meg Braff

Throughout the book she shares her inspirations - her love for detail, antiques, pattern, texture, Chinoiserie, as well as tips for selecting paint color, shopping, styling, and organization.  She also shares the essential elements to creating stylish bedrooms, inviting baths and breakfast rooms, and offers up suggestions for creating chic outdoor spaces.  She also shares with us the importance of finishing touches - the little extras that elevate a room’s decor from good to great.

Coco Chanel once advised, ‘before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ You should do the same when decorating with pattern. Like fashion, pattern benefits from a good edit.
— Living with Style and Joy, Meg Braff

All of her advice comes together in an overall theme of gracious living that will be warmly welcomed by readers looking to impart polish, color, and grace to their home. Lushly illustrated with vivid images of Braff’s lively work, THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY is an inspiring, idea-filled resource for both novices and experts alike.

Born and raised in Mississippi, interior designer Meg Braff has been praised extensively for her ingenious use of color and pattern. Now based on Long Island, Meg Braff Interiors is known for its work intop resort locations including Bermuda, Palm Beach, the Hamptons, and Newport. Braff also owns her own design shop in Locust Valley.

THE DECORATED HOME: LIVING WITH STYLE AND JOY
Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
300 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010
Tel. (212) 387-3400 Telefax (212) 387-3535