Nick Olsen decorated his friend’s tiny apartment for House Beautiful & I’m jealous.

New York-based interior designer and fellow blogger Nick Olsen decorated an absolutely fabulous apartment featured in this month’s issue of House Beautiful. The space is roughly the exact same size as my apartment! Except it looks 10,000 million times better and is awesome. *Le sigh* The entire issue of HB is rather wonderful this month, with a focus on small spaces (the California bungalow featured is another favorite). Take a video tour of the Olsen-designed Brooklyn studio here!

Images by Bjorn Wallander for House Beautiful via Splendid Sass and If The Lamp Shade Fits.

Cream & sugar & good design.

The Crozet Mudhouse is the café of my dreams…be sure to vote for them in the C-ville Best Of contest and follow them on Twitter here.

Here’s a special sneak preview of John Sarah John’s new space.

When I got back to the States a few months ago I was lucky enough to see the John Sarah John pop-up shop on the downtown mall just before it shuttered for good. Now, the store is re-opening in a new location on West Main street.

At the time I was there shooting, the owners were holding figure drawing classes in the back of the shop on Wednesdays. I liked the energy their half-finished sketches brought to the place. It felt a bit like the prop department for a David Fincher magical realist fantasy (neo-gothic and a bit foreboding but still palatable to the Academy.) Stop by their opening party this Thursday at 8pm to see how the end result differs.

505 W. Main St.
Charlottesville, Va. 22902

Behind the Seams: Coogan Makes a Clutch

I mentioned in my previous post spotlighting Coogan that he’s developing a locally-sourced denim line in the near future…but that’s not all, folks! Working with local entrepreneurs John and Sarah Owens (subject of their own Kankan feature later this month), Coogan is currently hard at work on a line of cocktail clutches made from old maps. What’s that, you say? This sounds like uncharted accessories territory…[see what I did there?] and indeed it is a new and exciting project that I had to stop by and see for myself. How would it work? What would it look like? Could I have one?

John and Sarah had a pop-up shop on the downtown mall last year and are in the process of setting up their new location on West Main. The duo had some old Swedish maps lying around in their eclectic collection and left it up to Coogan to find a new life for them. Et voila! Coogan invites me over to see his map-clutch prototype. (Saying “map-clutch prototype” sounds so technical. Maybe Bond will use it in an upcoming 007 adventure, no?)

Coogan is shopping the concept around to some local boutiques and I know that if there’s enough map left over, I’ll be ordering an oversized man clutch. (What is the technical term for a “man clutch”? I think it’s “envelope bag,” or something like that…sign me up!)

Inspiration: Iris Apfel in Architectural Digest

Iris Apfel’s apartment is featured in the latest issue of Architectural Digest, and I love it in all it’s quasi-baroque glory (patterns and colors and textures, oh my!) Click the link to view the full slideshow, plus they’ve got a q+a!

Inspiration: Best Western

I love me a vaguely “cowboys & indians” themed anything, mostly because I’m such a big fan of wide-brim hats, denim and Madonna’s Music album.

Images via W Magazine,, A Continuous Lean,, Charlotte Minty, Oracle Fox, Garance Doré, Opening CeremonyTommy Ton and Fashion Toast…possibly others, oh no! I’ve forgotten.

Debbie’s House Part 2

And now for part deux of Debbie’s home! Below is a picture of the backyard…the yellow building is the cottage her brother John lives in, the interior of which is featured here. That path from the cottage towards the house was actually Debbie’s wedding walk, and she and her husband were married under the large tree to the right. John is the man responsible for the brightly colored buildings on the grounds…quite the artiste!

The blue glass bowl below is a favorite piece of John’s, which he unfortunately shot with a BB. But it didn’t completely fall apart, so hooray for silver linings!

The yellow building below is a former chicken coop, given a second life as apartments and a third life as a house. The downstairs still needs to be renovated – I took a few shots of the interior, but not enough for a Debbie’s House Part 3 – yet!
 An abandoned car down by the river behind the house.

Debbie’s House Part 1

I stopped by my friend Debbie’s home a few weeks ago for this shoot – I’d been there once before to say goodbye in anticipation of my trip to China and I remembered loving her property. She was gracious enough to send me a brief history of the home, which you can read below. (This is part one in a two-part series! I’ll upload some more photos of other buildings + pictures of the grounds later this week next week.)

“Steve and I bought the property in 1986, and got married there in 1987. We had been living in a rented farmhouse just down the road a quarter mile or so, and we drove past the place everyday.  The only part of the property visible from the road was a 2-story wood frame poultry house that looked like a barracks; we had no idea there was a house there, too.  The place had been on the market for 5 years, but the owner did not want it listed locally. She only lived here intermittently, and struggled. The realtor with whom we were working obtained the owner’s permission to show it to us. She happened to be there when we looked at the place, and as we were leaving, she said that she wanted us to have it and, “just make me an offer.”  We offered less than a third of her asking price, and she said yes. Six weeks later we walked into our new home in disbelief, and we’ve been counting our lucky stars ever since (despite the plethora of inevitable ‘once in a lifetime’ home improvement projects that cannot be ignored). The owner left everything behind…furniture, clothes, kitchen stuff, personal items, everything! It wasn’t until our big renovation/addition project in 1995, when we cleared out, and moved back in, that we made it ‘ours’.

As near as we can tell, the house was built around 1870 by George Washington Monger.  We have a picture of him and his family taken outside the house around 1900 or so. He began Monger Lumber (still in business in Harrisonburg), from this location.  He gathered the surrounding timber, put it on a homemade raft on the river, and piloted it to Harpers Ferry.  There he sold the lumber and the disassembled raft and returned home to do it again.  The house and out-buildings are oak and solidly constructed. They have weathered various degrees of abuse and neglect over the years.  The ‘chicken house’ was converted into 4 apartments in the 50’s, and stood empty from 1975 to 1997, when my brother moved in and renovated the upstairs. (It’s such a cool old building, and the history of its uses is still visible.)  We’ve also fixed-up a small cottage, and my dear friend and beloved hairdresser now lives there. It has taken ‘a village’ to care for and improve our place. We knew when we bought our old home that we were committing ourselves to a life of vigilance in fighting the powers of decay. It has been so worth it.”

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Piqued of the Week: One Man’s Mess

This week I’m posting my sporadic “Piqued” feature on Monday to provide some food for thought before I upload photos of the week’s featured space. I’ve lately been wondering to what extent the “design” of an interior is really a conscious process. I don’t take for granted that decoration is an art form and that an interior provides a unique and uniquely rewarding canvas on which to work, but our homes are shaped, to some extent, by the random events of life and how we let those events manifest themselves in some detail of our homes is an interesting thing to see. And seeing – it’s a more complicated act than biology would have you believe. When my bench makeover was featured on Design*Sponge one commenter noted that she liked the bench, but was too distracted by my unmade bed in the background to appreciate it. I wasn’t offended so much as surprised – in my eyes, those sheets look whipped and fluffy, like chocolate mousse. I love the texture and shadow they add to the picture. This issue of disorder conflicting with the appreciation of a particular “mise en scène” came up once more when a friend of mine noted of the dining room table in Joey and Jeff’s home that he would like it if only there wasn’t a “mess” on the table. But the chairs, the table – so beautiful! How could you get hung up on some silly papers?

With the controversy unleashed by the recent release of the un-design book Undecorate, one has to wonder – what exactly do we see when looking at someone’s home? The picture above is of my friend Debbie’s son’s room. He’s left for college and the room is a bit unkempt, as one would expect – a makeshift shelter for his former home life. I love the way the comforter looks, though, and the pops of orange and blue hidden underneath. When shooting Debbie’s home I had in mind the photos of French photographer Dominique Nabakov, whose candid interiors shots make one relish the lack of obtrusive staging. As I upload the photos of Debbie’s home this week, ask yourself what you see…don’t take it for granted because it’s undecorated!

Inspiration: The Private World of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge

I fell in love with this gorgeous coffee table tome at Anthropologie a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find it on sale when I stopped by the store for the last day of employee appreciation week – I got it for only $30! (Original price: $95.) For all non-URBN employees it’s still only $49.95 and it’s totally worth it, as you can see below…

The bathroom window is custom-made…and incidentally my favorite window ever.
Look! The bench at the foot of YSL’s bed, below, is quite similar to my own