A good friend of ours came for the weekend and graciously brought flowers --in addition to croissants, chocolates and a lilac lamby for our little one. She's fabulous, French, in her eighth decade and cares tremendously for our environment and animals. It didn't surprise me that she showed up with Earth friendly flowers. In case you don't know, most cut flowers are generally grown with toxic chemicals, preserved with even more toxic chemicals and then shipped half way around world. Not these simple, but beautiful, store bought babies- they came from less than 500 miles away and were grown with nothing that would make us sick. Even the packaging was recycled and recyclable, with a little triple R message reminding us to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. I popped them into a Baccarat Vase (that I'm sure will be passed to my grandchildren one day) and placed them next to my homegrown oranges. There you have it, simple, green elegant.
Yesterday at the PDC Veranda hosted a documentary and all star panel on Redefining Luxury. Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Windsor Smith and Peter Campbell were among the panelists. Unlike the Westweek event a few weeks ago, which completely neglected any greenspeak, Veranda celebrated the dynamic eco duo from the Q Collection, awarding them with one of their four coveted awards for the Art of Design. Each winner and all the panelists championed the green cause, one even defined luxury as a clean glass of water. Again and again they reminded us that respect for the planet's resources and healthy built environments go hand in hand with luxury, something our firm has been touting for over a decade. The slides of their projects were breath taking and entertaining, especially the image of Kid Rock's bedroom which looked nothing like I thought it would. It was originally designed as a love nest for him and Pamela Anderson and apparently they were quite taken by a trip to St. Lucia. Windsor Smith intelligently spoke about redesigning the way we use space, sharing plans on her new Mandeville Canyon equestrian compound. I wanna be Windsor when I grow up! Dedar and Kneedler Fauchere held the reception. As always the fabrics, flowers and food were scrumptious. My favorites were the chocolate dipped macaroons. Because an HGTV camera was following me around filming a day in my life, I received extra attention and a special, little interview from Carolyn Englefield, Veranda's Editor At Large. Fun fun fun.
"I love living in our new house!" That's what my husband said when I handed him freshly squeezed orange juice this morning. We've been here for 10 days and now that everything is pretty much where we want it (NO MORE BOXES !) we have had the opportunity to start enjoying what this place has to offer. And boy oh boy does it has a lot of citrus! We spent the past weekend planting our succulents, the beginnings of an herb garden and painting the patio fence. The SoCal Contractor even made three huge planters for the patio. We found the perfect spot with the right combination of shade and sun for the orchids and figs will be ready in a few weeks. Can you say edible garden? It feels like the garden of Eden and I can promise you I won't screw it up by planting any apple trees!
Our Sara is not feeling well lately. If you read this, know that she helps to create beauty in the world and we need her to have a full, quick recovery so she can come back to film the TV pilot she helped us get. Hall and Oats Smile Sara made me think of her and I hope it inspires you to send your love her way.
I got the invite, heavy card stock, multiple layers, all the right hosts: Elle Decor, Margaret Russell, Monique Lhuillier, Windsor Smith and Julia Sorkin, but having recently gone to three events atWilliams Sonoma I still wasn't thrilled about attending. I also felt bad, that I hadn't placed in order there in quite some time. But I pulled out the hairdryer and lash curler, put on effortless cocktail attire and hit the party. Was I ever glad to have done so. I can't remember a party with a better dressed crowd. One outfit was more stylish than the next- and I did not spot one pair of jeans. The neon yellow, organza skirt paired with a biker jacket ala St. John Knits was the first blast of fabulousness to capture my attention. Even Alison Muh, President and Chief Fashion Officer of Surly Girl commented how well dressed we all were. (Alison is VERY successfully in business across the street from Channel, so you can bet she knows a thing or two about fashion. ) The showroom is so well appointed that I've officially named Williams Sonoma Home the new arbiter of interior style. They've always been good, but now they're one of the best. I was gushing over this place setting, while asking an adorable gentleman to help me turn off my flash. Turns out he was, Andrew Angel, Visual Manager for Williams Sonoma and responsible for the gorgeousness. One room glowed a little more than the others, of course this was right where Queen Margaret sat and signed copies of her new book Style and Substance The Best of Elle Decor (a portion of proceeds going to benefit P.S. Arts) . Also exciting was that the event was sprinkled with Top Design starlets, including fan favorite Felicia. As you know, I've been contemplating if Los Angeles is really the best place to live. At this point of the festivities I turned to Rachel Winokurand exclaimed, "I love living in LA!" Never disappointing, Miss Rachel showed up in true green fashion wearing Gramma Etta's vintage dress. (Etta was petite and those sleeves ended at her wrists.) I've lived in LA since I was 14, grown up with the rich and famous, and I don't get star struck. But when I saw my blogging idol Ms. Ronda Carman, I shed my uber, "I'm too cool to care" skin, grabbed her, primped her hair and shot a photo. Ronda- I love you and this was the highlight of my night! Ok... gotta get dressed and get over to the PDC for what I am sure is going to be one hell of a Westweek! ...and think about what I will be buying from Williams Sonoma for two new clients........
Compassion is part of our biology, doing good is the key to feeling good. Neuroscientists are actually discovering that feeling compassion is associated with the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps calm stress and boosts immune function. Acts of loving, kindness, meditation and dwelling on positive thoughts for other people are free, easy to do and ultimately help improve your mood and health. One of my favorite charities is the Smile Train. What I love so much about this organization is that for the price of a cute shirt or a nice dinner $250, I can show compassion and literally change a child's life. They are one of the best run organizations I've come across, traveling the world and teaming up with local doctors to repair cleft palates around the planet. In poor, underdeveloped regions of the world having a cleft palate is considered as a bad omen for a family or a village. So in addition to not being able to eat or speak properly, these children are shunned by society and sometimes even their own families. Countless children are ridiculed and beaten by other children, preventing them from going to school. Unknown numbers of infants with cleft palates are simply abandoned. It doesn't have to be this way because the Smile Train has never turned away one person who arrives for a surgery- which takes just under an hour to completely repair a cleft palate. Some people walk for days with only the hope that this blessing really exists. I invite you to watch the video below. If you're feeling compassionate after, the organization takes donations as little as $25 and think about how you will smile knowing you helped a child being able to do the same. Click here to see video Smile Train Visits Somalia
Back in the 80s I heard Christie Brinkley kept her teeth white with baking soda. This was before all the toothpaste manufacturers had figured this out, so I placed a box of Arm&Hammer in my medicine cabinet and brushed. It worked well and I still use her trick to this day in conjunction with my peppermint flavored Tom's of Maine toothpaste. So after two decades of hearing how Sophia Loren stays so beautiful (Olive Oil) I decided to try this one too. It's also a fact that olive oil absorbs easily into skin. A gallon of it runs about $11 dollars at Costco and the pretty Umbra refillable pump jar costs$15 at Hold Everything. I've been using olive oil all over my face, hands and body in place of three separate creams and IT WORKS GREAT. Bye bye expensive, organic creams and all their containers that need to be recycled. This gallon should last me about 6-8 months. I'm saving a small fortune on product which I can use for the "additional" doctor visits I've learned Ms. Loren also uses to keep her youthful appearance.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a designer series lecture at the Pacific Design Center. AD 100 and Interior Design Hall of Famer Juan Montoya spent an hour dazzling us with images of his work and insider info on how he does what he does so well. Anytime I have the opportunity to listen to a person who is this successful, I take it. Mr. Montoya is in his 70s and is going strong after decades due to his common sense approach and passion for interior design and architecture. One of the things I love so much about being an interior designer, is that if you’re good, you get better with age- like a fine wine. It was reassuring to hear someone I hold in such high esteem, espouse the same principle that I hold dear- a green approach to design. No he didn’t use the words “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” or “green” but he practices these things none the less. In most of his designs he uses furniture, art and accessories from the 20s, 30s and 40s, some of my favorites being Jean Michele Frank and Jacques Rhulmann. (This one is actually one of my projects, but it's a Rhulmann table and chairs in the Frederick Lowe Estate.) He rarely uses carpets and instead creates design in a hard (more easily cleaned and longer lasting) surfaces. He is well known for his liberal use of exquiste veneer on columns, walls, ceilings- but always prefers to restore what is there vs. ripping it out and installing new. And the greenest of all is his attitude, his very best advice being to smile a lot.
My daughter Elle recently celebrated her first birthday. Checks for college funds, adorable clothes, noisy toys (she loves), a soccer ball and a super stylish swimsuit were among the gifts she received. But the tea set from one of her BFFs (whose mommy happens to know a thing or two about etiquette being a deb from Houston) was our favorite. I believe all young ladies should host tea parties for their stuffed friends. Doing so teaches grace and generosity, vital ingredients to being a social success. Of course little Elle Bell took to it like a fish to water, tiaras in tow. Plus, tea sets don’t make annoying noises and they don’t require (rechargeable) batteries. But what was unique about this tea set and the reason we loved it so much was that it is green, made from 100% recycled, plastic, milk bottles retrieved from curbside collection. The back of the recycled cardboard packaging gives a little information about how much energy green toys can save. In this case it’s equal to using 3,000 AAA batteries or enough energy to power a TV for 3 weeks or run a lap top for a month. This set also contains no BPA, phthalates or lead paint. Just a box of good ole’ fashioned, girly fun- and best of all- made in the USA. You can find one at GreenToys.com.
A few days ago we headed out to Franklin Canyon for a New Year's, first birthday celebratory picnic. While having a picnic certainly isn't a new idea, doing it without disposables certainly did drawn some attention. Our lunch consisted of free range, beef fillet sandwiches, beans, green salad, custard with blueberries (everything organic, of course) and a bottle of Champagne- not organic, but French- and we all know Europeans have higher eco standards for things that go in their mouths. It was served on 19th century Limoges china, an antique table cloth, with matching cloth napkins, silver utensils and hand blown glasses. Instead of cut flowers, we brought two pots of fragrant herbs to decorate the table. (Later that day they were planted in the ground at our house). At the end of the picnic, we had almost no trash, which delighted everyone at around the table. Everything we brought was eaten, reusable or recyclable with the exception of the champage cork/wrapper and a little plastic wrap used to cover the custard ramekins. Soon we will be able to buy biodegradable plastic wrap and we can walk away as if we never visited. THAT'S IT FOR THE TRASH! After our lunch, we loaded up the car, left the herbs in the baby stroller (because it looked cool) and circled the lake for some more fresh air and exercise. Europeans aren't the only ones who know how to enjoy a civilized outing. And now we can enjoy our "decorations" for many meals to come.
Big thanks to Grace at Design*Sponge for blowin' up our favorite green builder Mr. SoCalContractor on one of our befores and afters. BEFORE AFTER BEFORE AFTER BEFORE AFTER BEFORE AFTER Fresh, green goodness! Enjoy.
2009 was a sweet challenge...had a baby, traveled around the globe, filmed three tv shows, wrote a book, finished two huge projects, won an award, got no sleep, joined DAR, participated in a show case house, visited with friends and family, attended all "the events" -baby in tow and survived a recession. Looking back at the year reminds me that you can do anything. Here's to 2010 and our new ventures, GreenDesign.org, retailing, book tours, MORE design and awards, a new home, Ford Motor Company and maybe, just maybe... another baby in the making. Success, health and happiness to all of you!
This may be the coolest way I ever seen to display a doily. Designer Kristen Wicklund showed her collection of porcelain dipped dolies at Greenwich House Pottery this holiday season. She dips them in porcelain and fires them in a mold until the fabric evaporates. I'm wondering if I can dips granny's doilies in starch and get the same effect.
Lately I've been doing a lot of market research for our new retail shop and discovered who ranks where in the Los Angeles interior design world (based on keyword searches, recent publications and blog/website mentions). Being number four never felt so good. 1. Kelly Wearstler- licensed everywhere, hosts Top Design, is entirely FAB. 2. Rose Tarlow- old guard, always refined, boyfriend isn't too shabby 3. David Phoenix- designs for governors, streamline traditional, entertainment industry darling 4. Lori Dennis- green guru, rustic modern, organic chic 5. Karin Blake- AD 100, Americana, Malibu Mama 6. Kathryn M. Ireland- European flair, relaxed fabrics, joie de vivre 7. Nathan Turner- smart retailer, impecable style, location location location 8. Martyn Lawrence Bullard- exotic tastemaker, bold interiors, excellent name 9. Molly Luetkemeyer- Wearstler protege, funky vintage, no charity is too far 10. Barclay Butera- west coast answer to Ralph Lauren, hell of a sweetie, knows a good outdoor lantern and there you have it.
Last night I was thrilled to come home from dinner at a friend's and see a box from China. It was a stack of Kira Krumm's new book, featuring world class designers, their projects and ten coloful pages of our designs. The book is written in Chinese and English and will sell all over the world. So exciting!
This week we shot film and photography for Blue Jay Way in Hollywood Hills and The Keys Estate in Rancho Mirage with Ken Hayden who is a photographer for Architectural Digest. Throughout the days I had to keep reminding people not to throw batteries in the trash, to recycle their glass bottles and turn off the lights when we left a room. It was such a pleasure to come back to the hotel and see, not one, but two recycle bins on each floor's lobby by the elevator. I can't say the Spa Casino and Resort in Palm Springs is the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in, but it is rated 5 stars. To see recycle bins in a five star lobby just made me smile. Now if people can figure out how to use them... we'll be in business.
Well finally at 7:30 PM I am able to drag myself out of bed (stomach flu) to tell you all about Poliform's Angeleno Partyand The Klara Porkrzywko show at Atmosphere. The Poliform grand re-opening on Beverly was spectacular with wine by Wente Vineyard, the oldest winery in California, and culinary delights by Chef Andrea Cavaliere from Cecconi's. In attendance were Angeleno Home Editor, Alex Abramian-Mott, Luxe Editor at Large, Michael Wollaeger, Marty Collins the developer of the sensational W residence hotel in Hollywood, Lonni Paul Design Star Finalist and Celebrity designer Liana Ried. In addition to being exquisitely crafted, Poliform is made following E1 guidelines, for strict European, emission standards, another example of how glamorous green can be. The SoCal Contractor, known to scrutinize every last detail of the built world, was immensely impressed. Marcelle Danan recently opened a fabulous, Melrose boutique, Atmosphere, featuring some of the prettiest things I've ever seen made from recycled glass. We will definitely be using them over at 1525 Blue Jay Way. The stylish, French maven held an opening party on Thursday night for Klara Pokrzywko, who's work celebrates the feminine form. She's just back from showing in Shanghai and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum. It's certainly something you want to see.
December 2009 is the last issue Met Home will ever print. That leaves only 6 national shelter magazines. Tragic.
Last night Los Angeles Magazine and the LA Mart partnered with Look Galleryto present Dreamscape, a conceptual design exhibition that explores the symbolic references of our personal spaces through the interplay of fine art and high design. It was really one of the loveliest parties I've attended in a long time. The halls were covered in white astroturf which glistened like clean, cold snow, the walls, draped in yards and yards of flowing white fabrics along with the LED uplights created a dreamy backdrop for this high style event. Plus DJ Patrick/Crash Entertainment spun the sweet sounds and Flowers of Beverly Hills provided elegant assortments of tulips, hydrangea and paper roses. Top Chefs Ilan Hall of The Gorbals and Marcel Vigneronof Modern Global Tastings served up pork laden tray after tray including bacon wraped matzoh. Gorgeous interior vignettes were cleverly displayed, my first, second and third place ribbons go respectively to Memory by Paul + Vickery (serene textiles, deconstructed chandelier and chair placement), The Mermaid's Lair by Stephen Pappas Interiors (sexy mermaid)and Egomaniac by Franklin Studios (stunning modern secretary). Also presenting were talk of the town design team, Woodson and Rummerfield. But honestly I think they're an overrated, watered down Kelly Wearstler look. But to be fair, they dress to kill every single time I've seen them. Jr. designer Elle showed up in skinny jeans and rode around in her chariot all night, otherwise known as the SoCal Contractor. PHOTOGRAPH BY JIM HARRIS What was green about this event? I saw something I've not seen before: more than one person asking the bartenders to reuse their original glass. People are starting to get it! Oh happy day!
Last night the alluring Lloyd Princeton of DMC and artist Chris Martin invited a select group to view and dine. Among the who's who were Michael Wollaeger our beloved Editor At Large for Luxe Magazine, vinter Caren Rideau of Rideau Vineyard and Hillary Atkin of the Atkin Report. I was so excited to meet Chris and learn about his colorful creations. We have a great big project to fill up on Blue Jay Way and timing is everything! Scrumptious treats were provided by Susan Feniger's Street and the boutique vineyard Rideau served some of the smoothest Sangiovese I've had since the Portland Wine Festival. Everyone in the intimate gathering had a fabulous time. I was particularly thrilled with the fact the group of 20 or so WALKED from the gallery on Robertson to Chris' lair a few blocks away. It was so very unLA and so very green! Rideau Vineyard Partners and Mrs. Chris Martin This picture on Chris' wall was poignant, since we've been contemplating a move to Miami. Have you heard about the arbitrary, additional 10% state tax that California has just attacked its citizens' paychecks with-- begining Monday? I'm not sure what kind of monkey business is going on when the seventh largest economy, with agriculture, technology, oil and entertainment can't balance its checkbook. But it's frightening to think taxes can be levied in such a stealth manner. I'm just sayin'.
Lori Dennis is a top Interior Designer, speaker, best selling author, star of HGTV’s The Real Designing Women and co-founder of Design Campus.