Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Propagating Perfection

When the landscape designer came to work up a plan for our back yard, the first thing he said was, "When can the play set go?" "In about twelve years." That was not the answer he was looking for and when the plan came there was the most lovely parterre where the playset was not going to be twelve years from now.

Dessin Fournir's new line of outdoor furniture includes that groovy little chair, top, that has me wishing for a grotto.

They have used the vintage molds from the MOMA to create these statues. I think this is Diana; there's a guy to go with. (Am I getting this right, Chuck? I should have been taking notes and talking so much.)

This table would be just as happy inside or out. Maybe, like me, happier in when all is said and done. Maybe quite happy in my kitchen.

And, yes, a metal Windsor. Not to get too hung up on the chairs.

Chic and simple, this bookcase could create a library in the flick of a cordless drill. Naturally, you can order just as many as you need to fill that long wall.

I finally met Chuck Comeau in Los Angeles. He showed me Dessin Fournir's new pieces for 2010. New pieces. New. Not the same old thing that has been hanging around the showroom since the beginning of this depressing depression. New designs.

I asked him, "What gives?" Rolling out new stuff and all. Bored? Delusional? No, optimistic. "We need inspiration. Designers need new things to look at; we all need new things to look at." Indeed.

Lots more very beautiful things, including wonderful chairs and case goods with amazing painted finishes are also on hand in the showrooms. 2010 looks like a good year.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I will not subject you to my vacation slides, but I feel I must offer up a summary of a very lovely trip. I was enchanted by Los Angeles. Sunny and warm. Up until now any visit to somewhere sunny and warm has meant sunny, warm and humid. I was delighted to find that this is not the case in Southern California.

I was delighted not just because it was a relief to dodge the energy sapping oppression, but also because I was worried about my hair. I have bad hair. Maybe you think that as a Midwestern housewife heading to LA to rub shoulders with the design glitterati, I should have other things on my mind. But mostly, I was worried about my hair being either limp or frizzy.

Wardrobe caused no distress as I had wisely invested in three pairs of soccer shoes, a very chic black lacrosse stick and three sleek racing swim suits just before I left.

The best part of blogging, for me, has been connecting with like-minded folks. It was such a treat to meet friends whom I have only known on-line. I was incredibly lucky to spend a leisurely afternoon with Scot Meacham Wood and long time friend Megan Arquette, who ran us around to the most reknowned shops and showrooms.

Cocktails that evening affirmed everything I knew about warm and lovely Katie Denham, who jumped into the blog pool about the same time I did. Katie was the first person who told me that Elle Decor's editor, Margaret Russell, had mentioned Mrs. Blandings at a book signing for So Chic. I still have Katie's email and receiving it was as surreal as the phone call from Margaret asking me to sit on Elle Decor's panel at West Week.

Before I left, Mr. Blandings asked me if I was nervous. I am not nervous to speak in front of people and certainly not to talk about blogging as we are all making this up anyway. But this panel was something else altogether. Mayer Rus. Michael Bruno. Vicente Wolf. I was clearly playing up.

I had met Vicente before and was thoroughly charmed. I had stalked Michael Bruno when I first started blogging. I had sent email after email trying to lure him to visit Kansas City. He was lovely about it. He was still lovely about it when I brought it up again last week.

Mayer Rus. Mayer Rus, for heaven's sake, whose back page was my first stop in House & Garden. Rus, the originator of design snark that no one else has yet again to capture without delving into the personal and petty. Rus, whom I could only compare to Keith Richards to give Mr. B perspective, would be sitting just to my right. And I, a girl whose taste tends to run more toward James Taylor, was giddy. And a little nervous. I have always had a thing for bad boys. Meeting Mayer gave me the jitters. I'm sure I flushed when he walked into the room. Nonsense, of course, as he was terrifically nice. The marijuana motif on his socks also took the edge off. Now knowing that writing those columns caused agony equivalent to the drug-free delivery of twins makes me treasure them all the more in their lucite temple on my shelves.

The panel discussion was fine (me), informative (Margaret and Vicente and Michael) and lively (Mayer.) If it is available on-line at some point I will post the link and you can judge for yourself.

Lunch with Eddie and Jaithan brought great news of their new TV pilot and breakfast the next day at the very chic Cecconi's with Lisa Borgnes Giramonti was pure delight. Lisa shared a few photos of her up-coming show. When I first found Lisa's blog, A Bloomsbury Life, I thought, "We have a lot in common, but she is at least 25% better than I am at everything." Once I met her I realized that percentage is likely greater.

A personal tour of Beverly Hills and Dawnridge followed and now I am home again. Cinderella after the ball up to my elbows in laundry and sports schedules and a science test and project due the same day, though, thank heavens, no sign of singing mice.

All images of Peter Dunham's wonderful shop Hollywood at Home. Elle Decor took care of my airfare and two days of my stay to accommodate my participation, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Less Than a Cup of Coffee

I just received a very nice comment from a fellow at ReBinder about my tear sheet organization. He is offering Mrs. Blandings readers 20% off of their binder orders at ReBinder.com through the end of May. He mentioned the Select line, which is chipboard instead of cardboard, which I am endorsing, though the cardboard is working just fine for me.

Just enter the code word BLANDINGSROCKS at check out. They are already inexpensive, so this could bring you in under your latte tab.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm Off

I'm off to L.A. A mythical city to me. A land where it is always sunny, always warm, always pretty. Sounds like a fairy tale. OK, so someone mentioned traffic. Every fairy tale needs a quest. One of the great benefits of blogging is connecting and I can already tell that the best part of this trip will be meeting with friends. I don't know if I'll come back next week full of pictures of stuff and places and things, but I feel quite sure that I will be so happy to hear the voices that up until now I have only seen on a screen. Back on Monday.

If you are in town, and you see the boys, remind them to take a shower every now and again.

It's All Here in Black and White

I was visiting with a friend recently and she mentioned that she'd like to update a traditional room. Make it a little fresher. A little younger. At the same time, she didn't want it to look trendy or trying-too-hard.

I've always like the use of architectural prints.

Clean. Crisp. Graphic.

But I suggested using photographs instead. To give it a little bit of an edge. I wonder if that is what Bruno de Caumont has done above. With the rosette? It could be a drawing, of course.

Local photographer, Keith Davis, has stunning pieces capturing the architecture of many state capitals.

I'm not sure he's photographed them all (and I guess I'm too lazy to find out) but it would be great to choose images from capitals that mean something to you. Or not, because I'm crazy about the first one here and I have absolutely no connection to Arkansas.
Images from top, Michael Smith, Houses, photography uncredited. I'm pretty sure this is right; no photo credit for page 24. Suzanne Kasler, Inspired Interiors, photography Erica George Dines; Albert Hadley, Albert Hadley, the Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer, photography by Mary E. Nichols (Megan says I am a Hadley Head - guilty); Bruno de Caumont, Elle Decor, April 2010, photgraphy by Simon Upton; remaining images via Dolphin Gallery by Keith Davis.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inside Spring Break

The boys and I drove to Dallas for Spring Break. (Is Spring Break capitalized? In our life it is.) We went through Tulsa, where I grew up, which is another story for another day as it is still tumbling around in my head and my heart.

But Dallas was sunny and warm, where Kansas City was cloudy and cold, and it was a lovely break. Often when we are there the house is bursting at the seams with people and events, but this trip was quiet and easy. My father's hair, which has always been thick and wavy, an on-going point of contention with my genetic lottery, is thinning just slightly in the front. He's tall, so you wouldn't notice, but when he bent over to show my youngest son how to shoot a pool ball I could see it. That almost imperceptible change was unreasonably significant.

My dad, while happy to go on the two-hour tour of Cowboys Stadium (yes, I did say two hours) decided to pass on the Nasher Sculpture Center. "I've done enough Sunday Morning shoots. You can tell me about it when you get back."

The Nasher collection is extensive and the Calder pieces were not on display, but it was four thumbs up for artist Jaume Plensa, whose pieces are on display right now. Plensa's work is an exploration of culture and nature, but particularly interesting to me as he incorporates text into many of his sculptures. That curtain of letters, top, spans the length of the entry and you must walk through it to access the galleries. It's chimes are delightful.

As we were looking at some pieces in the permanent exhibit, the youngest began to get a little squirrelly. A museum guard, a bear of a man, came over and quietly held out his hand and said, "Come with me." Hand up, head down, he walked quietly into the other room. I exchanged a look with his brothers and we followed to find the guard bending down and pointing at Twins I and II (second from top.) "You and your brothers can go inside, if you go one at a time." Pure delight to be inside those sculptures, finding the letters of their names and Pi and Omega and "a table" depending on your perspective.

Song of Songs III and IV (third photo) can also be experienced from the inside. As could the Richard Serra sculpture (photo 4) though I did not go in, I could hear their laughter as they raced through. There was a secret room (Tending (Blue) by James Turrell), accessed through doors set into a berm. The boys came upon the doors and swung them open without a thought, traveling the tunnel that lead to a small space open only to the sky.

I marveled that they did not hesitate to go through that door or down that tunnel. I know if I asked them what their favorite part of the trip was they would say, "The screen at Cowboy stadium," or "the Aquarium," but I would vote for the forty-five minutes we spent here. I think either Charles, Kuralt or Osgood, would agree with me.

All images except the last via the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wait, There's More

I'm going to give you a taste of the tables from the DIFFA event last night.  Click on them to see the details of the table settings.  David Jimenez hit it out of the park with his graphic and gorgeous style.

Local florist Chuck Matney was pretty in pink.

The Nerdbots were busy eating so we tried not to interrupt.

Peregrine Honig's table sparked lots of interest; click to see what she is serving up on those silver trays.

Don Fields created a sea side fantasy on the plaines.  (Check out those terrific chairs.)

And for you blueaholics Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar executed an extravagant Easter tableau using a combination of the best that Hall's has to offer and thrift store finds.  (I used restraint and did not say "eggstravagant.")

John Rufnacht kept the message clear that AIDS awareness is the mission; the creativity creates attention for the cause.

Proceeds from sales all weekend can benefit DIFFA if you mention it to your sales associate. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to DIFFA?

Hall's has gathered some really knock out designers to create tables for their Tables by Design event benefitting DIFFA Kansas City.

Here is a sneak peek of Black Bamboo owner, Tim Butt's, table.  Wow oh wow oh wow.

A percentage of the proceeds from purchases made this evening will benefit DIFFA, but the tables will be up through April 14th.  Stop in and let Eddie Ross, David Jimenez, Marc Blackwell and more inspire your Spring tables.  Hosting Easter brunch?  Seder dinner?  A graduation feast or wedding shower?  Get your creative juices flowing right here.

American Modern

I am a voyeur.  I have a good eye, and usually I do no harm, but I am quite aware that what I am doing is amateur.  Enjoyable.  Pleasant.  But not great.

So when I find something great I go over it and over it and over it.  Flip.  Squint.  Check.

Pick, pick, pick hoping to discern the thing that he has that I want.

The pictures help, of course, but what I want to do is read about the process.  Explain it to me.  Take me with you.  And Thomas O'Brien does this in American Modern, which has been sitting on either my desk or bedside table since it arrived at my door shockingly early one morning.

The pictures are wonderful and the projects are fresh - including both renditions of his apartment that you may have seen before - as O'Brien describes them with such care.

O'Brien does that thing, that thing with a mix of furniture and often traditional fabrics that communicates fresh and modern.  So often that Rorschach test in my head for O'Brien is black and white and vintage, but look.  Antique settee, two kinds of velvet, nailhead, a contrast welt and, yes, Brunschwig & Fils Tiger Velvet on the pillows.  One of O'Brien's favorite fabrics.  Who would have thought?  He had planned to keep these as his own, but they seemed at home here. 

American Modern is shipping now.  

I did receive an advance copy of the book, but no other compensation for wholeheartedly endorsing it.  All images courtesy of Abrams; photography by Laura Resen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Auto Reply: Out of Office

I am off to Dallas with the boys to see my folks.  I may pop in to post here and there, but don't expect much.  Or, if you already don't expect much, expect less.

Image of Calder sculpture courtesy of the Nasher Sculpture Center.