{The small sitting room in Wembury, on the Devon coast.}

It's winter and nearly Valentine's Day, and the two together always remind me of some {and there are many} of my favourite fireplaces. Lately I’ve been seeing the use of stacks of perfectly piled firewood as a structural or graphic element in sitting rooms, and still very much in my rustic phase, the look appeals and brings thoughts of being tucked away in a lazy log cabin, twirls of smoke from the fire drawing intricate patterns in the Winter sky . . .

{via a mad tea party with alis}

{Molly Simms' LA home via
Turquoise Chic}

{via decor8 on flickr}
{Ralph Lauren ad campaign}

{image via jocelyn warner}

{winter loggia by Tom Scheerer}

{Domino November 2007}

{top image: Vogue Living Houses Gardens People}

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{tableaux cloths}

My inbox is often filled with of all sorts of great blog-related e-mails, including one from interior designer Mark Cutler, whose latest design includes the cheekily named Tableaux Cloths, which he designed “to fill a need I had for a low cost, yet stylish solution for a covered table.”

The Tableaux Cloths come in beige printed with a black image, but can be custom colored. They are currently available at Colburn Sassaman, which ships worldwide.

According to Mark, “I love the whimsical blend of antique and modern . . .”

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{happy weekend + robbie burns day}

Ever since coming across the image of the black and white tartan-covered staircase in Globe-Trotter's London shop (below), I've been completely won over by tartan/plaid flooring.

The drawing room of Rachel Riley's home in Loire (above, from Vogue Living Houses Gardens People), while beautiful in its own right, owes its manor-born appeal to the little corner of red and turquoise plaid, the element that pulls everything together and gives the room a certain British refinement.
I've always loved the history present in tartans and plaids and am fond of the idea of incorporating their beautiful patterns and rich colours into everyday living.

{Beautiful black and white tartan broadloom at Globe-Trotter's London shop}

{A Brief History of Robbie Burns}

Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to William Burness, a poor tenant farmer, and Agnes Broun, Robert Burns was the eldest of seven. He spent his youth working his father's farm, but in spite of his poverty he was extremely well read, at the insistence of his father, who employed a tutor for Robert and his younger brother Gilbert.

At the age of 15, Robert was the principal worker on the farm, prompting him to begin writing, in an attempt to find "some kind of counterpoise for his circumstances." It was at this tender age that Burns penned his first verse, "My Handsome Nell", which was an ode to the other subjects that dominated his life, namely scotch and women.

When his father died in 1784, Robert and his brother became partners in the farm. However, Robert was more interested in the romantic nature of poetry than the arduous graft of ploughing and, having had some misadventures with the ladies (resulting in several illegitimate children, including twins to the woman who would become his wife, Jean Armour), he planned to escape to the safer, sunnier climes of the West Indies.

However, at the point of abandoning farming, his first collection, "Poems- Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect - Kilmarnock Edition" (a set of poems essentially based on a broken love affair), was published to much critical acclaim. This, together with pride of parenthood, made him stay in Scotland. He moved around the country, eventually arriving in
Edinburgh, where he mingled in the illustrious circles of the artists and writers who were enthralled by the "Ploughman Poet."

In a matter of weeks, he was transformed from a local hero to a national celebrity, fussed over by the Edinburgh literati of the day, and Jean Armour's father allowed her to marry him, now that he was no longer a lowly wordsmith. Unfortunately, the trappings of fame did not bring fortune and he took up a job as an exciseman (tax collector) to supplement the meagre income. While collecting taxes, he continued to write, contributing songs to the likes of James Johnston's "Scot's Musical Museum" and George Thomson's "Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs." In all, more than 400 of Burns' songs are still in existence.

{Black tartan broadloom via Living etc.}

The last years of Burns' life were devoted to penning great poetic masterpieces such as The Lea Rig, Tam O'Shanter and a Red, Red Rose. He died at the age of 37 of heart disease exacerbated by the hard manual work he undertook when he was young. His death occurred on the same day as his wife Jean gave birth to their last son, Maxwell.

On the day of his burial more than 10,000 people came to pay their respects, and his popularity has reached incredible heights since.

On the anniversary of his birth, Scots both at home and all over the world, celebrate Robert Burns with a supper, where they address the haggis, the ladies and whisky, a celebration befitting Scotland's favourite son.

{Preppy and perfect green and blue plaid flooring as seen in Domino's December 2007 issue}

{credits: rabbie-burns.com, Vogue Living Houses Gardens People, Domino Magazine}

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{bon soir, valentino, and farewell}

Have been waiting {for what feels like an eternity} for the unveiling of Valentino’s last ever couture collection, held today in Paris. The historical event, ending his brilliant 45-year career, took place before 700+ invited guests in the graciously refined surroundings of the Museum Rodin on the Left Bank.

"I don't want to be ridiculous and I don't want to be emotional," says Valentino. "I must be happy. I have had a fantastic career and I don't regret one moment of it.”

"I want to give my adieu in all the most beautiful colors of spring. And I want to prove what I am capable of in haute couture."

"Even as a young boy, my passion was to design, and I have been very lucky to be able to do what I have loved all my life. There can be few greater gifts than that."

"I am especially grateful that I have been able to keep my own style over the decades, in spite of the many changes that have taken place in the world of fashion and in its business."

The king of couture learned his craft in France, at the École des Beaux Arts and the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, before becoming an apprentice to French designer Guy Laroche. But it was in Rome that he opened his first fashion house in 1959. While he may have caused a stir from the beginning, it was with his celebrated White Collection in 1968, that everyone took notice, including Jackie Kennedy, who would one day become his muse.

His successor, Alessandra Facchinetti, former artistic director at Gucci (appointed by the British-based private equity fund Permira, who purchased the fashion house for $3.8 billion), makes her debut in March with her first collection of women's ready-to-wear.

The fashion maestro made his way down the high-gloss herringbone runway between a sea of begowned models, all perfectly groomed in the designer's signature Valentino red.

The 75-year-old designer will also be presented with the Grand Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, an honour that will make him an honorary citizen of the city where he has shown since 1989, honouring his lifetime achievement and the Italian's longstanding love affair with Paris.

{Valentino's final bow.}

"All I ever wanted was beauty — to make women beautiful."
And that, he did.

{credits: Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune, camilla @ fashioninsanity, Joelle Diderich, Associated Press, Chris Moore/Karl Prouse}

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{kara ross}

I have posted Kara Ross' work before, and am still crazy about her bold, sophisticated, yet light-hearted designs, two of my favourites being this White Quartz Link Necklace (above) and these seriously sexy Ebony Hinged Cuffs (below).

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{and the winner is . . .}

Those of you who have been around for a while will remember the post introducing Swank Lighting and their incredible collection of Murano glass lamps, as well as the draw they were holding for a pair of Barovier & Toso lamps, valued at $3,400, to celebrate the opening of their Dallas showroom and the launch of their website.

Ed describes the lamps as ". . . among the crown jewels of the cache we found in the warehouse at E.P.Paul Company. They are a rich, deep raspberry at the bottom with a creamy white at the top, and loads of 24 kt. gold dust sprinkled throughout. The solid wood bases have been gold leafed. "

The draw was held last Friday morning (1/18/2008) at Debris Antiques in Dallas, and the lucky winner is none other than talented interior designer Patricia Gray! Please stop by her blog to congratulate her, and read more about the draw on Ed and Doug's blog here or here.

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{the english countryside}

A little slow with the updates, this week, I know--(sometimes there are not enough hours in a day). When I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, I think about donning my wellies à la Kate Moss at Glastonbury, or Marina Hanbury (although I probably wouldn't wear them with a see-through evening gown) and head to the English countryside, the perfect place for repose . . . green rolling hills, moors, dales, old stone cottages, skittish rabbits, rambling rose bushes, fiesty roosters, random sheep wandering about the narrow, winding roads and rustic footpaths.

If you ever feel the need to (really) escape the city, find your way to the English countryside, and you'll return with a new perspective. The little village where we stayed has remained unchanged for years, farmers still building and maintaining stone pasture walls by hand, years of history in each perfectly placed rounded rock, on top of moss-covered remants and beneath newly built wooden step ladders. Here, time nearly stands still and the pace of life is relaxed, the pride of the town lying in their recent win in a countrywide botanical competition. Here you'll get to know the utterly charming locals and taste local cuisne, such as Lemon Baked Sole au Gratin, and here you'll lose yourself in the greenest hills and country air . . .

{Marina Hanbury collecting eggs}

{one of my favourite photographs, farmer and cow ambling down a cottage road}

{late summer lamb}

{old stone cottage with enormous pink hydrangeas}

{English roses}

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{ridiculously beautiful furniture}

{Mesa gerencia Paralelas}

Recently came across the
Tresserra Collection, a line of astonishingly beautiful and incredibly well-crafted furniture by designer Jaume Tresserra, whose commitment to hand craftsmanship and the use of high quality materials has resulted in pieces that are not only extremely functional, but also lovely to look at--a combination that is becoming increasingly rare these days.

{Credencia Nobel, above and below}

{Mueble bar Elíptic, above}

{Mesa centro Escarabajo, above and below}

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{heavenly spheres}

With little gold petals that cast magical (and romantic) shadows, the gold version of the Orten'zia suspended lamp is such a work of art, you almost forget it's a light fixture. Designed by Bruno Rainaldi for Terzani, tiny metal petals are hand-soldered to make up spheres that are then finished in gold-plate.
{Total height suspension: 190 cm max, diameters from 50 to 70 cm; the Orten'zia is also available in table and floor versions. }

{Click here to view another favourite gold fixtures.}

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{happy weekend!}

Is it summer yet? Seal {a.k.a. Mr. Heidi Klum}'s super-laidback place in Mexico. Have a great weekend!

Creative Lounge}

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