Friday, April 22, 2016

Scandinavian Style: A Serene Summer House by Designer Marshall Watson

S W E D I S H   S T Y L E

Gustavian antiques, painted furniture, light filled rooms, a place for family...

On an island in an archipelago off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden, American designer Marshall Watson transformed a 1970s northern Swedish style, hand-hewn, square log home into a serene, timeless Summer House which, along with its guest house, barn, and the accompanying cottages, is the quintessence of Scandinavian style.  The main house with its layers of cream, green, and pomegranate red is very common in Swedish folk art, and is embellished by painted furniture and the ubiquitous plaster fireplace surrounded by large casement windows to let in the light.  The tranquil guesthouse, with it's palette of sky and sea, foggy blues, along with soft grays and whites, is all refinement and ease and oh so pretty.  Though he is New York based and Kansas City born, designer Marshall Watson has projects throughout the U.S., London, Mexico, Sweden, and Tokyo; his designs are as varied as they are beautiful, from a Cabo hacienda, to a St. Helena Vineyard Estate, and the Time Warner Building in NYC, to a Nantucket Escape.  I will definitely be showcasing more of his inspirational work in the near future, but for now, here is the perfect spring-get-away to start your weekend.  I hope it's lovely where you are ...

"You rarely see dark wood, because the whole idea is to invite more light into a room.  Floors are painted white or scrubbed so thoroughly that they look as if they were bleached... "

"Rooms will be lit by candles every night, even during the summer months... And there are mirrors, lots of mirrors, to reflect the glow and double the sense of light."

"It really is idyllic.  These clients - he's American, she's Swedish - live in the United States but move over here for six weeks every summer.  It was important to them that their three daughters have a close relationship with the wife's family.  Now the girls are almost grown and completely bilingual, and they have a whole set of Swedish friends."

"...I divided the walls into panels, to accentuate them.  I wanted to make you really look at those angles, as opposed to pretending they're not there.  The panels are upholstered in a trellis pattern, and you'll notice there's a lot of air in the design."

"Traditional Swedish patterns, like the checks on the bed skirt and the stripes at the window, are simple and airy.  It's as if they wanted to let in more light, even through the fabrics."

"Foggy blues, soft grays, and whites.  But everything is blurred,  even the whites have a bit of blue or gray in them.  You rarely see bright white in Sweden."

"They're neutral colors.  In the U.S. we think of neutrals as beige, gray, or off-white - all basically derived from brown."

"Swedish neutrals, in contrast, have the sky or the lake in them, rather than the earth. There's a bit of blue in the green and a bit of green in the blue, and everything is softened with a touch of gray."

"These colors are peaceful and restful, because they all have hues in common and they all have a similar value on the scale light to dark.  That makes for a very tranquil space."

Photos from HouseBeautiful March 2016 Issue
Photography by Luke White
Quotes - Interior Designer Marshall Watson

Friday, April 15, 2016

Designing Life's Celebrations - New York City's Premier Event Designer: DeJuan Stroud's New Book

"It's important to note that making a celebration memorable doesn't have to mean making it formal and fussy...  my goal is to create a setting that gives people lasting memories... When you bring beauty, care, and attention to an occasion you mark the moment- for a lifetime."

For me, entertaining is about celebrating life as well as special events; spending as much time with loved ones and friends as possible.  This is something I learned from my mother who never missed a beat, from flowers to delicious food.  Not every event was a grand affair, sometimes it was flowers from her garden with tea at the kitchen table to view her dear friend's newest grand-baby pictures, other times it was elaborately themed birthday parties for my brother and I, or lovely candlelight evening soirees with business partners and friends.  Everything was always done with flowers and a beautifully set table.  Once, she set up the patio with potted hibiscus and earthenware dishes for a bon voyage party for her friends' upcoming second honeymoon...  Inspired by my mom, I am always looking for new ideas and how to's for entertaining.

I was first introduced to the gorgeous designs of the very successful New York event designer DeJuan Stroud while researching corporate party ideas.  What I found were pictures of spectacular events that were at once beautiful and inviting.  I was thrilled to learn of the release of Mr. Stroud's first book Designing Life's Celebrations, fulfilling his dream to inspire and encourage everyone to bring flowers and beauty into their lives in effortless ways.

DeJuan Stroud grew up gardening with his parents and grandmother in Alabama, he watched them as they were greeting guests and arranging flowers, and he saw the joy that they took in celebrating life's milestones.  After a successful run on Wall Street, he launched Dejuan Stroud, Inc in 1996 with his wife Debra; twenty years later, he is one of the most successful event designers in New York City.

His new book is beautifully written, filled with gorgeous photos and helpful how to's - showcasing that every event tells a story.  From a Venetian-inspired birthday, to a lovely garden luncheon, you will be inspired to design each and every one of your life's celebrations.   Designing Life's Celebrations is a welcome gift for a hostess and a must-have for your entertaining library.  Here is just a sneak peak.  Enjoy!

"These four photographs are from the wedding of my daughter, Emily.  She carried a bouquet of cream Vendela roses, green ornithogalum, Iceberg roses, and variegated hosts leaves.  The room was set with a long tables in the shape of the letter E in tribute to Emily and her husband, Eric.  Flower arrangements of several different styles were placed down the lengths of the tables; a Venetian vase held a simple bouquet of Sterling roses.  The floral arrangements were all low, and candles added height to the tables."

From Part I
An Elegant Dinner in Greenwich
Romance at Home
Just Desserts
Contemporary Loft Dinner

"Often when I speak to the parents of our brides and grooms after a wedding, they say that they wish they could experience the whole evening all over again.  Debra and I felt the same way, so when Emily's in-laws came to our house for dinner a few months after she and Eric were married, I thought it would be fun to relive the wedding dinner by setting the table with a scaled-down version of their wedding decor..."

"The table was set with antique glassware and silverware, simple silver-bordered white china, natural linen napkins, and pretty place cards by the wedding calligrapher."

From Part II
By Day
In the Garden
An Old-Fashioned Ladies' Lunch
Bold Bridal Shower
Bohemian Alfresco
Vintage Road Trip

"When four long-time friends who are avid gardeners came together for a late-spring luncheon, the hostess' garden was the natural choice for the location..."

"The table's centerpiece was a profusion of spring flowers.  This abundant bouquet of anemones, Mascara, viburnum, ranunculus, nerines, parrot tulips, and hyacinths was a bit oversized for the table, marking the luncheon as a special celebration.  
Chinoiserie-style chairs painted neon pink punctuated the garden setting."

"I'm having a Meet the Fockers luncheon... Because she is a venerable New York City hostess known for her creative parties with interesting themes and notable guest, I knew that it was important for the decor to have impact and a certain élan.  After several conversations, we settled on an al fresco lunch in a colorful Bohemian style. ..."

"The casual Bohemian style of the table was well suited to the patio setting.  An overhead view shows the unusual blue stain on the table and the bold striped canvas chair-back covers and cushions. Dried artichokes held the napkins in place."

"With bright flowers, casual ceramic dishes, bowls of cold soup, and colored glasses, the table epitomized summer dining."

From Part V Workbook
Flowers and Containers
Breakaway Bouquets
Potted Plants
One Arrangement, Three Ways
Caring for flowers

"One of the sweetest techniques I have used over the years is to create a breakaway bouquet.  ... several small bouquets placed close together in one vase to create what appears to be single large arrangement.   ..."

"At the end of the party, the arrangement can easily be disassembled and the small bouquets wrapped in tissue paper, tied with ribbon, and given to guests as they leave.   ..." 

"...The recipe for each bouquet is three roses, three anemones, two Italian diathuses, six ranunculus, six stems of Viburnum Lucidum, and one small artichoke on its stem."

A sincere thank you to Elizabeth Cohen at Jill Cohen Associates- Where Beautiful Books Begin for the opportunity.  

A thank you to Ron Longe at Rizzoli USA for providing this beautiful book.

Photographs by Monica Buck
Quotes curtesy of DeJuan Stroud

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Recipe: The Most Beautiful Easter Cake that can be adapted for Mother's Day

My son's dessert of choice is cake, so when I recently saw this Easter-themed recipe from Country Living with three layers of fluffy white cake covered in coconut buttercream frosting, store-bought robin's egg candies, and charming edible phyllo nest, I decided to make it over Spring break, and couldn't resist sharing it with you.   For Mother's Day use pink or yellow food coloring instead of the blue, and add fresh roses around the base.  If you have a Spring Baby Shower coming up, change out the eggs for rattles and/or teething rings for the new baby.  However you choose to serve this gorgeous cake, it will be a show stopper that looks too good to eat ... but you and your guest will.

Have a lovely weekend!

*Photos by Michelle Profis

Monday, March 14, 2016

Welcome to Patina Farm - Brooke & Steve Giannetti of Velvet and Linen's New Book

Welcome to Patina Farm a beautiful, inspiring new book by Brooke and Steve Giannetti of the blog Velvet and Linen.  When Brooke and Steve decided to leave their suburban Santa Monica home to build a new life on a idyllic farm, they bought 5 acres in the heart of the beautiful Ojai Valley, California, a lovely wooded area with rolling hills and pink sunsets.  Hidden from view by an abundance of white roses, lavender, and citrus, Patina Farm is the vision of rustic elegance with an unerring eye for quality and of course, a gorgeous time-loved patina that takes a typical brick and mortar home into a life well lived.  I am pleased to say that in Patina Farm, we see every corner of the family home, as well as the guesthouse, gardens, greenhouse and a charming chicken coop.  Steve is a classically trained architect, who also had training in his family's ornamental plaster studio, which was a natural extension for inspiration for their home.  Brooke is an interior decorator, making the two of them a full service design team.  They also own Giannetti Home, a curated shop in Brentwood, CA that sells furniture, lighting, and accessories for the home in their signature patina style.

In love with Belgian design, the Giannetti's decided to take a trip to Belgium and Paris seeking information and inspiration from designers such as Greet Lefèvre of Belgian Pearls, (one of my favorite blogs) and visually absorbing the patina of cooper pots, tattered books, paneled doors in flea markets and the Marché aux Puces.  The take away? A refined European sense of a home that became the blueprint for their design.  Ideally the home would be situated entirely based on the sunlight, aware that the direction of the sun affects the quality of light in the home, while keeping the two very large oak trees into consideration. Through careful attention to details they brought their vision of Patina Farm to life.  It is truly a gorgeous, timeless, inspirational home that will forever have you coming back to study... learn ... see ... plant ...  do. 

Patina Farm is the must buy book of the season.  Here is your Sneak Peak, you will thank me later...


"The design of Patina Farm mixes classical and modern architectural details.  In our entry hall, an elegant series of vaults appear as if they were sculpted out of white plaster.  Having no baseboard or moldings around the doors or on the ceiling gives the space a more modern aesthetic."

"We fill the rooms at Patina Farm with antique pieces that we love.  Swedish antiques tend to have perfect proportions and just the right amount of detailing.  Because we are always filling vases with freshly cut flowers from the garden, we chose to plant flowers that would complement the interiors of Patina Farm."

 "Steel doors frame the view of the garden and provide access to the porch.  Wood screens pocket into the walls adjacent to the doors, while a small operable panel allows for night-time ventilation."

"A composition of antique paper and vellum books become artwork on the plaster shelves in my office.  Natural linen curtains hide the dog and rabbit supplies."

"We fitted the prefabricated greenhouse with two rows of shelves for protecting delicate plants during the winter and starting seedlings in early spring.  An allée of Fuji apple trees planted in vintage barrels adds some mid-level height elements to the garden."

Purchase Patina Farm here

A personal thank you to the lovely Brooke for the opportunity to celebrate her gorgeous new book in writing this post.  Thank you for being an inspiration.

Thank you to Elizabeth Cohen at Jill Cohen Associates Where Beautiful Books Begin for the kind consideration and photos.

And to Gibbs Smith, Publisher for sending me Patina Farm.

Here at Portobello Design it is our hope that we inspire you to ...


 *All photos and quotes from the book, Patina Farm
To view more with Brooke & Steve Giannetti see the post: At Home with Velvet & Linen Jan. 2015

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Cook's Atelier: Cooking School, Vintage French Finds, & Pied-à-terre in Beaune, France

As spring is just around the corner, many have already begun making vacation plans.  With everyone's eye on France and the love of vintage French finds and food, what could be better then an all inclusive trip to The Cook's Atelier which is the kind of place American cookbook author James Beard would visit on the pretense of relaxing and taking a few classes.  Nestled in a small town in the Burgundy region of France, The Cook's Atelier in Beaune (with a population of 25,000) is an epicurean center: cooking school, culinary boutique, wine shop, and pied-à-terre rental.  Perfect for your upcoming vacation.

The Cook's Atelier was founded in 2008 by mother and daughter team Marjorie and Kendall, when Kendall fell in love with France and moved to Beaune in her twenties to study Viticulture.  Her mother Marjorie had a little restaurant and cooking school in the U.S. but travelled frequently to France to visit Kendell, deciding one day not to return home. (Oh, let that happen to me...)  They combined their passions of food and wine and The Cook's Atelier was born. They are also the new face and inspiration of Williams and Sonoma's Open Kitchen.

The Cook's Atelier offers market tours, cooking classes, seasonal suppers, and workshops throughout the year.  Home cooks come from all over the world to experience Burgundy, and spend the day gathering fresh produce at the markets, cooking simple yet delicious meals while surrounded by new friends in Beaune, giving their guest a true french lifestyle experience.   Since Cook's is a family affair, Kendall's husband, who runs the wine shop, and their two children, can be seen daily having a long French lunch together with a dedicated kids table in back of the wine shop where they can eat, color, and play.  (So charming)

Making your stay in historic Beaune even easier,  The Cook's Atelier Pied-A-Terre is available for rent.  This beautiful light filled apartment with a small, but well-stocked kitchen, is centrally located to the market and restaurants.  Included is everything you need from WiFi, a washer and dryer, linens and household amenities.  How easy is that!  Let me know if you book a stay, I want to see pictures!

Bon Appetit  

"The Cook's Atelier is a very magical place. When we decided to create the epicurean center we wanted to create a place where home cooks could come from all over the world to learn about Burgundy through a cook's view.  The training and techniques are all French of course, and it's very market inspired."

"We're very lucky also to be able to share our vision with people who come to visit us.  The whole idea is to get everyone involved and really loving the process of shopping and cooking so they will be inspired to take that feeling home with them."

Cabinet shown stocked with Williams and Sonoma Open Kitchen, cook tools and tabletop items .

**Photos courtesy of Williams Somona TASTE video (captured by Portobello Design), and The Cook's Atelier website

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