Hush…

I’m not a Mamma, but I have plenty of friends who are, or who are soon-to-be Mammas. Parents of young children must have some form of super power – they manage to do so much in a day, and I’ve no idea how. What DO they eat for breakfast? Buckets of coffee I imagine.

While I’m significantly underqualified to comment on anything baby related because I don’t have one, I do have some ideas about designing nurseries.  This cosy little room is where baby will spend lots of hours sleeping (you would hope), but also feeding, playing and bonding with parents.  That makes it an important room. So if you have a pending baby arrival here are some simple tips for making a nursery space work.

The nursery needs to be practical, so layout is key. Make sure you’ve got room for all the things you need so that the room can be self-contained for sleeping, changing, feeding and playing.

Putting a nursery together is like getting a permission slip to have some fun with interiors. You can do things with this room that you are unlikely to do with any other room in your home. So knock yourself out and get creative with wallpaper, art and accessories.

Most importantly let your own style be part of the design process and don’t feel like you have to buy every item for a nursery in a children’s furniture store. Yes the room needs to be child friendly, but if you like wallpaper with bold prints, Persian rugs, midcentury cradenzas or Eames rocking chairs, bring them into the room. It will make for some interesting design results, and along with making the room feel familiar to you, it will flow really well with the rest of your home.

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Image: www.etsy.com
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Image: www.100layercakelet.com
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Image: sarahshermansamuel.com
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Image: domino.com
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Image: www.pinterest.com
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Image: henandco.blogspot.com

I’m not sure if a parent or parent to be even gets time to think about putting a nursery together, but hey, it’s worth a few hours spent on Pinterest at least right?! Sending love and good vibes to all my 2017 Mamma-to-be friends out there (you too Beyoncé, you too). But please ladies…leave some coffee for the rest of us!

S&O x

Shine

A few weeks ago I paid Culver City a long overdue visit to check out a new development in the area, Platform. Platform was hosting a Holiday Bazar, so I was going in search of some festive fuzziness and to explore what I thought looked like a really interesting space. It was worth the trip.

The best way I can describe Platform is this – a creative urban haven, where you can shop, eat or watch the world (and its dogs) go by. Down to the choice of beautiful outdoor furniture by Ilan Dei Venice (designed and manufactured in LA), Runyon Group, the development company behind Platform, have got this retail space right in every way.  You’ll come across brands like Blue Bottle Coffee, Aesop and Linda Farrow as you stroll through Platform and wonder what those offices overhead might look like on the inside …

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Image: abramsonteiger.com
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Image: platformla.com
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Image: abramsonteiger.com
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Image: platformla.com

For me, the pièce de résistance came at the end of my exploring at Platform. The Shop: Curve x Tom Dixon is a stunning new concept store that merges luxury fashion labels from Curve (Nevena Borissova’s exquisite boutique), with lighting, furniture and home accessories from UK lifestyle designer, Tom Dixon. Well, Tom Dixon, I’m so glad we’ve been introduced. Walking into the Tom Dixon store was like walking into a gallery with a metallic and glass lighting installation. His pendants are spectacular. Some are set against marble and concrete surfaces for wonderful contrast, while others are set against iridescent corrugated metal sheets which magically bounce light around the space.

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Image: platformla.com
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Image: platformla.com
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Image: platformla.com
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Image: platformla.com

Tom Dixon products certainly have a signature metallic and glass look, but some also have a marble and wood element to them.  What is standard about all the products however, is that each one is a considered design, and beautifully produced.  There is a sense of an aspirational dinner party when you walk through Tom Dixon’s new LA showcase, and that of course has me wanting all of his products.  So here’s a look at my top picks from Tom Dixon; perfect for the interiors lover in your life if you’ve left your Christmas shopping a little late.

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Elements Gift Set (4 candles) 2. Orbit Trays (Brass) 3. Beat Table Light (Black) 4. Hex Bowl (Copper) 5. Pylon Candelabra 6. Cog Tea Light Holder Cylinder (Brass) 7. Elements Earth Diffuser 8. Etch Tea Light Holder (Black) | All products available at tomdixon.net

Have I sparked your interest in the world of Tom Dixon design? Well if you have some time on your hands over the holiday season head along to Platform, grab a taco at Loqui, a coffee at Blue Bottle and then go and enjoy the pendant lighting spectacle at The Shop: Curve x Tom Dixon.  I promise it’ll be better than any Christmas lights you’ve seen this year.

S&O x

Light Me Up

I’m fast-forwarding to December today. There is a sullen mood in LA and there is Thanksgiving to come before Christmas, but I am fast-forwarding to December. If ever I needed some Frank Sinatra singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ it is this week. So I am going there. With haste.

I have favourite things I like to do in the run up to Christmas and decorating the tree is one of them. I love it. It’s like some sort of first date that develops into a love affair over a December (ok, sometimes November) evening, accompanied by red wine and a festive soundtrack in the background. I’ll be getting creative with my decorating this year because I don’t have room for a tree.  But for those of you who do have the space, here are some tips on how to make your tree gorgeous.

Decorating your tree is a layering process.  Get each layer right, and you’ll end up with a beautiful full tree. It starts with lights. My choice is always white lights, and lots of them.  I use four to five sets of lights on my Christmas tree.  You will curse, and swear, and have to walk away every now and then when you’re putting them on, but I promise it will make your tree look magical at night. I’m talking taking each individual branch and threading the lights through them. I know, it’s tedious, but worth it.

Next use your garland and what I call your base decorations (simple shaped decorations) to build out the first layer of your colour scheme.  I’ve gone for a metalic and blush base with pops of burgundy and black for this post. The garland comes first. I’ve used anything from ready made garlands, to wide ribbon, to pieces of fabric as a garland.  Get creative with what you use. Start from the top, and bring the garland in a spiral shape all the way down your tree.

When your garland is in place, start layering your base decorations. I cover the tree with LOTS of these. It’s the foundation for making your tree look full.  You can always take some off later, but more is better here.

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Garland: Silver Jingle Bells Garland, Crate & Barrel
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Base Decorations: Metallic Ball Ornament (Blush), West Elm
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Base Decorations: Copper & White Ornaments, Crate & Barrel

Stand away from your tree when that’s done and you should see a great foundation ready for adding accent decorations.  This is where I like to go big with the size of decorations and add lots of texture.  Don’t limit yourself to Christmas tree decorations here. Silk flowers are brilliant to use, especially ones with large heads, like hydrangeas.  Keep an eye out during the year for these (they’re not necessarily seasonal), especially if you’re keeping away from traditional colour schemes.

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Accent Decorations: Paper Ornament (Blush), West Elm
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Accent Decorations: Mythic Plume Ornament, Anthropologie
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Accent Decorations: Beaded Poinsettia, Aldik Home
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Accent Decorations: Pomegranate Ornament, Anthropologie

The tree should be looking full and textured now. The final step to make the tree look complete is to add some contrasting colour. This will make the tree pop.  I’ve gone with two strong colours, black and burgundy, to contrast the shimmering metallic and blush background I’ve used. Place these decorations in a zig-zag shape down the tree. Finally, I’ve added some *sparkle* for the top of the tree to complete this non-traditional festive look.

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Contrasting colour decorations: Hanging Ornaments Vinter 2016, IKEA
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Contrasting colour decorations: Burgundy Matte Feather, Target
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Crystal Christmas Tree Topper, Target

I don’t go too over the top after the Christmas tree, but I do like to decorate the mantelpiece. Simply place two or three Ferm Living candle holder strings along the mantelpiece (I would prefer to have these in white – spray painting is an option here). Dot a selection of Skandinavisk Jul Christmas candles, Crate & Barrel snowflake porcelain candle holders and some of the West Elm blush metallic ball ornaments we used previously amongst them. This is a festive look, yet some of these pieces can be incorporated into your living space once the Christmas decorations have been put away.  (On a side note I have a big thing for the Skandinavisk brand at the moment. I have their Ö (Island) candle burning in my apartment. Beautiful packaging and a lovely narrative behind this brand – check them out.)

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Candleholder String (Nature), Ferm Living
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Jul Scented Candle (Christmas), Skandinavisk – Available in Rolling Greens, 7505 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 & Huset, 1316 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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Snowflake Porcelain Hurricanes, Crate & Barrel

It is trivial to be talking about decorating Christmas trees this week. I know it is. The most inspiring thing about the US presidential election has unfortunately been Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. She spoke such dignified words at a time of defeat. I will be taking one of her closing messages with me into 2017 to light me up. “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now”.  

Now, go get all the white lights you can find folks.

S&O x

Wrapped Up In Books

Are you a reader? Someone who loves bookshops? Me too. I’m the person who buys ALL the books, and then doesn’t finish them.  I can have five books by my bed and only manage to get through a third of each one. Then I find new books, and move on to them. I get too curious about what the next author has to say.  So really the ideal books for me are the “dip in an out of” books. Those, I like a lot.

My most recent book purchase is one of my favourites yet.  Grace Bonney’s In The Company of Women. It’s a collection of interviews with entrepreneurial women in creative fields. Fashion designers, chefs, authors, directors, graphic designers, artists, photographers, interior designers. The list goes on. Grace’s introduction ends with this quote: “Any one of these women would inspire someone to pursue their passion, but together, they are an undeniable force.” The book is indeed an undeniable force, and there is definately an impact in reading about all these women together. What I was struck by however, was the beauty of the portraits of the women in this book, as individuals. Each so different, striking and unique.

A reading nook is the perfect setting for a “dip in and out of” book like Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women, or an engrossing novel. With those longer evenings ahead of us you may find that extra bit of time to give to reading, so I want to share some ideas for making a reading nook in your home.

Firstly the space should be cosy and inviting, you need to be able to sit here for hours if that book gets you hooked.  Make sure the seat is comfortable and get some textiles onto the chair to keep things snug.

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Image: www.gyrithe.com

Consider a pouf or ottoman if putting your legs up gets you into reading mode instantly.

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Image: www.dotandbo.com (no longer trading)

Whether flooding natural light or strong artificial light, good light is a must.

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Image: http://www.myscandinavianhome.com

It’s always helpful to have books to hand, so think about making a bookshelf feature around your reading nook.

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Image: www.carlaaston.com

Reading during the longer evenings is nicely accompanied by a big glass of wine.  Get an accent table into the setting for your beverage of choice and pair it with a Diptyque candle for total escapism.

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Image: www.adoremagazine.com

For extra bonus points, set the space up near a fire.  If your reading nook is somewhere that gets cold you will not want to hang out here for any length of time.

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Image: www.mydomaine.com

Don’t those spaces look inviting? Can you see yourself reading somewhere like this on autumn / winter evenings? I’ve put three reading nook looks together for you this week. Go style yours. Once you pick up that book you’ll thank yourself for making the effort. And if you’re looking for a book to start with, treat yourself to a copy of Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women. With that book and a glass of wine in hand, you’re imagination will run wild with creative possabilities.

Blush & Gold Glamour

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Chair: CB2, Table: Pottery Barn, Lamp: Target, Throw: Serena & Lily, Cushion: HD Buttercup

Modern with Graphic Prints

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Lamp: DWR, Throw: HD Buttercup , Chair: West Elm, Table: CB2, Pillow: CB2

Boho Moroccan

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Chair: CB2, Sheepskin Throw: Serena & Lily, Table: Target, Lamp: Target, Pouf: Serena & Lily , Cushions: Kelly Wearstler & Urban Outfitters

S&O x

The Magpie

What are your thoughts on flea markets?  I’m a fan.  I don’t necessarily want to buy everything I see at flea markets, but my eyes definitely seek out unlikely gems.  Last week I went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.  This flea market has quite the reputation in LA, and rightly so. It’s a gorgeous hypnotic maze, fabulous in all its randomness.  Need some Norwegian vintage skis? They had some there on Sunday. Been on the hunt for two five foot rusting metal horses? They had some there on Sunday.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market, Pasadena

When you go to a flea market, you are not walking into a styled retail space.  You are walking into a mishmash of all sorts, so be prepared to keep your eyes open and trust your instincts.  Retail units will follow trends or certain styles.  Flea markets are an opportunity for you to decide your own style or aesthetic.

Here are three looks I pulled together at the Rose Bowl.

Tan leather and chrome midcentury chairs with black and silver plates to accessorise. A room for drinking whiskey.

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Charcoal art, white Knoll Bertoia chairs (@goodmodern) and an oversized white ceramic vase.  A room for drinking pots of french press coffee.

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Red moroccan rugs, brass / gold accessories, burgundy glass and dark distressed wooden dining chairs.  A room for drinking red wine.

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I liked these looks, but they didn’t work for my living space.  I was three hours in before I made a purchase at the Rose Bowl.  Art was on my list, but I wasn’t having much success, until I met Ken. Ken had heaps of original art, some by himself and some by other artists. I had my eye on one painting by Hendrik Grise, and as I stared at it for five minutes Ken pulled out 15 more pieces by the same artist.

By the time I finished rummaging through the art the conversation was flowing.  Ken’s wife is from just outside Liverpool, and Ken had driven the length and breadth of the UK.  We discussed food, climate and most importantly his annoyance for not buying a house, where his wife is from, a few years ago.  It was worth £8,000 then, and £150,000 now. Ken had a good eye for a profit margin in all things in life! I landed on a piece by Grise, we haggled, and I bought.

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The Rose Bowl flea market is a lot of fun, and a really good source for unique items for your home. But it is also overwhelming, so here are my tips for navigating through it and leaving with something unique to you.

  1. It gets hot at flea markets in LA in August. Bring sunscreen and a hat.
  2. Go early.  You’ll get that fabulous waking up feeling when the vendors are still unpacking their goods, beat the crowds and avoid the worst of the above mentioned heat.
  3. Trust your taste. You’re the one that’s going to be looking at what you buy, nobody else.  Buy what looks good to you.
  4. If you’re buying larger items bring room measurements with you. Remember you can’t come back the following month and do a quick return!
  5. If you’re buying art, look beyond the frame the art might already be in, that can be changed.
  6. Get coffee an hour or two in.  You’ll need the caffeine boost and a visual break will allow you to go back with fresh eyes for round two.
  7. Talk to the vendors, that’s where things get interesting.  In fact, it’s probably my favourite part.

There you have it, my take on the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.  If you haven’t been, pay a visit. For those of you looking for a similar experience in Ireland, check out Brocante Market in Dublin 8 (@dublinbrocantemarket), an old favourite of mine.

S&O x

Hours Seemed Like Days

I have a theory about vinyl records.

We live in a fast world.  Fast technology, fast cars, fast minds.  On some level I think our draw towards all things nostalgic comes from a voice inside us saying “P L E A S E   S L O W   D O W N !” And yes, you could add vinyl records to that list of things we are just nostalgic about, but I think there’s more to it.  Vinyl makes us slow down.  You have to get up and flip the record to hear the second side of an album, and you may even listen to a whole, entire, complete album. When is the last time you’ve done that?  Honestly?  I pick and choose like a cheetah on speed with Spotify.  An entire album doesn’t stand a chance. Never mind albums, some songs don’t even make it to the end.  I’m encouraging the act of slowing down in your living space this week, with the help of vinyl.

There is another reason I’m talking about vinyl records. Turntables look amazing.  I’ve become somewhat obsessed with how visually stunning they are, and I’ve been on the hunt.

My first stop was High Fidelity in Los Feliz. I had an eye on a turntable here for weeks with an amazing deep green base, but missed the boat.  Some other lucky visually obsessed dreamer quite likely picked it up. If you’re in the area pop your head in here. The turntables come and go but they also have a great selection of vinyl.  Plus, it’s an independent store, which I like to support.

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High Fidelity, Los Feliz, LA

If you have serious cash to spend on turntables, Ahead Stereo on Beverly Blvd is a must visit. The place is full of turntable eye candy. Throw your eyes over some of the brands they’re stocking and you’ll see where I’m coming from.  Before I go any further I’ll acknowledge that there is an entire technical side to all of this which I am not even going to attempt to comment on.  I’m into the music and into the visual, but start naming technical parts and my eyes will almost immediately glaze over.  Disclaimer over.

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Rega RP1 Turntable Titanium (Brand available at Ahead Stereo)
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Pro-Ject Essential II Digital (Brand available at Ahead Stereo)
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Music Hall MMF-2.3SE (Brand available at Ahead Stereo)
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Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB (Brand available at Ahead Stereo)
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Pro-Ject 6Perspex SB (Brand available at Ahead Stereo)

I’m backing Urban Outfitters for coming up with a middle ground price point, but with a good visual.  They have also tapped into another aspect of vinyl that I’m particularly happy about.  The album covers are so much bigger!   Album covers get forgotten with all things digital, but there are serious pieces of art to be found amongst them.  Urban Outfitters are stocking frames specifically for vinyl album cover dimensions.  Clever, very clever.  Pull together your favourites and you’ve a ready-made gallery wall.  I’ve had a thing for the Future Islands’ Singles album cover for a while now, and Lana Del Ray’s Born To Die album cover is another one I love.  I haven’t quite got around to framing any album covers yet but there is a lot of music photography on the walls in my bathroom. Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are hanging out in there. Not bad men to be looking at every morning!

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Audio-Technica Wireless AT-LP60, Urban Outfitters
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Future Islands, Singles
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Lana Del Rey, Born To Die

And of course then there’s speakers and vinyl storage, but there’s a whole other post in that. When it comes down to it, introducing vinyl records to your living space is really another excuse for more accessories.  Brilliant.  I’ll remain a Spotify user and avid fan, but for the slowing down and cool hipster visual vibe, vinyl will be taking centre stage for the foreseeable, particularly on Sunday mornings.

S&O x

Misty Blue

Abstract art, photography, prints, originals, album covers, objects, ceramics, textiles.  I’ll have it all, please and thank you!  But there is so much choice, isn’t there? And yes, that is a wonderful thing. But it’s also why I find myself with a first world conundrum all the time.  The conundrum being that I have only so much space where I live (which is also a good thing, small space = less cleaning), and only so many walls where I can plaster my ideas. So this is my new living space extension, where I’m indulging all my visual daydreaming.

This week I’m curating by colour.  Misty Blue.  Here are my top four picks.

And yes, Etta James on Spotify, on repeat, all this week.

Artspace Warehouse LA, Crossover – Amber Goldhammer

I love original art. I love that it has its own story. But original art can be expensive, especially if you like your art to be of substantial size (I do).  You can imagine how chuffed I was to discover Artspace Warehouse in LA, which showcases art that is original AND affordable. This piece by Amber Goldhammer totally and utterly had my attention once I saw it.  I’m calling that my visual intuition, which conveniently lets me justify all my choices! This piece is a winner.

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Amber Goldhammer – Crossover

Enrou, Horizon Pillow – Pacific Blue (Also available in Atlantic Grey)

There are some very smart people doing some very clever things in the tech start-up space in LA. Enrou are part of that world. Ann Wang and Jessica Willison bring beautiful handcrafted products from developing communities around the world right to your doorstep.  You are getting a gorgeous product when you shop with Enrou, and know that it comes with a socially responsible tag.  Check them out.  Quickly! (And while you’re there you might also want to have a look at this fabulous leather basket.) My second pick is this Horizon Pillow in Pacific Blue from Enrou. I gave it a home this week.

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Enrou – Horizon Pillow (Pacific Blue)

Crate & Barrel, Marin Blue Serving Bowl

Salads, or any sharing dishes look so much more appetizing when they’re delivered to the table in gorgeous serving dishes. Crate & Barrel is a great go-to for all things dining and entertaining.  This simple Marin Blue serving bowl has gorgeous subtle colour and shape, just enough to show off your extraordinary gourmet talents. Or, if you don’t have extraordinary gourmet talents, then it disguises that fact nicely.  Deviating slightly from my misty blues, I’m complimenting this with a fabulous marble platter, also from Crate & Barrel. Because. It. Works.

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Crate & Barrel – Marin Blue Serving Bowl
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Crate & Barrel – French Kitchen Marble Platter

Artspace Warehouse LA, Silver & Blue Contemplation – Hilary Bond

My final pick is another piece from Artspace Warehouse in LA.  Hilary Bond’s work is very cool. She’s made me think about Pop Art in a completely different light, and like me, she has a thing for Kate Moss.  Enough said.  Check her out!  There were lots of pieces in Hilary’s collection that I absolutely loved, and most of them were already sold. Keep an eye on this lady, it’s obviously not just me that has a serious art-crush on her work!

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Hilary Bond – Silver & Blue Contemplation

Have you suggestions for where to find more abstract art, textiles and ceramics?  Well I would love to hear from you. I’m LA based, Irish born and raised, and internet addicted.  So you can direct me to locations in LA and absolutely ANYWHERE on the internet for daily indulgence, and locations in Ireland for home visit indulgence. Just pop your suggestions in the comment section and I’m there!

S&O x