Today, anything goes in holiday decorating. Gone are the days of simple red and green décor. While these colors are still important, holiday accents now run the color spectrum from amethyst and deep blue to metallic to bright white and ivory.
Our mantra this holiday season? Keep it simple and ultra-chic with a personal flair. Read on for timeless decorating tips that will add fun and festivity to your holiday home this season:
- Always use fresh items in your décor like evergreen and tuberoses because the scents of the season are as important as the visuals.
- With this in mind, use scented candles and fragrance diffusers throughout your home – cinnamon sticks also add a wonderful aroma.
- Create a vignette of your favorite ornaments, photos or mementos. This works well in an entry hall, sitting area or front porch.
- Consider reducing your color palette to one color plus a metallic such as gold or silver. For a modern look, a cool white pairs well with many colors.
- White in the winter is always elegant – and makes color pop. As an example, use a bright white tablecloth with colorful accents.
- Change or add lampshades with a vibrant holiday motif.
- Show off large red and white poinsettias wrapped in silver or red foil tied with red or silver bow.
- Decorate a staircase banister with an evergreen garland accented with plaid bows. Add miniature pinecones with tips dipped in Bic Wite-out or Liquid Paper and sprinkled with silver glitter for a snowy effect.
- Spray glitter to greens for an extra sparkle, especially when evergreen branches and boughs become dry.
- Fresh flowers are an important element of your décor any time of year, but especially during the holiday season. In addition to tuberoses, white lilies are striking when paired with evergreen. Fresh red roses are always beautifully festive.
- Add clusters of gold or silver balls to floral arrangements.
- Colored ribbon is a fabulous way to decorate the tree, mantel or banister.
- Create a theme and incorporate into your wrapping, table settings and overall décor. Whether it’s a ribbon color used for packages and napkins or a particular style of font on your place card and gift tags, this will help create a cohesive look.
- Change out pillows, throws and other room accents with more festive option for the season.
- Conserve, reuse and upcycle. You certainly don’t need to buy new decorations every year. Use a scarf as a table runner or a blanket as a tree skirt. Pull out and polish heirloom family silver to use as sparkling silver accents.
- Skip basic ornaments such as glass balls. Instead add your own personal touches such as vintage ornaments, personal cards and clusters of miniature ornaments.
- Use plenty of white miniature lights (minimally 150 lights to one foot of Christmas tree height), but don’t restrict them to the tree – incorporate these tiny twinklers into garlands and centerpieces as well.
- Collections are always a fun way to add a personal touch to your décor – especially during the holidays. Collections of vintage toys or ornaments, nutcrackers, stockings and photos make distinctive holiday accents.
- To mitigate clutter, stow away non-holiday accessories and other items for the season.
- Remember that LED lighting is beautiful and saves electricity.
- And always hang mistletoe above a focal doorway!
However you decorate, have fun with it and make it a team effort. Put on your favorite holiday play list, pour some champagne and invite your friends and family to help transform your home for the season.
And please share your own holiday designs, decorations, front entries and trees. Upload your pictures of your holiday décor to our Facebook page. And visit our Pinterest board where we’ve set up beautiful seasonal design ideas to inspire you.
We love classic architecture and especially enjoy the thought and detail that goes into preserving history. So it was with great pleasure that we recently took on the refurbishment of the Grande Colonial hotel – La Jolla, California’s oldest original hotel.
The hotel, which celebrated its centennial this year, was opened in 1913 as the Colonial Apartments and Hotel. Originally a white-frame structure, it was designed by famed San Diego architect Richard Requa in a classic colonial-revival style. In 1928, a massive remodel was completed and the Requa structure was moved to the rear of the property. A four-story concrete structure added 28 apartments and 25 single hotel rooms, as well as the first sprinkler system west of the Mississippi.
In anticipation of its 100th anniversary, we were charged with enhancing the feel of the hotel’s still intact turn-of-the-century architecture.
With this in mind, we redid all public areas, including the entrance lobby, the lobby lounge and meeting rooms of the 93-room, ocean view boutique hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of America and recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s seal of approval.
Our goal was to speak to the hotel’s colorful past by creating a strong juxtaposition of old and new. The refurbishment of a historic hotel like this certainly had its challenges. Most homes and hotels constructed before World War II were built with lath and plaster – as opposed to today’s drywall construction. Thin pieces of cedar (called lath) were nailed onto the two-by-four framing; then wet plaster was applied onto the lath in one to three applications. Changing the walls or restoring/removing the lath and plaster is a painstaking process.
We worked carefully to showcase original architecture by enhancing historic fine details – such as the classic Georgian style arches, ornate cast plaster crown moldings and lead glass windows – with modern elements. Clad in detailed millwork, the original lobby columns are now adorned with antique mirrored insets, infusing a touch of whimsy and glamour. In a nod to the Grande Colonial’s beachfront locale, we created a palette of vibrant shades of azure and Mediterranean blue and warm golds, accented with soft white, platinum and bronze. New Giallo Royale and Calcutta white polished marble flooring, inset with black Galaxy granite, accentuates fine accessories and handsome furnishings, including antique reproductions and contemporary pieces.
We also incorporated intricate hand-stenciled ceilings, rich textured fabrics, refurbished traditional chandeliers, art commissioned from Europe, walls upholstered in crème brûlée-colored linen weave fabric with gold embroidery and vintage photography in each of the areas.
The end result? The Grand Colonial now features elegant European residential-style interiors –with a bold color palette, fine finishes and subtle contemporary nuances. Ultimately, the sophisticated new décor – which can be described as new traditional – reinforces this boutique hotel’s enduring historic appeal.
The next time you are in La Jolla, please stop by. This lovely seaside property offers a small snapshot of La Jolla’s colorful past. We would love to hear your thoughts on its new look.
I love LA. Isn’t there a somewhat satirical song to that effect? I was born in Los Angeles, studied at UCLA and worked in LA, and I do love LA – this city is part of me. I love the rich Hollywood history, the beautiful beaches and the temperate weather. And, of course, I am partial to the shopping and dining in this City of Angels.
For drinks and great food, a longtime hot spot is Trader Vic’s Lounge at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. With a decidedly Polynesian theme, Trader Vic’s is “Home of the Original Mai Tai” and a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. Part of the historic chain founded by Victor Bergeron in 1944, it is known for exotic cocktails and lively ambiance.
Another not-to-be-missed eatery is The Ivy Restaurant in West Hollywood. This popular spot is a longtime hub for Hollywood elite with its cozy French country-style interior, sunny patio and regional American classics.
The La Cienega district is, of course, also a favorite haunt of mine, especially since our firm was on Melrose Ave. for years. The district – located on La Cienega between Sunset Blvd. and Melrose – has attracted top interior designers for decades. In more recent years, the area has gained fame as a top destination for great products and design inspiration.
With its outdoorsy, walkable allure, this creatively influenced district is booming with dozens of design stores recently opened – the majority selling high-end furniture and accessories.
Especially appealing in this district is Melrose Place, a charming tree-lined street home to fabulous antiques stores and designer boutiques.
Another lively spot is the Melrose Design District in West Hollywood between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards. One of my preferred places to shop here is Formations, which for years has produced collections of historically inspired items such as lighting, furniture, planters and accessories. All items are beautifully handcrafted in Southern California.
I love David Jones Custom Florist – around the corner from Formations on Robertson Boulevard – recognized for its creative and original floral arrangements. This high-end studio has catered to clients from presidents to Hollywood stars to royalty.
And what’s a visit to LA without stopping by one of its storied hotels? My favorite property is the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, a beautiful oasis in the heart of Beverly Hills. With a classic renaissance inspired motif, the hotel has the warmth and appeal of a private residence.
The Beverly Hills Hotel – with its distinctive pink stucco façade – is a vibrant slice of history on Sunset Blvd. Dating back to 1912, this venerable spot is home to the legendary Polo Lounge, a top power-dining venue for decades. A famed retreat for movies stars ranging from Marlene Dietrich to Marilyn Monroe, this iconic property oozes old Hollywood glamour, style and romance – and to me offers the quintessence of LA.
What do you love about LA? Please share your thoughts. I always love to read your comments below.
One of our most recent projects, Amaya La Jolla is housed in a former art gallery encompassing 10,000 square feet. We designed it to complement the distinctive European style of The Grand Del Mar, looking to decorative Italian palazzos for inspiration.
Palazzo style refers to an architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries based upon the palazzi (palaces) built by wealthy families of the Italian Renaissance. The architects of these buildings at times, however, drew details from sources other than the Italian Renaissance, such as Italian Romanesque or the French Beaux Arts movement, Empire and Venetian styles. For example, the hand-carved arched lunettes above the outside windows exemplify the Beaux Arts movement, as do the decorative ironwork at the entry doors and the gates into the wine cellar. The hand-troweled plaster throughout replicates finishes found in Venice, as do the mosaic tiled floors in the front veranda.
The restaurant encompasses an airy, light-filled front veranda with an indoor/outdoor feel; an adjacent wine room and wine cellar; a main dining room; a private dining room; and a bar/lounge area featuring nightly entertainment.
Two of the most notably similar design elements found at both The Grand Del Mar and Amaya La Jolla are the abundant use of hand-carved stone and polished marble. The restaurant’s exterior features stone-carved arched pediments, and the interior entry vestibule features hand-carved stone columns. We worked with the same four-generation family of Italian artisans – used exclusively by Warren Sheets Design, Inc. – that we collaborated with for The Grand Del Mar.
Other design elements common to both entities include elaborate coffered ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, wrought iron doors, stenciled accents, custom iron and crystal chandeliers, mosaic stone flooring, hand-troweled Venetian plaster walls, hand-applied 18 karat gold leaf finishes from Germany, intricate hand-woven carpets and detailed millwork. Additional highlights include doors paneled with oil paintings of St. Mark’s Square in Venice and a hammered tin ceiling with hand applied bronze finishes in the wine room all constructed by personally selected top artisans with years of experience and stellar portfolios, as well as the very finest products and materials.
To further the restaurant’s warm, residential ambiance, we used an array of rich hues, including gold, ochre and aubergine, contrasted against rich cardamom rose and French plum colors – colors seen in vibrant and beautiful sunsets of the Umbria region of southern Italy.
Since Amaya La Jolla is located in a seaside village, we added coastal-inspired elements including oil paintings imported from Western Europe. The artwork has an airy, impressionistic feel and vibrant colors that tie into the restaurant’s beachfront locale.
If you’re in La Jolla, stop at Amaya La Jolla for a delicious meal or simply pause in front to enjoy its detailed exterior. And then let us know which dining area, piece of artwork or design detail is your favorite.
This month much of the country is returning from summer travels, which makes me realize while I love to travel, staying home can be just as much fun. With this in mind, I’d like to share some of my favorite spots to shop and dine in my home city, San Francisco.
Start the perfect San Francisco day with a walk down Hayes Street, beginning at Franklin, then heading west. Don’t miss the wonderful boutiques and shops in the area, including some intriguing home décor shops as well as great restaurants and coffee shops. Highlights include:
- PLANTATION – Distinctive home décor, including numerous accessories and tabletop accessories. 336 Hayes (415) 565-0888.
- THE PAINTERS PLACE – Finely crafted custom framing – offering both classic and modern designs. 371 Hayes Street (415) 431-9827.
- PROPELLER – A fabulous array of modern furnishings and hand built accessories for the home. 555 Hayes Street (415) 701-7767.
After touring the many shops on both sides of the street, unwind with an espresso, a special treat or brunch at:
- LA BOULANGE – Famed French-style bakery and café. 500 Hayes Street (415) 863-3376.
- STACKS – Fresh, simple and delicious American classics. 501 Hayes Street (415) 241-9011.
- MIETTE – Fine cookies and other sweet confections. 449 Octavia Street (415) 626-6221.
Another favorite place of mine to stroll and shop is a small shopping district San Franciscans refer to as “Sacramento Street.” Located at the base of Pacific Heights, this area is a bit more upscale than Hayes Street. Here you’ll find:
- SUE FISHER KING – A sumptuous store filled with rich textures and colors as well as the very finest in home furnishings. 3067 Sacramento Street (415) 922-7276.
- ANTHEM – One of a kind antiques, as well as eye-catching furniture, lighting solutions and tabletop accessories. 3274 San Francisco Street (415) 440-6500.
- POETICA ART & ANTIQUES – Rare antiques, accessories and vintage furniture. 3461 Sacramento Street (415) 637-5837.
- THE DESK SET – A full-service fine stationery and custom invitation boutique. 3252 Sacramento Street (415) 921-9575
- HENRY BENGUELIN – Handcrafted fine leather. 3091 Sacramento Street (415) 292-7559.
For a late lunch or dinner, I recommend GARIBALDIS – the quintessential neighborhood spot. 347 Presidio Avenue (415) 563-8841.
No matter what part of the city you frequent – from the upscale stores at Union Square or San Francisco Street to the thrift stores in the Mission District – San Francisco is a shopper’s paradise.
Each neighborhood has its own unique flavor – and treasures – so the next time you are in the city, do some serious exploring. And please stop by our design studio at 155 Connecticut Street and pay us a visit. We’re quite sure it will become one of your San Francisco favorites.
Kootenai Estates, a breathtaking summer getaway in the heart of the Flathead Valley in Montana, welcomed such venerable guests as Will Rogers, John D. Rockefeller, Jane Wyatt and Charles Lindbergh during its heyday as a turn-of-the-century retreat for wealthy mining barons.
We have been closely involved in restoring this idyllic Bigfork, Montana, community, and a standout of our work here has been the transformation of the legendary Lindbergh Cabin, rumored to have housed the famous aviator when he visited the grounds in the 1920s.
In addition to the renovation of the historic 1906 Kootenai Lodge we described in our last blog, we helped refurbish and expand three original log cabins and built three new homes from the ground up. We are especially proud of our work on the expansive 6,500-square-foot Lindbergh Cabin, now a meticulously restored waterfront home.
This cabin was originally built in the 1880s and in definite need of some modernization when we embarked on rebuilding it in 2007. We restored the original residence and expanded it to include two new two-story wings. All the original hand-hewn logs were restored to their original beauty. To maximize the stunning lake views, we enlarged all the windows and doors. The original maple flooring was carefully refinished, and a massive exterior fireplace – comprised of indigenous chief cliff rock – was dismantled and relocated to adorn an accent wall and three interior fireplaces. The residence today includes a gourmet kitchen and breakfast room, formal dining room, elegant great room, walk-in bar, office, outdoor dining deck, a master suite with a private patio and a full ensuite bathroom for each of its five bedrooms.
Fully furnished with custom finishes, this one-of-a-kind residence now features a lovely entry courtyard and fountain, as well as a full-view lakeside terrace with a commanding vista of both Swan Lake and Swan River stretching all the way to Crane Mountain. The home is accented with beamed vaulted ceilings, rustic timbers and rugged stone throughout. The other homes at Kootenai Estates are similar in style, with traditional log architectural accents that pay homage to the Old Montana West.
The project is still a work in progress and marks the dramatic transformation of “The Kootenai Camp,” a former destination for Anaconda Copper executives and their families into a collection of custom, multi-million dollar homes.
When complete, all the homes – both old and new – will masterfully echo the traditional Adirondack Camp style architecture of this original turn-of-the-century retreat.