Last Minute Local


I know, so much product these last few weeks! But what can I say, I'm on my grind. Or something. As a counterpart to last week's gift guide, this is all just stuff that's made and sold here in Brooklyn, with a cameo or two by some distant island they call Manhattan. I think if I weren't on the world's tightest budget right now I'd spring for the walnut valet tray and/or the In God We Trust jewelry. I already own the bookends (amaze), but if I didn't I'd be all over the Coil + Drift book display.

At the end of the day the only gift I'll probably commit to is a couple of Mast Brothers chocolate bars wrapped in twine. It's the gift that keeps on giving, because once I give it to you (mom, dad) I find one way or another to eat half of it while you aren't looking. Merry Christmas!

Chen Chen & Kai Williams metamorphic rock bookends at Creatures of Comfort. (As seen in my bedroom makeover.)

Areaware concrete desk set at The Primary Essentials.

Thanks cuff and spacer ring at In God We Trust.

Medium Apple B mobile by Fort Makers.

Cups by Romy Northover at Still House.

Saito wood coaster at Personnel of New York. (Anecdote: These are my favorite coasters. They're Japanese plywood and they look just as good used as intended with my Heath mug as they do as bases for my Lite + Cycle pillar candles. I bought one at Tortoise in L.A. and then picked up three more at Personnel last week, which means there are only two left in stock for you. I'm sure they'd be happy to place another order if you're not shopping on a deadline.)

Walnut valet tray at Kaufmann Mercantile. (FYI: KM is online-only.)

Coil + Drift canyon book display at Jill Lindsey.

(Please Take Me To) Villa Lena


Villa Lena is this amazing hotel and artist's retreat outside of Florence that I discovered in Living Corriere, an Italian magazine I'm so in love with right now. I wrote about the hotel for work, but, ok, I actually started a new job this week, but my point is that I almost stayed there for a hot second during my trip in September. Unfortunately it didn't pan out because it's like, literally off the beaten path. C'est la vie.

Can someone buy me a residency? Is that how this works? I'm not sure we have those in America. I'd like to write a novel about a young man who takes up a residency abroad and then is like, "Surprise, bitches! I'm never leaving!" and then they kick him out and he gets lost under the Tuscan sun and finds love and Reese Witherspooon, who's like, "I'm going Wild™!"

The moral of the story is that copyright law is much looser in Europe. Read more about Villa Lena/see more pics here and here. All photos © Coke Bartrina / Villa Lena.

In the Spirit of Giving (Get Some)


I always debate doing a "gift guide" post every year because I kind of hate gift guides. There are way too many of them and no one really needs anything, you know? But I started putting this collage together and it was kind of therapeutic and then I spent like, two hours on it so now you have to bear witness to it. The gist of it is: here's some stuff that I like. There's a home office theme going on, I guess because I A desk is where I watch all of my porn write all of these thoughtful entries, so it makes some kind of sense. You can find more isht I like on Pinterest, duh.

01 Something Good Split container, $129
02 The Monocle Guide to Better Living, $60
03 L'atelier D'exercices Endless Notes notepad, $52
04 Rosenthal Tütenvase, $136
05 Terrapin Stationers From the Desk of... note cards, $30
06 Delfonics wood ballpoint pen, $10
07 Hay candelabra, $44
08 Ferm Living espresso cups, $42
09 Hay boxes, $44

And Again With the Uni-sexy


Let me tell you a story. A few years ago when I was working retail I helped this one guy, European, obviously, otherwise I would have ignored him, and he was wearing this really great sweater. It turned out to be Céline, obviously.

Now, you might imagine him to be trim or kind of small, like me, but he was this burly bear guy. And the sweater, it fit him wonderfully! It had, and now I'm trying to remember it and I'm embellishing it, but I know it had split side seams, and that was kind of amazing, that this big guy was casually wearing this silhouette that was supposed to be manufactured for femininity. It looked wonderful on him. And ever since I've been like, damn, if I just had that one sweater.

And then I found it.

Well, not that exact one, but a split side seam turtleneck from Apiece Apart. It's gorgeous and perfect. Merino wool, navy, a slight taper to accentuate my shapely silhouette. Well, it's made in China, which is always kind of a red flag for me, but I guess if it weren't it'd cost as much as this Proenza one? I mean, Jesus people, how much should a sweater cost? Thank god it's sale season.

These are some other uni-sexy looks from the brand. Hot damn tho. That white shirt! That chunky knit! Those loafers! I can't even. You can find out more about the brand here and here, and be sure to check out their awesome Tumblr while you're at it.

Top photo via J.Crew / Bottom photos via

Moving Mountains


I hadn't seen this collection from Moving Mountains before, but then I did and now I hate my life, which I can tell you right now is not on track to include these beautiful things in it anytime soon. Dude, the Confetti Credenza is literally "price upon request," which is shop speak for "we don't like your kind 'round here." The Aspect Lamps feature conical shades that "allude to distinct personalities," which is more than I can say for half of my Facebook friends. I guess this is all just a long-winded way of saying that I'm still on the lookout for a sugar daddy, you know, one of those older guys who needs my young, sexually incisive eye to pick out great furniture that we can divide amongst ourselves in the inevitable divorce. Any takers?

Thanks & Giving


If the eight-hour drive from New York to Charlottesville taught me anything, it's that Maroon 5 is, surprisingly, more popular than Taylor Swift. I also learned that I do a mean impression of Harry Styles, as long as you've no idea who Harry Styles is or where he's from or what he does.

The trip home was a surprise for my parents. They're hard to shop for, my father ritualistically intoning we children "save our money", my mother inclined to sate most of her earthly needs on her own dime and schedule (like mother like son.) I still bring up the sage green pashmina I gave her years ago from time to time in an attempt to make a point about how impeccable my taste was in college and how if only she'd appreciated it more—texted me photos of herself draped in it while reading The Hunger Games, a smile and knowing look on her face—she could've upgraded to cashmere sweater sets by now.

But I thought it'd be nice if I showed up on their porch. It's the least I could do, right? And so there I was, the night before Thanksgiving, asking them to graciously order in a meat lover's pizza so there'd be something substantial over which we could bitch about American exceptionalism and binge watch the entire first season of Broad City (mother walked out). I also hijacked one of their cars and went ~*sHopPiNg*~.

I bought some art and a few curios from local favorites, plus a new hat that got me compared to Indiana Jones within an hour of its inaugural wearing. Score! I also played dress up in my mom's "future fit" (as in, it'll fit again, in the future) clothing, which she's taken to storing in my old bedroom closet. But, you guys, look how cute this outfit is:

Pretty legit, right? The look is "goth librarian" (always a good look) and I achieved it using a Weekenders skirt, J.Jill blouse and a Banana Republic sweater. Literally all you need to look like a boss is one pair of dominatrix-y leather zip boots.

Shout out to my moms for not balking when her closer-to-30-than-not son came down in her clothes like, "Now I'm going to stand in your foyer and pose and you're going to take pictures and then I'm going to post it all to Facebook," and acting like that's par for the course.

Guillermo Vega


I've had this story in one of my notebooks since last summer, when I went to Cartagena. I haven't shared any of those pictures here, but now seems as good a time as any since I posted some of the art I bought down there in my bedroom makeover.

I stumble upon the Getsemaní studio of Guillermo Vega. Someone out back waves me in and I enter; when I look up it's not the same man I initially saw coming forward, but an older man. I wish him a good afternoon and start to look around the room at the paintings. "This is you?" I ask, pointing to the signature on one painting: "Guillermo Vega." He says yes it is and goes on talking about his work. I catch almost none of it, but nod and try to repeat every other word I comprehend, thinking it seems appreciative. He says something about the world and starts listing off countries. "Yes, so many countries," I agree. 

If Guillermo can tell I'm completely clueless he doesn't show it. He tells me he has been painting for a long time, fifty-five years. He shows me photos of himself when he was younger. He shows me his garden where he grows aloe vera, which can be used in your hair and as a mask, he says, as he mimes putting it all over his face. He has eggs on the ends of some tree branches and I ask him why; I think he tells me it's to keep away ants, but it might have something to do with flowers. A pair of pants is hung up on a clothesline, dusty. "It's maravilloso," I tell him, and he seems appreciative. There's a man behind him in the garden, I think Guillermo calls him Carlos. Carlos sits on the stoop and the two of them chat for awhile which gives me time to take pictures.

Guillermo holds up a golden piggy bank he's using as a planter and smiles. He pulls together the leaves of one plant; he seems to take pride in his garden and is happy to have it photographed. I'm happy to have something beautiful and personal to photograph. We go back inside his studio and he signs his name on the back of the portrait of Christ I've selected. "If I don't sell, I don't eat," he tells me. Or maybe he's saying, "I go hungry," but either way I think he is glad to make a sale, even though I can't offer him the full 50,000 pesos he's asked for the painting. He kindly accepts 46,000.

Carlos comes from the back to help wrap the painting in plastic, but first he writes the day's date and the name of the neighborhood on the back of the painting. Portraits of Christ, army generals, wild cats, and neighborhood life line the walls. It feels good to be an audience for someone who's invited me into his backyard as a guest, to step beyond the threshold and see something real as real can get for a clumsy monolingual American lugging around a camera, glued to his iPhone.

P.S. I'm telling myself I'll share other pictures from this trip next month, for sure. Look out.

My Big Fat Bedroom Makeover


Holy shit, you guys: I actually made over my bedroom instead of just blogging about it and then failing miserably to realize my ambitions! This is mostly due to the fact that this was a work project—one in a series of "editor makeovers." Mine went up on last week, and I 'grammed and 'fbooked about it then, but this is your chance to get all the juicy behind the scenes details—of which there are none. But let's pretend, shall we?

First things first: the bedroom "before." One wall was the most tragic shade of pink, there were no window treatments, the bed was a foul just wasn't pretty. I had the big dream to go really bold with color since my last bedroom was a white box. White worked there because I got such great light, but this space, despite having two windows, is a lot darker. The decorating M.O. had to be tweaked.

For awhile I'd been toying with the idea of a red bedroom, thinking specifically of designer Nick Olsen's old apartment, but the shade was uniformly dismissed by my colleagues. I was also really tempted to go gray after seeing the interior of Gris, an antiques shop in Hudson, NY, painted Benjamin Moore's Kendall Charcoal. Tempted...but not convinced. I ended up springing for Stiffkey Blue, a dark blue from Farrow & Ball with gray-green undertones. I think. From certain angles. Whatever, I like it. See for yourself, below.

You can read all of the nitty gritty over on Lonny, but the long and the short of it is: blue! Everywhere! And bedding and rug and art, oh my! The space ended up being a lot more worldly than my last room, and a good bit less "Brooklyn-y"—more in line with the inspirations I shared. I was able to work in a lot of my antiques and stuff I've picked up while traveling to create a few moments, not to mention lots of tiny plants in tiny ceramic dishes.

I worked with In Bed to dress my low-profile West Elm bed. The headboard is a piece of plywood upholstered in a vintage fabric and the indigo quilt is from Coming Soon; the throw pillows I bought at Hammer And Spear in LA. The whole package has a distinctly zen vibe, and I think I read somewhere that low furniture is more inviting than really tall furniture? All I know is that the height of everything is dictated by how wonky the walls are—none of them are flat and straight. Both of the walls in the photo above are angled in (note the dormer windows) so I can't easily hang art on them or, you know, anything else. In a perfect world I might have a tall floor lamp in that far corner, but in the meantime I put my tulip table there, covered in African mudcloth to blend in a little better with the bedding.

I bought new art for the lefthand side table to really define that area beneath the window. It's a Saul Lishinsky sketch I got at (say it with me now) the Brooklyn Flea, from dealer Brian Cousins, one half of the duo behind Hollander & Lexer. Cousins has the most incredible stall at the Flea, with a ton more sketches by Lishinsky and a drool-inducing assortment of curios and objets. In addition to the art I bought vintage boro fabric and an antique Indian tikka box. The staggered Chinese stools are antiques from Home Stories, a totally gorgeous shop in Brooklyn Heights.

For the window treatments I went really trad, opting for Rose Tarlow's Tatton Stripe in Paper Bag for a pair of roman shades. The light fixture is Tom Dixon, the flowers were done by Saffron and the art in the far corner is a portrait of Christ by self-taught Colombian painter Guillermo Vega, who'll get a dedicated post later this week.

I would show the desk area, but I feel like it's not really done yet. It's pretty much the same as it looks here. Speaking of which, that chair is going to be ready in a week or two and I'll have a post about that, which is kind of amazing. The other half of the room, where I dream of putting my mid-century console, is basically not done at all. In theory, it will look something like this:
But...we'll see. I have no more monies and, at the end of the day, am not sure how much more work I feel like putting into a rented room, especially when I've already made so many major changes to the space. In my last room, though I just installed drapery, it felt like the whole year flew by and I was taking stuff down right after it'd been put up. Le sigh.

I've been doing a lot of decor shopping online lately, natch, and I feel like there are a few details I've left out here...products I really like, etc., but I've rounded up some recent finds that I think are worth checking out, and there's always more where that came from on Pinterest.

The Agi & Sam School of Layering


So you may remember this look from last spring, but it accidentally got deleted for eternity when I switched blog platforms over the summer and so here it is again. This #OOTD was inspired by Agi & Sam's awesome AW14 collection, which was amazing and totally on my wavelength.

I attempted to recreate some of their layering magic with a vintage shirt, pants and a quilted skirt from Uniqlo and a long Comme des Garçons jacket. You can kind of sort of shop the look, below!

Playlist 008


Ok, so I'm trying something new this month—I put my whole playlist on Soundcloud. Do I sound old, saying that? Who's asking? Nevermind.

Of note: I'm obsessed with SZA right now (like, for the past day and a half) and am wondering why I'd never heard of her. She gives me LDR vibes by way of FKA Twigs channeling Jill Scott. If you're looking for something more upbeat than Aftermath, the song I included here, listen to Julia. Oh, Doja Cat is also amazing. I included Cannibal in this mix, but my actual favorite of hers right now is Throwed. (And if you're intrigued enough to click that link, then you definitely have to listen to Ice Cream Pu$$y, which my friend described as "ear crack," but which only exists as some jank clip on YouTube for some reason.) Otherwise it's just stuff I've got on repeat!


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