Gift Guide: Dream Gifts for the Book Lover...

Forget the New York Times Best Seller list, these are the hardbacks that are truly in demand. From out of print iconic works to much anticipated new releases, these beautiful coffee table books are what the fashion & design lover in your life truly covets.

1. Christian Dior's retrospective book features over 150 of their stunning haute couture gowns and is a beautifully presented display of the house's unmatched style (also here) // 2. Swans is another out of print book I dream of owning. A decadent look into the belles of the ball of high-society. (also here & here) // 3. Manolo Blahnik's Fleeting Gestures & Obsessions book is a fashion girl's dream & an illustration lover's delight (also here & here) // 4. Major dream book here: Valentino: Mirabilia Romae celebrates their feminine designs with a look at Rome's influence on the house's style (also here & here & here & here) // 5. A rare copy of John Saladino's Villa pretty much tops my list of must-have book cravings (also here & here)

Feeling Bookish: Kelly Hoppen Authors the Definitive Interior Design Companion...

Interior design books written by top talents within the field are interesting. Some are authored with educating and sharing among fellow designers in mind, others are intended to be consumed by fans, amateurs and enthusiasts as inspirational tools. The best of the bunch are squarely targeted at both audiences, serving up crisp, clear, perfectly illuminated photographs of award-winning interiors and (here's the key) digestible content that teaches anyone (pro or not) how to even begin to achieve such a marvelous result.

Kelly Hoppen is among the class of designer that unites all of us as lifelong learners in the quest for better design skills. Her advice and expertise is delivered in a way that places her along side us in the universal challenge of "what exactly do I do with this space" and "how can I work around the quirks of my floor plan?" And I love her for it. There's no haughty schooling happening here. This top design talent is at the drafting table with us solving design dilemmas and working through decorating challenges.

And let's talk about her work... it is absolutely exquisite. Commercial, residential, retail or yacht - you name it, she serves up absolutely flawless designs for her worldwide clientele. Working from a largely neutral base, the interiors are at once lush, full, inviting and somehow quiet, soothing and understated. It's a line we all attempt straddle, but this London designer has nailed the sumptuous vibe. It is a keen reminder that all of us have much to learn. Her monochromatic spaces are stunningly sexy and dramatic but completely calming. Ivory cocoons begging to envelope you. When someone with this much talent offers a how-to guide, you pay attention. Especially when you have been invited behind the veil of "professional design" to be taught key foundational guidelines for basing all future design decisions. That's the essence of The Art of Interior Design.

The iconic ‘Kelly Hoppen look’ combines clean, precise lines of the East with opulent textures from the West, harmoniously layered on top of neutral tones producing elegant, dramatic & immaculate interior that is world renowned. Asserting your personality on to this, Kelly guarantees interior that is impeccably tasteful & bespoke every time.

This isn't Kelly Hoppen's first rodeo (peruse her portfolio for proof), nor is it her first book. Fans know she's penned quite a few books on the subject of interior design, but this particular volume is a master class that offers an opportunity to raise your level of knowledge of design principles to the level of a much more seasoned expert. It doesn't hurt that the projects she has chosen to share in the pages (328 pages, to be exact) are downright gorgeous. Spanning the globe, brace yourselves to now have your design standards raised considerably. This, dear readers, is what top talent can create. And perhaps now we can as well.

Designers: prepare to be inspired to design even more remarkable spaces for clients. More well-appointed interiors. More detailed vignette. More thoughtful spaces. Design fans? This beautiful book will not disappoint in style, substance or Instagram appeal. Home design enthusiasts & those in the throes of a top-to-bottom renovation? You've found your project companion to guide you through what can often be an intimidating process of difficult selections. 

Kelly, you've wowed us again. Congratulations on another "must have" book for all of us.


Feeling Bookish: Two Extremely Stylish Must-Reads for Fashion Lovers...

{image credits, clockwise from top left: Franki Durbin // Coveteur // Coveteur // Coveteur}

This week has brought with it many gifts. Not the least of which are the two very exciting book purchases. Aimee Song's much anticipated "Capture Your Style" and the Coveteur's very intimate look into the closets (and by extension lives) of the famous & fabulous.

One book will school you in the ways of making your Instagram presentation stellar, the other will inspire you to up your fashion game at home and to feel free to expand your views on fashion as decor. Trust me, you will truly enjoy both of these new releases. Fair warning: you'll also be genuinely inspired to live life more stylishly and see the artistry in the possessions of your closet. Love these two new FABULOUS additions to the nightstand!


Feeling Bookish: A Fresh Roundup of Amazing Style & Design Books...

Oh, books. How you delight me so. Instagram friends will have seen my many snaps of these beauties as I dive into them over coffee (guilty as charged). But you amazing blog readers might be missing out on the current hardcovers I'm enjoying these days.

Below, a roundup of some of my favorite recent book finds including a deep dive into the family history of the Gucci brand, a sublime visit into a Modern home basking in the California desert and a handful of other truly important interior design guaranteed to inspire you to focus on higher thoughts, aim for a more beautiful existence and expand your view on this magical life we all live. With that, here we go...


What happens when a classically-inclined architect and vivacious (and certainly not color-averse) interior designer marry and merge their business interests as well? This book explores their thinking process and reveals how two seemingly diametrically opposed approaches to design (and therefore living) can create absolutely beautiful work. Peter Pennoyer & Katie Ridder will wow you with their house in the country .GET THE BOOK


A glossy look at the brand's fashion through the years, this is not. In the Name of Gucci is an insightful story revealing the wild ups and downs of the family through the eyes of Aldo Gucci's daughter Patricia.

I found the story fascinating and at times shocking to read. A story of love, drama, betrayal, legal issues and - yes, fashion -  in a thoughtfully crafted memoir. GET THE BOOK


Now here's a book dripping in sexy spaces I can't get enough of. What is it with these French designers? There's clearly something in the Perrier infuses them with an unmatched talent for designing glamorous spaces worthy of his high-end clientele. I'll be featuring Catroux's work at length in an upcoming post, but for now know that this book is the first to celebrate the international designer's work. A must for the luxe-loving design enthusiast. GET THE BOOK


Craving that bright Palm Springs sunshine and the innovative architectural style native to the area? Me too. That's why Sunnylands was such a treat to read. Dubbed: Versailles for the Space Age, this estate does not disappoint if you're craving golf carts, and sun-drenched modern pools and an ecclectic mix of furnishings. This A. Quincy Jones property hosted politicians, movie stars & moguls making this retrospective a cool look back at famous faces all having a blast in under the California desert sun. GET THE BOOK


In this marvelously excessive book, Michelle Nussbaumer brings life to homes and hearts through her worldly & sophisticated creative viewpoint. Never one to create a "just shopped for" space, Michelle's projects celebrate the variety of art, design and cultural elements important to her clients.

Mixing eras, blurring continental divides and serving up her signature style, the designer inspires us to bring a taste of the world into our own homes as well. BUY THE BOOK


I've been to design school, and in all honestly this book offers more wisdom and practical insights than I learned in my years in a competitive interiors program. 100 top designers provide the benefit of their combined years of experience (and stunning project photos) to create what truly does read like a master class for designers at every level. This is one book jacket that will never get dusty as you'll be keeping it on the desk and referring to it time and time again. A must-have. BUY THE BOOK


Feeling Bookish: Oui, Oui! Paris by Ladurée, the City Guide...

If you've ever wanted to escape from it all and do Paris the right way (hello... all of us!), this lovely little guide book is precisely what you've been craving. Packaged in pretty pink letters, a hint of gold and containing sweet Parisian goodness inside, the Paris by Laduree City Guide is a veritable readable macaron. From where to shop to how to find that authentic French antique Empire chandelier you know is out there somewhere, this paperback is filled with delicious goodness. Pick it up as soon as you can, and book that ticket shortly after. Paris is calling and sweet experiences such as this should never be delayed.

Glued to your desk? Not to worry, I have your virtual Parisian cafe moment below. Pretty macarons, decadent coffee in a gorgeous cup and classic French style. So very soigné.


Feeling Bookish: Fashionable Books For The Stylish Crowd...

You may have surmised I'm a bit of a book lover, with tomes of travel and chic interiors leading the pack on categories I adore. As Instagram followers might know, I've snapped up a few lovely titles over the past few months and haven't stopped to share them on the blog. Here are a few great books you may want to explore if you're on the quest for something dreamy to pair with your coffee.

You may notice a Parisian theme here. This was not intentional. But it goes without saying that any book by Celebrity model Inès de la Fressange is worth exploring. Hence the quick acquisition of the Parisian Chic City Guide to accompany my dog-eared copy of the now classic Parisian Chic. Craving more I snapped up Bright Lights Paris which dives deeper into an American's interpretation of the various modes of Parisian dress. If skinny black jeans and ballet flats don't float your boat, the Paris abodes featured in A Home in Paris will drive home the idea that our French-speaking counterparts have the upper hand on style in every aspect of their lives.

Moving a bit further south, we delve into Italian Glamour which serves up big names like Pucci and lesser famous (but not less talented) designers from the boot-shaped country. This beautiful book is for the true fashion lover looking to explore archival fashion moments in Italian history.

Speaking of fashion (and we were), imagine if you could travel back in time and listen in on bits of cocktail party conversations with Chanel, Dior, McQueen and others. What would they say? What insights and observations on life, travel, style and living would they offer? Couture Confessions gives you the opportunity to be a fly on the proverbial wall as iconic couturiers are captured in their own words offering up juicy bits of though provoking conversations.


Feeling Bookish: Susanna Salk Celebrates the Little Things...

Many of my favorite books bear the name Susanna Salk on their spine. C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon, Room for Children, A Privileged Life, Be Your Own Decorator are but a few of the best sellers she can claim as her own. It's the Little Things arrives on the heels of her successful 2014 release Decorate Fearlessly: Using Whimsy, Confidence, and a Dash of Surprise to Create Deeply Personal Spaces - and I see no signs of her string of hits coming to an end. With Little Things she takes us on a whirlwind tour of favorite nooks and special spaces by some of our favorite designers. Timothy Corrigan, Denise McGaha and Howard Slatkin are but a few of the many familiar names in this gorgeous hardcover.

For me this is the best kind of design book. You can open it to any page and enjoy sumptuous imagery alongside personal considerations from the designer responsible. A lazy afternoon could be spent indulging in page after page of these vastly different spaces. Only have two minutes? Delight in flipping through just a few pages and savoring the thoughtful tips from experts and style aficionados.

That said, this visually rich book is broken into defined sections allowing emphasis on various aspects of design: walls, surfaces, big moments, mantels and others. I love the subtle sense of order - giving one the ability to draw quick inspiration for how to make the space above the fireplace more dazzling or how to make a grand entrance in your client's foyer.


Feeling Bookish: Luxuriate in Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Latest Design Book...

Oh, Martyn. A designer who doesn't so anything - anything - halfway. His bold decorating style, his dapper mode of dress, his larger than life personality - these almost pale in comparison to how much he commits to his books.

My collection of the million dollar designer books is steadily growing, and with Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Design and Decoration I can truly appreciate how willing he is to open the cabinet of curiosities containing his many well-earned professional secrets to those of us willing to study them. Much of this confidence stems from the obvious fact that his signature style is inimitable. Given the same clients, budget, time and space we would simply not produce that eye-popping Bullard look. Thus in this volume he freely shares details on his conceptual process and insights that take his spaces beyond the invisible boundaries that most of us dance within.

I loved this book. I hope you'll add a copy of it to your library and consider giving it to a few design-loving friends. It's thoughtfully written with heartfelt passages and personal stories. The imagery is rich and genuinely inspiring - much like the designer himself. Martyn never disappoints!

Feeling Bookish: A Fresh Look at The Iconic Cindy Crawford...

I consider myself well-versed on supermodels. From today's Gigi Hadid to the memorable Evangelista, Iman, Christy era, I'm a fashionista to the core and adore the evolution of the modeling world.

Knowing this I expected Becoming by Cindy Crawford to feel more like a step back in time to celebrate the divine Ms. Crawford's more memorable photo shoots. What I received instead was a serious education on the Cindy I never knew.

The photos - AMAZING. Really amazing. Many shoots were so radical I could hardly believe it was Cindy's eyes looking back at me. Bold, brazen poses as only a supermodel could serve up. And her confidence - sizzling.  The backstory on how she "became" the model of the moment (and has maintained her space in the spotlight in creative new ways) was even more amazing. I loved this so much I sent a copy to my mom for Mother's Day so we could both think back to those pre-Kaia days.

The Kendalls and Haileys of today are almost overexposed thanks to their high flying social media profiles. Yet Cindy's behind-the-scenes story is largely her own to tell. In Becoming she does tell it beautifully and invites us backstage to sand-covered photo shoots and high-fashion scenes.

Curious to know Kaia's thoughts on being the child of one of the world's most beautiful women? It can't be easy, right? Fortunately, WhoWhatWear sat down with the up-and-coming model - a near twin to her mom - to reveal her thoughts.

If you're a fan of Cindy's, this beautiful book is gift-worthy and makes a spectacular present for anyone. Including yourself. Find yours at Net-a-Porter.

Feeling Bookish: The Busy Girl's Secret to Lifelong Learning...

Ahhh, books. I used to read self-development books with a voracious appetite. These days I am too busy reading stories to my own little ones and devouring design books to dig into hardcover volumes that promise to shake my core and realign my life. What did I read once upon a time? beginning in junior high, every biography by a successful mogul I could get my hands on. Richard Branson, Lee Iacocca and others. As I grew into a woman I turned to a wide variety of health, beauty & wellness books for knowledge. And then there was the steady diet of strategy and self-actualization books I couldn't get enough of reading. Each blessed book got me one step closer to the idealized version of myself.

Well, that was single, child-free me. Married with little ones me is a bit book starved and the lack of informational nutrients flowing into my brain is beginning to wear on me. I crave knowledge. I thirst for books leading me to deeper fulfillment, greater enlightenment and a renewed sense of drive. And yet, the library books and Amazon delivered books go unread. It's time to put an end to this. 

As the months tick by I find my "wish list" of personal growth books getting longer. Reading in bed is not an option, as I read my girls to sleep and them promptly pass out myself. My solution? Audible. It began with a commitment to master Italian and develop conversational foreign language skills. Delighted by the prospect of knowledge-on-demand I downloaded the classic "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. A big fan of efficiency, my on-the-go approach to book consumption quickly became an obsession. 

Don't get me wrong, those of you with the time to curl up with a book should absolutely do so. I find that my nose is buried in interior magazines, style books and other design-related reading material a majority of the time. The idea of lying in bed listening to...well, anything, is a dreamy concept. The added advantage of taking in new information passively as I drive to Whole Foods or run errands in almost a guilty pleasure.  Some of these are books I have in hardcover form on my nightstand or elsewhere in my library, yet just can't find the dedicated time slot for reading these days. And fiction? I will likely need to wait until I swaying under a palm tree in near the equator before I indulge myself in such pleasurable reads. (confession: for those I'll get paperbacks which make window-seat reading a breeze while aboard those Virgin Air flights and can be easily gifted or donated upon completion. :) 

But for me, these non-fiction reads are ideally suited for listening to at night or in the car. Luckily my two mini-me's seem more than happy to practice "buongiorno" intermittently and learn how to think and grow rich from the comfort of the back seat. For that I am incredibly grateful. 

Want to see what titles I have on my early 2016 audio "reading" list? A few older classics, a few new-ish best-sellers and a few mind-expanding volumes. Here goes...


Are you a bookworm or a lifelong learner? If so, do you Kindle or use another digital format? I'd love to hear how you take in new information and what is on your "must read this year" list. Please feel invited share!

Feeling Bookish: New Releases for the Book Lovers On Your List...

By now it has dawned upon us all that gift giving season is upon us. Thankfully, books are almost always a welcome sight during the flurry of present-swapping occasions to come. Today I'll share a few titlesof highly anticipated recent releases. These are hardcovers you'll be inspired to share with your design-loving friends around the globe. 

First up, Diana Vreeland: The Modern Woman, The Bazaar Years. If you've ever wanted to peer into the mindset of a creative visionary at the helm of a major publication, this book offers just that. Featuring every issue of Harpers Bazaar under her keen eye, this lovely book gives us a closer look at Vreeland's influence over the magazine and a visual history of her celebrated editorial eye. Less about the woman herself than, say, The Eye Has to Travel or Memos, Modern Woman is still a volume Vreeland fans will want to add to their library on this iconic influential woman. 


Axel Vervoordt Living With Light was a treat to read this summer. It's the kind of book you keep at the top of any stack because you find yourself wanting a visual feats here and there. Spaces filled with the key elements of the firm's signature style - a mix of old and new pieces and the four horsemen of design: light, water, metal, wood - make these sunbeam filled rooms sing. Amidst all that stunning sunlight is an enviable display of modern design that leaves you feeling warm and curious, not cold and start. I love the emphasis on client artwork and the "light as air" feel each project evokes. Longtime fans will absolutely love this book. New inductees to the Vervoordt club will discover an urgent need to go back and collect his other must-have books. (An urge I encourage you to act upon!)


And then there was Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors. Principals Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller have been pushing out killer projects for some time. It comes as little surprise that style-savvy Vendome would delight us with a gorgeous (and hefty!) book celebrating their always fun style. This duo turns out projects in a fearless mix of classic meets contemporary style. As much as I study the generously sized pages I can't find a signature "look" for their work, and that ability to create truly unique results is what has garnered them celebrity attention and a bold faced list of clients. Did I mention Anna Wintour wrote the foreword? Enough said! 


And finally, the one... the only, Jeffrey Bilhuber. In American Master, we get a massive dose of his design prowess in one beautifully executed. If there is one takeaway from reading this (and there are MANY), the unspoken message is that it takes deep confidence to produce his style of work. Jeffrey has a fearless approach to dramatic design and while the spaces themselves are approachable and livable, the architectural and design decisions he makes on the path to those results would cause most designers to hit the pause button. Spanning his 30-year career, the pacing of the book is driven by sharing thirty different credos that guide Bilhuber’s work, including such phrases as “What’s liberating is to be fearless” and “Rooms should reveal themselves gradually over time.” 

Four fantastic books, four fantastic gifts. Whether you're lining your own library walls or beginning to plot out those holiday gifts, any of these titles will surely win you the affection of the recipient. Happy reading, everyone!

Feeling Bookish: Florence de Dampierre Shares Lessons in Living French Chic..

There are no shortage of books discussing this and that a la Parisian. Perhaps they talk about masterful wardrobe editing or extol the virtues of living in the land of fresh croissants and ballet flat chic. But few books lay out in exquisite detail exactly how to go about living your existing daily life with the ease and confidence possessed by those rarified French citizens. In French Chic Living: Simple Ways to make Your Home More Beautiful Florence de Dampierre offers us very specific ways to infuse the spirit of dwelling in a manse in Provence in our daily lives.

This lovely text won't linger in a stack in my library, instead it will be kept handy for frequent reference. Why? Because it is literally filled with "I can use that today" wisdom and great ideas for the care and concern of all things chic living. Having spent time in the French countryside growing up, the viewpoint of the author is decidedly rustic French. But even a city mouse will love the timeless wisdom spilled out on each page. Shopping tips, cocktail party secrets and everything in between. 

From easy recipes to detailed suggestions on exactly what to acquire for your linen closet, how to grow and store your herbs, stocking the ideal pantry and natural cures for everyday niusances. This book, perhaps more than any I've read recently, is the exact gift to give to everyone on your list. From the young singleton in their first apartment to the busy mom of five, this book lays out in beautiful detail what a well-stocked (but never overstuffed) home needs. 

If the name Florence de Dampierre name sounds familiar, it is because she is literally a household name. From several other books (Chairs: A History and French Chic: The Art of Decorating Houses are but two of her other titles) to licensed lines with such brands as John-Richard, Surya and A&B Home, she is a bonafide authority on the topic of channeling je ne sais quoi into your everyday life. 


I was delighted to interview the author to pull out a few more gems of wisdom. I hope you'll enjoy our discussion! 

Florence, I’ve loved many of your books. Chairs: A History, French Chic: The Art of Decorating Houses are two personal favorites. French Chic Living was inspired from your childhood memories of time in France with your family. Can you share more with us about your early life abroad in such a romantic setting? 

Thank you very much. So happy that you like my new book as well. It is a very personal book, close to my heart. It mix together a lot of my memories from my grand-mothers. They were both strong characters in their own way and both had a way of making people and family around them at ease and happy.

Food and smells still are anchored in my mind,and to this day triggered lovely memories. 

The food was relatively simple but always with fresh products. Fresh eggs from the farmer down the road along with milk directly from his cows with the cream on top. All was used to make cakes. Leftover were always reused doing something delicious. No waste was ever a possibility for anything.    

I love that this is a true lifestyle book, offering a reader everything they need to know to set up house and garden in true art de vivre style. What inspired you to share this wisdom with readers? 

My friends have being for ever asking me about recipe for one thing or another or are marveling at some things I am doing. I realized how much of a desire for getting things done is out there and also wanted to share how easy many things are when you know what to do.

In the book you offer exceptional information on tips for selecting, storing and preparing food using natural ingredients - as well as recipes we can follow. I would love to hear about some of your early memories of cooking alongside your grandmother or mom and shopping for menu items at French markets. Any great stories to share?  

For me shopping at open market is a always such a pleasure. I love to look and to try things. It is a total experience and fun experience 

Your brand collaboration with A&B Home provides us with many of the French living essentials outlined in the book. From the perfect cream throw to gorgeous garden urns and elegant lanterns. It must me absolute bliss to see those ideal imagined creations come to life! How important is frequent international travel to your design process for products and interiors?  

Frequent travels are very important as it keep your creative juices flowing and keep you with the finger on the pulse of what is happening. 

Yes it is almost magical to see products that you designed and dreamed of becoming reality . It is a great feeling. 

The holidays are coming up quickly. Given your decidedly European approach to entertaining, could you offer insights on creating a relaxing and welcoming environment for large family gatherings? Any special tips to help us a create stress-free atmosphere as we cook up the most important meals of the year? 

My first tip would be to do things that you can do easily.Do not be over ambitious and try to cook, prepare and organized more than you can master. The goal is to spread joy and happiness around you. Not to be stressed out 

So pace yourself and do not do everything at once. Organization is key and knowing where to buy what, is good! A lovely presentation of a delicious store bought product is not a bad thing!. 

And finally, what can we expect from Florence de Dampierre next? 

Many more products for sure, to make your life better.  

I hope you enjoyed the interview! I found the recipes and entertaining tips to be very on point and applicable for all lifestyles and ages. Love the book and am so happy to have it as a reference. Below is a link to the book on Amazon as well as a few of my other favorite books by Florence. Enjoy! 


{Photos in this post are by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Feeling Bookish: Fall Favorites Inspiring Excellence in Design...

Fall offers so many examples of abundance. While many think of the decadence of the upcoming holidays, festive extravagance and food, I think of all things fashion & design related. Designers debut their upcoming collections on runways at NYFW, interior designers descend upon High Point to see the latest wares and publishers release their latest and greatest books. This post will highlight a few that I've just indulged in. While all are home and interiors related, each is quite different in its approach and in its mission to communicate an idea to the reader.

First, I offer you  A Day at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. This is a really intriguing read about a private estate of the Vogue family. By way of revealing beautiful photography, documents and rich storytelling, the heirs share the roller coaster history of this world class chateau starting in the seventeenth century want walking us through through the Belle Époque, World War I, and its public opening in 1968. Housed in an elegant sleeve with family crest debossed with foil accents, the presentation of the book alludes to the richness and attention to detail captured throughout. Trust me, it is a feast for the eyes and does not hold back on glorious archived details of this celebrated chateau. For the historian, architecture enthusiast or fracophile, this is a book to be savored.  

For those seeking inspiration on the other end of the spectrum, Life|Style by Tricia Foley washes away your cares with a less is more attitude. Offering us easy tips for streamlining our lives and our bookshelves, we are treated tales of her personal home restoration, her affinity for clean lines, utility and a decidedly less complicated way of living. If you want someone savvy and skilled to help you navigate the wide array of whites, solid tips for editing (even if you're a collector!) and how to perfect your guest bedroom, this is a must-read. I loved reading about her personal journey with "stuff" and the her push-pull relationship with her belongings. Tricia's elegantly simple approach to design and outlook are something to be appreciated as a remedy for our overly complex lives.  

This next book was my "wow" read of the weekend. Multi-award winning designer Greg Natale not only serves up stunning images of his projects in The Tailored Interior, he goes into great detail offering us tips, guidelines and his own set of "rules" by which to play to achieve your own tailored surroundings. His portfolio is astonishing, to say the least, but his easy tone and generous insights will have you cozied up reading this from cover to cover. A must have for designers, design-loving homeowners and casual enthusiasts alike. 

Room for one more treat on your coffee table? This is it. Timothy Wheaton's In Pursuit of Beauty is one of those rare books that dazzles outside (hello, silver spine lettering!) and indulges you via the contents within. Timothy's style is "accessible glamour" for those looking for a label, but I feel his work is fabulously unscripted. Rooms are gorgeous but not "decorated" in an obvious sense. Effortlessly blending modern and classic, this yummy book is great for everyone looking to up their interior style game. I personally love that the book is broken up by property, allowing you to completely immerse yourself in each of his separate projects and deep dive into what the designer was thinking as he wrestled with the unique opportunities that each provided. Add In Pursuit of Beauty to your wish list and your great gift list.

Hope you enjoyed the post, everyone! More marvelous reviews to come!  

Feeling Bookish: Megan Hess Raises the Bar on Fashion Illustrations...

Fashion House is one of those rare books that will have you gasping and squealing as you flip each candy colored page. Raising the bar for fashion illustrators everywhere, this stunning book explores fashion icons in rooms epitomizing their style, then masterfully breaks down the elements in a sharply simplified "get the look" manner.

I saw this book originally when a very stylish designer friend showed it to me and knew I had to have one. Asa  book lover, it is a library essential. As a decorator, it's impossible not to appreciate Megan Hess's ability to capture the finer details of what it takes to achieve the look of these stunning imaginary rooms. As a fashion lover, I feel drawn to the iconic looks throughout the book. As an artist I'm very motivated to whip out my pens and start drawing again. This book serves up powerful style and inspiration on every level. 

Whether you're a fabric swatch wielding designer or an aspiring fashionista, I can't recommend this gem of a book more. It far exceeded my expectations and is the type of book you'll open time and time again when seeking style inspiration.



Feeling Bookish: Falling Under Casa Bohemia's Spell...

It's no secret I harbor a love for Spanish-style architecture. Barrel tile roofs, ochre walls, arched doorways, ornate wrought iron accents - I love it all. We're lucky to have stunning examples of Mediterranean architecture here in Dallas. Drive through a pretty neighborhood and prepare to oooh and ahhh against your own will at the glory of these stunning stucco structures.

I went into my deep dive read of Casa Bohemia expecting to see beautiful examples of the elements mentioned above. It did not disappoint, page upon page of exquisite examples of ornate tiled floors and fanciful fountains. What surprised me, however, were the gorgeous homes that broke from my preconceived idea of the style. Modern creations with clean-lined furniture and sleek kitchens that still gave a nod to their Spanish design influence. The tie that binds these often diverse dwellings together is their inviting nature and almost palpable warmth. Perhaps it's a brick hearth or a stone interior wall, there is an inviting vibe and a relaxed feel achieved with the choice of materials, finish and design that unifies all of the homes featured in this beautiful book. 

Casa Bohemia: The Spanish-Style House is a cool book filled with even cooler casas. It would be difficult to choose a favorite, but if pressed I'd reveal that Casa Nequette (p. 73) was gorgeous. This was one of the homes that revealed a surprisingly modern interior hidden beneath a white stucco facade that reminded me of the Alamo. Once within it was a pleasant surprise to see rooms so cleanly designed Jeff Lewis would be proud. 

Don't get me wrong - there are many examples of ornate interiors filled with spectacular examples of what would traditionally be seen as Spanish-style (think: hanging tapestries, ornately carved poster beds in dark woods and elaborate iron candelabras), but Linda Leigh Paul makes a great case for broadening the definition of the quintessential bohemian casa.

Frankly, it felt like a vacation packed in a glossy book. Spectacular pools, cool tile floors, palm trees, scenic vistas and meandering bougainvillea transported me visually to enchanting houses all around the globe. If the real estate gods are good to me (and I trust they will be!) I'll one day have a bohemian casa of my own overlooking the water. In the meantime I'll keep dreaming of the romantic balustrades and arched french doors that only a Spanish-style home can offer. 

Feeling Bookish: Following Charlotte Moss into the Garden...


Charlotte Moss is an uncommon talent. Successful in a variety of professional arenas, she commands a rich design portfolio, successful retail stores, several best-selling books, fabric and trim lines, upholstery collections and a host of other accolades and accomplishments in her wake. Known for her ability to embrace natural beauty in her spaces, it is only fitting that her newest book Garden Inspirations takes us on a very personal tour of her own gardens, her journeys around the world taking in both public and private gardens and offering us many lessons from the legend herself. 

There are a few very special aspects of the book that surprised me. Charlotte not only helps delineate the various types of gardens (think: English, Italian, Russian, American and French), she also offers menus for dining outside and lends her keen eye for tablescaping each meal. And for those of you looking for insights on how to make a bouquet of flowers look like a pro assembled it - the divine Mrs. Moss offers a wealth of reassuring tips and simple suggestions.

I found this entire book to be eye-opening. Not only does it offers insights on cultivating specific flowers or shrubs, it also encourages you to move beyond any fears of making mistakes. It turns out, even greats like Charlotte have had instances where experimentation failed and a well-intended planting failed to bear fruit. I loved reading the personal tales of highs and lows of tending to a private garden. Much like life, it is all about try, try again and find what works best for you. 

For those still not inspired to get outside and take in the verdant scenery, Charlotte peppers the book with historical notes and quotes from leading ladies of days gone by who influenced their cultures and their surroundings via cultivating their own gardens. Empress Josephine, Lady Bird Johnson, Bunny Mellon and Edith Wharton are all revealed to have been avid gardeners in possession each of especially green thumbs. 

While I consider myself lucky when my tiny herb garden blooms, I have been feeling the urge over the past few years to invest more time in planting flowers, adding more container shrubs and otherwise stretching my horticulturalist muscles.  

If you're looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift (and you should be!), Charlotte Moss's Garden Inspirations is an excellent choice. Perhaps you'll even be invited to join her on one of those fanciful al fresco meals in the garden and she too will impart some gardening wisdom on you.

And because I know you love bonus features: the book also features additional web content accessed by scanning watermarked pages with the Digimarc Discover App. Cool, right? Snag a copy of the book at Horchow and yes, please send a copy to your sweet mom. She'll love it as much as you. 


Feeling Bookish: Windsor Smith Drops Serious Design Knowledge in Homefront...

I'll admit it. I went into reading this book believing I "knew" who Windsor Smith was and was familiar with the success of her brand, her products and her firm. I've been a fan of her for many years. From her high profile projects to her successful Design in a Box offering to her products and product collaborations. Yet I write this review today feeling humbled and truly inspired - not just from what she's achieved professionally, but from what she is capable of achieving as a human being.

Windsor is a serious powerhouse of ideas, innovation and - most importantly - a deep loving knowledge of how we live and aspire to live. Trust when I tell you: we all want to be Windsor Smith when we grow up. Seriously. Windsor's got game and appears to have mastered the art of living. 

While the currently accepted stamp of "arrival" at the top echelon the literary design scene is a foreword by Charlotte Moss, Windsor's book opens to a passage by none other than Gwyneth Paltrow herself. The Goop guru is a client and friend, having purchased a stunning Mandeville Canyon home designed by Windsor herself. The resulting real estate exchange was widely publicized and possibly the tipping point for bringing the name Windsor Smith to the forefront of everyone's mind. 

But, back to this gorgeous book...

Not only is is impressive in size, it it filled - filled! - with quality photographs of projects both popular and rare. I love adding a book to my collection that offers project details not normally seen online. This book achieves the lofty goal of being visually rich and offering tremendous wisdom from the designer herself. This is where I feel I really got to know so much more about her unparalleled understanding of how we live, how we want to live and how interior design plays a pivotal role in our enjoyment of life. 

Quite possibly the most appealing aspect of Homefront is its accessibility. It is written to appeal to everyone from the pedigreed designer to the curious design lover. Through thoughtful insights and an "arms open wide" generosity of spirit, Windsor brings us all into the fold of her excellent and practical advice for living and design. 

Homefront is like a master class for anyone looking to make more sense of their home environment and wishing to maximize both the usefulness of spaces and their beauty. Rather than pages of lofty concepts about furnishings and design, Homefront serves up specific tips and personal insights for truly "living" in your home.

While her historical knowledge of design and its many incarnations is impressive, the tome never reads like a textbook or comes off as too lofty. Windsor offers plenty of her signature warmth wrapped around applicable ideas for surrounding yourself with pieces you love. She freely shares thought-provoking insights on how rooms should be used and why you should consider mixing up the status quo.

If you haven't already read between the lines: I absolutely love this book. Consider me an even bigger fan of Windsor Smith, a seemingly unstoppable design force who deserves every moment of the success she is enjoying. 

Get to know Windsor Smith better via her portfolio, her collections and her blog. If her name is new to you, I hope this post has served as a great starting point for your appreciation of this great talent. Those of you like myself who consider themselves already familiar with Windsor will find yourselves in  awe of her talent, her passionate generosity of spirit and her love of "home" in this book. Book available hereEnjoy! 

Feeling Bookish: Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Triumphant Journey...

I remember the initial wave of the Shabby Chic obsession. Suddenly, everywhere you looked there were Rachel Ashwell books, achingly beautiful distressed chests and French linens that could make you weak at the knees. Her signature blend of cozy, casual & feminine finds were everywhere. Oprah, E!, magazines, shows... it was Rachel Ashwell fever and no one was immune to catching it. 

The epic white slipcovered obsession seemed to begin with Hollywood's elite and land somewhere in middle America. Everyone was hooked and longed for her flea market finds and lovingly restored furnishings. And then... it ended as soon as it began. 

At the time I was unaware of the heartache this single mother endured as she watched her Santa Monica boutique (as well as the others scattered about the country) and her fanciful empire of matelassé and vintage French chandeliers crumble. 

Rachel's business and her brand were wildly popular and successful. Celebrities and the fans who loved them couldn't get enough of her signature style. But when investors joined her business and pushed her too expand too rapidly and steer her away from what she knew instinctively her clients wanted - bankruptcy was imminent. 

What got me through hating myself for ignoring my intuition was looking at these kind, smart men who had put a lot of money into my company. I kept thinking, “they know what they’re doing.”
— Rachel Ashwell

In The World of Shabby Chic, Rachel reveals her private perspective on what many saw as a public failure. As happens so often with great championships, "failure" was just a speed bump on her path to massive success. 

The true story of Rachel Ashwell is so deeply inspiring. Undeterred by what others might have seen as the end, Rachel seized the moment at the end of one era to bring her business back in line with her original vision. The broad, homogenous vision those investors held of Shabby Chic was gone. Yet Rachel's smaller, hand-selected, approachable brand and design ethos were what the public at large still yearned for.

Back with a vigor, Rachel came back. Shabby Chic reemerged at the intimate scale as it was intended - back to the marketplace. From that pivotal moment on,  Rachel has led the brand her way -  not letting outside investors interfere with what her instincts assure her is right.

I would be difficult to articulate the impact this story holds me right now. What seemed like the end of her brand in 2009 with the shuttering of numerous boutiques and the loss of jobs for her 200 employees, turned around and brought Rachel renewed focus, restored vision and a thriving business. Her own business. One that holds true to her creative vision and the special touches she intuitively knows to be authentic. 

When you have everything stripped away, you can come back a bit more objectively and think, What is worth bringing back?
— Rachel Ashwell

Fair warning: you might read this book and feel a burning desire to hit up your local flea market in hopes of scoring your own spectacular finds. You might also find yourself longing to visit her original Santa Monica boutique. I certainly have (although I've done the flea market thing and always come up dry!).

I was a big fan of Rachel's inviting aesthetic prior to reading this lovely book. Now that I know the story behind the brand I am a huge champion of hers personally. In addition to going into detail about her professional and personal journey to success, Rachel shares plenty of beautiful imagery in this book. The World of Shabby Chic is inspiring, elegant and easy on the eyes. Effortless rooms beg you to settle in and cozy up with a book, a friend, a daughter or a spare moment. This substantial book will deliver Inspiration of every sort from cover to glorious cover whether you're a reader, a picture lover or a biography fan. 

Consider this a fabulous gift recommendation for that special someone on your list. If you need a nudge of encouragement to forge on, to trust your own instincts and to follow what you know to be true, Rachel Ashwell's personal story is high on my suggestion list. For those of you who just want a book filled with pretty images, add this to your coffee table immediately. 

Now... I'm off to to do some measuring for slipcovers and quite possibly transform my living room and my life in one fell swoop. Consider me quite inspired. 



Hungry for authentic Shabby Chic brand furniture for your home? If, like me, you're not near the flagship showroom or one of the other boutiques, pop over to One Kings Lane quickly and snag some authentic Rachel Ashwell pieces for much less than retail. But don't delay, those babies will be gone before you know it! 


Feeling Bookish: Diving Into the Tropical World of India Hicks...

I can think of no instagram account I follow that plays out like a fantasy as much as India Hicks. From swimming with pigs in the Bahamas (yes, it's a thing) to zip lining through a lush green forest, this model-turned-designer-turned-author is living the life we all dream of living. Only it's her life - and her family's life - right here, right now.

For a woman with so many hyphens in her professional title, her lifestyle and her general vibe is one of ease, acceptance and balance. Her newest book Island Style celebrates that effortless bohemian style she's known for exuding and embracing. India's aesthetic is undone and fuss free, but also filled with fanciful flourishes and unexpected details. When you think of India's decorating style, it's a unique melange of formal British Colonial meets the carefree spirit of the Caribbean. 

Island Style invites us all to slide into our metallic espadrilles and find comfort in the shade in a hammock alongside she and her naturally tanned brood. Their smiles are infections, and even more reason to urge you to channel some of her laid-back sensibilities into your over-scheduled life. The timeless homes she designs are strikingly gorgeous and provide more stylistic range than I would have expected in a book of this title. Her eye for detail and breadth of knowledge is clear, as is her father's influence. The influential David Hicks would be incredibly proud of India's regal take on casual living. It is inspiring to see the wide range of styles that comprise island living. This stunning book she offers a roadmap for achieving a similar aesthetic into your own home.

This summary from the book's official release captures it perfectly:

"In ten chapters, India walks the reader through the basics of capturing the look: the subtle palette of island life; the miracle of tablescaping; the warm anarchy of a family kitchen; the pleasure of porches; the drama of entertaining; bedrooms as places of self-expression; the "more is more" style of living with collections; the importance of repurposing; and creating spaces of sanctuary." 

What makes India and this book so unique is how openly she invites us into her life via the pages. It is written from a very personal perspective, sharing her passion for scrapbooking, the importance of building collections, lovely details about her family life and her absolutely wonderful tips on design, living and entertaining. And through the photographs she fully opens the door to her love of family, entertaining and celebrating each day of life. 

Honestly, the whole book makes me want to sell it all and move my own small tribe to a warm sunny place with hammocks and swaying palms. Let me tell you, this woman knows how to live! India embraces life with a passion and an ease most of us could only hope to achieve. 


So find spot in the shade, fill up your glass with mango-infused tea and for a moment, just a moment, imagine swear you can feel the breeze from the sea on your skin, hear the waves crashing, breathing in the salty air as it blows the vibrant bougainvillea branches against against the shutters. Island Style will take you there and leave you inspired and empowered to lend a little of India's signature subtle boho glamour in your own home. 


Feeling Bookish: Fabulous Design Blogger Books to Bring Home...

The undisputed king of color enjoyed a whirlwind global book tour this year. Will Taylor's unabashed love of all things cheery and bright will inspire you to rethink your stance on neutrals and add more than just a little zest to your home and your life. Spice up your lifestyle with the fabulous Bright Bazaar book and unleash the color lover in you. 

How can you not love Erin? She puts it all out there post after post. In her recently published book she bares it all in terms of her first-hand design expertise as well as her personal journey getting to this moment in time. Love her candor, love her stylish tips and love her willingness to open herself up to readers of every variety. Walk, don't run to snag a coveted copy of her already best-selling book. You need Elements of Style in your library and in your life. 

If Erin is the belle of the fashionable ball this season, Eddie Ross & Jaithan Kochar are most certainly the kings of style. Having earned their place at the well-appointed table, this unstoppable pair have finally completed their first ever book which promises to lead us all closer to the effortlessly chic interior mix we covet. I personally cannot wait to add this volume to my library. Eddie is known for his unbelievable flea market finds and signature "oh this? I snagged it for $11 at an estate sale" sense of collected cool. Did I mention the tome features a foreword by Bunny Williams? Yes, it pays to be awesome. Add more than just a hint of chic to your life with Modern Mix