Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shoptique 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out to Lan's Shoptique 2009 on Saturday!  The bake sale raised over $250 for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) serving Foster Youth in Orange County, the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, and Pediatric Cancer Research.  I hope all your doggies are enjoying their home made treats...I know Sophie and Scout were happy that I had a few leftovers to bring home for them!

For more pictures of the event visit http://www.zentilfamilia.com/

While I sold out of all of the planted paperwhites and succulents I had with me on Saturday, I still have a few chinese rice scoops and french yogurt cups left to plant.  So, if you need a last minute hostess gift...give me a call!  I also have more glassware and grain sack pillows available.

A few of you asked me what to do with the large glass jars.
Here is an idea...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Souvenirs of a collected life

I admit it... I'm a collector.  I can't help myself.  I'm one of those people who becomes intrigued by objects, like people, that have an interesting history or story to tell.   I have many of my personal collections displayed in my house.  I like to live surrounded by the special things that tell my own stories and serve as souvenirs of my adventures.  Here are a few ideas on how to display small objects collected from your life and travels.  I find that small objects often are most interesting visually when grouped together. 

beach stones:
Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Washington State

These stones are collected from the beach at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. We spent the day hiking, playing on the beach, and skipping stones with our nephews.  It was one of those beautiful crisp Washington days that leaves you a little sunburnt and chapped from the wind.  The stones were worn smooth from the rough seas and were the most gorgeous subtle shades of grey with black and white veins.  I brought them home on the plane and have them displayed on top of a stack of cocktail books of ocean and surf photography. Leaning behind is a picture of Colin, with his wetsuits hanging to dry, on a twisted drift log, taken a decade ago by a friend, on another Washington beach, La Push, at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  The second photo is of our two dogs playing this past summer on our own local beach.  Stones also make great paper weights and can hold down the corners of picnic blankets and tablecloths on windy days.  Write names on stones to use as place cards at a dinner party.

beach pottery: 
Kamakura Beach, Japan

The last day of my recent trip to Japan was spent in Kamakura.  As we walked along the shore cooling our feet in the water, I started looking for a shell or stone to take back with me to add to my collection.  What I found instead surprised me, there were broken shards of pottery in the sand all along the waterline.  I picked up one and then another admiring the blue and white patterns until I had a nice little collection in my pocket.  They are now in a small bowl on my end table, they make not only an interesting and colorful accessory but also a great souvenir from my trip.  I was inspired to do some research to understand the origins of these broken dishes.  I found I am not the only beachcomber with a collection of tumbled shards found along the Japanese shore.   

sand dollars:
Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach, California

These sand dollars are from my local beach that I've collected over the years.  I love the contrast of the milky white shells against the dark wood of the small antique chinese box that houses them.  Again, they bring a bit of nature inside to remind you that you are at the beach (if the thin layer of sand tracked in by the dogs wasn't enough of a reminder).

vintage key chains:
from Marche aux Puces de Vanves, Paris, France

One of my favorite activities when we lived in Paris was roaming the flea market early in the morning after savoring a fresh croissant.  I would often find myself rummaging through the giant boxes of kitschy advertising keychains from the 60's.  I keep a handful of them in a small ramekin, picked up at the same market, on a tray on our bar.  I use them for spare keys when guests come to stay or as charms to identify beach towels, wine glasses or mugs when people are over.  Though mostly people just like to look through them.  These were a few of the smaller and lighter of my flea market finds.  We must have looked ridiculous bringing home marble top tables and benches with us on the metro!

spare change:
collected on travels worldwide 

I love the bills and coins from different countries we travel to, some of them are like miniature pieces of artwork in and of themselves.  At the end of every trip I always end up with that handful of coins that I haven't managed to spend, despite my best intentions.  When I get home I empty my wallet out onto my scale.  We picked this vintage scale up off the sidewalk - it had a handwritten sign taped to it indicating it was free.  I love the bright yellow color and wasn't hung up on the fact that it was no longer exactly in balance.  On the opposite tray I have placed my set of nesting Russian dolls.  Now I'll let you decide whether this is just coincidental placement or my attempt at a political statement on the state of the world.  Could it be symbolic of the relative weight given to the concerns for the health and well being of humanity versus corporate profit and share holder return...hmm, food for thought.  Or maybe it is just my personal foreign currency investment, at the point that the dollar plummets I'll have quite a well diversified nest egg in reserve!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finding inspiration in Tokyo

I just returned from a great trip to Tokyo.  For a week straight I walked and walked and walked.  I think you could explore for months, maybe even years, taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Tokyo and still find something new just around the corner.  Here are a few photographs from our trip that I hope capture the feel of this dynamic city.  I was inspired by the various layers, old and new, that make up the orderly chaos of the world's largest city.

I love coming back from a trip and looking through the photos to remember all the places I've just been.  After each trip I choose just one photograph to add to our wall.  It doesn't have to be of a recognizable sight, just something that captures a great moment, or the essence of a place.  I started framing our travel photos when we moved to France with only a few suitcases and boxes and had an entire apartment of bare white walls to cover.  I went out and bought as many black gallery frames as I could carry, all the same size, and I hand cut mats with both vertical and horizontal openings (of course I learned quickly that it is much easier to buy precut mats or have professional framer do this for you).  After each trip another picture went up until an entire wall was covered.  At this point I've run out of the original batch of frames and so I am thinking of expanding to a second wall, this time with a collection of vintage frames in various sizes and colors.  

I never get tired of looking at these pictures, remembering the many wonderful experiences that I have shared with family and friends.  Starting a gallery wall from your own personal travel photography is one way to make your home reflect your own unique personality and lifestyle... and might be a great solution for that awkward wall that you've never figured out what to do with.

Now the hard part, picking just one! 

Here is the photo we have chosen... the first one I'm actually in by the way!  It was taken in Kamakura, not Tokyo, on the last day of our trip.  This  beach city is famous for its 170 temples and 40 shrines in the surrounding foothills, and believe me we did our best to hike to every one.  This was the last shrine we visited before catching the train back to Tokyo.  By this point in the afternoon, I was so exhausted from the heat that I wasn't sure if I would ever make it to the top of the steps!  We had definitely built up an appetite by the time we returned in time for our last dinner in Tokyo.  I enjoyed every last morsel of a great Unagi dinner!

Sayonara Tokyo!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Announcing URBANvernacular...

URBANvernacular is...

The juxtaposition of sophistication and simplicity. 

Good design should enhance our everyday experience, quality of life, and the way we interact with our environment. Vernacular architecture and design evolves to reflect the social, historical, and cultural context in which it exists.  Design should be relevant to contemporary life.  URBANvernacular combines 10 years of residential and commercial design experience with a passion for found objects and textiles.   

Please stay tuned for upcoming posts featuring design ideas as well as the most recent vintage finds.  We offer a full range of residential and commercial interior design services, so whether you are working on a single room, the entire house, or just need some help with the finishing touches, please contact me to discuss your latest project.