July 12, 2018

The Perfect Summer Top!

These warm summer days have me crushing on flowy tops that are easy to throw on with white jeans or shorts. Well, my friends, I’ve found a top that checks both of these boxes and then some! Sloane Ranger, a new-to-me preppy clothing brand that I am just smitten with, sent me this top from their All For Color collection and I couldn’t be more in love! 
If I could rock just one top for the rest of the summer (and maybe even into fall...), this would be it. I simply can’t resist a feminine, ruffle-y top that I can pair with white pants or shorts and step out looking effortlessly polished. Just grab a darling wicker bag and some statement earrings and you're good to go! 

If you’re anything like me, you probably snatch up every tropical leaf print you can find...and these watercolor monstera leaves had me at hello! Add to that a blush background and generously sized ruffles and you've got the perfect summer top! I especially love how the asymmetrical ruffles elongate my legs in the front while giving my backside a little extra flounce 😉 

April 3, 2018

Introducing Kim Bauer (@orangetulipsforme)

I am so thrilled to introduce you all to my dear friend and fellow decor enthusiast, Kim Bauer (@orangetulipsforme). If you’re not already following her on Instagram, you need to —like now! If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time scouring IG for design inspiration. You really can’t beat the constant flow of visuals and the rush of inspiration and motivation that follows. But the best part of IG ( in my opinion) is connecting with others who share your passions! I’ve met so many talented, genuine, and all-around inspiring people over this medium and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found Kim! She not only shares my love for colorful, Palm Beach-y decor... she lives here—in my hometown! How awesome is that?! The moment I discovered her feed, I knew I had to meet her in person and plan a project. 

I was elated when she agreed to meet me for drinks! We had the best time getting to know each other, talking about our home decor endeavors, and planning this tour! Kim is one talented decorator and I’ve been dying to photograph her stunning house and all the Palm Beach chicness it holds! 

I also asked her to share some details about her house and entertaining style…and just wait until you hear what she has to say about this amazing dining room (which her husband designed!), her fabulous decorative objects, and little tricks we could all use when planning (or not planning) a party!

I love how this Ethan Allen chinoiserie pagoda mirror and vintage sconces pop against the bright green walls. Ohhh these green walls are to die for! I just can't look away! So, so perfect!!!

Here are three things that will always stay in my collection no matter where I may live:. The Ethan Allen chinoiserie pagoda mirror. This piece is so stunning and dresses up the room like no other mirror could do.   Then there are the monkey sconces that  make me smile – They were a Craigslist find with a colorful history on their previous owners and homes they adorned.  Who doesn’t like a monkey in a fez?  Third – My collection of Minton Cockatrise china.  I spotted the set at a local estate sale.  They had a sentimental value to the owner’s family and they were having difficulty selling the china.  I’m so lucky to have been able to add these dishes to my collection. When I set the table I always think of the back story on the family and how their mother would be happy with their new home.

About the wall color – I knew it was a bit of a daring color. When I was in the paint store and working with the specialist on this mix I could see the look of disbelief in his eyes.   He aptly named it “Courageous Green”.   I love the color and it lends the Palm Beach feel I was trying to create.

I enjoy planning a party – for me the whole process is fulfilling.  Setting the table and readying the house for guests to arrive and serving them are all equally important.  I want our guests to feel comfortable, welcome and well served while visiting.  Little details are the big details!  I love the opportunity to pay special attention to the sights and sounds that welcome our guests. 

I use my china,  sterling and crystal!  No time like the present to party, right?  What is the purpose in keeping it tucked away where you may forgot about it?

And if there isn’t time to plan a party in advance I encourage you to put together an impromptu gathering.  Guests want to spend time visiting and not watch me work in the kitchen.  I’ve taken a bit of Ina Garten – the Barefoot Contessa’s suggestion and buy some of the menu items prepared in advance.  Not every element of the dinner party needs to be homemade.

These Minton Cockatrice plates are seriously drool-worthy! This is definitely one of my favorite china patterns to date! I mean, is there anything prettier than pink and green chinoiserie china and fabulous monogramed napkins to match? 

Napkins: Emily McCarthy // Hand Towel: Hempstead Thread

Lacquered Vintage Buffet: The Resplendent Crow // Cocktail Napkins: Paige Gemmel

The partial open floor plan provides for peeks into the living area, dining room, kitchen and the master suite. Each of these rooms has a specific style – one flows into the next.  My favorite room is the dining room.  We added this addition onto our home in 2017 in order to increase the footprint of our living area.  Without a doubt this was a risk worth taking.  The room has natural light exposure on three of the outside walls. My husband is an architect and we collaborated on the space and how it would flow as he was drawing the plans.  I know that for many, dining rooms are rarely used. That is not the case in our home.  Whether it’s the two of us for a simple dinner or a group of friends or family this room draws everyone in.  

Monkey Pillow: Paige Gemmel 

Lacquered China Cabinet: The Resplendent Crow  Custom Painting: @tomtomandco

It was such a privilege to photograph and showcase Kim’s stunning house! She is the sweetest hostess and her style is so beautiful and curated. Her blue and white collection is total #goals too!! I definitely see another project with her in the future —how fun would that be?

Hope you all had a fabulous Easter weekend!!! 

February 14, 2018

Introducing Holly Holden, Queen of Classic Design!

Fellow entertaining enthusiasts, you are in for a huge treat today! The author of one of my favorite design books, The Pretty and Proper Living Room, has kindly agreed to share some of her timeless entertaining tips and secrets with us in an exclusive interview! It is with great delight that I welcome interior designer, author, and television host Holly Holden to the blog! If you are not already familiar with her work, you will instantly become a fan. Holly is that rare designer who believes in “decorating once…for a lifetime.” She’s all about creating classic, old-school interiors that transcend time and trends, and has been doing so for over 25 years.  

photo by Dean Greenblatt

Growing up in old houses furnished primarily with antiques taught me to value classic design. I instinctively gravitate toward quality pieces that I know will never go out of style — pieces that actually get better with age. Still, classic design and styling is an elusive art, even for someone who grew up immersed in it. So imagine my delight when Holly introduced me to her fabulous (and eye-opening) book! 

"The Pretty and Proper Living Room is about the creation of timeless, tailored interiors rooted firmly in English tradition. The rules of this style are like a secret code that has been whispered from mother to daughter over generations. Those secrets have always been inherited—until now" 

What started as a list of helpful decorating hints for her daughter has turned into an indispensable and timeless resource on classic design. From furniture and rugs to accessories and lighting, The Pretty and Proper Living Room divulges the many nuggets of design wisdom that all together compose the perfect timeless space (think Official Preppy Handbook for interiors!). It is a book that 1.) educates—much attention is paid (and rightfully so!) to the distinguishing features of English Georgian furniture, 2.) entertains—I find Holly’s “Forbidden Faux Pas” sections both necessary and fun! and 3.) inspires — Holly's suggestions for styling silver trays, arranging flowers, and presenting collections of decorative objects are simply brilliant! Take my word for it: Holly’s book should be required reading for ANYONE interested in interiors.

And now for more inspiration from Holly!!!

One of your design philosophies is to “embrace elegant understatement.” How does this translate to the entertaining realm?

I would encourage people to use their best serving pieces every day. These are not decorations - they are meant to be used! Being comfortable using prized serving pieces every day is the essence of elegant understatement in entertaining. It is never too early to begin collecting - and using - elegant serving pieces. Remember a small chip or a ding is just patina, which is a sought after quality and not something to avoid.

photo by Dean Greenblatt

What are your essential elements for a well-appointed table?

Everyone needs a good set of linen napkins. Napkins should be placed discreetly ON the table... not on a plate or [shudders] in a wine glass! I think that both food and people look better in candlelight so, if I am entertaining in the evening, I always use candles... my mother taught me this. One caveat: candles on the dining room table are only for the evening and should not be lit during the day. White candles in candlesticks or candelabras are the most traditional choice.

photo by Dean Greenblatt

Easter is coming up; can you share a few ideas for elegant little touches our readers could add to their party decor or place settings that will make an impact?

Bunnies, Bunnies, Bunnies. As a young bride, I began collecting inexpensive porcelain bunnies and baskets. As I matured, so did my collection, and now I have a whole colony of Herend bunnies. I think they are the perfect Easter accessories. Each person also gets a tiny silver basket of jelly beans.

photo by Deb Key

What is your go-to recipe/dish for a dinner party or stylish soiree?

I find that roasting a beef tenderloin just before my guests arrive is a simple and delicious dinner party entree. It makes the entire house smell divine and allows me the freedom to enjoy my guests instead of laboring in the kitchen. I let the beef come to room temperature, season with Montreal steak seasoning, place on a foil lined baking sheet, and roast uncovered at 450 degrees for 40 minutes (for medium rare). This works for any size tenderloin! I let it come back to room temperature during cocktail hour and serve it with Bearnaise sauce and a rosemary garnish. Bon appetite!

Also, I just recorded two more YouTube videos in my "Easy Hors D'oeuvres" series on the Classic Design Channel. So stay tuned for those!

In addition to creating elegant interiors, you are known for bringing life to rooms with your impeccable floral arrangements! What are your favorite ways to display flowers in the dining room?

I adore using unusual or unexpected vessels for flowers such as foo dogs or even small silver mint julep cups, soup terrines, and rose medallion bowls. Here is some useful advice: never put a centerpiece on the dining room table that might obstruct one guest's view of another. Floral arrangements used as centerpieces need to be kept short. The conclusion of my floral arranging video has a humorous illustration of this as its conclusion.

Favorite flower combination?

Peonies and more Peonies...preferably pink.

photo by Dean Greenblatt

Do you have any advice for our readers on choosing the proper flowers for every occasion?

The most proper flowers are the ones that are in season in your garden! I plan my gardens so that during each season I will have fresh flowers to clip for arranging. In the dead of New England winter I keep things cheerful at Fox Hall by purchasing roses from the store and growing orchids, daffodils, hyacinths, and amaryllis indoors.

photo by Dean Greenblatt

What do you feel are the most important entertaining pieces to invest in?

First and foremost, invest in good friends... parties with good friends are the most memorable! Beyond friends here is a short and incomplete list:
Silver Platters: they do not break and everything tastes better when served from silver.
A Champagne Bucket: Whether it is Veuve Clicquot (preferably pink), wine, beer or even Perrier, drinks need to be kept cold! Take away the champagne and add a pair of tongs and a champagne bucket becomes ice bucket. A champagne bucket can even be used as an elegant vase for flowers.
A Soup Terrine: Whether silver or porcelain, these can be used for soup or as a centerpiece (with or without flowers)

Can you tell us a bit about how you greet and welcome your guests into your house and how you graciously wrap up an evening?

I have found that the best way to welcome guests is with a kiss kiss and a pre-poured glass of champagne. Nothing is worse than having to go find the host and hostess upon arriving at a party. I believe that as a hostess it is not my place to wrap up an evening. The party has a life of its own and will continue as long as the guests are enjoying themselves. My job is to keep pouring and keep the conversation going...to moonlight, midnight and beyond.

photo by Dean Greenblatt

Where do you find entertaining ideas and inspiration?
I have some favorite books:
At Home in The Garden by Carolyne Roehm http://amzn.to/2DIysI1
R.S.V.P by Nan Kempner http://amzn.to/2Em18aR
Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations by Florence Fabricant http://amzn.to/2EoPEni

Thank you so much for your time, Holly! I have one final question! If you had to narrow your collection of china down to one pattern, which would it be and why?

That is a challenging question to answer because different occasions require appropriate china. A formal dinner party and women having tea are going to require different patterns. I have always been partial to Herend's Queen Victoria. It has flowers and butterflies in green and pink hues.

Besides being an accomplished designer and author, Holly is the host of Classic Design Channel, where she shares entertaining tips, recipes, trade secrets, and glimpses into her stunning Connecticut estate, Fox Hall. In addition to running her own design channel, Holly is also hosting the new PBS series “You Are Cordially Invited,” where she takes us on intimate tours of some of the world’s most distinguished private estates. I was so excited when she gave me a sneak preview of the first two episodes! 

stock photo
In the first episode, Holly and Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the Eighth Countess of Carnarvon, explore the magnificent grounds of Highclere Castle (the filming location of Downtown Abbey!) on horseback.  

stock photo
In the second episode, she and Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill tour the gorgeous English Baroque interiors of Bleinheim Palace. I am just blown away by her attention to the fine architectural details of the grand estates she visits! She has such an inquiring eye! 
Please keep checking this link to see when the series airs in your area. 

December 8, 2017

Cozy Winter Days With Malabar Bay

I admit, I love a good pajama day, especially this time of year. Is there anything better than curling up on the sofa in your pjs with a giant mug of hot cocoa and a Christmas movie? A wood burning fire would be nice too (just sayin!), but I’m perfectly happy with a big furry blanket, festive pjs, and Amazon Prime. Yep, I live for cozy winter days at home where I can just throw my hair up in a bun and be me (but still look good, of course). 

So…it’s with great excitement that I introduce you to my new favorite loungewear brand, Malabar Bay. A few weeks ago, they sent me two GORGEOUS matching pajama sets to review here. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because I’m actually in the process of cleaning out my loungewear drawer (finally!) and replacing my ratty, non-matching pjs with cute matching sets. Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m going stay in my pjs all day, I have to look and feel amazing doing it. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to feel pretty and polished in pjs but you will in these—pinky swear! I couldn’t be more delighted with their look, feel, and quality! 

This blue and white striped set is a preppy pajama day-lover’s dream come true. If you’re trying to build a pj wardrobe, a classic striped set like this one is an absolute essential. I’m in love with these oversized ticking stripes. Is there anything more classic and beautiful than ticking stripes? I mean… just give me a few yards of this fabric for matching pillows! Swoon! Oh and, all the best details are there; hot pink piping, a front pocket, and a drawstring waistband. I’d say that they run true-to-size and the fit is slightly roomy, which I love. This set couldn’t be more perfect if it tried!

As much as I love my plaid Christmas pajamas from years past, I’m ready for something different this year. Preferably something that matches my pink and green decor….like this pink and green Christmas tree pj set! Ok. Let’s just pause for a minute and soak up the cuteness. How adorable are these little trees?! Can I just stay in these all month? 

I’m also beyond thrilled with their luxe cotton fabric! It’s different from any cotton fabric I’ve ever felt. It’s soft, luxurious, and thick (but not too thick), which makes me feel put together and beautiful. Plus, they’re super super comfortable, which is kinda the whole point of pajama days, right?! 

It is sooo hard to find beautiful matching pj sets for a reasonable price, so hurry and grab a few pairs of your own! I can’t wait to wear mine Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Oh and, how perfect would one of these sets be for a "Girls Night In" gift basket? Champagne, a candle, pjs, and a throwback movie…now that’s my kind of gift basket! 

Malabar Bay is celebrating the launch of their new site, so for the next two days, you can get 60% off your ENTIRE order with code “PARTY60” 

October 25, 2017

Jewelry Designer Interview: Meet Laurel Gregory of Designs by Laurel Leigh

I’m super excited to introduce you to one of my favorite jewelry designers, Laurel Gregory of Designs by Laurel Leigh (@designsbylaurelleigh). When I stumbled across her shop on Etsy, my first thought was, “Wow —this is SO me! I could literally buy every single piece of jewelry in this line I love it that much!” It’s no secret that I’m drawn to obsessed with anything chinoiserie chic... and when I found her amazing trove of blue and white beaded jewelry, I just didn’t know what to do with myself! I had to learn more about the creative mind behind these designs! So, I invited Laurel to share her story on the blog and she happily agreed—thank you Laurel!

Also, I styled some of her creations to go along with this post so you see how gorgeous her pieces look ON!!


When I opened my first box of earrings I gasped—they’re even more beautiful in person! They're also lightweight, which I love because I can wear them all day and my ears *never* tire. 

I couldn’t stop with the earrings, so I bought this stunning bracelet (similar) and this necklace (similar) to match! I love that I can wear all three simultaneously. 

Her earrings, bracelets, and necklaces are my new everyday go-tos and wow—let me tell you—I’m getting so many compliments!

If you’re anything like me, your favorite part of getting ready is picking out jewelry. I just love opening my jewelry drawer every morning and seeing this gorgeous flat lay. The decorator in me loves to display her jewelry just as much as she loves wearing it. 😆

How and when did you come to realize your talent for jewelry making?
 I have always loved creative projects and have taught myself how to sew and paint, but I truly had no idea that I had "an eye" for jewelry design until last summer (2016). I have worked as a Human Resources Consultant on a part time basis for the last few years and had some free time on my hands while we were planning to remodel the home we moved into last year. I purchased a pretty strand of vintage blue and white beads that sat around for months until I decided what to do with them. Once I started making necklaces with them, I was hooked.


You work with an impressive range of materials; brass, fur, porcelain, wood, acrylic, shell, and the list goes on! What draws you to a particular material? Do you have any favorites?

  I only make items that I would wear myself, so I am drawn to materials that reflect my own taste and style. I began designing jewelry with the goal to make mostly one-of-a-kind, or what I refer to as "small batch" designs. I work very hard to give my customers special and unique, original designs that that they will not see everywhere. I am always on the hunt and I look for high quality and affordable materials with happy colors, rich textures or fun patterns that are both classic and trendy, but also unexpected. My favorite components are: vintage porcelain beads, animal print leather, bamboo, semi-precious gemstones, gold plated beads and pearls.

Chinese characters and motifs can be found throughout your collections—what do these illustrations mean to you/why are you attracted to them?

 My mother-in-law, Marilyn, loved Chinoiserie porcelain and because of her, I fell in love with it too. We lost Marilyn to cancer five years ago, so I feel like I make pieces that are inspired by that connection. I am also an abstract painting artist (self-taught), so I am drawn to interesting shapes.


You have a true knack for creating beautiful designs from unexpected pairings (pink chalcedony with Thai embroidery, silky tassels with bone beads, Chinese porcelain with crochet lace, to name a few). What inspired these intriguing combinations? How will you go about finding your next source of inspiration?

 Oh my goodness, thank you! I decorate and design rooms around fabric, so I suppose I design jewelry the same way, but with different types of components. I try to use a good mix of trendy and classic materials in my designs and I am always searching for new materials that stand out and speak to me. At some point, I would love to plan a trip outside of the country for inspiration and to source materials.

Who is the “Designs by Laurel Leigh” girl? What might her story be?

    The "Designs by Laurel Leigh" woman has impeccable taste and a great sense of style. She is “on trend,” but she loves classic designs that will stand the test of time. She strives to be unique and different and loves to find special pieces that make that statement.

What do you like to do in your free time? Favorite way to indulge?

I love to read, but rarely make time for it unless I am on vacation. My free time is spent playing tennis, painting, designing jewelry, shopping and working on decorating projects. My favorite indulgence is sharing a bottle of wine with my husband while binge-watching shows on Netflix.


If you could adorn any celebrity or style icon, past or present, with your jewelry, who would it be and why?

 What a fun question! I think it would be amazing to see either Emma Stone or Reese Witherspoon wearing my jewelry. They are both darling and down to earth and I love their classic styles and "girl next door" personalities.

What are your five must-have pieces of jewelry (from your own collections and/or elsewhere)?

 My must-have pieces are my wedding rings, a bezel set diamond necklace I received from my mother for my 30th birthday, a gold bracelet my mother gave me 20+ years ago, my mother-in-law's gold, ruby and diamond ring set and a set of chinoiserie bracelets from my own collection that I wear on repeat.

I’m always looking for ways to make life more luxurious without spending a fortune and, to me, there’s nothing more luxurious than a fabulous pair of swingy tassel earrings!

If you’re looking for an easy way to punch up your outfits—this is it! Her jewelry is a cinch to style because it goes with just about every color and pattern. Yep, I’m hooked!