Sunday - April 20, 2014

Roman and Williams for Tracy Martin’s Brooklyn Home

I first came across the book “Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors : Things We Made” on Amazon a couple of years ago. Giving it a quick cover to cover flip, I thought it was a beautiful book that chronicles many of the firm’s and the couple’s projects. I have stacks and stacks of books of architectural firms in my library and it really makes me rethink hard about adding another heavy, oversized tome to my shelves, fast depleting of available space.

Then a project is prominently featured in the New York Times on a day you have more time to read. I did read and I did appreciate the work and manner of work that Roman and Williams devote to their craft.

The project I am referring to is the former home of Jenna Lyons, J Crew’s President and tastemaker au courant. How can such a space be more attention grabbing post Jenna Lyons ? That is what piqued my curiosity.

I was pleasantly surprised at how the definition of classic can be stretched to include some edge and some age. For this is what I describe Tracy Martin’s new home. It is not attention grabbing in its first life but it is definitely a home that I will refer to many times for inspiration.

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All these said, I am very curious about the Morbid Anatomy Museum which Ms Tracy Martin is the chief executive of. It opens in Brooklyn next month. It must be a juxtaposition for Ms Martin working with the “morbid” and coming home to a space that is full of meaningful hence beautiful things.

And like the old adage, I did give the book ”Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors : Things We Made” a good and thorough look. I donated two books to my neighborhood library and have added a new resource to my shelves- the creative talent of Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer. They describe their style as Primitive Modernism which is akin to what I call Classic + Edgy + Age.

All Photographs by Bruce Buck for the New York Times.

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Tuesday - April 1, 2014

Art in the Rain

Filed in: Color

It has been raining for 2 days and will stay on until the weekend.

The clouds, the gloom and the dampness are quite depressing but we need the rain.

And some colorful umbrellas for cheer !

2. trench-rain-city-2014-habituallychic

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Tuesday - March 25, 2014


A definition is called for.

Pelmet – a framework placed above a window for a decorative purpose (to conceal curtain fixtures and hide the curtain rod) or for practical purposes such as to insulate the window by blocking exterior currents and drafts from the outside from coming in. A pelmet may be made of wood that is painted or stained, or wood that is covered with fabric. Pelmets are also called cornice boards.

Many are mistaken by using pelmet and valance interchangeably. They are similar but do not mean the same thing.

Valance – a fabric pelmet. A valance is always made of fabric with no wood backing.

Pelmets are not limited to interior applications. Exterior pelmets are a feature of some historic buildings and are installed on the outside of a window. They may be plain or decorative and most often, just like their interior versions, serve to conceal an external blind mechanism.

These photographs from English interior designer Nicky Haslam’s new book published by Rizzoli captures the essence of pelmets as a “crown” to window coverings.  The first photograph shows a Regency-style painted wood pelmet, carved in the shape of upturned shells. And the next photograph shows a masterful detail of the interior pelmet mimicking the ogee shaped window openings in the exterior.  It is this simple detail that proves that a house that marries the exterior with its interior is a worthwhile undertaking.




Photographs from FOLLY DE GRANDEUR : English Country House by Nicky Haslam

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Saturday - February 22, 2014

Yoga : The Power of Transformation

Filed in: Health, Inspiration, Yoga

At the opening party of YOGA : The Art of Transformation tonight.

Amidst fellow yogis and yoginis, some who just came out of the free yoga class with yoga mats slung on their shoulders, I asked what the draw of yoga is. It is not the latest cult sensation, although its longevity is stellar. The benefits of yoga go beyond the physical, that, I think is what makes it transcend age and time. The benefits are enjoyed not by virtue of youth or strength but by a commitment to be at peace off your mat.


Yoga’s popularity in North America is due to an Indian monk, Swami Vivekenanda who came to the US and lived in Chicago. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Yoga and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.


Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission and his book Raja Yoga is one of the first yoga texts that speak of liberation of the human mind from the bondage of the body.



The miniature paintings of India has always fascinated me and the exhibit abounds with these intricate and color laden visuals. I would have engrossed in taking photographs but this was not allowed. The images and sculptures in stone, clay and bronze speaks through centuries and regardless of individual beliefs are worth some study.

On a personal level, the practice has brought me and Richard together, it keeps us together and like many yogis and yoginis in America, it has transformed our beings. We look at things differently, we breathe and are thankful that each breath opens up new mysteries. Though many continue to be unanswered, it brings us peace.

Our docent this evening, in explaining what environment is conducive to traditional yoga practice in India, said that it entailed four elements. The environment needed trees, the skies, preferably close to the water, and must not be too hot. That said, California and yoga are made for each other.  Grabbed some exhibit materials to share with Richard’s students which I bagged into a large Lululemon shopping bag. :-)


The exhibit was recently at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum and is on at the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco until May 25.

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Thursday - February 20, 2014

Iron Gate

In my research for iron gate designs, I came across this picture. A most understated, very practical combined pedestrian and car gate. Lately, the iron work and gates I see are too busy, too “coiled” almost trying to be something more than what it was built to do.

This design is as alluring and mysterious as the property beyond.



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Thursday - May 9, 2013

Courtney Grace Peterson’s Bedroom

I sleep with heavy black out curtains in my bedroom. Annually, when they go away to be cleaned, I am sleepless until they are back.

Courtney Grace Peterson, a merchandiser at One Kings Lane shares her studio apartment with Rue readers.

The section that is her bedroom is also where an angled structure which became an opportunity to use to shield the “dreamer” of light.


Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. This example I will keep in my files and hopefully remember the next time I meet an awkward space such as this.

Photograph courtesy of Rue magazine.

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Tuesday - May 7, 2013

Numi Savory Teas

Filed in: Food, Teas - Coffee

Savory or sweet ? We are often faced with that irresistible question when we order crepes.

At the recently concluded San Francisco Fancy Food Fair, I discovered that choosing savory vs sweet in a tea format does not really mean a vegetable broth. Well, in essence it is that but when lifted from the boundaries of vegetable as an accompaniment to an entree, vegetable as a tea does satisfy.

I was told the whole range would be available at Whole Foods in April. I don’t really care about the rest- I am a black tea girl and the Beet Cabbage was my winner.



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