Fancy Hotel of the Week–Villa Chan Grajang

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Fancy Hotel of the Week-Villa Chan Grajang. Well, it’s not quite a hotel, but an absolutely stunning and very large private villa, but since it comes equipped with its own Thai chef, large staff and the most wonderful housekeeper ever, it feels like you’re staying in your very own exclusive boutique hotel and therefore seems to work for the purposes of this ongoing series (which I’m sure none of you remember, it’s been so long since I last did a Fancy Hotel post).

 Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

One of the reasons I jumped at the chance to go to Thailand for a retreat with life coach Susan Hyatt was the fact that Miz Susan doesn’t do anything by halves. When she was organising her retreat she went straight to a website called AwesomeVillas.com which, awesomely, specialises in, you guessed it, awesome villas. Except that the villa we ended up in – the Villa Chan Grajang overlooking Surin Beach – was more than awesome. Stupendous and sensational are superlatives that come to mind, and, judging by the collective intake of breath that occurred when we all arrived, I guess breathtaking would fit the bill too.

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

As you all know I have a terrible weakness for stunning architecture (an astrologer friend blames it on my moon in Libra), and, after living in Kinfolk in last week’s blog post, this was more akin to taking a vacation in Architectural Digest.

I was so happy here. The lines and symmetry of the buildings were incredibly soothing to the eye and to the soul; the saltwater pool was the perfect blue and the perfect length, and the minimalism of the buildings just served to enhance the spectacular planting and views. Everywhere you looked there was a new vista or detail to observe – a reflection, a shape, a shadow or a texture. My eyes were drowning in beauty, yet relishing every moment and it felt almost spiritually uplifting. It was an object lesson in how our surroundings can affect our moods and mental well-being for good or for ill, and one that I need to apply to my own untidy bedroom and office.

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Obviously we had to find out who was the lucky owner of such gorgeousness, and after a few judicious moments with Google, Susan worked out that it was the artist Damien Hirst. Which figured, as its cool white lines were not so very different from the cool white lines of his restaurant Pharmacy, which I used to live close to in my Notting Hill days. I don’t think I’ve been so jealous of a person in my life.

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Mr Hirst, if I promise never to call you a charlatan again, will you invite me back to your astonishing house?

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

The beauty of the villa was only enhanced by the tranquil presence of Pom the housekeeper -  one of many people I met in Thailand who are beautiful both inside and out -  and her wonderful staff. I adored the Thai way of decorating with fresh flowers and little flourishes. The Thais take such pleasure in beautifying the everyday, which is another lesson I need to take to heart.

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

The view from my bedroom

The food was faintly astonishing too – with mindboggling depths of overlapping spices, flavours and textures, presented again in the most beautiful way. Believe me, the overly salty and sugary Thai food you can find in the US or UK bears little resemblance to the subtle intricacies of the dishes we were served. In my next life I want to come back as someone who has a live-in Thai chef. Surely that wouldn’t be too much to ask?

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

I loved this place. Loved, loved, loved it and couldn’t bear to leave. One day I will return. That’s a promise.

 

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

The villa was even gorgeous in the rain

Villa Chan Garang, Surin Beach, Thailand. Photography by www.paolathomas.com

Did you notice all the beautiful women in this post? My fellow retreaters were some of the loveliest, kindest, most creative, thoughtful and inspirational people you could wish to meet. It was a privilege to get to know them.

The Villa Chan Grajang is available to rent through Awesome Villas. Please take me with you.

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Antica Tenuta Le Casacce

 

Jamie and Ilva found the most stunning location for our Tuscan adventure.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Antica Tenuta Le Casacce is an agriturismo owned by Roman chef Enrico Casini, situated near Seggiano in the glorious landscape of the Val d’Orcia, whose timeless hills and valleys are deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enrico used to run six restaurants in Rome before settling down in his beloved Tuscany and his amazing four course meals every evening were a true highlight of our stay (we also did a cooking class with him – recipes appearing on the blog shortly, yay!).

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Linda Bass of Tuscan Muse offers a selection of creative workshops in conjunction with Enrico based at Le Casacce. Retired trial lawyer Linda is warmth and generosity personified – nothing was too much trouble – and a fabulous writer, artist and photographer in her own right. Her workshops include not only first class instruction but also a number of day trips to the small hill top villages which dot the surrounding hillsides.

However, with accommodation and surroundings like this, it was nearly impossible to drag ourselves away. Come and visit this little corner of paradise. Oh and meet Socrates, the resident manic depressive donkey and star of Le Casacce.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Not a bad view from the pool.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Not a bad view from the terrace.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s Jamie coaching Deepa from One Small Pot.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here are Linda and some of the ladies working hard.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The old stone buildings were charming inside too.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s the ghost of a photo studio at night.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Minx would have loved the wooden cats hanging out outside.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s Chef Enrico presenting his incredible food.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com
Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com
Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here’s Ilva being Ilva.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And a couple more of Socrates gambolling in the sunset. Life is sweet at Le Casacce.

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Antica Tenuta Le Casacce - photography by www.paolathomas.com

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Tuscany, I can’t recommend Le Casacce highly enough. And Linda’s Tuscan Muse creative workshops are pretty special too, as you’ve probably already worked out.

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The Launch of DXV, Or 150 Years of Design History in Cocktails

 

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

One of  our lovely sponsors on #blogtournyc was DXV, a new luxury kitchen and bathroom brand from American Standard. As part of BlogTour we were invited to visit their stunning new showroom in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district (usually by appointment only).

DXV celebrates American Standard’s rich 150 year history and heritage by organising its initial collections of fixtures and fittings around four separate design ‘movements’ – blending the design aesthetic and artisanal qualities of the past, with the performance and design requirements of the modern consumer.

At the launch party in New York, even the cocktails were themed appropriately and I was lucky enough to be given the recipes, devised by ace mixologist Elayne Duff. Obviously any opportunity to make, photograph and drink cocktails is not to be passed up in a hurry.

So welcome to 150 years of design history in bathroom fixtures brought to you via the medium of classic cocktails with a contemporary twist (you can’t say we don’t spoil you).

 Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And here’s Elayne shaking up a storm! (Photos of Elayne by Vladimir Weinstein Photography)

CONTEMPORARY

First up is the Contemporary era, representing the years 1990 onwards. In design terms, this constantly evolving aesthetic combines minimalism and rich texture, individual style and natural forms. The photos representing each design era were taken at the DXV showroom.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Interpreting this them through cocktails, Elayne chose a modern twist on the Scofflaw using raspberry syrup instead of the traditional grenadine.  This cocktail was new to me and apparently dates back to Paris in the Prohibition era – if you were drinking cocktails at the time you were scoffing at the law – but also nods to today’s love of bourbon.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This is an easy cocktail to make as it doesn’t contain too many esoteric ingredients, and it’s one I’ll make again and again. The earthiness of the bourbon is softened a little by the sweet raspberry syrup (I bought mine, though you could make your own) while the addition of bitter citrusy flavours in the form of dry vermouth and lime juice ensures that it is not too sweet.

Scofflaw
Serves 1
A contemporary twist on the classic Scofflaw
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 oz Bourbon
  2. 1 oz dry vermouth
  3. 1 oz raspberry syrup
  4. 0.75 oz lime juice
  5. 3 dashes orange bitters
  6. Fresh raspberries to garnish
Instructions
  1. Chill a coupe
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  3. Measure in the ingredients
  4. Shake well
  5. Strain into the glass
  6. Garnish with raspberries
mirror mirror http://mirrormirrorblog.com/site/
MODERN

Next up is the Modern era representing the post-war years between 1950-1990. The design of this era was marked by experimentation and individuality,and the interplay between flowing lines, curving forms and geometric structures.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Elayne was inspired to create a traditional Mai Tai to represent this movement in a nod to jet age travel and the  ‘tiki’ culture of those decades.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

A Mai Tai can so often be overly kitschy, festooned with little umbrellas, cherries, pineapples and tropical flowers. The drink too is often adulterated with pineapple juice, orange juice or grenadine but this is a sophisticated and very more-ish version – luscious, strong and not too sweet. I will also be eternally grateful to this recipe for introducing me to orgeat syrup, made from apricot kernels and tasting like marzipan in a bottle.

Mai Tai
Serves 1
A classic Mai Tai without the kitsch
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Ingredients
  1. 2 oz aged rum
  2. 1 oz lime juice
  3. 0.75 oz orgeat syrup
  4. 0.75 oz orange Curacao
  5. 0.25 oz dark rum
Instructions
  1. Chill a double rocks or other large glass
  2. Fill a cocktail shake with ice
  3. Add ingredients and shake
  4. Strain into glass over plenty of crushed ice
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and a flower
mirror mirror http://mirrormirrorblog.com/site/
GOLDEN ERA

The Golden Era covers the pre-war years from from 1920-1950. In design this is the classic era of Art Deco where a spirit of experimentation was combined with industrial design to produce a thoughtful, refined aesthetic, based on simple geometric shapes and reduced ornamentation.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In cocktail terms Elayne paid homage to that era’s obsession for gin with the Corpse Reviver. I’m not a big fan of gin-based cocktails – they can often get a bit too floral and grannyish for my tastes – but this was GOOD, given extra layers of bitterness, sourness and sophistication by the Cocchi Americano (used instead of Lillet), lemon juice and absinthe, with an orange twist instead of the traditional cherries.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Corpse Reviver
Serves 1
A contemporary twist on the classic Corpse Reviver
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 0.75 oz London dry gin
  2. 0.75 oz Cointreau
  3. 0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
  4. 0.75 oz lemon juice
  5. dash of Absinthe
  6. Orange twist to garnish
Instructions
  1. Chill a coupe
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  3. Add all ingredients and shake
  4. Strain into chilled glass
  5. Garnish with an orange twist
mirror mirror http://mirrormirrorblog.com/site/
CLASSIC

The final DXV movement represents the Classic era, representing the years 1880 to 1920 which saw a convergence of opulence and modern technology, and an emphasis on artisanal craftsmanship. In this, the era of Art Nouveau, design pushed beyond the rigid geometry of neoclassicism and became more intricate and organic.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Elayne Duff chose to celebrate the communal drinking of this era to create a traditional rum punch and here she is serving it at the launch party. The recipe for this looks really interesting and I’m definitely going to try it our at our next summer party. If it works I’ll share it in a future post.

Launch of DXV - photography by www.paolathomas.com

For more about the DXV collection and its design inspirations check out this video. I don’t normally like to share ads on this blog, but the visuals on this are mesmerising.

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DIFFA–Dining By Design 2014

One of my favourite things about the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, and indeed of the whole of #BlogTourNYC, were the DIFFA – Dining By Design show tables.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Every year designers and sponsors are asked to create fantasy tablescapes and then bids are invited to host a table in each of these magical party venues at huge closing gala, with all proceeds benefitting AIDS research.

There were several I would have loved to bid on, though with most I think you would want to keep the hallucinatory drugs and indeed the alcohol served to a bare minimum, because some of these spaces were seriously mind-bending in their own right.

So enjoy the craziness and I would probably suggest that you don’t try most of these at home.

Which are your faves?

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’m not entirely sure how you’re supposed to get at your food under the Perspex here, but this room by the New York School of Interior Design mentored by Shawn Henderson was possibly my favourite.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Mrs AllThingsColourful here also liked this one by Gensler + Herman Miller though the tableware looked a little dull. But the changing colours in the room more than made up for that (see the changes here).

You probably don’t need me to tell you that this was designed by Diane Von Furstenburg for Kravet.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Seriously no wine necessary in this one by Interior Design Magazine, designed by Ali Tayar with Alejandro Cabrera. Some plates would be useful though.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loved this use of the classic Saarinen tulip table in this room by Knoll and HOK.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This room was designed by Geoff Howell Studio and sponsored by Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. And it showed.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This room by Ralph Lauren Home was dull but pretty in that typical Ralph Laurenish way.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Gorgeous flowers in this room by Carlos Mota for Architectural Digest.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Another great use of flowers here by designer Marc Blackwell.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Loved this moody room designed by Kara Mann for Maya Romanoff, but wow those chairs look wildly uncomfortable.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Finally some cosy seating by Echo Design.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While this table by David Ling for DDC was almost TOO cosy and sort of shapeless. I love those furry chairs though. They look like little sheep.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

You better be looking good at this table by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, because the solid gold reflections are EVERYWHERE.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This table by Robert Verdi for Essie was one of the few that looked like it might fit into a home somewhere.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While this room for 3M Architectural Markets, designed by Rottet Studio, looked FIENDISHLY uncomfortable.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This table by Flexform by Soren Rose Sponcer for Manhattan magazine was just rather dull.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

T Magazine had put together another paean to discomfort and noise.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Design Within Reach room looked like a Design Within Reach shop. At least their branding is consistent.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

While Barneys NYC missed the memo that they could actually use their imaginations.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’m not sure why you would want to wear a dunce’s cap on your birthday in this room by the Pratt Institute, mentored by Ali Tayar.

DIFFA-Dining By Design 2014 - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Finally this tablescape by the Fashion Institute of Technology, mentored by Jes Gordone, showed us what dining inside a whale would be like.

I truly thought I had visited and photographed most of the rooms, but it seems I actually missed a lot. If you like these then here is the full slideshow, with some more gorgeous rooms and some different perspectives on the ones I shot (very difficult to take pics here with so many people milling about).

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Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry

It was a little after lunch during a long day at the Architectural Design Show on #BlogTourNYC and I thought a sponsor presentation about kitchen cabinets might be the perfect opportunity for a small snooze (don’t tell Veronika).

But one of the great things about #BlogTourNYC was the opportunity they gave us to meet with and learn from so many inspiring and creative people. Rutt Cabinetry are makers of stunning high-end handbuilt kitchen cabinets and they had brought in designer Scott Stultz to design their first new offering in over a decade.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott himself gave us a fascinating presentation into his creative process and woke me up thoroughly when he mentioned how influenced he had been throughout his life by John Ruskin.

For those who are unaware of him John Ruskin was a British art patron, art critic, social reformer, philanthropist, polymath and all round good egg in the latter half of the Victorian era.

Among his many achievements, he championed Turner and Gothic architecture, wrote seminal works of art history and criticism, influenced the pre-Raphaelites and is considered to be the grandfather of the Arts & Crafts movement in the UK, with ideas about sustainability and environmentalism which were astonishingly forward-thinking.

If you’re in any way involved in the arts and design in Britain, his influence remains pervasive to this day – I heard a lot of talk of him in design circles in the UK -  but this was the first time I’d heard his name mentioned in America. 

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott described how he had used Ruskin’s principles to create furniture that was timeless in its appeal, speaks to both our visceral need for comfort, and our intellectual need for order and proportion, but which was also has an element of adventure.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This plain detailing on these overhead cabinets fits in well with contemporary styles (and would look AWESOME in our Craftsman house #hinthint), but also harks back to the similar detailing of Arts & Crafts furniture. Scott explained that he had chosen the beautiful semi-elliptical curves of the mouldings to break up the orderliness of the windows and panels and bring in that sense of risk, like an ‘animal waiting to pounce’. 

As an aside here is my little Arts & Crafts oak bureau in our Craftsman house with its own semi-elliptical moulding. Fascinating to see that it would fit right into this kitchen.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Ruskin series has various options for cornices and mouldings  and, as is entirely right and proper when John Ruskin is your influence, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is sublime.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Scott explained how he had thought about the proportions and kept the vertical elements of the panelling thin and light, so that the eye travels upwards (in the same way as you see in Gothic architecture) making the whole feel much lighter and airier, despite the solidity of its construction.

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Ruskin by Rutt Cabinetry - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The attention to detail has extended to the door pulls, appliances and  finishes. Rutt had collaborated with MIele to show how well the layers of Miele’s Brilliant White finish (laminate under thick glass) complemented the texture of the Keswick Oak finish giving it a contemporary appeal.

The video below shows Scott describing the various finishes designed for the collection and named after Lake District landmarks which were important in Ruskin’s life.

I may have been sitting in a huge hangar in the New York City, but this English girl felt right at home. And I think John Ruskin would have liked it too.

Note to Scott: It’s pronounced ‘Kes-ick’. The ‘w’ is silent. (Yes, I am that person.)

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Monday Link Love

Instagram April 2014  (4)

After a weekend of hot cross buns and Simnel cake, last week was a week of outdoor eating (yay! fabulous Seattle spring), shooting tacos (I had another photography job y’all!) and more lilac, blossom, rhubarb and daisies than you could shake a stick at (what does that even MEAN?).

I didn’t get to links over the weekend, so here are some to set you up on a Monday morning. Very photography-oriented this week I’m afraid.

These musical instruments photographed from the inside are quite magical. I hope an architect is inspired by them. I want to live in a violin.

Naomi Robinson from Bakers’ Royale is writing a series of posts on food photography. Part 1 is how to develop your style and Part 2 is on composition. More to come I believe. I love her stuff.  

Do happy people take happy photos? Twitter is giving a team a research grant to find out. I know my mood certainly affects my photography.

Here’s my pal Andrew Scrivani talking about how to market yourself as a photographer.

And finally some really inspirational food and travel photography portfolios from Jonothan Woodward, David Lazar and Gentl and Hyers.

 

Last week on the blog we talked about a really cool composting system and went to visit designer Michele Varian’s apartment. I am going to try and be a better blogger this week, though the temperature is apparently set to soar into the 80s, so don’t quote me on that. But we’ll start with a great recipe to come later today.

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Go Love Your Room–Michele Varian’s NYC Loft

I loved Michele Varian’s SoHo shop so much that I was thrilled when she posted on Instagram that her loft apartment had been featured in a New York magazine.

Michele Varian's Loft

And if you’ve seen her shop, her loft is everything you would imagine it would be – stuffed full of fascinating and beautiful objects, perfectly arranged in gorgeous vignettes. If you read the article (which you really should) you’ll realise that pretty much every single thing in her apartment has a story behind it. This is a place where people live and work and laugh and love. And it shows.

Michele Varian's Loft

This kitchen is giving me LIFE. From that perfect blue to the open shelving to the mismatched china, to the well-used pans, to the spices. It looks like the kitchen of someone who loves to cook, loves to eat and loves to entertain.

Michele Varian's Loft

Anyone would be inspired in this workspace.

Michele Varian's Loft

That bed and the THROW are gorgeous and there’s something really cool about that framed pair of gloves. And that mirror. Naughty girl Michele!

Michele Varian's Loft

Michele’s husband is a musician and I love that his presence is really obvious all round the apartment. 

Michele Varian's Loft

Michele’s wallpaper makes the perfect backdrop for his guitar collection and tiny vintage piano.

Do yourselves a favour and read the entire article by Eliza Krpoyan for Scene Magazine. All the beautiful photography is by Peter Murdock.

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Things I Am Loving – BLANCO Solon Compost System

 

BLANCO is a maker of luxury sinks and faucets (or taps in proper English, I do find faucets still to be a very alien word for me). Family-owned since 1925 and renowned for their superb German engineering, they were one of the lovely sponsors of #BlogTourNYC and I wish I’d known about them when we were remodeling our kitchen as their products truly are special.

BLANCO Solon Compost System

In particular I really wish I’d known about their SOLON Compost System, because I would definitely have installed it. I’m even going to ask our contractor if it would be possible to retrofit it into the kitchen now, though I’m imagine that cutting into our white quartz countertop at this point might be a bridge too far.

BLANCO Solon Compost System

But what a neat, beautifully engineered, idea. Instead of having a smelly stainless steel bucket sitting on your counter attracting countless fruit flies (ask me how I know), you get a top quality stainless steel bin that you can drop into the counter and just scrape peelings and scraps straight into. At other times the lid fits flush with the counter, so it’s not taking up space at all and the lid is specially engineered to minimise odours, which I presume also minimises those peaky flies.

And when it’s full, you just pull it out, throw out the scraps and stick the bin straight in the dishwasher. I’m extremely into composting but goodness me it’s a messy business and it would have been so nice to streamline the process when we had a chance.

If you’re remodelling your kitchen and thinking of installing it yourself here’s a video demonstration.

If you want to see a TERRIBLE interview with me and much better interviews with my fellow BlogTourists Marcy Michaud and Faith Sheridan, where we share our tips for green living, BLANCO interviewed us all at the AD Home Design Show. Here is the excruciating video evidence.

Blimey chaps, I really need some lessons in active listening, instead of letting my eyes wander all round the room and picking my nose (I was NERVOUS, what can I say?)

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Treillage with Bunny Williams

One doesn’t expect to trek up to the Upper East Side in NYC and then be overcome with an overwhelming wave of nostalgia for London.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage, the shop owned by Bunny Williams, the doyenne of American interior decorating and her husband, antique dealer John Rosselli, reminded me so much of several shops in London, where antiques, and outdoor furniture, art and objets are all displayed together in a slightly higgledy-piggledy way, and you feel like you’ve just walked into a gigantic treasure chest.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

This effect is not entirely unintentional, Bunny told us that she wanted to create a shop similar to her favourite London shops and, though the store doesn’t sell plants or gardening equipment, if the General Trading Co. and the Chelsea Gardener had a love child it would come pretty close to Treillage.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Visiting the shop is like visiting the country home of a favourite aunt – you might not entirely share her taste, but every single piece will have a story attached and you are bound to find something you adore. Eclectic doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Bunny pulled together the shop herself and stripped off an old tin ceiling to uncover beautiful skylights which flood the store with light. The slightly industrial feel of the shop’s bones contrast well with the ornate antiques and intricate objets.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

So many food photography props. If only there had been more room in my suitcase. And of course you can never go wrong with a shop that sells blue ceramic chickens.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Bunny’s husband John is also a huge character and he regaled us with stories of his collecting trips all over the world. As a couple they, and the very obvious affection they feel for each other, are cuteness personified. Such great adverts both of them for loving what you and doing what you love.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com treillage-12

If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to get to New York, you can buy many of the treasures online including the fruits of Bunny’s collaborations with rug manufacturers Dash & Albert and pillow and throws producers Pine Cone Hill. I loved the indoor/outdoor jute rug Bunny is standing on above.

And what treasure did I uncover? Well drinks were served in some beautiful fluted bubbled glassware which ended up coming home with me. I just love these glasses – they make every drink, even still water, seem festive and and special, and they will always serve as a reminder of a very fun morning spent in wonderfully inspiring company.

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

Treillage with Bunny Williams -  photography by www.paolathomas.com

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New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

 

Another of the lovely sponsors of our #BlogTourNYC trip was Prizer Hoods.

Having just specced the most boring stainless steel hood imaginable for our recent kitchen remodel (we wanted cupboard space above, what can I say?). I was somewhat dismayed to realise how much fun we could have had with the fully customizable options from Prizer Hoods, shown on their stand at the Architectural Digest Home Show.

Want a contemporary hood in Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Colour of the Year? Then Prizer has you covered.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

Or if you want a more classic style in an intriguing metallic finish, then Prizer has you covered too.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

The range of shapes, colours, metals and textures available was breathtaking and you truly could customise a Prizer hood to fit in with any possible trend in kitchen design.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods photography by www.paolathomas.com

 Kim Lewis, Lead Designer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover who is very lovely and very tiny – even shorter than me – then gave us a great presentation showing how to do just that and I’m delighted to be able to share excerpts from it below.

 New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

I suppose my kitchen could be most easily classified as Bright & Light with a touch of what Kim called Vagabond Style.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

Nowadays black is being used in conjunction with white for a softer, less forbidding, look (this reminded me of how Victoria Smith has recently updated her kitchen.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

Whereas I would do evil things to get my hands on that gorgeous beaten gold hood below, which Kim used as an example of the new trend for textured metallics.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

And apparently brass is back in a big way. I also love that huge curved brass hood below (that fabulous wooden waterfall worktop is pretty special too). I wish we’d thought to include a brass hood instead of our stainless steel one #lesigh. Maybe I should just make do with brass cutlery instead.

New Trends in Kitchen Design with Prizer Hoods

One day, when I finally get round to ordering a light fitting and buying some bar stools, I will get round to showing you our fully finished and styled kitchen. Don’t hold your breath though.

We have been invited to blog about each of the sponsors of BlogTour NYC as small recompense for their very generous and gracious hospitality. All opinions expressed in these posts, however, are my own.

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