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Thursday, April 30, 2009

MoS Goes South...

Make that WAY south...to Buenos Aires, Argentina! For the last week, MoS Washington decamped to Buenos Aires for a much-anticipated trip to the city often called the Paris of South America. For months I've listened enraptured as friends described their trips there in near transcendental terms, wondering whether BA could truly live up to the hype. How, I wondered, could a place be so universally adored by so many different types of people? From my fellow MoS girl in Charlotte, whom I consider THE shopping authority, to my free-spirited friend from college who shared an apartment there with a tango dancer, to my nightlife-loving friends- everyone spoke equally adoringly of BA. And after six days there, the verdict is in: this city does not disappoint!
San Telmo
First thing's first: where to stay? BA has dozens of wonderful, modern, well-priced boutique hotels. Yes, you can stay at the larger hotels in Recoleta or El Centro (MoS Charlotte says amazing things about the Caesar Park in Recoleta), but I definitely loved the idea of staying somewhere a little more intimate in more of a "neighborhood." We selected the Dazzler Suites Juncal in Palermo. If you do a little research into BA hotels, you'll see something must get a little lost in translation in terms of names! Case(s) in point: Five Cool Rooms, Mine Hotel Boutique, BoBo Hotel, Glu Hotel, Vain Boutique Hotel. Adds character if you ask me!
After being stuck with hotel rooms the size of a shoebox in New York and most European cities, our room was downright palatial. We loved the decor- dark, wide planked floors, white linens, dark, angular furniture, and modern chrome and leather chairs and stools. We even had a large kitchen area with a refrigerator, sink, and stovetop. We didn't do any cooking there (cooking in BA is blasphemy given their amazing variety of restaurants), but the space was much appreciated, as was the mini-fridge for my stash of Quilmes!

Probably the first thing I noticed upon arriving in BA is that it's a dog crazy city! New York and Washington have nothing on this place. Everywhere you go, on every block, people have dogs. Leashes are pretty much optional. Labs, retrievers, pugs, mutts, hound dogs, beagles, toy dogs, great danes, even rotweilers- you name it, we saw it. Because of its proximity to several parks, Palermo is host to zillions of dog walkers. How one person walks this many dogs, I'll never know. However, with this comes a word of advice: don't take your eyes off the sidewalk when you're walking lest you encounter an unwelcome surprise. Just as leash laws don't seem to exist there, neither do picking-up-after-your-dog laws!
Some canine buddies tethered to a lamp post while their dogwalker went upstairs to collect yet another member of the posse!
While BA is a very modern city, in terms of architecture, the old is even more memorable than the new. In their crumbling splendor, the wrought iron balconies, ornate trim, tall wooden double doors, and cobblestone streets reminded me of European cities thousands of miles away. It's a really intriguing reminder of BA's rich, and Euro-centric, history.
The wrought iron balconies, crumbling old brick, and faded salmon color remind me of Venice.

These rounded balconies and tall wooden doors have a distinctly French vibe, no?
Weeping willows only add to the romantic effect.
With old doors this splendid, who needs new? I love these doors in Palermo Soho, chipped paint and all.

Even iron gates seem romantic when graced with distinctive patterns and painted coral.

How majestic is this building in San Telmo? And the (probably original) tall wooden shutters inside are the finishing touch.
Majestic is the only word that can describe the ornate work on the top of this building and above the windows. The contrast of the pale blue/green paint and the once-white stone darkened with age...magnificent.

The green shutters with the bright white building was a particularly striking combination that would look impressive on any home.

By the time we made it to the cemetery at Recoleta (the resting place of Eva Peron and many of the city's other notable families), a guard told us it was closed, which is unusual. Rats...guess we'll just have to go back! But in the meantime, check out the view through the gates. It looks like a city within a city!

American cars from the 50's and 60's are omnipresent in BA. I can only imagine it's what a trip to Havana must look like! Vintage cars aside, BA is not big on cars, literally and figuratively. Most cars are old, dinged up, and extremely small. The "fanciest" cars I saw the entire trip were one old BMW and one small Lexus! Perhaps in more suburban areas the cars get a little bigger and newer, but when driving in BA, compact and casual is key!
Coming on Monday: we'll continue our tour of Buenos Aires and talk about two of our favorite things- shopping and eating there! Don't miss it! Have you ever been to BA? We'd love to hear your favorite memories and recommendations!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Derby Days


The Kentucky Derby must be one of the most stylish events of the year. Everything about it is over-the-top, and we just love it! From the embellished hats to the chic sundresses to the dapper seersucker and bowties, it is a great excuse to get dressed up and drink mint juleps (from silver cups in the daytime)! While the MoS girls have never attended the Derby, we frequented our local steeplechases in college and law school (Carolina Cup and Foxfields) and loved every minute of it.
With the 2009 Kentucky Derby just around the corner, here are some of our favorite styles for the event!
Dresses from Anthopologie:
Dresses from Neiman Marcus:


Some glamorous hats from Hats in the Belfry:
Some hats from Nordstrom:
What would a stylish day at the Derby be without some mint juleps?
You could spring for the $1,000-per-drink julep, served in a gold cup with a silver straw, with fine ingredients such as mint from Ireland, organic sugar from Australia, ice from the Alps, and bourbon from the Bluegrass State (of course).

Or you could make your batch of drinks and serve them in pretty silver julep cups.
Here is an easy recipe:
cups sugar 2 cups water Sprigs of fresh mint Crushed ice Kentucky Bourbon Silver Julep Cups Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

The MoS girls just love julep cups and use them year-round. They are perfect for flowers, or even to use in unexpected ways like to hold your makeup brushes or toothbrushes in the bathroom.
Whether you are attending the Kentucky Derby or hosting a party at home, it's a great excuse to get dressed up, make some yummy food, and have a great time!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DIY- Guest Room Chair

I had been looking for a chair for my guest room, and I didn't want to spend a ton. I also was in the mood to do a little project. So I headed over to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and they didn't disappoint!

I narrowed it down to a few choices and ultimately chose this lovely gold velvet number. It was $25. Fabric aside, I love the details of the chair. The French legs, the rattan sides, and the tufted back.

First step was to remove all the trim and yellow velvet fabric. There were hundreds and hundreds of staples that I removed one-by-one with a screwdriver and pliers.

Next, I removed the worn-out foam batting in the seat and replaced it with some plain batting from Hancock Fabrics.

Finally, time to paint. First I sanded the chair. Then, I primed it. Third, I painted it with Krylon white gloss spray paint. It was amazing the difference a coat of paint made on this chair. Removing all the fabric and staples had taken longer than I expected, but seeing the chair with a fresh coat of paint motivated me to keep on trucking with this project.

The next step was to find appropriate fabric. The bedding in my guest room is Yves Delorme Jonquille, so I knew I wanted to find some fabric that was light and airy, in either green or yellow and white.

I found this green tweed at The Boulevard here in Charlotte for $1 per yard. For anyone local, The Boulevard is AMAZING. It's owned by Century Furniture out of Hickory and is basically several huge warehouses full of Century showroom pieces at deeply discounted prices. By the way, it is only open Friday through Sunday. Century Furniture also owns Valdese Weavers, which manufactures alot of high-end fabric, so you can often score fabulous fabrics by the yard from Scalamandre, P Kaufmann, Thibaut, Kravet, Oscar de la Renta, and many others. And nothing is more than $5 per yard (most are between $1 and $3 in my experience).
For the chair, I estimated that I needed around 2 yards since the fabric has such a small repeat, but I went ahead and splurged (ha) on 7. I knew I could do something in the room with the rest of the fabric. I already owned the yellow trim fabric and had used it previously on some throw pillows for the bed. I think the 2 fabrics work well together.
I attached the fabric to the chair with a staple gun. It was a challenge to hide all the staples and seams. This project was definitely one of the most difficult I have done. If the chair had not had the upholstered back, it would have been much much much easier. I would recommend for your first project that you do a chair with only an upholstered seat, not a tufted back.

Next, I bought a covered button kit at Hancock's and made them out of the yellow fabric. I then bought big "doll" needles to do the tufting. It still didn't turn out quite as "tight" as I would have liked, but it does look better in person than in these pictures.

And the finished product. I am happy with how it turned out!

Before...


After!
So for less than $40 total, I have a custom chair that is perfect in that guest room! I made a bedskirt and pillow shams with the leftover green tweed fabric, to tie the whole room together. I also bought pre-made white (lined) drapery panels and then sewed a 2-inch strip of the green tweed down the side for a custom look.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Love Affair with Lucite


We are a little obsessed with lucite. We were inspired back in March by the use of lucite accents on this Ruby Press desk posted by Coco & Kelley, so we have decided to dedicate a post to lucite accents. I once read that every room needs one touch of lucite, and I think that is a good rule of thumb. Lucite perks up the most traditional rooms and adds a lightness and element of fun to an otherwise heavy room. It can be pretty expensive, so some of the pieces below would be an investment! But, because it was so popular in the 60's and 70's, so you can find some good deals if you search Craigslist and eBay. Another trick is to search for acrylic rather than lucite- we can't tell the difference, and acrylic is usually alot cheaper!

How gorgeous would this bench be at the foot of your bed? We love the idea of mixing lucite into a traditional setting for a splash of fun!

We would cover it in a fun fabric like Brunschwig & Fils' Chevron Bar Silk!

Of course, what would a post about lucite be without a reference to Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost Chair. While they have become a bit ubiquitous, we think they are a classic with real staying power.


The Ghost Chair, as styled in a MoS living room (you almost can't even see it!), adding a modern element to an otherwise traditional room. When I first bought the ghost chair from the W Hotel Store, my husband had two questions. "Why is there patio furniture in our living room?" And, "Why did you buy only one piece of patio furniture when we need a whole set?" He just doesn't get it!

How pretty and clean are the lines of this sofa from 1st dibs?? We'd change out the fabric for something more colorful and use it in a room where style is more important than comfort. http://www.1stdibs.com/, $9,800

Wouldn't this yellow damask fabric be pretty on the lucite base, with turquoise or navy accents?!

We just love this Peekaboo console table from cb2 for an entryway or a fun bar! This would be especially great in a smaller space, where a piece of wooden furniture is just too heavy. And the price is right at $349! http://www.cb2.com/

This lucite Monsieur Chair from The Paris Apartment is a work of art! You can cover the seat in fabric of your choice. http://www.theparisapartment.com/, $2,200

The Tibet Cocktail Table combines form and function! We would use it in a living room at one end (or both!) of the sofa. Keep in mind that you do not want your lucite to be receiving much direct sunlight or heat. Sunlight can discolor lucite and make it cloudy. $5,050 from http://www.theparisapartment.com/.

If a piece of furniture is not in your budget at the moment, why not add some fun lucite accents to a piece you already own?! A coat of paint and these lucite ball knobs would give a modern feel to granny's hand-me-down chest of drawers. http://www.theparisapartment.com/, $36-$250

For your favorite pampered pooch, how adorable is this doggie bowl?! Lucite Pet Dish, $90, from http://www.supermarkethq.com/
For some very affordable ideas, check out http://www.acrylichomedesign.com/. We are the first to admit their way of styling pieces leaves a little (okay, ALOT) to be desired, but just take it out of the context of their styling and imagine it in your house, styled by you!

Imagine this stationary holder on your chic desk, full of your cute Iomoi and Boatman Gellar notecards (as opposed to the most depressing collection of thankyou notes I have ever seen). CUTE, and $21.75.

What a great way to store your favorite Domino, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful issues (or your Vogues from 1992) with this lucite magazine holder. $18.75

These acrylic napkin coasters are perfect for anyone who loves to entertain. And they are only $16.99! We would swap out the boring blue napkins for something fun like these:


Get a few pieces, have some fun, and let us know what you think about lucite! Is it a classic that is here to stay?!
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