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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

5 Must-Have Elements for The Perfect Outdoor Space


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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For many of us, the pollen is finally clearing, and it’s time to get that outdoor space spiffed up so that we can spend the maximum amount of time outdoors. What makes a great outdoor space? Here are my personal top five:



Even the tiniest of spaces needs plants to enliven it. Surely there is room even on the smallest of balconies for at least a potted plant or two. Consider a trellis, hanging pots or boxes that hang over the railings if you’re short on floor space.


Modernica’s mid-century modern pots with stands are one of the chicest modern ways to add life to your outdoor space.


Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin Texas

Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin Texas

Sometimes, the moon is not enough (or it’s a sliver). Enhance your lighting scheme however you can — tiki torches, lanterns, even inexpensive outdoor holiday lights can be just the right way to set the mood.


I’m also crazy about these pots from Offi, because they double as mood lighting. A compact fluorescent bulb is all it takes for them to light up your outdoor space with magical ambiance. Shop more outdoor lighting options —we’ve got everything from perforated candleholders to outdoor lamps with indoor style.


Photo by Dave Lauridsen for Dwell

Photo by Dave Lauridsen for Dwell

Yes, lots of people have fancy fire pits and full chimneys start at about tens thousand dollars. But it is easy to bring in a small fire pit that will keep you more than toasty on a cool night and toast a smorgasbord of s’mores to perfection.



Loll’s Fire Ring Set comes with an array of different colored tops so that it can serve double-duty as a coffee table when it’s not smoldering. But I like charcoal gray because it’s modern and it goes well with fire.


You cannot very well host that al fresco dinner party you’ve been thinking about without a proper table and chairs. Whether you buy new or set up some sawhorses, an old door for a tabletop and a mix of chairs from indoors, start envisioning your outdoor tablescape.


By Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture

By Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture 

While I’d like to think it’s my scintillating personality that keeps my friends coming back to my screened-in porch for wine night, I know it’s really the cushy sofa where everyone can get comfy on big pillows and put their feet up.

The Blu Dot Jibe Collection is my favorite new outdoor line. It has all the comfort of indoor furniture without getting overwhelmed by overstuffed cushions.

What are your personal top five outdoor elements? Can’t live without the bubble of a fountain or the tunes from Pandora? Let us know in the comments section.





Friday, May 8th, 2015

Weekend Trip: 48 Hours in Asheville, North Carolina


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A few weeks ago, a friend and I traveled four hours from Atlanta up to the mountains on a mission to see The Biltmore, but we found so much more in this small beautiful city. IMG_5216

I was gobsmacked by the striking patina on this roof as soon as we parked in the Renaissance parking lot. Asheville has it all, from the English tudor style architecture of Biltmore Village to art deco downtown, from charming Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian homes to the more industrial thriving River Arts District down by the railroad tracks.


Night one, we hit Table. Hmmm, one-word name, some bragging about just how farm to table they are, the menu changing EVERY NIGHT(!) … I gotta admit, I was ready to be a hater. Until I tasted the buttermilk bread served before dinner. There are no words to describe just how good the entree was. They have earned their bragging rights. The food at Table is to die for, and the service was excellent.


Photo by Alchemy Studio

Bellies full and headed back to the hotel, we staggered upstairs to The Twisted Laurel, where we enjoyed grooving to Jim Arrendell and the Cheap Suits with a horde of their local fans.

The next day we got it together and headed out to The Biltmore. Both of us bad planners, the online tickets were sold out. After waiting in a long line and paying over $60 each for the house tour, we had quite a few hours to kill until our appointed tour time. This was a blessing, because it meant we had precious hours to leave the property and hit the River Arts District, where creativity thrives in Asheville.


A few favorites were Mark Bettis, who mostly works with cold wax and oil paint, and Element Clay Studio. I picked up a piece from each of them.


The funkadoo vibe in the River Arts District was a really fun contrast to the display of Gilded Age wealth we were about to encounter at The Biltmore. Case in point: A wall and view in The River Arts District …


…vs. a wall at The Biltmore:


Which do you like better? While the breathtaking mountain and foothill views at The Biltmore were better, the found object fence in The River Arts District was my favorite.


Here’s a unique mash up of a granite chunk and mid-century modern shell chair. The result is totally Asheville street furniture.


Finally, it was on to The Biltmore. I have to admit, this place is kind of scary! I mean, look at those gargoyles guarding it from above! But the setting and the Frederick Law Omsted-designed grounds were spectacular.


Oh, and it was tulip season. This brings the crowds but it was worth fighting them.


Oddly, my favorite room in the house by far was this old school gym in the basement. It looked like something out of a Wes Anderson film. Also, it reminded me of when Izzy Mandelbaum was Jerry Seinfeld’s personal trainer and he said “Now pick up that medicine ball” andJerry responded with “Is this a gym or a museum of fitness?”

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.34.35 PM

Photo via

Exhausted from our tooling about, we found a place straight out of that Portlandia skit where Andy Samburg plays the mixologist to relax with some drinks. It was The Upstairs Monk, accessible through a speakeasy-like system. One in your party must be a member, but they let you join on the spot for $1. Drinks are expertly mixed from homemade ingredients, and with each drink, you receive a key to an antique apartment mailbox filled with snacks. The Nutella Waffles are a great one.

Thank you Asheville, I can’t wait to return for another weekend.





Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


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I’m not sure when Americans started making such a big deal about Cinco de Mayo, but I would wager only a few of them have heard of the Battle of Puebla. I hadn’t until I looked it up five minutes ago (Thanks USAToday!) However, that’s OK. We’ll take any excuse to have some fun sipping margaritas while having fun with our friends.  In honor of the day Mexican defeated invaders, we though we’d highlight some other ways Mexico is a big winner. Winners in design of course, because that’s probably why you stopped by this particular blog after all.


Beautiful handmade textiles. This stunning photo, “Oaxaca Dancers” was taken by photographer Bob Krist.


Mayan Pyramids. These world wonders are one of the biggest tourist attractions. Chichen Itza, photographed here, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo via


The architecture of Luis Barragán. Quite a few years after the Mayans, Mexican architecture is still rocking it. Photo by Armando Salas Portugal


Hand-painted ceramics and tiles. There’s no pottery more lively, stairs more full of pattern.


Colorful hand-woven baskets. These add texture and a dash of happy to any home. Oh I am craving a trip to a Mexican market right now.

Now back to those margaritas and queso everyone!

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa dentro!



Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Mother’s Day Gift Guide


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Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Have you figured out what you’re doing for Mom this year? Here are just a few of our favorites for a wide range of busy modern Moms.


Mom deserves  fashionable tote. Whether she’s out running errands or needs a sturdy bag to tote her laptop to work, the Flowie Lily Tote with black pecan trees and a leather bottom will chic up her outfit.


Planting with Mom is a fun way to spend some time together, and she’ll love having plants like basil, lavender, rosemary or whatever she chooses at her fingertips, artfully held by this modern rectangle planter, the Boskke Cube Triple.


Sometimes Mom just wants to cozy up and relax. Give her some “me time” for herself today with this gorgeous throw from Area, the Theo Blanket in Multi.


I don’t know about your Mom, but mine always had a phone that looked a lot like this wedged between her ear and her shoulder. While the Native Union Pop Bluetooth Phone  doesn’t have the curly phone wire, it will make modern technology feel more familiar.


If your Mom loves to spend time cooking in the kitchen, help her keep her clothes splatter free in a fashionable way with this Triangle Apron from Ferm Living.





Moms love some bling. We love the simple and modern look of this smaller circle within a larger one; you can infer your own symbolism but we think it’s perfect for Mother’s Day. The Inner Circle Necklace by Vanessa Gade Jewelry is made of hand-fabricated sterling silver with a 14K gold overlay.

Check out more great gift ideas for Mom




Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

iittala on Sale at Design Public


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Some of the most iconic and beautiful modern items available today, both old and new, are available through the wonderful folks at iittala. Items include classic Aalto vase or other glassware, gorgeous and durable cookware and a special limited edition birds by Oiva Toikka. Now through April 7, 2015, save 20% on all iittala at Design Public.


This is just one of the lovely Toikka bird friends currently on sale. If you’re looking to add to your collection or to start one, now is the time to scoop up this beautiful piece of art and save.




If you’re a serious chef looking for more functional pieces, check out iittala’s cookware. This pot is part of the iittala Tools Cookware line, designed by Björn Dahlström. The line includes other pots, pans, saucepans and casseroles. that are so lovely you’ll want to install a pot rack or leave it out on display on the stove all the time.



Alvar Aalto’s classic vases are my go-to gift for anyone who loves modern architecture and design. Stock up now while you can save.

See all Aalto vases


Speaking of go-to gifts, this cast iron casserole with the wooden handle is one of my all-time favorites, and remains the favorite of anyone I’ve ever given it to. It brings the best simplicity, beauty and function of modern style to the stovetop.


Carina Seth-Andersson’s wooden Salad Servers are another great way to add superior Finnish style to your table. They go with a formal dinner just as well as they suit a casual picnic.


Corral all your candles with Norwegian simplicity in Andreas Engesvik’s Allas Large Round Candleholder.

Go ahead and browse all iittala. You’ll have to act fast as this sale ends on April 7, 2015.