Farrow & Ball

tweed house door

Here's the front door at our Tweed House. Or rather, this is a picture of a magazine colour proof of a picture of our Tweed House door. The shot is from a story I once did on tartan (shot in August BTW, neighbours thought we were NUTS to have a wreath up). Notice the marker notes on the left -- the art director's directions on colour correction. The original photo was taken by the lovely, really and truly lovely, and talented Stacey Brandford. Stacey is the very first interiors photographer I worked with, and you know I'm a sentimental fool, so his work is dear to me. So anyway, I found this in my office papers. Funny, because I was just waxing on about great front doors, and in particular my favourite one (10 Downing St.), over at my new House & Home blog the other day. A glossy pitch black front door with gleaming brass hardware (and a lion head knocker) is on the list of features for my someday dream house.

When we got our place in Tweed I thought, perfect, it'll look great when we switch out the door for a shiny black one just like 10 Downing St. Well, I can't do it. I know that we shouldn't keep this door. These old wooden doors are terribly drafty. It attracts cluster flies, and a half-glass door is a no-no when it comes to privacy and security (especially since I haven't even bothered to make any sort of window covering for it).

This door is like a favourite pair of jeans with a hole in them. The style is perfect, the fit divine, the condition....not so much. But there is beauty in decay and I find the decay of this door ravishing. Which is why not only can I not bring myself to replace it, I can't even bear the thought of stripping the finish and repainting it.

Green is one of my most favourite colours, and the aligatored pattern of the decrepit paint is just so endearing. (Eat your heart out Restoration Hardware). And please, I could do a whole post on my love for old glass and its wobbly character.

There's no shiny brass lion head knocker. Instead, this little key that you turn to ring. The bell peals out loud and clear like the recess bell at grade school.

And the hardware - I just love it. All of the main floor doors have this same intricately tooled oval knob with matching escutcheon. It's not shiny and brass, but it fits. It suits the door and the house. 

Someday I'll install a velvet portière against the drafts and the lookyloos (and BTW people in the town have flat out told me outright that they've come to peek inside -HA!). But for now it will stay just like this. Over the holidays, after numerous kms on highways for family visits, I will be ensconced behind this door for heaps of tea, shortbread, stew, blankies, movies, Downton Abbey season 2, NFL football, naps, Scrabble...all the very best of Christmas, and I will be giving thanks for being so blessed.


farrow & ball green wallpaper

I met with some of the good people from Farrow & Ball at the Toronto F&B showroom today. Delightful, as always. Couldn't resist snapping a pic of this great little Christmas decorating idea from the window display. It's thin rigid foam core board cut into basic tree shapes and covered on both sides with a selection of magnificent F&B wallpapers in an array of greens, then suspended from fishing line in a cascade that recalls a ski slope. Luuurve. 

autumn awesomeness

I am a devoted CBC Radio One nutter. One of my favourite programs is Tapestry. Though I lament the loss of The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony as its theme music, the show never fails to inspire and educate me. Host Mary Hynes has an interview style that I identify with. She is always truly engrossed in the words of the interviewee. If you aren't familiar with Tapestry, I will describe it loosely as a program about spirituality. But here's how the show describes itself:

"...an hour in which rabbis and poets get equal time on the topic of faith, science-fiction writers and physicist-priests ponder the great creation myths, athletes explore the hero's journey as a spiritual metaphor, and architects examine the idea of space for the soul."

Awesome. Tapestry recently did a program about Hope. One of the interviewed guests for the hour was Neil Pasricha. Neil is the blogger and author behind the 1000 Awesome Things phenomenon. The program and interview came at a time when I had begun to freshly appreciate some small but awesome things around me. All this at the height of a season I believe to be the most awesome, autumn. As a tribute to Neil and Mary, I thought I might share my own little list of awesome.

Farrow & Ball Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin poured scented candle in a glass to match the Farrow & Ball paint colour Breakfast Room Green. The scent and colour are perfection for my living room. Farrow & Ball: awesome. Jo Malone: awesome. Together: awesome x 2. The line was limited edition, so it may be tough to track these down...rare: even more awesome.

I once likened having this machine in my space to parking a Mini on my kitchen counter. It hogs a big chunk of counter space in my wee city kitchen. But oh my goodness it is quite fantastic. I've been revelling lately in the ritual of preparing lattes with this fantastic thing. The loud whir of the milk steamer is so profesh. Brings me back to my barista days at the Second Cup. Breville Barista Express: awesome. IKEA Pokal latte glass: awesome.

Last spring when I put my boots away I thought to myself "Next winter I'll likely need to shell out for a new pair of boots." Most people would revel at the thought. Me, meh. Sure, I like new boots, but I don't live and breathe for shoe/boot shopping. It was with some trepidation that I unearthed this pair from their hibernation spot. These things are 5 years old and I have worn the heck out of them every season since buying them. They've taken me through 12-hour scouting days in Toronto, and around London, New York and Paris for long tourism and trade show days. Beaten by snow, salt, rain, mud, and, as I discovered when I retrieved them, a dose of mildew. I treated them to a thorough cleaning and polishing -- I learned that from my Dad. He was in the Naval reserve and knows how to polish shoes to a high shine. I remember when I was a kid he would carefully place newspapers down every couple of weeks and methodically clean and shine every pair of his shoes. I was enthralled. I learned. My delight with these boots came partly in the process of cleaning them -- the hard-finish leather takes a shine beautifully. But the real bliss came when I put them on. It was like slipping on a perfectly worked-in baseball glove. I was transformed. Confident, stylish, authoritative, even a touch taller. My favourite old boots: awesome. The fact that they only cost $75 new and yet have lasted this long: awesome. Learning how to polish shoes from my Dad: awesome.

My bedroom. Since the room photo was taken I added the West Elm Nail Head headboard (shown above). I've been sleeping extraordinarily well lately and am very thankful for it. Today's the day when I switch it from summer to autumn mode. To do that I add velvet bed hangings to what you see. The white linen ones stay as lining for the velvet ones. The effect is cocoonlike. And considering the room has large patio doors, the fabric isn't just for show - it excludes drafts. 


One of my favourite sources for bedding is Au Lit Fine Linens. I had the privilege of meeting and working with Peggy Byron this year. She founded Au Lit, and her daughter Joanna Goodman is breathing fun new life into this incredible company. I admire both of them for their great knowledge, passion, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Their life's work is to bring beauty and quality to your home. It is a high calling. I urge you to treat yourself to something from the shop in Toronto (I have a featherbed on my must-buy list). I'm also loving Joanna's gorgeous and informative blog, Between the Sheets.

My bed: awesome. Velvet bed hangings: awesome. Au Lit Fine Linens: awesome. Between the Sheets: awesome.

Printed little gems that land magically in my mailbox. Every page inspires a new idea, a dream, a plan. J. Crew catalogue: awesome. House Beautiful: awesome.

Now please, find 54 minutes in your life, visit the Tapestry web site and have a listen to the episode called Hope (find it at the Featured Audio section on lower right of the screen). 

What is awesome to you this autumn? What do you hope for?

stalking ben pentreath

photo: financial times how to spend it

A little while back I was asked to speak to a group of design students at Humber College here in Toronto. Part of my presentation was about the importance of mentors. I told the students, don't worry if you don't know any personally yet -- they'll be revealed in time. Meanwhile, don't hesitate to stalk a mentor. Choose one of the best of the best. Study and learn. Lately I've been stalking Ben Pentreath. Ben is an architect and shop keeper based in London's  Bloomsbury district. I first met him last spring on the pages of House & Garden magazine and in the book Perfect English. I love his design style -- handsome and classic but relaxed, even a tad disheveled. His outfit in the shot above (with shop manager Bridie Hall) says it all -- jacket, striped sweater, narrow jeans and Adidas - perfect.

Ben riding his bike along Ruby St. in Bloomsbury from House & Garden mag. I'm a fan of a well-dressed man on an old school bicycle. And the architecture of the street scene - love.

Another page of the House & Garden story. I spy some Josef Frank fabric above the bed.

Ben's shop. You may know I have a weakness for a man with a lovely shop.

Inside the shop.

Ben's sitting room, from The Independent.

More of Ben's sitting room. I spy another Josef Frank fabric. 

A hotel design by Ben's architecture firm, Working Group.

A column drawing by Ben that I would die to own, from an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Ben (centre), along with George Saumarez Smith and Francis Terry, who form the collective The Three Classicists,  drew this amazing work of art during the course of one day for an exhibit of their work. The time lapse film of the day made by Ben's cousin Ben Moore is amazing to watch.

If that wasn't enough to convince me of Ben Pentreath's true kindred spiritedness, then I discover his blog -- two of the posts have sealed it for me:

1. He blogged about Prince Philip as a style icon. Wicked great post.

2. Just for kicks recently he painted his sitting room Farrow & Ball Pink Ground, a colour I have been obsessing over since I did my Valentine post (which incidentally included a lustreware piece from his site). 

Are you like me and loving that armchair on the left with yet more Josef Frank fabric? It's the Bloomsbury Library Chair , available at the shop, natch. 

And lastly, I even love his web site design. Simple. Perfect. Love the icons. And delicious stuff for sale. The shop is on my must-visit list for the next trip to London. But don't worry Ben, I'm not really stalking you, just fan-girling, as we in the blog world are wont to do.