30 March 2008

c'mon people- it's pretty and it's FREE

you have less than two days to enter to win this beyootiful tesselated coral stone box, so be sure to enter the 1st ever maison21 sweepstakes spectacular! read all about the rules for enry here, then enter via the specially dedicated email address by clicking below. enter by midnight, march 31st! odds are still in your favor! (maison21 has not been exactly overwhelmed with entries).

29 March 2008

a peek into pasadena's glamorous past (happy easter, part 2)

in our last post, maison21 promised he'd tell you why his easter egg hunt & brunch pictures belonged on a design blog. of course, he also promised that he'd tell you "tomorrow", but somehow "tomorrow" turned into "next week" (maison21 blames his delicate constitution- he had his 4,712th bout with the flu this week. he apologizes, and hopes cold and flu season is now officially over- for ALL of us).

anyway, the reason maison21's easter egg hunt and brunch deserved to be publicized (besides an excuse to show pictures of his adorable little friend, lucy), was that the brunch and hunt were held on the grounds of the historic castle green, in pasadena, california (about 15 minutes east of downtown los angeles- if you are lucky and there is no traffic. btw, there is always traffic).
(above photo stolen from, the rest were captured by m21's instamatic)

the castle green building was built in 1898, as an annex to the castle green hotel- a resort that catered to visitors from the east coast escaping their harsh winters, by visiting sunny southern california. though the hotel itself was torn down long ago, the "annex" lives on today as historically landmarked condominiums.

now, maison21 knows that some of his readers live in cities with buildings far older than 110 years, but here in southern california, we don't exactly treasure our history the way normal people do, and the fact that this building survives, and wasn't knocked down for a shopping mall, is quite the achievement- the equivalent of the parthenon in athens or the coliseum in rome. really.
the spanish-moorish-victorian style castle green building is a fabulous document of it's time- the over embellished styles of the victorian era were on the way out, and the more modern style of the arts and crafts movement was on it's way in, and the interiors and furnishings really show the blending of all those styles and more (there's a lot going on...)
all modern conveniences were included in the castle green when it was constructed- things like elevators and electric lights- and they are lovingly preserved to this day. the lobby uses still uses antique-style edison light bulbs, and the iron cage elevator still requires an operator. very cool oldskool.
the entire first floor is devoted to public spaces, like the onyx walled ballroom, and several large sitting rooms as well as a immense front terrace and garden. these spaces can be rented out by the public for weddings and special events, or reserved by the residents, as lucy's granddad was nice enough to do for our brunch on the lovely shady balcony- much needed on a scorching-hot, freaky spring heatwave day, as easter was over 90 degrees! that's hot!
for a peek inside the castle green residences, visit, and take a tour of a studio condo on the market for $495,000 (complete with murphy bed). maison21 thinks $495k seems like kind of a bargain, and he's sure his readers in places like new york or london would agree! with a little maison21 sissy magic™ to update the decor, we think it could be kind of cute. sorry though, the included murphy bed would have to go FIRST THING, as murphy beds rather scare us- maison21 had one in his first apartment, but couldn't bring himself to use it- he had a fear it would fold shut during the night, and he would be trapped inside the walls of his apartment forever.
(above photo stolen from
what do we think of unit 502- a fabulous bargain, and a blast from the past? or too much to pay to live in a studio- no matter how quaintly old school it is?

23 March 2008

happy easter (or happy spring)

happy easter!
(for those who celebrate, or happy spring for those who do not, but like maison21, enjoy candy and pastel colors anyway...)

the above photo was taken as maison21 was preparing to leave for an easter brunch- the basket next to his beautiful little girl dog, mona, was NOT her easter gift- maison21 is a crazy-indulgent pet parent, but not THAT crazy (although mona may have got a squeaky toy to shred in honor of the day).

rather, the basket was intended for a little girl person, the beautiful lucy, with whom we were lucky enough to be invited to share in her first easter egg hunt.
isn't she adorable?

after a friendly helping hand in finding her 1st egg, lucy, being the 15 month old child prodigy that she is, was soon finding eggs all by herself (ok, maybe a little adult help was involved) and proceeded to delightfully hurl them into her easter basket (with no small amount of force, btw).
of course, no easter egg hunt would be complete without the appearance of the easter chicken (don't ask- maison21 has no idea why one of the brunch guests brought a chicken costume, but lucy seemed to enjoy it).
and of course, the easter chicken was accompanied by the easter dog. maison21 would never subject his own dog to such humiliation, btw. well, almost never...
tomorrow, we'll tell you why this post about chickens and dogs and babies and stuff, has any business being on a design blog...

20 March 2008

charmed i'm sure (modern chair love)

move over louis, maison21 has a new modern chair love- charme, available at the conran shop:
though charme is exceedingly well priced at $795.00, brocade home offers a chair very similar in feeling for the budget price of $199.00:
don't worry, louis, we still love you, too (and we were pleased to find you so cheap on ebay- thanks for the tip, cristina!)
last, anziano, you know you will always be number one in maison21's modern chair loving heart:

mortal enemies?

whoever coined the phrase "fighting like cats and dogs" has never visited the maison21 atelier- mona and richard get along quite well, thank you. as maison21 starts his day reading emails, blogs, etc., they will frequently take a morning nap next to each other. nothing is cuter them the two of them napping together in a puddle of morning sun. maison21 isn't usually able to capture the image, as the minute he moves to find the camera, mona is usually up and following him (he could be getting up to get some food, after all), but this morning, maison21 was able to get that rare photo op. please excuse the unmade bed, but m21 couldn't exactly ask them get up so he could style the photo first (much as he would have loved too, btw). dirty laundry or no, the image is a little too sweet not to share.

and yes, it is no optical illusion- richard is a monstrously large cat.

here's another photo of them peacefully hanging out together from the last time m21 was able to capture the moment- way back when richard was a lil bitty kitty:

19 March 2008

chinois on the cheap...

one of maison21's clients has a sexy vintage chinoiserie writing table (black lacquer with gold leaf detail), that is oh so pretty and oh so useless. it has room to store maybe a pen and a couple sheets of paper, and that's it. so m21 has been searching for a companion piece to add a little storage and functionality, and turn the now merely decorative piece into a functional, working desk. anyone have a vintage chinoiserie blanket chest that maison21 can retrofit to serve as a file cabinet/bench by adding a cushion to the top? piece needs to fit under a large window with a low sill- any leads would be appreciated, as m21 is stumped.

anyway, during during his hunt, maison21 randomly came across a website- that is kind of a virtual chinatown. lots of kitsch- paper fans, buddha statues, shoji screens, etc- the flotsam of many different asian cultures (real and imagined) mashed into one store. just like in a real chinatown! and of course, just like real chinatown gift shop, there are always a few jewels amongst the tourist crap:

maison21 thought these towel sets were actually kind of cool- both simple and a bit dramatic. m21 isn't a big fan of embroidery on towels- he likes to keep it simple in the bath- but he'd make an exception for these (maybe). though the black & gold borders on kitsch, maison21 loves it the most- he sees it in a dark and dramatic powder room. $189 for 7 pcs.

maison21 knows from reading his blogging friend decorno's frequent "reader decorating dilemma" posts, that lots of fledgling decoristas have trouble finding wall art that has both size and impact, so one of these gold leaf screens would fill up 6 feet of wall space for 200 bucks. they ain't perfect by any means (that border- *shudder*), but maison21 can see one in a dining room with the walls lacquered eggplant or a chinese red. voila- instant drama!
these sunny yellow jar lamps are kinda fab (this pick is a shout out to habitually chic's current yellow obsession). you'd have to toss the not-right shade and finial first thing, but with a shorter, updated shade (maybe black), maison21 thinks these lamps would look far costlier than their $200.00 price tag. course, with new shades and finials, i guess they would be costlier too! oops!
last, maison21 thought that these silk covered journals would be great little inexpensive gifts- $15.00 each or $55.00 for a set of 4.
the website put maison21 in the mind of another chinois on the cheap chinatown shopping standby, pearl river mart (if you live in manhattan, you already know of it). on their site, he saw this deliciously colorful chinese brocade fabric with a cherry blossom motif- at $12.50 a yard, he's sure someone, somewhere, can figure out a use for it:

a while back, maison21 bought a bunch of different size, shape, and color paper lanterns similar to these at pearl, added some cheap $3.99 cords from ikea ($5.50 at pearl river) and transformed a portion of a back yard that was basically a driveway with overgrown trees above it, into a festive courtyard for a summer party. he particularly loves this big 24" oval version for $12.50!

so whaddya y'all think? chic on the cheap? or cheapo chinois?

14 March 2008

kelly wearstler for the rug company

last night maison21 was lucky enough to attend the glamorous launch of kelly wearstler's new line of carpets for the rug company. the event was quite chic, filled with just about every interior designer and store owner in los angeles, and maison21 was delighted to spend time with his talented friends from kwid (without whom, ms. wearstler's work would not look nearly as good as it does).

of course ms. wearstler was there, and she looked terrific as always- very pretty in person, and very thin, wearing the highest heels ever. maison21 has to hand it to you ladies who suffer for fashion- high heels are a great look, but maison21 would be a raving bitch if he couldn't wear his sneakers everywhere he goes- even when he wears a suit.

you can check out pictures of the party at getty images and wire image (thank you for the link, d.!).

maison21's favorites from the collection are "tracery" (above) and "maze" (below):

09 March 2008

maison21 loves 'em burly...

as maison21 sucked down his daily pot o' coffee this lazy sunday morning (lazy, because m21 wuz robbed of an hours' worth of sleep by the daylight savings time change. loving that it stays light later, but why do we even have to make the switch? can't we just leave it this way year round? it messes with maison21's biological clock something fierce!)- anyway, as he was trying to wake himself up by guzzling coffee, m21 put his not-yet-awake mind on autopilot, and rifled through some old issues of design magazines, looking for inspiration and resources. isn't this what everyone does on a lazy sunday morning? maison21 is sick, i tell you, sick! maison21 also thinks this is a sickness many of you might share (though maybe not first thing in the morning), so he thought he'd share some of the images he enjoyed with his morning cuppa (potta, really)...

maison21 first ran across this image of a teak burl table in front of a vladimir kagan sofa, used in a new york townhouse designed by julie hilman (october 2007 issue of interior design magazine). the table is absolutely PERFECT for a project maison21 is working on - he needs a big ol' cocktail table that is indestructibly kid-proof, and he loves the idea of inserting a sculptural organic element into a living area filled with more traditional furniture elements.

isn't the meteor table from chista amazing? a tour of the chista website, or their nyc meatpacking district showroom is a must, as they have the most stunning selection of spectacular sculptural natural wood forms- like the monumental teak root fashioned into a room dividing screen, below:

the delicious images from chista got maison21 hungry for more fab organic wood furniture- not for the same project as the coffee table, since too many pieces in a similar style would be like living in a mangrove swamp- but just because natural wood is pretty and we like to look at it.

a great place to start looking for pretty natural wood furniture would be the website of the master of the organic wood form, george nakashima. though mr. nakashima is deceased, his legacy lives on in his eponymously named company and you can order new pieces from them based on his iconic forms, such as the classic conoid bench (image via you can also find a great selection of vintage nakashima furniture (and the staggering prices it commands) on our favorite decorating porn website, 1stdibs.

maison21 next went to the website of the hudson furniture company, another new york-based firm offering gorgeous reclaimed wood furniture celebrating the organic form. isn't the lucite base console table fabulous? and the dining table on sculptural hammered bronze legs? yum!

maison21 really wants one of hudson's petrified stump end tables for his own living room:
last image from hudson, one of their amazing "tahiti" chairs. how much do you think this svelte 'lil guy weighs?

one of maison21's favorite stores here in los angeles, lawson-fenning, has long had a teak burl and lucite cocktail table- the "redlands" table- in their own well-designed custom furniture line:

isn't the juxtaposition of the transparent, artificial lucite against the solid, organic wood burl, kinda wonderful? (btw, we think the guys from l-f had this table in their line long before the hudson furniture co. had the console in theirs- not that it matters as they are both fab pieces- but we want to give props where they are due)...

last, if you are a frequent reader of maison21's musings, you know he loves to mix the high with the low, so check out these bargain examples of organic burliness from online retailer, vivaterra, $169 and $149, respectively:

so, do you think you wood be up to adding a little burliness to your decor?

07 March 2008

who knew?

maison21, being the huge vintage furniture hag that he is, knew that the henredon furniture company had in the past churned out the occasional hot piece of furniture (the "scenes 1, 2 & 3" series from the 70's comes to mind) but outside of the barbara barry collection produced today, he associated the company with the kind of dark, carved wood "old world" furniture one would find in a tuscan style mcmansion. so you could have knocked maison21 over with a feather when he found out the the glamorous chest of drawers he was drooling over recently was brand new and made by henredon. chic, no? he is coveting a pair for the sides of his bed, but alas, they are a little too tall...

there are a few other delights hidden in amongst the old world "elegance" on the henredon site, so it's worth checking out.

speaking of mass market furniture surprises, what do we think of this martha stewart sideboard for bernhardt? maison21 thinks it's rather elegant with it's "sheraton meets deco" styling, but can't get past the martha name. we definitely have a love/hate thing with the martha- it's mostly love, but we don't know if we'd actually want her (or her furniture) in our home.
ps: maison21 would like to apologize to his readers- all 7 of you (we're up from 5!)- for his recent paucity of posts. we're actually too busy doing decorating to blog about it, but we'll be back soon with some real posts, not stuff like this cheesy filler post we did today!

04 March 2008

de gournay and art...

one of my favorite bloggers, things that inspire, left a comment on my recent post on the delicious de gournay wallpapers, and she wasn't sure if the panels would be compatible with art, since they are art. maison21 agrees with things that inspire- the papers are so special, that they really need to be in a room nearly devoid of other distractions- like competing art, and accessories. like the photos from the de gourany website, the coverings really do look spectacular in rooms without a lot to compete with them visually- maison21 can see them used in dining rooms or entry halls with just a table and chairs or a sideboard, and not much else. they would probably NEVER work in any room in maison21's own over-tchotchkefied home/atlelier, btw- he just has too many fineries he loves...

but, since the papers are custom, many of the elements that compose the patterns can be altered and they can be readily adapted to suit your needs- such as working with existing art. in the example below, in a room maison21 helped to design with his former employer, a chinoiserie paper was used in the bedroom of an art collecting couple. the design of the branches was selected to frame, but not compete with the impressionist painting the couple wished to hang above their bed. in this particular pattern, all sorts of things can be altered- color, of course, can be custom matched, and the number of birds and blooms, branches, etc., can be modified. if the art work used was larger, a panel consisting of just the background color could easily be inserted between the patterned panels to give the art room to breathe.

the coolest thing about this particular pattern is that it can be ordered with various amounts of aged patina, like water staining, so it really looks as if it were removed from an ancient chateau (in the bad scan below, there is no aged patina- the room was new construction, and adding the patina would have just felt a little too "faux"). keep in mind m21's warning though- the wallpaper literally walks here from france, and adding customization involves purchase and approval of a strike off, which in turn adds a considerable amount to the already lengthy lead time. the delicious de gournay will be worth the wait, though- maison21 guarantees it!

last, maison21 leaves you with an interesting image of de gournay used in an eclectically modern home, originally published in british homes and gardens (may 2007). maison21 had nothing to do with the design of the room, other than stealing the image from the de gournay website for your viewing pleasure: