29 July 2008

rock and roll...

mona is barking at the front door, and richard is hiding in the closet. we just had a 5.6 quake here in los angeles, centered about 30 miles east of the maison21 atelier. big enough to scare us, but hopefully not big enough to cause injuries or damage.

scary stuff!

ps: ginny, are you ok? i think you are out that way...

suzy steps up (design blogger's challenge)

m21 knew the latest participant in our design blogger's challenge wouldn't disappoint- after all studio annetta has never posted anything less than completely tasteful on her blog, and with her incredible knowledge of classic 20th century design, we also knew that when she posted her entry, it would be gorgeous and refined. it is. (the floors, the floors, the floors!) go see suzy's vision in black and white here.

28 July 2008

tchotchkefication (project preview)

yes, it's a word. a completely made up word, but a word nonetheless...

it also describes the state of one of maison21's current design projects- almost all the major elements are in place: wallpaper is up in the dining and living rooms, new flooring laid in the entry, and the rest of the existing hardwood floors buffed and polished. fresh paint is everywhere (our glossy chinese orange/red in the entry ROCKS), and crisp white wainscoting added to dining room and stairwell. the custom furniture we commissioned is due to be completed and delivered any day, and our super fantabulous 8 foot white marble saarinen dining table is already in place, surrounded by 8 black lacquer chippendale chairs (covered in white patent alligator, similar to m21's own). save for one pesky sideboard (of two) for the dining room- which is proving to be maddeningly elusive- we are good to go with all the furniture needed.

so now, on the the little stuff, i.e., tchotchkefication.

maison21 loves his tchotchkes, in case you didn't know, and as with everything, he likes to mix the high with the low, and the old with the new.
for the living room we have some great vintage blanc de chine-esque pieces (like the above quails) that we've mixed with some newer white ceramics, and of course, lots of maison21's beloved vintage animal statuary- like this vintage elephant figurine:
we might pull the large brass horse statues we currently have on ebay and have them gallop across the top of a console or credenza...
brass rams head bookends similar to below are on their way as well...
to keep things modern and mixed up, we paid a visit to our local z gallerie yesterday, to see what other inexpensive little splendors we could find.

"z gallerie?", you say, in a horrified tone- "aren't they a little down-market for a high-end interior?"

not when we're done with the room, they won't be! the trick to shopping somewhere like z gallerie is be selective (verrrrry selective) and make sure you mix up the pieces with some vintage and antique, so it doesn't look all modern and retail-ish. this goes for any mass-market retailer, like pottery barn or west elm- just use sparingly, and it's a great way to extend a design budget so you can afford to do things like have a custom 8 foot brass and glass parson's console table constructed, as we did for the project we're speaking of.

at z gallerie, we saw and liked:
this bargain of a 20 inch faux clam shell, which we purchased (we might lacquer it a bright white to customize it a bit). we'll probably fill it with a colorful collection of vintage japanese fishing floats, similar to the collection we inherited from our father, which always graces the m21 dining room table.

(oh and a side note to mean anon before you leave your comment: we already know that everything mentioned in this post- blanc de chine, animal statues, clam shells etc., as well everything NOT mentioned in this post, like zebra skin, kelly wearstler, table lamps, and all things decorating in general- are all COMPLETELY tired. so no need for you to type it out, ok?)

how can we resist these book shaped boxes, covered in a white patent faux alligator similar to that on our dining chairs? (in all honesty, we'll probably wait for these to go on sale, but you can NEVER have too many boxes used as accessories. they are just too perfect to hide all of the detritus of modern life we seem to collect- you know, like 25 remote controls, your old "emergency" cellphone, that ancient baggie of pot you've saved from your college dorm days, etc...).

we don't have anywhere for these smart horn tables in any of our current projects, or our own home, but we loved them nonetheless. trés chic for the price.

last, we went crazy for these large faux bois wall candle sconces- like the clam shell, we'd probably customize them a bit so they didn't look so mass market-y. given a coat of matte white spray paint, we think they would look very serge roche/diego giacometti, or or alternatively, gold leaf them, and have a little faux felix agostini...

stay tuned for more project preview posts to see all the elements we've been posting about finally come together... (including our long promised post on our lovely yellow chinoiserie wallpaper, below).

27 July 2008

not as disgusting as you'd think...

when maison21 spotted this bacon and chocolate bar from vosges, while in line at the whole foods checkout, well, he knew he had to try it! his two favorite foods in one bite sized treat- how could he not?

the verdict? not bad- like a see's molasses chip, only saltier. the best use of bacon as desert food maison21 has had since he tried the "pig candy" at local l.a. wine bar, lou!

26 July 2008

designers are like snowflakes... (design blogger's challenge)

no two are alike! lana, the sweet and talented blogger over at topsy turvy style, has accepted the design blogger's challenge and created a luxe garden folly around our moscow mafioso chandelier. go see the results, including this over the top stag's head sculpture, here.

this challenge has been more fun than m21 could ever have imagined when he threw down the gauntlet and challenged himself and everyone else to follow the example of the house of beauty and culture and design a fantasy room the now infamous moscow mafioso chandelier. we'd like to sincerely thank everyone for playing- the results have ranged from the hilarious to the sublime, and far, far, FAR exceeded our expectations. all the different visions and tastes have been so insightful and varied. if you haven't composed an entry yet (and we're talkin' to you, studio annetta), there is no time limit and no winners or losers- just fun for all- so get started now!

25 July 2008

unexpected design benefit

so this past weekend in steamy palm springs, while relaxing after dinner with wine and a couple of gossip & fashion mags to critique (our idea of a fun parlor game), maison21 and his friends noticed the refractions of the vintage chandelier through our wine glasses. pretty, and an unexpected design benefit.

happy friday- hope y'll are going to have some relaxing times this weekend- maybe with some unexpected benefits!

23 July 2008

a bit sketchy...

readers of this blog will know that the extensive maison21 decorative arts empire includes m21's interior design practice and the maison21 ebay store for our vintage finds, but you might be surprised to know that maison21 also does a bit of freelance work with other designers as well- so we thought we'd take a post to show you what that addition to his clearly superior taste in all matters of design (meant ironically, of course- mostly), maison21 also has a bit of an artistic bent (see our sixth grade batik masterpiece for proof- we wouldn't talk up our talent without being able to back it up. well, we would actually, but we aren't in this particular case), so it's kind of natural that we would combine our love of art with our passion for design, by doing a little design drawing.
what maison21 does when he collaborates with other designers, is to help them refine their vision for a custom piece by sketching out their ideas- like taking a leg from this piece, the cushion from that piece, changing the shape of the back, etc., and then seeing if the elements form a unified whole. or sometimes taking another's unique vision- that they can't quite articulate- and giving it form.besides the enjoyment WE get out of it, the designers we collaborate with, find our drawings to be useful tools for themselves as well...
the designer can see if their idea works before money is spent producing it,
and if the concept is successful, the designer then has an effective visual with which to present the piece to the intended client.
the designer also has a sketch with which to communicate with the workroom, as a guide in the actual production of the piece- this can save time, money and heartache.
maison21 seriously loves the collaborative process- it's an instance of when work really seems like play...
and as an added bonus, every so often maison21 gets to see a project he's worked on appear in a national magazine- doesn't get any better than that!

21 July 2008

high voltage! (design bloggers challenge)

we have our latest participant in the design blogger's challenge! the talented illustrator, patricia van essche, over at pve design has put her own artful spin on our "moscow mafioso chandelier", and has designed an entire sparkle-y event experience around it- compete with a dress code! go check out "le voltage" here!

18 July 2008

pretty and classique (what's old is new again)

images scanned from a 1962 edition of "house and garden's book of decorating and entertianing" (no decorator credit given). take away the dated flower arrangements and you'd hardly know these rooms are 46 years old. pretty and classique.

have a great weekend!

16 July 2008

oh no she DIDn't (design blogger's challenge)

the amount of incredibly talented people out there is amazing.

how could someone take this:
add in this:and get chicness as the result?

well, katie DID.

design blogger's challenge- new entry!

we have yet another participant in the design blogger's challenge, from a new to maison21 blog: charm hill interiors- and this upstart has taken on maison21 at his own game by designing an imaginary entry hall, to compete our own- the nerve! (just kidding, charm hill- there's more than enough room in this world for TWO completely over-the-top and fabulous entry halls, and m21 completely approves of your choice in doors, and that black and gold wallpaper is kinda hot too).

go check it out here.

thanks for playing, charm hill, and welcome to the world of design blogging!

i got yer crafty...

mrs. blandings' latest post combined images of fabrics designed by alan campbell, along with a warm story relating her memories of making a batik print elephant in the sixth grade. (see style court and katiedid for more on mr. campbell)

maison21 will never understand the magic of mrs. b's writing- pairing images of home decor fabric with a sweet story from her childhood seems like such a disparate combo, but of course mrs. blandings pulls it off with ease. while maison21 may not be able to match mrs. b's knack for spinning a beautiful tale, in this case, he can try to match her lovely story with an image from his past:

behold the maison21 batik parrot, a sixth grade project of his very own, lovingly preserved for decades in an oversized manila envelope bearing m21's name, written in his mother's precise elementary school teacher printing. the art of batik must have been big in grade 6 arts & crafts! (this project, presaging a theme in masion21's later life, is completely faux- image was painted on paper, then crumpled and the wax process used to provide the batik effect).

thanks for providing me with another happy childhood memory, mrs b. (and thank you mom, wherever you are, for caring enough to keep your budding artiste's early efforts for all those years).

15 July 2008

you like me, you really, really, like me!

maison21 received an email from suzy, of studio annetta this last evening, informing him that she had chosen his blog to receive a "brillante weblog premio 2008" award. maison21 was quite excited to receive the award- even though he's not quite sure what it is- because he hasn't won an award since the 8th grade when he was national merit scholar semi-finalist for an essay he wrote on thomas paine. that's a very long time to go between awards, so he's glad suzy has broke his 32 year dry spell!

he was also excited because suzy- a talented designer, whose blog he very much admires- chose m21 for the award, and just like an actor accepting an academy award, while it may be a cliché, it really is an honor to be acknowledged by your peers. especially when maison21 looks at the list of the 7 blogs suzy bestowed the honor on:

1. The Peak of Chic
2. Habitually Chic
3. Maison 21
4. All The Best
5. Mrs Blandings
6. Absolutely Beautiful Things
7. Decorno

maison21 looks at that list and thinks "which one of these things is not like the others?", because when he started his blog just this past november, those established blogs (along with suzy's) were all blogs that he looked to and admired, and hoped to be as good as one day. so really, to be included with them by suzy, truly is an honor...

so now, according to the "brillante weblog award" rules, we now have to pick 7 more blogs to give the award to, link to them, and leave a comment letting them know they are now an award-winning blogger. several of my picks would have been from suzy's list as well as they've become blogging friends over the last nine months, but luckily we've made lots of blogging friend, so we can easily name 7 more without repeating from suzy's list. so from the list of blogs of which we read every single post in our google reader, we choose:

  1. alkemie
  2. all things bright and beautiful
  3. cote de texas
  4. katiedid
  5. material girls
  6. pigtown*design
  7. things that inspire
  8. topsy turvy
yeah, we know- the rules said pick 7, but we all know that rules are made to be broken...

and congrats to the latest crop of "brillante weblog premio 2008" award winners (we still don't know what the heck that means, but who cares? we're now award winnning bloggers!).

14 July 2008

true confessions (it really is an illness, people)

hi, my name is maison21 and i am addicted...

to bright and shiny things.

yes, you heard m21 right- he is going public with his struggle with bright and shiny object disease.

below, behold the 1000 kilowatt splendor of the maison21 showroom- formerly the garage where m21 parked his car, but as our addiction grew, it had to be housed somewhere, so the m21 mobile got kicked to the curb. literally.
if only there was a 12 step program for our disease. but alas, the betty ford center for addiction to bright and shiny things has yet to be opened, so we've turned our liability into an asset, namely the maison21 ebay store- where you can find the above beauties, as well as some more recent additions since the photo was taken (just one month ago).

pretty things like this:

and this:

and this:

would you believe that there's even more that we haven't even had time to photograph yet? there is.

now some of you might think of this post as blatant self-promotion- fine, go ahead, judge maison21. BUT if m21 can just reach one other person struggling with bright and shiny object disease, and let them know they are not alone, well, it will have been well worth risking your scorn- m21 only wants to help...

***above post sponsored by the american council for bright and shiny object disease

13 July 2008


we have another participant in the "design blogger's challenge"!

the ever delightful mrs. blandings has created the most sophisticated gentlemen's club, using our beloved moscow mafioso chandelier as inspiration- lots of pretty pictures (again, none posted here lest the surprise be spoiled). when you visit, make sure not to skip all the pesky words that we bloggers sometimes insert between those pretty pictures, as mrs. b's lovely writing style is NOT to be missed- always warm, educated and informative, just as m21 imagines mrs. blandings would be if he were lucky enough to meet her in person.

so GO, GO, GO see mrs, b's fantastic take on "bordello chic"!

(btw, this game is getting SERIOUSLY fun- we can't wait to see what our other fellow bloggers come up with!)

12 July 2008

design blogger's challenge 1st entrant!

ladies and gentlemen (i guess means you, easy), we have our first respondent to our recently issued design blogger's challenge- to design a room around the now iconic "moscow mafioso" chandelier- and boy, is it a doozy.

we're not going to post any pictures, as we'll let the splendiferousness of the ever-hilarious tobi et al's moscow millionaire bathroom speak for itself. m21 will say that he thinks tobi tobivitch has a future as the official interior decorator to the russian mob (and saudi royalty and dictators everywhere... )

put on some sunglasses, and go check it out HERE.

10 July 2008

project preview (in process)

our responsibilities as a decorator include not only conceptualizing a room, but also troubleshooting the process along the way. today we visited one of our workrooms to review some pieces in progress, in order to ensure that the end results are just as pretty as originally planned.

the overall concept of this project is sort of "trad meets rad"- combining both traditional and modern elements in adventurous and colorful ways for our hip and modern client, and her family.

for a long blank wall in the client's living room, we've opted for panelized handpainted chinoiserie wall covering (yes, you've seen them in a prior "project preview" post, and will see them again once the panels go up- any day!). in front of the panels, we are pairing a sleek and modern 8 foot polished brass parson's table (in process at a metal fabricator) with a pair of more traditional cerule base benches:
here's the elevation of the living room wall, incorporating the benches, initially presented to the client:
pretty, no? we think it strikes the right balance between modern and traditional. we also wanted to dial back the femininity of the wall panels by pairing them with more masculine surface textures, like the polished brass table, zebra skin (cow hide) chosen for the seat cushions and ebonized wood with antique bronze nailheads on the bases of the benches, (not upholstered as the workroom's sample).

so today, we were very pleased when we visited the workroom for a progress check. we were also able to make any last minute adjustments needed, and after laying out the zbra print cow hides, we eliminated the top row of nail heads on the seats- seemed too busy- but other than that we couldn't be happier with the in-progress results:
we are looking forward to the finished product, and we'll share that, as well as some more in progress items, as we go!

09 July 2008

putting lipstick on the pig...

one of my esteemed fellow bloggers, the house of beauty and culture (who also provides the best music playlist to pair with each of his posts), recently took the "moscow mafioso" chandelier of my recent post, and designed a stunning room around it- literally, as he put it, making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

the room he designed includes the above classic regency recamier chaise- a piece of furniture maison21 has always coveted, but never, ever had a spot for. you NEED to go check out the stunning imaginary room he's designed here.

maison21 thought that hobac is on to something here, and thought this might be a fun idea for a "design blogger's challenge"- take the overblown monstrosity, and try to chic it up. so here's our own effort- not quite as tasteful as hobac's room for a robber baron, as m21's magpie-like predilection for all things shiny naturally renders his room more "robber" than "baron" (think scarface):

we're picturing using the chandelier in an grand scale entry hall with red lacquered walls like this steven gambrel living room (via studio annetta).

we'd tile the floor in camel colored parchment leather from costello studios, inc.- michelle costello does the most exquisite leather and parchment floors, walls and furniture.

we'd toss in a zebra skin on top of the leather (responsibly culled, non-endangered, zebra skin, via the trophy room).

add one of these fab heathcote center tables- grrrr! (jamb, via 1stdibs).

we'll need a pair of these chic black lacquered karl springer-esque console tables (sydelle & jay livingston, via 1stdibs)

above which we would hang these goatskin mirrors, bringing a bit of the floor up on to the walls. (craig van den brulle, via 1stdibs)

we'd also need to add in some antique elements, like these gilt bronze wall sconces, to bring the modern down a notch, as things really are getting a little too scarface in our imaginary entry hall! (antiques on old plank road, via 1stdibs).

last, even robber barons need a place to throw their bag when they walk in the front door (filled with $100 dollar bills and blow, no doubt), so we'd add a pair of these mastercraft side chairs along a wall (talisman, via 1stdibs)

so is anyone else up for a design blogger's challenge? all are welcome to play! mrs. blandings, you commented that a romp with the chandelier in a bordello could be fun- up for it? katiedid, you mentioned you thought it could work in the right setting- care to share said setting with us?

c'mon bloggers, let's rise to the challenge, and put some lipstick on this pig:

08 July 2008

fabulously faux (and feline friendly, we pray)

maison21 had a set of dining chairs covered in shiny white faux alligator vinyl with a black cord trim for a client, and we thought they turned out so well, we had to pop off one of the seats to take back to the maison21 atelier and try it out on our own 1980's black lacquer queen anne dining chairs (cushion is a little too big for our chairs, but you get the idea).

kinda fabulous, no? and please agree- we've already bought more mock croc vinyl and dropped the seats off at the upholsterer.

m21 has actually been dithering about what to cover his dining chairs in for like, ever- we really would have liked a black horsehair with a black leather welt, but it's just too darn expensive for richard to destroy. then we had our hearts set on a natural woven raffia (with a black contrast welt), but decided the texture of raffia would be just too tempting (might as well sprinkle catnip on them, too). after seeing how luxe the chic vinyl we recommended as an inexpensive, low maintenance option for a client with kids and pets turned out, we realized that it was also the perfect option for the pet-centric household here at the m21 atelier.

can't wait!

06 July 2008

what's wrong with me?

cruising ebay the other day, your intrepid decorator spotted this chandelier- he never realized there was a decorating sub-genre of "moscow mafioso":

but here's where your decorator has his problem- he actually kinda likes it, and it makes him feel a little dirty on the inside. sure it's an overblown, grandiose monstrosity, only suitable for a bordello, or a trump casino, but m21's inner liberace is going crazy for those glittery onion domes on top.

now don't worry, your decorator would never actually use anything like it in one of his projects (unless he was in fact, actually decorating for a madam or the donald) but since the chandelier was just much too much muchness, he just had to share.

whaddya all think? worse then the complete hideousness of the arielle the slutty mermaid table? or can you almost see thru the glitz, to the beauty of the bejeweled onion domes?

05 July 2008

and justice for all... (a love story)

the recent ruling by the california supreme court allowing same-sex couples to marry was an incredibly important victory for equal rights, but m21 thought the ruling probably wouldn't have a direct impact on his life or on the lives of those close to him. maison21 ain't the marryin' kind, and he assumed that his friends in committed relationships weren't in any rush to change the status quo, either.

turns out m21 couldn't have been more wrong, and he couldn't be more thrilled or touched about it. you see, m21 recently received an email from two of his oldest friends announcing their recent surprise nuptials. seems that on the morning of their 22nd anniversary, m21's old friend, tony, proposed to m21's even older friend, paul, (older as in length of relationship, not as in age). within hours of tony's proposal, the two were at city hall tying the knot- after 22 years, they are still committed, and still in love, and now it's legal too! maison21 couldn't be happier for the two of them, as they are as much a part m21's family as his actual blood relatives. and m21 is only a little bit miffed that he wasn't invited to the whirlwind ceremony. after knowing those two longer than some of you have been alive, you'd think m21 would've been asked to be best man, or maid of honor, or whatever- i mean after all, m21 was there the night it all began...

here's back story of maison21's relationship with the newlyweds:

m21 met half of the happy couple- his oldest friend in the whole wide world, paul- on the first day of the 3rd grade- many, many, many, years ago. our teacher, mrs. radebaugh, made the mistake of seating the two of us next to each other, and we immediately hit it off, bonding over typical school boy stuff- you know, things like sewing clothes for g.i. joe, and decorating his "command headquarters" with fresh flowers and a custom waterbed (made of lincoln logs and a water-filled ziploc baggie). didn't all 3rd grade boys enjoy that kind of thing?

here's m21 and his buddy paul, a few years later, at our junior high graduation dance- held in a for real disco- we thought we were so sophisticated...
cut to about 10 years after the above photo- a young m21 was showing his visiting san diego friend, paul, a drunken good time at a san francisco nightclub and over a soundtrack of banarama and the pet shop boys, paul met tony's eye. the rest is history- soon after, a simple vacation fling turned serious, and while paul gained a long-distance boyfriend, m21 gained a new bestest buddy.

when tony decided to move to san diego a few years later to live with paul and start their life together, it coincided with m21's own move to los angeles, so he and tony rented a u-haul together for the move down- a u-haul which they packed up, and then proceeded to park it for a week, while having the longest (and funnest) farewell party in history! ah, youth... (we think the below picture is from our week long farewell tour- the memories are very blurry. m21 is on the far right with the totally natural blond hair, and tony is on the far left, in the turtleneck. we hate him, btw- apart from a some gray hair, the eternally youthful tony looks almost exactly the same today, whereas m21 looks, well, less blond, amongst other changes).
in the two decades since, paul and tony have built a beautiful life together in san diego- tony is now dr. tony (a for reals MD, not a fake-ass PHD or anything, like dr. phil), and paul owns a successful business. m21 counts himself fortunate to still be included in their lives, and is looking forward to being included for the next twenty-two years, and hopefully, the next twenty-two after that, if our hearts and livers hold out long enough...

congratulations, kids! i love you both, and feel truly fortunate to have you in my life.

and congratulations to the supreme court of california, for ending a discriminatory and prejudicial practice, and recognizing that ALL couples are equal under the law.

score one for equality and true love.