31 October 2009

more halloween cuteness...

guess what mona is for halloween?

that's right- a bud vase!

29 October 2009

hail satin

27 October 2009

58 shopping days left (fewer tchotchkes, more goodwill)

yes, that's right- less then two months until c-day- m21 can't even bear to say the name until after thanksgiving- it's just too scary, right? so much to do and already so little time! well, today, m21 would like to share a couple easy ways to lighten the shopping load while doing a bit o' good, and that's by donating to a deserving charity. seriously, who needs another scented candle or pretty book, when so many people around the globe can't afford such simple luxuries? (well, maison21 actually always needs another pretty candle or book, but this year he's willing to do without). just think what a difference we could make, if we took the hundreds and hundreds of dollars we spend on on little treats for one another, and use that money to improve the lot of the truly needy around the globe. m21 has done his share of griping about our lousy economy on his blog, but the truth is our crappy economy at its worst, provides us with nicer lifestyles than 90% of the people on this globe- it's time to be grateful, not resentful! plus, m21 is a true believer in karma- improving the lot of others can only end up improving our own...

one of the ways maison21 thinks is a great way of giving is purchasing a gift certificate for kiva is an organization that provides microfinancing to would-be entrepreneurs in impoverished nations around the globe. small amounts- literally a few hundred dollars- can lift a family out of poverty and provide them with the capital to start a thriving business. from kiva's website:

"Kiva (is a) a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur across the globe.

You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It's a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty."

Kiva - loans that change lives

another organization maison21 reccommends is heifer international. heifer international provides livestock to impoverished families as source of both sustenance and income. m21 really likes the idea of giving a share of a llama or sheep as these animals provide a sustainable source of income via wool for as little as $10- who knows, you might end up walking on a carpet spun from the very fibers you donated! vegans can donate a share of a tree for the same amount, or even cooler, give an entire hive of honeybees for just $30!
there are tons of other worthwhile organizations to give to, and maison21 would love if you left your favorites in the comments. he would also encourage those of you with blogs of your own to post your favorites on them. let's really make this year a season of giving and goodwill to all- together, we can really make a difference!

next post, back to the fun and frivolity of of our utterly useless- and utterly fabulous- world of decorating...

26 October 2009

i wanna be just like m21! (2nd anniversary giveaway)

people often ask moi- "how can i be just like my design idol, m21"? (really- i get asked. often. swear.) and maison21's lofty reply is "sorry that is simply im-poss-see-blay" m21's unique je ne sais quois is one of a kind- you know, 'often imitated, but never duplicated'. until now that is... with today's post, you have the opportunity to be EXACTLY like m21!

how can this be?

well, m21 was recently part of a gift bag delivery sent out by new york powerhouse public relations, marketing & business strategy firm, john tiffany and associates, to highlight a few fun and cool products. the delivery was "targeted to America’s most prominent editors, TV producers, bloggers and style dictators". at first we thought this must be a mistake- lil ol' m21 included in a delivery sent out to the editors of vogue and instyle magazines, as well as the daily candy bloggers? really? us? but upon further reflection the term "style dictator" did fit us like a glove, so yes, our inclusion must have been on purpose... ;-)

side note: we LOVE the term "style dictator" and think we should add it to our business cards asap!
we also knew we were included on purpose because the delivery was sent out in fabulous personalized monogram tote bags by queen bea studio with our initials "m21" emblazoned across it! that kind of mistake would be a little too coincidental...

now how does all this relate to you the reader? and the stated goal of being exactly like m21? well, not only was m21 included in the delivery, YOU were included too! a second 'm21' monogrammed bag was included for us to give away to a lucky reader!

m21 is rapidly approaching his second year of blogging- we can hardly believe our 1st post was two years ago, this november- so in honor of our second blog-a-versary, and as a thank you to our loyal readers for two years of fun and frolic, we are holding a sweepstakes for the personalized gift bag and all of its contents!

the winner receives:
  1. a chic personalized 'm21' canvas tote bag from queen bea studio- carry it to the beach, or a picnic, or do like m21 does, and use it to collect samples from your local design center...
  2. a bottle of incredibly delicious 2003 grenache blanc wine from landmark santa ynez vintners, d’alfonso-curran wines (we already sucked down our own bottle, and it's good stuff).
  3. a yummy (and stylishly packaged) canister of dulcet cuisine moroccan spice blend (they include a recipe for moroccan glazed carrots in the bag, which is dee-lish. we had our chef prepare a batch in the m21 test kitchens, and were suitably impressed).
  4. a selection of yum newtree gourmet chocolates, popchips and luna bars
  5. an essentrics™ fitness dvd (to work off the wine and chocolates, we presume).
  6. and last, a virtual lifetime supply of orbit sugar free gum (we loved this one- all kinds of crazy flavors we've never heard of, like pina colada and pomegranate!).

to enter the giveaway, just send us an email with "i wanna be just like m21" as the subject line (click on the "hey m21" button in the right hand side-bar), and include your mailing address. we'll randomly select a winner on november 3rd, the anniversary date of our first post, and then ship the bag and goodies off to the lucky winner! note- m21 rcvd the bag & treats for free, but the shipping is on our own dime, so if winner is outside of the continental 48 states, m21 will ship the tote bag and as much stuff as he can fit into a flat rate mailing box- which means the wine stays here. we'll raise a glass in your honor when we drink it, though!

last, maison21 would like to thank each and every one of you for making the last two years so darn enjoyable. when we started 'decorative but not serious' two years ago, we imagined that we'd have a few old friends and family members check in every now and then, but we never dreamed we'd end up with hundreds and hundreds of brand new friends, who visit and read our blog everyday (even if we suspect most of you only visit for pictures of mona and richard ;-). seriously, the fact we've had hundreds of thousands of visits in the last two years simply boggles our mind- those kind of numbers are just crazy talk! it's been an overwhelming journey, and an incredibly positive one- rewarding in ways too numerous to count- so from the bottom of my heart, thank you! i wish i had a bag to give to every single one of you!

now go enter the sweepstakes already, before your favorite style dictator starts to get all teary eyed!

23 October 2009

pretty & classique

just felt the need for a pretty picture or two, and what could be prettier then a classic michael taylor interior:

blue & white classique (source unknown)

rock solid neutrals (architectural

hoping your weekend is as beautiful as these rooms!

22 October 2009

an almost belated birthday

thank goodness mona reminded her daddy that one of the sweetest bloggers around, meg over at pig*town design, was having a birthday today- otherwise the perpetually late m21 would have missed it! as it is, we just barely squeaked under the wire.

happy birthday meg- you brighten our blogging experience.

with much love,

mona, richard & christian

ps- mona signed the card herself. swear.

21 October 2009

not so deep thoughts...

yes, we totally just made up a self-important quote so we could use this photo of a vignette in the atelier from december, 2006, which we recently rediscovered on our hard drive (waste not, want not- reuse & recycle!). as you can tell, '06 was a blanc xmas.

19 October 2009

banish the monday blues (our favorite post of the year so far)


Hairspray -- much like health care -- is a RIGHT, not a privilege."

how can that photo (and caption) not make you smile? courtesy of WHORANGE. the color of craving- one of our favorite blogs, full of random stuff, both design related and otherwise, always written in a hilariously entertaining style by whorange herself, tula jeng.

and did we mention she has the best blog title in all of the interwebs? whorange. genius.

happy monday.

18 October 2009

i got sick of lookin' at it...

so i had to redecorate...
a few months back, we sold a screen from the living room of the atelier to a client- leaving a big ol' gaping hole of a blank wall. we planned on filling the hole with another screen or something big enough to fill the wall (whatever that might be), but as of last week we hadn't found the right thing, so we were living with ugly- and HATING it, each and every time we walked by the room.

so when we finally could stand it no longer, and couldn't wait one more day for the "right" thing to walk into our life, we went out to le garage and cleaned off a yellow 70's console we had found by the side of the road one day on our way to a client meeting. it's got a chip or two, and is a little discolored, but it's better then a big ol' blank wall. it probably would have sat outside uncleaned forever, if we weren't desperate, and all likelihood could have ended up on the curb again, but sometimes you gotta use what you got, so inside he came. it wasn't big enough to hold it's own, so we flanked it with a plant and a rougier torchiere- both similarly acquired, btw- plant was found on trash day years ago, and the rougier, i broke a petal off while cleaning, so i got to keep it (makin' lemonade from lemons- turn the broken bit to face the wall, and almost good as new)!

my little vignette was looking a little lonely, and my fantasy of how it would look best required a slipper chair next to the console, but again- i didn't have my heart's desire on hand- so i improvised, stacking some books in the spot i'd prefer the chair, to 'hold the space'. then we added a layer of accessories to distract from the temporariness of it all- some pictures for height (leaned, not hung, to avoid permanent nail holes) and put some vintage ceramics on top of the stacks of books so they didn't look like we were just too lazy to move them (we were). last, we put our target temple jars (such a good buy) underneath the console, 'cause with all that other crap laying around, the negative space under the console looked positively barren in comparison... ;-)

so is it what we want along that wall, for evers? hell to tha no! but it beats looking at ugliness everyday, and we can stand it until the right thing comes along. sometimes, you just have to make do with what you have, not the fantasy of what you'd really like. you know, if wishes were fishes, and all...

same goes for our little blog redecoration. we got so sick of looking at our super-long right hand sidebar with nothing to balance it on the left, and we finally had to do something about it, hence the 3-column template. is it exactly what we want? um, no.
we would prefer a professionally designed website with both a static site for our portfolio, and a dynamic home for our blog- and it will come in the near future. but right now, at 2 am on a saturday, just couldn't stand it for one more hour, and decided to make do with the materials we had on hand (ie, one web-challenged decorator with rudimentary photoshop skills). certainly not perfect (we won't quit our day job to become a web designer), but it'll do for now.

so we hope you can stand it for a bit too, and if you notice any glaring problems, please let us know. we already know we have to recreate our blogroll, as it was an unintentional causality of the change, and i'm sure there are more glitches we haven't noticed (
we are a bit bleary eyed from staring at the damn thing all night)...

as always, input is desired in the comments- if you hate it, or have suggestions, i wanna know!


16 October 2009

future past (wasting time is sometimes not a waste at all)

doing a little furniture rearranging around the atelier also means that m21 has to do some shuffling of his decor and art book collection- our books are everywhere and we decorate with them both by choice and by necessity, since we don't have a dedicated room to use as a library (next home, hopefully). of course, this degenerates into move a stack of books, then pause for a half an hour to go through a volume we haven't cracked in years. move a stack, pause, repeat, until an entire afternoon is wasted...

yesterday, one of our 'pauses' was "modern fireplaces" circa 1975- so fun to look back at the architectural trends of our predecessors and see what's timeless and what's not (the 'not' usually wins). flipping through the volume, the trend that jumped out most immediately (and looked the most dated) was multi-level floorplans and built-in furniture- must have been very, very popular in the 70's. virtually every room pictured had some variant: split-levels, conversation pits, step-down living rooms, and seating built-in to all of it. it's fun to point fingers and say what "were they thinking?" but m21 guarantees you it will happen to the architectural and decor trends we are being saturated with now (don't believe moi? two words: "vessel sinks"- let's discuss in 15 years, k?). m21 also finds the architecturally dated trends particularly fascinating, as opposed to the decorating trends, because you can always throw out a dated chair, but what do you do when that chair is built-in with freakin' brick work? not so cheap or easy to fix that...

here's a selection of our favorites and our "wtf's" from the book:

ok, we have NO idea what they were thinking with this massive sculpture of a ceramic tiled chimney, but we are glad they built it- crazy, but cool and unique. oh, the book states this was a private home in germany, NOT a hotel...

this sleek stainless steel column in new york holds up quite well we think. filing it away for future use.

this concave stainless hearth is pretty chic too. outside of the track lights, we like the whole room (even the shag carpet covered chairs). we'll move right in...

um, just say no to stucco- we know they were trying for that old/new, modern/rustic thing, but it ain't working. and doesn't that stack of flat pillows look oh-so-comfy and inviting? ouch.

well, the 70's were part of the cold war era, so that's the only explanation we can come up with for this big ol' neutron bomb of a fireplace- and can you imagine the acoustics in this room? ceramic tiles on both floor AND ceiling, and the monster of faceted steel in the center to make sure the sound bounces everywhere? ouch again!

if we ever get a commission to design a vacation retreat in aspen or jackson hole, we are stealing this copper riveted fireplace AND the idea of surrounding it with modernist furniture in casually rumpled leather and bright ethnic rugs. hot!

we've always liked fireplaces that project to divide a room, so this number is quite cool in our book. note the glass apron extending from the wood down towards hearth- a detail we are going to file away for future use. and speaking of filing away, we take back what we said about wasting an afternoon flipping through old books- it's NEVER a waste of time. while we haven't cracked this volume since we bought it (probably 10 years ago), some of it must have sunk in to our subconscious, because as soon as we saw the above photo, we immediately thought of a fireplace we designed last year for an unbuilt project! next time, it's going to have a glass apron too!
happy friday, y'all- hope you enjoyed the flashback.

and in the comments section, please feel free to leave your idea of the split-levels of 2009: what architectural trends do you think won't stand the test of time, and keep future designers and contractors employed as they get ripped out? room dividing fireplaces? ;-)

13 October 2009

turning to stone (kelly, on a budget)

by now, you've all seen kelly wearstler's beach house in this month's metropolitan home, and love it or hate it, there is is a trend ms. wearstler is on the cutting edge of, and that is the use of stonework in interiors (beyond merely flooring, that is). in her beach house, it's everywhere- walls, furniture, floors, art, you name it and she uses it, and trust me on this one- just as in fashion, ready-to-wear draws inspiration from the outrageous creations of the couture shows, you are going to see the stone decor trend kelly wearstler is currently on the leading edge of, eventually diffuse out into the mainstream (and probably end up at z gallerie and target, to boot- we'll keep you posted on that!)
the glamorous marble fireplace surround (sculpture, really) and marble faced walls in the living room of ms. wearstler's malibu retreat (photo from, via material girls).

so how to get in on the stone decor trend right now, before it's every where? (and maybe even do it on a budget?) well, first you can go to a prior blog post of m21's to learn a little bit more about vintage glamorous tessellated stone-faced furniture (if you haven't read it already, of course- and most of you did read it, right? you never miss a m21 post, right?). you can also visit 1stdibs, to see what they've got in stock...

m21 only has one piece of tessellated stone furniture himself right now, a glammy end table- but is always looking for more stone and marble pieces- regardless of trends, it's some of his favorite stuff!

as we mentioned in our prior post, ironies sells some gorgeous stone items, and so does maitland-smith, (though most of maitland-smiths's offerings are not particularly our style- too mcmansion-y). some, however- like these stone and brass tusks- most definitely are m21's style- splendiferous! probably not in our recession budget though...

which brings us to today's feature on how to bring some stone glamor into your life for a budget price... we found these marble veneered pedestals from the home decorators collection ranging in price from $119-$199- pretty cheap for a hand-crafted item we think. plop an interesting sculpture on a pair of them in your living room, dining room or entry (or even a sculptural plant or flower) and boom- stone cold kelly style for a rock bottom low price!

what do we think, kids- could you rock kelly's new look? or does it leave you (stone) cold?

ps- a big fat THANK YOU to tracy of comfort & luxury- i knew this post was missing something! (please visit her blog to complain when it is stuck in your head for a week):

11 October 2009

74 shopping days left...

we know what richard wants santa to bring him for xmas, now here's something his daddy would like to find under the tree (well, next to the tree):
75" frederick weinberg obelisk bird cage on cast plaster stand from metro interiors, via 1stdibs.


10 October 2009

monsters under the bed...

remember when you were little, and you were scared there was something terrifyingly ferocious under the bed, lying in wait to attack you?

some things never change...

09 October 2009

a bevy of bloggers?

so what's the collective noun for a group of bloggers? a blag of bloggers? a barrel of bloggers? a post of bloggers? well, whatever it is, there sure were a lot of us at the sferra/all the best party last night @nathan turner's, featuring kelly wearstler's glam line of bedding for sferra (the ever pretty ms. wearstler was in attendance too, of course).

cocktails, nibblies, pretty home decor and ms. wearstler should be enough reason to go to a party, right? but for moi, the real draw was getting to meet the smiling faces behind the blogs we all read and love (though i wish i had more time to get to know all of you a bit better)...

from left: ronda, of all the best (our hostess); brooke, of velvet and linen (and 3rd place winner of the all the best bedrooms contest); megan, of beach bungalow 8; some random hot guy; scot, of tartanscot (2nd place winner of the all the best bedrooms contest); and jill, LA correspondent from material girls- what a great group, and so nice to meet all of you in person!

thanks for inviting all of us, ronda- it was a delightful event!

kelly wearstler for sferra

07 October 2009

wish i'd thunk of it

m21 isn't big on posting things from the latest decor magazines- we all read the same ones, after all; but every so often, he gets bowled over and just has to say something- and today after opening the latest house beautiful and seeing this, he has to say:

"&*#%!, why didn't *i* think of that?"

ka-brilliant- the standard chiavari ballroom chair rendered in clear acrylic- a fun take on a tried and true classic. practical too- a great way to cram lots of seating around a small table (for those of us with space challenged dining rooms) without looking too cluttered, still with retaining visual interest and wit.

really, why *didn't* i think of it first? (i blame the 80's).

06 October 2009

04 October 2009

sneekedy peekedy (before & after of an in-process m21 project)

sometimes m21 just refuses to follow his own advice- if another designer with a blog asked him if they should publish pictures of a work not yet completed, maison21 would say 'no, wait until the project is completely finished and styled just the way you want it, to best showcase your work' (and he has given out that very advice, several times), but he'd also tell any budding designer to document their work in process themselves, just so they have a record of it in case the project never gets to the 100% finished ready-to-photograph stage. 'cuz that's one of the dirty little secrets of the design world- lots of projects just don't finish. no, it's not because of scandalous fights between designer and client- yes, that happens, but not nearly as often as you'd think given the rumors that swirl around our industry (hasn't happened to m21 yet, either- we'd like to think it's our charming personality and ginormous talent ;-), but it's probably just luck of the draw).

instead, it's usually very mundane reasons why a project doesn't finish: money runs out (all too common in this hideous economy); the client gets bored, and simply runs out of steam; there is a lifestyle change like moving, a marriage beginning or ending, or the sale of the home, et cetera, et cetera... then there are those projects that just turn out not worthy of photographing- and yes, sadly sometimes this happens too- no matter how talented the designer is, things can turn out badly because the designer, while hired for their talent and taste, is sometimes overruled, and things like stripper poles in the bedroom, or a baby grand surrounded by velvet ropes in the living room, end up spoiling what would have been a good thing (maison21 has worked on one or two of those- they've been positive experiences because the client gets what they want, and that makes both m21 and his clients very happy- it's their home after all- but oy vey, m21 ain't gonna include a stripper pole in his portfolio)!

then, there are the projects that turn out even better then expected, which brings us to today's post, and why m21 is ignoring his own advice to wait until his project is 100% done and is offering a sneak peek...

m21 has been working on a modest project with a very limited budget and did an installation of lighting and accessories in the residence over the weekend, and while we still need to bring in a few finishing touches (curtains aren't up, some custom brown & cream ikat pillows for the blue chairs shown are yet to be sewn, and a bit more art needs to found), but we were so in love with the photos we took to document the room in process, we are like a kid on christmas eve who just can't wait until morning to open presents, and need to share RIGHT NOW!

a little background- maison21 was brought into the project on the recommendation of a mutual friend; the client, a young screenwriter, had just undergone one of those pesky lifestyle changes and was left without a lick of furniture in the living room of his small bungalow style cottage- and not a whole lot of money to do much about it, either. he needed seating (and fast) but also wanted to upgrade his look a bit. rather then make some bad ikea purchases on his own, the client asked m21 for help, and together we devised a plan to use in-stock, quick ship items from inexpensive mass market retailers like room & board, west elm, and cb2, and layer it with lots of vintage, and one or two custom items, to keep it feeling unique and personal. m21 wanted to integrate the client's few existing pieces, like a 50's danish modern credenza with the quirky 90+ year old cottage style of the house, and the concept behind the design was sort of a vacation house visited by generations of the same family over time: gramma & grandpa used their leftovers and castoffs to initially furnish the place, and now the grandkids are bringing in some of their own hip belongings (imaginary gramma & grandpa had fabulous taste, as do imaginary grandkids, btw ;-). the result we were hoping for with this crazy theme was comfortable, modern, lived-in, and eclectic- but NOT looking store bought (though much of it was). m21 thinks he succeeded, and is kinda proud of the near-finished product- especially given the tight budget we were working with, and the sheer amount of purchases said budget needed to cover- but YOU can judge for yourself, with our sneak peek before and after photos below...

hollywood bungalow, before m21:

hollywood bungalow, after m21:
we'll post more pictures once everything is in place and discuss sources, etc., but for now, we just couldn't wait to share! hope you enjoy!

01 October 2009

depression 2.0 daring-doers (lonny mag & aphro chic)

m21 admires entrepreneurs bold enough to take risks in a time of economic uncertainty. we keep saying that the current economy is an opportunity waiting to happen for some businesses- as things contract and old ways of doing things don't work any longer, inevitably new ideas and ventures will rise to take their place. it takes guts, talent and determination to defy the odds, so we'd like to congratulate two new design related ventures that launched today, and encourage everyone to pay them a visit!

1) if you haven't heard the buzz in the blogosphere about the launch of lonny magazine, you've been living under a rock (a rock without connection to the internets, anyway). lets make sure to spread lonny beyond just our savvy little blog circle, though- we all were sucker punched by the closing of domino, so here's a chance to actively support a viable replacement. three cheers for the editors and staff of lonny! go tell your friends!

2) m21 has special respect for the solo entrepreneur launching a business in rough economic times, so he'd like y'all to be sure to visit fellow design blogger aphrochic's new eponymous web boutique featuring her aphrochic line of sustainably sourced t-shirts and pillows. the pillows knocked our socks off, jeanine- "modern soulful style" indeed! can't wait to use them on a project!

congrats, entrepreneurs- m21 is rooting for you!

what big teefs you have...

all the better to eat your wall sconces with!

and, sorry, to all those expecting a mogg blogg post mocking these crazy, crusty, carnivorous wall lamps, think again- we have come not to bury wally gator, but to praise him- we think they are fabulous! (hey-what was that noise? the sound of all m21's past, current, and future design clients snapping their purses shut, and fleeing in terror, that's what!)

seriously though, while not for everyone, m21 thinks these are fabulous and unique pieces- the sort of one of a kind, large statement piece that that elevates a room from routine to completely unforgettable. against a deep tone glazed wall of an otherwise fairly formal and somber dining room, these could be amazing, providing a sense of both menace and whimsy, and you can be certain that dinner party conversation will never be at a loss with the ready subject of your host's questionable taste in lighting staring you down from above...

in closing, before y'all run to the comments section to discuss what a kook that maison21 is, we'd like to remind you of a quote by diana vreeland: ''Never fear being vulgar, just boring.'' words to live by...

comments are now open- have at it kids! ;-)