31 December 2009

happy new year!

a new year, a new decade, a new future- here's to a fresh start and a blank slate!
much health, happiness and prosperity to all in 2010 and beyond!

29 December 2009

i love you guys!

m21 wants to give each and every one of you a big ol' hug & kiss! when i started whoring for votes in apartment therapy's homies contest, i never dreamed i'd get so many, and the many sweet and touching comments you left were truly the icing on the cake! the whole goal was to not be embarrassed with just 2 noms- me and the person who nominated me- so to end up with anything over two is amazing, and 60 nominations was beyond my wildest dreams. 60 may not sound like a lot to some people, but with 698 blogs entered, it was enough to put me in the top 25 blogs of home design! TOP TWENTY FIVE! MOI! and all thanks to you, my sweet friends! i love you guys- each and every one of you!

and our sincere congrats to the 6 finalists:
now go vote for a real apartment therapy style blog- one that teaches you sumpthin' useful- like how to macramé a dining table, or turn an ikea desk into a mobile home; and know that when you are done with your craft projects, you can always take a break and come back here for a little silly, a little decoratin', and a cute pet picture or two...

28 December 2009

oh, i used to be disgusted, and now i try to be amused...

the lyric has just been stuck in my head for some reason. musical brilliance from 1977:


if the genius of "my aim is true" isn't on your ipod, it should be...

26 December 2009

it's over, m21, so please- just let it go... (holiday wrap-up)

one last xmas post, then we'll shut up... until we start our orgy of new year's related posts, of course! (just kidding on that one, btw- we've really don't have much on the resolution agenda this year. we mostly are just looking forward to getting 2009 the hell over with already!)

our xmas booty, pre-delivery.

we decided everybody needed a cheap little tchotchke to unwrap along with their gift of "kind words" (it made the "kind words" portion a little less solemn and eulogy-esque), so we wrapped up a really inexpensive (yet cute) little stocking stuffer to go with, and the resulting lil packages kinda cute, so we thought we'd share. (the kind words went well, btw- at least 2 people cried, so we consider it mission accomplished! writing the words was a little harder then we anticipated- not the thinking of the nice things to say, but rather the editing of those kind things down to two or three meaningful sentences- nobody wants to spend xmas morning reading a novel!)

our stocking stuffers were wrapped in this weird shoji screen replacement rice paper/fabric we bought for a lighting project, and didn't end up using- it's been hanging out in the atelier forevah, and would have eventually been tossed in le garbage. m21 LOVES to use whatever he has onhand to wrap gifts, stuff that would otherwise be considered trash- grocery bags, newspaper, old fabric samples, wallpaper remnants- basically anything that can be folded around an object! it's fun, green and creative, and we hope people like the personalized touch. also, m21 was NOT blessed with the gift wrapping gene, so wrapping in a funky fashion frees him from worrying about perfect creases, wrinkle free paper and all that martha stewart/art of gift wrapping stuff he simply doesn't have the patience for! i mean crikey, people are just going to rip it all off anyway! (though m21 freely admits to having paid for gifts to be professionally wrapped for more formal occasions, like weddings, etc.- homespun ain't always appropriate).

our never ending ball of twine...

instead of ribbon, we again, like to use whatever we have on hand, which is usually this big ball of twine. we've had it forever, and though we've used it to tie hundreds of gifts, it's still going strong- half it's original size, but seemingly endless. (m21 cautions people not to get too creative with the ribbon substitute- we well remember the xmas morning debacle of '98, when no one could open the gifts we tied with a carefully sculpted wire bow- christmas morning was nearly ruined until wire cutters were located! ;-)

home made cards (well, home designed and printed cards- no glitter or glue involved this year).

last, we topped off our funky wrapping with a homemade card- a tradition we've carried on since childhood (you might recognize it, as it was our holiday greeting to all of you as well!) we love homemade cards, and would rather have a clever or pretty card made with love, then a store-bought greeting any day- we sure hope others feel the same, or we look pretty stupid after 40 years of glitter and glue!

ok, we've milked this holiday for all it's worth- xmas '09 is officially all wrapped up!

24 December 2009

ho ho ho!



gettin' in the mood

today, on christmas eve day, maison21 will be indulging in a little holiday movie viewing to get him in the xmas spirit while he writes out his kind words for the friends and family he will be spending time with over the holiday, and wraps a few lil' stocking stuffers. one of his favorite holiday movies is oliver! which technically isn't really a holiday movie at all, but it does tend to pop up on TV around christmas, and what the heck, m21 loves a lavish 60's technicolor movie musical, so xmas is a good excuse as any to watch...
how can you not be in a good ol' holiday mood after viewing an over-the-top production number like this?

next, we look forward to viewing liza minelli in "the dangerous christmas of little red riding hood", a gift from a favorite client and good friend who said she found it at the 99¢ store in las vegas and couldn't resist (and sweetie, if you read this, i know you gave it to me last year but i left it in my glove compartment, and didn't discover it again until spring, so i saved it for this xmas!) m21 has absolutely no idea what the heck this dvd will entail- it could be fabulously good camp, or it could be awful crap camp, but no matter what it is LIZA in a holiday costume production, so the time spent viewing the movie will not be wasted- even if only to report back on it!

and last, because like with his decorating, m21 prefers his holiday movie viewing with a twist or two, we are going to watch a documentary on 80's performance artist extraordinaire, leigh bowery. after all, what says christmas more then a tale of the life of a troubled, visionary genius cut tragically short? but leigh makes us happy and m21 has a rare whole day free, so watching this dvd isn't such an odd choice, really.
what will you be doing today in preparation for the holiday? working? last minute shopping? baking? wrapping gifts and watching movies like m21?

23 December 2009

you *are* a whore, darlin'

in case you're wondering, the title of today's post is a quote uttered by cristal connors, gina gershon's character in that classic of 20th century cinema, showgirls (and if you haven't seen showgirls, maison21 insists you stop reading this post right this very second and netflix it- it's that important of a film).

so what does the quote have to do with decorating? well, as usual, not very much! maison21 just thought it fitting, as it touches on the real subject of today's post: whoring! for votes, that is...
you see, apartment therapy is having a little contest to celebrate the best shelter blogs, the 2009 homie awards, and some fool went and nominated m21! (thank you, by the way). we know we can't win- it would be mathematically impossible given the number of our readers, and really, we know we aren't quite in apartment therapy's demographic, either- we're just not hip enough for their room (but don't lump us in with the "gramma's favorite doilies, lace and musty antiques" blogs either- we're still kinda cool, we hope). most importantly, there are lots of fab design blogs nominated who really deserve the recognition for their hard work and 110% commitment, as opposed to our own half-assed effort- and that's the genius thing about the nominations- you can vote for them AND vote for m21 too- you can vote as many times as you like! we just want to get a couple of votes so we don't embarrass ourself by being the only person voting for us, that's all. calling maison21, lonely party of one... ;-)

you have until dec 29th to cast your vote, and need to be registered with apartment therapy.com to do so (easy as pie to register and no spam, promise). warning, there are 3 million kajillion nominees, so here's our voting shortlist if you'd like to crib. last, if you are nominated and not on my list, lemme know- you vote for me, i'll vote for you! quid pro ho and all...

so do an old (vote) whore a solid, darlin' and vote m21...

22 December 2009

chic & modern holiday lighting

every evening, mona and stroll by this neighborhood home, and admire it's chic and understated take on holiday lighting, so last night we tried to capture it on film- not so successfully, we might add! night time photography sans tripod & with the m21 instamatic (a teensy canon elph) is bit trickier then we'd like, so you'll have to use your imagination to photoshop things a bit:

the home has a fairly long, shallow, ranch style porch to which they've hung a row of 7 paper lanterns of different colors, sizes and shapes. each lantern has a colored bulb inside, corresponding to the color of the lantern, so the glow is a especially saturated and rich. no other decorations are on the porch, just the lanterns. simple, modern, inexpensive and chic- just the way we like our holiday decor!


21 December 2009

awwwwww...

who doesn't like puppies? (and if you don't, wtf is wrong with you, cruella?)

for more heartwarming pics of these adorable pups (and other sweet foster babies), visit the dog blog of a self-proclaimed "crazy dog lady" (ie, heroic puppy foster mom) @ posybunny, and smile away... (hint: click on "duckie's puppies" for the cuteness overload of the above sweet pups).

19 December 2009

m21's last minute gift giving guide (with goodwill to all)

the 2009 holiday season has proved more then a little vexing. yes, it's a time of celebration and gift-giving; yet this year there is a bit of somberness and restraint in the holiday air. the economy is still a shambles, we are embroiled in 2 wars overseas and here in the states, unemployment continues to rise, despite headlines stating the recession is easing. people are seriously hurting economically- so how does one fix that kind of thing with a sweater or scented candle? especially when the recipient of your gift might be facing far bigger issues...

it's not just people in shelters who are confronting hardship this year- it's your friends, neighbors and family. you probably think "i don't know anyone who's that bad off", but think again- if you know someone whose income has been affected by the economy, who has lost a job, who is overextended with credit card debt, then you very well might know someone in serious trouble, but who puts on a brave face, pretending everything is fine. after achieving success in life, admitting to losing it is pretty humiliating stuff, so lots of people just keep quiet, never letting on how bad things really are.

m21 has been acutely aware of this situation, as it seems like many of his friends and associates have had a really, really, rough year (economically speaking). m21 hasn't been immune to the rotten economy himself- the interior design trade is intimately inked to housing values, after all- but somehow we made it through, and things have already drastically improved from the beginning of 2009. maybe it's because m21 has no children to clothe, feed and pay tuition for, or elderly parents with exorbitant medical bills, so we've been relatively fortunate; for other people, their road in 2009 has been much tougher.

knowing this is happening all around us complicates gift giving: too luxurious a gift seems thoughtless and ostentatious; no gift at all seems callous; offering cash is no alternative- even if we had it to spread around, who would accept it? m21 initially thought of giving to charities like kiva.org or hiefer.org in others' names, but that almost seems the worst of all- who wants money donated to charity in their name when they might be in need of a little charity themselves? plus, it makes the gift all about you, the giver, not recipient, and that's no good.

fortunately, a series of unrelated events gave m21 an idea how to resolve his dilemma, and he'd like to share the resulting idea with y'all, just in case you might want to incorporate as well. first though, the events that brought us to our realization (you know how maison21 LOVES to go off an a tangent before getting to his point):

one event occurred during m21's very first holiday party of the season, where one of the guests shared about their pending foreclosure,and court order to vacate the week before xmas. in normal times, this would be a shocking admission, but quickly a larger group gathered around them, many admitting to similar hardships, and rapidly, tips, advice, encouragement, and email addresses were exchanged. people were actually joking about things like job loss, eviction and bankruptcy- not because these are happy things, but because through simple words exchanged with a stranger at a party, they felt less alone and more hopeful. it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking to witness, even just as an observer...

second event was a friend's post on facebook, stating this year they couldn't even afford to buy their friends and family a free glass of water. obviously, the post was meant to be funny, but many of the responses were of the "me too" variety, as people compared all the homemade gift giving ideas they couldn't afford to partake in: "bake cookies for neighbors? when i can barely afford to feed my kids?" again, it made m21 examine his holiday gifting plans- cookies are great, but only when preceded by a nutritious meal...

last, one afternoon while in a pissy, overworked and under-appreciated mood, m21 received a phone call from a client he hadn't spoke to in a while. expecting a complaint or some sort of decorating "emergency", m21 was pleasantly surprised to hear, "i'm just sitting here in my lovely living room, and wanted to let you know how much i enjoy it every single day". poof, pissy mood gone, replaced by happy mood- which not only lasted days, but could be enjoyed again and again whenever m21 recalled the conversation...

and that's when m21's gift giving dilemma was solved, and he knew what he was getting everyone on his list: the gift of a kind word. no matter how bad things are or how shitty life seems, truly heartfelt words of appreciation and support, can lift the spirits in a way no sweater or candle ever could. kind words are 100% free to give, yet make the recipient feel like a million bucks, so everyone can participate. it may seem cliché to some, or merely cheap to others, but in 2009, m21 is going to make it a point to gift the people in his life with sincere words of appreciation. oh, the younger ones might get a little something to unwrap, but this year, for m21, gift giving is going to be about friends, family, happiness, and love.

m21 has just enough hubris to think this is an idea worth sharing- imagine how nice it would be to get a card where the giver expresses the things they appreciate about you: "i appreciate our friendship because you show me unwavering support, even when you know i'm acting the fool", "your advice and encouragement are invaluable, thank you for caring", or " the laughter you provide me with everyday makes life a joy". the mushier the better, just as long as it's real. it also works for business associates and even for people you don't know that well: "thank you for your excellent service- you make doing business more like hanging out with a friend- a fantastically organized, and efficient friend, that is..." ;-) once you get started, you'll be amazed at all the people in your life who are truly fabulous, and by writing down your feelings, and presenting them as gift, you'll make the recipient feel special and valued throughout the year. if enough of us shared the qualities we love in our friends and families, imagine how happy this holiday season could be- even if material gifts are less abundant then usual.

so i hope you'll join with m21 this holiday season, and let the people in your life know exactly what you love them for, and give the gift of a kind word. it may be schmaltzy, it may be cliché- it may even be cheap to some, but really, who can object to a little kindness? of course, m21 wants to practice what he preaches, so we begin with you:


17 December 2009

getting 'ahead' (kelly wearstler bust lust in palm springs, amongst other flights of fancy)

as usual,on our most recent visit to palm springs, we stopped into the estate sale to see what we could see, and while there, spent at least half an hour captivated by this ginormous bust of david, wondering where in the heck inside the atelier we could place this campy, yet fabulous sculpture (ala ms. wearstler, of course). try as we might though, we have no grand spaces like the lobby of the viceroy miami to hold a giant classical bust, so our $300 bargain david had to stay put, waiting for the next lucky (or crazy) decorator to give it an appropriately grand home...

the object of our wearstler inspired 'bust lust': this awesomely big n campy 4 foot tall bust of 'david' (sitting on a dining table base to give you an idea of its scale)

the only spot we could possibly work such a beast, the base of the stairs in our entry hall, but, no go- too stoney and austere (not to mention stage-settish). excuse our poor photoshop skills- we promise not to quit our day job to become a professional photo retoucher!

the lobby of the viceroy miami, m21's inspiration for his bust lust. photo is from ms. wearstler's fabulous HUE from AMMObooks (via habitually chic. ps- stop by chic's blog TODAY as she is giving away a copy!)

more of ms. wearstler's classical statuary obsession (via the daily mail)

we also thought these highly figured marble stools/tables @ the estate sale, would fit in a kelly wearstler inspired space- kinda awesome.

we also loved this pagoda mirror, an incredible bargain at $150.00, and we were shocked to see it was by the fabulous 'chinoisophiles' @ jardins en fleur, and is included in the latest sale from one king's lane- we assumed it was vintage! (ps, speaking of giveaways, if you stop by velvet & linen, brooke is having a sweepstakes for a $250.00 OKL shopping spree- you could get the same pagoda mirror- in the color of your choice- for FREE! that's an even better incredible bargain!

we loved these vintage twin headboards- wouldn't you love to see the original room these came out of? if the fabric is any indication, it was eye-searingly awesome!

last, the object(s) we were truly obsessed with from the estate sale, even more so then 'david', were these fantastically chic (imho), larger-than-life, plaster monkey statues on matching plinths- so beyond 80's fabulous, we really can't stand it! we hesitate to mention our love for them, as potential design clients would be rightfully scared if we were to suggest putting them in their homes; but if we could put them in our home, we'd do a whole room of late 70's- early 80's fabulousity around them: think parchment covered walls, with a gilt ceiling (cove lit, 'natch), avec lots of shiny ecru lacquer and brass furniture (think gabriella crespi and karl springer). we'd probably have to toss in a little leopard print too, because in anticipation of bringing our monkey friends home, we've already nicknamed them "joan" and "jackie" (collins)- no offense to the lovely collins sisters, of course- it's a compliment... swear!
so 80's haute safari chic...

"joan"

"jackie"

alas again, even though at $700/pair, the monkeys were inexpensive enough to have some 80's decorating fun with, joan and jackie had to be left behind at the estate sale- until we have a larger than life home in which to indulge such flights of fancy (you know, like kelly's hillcrest estate), we'll have to stick to simpler, less grandiose, ways to get our 80's on...

as always, we look forward to your comments- we know after ginormous plaster 'david' heads and haute 80's monkey statues, they're gonna be good! fire away! ;-)

14 December 2009

winter wonderland (in paradise, no less)

a winter wonderland atop mt. san jacinto, via the palm springs aerial tram

living in southern california means sometimes it's hard to get in the holiday mood- images of happy scarf-wearing carolers and snow-filled bucolic scenes appear somewhat disjointedly out of place, when it's 80 degrees and sunny outside...

this weekend though, m21 participated in a southern california tradition, guaranteed to put even the most jaded of southern californians in a holiday mood- a visit to the snow, via the palm springs aerial tramway! (m21 is a third generation southern californian, so he firmly believes that weather is something one visits, but doesn't actually live in...) sure the tram is a bit touristy, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun- the views are breathtaking, frolicking in the snow virtually year-round is always a hoot, and the best part is no snow chains are needed, and it's only 10 minutes away from warm, sunny palm springs proper- you can enjoy a snowball fight in the morning, yet be sipping icy margaritas in the sun at lunch!
the view from the tram car

"tastes cold!"

apres snow, back in civilization

10 December 2009

holiday cheers! (the junque whisperer™ brings a gift)

the best gatherings are usually those that are impromptu, so that's why maison21 thinks it's important to have a small area in your home dedicated to a bar area to make guests feel welcome and special- even if they've just dropped by for a quick visit. m21 has had an array of bar carts in his home over the years but for the last year or so, he's kept his bar inside a cabinet, but given that he is not hosting a large holiday party this year(not alone on that one, we think), he decided it was important to move the bar to a more visible location for impromptu events this holiday season, and that involved finding a new (vintage) bar cart. we've actually been looking for a brass vintage modern bar cart for over a year, since setting up a similar cart in a client's home during the holidays last year, but haven't found anything in our price range, as alas, our client's budgets are often a tad larger then our own; but with the holidays fast approaching, and m21's need recently launched to a fevered pitch by his friend habitually chic's well-edited compilation of decorator bars, maison21 knew it was time to set the junque whisperer™ to warp drive 10, and find a damn cart! (btw, congrats on the recent lonny magazine feature, chic- both you and your client's kitchen look terrific! yay for you!)

anyhoo, this last weekend, m21 and his inner junque whisperer™ made it their goal to find a bar cart, so we hit the road, and thankfully, our inner voice came through with exactly what we wanted- and for a price less then the cost of a single cocktail! woo hoo! thank you, junquey santa! mind you the cart is a bit rusted, and was never the most expensive thing back in it's heyday (the wheels are plastique, and the frame? cheap steel sprayed with a yellow lacquer finish to look brass), but maison21's #1 rule in decorating is, screw provenance- if it looks good, it IS good. another rule from m21 when buying vintage is "it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that ding", and our definition of "ding" is the opposite of bling (ie shiny and new)- maison21 likes his vintage to show a little history, a scratch or too, and of course, dents and dings... do we want it to look like it was unearthed from a junk yard? not necessarily, but then again, see rule #1- if it looks good, it IS good!

maison21 thinks bars should always be in a public room- living, dining, den, library, etc- so ours is tucked in a corner of our living room. we don't like bars set up in a kitchen (too utilitarian to entertain in, in our opinion), nor a family room (not child appropriate), and again, in our personal opinionwe advise setting up a bar in an entry hall (though you often see this in magazines). true, an entry hall welcomes your guests to your home, an da bar sure is welcoming, but it shouldn't also say "hi, i'm maison21 and i'm an alcoholic!" not exactly the first impression we want to make- our guests will figure that out later, as the evening proceeds... :-)

maison21's advice for filling the cart is similar to the david hicks quote used in habitually chic's post: a bar should create a "generous, welcoming atmosphere"- but we of course want to break it down into less airy-fairy decorator speak, and give you the real skinny! the goal of the cart is to gather everything you need to entertain a few guests at the drop of a hat- it doesn't work for large parties, and isn't intended to- BUT it should be crowded with enough crap, so it looks like it could host a hundred! that's how you establish "generous, welcoming atmosphere"- by cramming your bar (table, cart, cabinet) with lots and lots of stuff, so your guests feel free to partake of your generous abundance (kind of like with a birthday cake- people feel free to get second helpings when there are lots of slices available, but when down to the very last piece, suddenly everyone is shy and stuffed. don't want your guests to feel shy about helping themselves to a cocktail, do you?)

m21 likes to keep the bare basics on his cart- always vodka, gin, scotch and vermouth, maybe a bottle of red, and a few random liquor bottles just to prop it out. for mixers, one should always have soda and tonic waters (a must, but not shown in picture because we ran out of tonic- sorry), maybe add in some juice, or soft drinks, if those are your personal faves (soda cans are fine for your display but never a 2-liter bottle of soda or gallon of juice). it's important to have multiple bottles of mixers to keep the bar looking welcoming, yet not junked up, so keep the variety slim, but lots of each (the little individual servings are our preference, but we used tall bottles to make our cart look prettiest for our photo- remember, if it looks good, it IS good). also, you won't please everyone with their particular liquor and mixer requests, nor should you try, but with the above items, you can please 80%, and if the other 20 % bitch about it- oh well! they are guests in your home, not paying customers at a bar; you are a welcoming host, and do your best to accommodate, but you aren't a doormat either... ;-)
for accessories, the most important is the ice bucket- you want to go to the kitchen once to fill it, then spend the rest of your time in a prettier room, enjoying the company of your guests! m21 keeps a bucket, a carafe or shaker to mix, tongs, knife and bottle opener on the table at all times, along with a selection of double old fashioned glasses and stemware (we have skinny wine glasses that can double as champagne flutes if one of your guests- hopefully- brings a bottle of veuve clicquot)! m21 keeps bowls of whole lemons and limes out, because they are pretty & colorful, and if unsliced, last forever- so you are always prepared. last, make sure you have a stack of nice linen cocktail napkins- remember, we are going for pretty on the cart, so save the paper napkins for large events. ps, thanks for the napkins sferra- in our gift bag from a kelly wearstler party, hosted by ronda @ all the best).

finally, please note our choice of vodka: monopolowa, from trader joe's @ just $9.99 a bottle- the old school cool label is beyond chic, and it's just as tasty as brands many times its price. m21 is NOT ashamed to serve it in his home, because (here we go again): if it looks good, it IS good! if ya want grey goose, carry a flask!

cheers, everyone! stop by the atelier for a cocktail some time!

08 December 2009

holidays in heels!

this christmas, unleash your inner diva (or drag queen) with "holidays in heels" stiletto stockings!
m21's good friend, super-talented top celebrity stylist, charlie altuna (you might recognize him from 'the cho show', or his numerous appearances on ANTM and E! entertainment television), created these fun stockings after realizing that most of his celebrity clients would never be caught dead without their high heels, so why should their mantles be dressed with fugly flats? charlie made a few "holidays in heels" stockings as gifts for special celebrity clients like cristina aguilera, paula abdul, and debi mazar (amongst others), and they were such a hit, he decided to put the stockings into production for us mere mortals to buy. at 20 bucks a pop, they are a fun and light-hearted way to bring a little hollywood to your holiday decor- and if you've already done your holiday decorating, why not stuff your stockings with a stocking?

get them here, before they are all gone!

07 December 2009

just in case...

just in case anyone was wondering what to get m21 for xmas, he desperately wants a neo-classic plaster shell console for his hall. if you can't find plaster, we'll settle for a carved wood edward wormley/dunbar version.

we'd be ever so grateful. thx.

see? wouldn't it look great?
sloppy seconds ;-), but we'd make do.


only 17 days left, so you better have it air-freighted too, santa! ;-)


ps- santa, a reader alerted us that they have a well-priced version of the plaster shell console in their store, beyond gorgeosity, so you don't have to search too hard. please have your elves bust out the white spray paint on it before delivery please- we want it to look like serge roche. thx again!