All Posts from March, 2011

Stay: Alamo Square Victorian

San Francisco, California
03.30.2011 | by: Kelly

San Francisco-based prop stylist Rosy is in the business of creating beautiful spaces–and her Victorian home in the Alamo Square/Lower Haight is no exception. With dark douglas fir floors and architectural elements like curved glass windows in the turret and high ceilings with intricate crown moldings, the  interior is awash in bright whites, every shade of ivory and muted earth tones, providing a neutral, high-texture canvas for Rosy’s artful treasure-packed vignettes. She spends a lot of time in France and her native Switzerland, scouring the countryside for antiques and storied objects. Like a curio full of all-white china, antique chairs or her collection of vintage mirrors and portraits.

Rosy rents out the second floor for photo shoots as well as to travelers–with access to the home’s kitchen and dining room. On a recent trip to San Francisco, Rosy’s place was at the top of our list of homes to stay, but it was booked. She kindly invited us over for tea and let us tour the house anyway, explaining that she loves staying in homes when she travels and meeting people passing through San Francisco. These photos hardly do the place justice.

The Details
Price, $199 per night; Sleeps five, but $50 extra per guest beyond two. Rent it at airbnb.com. Kids welcome.

[Photos: thirdfloorsf.com and airbnb.com; living room fireplace photo by Andrea Wyner via countryliving.com]

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Meet: Matthew Hranek

New York, New York
03.28.2011 | by: Meghan

Matthew Hranek is a NYC-based photographer and the guy behind The William Brown Project–a blog dedicated to all his outdoorsy, meat-curing, bird-hunting, bourbon-swilling pursuits. When he’s not in the city or upstate New York tapping trees for sap or raising pigs for his homegrown charcuterie label of the same name, Matthew is likely traveling the world with his wife Yolanda and daughter for magazines like Travel + Leisure, Town & Country, and Garden & Gun. His approach to travel, not surprisingly, is authentic, food-focused and fiercely local.

Last trip? Kentucky—I went down to an antique show in Louisville, stuck around for the food, thrift store finds and bourbon.

Most meaningful travel experience? The open-air market in Hoi An. At 5am, it was 100 degrees. The sight, smells, and product were completely overwhelming—like nothing I’d ever seen before. Magical.

Why is travel important to you? I love the exploration. It doesn’t matter if it’s exotic or mundane, international or in my own backyard. I love collecting the experience.

What’s one thing you always try to do in a new place? It’s important to me to find whatever food is specific to the place. What’s local, what’s the take-away–that’s what I’m on the hunt for, In Louisville it was the small batch bourbons, and thrifting for Kentucky Derby glasses.

What do you look for in a trip? The excitement of the exposure to new things. Discovering the secret of the place.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? I like old-school service, people who are committed to their jobs as hoteliers–I’ve found these places all over, but some of my favorites are The Sunset Tower in LA, the Aman in Phuket, the Baur au Lac in Zurich.

Favorite travel purchase? The list is endless, but: there was a grappa still brought back from Montepulciano, safari table and chairs from Kenya, the most perfect grooming implements from Milan, and many cured meats and cheeses that I managed to sneak past customs.

Next trip? I love Florida–maybe another trip to the Everglades.

Goodtripper: Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh

Chandigarh, Punjab
03.25.2011 | by: Kelly

In the 1950s, after India gained independence from Britain, Le Corbusier was commissioned to design an entire city, from all the doorknobs in the High Court to the stools and desks at the College of Architecture. The capital of Punjab, Chandigarh is Le Corbusier’s masterpiece (his self-described “crowing work”) and for several years, its modernist buildings, furniture, monuments and fixtures have fallen into disrepair and become prey to the international art market. Hundreds of desks, chairs, fixtures and drawings have fetched thousands of dollars at auctions in Europe and the U.S.: $54,000 for a pair of chairs; $21,000 for a manhole cover; $36,000 for a concrete light fixture from the Chandigarh zoo.  On March 31, Chicago’s Wright auction house is set to sell several pieces by Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier’s cousin and assistant in Chandigarh.  Chandigarh’s attempts to stall the auction have been unsuccessful. A recent Guardian article reported that Chandigarh’s first chief architect and former Le Corbusier assistant, Manmohan Nath Sharma, started an international movement to stop the pillage of the modernist city, and the Chandigarh administration is seeking World Heritage Site status from UNESCO. But in case its unsuccessful, you might want to check it out before bits and bobs end up in the fancy living rooms of rabid collectors.

[Photos, from top: High Court entrance via agingmodernism.com; High Court via architizer.com; Secretariat via dearchitectura.com; Open Hand via wikicommons; High Court detail via Scott Norsworthy]

Stay: Old Montreal Loft

Montreal, Canada
03.23.2011 | by: Meghan

Nathalie Bouchard and creative director and stylist Annie Horth run my dream business in Montreal: rehabbing and decorating spaces they rent out. It’s called Creative Flats, and the properties—everything from black and white industrial lofts to a unit in Moshe Safdie’s amazing concrete-block prefab complex Habitat ‘67—are exquisite.

Spruced up with white lacquered floor and painted brick, this old loft in the historic Telegraph Building of Old Montreal was inspired by a trip they took to the Hamptons last summer “with its white country houses, antique shops and bright colors,” says Nathalie. “We wanted something warm and inviting, and we wanted to give it personality. Our key words were eclectic, cool, arty… and, of course, we’re always inspired by fashion.”

They furnish their apartments like they would furnish their own homes, picking up interesting accessories at antique shops and flea markets during their travels. And that photograph above the bed? It’s from a fashion shoot at Indochine restaurant in New York City by photographer Malina Corpadean (and Annie as the stylist) for the Toronto-based FASHION Magazine.

[Photos by Jean Longpré, courtesy of Maison & Demeure via Creative Flats]

Check In: Hacienda San Angel

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
03.21.2011 | by: Meghan

When Kim from Desire to Inspire went to Puerto Vallarta a couple weeks ago, she stayed at the Hacienda San Angel–a collection of five hilltop villas (with 14 suites) that she called “the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen.” Puerto Vallarta is a touristy resort town, sure, but strictly pertaining to what’s inside this elaborately decorated hotel–Mexican tiled restaurant, fountain-filled courtyards and statue-surrounded pool–you probably won’t want to leave anyway. The place is dripping with some pretty serious old world antiques: hand-carved wooden beds, tables and high-backed chairs from the 19th century; ornate chandeliers, candlesticks, candleabras, wall sconces; and Mexican paintings (of the Immaculate Virgin variety) in every room. And Hollywood history trivia bonus:  Apparently, one of the villas was once owned by actor Richard Burton, who bought it as a Valentine’s Day gift for one of his wives (not Elizabeth Taylor).

[All photos by Kim from Desire to Inspire]

Check In: Hotel Union Øye

Hjørundfjord, Norway
03.18.2011 | by: Meghan

Built in the Norangdal valley of the Sunmmøre Alps in the 19th century, the Hotel Union Øye was the place to go for nearby royalty, attracting famous names like Queen Willemina of the Netherlands, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Conan Doyle (all 27 rooms are named after one of its historically significant guests). In 1989, the gabled-roof, Swiss chalet-style hotel (popular in Norway) was restored with one goal in mind: to bring back the original, over-the-top splendor of the interiors. Same wood paneled staircase; tufted leather booths in the saloon; four-poster beds with crest-emblazoned headboards swathed in velvet and tassels; heavy velvet drapes folded across every available surface; gilded everything. It’s like a living World of Interiors spread. And nestled in what has been called the most beautiful valley in Norway, the Union Øye is surrounded by fjords, rivers, lakes and snow-capped mountains.

Check In: Ballyvolane

Castlelyons, Nr Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland
03.16.2011 | by: Meghan

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d show off this super charming Irish country manor that Yolanda Edwards (one of the two former-Cookie editors behind the new site Momfilter) visited by way of a three-hour, totally-worth-it detour during a trip to Dublin.

Here’s what she had to say:

At the end of a hedge-lined road, beyond pastures of grazing cows and fly-fishing-ready ponds, we came to the Georgian mansion. We were greeted by the owners, Justin and Jenny Green, a chic thirtysomething couple who live at Ballyvolane with their three kids. Jenny immediately read our minds and asked if we would like to have supper there—a huge relief, as we hadn’t made plans and dreaded the idea of strapping Clara back into the car to find a restaurant. We passed through a sitting room, where a fat 20-year-old cat named Archie lounged on a tufted couch, and then we climbed the mahogany stairs to the bedrooms. With a view of astonishingly green fields, our room had crisp bedding, a claw-foot tub, just the right amount of heavy antiques for the setting, and none of the more cloying B&B frills (stinky potpourri, cross-stitched anything).

During our stay, Jenny and Justin directed us to all the sights they visit with their own kids, sending us off with a picnic lunch or the address of their favorite pub. Ballyvolane is within close driving distance of several castles, medieval towns, and the beach (the area is also a destination for foodies, thanks to its seafood and small farms). On many days, though, we just stayed put. We borrowed wellies and raincoats to explore the grounds, hoping to spot a fox. In the afternoons, my husband fished and I read on the couch while Clara sprinted across the endless lawn with the Green kids and their dogs.

The honest country fare is made with local and organic ingredients, many from Ballyvolane’s garden. Meals are eaten communally at a big table, creating a real family-party vibe. In the morning, you can opt for muesli and yogurt or a full Irish breakfast (you can even fetch your own eggs). Arrange for picnic hampers or seated lunches the night before. Kids can have an early supper at 5:30 p.m. or eat later with their parents.

It’s a major relief to stay with a family with three kids: They have almost anything you forget to bring—raincoats, toys, etc. You also have full run of the grounds, including the gardens which have gone basically unchanged since the 18th century.

Stay: Itopia

Runaway Bay, Jamaica
03.14.2011 | by: Meghan

Maybe you were idly flipping through the new spring Anthropologie catalog–a dreamy visual ode to old world Jamaica–and couldn’t stop admiring the stunner of a house in the background, all bohemian antique charm, crumbling plaster, and palm fronds peeking through swung-open shutters. After a little digging, maybe you were able to cross-reference interior clues and piece together the shoot location, because you are kind of obsessive that way. Jackpot! Itopia is a three-bedroom stone country house built in the 1600s that the owner, set designer Sally Henzell (the woman who started Jake’s and whose family runs the hotel group Island Outpost), recently began renting out to travelers. Prices start at about $1,700 a week. Thanks to the photographer Jessica Antola for many of these beautiful interior photos.

[Photos from the top: Anthropologie Spring 2011 catalogue; exterior courtesy of Island Outpost; group of interiors by Jessica Antola; bedroom courtesy of Island Outpost; front yard and living room photos by Jessica Antola; bottom image courtesy of Island Outpost.]

Round-up: Celestial Lighting

03.11.2011 | by: Kelly

[Photos, from top: skylights at Nobis Hotel, photo via travelinggreener.com; cloud lights at Maison Moschino, photo via Maison Moschino; lightbulb installation, Grammercy Park Hotel, photo via notcot.org]

Stay: Parkamoor

Nibthwaite, Cumbria, UK
03.09.2011 | by: Meghan

By now, it’s probably no secret: I have a thing for old houses. I have relationships with them, I build entire trips around them, I study their crevices and crown moldings and broken floor tiles, making up stories about the people who spent lifetimes living and dreaming in the rooms. And when I find one like this 16th-century farmhouse, which is totally isolated, accessible only by foot (or a rambling old pick-up truck that will pick you up in a nearby town), I’m so happy I have people to share it with. Go forth!

The contemporary arts organization Grizedale Arts collaborated with the National Trust to fix up, furnish and decorate the space (but not too much), turning the historical stone house into the most amazingly simple and pared-down retreat–for artists and writers, yes, but also anyone else who appreciates scaling back, and you know, channeling their inner Laura Ingalls Wilder (is that just me?). Inside, there’s a library with a wood-burning stove, kitchen with wood-burning oven, well-worn, spartan furniture and a collection of paraffin lamps. Outside, rolling hills, forrest and a compostable outhouse. This means no electricity, running water or phone reception–a boon for those who agree that the ultimate luxury these days is peace, solitude and a dreamy old house on a big swath of pretty land.

The Details:
$650 a week. Sleeps six people in three bedrooms. Rent it at Welcome Beyond. All within walking distance: birdwatching, fishing and pub- and shop-filled old villages. Also, Lawson Park–historic Cumbrian hill farm and now the Grizedale Arts headquarters–is a 40 minute walk through the forest. You can visit the historic house and collections, farm gardens and wildflower meadow.

Tour: The Sonneveld House

Rotterdam, The Netherlands
03.07.2011 | by: Meghan

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is visit local house museums–usually the older and more decorous, the better. But when we were in Rotterdam a couple years ago, the Sonneveld House totally captivated me. One of the country’s star examples of Nieuwe Bouwen, or the Dutch version of the International School of Modernism/pre-war Dutch functionalism, the house was designed in 1933 by Brinkman en van dern Vlugt for the Sonneveld family (who sold all their furniture and started from scratch when they moved in). Even in the midst of a hyper-modern moment, you can still see hints of quirky Dutch design, shots of widely varying colors (kelly green office, turquoise bathroom) and fabrics, alongside super-innovative household gadgetry for that time (like ten heads in the shower and an electric bell built into the dining table).

Shop: Post 27

Chicago, Illinois
03.04.2011 | by: Meghan

I’m in Chicago right now for some magazine work, and I stopped into one of my favorite design shops to say hi to owner Angela Finney. As always, the space–part shop, part gallery, part incubator–looked amazing. If you’re traveling to Chicago, this is the very best place to get a feel for the local design scene. Angela, who used to design furniture and lighting for Holly Hunt before striking out on her own, has an unmatched eye for really special vintage pieces. She brings in furniture and accessories (an upholstered asterisk by Roscoe Jackson, amazing wood-planed light sculpture by local woodworker Steven Teichelman and ceramics by one of my favorites, Up in the Air Somewhere), creates/builds in-store installations and  collaborates on special projects of her own design, all while hosting pretty regular art shows and acting as the unofficial mayor of the West Grand Avenue design corridor she helped pioneer. Every time I’m there, it looks completely different–and somehow, even better than the time before.

Stay: West Virginia

Berkeley Springs and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
03.02.2011 | by: Kelly

Almost anyone can find inspiration in weird and wonderful West Virginia, where charming historic towns and rambling tin-roofed cabins co-exist amid the misty mountains and rolling farmland. We took a last minute road trip to the eastern panhandle last weekend and stayed in Berkeley Springs with day trips to Harpers Ferry and Shepardstown. We knew we wanted mountain views and an 1800s cabin in the woods with heirloom quilts, cast iron skillets, wood burning stove and brown family photos from decades past. We found the perfect folksy, antique log house but it was already booked, so we opted for a more modern place right near a creek. Surrounded by giant trees, the quaint, red cottage was equipped with all the essentials for a winter weekend in the woods: Le Creuset cookware, stacks of New Yorker and Country Living magazines, down comforters, fireplace, patio with chimenea and s’mores supplies, and picture windows with long views of the oak and birch trees.

The colonial look is so right-now that I wonder if design hipsters are taking secret trips to Harpers Ferry for inspiration cheat sheets. Rows of perfectly preserved brick and stone homes and buildings line the steep streets winding up the hill. Mountains, vast sky and the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge for what Thomas Jefferson called “one of the most stupendous scenes of nature.”  An old bakery, residence, shoe store and factory have been turned into museums where you can see the peeling paint, elaborate hand-painted wallpaper, rows of top hats and stacks of fabric, doilies under pie plates and quilt-covered beds.

The Details:
Choose from two antique cabins starting at $325 a weekend for six guests from Mountain Morning Rental. Or Sweet Dreaming cottage, which starts at $150 a night and also sleeps up to six.

Meet: Jason Miller/Casa Dracula

03.01.2011 | by: Meghan

When Brooklyn-based furniture and lighting designer Jason Milller told us the name of the most interesting place he’s ever stayed–Casa Dracula–we had to check it out. Turns out, this eccentric, old house in Todos Santos is not only pretty amazing to look at, it also comes with a good story. Built in 1852 by Don Antonio Domingues, Todos Santos’ first sugar baron, Casa Dracula gets its name from the arched Gothic windows along the brick facade (not an actual vampire). Although, according to local legend (ala the rental agency’s website), there is said to be treasure buried somewhere within the walls. Rent it at vrbo.com. Here, the rest of Jason’s interview about the importance of travel:

Most meaningful or inspiring travel experience? Spending a week in the Aeolian Islands in 2009. My girlfriend and I found out that we were going to become parents during the trip (no thanks to a faulty Aeolian-Island pregnancy test).

How does travel influence your work? I think it is very important to have perspective on one’s own culture. Travel provides great perspective. There is something thrilling when you show up in a new place and you don’t know how to buy a subway ride, get on a bus or order lunch. We take these simple things for granted at home, only because we have learned the the way to navigate our own small world.

What do you look for in a trip? Since I spend most of my time in New York, I more often than not, look for a bit of nature when I travel.

Most interesting place you’ve ever stayed? Casa Dracula, Todo Santos, Mexico. It was purchased by my girlfriend’s father and 3 friends in the early eighties. It is a former sugar storage facility in a small surf town north of Cabo San Lucas. My girlfriend and her family have been spending holidays there for 20-plus years.

Do you have a specific piece that was in some way inspired by travel? The Modo lamps were inspired by some vintage pieces I came across in California.

Most treasured travel purchase? A glass vase that i bought in a thrift store in Istanbul. It’s very odd.