…And Everything in Between

Sandy through us all for a loop this week (nothing creepier than a New York that does sleep…in total darkness), but as we all get back to the frivolities of daily life and the modern wonder of electricity, I’m glad to be able to focus on something less troubling and more cheerful. Halloween is over and my mind is officially free to drift to thoughts of the holidays and colder days ahead.

Wish lists, gift wrap, holiday movies, sweaters, and peppermint chocolate are all in the mix and I can’t wait! And if there’s one store that I can’t wait to browse and window shop, it’s ABC Home. For anyone visiting New York with a love of design and in search of a unique gift, this store has it all. ABC Home offers a retail experience that is so quintessentially New York, so exclusive to this city and so refreshing in a world homogenized by globalism.

Jewelry, in-store designer clothing boutiques, stationery, tablewares, vases, lighting, upholstery, candles, it’s like this store was made for me! Even after walking into the store a million times, I only noticed how saturated the ceiling is with lighting fixtures a couple weeks ago once I started taking pictures. I never bothered to look up before because there’s already so much to look at on every other plane! Dense with goodness, ABC Home is the type of store where you know you’ll walk out with something entirely individual, exotic, and likely, handcrafted.

There’s an air of wonderland about the place as everything glimmers, glass sparkles and becomes pearlescent, delicate boxes reveal aromatic secrets, and everything hides, waiting to be discovered. This feeling only becomes amplified during Christmas time when fantasy completely takes over and glitter coats everything your eyes fall upon. Magical.

And all this only describes the first floor of this mega-boutique, since I have yet to thoroughly explore anything beyond that. In due time, I’m sure. The next time I attempt it, I’ll be sure to take a pit-stop at ABC Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants, if not my number 1. The only reason I haven’t posted about it yet is because the mood is too intimate and candlelit and the food too succulent and savory to spoil with photographs. For a special occasion, there’s no place better.

Visual inspiration, shopping thrills, and a culinary epiphany: I can think of few ways to better spend a November afternoon;)

Home Sweet Home

It’s been another two week long absence and I’m feeling more blogger guilt. I should have known that moving would have been more than a two day time commitment. It’s been two weeks since we spent our first night in the new apartment, and we’re still unpacking! But as I regain my bearings, I’m also beginning to lust after new interiors, pinning into the wee hours of the morning and poring through back issues of Domino (oh, how I miss thee).

Excited to finally purchase a sofa (albeit a loveseat) for the first time, all I’ve been doing is scouring sites online and re-imagining my new space. Minimalist, colorful, quirky, cozy, I’m trying to find a way to meld all of my tastes into one stylish apartment. What I have noticed, though, is that the minute our artwork went up and all my little tchotchkes and books were out, the apartment instantly had character. While I don’t advocate clutter in any sense, these accessories and keepsakes give personality and life to a home, and they are an instant way to update a space as well.

Even if you can’t afford a new chair or a brand new rug, you can always shop for little things to spruce up your place. New York has no shortage of mini design emporiums, as I’ve illustrated here, and John Derian is just another go-to for the design savvy. The brand has been in my subconscious for a while,  yet it was always a highly elusive name that I only ever saw in magazine credits or on the bottoms of the decoupage trays that have become the company’s signature. I always meant to check it out, but never made an effort to look into it.

Finally, one day without looking for it, I stumbled upon the store in East Village and was excited to finally see what made John Derian such a renowned design name. Rather than making a big statement, the store lurks behind shady trees, inviting those who know what they’re looking for to step in. Once you’re in, though, there’s an instant sense of being overwhelmed by the density and plethora of collected objects. Trays, paperweights, ceramics, candles, fixtures, linens, there’s so much of everything that it’s better to not even try to take in everything. To be honest, although it feels like an intriguing cabinet of curiosities, it’s a bit much for me, so I prefer to head next door to the sister shop devoted to textiles and furniture, a cozy little home posing as a store with a giant stuffed horse to greet visitors at the entrance (so that’s where I can find one of those…).

Neutral, organic, with a rustic antique charm, the store makes me wonder whether I want to live in a sparse Soho loft or a cottage in Provence, as the goods would look equally good in both places (a girl can dream!). In any case, this is just the type of store where visual interest is created through accessories and layering, and even if you leave with just one of those emblematic trays for your trinkets, I’d still say you’re one step closer to making your house a home.

Bookworm’s Delight

Warning: bookworm/paper addict geek-out fest about to happen.

It’s no secret that I love the written word in all its lovely forms, but sadly, I know I’m one of the few people who still buy actual books. I’m not gonna lie, my modes of acquiring literary sustenance range from Amazon’s seriously slashed selection to used bookstores, so I’m not exactly supporting independent bookstores singlehandedly. And this makes me sad. I love brick-and-mortar bookstores; I love the scent of hot-off-the presses books and coffee wafting in the air and the promise of a great story waiting to be discovered.

In fact, when I was 6 or 7, I received my first monetary gift in the form of a $20 dollar bill for my birthday. I knew exactly what I wanted, so I asked my mom to go to Borders so I could buy a gorgeously illustrated Sleeping Beauty ballet book. It made me so happy to purchase something that I could cherish and look at over and over again. I still have the book and it makes me smile when I look at it. Yep, I really am a nerd.

Thankfully, though, bookworms can still hold their ground in this city, largely in part to wonderful booksellers like McNally Jackson. Here is a store that manages to feel hipster and artsy, while maintaining a handsome, cozy atmosphere that makes you want to linger. And I absolutely freaking LOVE the decor! I mean, the book page wallpaper? I am so there. I am equally enamored with the hanging book/ lighting fixtures that draw my attention every time I walk in.

The selection is edited to make you feel as though you want to read every book on display and also houses a lot of niche interest and art books, which I often go straight towards. There’s just something to walking in and seeing the inciting covers of new releases and thumbing through them to see if something speaks to you. You just can’t do that on Amazon. Annnddd…in addition to selling books, McNally Jackson also publishes books in the store! Soooo cool. They carry these limited editions next to their giant, fancy Espresso Book Machine (doesn’t that just sound like something that should make coffee and books at the same time, hehe?) so you can see what fellow writers are churning out.

Now if my nerd speak didn’t convince you to go out and support your local independent bookstore, I don’t know what will. Keep books alive people! Ok, geek out over, resume normalcy.

Echoing this haunting Monica Bellucci cover, I’m hungry for some cozy fall weather, lattes, and some September issues!

Life as a Haus

My love of design and interiors goes hand in hand with my love of fashion. A resolute homebody, my space is my sanctuary and source of inspiration, no matter how small, so it has to be just as pretty as my wardrobe. Which is why I love discovering new interior decorating and lifestyle stores. Just like your wardrobe, your home should be a balance of big-chain retail staples and thoughtful touches that reflect your unique personality. Haus Interior has just the thing.

A boutique interior design firm that also offers its warm, minimalist aesthetic in the form of two retail outposts, Haus Interior is chock full of design goodies for such a petite space. Neutrals, organic elements, rustic accents, and some serious chevron love make the shop feel like a gift from the designers for those who can’t receive the full Haus Interior treatment. Not too shabby a consolation prize if you ask me. I particularly fell in love with the surprising touches like black candlesticks and wooden shadowboxes with scenes of marine life inside. Lighting is also used to great effect, with caged Edison bulbs suspended or propped throughout while a smokey orb lamp takes center stage with a warm glow.

Walking through, examining the wares, you get the sense that whatever you take home from Haus, it will be special but it will also become seamlessly yours. These pieces are so carefully selected and styled, but they are meant to quietly enhance a room, rather than overwhelm it. That’s what I took away from my shopping experience here– a focus back on quality and details, as well as an urge to purge and redecorate everything!

Plus, I entered a raffle during my first visit in the store and I won a candle! I’ve never ever won anything before, seriously! So excited to take a bit of Haus home :)

Love the diffused glow and shape of this lamp, no shade necessary!

The best armor for a girls’ night out at the bar. Straightforward and absolutely hilarious. I’m so easily amused.

I want one of these so badly! My favorite elements: one part industrial, one part brass, add one part feminine floral. And done.

Very tribal. Super cool.

I thought these bare bulbs would be blindingly bright, but they are actually quite warm. I like that you can put them pretty much anywhere.

I’m feelin’ the shades-of-grey chevron against the warm tones of the wood. DIY inspiration? That would require one mean painter’s tape job.

My deliciously sultry, scented candle in Bergamot and Black Tea. Reminds me of a trip I took to Switzerland years ago, perched in the mountains drinking Irish breakfast tea. Thank you again, Haus Interior!

Phoenix Rizing

There is something particularly special about a woman jewelry shopping for herself. It’s a personal indulgence; a purchase meant to bring her joy every time she looks at her new sparkle, as well as a certain feeling of accomplishment that comes with investing in something purely for adornment. Whenever I think of saving my money for something special, it’s inevitably jewelry. Shoes are my guilty pleasure, but they are better purchased in a fleeting moment of impulse. It makes it more fun.

Jewelry, on the other hand, is something that benefits from delayed gratification. I always felt proud about saving my petty cash for some shimmer. Of course, the targets have changed over the years. When I was younger, it would be a hippie-dippie oversized sterling silver moonstone ring and later it was an enamel floral cocktail ring by Kenneth Jay Lane that I considered a major splurge. After working in jewelry production, however, my sights are set a bit higher as I appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of each piece so much more. My tastes still veer towards the teeny, the delicate, and sometimes the slightly edgy, which is why Phoenix Roze is a fast favorite of mine.

Stepping into this boutique is an experience–the lighting is low, there are mirrors everywhere, and the eye candy is highlighted quietly behind minimalist glass displays. It almost feels like a mini museum of gems, but the mood is anything but stodgy. You are incited to come close, look at the pieces at your leisure, try on something if you like. No scare tactics here. I took my time noticing the subtle nuances of each piece and my wish list grew longer by the minute. Mini hoops set with emeralds (my birthstone), an incredible arrow ring (pictured at top), and a dainty necklace featuring a trio of tiny bezel-set diamonds topped my list.

That is, until Margaux and I spotted this little solitaire ring strung on a thin gold chain. We’re totally smitten! Such a sweet and inventive way to put a ring on it ;)

Regardless of your tastes, each piece at Phoenix Roze feels personal and precious, even if you can only loosen your pursestrings enough for a sterling silver incarnation. I also appreciate the use of colored gemstones, a rarity among many local jewelers who prefer a more monochromatic look and stick to diamonds. Moonstone, aquamarine, chrysoprase and amethyst all have their place here and the selection is so much more interesting for it. I was also lucky enough to meet the designer himself, a man who clearly enjoys every minute of his work. Guy Rozenstrich handcrafts each piece in the West Village spot and really takes care to engage his customers. He came over to show me a gorgeous, custom rose-cut engagement ring and then graciously invited me to an uptown soirée to fête his new boutique opening on Madison. An opportunity to shop some more pretties? Yes, please!

The Upper East Side location is just as special, with lots of organic elements like petrified wood and mineral clusters to enhance the simplicity of the jewelry. In addition to the signature line, there is also a magnificent vintage display that the designer has obviously carefully curated. With a new location close to home, I know exactly where to set my sights for my next special purchase, when the day comes. They say sometimes a rose is just a rose, but I’d beg to differ ;)

I used to collect antique skeleton keys as a kid, so this mini rose gold version is an obvious pick.

I saw a couple of trendy ladies wearing the cat’s claw studs (in the small tray) and I instantly fell in love with them. Tiny, but edgy.

How sweet is that teeny trio necklace?

If you wanna go for a personal choice, these pave initials are instant crowd-pleasers.

These antique ruby and diamond chandeliers are fit for a princess.

I had to try on something shiny! The perfect tiny hoops, with just a little extra dangle to zhush it up a bit.