Interiors: My All-Time Favorite Abode. For Now.

This place in Madrid, which appeared in one of the most recent issues of Elle Decor, belongs to designer Lorenzo Castillo. This vast apartment is a study in contrasts. Both old world and absolutely modern, packed with objects but streamlined, intimidatingly sophisticated yet comfortable. The more I look at the photographs, the more impressive this feat of cohabiting contrasts seems. This sort of deftness cannot be taught; clearly Castillo has an innate sense of what just works. And the fact that he knows a whole lot about art and antiques doesn’t hurt either. I’m always amazed when designers can apply layers of stuff to an interior without suffocating a room. Read the online article and view the rest of the photos to get a better sense of the space HERE. But really, you should pick up a newsstand copy because reading about Lorenzo Castillo in print is so much better. (shhh! don’t tell my blog I said that!)

Companions for a Long Winter

My husband is off in India right now, doing Something Important. I am, in the meantime, keeping the home fires burning. Literally, at times, as there is no one else to build the fire that keeps us warm on the coldest of New England days. Unless I want to entrust the task to my 5 and 2-year-old sons. Not that they wouldn’t be thrilled to try, but in the interest of (all of us) continuing to live I keep them away from open flames.

Just in time for long, dark evenings by the fire and these weeks without companionship, I organized my magazine collection. A collection that is actually a sort of in memorium, as most of the magazines I possess are copies of publications that have disappeared into the ether, a reminder of the glory days of printed matter, when human beings actually liked their reading to involve a bit of manual labor, the thumb and the forefinger doing the work of the ages, turning page after lovely page. Victoria, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion (what, you say? yes, it was a charming little magazine), Domino (sob), Blueprint, and — oh the tragedy of it! — House & Garden, which I still can’t believe is gone and would have collected every single issue if I had any inkling that such a monolith could topple. I also save Elle Decor, the occasional Country Living, and House Beautiful. And I would collect and hoard more esoteric titles if budget and space allowed. Particularly World of Interiors, as perfect a magazine as it is possible to create. Maybe WOI should have a scholarship program for enthusiastic Americans?

The best thing about the best magazines is that they are both of the moment — the exact chronological moment in which they were published — and timeless. The reader can pick up a great issue of Vogue, say, from the Diana Vreeland years and glean tons of still-relevant if intimidating information on a life of style. This strange mix of trendy and timeless is what makes magazines, specifically, so compelling, and gives them status apart from publications with a longer gestation period. Like, for instance, that other threatened species, those unwieldy things called books.

Magazines are dead, long live magazines.

Diana V, still reigning after all these years...

magazine storage ideas

Magazine Talk: Crafts with Marth-er

When the history of the great Craft/DIY Revolution of the last decade is written (and it will be written.  Probably as a doctoral dissertation, if the state of American education continues its downward spiral), no doubt no one will be credited more than Martha Stewart for the flourishing of Craft in this country.  And deservedly so.  The woman is amazing: originally a one-woman cottage industry, now expanded into a entire hive of worker bees, all with their own ivy league educations, barn jackets, and glue guns.  I never actually want to read one of her publications, but always pick them up anyway, knowing they will be chock-full of helpful information, earnestly researched and meticulously photographed.  Reading Martha Stewart’s Living is like taking medicine, in that it that both heals and inspires.  Actually, maybe it’s more like a vitamin than a medicine.  Either way you don’t want a dose of her, yet you’re always glad you had one after it’s over.

That said, this month’s Living left me wanting in the usually reliable Crafting department.  Perhaps Marther is a victim of her own success.  With blogs breeding like rabbits – half of them devoted to churning out handmade wonders – and magazines like Woman’s Day and Better Homes & Gardens (formerly Marther’s sad little sisters when it comes to featuring projects you actually would be proud of) stepping it up when it comes to crafts, the team at Living is really under some pressure to stay on the cutting edge.  (I can think of lots of puns here but I’ll spare you.)

Witness this month’s “Crafting: handmade goods” feature.  Wowsa.  Here it is: