Friday, February 26, 2010

Chic Reads

I am obsessed with design books and I have a compulsion to buy them whenever I am at bookstores. Whenever we go on trips, I always come back with an overweight luggage filled with heavy tomes. When it came time to look for inspiration and references for the apartment, I only needed to go to my bookshelf as you can see from the Post-it filled book Hue by Kelly Wearstler (above). I love her Domicilium Decoratus and Modern Glamour books.

Orlando Diaz Azcuy and Elle Decor's So Chic (opened to Candace Bushnell's apartment)

These books really helped me set the tone for our apartment: Metropolitan Home's Glamour, Elle Decor's Style and Substance and Jan Showers' Glamorous Rooms

I know this one is old but I leaf through it all the time and I always find or learn something new. Bright Young Things by Brooke de Ocampo

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making An Entrance Part 2

I was unhappy with how our entryway initially looked like with the marquetry table and gilded mirror. I felt that it was too traditional and wasn't consistent with the classic chic look of the rest of the apartment. (See previous post for the photos)

Today, however, they delivered our new console table which we found at Altfield in Prince's Building. People who know me would be surprised that I bought a table with gold legs as I am all about chrome and silver. But I think the gold legs and its lattice-like design gives that entryway a wonderful dose of glamour and a touch of chinoiserie. Noticed how I accessorized it with a lot of silver - frames, vases, tray - which I think works really well despite the old rule that you should never mix gold with silver.

I am over the moon with the result!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Making An Entrance

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t get rid of all of BB’s belongings in favor of my better taste. Whenever we get into arguments over who has better taste, I have a ready answer, which instantly knocks out all of his. I say, “I get paid for my taste.” Having made a career out of editing lifestyle and fashion magazines, I’ve got this one right in the bag. I’m sorry I digress.

True, I got him to dispose of most of his “I am a white expat living in Asia” tchotchkes like his Buddha’s, pottery and all sorts of wooden accessories purchased randomly on trips to Bali, Thailand and Vietnam. It is also true that we have stashed away his collection of Chinese and Asian art under our beds for more Western art. However, we’ve kept a couple of his pieces like the ones adorning our foyer: a gilded mirror and a semi-lune marquetry console table which have graced his apartments avant et après moi. I also happen to like both pieces.

Looking at how they are styled now though, I find that I need to break them apart because the overall look doesn’t really go with the rest of the apartment. Our key words when it came to the design of the apartment were classic, modern and glamorous. Looking at the photos above and below, all I get is classic.

I am faced with the conundrum of whether should I move the mirror somewhere else and find a replacement or move the console table and look for a substitute. As it is, we have run out of wall space. We have art everywhere even in the bathrooms. So I suppose the best way to go is move the console and look for something more modern to give the classic gilded mirror and edge, to make it ‘now’. And I may just have the perfect spot for the console!

Or maybe I should paint the foyer walls black lacquer as in the master bedroom?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sharper Image

In the March 2010 issue of American Vogue with Tina Fey on the cover, Hamish Bowles featured the London home of Suzanne Sharp, the designer of the Sellarsbrook Blue rug that is now on our living room floor. The interview is insightful: Sharp started The Rug Company with her husband Christopher. When they were living in Riyadh (Christopher was working in film), they started collecting Afghan rugs from souks. When they finally returned to London, they opened a store and started selling the rugs. This led to the production of their own rugs by Nepalese weavers. They also invited top decorators in London and when that proved to be a success, they invited fashion designers as well.

Below is a photo of the Sellarsbrook Blue rug in the Sharp's study.


Our own Sellarsbrook Blue rug:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chic Transformation - Ikea Billy Bookcase


We had thought of throwing our Ikea Billy bookcases (pictured above) in favor of something more solid. While they are practical, easy and cost-efficient, they weren't the most sturdy especially when laden with the fashion and design tomes that I collect.

Instead of just disposing of them, we came up with the idea of using them as shelves for my shoes, bags, magazines and other trinkets. We lined one wall of my closet/study with the bookcases. To give them a new life, my interior designer friend, Paul and I came up with the idea of painting the backs blue to match the drapes and the chaise that I had ordered. However, we were told that it would be difficult to do so because of their glossy finish. We would need to sand them down first.

Since Paul had spent his first day at our apartment taping cardboard to our guest bedroom windows because we didn't have curtains yet at that time, we had the idea of doing the same to the bookshelves. We went to the paper store on Lyndhurst Terrace and bought large sheets of blue cardboard. When we got home, Paul did the measurements and the cutting, and we pasted them onto the back of the shelves with blue tack.


I must say that I like the results. I like the hint of blue peeking from behind the shoes and piles of magazines. It's a nice surprise and such an inexpensive way to breathe new life into something that would otherwise have gone to a dumpster.

What do you think?

P.S. I am not done organizing yet...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cocktail Hour

We purchased this bar cart from a store in Singapore called Platform which sells Italian pieces. We acquired it a couple of days before the movers came to pack all our belongings for the move to Hong Kong. We haven't had the chance to use it. Now that we are more or less settled in Hong Kong, we hope to make great use of it. We just have to figure out what kind of drinks to put on it as we are not heavy drinkers. I personally am always for popping open a bottle of Champagne.

We placed the bar cart just by our foyer so that we can easily offer drinks to guests. Hanging above it are out cut out silhouettes by this brilliant artist called Karl Johnson which I had commissioned last Christmas - I first saw such artworks in a magazine feature on Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's home and after that I kept seeing them in all sorts of shelter and fashion magazines. I think they are a good alternative to oil portraits. Flanking it are lithographs (one black and white, the other in color) by Alexander Liberman who served as editorial director of Vogue and mentored the legendary photographer Irving Penn. He was also a renowned sculptor and painter. Some of his works are on display at the Met and the Guggenheim.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Work In Progress

There is still much to be done but we are getting there. Here's a look of the apartment thus far.

P.S. Don't mind the black Bourgie lamp on the floor. That is to go in the guest bedroom.

P.P.S. If only we could paint the floors matt black and the door jambs and doors white...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Table Manners

When we were looking for a dining table, I really wanted the Warren Platner wire dining table. I called Knoll stores in Hong Kong and Singapore looking for it and comparing prices but gave up when I was told that it came only in one size. It was too big for our dining table.

We needed a small dining table with a 100-meter diameter, way below the standard size. I went to hoping to find one. Four pages later, a Piero Pinto table showed up with beautiful removable legs. How I wanted it but it was too expensive and the legs were gold and badly scratched. Our place is mostly silver and chrome and if we are to pay a premium for something, it’d better be good quality even if it’s vintage.

I obsessed about the table though. And leafing through my old issue of Elle Décor, I found that Brian Atwood has a similar table at his apartment in Milan (see below). We have met Atwood a couple of times, in Milan and Singapore and we are also fans of his bf, Nate Berkus’, work. Atwood got his table from but it was a rare piece.

Since we couldn’t get our hands on an original, we decided to have something similar made. The beauty of living in Hong Kong is that anything and everything can be reproduced. Our contractor, Andy, was up to the task and he delivered it yesterday. It is beautiful with chrome legs in mirror finish and a crystal glass. Only, it won’t become stable. It kept on shaking despite the efforts of three people. I suppose it is a feat of physics to make something made of three pieces act solidly like one body.

Unwrapping the legs

Our contractor and his team attempting to stabilize it

It was decided that Andy would make new legs, this time with thicker chrome. Meanwhile we would be using the faulty one until the new legs are delivered. It looks really beautiful and modern and we can’t resist.

What do you think? And imagine how the dining room will look once we have the mouldings! Tres chic!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chic Transformation


We bought these faux Louis XVI stools at a store called I Wanna Go Home in Singapore. We placed them under a mother of pearl console in our apartment's entryway. The legs of the stools are unfinished and the seats were in a rough linen material giving them a sort of French provincial look.


For Hong Kong, I wanted to make them more chic than shabby. I knew I wanted to use velvet and debated between peacock blue and a green that is in between moss and hunter. I also wanted to paint the legs white but decided against that at the last minute.

I like how they look now. I like the plushness of the velvet and the rawness of the unfinished, natural wooden legs. It's amazing what a change in fabric and color can do to old pieces.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Woof 2

Brighton, ever the curious dog, never left the side of the electrician as he installed the light in our bedroom last week. I like to think there is a decorator in him.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's Here!

The Sellarsbrook Blue rug by Suzanne Sharp from The Rug Company has left the premises of Lane Crawford and has found a permanent home in our apartment. We all love it, including Brighton as you can see in the photos.

I really like the how the pattern on the rug is almost identical to the legs of the tables.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fringe Benefits

For years I was partial to modern design - sleek, geometric and clean. But after being exposed to designers like Kelly Wearstler, Thad Hayes and Robert Mishaan, my style has evolved to something I like to define as updated classic.

A testament to this shift in aesthetics is my current fixation with tassels. I never gave tassels much thought before but today I spent a good deal of the afternoon looking for them.

There is a place in Hong Kong that sells expensive fabric and drapery accoutrements called Cetec (now located on the 18F of the Printing House building on Dudell Street.) They are expensive because their fabrics and hardware are from France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland and their selections are tasteful and well-edited.

They have great selections of tiebacks with tassels - from the classic and ornate variety to the more contemporary ones. I found one a simple one in olive which would look exquisite against our emerald green drapes. I like it's clean look.

My second choice has two tassels on both both ends and each one has a metal upper part instead of the usual knots or loops. I asked for it in olive as well.

Cetec has sent my request to the manufacturer in France and I am to find out tomorrow which one is available. They said it will take 10 days for it to get to H

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chic Inspirations: Moving to Hong Kong Part 4

When I first met with our contractor Andy, I had a scrapbook of images of how I wanted the apartment to look like. They were carefully edited images that all evoke the three words I had in mind for the apartment: classic, modern and glamorous. I know classic and modern don’t always go in the same sentence but you’ll see what I mean when you view the photos below.

Versace designed apartment at The Plaza

On our initial meeting, I really stressed that I want mouldings on the walls, especially in the living, dining and guest rooms. I wanted an apartment that had the same feel of a pre-war apartment on the Upper East Side. I have been obsessed with mouldings since the launch of the The Plaza apartments in New York decorated by Versace. While I am not a fan of the Medusa motif, I found the use of white mouldings against black walls very chic. And I wanted to replicate that.

The bedroom at The Plaza apartments

On our Christmas trip to Italy, we stayed at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Florence and our room had beautiful mouldings in two shades of green. When we went to Rome after Florence, we stayed at a suite at the Westin which was painted in pale gray and accented by white mouldings. These two places made me want mouldings all the more.

Our room at the Four Seasons in Florence

Our suite at the Westin in Rome

Right now, we are still under discussions as to whether we would install mouldings or not. The biggest pro is that it will make the apartment look extremely chic. But there are a lot more cons: it will be an extra expense; it’s a rental so we would have to reinstate everything back to its original state; reinstating the apartment would also cost a lot of money. Andy said it wouldn’t that be difficult to reinstate to original conditions because installing mouldings is a lot like hanging a framed artwork on the wall, but with only just the frame and no picture in the middle. And besides, we’ve already drilled holes for all our artworks.

Dior's mouldings are also very chic

So the question now is, should we or shouldn’t we?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chic Covets

We are loving this Sellarsbrook Blue area rug from The Rug Company designed by Suzanne Sharp. Fell in love with it the first time we saw it at Lane Crawford. According to the, it is handmade using Tibetan wool. The interlocking circle motifs echo the design of the legs of the Lyric tables we ordered from Baker furniture, which arrived from the US today.

Our contractor Andy likes the rug because he said the circles look like coins, which in Chinese culture mean good luck and fortune.

Moving to Hong Kong Part 3

Curtain Call

The apartment is coming along nicely. Yesterday, one contractor installed our new curtains and another contractor hung our art while selling me the idea of installing mouldings on our walls (more on this later).

For the curtains, the colors are pretty much like our wall colors. A jewel tone green for the drapes in the living room in a lush silk-like material. The living room sheers are recycled from our apartment in Singapore. In the master bedroom, we used the same material as in the living room but in a different color. We used ecru with a black 6-inch border on the sides and the bottom to go with the black lacquered wall. We also installed them on the ceiling for more impact. It’s an old decorating trick that is employed to lengthen a room and to give an illusion that your windows are actually longer than they really are. The sheers are in a gauzy silvery metallic like fabric. For the guest bedroom, we used the curtains we had in our master bedroom in Singapore: drapes in pewter and sheers in charcoal. For the study, we used drapes that look like the color of blue sapphires. It will take a couple of days before the curtains will fall gracefully and for the creases to iron themselves out but needless to say, we are very pleased with the result. And again, the photos don’t do justice. I should use a camera and not my iPhone.

While the curtain installer was drilling holes for the rods in our bedroom, the other contractor was drilling holes on our walls. We placed our newly-acquired green James Nares artwork entitled Epigraph 4 against one pale green wall, above a mother of pearl console table with chrome legs. Our Richard Serra etching (Extension #3) went on the adjacent wall. The other Serra (Out the Window at the Square Diner), a lithograph, went on the opposite wall, right beside what will be a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with a working ladder come March. Both Serra’s we acquired on our trip to New York in September from Gemini G.E.L on Madison Avenue. A small orange Ellsworth Kelly is on one wall.

In the master bedroom hangs an oil pointing by Paolo Troilo which we bought one summer in Positano, Italy. A painting with such powerful and moving brushstrokes that it makes you wonder whether the subject is in pain or ecstasy.

As in our study in Singapore, we have a one wall that is a gallery of pictures and artworks we’ve collected over the years, some bought, others printed from past fashion editorials I worked on. The piece de resistance is the Alex Katz woodblock print.