Friday, July 27, 2012

The Biltmore -- What's not to XOXO?

In May, I visited The Biltmore for my very first time. I was totally bummed that photos were not permitted inside the house, and I respected that. Not once did i non chalantly pull out my iPhone and sneak a shot. The grounds gave me plenty of beauty to process anyway. Here are some of my favorite shots.
Near the entrance of the estate, there is a selection of garden blooms.
At first I wanted this shot w/o anyone, but I actually love boy in orange shirt in the distance.

Biltmore from the side. I get why people come here to take wedding photos.
One of the many statues on the grounds.
Limestone carvings have family symbols and fleur-de-lis that are looking mighty, ahem, phallic. 
All the copper work at Biltmore has the lovely aqua patina.
The air is so incredibly clean here.
My immaturity quickly resurfaces when I see a grotesque with boobies.  
The architectural tour took us to landings and rooftops.
Love the scale of these doors in the stables, converted to retail shops.
Speaking of retail, I loved the recycled metal toadstools in the garden shop.
The most unadorned room at Biltmore, the simplicity of this potting room inspires me.
Aliums - beautiful purple puff balls. 
Would make a nice frame or mirror design. 
vivid colors all around.
Red Hat ladies head for the conservatory. 
Love the rustic beauty of the upstairs room at the Stable Cafe

Ta Da!!

(P.S. There's more in-depth Biltmore architecture talk on Bob Vila)

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I XOXO old-fashioned storefronts, and I spied quite a few goodies on Hollywood Boulevard today. Melina's lingerie, with its generous display windows, terrazzo entrance, and scalloped valance was by far the most stylish. I particularly admired the way the yellow drapes and red ensemble echoed the colors in the sign above.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

He Said, She Said: David Bromstad and Maria Roca Chat about the NEED for Color

David Bromstad flanked by Maria Roca (left) and Betty Cortina-Weiss.
Photo: Jane Dagmi
I XOXO a good design event. I used to go to good press events all the time in NYC, but in Florida…not so much. Except Thursday (which wasn’t really a press event, but it was close enough) when David Bromstad came to the DCOTA, SoFla’s int'l design center. I arrived early, met my friend Cheryl Maeder, and we snagged front row seats. Jane Dagmi, design blogger, reporting for duty!

More flanking: The lighting wasn’t very forgiving outside of the men’s bathroom, 
but at least Cheryl and I got a shot with the Bromstud.
 I watch “Design Star” but never realized just how tall Bromstad was until Cheryl, my tall design pal, and I stood next to him. Fit and golden, he’s quite the Bromstud! Though he and I didn’t get any alone time, he seemed genuine. Cheryl’s met David at his studio. She confirms his niceness, “He was so gracious, warm and inviting. I immediately felt comfortable around his space.” When asked, “What’s changed since becoming a celeb?”  Bromstad replied, “I’m no longer starving!” Then he added, “I like to think I’m the same guy, still a big nerd, doing what I love at an extraordinary job.”

Bromstad briefly traced his creative life back to his Minnesota boyhood. He loved to draw and was happy with crayons, a sketch book, and a little TV going in the background (that made me happy too). He went on to study illustration and animation at the Ringling College of Art & Design. The Little Mermaid-obsessed coed was psyched about the school’s proximity to Disney. “Could I be any gayer?” he asks jokingly.

 Bromstad did end up working at Disney for a while and he also was designing kids spaces. Then came “Design Star,” Season One. Bromstad says he was initially intimidated by his chic-looking and comparatively-more-experienced competitors. “What saved me,” he recalled, “is that I could DIY everything and could put together color combinations.” The rest is history and the future holds more design and more Bromstad branding.

Bromstad shared yesterday’s spotlight with wallpaper entrepreneur/fashionista Maria Roca of New Wall. Moderator Betty Cortina-Weiss, Editor-in-Chief of “Indulge,” the Miami Herald’s new full-color lifestyle and d├ęcor magazine, volleyed colorful questions between the two. The banter was playful. The discussion focused on color. Here are snippets from the conversation.*

BCW: Finish this sentence. “Color should be…”
MR:    Fun!
DB:     I was gonna say that! (pause) Not underestimated.

BCW:  What is your most vivid color memory?
DB:      Going to the local hardware store with my dad and seeing all those paint colors.

BCW: Is there a color that should be banished?
DB: There is no bad color, just bad color choices. I don’t banish. All colors are beautiful in their own place.

BCW: Describe your biggest color mistake.
DB:     It was the 4th “Color Splash” and we were doing a living room with a night club feel. The homeowners wanted beige. Well, beige is the hardest color to pick out – then and now. And it looked like flesh. Flesh on the wall – kind of pinky, orangey, and tan – never looks good. Luckily it was paint and we could just paint over it. 

I couldn’t find navy flocked wallpaper on the New Wall site,
but I found this beautiful turquoise one from J&V..
Image found here.
BCW: What is the most underutilized color on walls?
MR:    Navy Blue.
(she goes onto explain that her boudoir is papered in a navy flocked design)
DB:     Pink. It can be so beautifully done in a masculine way, but it’s underutilized because it’s considered feminine. A soft pink on the ceiling……..
(I’m secretly cheering as Bromstad praises pink for all humans including men. You know who I’ll be calling when I write “Pink for Guys” Part 2.”)

In a ColorSplash episode, citrus brights transform a mundane dining area. Love the wispy flokati, but not loving the idea of crumbs and frequent vacuuming. Image from here.
BCW: What are the biggest mistakes designers and homeowners make with color?
MR: Not enough of it.
DB:  Too safe with it. Color should be in every space. It has such a big impact especially in a neutral room.  We should push clients to use it…not over the edge or anything…but  a good nudge.

David Bromstad-designed room. Image found on his Pinterest.
BCW: What color trends are you seeing at the moment?
MR:     Hot pink, lime green, teal, gold.

BCW: What’s timeless?
DB:     White….and black.
Love this Marimekko dot wall covering. Image from New Wall.
BCW: Do you have some color advice?
MR:    Don’t be afraid of color. It really is something beautiful.
DB:     Don’t be scared to commit.
MR:    Don’t be concerned what other people think.

 (major applause)

BCW: What turns you on?
MR:     Interior design magazines. I’m a magazine junkie.

BCW: What turns you off?
DB:     Sets of furniture. Matchy matchy. It’s like….c’mon people.

BCW: If heaven exists what would you want to hear when you arrive?
DB:    Finally, someone to decorate!

The crowd was hysterical. Roca can't trump that. Nobody could. She made an attempt, “Finally some wallpaper!” But that just didn’t cut it, and she knew it, and we laughed with her. Roca did confirm, however, that Victoria Secret's NYC flagship store will soon be decorated with New Wall!

A Q&A followed. Most people addressed Bromstad. One of the questions asked was not about decorating. It was about BEING. He was asked about being a publicly gay celebrity. Bromstad answered, “I’m just myself. I don’t try and hide who I am. I try to be a good role model but I am who I am.”

And I shall end on that fine note!

*(The conversation was not taped, but rather recorded by hand. I took notes, messy ones at that. I do my best to transcribe "as said", and to represent those whom I feature authentically.)