The key to it all…


So, one day (the first week of July, 1980, to be exact), my dad brings my mom a cartoon by Dean Vietor clipped from the New Yorker, and says, “This is Bob!”

A guy kneeling at his bed prays, ‘I don’t ask for much, but what I get should be of very good quality.’


I was lucky enough to be surrounded by quality from an early age. My dad was Baker Furniture’s West Coast manufacturer’s rep, and as such, our house always had really good furniture coming in (and going out of- he was always the salesman!) our house. His office was at the Baker showroom in Los Angeles, and he would go in periodically on weekends. Some of my best memories are of his taking me with him and being able to roam from room to room- literally getting lost in the maze of the perfectly designed spaces. It was like being in the movies. I’d plunk myself down in a room setup and imagine the lives of the people who would live in such a room and how I was a part of that world. I was hooked. Before leaving, he go through the showroom and I’d watch as he zhooshed the accessories on the table surfaces and then flip off the lights. The funny thing was that he’d also always do this at home, too. He was constantly in motion, and as he would walk by a table, he’d scoot a tea caddy, turn an ashtray, or re-angle a framed photograph. His sample case would always be filled with rings of fabric samples, and I’d sit in our living room and flip through them and put them together in different combinations. It was an aesthetic education from an early age, and all the while I learned the importance of quality.

And, true to the cartoon, I believe that one doesn’t need a lot, but what one has should be the best quality affordable because quality lasts.

Quality grows with you and moves with you from house to house.

Quality can be refinished or recovered.

Quality is passed on to the next generation.

Quality is key.


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Sharing space

Library:diningIn tight spaces, there’s always room for multi-function. Under the deft hand of Madeline Stuart, a corner of a living room acts as a library-cum-intimate dining space (great table, a couple of interesting chairs, window bench seating- check!). And that Donald Kaufman color is crazy good!Paint





(DKC-11 from Donald Kaufman)

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IMG_1584Time together as a family around the table is good for everyone involved, and recent research has proved this. It’s this time that anchors families. It’s not the big holiday feasts once or twice a year, but the regular, reliable, shared meals that count. Shared meals send the message that citizenship in a family entails certain standards beyond individual whims. The power of this habit may not materialize immediately, but there will be a time when the family lingers at the table engrossed in a story or listening to each other’s point of view within the safety-net of the family table where no one is wrong, guilty, or shy, that you get a glint of the power of this ritual. This is where children learn what it means to be a “Jones” or “Smith” – to be a part of a group and a part of a history shared through time spent together at the table. Rutgers anthropologist, Robin Fox, teaches about the mysterious ways that meals, shared together, around the family table, engrave a soul: “A meal is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture.”

I’m fortunate to have the table I grew up with as a child in my home now, as an adult. The voices of my grandparents sharing their stories and the presence of my mother presiding over dinner are a part of this table, though they are no longer physically at the table. If I look closely at the grain of the wood, I can also make out the impressions of school work and term papers hand written on it by my brothers and sister and me which adds to this sense of history, my history, that the table embodies and that I’m still adding to.

The table. It’s about community, conversation, and connecting with one another. This is where life events are toasted, where holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries are celebrated, and where family and friends can gather and share in the most primal and nurturing of rituals: the meal.

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So, just who had the idea?!


Marie Antoinette may just have had the most recognizable décolletage in history, all thanks to the champagne coupe- that old-time glass shape said to be modeled after the ill-fated Queen’s breast (Which one- right or left? We’ll never know!). Like all cocktail accessories, the coupe is having a bit of a renaissance, thanks to Riedel, the 300 year old Austrian glass company. They’ve brought back the Veritas Coupe for you to enjoy your bubbly from- quite appropriate, since Marie was an Austrian princess before she transformed herself into Queen of France. y-_images_riedel_veritas_web_6449-09_veritas_02_black_1



Riddle is marketing these as useful for martinis and other cocktails, which is smart- who has room for glassware with only one purpose? Okay, I do…







Dom glass



I still LOVE my Baccarat Dom Perignon flutes introduced in the 70’s, and still made today. For me, they are the epitome of that hyper-cool decade. And shouldn’t drinking champagne be a transformative experience?! So whether you dream of the Ancien Regime, Gatsby’s Long Island or breezy LA in the 70’s, enjoy. Cheers!

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Table Tricks

It’s always a good idea to have a cleaver trick up your sleeve for just the right moment, and being able to create these beautiful chairs out of the cages from atop champagne bottles could  just the thing! Copy and clip to keep in your wallet, or better yet, buy a few bottles of bubbly and practice till you can do it from memory! Thanks House Beautiful!

Champagene cageMake a dozen of these and they could become place card holders for your next shindig! While it could take up to 12 bottles of wine to make a set, which could be pretty pricey depending on your brand loyalty, think of the fun you’ll have consuming said wine! Just remember, friends don’t let friends drink and craft- or DO they??!

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It’s not YOUR Old Family Dining Room…

OldFamilyDiningRoomThat’s for sure! The Old Family Dining Room at the White House has been in need of refreshening for awhile! Back in 2011, when I was part of the team that decorated the White House for Christmas, we had our lunch in this room during the 3 days we worked in the residence. What was once a seldom photographed very dated yellow room and previously off limits to tours, is now on display and has entered a new age. The new design to the 200 year old room has brought with it some lovely things from the past as well as some strikingly modern features. The wall color as gone a beautiful, neutral greige. The Philadelphia bookcase on the south wall of the room has been filled with 20th-century American tableware. Four works of American abstract art — a favorite of the First Family’s — have also been donated to the permanent White House collection and placed in the dining room. Of special note is the piece, Resurrection by Alma Thomas (1891-1978, which is the first piece of art by an African American woman to be part of the permanent White House collection. Of the other antiques in the room, a 1780 chandelier, an 1800 mahogany table and a sideboard that once belonged to Daniel Webster with a silver tea service from the 1939 Word’s Fair set on it.

363Michelle Obama Tourists


I like that the host chairs are at the midpoint of the long sides rather than being on the ends. These are the chairs that Mrs. Kennedy used to remodel the room with, and the new curtains are a nod the the less formal style of drapery that she chose when she redecorated the room in 1962.


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