Loving Out Loud: Pickwick Weller …

There is something to be said for the laid back approach that most Californian men take to style.  Jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt are the basis for many of my male friend’s wardrobe, present company included.  However, as I have gotten older, the appeal of a 3-pack of Hanes white tees is lost on me.  My t-shirts serve multiple duties from casual to work, so I need a work horse — something that I could throw on in a rush but just as easily throw a blazer on and present to a client in a pinch, so I was excited to be introduced to a new player in the tee market, Pickwick Weller. . .

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The concept is simple; tees made from beautiful fabrics, cut to drape the body. Insane right?  The brand recently opened up a showroom in San Francisco and I was able to tour the space and get a better idea of the quality of the pieces…..

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For men, they have divided their Fall collection in several different fits but my favorite is the cashmere Stuart tee.  It is a combination of lightweight cashmere & cotton, aside from feeling luxurious, the design team didn’t miss any details.  The Stuart features an awesome “spine” detail down the back and French seams — perfect for those individuals who tend to get irritated by the seams and tags in their clothing.

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Rather than open up a traditional retail space, the brand opted to do a showroom.  Customers can come into the space, try in a variety of tees, get a feel for the fit and quality of each piece and decide which ones to order with the help of the showroom staff.  The space exudes the Pickwick Weller ethos of refined, understated and cool….

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The long-sleeve Stuart is what I have my eye on and it I am positive it will become part of my staples come Fall!

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PopSugar Home Profile: San Francisco High Rise….

This week PopSugar Home (formerly Casa Sugar) profiled one of my San Francisco projects.  Over the last two years, I have worked pretty extensively in the One Hawthorne building in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco.  The modern high-rise is completely new construction and has fantastic amenities the least being walking distance all that downtown SF has to offer.

The concept for the space was “Quiet Riot” — the clients loved a variety of different styles and had a few dissimilar pieces they wanted to incorporate into the final design.  I really took cues from how the clients planned to live in the space — they aren’t huge party throwers and lead rather hectic professional lives.  The condo was their place of recoup, reenergize and reconnect.  However, they have great personalities full of humor and wit so I wanted the final design to also reflect that.  Finally, they had two adorable cats that have free reign over the space, so everything we put into the condo had to be cat-tested and approved.  Which on a side note, is NO easy task thanks so their “adorable predisposition” of sharpening their claws on very expensive furniture.  But with a little trial-and-error and some smart material choices, we were able to create a space that feels modern, luxe but approachable…….

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For the full story and additional pictures of the space, visit PopSugar Home.  If you are looking for interior design assistance in the Bay Area, please feel free to
contact me
to get more information on the services I provide!

I am off for vacation in Hawaii to celebrate a friend’s wedding as well as a few days to of doing nothing.  I say this not to rub it in but I inform that I may be a bit spotty with my blogging next week….you know being how hard it is to balance a packed schedule of drinking, eating pineapple and sunbathing……ALOHA!

[photo credit: photo by Adza]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Play Date: St. George Distillery ….

The Bay Area reminds me of a huge puzzle box.  If you can figure out how to unlock it’s twists and turns you are rewarded with wonderful surprises.  This is the case with the quaint city of Alameda…..well actually the island of Alameda.  The city is on an island in the East Bay off the tip of Oakland and only a ferry ride’s away from San Francisco.  It is home to a variety of beautiful Victorian homes, a quaint downtown and of course the infamous Alameda Flea Market.  However, what alot of people don’t realize is that the city use to be home to a large military base that was decommissioned in the 90s.

What was left was a large swath of barren concrete dotted with large hangers.  It could have easily been taken by nature and left to disrepair but being that “developable” land is at a premium in Northern California, the hangers quickly became home to a multitude of business, both industrial and commercial.  Nestled on the edge of the base is small but impressive distillery called St. George Spirits ……

St. George Spirits Sign

With friends from out of the country visiting for the weekend, a visit to St. George seemed the perfect alternative to fighting traffic (and costly tasting fees) in wine country.  A 15 minute drive from the house, we arrived at the location and was greeted with a beautiful tasting room in muted greys, dark woods and gleaming copper.  A $15 dollar fee gives you a 30 minute tour of the facilities but a tasting of 7 different spirits at the tasting bar…..

St. George Stairs

The tour itself was more informative than I imagined yet simple enough for the non-chemists and bio majors in the group (raises my hand….).  The tour takes you through the process that the distillery uses to make their most popular liquors including vodka, gin and whisky.  On a side note, did you know that you can make vodka out of anything?  Vodka is merely a term that means a liquor was distilled to have 95% alcohol.  Interesting huh?

Distiller

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Tanks Rye Platform

After the tour, we tasted a variety of different spirits all made on premise including their signature Hanger One vodka.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by their wonderful gins – clean with a hint of juniper berry.  This isn’t the gin that we had in college; this is for sipping and for a classic cocktail.  You don’t need to hide these liquors under heavy and sweet mixers …. this is booze for grown-ups (who occasionally act like kids when tipsy)….

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Drinks Set Up

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As the afternoon tasting ended, I think I scored the perfect trifecta of (1) impressing out-of-town guests with a hidden gem, (2) got to explore and play “tourist” with my guests and (3) score some good booze for the bar!  I think is this is called winning……

[photography: courtney lake – don’t laugh]

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Talking Out Loud: Zainido Decor…..

There has been an explosion of young entrepreneurs along the West Coast that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of young business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  “Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

Fate has a way of introducing you to people you need to have in your life.  That is how I felt when I responded to an online ad selling a pair of vintage chairs.  Meeting the seller, Dana, was like meeting a long-lost friend…..warm, witty, passionate about design and pretty darn funny.  Aside from discovering her love of vintage, I pleasantly surprised she is a purveyor of high-end mid-century art glass.  Her shop & showroom is filled with amazing pieces in every hue of the rainbow for rental or sale.  She quickly became my defacto source for art glass and the occasional gabfest, so I am excited to share Dana and her shop Zainido Decor with you…..

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Why opening up a mid-century store specializing in art glass?  There are so many different types of retail stores to open, so what was it about the San Francisco/Bay area landscape that promoted you to open this type shop? 

Glass, to me, has always been a stunning component that can be added to any room. Either in groupings or as a statement piece, it does a seductive dance with light that is hard to resist. I am a firm believer that when you specialize in something, your energy is focused on learning and putting out the best products, so as a collector of glass, it just made sense to be a vintage company that specialized in Mid-century Glass and ceramics.

I was actually born in Phoenix, AZ, but raised in the SF Bay Area and I’ve always had a love affair with it. In terms of design & antiques, the Bay Area has always loved me back with opportunities in the diversity of clientele and their vision.

Did you have a previous career before opening up Zainido Vintage?  If so, what was it and has it helped you with the current business?

I did. I am an Interior Designer by trade and a lifelong student of history. With these two, they have definitely given me my grounding when it comes to knowing design styles and identification. I feel that being able to identify what period an aspect of design, such as a fabric, a furnishing or an object is from in really important and often overlooked when it comes Interior Design. I think that might be the “purist” in me.

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What is it about art glass and mid-century furnishings that interesting to you?  What intrinsic or aesthetic qualities about the material/medium drew you to it?

In Mid-century Modern, you had risk that were taken and an innovation with materials and shapes that just doesn’t happen in the present day.  I was collecting MCM before I knew what it was called, so I have always gravitated to the style, admittedly over time my style has changed, but it will always be Mid-century Modern.  When it comes to glass, there is something so magnificent about a material that you can form with fire, whether it is translucent or opaque that mimics the brilliance of gems.

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Where do you get your products from for the store?  What criteria do you use to select fabrics to present to your customers? 

I source everywhere, even in different cities. Funny enough, its come to a point where, if I walk into an establishment like a thrift shop or antique store, all I see is the glass and go directly to it, like an obsessive tunnel vision. Even, lately when I watch TV, I’m looking at what is behind the acting on the cabinet or the table.

At the center of it all, I am a collector FIRST. I buy based on beauty, what I love, what moves. Over time, as my buying has evolved, it has also stepped up as well. My clientele, know my style, trust it and keep coming back for more. That’s what has worked for me; it’s a sort of consistency.

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In your expert opinion, what are you looking at when selecting a piece of vintage art glass?  Any tips you can share for determining the age or value of a piece?

I’m always paying attention to colors and color trends, which play a large part in how I buy and how my clients buy. For instance, with Emerald being chosen as this year’s color by Pantone, I have noticed a high demand for greens in general.

Here are some rules I use when searching for that special piece:

  • Decanters with flame tip stoppers and apothecaries with the ball handles are not being made in the present day because the stoppers and the lids are too difficult to mass-produce. So if you find a decanter with a flame tip stopper or an apothecary with a lid, chances are this piece is vintage.
  • If a piece has a “Pontil” mark (an organic looking button on the bottom of a hand-blown glass piece where the pontil rod was broken off after the piece was finished) on the bottom, then it’s probably older and definitely hand-blown. More recent pieces have this ground down creating a circular carved out effect on the bottom. There are some exceptions though.
  • There are some shapes and textures in vintage glass that aren’t being reproduced today as well, for instance, the optic pattern that is often seen in goblets and decanters, the linear optic pattern that can be seen in goblets and apothecaries are great indications of an older piece. Additionally while some shapes are always around others have remained in the past giving them a special home in the mid-century cabinet.

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Like myself, you are a minority business owner in the rather competitive world of design.  Do you think your experiences as an African-American woman have influenced your design aesthetic and how you do business?

Definitely. As a design student, I sought out mentors in the design industry and  never had one. So I promised myself that when I was finally out there as a professional, I would do all I could to nurture up and coming minority designers and retailers that wanted help.

As a business owner, I also try to embrace other minority businesses in the industry because I do feel that they often don’t get the exposure in the design industry.

So I have to ask, where did the name of your shop Zainido Decor come from?  

I plead the fifth. Let’s just say, when you are last on a list, you have the last  word. Wink.

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If money was no object, is there a piece of art glass or mid-century jewel that you would go out and buy for yourself?

It would have to be a structure. There’s a house that I’m always walking through in my dreams that is the perfect combination of about 6 famous houses. So my answer would be, I would build the most amazing house & then put all my pretties in it!

You opened up what many would say is a non-traditional retail store and have succeeded quite well with it.  What piece of advice would you give to a budding retailer who is looking to open up his or her own store?

I would tell them 5 things-

  1.  Do it, Do it, Do it. Don’t let anyone tell you how hard it is, how much money you need or that you will fail. If it is your passion you will do well.
  2. Keep your overhead extremely low. The money going out of your business should be very well accounted for.
  3. Start small, meaning, you can always find a bigger space, when you need It. You can always hire some help, when you need it & etc. Its harder to scale down then to scale up.
  4. Put on a good face at all hours. If you have a display window in your space, make sure it is a showstopper 24 hours a day. Install good lighting so it sparkles at night. You’d be surprised how many people shop your store just by walking by.
  5. Rotate, Rotate, Rotate your merchandise. Create a different vignette every week. It’s not mandatory to constantly buy new merchandise, especially if its slow. Give you customers a new way to see it.

You are also a Mom to a beautiful daughter who is now watching her home run a successful design business.  Do you see her taking the reigns at some point and helping with the family business? If so, what is the one thing you will tell her that you wish someone had told you about design?

I would love it if she decided to go into the design business. She loves “mommy’s glass”, all the colors and going to the flea markets with me.  I would probably tell her to walk to the beat of her own drum and follow her instincts after school. There is no set program or directive that design students need to take after they graduate and I believe being young with vision is an essential key to happiness and success. Which is exactly what I did!

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THANK YOU Dana!  I love Dana’s approach to her business as well as the sage bits of advice she is dropping for wannabe retailers.  As a new shop owner, some of these points hit home for me and are definitely now burned into my psyche.  To see more of Dana’s art glass and other mid-century finds she has for sale and rent, visit Zainido Decor!

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Motivational Monday: Dreaming….

Victor Hugo Dream Quote

This weekend my dreams and reality met, shook hands and became friends.  No I didn’t enter a committed “thruple” with David Beckham and The Partner (still dreaming that one!) but I did have the amazing opportunity to spend the last few days being part of the San Francisco Style Summit through Joy & Revelry , a new online destination for home decor.  Along with a host of other fantastic bloggers, I spent the three days discussing the launch of something that I have always dreamed of…..my own store!

Joy And Revelry Style Mavens

Yuppers folks, I along with the beautiful ladies above have been selected by Joy and Revelry to be part of their inaugural Style Maven crew.  Each of us over the next several weeks will be rolling out our respective store fronts on the Joy and Revelry platform.  This is the real deal y’all – I get to choose the vendors, the product selection down to how the store will be viewed by you all –  I get to concept and create everything – I am literally tingly with anticipation.

This weekend, we shot photography as well as video at a beautiful home in the East Bay.  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a flurry of shots of the team in action.  You also got to see the craziness that we ensue to get the perfect shot and the sheer number of people it takes to make something look effortless.  From my sore areas, bruises on my shins and mangled manicure, there is nothing effortless about styling a photo shoot!  Here are a few of my favorite behind the scene moments……

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Running between two different shoots ….. and pretending that I wasn’t stressed.  Sorta reminds me of a designer pink flamingo – just minus the pink….

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Poor interns! They had to clean that gigantic fireplace, load it with firewood for the shot and then unload it afterwards…..

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But never let it be said that I didn’t do my fair share of the grunt work… I busted out the leaf blower so I could get the perfect shot!

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And this is my favorite shot from the weekend….laughter, photography and a touch of neon pretty much sums it up!

Now what lies ahead is the hard work…long hours, tough decisions and the possibility of failure.  But in the end, nothing venture, nothing gained right?  We rarely get the opportunity to turn a dream into a reality, so I am going to savor the moment and then dive in head first!  Stay tuned for updates on when the store goes lives and some awesome things we have in store just for you….

Have a fantastic week and keep believing in your dreams because they can come true!

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The “Captain” Is Now On Board…

Things are officially back to normal after my “north of the border” jaunt. I have officially signed up a new client in an adorable apartment in downtown San Francisco that was formerly a bank – imagine steel casement windows and a lot of potential that was wrecked with a crap-o-tastic conversion that stripped away the majority of the space’s character. Armed with a small budget, I am going to do my best to bring some life back into the space.

Yet as one door opens, I am winding down on a project I have grown to love, Calvert Court. For those of you who don’t remember, Calvert Court is my mid-century modern project that I have been profiling since February. Slowly but surely we have worked on the kitchen and bedroom as well as the living room. The dining room has gotten a few tweaks, mostly because the other rooms ate up the budget. However, we splurged on getting new captain’s chairs for the dining table.

Well not actually — the clients had the chairs stored in their garage and I thought the shape was perfect for the space. In addition, we needed something to help tie in a rather bossy rug that the clients love to the living room. So taking my cues from the rug, I pulled the turquoise and the citrus green color and had the upholstery workroom do a two-tone treatment to the existing captain’s chairs…

We actually got two seat covers made – one in the green show and the other in the same Romo burnout velvet. Speaking of the velvet, it is like touching the butt of a baby angle wrapped in cashmere that was sprinkled with talcum powder….perfection. The green is an indoor/outdoor fabric from the remnant pile of my local discount fabric store. I loved the texture of the pattern and the fact that you can soak it in red wine and it comes out right out with a damp sponge is pretty awesome in my book.

When I got the chairs back from the upholsterer, I will admit, I was nervous. The seats seemed a tad garish in the bright light of my car port. I panicked and checked my bank account to see if I could afford new chairs. Fortunately, my fears were alleviated when I placed them into their intended home….

Ahhhh…….I can breathe. I am loving them in their new home. The pattern and color play nicely with the rug. The gold to he bar cart picks up the metallic highlights in the fabric and the green pulls in the accents from the rug and living room.

Success!

Excuse me while I go pat myself on the back, while I wait for some other ego deflater to come along and knock me down a peg or three. So tell me, have you ever gone the “weird combo” route and found out in the end, that you loved it?

Shelving is finally being built at Hawthorne Street (yah!) but that means I am onsite all day thanks to the stupid HOA rules (boo). Since I am stuck onsite, feel free to chat with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter as well as Instagram (@CourtneyOutLoud).

Pardon Me….

Hey y’all I am out today celebrating the grandest holiday of all… Post Christmas Sales.  It’s a tradition I started many years ago when I was too broke to afford normal Christmas shopping.  I would wait until the day after Christmas and rack up some great deals and then promptly place the gifts in the mail with the excuse that the post office delayed delivery.

I am sure that my family knew the real reason their presents were late and were polite enough to play along.  However, since then the tradition has morphed into a full frontal assault on retail including game plans, strategy and synchronized  attack across the city of San Francisco on various retail establishments.

Shopping with me peeps is a battle – it’s fast paced, people may be lost on the field and someone may leave with a black eye but as long as I get cashmere for 70% off all is forgiven.  This is shopping until you drop…..

Now  if you will excuse me, I have to figure out the quickest routes to enter and exit the Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store…..

I promise to be back tomorrow with a normal post!  Hope your Christmas was awesome!

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