by Marisa Marcantonio

After visiting the Veranda sponsored House of Windsor showhouse while in LA recently, I got to see decorative details and architectural aspects up close that my initial showhouse post images were not able to convey. One of the reasons I love this showhouse is because the architectural details are beautifully executed. After seeing several showhouses in newly constructed modern apartment buildings recently, the classical details Windsor used feel much warmer and more to my taste.

Double height ceilings and high mahogany doors create the feeling of being in a french chateau.

The center hall, with a grey painted chair rail, runs straight through the house from the front door to the back. Rooms are accessed off this hall, done in a limestone and marble diamond pattern with a wide border.

A marble surround makes a place to hang plates and platters stand out. Wainscotting painted grey makes the back pop, adding a nice contrast to the white china. Wide reclaimed oak floorboards give the kitchen a "been there forever" look.

Windsor took an old cabinet and built it into the wall. The cabinet fits a washer and dryer below with practical shelving above.

The bath that connects the children's room and the nursery has inexpensive materials mixed with Ikea sinks and pull out baskets for laundry. This way of using space creatively and functionally is what makes a good showhouse room really stand out.

Old and new materials came together throughout the house. Here, old wood beams define the ceiling, the contrast and pattern make it more interesting.

In the nursery, built in book cases surround a double door closet. The wallpaper backed shelves are a great way to add color and take advantage of every surface.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Checking in with the LA design tastemakers and influencers Mary McDonald, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Leslie Hunt, Hillary Thomas, Windsor Smith, Madeline Stuart, Brooke Gianetti, Katie Leede, Rose Tarlow and Marjorie Skouras, I wanted to get their take on what is hot in LA now. From their favorite coffee spots to antique shopping, I knew I would get a cross section of the best places to go and wanted to share them with you.

Photo courtesy Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
Byzantine candle makes a great holiday present-- get yours at his website here.

Here are a few of his favorite things:
-The Anthropology store in Santa Monica is the best and has wonderful home department as does the brand new flag ship that's opened on Beverly drive in Beverly Hills.
-Richard Shapiro's chic gift department within his antique store includes beautiful books , jewels and Armand Diradourian cashmere throws.
-The new Kathryn Ireland showroom in Almont Yard is fab and Nathan Turner's pop up shop in Brentwood is brilliant-- complete with my candles.
-Fave restaurant is Mozza for the best pizza in town and for Sunday lunch, a traditional British style gathering at the Soho house along with the entire Osbourne clan.


Whatever Leslie does, she does with style. From setting a holiday table to getting designing a whimsical window treatment, her verve comes through. She began her career at Mark Hampton and Scott Snyder, and works with classical design elements creating beautiful rooms. She too has a decorator mom, so she grew up around the business, going to showhouses and antique shops.

Photos by Miguel Flores- Vianna
In a relaxing yet elegant living room, Leslie was creative with the layout, and created an L-shaped banquette for maximum seating, complete with an upholstered ottoman. Whenever I visit her in LA, she fills me in on her favorite haunts since she is a born and raised local.

- Favorite lunch spot with friends is the Thyme Cafe and Market in Santa Monica and Maison Midi on La Brea

- For coffee, Luxxe Cafe in Brentwood is amazing

- My home shopping faves include Big Daddy's Antiques, Almont Yard, JF Chen and everything on La Cienega Blvd.

- For fashion, I love Market in Brentwood and Aura Boutique in Santa Monica

- When I want a night of glam drinks, Tavern Bar in Brentwood fits the bill

- To enjoy the gorgeous California setting I visit The Getty Center gardens

- Growing up here I have places I adore like The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Abbot Kinney anytime, catching summer concert at The Hollywood Bowl, the flea market at the Rose Bowl and hiking Paseo Miramar in Pacific Palisades


Photos courtesy of Hillary Thomas
Designer and lifestyle gal Hillary Thomas has a great new design idea she has just launched on her site called Hillary@home. It is a service for those with a do-it-yourself can do spirit that may not need a soup to nuts renovation or full design services. They put together the color, furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories schemes and then the client does the leg work, making the purchases and playing and active role in the design installation at their desired pace.

Above, a schematic comes together. This is a great way to access Hillary’s experience and eye, without the issues of time, distance or budget. It is a digital design dream come true.

We grew up in the same town and used to ice skate together, so I knew she was a style maven and a go - to for some good scoop!

Here are her favorite things in LA:
- For lunch with the girls, Soho House. Sitting outside on the roof deck around a Koi pond surrounded by Olive trees is simply heaven!

- For Coffee, it's the Fountain Coffee Shop downstairs at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The BEST!

- For dinner and drinks, I love the Chateau Marmot for the old school feel of the hotel. Very LA! Then there is The Roger Room on La Cienega, a speak easy with a mixologist.

- I get a fashion fix at small boutiques like Church, Curve, and Elyse Walker.

Photo by Lisa Romerein
With a gorgeous globally tinged collection of printed fabrics and a busy design practice, Katie Leede finds her inspiration her travels to far flung places. She uses ethnic pieces, ancient relics and fine antiques in a varied way, creating truly unique and beautiful interiors.

Here are Katie's favorites:
- My morning: I walk Noodles my Schnoodle to Café Luxxe on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica for a coffee the most scrumptious almond croissant EVER.

-Shopping at L Frank, Liseanne Frankfurt’s jewelry shop

-Casual, cafeteria style lunch at Lemonade or hip Gjelina’s in the garden and If I get really lucky and the stars align with our schedules, I meet the decorator gals Mary McDonald, Lizzie Dinkel, Kim Alexandruick and Molly Isaakson for lunch at the eponymous Polo Lounge

- dinner at a local hideaway for simple Italian fare, Locanda Portofino

- Shopping with clients, I head straight for La Cienega Design Quarter-the stretch of La Cienega between Santa Monica Blvd, and Melrose. You can practically decorate a house in an afternoon by hitting Todd Romano, where I just picked up a zebra rug lined in lime green felt, Hollyhock, Mecox Gardens, Jean de Merry, Paul Marra, Downtown, Lee Stanton for all things English, Hollywood at Home for groovy fabrics,Therien for surprising mid century finds, George Smith, Christopher Farr for contemporary collector carpets, Lucca Antiques, and Pat McGann

Photos courtesy of Giannetti Home
Brooke Giannetti writes the fantastic blog Velvet and Linen, shops for and runs a store, Giannetti Home at 11980 San Vicente Blvd.with her architect husband, Steve and does interior design. How does she do it?

A rustic mix of weathered pieces and re-purposed materials fill Giannetti Home.

Swedish furniture with light finishes and Parisian finds are displayed amidst a great selection of the latest greatest design books.

Some of Brooke and Steve's favorites:
- Dinner at R&D for great burgers and martinis, Blue Plate for yummy American casual dinners

-If we're in the mood for Gnocchi or Ciopino, Spumoni on Montana or San Vicente is the place!

- We also love Babalu for Cuban food with a California twist

- Luxxe Cafe has the best coffee drinks in town!

- For a fashion dose, Rita's Rags on Montana has comfortable classics. I live in their cashmere wraps.

- My favorite place to shop for vintage and great finds are the Rose Bowl, Long Beach Stadium, and Santa Monica Airport flea markets

In product news, there are great designs coming out of LA:


Photos courtesy of Robert Abbey
These LA gals are busy-- Mary McDonald has a hot new design tome and a new lighting collection with Robert Abbey , where she re-imagined the glamorous lighting looks from the past and interpreted them for today. The Annika Lamp in a red hot and gold finish.

The Ondine Sconce with crystal ball detail

The statuesque Ondine Floor Lamp with circle detail and ball feet


Photos courtesy of Marjorie Skouras
Designer and product creator Marjorie Skouras embraces color in everything she does. This San Francisco native spent an inspired year on the island of Corfu, where luxe materials made their mark on her design. In addition to her interior design, she became an editorial darling with her inventive lighting line. The coral chandelier and white sea urchin sconce put her on the map and she continues to amaze with her beautiful pieces in unique materials.
A Malachite Stone Topped Table with skinny hammered gilt legs is like jewelery in a room.
Working with semi precious stone beads, black coral, turquoise, pin jade and red coral has been worked into a single tassel tieback.


Photos courtesy of Madeline Stuart
A lively library Madeline Stuart designed in a Bel Air Georgian home. Since 1998, she has been doing collection of furniture in classic forms with a modern sensibility, handmade in Los Angeles. The line has grown to include over 70 pieces.
The Fielding Chest of Mahogany is a classic piece, available with brass or nickel banded drawers and hardware.
A cozy sofa, the Burlingame, is worthy of a long Football game watching session.

These are a few of her favorite things:
- Interiors: La Cienega Blvd. and adjacent Melrose Place for great antique shops and fabulous fashion boutiques.

- Breakfast: I’ve been going to Nate ‘n Al’s delicatessen-- it’s still my number one spot for Sunday breakfast. Not hip, not chic and sadly Fred Astaire and Groucho Marx are no longer regulars, but it remains a classic spot for LA locals.

- Drinks: The Roger Room on La Cienega for drinks. The décor is fabulous and the drinks are impeccably made. A very old-fashioned, new fangled place, perfectly realized.

- Dinner: I love Jeff Klein’s Sunset Tower Hotel for dinner. It’s one of the most urbane spots in town and the lighting is incredibly flattering!

- Shopping: This girl can’t help it—I’m still a huge fan of Neiman Marcus for all the right reasons it's gracious and glamorous, with exemplary service and fabulous stuff! But lest I offend my friends at Barney’s, I must quickly add that I divide my loyalties between these two great temples to consumerism on Wilshire Blvd! I adore Mameg for their highly intelligent, exquisitely curated collection of clothes.

- Vintage: The Way We Wore is a haven for those seeking impeccable vintage

- LA stuff: Will Rogers house museum and polo field in Pacific Palisades for a sense of what LA was like in the 20’s. The newly opened Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica for great architecture, Hollywood history and inspiring philanthropy. The beach! Because being 20 minutes away from the ocean is what’s really fantastic about living in LA!


Photo courtesy of Michael Wells
With her successful fabric collection for Kravet and other cool stuff in the works, the bubbly designer Windsor Smith has recently added new classic designs with a twist to her Windsor Smith Home Collection.

Photos courtesy of Windsor Smith
This amazing tufted headboard makes a luxe Marie Antoinette statement in girly pink.

The Colony Breakfront with fretwork detail and mercury glass doors brings the allure of early American antiques into today with a sharp white finish.
Her De'Wolf Double Chaise adds a dose of glamour and the desire to languor.

And honoring those that helped pave the way...


Photo courtesy of Rose Tarlow Melrose House
Over the past 35 years, Rose Tarlow has come to represent true California style in her interiors through a combination of furniture with mellow finishes, soft textures and tonal settings. Her new showrooms in LA and the D and D Building signal a renewed interest in her beautiful sense of style and design genius with its mix of art, objects and handmade furnishings and fabrics.
This year, she is being honored by The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's decorative arts and design council with their 3rd annual Design Leadership Award from for her achievements in design. Rose has changed design in LA, raised the bar and followed her passion along the way.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Knowing the international man of glamour Martyn Lawrence-Bullard was headed to Venice in May for the Design Leadership Summit, the by invitation gathering of architects and designers, I tapped him as my eyes and ears, to cover every fun filled moment. He proved to be the perfect designer to capture the glam series of events, lectures, dinners and tours. Read on for the full Venice report....
Water taxi gondoliers at the ready
In transit with molto bags

Martyn and Steven Gambrel, the guys in grey

Martyn and Windsor Smith enjoy a boat ride to the islands

A Bernini sculpture against a perfect blue sky

A shot inside the Fortuny Museum

Stephen Drucker, now editor in chief of Town and Country, Kathryn M. Ireland and Windsor Smith

When Keith Granet , the branding wizard who puts designers and manufacturers together, called me to ask what I thought about the next design summit being in Venice I think I literally squealed with delight. "Of course you must do it in Venice , it's perfect" I announced, almost breathless with anticipation. Venice is one of my favorite places on this earth and the idea of spending time there amongst some of my favorite designer friends and partners in crime (namely the divine and delicious Kathryn Ireland and wickedly funny Windsor Smith) was just too exciting. The Design Leadership Conference itself is an extraordinary experience alone, the brainchild of the Design Investors team made up of Waterworks, Rose Tarlow Melrose House and Twill's Peter Sallick, their CEO Meg Touborg and Keith Granet, is an unbelievably valuable think tank that helps you keep your finger on the pulse of all things design. Covering business advice, operational trends, marketing and design awareness, the gathering is a truly inspiring show where industry legends get to meet and greet.

This year the Keynote address was given by Nicky Haslam , the legendary English decorator , gossip columnist, author and general bon vivant. Nicky was so funny , delightfully eccentric and gave the most personal lecture on his distinguished and colorful career. Another legend , Axel Vervoordt , dazzled us with his impact- filled spare designs and philosophy of less is more. He is one of the worlds most interesting designers whose taste has re- shaped design as we know it. We feel his influence in larger brands from the new Restoration hardware to Pottery Barn.

One evening, dinner was hosted by the new owners of the legendary Italian fabric house Fortuny. We had the great pleasure of visiting the Fortuny Museum and got to experience more of Axel's work in his curated exhibition of Fortuny fabrics along with a truly incredible exhibit he put together of Samari warriors armor. It can only be described as breathtaking! I'm sure your going to see many Samari - inspired fabric and furniture collections from designers in attendance....

Not only did we get to learn and become inspired during the daytime lectures at the conference and afternoon guided tours of the best sights the city has to offer , we, of course, got to play at night. My dearest friend Kathryn arranged the first evening. The rarest treat to include a private dinner cooked for us by a genuine Venetian Countess in her Grand Canal Palazzo which had been in her family for 500 years. A delicious experience for all the senses!! And after such a cultural delight we somehow found ourselves in the Bauer Hotel night club where we were over served local wines by the chic countess. We danced till the wee hours so needless to say there were a few late attendees at the first event the following morning!

Another memorable evening was arranged by our lovely New York friend and designer, the talented Steven Gambrel, who convinced his great friend Boris to hijack his dad, the unsuspecting Axel Vervoordt, to host a dinner for 12 of us in their palazzo. I have to say the glamour of that evening will go down in my memory forever. The palazzo itself, a 17th century pile, was decorated in Axel's inimitably chic style, showing a connoisseur's eye in the editing of all the objects and art. Fine Venetian antiques mix with Lucio Fontana art works, 18th century rock crystal chandeliers lit by only candles, and signature tight slip - covered linen sofas sat quietly on intricate terazzo floors. Once again after dinner we danced, but this time in Vervoordt's ballroom.

Yes , I can honestly tell you that great fun was had by all. You could not help but be inspired by the beauty of Venice. It always takes my breath away. The forums and advice you take away from the design conference is so very valuable, as is the quality time we all got to spend amongst our peers, forging new friendships and sometimes future partnerships. This whole adventure for me was very special. I met special people, including Suzzane Kassler, the most delicious person, and the beyond charming Stephen Drucker, the new editor of Town and Country, got to see great friends and bond with industry insiders. The conference location next year will have a lot to live up to, as Venice was an iconic and memorable spot, However, wherever you decide on guys, I will be there.