Friday, December 18, 2009

The Whitney

This week I went down to the Whitney to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  This is such a special restaurant in Detroit.  The ambiance is unbeatable and the food is nothing short of amazing.  Not to mention, they have a $35 prefixed menu right now that is delicious. Four courses with an array of options.  We tried almost everything on the menu and no one was dissapointed.  I think I even heard my Dad say the steak was "one of the best he's ever had".  Thats a true testament coming from a group of red meat lovers.

The Whitney is an architectural masterpiece.  Built by lumbar barron, David Whitney, the home was completed in 1894.  Then deemed "the most elaborate and substantial residence in this part of the country", the home displays quintessential Romanesque style. In 1894 this home cost $400,000 dollars to build and I cannot even begin to imagine what this type of construction would cost today.   Actually, in the current times we would not even be able to begin to recreate such an architectural success.  With Tiffany stained glass windows, original electrification by Thomas Edison and a rich collection of tapestries and unparalled details the home is filled with unmatched craftsmanship.

Below are a few pictures  I snapped during our visit.  I tried to  capture the  some of the details and ambiance, but I don't know that I really gave the home justice!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nothing says Christmas like....

It's Sunday, White Christmas is on TV and I don't have any place to be besides my couch.  This is my all time favorite Christmas movie.  ALL TIME.  I have always loved old movies,  so much so that I was probably the only eight year old who's mother drove to every Blockbuster in the Metro Detroit area to pick up each video in the Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney partnership. Anywhoo, that is a different story for a different time.  Back to the topic at hand,  White Christmas is the best holiday movie.  I love it so much that as that over zealous eight year old I actually wrote Rosemary Clooney fan mail.  I think I did get a letter back from her... I would have probably written the entire cast had any of the others still been living.  Now, excuse me, I am going to sit on my couch and sing along with Bing and the gang for the next couple hours.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Last night a group of us went down to a party at the Detroit Institute of Arts for the Avedon Exhibit.  The evening was spent touring the galleries and listening to live music in Kresge Court. This is an exhibit that everyone must visit before it leaves town on January 17th.  I have to say, I am more drawn to Richard Avedon's early work.  I love how he put the models in everday backdrops or in enviroments of the unexpected.  His later works still have a very emotional element, but seemed to be more studio based.  The earlier work gives the viewer a lovely window into a time period that is so elegantly intriguing.  Although some of the photographs are more than 50 years old they look like they could have been taken yesterday.  I guess that goes to show that timless beauty and style is indeed everlasting. 

Kresge Court
as photographed by Jourdan Merritt.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Jourdan Merritt

Jourdan Merritt

I think the crowd in attendance was pretty good looking too!
(Thanks Jourdan for documenting!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Snowing!!!!!

Today Metro Detroit woke up to our first morning of a solid dusting of snow.  The high winds that slammed the Midwest were less than favorable, but the snow that was escorted in is getting me in the holiday spirit. While I sit at my desk and watch the snow blustering across the sidewalk I am thinking about Charlotte Moss's spread in this month's Elle Decor.  This Aspen retreat seems like the perfect place to snuggle up and spend a winter afternoon. This home has so many things I love.  From the blue and white pottery, to the animal prints, tartans, rich oil paintings (both portraits and landscapes) and amazing light fixtures, this ski retreat really does epitomize the elegance of a snowy hideaway.

Photo Credit: Pieter Estersohn for Elle Decor December 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

God Jul!

Getting out my Christmas decorations this weekend, (aka raiding my Mom's basement storage closet) reiterated the fact that the tradition in Christmas is what makes this time of year so comforting and merry.  For years our customary d├ęcor has consisted of Swedish "Tomtes".  My Grandma Ingrid always had a grouping in her home.  My mom started me on my own collection this year, but basically everything else jolly had to be swiped from her castoffs.  I always love the different ways families celebrate the holidays.  From a Chinese gift exchange to midnight mass, all families have their unique twist to what makes the holidays distinctivley their own.  What do you all do to celebrate the season?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cheap Chic

Ann sent me this really fun New York Times article this morning.  Being a newly engaged couple I find Scott and I have the same feelings stated by the Wootens in the article.  Scavenging our families basements while trying to gain an independant style can be a conflicting method.  While we are so grateful for the hand me downs we have recieved, there is also the desire to create fresh approach using the timeless furnishings. Wanting to invest in pieces for the long run while not spending tons of money can also solicit a fair amount of problems.

Using $4,500 I would say that this couple has created a refined and youthful look.  Not leaning too far in the direction (and worry) of looking like a parent's place, but also veering away from the college panache, this apartment is bright, cheery and sophisticated.  I think every young couple wants their abode to feel just that... young and stylish.  The majority of adults from my generation are still trying to find a style to define the space in which they are going to play out their life.

Images Via Dona Alberico for the New York Times

I find that the appropriate title for this style can be a "collected interior".  I mean, that's kind of what we are all doing.  We are collecting items that will give our homes an established feeling that is custom tailored to our interests and flair. For those who know me, they know that I have always been a collector.  I like items that have a story.  I like to look at a piece and be reminded of a memory, or a place, or the person I was with. This may be easier said than done, but don't get caught up in the rules.  If you love something it can work.  The interiors with the most spunk have an element of the unexpected.  The things in my home that I get the most compliments may not have a high monetary value, but are items that piqued my interest in some form or another.  Some of my favorite belongings have come from flea markets, garage sales or auction houses.  These are the things that give my house character.  

I did enjoy seeing how a small investment made such a change in the atmosphere of this apartment. While the couple had some good bones to work with, they also were able to insert their own personal finesse with some resonably priced items.

Check out this cool interactive tool.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tree

Christmas spirit time!  Duncan Fuller is ready to begin humming holiday tunes, sip on egg nog and deck the halls!  I think we all officially have our trees now.  On my way home from work today I stopped by the Ho Ho Ho stand on Woodward.  Let the holiday trimming commence!

Thanksgiving Table


This Thanksgiving was wonderful in so many ways.  The dinner was pretty flawless (suprise!) and also delicious.  Everyone was so helpful that I almost did not feel like I had enough to do!  All the items in the centerpiece came from the Eastern Market trip.  I was very happy with how everything looked.   The turkey was also delish.  Not as much to making a turkey as I had anticipated.  All you really have to do is babysit it... that I could handle. We stayed up until the wee hours playing a ruthless game of trivial pursuit pop culture. The weekend was also filled catching up with friends and the Gobble Wobble charity event.  After 2 months of planning, I think we can call it a huge success.  400 young people showed up to dance and socialize all while supporting the CATCH charity.  

Overall, what a success!  Now, onto Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day Prep!

I thought I would share a few pictures from the Eastern Market last weekend.  I really didn't do the best job capturing all the beautiful produce and flowers, but I think the "atmosphere" shots are worth sharing too!  It was so fun to browse all the goods, see all the cute families and taste test.  Especially taste test.  Especially these crepes. Delish.  I did buy some cool things for the Thanksgiving table.  I will be sure to post the final product!  


Friday, November 20, 2009

Restoration Ideation

My friend, Avery, sent me this New York Times article yesterday on a country estate in the Hudson Valley.  I love a little piece of American history, so I googled the Montgomery Place to get some more information.  The Hudson River Valley website briefly describes the home as being nestled on 434 acres and consistently lived in by the same family for 180 years, before being donated, in 1986, to the Historic Hudson Valley association which was started by J. D. Rockefeller. 

The home, built in 1804 by a widow, Janet Livingston Montgomery, of a general in the American Revolution.  This house epitomizes the Romantic design concept.  A fully intact estate, the home is still is furnished with the original furnishing, decorated with the authentic carpets and wallpapers and even accessorized with the family's silver and china.  Not to mention, the grounds still host orchards that produce fruits. Basically, I think this place sounds like a time vault.  The house and grounds were redesigned in 1840 by Alexander Jackson Davis, who is said to be the most successful and influential architects of his generation.  With government and university buildings in his repertoire, he really made American more familiar with Classical Revival and building a harmonious relationship between nature and the indoors.  In fact, the first outdoor room in American is at Montgomery Place.  With his creation of living porches and scenic trails to observe landscape, he really directed people to partake in nature and take advantage of the inspiring surroundings.

I think it also needs to  be noted that the Hudson Valley region has a wealth of history.  From being a major battle ground during the American Revolution to the land that America's industrialists called home (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt to name a few), to now a battleground of American preservation, this area has truly seen the transformation of American life and culture.

It was sad for me to read the NYT article discussing how the Historic Hudson Valley board was rumored to be discussing sales of irreplaceable assets to cover the financial hits on their endowment (70 million down to 49 mil).  Offers are coming in from generous benefactors to pay to keep the home open.  Offers which have been rejected.  Not to mention, there is a $15 million digital archive on the horizon.  While it stated that the cash generated from the sales of these homes would not be put twoards the new construction, it kinda makes one wonder. This snazzy new center will give virtual tours of the historic Hudson Valley homes.  REALLY?  Seriously. Is this what our world is coming to?  Are we going to breed generations of children and people who would rather go check out a digital tour than to walk into homes and see the architecture, fabrics and history first hand.  Not to vent, but at this rate I think we are going to become lazy, digital zombies.  This center may be a nice way to supplement a walking tour, but I am a tad skeptical when one statement in this article states that the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is thinking of "selling its historic home and handing over its archives to the New York Public Library, keeping only a digitized version of them..." he then concluded his statements with, "Historic house museums are in the same place as classical music orchestras".  Great a world of McMansions and Kayne. Even more disheartening are the March meeting minutes that the NYT obtained that states, “Mr. Herbert E. Nass asked whether we could sell Montgomery Place in parts, and whether doing so could yield a better price over time".  Show him the money!

There has to be a better solution.  Why don't we walk our children through parts of history, have them experience the tangible and physical aspects, have them step back and take a long panoramic view so they can have some insight into the bigger picture? I don't think plopping kids down in front of a computer screen is going to have the same effect as having them walk through the intimidating halls of some of the finest architecture in America.  I don't think a computer can create the grass they will feel under their feet as they walk the scenic paths through towering trees, the birds chirping or the breeze rustling the leaves.  A computer cannot recreate atmopshere nor can it stimulate the same sort of stirring excitment as seeing the world tangibly and in the present.  We have to give them the opportunity to be inspired.  Everyone deserves that.

Sorry for venting, but sometimes I get a little discouraged with the direction our society is heading.  Hopefully we can keep and treasure unique spaces such as Montgomery Place.  In doing so we can only build an appreciation of the American Legacy.