the house-shaped lovechild of your SERENITY NOW and LIFE’S A BEACH office mugs.

for all the atiya-style jibber jabber on city life, a room like this makes my steely resolve crack to pieces.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

the ocean breeze tickles your eyelashes while you lie around playing candy crush saga.  #nobigdeal

i don’t know who you are, kelly behun, but i will find the construction drawings of your hamptons home and tape them to my husband’s face.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

note the staircase such as one might find in the greek isles or whilst ascending to God.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

much like in ferngully, a dozen earthy textures coexist within a balanced ecosystem.  a woodland gnome might pop out from behind the white marble island and hop onto a handstool at any moment. #nbd

each space grabs you by your lapels and screams “i am perfect” into your mouth.  calmingly.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

i have spent long moments staring at the photos of the house, and i am inspired every time to think “ah, crap.  i should’ve married mark zuckerberg while i had the chance.”

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

like mountains ringing the aspen home, natural features takes this spectacular house into the realms of therapeutic fantasy  (…followed by greedy madness.)

time to stop looking at it before i’m driven to facebook message zuckerberg.


three good excuses for your home decor laziness

the ONLY three good excuses:

1.  blindness

2.  hmm.  couldn’t think of a second one.

3.  aspen

lea sisson / luxe magazine / spring 2013

if your home stands on floor-to-ceiling windows open to the glorious bosom of Mother Earth, i don’t give a flying f about your couch.

lea sisson / luxe magazine / spring 2013

lea sisson / luxe magazine / spring 2013

note that without nature’s WOW, the decor is gross:

lea sisson / luxe magazine / spring 2013

house perfection lives at the sweet spot where architecture sheds the role of a ticky-tacky deadbeat dad and steps up to the plate in the residential interiors-architecture-landscaping family.  remember the barcelona cement factory and the LA frank lloyd wright house?

lea sisson / luxe magazine / spring 2013

add this one to the list of houses worthy of my mortgage.  (still counting on one hand.)

salvage win

chicago has one. I WANT ONE.


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago


salvage one / chicago

i was introduced to this place on sunday by my maestro sister-in-law.

detroit begs for it.

one man’s boonies is another man’s MoMA

my bffs in boston and new york spent today burrowing their way out from under an avalanche.

i spent today in a building that you could use to burrow out from under an avalanche.


zaha hadid / eli and edythe broad art museum

zaha hadid’s eli and edythe broad art museum opened just a couple months ago in east lansing, michigan.  east lansing.  EAST LANSING.  there is an extension school of sheeps and goats a few blocks away from this world-class feat of angular poetry.  i know what you’re thinking.  how do i get zaha hadid to build a contemporary art museum in MY backcountry village?

i’m being unfair to east lansing.  it’s home to a big ten university, neighbors the state capital, and has other good stuff probably maybe.  it’s also the home of frib, another world-class institute which consumes the other part of my double life as 98%-something-slash-2%-interior-design-blogger.

what east lansing did well was this:  it produced a bajillionaire couple who values community access to arts and culture to the tune of thirty million dollars.  i better see my state capital-neighboring hometown of york, pennsylvania vigorously taking notes or i will drag it by the ear to the principal’s office.

just look, damnit.


zaha hadid / eli and edythe broad art museum


zaha hadid / eli and edythe broad art museum


zaha hadid / eli and edythe broad art museum


zaha hadid / eli and edythe broad art museum

take pleasure in the sunlight dancing with the building.

oh.  there’s also art.

some museums curate to an educational or pleasurable experience.  the broad museum clearly chucks that intention for a dramatically thought-provoking – borderline radical – collection.  i felt intellectually stimulated at every moment.

for example:  the installation of video art is, for me, groundbreaking.  until now i had considered video art to be too visually abrasive for use in interior design… WRONG.  i’ll let these thought bubble lightbulbs burn to maturity before posting on the topic.

if you live in michigan, for the love of god, go.

don’t mind the body parts in your noguchi fountain

detroit’s waterfront showcases a fountain by sculptor isamu noguchi.


yes, THE noguchi of the iconic 1940s herman miller coffee table, godfather of all things awesomesauce that sit in front of your couch.

Picture 83

feast your eyes on this snowy nighttime instagram of noguchi’s fountain i just snapped from my apartment overlooking hart plaza.


[update:  on further review, i realize that this image is blechhh.  the superpowers of instagram are heavily compromised by darkness… should’ve had the patience to wait for a snowy daytime shot.]


a coworker of mine – one with forty years of experience in the field and one of my greatest teachers – once told me the story of his struggle to fix the noguchi fountain.

the year was 1980-something.  i was twirling my pigtails while reading a berenstain bears book to my baby sister.  “bart” was assigned by our architecture/engineering firm to fix the monumental hart plaza water fountain, broken from the moment of its installation a decade earlier, as a gift for mayor coleman young’s birthday.  (the city may have been crumbling from within, but regional cashflow surged onward thanks to The Big Three Jerkfaces.)

bart supervised the construction of the project on site through the dead of night as the detroit police stood guard to keep hobos at bay.  the mayor being in charge of the city and whatnot, this installation had to be completed in utter secrecy.

the city couldn’t understand why the fountain wouldn’t run.  as bart directed the disassembly of the hydronic system under hart plaza, he pointed to the basket strainer.

Picture 84

what a basket strainer looks like, fyi.

off came the nuts and the bolts… and out flowed the boots and the hats and the arms and the legs.

oh.  so that’s why the fountain wasn’t working.

apparently the local bum network had, in the deep concrete well of this broken fountain, found a comfortable shelter from winds off the detroit river.  i’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

the fountain was scheduled to reopen under much pomp and circumstance at a ceremony with the mayor and a large crowd of well-wishers.  a few moments after water began cascading from the sculptural metal halo to music and cheers, a floating bum emerged over the lip of the well, sputtering and cursing and shaking himself off.  happy birthday mayor young!

noguchi was invited to the reopening of his fountain, but someone botched the travel paperwork.  he arrived on the wrong date without any arrangements at a time of day when the city had decided not to run the fountain.  noguchi took a cab from the airport to the city, wandered around hart plaza in disgust, headed right back to the airport and hopped a plane home, where he died a month later having never seen his detroit fountain actually work.

well.  that’s the way bart tells it.

the hunt for a coffee table continues.  etsy has not yet yielded a reclaimed wood table that meets my willingness to pay, and in the meantime, a noguchi knockoff in natural wood tones is singing my name.

Picture 85

i am intoxicated by the prospect of having my feet up on a noguchi table whilst staring out into the city at a noguchi fountain.  somebody talk me off the edge, please.

gutter rat worldview

the most scathing insult in my arsenal is ‘boring’.  (a close second is ‘nice’.  if i call someone nice, you can safely assume i have already forgotten he exists.)  lowly or mean, offer me fresh insight and i will listen.

i seek that which will tickle or shift or shatter my worldview.

this weekend, syed brought home a getty museum coffee table book that introduced me to a frank lloyd wright style of architecture called “textile block houses”.  first thought:  what in tarnation is that?  something that happens when a tipi and an igloo make a baby?

no.  well, maybe.


this 1923 house in socal is called the millard house, or la miniatura.  you’re probably as confused as i was when i first laid eyes on it in the book.



oOOo.  hmm.  looks slightly native american, yeah?



i find it strangely beautiful in the same flavor, though less epic, as bofill’s cement factory.

FLW was looking for a way to elevate the aesthetic value of architecture’s cheap ugly gutter rat, concrete.  (wish i could take credit for that description but it belongs to frank.)  there was also a nod towards maintaining the ecosystem of the land by reusing excavated earth as an ingredient of the concrete.  also seeking to create indoor-outdoor continuity through something or another.  precast stuff.  modular housing shiz.  more random architectural terms, etc.  this is when i start to nod off…  if  you want the technical description, look up millard house on wikipedia or elsewhere because it IS worth knowing.  just isn’t worth my paraphrasing.

do you taste the once-in-a-lifetime interior design opportunities that bubble up in a room woven of textile blocks?



my imagination is whirring like the fan on your old laptop.

you can tell that this home has not seen the hand of a master interior designer.  i empathize – the maintenance costs of this outlandish construction type are probably embarrassing.  leakproofing budget trumps furniture budget every time.

but.  BUT.  the house is a rare treasure of art and intellect.  if i ever consider home ownership, it will be for a building that shatters my worldview much as this one does.

and if i ever consider taking out a mortgage for something nice, please duct tape this link to my face.

domestic and monumental

my goal is not to parrot the experts, but there is nothing a peon such as myself can contribute to this cluster***k of awesome.


ricardo bofill / elle decor / jan-feb 2013

the spanish architect ricardo bofill rescued this abandoned cement factory outside of barcelona and turned it into a…  something.  good.  good feeling.  something making me feel good.  i have no descriptive vocabulary at this highest plane of design.


ricardo bofill / elle decor / jan-feb 2013

for every couple weeks i sit in my office staring at computer screens, i spend a day in mechanical spaces and machine rooms.  i think about concrete in terms of its structural value, its moisture content, its capacity to shield radiation.  i do not think about it like this… but from now on, i will.


ricardo bofill / elle decor / jan-feb 2013

effortless use of simplicity and repetition in the dining room.  (i’d be lying if i said i didn’t feel a smidge of validation here.)

did you catch the wood gaudi love seat in the back of the central hall?


ricardo bofill / elle decor / jan-feb 2013

bofill calls his home-office complex “both domestic and monumental” – the best description for this impeccable achievement of balance between opposites.

mental note taken.

embrace the crazy

i took this picture on my smartphone when leaving the office, today.

guardian bldg 1

one could use all sorts of tired hyperbole here, but to avoid sounding like a abuser i’ll just say this:  the guardian building is.

it was conceived in that thin sliver of time between early skyscraper engineering and the onset of a crippling cynicism that would characterize architecture in starkness through the rest of the century (see: all other skyscrapers ever built).

i work here.

guardian bldg 2guardian bldg 3

the art deco exuberance of this building – the explosion of color and shape, the neck-cramping scale, the unbridled opulence – pulls me constantly away from the risk of drowning in monochromatic boredom.

thanks to my workplace, i have a strong appreciation now for the extravagant old-world aesthetic that would have once violated my ikea sensibilities.  for example: last month’s issue of elle decor showcased the apartment of one alex papachristidis, manhattan designer and fearless little-old-lady-around-town.  (i don’t know for sure about that second part.)



papachristidis_5papachristidis_4the man’s couch is upholstered in red ikat!  his library looks like a circus tent!  his bed has clawed feet!  this slow, deliberate weaving of grandeur and whimsy is MASTERFUL.

and so i feel about the guardian building, which reminds me every day to suspend my cool for a time when uninhibited joy had not yet gone out of style.