You May Have Noticed…

You may have noticed some visual tweaks and functional quirks with The Studiolo lately. Well, we’ve been slowly moving our blog from the old Blogspot host to a new WordPress system.

Clearly, The Studiolo has been dormant for a while; however, we are planning to start blogging again on a regular basis later this year. In the meantime, we’re attempting to preserve as much as the older content as possible in the “archive” category for posterity (and because it’s fun to look back!)

The day jobs are keeping us pretty busy now so it’ll definitely take a while to chip away at it (during the occasional free block of time). Thanks for your patience while we sort out the technical details and we’ll announce when the blog is officially back up and running and with brand new content.

In case you are curious, here’s a running list of the things we’re working on:
• fix broken links to old blog directory structure (404’s, 301’s etc)
• track down/replace missing images in older posts
• fix broken links within the blog (post to post) wherever feasible
• anti-comment-spamm-ery (keeping comments closed in the meantime)
• pretty it up!

WEST – West Austin Studio Tour


Oliver was selected to participate in the first-ever West Austin Studio Tour (aka WEST). There has been a celebrated East Austin Studio tour for ten years (tons of artists have studios on Austin’s east side), so it was exciting to find out artists working on the west side would get a little shine this year. Oliver was in the process of converting our garage into a studio when he learned about the tour, so the timing was perfect. He applied, he was accepted, he got to work to make some new art!

The “tours” are free and self-guided; the Friends of WEST published a beautiful catalog with all artists listed and created a handy website to make figuring out which studios to visit easy-peasy.

So, on May 19th and 20th, Oliver opened our recently converted garage-studio to the public! We had cold drinks on hand to entice visitors and keep them thirst-free:


We created seating for visitors, complete with maps:

And let’s not neglect the art!
Since there were lulls between visitors at times, Oliver left some works in progress out, so he could work on them during the slow times:
A full-studio shot with visitor/friend/awesome musician, John:
And there you have it! I’ll keep you posted on next year’s art adventure! xoxo

My work! In House Beautiful!!

Hi friends! Many of you know I worked at Fawn Galli Interiors for a year prior to making our move to Austin. I did general designer-y and project manager-y tasks for various projects and oversaw a few interns in addition to creating the lion’s share of CAD and millwork drawings. The biggest (and most flamboyantly crazy and fun) project I worked on made the cover of House Beautiful this month and one of my very own designs was pictured in the story! I conceptualized and drew the cabinet in the image above, along with identical cabinets adjacent (not pictured) and a large built-in for the playroom, which didn’t make it into the story. Unfortunately, we moved to Austin before the project was completed, but my little contributions were left in the highly capable hands of Fawn and her amazing senior designer, Ashley Moyer, who really got to flex her design muscles on this project. I know a lot went into executing the few initial designs I left behind, and Ashley handled all aspects of this multi-faceted project, as she does with so many. She is truly an inspiration to work with. Ashley is a do-er; an ambitious, talented, creative woman who exudes absolute grace under fire and handles clients with prowess and a huge dose of charm. I am lucky to have had the chance to work with her! Please check out the full story in print or the abridged version on the House Beautiful website!

Thanksgiving 2011

This was an epic Thanksgiving for me. Every year, since the beginning of time (or since the 1960s, when my mom moved to NYC), she has celebrated Thanksgiving with a long-time friend (and later, her family, which has always felt like an extension of my family). This year, our family friends had the opportunity to travel abroad over the holiday, so the tradition was put on hold. With that, my parents flew down to Austin for the long weekend. At first, I was planning to make reservations to go out. Oliver’s and my jobs have been uber busy and the thought of spending hours in the kitchen over what was sure to be a lovely weekend didn’t sound appealing. Then I remembered that I actually like cooking, and I especially love baking. It dawned on me that Thanksgiving for a small group could be less “maniacal party planning” and more “dinner for four;” simple, casual, relaxed and, most importantly, FUN. Let the planning begin!

Some favorite dishes came from Smitten Kitchen:
• Appetizer: Creamed Mushrooms with Chive Butter Toast
• Side: Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese

After spending the morning and afternoon with Oliver and my parents, hanging out and strolling around our neighborhood (it was 75º and sunny!), I got to cooking. Can you believe I was too wrapped up in cooking and enjoying myself to remember to take pictures of each dish? Thankfully, I’m not a food blogger because I would have failed, friends. I didn’t even get a good shot of the Thanksgiving table, even though I wrote a Houzz article on eclectic holiday table settings earlier that week, and took some of my own advice! Here are a couple of detail shots:

I am pretty proud of this bouquet. It was fresh and bright, just like the day!

I just wanted to show off the cute little owl napkin rings I snagged in Mineola a while back. 

I did, however, snap some shots of dessert (you know, the most important food group): Mini pumpkin pies with fresh whipped cream!

They tasted delish after brunch and leftovers over the next few days, too!
You like those green rope-themed napkins? My mom made them years ago – aren’t they great? 

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring Austin. We hit the Blanton Museum of Art, roamed around the UT campus, checked out the first-ever Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Austin as well as the City-Wide Garage Sale, drove to Wimberley for wine tasting, where we picked up a cute bar cart for pennies (post forthcoming), had happy hour at Hotel San Jose and popped into the shops along South Congress, and ingested way too many good dinners and brunches. I hope you all had wonderful dinners with friends and/or family – whomever makes you feel loved and thankful!

Missoni for Target: SCORE!

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, I’m quite fond then! Fond of my readers, that is. And so sorry for the absence. I do have some fun things in store for the next few months!

But first, let’s talk about shopping! By now, most of you have heard about the Missoni for Target extravaganza.

If you haven’t, I’ll fill you in briefly: Founded in 1953, Missoni is an Italian fashion (power) house known especially for it’s colorful zigzag knitwear, which became wildly popular in the 1970s. They have since branched out into other realms of fashion, including sportswear, housewares, perfume and even hotels. On September 13th, the company debuted a 400-piece collection for Target.

Naturally, people lined up at the crack of dawn and bombarded pretty much every store across the country when it opened. Early birds grabbed tons of stuff, swapped with one another, and many of them have proceeded to sell some of their wares on ebay (for a fine profit, I might add). Shoppers crashed Target’s website that day. In the days and weeks leading up to the launch, I took a look at the full collection and picked out a few things I would have liked to check out – particularly in the home wares arena, but there were some pretty cute sweaters, dresses and shoes I had my sights on.

Since I’m a 9-5er, I went to work as usual on 9/13 and did not have time for online shopping on the clock. September 13th happens to be my wedding anniversary, so a very special and romantic dinner with Oliver easily trumped a post-work trip to Target! I heard most Targets had been cleaned out of the good stuff by the end of that day, so I figured I was out of luck. Well! I finally made it over there this weekend and can I TELL you how excited I am about my score? SO very excited! I snagged the only little “rolly-polly” suitcase (as I call them). It’s got navy and white zigzags and it will perfect for both car and air travel (I detest checking luggage and have become a master at packing lightly).

Ain’t she sweet? The inside has a chic contrasting black and white zigzag in a smaller scale:

When I saw it, I pretty much just grabbed it and ran. Even the cashier noted that I snagged a rare find. When I got home and had time to explore my new gem, I discovered a few handy little pockets and a cosmetics bag containing a laundry bag and two shoe bags in yet another snappy Missoni pattern!

Here’s little gratuitous close-up of the inside tag:

While I’m not much for pushy crowds, I wish I’d had the opportunity to hit the stores a little sooner, but, alas, my schedule didn’t allow for it, and my bank account is thanking me for it. I must say, I’m quite happy with what I got, and I suspect there will be more pieces trickling in here and there, as people realize they overdid it and return stuff.

If you scored something you’re proud of, don’t be a stranger! Post it in a comment here on on facebook, or send me an email! I’d love to see what you’ve picked up!

Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

…if you know what’s good for you, you’ll tell me what I want to hear when I ask who’s the fairest one of all! Today is all about mirrors. I love a haute mirror, and seem to be collecting them now. We have an awesome (and heavy) antique mirror rescued from my parents’ neighbor:

You’ve seen the ornate Syroco number I found a my favorite NYC thrift store, Pippin Vintage, hanging in the hall of our former apartment in NYC:

We inherited a lovely (and enormous!) mirror from my Grandmother last year that hangs proudly in our current dining area:

And on a recent trip to visit the extended family in East Texas, we scored a smaller version of “the one that got away;” a vintage reproduction Federalist convex mirror:

More than a year ago, I spotted a similar mirror in the aforementioned Pippin in New York. Not only was it was larger, made of carved wood and gilded, it was in great shape and therefore fetched something in the $200 range (specimens in like-new condition, found on such sites as 1st Dibs, often yield much higher prices). I pondered it for a while, I brought Oliver in to ponder it with me, and one day, on yet another pondering trip, it was gone. Cest la vie; it wasn’t meant to be just yet (and we couldn’t really afford to spend the money on it, either). So, on this recent jaunt to the thrift stores of Mineola, when I spotted a similar mirror for a mere $19, I grabbed it and walked around the store holding it, lest I lost my chance again. Seriously, I did that.

Our new mirror was priced so low in part because it is made of Syroco (essentially molded, painted resin by the Syracuse Ornamental Company). I would love a wooden version someday, but my current budget only allows for plastic, so there you have it! In the 1950s, Syroco made it possible to reproduce heavily carved accessories for a fraction of the price, churning out tons of designs originally made of wood.
The mirrors are also known as “bullseye”mirrors, especially when the glass is convex. The design usually consists of a mirror surrounded by thirteen “balls,” meant to represent the thirteen original states of the union (ours has this). They also lend the mirror a nautical feel, reminiscent of portholes on ships. Another name for the style is “Girandole,” which refers to the candle arms (called girandoles) attached to some in order to reflect light into a room. The convex mirror design did a great deal to illuminate an entire room before electric light was common. They come in all shapes and sizes (well, I suppose they’re mostly the same shape…), as can be seen in this great round up of offerings from The Federalist, and here, from Richard Rothstein.

It now hangs proudly on Oliver’s closet door, accompanying the Pippin find, which hangs on my closet door. I’m always shifting things around, so this may not be the permanent home (I might want to display it more prominently at some point), but it works for now!

Heavily influenced by the Empire style in France, but especially classical Greece and Rome, America’s early Federalist style flourished between 1785 and 1810, when the Federalist Party ran the country and nationalism soared as America established herself. Neoclassical influences such as straight lines, simple ornament and lightness for ease of transport. Classical figures, urns, eagles, masks embellished delicate furnishings and accessories. The late Federalist style (1810-1830) saw many of the same embellishments, but in heavier forms and more ornamentation.

I’m thrilled to own a little bit of American history – and I’m certainly not alone!

Designer Unknown, via Elle Decor

Source unknown

Markham Roberts via Elle Decor

Design by Sara Gilbane

Happy Birthday, Husband!

Ok, I have a lot to catch you guys up on, and who KNOWS how long it’ll take me to do that, so let’s just start with the most recent stuff: this weekend! Sunday was Oliver’s birthday, so we decided to put aside most work-related things we knew we should do, and just enjoyed the weekend for the most part. As usual, we were exhausted on Friday night (these 60 hour work weeks make us tired!) so I don’t have much to report there, but on Saturday we made a delectable brunch that included a special treat for Oliver: raisin scones and clotted cream (we are privy to The Devon Cream Company’s English Clotted Cream). If you haven’t slathered a scone with clotted cream and jam, you’re missing out. I was introduced to it when I lived in England, and Oliver fell in love when we celebrated mother’s day at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon a few years ago. Go have some; one little ounce will fulfill your daily requirement of saturated fat, so you don’t have to worry about that! Whew!

Back in December, Oliver’s parents gave us some old birdfeeders they weren’t using any more and Oliver has been looking forward to refinishing or painting them ever since. This was the weekend! He decided to spruce up the yard with a bright red paint while I sat around in my bikini taking photos.

The birdcages:

Oliver does a light scuffing with sand paper blocks:

After laying out a plastic garbage bag, he got to spraying:

After letting them dry for about thirty minutes, he flipped them and painted the other sides:

We let them dry outside overnight, then filled them up with birdseed this morning before hanging them up:

After another yummy home-made brunch, we made our first visit to the Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre spring-fed pool in Zilker Park, framed by century-old pecan trees. A destination for Austinites and tourists alike, we decided we had to see for ourselves what the hubbub was about. We loved it! The water is clear and COLD (68 degrees year-round), which makes it incredibly refreshing, especially for 100-degree days like we’ve been having (which, by the way, we are LOVING. For real!). We set up camp near the diving board and watched some pretty impressive moves on breaks from our own dips into the water. We didn’t take our own photos, but you can get a feel for it’s inherent beauty from these photos:

Not bad, eh? After a couple of hours of sun, we headed home to get ready for a celebratory dinner at Austin’s finest (and rare nationally recognized) restaurant, Uchi. We samples all kinds of delectable plates and were thoughtfully treated to a creative dessert in honor of Oliver’s birthday. Here we are, feeling very satiated after dinner:

There’s the birthday boy looking debonair in his no-socks-with-dress-shoes get up – very sartorialist – with newly-minted birdfeeder in the foreground:

The deck isn’t looking all that debonair, but what can you do? We have a deck and that’s good enough for us!

Thus ends one of our most luxurious and enjoyable weekends of late!

Lately, Pt II

In addition to the day job, I’ve continued to write for twice a week, which has made for a very busy life! As a result (and much to my disappointment), I haven’t been blogging as much, but I’m diligently working on returning to a routine while maintaining a good work/life balance. That said, let me catch you up on some of my recent Houzz stories!

By Coburn Architecture and InteriorsA long-time supporter of mixing styles, I find the stark contrast between traditional and modern to be most striking, especially in the form of art. This was one of my favorite articles to write and research to date: Opposites Attract: Modern Art in Traditional Rooms

By Jon Lum ArchitecturePocket doors speak to me. They say things like, “Old-World glamour,” “decadence,” “grand soirees.” Stuff like that. Not only are they lovely, they are also quite functional, saving space in tight rooms. I pulled together some favorites from houzz designers in Deep Pockets: Pocket Doors with Panache

By Faiella DesignI know dark bathrooms aren’t for everyone, but I love them and had wanted an excuse to spend some time mulling through images of them for inspiration. Someday I intend to have a glamorously gloomy powder room in my house. In the meantime, I live vicariously through these bathrooms: Chic and Moody: Dark, Seductive BathroomsMany of you are familiar with my love of taking a small space (especially outside) and make it a precious escape. I’ve belabored this subject, so I think I’ll just let you enjoy the pretty pictures. Balconies: Precious Rooms in the Sky

This article garnered passionate commentary; people seem to hate tablecloths! I think they’re great in some settings, unnecessary in others, but overall, I appreciate an additional dose of textile thrown over a table (especially when it’s an ugly table!) to dress things up. Dressing Your Table: Cloth or No Cloth? 

By Dufner Hughes Inc. I had one friend growing up who had a canopy bed and I thought it was the most magical thing I’d ever seen. As I grew into a cynical adult, I thought canopy beds were for wussies (not really, but I wasn’t as into them). Then I became the open-minded designer that I am today, and I know that everything has a place in the right application. Canopy beds don’t just have to be for fancy little girls. They don’t need to be swathed in 8,000 yards of fabric in order to add grace and elegance to a room. And, most importantly, they don’t have to be feminine at all: Canopy Beds: All Grown Up and Still Magical
Barn doors are much like pocket doors in their function and grandness, but because they are a bit unexpected, I think they make even more of a statement. Doors with Character: Raised in a BarnIf you’re in the U.S., I hope you have a great holiday weekend. If you’re not in the U.S., tough luck, but I know you have some of your own great holidays! xoxo


Hiya! Remember me?
Me, being wacky, 2.5 years ago

I suppose now is a good time to divulge what I’ve been up to lately. In moving to Austin, knowing very few people, I planned to find a job working under another designer, rather than continue as self-employed. Just before we moved, I was so busy wrapping up projects in New York, I really had no time for job hunting in Austin. So, against everything I stand for and am comfortable with, we hopped into a truck and drove to Texas without a well-mapped plan. Once here, I sent out some cold emails and attended a handful of horrifying networking events (where I met some terrific people, I might add…in the end, they weren’t all that horrifying). In the first couple of months, I picked up some freelance and temporary work. Eventually, I landed the real deal: I recently accepted a full-time position with Cravotta Studios, owned by the illustrious and infinitely talented Mark Cravotta, who has an impeccable eye for high-end design and a thirst for finding the latest, greatest and most beautifully created furniture and accessories. A few favorites from his vast portfolio (note: I had nothing to do with these projects, although I wish I did!)

When Mark told me he’d been to the furniture fair in Paris and was thinking about going to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart at some point, I made a passing recommendation that he someday check out New York’s own International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). I made this comment about two weeks before ICFF was to begin, assuming my suggestion would perhaps be taken into consideration for next year. Much to my surprise and excitement, a few days later I received a text reading, “We’re going to ICFF!” WE? Yes, we. Lucky me!

So, last Saturday, May 14, we boarded a non-stop flight to New York, spent Sunday at ICFF and Monday jetting from one designer showroom to the next, squeezing in a stint downtown to hit the less mainstream boutiques. There has already been a lot written about ICFF (mostly about its shortcomings), but Mark and I returned to Austin with new contacts and inspiration, so, as far as we are concerned, it was a success – I’ll leave the constructive criticism about how the show failed the greater design community to other bloggers. I pulled together some of my favorites from the show on check out Killy’s Top Picks from ICFF!

(Marginally) Easy DIY Roll-Up Shades

Let me preface this post with the announcement that I did not exactly have “fun” making these roll-up shades. We needed them, I knew I could do it, I was determined to do it, I kind of wish we could have had someone else do it, but now they’re done, I’m happy about it. I’m not particularly excited about making more, but I probably will. Now that my complaints are out of the way, let’s move on to what I did, shall we?

Since moving into our place in Austin, we’ve done a lot of painting (jog your memory here and here), and there’s still more to do, but we needed a break. Only one room of our house had shades when we moved in, and they were gross, so we took them down when we painted, which left us with completely uncovered windows (hi, neighbors!!). Our “temporary” solution (that sadly became a little permanent) was to tape up white garbage bags in such a way that the windows were operable and let light in while also giving us a little privacy. Oliver even devised a roll-up-able roman shade-like design, making us even lazier about getting real shades up.

So, for the last almost four months we’ve been the crazy people with trash bags in the windows. Our bedroom is the room with the most windows, and is the closest to being complete, so I decided to tackle those windows first. We already had curtains on those windows (re-used from our last apartment), but they are quite sheer and needed an additional layer to give us privacy from the street, not to mention they were in desperate need of hemming.  I was going to simply line them, but that required a lot of yardage, so I decided to just make easy roll-up flat-panel shades to cover the windows themselves. I carted myself off to the fabric store one Saturday in search of cheap-ish linen. Of course, I got all inspired and came home with a completely different idea: a burlap panel on the front (to coordinate with our DIY headboard!), lined with a lovely floral fabric (on clearance!) on the back, that was visible when rolled up and added an element of surprise.

Great idea, except that these things weren’t going to make themselves. Oh, how I wish they would have! The fabric sat around for a while (like, three months), until my parents’ first visit was about a week away. I was determined to have at least one room look normal for them, so I busted out the sewing machine and got to work. I don’t have any “during” pictures, because I was in such a frenzy trying to get them done, but allow me to try an describe what the house looked like while I was working on them: tornado-meets-sweatshop. Despite the muss and fuss, they turned out quite nice. I love the subtle, casual droop that occurs when the panels are rolled up.

While I had all the machinery and doo-dads out, I hemmed the drapes, so we no longer have a messy, dust collection problem.

When the panels are down and sun streams in, the rose pattern on shows through the burlap – a happy accident!

The operation of it is easy. I made “cords” out of leftover rose fabric and used them to hang the panels from   basic white cup hooks that we screwed into the mouldings around the windows (three for each panel, to keep them from sagging). I also made cords for the ends, which secure the panels in the rolled-up position:

I can safely say I’m really satisfied with how this room is turning out. Now, I just need to get myself geared up to work on the living room and second bedroom.