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Sightseeing at home

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One of the great parts of having a houseguest is you see parts of your own home city that you otherwise rarely visit. This weekend I played tour guide to a friend and explored the best of what DC has to offer!
Brunch at POV overlooking the White House, formerly the Washington Hotel and a trip to the Newseum and the National Mall filled the day Sunday.
The Newseum has THE view of the Capitol building, which you can see above. However from the inside of the museum, with the Canadian Embassy in the foreground, the view is a bit......odd?
A bit of a contrast, the US Capitol building behind the Canadian flag: I thought it was funny!
Saturday was spent exploring Hillwood with the ever gracious Steven as guide (thanks again!). It was the perfect day for a walk around the gardens which always have something to surprise and delight, no matter the season. I have always loved the fountain in the parterre but never thought much of the pattern which runs along the base. Even on a (rare) cloudy day in DC, the water would sparkle as it hit the points of the pattern; ingenius detailing.
I didn't bring my camera with me, as evidenced by these pictures. I am a bit disappointed with the camera on the Droid Incredible (phone); The pictures are ok, but tend towards the blurry side. I have to remember to get out and explore the city even when I don't have the excuse of a guest in town. Hope you had a great weekend as well!
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door handles

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Continuing on yesterday's opulent posting, today I bring you a bronze door handle from the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. My best friend Eric (ArchitectDesign's foreign correspondant) was recently there and sent me this photo for obvious reasons: it's gorgeous! Why have a boring handle with a view like THAT, afterall. Have you ever seen a more sunny or gorgeous day in Venice? Have a great weekend!
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A beautiful lobby

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Last night I had dinner at Ardour, located in the St. Regis hotel here in DC. You may remember I featured the bar of the hotel here, which is my local favorite. Well, this is probably my favorite lobby of any hotel I've seen. Inviting, cozy, beautiful but not overly formal; who doesn't want to hang out here? Sorry for the fuzzy pictures from my camera phone, but you get the idea!
The hotel was recently renovated with the interiors done by Sills Huniford ;Job well done I'd say!
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Something new

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Yesterday while walking along one of my favorite blocks in the city, I noticed this house for the first time. Clearly abandoned (as a few buildings are on this block suspiciously, which worries me about future development) it has seen better days. But what days they were! The arched window on the 3rd floor and the little Rupunzel tower with the onion skin dome in the attic! These are the things dreams are made of! In my dream- I'd have the top 2 stories of this house for my apartment with my bedroom in the eves and my blogger desk set into that corner tower. Don't forget to look up; even on familiar streets you just may spot something new!
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House & Garden

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I know many of us still mourn the loss of many of our state-side magazines, but don't forget that there are some great foreign magazines out there! While at the beach I had picked up a copy of the British July 2010 House & Garden which always is pretty fantastic. In this issue was the much talked about restored ancestral home of John Coote, Bellamont Forest, which he had put on the market (seen in these top 3 photographs). I especially love the main saloon seen in the top image -who knew I could like pink! I especially am into that ceiling and those yummy white slipcovered armchairs.
The front hall is only made better by the addition of the pooch :-) The article proclaims it as 'Ireland's most perfect Palladian villa' and I just may have to agree! Photographs by Luke White
If Bellamont Forest is the most perfect villa in Ireland, then a house recently restored by Russell Page in Normandy may just hold that distinction in France! Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg
The library / dining room is probably my most favorite room I've seen in a few years in any magazine. I could live in that room and never want to leave!
I was also intrigued by an article about antique glass and different uses for it in interiors. I'm not generally a fan of any chintz or overly floral fabrics, but I loved the notion of putting it behind VERY antiqued glass for a ghostly appearance as seen in these bottom 2 beautiful photographs by Adrian Briscoe.
I especially like this idea in a bathroom, as in the image above -just windex your bathroom clean! What do you think of this technique, I know it's somewhat unusual. Has anyone done this before themselves?
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colorful weekend

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While walking through Georgetown yesterday, I really noticed all of the colors of the city in the summer sun. I hope you enjoy your weekend!


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Is it Christmas yet?

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I am so in love with this Carlson Etagere from William Sonoma Home! If only I had the space for it I would get 2 for all my design books (and china). Of course, if someone at WSH wants to cut me a huge deal I could definitely MAKE room! *wink wink, nudge nudge*
The details are just gorgeous, like these feet, gilded accents and worn ebonized wood finish.
They're on sale now, so make me a very happy little blogger and buy a pair for yourself and send me pictures!
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shopping

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While in Provincetown, I picked up this ceramic bird at one of my favorite shops, Yates & Kennedy, that reminded me so much of the cute birds at Deyrolle that I wanted to bring back so badly (but couldn't make it through customs). A few people made fun of me calling it 'granny' but I just think it's adorable. What do you think?
At the same store I also picked up this beautifull scented candle by Patch in NY (their website has the BEST music in the background). Named 'owl' it is scented of sandalwood, tobacco and vetiver and I can't wait for fall to light it!
I also stopped by John Derian's shop where I picked up a few things but this year I didn't take any pictures unfortunately. His shop is a MUST either in Provincetown or NYC! Have you done any summer shopping?
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Paris Opera House

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"It was a singularly mixed world composed of all the talents and tarnished by all the vices; a world where the same fatigue and the same fever appeared in every face" Emile Zola in NanaWhile reading these lines on the beach last week, I immediately thought of the Palais Garnier in Paris, otherwise known as the Paris Opera House. Indeed, the whole book has me thinking of the age of opulence.
One can still hear the rustle of silk from the courtesans that once wandered its' halls.
Rather than talk about the ornate-ness of the building, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.The famous grand staircase, rather dimly lit and hard to capture with my little camera.One of many hallways meant to contain crowds gathered here to socialize; love the oak chevron patterned floors. The grand foyer, possibly the most over-the-top room I've ever set foot in; it took my breath away.
So much intricate detail that the eye simply cannot focus; so much gold and shine that light is not needed.
If you get the chance, make sure to visit the Paris Opera House!
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Beaches

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I'm off on a jet plane to somewhere cool and wet for a much needed break. I'll leave you with some of my pictures of the beaches in California I saw last month - aren't they breathtaking? The above photos are from route 1 through the Big Sur, a trip I would recommend to anyone. Remember to rent a convertible, it's worth it! Just DRIVE SLOWLY!
Above and below are Carmel Bay -with Pebble beach seen above across the water. The Pacific might be too cold to really swim, but it's certainly beautiful.
I've gone through one of the toughest months imaginable but I suppose thats all part of growing up. I'll hopefully be back in a week renewed, restored and ready to get back to blogging regularly! Have a great week!
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The Spreckels mansion

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What did we do before the internet? And more importantly -what did I do before blogging! I had so many emails and comments on yesterdays post and it's been quite the history lesson on the Spreckels Mansion in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. I thought I should sum it all up in a post so we're all on the same page on this beautiful mansion.
Built by Alma Spreckler (grande dame of San Francisco) and her husband Adolph Spreckels (his name comes second on purpose if you get my drift) from 1912-1913, the 55 room beaux-arts limestone mansion was designed by George Adrian Applegarth. Applegarth had graduated from the renowned Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and after returning home to the Bay Area, he designed many of the cities most famous properties. Applegarth was, for a time, partner with another graduate of the Ecole, Kenneth MacDonald, in the firm McDonald and Applegarth. They were young architects directly after the devastating 1906 earthquake which definitely helped their careers along! The partners split in 1912 during the construction of the Spreckels Mansion. Applegarth went on to a very long and prosperous career in the Bay Area, most famously the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park for the Spreckels (which I briefly mention in an older post HERE). Alma lived in the house until her death in 1968. At one point she had the original front door, seen above, moved to the side where it currently is beneath a porte cochere. After her death, the house was divided into 4 full floor apartments until being sold by the family to Danielle Steele, who returned it to a single family residence.
The house has been somewhat controversal since the day it was built, mainly through its' association with the gregarious and eccentric Alma Spreckels. Alma allowed the house to be used as the setting of a nightclub in the 1957 Frank Sinatra movie 'Pal Joey' (my grandma's favorite movie!). She also hosted garage sales on the property to raise money for numerous charities. However, the controversies don't stop after Alma; they continue under the current owner, the author Danielle Steele. Apparently Steele is chastized for not taking better care of the exterior of the house (despite numerous remodels of the interior over the years) and shrouding the house in TALL bushes, hiding it from Lafayette Park across the street. She likes her privacy I guess! However in the days of the Spreckels, the house was painfully lacking in landscaping, allowing the public to enjoy the beautiful home. Also, despite having an indoor garage and large outdoor parking court, Steele apparently is hogging parking permits for 24 street spots in a very congested area. Tsk, tsk Danielle!
Thanks to everyone who helped fill me in on this magnificent estate. If anyone knows of any interior photos, please send them my way!
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