Hammered Brass

a 1950's Italian hammered bronze sconce, via House Beautiful
Only a few would argue with me that if there were a synonym word for Glam that would be Brass.  I know that finishes in a decor would depend on what environment you are willing to create.  In a farm house you may probably find chrome or brushed chrome instead of brass?  But for environments or atmospheres where a dose of sophistication is required you probably would end up with some brass thrown in.  It's a classic!  Hand hammered brass takes all that up a notch by adding texture and a sense of provenance.  We've seen it vastly used in Moroccan design, which is known for being exotic and sometimes over the top.  Below are a few items that would make anything else around them dance and be merry.  Enjoy!

Clockwise from top left, a pair of Tommaso Barbi SconcesTruco gold pitcher (it's porcelain but it has the same effect as hammered brass), Brass hammered hook, bathroom sink, Vase by David WisemanTwig one arm sconces, Hammered ring cabinet pull,  Hand-hammered gilt & patinated bronze side tables, antique gold Helen cuff,

I'm in the process of sprucing up this blog's "looks".  My goal is to create a clean and undistracted background for the images and posts to stand out.  I'm pleased with it so far but it's actually a work in progress. 
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Have A Happy Weekend

I'll be signing off early for the week.   I wanted to apologize to my blogger friends who I haven't been able to visit as often as I'd like.  My days are pretty hectic these days my friends.  Between work and deadlines, Lucas' new school adaptation, family responsibilities, and daily duties, it seems that waking up at 6:00AM sharp and going to bed at 10:30PM is not enough.  I can't find a time for leisure, although I know it's important to do so.  It looks like the only "free time" I can get is when I get to spend time with the little one, which is probably the most important time of all.  I hope you understand.  :)

These images of extraordinary Architecture make my day.  Enjoy your weekend. 
Images found via Tumblr.
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Home Design Trend: Paint Technique

The living room done by Carrier and Company had a very subtle and delicate linen technique.
Up until a couple of years ago the word "paint technique" would make many, including myself, freak out!.  The first thought coming to mind would've been that weary sponge paint technique of the 90's that was just eekie-cheapi-looking... Now wall paint technique have refined itself to the limit.  Most of the designer showhouses I've visited lately have had many walls covered in these new and exquisite techniques.  The latest was Designer Visions Showhouse 2011 where basically all three apartments had two or more rooms covered with Ralph Lauren's paint techniques which offer a range of finishes from Natural Linen to Antiqued Leather.  My favorite finishes so far are Natural Linen and Venetian Plaster.  Now this last one may not appeal to everyone but I think that in modern apartments where architectural details are lacking, this would add interest and character.

 The living room done by Carrier and Company had a very subtle and delicate linen technique. 
In the den, Carrier and Company applied another linen technique in an orange tone where you can appreciate the effect better.  Below, a closer look.
This decorative paint done on the entryway of this year's Designer Visions Showhouse is Venetian Plaster and was done by Ricardo Brizola.  The same technique, below, was done on the hallway walls of Elle Decor Modern Concept home this year. 
images via House Beautiful, Casa Diseno,
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Need some sleep

I feel like my head weights about seventy pounds right now and every time I open my eyes is like having my eyes being punched.  All I'm going to say is,  if you're planning on having a baby or just had one, do not and please take note, do not rock him/her to sleep or you'll regret it.  Yes, it's very pretty and sweet and tender to put your little one to sleep, but when your child is three and he still wants you to put him back to sleep whenever he wakes up, it's not that sweet  I'm always amazed at how many serene-faced people ask me "when is the other one coming"  hello!?  where were you when we needed the advice of not rocking him to sleep?  Last night we were so exhausted that we took him into our bed, my husband got relegated to the guest bedroom.  Not a good idea, sleeping with the little one in the same bed is like sleeping with the energizing bunny that is running out battery, but like all batteries that are about to run out, you never know when one of his arms or legs is going to unexpectedly land on your face.
images via tumblr
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A lot to thank William Hogarth: Serpentine Line

William Hogarth 1697-1764 England, was a painter satirist and social critic during the 18th ct.  His satiric paintings and engravings mostly covered and criticized social and political situations by ridiculing conventional and social standards of his times.  One of my favorite work of his is Marriage à-la-mode, a series of six paintings which were later engraved and published, ridiculing arranged marriages where of course the unhappiness of the entire family ends with the tragedy that covers everything from murder to suicide.  Go figure!   "Moral: don’t listen to evil silver-tongued counselors; don’t marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her money; don’t frequent foolish auctions and masquerade balls unknown to your husband; don’t have wicked companions abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you will be run through the body, and ruin will ensue, and disgrace, and Tyburn"
And you may be wondering why am I reading all this and you're right! but William is entirely responsible for what's called Serpentine Line or Line of Beauty which is the S-shaped curved elongated line that frames an object.  He thought that curves, not Sophia Vergara's in this case, were more dynamic, more interesting to see, more lively and not as dead and static as straight lines.  And I so much agree.  When my professor said these things in class last year I thought "that's my man right there!"  He probably had no idea that his theory would transcend to furniture, hence the Serpentine sideboard and many more wonderful good looking furniture and sculpture that we enjoy today.  Below, a few images that show gracious and beautiful curves.  Enjoy!

images via Nuevo Estilo, Vogue, Elle Decor, Vogue Living Australia, AD and Lace and Tea.
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Tasting Autumn: Getting in Synch

It's clear that every season has its own trademarks;  Daffodils for Spring, lemon zest for summer and cashmere for Fall.  I'm glad that the Perfect Mother Nature walks us slowly into changes in weather.  But once the season is in full bloom it's time to enjoy it in every possible way and form.  After all, that is what good living is all about.  I want to share with you a short list of things that I'm either enjoying right now or I'm willing to start trying soon.  Enjoy!
Speculoos spread, Pate a tartiner au speculoos;  I love Le Pain Quotidiene and the last time I was there I bought a jar of  Speculoos spread and I gotta tell you that it's as perfect as a crispy sunny day in Fall or it's like having ginger bread or cinnamon cookies but less sweet with a pinch of salt.  Unfortunately, their website doesn't sell online..what? but this is one Le Pain Quotidiene probably in every country.

If you live in the City and don't know of Beecher's Handmade Cheese you are missing a lot.  That if you are a cheese lover like moi, I can literary live on cheese and crackers.  Every time I go to the lovely Flat Iron district I pay a visit and this time I picked their anise and lavender chevre, yes I also frowned when I saw it, but it could stop you on your tracks once you taste it.  You can literary smell the lavender in it and if you have it in a pressed sandwich it will hook you.

Bite lips, the first time I heard the term I thought, what's with that?  Who wants that?  But as long as I can emulate the sexy look, that's healthy enough for me.  I have mentioned the Greek products Korres before and how happy I was with the fact that as organic as they are, made of Quercetine and Oak, they work.  I'm using lip butter (sort of like a moisture lip gloss without the gloss and its hideous stickiness) in quince and it's like having the perfect natural look with a reddish tone on your lips.   

Tom Ford’s new makeup line will be available at Bergdorf apparently on November 1st and you can pre-order.  The colors of the nail polishes look amazing.  This Plum Noir is gorgeous enough to put a fight for, exactly what I need to fully embrace Autumn.

I have this lavender and rosemary scented candle in my master bathroom and even when it smells a little bit much I love the cute little glass cup it comes, it looks like an emerald, and I love it.
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Kitchen of the week: Bates Corkern Studio


I had another kitchen in mind for today, also by Bates Corkern Studio, but while searching for it this petite kitchen, very much in sync with Fall, came across.   And boy do I need to say why... due that it's Friday this kitchen's muted and autumn palette reminds me of a perfect weekend getaway in the woods and almost tells me to set the fireplace and open a glass of wine.  I'm working this Saturday, so that's when blogging comes in handy, it helps you dream the perfect life.  Have a fabulous sunny and crisp weekend!
all images via  Desire to Inspire.
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For the love of reading: New books on Architecture

I have told my husband that once communism is over in Cuba we should buy a vacation home there and bring any kind of business that has been nonexistent and let's call it a life.  Easier said than done, but until life throws the dice I'll be content with having The Splendor of Cuba 450 Years of Architecture and Interiors (Rizzoli) by Michael Connors and photography by Brent Winebrenner .  This tome includes 295 color photos of Cuba's well preserved and extraordinary architecture from 1500's to 1950's featuring spectacular well preserved colonial Spanish Creole, sugar plantations, baroque palacios, to unique 20th century modernism movement. This is a book designed to enrich the knowledge and vocabulary of those Architecture aficionados but it's also a coffee table book that will be the start of many an interesting and opinionated conversations. 
The first time I visited Versailles back in 2000 I was in complete awe by its magnificent and perfect harmonious Gardens as much as The Chateau itself.  The recently released “Versailles: A Private Invitation" (Flammarion), with photographs by Francis Hammond and text by Guillaume Picon gives us a very intimate look into this Paris landmark.  Hammond was given access to every room in order to create a comprehensive new record of the estate.  Items and details such as personal gifts given to Marie Antoinette, the bed where Louis XVI would lie down after taking baths are pictured in this must-have book. 
 Below are a few images:
 Amazing how this graphic marble court looks so current.
 The Staircase of Provence, in the south wing.
 The spectacular Hall of Mirrors.
 The bed where Louis XVI would rest after bathing. 
 Marie Antoinette's Bedchamber.
 The Great Stables.  How magnificent is this?
The Orangerie Parterre.
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Stven Volpe Interior Design

 a transitional entry way designed by Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
When I received my Architectural Digest this month and saw that one of Steven Volpe's creations was featured I got extremely at just the thought of what my eyes were going to see.  If there is an Interior designer who has perfected the art of mixing with elements of surprise that result in pure Avant-garde and sophisticated spaces that's Steven Volpe.  Volpe composes rooms that seamlessly combine exquisite designer furniture of different styles with top-notch art in a way that nothing clashes, instead the result is perfect harmony.  His transitional style seems to never get outdated and its always exiting to look at and get inspired from it.  Ever since I posted about the home he designed for Bita Daryabari I was hooked, do I need to say why?  About this home in AD that he designed for a tech-sector titan Steven says  "I was trying to create something that makes an impact, something that people haven't seen before".  I was particularly impressed in the big size of the house but yet, how livable and personal it looks.  The dinning room is nothing like you have seen before so I guess Steven Volpe knows how to deliver exactly what he intends!  Enjoy!
living room with curved sofa and two cubisc chairs by Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog

Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog

Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog

Steven Volpe Interior Design via Belle vivir blog
photos from Steven Volpe's website.
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A Round-Up of Industrial Bookcases

Lately I've been loving the Industrial Decor, mostly thanks to Steven Volpe's home featured recently in Elle Decor (picture above).  There is something downtown-chic in Industrial Decor that makes me feel young and adventurous every time I see a room with industrial touches.  Unlike more feminine decor it's a style that can appeal to women as much as men.   It's also budget friendly due to the vast availability of vintage industrial furniture at flee markets.  Some of the staples of Industrial decor are muted colors like browns, black, white, grays; too much pattern and color is not its thing, while finishes such as metal, unfinished or whitewashed wood, leather and hides are more used.  As much as I love build-ins, I think there is a lot of flexibility in bookcase on casters.  Below, a shopping suggestion of really cool bookcases! Enjoy!
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
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Hearst Designer Visions Cinema Style

As a blogger I get invited to many events, unfortunately I either like too much to be at home and get to be with my family or sometimes those events are inconveniently during week days after work and I just can't make it.  But, there is one kind of event I will not miss and that's the one showcasing designers designs where I get to experience firsthand top quality design.  So on Wednesday I went to the opening night of Designers Visions Cinema Style and all I can say is that if you live in the City or anywhere close go and experience these apartments yourself.  You'll feel enveloped with luxury details and textiles, exquisite American craftsmanship and the excellent job the architects did remodeling these Pre-War apartments.  The bathrooms are stunning and there is one in particular designed by S. Russell Groves where I had a special a La Grange moment.  I loved it so much I didn't even want to leave until people started passing by and sending signs that we were taking too much time.  The three designers asked to participate this year were Heather Moore of Jed Johnson Associates for House Beautiful (you can see the entire spread in the current issue of the magazine), Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company for Town and Country; and Thomas O'Brien of Aero Studio for Veranda.  The apartments will be open for public tour on October 9th, October 15th and 16th from 11AM to 4Pm.  Tickets will benefit The Art of Elysium.
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Lucas' birthday and Happiness is what you know

Today is Lucas' third birthday! I can't believe it's been three years.  Actually, I'll take that back, I have felt that time!  My mom got the cake for him and when she asked me how would I want the cake? My first thought was since he likes cars let's get a very nice cake with an Austin Martin or a Maserati on top but then I had a second thought and realized that the birthday is his and he should have what he loves and enjoy.  So, I decided to go with a very cheesy cake with Lightning McQueen on top and Luigi tagging along.  He is at that perfect age where there's no keeping up with the Joneses, where no knowledge of bragging, addiction to praise and envy exists, none of those low sentiments that can make you sick.  He is genuine to his feelings and reactions, he is himself, free of the need to please and impress.  How beautiful is that! I will try to preserve that as long as I can.  In that part of my life, I decided that it's not going to be about my aesthetic points of view but about him and what makes him happy.  Happy Birthday cutie pie!
Talking about being genuine and true to yourself I was at Designer Visions: Cinema Style last night, more on that tomorrow, when towards the end of the night I turned around and saw a famous female editor taking off her Christian Louboutin and holding them in her hands.  Just like that, as if she was holding a glass of Champagne.   My friend and I looked at each other and jointly said "that's great" She was being herself without caring what others think of her because after all, the rest of the people were not the ones wearing a pair 5" heels all night. 
I had a great time last night but it got blurred with the news of Steve Jobs passing away.  That really broke my heart.  It's amazing how technology has progressed so much further than other fields of study.  The world is still succumbing to fatal diseases while on the technology side we can have a face to face conversation with people hundreds of miles away via a computer.  I don't doubt that one day we'll be able to feel that other person across our computers.  Many of the advances we are enjoying today is because of Steve Jobs' visions and innovation.  What a great man!  I was talking to Vyna last night about how sad it's to have everything in life and not have that one thing we all should be entitle to, good health.  And she looked at me and said "oh, money means nothing, you can have these three apartments combined (designer visions) and if you don't have your health you have nothing"  At that point I was so emotionally touched with the news and her words that I couldn't help but hugging her.  
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Kitchen of the week: A Classic Kitchen

This kitchen is classic to its core but it's not boring at all.  The contrast of colors in the cabinetry makes it free of expectations.  I saw this kitchen in Hamptons Cottages and Gardens magazine and I was so smitten by it that I couldn't wait until it was featured on their website.  The contrast of colors in the cabinetry and the multifunctional island makes this kitchen stand the test of time stylistically speaking.  The hexagonal marble floor tiles with black florets give it a very European touch.  Of course I don't have to say that the utilization of brass used throughout this kitchen makes me happy!  Enjoy!
The modern side of open shelves, stainless-steel counter top and faucets of two different finish say there is something interesting about its owner's sense of style.  
A kitchen that has a butler's pantry this big and well organized where all the linens are neatly hung on hangers and/or folded in drawers would be any housewife's dream.
All images from Hamptons Cottages and Gardens
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