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Caribbean

A few weeks ago I went to Anguilla to check in on one of my projects.  The build is going very well.

When I think of the mood for a beach house, the first thing that comes to mind is relaxation.

I’ve been looking at books in my library and pulling images from the internet for inspiration.  The bathrooms don’t have to be from a Caribbean beach house but must have some elements that would work in that environment.

There are many decisions that have to be made. What kind of finishes? What color? If we use tile, what size?

While this is a house in Anguilla, the style will not be British Colonial.  It’s too formal for a beach house.  There will be touches (like a mahogany four-poster bed) of course but mixed with a contemporary spin on Caribbean design.

Below are few spaces that caught my eye:

This bathroom is from a home on the tiny Island of Mustique.  I love the natural feel of it.  We’re already using poured cement for the kitchen counter tops. To use it again in the bathrooms might be too much.

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Photo: Elle Decor

This large en-suite bathroom in a Sicilian villa has a stone sink.  Love the simplicity of the shower stall and the use of wooden stools.  This is a newish boutique hotel.  I must see Rocca delle Tra Contrade in person.  The photos are stunning.

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Photo: Rocca delle Tre Contrade

I’m not a fan of shower caddies.

Our clients for the Tuscany project were very clear that they wanted built-in spaces for shampoo, soap, etc.   If it’s early enough in the build/renovation, I recommend going in this direction.  Just make sure there’s a slight slope, so water doesn’t pool in the space.

A partial wall works for this project.  It never gets cold.

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Photo: Elements Of Style

Getting away from the neutrals for a minute, this bathroom from the La Banane hotel on St. Barths is very bright and colorful.

A fun design like this might be a great idea for one of the smaller bathrooms.  Or the powder room.  In a large space this color and pattern would be not be relaxing to me.

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Photo: Villa La Banane

Brass fixtures are having a moment.  I like them in this bathroom.  I look at all this tile and worry about cleaning the grout.

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Photo: Habitually Chic

I LOVE outdoor showers.  The ones at Cap Juluca in Anguilla are fantastic.

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Photo: Cap Juluca

A more traditional style at Oscar de la Renta’s former home in the Dominican Republic.

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A shower in Marrakesh.  Fantastic built-in bench.

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Photos: Mark D Sikes

I don’t know where this house is but I like the contrast of the stone-tiled floor with the black contemporary trim on the windows and with the lines of the tub.

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Photo: Pinterest

Please forgive my geek out over Stromae (aka Paul Van Haver).

Last week I was in St. Martin to see my family and in Anguilla for work.  All week my sister, brother-in-law, and I, kept hearing this killer French song… in the car, at beach bars, etc.  The first time I heard it I was hooked.  It was so different from anything else out there in pop.

This morning I woke up to an email from my sister saying she Shazamed it but the clip didn’t show up until she returned to DC.

I went to iTunes because I had to buy the single. While I was there I noticed there was another single that was number one. I clicked on it and “discovered” it was  a song I’ve been hearing a lot in Italy lately.  I’ve been trying for weeks to track down it down.

Stromae was born in Belgium to a Belgium mother and a Rwandan father.  You can hear the influences of Euro dance music, African music, Caribbean music, and American hip hop in his work.

I am OBSESSED with his album Racine Carrée.   Obsessed.   It has been a monster hit in Europe, including the non French speaking countries.  I wonder if he will have a hit in the States.  I cannot remember the last French song to do so.  It also reached the top ten in Canada.

I will always associate this song with being in Caribbean.  It’s only March but it’s in the running to be my summer of 2014 jam.  The drums are giving me life.  Seriously.

 

Stromae studied music and film in school.  This video moved me.  His father was killed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

 

And the song that is currently a huge hit in Italy.  Stromae showing both sides of a relationship.

Despite studying French for seven years in school, I speak at most ten words.  I looked up the translations to Stromae music.   His lyrics address a variety of issues, most of them pretty heavy.  There is substance to go with the beats.  I get why he has received both critical and commercial success.

I haven’t been this excited about a new (to me) artist since the first time I heard Amy Winehouse.

 

 

How funky are these chairs?

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I am a big fan of Kelly Wearstlers commercial work, yet the Viceroy in Anguilla took me by surprise.

A few years ago I met clients for a drink at the bar.  At first, when I walked in, the décor seemed so “uncaribbean” to me.

Then I walked around.  It IS very Caribbean.  Wearstler’s use of natural materials, her color palette, and the subtle nod to more tradition Caribbean design makes the Viceroy one my favorite hotel spaces.

This hotel is huge and could easily feel very corporate (thinking of a certain hotel on the Dutch side of St. Maarten that ruined one of the best beaches on the island).

Instead it’s unique and jaw dropping gorgeous.

Not a bad place to meet for drinks, especially with a locals’ discount.

I have more meetings this weekend about my Caribbean project.

Feeling very inspired

Buon weekend!

 

 

It’s not easy to be thousands of miles away from my family on this day.   While we did celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s not a Caribbean holiday or tradition.  Christmas on the other hand, is celebrated big time on the islands and my parents brought their traditions with them to America.

It wasn’t really about the presents. However, I did flip out the year when one of my gifts was an Easy Bake Oven from “Santa” ( those cakes were gross but my family pretended to like them).   It was the decorating, the food, the music, and having our entertaining extended family over that made Christmas so fun and memorable.

Every year we went to midnight service.  Every year after church we would plead with our parents to start the tradition of opening one gift before bed.  Every year they said, “no.”   They were very consistent.

I won’t be in the Caribbean today saying, “compliments of the season” but I will be there in spirit.   Here are few of my favorite Christmas songs.

As a kid I watched this special on CBS every Christmas.  One of the best Christmas (and jazz) albums ever.

 

It wasn’t Christmas in our home until my dad busted out his Nat King Cole album.

 

Love this rendition of Mariah’s song, with the Roots and jimmy Kimmel.  The kids are too cute!

 

Does anyone else remember the group The Waitresses?  This came out in 1981.

 

Kirland and Baryhnikov, another yearly staple back in the day, on PBS.  So weird that he’s better known now for being the uptight Russian dude Carrie dated during the last season of SATC.

 

A  Motown classic from my first crush.

 

Donny Hathaway.  That voice.  He died way too soon.

 

This falls under melancholy Christmas songs.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have listened to it this year.

The holiday season is upon us.  Lights have just started to go up in my neighborhood and I saw a few festive window displays this morning on Via Condotti and Via Babuino.

I haven’t seen any panettone movie commercials.  Several friends have assured me they are coming.  Excellent.

One of my goals for 2014 is to entertain more.  Yes, I know it’s a little early to think about these things. I can’t help it.

My apartment is small but I had a friend, Susan, in New York City who lived in a studio that was smaller than my place and yet she had dinner parties, Oscar parties, cocktail parties, let me introduce you to my new spinning teacher parties, etc.

Her space had a different layout.  However, I can still be inspired by many of her fantastic ideas.

My mom, like Susan, has a great selection of serving trays and platters.  Some she received as wedding gifts fifty years ago.

I actually enjoyed setting the dining room table when my parents had dinner parties.  My mom was occupied with cooking, my dad was the bartender, and us kids were “in charge” of the table.

Okay, so my mom really had the last word about what was going on the table. When I was old enough, it was my job to iron the tablecloth and the napkins.  While I STRONGLY dislike ironing my sheets (it takes forever), this party prep was fine with me.

The last time I was in St. Martin, one of my friends (and former boss) was on the island and stopped by for a visit.  I looked through my parents’ collection to find the right tray for aperitivi and thought about all the fun holiday dinners and parties. I also realized that I need to step up my platter game.

This one is gorgeous.  It’s from Williams-Sonoma and made in Umbria.

This shade of blue is one of my favorites.

img85oThis platter is stylish simplicity.

When I was growing up in the States, rosé had a reputation for being a second rate wine.  I don’t know why that is.

However, in St. Martin (the half French, half Dutch island) I noticed it everywhere, restaurants (including upscale ones), beach bars, house parties, etc.

Once my parents moved back to the island, my siblings and I started to spend more time there.   My sister, Daniella, LOVES rosé and would insist on stopping by a wine shop to stock up for our stay.

Now, thanks to Daniella, I am a big fan of getting my rosé on the minute the warm weather arrives.

Certain words and images come to mind when I drink rosé: summer, family, friends, good food, beaches, the Caribbean, outdoor seating in my favorite piazza, France, Sicily, parties, pink.

Some rosés at the fantastic wine shop, Comptoir France, in Rome,

Some rosés at a fantastic wine shop, Comptoir France, in Rome.

Here’s a write up about rosé from The Kitchn.

Buon weekend a tutti!

After a very long summer, Il Riento is upon us.  My friend Erica wrote eloquently about the return of vacationing Italians HERE.

I hope everyone had a great summer.  Mine was weird.  Seriously.  Next year there WILL be some changes.

For example, next time I go Anguilla I will not work the entire time.

Meads Bay, Anguilla, BWI

I will not spend hot ass August in Rome.  Instead I hope to rent a place near Marina di Pietrasanta.

Room with a view, Marina di Pietrasanta

I went to the Tuscan coast last weekend for my birthday.  It was my first time there (pics later).  It was lovely.  I wish I could have stayed longer.

Not sure if this song was a hit in America, but it was huge in Europe. It will always remind of this summer.

Buon weekend a tutti!!

 

 

“Soon Come.”

This Caribbean expression is very similar to the Italian word, domani.   Technically,  domani means tomorrow, but in Italy it could mean months or years from now.  The concept of time is very different.

Soon come is the same thing.

“When is your tio (uncle) visiting from the States?”

“Soon come.”

When I was a child, I assumed this meant that the gentleman would be on the next flight.  No, he may arrive tomorrow, or December 2013.

 

Yesterday, I met with my clients and their builder.  The house is moving along.

“When will the exterior be finished?”

“Soon come”.

It’s not easy to build on a tiny island thanks to the elements (hurricane season is no joke), sourcing of materials, and high labor costs.

Depending on a variety of factors out of my client’s hands, the house could be done in eight months or ???.

We’ll see.   Soon come.

I’ve written about Wonderfool the spa and concept store before.   One thing I really like about Wonderfool is how they highlight Iocal artisans.

A few weeks ago there was an aperitivi at the store and several of the designers were there.

I had a chance to speak with the très chic Daria Reina the Creative Director of Chez Dédé, a French-Italian label.  She and her partner Andrea Ferolla started the company a few years ago.  Inspiration struck the luxury goods communications consultant and the art director while they were on the island of St. Barths.

At Wonderfool they sell only their bags, but Chez Dédé also makes scarves and bracelets.  Their scarves for men, Les New Yorkaises, would be perfect for my boyfriend, if I had one.   The colors are striking and I hope they start to design some for us ladies as well.

Each bag is name for an island or a beach they have visited.  One of the newest editions is their Grand Tour bag.  It’s sporty and sophisticated. I LOVE it.  It’s a perfect bag for a longer trip.  You can fill with mementos of your journey.

Another addition to the collection is the Taormina bag.  Made with a stunning Sicilian red, this bag inspires me to book a trip to Sicily pronto.

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The craftsmanship is remarkable. Not only are these bags gorgeous, they are well made.  Daria said it was important to her and her partner to make the bags in Italy.  I’m sure Chez Dédé would make a lot more money producing the bags elsewhere. I appreciate their commitment to pay artisans well.

I’m not completely anti-fast fashion, but I’m doing my best to avoid it. I’d rather own a few things of excellent quality than buy a bunch of things from Zara/H&M/Top Shop that fall apart after two washings.  Also, I have the worst figure for fast fashion.  What looks cool on my thin and/or tall friends looks, well, cheap on me.

I adore these bags and not just because I’m an Island Girl myself. They are very “Stylish Simplicity”.

I was telling one of my friends that I couldn’t decide which one to get.  One of the bigger totes (Ciao Portofino!  Bonjour Cap Ferrat!) or the cute smaller Salina one?  I will decide after my birthday next month.

Chez Dédé 

www.chezdede.com

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