Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Lighting Revolution!

LED stands for "light-emitting diodes." It's a technology that has been around for a while, but until recently there were few products that used LEDs in Christmas lights at a price that compared with traditional strands. With energy prices at record highs, many people may think twice before decking their halls with electricity draining Christmas lights. Energy-conscious consumers can now choose from a growing array of LED lights that use less than one-tenth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, making them the green/eco-friendly choice for holidaydecorating. Major retailers carry LED Christmas lights in a variety of styles and colors. There are a variety of holiday d├ęcor items that feature LED lights such as trees, wreaths and candles.

The lights are energy efficient, environmentally friendly products. They are available in an amazing array of colors, styles and sizes and the prices are comparable to conventional electrical lights. The White House has even chosen to light the national tree with LED lights this year.

LEDs use plastic lenses, instead of glass and filaments, and are virtually unbreakable. Meaning they also could prevent one of the season's inevitable headaches: the search for that one faulty light that blows out the whole strand. Unlike incandescents, if a single LED goes out, it doesn't affect the others, and LEDs are much less likely to burn out: They can last about 200,000 hours while conventional bulbs last 1,000 to 2,000 hours. LEDs can be used indoors and outdoors, same as traditional lights, but they use just a fraction of the energy that conventional bulbs consume.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bag, Borrow, Or Steal

Right now, I'm wondering what sort of bag Santa uses to deliver the goods in. There are so many great things to choose from in the stores right now, and even better if you do your shopping online or on Ebay, and even better than that, there are some fun deals for bag rentals- that's right, rentals on purses!

I thought I had heard just about everything, until I read about high-end handbag rentals- starting at $5 for basic rentals, but it seems that the pricing of these can really get out of control quickly- ranging from the common Coach bags up to more exclusive offerings from Chanel, Gucci, and Prada. Somehow, though, the better things in life can't be rented. Bag, Borrow, or Steal does not offer anything from Hermes or Goyard.
Speaking of Goyard- what's Goyard, you ask? That's just how Goyard likes it. As opposed to the dreadfully recherche offernings from Louis Vuitton, whose monogram is now seemingly everywhere but on coffee mugs, Goyard has quietly gone about their business of constructing fantastic bags, wallets, and luggage for just as long as LV, but without the noise- you know the saying- the rich scream, the wealthy whisper. Check Barney's offering's out, or go directly to Paris for the 40% discount (just kidding).

I'm all for Louis Vuitton, just ask our friend Shelly (who recently got the most radical pair of jeans I've ever seen, maybe she will send me a photo so I can post it here), but especially love their smaller offerings, such as the coolest I-Pod case I've ever seen. I bought mine in April at the flagship LV store in Paris, but they are available online. Bill also bought an amazing pair of LV sunglasses, and we were served champagne while shopping. The French know how to treat customers!

Did someone mention food? No? I must be hungry, then. We've been to some great new restaurants here in the Palm Springs and Palm Desert areas that have recently opened. Our favorite of these picks is by far and away The Lobby Bar at the Desert Springs Marriott in Palm Desert. It's actually amazing that they have such fantastic sushi- particularly sushi rolls. Be sure to ask for our favorite server there, Jonathan. He'll be glad that we sent you. Another new soft opening as at The Tropicale, a 1950's-Miami-style supperclub, which clearly was the place to be seen last week in Palm Springs- the joint was jumping for a Monday night- which was great to see- they have a fantastic Polynesian style mural above the bar and serve a mean old-fashioned.
On a final, scattered note, I came across this great website with fantastic vintage graphic reproductions: Plan 59. I'm already wanting some of their photographic reproductions of the 1958 Gm Offerings superimposed on a Vertigo-like spiral graphics: Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Cadillac. The prices are very affordable ($250 at the high end), considering their large format (up to 75" x 44"). They are just really fun to look at, and they do have more than just cars.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Not An Ancient Chinese Secret!

I (Matthew) have said in my bio that I LOVE fortune cookies. There’s a lot more to them than sugar, butter, vanilla, milk, and a scrap of paper with a cryptic message inside. As I am prone to doing, I will now proceed to bore you with a lot of inane facts about fortune cookies…they are not particularly good, although I did purchase some chocolate-covered cookies last year for Valentine’s day, which made them HIGHLY edible. So does deep frying, for that matter, but I don’t think the paper fortune would fare too well.

The first cookies were either invented in Los Angeles or San Francisco, in 1909 or 1918, depending on who you believe, and it was not by anyone Chinese, but actually Japanese. This dispute actually went to the Court of Historical Review (in San Francisco), and (funny thing) ruled in favor of the San Francisco origins.

There are some great fortune cookies stories, among them being the U.S. Powerball Lottery in 2005 where 110 second-place winners got to split $19.5 million dollars. The lottery officals initially suspected fraud (how can so many people be so lucky), when they traced the winning numbers to a fortune cookie factory in Long Island, New York…it might actually pay off to pay attention to those numbers in your cookie next time! I won’t even get into the old story about the message: “Help! I’m being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory!”

The messages are so odd sometimes. Some seem vaguely threatening, something that quite a few people don’t find to be a great quality in a dessert item… “There may be a crisis looming, be ready for it.” I imagine a sweatshop somewhere with a lot of bitter writers. I have saved hundreds of fortunes, but have only a few doubles- it’s pretty interesting how many fortunes one can have.

One year, I had a Halloween party. Initially, I wanted to have misfortune cookies, and didn’t know how to go about getting any (this was the age before the internet. Now, you can custom-order fortune cookies for any occasion, authoring the fortunes yourself- making them all good or bad- you have the control! Quite a number of pages exist for getting a fortune out of a virtual cookie, without the calories…check this link out for some really funny fortunes without having to resort to eating a crunchy cookie.

Some of the great rituals involved in reading your fortune are pretty funny as well: some people think that if it’s a bad one, you shouldn’t eat the cookie. I recall in Japan that once you had a paper fortune, you should take it to a temple or shrine and tie it on a string and leave it with a prayer. Some believe that one shouldn’t read the fortune until after eating the cookie. Some believe that if you read it aloud, it will not come true. However, this method would not work for those who involve ending the reading of the fortune with the phrase “in bed” or “behind the barn,” which creates a new fortune such as “Speculations will turn out well in bed.” Incidentally, and perhaps not coincidentally, my sister and I delightfully discovered during church as children that this method also worked for hymn titles: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God Behind The Barn.” I would not recommend introducing this to children, as it does encouage a fair amount of giggling during inappropriate times during a church service.

One other thing that I found out while doing some research: Apparently there is a dud of a film from the 60’s called “The Fortune Cookie.” It starred Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, and a woman with the biggest hair ever. Conversely, there is also “Cookie’s Fortune,” which starred Patricia Neal, and was pretty fun to watch, though it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen it. There is also “The Wrong Fortune Cookie,” which I was unable to find any information about, so it must have been a real stinker.

In any case, I hope I’ve given you something to think about, and if not, click here for a fortune to consider.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


We've Got It All Covered!

You know, wallpaper, as I remember it as a child in the 70's either involved American Revolutionary War Soldiers and Rifles, the Liberty Bell; Bright Orange Mushrooms; Red Velvet Regency Patterns on wacky background; or the odd Bright Red Ford Model T's and Stutz Bearcats on a white background. I used to cringe at the mention of "wallcoverings."

Wallteriors has changed all this. We've used it in our own home, where it looks great with granite countertops in the kitchen and blends in with the travertine floors. Their handmade papers can be used in large or small spaces effectively, such as in a wall niche, applied over smooth or textured wall surfaces, installed with non-conventional ideas (such as on a diagonal, torn edges, in overlapping squares, etc.), and wallteriors will also customize colors for
you if their extensive collection does not suit your needs, although all of their wall coverings are made to order. We recently used it in our 22 Ambassador house in the master bedroom. It is quite spectactular, and we always take note that people want to touch it, and are curious about how it is made. For more information about including this product in your home, contact us at our office, or view Wallteriors website. We love this particular patterm, as it looks like cork or a fine wood veneer. They also have some great block print Kanji (Japanese) calligraphy patters as well as a great subtle large Hollywood Regency prints.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Family Life and Interior Design Circa 1957

The postwar "Baby Boom" both reinforced and challenged the traditional definition of the American family. Peaking in 1957, the Baby Boom helped the nation's population grow by 30 percent--nearly 40 million people. Young parents moved to the suburbs to raise their large families in homes purchased with the aid of government-subsidized and -insured loans. Between 1945 and 1960, the proportion of homeowners in the nation increased by 50 percent. well. The Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert area also experienced a building boom during this time to accommodate weekenders and growing families as the stereotypical image of a commuting breadwinning husband and father, stay-at-home wife and mother, and playful, happy children was consistently portrayed in the popular media. Yet the overall percentage of women working outside the home increased during the 1950s, as families faced higher costs of living caused in part by rising expectations of comfort and conformity that went along with the new prosperity.

Uniquely American, "teenage" entered everyday usage only at the end of World War II. For the first time in the nation's history, teenagers were the focus of the nation's attention. By mid-decade, parents and teachers, fearing the loss of their authority, warned of the perils of teenage sexuality and juvenile delinquency. Advertisers and businesses, on the other hand, enthusiastically developed this affluent "youth market."
A variety of age-specific consumer goods, from clothing, cosmetics, and cars, to transistor radios, portable phonographs and rock 'n' roll records, satisfied teenagers' desires to create their own identities for themselves and for their peer group.

Style and Color in the home of 1957

Early in the decade, domestic design echoed military stiffness and order through the use of spiky, angular forms. New materials such as plastic, plastic laminates, and latex foam, developed through wartime research and application, inspired designers' conceptions for the shape and manufacture of household goods. By the end of the decade style had become more organic. Biomorphic forms, such as the kidney-shaped coffee table, represent the Contemporary style many American manufacturers--and purchased by families for their suburban homes. High style was popularized in such do-it-yourself leisure activities as paint by number and designing and building a recreation room. The basement "rec room" offered a space for creative and indulgent fantasy. Fathers and sons together recreated the "Old West" or a "Paris cafe" or another exotic locale in which to entertain or to relax. When Carmel Snow, editor of Harper's Bazaar, labeled Christian Dior's first postwar fashion collection a "New Look," little did she think that the term would become popular coinage and last well beyond the Dior fashion phenomenon of 1947. Many manufacturers aligned their goods with the fashionable term; in fact, in 1955 the Tupperware Corporation introduced its new "TV tumblers" by asserting "Christian Dior isn't the only one coming out with a 'New Look' these days!" In the form of the suburban Tupperware party, housewives sold and purchased goods as stylish as their dresses.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Movers and (Martini) Shakers in Palm Springs

I attended a great little mixer last night at the newest hotel gem in Palm Springs: The Colony Palm Hotel, at their restaurant, The Purple Palm. They served up a mean Sidecar for me, and left me wanting more. It was a great mix of familiar faces from the valley as well as a lot of "new blood" for the hotel/restaurant/bar scene, which hasn't had much new going on since The Parker opened up a few years ago. In the case of The Colony Palms, it's all glam and on the pool. It's a beautiful location, and they have done a great job of keeping the historic attributes of this once mobster-owned 1936 structure, which once had the multiple functions of being a brothel and a speakeasy. At a later time, Sea Biscuit's owner purchased this building, functioning as a Hollywood starlet respite for several years. It's great to see that some property owners in Palm Springs have the vision to keep a village identity intact, rather than to tear down and build huge buildings where once-historic places stood (such as the loss of the Doll House, the Biltmore). We are looking forward to attending the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation's party at The Willows, another venerable institution which has hosted such notables as Albert Einstein, Marion Davies, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard.

Pillows: The Life of the Party!

Pillows are not only functional; they can also be decorative. While we use them at our interior design firm in Palm Desert for accents, we use them at our home in Rancho Mirage for relaxing on the sofa while watching movies or reading. There are so many shapes and sizes that pillows are available ready made in stores and with a creative eye, interior designers can create endless combinations of shapes, sizes and designs to add accent through use of decorative pillows for bedding accents and companions for sofas, chairs and even built- in seating in commercial spaces. Above, we see some of the fantastic offerings from Smith and Noble, one of our favorite picks for commerically-made pillows that would compliment not only desert interiors, but just about anywhere.

With the huge variety of trims and embellishments available to the interior designer today, decorative pillows take on a whole new life of their own! Bolsters, down-filled Euro shams, ball pillows, cording, braid, fringe trim, bullion fringe, hand tied silk fringe- the options are as limitless for trims as are the options for fabrics.
In retail stores there are so many choices available. Among some of the limitless styles are: old-world elegance with pillows that are hand-done in wool on needlepoint canvas;
tapestry reproductions in jacquard with a backing made of cotton-velvet; embroidered arabesques with sequined mirrors; pillows crafted with paisley chenille; with tassel fringes. You can get pillows with a faux suede covering. Or you can get them in luxurious silk and satin.
More modern versions include pillows in retro patterned fabrics with fabulous fringes and trims. Whatever happened to the plain, old rectangular solid color accent pillows of 1950 and 1960’s?

Those days of pillows being in the background are gone! Today’s pillows are the life of the party, especially when the party is here in Palm Desert! Just as a sidenote: the pillow above is NOT from one of our parties, we're just checking to see if you're really reading the text as well as looking at the pretty photos!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Magic of Motorized Window Shades

A current trend in contemporary interior design is for more simple architectural window coverings. An example of this would be the use of motorized shades. In Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and Rancho Mirage, we are often building in pockets above windows with electrical outlets in today's contemporary homes to provide for the many options in motorized window treatments.

With advancing technology, anything is possible in interior design; You can have window treatments controlled by a switch on the wall, a remote control, or both. You can have the window treatments communicate with an automated system controlled by a main computer in your home. The shades can be grouped according to rooms, areas, or individually.

Another advantage of motorized window treatments is that they can make hard to reach windows much more accessible and easy to cover. A window over a bathtub is always a challenge, especially when privacy is an issue. Now with motorized technology, the problem of light control for windows in difficult areas is solved. This is especially important here in the desert, where owners may be away from there desert home for several months at a time.

Motorized shades (especially great with shades
from Smith & Noble) come in a variety of materials and colors and can provide full sun protection (a major issue for luxury home interiors here in the desert) and room darkening (also an interior design issue in the desert) or filtered light in a room. With advances in home automation technology continually changing, motorized window treatments are fast becoming a necessity in interior design rather than a luxury in todays homes in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and Rancho Mirage.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rufus Wainwright, Judy Garland, and the Hollywood Bowl

Bill and I went to an fantastically odd concert at the great Hollywood Bowl last night. Rufus Wainwright preformed Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie Hall set from beginning to end with the Bowl's orchestra and hand-picked quartet. He was also joined on stage by his mother, Kate, and sister, Martha, both performers as well. A suprise during the last set was Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's daughter, who sang a duet with him. Lorna seemed delighted as she declared onstage: "Isn't this wonderful? I'd like to thank Rufus for celebrating my mother's musical legacy." I especially enjoyed seeing Rufus come out during "Get Happy" in a Miss Garland's signature outfit: a black fedora, a tuxedo jacket, fishnet stockings, and a set of heels. It was quite a sight!

It was a very special evening. After the concert, we joined Rufus backstage, where I told him it was great to see him doing what he wanted to do. Also joining us backstage were Judith Light and Rebecca
Rominj, (from Ugly Betty), Hillary Swank, Debbie Reynolds, and Bruce Vilanch for champagne and pastries.

I really can't say enough about how cool the Hollywood Bowl is and what a fantastic place it is to be at night, especially one as beautiful as last night. The lights of the Bowl, a beautiful moon, and the stars (yes, sometimes you can see them in L.A.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Final Word on Finials!

What Are Drapery Finials?
Finials are the decorative fixing at the end of the poles. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some simple, some complex, from the traditional fleur de lys, and arrowhead to the fruity pomegranate and pineapple, and back to nature with acorns, scallop shells, along with the simple colonial turned wood balls. Finials can be Iron, stainless steel, wood, just about anything- we'd love to use them in our office in Palm Desert as well as our home in Rancho Mirage. They serve a practical function as well as they keep drapery panels from falling off the rod itself and also offer an opportunity for a decorative accent to any room.
We love these art glass finials from Jessit Gold, inspired by precious stones and contemporary art glass. These are available at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lamps: They're Illuminating!


Did you think lamps just provided light? , lamps are the “jewelry” of a room. Lamps provide warm and cozy ambience to any setting and be a great accent to any room. Lamps also provide a “finishing touch” to an interior scheme like nothing else can do. I always try to incorporate table lamps in addition to any overhead lighting that may be present in a room for a few reasons.
lamps put light down at a level where it is useable
Lamps provide a warm glow that soften a room
Lamps provide an opportunity to add some texture, accent and interest to any room. Lamps come in all shapes and sizes and we have illustrated a few of our favorites here from Palecek and Seascapes lighting (all available through William Miller Design
in Palm Desert, California).

When chosing a lamp it is important to consider a few basic rules:

Where is the lamp going? - on what kind of surface and beside what?

How is the lamp being used ? Is the lamp for function or for accent light?

How does the lamp relate to the objects and or furniture placed next to it?

How tall should the lamp be ?

What proportions should the base have to the shade?

When selecting a lamp consider the area that you have available to accommodate the lamp. For example if the lamp is going on a small side table or nightstand the diameter or depth and width of the base of the lamp should not be too large or too small for the table

surface. A general rule would be to leave at least a border of 3 to 4 inches all around the base of the lamp but not more than 6”.

Will your lamp be used for reading? Computer or desk work? Grooming? Or just as accent lighting? A reading lamp, for example should provide enough light that all tasks are easily completed without straining or squinting. An accent light on the other hand can be as soft and dim as desired.

The height of the lamp is important for a couple of reasons. A lamp next to a bed for example should be tall enough to be able to read a book comfortably, but not so tall that it looks out of proportion with the headboard or nightstand that it is placed on. A good general height for a bedside lamp is about 28 ½” to 30 “ tall depending on the height of the nightstand.

Lamp proportions are subjective these days particularly with the resurgence of the mid-century modern craze that dictates a larger shade to base proportion. Most conventional lamps, however can fall in line with a lamp to shade proportion of 2/3 base height to 1/3” lamp shade height.

Finally, the most versatile feature about lamps is that they come in all shapes and sizes,
Textures, finishes, base styles, shade styles and types. Lamps are a perfect opportunity to express your individuality and creative spirit.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Portland, Oregon: Where's The Ocean At?

Last night, Bill and Matt's friend Anne Stark threw a Last Thursday party for us. What's a last Thursday, you might ask? Where can I buy one? Well, children, gather 'round the fire, and all shall be revealed to you. Last Thursday is not a thing or an item, it's a happening on Alberta in Portland, Oregon. There are a growing number of galleries, and they are all open late.

We found a great fabric store Called Bolt. I wanted to buy everything that I saw. They had an amazing selection of great patterned materials and some wonderful books about sewing (one of Matt's favorite things to do, really). Some of you can vouch for my quilt making skills- the result of a broken foot in Tokyo, cutting me off from the outside world for a number of weeks. We purchased some leftover yardage, to add to my growing pile
of scraps that I plan to make into a throw blanket for our home this winter. We also bought a great beginner's sewing book, with some basic patterns: Bill is really interested in trying his hand at sewing.

Our second items that we stumbled over was a street vendor selling "Perfect Children" These are handmade, somewhat unnerving stuffed animals. Bill selected two: one is a large teddy bear with who appears harmless except for the two double rows of sharp teeth that its gaping mouth displays. We named her "Ginger." Bill also purchased a large hairy eyeball brooch, I suppose to wear to work? What did you buy that for, Bill?

They have a great website with their cute, cuddly offerings- animals as well as some disturbing photograhic prints of these little creatures in their natural settings. You can also take a look at the people who make these fun little bunnies and bears.

We had a great time, and we were not looking forward to returning to the heat of Palm Desert, California...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jeepers Creepers! Protect Those Peepers!

Here in Palm Desert, as we head into Fall, most of the country is starting to think about the inevitable appoach of winter and all the accroutrements that go along with subzero temperatures, snow and ice storms, and splitting wood.

It's too bad for the rest of the country, because here in the desert, we will just be getting to enjoy our beautiful winter weather- spending far more time outdoors in the Fall and Winter than in the Summer months. During this time we should be thinking about eyewear and protection from the sun. Most of us have sunblock application built into our routines, but most of us don't consider blocking harmful UV rays from our eyes.

It's important to wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV blocking lenses while spending any amount of time in the sun. Long-term sun exposure can damage vision, and is also linked to cataracts, macular degeration, and several other significant eye disorders that are irreversable.

To protect your eyes, make sure that the lenses protect at least 99% of all harmful UV-A and UV-B radiation. Sunglasses can also be a great fashion accessory ! Here are some of our favorites.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Magnificent Metallics!!!

Okay, make all the Saturday Night Fever jokes you want: metallic fabrics are back with a vengance- from full-on Solid Gold Dancer Vinyl to lurex-laced prints that look like they might be out of a 1957 Oldsmobile or a cocktail lounge aboard the SS France- the last of the Great French Trans-Atlantic Ocean Liners...anyhow, we're just wild about these reDISCOvered materials, especially used in accent pillows on sofas or beds!

The first moden metallic fabric was produced in 1946 by the Dobeckmum Company, just in time for Edith Head to use them in some amazing outfits for
Ivers." I digress again! Previously, aluminum was
used as a base in metallic fibers- however, stainless steel is being used more and more as a base. Although it is more difficult to work with, it is a materal that enables it to be used in far more applications than aluminum.

So go ahead, enjoy yet another guilty pleasure- we won't stop you!

Bill and His Maine Coon Cats

Bill and his Maine Coons

Bill has a passion for design and a passion for his cats! The Maine Coon is a pedigreed breed which has long been professionally recognized by the ACA (American Cat Association). Bill and Matt’s cats, Spike and Zsa Zsa are two classic examples of purebred Maine Coons.

These beautiful and loveable cats are one of the largest in size of all cat breeds, often reaching a scale-tipping weight of 25 Lbs.

Spike, or “Big Fatty” as Matt calls him; weighs in at 21 lbs. and was a former California State champion on the cat show circuit.

Maine Coons are very dog–like in their behavior are extremely friendly and affectionate. They enjoy the water and occasionally eat with their paws “raccoon style.”

Contrary to myth, the large cats are NOT a result of cross breeding with raccoon or bob cats, but do have an interesting history of origin.

Probably the oldest breed of cat in North America, it is believed that the Maine Coon is a descendant of prized Angora cats belonging to Marie Antoinette that were shipped ahead to North America for safe keeping during the French Revolution. The Exile of Marie to The New World did not happen and the cats were turned loose. Local wild feral cats mated with the French Angoras and now they freely roam our house in Rancho Mirage, California. Every once in awhile, you can also see them at the offices of William Miller Design in Palm Desert, California.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Bill and Matt are just back to the desert heat after a cool week in New England- we visited Massachusetts and Vermont. A few of the highlights were:
Finding a gem of a kitchen, bed, and bath accessories shop in Provincetown, Massachusetts: Utilities!

Meeting Scott Coffey, who makes hand-tailored men's resort wear and sells them at his shop in Provincetown: Coffey.

Our other great find was an exhibit at The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. It's an exhibit called Chandelierious! It features some great lighting from Shonbeck and is displayed in an early 19th century round barn.

We crashed a Barbie Doll pool party (really) in Provincetown.

Bill also discovered just how fancy poultry can get, appearing a great deal like hats that Mamie Eisenhower might have worn- or were those actually chickens perched on her head? We'll never know! When our internet server was down for a few days, we were considering getting some of these to deliver messages from our office in Palm Desert, but we weren't so sure if they would be able to stand the heat or not...
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