Elegant Mayhem | A haven for lifestyle and home inspiration.
Elegant Mayhem blog, Lee Prince, Leland Prince, home lifestyle inspiration
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Leave it to the British to come up with the perfect word for that in-between layer everyone wants when it starts to turn chilly: the coatigan.  Part coat, part cartigan, 100% comfortable & ideally not a mushy sweater fabric that loses its structure over time. I got a great one last year from MM LaFleur but couldn’t find any from them this season so I rounded up a few alternatives, below.

Do you have any sources you like for this in-between season layer? Please comment or email me (lee@elegantmayhem.com) so I can spread the word – thanks!

Love these two options from London-based (now Stateside too), The White Company…..contrast lined one in taupe/marl:

And another one with black leather piping and sleeves (also from the White Company) – great accent…

While not “technically” a coatigan – I doubt anyone enforces the term:) — this wrap from J. McLaughin is super useful because it’s reversible and serves as that in-between kind of layer…

I’m having deja vu that I’ve posted this alpaca cape from Cuyana before, but I still haven’t ordered! I find Cuyana to have really high quality at good price point.

Also from Cuyana, this oversized turtleneck looks like really versatile piece:

Last but not least, this sleeveless wrap vest would be great instead of a bulky jacket (& arguably more attractive than the shrunken, faded down vest from J. Crew that I inherited from my teenage daughters’ middle school closet….which I CONTINUE to wear! Someone please force me to make an effort in this category – it’s time.

Happy Fall to everyone!

Best,
Lee

I recently had a really cool experience in NYC as a guest panelist on Sirius XM’s “Tastemakers” show, hosted by the multi-talented Pauline Garris Brown, a friend and fellow Dartmouth classmate.  Her show is packed with tips and inspiration for living a beautiful life, so I was honored to be included in the conversation!

Photo by Albert Cheung, courtesy of Shoptiques

The episode I was on featured the legendary interior designer Jamie Drake of Drake/Anderson (you know, Madonna’s decorator, no big deal:) — here are images of his  redesign of NYC’s Gracie Mansion for former Mayor Bloomberg….

— and architect Tom Fox of Fox Diehl who has done projects all over the world, including a beautiful house for Pauline & her family in Long Island. Below is a recent residential project by Fox Diehl:

We all got to weigh in on the very fun subject of creative expression in home design — how to make your space personal and unique to YOU.  You can listen to the full discussion HERE, which was packed with so many interesting tidbits including:
Without ______, Jamie Drake believes your room will never truly be alive or successful
 
What’s the quickest, least expensive way to freshen a room? (hint, it’s much easier & less $ than paint)
 
* How to ensure that your home renovation grows WITH you and your family’s needs over time
 
* The role of color, millwork and unique details (i.e; window style, outdoor lighting) in giving your space a distinctive identity

Bellport residence by Drake Anderson

Pauline brings together diverse guests (top photographers, landscape architects, fashion designers, and design enthusiasts) who share one big thing in common: a passion for beauty. She’s also a senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and teaches a course called “The Business of Aesthetics” — a subject she knows well, since she was previously Chairman of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH)/North America. Below is an out-take from our session — we had a great time together!

Tune in on Sirius XM “Stars” channel 109, Saturdays at 5 pm, or Sundays at 9 am ET for more great conversations about incorporating style into your day to day life.
 
Thanks to Pauline & everyone at Sirius XM!

I was planning to post about something totally different when I came across an amazing new shop/service featured in the Sept. issue of House Beautiful & had to spread the word! If you live in Northern California, you may already know about The Well Made Home but it is completely new to me & fills a great hole in the market — offering individuals a custom look with designer fabrics in a way that suits them (ie; shopping affordably from home).

Founded by Kelly Bedford Willrich & Melanie Mount, who were previously VP’s at Pottery Barn, The Well Made Home offers huge range of beautiful pillows on their website  — or in their Larkspur shop, which doubles as an active workshop. I love how they describe the business on their website: “Together, Kelly and Melanie are on a mission to bridge the gap between mass retailers and the exclusive world of interior design, allowing you to create products for your home that are personal, meaningful and timeless.

I had just ordered bunch of great pillows via Etsy, but these from Well Made Home really caught my eye….

AND, did I mention “they do windows”??!! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  Window treatments, upholstery and even design planning services are available.

I’m overdue for a visit to see friends in SF, so this just may be an added incentive:) Til then, enjoy & let me know what you find/love in their shop — too many good choices, right??

 

Cheers,

Lee

If you told me I’d get to be at our new lake house for 1 full month, I would have told you the entire place would be fully painted, furnished & accessorized by the month’s end. Because I’m a crazy optimist & I have a very rich fantasy life. BUT I will say that now 3 weeks in, there are so many great resources that are making the process not only easy but in fact, fun. Happy to share what I’ve learned — and please let me know if you have any further ideas to add!

 

Here’s the Library room — although bookshelves won’t be built for several more weeks — covered in pastiche of blue paint samples… (My husband’s patience is being tested:).

The winner is:  Benjamin Moore #1646 “Lookout Point”, which BM describes as: “...weightless pale blue with the slightest touch of soft, smooth gray captures the appearance of the sky on an overcast morning.” Yup, that was the goal – done.

I ordered this Safavieh kilim from Overstock & it works out perfectly for the space! It’s a heavy wool dhurrie style, very forgiving & kind of blends traditional/modern the way I hoped. The image below is much more “teal” than the actual rug I received but that was a plus. Coffee table ordered from Crate and Barrel….and I still need to paint the side table….

ETSY – Of course you know & love Etsy.com but did you know you can use it as your personal resource for custom pillows with amazing array of to-the-trade-only fabric choices??  I ordered these Lisa Fine beauties, from Kemble Richards’ etsy shop….arrived beautifully packaged & in record time.

And these from Dekowe shop on Etsy which also has gorgeous selections (the ones below are Peter Dunham)…

If you want to see more, click here for my “Modern Farmhouse” board on Pinterest, with tons of other products and resources you can pick up.

 

The Family Room is like a (too) blank canvas right now – it has great light and is super peaceful, but verrrryyy much needs a couple paintings by my dad – coming next wk!! (And some accessories — I’m layering these in slowly so it doesn’t get too junky.)

Gayle Asher paintings (from GayleAsher.com):

Last but not least, thank you for the feedback on where I can order to-the-trade-only wallpapers as a non-professional!  Katie G. offered great resource – LA Design Concepts. It has a million of amazing choices from favorite designers and brands.

 

And this Seattle-based shop, Adorn, offers some nice options too. I’m kind of hooked on this Celerie Kemble “Feather Bloom” in Blue/green for the powder room…

And the Galbraith “fern” paper below for the upstairs bathroom…..

But first, I have a few boxes of merch to open….and yes, because we’re in the country, a couple of dump runs to do with the excess packaging!

What online or other upscale DIY resources do you rely on for your decorating projects?? I’d love to know & will share with everyone in upcoming post!

 

Cheers & happy summer,

 

Lee

I recently had several friends ask me for a short list of must-see, interesting places in Paris — I thought I’d put it down on paper for all of us to daydream a bit together…or maybe you are one of the lucky ones with a trip planned there too?!  The dollar is so strong & tourism is down in Paris now, so it is a great time to take advantage of lower rates and enjoy it all.

1.  First, where to stay:  St. Germain des Pres neighborhood. I’ve stayed in various neighborhoods (arrondissements) in Paris, for work trips and for pleasure, & the one I finally ended up adopting as my home away from home is St. Germain des Pres. Its cobblestone streets are nestled around the Abbey of St. Germain (below), with the famous cafes of Les Deux Magots (6 place Saint-Germain-des-Pres), one of Picasso’s favorite spots, and Brasserie Lipp (151 Boulevard Saint-Germain), where Ernest Hemingway wrote A Moveable Feast, within a stone’s throw.

You will find huge array of small hotels in the neighborhood — I’ve stayed at the very low-end ones as an art student and much more comfortable ones as I got older! Here are two I recommend — & the current prices are lower than I’ve seen in past 10 years!

* HOTEL DES SAINTS PERES (65 Rue des Saints-Peres):  I saw a rate as low as $140 night (cheaper than many of the sketchy places my daughter & I are staying on our epic college road trip!).

Why I like this hotel — location is quaint and very accessible to great area boutiques and museums…..the concierges speak perfect English – when I brought my 80-year old dad over (no French), he was able to get detailed touring info from them with no problem at all….it’s historic (late 1600’s!) but has modern amenities.

The courtyard cafe actually looks just like this photo from their website – very tranquil.

Rooms are tiny (or mine were) but comfy and stylish. This is the hotel for you if you like places with character.

2. HOTEL BEL AMI (7-11 Rue Saint-Benoit):  A bigger, more modern hotel (great Wifi, which my daughter loved) with….wait for it….air conditioning! (surprisingly rare in older parts of Paris), Hotel Bel Ami is a great choice if you want more open common spaces and up to date details.  I saw rate for $240, which is much less than I paid 5 years ago.

2. WHERE TO SHOP:  Of course this could be a VERY long post if I wrote down every single place, but my favorite thing to do is to walk all around St. Germain des Pres and cover the small boutiques (vs. bigger, more famous department stores). Unlike in the U.S., you don’t have to go to some non-descript, trade-only “Design Center” to see fabrics and furniture from top brands. If you go to Place de Furstenberg, lovely cul de sac below — you’ll find places like Manuel Canovas, Pierre Frey, etc. dotted throughout the area. Anyone can walk in & order!

Don’t miss Flamant! This large furniture/accessories – all things home – is absolutely beautiful. And since most Parisians are going to be away for all of August, you’ll probably find some great sales going on too.

Others I love:

  • Simrane – 23 rue bonaparte. Incredible original Provence-style linens. The owner actually went to college in the U.S. (Cornell) and has been sourcing textiles and homegoods from France and India for decades.
  • Sabbia Rosa – 73, rue des Saints-Peres:  lingerie store!
  • Aurelie Bidermann – 55, Rue des Saints Peres — adore.
  •  Inez de la Fressange Paris – 24 Rue de Grenelle – former Chanel model, very chic, home & some clothes/accessories.
  • It sounds crazy i know, but the Ralph Lauren store there (173 Blvd St Germaine) is to die for, in a Beaux Art bldg — and the courtyard garden is lovely spot.  Sonia Rykiel store is right next to it & also great.

3. Where to eat: I am not a foodie so I”ll leave that reportage for others, but there are 3 food-related destinations I’d recommend.

  • E. Dehillerin 20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 — Hop in cab & head to E. Dehillerin for a real adventure. This is the historic French chef’s store where Julia Child used to shop for cookware and where Ina Garten does today. I took my youngest daughter there when she was 13 & we had great time looking at the HUGE industrial-size ladles (as tall as she was) or the teeny tiny pastry piping tools. Its main audience is professional Parisian restaurant chefs but you’ll find something there for your home to be sure.
  • Poilane — what is Paris without a perfect baguette to savor?! There are many Poilane shops throughout Paris & of course they’re all superb. I’m not the biggest fan of their website (currently says they are “looking forward to Spring”:( )  but if you can bear with the clunkiness of the site, you CAN order Poilane bread fresh from Paris for when you get home! I’ve done this for myself and as gifts and it’s been fun — they Fedex the fresh bread out in the AM straight to you. Look under the “Shop” tab.
    • Last but not least, check out Cookn’ with Class (6 Rue Baudelique, 75018) towards Montmartre. We took a macaroon-making class that was incredible! All classes taught in English (our teacher was actually from Australia) but use specific French cooking methods. Our classmates were from all over the world — and the resulting macarons were at least as good as Laduree! (Our Parisian friends whom we shared the macaroons with that evening said “perhaps even better” than Laduree). High praise from a Frenchman!

We booked our class online via the link on TripAdvisor. Worked out great.

Anyone who goes HAS to report back to all of us with sales or tips we can all use, ok?!!  Paris is so great any time but on sale, even sweeter.

 

A bientot,

 

Lee

As a transplanted New Yorker living in Washington DC, I love it when I find other people with similar background. Anna Matthews is a design crush of mine & although we haven’t worked together (yet!), I adore how she creates lovely LIVABLE spaces, especially for families and dogs!  A Parsons grad, Anna has a beautiful sense of color and scale — making each of her projects somehow both cheerful and yet sophisticated. DC is lucky to have her:)

 

Meet the designer & her dog…

Here’s a beautiful re-do of a cottage in Gibson Island (Maryland).  Reminds me of early Victoria Hagan projects — I love the old fan as basically a piece of sculpture!

How smart (& inexpensive) is this “runner”??  Makes so much sense in busy summer house with kids & dogs. Plus it feels so light & fresh…

Photos by Laura Metzler

I could move right into this Chevy Chase MD family home below — feels modern & classic at the same time. Great sconce! Must find source….stay tuned.

I’m obsessed with the blue color of the shelves (& in fact I saved a wine bottle cap from party the other night which is exact same shade — & I’m taking it to hardware store today to match for color of our front door in NH!). Of course I’d have 1,000 more books on my shelves; yes, it’s a problem I know:)

Last but not least, I leave you with this little slice of lavender in a cozy corner. Ahhhhhhh…..And before I forget — Anna’s Instagram feed (@annamatthewsinteriors) is GORGEOUS.

If you know of other up and coming designers with great style, please let me know – I’d love to discover them & will be happy to share with everyone! In meantime, I’m still unpacking & unpacking & unpacking up here in New Hampshire. Writing this was great diversion from the ample “mayhem” around me. Onwards!!

 

Enjoy,

Lee

This post was so fun to put together, I may never get out of my pajamas! Today I’m sharing with you one of my secret loves (now not so secret): design videos. You know I’m obsessed with art books, decorating magazines, auction catalogs, online sites (Chairish, Pinterest, 1st Dibs, on & on…)….but sometimes you just want those pictures to come alive — and thanks to a few sources, you’ll find they can!

 

So if you’re at work in an uninspired office right now and wishing you were in a sun-dappled garden in Ojai….

Or you’re on vacation with the kids in a beautiful garden but wishing you had time for yourself to go furniture shopping on the Upper East Side with Alexa Hampton….

now you are just a click away from being there. I leaned on these videos liberally during the worst of my cancer treatment & it really did take my mind away. (I just don’t know why all the shelter magazines don’t do great videos? And for that matter, their websites are generally not great. Subscribers would LOVE to see more & have it presented in a clean, easy-to-navigate fashion — hint hint, Conde Nast & Hearst.)

But I digress! The real treasure trove is be found on Quintessence, run by Stacey Bewkes & Susanna Salk.

Their video series, which you can find on Youtube & subscribe to for updates (https://www.youtube.com/user/quintessenceblg) has amazing array of interviews with designers, architects, stylists in their home for great behind-the-scenes look. Below are some of my favorites. Note: the most recent one with Muriel Brandolini doesn’t typify their usual style — that one is all voiceover & doesn’t have the give and talk of conversation that you’ll see in most Quintessence videos.

 

Here’s an overview of Quintessence interviews, which emphasizes their apt tagline, “Giving Design A Voice”:

Visit Mark Sikes in his divine California house & garden!

Check out the really original & playful style of Sara Ruffin Costello in her manse in New Orleans…

As promised, a shopping trip with Alexa Hampton — stopping at John Rosselli, Liz O’Brien & Niall Smith…

Venture to Patina Farm for a tour both inside and out:

I also loved the ones with Charlotte Moss, Jill Kargman, Eddie Ross, Carolyne Roehme….which ones do you like the best???

If Europe and fashion are more your thing, check out stylist/photographer Garance Dore…

Last but not least, Studio McGee, a young design firm in Salt Lake City, has some great, user-friendly videos that showcase their clean, modern style AND provide really specific “how to”s as well.

I’m actually in midst of figuring out rugs and flooring for our house in New Hampshire, so this one was very handy for me…

As you can see, I’m a bit of a junkie in the design videos department. Do you know of any others to follow? Please share! THANKS!!

 

Cheers & happy procrastinating 🙂

This week really personifies “elegant” & “mayhem” in my life. The elegance I’m finding is everywhere around me in New Hampshire — bluest skies ever, crisp cool air at night, and the gift of finally being healthy enough to visit the vacation house we bought here two years ago! I’m so, so grateful and am relishing each day up here. Below is our house on the hill – seriously, NO filter.

In a total haze last year, I ordered this dining table from Farmhouse Pottery, based in Woodstock VT, and this is the first time I got to see it. I love it!!  I’m obsessed with all of Farmhouse Pottery’s designs and products though, so it wasn’t a big decision:)

I’m counting down til the mover gets here this Friday with boxes of some of my personal items — books, lamps, momentos – so I can add a little color and sparkle to the room. But it’s so peaceful and spare, I’ll have to go gently…

We bought the house from the nicest, most gracious couple, but their lifestyle up here was very different from ours. Below is the way that same room looked when we first saw it — today, a couple coats of Benjamin Moore “Edgecomb Gray” later (thank you Carolyn deM. for the selection!) and the room now has more of our vibe…

Even Rosie, our 12-year old cockapoo, seems more relaxed up here!

So where is the mayhem you may be asking?? Well, it’s not epic, but there is a lot of stuff still to do — the usual kind of home projects (painting, wallpaper, hanging art, finding mattresses) and the more ambitious: winterizing the room above the garage/barn so we can accommodate more people AND perhaps most importantly, keep the teenagers in their own space for a while!! So we’ve got some full-fledged construction going on here.

 

Team is hard at work today, making progress…

We added plumbing and a skylight so the kids will have their own bathroom – which is arguably more of a bonus for me, than for them….

Below is the kids’ current bathroom, which I’ll be cleaning up today since they left – good thing for them I’m in such a happy mood up here!  I’m going to swap out fixtures and wallpaper this room as soon as I get around to it. Thinking of a light/modern wallpaper by Celerie Kemble if I can get it on sale??? Looking online….please let me know if you have any good wallpaper sources for non-trade people like moi.

Below is the office nook from where I hope to be writing you soon! Just need a desk, a chair, a lamp, & a bookcase – that’s all:)

Hope you had a great Fourth of July weeknd and I’ll keep you posted as things come together up here. A very fun adventure regardless!

 

Cheers,

Lee

I was recently traveling with a friend who is always put together. When we stepped out for the evening, she had complete poise with a great soft gold pouch tucked under her arm, while I had huge bag that could have doubled as a suitcase. Not so cute. I realized that I had been missing an entire category of form & function in my wardrobe: the clutch! I am forever that kind of last minute person who gives her husband a lipstick to hold in his suit jacket (which of course I forget to use at the party, much less retrieve afterwards). I tuck a credit card in my pocket perhaps & keys again in the husband’s jacket…Maybe I could learn to be one of those cooler, organized types who have assortment of some go-to clutches? 

 

Herewith are my choices and perhaps some inspiration if you need one too. I have exactly two in my arsenal now – one from my friend Gail that I ADORE, but the company is no longer operating & it is woolen so not as much of a summer bag. The other is from Couture Planet, which turns laminated newspapers into interesting conversation-piece bags — they are revamping their website as we speak, but you can find some samples at CouturePlanet.com.

 

I wanted to find couple clutches that I could use for summer evenings, which might be less formal & yes, splash-proof since I am hoping to be near some body of water as much as I can! Most of them are in the $100 – 200 range, some higher, some lower. (Tuckernuck & couple others seem to be running sales & specials too.) There’s one from Clare V. that is both more expensive & less practical but I just thought was so pretty I had to include it.

 

I haven’t made my selects yet, so please chime in if you know of other great options!

 

Thanks & cheers to many fun summer evenings for all,

Lee

All photos courtesy of the brand’s individual websites, except for the gorgeous cover photo which is courtesy of great site, Design Darling (run by fellow Darien native Mackenzie Horan!).

The public spaces at the Crosby do not disappoint either – they have charming bar, with an “honesty policy” where you can serve yourself…great restaurant and really interesting lobby space. I LOVE their generous use of color, original art, modern + classic pieces…..I’m kind of obsessed with the whole thing actually.

You will see more dog paintings and dog collages than perhaps any other hotel in the world!  All original and beautiful — here’s one I took in tiny hallway so forgive the weird angle. They have more in the elevators too but those images did not come out very well. You’ll have to go visit in person to see:)

Speaking of dogs, we had breakfast in the Sculpture Garden and met the most adorable human-like dog! See below….It is a truly pet-friendly place.

Their adjacent garden restaurant, where we had dessert the evening before (having been “carb-shamed” at Chalk Point Kitchen when we asked for bread before our dinner — “Um, no, ladies, we don’t serve bread. Only pickles.”  Really?? No wonder Chalk Point is Gigi Hadid’s favorite restaurant – we left feeling virtuous but kind of craving MORE.

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to the Crosby and head to Columbia for their Creative Writing program registration. Our daughters indulged us in a souvenir photo of the “moms” (we’re not sure why they winced at our request but there you have it)…

A pretty quick taxi ride later, we arrived at 116th Street…to the dorms….and poof — the girls were off!

Here’s to hoping they have a wonderful time in New York — and that they remember their dear old moms and the fun we had at the Crosby Street Hotel together. Thank you to everyone at the Crosby, especially Deirdre Flores and Max Jonas, for giving us such a lovely experience…and thanks to Kit Kemp for your inspired design!!

 

All photos are original to Elegant Mayhem, Page Evans or courtesy of Firmdale Hotels.