Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NEW SEASON.....NEW PRODUCTS  TOYS

Every summer I search the globe (figuratively and yes, sometimes literally) for new, different and most importantly, special products to add to my boutique. I thought I'd share some of the wonderful things en route to Leta Austin Foster Boutique this summer. They are quickly filling our shelves as we gear up for another fabulous season.

This week I'd like to show you some super new toys that we will be adopting, in the hopes of finding forever homes for them. We will have them arrive early this year for Christmas present-giving, but don't delay because they fly, hop and gallop out of here very quickly !

Hazel Village, based in Brooklyn, makes adorable Organic cotton fleece and jersey woodland friends. Every rabbit, cat, raccoon, toad, owl, mouse and fox comes with an outfit and a name (but of course) such as Lucy Owl, Catalina Mouse and Reginald Fox.





If you order early enough, we can have your child's name or monogram embroidered in a heart on the animals chest.





We will be carrying their Grand Dress-up Box which sports 5 outfits for your child's new best friend.

opening_box.jpg




Another toy company making its debut at the Boutique is the French toy company, Moulin Roty.  Although new to us, they have been busy making children's toys for 40 years.  You will be seeing this sweet travel trunk, which accommodates an extensive wardrobe for Nini Mouse and Sylvain Rabbit, very soon indeed.





Along with these so, so cute stuffed animal friends, Moulin Roty produces great games and stocking stuffer toys such as kaleidoscopes, picture dominos, balsa wood planes, etc..... and we will be sure to fill our cupboards with plenty of these.




Darcy Bear and Bo Rabbit from the British company, Ragtales, are hoping you bring them home to your little one. They do have quite an active lifestyle, so be prepared to accompany them to dance class, gardening or a sleepover.

 
             
   

       



Along with all these new companies, we will continue to stock Jellycats of London....






the classic dolls of Madame Alexander.....






and wonderful alpaca and mohair German bears and collectible animals by Steiff. We all remember them from our own childhood and they are as sought-after today as they ever were !





Hmmmmm...... all this talk of such adorable playthings has got me thinking of all the kiddies on my own Christmas list that would swoon for one of these aforementioned cuties.......better add them to our order!

LETA  XOXOXOX







    















Sunday, August 24, 2014


THE “NEW LOOK” IN ROOMS

I HAVE BEEN GOING BACK THROUGH MY FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS, AND THE TWO LATEST “PEAK OF CHIC” POSTS HAVE BEEN ABOUT SOMETHING OF WHICH I FEEL STRONGLY.

LAST YEAR, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL ASKED A GROUP OF DECORATORS WHAT THEY THOUGHT WOULD BE THE NEXT TREND IN DESIGN.  I SAID THAT I THOUGHT PEOPLE WOULD START GETTING TIRED OF ALL THE MONOCHROMATIC (ESPECIALLY BEIGE) ROOMS AND GO BACK TO THE LOVELY, LIVABLE ROOMS....ROOMS THAT WE HAVE LOVED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME—WELL, DESIGN TIME, THAT IS.





THIS PICTURE, TAKEN FROM THE PEAK OF CHIC IS OF A BEAUTIFUL ROOM IN A CHATEAU IN FRANCE.  IT’S NOT JUST THAT THE ROOM IS SO PRETTY, BUT IT IS ALSO SO PRACTICAL.  PRINTED FABRICS AND MELANGES OF COLOURS SUCH AS SHOWN HERE, SHOW FINGERPRINTS, SMUDGES, AND JUST THE PUNISHMENT OF TIME MUCH LESS THAN THE PRISTINE LIGHT BEIGE ROOMS.  YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THIS ROOM WOULD NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, AND YET, THE MARKS OF THEIR LITTLE MITTS ARE GOING TO BE PRETTY HARD TO SEE ON ANYTHING IN THAT ROOM.  EVEN THE RUG WOULD HIDE ALMOST ANY SPILL.






AND IT IS NOT JUST THAT THEY ARE PRACTICAL—THEY ARE LOVELY AND WELCOMING.  WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO SIT AROUND THIS FIREPLACE AND HAVE A GOOD CONVERSATION WITH A CUP OF TEA OR A COCKTAIL?  IT’S A ROOM FOR LIVING-IN.

THE PEAK OF CHIC, WHOSE PICTURES I AM USING, GETS THEM FROM BOOKS WHICH ARE OUT AND FROM HER ENORMOUS LIBRARY OF OLD MAGAZINES.  SHE IS VERY, VERY GOOD AT CHOOSING PICTURES (AND SUBJECTS) WHICH APPEAL TO PEOPLE, OF WHOM I AM ONE.  HER PICTURES OF HOWARD SLATKIN’S GUEST BEDROOM ARE JUST LIKE A PRIMER AS TO HOW A BEDROOM OUGHT TO LOOK.






THIS IS JUST A WONDERFUL ROOM—AGAIN THAT “FRENCHIFIED” USE OF A MAIN FABRIC EVERYWHERE AND THEN INTENSIFYING IT BY ADDING EVEN MORE PATTERN—NOTE THE CHECKS IN THE ROOM AND THE PAINTED DESIGN ON THE FLOOR.


















BECOME A FOLLOWER OF THE PEAK OF CHIC, YOURSELF.  IT WILL BE A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE—AND A VERY ENJOYABLE ONE.

XOXOXOX  LETA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


NASIRI CARPETS

One of the most beautiful parts of a room is something that people notice and care about tremendously, but often forget to mention it in their first design requests for a room—the floor.  ( The ceiling is another of these ! ).

Remember this: a room always has at least six sides, and they are all important.  One of them may be glass (and then what is beyond this glass is as important to the room as what is inside it ) ; it may be of some old building element such as the old brick found in the walls of urban buildings and used today as a highlight in the d├ęcor ;  it may be painted or coffered or paneled, but one of these—the floor—will probably be the largest single plane in the room.  It’s important.

You have already seen my blog post on the imported “wood” ceramic tile from Paris Ceramics.  I love these.  I love regular wooden floors; brick floors, stone floors—anything done well, lying there smooth and inviting.  Form follows function.  But…..you will oftentimes decide to cover some (or all, in the case of wall to wall carpeting) of this floor with a rug of some sort.  And that’s where a company like Nasiri comes in.


Beautiful soft and muted antique rug


                                 
Double-side cotton flat weave



Nasiri is a company which both imports old carpets and makes new ones—and they are beautiful.  Because of their interest in old rugs, their new rugs show the influence of soft colours and sometimes muted designs.



This brilliant blue room and rug are too bold for me !


Muted version of rug


Better for me is this muted version, since I don't like rooms to be fashionable. Rather, I want them to live forever and the softer and more muted they are, the longer I think one loves them.

I think rugs can be used to give an extra element to a room such as these skins and flokatis—of which Nasiri has a very large supply


Flotaki rug









One can have dhurries and flatweaves in bold or muted designs.





Bold blue dhurrie rug




Muted beige flatweave rug




Nasiri has incredibly lovely soft Moroccan carpets.





   






                           Nasiri Carpets New York's photo.

                                         



I am doing a house right now for one of my favourite clients, a lovely man who has bought a house right on the edge of a marsh all planted out with native plants and which will have great desert-y Canary Island date palms in the front.  As in the picture above, we are using Moroccan lighting fixtures and lanterns and a wonderful muted Moroccan rug.  I love this cool look in our hot climate.

XOXOXOXOX LETA



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

NOTEWORTHY

I don't know about you, but my handbag has always been filled with a million (maybe its a billion) of little notes to myself. Remember to do such and such....... Don't forget to pick up tiddlywinks .......the notes are endless. Only problem is, they get lost in the jumble that is my purse. Recently, I got smart and started to use a product that we've sold in the Boutique for a dozen years, namely a jotter. For those of you unfamiliar with the jotter, it is a refillable, flat (usually leather) notepaper holder. They fit perfectly in even the smallest of purses and, when purchased in a nice, bright color can be found in the deepest, darkest chasms.

I chose a cheerful red, but you have a myriad of colors to choose from.





The jotters we sell like hotcakes are made by Graphic Image. They carry a host of other practical products such as journals, albums and frames....all in luxurious leathers. Their jotter comes with a pack of blank cards which we frequently personalize for our clients. We can print a name, monogram, and even contact information on them (and in an ink color to match the leather of the holder) so these jotter cards can be also used as calling cards.





The Boutique also carries "Thinking Cards" printed by New Orleans artistic stationer, Alexa Pulitzer. These cards fit perfectly in our leather jotters and look super spiffy when your friends spy you taking a note. They will be jealous, not only of your organizational skills, but of your tasteful choice in papers. 






These thinking cards can also be personalized....it only takes a day or two....so they make fabulous Birthday or Hostess presents !  The recipient won't know it only took 2 days and they will be pleased that you thought to order them a personalized gift.





We also carry Aspinal of London's slim, leather folding-cover jotters with a removal pad of paper and a slim pen tucked inside. If you are a note taker extraordinaire, this jotter is for you ! 



When you have inscribed all the pages of your pad, you can simple pop another in its place.




I hope you will give a jotter a whirl and see why I'm pleased as punch with mine !
E-mail Betty at the Boutique ( betty@lafinpb.com ) for particulars.

Until next time.......

XOXOXOX
LETA

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


ON WALLPAPERING AND WALLPAPER HANGING

We started work this week on the main reception rooms for The Hillsboro Club (www.hillsboroclub.org), which we hope will be just the loveliest reception area imaginable—at any rate, our idea is built around a plan based on a beautiful wallpaper from China Seas “Lyford Trellis” which is one of their oldest designs and one of my favourites.



For this job, we had it specially coloured with a beautiful south-seas-ocean blue background with the bamboo designs in white with highlights in beiges, because the colours of The Hillsboro Club are a brilliant turquoise and white.  These colours are used in their awnings in bright happy stripes, and they show in the windows of the club.  They, themselves, however, would be too shocking as the colours of a room—remember the pictures I showed in the post on Aqua?—although they look lovely when seen near the blue that we chose for the background of our paper.

The first thing we had to do was come up with an artist’s rendering of the wallpaper in the colours which we wanted.






And then this was sent to China Seas for them to use as the guide.  This required a strike-off because the colours in the paper had to match the colours in the rendering exactly, since the ceilings in the main living room were coffered with quite large beams separating the squares.   These would be painted by an artist to match the wallpaper with a design taken from the wallpaper, so that, in the end, the effect would be almost of a giant trellised garden room with the ceilings held up by trellised beams. 




"Before" picture of Hillsboro Club's Living Room


Step one was to remove all those hanging fixtures and replace the giant 1970’s can lamps with small, almost unseen, down-lighters that could be controlled by dimmers.  Rooms are most beautiful when they are lighted by area lamps, so having the ceiling lights dimmable was imperative.  That necessitated removing the wooden squares between the coffers and putting up the lights and replacing the wooden squares with new ones, which would all be painted in a beautiful white paint, a white we call “Hillsboro White” because we use it everywhere.  We used an architect for this, Joseph E. Dixon, III, from New York, who in addition to a lighting and paneling plan for the ceiling,







also redesigned the railings at the stairway entrance and the shutters which would go over the front windows. 








Hint #1—using the same colour on woodwork and ceilings everywhere keeps maintenance easier, and in a hotel/club such as this, corners and edges get banged up all the time by luggage rolling racks, tennis racquets and golf clubs and just ….people.  Hence…Hillsboro White which is used in a matte finish on walls and ceilings and in a semi-gloss finish on woodwork and anyplace that is to be perceived as woodwork—such as the wall below a chair rail when the idea is to make  all of the dado look like wood.  In this case, we wanted the very strong columns that are a main design motif of the room to be perceived as wood as would be the extruded pediments above them.  These were part of the original scheme of the room and would fit in very nicely with our plan.

Hint #2—always, and I mean always, use the best painter you can afford—never, never, never skimp on your labour.  As I have said many times in this blog, your labour is your most important part of your design—I mean the fabrication of your design, of course.  You have to come up with the design first, but if you are any good in this field, you will be able to find good fabrics and such at a cheaper level, but not your labour.  On this set of rooms, we are using Gary Lambert, Jr., (561-312-4325) whose father was a fabulous painter before him.  Not only is he painting the ceilings and woodwork, etc., but he is also preparing the walls for the wallpaper hanger—absolutely of first importance.  Here you can see him conferring with the decorative painter, in this case, Ivan Rizov, over some walls which have become problematic.  It is imperative that these people be able to work together.  Lee Cushnie, the wallpaper hanger (516-236-2959), doesn’t really like to work on walls that are not prepared by Gary, since both of them, and myself too, are fanatics about preparation.  Here are the steps used, but just knowing the steps is not enough—get the best people who will not scrimp here.







Step #1:  Go over all walls, finding any irregularities (ie. former paint drips, tiny cracks, etc.), sanding all these and general walls smooth, spackling as necessary, and sanding again.  Paint walls in one coat of flat wall enamel, and then, just before hanging paper, size the walls.  Certain wallpapers, especially Chinese hand-painted ones or antique reproductions from companies such as Mauny or Zuber, require lining, and this should be done horizontally, so that there is a firm bond between the two layers.  (If you are thinking of ever taking these murals down, you should canvas line the walls before putting up the paper liner—this extra layer is usually hung vertically.)  The paper we used on this job, the Lyford Trellis, is vinyl coated, so it does not—actually should not—have lining.

Step #2: Lay out the paper for the final time—you will have already done this when you planned your room, but this final layout is important, since it exactly lays out where the stopping and starting points are.


Lee Cushnie laying out the paper

and then cutting the paper


Above you see pictures of our paper hanger, Lee Cushnie, laying out the paper on the floor.  He has taken some of the boards from his table and laid them down to put the paper on for cutting.  Ordinarily, we like to double cut when the design match is so important, but these are sheet rock walls, and the double cutting could go through both of the paper layers and open up little cuts in the rock which could later expand and contract, ruining the paper.  Notice how he is lining up as he goes.



                          



Here you can see the paper hanger hanging up the sheets, carefully lining up the matches.  Because this was a straight repeat paper, it was easy to line up the tops, but because we did not design the paper for the room, there were places where we had to cut away some of the paper and put in a part of the design so that the design would work best.  This was done on the chimney extrusion, although I don't think you would know we did it unless i showed you.

The paper is lovely hung.  I will show you more pictures when the room is complete.  For now, I will also show you the artist, Ivan Rizov, (www.nimbusstudio.com) 561-655-0955, studing the patterns he has made from the designs of the paper which will be fit onto the broad beams.  Can you see the little pin pricks which will make his pattern up there?





Ivan Rizov transferring design onto wall



Until next time......

XOXOXOX
LETA