Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deck the Halls

So here we are, a mere week until Christmas morning.  This year I give to you the Babble's first ever 
I've put together this list of must-haves for the designer-type in your life (or maybe that's YOU!).  Happy Last-Minute Shopping. There's no time like the present to shop for presents, as I always say.
Identifying American Architecture:  A Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms, 1600-1945 

American Architecture

I've been eyeing this book since I spotted it in my boss's office last year.  As an architect, I'm always being asked "What style is that?" Of course, so much of what's built today is a big mish-mash of styles, no style at all, or something so out-there and modern that it doesn't have a style, but a reference book like this would give me a place to start to answer those burning questions.  And who doesn't love a good reference book?

Dwellings:  Living with Great Style


This book looks beautifully put together, and if you’re wondering about style, I’d say it’s about the “New Traditional”.


I love a good calendar, and I hate starting the New Year without a new one.  Here are a few that inspire:
Charley Harper

2011 Charley Harper Wall Calendar- a classic in every way

Linnea linnea2

Linnea 2011 Collectable Poster Calendar- these are beautiful every year, and somewhat hard to find.  Usually Paper Source has them!


2011 Datebook from POST Impressions- I bought this for my self last year and LOVE it.  It was a leap of faith on my part, because I'm not typically a weekly calendar type of gal (I like the month overview) but I was desperate to get organized and this gorgeous little book helped me do so stylishly.  Last year I got it in the gold.  Tiffany blue for 2011, please Santa? 



MoMA Modern Playhouse- I saw this last week while walking through the children's department at Nordstrom's.  Sure, it'd be great for kids, but I know a lot of adults (ahem, ME) who would love to play with this.  Put together the interchangeable walls and furniture and you have hours of fun.


Tired of relying on your iPhone for vintage-looking photos?  Want to step back in time and create lo-fi images with a tried and true film camera?  Urban Outfitters offers a whole slew of cool cameras like the Lomography Diana + Parisian shown above, exclusive to UO.  Don’t want to wait for that film to be developed?  Try the FujiFilm Mini Instax Instant camera.


This little number will give you cute, credit card sized images in an instant, and no shakin’ that Polaroid picture.  Any photo or film buff would love these or the other cameras Urban Outfitters has to offer.

And lastly, if you want to be a really generous gift-giver to your designer-type friend, consider the Modern Shed.

modern Shed

This company, a husband and wife team out of Seattle, can provide the ultimate backyard getaway, workshop, or studio (yoga, anyone?) for your lucky designer friend.  I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.  Who would not want their own little shed for doing what they want, when they want?

That’s it for me this holiday season.  Please stay tuned in 2011.  I’m looking forward to a stronger year of babbling, what with our almost 5-month old teaching me all about it daily.  I have hopes and dreams for the blog in the New Year- thanks for sticking with me.

P.S.  I was not paid or perked by any of the aforementioned companies.  These are all just products I’m interested in telling my readers about, plain and simple.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the Canadians

I mentioned the Canadians are taking over HGTV.  Have you noticed how many shows are hosted by Canadians now?  There’s our beloved Sandra Rinomato from Property Virgins, Carter Osterhouse from Carter Can and Red Hot & Green, that guy (Scott McGillivray) from that stupid rental show (Income Property), of course Candace Olson from Divine Design (love her, but why does she always use quartz for her solid surface countertops?  I ponder things like this), and Sarah Richardson from Sarah’s House and Design, Inc.  Am I missing anyone?

Our neighbors to the North really are not so different from us in terms of design aesthetic, though I do crack up when I hear them pronounce the word “house” and see spellings like “favourite”.  I spent the better part of my son’s naptime the other day researching Sarah Richardson, as she is my current interior design hero.  I absolutely love watching Sarah’s House, a show in which she renovates a house room by room, each one being an episode of the show.


She’s a snappy dresser, too.

There have been two seasons of Sarah’s House so far:  one of which she renovates and creates an addition for a 100 year-old farmhouse and one in which she remodels a 60s era split-level (or back-split as the Canadians call it) house.  I can’t decide which one I like more.  The farmhouse has incredible character, a beautiful setting, and she’s managed to update it and make it functional without mitigating its charm in any way.  Click here for a slideshow of photos and inspiration from the farmhouse. 

And the 60s home retains its ranch-style cool while gaining light and a functional basement with a gorgeous laundry room, storage and guest suite.  Here’s an image from the guest bedroom.  I really love the green, black and white color (colour?) scheme.

See more images here.

Here’s a bathroom from the portfolio on her website.  This project is known as the “Hilltop Contemporary”.  Sounds like my perfect dwelling.

hilltop-contemporary-master-bathroom-image1 hilltop-contemporary-master-bathroom-image2

hilltop-contemporary-master-bathroom-detail Isn’t that marble penny-round tile incredible?

Sarah’s style is practical, innovative and pretty.  She reminds me a little bit of Mary Poppins.  And I love her side-kick, Tommy.  Would he be the shorter version of Bert to her Mary P?  hmmmmmm.


Some other cool things about Sarah?  Well, she started her career as a prop stylist and set decorator.  That sounds like such a fun job.  She’s a mom of two daughters and has a solar-powered weekend home on an island.  Ummmm, SUPER COOL. 

AND, from checking out her website, it looks like there will be a new show called Sarah’s Cottage chronicling her work on the off-the-grid house.  I can’t wait.  HGTV, you better bring it to me.

+++All photos courtesy of and

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Little miss Kristen over at Hoot Design helped us finally (formally) announce the birth of our son in a very special way.  Thanks, Kristen- you’re the coolest!  Check out her amazing work here.  Or, if you’re one of my 10 loyal readers, you’re probably going to receive this in the mail anyway!


I promise I’ll be back with more on the Canadians.  I promise!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let’s talk TV

HGTV that is.  I think I first became obsessed with HGTV when Trading Spaces was in its heyday, what, like 10 years ago?  My how time flies.  My mom asked me the other day whatever happened to some of those designers.  Well, the great ones (Vern Yip and Genevieve Gorder) still have shows on HGTV and are still my favorites, style-wise.  And a little known fact about the Babbler?  I actually met Paige Davis, the host of Trading Spaces,


a few years ago when I was living in Austin.  I spotted her one morning at Austin Java when I stopped for coffee on my way to work.  She was sitting at a table with her parents and I got all starstruck but had to make sure it was really and truly her, so I went up and asked and proceeded to gush about how great I think she is (like the dork that I am).  Good thing my husband wasn't with me- he would have been completely mortified.  I also met The Bachelor (the Austin-version) on another occasion, in another Austin Java, but that's another story.

Back to HGTV.  Currently, I'm obsessed with a couple of shows on the network.  Home on maternity leave, I'll admit there's occasionally some background t.v. on while I nurse.  Here's where Dr. Jay would interject with "Occasionally?  Try 24/7", but I ignore him because I know HGTV is quality programming and I feel it's part of my job to stay current with design and real estate.  My t.v. watching has actually decreased dramatically lately since our little man has become much more aware of that bright picture box, and the American Academy of Pediatrics says that is a major no-no.  Really, back to HGTV.  I love Curb Appeal: The Block, hosted by John Gidding.  And it's not just because he's another pretty face.
First of all, he's a real for sure architect.  I was skeptical at first, thinking HGTV might be trying to pull one over on us, so I
checked him out and though he is a former model (okay, if you want to see something really funny, go here- really, that is John Gidding), he's also a Harvard GSD graduate.  If you watch the show (or another show he does with HGTV- Designed to Sell) you'll see he's a very talented designer.  I just love the concept of Curb Appeal: The Block because they work to upgrade the curb appeal of not just one home, but a few on the street to improve not only area property values but also foster a sense of community and value to a neighborhood.  It's such a design school trope, but the team really seems to pull it off and the results are never the "quick fix" as are so many of the design show solutions.  Check out this slideshow of neighborhood makeovers.  Here’s a before and after.

       image       image

What an incredible transformation from bland to “Come on over and party, friends”.  And there’s a yellow front door, which we all know I heart.

John seems like such a down-to-earth guy.  AND, all his projects take place in Atlanta-area neighborhoods (shout out for the ATL) so it's fun to see some of the places I'm familiar with, and some neighborhoods I'd like to explore.  If I ever ran into John Gidding in Atlanta I would freak out.  Seriously, like an eight year old girl probably does when she sees Justin Bieber.  Who the heck is Justin Bieber?  I have no idea, but I know people go crazy for him.

Next post... the Canadians are taking over HGTV.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don’t get excited

But somehow I’m pulling off a blog post today. I’m determined. I can’t say this will happen regularly (still working on this whole “schedule” with a baby) but I’d like it to happen at least once in a blue moon.

Yes, we had our beautiful baby boy in early August. He’s a joy and a handful and Dr. Jay doesn’t want me to mix baby and blog so I won’t say much other than we love our family and it keeps us B-U-S-Y. I don’t really have to spell things out around here yet, just practicin’.

What got me on the blog today, besides a baby napping in his crib (!!!!!!) and not on me for once? Well, trolling around on the interweb, I read through my first online magazine. I am so incredibly impressed by Southern Flourish. And inspired. I don’t own a Kindle or an iPad, and frankly thought reading a magazine online could never be fun, but I was so so wrong. It’s so easy to page through and the images are crisp and clear. I also love that it’s free to look through a magazine like Southern Flourish and that they feature up-and-coming designers (all Southerners, I believe) who I’d probably never hear about otherwise. I read about it over on Young House Love, bloggers who are featured with a “Day in the Life Of” article that the magazine (is there a term for online magazine that I don’t know about?) seems to do regularly. I enjoyed reading about the days of a few other interesting Southerners.

In short (cause I have to be short these days) if you’ve never flipped through an online magazine, now’s the time. It’ll change your life. Well, that’s probably an overstatement, but I bet it will change your attitude about online magazine reading.

Southern Flourish, are you looking for any new writers?

Cue the baby waking up.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Airport Style

So last week I wrote about Hollin Hills, a neighborhood nearby, and mentioned that it was laid out in the early 60s by an architect named Charles Goodman.  I also wrote that Goodman was the original architect of National Airport (now known as Reagan National Airport).  Well, that’s not entirely true (I need to remember that Wikipedia isn’t always a reliable source of information), though he was part of the original team of designers.  See, after I wrote the post, bells started going off in Dr. Jay’s head.  On a trip through Reagan (the airport) a few months ago he happened to pass by what looked like a lobby preserved in time in Terminal A.  He’s been saying we should go check it out ever since, so on Sunday we finally did.  After an hour and $2 to park in the short-term parking garage, we’d learned all about the history of the airport.  It sits on land which used to be Abingdon Plantation, owned originally by Captain John Alexander.  Abingdon was purchased in 1778 by John Parke Custis, the adopted stepson of President George Washington, and was the birthplace of Washington’s beloved granddaughter, Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis.  Ruins from the original house (which was destroyed by fire in 1930) still remain on the grounds, and artifacts are preserved in Historic Terminal A.

Visiting Historic Terminal A is also a great way to see the first airport building’s unique style, which was definitely a blend of the classical architecture President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested as a way to pay tribute to the rest of Washington’s architecture and of the emerging modern aesthetic demanded of the technologies present in an airport facility.  Here’s some of what we saw:


Pshhhha- we went in anyway.  There was no function.


023  019 020 017021








Here’s a final photo of the more recently designed Cesar Pelli addition to the airport.


If you’re ever in Reagan and near Terminal A, stop in and check it out the Historic Lobby.  It seems as if they will be further restoring it to its original early-American airport style.  Don’t miss your flight or anything, but it’s worth a looksy if you’re stuck at the airport for some time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Go West

I received J.Crew’s August catalog last week.  Gold star for me for not ordering anything, even though I have a both a gift card and a credit to my good name.  Actually, it’s pretty easy to avoid buying pretty clothes when you’re many many #s above your normal weight, but I like to give myself a pat on the back whenever possible.

So, why am I talking about J.Crew?  Cause I love that each new season brings a different location for their catalog shoot.  This month’s catalog was shot at Lake Powell in Arizona, and gosh is that some amazingly breathtaking landscape.  The rock formations have such an incredible architectural quality, I couldn’t resist writing about them on the Babble.  I’ve been wanting to take a trip out West for some time now:  hike the Grand Canyon, see Lake Mead, do some crazy whitewater rafting, take Ansel Adams-esque photographs.  You know, the usual.



Jcrew3 (All images courtesy of the J.Crew August catalog)

I’m also coveting this bag, in case you’re interested.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Mad house in D.C.

Well, actually the winning house from the Washington Post’s Mad Men Look contest is in Silver Spring, Maryland, but it’s all the same up here in the DMV (I’ve heard that’s the new term for the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area). The winner was announced in last weekend’s Real Estate section, and of course I am right on top of things reporting to you, dear readers. The house, built in 1953, is owned by Melissa and Christopher Talley. They’ve been recreating the past with 60’s chic decor since purchasing the home in 2007. Melissa collected mid-century furniture and accessories for many years, so finding the perfect house in which to showcase her collection was like divine intervention. Check out the Post’s slideshow for images of their home, plus those of the other winners. Second place went to a Bethesda home, and third place to a home in Hollin Hills, a neighborhood in nearby (to me) Fairfax county.

In fact, reading the article last weekend lead us to take a trek out to Hollin Hills to check it out for ourselves. I’d originally heard of this neighborhood from a co-worker that’s lived there for almost 30 years. It was developed in the early 50s, designed and site planed by architect Charles Goodman and developed by Robert Davenport. The firm, Charles M. Goodman Associates, designed 14 models of houses for the neighborhood. The current neighborhood association is actually trying to get it into the National Register of Historic Places. Goodman is interesting because he’s also responsible for designing the original National Airport (now known as Reagan National Airport) and also served as head architect to the Treasury Department.

Visiting Hollin Hills was a nice departure from the historic revival styles so frequently seen here in Alexandria and the D.C. area. Though the lot sizes were smaller than I imagined, there are lots of trees and foliage to provide privacy. Most of the facades feature a high percentage of glass, and I’m told each of the lots came with a landscape plan designed to both maximize views, light exposure, and maintain privacy. You might say much of the landscaping looks a bit overgrown at this point. I took lots of photos (while trying not to be too invasive of privacy) so take a look at this mid-century neighborhood for yourself:





I think I’m in love with this house:






This one is for sale:




Want to guess the price?