Monday, February 27, 2012

Style á la Schuyler

Hurry out and nab the March Vogue with Adele on the cover.
Vogue 2012 Adele Carolyn Murphy Schuyler Samperton
(Photograph by Jay Fitzgerald)

Because Schuyler Samperton, one of my favorite LA interior designers, has done it again.
The last time I had coffee with Schuyler (at Joan's on Third, a stone's throw from her chic office), she had dropped some hints to me about the home she was currently designing for Carolyn Murphy.

Me: It sounds so crazy beautiful. Will I ever be able to see it?
Schuyler: (pause, followed by a cryptic smile) I think so.

(Photograph by Jay Fitzgerald)

Schuyler's interiors combine bohemian, vintage and French-country elements, but more than that, they have a soulful, laissez-faire glamour that you instantly feel when you walk into them. They whisper, they don't shout. They breathe a sexy relaxed confidence (come to think of it, just like her and her clients).

I love how she has broken her rooms down into their key decorating elements, don't you? (You can view them on her blog here.) It makes it so much easier to understand how different pieces can work together.
(Photo by Grey Crawford for Vogue)

living room vogue interior design carolyn murphy home schuyler samperton
(Photo by Grey Crawford for Vogue)

When I emailed Schuyler last night for a quote, she wrote back immediately (and during the Oscars, no less!):

"In terms of the experience, I'd have to say that Carolyn and I were always totally in sync about the vision of the place. We'd worked together on a few houses in the past, and so we have kind of a shorthand with each other. She has amazing taste and appreciates irregularity, imperfection, age and history, so I was able to gather a really interesting and unique collection of rugs, furniture, textiles, paintings and accessories. It's the mix of objects, as well as the objects themselves that create the mood."

~Schuyler Samperton

Quick, someone grab me before I tumble head-first into this photograph and start speaking in some old Provençal dialect.
(Photo by Grey Crawford for Vogue)

On Schuyler's blog, she writes about her design process, inspiration and even her favorite LA shopping spots (which I'm reposting below):

160 N. La Brea Avenue, LA 90036

730 N. Highland Avenue, LA 90038
(323) 957-0370

724 N. La Cienega Boulevard, LA 90069
(310) 273-6200

8925 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood 90069
(310) 492-9990

746 N. La Cienega Boulevard, LA 90069
(310) 657-8708

Merci, Schuyler!

Editor's Note:

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I was lucky enough to meet Schuyler last year when she emailed me about a Bloomsbury Group-themed window she was styling for 2011's LA Design Quarter. In fact, a needlepoint pillow I stitched from an actual design by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (from the book Bloomsbury Needlepoint) even made it into the photo shoot, and if you think that pillow has been putting on airs ever since, you would be right. :)
(Photo by Karyn Millet)

Did You Win?

Commenter # 25:

Blogger Steph said...

Thanks for the inspiration Lisa. Life is change, and I think you have a fantastic book in you based on your talk for your next act. I am having a second baby in the next two weeks, so the book you contributed to sounds phenomenal - and very pertinent!

Commenter # 29:

Blogger said...

New to Bloomsbury life..and loving it...Glad for your Act three....I am on Act Three as well. Trial lawyer in NYC, stay at Home mom in LA. Now stay at home mom with a shop on Etsy - My Soulful husband calls me an e-commerce entrepreneur....I say I am crafty....but what with it all? Love to read the book!

Commenter #7:

Blogger ellen said...

Seems like my little world is telling me something...lots of signs that I just can't ignore. Would love to read this inspiring book to push me over the reinvention! Love your blog - always a highlight when I see you've posted something new!

A big thank you to everyone who entered... I wish I could have given away 60 books!

Steph, Kelly and Ellen: Please email me (click on the "About Me" link) your addresses and we'll get your books out to you asap.

FYI: You should ALL know that Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen were so overwhelmed by your personal stories and wise words that they forwarded your comments on to their publishers and publicity team, and would like to thank you for being such an inspiration to them!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The random drawing was generated from the 60 entries I received by February 27th at 6am. (Apologies, House of Hemingway, you know I adore you.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is It Time To Reinvent Yourself?

It's never too late to have the life you want.
(Available HERE. Or enter my giveaway. Details below.)

I've been waiting to tell you about this forever. Last year, I was invited by Barbara Machen and Jennifer Pate, creators and hosts of the acclaimed web series "Jen and Barb, Mom Life" to contribute a story of personal reinvention to their book, and I'm extremely honored and grateful to be a part of it.

It was just released a few weeks ago and as a special treat for A Bloomsbury Life readers, Barb and Jen are giving me three signed copies of their book for a giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment on this post and next Monday I'll announce three winners via a random number generator. (Please only enter once.)

If you love being a wife, partner and/or mom but sometimes wonder what happened to your life, this book is for you. If you dream of embracing change but don't know where to start, this book is for you. If you want to relinquish your fear, resuscitate your passion and reawaken your sense of purpose, this book is for you.

Why do I think this book is so important?

Because four years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I had left a career in advertising to be a full-time mom, and six years in, I had a son in first grade, a husband who worked long hours at a job he loved, and a nagging feeling that despite my all-consuming love for my family, there was still something missing.

I wanted to be busy.
I wanted to be creative again.
I wanted to jump out of bed in the morning and be inspired to do....(what exactly??)

I had absolutely no clue.

~~~~ FLASHBACK ~~~~

My Act One career didn't pan out. Advertising was my dream job when I was in my twenties, but there was a reason they called it a young person's business. It was a high-powered pressure cooker of competition and rivalry and not working on weekends was a rarity. By the time I hit twenty-seven, I was the youngest vice president in the agency, but I was approaching burnout.

My Act Two stint couldn't have been more opposite in terms of stature. My friends Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, the creators of "Will and Grace," offered me a job as a writer's assistant on the show and I eagerly accepted. I didn't care that it would pay a tenth of my former salary or that my job would basically be to transcribe every single joke every single writer blurted out at the table all day. (And that my nickname would be "Veal" because I was confined to a desk in the back of the room and rarely moved my legs.) I saw it as an opportunity to audit a master class in comedy writing with some of Hollywood's biggest talents -- and how many people got the chance to do that?

Working on "Will and Grace" turned out to be one of the best jobs I ever had for the most enlightening of reasons:

1. It was the toughest job I had ever had. In addition to writing down every word of potential dialogue ten different writers interjected over one another (visualize my ears rotating like satellite dishes), I had to organize and edit all of the daily script changes by the end of each day so that the production team could hand-deliver updated drafts to cast and crew overnight. (My years in advertising suddenly felt like summer vacation.)

2. I learned that no matter how smart or funny you are, inspiration takes perspiration. Transforming an idea from a two sentence pitch into a tight, well-crafted 45 page script was a test of mental endurance. And the writers cut themselves no slack. They were revisionists of the highest order -- constantly tweaking jokes, simplifying scenes and strengthening plot points to make the script tighter and funnier. To make life even more complicated, every week the writers were working on two scripts simultaneously: rewriting the one that would tape in front of a live audience on Tuesday night and writing the one that would be shot the following week.

3. No matter what kind of obstacles the writers were hit with, they kept on moving forward. Sometimes a great script would get to the actors' read-through and fall flat for no discernible reason. Jokes wouldn't work, the pacing would feel off, and no one would understand why. In a crisis like this, the writers' would regroup in the bungalow and immediately start coming up with new ideas. There was no time for anyone to fall on their sword for a line they loved. Time was ticking. They had to move on. The buck stopped with them.

4. The most freeing thing of all was realizing that leaving the corporate world wasn't the end of the world. I had gone from being a big cheese in NYC to being the absolute lowest (and nearly oldest) person in the writers' room. Etiquette required that I get myself a cup of coffee last, stand in line at the lunch buffet last and pretty much not speak unless spoken to. Yes, it was an adjustment. Yes, I got my pride bruised a couple of times. But once I let go of my overly high opinion of myself and concentrated on doing the best job I could, I felt incredibly liberated, because what better lesson in life is there than learning to leave your ego at the door?
(Embracing egolessness on the set of Will and Grace, 2001)


Back to four years ago. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I did know one thing. The whole blogging world fascinated me.

There was Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic.
Ronda Carman of All the Best.
Courtney from Style Court.
Patricia from PVE Design.
And the brilliant An Aesthete's Lament.

What if I started a blog of my own?
One in which I combined my passions and my own particular way of looking at the world?

What would happen if I tried?
(And would I regret it if I didn't?)

Hard work didn't scare me.
Long hours didn't scare me.
The fact that I'd be unpaid did scare me, but I had to start somewhere.

Could this be my Act Three?

I think you know the answer, but the rest of the story's in the book.


(Editor's Note: I am unable to comment on your lovely, wise posts because it would mess up the giveaway, but know that I am inspired by all of your comments and consider myself lucky to "virtually know" you all!)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Downton Paper Dolls!

My chic red-headed friend Elizabeth just alerted me to illustrator Kyle Hilton's genius 2D facsimiles of some of our favorite Downton characters (Violet! Sybil! Mary and Matthew! O'Brien and Thomas!) and I've dropped everything to post this to you STAT.

Click on the illustration to get the hi-res version or download them directly from HERE. Someone on Vulture commented they'd make great Christmas tree decorations.

I heartily agree.

Happy finale-watching everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Atoms of A Life

Virginia Woolf called them our "secret deposit of exquisite moments" -- all the trivial details that when collected together constitute the sum of who you are.
Virginia Woolf (née Stephen), by Lady Ottoline Morrell, June 1926 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London
(Virginia Woolf by Ottoline Morrell, 1926. Via here.)

From Mrs. Dalloway:

The hall of the house was as cool as a vault. The cook whistled in the kitchen. She heard the click of the typewriter. It was her life and, bending her head over the hall table she bowed beneath the influence, felt blessed and purified, saying to moments like this are buds on the tree of life (as if some lovely rose had blossomed for her eyes only).

What would the atoms of your life include?

A quiet morning?
(All photos by LBG.)

An especially good cup of coffee?

A colorful stack of freshly laundered quilts?

The day the tree bloomed?

A fruitless afternoon of fishing?

The well-worn welcome of a favorite chair?

The otherworldly gleam of a drinks tray as the late afternoon sun hits it?

The silence of the mountains?

If your Monday isn't shaping up to be exactly the way you hoped it would, stop right now and console yourself with this little thought: In the long run, it's not the big things you're going to remember.

Monday, February 6, 2012

36 Hours of Living (Very) Glamorously

Thursday dusk, February 2nd
It's been three long years since I last set foot in New York City.
(Gazing north on Lexington Avenue toward the Chrysler Building.
All photographs by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.)

My friend Michael Silber has generously offered to let me crash in his apartment overlooking Gramercy Park. Actually, "crash" is a poor word choice.
(Living room.)

"Walk around in a langorous, dreamlike state" would be more accurate. The apartment, designed by Tracey Garet in collaboration with Michael, is heartbreakingly beautiful.
(Living room)

(Dining room)

(Detail, living room)

(The guest bedroom. Walls are padded with fabric.)

(The ultra-chic guest bed, cozily tucked into a nook in the wall.)

Thursday evening
I meet bloggers Nick Olsen, Bart Boehlert, Reggie Darling and his spouse, Boy Fenwick, for a drink at the Gramercy Park Hotel. We try repeatedly to go to the rooftop bar but the elevator absolutely refuses to cooperate with us so we squash ourselves into a little corner of the ground floor lounge. (We actually may be lucky. The next day, I recall reading about this in London's Daily Mail.)

Oh, it's fun to finally meet some of the people who have been inspiring me for years. All of them are trés handsome with their own inimitable style: Bart is chic, soft-voiced and gentle, Reggie and Boy are debonair, kind and huge-hearted, and Nick is endearingly -- and wickedly -- funny.
(Gramercy Park Hotel lounge. That's my empty glass of Prosecco.)

Back at Michael's apartment, I reconnect with the sampler he purchased from my art show last year. (Note: No sheep or Ambien needed to sleep tonight.)
Friday morning
I meet my old friend Stephanie for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien (we shared a loft on Horatio Street in the West Village years ago) and catch up on each other's lives as rapidly as we can in the hour allotted to us. Then it's a dash uptown to meet with a literary agent. I just might have written a book proposal. (And yes, I know how hard it is to get a book deal these days. But a girl can dream, can't she?)

Friday lunch
I race crosstown to the D&D Building to have lunch with designer/magazine publisher Christopher Hyland. His new lifestyle/interiors magazine called Hyland (available as an iPad app HERE) is part World of Interiors, part (new) Architectural Digest, and wholly fabulous. (Very exciting: look for me to be a contributor in future issues.)

Christopher and Kyle Marshall, his editor-in-chief, are kindred souls. Within minutes, we're chatting as if we've known each other for years. (Can't you almost feel their buoyant spirits emanating from this photo?)
Lunch is one fascinating story after another. We talk about, among other things, Christopher's recent pilgrimage to Mount Athos, a medieval monastery in Greece overlooking the Aegean Sea. The monks were badly in need of new vestments, so Christopher donated hundreds of yards of silk fabric to them (see below). I think we can safely assume they must be the chic-est monks on earth, don't you?
I say "assume" because very few of us will ever witness their shining sartorial splendor. (Visiting Mount Athos is beyond difficult. You need a letter of recommendation from the Athens embassy as well as a special permit of entry from the Greek Foreign Ministry, and it's forbidden to all women, children and non-Orthodox Christians. Ah, well. Envisioning them chanting vespers in their finery is pleasure enough.)

Back at Christopher's showroom, I am overcome by all the beautiful fabrics and carpet samples.

See the fabric below? It was created for Napoleon's one night stay at the Villa Pisano in Veneto. Yes, I said one night, people.

Christopher casually points to these and says, "These were a few of Jackie O's favorites." I stop myself from stumbling.

And this one I'm forgetting the story behind, but it's so gorgeous it can certainly stand without one.

Friday afternoon tea
I meet with Jenny Comita, the deputy editor of Martha Stewart magazine. She is smart and funny and fetching in her red scarf and husband's striped bateau pullover. We discuss possible future projects and talk about the new redesign of the magazine since Pilar Guzman (former editor of Cookie and author of great family cookbook Time For Dinner) has taken over.
On the way to meet another literary agent, this earnest basket of daffodils catches my eye.
Friday dusk
There's a violet haze descending on Gramercy Park and it looks like something out of another century. I half-expect Lily Bart to come clopping around the street corner in a canary-colored coach with a fringed hammer-cloth.
Friday evening
Michael and I make a quick stop at John Derian to drool over their wares. I find myself wondering if I can move in.
Oh, you "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Stop with the sly gaze. You know I'm yours.

Then it's across the street to Billy Reid, the haberdashery of choice for downtown New York gentlemen. The vibe is very city meets country. Michael picks up the perfect gray cardigan sweater -- one Cary Grant could wear to either a Main Line cocktail party or golfing with Bob Hope.A quick trek across cobblestone streets......and we arrive at ACME, the reinvented New Nordic restaurant that has taken the city by storm. (NY Times review HERE.)

My cocktail arrives in an old-fashioned champagne glass -- very "Rules of Civility" swell.
There's a big trend going on among men in Manhattan and it's called Buns and Beards (executed to greatest effect when they both appear on the same head). Our bartender is no exception. It's a striking look and makes them look like übercool artisanal cheesemongers, butchers, or mixology journeymen.
We are instructed that sharing plates is recommended, so we order a slew of items. Pearl barley and clams in a roasted sunflower broth and black cod with pickled green tomatoes, cardamom, vanilla and dandelion are standouts, as is our dessert, "Fallen Fruit with a Wheatgrass Granité."

I fall asleep dreaming of bunned and bearded Norwegian farmers harvesting apricots and plums off the dark loamy ground.

Saturday morning
Years ago, I left my heart in this city. And every time I return, I look for it. And every time I find it, it's always time to leave.

As my car zooms toward JFK airport and the city slides away, it already feels like a dream.


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