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Friday, August 31, 2012

Exclusive sneak peek: a Suzanne Kasler project in Kenya to be featured in House Beautiful




When working with Suzanne Kasler on the interiors of the house I was building, I always looked forward to the meetings in her office as it was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the inner workings of a busy design firm.   Whether it was an inspiration board pinned with fabric samples, a room full of lighting, accessories and pillows ready to be taken to an install, or a gorgeous selection of rugs laid out on the floor waiting for client approval,  there was always something interesting and beautiful to look at. Suzanne knew that I was fascinated with what was going on in the design world, and would sometimes talk about some of the highlights of her current projects, as well as the current trends in the world of design as a whole. 

At the time, there was one project in particular that Suzanne was very enthusiastic about -  the interior design for a compound of four thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Sirikoi game lodge in Kenya.  She said it was one of the most unique projects she had ever worked on, and she came back from her trips to Kenya (for both the design process and eventually the installation of the design) full of excitement, and with many interesting stories to tell.  I remember meeting at her office the week before she was heading to Kenya for the install, and her staff was keeping close track of the container that was being shipped from Atlanta over to Africa.

HB_Oct2012
When House Beautiful contacted me this week to see whether I would be interested in an exclusive sneak peek of the feature on the Suzanne Kasler Kenya project (not yet published – it is in the new October 2012 issue, out on newsstands next week), I jumped at the chance.  And believe me, it is truly an amazing feature – like nothing I have ever seen, and yet with many of the signature Suzanne Kasler touches that are the hallmark of her style.  The range of her work continues to inspire me – she is always exceptionally in tune with the homeowners, the architecture, and the way in which her clients live in their homes.  Perhaps this is why she is hired to create so many beautiful and diverse interiors.

A view of the palm thatched cottages on the grounds of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya (architecture by Barnaby Ghaui). The interiors are completely open to the exterior, creating both amazing opportunities for design as well as unique design challenges. I wonder if the Kenyan wildlife ever stroll into the house?  Photos used with permission from House Beautiful (photo credit Thibault Jeanson).

HB’s interview style format is particularly conducive to telling the story of this project, as there is so much unique and personal about the process of designing this incredible space.  Both Suzanne and the homeowner describe the process to design, build, and decorate this one of a kind sanctuary on the other side of the world, with both furniture purchased in Atlanta and accessories, art and objects crafted in Africa that reflect the unique artistry of the area. 

The article contains many pictures of the interiors, including an airy living room defined by the architectural structure of the thatched cottage.  Although the architecture and environment are as unique as any I have seen in a shelter magazine, there are many familiar Suzanne Kasler touches throughout the room.  Note the matched Verellen sofas flanking the fireplace – a classic arrangement often favored by Suzanne (she has the same sofas in her own family room in Atlanta). Also striking is the orange banding trimmed with nail heads at the base of the chair, which picks up on the orange used to to highlight the interior of the fireplace. Suzanne layers in a variety of textures and fabrics, unique and one of a kind accessories (many of which were made by local artisans), and always plenty of seating.  Her careful space planning encourages comfortable use of the environments she creates, and lend themselves well to opportunities for conversation in both large and small groups.

ostrich chandelier Kasler
A highlight for me – the incredible ostrich egg chandeliers made by Kenya resident Sue Fusco, featured in every cottage. Suzanne notes that “they give off a warm, low light. It’s like you are looking up at the stars”. 

Suzanne Kasler HB
I’m also partial to these charming black intaglios that are hung at the roofline in several of the cottages.

The October issue of House Beautiful hits the newsstands early next week (just after Labor Day) – if you are not already a subscriber, I highly recommend seeking out this issue.  It features homes of Americans abroad, and has projects from around the globe, and of course includes this incredible Kenya retreat.  I have not seen any other features from this issue, so I will definitely be stalking my mailbox waiting for my own copy to arrive in the mail. I can’t wait!

What do you think about this Kenya retreat?  Have you ever been to Kenya?  I am definitely adding it to my ‘bucket list’ of trips.




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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My favorite room

From September of 2009 through September of 2011, my husband and I worked with our amazing project team to design and build a custom home.  During the process, my architect (Stan Dixon) was featured in the May of 2010 issue of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and one of the sketches shown in the feature was the outdoor room that he designed for my housePhoto credit: Erica George Dines, via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.

From sketch to reality….come on over to La Dolce Vita to see how it turned out in my guest post on ‘My Favorite Room’.  http://paloma81.blogspot.com/2012/08/my-favorite-room-things-that-inspire.html

 


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www.quatrefoildesign.com

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
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Twitter: @TTIBlog
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Visit my online store, Quatrefoil Design: www.quatrefoildesign.com
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back from Alaska!


I rarely write about travels on the blog, but this is mainly because over the past five years I have not travelled much other than the usual trips to relative’s homes in California, Colorado, and Washington, DC (with the occasional visit to London).  Some of this is because of the age and schedules of my children; some is because of the time and financial commitments of the house build.

However, I love to travel, and just returned from the most amazing trip with three generations of my husband’s family – two weeks in Alaska (with a little time in Vancouver, Canada in the beginning).  If this trip is not on your bucket list, put it there – it was simply amazing!  Alaska is often referred to as ‘America’s Last Frontier’, and this is so apt – it is so vast (its land mass is larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined), with so much untouched land that is exactly as it has been for many thousands of years. I saw sights and vistas that I never knew existed, and it was simply a spectacular journey.

Here is a small collection of images that were taken by my husband and my 14 year old daughter.  It was a joy to put this post together to re-live some of the experience. If you have not been to Alaska, I hope that you some day have the opportunity to visit this great state!

We spent the first week of the trip on a cruise, which left from Vancouver. The far ship is the one we went on – the Princess Sapphire. We had a wonderful time, and the kids loved the cruise experience (and all of the kids activities on the boat). The ship stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, and the cruise concluded in Whittier (near Anchorage). This picture shows the ship docked in Skagway.

While in Skagway, we took a trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.

A gorgeous shot my daughter captured at the end of our train ride - taken in Yukon, Canada.

It was incredible to see so many glaciers close up, especially when we were on a seaplane ride over the glaciers surrounding Juneau, and on the boat in Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. The blue tone is characteristic of glacial ice.

The close-up pictures of the glaciers look like abstract art.

We were able to get a great view of one of the glaciers calving when we were in Glacier Bay National Park – calving is when ice breaks off to form small icebergs.  The calving is preceded by a large cracking sound – it was fascinating to experience.

A close-up of an interesting glacial formation.

Almost unreal views of the glaciers in College Fjord.

Spectacular scenery in the Prince William Sound area.

The salmon were just starting to come in when we were in Juneau.

The whale watching was a highlight when we were in Juneau.  We were able to see the humpback whales using their bubble net feeding technique, where they create a net of bubbles that surround their prey (in this case, herring).

My daughter took this picture of a humpback whale breaching – my daughter was the only one to actually capture a picture! 

The shapely tail of a humpback whale as it re-enters the water. Each tail is unique, and expert whale watchers can identify specific whales by their tail.

It has been a cool and rainy summer in much of coastal Alaska, which created uniquely beautiful views on the water.  

After the cruise portion of the trip, we spent 5 days on land, venturing hundreds of miles into the interior of Alaska, with Denali National Park as our destination.   Entrée Alaska  planned the land part of our trip, and did an excellent job.

Along the way, we visited Happy Trails Kennels, home to Martin Buser and family and the 100 or so dogs that he trains year round for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  Martin is a 4 time Iditarod winner (that’s him in the picture), and it was amazing to meet him, hear his story, and see the dogs in their training routine. Martin will be doing the Iditarod race again this year – his 30th Iditarod – and the family legacy continues with his son Rohn who will be in his 3rd Iditarod race.

Next stop was the town of Talkeetna (the main staging area for most climbs of Mount McKinley, and reportedly the town that inspired the show ‘Northern Exposure’).  We hoped for a view of Mt. McKinley itself, but only caught a small glimpse as the cloud cover briefly lifted.  Had the weather been cooperative, the mountain would have been seen from this vantage-point. Still, a gorgeous view of the foothills!

We saw many Bald Eagles on the entire trip, mainly near bodies of water. We never tired of spotting them.

A pair of Bald Eagles; according to our guide, they mate for life.

We arrived at Denali National Park at dinner time, and were greeted with this lovely view from the restaurant at our Lodge.

The trip into Denali National Park was like a safari in many ways; we saw all sorts of wildlife, including this caribou.

A group of White Dall sheep on a ridge. They appear like white dots from a distance.

The tour driver said that Denali National Park is likely one of the most remote places many of us will ever travel.  It is truly one of the most magnificent places I have ever been, for its incredible topography and sheer untouched natural beauty.

View of the Alaska Range. Our tour bus driver said that he had only been able to see Mount McKinley on 5 days of the summer!

Incredible vistas that I will never forget.

Our favorite wildlife sighting at Denali National Park was of this mother bear and her two cubs (only one cub is visible here).  Access to the interior of the park is tightly controlled and by permit only; most see the park on a tour bus. The animals are used to the buses, and since there are not people milling around, the animals are often right by the road.

Here is the other cub, who had raced ahead of his mother, but kept looking back to check on her location.  The guide said that these cubs had been born this spring, and typically spend three summers with their mother.

Have you ever been to Alaska?  This was definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken, and I highly recommend a visit to this incredible state. I must admit, going on this trip has ignited the travel urge in me.  As much as I love cities, I found it wonderful to enjoy such unspoiled natural beauty, and would love to visit some of the less traveled areas of Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand at some point in my life.  Do you have a destination you recommend for my travel bucket list?




Brand new paintings by Melissa Payne Baker in the store...please stop by and check them out!



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To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
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Twitter: @TTIBlog
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ttiblog/
Visit my online store, Quatrefoil Design: www.quatrefoildesign.com
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

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