Envisioning the Future of the White House

First off, this is a design and lifestyle blog, not a political blog. I have no desire or intent to get political. Rather, my way of coping with this crazy election has been to retreat to my happy place of interiors and the people who inhabit them. I thought it would be fun to peek at the Obama White House décor and then take a look at the two candidates and what their “styles” reveal and how that would impact the vibe at Pennsylvania Avenue.

OBAMA:

The Obamas hired the very talented Interior Designer, Michael Smith to work on the White House interiors. I’m guessing that after the Clinton’s were in the White House it was due for an update, and update they did!

Obama Dining Room

Obama Dining Room

I think the Obama’s added some spunk and style. They pushed the design envelope by adding contemporary art and elements (notice the area rug) with traditional furniture, most likely never done before in the White House. I appreciate how they took the traditional aspect of the White House but add their own spin on it. For example, the Guest Bedroom is classic but it also looks current.

Obama Guest Room by Michael Smith

Obama Guest Room by Michael Smith

TRUMP:

Okay, if this is how you decorate when you can purchase just about anything you want, it says a lot about your sophistication level. I think even Liberace would be embarrassed to call this “home.” Bad taste is bad taste, but expensive bad taste is absolutely inexcusable!

Trump Living Room

Trump Living Room

If you can’t tell by now, I am not a fan of this style. The showy, over-the top and in-your-face style is way over done. Look at all the gold, crystals, marble and mirrors (notice the ceiling) - this is the opposite of elegant. This is a not a home of someone who wants to be a President, it looks like he wants to be an Emperor.

Do you think Trump’s style was influenced by the French King, Louis XIV? Otherwise known as the “Sun King.” Even Louis might have been a little bit lower key with his opulent overload.

 

Versailles

Versailles

Clinton:

It was harder to find interior images of the Clinton’s homes. This dining room photo is probably from the early 1990’s. The style is very traditional and looks a little dated to our eyes; yet, it does reflect a stately coziness. This is not flashy – I’m guessing the design goal here is to make visitors feel comfortable and give a good impression. Notice the painting of the mother with her child on her lap, nurturing. Recent images of Clinton’s interiors are a little more hip, but still on the safe and comfortable side. They are not the spaces of people taking design risks. If the Clinton’s moved back into the White House would they go all out traditional - taking the décor backward in style and modernity or would they mix it up? 

Clinton Dining Room

Clinton Dining Room

Obviously compared to other issues in the world, the decor of the White House seems superficial. I’m a firm believer in our interior spaces reflecting who we are and what we most value, and that philosophy extends to the most important and public home of our country. The two extremes of the candidate’s spaces speaks to the extremes of our philosophies, desires and yes, overall décor in the country right now. 

Whatever happens this coming week, I hope that we can represent the best of us and that the new tenant hires a talented and tasteful designer!!

 

 

Five Ways to Decorate for the Summer:

Photo by Evan Janke

Photo by Evan Janke

I like to spruce up my house according to the season. Your home follows the same rules of fashion. Just as you would change your clothing and accessories for the seasons, it makes sense that your house should have a similar transformation. I usually group the seasons into two main categorizes - Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.

We’re well into the summer season and I’ve made some change to reflect the current time of the year. My Pottery Barn visual merchandising days taught me that you could change the look and feel of your surroundings with accessories. I’m always on the hunt for great items. Then, I have the fun of rotating them at different times of the year.  

1. Pillows and Textiles - I change the pillows, throws and bedding in my house with every season. Lighter, fresh colors such as blues, greens, lilacs and yellows seem to shout “spring/summer” to me. Out go the soft woolly and furry throws in favor of lighter fabrics such as linens and cottons. 

2. Fruit and Flowers - Bowls of fresh seasonal fruit feel abundant and fresh, especially if they come straight from the garden! Recently, we had overflowing bowls of plums from our tree. Now, it’s bowls of ripe, fragrant tomatoes from the garden. Just about any fresh clipping can completely change the ambiance in a room — lavender, roses, agapanthus, or even simple herbs such as rosemary and mint. I also like to use cut greenery such as olive and fig clippings.

3. Bring the Inside Outside - In the summer not only can you bring the outside into your home, but you have the flexibility of bringing the indoors outside. In our house the doors are often left open. I like to use indoor pillows on our outdoor furniture. I don’t care that it’s not necessarily outdoor fabric; the weather is so mild in Santa Barbara that it doesn’t really matter and well, if it fades a bit, that’s ok too.

Photo by Evan Janke

Photo by Evan Janke

Photo By Evan Janke

Photo By Evan Janke

4. Miscellaneous Accessories - Aside from having a self-admitted “pillow problem,” I also have many, many accessories. This time of year my “summery” accessories get the chance to come out from hiding — seashells and bowls of sea glass find their way onto nightstands and coffee tables. I’ve even been known to change my coffee table books by season as well, rotating books keeps the images fresh and well, seasonal.

5. Scents - Besides the seasonal visual changes, the smells in your house can and should be changed according to the season. I like to burn candles because I love having nice scents around the house. In the summer I like to burn light floral candles with jasmine scents, one of my favorites is called “Bamboo” by Nest.

Do you change your home according to the season? It’s easy to change the seasonal ambiance with accessories and a bit of nature. I definitely recommend it!  What means summer in your home?

My Path to Interior Design

It was not a straight path that led to my interior design career. However, in retrospect it was pretty obvious that all directions pointed to my design career, it just took me a while to find and own my path.

Having a mom who was a designer and a real estate agent back in the booming 80’s, I grew up in a world that was very house-focused. My mom worked for and was good friends with the famous designer, Tony Duquette. In fact, he was deemed my unofficial “Godfather.” I have many childhood memories from his Los Angeles and Malibu homes, a collection that included being dragged to several late night parties where my young sisters and I ended up falling asleep on a nearby sofa. 

Tony Duquette's House

Tony Duquette's House

After graduating from college with an Art History degree my sights were set on the art field ­-- possibly as a curator or a specialist at an art auction house. My first job out of college was at the art auction house of Butterfield and Butterfield in San Francisco (now Bonham’s). Although working in that environment was a great continuation of my education, I realized was that what I liked most was seeing how many of the beautiful items - art, antiques, decorative items ended up being placed into homes. 

I worked for Williams Sonoma in the Visual Merchandising Department of Pottery Barn where I gained a “hands on” approach to retail furniture floor plan training. I loved the practical side of design, but my heart missed the art and antiques element – I craved those beautiful, one-of-a kind objects that make a home special and personal. The path was taking shape, but I still didn’t see it clearly.

What I did know is that I wanted to live in France (Paris) and I wanted to be close to art and antiques. I took a risk, quit my job and enrolled in the Christie’s Decorative Arts Program in Paris. I fell in love, complete, utter love. When the program ended I was offered a job at the Christie’s office in San Francisco.

Even at Christie’s there was something missing and I felt restless. I remember having dinner with a dear college friend (Stephanie Luedorf) and the conversation turned to our careers. She is a very focused financial advisor - she looked at me and basically said, “Duh, Leslie!” How could I not have seen it?! She urged me to do what I love, to do what perhaps comes so naturally to me that I may not have even seen it as a “career.” She said that although I was a good roommate in college (and post college) the reason why people wanted to be my roommate in the first place was not because of my easy going personality, but because I managed to transform every dump of an apartment into a lovely place. These transformations were so innate for me I didn’t pause to consider them “work.” Well, thank goodness for good friends and brutal honesty!!

I dove in and started working for a designer in San Francisco, taking night courses in interior design through the UC Berkeley program. The designer I worked for had an antique store where I was able to combine my interests. It was after I had my first child that I branched out on my own. Many years, many transformations, many stories and most of all, work that I love found me on this journey. I’m excited to share them with you here and perhaps inspire you to make a few transformations of your own.

Tony Duquette's Malibu Ranch was like playing in "Wonderland" for a little girl

Tony Duquette's Malibu Ranch was like playing in "Wonderland" for a little girl

Source: Quote from Pinterest