A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 3

Our weekend of Enchantment and dreams by the sea culminated with a lovely early morning beach watch. October is an especially beautiful time of year on the California coast and we drank in all its charms.

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For a finale we were treated to brunch with a spell-binding presentation by Victoria Kastner. Complete with historic photographs and dramatic monologues of the voice of W.R. Hearst speaking through his letters to his mother as to why she should support his desire to purchase wonderful European sculptures and other decorative arts now available throughout Europe following WWI. He was very persuasive with his impassioned quest to collect the finest objects, architectural fragments and tapestries.

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Victoria has been working with the Hearst’s for over 30 years and is the author of three books on all things relating to Hearst Castle.  This lecture by Ms. Kastner was a sneak preview of the book,” Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy,” before its actual release on November 26 of this year. $(KGrHqZHJEkFHU165PC4BR6bS7CiRw~~_7[1]

Driving home to Sacramento, Ashlee Richardson and I had spirited discussions of what we had seen and learned from our special tour of San Simeon which was hosted by the ICAA ( Institute of Classical Art and Architecture).  We were delighted by the interesting professionals we had met from northern and southern California.  Our interior design project for California State University Sacramento was enhanced by the details we had gleaned from studying the Castle’s interior furnishings.  In general, our appreciation for Mr. Hearst, the collector and his relationship with Julia Morgan was heightened.  We came away from the weekend enchanted with the Hearst Castle and truly inspired.

We hope you will come along on our next adventure with Classical Architecture as our muse.

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A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 2



On the crisp but sunny weekend morning by the ocean, we listened to the docent for the estate village of San Simeon describe how George Hearst first acquired his ranch from the Mexican land grant. We viewed the warehouses and construction buildings where the material to build the castle on the hill and the copious amount of antiques for the interior design were stored.


Julia Morgan designed the warehouses as well as several Spanish Revival influenced homes for the estate and construction managers in the village where a charming school house still stands.



The usual tour of La Cuesta Encantada had a higher level of interest than previous tours of the castle I attended with family because of how the docent specialized the tour to interest the design and construction professionals who attended.


After the tour we viewed the film in the visitor center called “Hearst Castle-Building the Dream”, which beautifully portrays the collaborative effort between Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst in designing and building the castle.


The evening tour brought a special feeling to the gorgeous estate on the hill. The sun set as we climbed the hill and by the time we toured one of the cottages the old alabaster lamps glowed and the interior furnishings looked spectacular in the softened light. Costumed docents invited visitors, strolled the grounds, and visited in the drawing rooms, playing cards and having refreshments provided by their imagined host Mr. Hearst. It all enhanced the thrill of peeking into the second story rooms of the bedrooms, library and study.

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Lamp shades from the thirties whisper secret messages of reverie enchanting every visitor of La Cuesta Encantada.


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A Weekend at San Simeon: Day 1


A privileged few participants were indulged in a weekend immersed in the Hearst Castle legend, experiencing the magic of the California coast in beautiful October weather. Ashlee, my mentee who recently graduated from the Interior Architecture program at CSUS, was overjoyed that because of someone’s cancellation she was able to attend all the activities and tours of the weekend. She was by far the youngest person around in the group.


We checked into our seaside lodging and visited the beach delighting in putting our feet into the  refreshing Pacific salt water.







Our first tours gave us a flavor of the small coastal jewel of a town, Cambria. An artist and her  husband, a talented mason, shared their home and incredible secret garden with us. Around every turn of the enchanted oasis was a assemblage of beauty. This unique couple has collected fine antiques and sentimental items to divide their garden and home into intimate spaces with incomparable charm.




Our next stop was a home constructed with no 90 degree angles in the woods. The home was designed by Warren Leopold who proudly presented himself as “NALA”- not a licensed architect. The large open main space included the kitchen and living room as well as views of a floating staircase leading to a mezzanine.


We then drove to downtown Cambria to a social gathering in Evans and Gearst Antiques, a beautiful newly finished spaces where only the floors and ceilings were original,  its charming volume filled with the most beautiful and rare antiques. This antiquarian deals by appointment only and began his long career in the Hearst warehouse among the huge collection of the titan publisher. Our host Jim Evans of “Evans and Gearst Antiques”, brought along his girlfriend and companion, Margaret Mondavi. She was so elegant, this lovely lady of a certain age!


We ended the night by walking just around corner and down the street to Robin’s Restaurant. We sat on the back terrace of the restaurant enclosed with windows and crowned with a ceiling of ivy and twinkle light. We had a wonderful special four course menu to order from. Our group of thirty or so was split into three tables, allowing us to get to know the people seated around us. Filled with architectural and design inspiration we returned to our hotel to rest before day 2 of our enchanted weekend began.

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Lunch and Learn at San Francisco’s Design Center


John Toya of Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects

Last week I took a trip to San Francisco to do some shopping for my latest project in the Design Center and decided to make the most of the day by attending a Lunch and Learn. The event was part of San Francisco Design Center’s Designers’ Wednesday series and was sponsored by ASID and the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, both of which I am a member. The wonderful speaker of the day was John Toya of Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects and his topic was Houses: An Art of Collaboration.


San Francisco Apartment from http://ikba.com/portfolio

John Toya began the lecture with a poetic synopsis of how his firm tackles design projects. Mr. Toya described how architects must act as conductors to make their projects sing. I find this also applies to my job as an interior designer. Constant communication with your client, vendors, contractors, installers, and architect are essential.  The first project John Toya talked about was one of the first his firm completed in San Francisco. Mr. Toya actually started the Ike Kligerman Barkley Architect firm in San Francisco because of his great love for the city. The project designed by the firm was an apartment in San Francisco. The clients requested a design that would showcase the antiques of various styles that they had collected over the years. Each room was to have a style and to be adorned with pieces that matched that styling. The apartment features actual antique remnants from Paris that are incorporated into the architectural detailing.  The artisans who installed and finished the rooms were also brought over from Paris. The result is room after room of gorgeous details all personalized per the customers request.

Compound in the Dunes from http://ikba.com/

Compound in the Dunes from http://ikba.com/

John Toya described many projects and the design process utilized in each. I found his project done on Martha’s Vineyard particularly interesting because of the challenges they faced with the home owners having opposite styles and approaches to design. The wife wanted a bare bones modern design that incorporated sustainable design while the husband wanted a traditional Cape Cod style home. John Toya and his team at Ike Klingerman Barkley Architects designed a space that was an amazing compromise of two very different styles. The interior seamlessly blends the plank materials of the traditional Cape Cod style in a modern rectilinear form as seen in the dramatic entry space.

John Toya concluded by saying how grateful he is to work in a firm that is not confined by style and ego, but instead empowered by classical architectural concepts and propelled by accommodations for their clients. Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects’ attention to detail and focus on personalization for their clients has resulted in an inspiring assortment of beautiful architecture. To see more of their work visit: http://ikba.com

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The Historically Glamorous Millenium Biltmore Hotel


As a newcomer to Los Angeles’ Dwell on Design show in June, I was quick to learn that downtown LA does have some charm after all. The official lodging for our group of ASID professionals was the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, which I found extremely fascinating and romantic. In 1921 city boosters sought to design this new hotel as a symbol of Los Angeles’ success and ambition. This glamorous hotel became a synonym for the stardom and romance of the Oscars.


Fountains and flowers, full sized murals and elegant chandeliers of the period enhanced the glamorous lobby. It was educational and inspiring to step out of my day-to-day world of residential interior design and to be time warped back to the heyday of southern California movie making and studio stars.  The Millenium Biltmore hotel opened in 1923 as record breaking design not only for the amount of rooms, or how quickly it was completed, but also for it’s striking use of Beaux Arts Architecture. The hotel was completed in just eighteen months and had close to 1,000 guestrooms.


The use of formal Beaux Arts design is contrasted by the layering of design influence from Spanish and Moorish to Italian and Pompeian. The elaborately carved and painted ceiling of the main lobby incorporates Moorish design. This beautiful ceiling is accented by gorgeous Italian chandeliers with hand painted and tassel details.


The subdued lighting of the bar lounge gives drama to an amazing space. Large lantern lights illuminate a groin vaulted ceiling. The rounded arch wall at the back of the space features an amazing hand painted Art Deco mural. Sitting in this space surrounded by rich and luscious materials I felt like a Hollywood star of the 1920’s.

IMG_2420The bar is a continuation of beauty in design with the wood carved coffer ceiling and twisted columns. Upon closer look I saw that these columns are ornately detailed with heraldic imagery and ancient motifs.



This dramatic carving of a female angel beautifully represents how designers of the 1920’s incorporated historic influences to give their designs formality and glamour. At some points in my self guided tour of the hotel I felt as if I was transported into an Italian plaza or a Spanish palace.


These interesting iron work portraits which are incorporated into the railing of the balcony overlooking the main lobby piqued my interest. The wonderful staff had no details as to who these people in iron are, but the way they overlook guests as they enter the hotel definitely gives them a place of importance.


As I explored my way through the passages of the hotel I stumbled upon a smaller lobby space that was adorned with a hand painted Pompeian ceiling. My love for Pompeian design made this one of my favorite spaces of the hotel. I felt so lucky that my ASID group was able to come to Dwell on Design and I was able to experience such a wonderfully diverse hotel. I found myself leaving Los Angeles with a greater understanding and love of Beaux Arts architecture and design.

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August 6, 2013 · 12:06 am

Creating 1920’s style in the 21st Century

With iconic period inspired movies like the Great Gatsby opening in theaters today it’s easy to find 1920’s style in modern day interior furnishings and finishes. Abstract, ethnic and geometric patterns calling back to the motifs of Art Deco and modernism have become a renewed focus in our time. Simple black, white, ivory, and metallic finishes are being worked into Interior Design as it once was in the 1920’s.


Ann Sacks Andy Fleishman Diamond in Camel

This Andy Fleishman tile by Ann Sacks clearly displays the way 1920’s  motif are being reworked into modern and even green design. This tile is part of Ann Sack’s Eco-Thinking line. The Andy Fleishman tile is made of concrete, the materials for which are sourced  within 500 miles of where the tile is manufactured in Durham, North Carolina. The tile comes in 17 different patterns and two different shapes. Pictured here is the diamond pattern in camel with a suede like finish gives the tile the opulent characteristic of the 1920’s.


Colefax and Fowler Veryan Collection Lasalle in Leaf drapery installation


Colefax and Fowler Veryan Collection Lasalle in Leaf

This luxurious silk fabric from Colefax and Fowler’s new Veryan collection called Lasalle brings the floral motifs and geometric patterning that was characteristic to the 1920’s. The history of Colefax and Fowler which dates back to the early 20th century cements their expertise in 1920 design. This silk  and viscose fabric is to be used on draperies which are sure to bring the glamour of the 1920’s to any interior.


Urban Electric Co. 10th Anniversary Carnegie

This strikingly Art Deco Inspired pendant from Urban Electric Co.’s 10 year anniversary collection has the insightful name of Carnegie. This piece designed by Amanda Nisbet has an almost unlimited variety of finishes for each aspect of the piece. The glass alone can be finished in nine colors including etched and antique mirrored glass. The geometric pattern on the glass enclosed by the simple metal structure gives the piece a true 1920’s feeling.

I hope these products show you the beauty in 1920’s design and inspiration and encourage you to place some 1920’s style into your home!

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Guest Blogger-Ashlee Richardson on Inspiration from Nature

As an emerging Interior Design professional, I find myself constantly seeking inspiration for design projects. Looking to designers like Barbara Barry helps me to figure out how other designers find inspiration throughout their iconic careers. Barbara Barry’s latest book “Around Beauty” has led me to realize that nature can be a source of eternal inspiration. In Ms. Barry’s book she walks us through her daily life as a designer and how she finds inspiration everywhere she goes.  She states that many times her color palette for a room can be influenced by something as simple as a pistachio. Ms. Barry says, “crack it open and discover the impeccable pairings of lavender and lime, ivory and tusk. Looking closely, you will see a pistachio’s influence in my work: beached oak floors, pale green walls, and hints of lavender in pillows and trims.”


Nature offers us dynamic color combinations, all we must do is go outside and absorb. I am overjoyed as I read Ms. Barry’s passionate words about the colors that inspire her work. Citrine, a color that I recently grew to love especially when paired with a rich emerald purple, is also one of Barbara Barry’s favorite colors.  Ms. Barry says, “Citrine is liquid light, and this jewel of a color pops up throughout my day in the thin smear of olive oil on an all-white plate…”



Barbara Barry’s favorite color in nature is the color of a fig. “There’s something delicious about a fig’s powdery surface conjuring up dark velvets and luscious silks–it’s deep color can be an exclamation mark of dark in a pale room.” It is so intriguing to me to read Ms. Barry’s words and to see how she see’s the world, so pure yet abstract.


I recommend Barbara Barry’s book “Around Beauty” to any designer or non-designer in need of inspiration.  Indeed inspiration is the greatest feeling someone can have and as Ms. Barry reveals, “I feel my most alive on the edge of an idea…my heart beats fast and I feel my most confident.” In closing, go outside and get INSPIRED!

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Cerused Oak


On my most recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to take some time to walk through the Galleria in search of materials for a returning client. I always make a stop at Wroolie and Company who are known for their high end furniture and lighting which range from custom reproductions, original designs, to contemporary. I was delighted to see several cerused oak side tables near the front window of the showroom. I’ve been fond of this finish for years and am very pleased to see that it is being used in new and interesting ways. These pieces by Mario Grimaldi International were in a variety of rich stains and finished with a high gloss finish.

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With my interest piqued, I did a bit of research on cerused oak and learned a few interesting facts. The technique of cerused oak, known as limed oak in Britain, began back in the 16th century.  Carpenters rubbed a material containing lime into the grain of the wood to fill it, then the wood was stained and finished giving you a two toned effect. Cerused oak became popular again in the age of Art Deco and is having a  comeback in our decade as well.

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table

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Lecture “Hearst the Collector” – Mary Levkoff

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My fascination with everything Julia Morgan has taken me to a series of lectures  presented by the California Institute for Classical Art and Architecture, California north Chapter in San Francisco.  The third in the series was Tuesday evening, ”Hearst the collector” , an illustrated lecture by Mary Levkoff.

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It was delightful to drive into the Presidio as the evening was falling and the view of the bay and the city skyline from near the Golden Gate Bridge was breathtaking.  The Disney Family Museum is in the buildings near Crissy field.  Here we met with the author for a reception and book signing in a space with “It’s a Small World” art work on walls and floors.

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“It’s a Small World” Wall Tile

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“It’s a Small World” Floor Motif

Ms. Levkoff , former curator for the LA County Museum of Art has studied Mr. Hearst’s collections extensively.  She credits him to have been the most outstanding Collector in America of European Sculpture, tapestries, silver and armor.


Janice and Ms. Levkoff at the Book Signing

Mary Levkoff shared with us her process, pouring over old interior photographs, to discover which outstanding pieces of his collection are now dispersed in museums throughout the world.

Perhaps I’ll have a long weekend this summer to enjoy the home of only a small portion of his collection at the Casa Grande, San Simeon, the Hearst Castle, designed by Julia Morgan for him.  For over thirty years she collaborated with him on his castle on the Enchanted Hill.

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Retreat, Relax, and Reflect

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Perhaps it is the light that makes this room my favorite. It filters through the grass woven shades to soften the cocoa and cream textures and brings healing to my soul like a warm frothy latte. My Francophile persuation is played to with the antique over mantle as a headboard, framed on either side by striped ombred silk. Here is where I grab my current read and snug under covers or on top of the forgiving matlesse bedcover.


I can indulge myself in the sentimentality of photos of the ones I love surrounded with fresh flowers sharing their happy colors and faces to my “altar of endearment.”


The pale blue ceiling gives my space a magical sky effect, to enhance the quiet solitude and beauty of my very own cocoon-like retreat. Here I can thank God for all He has provided in home and love while enjoying the rhythm of my restful breathing.

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The luxury of a crystal chandelier sparkles with reflection and candlelight to add the element of romance. It’s beauty greets me in the morning light as  I awaken in my bed below.


Small cherished artifacts add to the happiness my bedroom brings me. Like the small tatted bookmark cross handmade by a favorite great aunt.

This is where I like to be no matter the altitude of my moods. It is where I can let the rest of the world go by!

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