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I’m Not Dead Yet

I’m back from paradise, tanned (or ever so slightly less pasty) and relaxed (or perhaps at least vaguely less stressed out). Due to another crappy doctor’s report the day before we were scheduled to fly out we really weren’t sure we’d be able to go, but after much conferencing we hopped on a plane and I’m happy to report that the whole family survived the trip unscathed, even the fetus. My mom got married, we spent a lot of time by the pool, and everyone drank their weight in vodka. Except for me. Boo hiss.

I’m having some issues re acclimating to the time zone, by which I mean that I would prefer to spend the entire day lazing in bed and catching up on tv, so don’t expect any fabulous decor related news today (although I have been changing some stuff up, so expect many pleas for help later in the week). Mostly I just wanted to drop in and say, Hey — I’m ok.

And also to point out that Ike is angling to become captain of the croquet world.

Fun times were had by all.

See you dudes tomorrow!

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Crystal Blue Oasis

Why hello homies, I’m back from Hawaii and still rubbing the sand out of my eyes — both literally and figuratively. It’s Monday, I have a major case of jet lag, Ike started his first day of school today (sniff), and this week is already trying to crush my soul, but I won’t let it win. I plan to bust a cap in Monday’s ass by treating you to some pics of a fabulous estate where my mom may or may not be getting married…. well, she’s getting married fo sho, she’s just not sure if this is the place. I think she needs a nudge, so let’s help her decide, ok?

Yeah, I know — super shitty location. But we’ll try to make do.

Is it wrong of me to be so easily persuaded by fire?

I don’t need an arrow to point the way to the ocean, do I?

Did you know that none of the beaches on Hawaii are private, and therefore a homeless bum could at any time waltz up the beach to wreck your wedding? Somehow I don’t think that would be a problem here.

Plus there is a super fancy pool, so who cares about the stinky beach anyway?

After five years of living in Hawaii, I might be a bit jaded. But I’m pretty sure this place is still good enough to host my mom’s fancy wedding.

What do you think?

Also, in your face, Monday!

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Let’s Talk About Money

While in Hawaii, my mom twisted my rubber arm into touring the furniture megacomplex that is Inspiration Interiors. I think she said something to the effect of, “There’s a giant life sized horse with a lamp on its head!” Oh, you mean this horse? The horse that Karly has been obsessed with for years?

Dudes, I kid you not: I walked around with my jaw dragging the ground like a neanderthal for entire time I cruised the showroom. And I felt like little more than an uncivilized cretin when I looked at the price tags, because every piece seemed more expensive, more rarefied than the next. Inspiration houses wares by Mooi, Front Design, B&B Italia, Fendi Casa,and de Sede, among other more mid range brands like Bo Concept and Natuzzi. It’s like a who’s who for the uber rich decor set.

Do you have any idea how much a new de Sede Endless sofa costs? Now, I have been in love with this sofa from way back — check my credentials here — but I’m just going to put it out of my mind because it costs FIFTY THOUSAND dollars. Yep. $50,0000. My youngest brother was totally nonplussed by this information, and already has plans to buy up the entire showroom once he makes his first billion.

Meanwhile, my other brother was utterly appalled by the prices. Coming at it from a woodworker/craftsman’s perspective, he just couldn’t reconcile $16,000 for a Fendi chandelier or $20,000 for a Fendi crocodile embossed dining table with the cost of the materials or the time and effort that went into producing the pieces.

He probably wouldn’t be into paying $1200 for a sparkly Fendi pillow, either, and I can’t say I disagree with him on that point.

And then there’s this $26,000 sofa that my mom is obsessed with. The back moves around the perimeter to form different seating configurations, which is cool, but the piece really isn’t that big. I can’t imagine paying $26,000 for such a wee little guy. Ok, if I had $26,000 to spend. Because I would probably buy a car instead. Scratch that — I wouldn’t even spend that much on a car.

Now I know I’m cheap and I get a thrill from scoring big off craigslist, and maybe it’s just impoverished sour grapes on my part, but does this B&B Italia chair really have to cost $8,000? Because I kind of like it. But I doubt I would pay even $800 for a chair that you can’t sit in on the showroom floor. I guess she’s a delicate flower.

There were some “bargains,” though. Maarten Baas‘ iconic, singed works were surprisingly affordable, as in the chandelier has less than four numbers in the price.

It was kind of an incredible experience to view all these ridiculously expensive pieces in the same location, because I don’t think you could see a single thing I’ve written about in person in Austin. It was also rather depressing to realize that these lust worthy things — things that Karly and I have written about and obsessed over for years — are utterly unattainable for us regular folk.

If not us, then who buys this stuff? Well, not this thing — I don’t want to know who has $5000 to blow on a boxing glove chaise. Whoever buys that deserves to be punched in the ass.

Nice though it may be, who can afford to buy this?

Or this?

You know, who besides the (admittedly scrumptious) restaurant housed in the same complex that is furnished entirely by Mooi? (Aside: Wow! Butts!)

In response to my brother’s perplexity, my sister in law remarked that what you’re paying for is not necessarily the materials, but the design. I couldn’t agree more, but I also have to wonder at the sanity of charging $50,000 for a couch in the midst of a huge recession. I mean, man I love that couch — I want to marry it and have endless de Sede babies. Or, at least I did until I saw the price, but I have to say the sheer nerve of it kind of killed my boner. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t snatch that puppy up if I found it on Craigslist.

Or, as Karly would say, if only it were a tenth of the price.

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Shangri La Di Dah

These days, even a cave dweller could throw a rock and hit a tribbleload of Moroccan pouffles:


But global chic wasn’t always so in vogue. It’s refreshing to see a return to interesting — even decorative — objects after suffering through the ironic minimalism of the cash rich 90’s and early, uh, aughts? 00’s? What do you call this decade? At any rate, it’s funny how poverty inspires one to hoard stuff. Your grandma wasn’t collecting all those foiled gum wrappers for nothing, you know. During the great depression, Doris Duke, the richest girl in the world, began hoarding objects (and houses) with a vengeance. And there was nary a gum wrapper among them.

doris duke

The only child of a tobacco heiress, Duke inherited $100 million dollars when her father died (of lung cancer, perhaps?) when she was only 12. That’s over a billion clams in today’s currency, which she promptly put to good use by suing her mother and taking over her father’s estates. I like this girl already. After marrying in the early 1930’s, she honeymooned around the world and was inspired by Islamic art and architecture, which led to her construction of the Shangri La estate in Honolulu, now a public museum.

shangri la

If you were a good little schoolgirl or boy, you read your Lost Horizon and know that Shangri La is a hidden paradise. Located on 5 acres in the posh Black Point neighborhood, Duke’s version fronts the ocean and has insane views of Diamond Head Crater. Hideous, I tell you. But even more impressive than the outside is the inside, which is literally stuffed to the gills with a treasure trove of Islamic artifacts and decor.

shangri la

(Sorry for the rather wee images — the estate doesn’t allow you to take pictures inside, and the ones they provide online are mega TINY.) Hopefully you can see that every square inch of this place is decorated with murals, artwork, sculptures, and amazing textiles.

shangri la

Are those pouffles centered around a hookah? Doris Duke wouldn’t be above taking a toke with the local boyz, for sure. In an age of limited roles for women, she used her money to do things us contemporary ladies take for granted, like become the first female surfing champion.

doris duke duke kahanamoku

That would be her with handsome local boy and Olympic medalist cum surfing tutor extraordinaire, Duke Kahanamoku.

duke kahanamoku

Meow! Supposedly then married D. Duke and unmarried playboy Duke K. (there’s a joke in there somewhere) were getting it on, and he may have even fathered her child, Arden, who died after a premature childbirth.

shangri la

If only these pillows could talk…

shangri la

At least the walls talk, telling tales of Moroccan design and history. Addtionally, the home holds collections of Turkish and Spanish ceramics and Iranian tiles.

shangri la

As soon as I can figure out how to either A) paint ceramic tiles or B) hire the neighborhood kids at slave rates to paint my ceramic tiles, I plan to coat the exterior of my home in a fabulous mosaic extravaganza. It will probably look like my cat threw up on the walls, but what the hell.

shangri la

While I’m at it, I may as well add a pergola to shelter my hookahfied evenings from prying eyes.

shangri la

Or maybe I should erect a tent fit for a desert king, complete with amazing textiles that screen my floor to ceiling windows from ocean views? I may need to figure out how to fit an ocean into my backyard first. Trivial.

shangri la

For a lady born with a silver spoon, Doris Duke did ok. In current times, us plebes may have the overwhelming desire to douse the rich in haterade, but she managed to live an interesting life and leave a lasting impact on society. Besides surfing, cleaning her own homes, serving overseas in WWII, and founding several charitable organizations, Duke left several properties like Shangri La open to the public.

shangri la

Plus the lady knew a think or two about how to fix up and look sharp.

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Aloha Oe

Oh, blog buddies, it’s good to be home! I feel like I’ve been away from cyberspace for so long I can barely remember how to type, but I’m going to do my best to regale you with tales of my vacation forced labor camp experience. That’s right — we worked. A lot. But before I recount my time on the Hawaiian Gulag, I need to give a big shout out to Hello Gorgeous, Eye Spy, The Homebound and Even Cleveland, for filling in and helping me get some R&R. They did a super fantastic job, and I hope you enjoyed their posts as much as I did.

My Mom and Grandpa just moved back to Oahu, bought a place on the Southeast side of Honolulu, and somehow managed to squeeze two lifetime’s worth of furniture into one Hawaii sized house. Good times.


You have to walk up 862 stairs to get inside, but the glass walled views are worth it. Meanwhile, I am totally inspired to yank out all the “grass” in my front yard and gravel it up with some cute xeric bushes and crazy bonsai juniper shrubs.


My mom was a little obsessed with this gong, but it looks pretty swell with the freshly painted doors. She said they were pastel turquoise (along with gingerbread style matching garage doors!) when they bought the house. Yikes. Well, come on in:


They moved in about a week before I snapped these pictures, so everything may not be in its final resting place. But, my OCD to the max mom had us Hunny Bunny moving stuff every day so things are reasonably squared away. Apparently, before I arrived the original crystal chandeliers were, ahem, replaced with wrought iron ones. Let us not speak of this again.


My mom and I don’t have the same taste, but I definitely think she has good taste; I’m sure I inherited a lot of decorating quirks from her. For example, I might give a tooth for that gilded wood mirror, which my sweet, cute little old grandpa talked an antiques dealer into charging him only $70. Tip: send your adorable, old relatives in to haggle for you. The antiques biddies think you’re all young whippersnappers, anyway.


I can’t say i agree with her on everything, though. I pretty much took this picture to A) show off the insane soapstone entertainment center, which barely arrived intact after being shipped back and forth overseas, and B) enlist the help of my bloggy friends in convincing her that lamp cannot go there. Can. Not.


Still, she can take credit for my brass fixation. And I will take that Bodhisattva and the tiny Hiroshige book.


My grandfather fought in WWII and went on to spend over 20 years in the Navy; he had an amazing eye for decor, which he purchased from far away places all over the world. I have lusted after this Japanese lamp for most of my life, but she looks so happy in her new home.


The dining room was tough to shoot without restaging it, and may I remind you folks that I was on vacation? Unfortuantely, I wasn’t able to shoot the kitchen or bathrooms because they are just too ugly. The people who lived here before thought baby pink + baby blue = delightful! The kitchen is being renovated right now, and I bet the bathrooms won’t last long in their current iterations. The sad thing is that they still look better than my bathrooms.


The best thing about the house is the view. Every single room has enormous windows and views of mountains, gardens or the ocean.


Yeah, like that.

We enjoyed fabulous ocean views while relaxing in the guest room. Of course, that was only possible after spending hours putting together that %$&*# bamboo bed. Kids, do not try this at home.



The much roomier master isn’t too shabby, either. Unobstructed views of Koko Head Crater face the bed to help start your day. Although I would be tempted to just laze in bed all morning, staring out the window.


Although I like the house, I think I am most envious of the landscaping. Here in Austin, every hole you dig is a struggle, and you practically have to beg shrubs to live once planted. However, because we live in a temperate zone, we do share a lot of the same species, so I’m inspired to maybe plant some rambling bougainvillea.


Or maybe I should try to transfer my purple Ti plant to the ground and see what happens. And did I already menton that I’m liking this gravel idea?


I think I may have to hire someone to get a yard like this. These people really knew what they were doing, and the plants in Hawaii get so huge — like they’re on steroids. Are steroids for plants illegal?

That’s pretty much it for my Hawaiian house tour, but I’m going to leave on a personal note:


That’s my dear, sweet Mom with my cutie pie Grandpa (nice ladder in the background… told you we were working!). Yesterday was his 88th birthday, and I just wanted to send him lots of love from the mainland.

Like I said, it’s so good to be back home! But helping out with my Mom’s house has reminded me of how very much work we need to do on our own (getting very nervous that we won’t meet our June deadline!), so feel free to badger me for progress reports on Casa Erin in the upcoming months.

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