Ok friends, let's talk about a few of my favorite things: wine, spaces, and people gathering together. How lucky was I that the awesome folks over at Rotie Cellars called me up when they found out they were going to be featured in the January issue of Decanter Magazine? So damn lucky. Not only was I able to spend some time photographing their gorgeous tasting room in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood but I was also able to shoot their beautiful bottles (and taste a few of them), and then capture some candids from their fall release party. All in all it was a total delight. Rotie makes Rhone-blends with Washington grapes and seriously, they are delicious. Hoping to spend more time at the tasting room and make my way down to Walla Walla to the winery later this year!
Well, happy 2018 everyone! I love kicking off this new year with some inspo from my dear friend Lelia. We met about a decade ago working on a TV show. In the months that passed we became fast friends bonding over color coordinated files and a love of coffee breaks. In the years that would follow we found that we had much more in common, a love of spaces, food, travel, and of course wine. Lelia launched her new interior design business last year, Ulivo Design and it has been really incredible to watch her tackle the challenges of entrepreneurship. We recently met up at Lady Yum over in Kirkland to do some new photos for her business and we were treated to a perfect afternoon of macarons and champagne. I thought it might be nice to pick Lelia's brain about what inspires her, how she approaches spaces, and what keeps her energized creatively.
1. How did you know you needed to branch out on your own and begin an interior design business?
After nearly 15 years as a TV/video/content producer and working my tail off day in and day out, I got tired of feeling unvalued and unfulfilled in my work. I was yearning for change... to do something more meaningful, to make a difference or at least bring joy/positivity into someone's life. I really took to heart that life is too short to not do what you love. But what was that for me?? I had no idea... I felt so lost. After about two years of soul searching + trying to figure out what to do next with my life, a first-ever home renovation project ignited my new passion for home interior decorating. My husband had come across a newly listed townhome that was hard to pass up. I agreed to buy it on the condition that we renovate + update it to make it our own. Figuring out the finishes, the paint colors, the flooring, etc and working with a contractor (for the very first time) - all of it was challenging but I was hooked! (Looking back though, I guess I've always had a knack for prettying up spaces whether it was putting up artwork to camouflage my concrete college dorm room or wallpapering dingy walls of a tiny storage closet-turned-office.) Inspired by my home renovation project, my obsession with the hit show Fixer Upper + encouragement from an architect friend, I took a leap of faith + decided to start my own home interior styling business. I haven't looked back since.
2. Why do you think places and spaces matter so much to us as humans?
We all have places + spaces that we call home... that inspire us... that we dream about... that we cherish or yearn to visit. Practically every part of our daily lives is intertwined with our surroundings, whether it be our home, our workplace, a neighborhood restaurant, or even a quaint shop we pass by everyday. Oftentimes, places become part of our fondest (and sometimes our toughest) personal memories... they tell our story. For example, Italy holds a special place in my heart because it's where I traveled alone for the first time, it's where I got married, it's where my husband and I call home a few months out of the year. The different towns and regions I've come to know + love in Italy are a part of my personal story.
3. You and your husband have somewhat recently made a second home in Italy. Can you describe the town you've settled in, and why you love it?
It's been our dream to have a house in Italy one day... well that one day ended up arriving two years ago -- way sooner than we ever anticipated thanks to good timing + a good opportunity that presented itself. After scouting nearly 60 properties all over Italy in 15 days, we ended up choosing a lovely 19th century townhome in a medieval village called Ficulle which is located in the Italian region of Umbria (a lesser known but just as beautiful of a region as Tuscany). It is the perfect midway point between Rome + Florence. We fell in love with Ficulle for its quaint, medieval charm and the local, small town feel. It was important for us to be in a (non-touristy) town where we could assimilate with the locals and experience the authentic Italian culture. Because Ficulle is located at higher elevation on a hillside, the views overlooking the green valleys are breathtaking. I love waking up in the early mornings and opening up the windows + shutters to the sight of the sun rising over the hills and the sounds of birds, roosters and old men gossiping outside a nearby bar. We can't walk out our front door without someone saying "ciao" (hi) and "come stai?" (how are you?)... I love that! In the beginning it took awhile for the locals to warm up to us but after getting to know us and seeing our efforts in wanting to be a part of the community, many have embraced us and become dear friends. We feel at home every time we come back. BTW, did I mention a fabulous family-owned winery is only 5 minutes down the road from our house?! Let's just say our home is always fully stocked with delicious wine. :)
4. We spend a lot of time talking about our shared love of spaces and food and how they can take something to the next level in terms of experience. What are some of your favorite Seattle spots (yes, the east side counts!)?
Oh boy, since I'm more of a homebody these days, I feel so out of the loop with all the great restaurants + shops that have popped up in Seattle. But when I do go out, my go-to spots are: Mamma Melina - a modern chic Italian restaurant with a fantastic happy hour that's hard to beat Le Caviste - a beautiful French-style wine bar that reminds me of the ones in Paris; their selections of French wine + charcuterie board offerings are delish Black Bottle - a modern industrial gastrotavern that offers an eclectic menu of great dishes to be enjoyed in a communal setting Little Brother - I love the rustic modern, airy vibe of this new neighborhood restaurant on the Eastside; it's a place where you can hang out for a cappuccino + pastries or enjoy a nice lunch/dinner with friends
5. If someone were starting to think about how they could re-think a room, what tips would you tell them to get started? At what point should they consider an interior designer to help them bring their vision to life?
If you're thinking about re-decorating or changing a room but don't know where to start, I would first suggest listing out what you like about the room and what you don't like about the room. Also ask yourself how you want to use the room - what is your intended purpose for the room. Knowing this will help provide a roadmap for your room re-design. Then go on Pinterest and/or Houzz and pin images of spaces that you are drawn to. You can also cut out pictures from home decor magazines that inspire you. The collection of these pins + pictures will serve as your inspiration/mood board and help jumpstart ideas for room layout, color palette, furniture, etc. If you're still feeling stuck or overwhelmed with a mish-mash of ideas, this is where an interior designer or stylist can come in with his/her expertise + curate those ideas into a cohesive room design that reflects you. If you're looking to renovate or remodel your space but don't have the time or desire to do it on your own, an interior designer or stylist can come in + take care of all the details -- managing the project from start to finish.
This year has been so full of incredible new opportunities for me including this amazing afternoon spent in one of my favorite spaces in all of Seattle, Bar Melusine. I was contacted by the folks at The I.D.E.A Brand to lead a flat lay styling & photography session with local social influencers and shoot their pop up event for the bag company Pacsafe. I'm going to do a whole post about flat lay photography to kick off the new year but in the meantime, here's a peek at this event. Earlier this year Pacsafe launched a new line The Citysafe Collection so the entire afternoon was spent learning about these very functional and stylish bags and I was lucky enough to take one home with me (and promptly took with me to NYC and DC for a little adventure). It was such a great way to spend the afternoon, appetizers, a specialty cocktail, and loads of photo ops. It was a real 2017 highlight for me to share my passion for storytelling through photography with other creatives.
We've all been there party animals, New Years can be super pressure-filled or absolutely delightful and there's really no way to predict it. Thankfully we can always control what we listen to and who we choose to surround ourselves with as we ring in a new year and that alone is a good start. So here are a couple mixes to set the mood regardless of who you might be smooching at the end of the night, if you're in your pjs or fancy sparkles, or if you even make it to midnight at all. Here's to a beautiful new year full of love, support, strength, and good energy my friends. Cheers!
Jazzy New Year
- Knock Me a Kiss - Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
- Oh, You Crazy Moon - Frank Sinatra
- Hallelujah, I Love Him So - Ella Fitzgerald & Ray Charles
- Deed I Do - Ray Charles
- It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) - Rosemary Clooney & Duke Ellington
- C'est Magnifique - Kay Starr
- What a Little Moonlight Can Do - Billie Holiday & Teddy Wilson
- You Go To My Head (live) - Rufus Wainwright
- I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
- My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
- All About That Bass - Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox & Kate Davis
- Don't Stop the Music - Jamie Cullum
- Somethin' Stupid - Robbie Williams
- The Way You Look Tonight - Michael Bublé
- It Had to Be You - Ray Charles
- Love is Here to Stay - Harry Connick, Jr.
- Freddie Freeloader - Miles Davis
Happy New Year
- i - Kendrick Lamar
- 24K Magic - Bruno Mars
- Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man
- DARE - Gorillaz & Shaun Ryder
- Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke, T.I. Pharrell Williams
- Take Back the Night - Justin Timberlake
- Despacito (remix) - Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber
- Havana - Camila Cabello & Young Thug
- Feels - Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry
- Rehab (remix) - Amy Winehouse & JAY Z
- All Night (feat. Knox Fortune) - Chance the Rapper
- For U (feat. Charli XCX) - Miike Snow
- Shutterbug - Big Boi & Cutty
- Lose Yourself to Dance - Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
- I Feel it Coming - The Weeknd & Daft Punk
- Provider - Frank Ocean
I've known Jen for over 20 years! 20!! We met in college in Los Angeles way back when we had big creative dreams and a desire to see every movie ever made. She's been such a loyal, true, and supportive friend through the years and this session with her husband Dwight and their kiddos Parker and Mikelle was very special. Jen & Dwight decided that the perfect place to do a shoot would be the location they got married in, the beautiful grounds of Willows Lodge up in Woodinville. Their wedding day was a little bit rainy and full of so much love and laughter so it was really perfect to have a very similar backdrop so many years later as we did their family session. We surprised the kids with not one but two big treats. First, Grandma and Grandpa made a guest appearance (which was super fun for me also since I hadn't seen them in a long time and they were such supports during our college years) and second - I brought along a little hot cocoa for some tiny cold hands. Bonus, this was Mikelle's very first hot cocoa. Wut?? I know. FIRST HOT CHOCOLATE IS ON CAMERA. How fun is that? Needless to say, this little sibling duo has come a long way and clearly they're becoming the best of buddies already which is something Jen and her brother have always had so it was great to be able to capture their budding dynamic on camera.
Ok ok, so you've heard Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" a few too many times and if you're like me, and you once worked in retail, music during this time of year can actually cause you to break out into hives. Not to mention the stress of it all...awkward work parties, travel woes, family drama, and oi vey getting things crossed off of your damn to do list. Flip side though, I freaking love the holiday season. I love the crisp air, the smell of cocoa, baking, the coziness, and the magic of chilly winter nights full of shimmery things that twinkle. So how do you deal with all the highs and lows? I've got a bunch of musical feelings so in my case, I make playlists...a lot of them, with some of my favorite songs (over and over b/c well they're that good). So here's one for every occasion (and yes, Mariah makes an appearance) to help get you and your family through the ups and downs of this merry little time in one piece. And now we weekend! -->
A Very Retro Christmas
- White Christmas - The Drifters
- Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals
- Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes
- Run Rudolph Run - Chuck Berry
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Crystals
- Merry Christmas Baby - Otis Redding
- White Christmas - Darlene Love
- Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Lou Rawls
- What Christmas Means to Me - Stevie Wonder
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Jackson 5
- This Christmas - Donny Hathaway
- White Christmas - Otis Redding
- Someday at Christmas - Stevie Wonder
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Jackson 5
- I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Kay Starr
- Sleigh Ride - Ella Fitzgerald
- Winter Wonderland - Peggy Lee
- Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Frank Sinatra
- Christmas Night in Harlem - Louis Armstrong
- (Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With the Bag - Kay Starr
- Shake Hands With Santa Claus - Louis Prima
- White Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald
- I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Rosemary Clooney
- Zat You Santa Claus - Louis Armstrong
- Winter Weather - Peggy Lee
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald
- The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
- Christmas in New Orleans - Louis Armstrong
- The Christmas Waltz - Frank Sinatra
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Ella Fitzgerald
- Cool Yule - Louis Armstrong
- Snow - Rosemary Clooney
- Winter Wonderland - Ella Fitzgerald
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra
- Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Lena Horne
- I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday
- The Christmas Song - Ella Fitzgerald
A Jazzy Bluesy Holiday
- It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Harry Connick, Jr.
- All I Want for Christmas is You - Michael Bublé
- Merry Christmas Baby - Lou Rawls
- All I Ask for Christmas - Mighty Blue Kings
- Let is Snow - Jamie Cullum
- Sleigh Ride - Harry Connick, Jr.
- Christmas Celebration - B.B. King
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Mel Tormé
- The Christmas Song - Vince Guaraldi Trio
- Do You Hear What I Hear - Pink Martini
- What Child is This - Lauren Daigle
- Winter Wonderland - Harry Connick, Jr.
- O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
- White Christmas, Part 1 - Pink Martini
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Michael Bublé
- Christmas Medley - Mel Tormé
- Winter Wonderland - Tony Bennett
- Christmas Is - Lou Rawls
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Harry Connick, Jr.
- Show Me the Magic - Jamie Cullum
- It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Michael Bublé
- Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Harry Connick, Jr.
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Lou Rawls
- Santa's Blues - Charles Brown
- Here Comes Santa Claus - Ramsey Lewis Trio
- (It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus - Harry Connick, Jr.
- Auld Lang Syne - Pink Martini
- The Christmas Song - Aloe Blacc
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - She & Him
- Mele Kalikimaka - Kacey Musgraves
- Frosty the Snowman - Fiona Apple
- All Alone on Christmas - Darlene Love
- Winter Wonderland - Leona Lewis
- (Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With the Bag (Thunderball Mix) - Kay Starr
- 'Zat You, Santa Claus (The Heavy Remix) - Louis Armstrong
- Santa Claus is Comin' To Town (Q-Burns Abstract Message Remix) - The Pied Pipers
- All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
- Last Christmas - Wham!
- Christmas Don't Be Late - Kacey Musgraves
- The Christmas Waltz - She & Him
- Mistletoe - Colbie Caillat
- Step Into Christmas - Elton John
- I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Stuhr Remix) - Kay Starr
- Feliz Navidad - Kacey Musgraves
- Last Christmas - Bossa Nova Orchestra
- Mele Kalikimaka - She & Him
- Present Without a Bow - Kacey Musgraves