Category: design


My Fave Design Hotels In L.A.

By Krista,

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L.A. has always been a destination for starry-eyed Hollywood fans, but the city has been making name for itself outside of Awards Season, with an incredible local food scene, top-notch shopping, and hotels to match. I’m pretty darn proud of my native city! Thankfully, there’s been a cadre of design-forward properties opening in L.A. as of late, with more coming down the pike, meaning that you have plenty of opps to stay in outside-the-box spaces.

Mama Shelter will be opening their first American outpost this summer in Hollywood, and the historic Hotel Figueroa is in the process of receiving an L.A.-style face lift.

For a peek at what I’m digging now, you can check ‘em it out here.

Meet Hotel Covell, A Creative Haven In Los Feliz

By Krista,

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Traveling for a living means that I get to see some pretty incredible properties around the globe, so you can imagine my sense of hometown pride when I heard about the happs at the brand spankin’ new Hotel Covell in Los Feliz. This itsy bitsy boutique hotel is technically a B&B by official standards, as it only has 5 rooms. But man oh man, are they stunners.

Owner Dustin Lancaster is a first time hotelier, but he’s also one of my favorite restauranteurs in L.A.; he owns L&E Oyster Bar, Covell, El Condor, Hermosillo, Sidebar and Highland Park Brewery, which I adore. So when I caught wind of him opening above his great little wine bar on Hollywood Boulevard, I knew I was in for a treat.

I had major apartment envy touring the space while chatting with Dustin, and it gave me some inspiration for my own dream home. (Someday I will move out of this itsy bitsy 1920s Spanish apartment. My kitchen is just plain teensy, as you can see here.) For now, though, I’m setting a goal to just have a little staycation at this dreamy little property.

I plucked a few of my favorite detail shots from my feature on the hotel that I did for LAist below.

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Like the Ace Hotel properties, each room comes decked out with a record player and some amazing vinyl.IMG_2312

The hotel’s theme is based off of a fictitious author named George Covell, and most rooms have great writing nooks. This one was my fave.

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I mean this kitchen! The Heath Ceramics, the Chemex, copper strainer, the Bronner’s. I can’t even!

For more photos of this amazing space, and the full story on this stunning new property in one of L.A.’s coolest neighborhoods check out my story here.

Wishing You A Very Homespun Holiday

By Krista,

This year I got really into the DIY holiday spirit and decked my apartment out with all sorts of homespun elements. Thankfully I was able to elicit the help of my favorite elves, Michael and Bento. All of these little projects were super simple to execute, meaning you still have time to add them into your repertoire before Christmas.

Here’s what we came up with.

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To save on paper, we wrapped our gifts using scrap fabric from Mood and recycled brown bags paired with some great ribbon from both Pulp Paper Goods and Mood. The gift tags are from one of my favorite local graphic designers Emily McDowell, who I wrote about here.

 

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I blinged out these pomegranates and pinecones with some of Krylon’s new chrome and glitter spray paints. You can read how I did that project here. I’ve also collected some seasonal release craft beer coasters over the years to pull out this time of year. Lord konws I love a good freebie, especially if it involves gnomes.

 

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We made traditional German hexenhouse, or A-Frames, using a cool kit imported from Germany by Trader Joe’s. They were a steal at $7.99 each, and are insanely aromatic even weeks later. They were super simple to assemble and taste pretty darn great, too.

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For my cookie platter this year, I used a few of my favorite recipes. First I started with my riff on James Beard’s bourbon spiced persimmon bread. I also used Martha Stewart’s technique for making swirled bark, but added stick pretzels, craisins, and macadamia nuts from Michael’s grandfather’s tree. I used the leftover white chocolate to do a white chocolate cranberry bark for a bit of color variation to the plate. I also did some white chocolate oatmeal cookies studded with pomegranate arils for a hit of tartness. Finally I whipped up a batch of Giada’s lemon ricotta cookies with a lemon zest glaze, which I discovered at the opening party of her new restaurant out in Vegas. They remind me of lemon bars, which are some of my favorite desserts, plus they add a bright hit of acid, which you rarely get on sweets during the holidays.

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I made this tablescape using mismatched cocktail glasses and those blinged-out natural pieces I mentioned earlier. If you glazed over that one, don’t worry about it. You can read how I did it here.
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I picked up this longhorn steer head from an artisan selling them on the side of the road in the hill country outside Austin. Michael disassembled the polished horns from the skull on the side of the road so we could pack it as checked luggage. Crafty guy! I then took these old poinsettia candleholders and slipped them on the horns for a festive flare. A little more exciting than the typical Santa hat skull, I reckon.

 

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A big selling point of my teensy apartment was the faux fireplace and mantle with Spanish tiling — so much so that it made me overlook the miniature kitchen. I loved decking it out for the holidays with all my homespun accents.

 

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The vintage bar cart makes a cameo next to the tree. This year I made a tree skirt out of an old Brazilian coffee jute sack that the folks at Blue Bottle DTLA so kindly donated to my cause. All I did was cut the seam to turn it into one large piece of fabric. I paired the rustic jute sack with a checkered tablecloth to match with my Soutwestern/Texas theme. (You can see more of the jute material in the photograph  of the wrapped presentes up at the top.)

 

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Now that we’re all decorated, I can enjoy what the holidays are truly about: spending time with your loved ones, in this case my two favorite guys: Michael and Bento.

We wish you all the merriest Christmas and a deliciously inspired New Year!

Turn Pomegranates Into A Festive, Affordable DIY Holiday Centerpiece

By Krista,

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Remember good ol’ Sandra Lee? Much as I despise her packaged, cookie cutter approach to cooking, that lush was on to something. And I’m not just talking about her affinity for cocktails, though we do have that in common. What I dug about that batty old blonde was her emphasis on tablescaping.

Though she might have gone a bit too over-the-top for many of her themed episodes  — her offensive mess of a Kwanzaa cake makes me laugh to this day — there is plenty of merit to having a statement centerpiece with elements that visually guide you to it, especially during the holiday season.

For my tablescaping, I’m all about mixing colors, textures, and heights of organic materials to make to achieve a unique homespun look. I did two centerpieces for the winter holiday season: one for my steamer trunk coffee table (above) and another for my dining room table. Both of them use pomegranates, which I gave a special sheen by spraying with Krylon’s new Glitter Blast spray paint in Cherry. It leaves a sheer glittery sheen that reminds me of Dorothy’s slippers.

I also chromed out some pinecones in silver using Krylon’s Premium Metalic spray paints, and did a hammered bronze look for a handful of other pinecones. So you have glitter, chrome, and hammered all with a pretty evergreen trimmings that not only look great and add an organic pop, but also smell fantastic. I arranged them in a wire nesting bowl that my mom gave me for my birthday a few years back; no need to buy an entire new collection for the holidays. Use what you have and save that money for holiday shopping. (Have you seen my gift guide, BTW? If not, you can check it out here.)

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For my dining room arrangement, I used a mirrored serving tray from Cost Plus that I’d been eyeing for the past few months as the base, then arranged varying colors of candles on top of mismatched cocktail glasses flipped upside down.

This cocktail glass candleholder trick is a great way to utilize mismatched glassware, because let’s be honest, there are times when things break, especially when there’s booze involved. The great thing is it creates varying heights, which is super important in creating a centerpiece and creating visual interest.

I interspersed those candles with more evergreen (noble fir, in case you’re curious, is my favorite type of tree), blinged out pomegranates, and chrome and hammered copper pinecones.

Since my dining room table table is teensy — as is my dining room — instead of placing the arrangement on a runner, I used a large Oaxacan wool placemat as the base. But you can use whatever you like: placemats, a festive charger, seconds from a fabric store, or even some used fabrics from Goodwill.

Again, use what you’ve got and if you’re lucky, you’ll have some cash leftover to get yourself something this holiday too. Because let’s be real, you’ve been a good kid this year.

 

My Holiday Gift Guide For Food, Travel, and Design Lovers

By Krista,

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Still haven’t gotten your holiday shopping done? It’s okay, I haven’t either. But you needn’t fret. There’s plenty of time before Hanukkah and Christmas roll around.

From Will’s amazing leather weekenders to Emily McDowell’s quirky lettered creations and super sleekly designed modern water pitchers that use coconut husks to filter your H20, I’ve rounded up my favorite holiday gifts for your nearest and dearest. You can find my full list over at LAist, right this way.

Attending a Vegas wedding catered by the Top Chef Masters

By Krista,

Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am obsessed with weddings and the shows that feature them. Maybe it’s because I’m a planning-oriented details person, or perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a sucker for love. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough.

Since I’m pretty much married to my career at this point, the Vegas wedding that was thrown for episode 2 of “Top Chef Masters” was about as close as I’ll be getting to narrowing down a wedding menu anytime soon. Nitpicking set aside, all of the Masters did a bang-up job catering a 200-person event in a matter of mere hours. I was so bummed to see Debbie Gold go (and she has some bones to pick with my critique), but in the end someone had to be cut.

Seriously, this job is not easy. I take criticism on a daily basis as a writer, and sometimes it still smarts. It’s all a part of growing and finding where you fit in though. I know that I’ve learned a lot from the experience of being on Masters, and I hope she did too.

Anyhow, here’s my commentary on the episode for Bravo. I won’t be on next week’s episode, but you should check out my homie Francis Lam getting his judge on. I’ll be back on August 22. Til then, bon appetit!

 

Traveling to Todos Santos for New York Magazine

By Krista,

Clockwise from top left: Leatherbacks hatching; Hotel Casa Tota; Baja Bean's roasts; dulcerias in Todos Santos; lunch at Caffe El Triunfo; damiana in Todos Santos

Guess what ya’ll?!? My first travel feature for New York Magazine just got published! The piece was a detailed  5-Point Weekend Escape Plan to Todos Santos in Baja California Sur, a lazy little surf town with a whole lot of style. The region’s unique cuisine, stunning wildlife, groovy accommodations, and pristine coastline totally blew me away. And it’s just a short 2 1/2 hour flight from LA.

I went down to Baja in March with L.A.’s reverse coyote, Bill Esparza, but I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. In order to get to Todos, you’ve got to fly into Cabo San Lucas — the banana boat bro capitol of the world. But Bill has lead around the best (do the names Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain ring a bell?), so I took a leap of faith. My other south-of-the-border sherpa was Jim Pickell from Baja.com. Jim is an extensive world traveler that’s lived all over the place, so it says a lot that he and his Italian wife have decided to finally settle in Todos. He showed us all sorts of gems, from killer breakfast spots to deserted beaches and the releasing of the leatherbacks.

Bill spotted this awesome little lunch stand. Best refried beans and pork ever.

And some fresh fruit juice paletas for dessert from a stand down the way. So yum.

Huevos rancheros for brekky. Yeah buddy.

Watching the nearly-extinct leatherbacks head to sea with local nonprofit Los Tortugueros

My time in Baja California Sur was truly memorable, and totally my speed being a former Santa Cruzer. I have to admit that it’s taking every last ounce of self-restraint to not book a flight as I’m posting these photos. What I wouldn’t do for a tipple of damiana– Baja’s native anise-flavored herb infused with vodka — right about now. Or a swim with my sea lion buddies. That was one of the coolest travel experiences to date. Look at how friendly they are! I can’t wait to go back.

Swimming with the sea lions at Los Islotes

Saying goodbye to Baja, but not for long!

 

Off, up, and away!

By Krista,

Today I’m heading off to one of my favorite countries in the whole wide world, Australia! This time around I’ll be visiting Melbourne, Kangaroo Island, Sydney, and Tasmania. I can’t wait! Just in the nick of time, my former editor gave me this darling Japanese daruma doll. The tradition, which usually takes place on Japanese New Year, is to paint on one eye and make a wish. Once the wish comes true, you paint on the second eye.

Here’s to hoping my wish comes true. And may all of yours as well!