All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

Monday, May 27, 2013

When you're looking at me, you're looking at country...

We spent the long weekend in Palm Springs (again) and had a great time, as always. It's really beginning to feel like a (sunnier) home away from home.

One thing that helps is location. We've been staying at the Movie Colony Hotel for the past few visits and even though it could use a little re-fresh, it seems to suit us: private terrace, quiet guests, no trendy party people. Yeah, we met some hipster industry types by the pool this time around, but everyone seemed really down to earth there.

It made me realize that I don't need to keep justifying our hotel choice to certain design snobs or other folks who might give a sh*t about where we stayed. (I guess I came to this conclusion about the weekend because I feel like I'm at a crossroads with my career as well--to be a snob, or not to be a snob. That is the question.) Being welcomed back to the Movie Colony--and to the same familiar room, no less--was more than just nice. It was reassuring. And I think most parts of life and design should be reassuring, welcoming, and unpretentious.

It helped to hear from a local friend that trendy hotspots like the Ace were in dire need of freshening too. At Ye Olde Dayjobbe, I've seen how commercial projects begin to wear down after just a year of being open to the public, so I understand and have a certain level of tolerance for normal wear and tear and what a process it can be to keep things looking new. Luckily my partner can also be pretty easy about accomodations, having grown up on cheap and cheerful family roadtrip holidays and the like. For both of us, vacations and getaways are about the experiences and time spent together, for better or worse. Hotels and/or resorts are only a fraction of that experience. Personally, I think you can always find the memorable, positive experiences no matter where you go or stay:

(Reading apartamento by the pool...)

(Having wine and a chat on our private terrace under the Bougainvillea flowers...)

Monday, May 13, 2013

With my mind on my money and my money on my mind

Maxwell Ryan on Apartment Therapy started an amazing discussion today about high and low costs of furniture and how it ties into quality and longevity.

This post came at the right time--I thought about it all day today because I recently started work again for a past Retrograde peep who moved to the East Bay. "M" has a total budget of $2000 to add quite a few pieces (dining table, accent chairs and tables, lamps and more) and refresh her pre-war apartment. At Ye Olde Dayjobbe, our budgets for a single table lamp usually start around $2000.

Some of the comments at Apartment Therapy were in favor of investing money in "quality" pieces that they wanted to have for a long time. Others didn't think anything justified the price of designer pieces, handmade or otherwise. Me? I felt torn.

I've been having the same debate with myself ever since I got into this game. On the one hand, I've seen how something made by a craftsman can last for years and justify a $25,000 price tag for a sofa. But on the other hand, most of my friends (and I) could never--and would never--spend anything close to a fraction of that amount on a material possession; we'd rather have an experience or take a trip or invest in a home.

As I kept thinking about it, I realized I'm siding with the "I'd never spend that much on anything" camp. It hit me as I took my lunchtime stroll down the street:

I tend to treat home decorating like fashion. (As many of my female Retrograde peeps know, I often use fashion as an analogy for being able to furnish one's home--if you can dress yourself relatively well, then you can figure out how to decorate your space.) Looking in my own closet, the majority of my clothing is from mass market retailers like Zara and H&M. It's basically the only way I can stay on trend--I don't have the same paycheck as my bosses. But a small percentage of my closet is dedicated to vintage items and casual stuff. And once in a while I can splurge on APC jeans or something cool from Voyager. But for the most part, it's all kind of disposable fashion. I guess I personally believe in keeping that same ratio for home decorating and design.

Even this week's episode of Mr Selfridge on PBS touched on this--we should all be able to afford something well designed and fashionable. Thanks to designer partnerships with retailers like West Elm and Target, we can have on-trend furnishings and accessories that won't break the bank.

In the end, you've got to mix it up. My friends whose homes are filled with crazy thrift store gems are my design icons. Why? Because their homes don't feel precious or rarified. I'm not afraid to have fun. In fact, their homes foster that sense of fun, of coziness, of real life and adventures that we can relate to in a peer-like way. Billboard-scale movie poster you stole from a bus shelter in Paris? Check. Quirky tiled tables scored from the Salvation Army down the street? Check. DWR designer sofa you got on Craigslist from some dot-commer who had to move in a hurry? Check.

That's what I call a high-low recipe for an amazing home.