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    This week, as we've been exploring work spaces, the editors at Gardenista have been—where else?—out gardening. But forced inside on occasion, they've been figuring out ways to blur the lines between outdoors and in—and to live surrounded by lushness. Here are five posts not to miss.

    Emily Nathan kitchen with banana leaf photo | Gardenista

    Above: To be filed under: must copy immediately—a jungly photograph that acts like a window. Learn how to replicate this scene in Steal This Look: Bring the Outdoors In with Photographs.

    Brass Ikebana vases from Bavaria | Gardenista

    Above: A father and daughter in Southern Germany collaborate on these handmade Brass Ikebana Vases. Note the trio of caps designed to create artful (and upright) arrangements from a handful of tiny stems.

    Eric Trine rod weave chair | Gardenista

    Above: Outdoor lounges good looking enough to cross the border indoors? Meet Eric Trine's Rod + Weave Chair. (And have a look at more of his woven leather designs here.)

    Spring blooms by Justine Hand | Gardenista

    Above: Which Cut Flowers Last the Longest? Justine has the answer—and tips for extending the life of even the most fragile spring bouquets.

    Green roof Feldman Architecture Mill Valley | Gardenista

    Above: Christine envisions a future "where entire town roofscapes are living and green, leaving the legacy of a healthier environment." How difficult would that be? Learn all about Green Roofs—and, yes, it's true; some are nearly maintenance free—in this week's Hardscaping 101.

    More Stories from Remodelista

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    My family and I have just moved to a new house and I'd like it to be nearly paperless. We all know the reasons to aspire to such a goal: in addition to being better for the environment in countless ways, being paper-free saves time and money. And yet I still struggle against the daily onslaught of junk mail, bills, and forms. Why is it so hard to cut down? One problem, I've realized, lies in the end goal: most of us think of "paperless" as representing an idyllic (and hard to fathom) existence. But like all life improvement plans, a paper-reduction strategy also benefits from realistic expectations and baby steps. We don't have to be entirely paperless, I've decided, but here are eight steps to put us all on the right track:

    Heartwork Lateral Office File Cabinets | Remodelista

    Above: Lateral file cabinets from Heartwork featured in A Labor of Love: Heartwork Office Furniture.

    1. Recycle, recycle, and recycle some more.

    Which scraps of paper do you really need to hold onto? Toss whatever isn't essential into the recycling bin as soon as it comes into your possession—and weed it out of your old filing cabinet, too. Two guides to consult: Get Rich Slowly's list of financial records that should be saved, and Life Hacker's instructions on how to give your file cabinet an extreme makeover.

    2. Manage all of your bills online.

    Sign up for electronic statement delivery or e-billing for all of your accounts, and use a service like Shoeboxed to manage your receipts. Also consider an app like Evernote to store, search, and manage all of your documents and notes.

    SIr and Madam Cloth Love Letters | Remodelista

    Above: A vision of the pre-Cloud desk. Photograph from Vintage Revival: Kitchen Essentials Made in India.

    3. Reduce paper mail and put a stop to junk mail.

    Services like PaperKarma and Catalog Choice will help you get rid of all that unwanted junk mail. Are there any magazines or newspapers you can read online instead?

    4. Conduct as much of your business electronically as possible.

    Replace paper forms with electronic ones. There are services for document scanning (TurboScan and TinyScan Pro), signing (DocuSign and Adobe's EchoSign), faxing (HelloFax), as well as invoicing, billing, and accounting (FreshBooks) and expensing (Expensify)—all of which that take paper out of the equation. And DropBox and Google Docs, among others, allow you to save and share documents electronically.

    Dagmar Daley Disappearing Home Office Photographed by Matthew Williams | Remodelista

    Above: A dual printer and scanner tucked away in Dagmar Daley's Disappearing Home Office. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    5. Invest in a scanner.

    Some scanners, such as the ones from Neat and Doxie Mobile Scanners, are designed to make document archiving and management more streamlined. I'm planning to invest in the Fujitsu Scansnap because of its integration with Evernote (I'm already an Evernote devotee): You can plug the scanner into a computer and scan documents directly into your Evernote inbox, then have the ability to access scans from your iPhone.

    Totokaelo Offices Photographed by Michael A. Muller | Remodelista

    Above: Photographs splayed out on the desk from Totokaelo's Fashion-Forward Office in Seattle. Photograph by Michael A. Muller for Remodelista.

    6. Digitize those shoeboxes of old photos.

    Sites like GoPhotoSnapfish and ScanMyPhotos will digitize your old photos for a fee. Shutterfly lets you upload and archive an unlimited number of photos. There are countless other sites and services—such as PhotobucketFlickrSmugMug, and Google’s Picasa—for organizing and viewing photos. To get started, have a look at Mashable's 5 Simple Tips to Digitize and Organize Old Photos.

    7. Digitize your wallet.

    That’s right, no credit cards. Sounds a bit scary but heavenly, too. LifeLock is an identity theft protection service that will protect digital copies of all of your important cards (ID, credit cards, bank information), so that you can access them from anywhere.

    Hockenheimer Magazine and Newspaper Stool | Remodelista

    Above: What to do with old print material? We like the Hockenheimer Magazine and Newspaper Stool as a solution.

    8. Always be thinking about additional ways to save paper.

    Consider saving documents as PDFs instead of printing them on actual paper (a habit I personally have yet to break). And if you must print, use both sides of the paper. Carry reusable bags wherever you shop, and opt for emailed receipts—they're increasingly available at grocery stores and banks. Use evites, Paperless Post, and other online services for sending out invitations. And if you're still reading the paper version of the newspaper, it's time to go digital. Any other suggestions? Fill us in.

    Is all this digitizing a bit overwhelming? Read Jackie Ashton's 10 Ways to Declutter Your Tech Experience and 10 Tips for Keeping Tech in Check, Family Edition. Also don't miss her 6 Tips for the Ultimate Spring Cleaning and, on Gardenista, 10 Reasons to Bring the Outdoors In.

    More Stories from Remodelista

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    We're wrapping up the week with a look at what's on our radar right now:

    Makers and Brothers NYC | Remodelista

    International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC | Remodelista

    • Above: This weekend Margot is headed to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. She's looking forward to seeing the latest designs from Moonish, makers of Plywood Tiles for Commitment Phobes
    • 10 rooms anchored by statement rugs
    • LA's Campanile has deftly morphed into Republique, a restaurant housed in Charlie Chaplin's 1929 Hollywood Gothic folly. 

    Coral and Tusk Pop-up Show in Brooklyn | Remodelista

    Exclusive Picasso-Inspired Tea Towel Provisions Food52 | Remodelista

    • Above: A tea towel inspired by Picasso, designed by Studiopatró for Food52.
    • DIY cork board wall (easier than you think).

    The Stuff of Life Remodelista Giveaway on Facebook | Remodelista

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    In need of architects to collaborate with her on the gut renovation of her family's Cobble Hill home, landscape designer Julie Farris hired Brooklyn firm Khanna Schultz, a member of the Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory. Occupying the two upper floors of a Brooklyn townhouse, the project has a rooftop garden as its crowning glory. Vrinda Khanna and Robert Schultz, founding partners of Khanna Schultz, are available for the next 48 hours to answer any and all questions. Ask away!

    Longtime admirers of Farris’s firm XS SpaceVrinda Khanna and Robert Schultz were delighted when she asked them to take on the renovation of the two floors, a total of 2,700 square feet. As one might suspect, the starting point was the elevated garden Farris was planning to build—and its location gave the architects an opportunity to  "turn things upside down": “Placed on the top floor, the public living spaces became a natural extension of the rooftop landscape, while the private realm lives below on the second floor, which is the entry level into the apartment,” says Khanna. “We developed our ideas for the top floor as Julie was designing the rooftop, and we began to see the interior as a landscape as well.”

    Photography by Antoine Bootz

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The clients wanted a contemporary, light-filled space that was as open as possible. On the top floor, the architects responded by visually lightening the structural stair wall by turning it into a floating art wall. They then removed all of the perpendicular walls because they weren't structural, allowing an unbroken vista from one end of the townhouse to the other. "Keeping the upper floor open from front to back without partitions was a critical early decision," Khanna says. "Even the stair is open and sculptural, bringing in light from above and allowing views to pass through."

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: Situated at the back of the townhouse, the dining area is divided from the den by an oversized sliding barn door that, when open, allows the two rooms to flow into each other.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The kitchen occupies the middle zone of the interior landscape, between the dining area and the living area. Blown glass Pistil Pendants by Alison Berger hang over the sink in the long island.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The kitchen cabinets were custom made by New Jersey Hardwoods (introduced to the architects by general contractor Showcase Construction), and are sprayed with an opaque catalyzed lacquer—a hardy finish. The island countertop is honed black Concordia, a type of schist stone, and the perimeter countertops and backsplash are Olympian Danby marble.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: Throughout the project, the design employs a limited palette of materials, all of which were selected for their inherent beauty and texture. The same recycled wood used for the sliding barn door appears in the living area as a built-in bench (with storage) under the windows. Meanwhile, the Concordia hearth, which extends across the room on either side of the fireplace, harks back to the kitchen island countertop.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: Detailed as a floating object, the stair leads to the rooftop garden. The architects animated the stair wall by slotting a a bookshelf into it. 

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Rooftop Garden, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: Julie Farris designed her rooftop to function as her family's backyard, a relaxed outdoor space that she and her husband can enjoy with their children. Keep an eye out: next month, Gardenista will be fully exploring Farris's urban landscape.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The stairs between the second and third floors are more solid and built-in. In the private realm on the second floor, a sliding barn door closes off the rooms from visibility and noise. "The barn door slides with ease because of the heavy-duty hardware we selected," says Khanna.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: In the master bedroom, a minimalist and discrete slot diffuser houses the HVAC system.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: A bright palette is introduced in the children's room.   

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The architects detailed the cabinetry in the bathroom to be similar to the kitchen millwork. "We try to use a design language that continues throughout the various spaces, tying them together," says Khanna. "Our feeling is that this unifies the design and creates a tranquil space." The vanity top is made from Corian and the floors are green cleft slate. 

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The apartment's entry vestibule is at street level. 

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The corner townhouse has two entrances on separate sides of the building. The entry to the project is at the front of the building. 


    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Before, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: A view of the entry stairs before construction. 

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Before,  Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The area on the third floor where the kitchen now sits.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Before, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: A view toward what is now the dining room. "The building was in poor condition and all the original details had been stripped," says Khanna. "This gave us the freedom to start over."


    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Upper Floor Plan,  Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The third floor (top level) of the project is oriented to the roof garden and devoted to the public rooms.

    Khanna Schultz, Cobble Hill Townhouse, Lower Floor Plan, Architect Is In | Remodelista

    Above: The bedrooms and bathrooms are on the second floor (lower level). 

    For more design insight from members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory, have a look at all our Architect Is In posts. Want to delve into roof gardens? Go to Gardenista to learn about green roofs in Hardscaping 101 (and have a look at A Green Roof with Wildflowers). Also don't miss How to Make the Most of Your Urban Garden (Hint: Use the Roof Too).

    More Stories from Remodelista

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    Last week we headed to LA for the annual three-day Legends of La Cienega design festival, featuring nonstop panels and parties and window vignettes by a range of designers (the theme this year was Novel Interiors, with designers taking inspiration from classics like A Moveable Feast). Here are a few snapshots of things we spotted (and admired).

    Some favorite quotes from the panel discussions:

    • "I tell my clients that framed family photos don't count as art." —Timothy Corrigan

    • "Our main job is to educate the public about the power of original design vs. knockoffs. If you're looking for inexpensive design, Ikea does a great job." —John Edelman, CEO of Design Within Reach

    • "Working with Philippe Starck changed everything. Overnight, we went from the Navy chair to being a design company." —Gregg Buchbinder, CEO of Emeco 

    • "Rooms should look evolved, not installed." —Timothy Corrigan

    • "Don't start with the carpet. That's how you end up with a decorated look." —Betsy Burnham

    • "Is the shelfie the new selfie? —Alison Clare Steingold, C Magazine

    "A house is like a face. If it's got good bone structure, you just need a bit of makeup. If it doesn't, you need plastic surgery." —Martyn Lawrence Bullard

    Legends of La Cienega Party Tent/Remodelista

    Above: Waiters awaiting guests at one of the Legends events. Photo by JL Photographers.

    Legends of La Cienega Lee Stanton Party/Remodelista

    Above: The scene at Lee Stanton Antiques.

    Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe/Remodelista

    Above L: A courtyard painting at Lee Stanton Antiques rendered in Benjamin Moore house paint; photo by JL Photographers. Above R: Amy Kehoe and Todd Nickey of Nickey Kehoe at the opening night party at Therien.

    Legends of La Cienega Panel/Remodelista

    Above: A social media panel with Todd Nickey of Nickey Kehoe and David John Dick of Disc Interiors (both are members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) and Shiva Rose (see Bohemian Glamor with a Santa Monica Stylemaker). Photo by JL Photographers.

    Legends of La Cienega Window/Remodelista

    Above: A window inspired by Edie: Girl on Fire, a paen to Edie Sedgewick, by Clements Design at Lee Stanton Antiques; photo by Grey Crawford.

    Sartorial Details Legends of La Cienega/Remodelista

    Above: Well-shod antiquarian Lee Stanton with dapper Elle Decor interiors editor Robert Rufino. Above R: A whale tie clip sported by designer Joe Lucas of Harbinger and Lucas Studio.

    Thomas Callaway Window Harbinger/Remodelista

    Above: Thomas Callaway's window for Harbinger was inspired by A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Photo by Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence

    Sorel and Flowers/Legends of La Cienega

    Above L: An arrangement at RTH Shop. Above R: Artist Valerie Sobel, a former interior designer and founder of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation.

    Valerie Sobel LCDQ/Remodelista

    Above: Valerie's manicure.

    Zak + Fox at Hollywood at Home/Remodelista

    Above: Zak Profera's textile line, Zak + Fox, is now available at Hollywood at Home.

    Zak + Fox at Hollywood at Home/Remodelista

    Above: A detail of Zak + Fox's Uroko pattern.

    Frances Palmer Christopher Farr Legends of La Cienega/Remodelista

    Above L: Frances Palmer with one of her signature vases at Hollyhock. Above R: Kit Kemp's Egg and Dart rug at Christopher Farr

    Woven Accents Window La Cienega/Remodelista

    Above: Christian May of Maison21 Interior Decoration was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh in his window for Woven Accents.

    Legends of La Cienega Woven Accents/Remodelista

    Above L: A detail of the Woven Accents window (note the cleat painted the same matte blue as the walls). Above R: A faceted concrete planter outside the Judy Kameon-designed Balenciaga gardens next door to Woven Accents.

    Hayes Howells Window George Smith LCDQ/Remodelista

    Above: Hayes & Howells' window at George Smith was inspired by The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Photo by Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence.

    Remains Lighting Window La Cienega/Remodelista

    Above: I Married Adventure, the zebra-patterned 1940s classic, inspired a window by Better Shelter at Remains Lighting. Photo via Curve Improvement.

    Christopher Sharp Rug Company/Remodelista

    Above: Margot took this shot of The Rug Company founder Christopher Sharp and his son. 

    Jeneration Interiors Window LCDQ/Remodelista

    Above: Designer Jennifer Dyer was inspired by Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at the Gina Berschneider showroom; photo via Jeneration Interiors.


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    We've been slightly obsessed with terracotta pendants ever since we spotted dozens of them hanging from the ceiling of Souk, a Lebanese street-food market and cafe on the coastline of Athens. K-studio, design team behind Souk, introduced the pendants to add a handmade, warm touch to the otherwise modern space. We plan to do the same.

    Here are 10 of our favorite terracotta lights: 

    Large Terracotta Pendant Lights from Hand and Eye Studio | Remodelista

    Above: K-studio sourced Souk's white-glazed pendants from London architect Thomas Housden. The Large Terracotta Pendant Light is £290 from Housden's studio, Hand and Eye Studio. Housden offers several different styles and sizes via his online site. For more see our post Terracotta Pendants by Thomas Housden.

    Terracotta Pendant Shade Lighting by Nick-Fraser I Remodelista  

    Above: The Half-Glazed Geometric Terracotta Pendant is handmade by London designer Nick Fraser. The hand-dipped pendant shade is also glazed on the inside to reflect the light; £36 directly from Fraser. The Geometric Pendant is also available in a terracotta finish.

    Benjamin Hubert Chimney Lamp I Remodelista  

    Above: The Wide Chimney Light by Benjamin Hubert is made of hand-thrown earthenware with a glazed glossy white interior; £250 from Nest. The lamp is also available in different shapes and sizes. 

    Laura Strasser Quadrature Pendant I Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Laura Strasser, the Quadrature pendant takes its name and shape from the mathematical problem, the quadrature of the circle. Contact Strasser directly for pricing. 

    Nud Pendant Terracotta I Remodelista

    Above: The NUD Collection Exclusive Pendant in Terracotta is $96.25 from Lumens. The ceiling canopy is also made of terracotta and you can choose from 14 different cord colors.  

    Scotch Club P endant in Terracotta I Remodelista  

    Above: The Scotch Club ceramic collection is inspired by revolving disco balls, and is a collaboration between Barcelona ceramicist Xavier Mañosa and Instanbul design studio Mashallah. Each variation comes in three colors (white, blue, and terracotta), and has a total of 72 faces, casting interesting lighting patterns in all directions. The Scotch Club 17 Pendant (shown) is terracotta with a gold interior finish; $866 from YLighting.

    Marset Pleat Box Pendant I Remodelista.  

    Above: The Marset Pleat Box Mini Pendant, designed by Fabien Dumas, comes in four size, five exterior colors, and white or gold interiors. Prices for the 5-inch pendant start at $535 from All Modern. 

      Fabril Lamp by Abel Carcamo I Remodelista

    Above: The Fabril Lamp, a hand-turned terracotta pendant lamp with a wooden ceiling canopy and yellow cloth cord, is made by Chilean designer Abel Cárcamo Segovia in his Primitivo Studio. Contact Segovia directly for pricing. 

    Lamp Terracotta Naturel I Remodelista

    Above: Lamp Terracotta Naturel is a ceramic shade with a black metal lamp holder and black cloth cord; €69 from It's a Present, an online home goods store based in the Netherlands. 

    Meli Melo Terracotta Pendant Dome-shape I Remodelista  

    Above: The dome-shaped Meli Melo Terracotta Pendant is handmade in Greece; £250 from the Conran Shop in the UK. A similar Meli Melo terracotta pendant is also available in a funnel-shape

    Terracotta- uspension Lamp by Tomas Kral I Remodelista  

    Above: The Terracotta Suspension Lamp by Tomas Kral for Spanish design collection PCM is manufactured in the Extremadura region of Spain, an area known for its traditional terracotta jugs; €165 from the PCM Shop. 

    Looking for more pendant lamps? Sift through 450 Lighting images from our Gallery of rooms and spaces. And if you're searching for ways to light trees, walls, and other garden elements, see 10 Easy Pieces: Landscape Up-Lights on Gardenista.

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    Ftelia Beach on the Greek island of Mykonos is hot, dry, and windy—very windy. Idyllic conditions for wind surfers—but what about the spectators left behind on the beach?

    Our photographer friend Lydia Chroni recommends the charms of Alemàgou, a new interpretation of the traditional Greek taverna designed by Athens architecture firm K-Studio. Concocting a trendy bar and restaurant out of traditional Cycladic architecture and construction, the design channels the force of the wind as a cooling element. Alemagou provides the spectators of Ftelia Beach a spot of their own (fittingly, the word alemagou is Mykonian for “at last").

    Photographs by Yiorgos Kordakis via Yatzer.


    Above: Sunlight filters through the reeds, providing light and shade at the same time.


    Above: Studio-K used traditional reed thatching to create a 24-inch-deep canopy. As the strong winds blow, the reeds circulate the air, creating a continuous airflow, keeping the restaurant and bar area cool.


    Above: Traditional whitewashed, smooth-edged forms rise out of the sandy beach.


    Above: The dry stone walls are also borrowed from traditional building techniques.


    Above: Pendant shades are made out of pumpkin gourds, a historical solution to not being able to afford light fixtures.


    Above: The bar steps down from the restaurant to the beach.


    Above: A harmonious blend of the modern and traditional.


    Above: Sinks have been fashioned out of stones.


    Above: The view of Alemàgou at night.

    N.B. Looking for more places to eat and drink in Europe? See 720 images of European Bars and Restaurants in our Gallery of rooms and spaces. For a high-style new taverna in San Francisco, check out Souvla.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on July 16, 2012 as part of our A La Plage issue.

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    Perched high on a hill above the Aegean, the San Giorgio Mykonos Hotel (designed by Berlin-based firm Lambs & Lions) has become a fast favorite with style-conscious travelers. Here are the design elements to recreate your own Greek islands-inspired bath.

    San Giorgio Mykonos Hotel Bathroom in Greece | Remodelista

    Above: A guest bathroom with a ladder as a towel rack at the San Giorgio Mykonos. To tour the hotel, see Bohemian Paradise Found in Mykonos

    The Basics

    Ikea Stave Square Mirror with White Trim | Remodelista

    Above: Ikea's 27.5-inch-square Stave Mirror has a simple white frame; $29.99.

    Grohe Starlight Chrome Europlus Single Hole Bathroom Faucet I Remodelista  

    Above: The Grohe Starlight Europlus Single Hole Bathroom Faucet in chrome is $181.44 from

    Kohler Vox Round Vessel | Remodelista  

    Above: The Kohler Vox Round Above Counter Sink in white porcelain is $148.20 at Home Depot.

    Toto TS Rain Shower Head | Remodelista

    Above: The Toto 11-inch Rain Shower Head in a chrome finish is $599.99 from Amazon. See our High/Low Rain Shower Head post for more options.


    Stirrup 3 Wall Scones by BTC I Remodelista  

    Above: The Stirrup 3 Wall Sconce by UK manufacturer Original BTC was inspired by the searchlight on a toy truck; $695 from Horne.

    Egyptian Arabesque Pendant Lamp from L'Aviva Home | Remodelista

    Above: The Egyptian Arabesque Oxidized Lamp is etched and pierced by hand; its pinholes cast dancing shadows. Also available in gold and silver, it's $485 from L'Aviva Home.


    Whitewashed Teak Ladder from Serena and Lily | Remodelista

    Above: The Whitewashed Teak Ladder from Serena & Lily is handmade from teak mill scraps and costs $98.

    Fouta Beach Towel in Bark color via Serena and Lily I Remodelista  

    Above: The tasseled Fouta Bath Towel is made in Turkey from 425 grams of looped terry cotton; $48 from Serena & Lily. 

    Hinoki Wood Soap Dish | Remodelista  

    Above: The Hinoki Wood Soap Dish is made in Japan from Hinoki cypress and has a slatted removable base; $20 from Brook Farm General Store.

    Chen Chen Kai Williams Stone-Fruit I Remodelista

    Above: Designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams Cantaloupe Stone Fruit Planter is cast in concrete from real fruit; $32 directly from Chen Chen & Kai Williams.

    Large Curved Basket from West-Elm I Remodelista  

    Above: The Large Curved Basket from West Elm is $54.

    To steal another look from the San Giorgio, see Steal This Look: Greek Bamboo Canopy on Gardenista. For more bathroom inspiration, go to Baths in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.

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    Is there anything more summery than blue and white stripes? Here's a roundup of our current favorites:

    Toast Aegean Bed Linens | Remodelista

    Above: Toast's Organic Aegean Bedlinen is inspired by traditional Greek bedclothes; prices range from £17 for a pillowcase to £109 for a super king-sized duvet cover.

    Indigo Stripe Pillow from Cloth & Goods | Remodelista

    Above: Made in Portland, Oregon, by Cloth & Goods, the Indigo Stripe Pillow is vintage Japanese fabric with a linen backing; $130 at Alder & Co.

    West Elm Row Stripe Towels | Remodelista

    Above: West Elm's Row Stripe Towel is made in Portugal from 100-percent cotton terry; $24 for the bath towel.

    Serena and Lily Bath Mat | Remodelista

    Above: The Broad Stripe Dhurrie Bath Mat in navy from Serena & Lily is $58.

    The Anatolian Turkish Bath Towels in Blue Stripe | Remodelista

    Above: The handwoven Turkish Bath Towel is 100 percent cotton; $46 for a set of two from The Anatolian on Etsy.

    Fog Linen Work Striped Throw Blankets | Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Fog Linen Work, the Natural Chambray Throw is made from 100 percent linen and can be used for picnics, on the beach, and at home on the bed or table; $124 from Alder & Co.

    Gradated-Stripe Cotton Rug

    Above: The Gradated-Stripe Cotton Rug is handwoven from 100 percent cotton; $99 for a five-by-eight-foot rug from West Elm.

    Inspired by blue? See over 500 images of Blue Rooms in our Gallery of rooms and spaces. For paint recommendations, see Palette & Paints: Coastline-Inspired Blues.

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on July 16, 2012 as part of our A La Plage issue. 

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    In designer Michaela Scherrer's Pasadena, California, house, white is the only paint shade welcome, and the guest suite comes with the ultimate minimalist spa bath—ancient Greek-style sunken bathtub included. Michaela is a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory and we got to know her when we photographed her surpassingly calm quarters for the Remodelista book. Her style is meditative but far from monastic: she's a master at using textural materials and layering pale tones (she mixes all of her own paints and tests them directly on the walls). "Living with all white doesn't take a lot of discipline," she says, referring not just to her walls but her objects. "If you have different colors and things are in disarray, it's obvious. If you have one color and things are in disarray, it just looks artistic."  

    Photographs by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's guest room/home office in LA | Remodelista

    Above: The guest room has a wall of custom MDF cabinets built around the window—"the window seemed very lonely in the corner and needed something around it. The cabinets also created a nice ledge." The doors have pencil edges and magnetic closures; they offer enough storage that nothing needs to be left in the open except by choice. The chair is a design of unknown heritage that Michaela modified—"I pulled off the back bar, lowered the seat, and then recovered it in white leather." The pouf is by Dosa.

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's guest room/home office in LA | Remodelista

    Above: The desk is the Pyramid Table, a vintage piece by Dutch designer Wim Rietveld, son of architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld of the De Stijl movement. 

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's guest room/home office in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Initially designed for a show house, the bed is covered with a white leather blanket stitched from Italian hides. Leather, Michaela points out, is relatively animal proof: it can be sponged off when her dogs leave paw prints and resists her cat's claws. The wall art is one of Michaela's mood boards (learn more about her technique and materials in our recent DIY Pinboards post). 

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's guest room/home office in LA | Remodelista

    Above: A silvery bedside vignette—the low metal table is a Cassina design that Michaela has had for years; the sconce is by New York designer David Weeks. A metallic tote hangs on the wall.

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's tiny spa bath in LA | Remodelista

    Above: Michaela gutted the original bathroom—an ornate French design—and created the ultimate minimalist spa bath. To get the desired shade for the room, she mixed a pastel white base from Fine Paints of Europe with black, umber, and yellow pigments, a process that takes many trials. "I wanted a nuanced cool white," she says. "But if I'm in a hurry, I use Decorator's White from Benjamin Moore." What looks like a niche above the sink is a piece of mirror inset into the wall.

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's tiny spa bath in LA | Remodelista

    Above: The sink is by Como and is made of a stone resin; the fixtures are Vola designs in matte steel. 

    Designer Michaela Scherrer's tiny spa bath in LA | Remodelista

    Above: The room's most arresting feature is its tub made of cast concrete tinted to "look like aged stone" and detailed with Vola fixtures. Inspired by a sunken bathtub in ancient Crete that Michaela spotted on a postcard, it has a square opening, but extends for an additional 18 inches under the floor, so that the bather's legs are partly subterranean. To get the design exactly as she envisioned it, Michaela sat down in the dirt when the room was a construction site and figured out the dimensions. "I didn't want it to feel like a big hole in the room," she says. "I wanted to keep the tub as minimal as possible while still being practical. The Greek one was submerged as well. It was a sliver in the floor."  

    To see the rest of the house, go to pages 150-161 of the Remodelista book. Also have a look at our Designer Visit with Michaela Scherrer. Looking for the right shade of white for an exterior? On Gardenista, see 10 Easy Pieces: Architects White Exterior Paint Picks.

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    The time for enjoying this year's best produce is fast approaching. Looking for ways to celebrate the season? You may not expect a blender to help you whip up a batch of fresh tomato and herb sauce, but a high-performance blender like the Vitamix Professional Series 750 can do just that. With stainless steel blades and a 2.2 horsepower motor, the Vitamix 750 also makes quick work of nut butters, bread doughs, even freshly ground flour (and of course, the world's best smoothies).

    Above: Hand built in the US, the Vitamix 750 is the most powerful home blender on the market. The shatter-proof, BPA-free carafe is a generous 64 ounces, and the blender's low profile makes it easy to stow right on the counter. Cleanup is a cinch: just add warm water and a drop of dish soap and select the blender's cleaning program.

    Above: Every Vitamix blender comes with a cookbook to help you learn about all the ways you can use it. This Honey Orange Cleanse recipe incorporates some surprise ingredients, including radishes and mint. 

    Above: The perfect summer meal: no-cook Zucchini Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce; the sauce is made of fresh tomatoes blended with herbs right in the Vitamix. 

    Above: Whole Wheat Bread needs no kneading; the Vitamix does the work for you. And it can grind the flour, too.


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    Modern Greek mythology tells us that the Atlas Pepper Mill was invented as a portable coffee grinder for soldiers in the Greek army about a century ago. Whatever the origin, it's easy to see why this pepper mill was named for Atlas who, in addition to being considered very strong, was described as "hard and enduring" by the Roman poet Virgil. The tall body of the pepper mill might not hold the constellations on its shoulders, but it does contain more than the average amount of peppercorns. The hardened steel cutting mechanism grinds rather than smashes the pepper, which maximizes the flavor and allows for a fresh peppery aroma. The spring and thumbscrew at the base enables the type of grind to be adjusted from coarse to medium to a fine shower. And at the top there is an ergonomically sympathetic lever that engages the arm muscles rather than the wrist, especially useful if you are grinding coffee beans.

    Unlike Atlas, who is often represented wearing a tiny slip of cloth at most, this mill, with its bright and bold mix of copper and brass, is always dressed for dinner. It is entirely presentable at a formal table setting, but is also right at home in the kitchen. The unlacquered exterior can be polished or allowed to mellow to a soft sheen. So sure is Greek manufacturer Atlas of its handmade mill that it comes with a lifetime warranty. Here are some examples:

    The Atlas Pepper Mill in copper and brass is 8.25 inches tall and available for $95 from Provisions.

    Above: The tall and compact body of the pepper mill can contain about half a cup of peppercorns. Image via

    Above: The Atlas Pepper Mill is available in different sizes and finishes at Chefs Catalogue for $89.95 each. Pepper Mill Imports also offers Atlas mills i a range of sizes and finishes starting at $76.

    Above: The Atlas can be used for grinding a variety of spices.

    Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100 presented in the Remodelista book. Watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons on the IBM Wall Clock, the Sheila Maid Clothes Drying RackHudson's Bay Point Blanket, and Lodge Cast Iron Cookware.

    Megan's twin sister, Kendra Wilson, writes about gardening in the UK for Gardenista; have a look her latest post on landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis's Designs on the Greek Island of Antiparos.

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    We've presented some of our favorite benches in the past—Wooden Benches with Spindle Backs and Backless Wooden Dining Benches—but we have yet to source another notable subset: backed wooden benches with a modern profile. Here are ten of our favorite options to consider for dining tables and hallways, and a few for outdoors, too.

    Borge Mogensen 3171 Bench | Remodelista

    Above: Børge Mogensen's 3171 Bench comes in 19 different wood and tanned leather combinations; $4,931 from the Danish Design Store. It's also at Mjölk in Toronto for $2,975 CAD.

    Corner Bench by Zeitraum, Remodelista

    Above: The Corner Bench by Birgit Gämmerler is an ergonomic design available in solid beech, maple, oak, American cherry, and American or European walnut. Contact Suite New York for pricing and more information.

    CB2 Principle Wooden Bench | Remodelista

    Above: CB2's Principle Bench has a raw steel frame and a seat and back of solid acacia wood with a matte light brown stain; $499.

    Richard Ostell Wooden Bench | Remodelista

    Above: From Richard Ostell, the Series 1 Bench is a minimalist design that makes use of negative space. Ostell says he aimed for "a quiet simplicity, focused on proportions and balance." Handmade in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it's $3,200. For more see our post, Slow Design from Richard Ostell and A Quiet Man: At Home with a NY Designer.

    Moooi AVL Shaker Bench | Remodelista

    Above: The Moooi AVL Three-Seat Shaker Bench is approximately 94 inches long and is marked down from 1,750 to €875 from Canoof in Amsterdam.

    Jean Prouvé Raw Special Bench | Remodelista

    Above: The Jean Prouvé Marcoule Bench was designed in 1955 and has a basalt powder-coated tubular and moulded sheet steel frame with a seat and back of oiled oak. Available through the Patrick Seguin showroom, Philips auction house, and as a special edition via Nest in the UK.

    Los Garden Bench by Meier/Ferrer | Remodelista

    Above: The Los Garden Bench by Meier/Ferrer is made of teak and versatile for both indoor and outdoor use. Contact Derring Hall for pricing and availability.

    Jasper Morrison Botan Bench | Remodelista

    Above: Jasper Morrison's Botan Bench, made in Japan by Maruni, was originally created for his own house. Equally suited for indoor and outdoor use, it's available in two sizes, with four or six legs. The six-legged version, shown here, is $3,825 CAD from Mjölk in Toronto.

    Context Furniture Truss Museum Bench | Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Scott Klinker of Context Furniture, the Truss Museum Bench is made from birch multi-ply and colored laminate (available in white, gray, red, and brown). It's 60 inches long and is $515 from Design Public.

    Another Country Bench One Back in Oak | Remodelista

    Above: From Another Country, the Bench One Back has the company's signature peg detail on the backrest and turned legs that attach with screws. It's available in four sizes; the 1.4-meter bench is £815. Go to Another Country Series One Furniture to see a version of the bench that's backless and shallower.

    Catharina Lorenz Sit Bank Bench | Remodelista

    Above: Designed by Catharina Lorenz, the Sit Bank is made from sustainably harvested solid wood (available in beech, ash, oak, maple, American cherry, American walnut, or European walnut). The bench can be customized with or without armrests and an upholstered seat. Contact Suite NY for pricing, availability, and more information.

    We are continually sourcing the latest and greatest furniture designs; have a look at our previous Furniture posts for more. And see Benches in situ in our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces. For garden benches, see Gardenista's 10 Easy Pieces: Romantic Benches for Two.

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    Charles Bililies is the proprietor of Souvla (see New Restaurant Alert: Souvla in San Francisco) and Jen Pelka is the marketing manager (she's got ample restaurant cred and a day job of her own). In their classic Hayes Valley Victorian apartment, just blocks from Souvla, Jen and Charles regularly entertain friends and colleagues. According to the couple, a Greek dinner party is easy to execute; the main thing is to prepare everything in advance and stay out of the kitchen once guests arrive. Here are a few simple tips for dining à la Grecque:

    • Start with good-quality Greek olives, feta, and pita.

    • Then set out a big, beautiful Greek salad—at its best when heirloom tomatoes are in season.

    • For a main course, serve a dramatic salt-baked fish: Make a thick paste of salt and water and submerge a whole fish (red snapper or sea bass) inside. Bake in a hot oven, then bring the fish straight to the table. Break open the salt shell with a mallet, peel back the skin, and fillet the fish at the table served with a simple vinaigrette.

    • Keep desert simple: Greek yogurt with fresh figs, or a sliced orange carpaccio of olive oil, dates, toasted walnuts, and sea salt.

    Photos by Fiorenza M. J. Panke for Remodelista.

    Greek-Inspired Table Setting by Souvla Restaurant Owners Charles Bililies and Jen Pelka, Remodelista

    Above: Jen and Charles don't take take the Greek blue-and-white palette mandate too seriously; they use the colors but avoid going overboard.

    Greek-Inspired Table Setting with Wine Glasses and Candles, Remodelista

    Above: Charles says the trick with Greek wine is the varietals, which "are Greek and hard to pronounce and people haven't heard of them before." Avoid making things complicated; focus on familiarizing yourself with a few major Greek varietals. (For Jen and Charles's wine picks, see below.) Charles worked hard to make the wine program at Souvla approachable, by offering only one red, white, rose, and sparkling wine by the glass (or carafe); all are Greek varietals to learn and remember, and each is priced between $9 and $11 for a 250-ml carafe. (A bottle list is available for the more adventurous, as are retail-priced wines for takeaway.)

    Greek-Inspired Table Setting with Rattan Placemat and Blue and White Dishes and Candles, Remodelista

    Above: Charles likens the contemporary American diner's knowledge of Greek wines to that of Italian wines 30 years ago. Back then, Italian wines came in grass-bottomed bottles in a varietal known as red. Nowadays, San Francisco diners flock to restaurants devoted entirely to pairings of regional Italian wines and cuisine, like A16 and Cotogna. If Charles has his way, diners will know their Greek wines someday soon.

    Empty Wine Glasses on Greek-Inspired Tablescape, Remodelista

    Above: Charles is a fan of the all-purpose wine glass. The water glasses are Riedel, a gift to Jen from Daniel Boulud (she once worked as his research assistant). The wine coasters are vintage, from Charles's grandfather, and the wooden salt-and-pepper shakers are from Crate & Barrel. 

    Greece-Inspired Table Setting with Blue and White Enamel Plates, Remodelista

    Above: The brass candelabra at the center of the table is from Crate & Barrel; Charles picked up the copper vase in Istanbul.

    Greek-Inspired Table Setting with Rattan Placemat and Appetizers, from Jen Pelka and Charles Bililies, Remodelista

    Above: Jen bought the small pita bowl on a shopping trip with Ruth Reichl at Sunrise Mart in NYC—one of Ruth's favorite places (Jen worked with her at Gilt Taste).

    Blue and White Plates on Greek-Inspired Tablescape, Remodelista

    Above: The blue and white enamel dinner plates are the same ones used at Souvla, purchased from Crow Canyon—a small retail store in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco. The knives are made in France by Laguiole

    Jen Pelka and Charles Bililies at Dinner with Copper Wine Carafe, Remodelista

    Above: Charles noticed that copper wine carafes are ubiquitous in Greece, but not really seen here. He and Jen think they're the best way to serve wine at dinner—keep the carafes full, and guests will do their own pouring and get "good and sauced," as she says. According to Jen and Charles, here's where to start with Greek wines (all of the wines can be purchased for takeaway at retail prices from Souvla):

    • Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko from Santorini is super crisp, dry, and minerally, like a Greek Chablis; about $28 retail. 
    • Zoe Rose is a blend of Moschofilero (white) and Agioritiko (red) from Domaine Skouras in the Peloponnese. It's their go-to for all foods and occasions at Souvla; about $14 retail.
    • Skouras Saint George is a delicious, approachable, light-bodied red to drink with light meats, made of 100 percent Agioritiko grapes from Nemea in the Peloponnese; about $16 retail.

    Greek-Inspired Tablescape with Restoration Hardware Table and Chairs, Remodelista

    Above: The dining table and chairs are from Restoration Hardware.

    Greek-Inspired Table Setting with Notice of Suspension Artwork on Wall, Remodelista

    Above: Charles snagged the framed sign from an SF restaurant (it's a contemporary sign but the couple likes its Prohibition-era feel).

    View of Restoration Hardware Dining Table from Jen Pelka and Charles Bililies Living Room, Remodelista

    Above: The view from the living room; the pendant light above the table is from Restoration Hardware. 

    Pocket Door with Worn Original Ornate Hardware, Remodelista

    Above: The doors in the apartment had been caked in decades' worth of paint before Charles and Jen moved in. Their benevolent landlord stripped the paint to reveal the original wood; the hardware is also original.

    Jen Pelka and Charles Bililies at Home in Living Room, Remodelista

    Above: Charles and Jen have lived in their rental since last November; lucky for them, their landlord involved the pair in major renovating decisions, like choosing lighting fixtures, before they even moved in.

    The Brass Handle Antique Restaurant Sign in Charles Bililies Home, Remodelista

    Above: Charles's grandfather owned a Greek diner in Boston called The Brass Handle; most of the antique Greek decor at Souvla came from his restaurant.

    Wall of Cookbooks on Shelving in Kitchen, Remodelista

    Above: The bookcase in the couple's kitchen holds an impressive collection of cookbooks alongside momentoes of their culinary careers. On the bottom shelf at left is a photo of Charles hard at work alongside Thomas Keller.

    Menus Hanging from Rail in Kitchen, Remodelista

    Above: Jen and Charles display restaurant menus from their travels and from dinners they've cooked or hosted throughout their careers.

    Want more Greek inspiration? See some of our favorite Greek spaces in New Restaurant Alert: Souvla in San Francisco; An Artful Athens Restaurant; and on Gardenista, DIY: Whitewashed Greek Walls.

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    When Athens-based Point Supreme Architects were designing Aktipis, a tiny flower shop in Patras, they started with a clean slate, then built the space into a jungle-like menagerie of botanicals and beckoning bird sounds.

    Aktipis' white floors meet walls wallpapered in shadowy jungle canopy graphics, and dotted with images of birds taken from old Greek encyclopedias. Point Supreme Architects' Konstantinos Pantazis, Marianna Rentzou, and Giorgos Pantazis, along with Aktipis' owner, drew from a collective understanding that the bold colors and shapes of each flower required the support of a minimal display. With 14 white tile-covered tables at varying heights, the potted plants and flowers are shown off as if in an art gallery. The use of outdoor white tile, bird sounds in overhead speakers, and garden seating further obscure the boundaries between indoors and out.

    Photography by Yannis Drakoulidis for Point Supreme Architects.

    Above: Opaque globe lights cascade from the forest canopy.

    Above: A selection of indoor potted plants: Nephrolepsis exaltata ferns, pink azaleas, phalaenopsis orchids, and Ficus elastica. At Aktipis, the tiled tables serve as pedestals.

    Above: Yellow chrysanthemums stand front and center on a low display table.

    Above: Aktipis' exterior features large open windows and a salvaged steel door with an abstract floral design.

    Love the pendant lights hanging from the Aktipis ceiling? See more inspiring ways to hang Pendant Lights in our Gallery of rooms and spaces. Go to Gardenista for artful Flower Shops the world over.

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    Faux flowers and branches have gotten good enough to fool the experts (are you reading this, Sarah?). A couple of years ago, I spotted some eerily lifelike olive branches at Pottery Barn and decided to take the plunge. Here are some sources for similar branches:

    Julie Carlson Olive Branches/Remodelista

    Above: An 18-inch-tall black Square Vase from Alex Marshall Studios filled with branches anchors the end of my kitchen counter. Photo for Refinery 29 by Maria del Rio.

    Julie Carlson House Olive Branch/Remodelista

    Above: The bendable stems make it possible to create a perfectly imperfect-looking arrangement. The painting of Provincetown is by Arthur Cohen. Photo by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

    Faux Olive Branch | Remodelista

    Above: A 33-inch synthetic Olive Branch stem is £29 from the Olive Tree.

    Earth Flora Olive Branch | Remodelista

    Above: A dozen 21-inch-long polyester Olive Branches is $69.90 from Earth Flora.

    Crate & Barrel Faux Olive Tree | Remodelista

    Above: Crate & Barrel offers a lifelike-looking Potted Olive Tree with concrete container for $199.

    Have a look at our Design Sleuth posts for more great finds. And for tips on making simple real bouquets, go to Gardenista's Floral Arrangement of the Week.

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    We set out to find the perfect Grecian blue, and settled on a range of hues: the cerulean blue of the dome-capped buildings; the sun-faded, almost purple blues seen on doors and shutters, and, of course, the mesmerizing blue-greens of the sea. Here are paints that capture the spectrum:

    Photography by Meredith Swinehart

    Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Top row, left to right: Ralph Lauren Blue Reef; Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue; Benjamin Moore Blue Dragon; and Benjamin Moore Lucerne. Bottom row: Benjamin Moore Seaport Blue; Farrow & Ball Pitch Blue; Benjamin Moore Naples Blue; and Farrow & Ball Stone Blue

    Ralph Lauren Blue Reef, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Ralph Lauren Blue Reef lies on the dark end of RL's Mediterranean blues spectrum; see the rest in a Gio Ponti-Inspired Color Palette from Eve Ashcraft

    Benjamin Moore Paddington Blue, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Benjamin Moore's Paddington Blue is the darkest, boldest Greek blue in our collection. (Note that it leans more purple than teal.)

    Benjamin Moore Blue Dragon, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Blue Dragon from Benjamin Moore is described as taking its inspiration from the Greek Isles. It's a warmer, lighter blue than Paddington. 

    Benjamin Moore Lucerne, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Benjamin Moore's Lucerne is a dark teal blue, the color of the Aegean darkened by rocks.

    Benjamin Moore Seaport Blue, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Benjamin Moore's Seaport Blue is the truest cerulean blue of the bunch. (It's slightly more teal than Reef Blue.) 

    Farrow & Ball Pitch Blue, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Farrow & Ball's Pitch Blue is the warmest color—the most purple—of those shown here. It looks ideal for a blue stucco wall.

    Benjamin Moore Naples Blue, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: Naples Blue from Benjamin Moore is the greenest of the blues shown here; it's reminiscent of the often-green waters of the Aegean.

    Farrow & Ball Stone Blue, Best Greek-Inspired Blue Paint Colors, Remodelista

    Above: A faded teal, Farrow & Ball's Stone Blue is the lightest color in our group (stone blue is an 18th century nickname for indigo).

    Find more paint color inspiration in our Palette & Paints posts, including India-Inspired Paint Colors; Jade and Celadon Green; and the Best Pink Paints. On Gardenista, see Architects Pick the Best Exterior Green Paints and the Best Red Exterior House Paints.

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    Add a Mediterranean note to your interiors with a Greek fisherman pendant, inspired by the lights traditional Greek mariners used to attract fish.

    Ikea Ottava Greek Lantern | Remodelista

    Above: Image via The Feminist Housewife.

    Greek Fisherman Light Artelamps | Remodelista

    Above: The Greek Fisherman Light from Artelamps is $320.

    Ottava Greek Fishing Light Ikea | Remodelista

    Above: The aluminum Ottava Pendant Light features a blown glass shade and is $29.99 from Ikea.

    See more of our High/Low finds, and browse Lighting options in our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces. If you're looking for Outdoor Lighting, Gardenista has you covered.

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    A time-honored choice for countertops, marble is a classic that's versatile enough to look good in all sorts of kitchens. That said, it's not without its downsides: Susceptible to staining, scratching, and etching, marble is a natural product that develops a patina with use. Some people like a surface that reflects their cooking history, others don't. Read on to determine if this high-maintenance beauty is the material for you.

    Charles Mellersh Kitchen Marble Counter, Remodelista

    Above: London designer Charles Mellersh paired honed marble with brass trimmings in a Notting Hill Kitchen. "Marble adds character and an inherent charm that helps ground a modern kitchen," says Mellersh. Are there circumstances when he advises against marble? "Don't use it in a kitchen where spills can't be cleaned up quickly," he warns. Image by Chris Tubbs.

    Exactly what is marble?

    Marble is a metamorphic stone found in mountainous regions of North America, South America, Asia, and Europe—from Colorado to Brazil to Italy. It's created by the physical or chemical alteration of sediment into a denser form through heat and/or pressure. The resulting rock has a crystalline nature enabling it to take a polish. It also has veins of mineral deposits that pattern it, no two slabs exactly alike.

    Marble is one of the more porous of the metamorphic stones, which is why it's prone to staining. While not as hard as its metamorphic cousin granite (which comes from deeper in the earth where it's exposed to more heat), marble is not as soft as soapstone. It generally has a low abrasion rating, meaning it scratches quite easily. The stone's chemical makeup (calcium carbonate) makes it particularly sensitive to acidic solutions, which can result in etching on the surface (see below to learn to manage this). On the plus side, marble is heat resistant, strong, and generally doesn't chip or dent.

    White Marble Slabs Stone Source, Remodelista

    Above: A selection of white marble slabs at Stone Source.

    What colors can marble be found in?

    One of the attractions of marble is that it's available in a wide variety of natural colorations. Marble comes in hues of white, black, gray, yellow, green, and pink, some with dark, prominent veins (see Exotic Marble in Modern Spaces) and others with more subtle patterning (see Marble Bath Roundup). Architect Elizabeth Roberts points out that the irregular lines of veining can be a nice contrast to the straight lines inherent in kitchens.

    Despite the variety of colors available, white marble is generally the first choice for use as kitchen countertops. Like a white button-down shirt, white marble is adaptable, mixing well with different styles and a wide variety of materials (stainless, wood, tile). It can be dressed up with a polished finish, or made more casual with a honed finish. Another benefit is that etching is less visible on white marble than on dark. Worried about white? Stone Source offers useful Insights on White Marble.

    Pink Marble Counter Elizabeth Roberts Crosby Street Loft, Remodelista

    Above: Elizabeth Roberts designed a kitchen to feature a slab of pink-hued marble. "My client mentioned early during the design phase that she loved pink marble. When I saw the slab at a stone yard, I knew it was perfect for her," says Roberts. "I don't know the name of the marble and I've never seen it since," she adds—a reminder that stones are one of a kind, especially those with unusual hues or patterns. Image by Sean Slattery.

    For a tour of Elizabeth Roberts own house, see House Call: Elizabeth Roberts in Brooklyn, and go to pages 76-91 of the Remodelista Book to learn Roberts' tricks for creating a clean look on budget.

    Medium Plenty Kitchen Marble Counter, Remodelista

    Above: A white Calacatta marble countertop in the kitchen of a Remodeled Oakland Bungalow by architect Ian Read of Medium Plenty in San Francisco. Why white? "We know people's tastes can change over time, and we like to make the fixed elements, such as countertops, look timeless. This allows clients to change the feel of the room with accessories, paint, flowers, and linens—and without having to remodel again," says Read. "In addition to Carrara and Calacatta, we also love Yule marble from Colorado, a great solid white (think Lincoln Memorial)." Image by Mariko Reed.

    What kinds of marble finishes are available?

    The most common finishes are polished, honed, and leather (also known as antique). Finish affects the look and performance of marble countertops; here's what to know about each:

    • Honed (or Matte) Finish Created by sanding the marble so that is has a satiny-smooth, almost soft feel, a honed surface doesn't show as many scratches and flaws as a polished finish, and it also mutes the color of the stone. Warning: Honing the surface opens the pores of the marble, making it more susceptible to staining
    • Polished Finish A grinding and buffing process results in a high-gloss slick surface, favored for bringing out the details of the marble’s color, veining, and character. While polished marble is the least porous of the finishes, it's the most susceptible to getting etched by household acids and cleaners.
    • Leather Finish This option is created by adding a leather-like texture to a honed surface. It has a soft sheen, but is not reflective like a polished finish, and is most commonly used with dark marbles. The texturing is an effective concealer of fingerprints and other imperfections. Note that the amount of texture created in the process varies from stone to stone.

    Gast Architects White Kitchen Marble Counters, Remodelista

    Above: Gast Architects combined a marble countertop with a wood-paneled backsplash in this San Francisco kitchen. "We often use a honed finish for its softer, more informal finish", says David Gast. His tip: "Don’t use marble as a backsplash behind a range or cooktop." Michelle wishes she had heard this advice: read My Dirty Secret, or How I Learned to Live with a Marble Backsplash.

    Arabascato Grigio Marble Slab Fox Marble, Remodelista

    Above: A slab of black and gray Arabascato Grigio marble at Fox Marble in San Francisco.

    Does marble need to be sealed?

    In a word: yes. Because of it’s porous nature and vulnerability to acids, sealing marble used for countertops is a must. Perfectionists take note: even with a sealer, the stone will absorb stains over time and develop a patina (which many people like). There are two types of sealants: topical and penetrating.

    • Topical Sealant A surface coating that covers the stone, it can slightly alter the look of the marble but provides some protection against acid etching. The downside: topical sealants are likely to wear off over time and can scorch from heat, and be rendered less effective by scratches.
    • Penetrating Sealant True to its name, this sealer seeps into the pores of the marble and is the option most stone suppliers recommend for kitchen counters. Penetrating sealants help limit stains by keeping liquids (oil, wine, coffee) from soaking into the surface. They add a level of water and stain resistance (buying you time to clean away stain-causing materials), but don't make the surface water proof. Penetrating stone sealants also don't protect against damage from acidic liquids.

    Be advised: Even penetrating sealants will degrade over time and should be reapplied periodically. Some suggest once a year or more if needed. How to tell if reapplication is required? If water beads on the countertop, the sealant is still working; if it soaks right in, it’s time for a refresher. Consult with the marble fabricator about the recommended sealant for your marble to ensure that it's non-toxic, food-safe, and the best sealer for your particular stone.

    Smitten Studio Kitchen Remodel, Remodelista

    Above: LA designer and blogger Sarah Sherman Samuel of Smitten Studio splurged on marble in her budget-conscious kitchen remodel. She selected the slabs at an LA marble yard and expected to go for Carrara, but discovered "Carrara is generally more gray with smaller veins, and Calacatta is whiter with more dramatic veins. The slab I found was very white and the veins have the prettiest range of colors, including touches of gold and green." Take a full tour of her SemiHandmade Kitchen with Ikea Cabinets.

    What is the best way to clean and care for marble countertops?

    Some simple steps can keep your marble beautifully maintained (but expect a natural patina to develop):

    • Wipe up spills when they happen, limiting the time they have to seep into your countertop.
    • For cleaning, “the old rule of thumb is never use anything you wouldn’t use on your hands”, advises Pietra Fina. This means avoiding powdered cleansers, tub and tile cleaners, abrasive pads, or even general “all-purpose” cleansers that may contain acidic ingredients.
    • Mild liquid dishwashing detergent or a similar mild soap and warm water with a non-abrasive towel or sponge are the best for day-to-day cleaning.
    • Use a neutral stone cleaner for tougher cleanups.
    • Protect the surface by using cutting boards for food preparation.
    • Reseal the countertop annually or more often if needed (see above).

    Anstruther Kitchen Sink, Remodelista

    Above: Unlacquered brass fixtures add warmth to the Carrara marble countertops and backsplash in London designer Harriet Anstruther's kitchen. Image by Henry Bourne. For a look at the entire kitchen, see A Glamorous London Kitchen from a Designer with "Shit Loads of Talent."

    How do I shop for marble countertops?

    Buying marble can be a time-consuming and complicated process. Advance preparation and research are key. Before starting the selection process, consider getting help from a fabrication professional and working closely with your contractor. Some additional tips:

    Know your size specifications. Marble is purchased in slabs that are already finished and cut to a certain thickness. Most slabs are .75- to 1.25-inches thick, though thicker cuts are available. That said, those wanting an extra-wide counter are often advised to laminate the edge of the slab with a piece of marble to achieve the thick look (while keeping the cost and weight under control).

    Do your research. There are a lot of choices; entering the warehouse with an idea of the color and the amount of patterning you're after will make the process faster and more focused. Understand, however, that marble is a natural product and can't be ordered to exact color and patterning specs.

    Give yourself plenty of time to take in all the local options. Unless you're willing to buy sight unseen (not recommended), or drive considerable distances, marble purchases are limited to what's on hand at your local stone supplier's warehouse.

    Pricing is not transparent, so ask the salesperson how the pricing works. This is not the grocery aisle; slabs are not affixed with price tags. Many suppliers have price bands that will help you narrow your search; final pricing is typically worked out via your fabricator working with the supplier. 

    How much does marble cost?

    Marble is not a budget countertop material. The price range is high and wide, usually falling between $125 to $250 per square foot, with some variance at both ends of the spectrum. What affects the price? “It is like jewelry,” says Craig Westphal of Pietra Fina. “It's about demand and availability.” Price is also affected by the thickness of the slab and the complexity of the installation.

    Some tips for controlling costs:

    • Work with a good fabricator. He or she will lay out your job in a way that will minimize waste.
    • Many stone warehouses have a remnants area with pieces leftover from other jobs. For a small installation, you can often pick up marble at a much reduced price.
    • Be open to a variety of shades and pattern, so that you're able to settle on a type that's easy to find and well priced.

    Elizabeth Roberts White Marble Kitchen Countertops, Remodelista

    Above: Elizabeth Roberts specified Carrara marble for this Fort Green, Brooklyn, kitchen. "Carrara is an obvious choice when price is an issue, because it's one of the more affordable marbles," says Roberts. "However, clients are often surprised at how gray Carrara is. Calacatta marble is often what clients are expecting when they think of Carrara, but it's much more expensive with more white and large, beautiful veins. In this case, the gray tone of the Carrara slab offers a relief from the white and wood." Image by Sean Slattery.

    Marble Countertop Recap


    • Natural material
    • Each piece is unique
    • Available in a range of colors and veinings
    • Heat resistant
    • A historic favorite in kitchens
    • Works with many different design aesthetics
    • Develops a patina over time


    • Porous material susceptible to staining
    • Low abrasion resistance means scratching
    • Requires ongoing maintenance 
    • Etches if exposed to acidic liquids
    • Expensive
    • Develops a patina over time

    Like marble but not ready to commit to a full countertop? See 5 Favorite Marble Accessories and Marble Boards in the Kitchen.

    Researching new countertops? Read Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Kitchen Countertops. And for more specifics on the subject, see our Remodeling 101 posts:

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    On an obscure island in Greece, an interior designer creates a calm, cool oasis with whitewashed interiors and minimal furnishings.

    Located on the island of Tinos in the Cyclades (more famous nearby islands include Mykonos), the villa, which consists of two houses connected by a second-story veranda, was overhauled by Zege Architects for interior designer Marilyn Katsaris. For those in search of a vacation, the villa is for rent; go to Homes Away.

    First spotted on Yatzer; photography by Yiorgos Kordakis.

    Above: The traditional whitewashed exterior.

    Above: Inside, the wide wood floors are bleached white.

    Above: Minimalist decor keeps the interiors airy and uncluttered.

    Above: A ceiling painted blue adds a soft wash of color to an otherwise neutral room.

    Above: In the kitchen, pistachio-green appliances from Smeg introduce a dash of color.

    Above: A collection of 1930s mirrors provides the only wall decor in the spare dining room.

    Above: Simple, cream colored dishware, in keeping with the pared-down palette.

    Above: An arched niche serves as a sleeping platform.

    Above: In another bedroom, a trapdoor leads to the downstairs living area.

    Above L: A pale blue bath. Above R: A rustic path runs between the two connected properties.

    Like the whitewashed wood floors at this Grecian idyll? See more images of Wood Floors in our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces. Want to whitewash your walls? See DIY: Whitewashed Greek Walls on Gardenista. 

    N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on July 16, 2012 as part of our A La Plage issue.

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