Ultimate Toy & Games Guide–Batteries Not Needed

The Christmas gifts that surrounded a tree chopped from the backyard, decorated in a home lit by lanterns, still hold currency today. You will see slight updates in colors and shapes but overall the shared concept of classic playtime with toys that won’t need a battery recharge will always work.

Chess Set by Wild Wolf.

  1. Kazoo 2. Chess Set 3. Daredevil Car 4. Steiff Giraffe 5. Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens 6. Classic 5 Mobile 7. Grand Piano 8. Circa Baseball 9. Blockitecture Building Set. 10. Spinning Top 11. Raggedy Ann and Andy 12. Matchstacks Little Hipster Memory Game 13. 4-Way Shut the Box 14. Harmonica 15. Roadster 16. Cicada Clicker

No Fuss Christmas Decorating

The countdown to December 25th is clear. The neighborhood looks like a traveling Christmas exhibition from Vegas. Store windows are frosted with snow shot from an aerosol can and loud holiday signage. Years ago I found that decorating for the season was less stressful when I deviated from the conventional. Nothing against Santa but you will not find his appearance from a red felt hat or ornament in my home though stories about Saint Nick are encouraged. Blinking colored lights should be saved for a hotel vacancy sign. I choose items that I’d decorate for the winter season that happen to be intended for a major holiday.


A crochet advent calendar from Garnet Hill with numeral pockets start the festive momentum each morning.

Stay true to the design and colors of your home then flourish with supporting details.

Creating a gingerbread home has a dual purpose as a fun activity that adds to the decor. Simple eco-friendly lessons are learned from decorating with household items, like twine and burlap, over shiny paper.

Even our tinsel tree fits the bright theme of the family room and decorated with with coordinated metallic ornaments.


Moana Style – Get the Polynesian Look

I’ve been known to go to a movie and shift my focus from the plot to the fashion. When viewing Disney’s film Moana something unprecedented happened, and I am not referring to tolerable singing dialogue; I was in awe of the heroine’s style. Important to note: Moana is animated.

Her playful looks have a mix of tropical and Boho pieces with great accessories. While I do lust for footwear going shoeless may be a trend next summer as Moana’s bare feet were part of her character. (She doesn’t even have a pedicure.)

  1. Sophie Fan Earrings 2. Scarf 3. Split Earrings 4. Magical Thinking Tapestry 5. Chiffon Skirt 6. Stardusted Half Circle Necklace 7. Off-the-Shoulder Top 8. Island Company Necklace 9. Tube Top

Decorate Your Holiday Home like a Pro

An opulent, painterly floral centerpiece can cause the kind of lust associated with Italian men and chocolate. If you have the right arrangement even the addition of paper plates won’t compromise the setting. As with design or fashion, by centering the theme on one statement piece and all other accents fall into place.

A dramatic floral arrangement sets the tone of this buffet.

A dramatic floral arrangement sets the tone of this buffet.

DeJuan Stroud is an expert in the art of floral design, and it was only natural that his New York City business bloomed into events and a new book Designing Life’s Celebrations (Rizzoli).

DeJuan Stroud's Designing Life's Celebrations showcase his attention to drama and detail.

DeJuan Stroud’s Designing Life’s Celebrations features events with dramatic details.

Once the holiday season hits DeJuan is attune to tradition and family. Heirloom china, glassware and linens are the representative pieces that weave in family history.

A centerpiece made with dusty miller leaves, gray green deer moss and eucalyptus leaves are given a wintry celestial glow with the addition of candles and votives floating in the center.

A centerpiece made with dusty miller leaves, gray green deer moss and eucalyptus leaves are given a wintry celestial glow with the addition of candles and votives floating in the center.

In his own gatherings he chooses a theme, such as a Flemish still life or Provence. Taking the dual role of creator and curator, DeJuan thoughtfully approaches an event with spectacular results.

DeJuan’s tips to composing an event:

Conversation Pieces: Choose tableware that will not only add sparkle to your table and inspire your arrangements but also tell a story to share with guests.

Creating the Buffet: When styling a buffet choose one focal point with additional pieces that bring in beauty other than the food.

Moonlighting Tableware: Use pieces in innovative ways, such as an ice bucket to hold flatware rolled within linens.

Provencal Style: Decorative elements associated with southern France, such as lavender wands, lemons, pomegranates, bundles of cinnamon and herbs, compose his entryway. Stroud made garlands from cedar, fir and rosemary to the banister. A garland of lemons and bunched salal leaves add texture and color.

Manicure the Tree: DeJuan trimmed a Christmas tree into a topiary and planted it in a terracotta pot for a clever holiday Provencal look.

Natural Decor: Greenery and natural elements like herbs and fruit can set your scheme as effectively as flowers.

A dramatic floral arrangement sets the tone of this buffet.

An abundance of fresh greens, fruit and natural elements command the setting.

Photography by Monica Buck


Ultimate Gift Guide – Classic Patterns

Bookmark this gift guide and you can use it again next year. In fact, one of these items I gave on Christmas decades ago and he still wears it. (Hint: the L.L. Bean staple seen on every New England campus). Classic prints will remain in the lexicon of style because they have enduring appeal. From hostess gifts to what you wrap it up in, present something that the receiver will actually want and keep for years to come.


  1. Teepee 2. Reusable Giftwrap 3. Paul Smith Scarf 4. Liberty of London Tote 5. Baker’s Twine 6. Lem Lem Espadrilles 7. Kiel James Patrick Watch Strap 8. Pendleton Throw 9. Trapper Hats 10. Uncle Goose Blocks 11. Plaid Pants 12. Dumye Doll 13. L.L. Bean Sweater 14. Erin Fleet Pillow 15. Burberry Umbrella 16. Orvis Cabin Bottle Bag

Simple Holiday Tabletop Ideas

When hosting our annual Thanksgiving dinner I tend to channel those Oscar winning actresses who decide hours before the event on what they will wear. While I am not on a designer coveted-one-to-dress-list, a girl can dream, I play dress up on the tablescape.


A soup tureen and its accompanying pieces set the theme of this holiday celebration. Guess I will be making soup.

Over the years I have acquired a variety of tabletop pieces, either from pestering family members who retired their holiday hostess post or scouring thrift stores. As with dressing for an event, have fun by falling into the caprice of the moment.

Ways to simplify a memorable holiday table:

  1. Linchpin: Select your tabletop collection and create the theme around those pieces.
  2. Simplify: Restrain from pulling out all your trusted entertaining wares, which only adds chaos, and highlight your quality pieces.
  3. Mix: Weave in traditional with newer pieces for an updated look that shows a signature look.
  4. Natural: Save on pricey floral arrangements that will crowd the table over natural elements that add to the decor. Fruit, leaves and candles bring in color and warmth.
  5. Linens: Keep it simple, and fuss free, by eschewing a tablecloth for a runner, table mats or simply napkins nestled within a holder.



Little King Restaurant Opens in Williamsburg

Dining out may be the ultimate bargain, especially if the restaurant delivers an international experience without the overseas expenses. Little King in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, takes the concept even further by offering time travel. Master that Sir Richard Branson! The recently opened bistro, designed by Christina Salway, deftly melds Art Deco and European influences.

Art Deco doors salvaged

Little King’s front entrance with dramatic Art Deco doors salvaged from a Manhattan skyscraper.

A visit is literally an opening-the-wardrobe experience from its imposing Art Deco doors the designer salvaged from a skyscraper in lower Manhattan. “I basically said, ‘This is happening!’” explains Salway. “And from then on we looked to the doors for scale, inspiration, and ambiance.”

Hand-painted checkerboard floors play on the whimsical yet Old World theme.

Hand-painted checkerboard floors play on the whimsical yet Old World theme.

Salway brought in other Old World details such as the metallic wallpapered ceiling and hand painted checkerboard floor, which is both playful and sophisticated. “And then truly the fact that almost every piece is vintage or antique, creates a comfortable lived-in quality, like a good pair of jeans,” she says.

Bar lighting, sourced from Craigs List, blends with vintage finds.

Bar lighting, sourced from Craigs List, blends with vintage finds.

For a recent opening Little King has created the feeling of a favored local spot more endemic to Paris or an English pub. Though pub fare this is not with an inspired menu that includes brioche grilled cheese to accompany drinks made with artisanal ingredients.

The bar offers such drinks as the John Henry and Big Queen.

The bar offers such drinks as the John Henry and Big Queen.

“What you’re eating has to feel appropriate to the environment and vice versa. For Little King our primary goal was to create a space that was both refined and rowdy so that our guests would feel comfortable getting a little loud, but also know they could count on us for a higher quality of food and drinks than your typical bar,” says Salway.

A delicious mix of pork belly beignets, scallop crudo and house cut fries with infused drinks.

A delicious mix of pork belly beignets, scallop crudo and house cut fries with infused drinks.

Salway’s design process:

  • We only used a few colors throughout Little King and used them frequently. Benjamin Moore‘s Black Jack and Farrow & Ball‘s Old White are our two primary colors. They manifest on the walls, in the checkerboard floor, in the bathroom tile and wallpaper, and even in our logo.
Bathroom wallpaper by Cole & Son connect to the interior design.

Bathroom wallpaper by Cole & Son connect to the interior design.

  • Brass details added throughout the restaurant draw attention to the brass wrapped bar and metallic paper ceiling, warm wood tones on the bar counter (also an antique deco piece), tabletops and stained wood doors.
  • Throw in a splash of deep turquoise on the banquettes to keep things from getting too serious.
Neighborhood atmosphere achieved via a smoky color palette, touches of blue, and vintage details.

Neighborhood atmosphere achieved via a smoky color palette, touches of blue, and vintage details.

  • The design of Little King incorporated many bold decisions: checkerboard floor, wall papered ceiling, detailed beadboard throughout–so keeping our palette simple keeps the space from feeling overly cluttered or busy.

For more information please visit Little King.

Photography by Jane Beiles

Christina Salway Design


Bathroom wallpaper: Cole & Son. Ceiling wallpaper: Stark. Pendant lights: Craig’s List. Similar fixtures found on rejuvenation.com. Local auctions.




Shape Up with Appliances

Design confession: the idea of relocating while my home hosts contractors for a never-to-be-determined amount of time is akin to being given livestock to make a meal. Shortcuts are an easy way to upgrade a look without the household upheaval. Simply add innovative appliances in your decor scheme. The product’s clean designs, available in current colors, will improve your life and add design interest.

1. Toaster 2. Vacuum 3. Drinks Mixer 4. Hot Wok Pro 5. Dishwasher 6. Coffee Maker 7. Pro Hair Dryer 8. Food Storage 9. Refrigerator 10. Max Heater 11. Microwave 12. Kettle 13. Washing Machine 14. Citrus Juicer 15. Blender 16. Wall Mount Hood 17. Range 18. Espresso Maker


Ultimate Cottage Kitchen

For those who cook by spattering their apron and liberating the spice rack for an improvisational recipe, a cottage kitchen is the ideal venue. You could say that such a kitchen improves your cooking over a fussy space that would be in design disarray if you left a box of Raisin Bran on the counter. In the kitchen of my former Laguna Beach home, cottage charm blends with updated accents that secured it as the most popular place in the house.


Cottage details abound in the kitchen.

Creating the design followed a low maintenance approach where small details added impact. Just steps from the front entry that leads to the beach, sandy dwellers is a frequent occurrence here.

Cottage Kitchen Design Process:

We kept the hardwood pine floors that flow throughout the home and installed a quick drying cement countertop.

Cabinets were given oomph with a sage green paint selected after testing a few samples and a few glasses of wine.

Open glass shelving showcases worthy pieces that support the kitchen’s look.

The farm style table was customized for the space. Since this is a smaller kitchen it accommodates a variety of functions.

Overhead pan rack adds to the kitchen’s needs in a small space.

Bring in personal collections for a signature touch, such as an arrangement of antique seltzer bottles that fit the scheme. Just be sure to use earthquake glue if you live in California.


Live with your collections.


Imagining the Trump White House – A Décor Story

The only cabinet reviewed for this Trump piece is connected to the kitchen. Once the future First Family moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue its interior may forego traditional floral patterns and heavy draperies for a gilded take. The White House could very well become The Gold House.

1. Rush Gold Flatware Set 2. 17-Month Agenda Book 3. Dahlia Gold Coasters 4. Guest Towels 5. Doublewall Drinkware 6. Form Teapot 7. Aquamar Split Finish Tub 8. Star Tiger Wallpaper 9. GE Suspension Lamp 9. Purist Drawer Pull 10. Purist Drawer Pull 11. Gold Pineapple. 12. Charger Plate