Quintessence Lifestyle Blog

Written by Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence focuses on “those special discoveries that make life just that much better.”

Quintessence is a lifestyle blog I really enjoy.  Written by Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence focuses on “those special discoveries that make life just that much better.”  After working as an art director in NYC for 17 years, Stacey left that world to raise her four children in Connecticut.  She then created Quintessence to continue to say involved in every aspect of the world of design and fashion.  Stacey attends design, lifestyle, and fashion events, and then blogs about them to bring the experience to her readers.  She also shares content on topics from art to movies and food to books, meaning you’ll always find something new and interesting at Quintessence.

Quintessence appeals to me because it is very cultured.  Stacey is worldly and involved and is always current on what’s happening.  She really does her homework and is clearly knowledgeable.  Her posts are interesting and relevant.  Having had the opportunity to meet Stacey, I know she is a lovely lady, very passionate and direct!

I like the segment of Stacey’s blog called Behind the Q, which is a monthly post showcasing an individual stylemaker.  I want more of it!  Stacey really creates an intimate behind the scenes look of people such as Thom Felicia and Miles Redd.  Her videos combined with the writing and several stunning photos is a clever new approach.  I can’t wait for the next installment!
Behind the Q
Before and after of Thom Filicia’s home, featured in his book American Beauty.

One of my favorite Quintessence posts was about NIBA rugs.   It jogged my memory of a source I had seen before but hadn’t logged into my mental catalog of go-to rugs.  I am so excited to incorporate some of these rugs into my interiors!

Hand knotted wool and silk rugs from NIBA.
Persian carpets from NIBA.
Since I was not able to make it to this year’s Southampton Showhouse, Stacey’s blogs about many of the spaces allowed me to think that I was there in person.  I love the dining room, with the large drum fixture and dining room chairs.  The combination is whimsical.  Thanks, Stacey for great observations and attention to detail in every room you visited at the Southampton Showhouse!
Showhouse dining room designed by Mabley Handler.
Study designed by Patrick Lonn at the Showhouse.
Guest suite designed by Jennifer McConnell.
Another fascinating blog post focused on Stacey’s visit to Tramshed during the London Design Festival.  Although her visit to Tramshed was quick, Stacey still managed to take plenty of photos of incredible products from a variety of vendors.  Sharing this kind of experience with readers is part of what makes Quintessence such a fascinating blog.
Quarry lights by Benjamin Hubert.
Porcelain by Karen Morgan.
Hand blown lighting from Bocci.
I love that I can use Quintessence as a catalog of great thoughts and a resource to turn to for inspiration!  I hope you visit Quintessence soon; you can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Color Obsession: Red

Red excites people with an enticing, energetic jolt of color.

Red is simply a sexy, va-va-voom color.  It makes people think of lipstick, fast cars, love, and risk. Red excites people with an enticing, energetic jolt of color.  Brunettes and blonds look great in red, and it’s hard to think of a color that implies more emotion.  You can saturate an entire room in this bold palette or wear it all over for a glamorous night out!

1.  Stitched Puzzle wallcovering from Maya Romanoff

2.  Lantern by Urban Electric, custom colored for Amy Aidinis Hirsch Interior Design.  Photo by Neil Landino.

3.  Mark Rothko

4.  Chair by Duralee with Yoma fabric for a client of AAH.  Photo by Neil Landino.

5.  1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

6.  Living room with red accents, design by AAH.  Photo by Neil Landino.

7.  Christian Louboutin, Platform Red Pumps

8.  A-line Mini Dress from Victoria Beckham

9.  Custom sofa design by AAH.  Photo by Neil Landino.

10.  Red and white design.  Image via High Street Market.

**Cover image design by Brian McCarthy via Elle Decor

A Library in the Dining Room

I’ve seen a few examples lately of built-in bookcases creating a library in a dining room, and it’s an unconventional concept I really like.

I’ve seen a few examples lately of built-in bookcases creating a library in a dining room, and it’s an unconventional concept I really like.  Incorporating an idea like this into your home works for a few different reasons.

First, everything is integrated.  You have one space to inhabit in different ways, whether it’s enjoying a meal together as a family, relaxing with a book while you wake up with your morning coffee, or entertain friends against a cozy backdrop of books.  Or, incorporating something like a wine fridge into the bookcases introduces another really cool concept.

Library with wine fridge via Modest Home Libraries
Design by Jonathan Adler

Including bookshelves in a common room of the home is a lifestyle idea that’s great for families with kids.  With so many of our media choices now relegated to computer screens, TV screens, iPads, and electronic readers, placing books in a position of priority in your home, within easy reach of little hands, sends a powerful message.  It also encourages parents to read in front of their children and talk to their children about books.  What’s not to love about creating a book-centric culture in such an important room in the home?

Image via Elle Decor
Eclectic design, image via Maureen Bower

The idea of a library in the dining room is also great because it works in so many different ways.  Whether your home design style is rustic, traditional, modern, or more hip, stocked bookshelves can easily be incorporated into the dining room.  You don’t have to commit to a specific look to make this concept work.  I think David Kleinberg, in particular, has designed some really great spaces by incorporating a home library into the dining room.

Design by David Kleinberg
Design by David Kleinberg


Color Obsession: Burgundy

Burgundy’s warm, spicy tones make it such a hot color for fall!

Burgundy’s warm, spicy tones make it such a hot color for fall!  It’s a color with great saturation that looks good on anyone and makes a wonderful accent for interiors.

1.  Park in Cayenne/Syrah from Maharam

2.  Alexander McQueen

3.  Nappa Velours from Bottega Veneta

4.  Capri Table Lamp from Julian Chichester

5.  Aubergine Brooke Handwoven Cotton Flatweave Carpet from Madeline Weinrib

6.  New Declic from Christian Louboutin

7.  Essie Recessionista Nail Polish

8.  Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year Inspiration

New York International Gift Fair

Twice a year, every year, NYC is host to the New York International Gift Fair.

Twice a year, every year, NYC is host to the New York International Gift Fair.  This fair is so huge, it can’t be contained to one venue and sprawls across Piers 92 & 94 as well as the Javits Convention Center.  This year’s fair ran from August 18-22 and included a huge range of vendors displaying new products and lines for the upcoming year.

The Gift Fair just has to be experienced in order to have an idea of the magnitude of the event, but I can tell you, I was like a bat out of hell at this year’s fair!  There’s such a crush of people, all wanting to be the first to spot that must-have, hot item or trend.  Everyone from designers to retailers flocking from vendor to vendor so that I had to suppress the urge to yell at everyone to get out of my way because I had some serious looking to do.  It’s a lot of contagious energy, creativity, and enthusiasm for the incredible world of design that just permeates the atmosphere and inspires you to see and experience everything!

This year I stumbled across some really great things at the Gift Fair.  Some of the first vendors to catch my eye were Michael Partenio and Stacy Kunstel with Dunes and Duchess.  What I love about their line is that they focused on an idea and let that idea evolve.  Dunes and Duchess creates these stunning candelabra pieces, all made in Connecticut.  Used as-is or with a shade, the pieces are substantial with great shapes and a beautiful, high lacquer with so much sheen.  The colors are beautiful, but they can customize products using your own color choices.   They also make incredible tables in almost any size that are practical but very chic!

Another aspect of the Gift Fair I love is that it’s a great source for pre-made pillows.  There are a lot of great designs without having to go the custom route and sometimes a bit of instant gratification is really nice!  I found some wonderful pillows from Design Accents and their sister company NBR Home.  From Design Accents, these cowhide pillows with a hint of gold really present well in a room.  The quality is good and the metallic hint is subtle enough to avoid being gaudy.

NBR Home offers a more upscale product with some very cool designs and colors.

I definitely went a little lamp happy at this year’s Gift Fair.  Mr. Brown, a division of Julien Chichester, has these lamps with a mid-century vibe, just really stunning pieces.  I’m a big fan of the turquoise lamp.  It has a Kelly Wearstler, high-impact feel to it.  I also love the standing lamp.  It looks like a piece of sculpture and would make a great choice for ambient light.

As for furniture, I saw some pieces I love from Design Legacy.  They have a transitional kind of furniture that is really unique.  I am head over heels for the secretary desk.  It has great height and scale and a geometry on its face that I love.  With storage and a flip down desk, it’s a wonderful piece.  I also really like the table and the chair with a nod to one of my favorite designs, the Greek key.  These pieces are an ideal way to freshen up a space.

My last find at this Gift Fair actually involves a search that started a year ago.  While at the New York Gift Fair last August, I found a product that I knew would be perfect for a client.  I was so excited about it, but I somehow misplaced the information and could not find it anywhere.  This year, I went to the Gift Fair with a mission.  I was determined to find this one product again, even while knowing my search amounted to looking for a needle in a haystack.  I knew this product would be in an area of the fair with everything from tabletop items to Christmas decor, from kids’ stuff to books.  I made my way as closely as possible to where I remembered seeing this particular product last time and finally found what I was looking for!  It was the best moment of the Gift Fair for me!  What I’d been looking for were these amazing frames from Wexel Art.  Made of plexiglass and magnets, the frames are a contemporary way to display art or photographs.  Changing the art in the frame is a quick and easy process, making it particularly suited to displaying kids’ artwork or family photos.  The frames come in all sizes, including custom measurements.  I can’t wait to use these to create a whole gallery for a client.  This time, I absolutely won’t lose the information!


Snakeskin is a big texture I like to use in small doses.

Snakeskin is a big texture I love to use.  It’s not something to use in abundance, but in small doses snakeskin is very chic and trendy.  It definitely creates a look!  And with all this faux stuff available, snakeskin texture isn’t limited to belts and boots.  For accessories and accents, snakeskin gives a modern, edgy look.  You can find it in a variety of colors and patterns, but one thing all snakeskin has in common is a rich feel that people can’t help but want to touch.

Jimmy Choo Irena Shoe – My every day go to shoe!
Snakeskin sunglasses from Lanvin.


Python belt by Lara Bohinc.
Yves Saint Laurent snakeskin cuff.

The same approach to using snakeskin in fashion applies to interior design.  A little goes a log way and packs a big punch. Snakeskin isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great textile and medium to bring out a bit of daring — very graphic and sexy.

Boa vinyl wall covering from Osborne & Little
Snakeskin lamp by Robin Brooks NY
Two’s Company Ottoman
Living room with snake skin accents. Photo by Eric Roth.
Ashley Stark’s Entry – Vintage snakeskin bench.


Color Obsession: Turquoise

Turquoise is a summery hue that really resonates with me.

Turquoise is a summery hue that really resonates with me.  It’s clean, fresh, and works great as a little accent or a bigger splash of color!

1.  Gracie Studio hand painted wallpaper

2.  Rhys Chair from Anthropologie

3.  Turquoise necklace by Alexis Bittar

4.  Alexander McQueen

5.  Quadrille Fabric

6.  Turquoise seas in Tekek, Malaysia.   photo credit

7.  10th Street Tufted Sofa

8.  Christian Louboutin 20th Anniversary Unzip 100 Suede Sandal

9.  Ceramic Vase lamp from Vaughan

Color Obsession: Tangerine

I love the exciting hue of Tangerine.

I love the exciting hue of Tangerine.  It’s such an energetic and confident color, bold and certainly trendy.  Tangerine is my daughter’s favorite color and the primary color of my own business cards.  This color really resonates with me!

 1.  Room by Mary McDonald

2.  Hand painted Chinese scenic panel by Gracie Studio

3.  Tangerine gown by Carlos Miele

4.  Greek Key Bedding with Pagoda Headboard

5.  Tangerine silk clutch

6. Elie Tahari shoe

7. Leighelena Lizard Tangerine Wide Buckle Bracelet

8.  Quadrille Fabrics in Pagoda

9.  Interior by Lola Agaton


Aviator Style

Lately I have been loving aviator-inspired style!

Lately I have been loving aviator-inspired style!  It’s such a classy blend of retro and modern, representing a chic period of American history when people were adventurous, optimistic, patriotic, and willing to take risks.  Amelia Earhart embodied all of these traits, smashing stereotypes and becoming a symbol to the world that the role and image of the American woman had changed forever.  Aviator style brings all of these various ideas to mind and, at the same time, looks fantastic.

AVIATOR FASHION, created by ffpava on Polyvore.
Aviator fashion -- beautiful!
Ray-Ban Aviator Large Sunglasses - Never leave home with out them.
Leather flat, Giuseppe Zanotti Design. Love the aviator-style details.

Aviator style doesn’t have to be limited to fashion; it can also inspire interior design.  Aged leather, sleek metallics, and details such as rivets create a look that is retro, chic, and memorable.

Blackhawk Coffee Table by Restoration Hardware
Phillip Jeffries Aviator Wall Covering
Aviator Chair by Restoration Hardware
Aviator Interior from Restoration Hardware
Aviator Chair by David Catta
Plane Over New York from Bobo Intriguing Objects



*cover images via Harper’s Bazaar


Ikat (pronounced ‘ee-KAHT’) is a very old dyeing technique used to create beautiful patterns in fabrics.

Ikat (pronounced ‘ee-KAHT’) is a very old dyeing technique used to create beautiful patterns in fabrics.  The ikat weaving style is common to many cultures from South America to India.  The process is rather like a reverse tie-dye.  In tie-dye, the fabric is first woven, then bound, and then dyed.  When the bindings are removed, the tie-dye pattern is clear.  The process of ikat varies in that the material (silk, cotton, etc.) is first treated with wax or tied in some way to prevent all of the dye from being absorbed.  After dying, the material is woven into fabric.  The pattern and complexity of ikat varies widely, which makes it an ideal choice for home design.




This colorful ikat rug from Madeline Weinrib demonstrates why the classic look of ikat has endured for centuries.



Ikat also makes a stunning fabric for furnishings.  This ikat chair adds exactly the right blend of color and pattern to accent a client’s India-inspired decor.


One of the wonderful things about ikat is that it has more than just the usual fabric applications.  Window treatments, pillows,wall art, and even lamp shades can showcase this timeless method of producing gorgeous textiles.