Saturday, December 1, 2007


Okay, so we've talked a lot about the outdoor show, but in the final analysis, what's it gonna be? Teak or Synthetic Woven furniture for you? Let's explore this for a moment.

Photo above: The many faces of Teak, in stages from new, to gray, to new again.

Teak can have great style, and it has a real sense of permanence. It's also a pain to keep up.
Do you sand it, oil it, etc...just to keep that "showroom new" look?

I say no. I think it looks best when you allow it to "weather" naturally. Notice I say "weather" not ruin it in the weather.

Photo Left: newly oiled and finished teak.

If teak furniture is left out in full sun and weather, it will deteriorate. The wood will swell and then dry out, which will cause the joints to get loose.

The silvery gray color will come with the drying out process as well as a splinter or two! It doesn't matter what anyone says, if you leave it uncovered and fully exposed, the teak wood itself will last, but the construction of the furniture will suffer.

Teak is generally more expensive than Synthetic woven, but don't' be tempted by the myriad cheap teak dealer-Gypsy's on the side of the road, who put up their portable signs up hoping to snag those Sunday passers- by! Theirs is junk with a capital "J", and it is everywhere. How do you differentiate?

Ask a few questions: "What class of teak is this?"

You will undoubtedly be met with a puzzled look from the roadside Teak Gypsy. He may even try to answer it, but he will never get it right.

The answer? Simple: Class A.

What you might get as an answer: Best, or First Quality. Both wrong.

"How is the joinery done?" You will most certainly get a blank look from the Gypsy.

Answers range from doweled, glued, reinforced (with what? Steel), or a combination.

If the guy is selling it, he should be able to answer these most basic of questions.

My advice, if you do teak, keep it covered when not in use. It will still weather to a beautiful silvery-gray. You can lightly sand it at the beginning of each season, and the wood will maintain a necessary level of moisture to keep it from becoming dry and craggy.

Care of Teak: Google "teak care" or "teak oil" and be prepare your fingers to hunt and peck through a sea of alternatives and products. I cannot recommend one over the other (at least not until I sign an endorsement for a particular teak cleaning product!), but like most things, the older more recognizable names are usually the place to start.

Now for Synthetic Woven outdoor furniture: This is easy street, just wipe it down and go! Provided of course that the synthetic material is of the quality of Dedon's Hularo (see my last column). Remember, Hularo has the color all the way through it, nick-it, and the mark will be the same color as the outside. But, even Hularo will fade slightly, but for ease of living, there is no better way to go. Styling and pricing varies widely, so there's something for everyone.

A few things to note: The frame underneath the woven material is usually aluminum, and it should be powder-coated (painted with a rust repelling coating) to protect it from rusting and deteriorating.
Care of synthetic woven materials: Soap and water and a soft brush or a light power wash will take care more of most clean up. These synthetics are easy to live with and offer a great number of style and type of furnishing alternatives, and is light weight and easy to move about.

Remember, if the outdoor furniture dealer cannot answer the questions posed above, fully and without hesitation, move on!
Lastly, I want to elaborate on the city of Chicago. In an earlier article, I mentioned the weather, and we did have absolutely fabulous weather while there. Now remember, I live in Santa Barbara, CA., and I know what fab weather is, and this was FAB!

I also mentioned that I enjoyed this weather the most on the Architectural Preservation Society's river boat tour. What I didn't mention was that this was my third time to have taken the tour over the last four or five years, so the tour is that good.

Scores of high rise buildings by the worlds most famous architects line the banks of the emerald green waters of the Chicago River. Emerald green water you ask? You too thought that the river was highly polluted, and that it flows upstream instead of downstream?

All of the above is correct, except its just that this portion of the river is close enough to the great Lake Michigan that its waters are green from the rich iron ore deposits that lie at the bottom of the lake.
The rivers green color is a site to behold!

Photo Left: Natural green water from iron ore.
Photo Right: Un-natural green water from dyeing the river for the 2005 St. Patty's day celebration

But there is blight on the river bank. It's a new building that was just coming out of the ground...

Now, it was a sign on a new high-rise condo building, with a huge over sized banner strung across its hollow elevator shafts that reached for the sky. The pre-sale banner proclaimed in garish red letters: Trump Tower.

I was just sick about it myself. An image I'd seen before of Mr. Trump quickly came to mind, an image of him dressed in a white tennis sweater, trimmed in navy and red, smiling broadly, from the confines of an over-framed portrait of himself.
The portrait hangs in the bar (the former Library) of the venerable Mar A Lago, once home to the late Marjorie Meriweather Post, now owned by Trump.

Oh, poor Marjorie! She must be twisting (her sapphire necklace) in her grave!

He's turned the whole dang place into a "private" club (meaning no matter how nouveau your money, if you've got it, you can belong).
The Master Suite that Post once shared with her then new husband, E.F. Hutton, is now the private quarters of Trump and his wife d'jour.

So what's he got in store for the lucky citizens of Chicago? Well, first of all the building is planned to be the second tallest building in Chicago upon its completion! Oh yeah, it'll be nice and tall and flashy for all to see! And, there's more!
Could there be more? How could there?

Yep, there's more! Our tour Docent said that it was rumored that Oprah has bought the top floor Penthouse (the entire floor) of the building for her new Chicago digs! Selling price: A cool $38 mil.

A lot of dough, but not the first time the native Mississippian has spent a giant sum for a home. Her Montecito home cost a whopping $46 mil, and she immediately gutted the homes newly completed interiors and re-landscape it to the standards of the Queen's Sandringham estate outside of London. Queen Elizabeth silly, not Queen Oprah!
Now, Oprah girl, you've come a long way baby, so keep it that way, and prove that the old Docent woman was wrong. Say that this is just yet another malicious rumor about someone who is rich and famous!

I don't know! Trump's name first came across my radar when he purchased Mar A Lago in Palm Beach. I remember then, thinking as I envisioned the swells from Worth Avenue drowning their sorrows in Palm Beach Punch at the Everglades Club, on hearing the news of Trumps trophy purchase.
Now, where were we? Ah, yes, the final report from the Chicago Casual Furniture Show in Chicago.
All in all it was a great show. In summary, outdoor fabrics continued to improve in both the quality of the textures offered and the pliability and softness factor which is light years ahead of the humble beginnings of Sunbrella fabrics when it was hot, hard, and non breathable, and could cause the skin to peel off of your legs if you sat on it for more than five minutes.
The variety of finishes available on both outdoor wood and natural and synthetic woven furnishings has increased dramatically, including a new outdoor paint that would in fact allow you to paint Grandma's prized wicker furniture and leave out in the elements 24/7.
Now family squabbles that used to ensue at the settlement of Grandma's estate over who gets her old porch furniture, have given way to who gets the porch!
Next, join me for highlights of this years Americas Mart/Atlanta 2008 Winter Gift and Home Furnishings Show.
Good Night Moon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More notes on the Casual Furniture Show--Better Late than Never!

Wow! I just found another of my notebooks from the recent (September!) Casual Furniture Show in Chicago. The notes remain timely as the show has to do with what's hot for Spring/Summer 2008.

Photo Left:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that is the Design Guy's actual desk top!
Do you see how I could have misplaced my notebook?

And weave they did, in weather proof outdoor materials! Woven synthetic wicker, rattan, bamboo, even woven leather was everywhere and was available in every price point. Sectionals, sofas, love seats, lounge chairs, bar stools, tables, swings, bars, consoles, floor screens, stools, ottomans, you name it, somebody wove it! Is wove a word? Is now!
There were many Cheap versions (yes, with a capitol "C"), that were poorly scaled and lacked any sense of quality.

Retail for the above type of merchandise , the less desirable, but necessary price points, for example: A dining chair that was priced to sell from $85-$100, was in fact similarly styled to a more upscale models that priced at $500-$750 each depending on the manufacture, but that was where the similarity ended.

After a few more days of wading through a sea of woven look-a-likes and wannabe's, it became clear to us that it would be worth it, and ultimately to you the consumer to step up to the plate and not sacrifice quality for price.

We did find well designed, and nicely made chairs and furniture, woven in Hularo. Hularo is a synthetic material, developed by the "Denmarkians". Yeah, it was developed in Denmark by the Dedon Group (handled in the USA by Janus et Cie--and conveniently available at the Cabana Home Santa Barbara and Mill Valley stores). What an unlikely place to develop a material for outdoor furniture! Isn't it cold as heck...I mean hell, there most of the time?
The material was patented for a period of time, but the technology is now widely used throughout the outdoor furniture industry. The color in the hularo material is solid. Meaning if you nick it, or cut it, the color is all the way through, therefore making any damage less noticeable.

This is the Bonneville Dining Chair from Dedon, list price is $895. each.

Other pieces in the collection include Dining tables, Love seat, Lounge Chair, Reclining Lounge Chair, and Ottoman.

The less expensive chair models appear to have been copied from a Dedon Design (see Janus et Cie, above), and retail from $995 each. We found other knock-offs (brands that aren't household name brands), that would retail from $395-$495. Though slightly less stylish as those made by Dedon, but hey, you can't have everything at that price! We couldn't bring our selves to go for the cheapest version, but we did select a model in order to accommodate both price ranges for our customers, Cabana Home has both the Dedon chair, and this similarly styled private label chair, pictured below, in stock.

This is the private label Dining Chair, similarly styled to the Dedon model, above. The retail price for this chair is $696.

Janus et Cie outdoor furniture is available in stock in the Cabana Home-Santa Barbara store, and is available by special order in the Cabana Home-Mill Valley store.
Tune in tomorrow for the last report on the Casual Furniture Show in Chicago.

Good Night Moon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007



Yes, that's right, the biggest trade show in the United States for outdoor furniture is held semi-annually in Chicago, IL.
Now I don't know about you, but if I were to pick a place to hold the largest outdoor furniture show in the United States, would it be in Chicago?
Uh, hell no (sounds like Mean Guys in the house)!

Chicago? What the heck? How about South Beach? At least that makes a sense.

And on with the show...

And so it was in Chicago, and at 4.5 million square feet, and is approximately 1/8 mile square X 17 floors, and it took us four straight days to walk the entire Chicago Merchandise Mart. Once owned by Joseph Kennedy (yes, the late President Kennedy's boot leg'n daddy), the building is considered to be the largest (as in square feet) in the USA.

Thanks to the fine folks at the Chicago Architectural Foundation, who provide Docents to the many tour boats that ply the Chicago River, giving tours of the cities' many architecturally significant buildings. The buildings include the worlds biggest names in architecture including Mies van der Rohe, Phillip Johnson, Edward Durrell Stone, Skidmore Owings and Merill, and more than I can remember at the moment. It's a great tour and one that I have taken on two other occasions. The Docent's have always been informative (though the docent on this tour was a little too comfortable telling dumb jokes) and the boat is comfortable and has a full bar for those who want to imbibe.

A little history: The word Chicago is an Indian, I mean Native American word, meaning the big stink. In a nutshell, Chicago was a swamp and was built on land reclaimed from the swamps that once occupied the area.

Now, back to the furniture show: We saw the usual, aisle after aisle of cheap teak and badly designed woven wicker, both real and synthetic. We even saw outdoor furniture made from synthetic teak! I mean, can someone explain that to me? Oh well, there was worse on hand!

The outdoor furnishings and fabric world has truly flourished in the last several years, to the point that either can be used as satisfactorily indoors as out, and you would scarcely recognize the difference.


It's wonderful, but not outdoor, eh? Throw it away just because of that? Uh, no! Have a look at the photo to the left. This red blooded wicker beauty is just that, wicker, and is produced by industry innovator Lane Venture.

What's wicker you ask? There really isn't a natural material named wicker. Wicker is more about the type of material, a pliable twig, that is woven together to make an item, usually woven over frame.

According to the manufacturer, the wicker chair above is completely outdoor safe for full rain or shine. How'd they do that, you ask? Simple, they have used a specially developed outdoor acrylic paint from Sherwin Williams. That's it! Its a natural woven product with a finish on it, and it won't fill up our city dump with more cheap and non-biodegradable woven furniture.

Great colors include a French Vanilla, Royal Navy Blue, Pistachio and more. Heck, this furniture was so yummy, I didn't know if I wanted to sit on it or eat it for lunch.

Another collection, also by Lane Venture was the newly launched Leeds Castle Collection.

It was interesting to hear from the sales representatives about
how the designers were inspired by things such as wrought iron
grates on a door opening, which was interpreted as the cut-out pattern on a teak table top.

The artistic license taken by the designers, and rendered in teak, this collection could be considered low-Gothic (interpreted--not overdone!).

The collection featured a "chat" table, which is a table that is higher than a cocktail table, but lower than a Dining table. A chat table is a great height for drinks, casual super, or for just plopping your feet on.


We're not talking about the top on your Porsche, its about the top on another great find, from the Quebec based, Cuscini Design, a cabana/tent company.

We've seen a lot of sunshades, and these aren't the pup tents of our youths. These tents have moved into the league of cabanas extraordinaire.

These pitched roof cabanas have an engineered lever that easily retracts the top, as in convertible, very cool! With very little effort, the entire pitched "roof" neatly folds down from the front to the back, exposing the entire cabana to full sun.

The canvas is 100% Solution dyed acrylic.

Sizes vary from 10' x 10' to a very generous 15' x 20' that will comfortably accommodate a full sized outdoor sectional sofa and a dining table that seats ten guests.

What is extra cool are the optional ceiling lights that are nicely executed as small circles, just larger than a hockey puck. The "pucks" are attached tightly to the interior center pole, and to the corners of the cabana. The lights are eco-friendly LED, and are guaranteed to 50,000 hours, which, according to the manufacturers representative, equates to 5-1/2 hours per day for 25 years! He went on to say that actually they will last longer than twenty five years, but they just won't be guaranteed to be as bright. LED, where have you been all my life?

Look for the Cuscini Design Cabanas at Cabana Home in Santa Barbara for Spring 2008. Prices begin at $5,000 for a 10' x 12' model with retractable roof.


Umbrellas also had a makeover at this show. The side post umbrella designs continue to be refined, and are the new "must have" for sunshade, making the old center-post umbrella "passe".

The canvas is 100% solution dyed acrylic from Sunbrella, and is available in 12 standard and 68 custom fabrics.

A side post umbrella is just that--an umbrella that is hung from a post that has been mounted to the side of the terrace, allowing

for full use of your space. The post may be permanently or semi-permanently installed, so moving the base is not necessary.

But what about when the sun moves during an afternoon?
You ask. No worries says Design Guy. The entire umbrella swivels from 180 to 360 degrees, depending on installation, allowing for all day sun-tracking.

No more moving the lounge chairs every fifteen minutes or rolling the umbrella and its base to different locations.

These units are so well engineered that you can move the umbrella with your index finger.

Maximize the arrangement for maximum use of your outdoor entertaining space without working around the old center-post umbrella pole.

A well made side-post umbrella is somewhat expensive, but a good investment as it relates to your peace of mind and your increased enjoyment of your outdoor space. expect to pay $1,800 to $3,300 depending on size and quality.

Find a rectangular, Italian designed model from FIM, and a wall mounted, hexagonal model from Sun Scape USA, at Cabana Home stores in Santa Barbara and Mill Valley, year round.

All for now. More in tomorrows report from the largest Casual Furniture show in the USA.

Good Night Moon.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Whew! A good nights sleep and we're ready to get after it. Are we really rejuvenated or just excited about not going back to the Piers and the Javitz center? Today, we're going to the venerable D & D Building in New York (Decoration & Design Building), home to the the top designer's and manufacturer's showrooms for home furnishings, textiles, rugs, lighting and accessories from the United States and around the world. This upper east enclave of the best of the best is where the who's who of design meet in the revolving doors.
A Small World, Stays Small

Caroline and Leisa shopped at B Berger, where a bag of "memos" awaited the well known New York designer, Bunny Williams. They never did see Bunny, but as I searched for fabrics at Lee Joffa I found myself standing next to New Jersey based designer, Fred Root. We met Root and his son, Matt, at the NY Gift Show, and subsequently ran into them each morning and afternoon thereafter, at the same Vendors we were buying from. Like Cabana Home, they are branching into the private label side of the home furnishings marketplace. Check out this duo at, and tell'em Design Guy sent you.
The photos above, and to the right were taken at the aforementioned ee Joffa showroom. This was a great looking niche, located at the end of a much larger room. Using white matlese fabric, the details of which were outlined in chocolate brown silk trim, which contrasted sharply with the painted brown walls of the niche.

It was the exacting execution of this fabric treatment that made it so attractive and beautiful. It was a believable solution to what may have been a difficult aspect to this rooms shape. I love seeing textile houses using fabric's to excess in order to show different ways in which one can use their fabrics.


What turned out to be our most important appointment in the D & D Building was at the textile and furniture showroom of English Designer, Andrew Martin. Martin, a designer of some of the worlds most luxurious textiles and furniture, is also a prolific writer and author on subjects that include his world travels, as well as chronicles of his, and others designs. To date, Martin has had twelve books on interior design published. Pictured below are three of the book's covers.

We're excited about working with this design house because Andrew Martin is an active authority on design, a prolific writer, who is well known for his series of books, Interior Design Review.

At Cabana Home, in both Santa Barbara and the Mill Valley stores, we will be carrying the Andrew Martin line of bench made English furniture and his fabrics that are too beautiful to describe. The Andrew martin showroom shows his fabrics in 15ft. lengths and they are truly glorious. Martin shows water marked velvets in four shades of the same color, virtually unheard of in the textile industry. The linens are richly woven, some in traditionally tight weaves, and others which are an over sized weave. Large prints on linen include a Saharan desert scene, replete with camels, jockeys, and shepherd's; over sized linen Icat's (a woven fabric, in which the threads or yarns are tied for dyeing, before weaving--from Malay 'mangikat' to tie or bind) and tribal rug patterns. The fabric samples and books have already been received in both Cabana Home stores, and are ready for your perusal.

And, as if that isn't enough, Cabana Home will also feature the Andrew Martin, bench-made upholstery in both the Santa Barbara and Mill Valley stores. The furniture is shipped monthly from London to the New York showroom, where it is examined and repacked for shipping to us in California.

Sound expensive? Try under $5,500 for sofa, including fabric. Not to be missed; look for the announcement of the arrival of Andrew Martin furniture.

Great things are coming your way. This day made the entire trip to New York worth it! Its exciting to me to find a line like Andrew Martin, and to be able to actually bring it to California is very satifying.

Just when it seems like it can't get any better, it does. We met another designer while at Andrew Martin, who took us upstairs to the showroom that represents him, which I will share with your tomorrow. You can't wait, right? Me either!

Good Night Moon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Argh! I'm tired, but here goes!

Day three started out with the four of us dragging our tails behind us. We had collectively walked about four million square feet of merchandise, and with each booth we passed there was always someone clamoring for our attention.

We learned to avoid making eye contact--not to be rude, but so we could get through the entire building before the market ends. Sometimes I felt like we were in the Casbah (transliterated here to mean "market").

"Hi, how are you today" asked an eager Vendor.

I smiled politely, conscious not to make eye contact, "Fine, and you?", I answered.

"Having a good show?" He asked.

I simply smiled again, and kept on walking. I still can't figure out what they mean by asking, "Having a good show?"

I mean, I'm not the one having the show, they are. They are the ones making the show, don't they know if the show is good or not? I must be getting weary, because it sounds like Mean Guy is in the building.

Sometimes after we finished writing an order with a Vendor or had simply made an inquiry, they would say, "Have a good show".

"Have a good show?" How in the heck do I have a good show?"

Okay, let's move on, we have to be nice and talk about the "Christmas buy".

Ho Ho Ho...

It seems strange to be in the city, in the dog days of August, and be purchasing Christmas ornaments and holiday gifting.

I've had Thanksgiving here several times with my family, and the sounds and smells that are in the air; the visuals that are all about and holiday is in full swing. There is the ubiquitous line of tourist and locals alike, pushing forward in the stanchioned lanes in front of the store windows at Sak's 5th Avenue, all trying to get a glimpse of their annual and fantastical Christmas windows.

Stores are full of Christmas decorations, pre-wrapped gift ideas, the music wafting through the building out onto the streets, the chestnuts roasting on an open fire (actually roasting on a butane gas burner inside a wheeled cart on the corner of every block), and people in wonderful coats, hats and scarf's. It's magical to be in New York City at that time of year, and to think that what we're doing here in NYC is the kind of prep work it takes gives me a new appreciation for the Retailers of our country.

It's 100 degrees (farenheit) and muggy, people are wearing the very least (and somehow remaining legal). What has always looked so magical has somehow now been compromised in my mind by my new found knowledge of what it takes, and the mechanics, to create Christmas as we know it.

Our first appointment this day was with our California Sales Representative, Sally, one of the hardest working gals in her business. We started at the 7 West Design Building on the lower west side of Manhattan (hence my comment about the bad part of town). In our effort to separate ourselves from the competition, the four of us consulted together in order to create our vision for the Cabana Home Christmas Holiday color story for 2007.

Today we have a special guest here to share that holiday vision with you today is Leisa Snyder of the Cabana Home Mill Valley store:

Design Guy: Good morning Leisa! Welcome to the beautiful and legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (a legacy left to the Hilton Family by the late Conrad Hilton, unlike that being created by his great grand daughter _ _ _ _ _.)

Leisa: Well good morning to you Design Guy! Its wonderful to be here with you in NYC.

Design Guy: Leisa, please share with our friends and customers our story (she looked at me puzzled).

Design Guy: Not that story silly, the Christmas color story.

Leisa: Of...uh...of course...uh, Design Guy. As many of you know, our unique perspective on the Christmas Season has become quite the tradition at Cabana Home. Noir Noel, as it has become known, is a combination of romantic and soft, a sophisticated honed-black, always juxtaposed with a forward color palette. This year our interpretation of a the holiday color is a green story.

Design Guy: Green, share with our readers what green it is that you're referring to.

Leisa: I was about to, but you fuc...

Leisa's Mean Girl was just about to emerge but she quickly stopped herself, and in a breath, lovely Leisa was composed and moved on.

Leisa: Oh Design Guy, I would love to share our perspective of the new green. First of all, its about tonality on one side of the equation, and texture on the other. That relationship between the two marries well with the Cabana Home concept about lifestyles of indoors and out. Freshness and the vitality in the greens we saw at this fall show, of course green reminds us of the holidays, of hearth and home. But when married with the sophistication of black, it becomes a combination that most of us wouldn't have thought of as pleasing, or as a holiday palette.

Design Guy: Well put, Leisa.

Leisa smiles, knowingly.

Leisa: We feel special being in that environment any time of year, but it is particularly special this time of year as we want to be embellish, to cherish oneself and others...

Design Guy cuts her off.

Design Guy: I see the perspective, and appreciate the description, but do tell what the colors look like.

She bristles, then a cool comes over her face. Mean Girl was about to jump into the fray, when Nice Leisa reinforced her presence.

Leisa: The palette is in hues of winter green's, from mossy to a silvery fern green with a warm pewter undertone. The colors will juxtaposed not only with a sophisticated black, but with the colors themselves through textures of velvet, satin and metallic finishes.

Design Guy: That's hot...Thank you for joining me this morning (in my suite overlooking the delivery entrance to the Waldorf Astoria).

I know our customers and fans will really enjoy your perspective on the upcoming Christmas Season at Cabana Home stores.

Leisa: My pleasure Design Guy, anytime.

You now have the inside scoop on this years Christmas Season. You'll see the colors of the season manifested at Cabana Home in velvet and double faced satin ribbons, table ware, Christmas Tree ornaments, in gifting, and in the gift wrapping. And remember, the Christmas Holidays always begin the day after Thanksgiving at Cabana Home, and not a moment before.


As we exited the 7 West Design Building, we were approached by a casually dressed fellow, with clean shaven head, who announced that the 7 West building was offering free Pedi-Cab service to the Javitz Convention Center.
We were at once suspect, and hesitated to even acknowledge the guy. After quickly looking around I spotted at least two other pedi's, and saw that they had signs ,

"Complements of 7 West" taped to the side of their egg-shaped cabs.

"Great" I said, and I hopped in. Caroline was a little hesitant, but I motioned for Michael and Leisa to grab the other pedi-cab. Caroline hopped in beside me and off we went for what seemed like a new and unique experience in New York City. And, an experience it was.

These photos were taken before we pulled in front of NYC Transit Bus and into the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Our pedi-peddler immediately pulled into the already present traffic jamb, and then to the front of the line of cars, trucks and buses. He then shared with us that the pedi-cabs were at war with the Taxi drivers. Now, having experienced outraged taxi drivers in Manhattan, his words were not particularly soothing.

Next, we pulled directly in front of a bus, with at least three inches to spare. If the bus driver had tried to see us, it would have been impossible, and I don't think the bus driver was trying to see us. When the traffic light changed, our pedi-cycler took off, going probably less than 1/5 of a mile per hour. The bus took off at a speed of at least five miles per hour. Our driver quickly gave way and jumped behind a semi parked car; the bus speed passed us, layering our skin and clothing in a fine mist of diesel fumes.

You know, I never realized how dang tall those buses really are! Michael and Leisa looked on in horror, even photographing us along the way. We too photographed them, do we look frightened? No because we took these pictures before we pulled into the traffic.

All in all, it took us about twenty minutes, and nearly cost us our life, when we could have possibly been safer in a New York taxi. Man...oh man!

WHAT'S NEW AT LAURA LEE (the lighting designer not the country singer)

We've always like the metal finishes at lighting designer Laura Lee's showroom. Hers are the most authentic looking "rusticated" finishes. She has a good eye for design and her lamp shades are the most unique in the market place. The lamps, chandeliers and sconces are the most expensive wrought iron in the market place, but I think they're worth it. New this year (actually I'm not sure when she introduced these styles since she apparently does not have Sales Reps--or at least not one that calls on our store) is a ceiling mounted fixture, which is a category in the lighting-world market place that is devoid of new and fresh styles. Pictured here is an Italian blown glass fixture with wrought iron frame--great looking, eh?

Also, the chandelier pictured at left, is a nice, clean take on wrought iron chandeliers, which tend to be mostly over done with curly ques, applied "leaves" and other things, and a dingle-berry or two.

This fixture is clean and the shades give it a sophisticated air which I think is could be equally at home in a Tuscan Villa or in an upper east side pied a terre.

The Ceiling Mount Fixture and Chandelier are available by special order from Cabana Home-Mill Valley and Cabana Home-Santa Barbara, allow 4 weeks for delivery.

A large selection of Laura Lee Chandeliers, Sconces, Table and Floor Lamps are available in stock at Cabana Home-Santa Barbara.


Granted, topping yesterdays worst of show would be a miracle, as almost everything we passed today paled by comparison. However, by days end there was one item that stuck out in our minds. A Warholian Louis IV fauteuil chair. Fauteuil? What the he...

Okay, a little explanation before we go on with the "worst of"...

Fauteuil, French, is an arm chair (I know that this is a side chair, but if it were an arm chair...) that has open arms. Think of a typical dining arm chair.

As opposed to an closed-arm, arm chair, which in France is called a Bergere chair (see chair to the left of the Marilyn Chair). The sides of the chair, underneath the arm, are closed, or upholstered.

Okay, more than you wanted to know? Store it. You never know when your going to have to pull that little tid-bit of info out in front of your Client, or a snippy Showroom Representative.

Warhol Foundation run amuck? I think Andy would roll over in his Gucci's if he could see his iconic and much loved Marilyn image, reproduced with such ugly taste and execution. Uuuoo...Mean Guy! It's not exactly either of our idea of sitting on Marilyn.

I didn't ask, but I truly hope that this chair was not licensed by the Warhol Foundation, who have not been known of late to be discriminating when granting licenses to grantees.


Tomorrow we blow this pop-stand and move on to the legendary D & D Building on the Upper East Side. This is where the most fabuous Vendors seem to be located. We have some incredible appointments sceduled, so I'll see you tomorrow.

Good Night Moon.

Monday, August 13, 2007



Oh how sweet is that title! Doesn't that read like a romantic day in
Paradise? Well more accurately, this Pier is just another venue for the Int'l Gift Show, which is held in a huge and somewhat run- down ship terminal on the banks of the Hudson River.
The views are of New Jersey, and not the pretty part. We were nearly killed as we emerged from our Taxi this morning, as we exited the door literally onto the Hudson Parkway (should be re-named the Hudson River Motor Speedway). We recovered quickly and decided using the cross walk after the light changed would be a prudent choice.

It's day two, and Caroline ditched her Cole Haans for tennis shoes, though her tennies were orange and grey, in just the right shades to match her Hermes scarf. It was a look, but a comfortable one. I ditched my sport coat and sported the dorky "conventioneer's" name tag, laced around my neck with elastic strings. We were a pair!

Michael and Leisa, the Managers/Proprietors of our Cabana Home Mill Valley store were dressed comfy as well, with Michael adding a pair of Dr. Scholl's gel shoe pads to his shoes. Could the AARP be far behind for the four of us?


Anyway, today's venue was quite different from the day before and more in line with what we came here to see. Though we found some great things yesterday at the Javitz Center, the venue tended to be more for those in the gift shop business (i.e., remember the gift shop at Stuckey's on those swell family car trips?).
Today's venue was focused more for the home furnishings or art and accessories retailers and interior designers. To say the least, we were in our element for ten straight hours. We took one fifteen minute break for lunch, woofing down a delicious pre-packaged (and God only knows when they were packaged) turkey sandwich. After paying a king's ransom for our delicious entrees, we were directed to the "cafe area" that was modestly furnished with stand-up bar tables and no chairs. How thoughtful of the event management.

On the very first aisle it quickly became apparent that today would be the day to name the "Worst of Show". You knew it was coming! I have to tell you, we spotted the winner within the first five minutes at a booth that was furnished with Roberta Shilling "antiques" (not so sure just how "antique" her things are). All day long we kept a wary eye out for an item that would top that. What made this selection so interesting was how it was displayed. Now let's think about this for a minute. Someone actually displayed this item in a way that they thought would attract Buyers, right? Okay, then just who were they trying to attract? I mean, what the hell is this item? It started out as a clay-type covered pot that was less than less than skillfully painted black. Then, it was topped with a hardly recognizable Crab-like figure, made of what looked like paper mache. It was available in two sizes, oh goody! And, please take a look at the snazzy back ground. Is it supposed to be the sand for a crab boil? A hay stack for...good God!? Regardless, it worked because it sure got our attention!


Next, we rounded the corner to find the importer of the embroidered Dowry cloth, featured in the photograph on the left. Traditionally made by the bride and the bride's mother prior to her wedding. These works, from the nation of Uzbekistan (no silly, Borat was from Kazakhstan), which is bordered to the south by the beauteous nation of Afghanistan.
It is readily apparent that these cloths are a work of love, as evidenced by the care with which these are made. However, this love stands in stark contrast to the fact that these marriages are most often arranged marriages. Incongruous, don't you think?
It is the hope of this textile purveyor that these works of art will be appreciated, and saved from their almost certain demise in this war torn region of the world. The cloth pictured is approximately 60" x 60", and would sell in stores for about $1,495, including shipping within the USA.

We thought they were impressive in smaller sizes as well, so we bought the throw pillows, which were made in non-uniform sizes, depending on how much cloth could be salvaged from a larger damaged cloth. These pillows range in size from approx 24" long x 18" tall, and will sell for $525 at Cabana Home stores. Expect to see them in early September.
Well, we had an inkling by the end of the day yesterday that there was possibly an it color in the making. It wasn't blatant or obvious to any of us, and it wasn't one that was dolloped onto every dern thing in the marketplace. There was just a hint. However, pretty early on this day, we began seeing this color again, a combination of dark green/turquoise/blue color. Not bright, not too dull, but rich and full. More serene than a jewel tone, but not a watery silvery/blue. From today's photos, we think the color of this Asian jar best exemplifies it.

Interesting though, we also noticed this color again, just a few moments later on an "ancient" (meaning a most excellent reproduction) tapestry (shown below left). Most of the colors were made to look like they had faded from years of exposure to sunlight and other elements, but the hue of the
"greenuoiseblu" (slang for green/turquoise/blue) woven into the tapestry was the same hue as the color in the Asian jar pictured above, left.
If the intent of this tapestry's weaver was to recreate this work of art with authentic period colors, could one surmise that the new it color is just a rehash of an it color that is centuries old? Are there any new colors? Stay posted with the Design Guy and we'll find out together. I've attached a couple of pictures of throw pillows that also had the color, below center and below right.

From left: Tapestry; Ankasa pillows, center and right.

Now, for some very exciting news: Da...Ta...Ta...Ta...Da! Cabana Home is pleased to announce that we will carry in stock in the Santa Barbara store, the beautiful Jan Barboglio Collection. We are so pleased, and it is terrific for Caroline, Leisa, Michael and myself to be working with Jan. Twenty five years ago (oh, where does all of the time go...) the four of us were employed by that bastion of fashion, Neiman Marcus, in the NM headquarters in Dallas TX. Jan Barboglio debuted her first clothing collection at Neiman's, which featured her signature white cotton dresses with ruffled necklines and skirts, she became known for making casual and loose fitting clothes that go from day into evening.
A few years later, we had all moved on from Neimans, and had pursued our fortunes elsewhere. I became a real estate mogul (particularly in my own mind), Caroline a full-time professional volunteer, Leisa an executive with Gap Inc, and Michael an exec with DFS (Duty Free Shops).

We ended up neighbors, living just across the Grenway from Jan, with our children car pooling together for school. Jan moved on from clothing, and began importing Mexican glassware and iron home furnishings products, and ultimately designing her line as we know it today, a major home furnishings and furniture importer and manufacturer. Today the Jan Barboglio line features forged iron accessories, serving pieces, candlesticks and candelabra, fireplace equipment and screens, iron canopy and poster beds, bar stools, benches, tables, chandeliers and, isn't that enough!? Anyway, it's fabulous and we are so pleased to bring this line to our stores. Look for it in the Cabana Home stores in late September.

From left: Forged iron fire screen and andirons; Center table with polished steel and turned base; Tall vases of concrete, steel and glass.

ITS EARLY 3:30 A.M.!
Okay, we're getting close to the end, but I wanted to tell y0u about a couple of other discoveries:
Run Run is a line of forged iron furniture very different from the rusticated Barboglio line above. Designed and made by a Maine craftsman, the furniture is clean and sleek, devoid of unnecessary decoration or detailing, letting the lines and planes stand alone.
Of particular interest were the "X" benches, beautifully tailored and upholstered in taupe leather, and the wonderfully proportioned and versatile dining table/desk/console. The slate topped cocktail tables were a nice take on a similar set of tables by
the venerable Belgian designer, Axel Vervoort.
The collection includes a bench, a narrow demilune console, leather upholstered occasional chairs with exposed steel arms, dining chairs, and small cocktail tables in both round and square , and a smattering of lamps.
The look is fresh and sophisticated, while taking raw elements into a new dimension. In both Cabana Home stores in mid-November.
and then...
there is the pillow and linen line designed by another husband and wife duo, Sachin (him) and Babi (her) Ahluwalia. Under the label of Ankasa, launched 22 months ago, this chic couple has opened their first flagship store at 135 E. 65th Street, in New York City

We were included in a very chic cocktail party there last evening, and enjoyed talking with fellow West Coast designers Jaimie Young and Barclay Butera. It was definitely a New York party with lots of the beautiful people.
Oh yeah, the pillow collection is offered in a beautiful color palette, and is rich in embroidered designs. We selected warm grays and silvers on one grouping, and navy and white on another.
We finally succumbed to some really tasty greens and yellows! As you come to know us better, you will see that we are not big into lots of bold colors, as we are usually interested in texture and softer more natural colors, but these just couldn't be resisted!

Other colors that are more often our choices include taupes, cremes and whites, black, and pinks, lilac and pale silvery/green.
The line includes beautiful outdoor pillows in Sunbrella fabrics. These pillows are embroidered with equal style and detail, and the threads are solution-dyed acrylic which are color fast, mold and mildew resistant.

Look for the Ankasa Collection in Cabana Home Stores in Mill Valley and Santa Barbara in mid-October.

Okay, I'm absolutely exhausted, again! So, are you ready for the Worst of Show! ?
Scroll on down and I think you'll quite agree.

Okay, here goes! The photo on the left is an actual, untouched photograph of a display in a booth that had its entrance covered in a tarp. I wasn't sure if the poor people had just given up for the day, or if perhaps they had been kicked out and shuttered closed by management. Our curiosity got the best of us, so we had to stand on our tippy-toes to look over the large blue, plastic tarp. We hadn't really expected to feast our eyes on a contender for Worst of Show, but there it was, in all of its dazzling, rhinestone splendor. At first our eyes had to adjust from the searing, sparkling light that this lamp (I think it's a lamp) generated.
It looks like the base of this thing may have originally been a stag horn from a very unsuspecting deer. Eek...if Bambi's mother could see this. Every centimeter of the base was covered in rhinestones, or as every Vendor of rhinestone covered home accessories claimed, their items were covered in Swarovkski crystals (yeah, yeah). It was then topped off with an electric blue laminated lamp shade. Ohhhh, pretty.

Is there more? Oh, but yes. To the left is the other side of this same booth. The wall paper is bright magenta flocked velvet on silver wallpaper. The Rococo mirror is painted silver, and the detailed carvings are encrusted with rhinestones. The shelves that flank the mirror are completely covered in rhinestones, as are the two very happy fish.
There's a saying that sums it up best when one is stunned, OH MY GOD!

Enough said.

We'll report on tomorrow's findings. Until then...

Good Night Moon.