Monday, June 30, 2008

What is your Decorating Style?

Holly at Decor 8 recently posted some lovely home shots from Traditional Home magazine's website. The colorful rooms made me want to change my home again! I'm in a quandary. I love the Old World French interiors, but find myself attracted to black & white with pops of color or neutral tone-on-tone. I suppose I just like too many different looks, which isn't a bad thing, just a challenge!

Rooms in my home have changed from Art Deco, French Country and Victorian, to Shabby Chic and Hollywood Glamour/Regency! It's never-ending. I see something I like and want to change my house. It's challenging to integrate the old weathered European look with the clean lines of more sleek and modern design.

This home featured in Traditional Home has a "circus-theme" decor (it's actually a circa-1840s Italianate house that was built as the winter headquarters for John Robinson’s Circus, the largest circus of its day.) I love its white background with "candy-colored" accents.

What is your style/decor? Would love to hear any stories you have to share!

Photos courtesy of Traditional Home Magazine

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Work of Sam Berger Part One: Grace Cathedral

My Great-Grandfather, Samuel Berger emigrated to San Francisco in 1904 from Bucharest, Romania, where he learned his trade as a second generation wood carver. I was fortunate enough to have known him; he died in 1970 when I was ten years old.

Sam's woodcarvings grace some of California's most beautiful public and private buildings. His works can be found in many churches in San Francisco including, Grace Cathedral, Basilica of Mission Dolores, St. Peter and Paul's, Star of the Sea, St. Cecilia's and St. Brigid's, to name of few. Some of his crowning achievements were at Hearst Castle at San Simeon where he did most of his wood carving. Sam collaborated with the renowned architect, Julia Morgan, on much of his work.

Berger as a young man (on right) in his workshop in San Francisco

Sam Berger's work has not been catalogued, and this is my attempt to chronicle some of his work in a series of postings. I stumbled upon some wonderful old family photo albums filled with church interiors and architectural elements. Other than a few living relatives that can identify his work, there are still many photos of carvings that are not labeled. This is going to be my journey to investigate and identify Sam Berger's most beautiful work from a bygone era.

The following are photos of Sam in front of the magnificent organ covers that he carved for Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Please be sure and click on the photos for super-enlarged detailed shots.

All photos property of Lynn Goldfinger-Abram

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Karen Knorr

Once again, Di over at Designer's Block had a great post that stopped me in my tracks! Frankfurt-born photographer, Karen Knorr's most recent Fable series is amazing.

Staged at the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, Karen uses taxidermy animal characters such as the cunning fox and the foolish pigeon, roaming grandeur rooms and corridors. "Using staging, technical virtuosity, playful humour and a pinch of deliberate awkwardness, Knorr teases some of the most exalted themes of art history out of the objects of elite material culture and into photographic terms." Fables, Lucy Soutter

Take a look at some of my favorites!

The Blue Salon

The Grand Monkey Room 1

The King's Reception

Ledoux's Reception


The Grand Monkey Room 2

The Music Room

All photos courtesy of

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cleaning your Hotel Silver

I’ve had many people contact me about how to care for their hotel silver. It’s quite simple, in fact, you treat hotel silver pretty much the same as sterling or other silverplate.

Hotel Silver was designed for commercial use. It has several layers of silverplate, making it quite durable. It does, however, tarnish like all silver if exposed to the elements. By using your hotel silver regularly, it will slow down the tarnish process. Additionally, storing it in a closed cabinet such as a china cabinet or in felt pouches will slow down the tarnishing.

Here are some tips on caring for your silver:
  • When you start to notice a brownish or yellowish film, it’s time to polish!
  • My polish of choice is Hagerty’s Silver Foam. It comes in a white jar and the polish is a thick, chocolate-looking paste. It’s strong enough to polish your silver, but mild enough not to hurt it. Most hardware stores or large chain grocery stores carry it.
  • Put on some latex gloves and lay down some paper towels or old towels. This way you can polish several pieces at a time.
  • Rinse each piece of silver in warm or hot water to remove dust and dirt. Then, while the silver is still warm, dip a moistened foam sponge or soft rag into the polishing cream and spread the cream over the entire silver piece. Rub in a circular motion until you begin to see the tarnish coming off. Rinse the sponge or rag and continue to polish those missed areas until the piece is no longer tarnished.
  • When the piece is tarnish-free, rinse again with warm/hot water and a mild soap to remove all the traces of polishing agent.
  • Dry thoroughly with a very soft cloth to avoid water stains.
  • Now your silver is bright and shiny! Use it! Entertain with it often and it will slow down the tarnishing cycle.

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t forget to polish those difficult areas such as the handle and spout.
  • Keep salt away from silver whenever possible, or wash salt residues away immediately after use.
  • For an “aged patina," leave some of the tarnish in the crevices.
  • DO NOT use Tarnix, chemical silver dips or the kitchen sink/foil/detergent/electroplate trick. This can damage your silver by removing a coat or giving it an almost white patina. Stick to the soft polishes like Hagerty’s or Wright’s Silver Polish.
  • If you’ve purchased a piece of silver that's extremely black and tarnished, and you just can’t get the tarnish off using all of your elbow grease, it may require the service of a professional silversmith. They use heavy duty buffing and cleaning machines that bring your silver back to life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paris Hotel Boutique & Past Perfect

Many of you may know that in addition to selling on my website, I rent space in a collective called Past Perfect on Union Street in San Francisco. There are about 30 dealers in the shop and we each have our own booth. The shop is an eclectic mix of modern & traditional vintage decor. The store also does a lot of prop rentals since there is a great selection of unique and interesting pieces. I mainly sell larger items in Past Perfect such as furniture and lighting. The hotel silver and accessories are on my website. Since my website and Past Perfect are mentioned in the current issue of Architectural Digest, the shop told me that they would like to do a "Paris Hotel Boutique" themed window to showcase my online business. I was thrilled. Here are some photos of the window...a little piece of my vision if I had my own storefront. I would want a mix of modern, of course. The website keeps me so busy that it would be impossible for me to have my own shop, but this window was a fun "make believe" and Past Perfect allows me to have a physical presence. I've also included photos of the third window that Jaime did with an industrial theme. Thanks Jaime for the great job you did on the windows!

If you're visiting San Francisco, be sure and stop by Past Perfect! There is a second location on Lombard Street as well.

Past Perfect
2230 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 929-7651
Hours - Daily 11:30-7:00

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In Memory: John Lee Hooker
August 22, 1917 - June 21, 2001

Today marks the seven year anniversary of the death of legendary blues musician, John Lee Hooker. His passing was a large loss for so many people including myself. I had the opportunity of meeting John Lee in the 1980's and became not only a close friend, but was his personal assistant for many years.

Aside from John Lee being one of the world's greatest musical legends, he was one of the kindest people I've ever known. Generous and caring, with an extraordinary sense of humor, John Lee would make anyone in his presence feel comfortable, and if someone was in need, he was there with a helping hand or offering a room to sleep in. There were no airs about him. He was a deep thinker and "real" person with gifts far beyond his musical talents. Not a day goes by that I don't remember some funny expression he had or story he told. His memory always brings a smile to my face. For all of us whose lives you've touched, John we miss you so.

My last photo with John on my 40th birthday

The early years
"The Boogie Man"

John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wall Candy!

I was just reading through the March/April issue of Vogue Living Australia and fell in love with Nina Campbell's ad! I guess that anything with sweets and pastel colors gets my attention. But seriously, her "Perroquet" collection is beautiful, inspired by the elegance of Paris with a hint of whimsy.
This fabric and wallpaper collection is a "charming composition on pure cotton of colourful parrots, roses in full bloom and ornamental cherries. This design was inspired by one of Nina's favourite Parisian boutiques." You can find it here at Osborne & Little.
Her "Balzac Stripe" fabric is made to compliment the Perroquet line. So cheerful!


Photos from & Osborne & Little