The Red Line


There was a red line

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It started in the laundry alcove of our barn.

It’s sort of hard to explain, but let me make a long story short…

(for the first time in my life. Ever.)


In designing the barn, I almost neglected to add a laundry area.

Let’s just get that out of the way first.

  I mean, who thinks of laundry when designing a barn for boys??

 Luckily, at the last minute (love those last minute Change Orders) we found a way to tuck one in, in the small hallway leading to the garage.  Because there was no window, and the room adjacent to the laundry houses all the guts, gadgetry and ‘guy stuff’ for the barn, our architect came up with the cool idea to remove one length of reclaimed wood and replace it with a ribbon of glass. An ‘electrical-guts-viewing window’ as it were.

Like I said, guy stuff. Then he added an LED multi-flitered light, which can be any colour, but I like the red.

MUA: Michelle Leander Herum

When passing by at night it’s both cozy and very James Bond.

If James Bond did laundry.


Plus, it matches the cherry red washer & dryer I’ve lusted after for years.

That’s when it started.

32c13272b67c15d0d694bdf141940966 I began to see the red line everywhere…

garzon-uruguay-3_0and to appreciate how it made cool, monochrome spaces pop to life

d7203af8ebadf6ee10357dee398a29f7Mark Cunningham

fonda-windsor-melbourne8_0_0Fonda-Windsor Melbourne

Like I said



Selman Hotel, Marrakech

The hallways of the Selman Hotel, Marrakech

bookcases, Sun Valley,

My own Instagram photos

Bar, The Tintagel Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka,

The bar of The Tintagel Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka

.This place

that placec22a49b5c16a980ddb445d07deaace35

and you can believe it didn’t stop there.

Fendi boot Fendi

I think you all know me better than that.

090613_Tommy_Ton_S2014RTW_slide_103via Tommyton

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The boots, Chanel Pre-Fall 2014970x544_BoxHomepage_1


I wanna say Ann Demeulemeester


MARC0291.450x675I forget.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 7.11.09 PMGaultier


red leather jacket



Magdalena Frackowiak

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 2.31.11 PMJason Wu clutch

img_7784YSL pumps

In museums…

IMG_7221Chicago Museum of Modern Art


in magazines…


Eddie Borgo Fall 2013 Winged Scarab necklace


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.even food…


the red line was haunting my dreams


calling out to me



It’s no bloody wonder I forget about the laundry.


BTW- This is my 500th post!!

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One Year Ago; I was “Feeling Very Delftish”


painted lips photo; Michelle Leander Herum

uncredited photos via Tumblr or Pinterest.

The Headless Horseman & The Billionaire



Our timing was perfect.

In search of turning leaves (the spectacle is late this year in NYC) my older son and I decided to drive out and visit the Hudson Valley last weekend. (I’ve been in NY, just in case you were worried about me!)

But wait-not so fast…everything  sold out. :-(

Who’s giving up? pas moi.

With my boy having only one week day available, we managed to purchase tickets to tour famous Kykuit in Sleepy Hollow on Thursday morning.

Rain was forecast but said progeny was optimistically pessimistic about the weatherman’s ability to predict that far ahead.

Kykuit slimpaley.comThis was my Instagram photo of the moment we arrived, but in the space of a few minutes the mist lifted, the clouds dispersed and it turned out to be a stellar day.

So basically, my son is a genius.

Kykuit  slimpaley.comKykuit (Dutch for “Lookout”) is a stately stone home sitting high upon a picturesque knoll above the town of Sleepy Hollow.  After getting off to a very rough start, the house was finally completed in 1913.

Teaser; imagine taking almost 6 years and how much money(?) to build your dream home, finally moving in and having to move right back out due to so many design flaws. As I say, it’s always something…but that’s another story.

Kykuit was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family until Nelson R. bequeathed  his 1/3 share to The National Trust  for Historic Preservation upon his death in 1979.  The guide didn’t elaborate on who held the other shares.

Kykuit slimpaley.comIt was 1893, when John D. Rockefeller, encouraged by his brother William’s glowing reports of the Pocantico Hills, first bought the property. The family gradually acquired the surrounding land until they’d amassed almost 4,000 acres.

That’s on the Hudson people.

Did I mention money wasn’t an issue??

 Luckily for the public, the main house, gardens and carriage barn all opened for tours when the house transferred to the historic trust. The family still retains the rest of the property, keeping the huge “Children’s Playhouse” and other buildings dotted about the grounds for personal use. Happy Rockefeller, Nelson’s widow now in her 80′s, lives nearby.

Kykuit slimpaley.comImpressive, if not too surprising, the original landscaping plan was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame) More surprising was that John D. was less than thrilled with Olmsted’s efforts and in addition to taking much of the garden design upon himself, commissioned William Welles Bosworth to finish the grounds more to his taste.

The truth is that I could go on endlessly about the history behind all these great estates; Kykuit, Oak Alley, Vizcaya, The Breakers et al.  Fascinating reading if you’ve the time and inclination, but what I truly love about taking historic tours are the behind-the-parlour-door rhythms, quirky little tid-bits and not so occasional scandals you take away from the homes and their ghostly inhabitants. Hence the popularity of “Downton Abbey”.

window detail, Kykuit, slimpaley.comHaving a really great tour guide is like getting your hair done by the best gossipy celebrity hair stylist. Buckle up and get ready to dish the dirt!

What was it really like to have been America’s very first billionaire?

Uh…helloo…is that linoleum??

Why was John D. Rockefeller so infamously ‘tight with a dime’?

( Legend has it John D. literally gave out rolls of nickels and dimes (an estimated 30-40,000  over his lifetime) plus a brief lecture on the rewards of working hard and saving money to poor people in the street in an attempt to dispel his less than ‘Generous’ reputation)

That being said, he and his heirs were exceptionally philanthropic, particularly when it came to the Arts, and Conservation. The amount of money, land, buildings and art bestowed upon the State of NY by the Rockefeller family could well be unmatched.

Kykuit slimpaley.comA side view of the house reveals that Kykuit is much larger than it appears from the front.

The Rockefellers were a much less ostentatious bunch than their neighbours the Vanderbilts.

Let’s just say I doubt the Kardashians would have made the guest list.

KykuitI found one small image of the interior of Kykuit, but unfortunately no photos are allowed to be taken in the house-and I bonded too much with the guide to sneak any iphone pics ( hate when that happens)

Vintage surrey,“Surrey with the Fringe On Top”

The  2 1/2 hour tour does include the massive old carriage house and stables where you are allowed to use your camera.

vintage CadillacWhat was it like to drive around in 40 ft long  Cadillacs? Check the separate windscreen for the back seat!

Kykuit Gardens, slimpaley.comA tour of the lower levels of the house features a pretty major art collection including works by Picasso, Lautrec, Calder, Giacometti, and Chagall. I must admit this was my least favourite part of the tour. I was underwhelmed, not by the art but the space, which isn’t very appealing. I couldn’t wait to get out and back up into the natural light, the gardens and the views, which are spectacular.

Kykuit, Sleepy Hollow, Slimpaley.comThe 9 hole golf course within the the 250 acres of walled and gated property surrounding Kykuit is gradually being forsaken. It costs $100,000 per  year to maintain…per hole.

That’s what the guide said. Pinky swear.

KykuitThe view from the front entrance.

The ‘flames’ flanking the urns are electrified. All the mod cons for Johnny D.

Fall Leaves slimpaley.comand the leaves were starting to turn in Sleepy Hollow. Does this look like a great Halloween street, or what?!


Sleepy Hollow Church, slimpaley.comThe Old Dutch Church

Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow, slimpaley.comA three minute jaunt uphill from the Kykuit Tour meeting area and you’ll arrive at the Old Dutch Church. One of the oldest cemeteries in the country, it’s chock full of famous residents, including  Brooke Astor, Elizabeth Arden, Walter Chrysler, Andrew Carnegie, Washington Irving, and William Rockefeller. That’s some after-party.

The Dutch cemetery, Sleepy HollowThe legendary characters of  Washington Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow” are also buried here (including the ghost of the headless horseman who is said to ride nightly) We saw the tombstones of the Van Tassel family (Katrina from the story) amongst many other intriguing  headstones, ranging from Teeny-tiny to Wow-Now That’s Impressive. I imagine the guided walking tour here is quite lively. No pun intended.

cemetery angel , slimpaley.comNothing like a stroll through a cemetery on a beautiful day to remind you to seize The Moment.


Sleepy Hollow is aprox. a 4o minute drive from upper Manhattan.

Guided tours of the cemetery are held on Sunday afternoons from the last week of May through October.

The Kykuit tour is run by ‘Historic Hudson Valley’. Tickets are in high demand, especially at this time of year and should be bought in advance.  Trust me.

Kykuit.jpgFor more information click HERE

Don’t forget to roll your dimes, keep your head & sleep tight!



The Road to Ouarzazete


So we decide it would be much more fun to take a road trip than to fly to Ouarzazate.

It’s just over the snowcapped High Atlas mountain range you see in the distance.

No biggie.

L1020852The journey takes the better part of 5 1/2 hours and turns out to be one of the highlights of our trip to Morocco.

890A7053We pass through the most amazingly diverse terrain

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890A7174Traffic is wild

890A7001With nary a dull moment


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While much of the drive is immersed in a patchwork of deep green grass and red earth, towards the mountain top things get positively lunar.

And wait…what’s this I see?


890A6983Yes. We found a store.


Rock Shopping. Dig it.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 10.10.22 PMHappiness!

890A6970The salesperson’s hands

L1020846Just in case you were wondering.

890A7066Coming down the other side of the mountains we detour to Telouet to stop for a delicious lunch


890A7069and to tour the incredible ruins of Telouet Kasbah, where the likes of General Patton and Churchill were received back in the day.

890A7106Only the storks call it home now but restoration is slowly underway.

890A7087Our extremely knowledgable guide.

If you can believe it, this is how some of the rooms within the ruins are still appointed, despite the dilapidation inside and out.

890A7089Examples of two astonishing archways


890A7094and a ceiling in one of the grand salons


890A7115Up on the roof, storm clouds roll in upon lusty winds

890A7130and our “Talitha Getty” photo shoot is foiled (for now :-) )

It was so cold-don’t look at my Uggs.

890A7155Getting closer to our destination, the villages hugging the water’s edge become chameleons against the rocks.

DSC01016Only the satellite dishes give them away

(or their ‘white flowers’ as our driver called them )

890A7168One last ruined kasbah glows in the gorgeous setting sun

and it’s cocktail time for a couple of very dusty ladies.



#1 Address in the Indian Ocean


With only one or two days left in January I’ve just realised it’s been a year since my  Sri Lankan sojourn and I never did get around to writing the posts I promised about all the incredible places and things we experienced there.

Perhaps a teeny, weeny part of my resistance was self-serving-I don’t want toooo many people going there-just you guys :)

(Oh oh. Was I being a Holiday Destination Hoarder?!)


But I think the main reason was I’m just so damn in love with the place that I wanted every post to be perfect.

Then I remembered my old resolution that “DONE is a whole lot better than perfect” (Was that it?? Something to that effect anyway)

So, with no further time to waste, let’s take a quick visit back to Taprobane Island.

L1090993Located in the Indian Ocean, just a stone’s throw off the southern tip of Sri Lanka in Weligama Bay.

Sri Lanka - from Galle Fort to 30km south.The famous stick fishermen of Weligama Bay

L1080726and yours truly, also in Weligama, waaay too many years ago to admit to.

Taprobane Island mimics the shape of Sri Lanka but measures a mere 2 1/2 acres. It was built in 1922 by the Count de Maunay-Talvande who grandly presided over this last, tiny tear-drop of land before the South Pole, for almost 30 years. After Maunay’s death in the late 40′s, the house fell into a state of neglect until the American writer Paul Bowles came upon it. It was love at first sight and it was here that he wrote “The Spider House”.

In reading a biography about Bowles and his wife Jane several years ago I learned that as enchanted as he was with his tiny slice of Sri Lankan heaven, Jane simply abhorred it. She was a woman blessed with neither good health nor disposition at this stage of her life and deeply feared the swarms of huge bats that routinely descended upon the island each dusk. While Paul enjoyed the peace and inspiration Taprobane offered him, Jane would be plotting her escapes.

Not to mention her girlfriend was back in Morocco waiting for her, but that’s another story.

jane-y-paul-bowlesI want to go back to Morocco now

L1090994The octagonal open air design allows the tropical breezes to flow through the house. The black doors you see flanking the terrace lead to bedrooms

L1100013This was Paul Bowle’s bedroom. Much of the original furnishings and paintings are still there. Don’t you just love the doors?!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 8.40.00 AMMoi, in one of the other bedrooms enjoying a dreamy, sultry breeze on a very hot & humid day.

L1100017One of the things we loved about much of the architecture we encountered in Sri Lanka were the wonderful ways in which seating areas are incorporated into walls and floors.

L1100030Like this.

Note the gorgeous patina on the cool, smooth concrete floors- something we also saw a lot of and such a great choice in a hot climate.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 8.36.34 AMTaking late afternoon tea at Taprobane.Uh… no bats ’til dusk right???

(ps. I told you it was humid!)

L1100015The steps leading down to the ocean where the house staff told us the present owner and his mother had been swimming when the Tsunami struck.

Miraculously, they both survived but much of the lower part of the house was damaged and the swimming pool was completely swept away.

L1100018A new infinity pool has been built in a higher location on the property. Here you can see how close the beach of Weligama is to the island.

L1100044The tropical gardens surrounding the house are brimming with eye-popping bouganvilla

Yes, I did post this pic of us leaving the island last year…

L1000537Remember that the tide does rise in the afternoon in Weligama Bay!

For More information about  Taprobane read HERE

L1100012A photo hanging in the house.

(Please note, we did not stay on the island, we just visited and took tea and the tour one unforgettable afternoon)

Happy Travels!




Slim Paley photo


I’m absolutely stark raving mad about WOOD, particularly old wood,  so compiling the images for this post was a labour of love for me.  The photo above is of our octagonal porch in Sun Valley.  The floors are reclaimed  wood, with a stone border running round the perimeter. The walls are “papered” in real birch bark with thin switches of willow where the sheets of bark meet. Finding a tradesperson to do the installation was more difficult than, well, childbirth would only be a slight exaggeration, but where there’s a will there’s a way, right people?! Besides, you forget all about it when it’s over :)   The speakers, electrical outlets and switch plates were all faux painted to disappear. My painter did such a great job but I’m not going to show you because I’ve been told to stop pointing out my “fauxed” stuff to everyone or there’s no point in “faux-ing” it.   (Maybe I’ll sneak you a picture later) The fire place is river rock and metal with a very large single beam of old wood for the mantle. The light fixture is antique.  One of my carpenters made the little octagonal table for me and the furniture is just indoor/outdoor wicker. In the summertime the windows can be removed and the room becomes a screened porch.  I love to sit out here with my tea in the morning, watching the squirrels pick the bark off the railings we paid extra to find with bark,  and listen to the river rushing by.  Heaven.

Click here for the best “Wood” song ever

Norwegian Wood


Slim Paley photo

The house during construction.  The octagon porch is to the far rear left.

Slim Paley photo

Squirrel handiwork on the porch in Sun Valley

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto‘s 172 sq/ ft. bungalow with several different living levels.


“Conversation Unique”  by Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz (Gallery S. Bensimon)

DSquared Eau de Toilette for men

Slim Paley photo

A boy’s bathroom in Sun Valley.

The backsplashes and counter are zinc, vintage trough sink from the U.K. All the wood is reclaimed. The sink fixtures are copper plumbing pipes  plated in nickel. (See early S.P. post “Pssst- Wanna Buy a Faucet?” Sept.09,  for more S.V. bathroom photos)

Stella McCartney wood cage handbag

How splendid is this?

If I were a chic little Fairy with modern taste I would live in it!

Anyone know what hotel this is in NY?? I lost my credit- perhaps The Crosby St.?

Wood iphone cases at;

Shoe photo from Italian Vogue

Matteo Thun for Rapsel

Wooden radiators by i.radium.


Slim Paley photo

A bedroom in Sun Valley.

Steeply pitched roof lines starting low on the bed wall and soaring toward the fireplace on the opposite wall help to create a very cozy haven.

Feu de Bois candle by Diptique

This is one of my favourite scents (burning wood) by Diptique

Rapsel wooden sink

wooden toilet seat cover

Yvette Laduk wool blend rug

Slim Paley photo

Front Porch in Sun Valley.

Alexandre Moronnoz‘s park bench can be added to and twisted at any given point to make legs or armrests



Nasomatto Perfumes

Slim Paley photo

Wild flowers in an old wooden…thingy-  Sun Valley