This post is written in honor of my late father, Michael. Next week is his birthday – he would have turned 70 on February 13. I wrote the text below last year as a submission to the Washington Post Magazine column called Mine, in which people tell the story of a treasured possession in 250 words or less. My submission was not chosen (yet!), so I thought I would share it with you today. Happy Birthday, Dad.


In May of 1998, on the eve of my college graduation, I stood with my father on the outdoor terrace of the beautiful Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia. He joked that he was sorry he didn’t have a grand estate like Keswick that I would inherit. I said, “That’s ok – all I really want to inherit from you is the Skegness poster.” Little did I know that a month later the poster would be mine after my father’s unexpected passing at the age of 53. I hand carried it back to the US from his London home after the funeral.

The poster had been around my whole life – my father had brought it with him from England when he arrived in America in the late 60’s to attend graduate school. He met my mother just days later, and she framed the poster in the happy yellow frame I had always known it in. It was a railway advertisement for getaways to Skegness, a chilly English beach resort town. As a child, I’d always loved the jolly man skipping down the beach in his scarf and boots. As an adult, I see the poster that has always been a part of our family through marriage, divorce, several international moves, and one serious house fire. Recently reframed, it now hangs in our living room. My children never had the chance to know their grandfather, but it makes me happy that a part of him is part of their everyday lives.

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Choosing a new frame, October 2013.

Let’s Go Shopping in Bali

Lucky us! My dear friend Katherine, owner of Zuna Yoga and part-time resident of Bali, is taking is on a decor shopping trip in Ubud, Bali!

Before we start, a few musings from Katherine on what we’ll be seeing:

‘Ubud is a hub of creative arts in Bali. It is brimming with carving, painting, jewelry, music, dance, theatre and more —so it’s surprising that the local language possesses no word for art. For the Balinese, this creativity has no meaning in itself. It is intended solely for pleasure of the gods, and its merit lies in the act of creation, rather than in the finished product. This also explains why so much of what is created, particularly the offerings for religious ceremonies, is simply destroyed directly after the event. 
 The Balinese are very religious and superstitious. Spirituality is everywhere, with trees, houses, temples, shrines being blessed by the people daily. The woven baskets (made of bamboo) are traditionally used to carry offerings to the temples. They are filled with flowers, fruit, incense, or symbolic coins. You’ll often see women dressed in ceremonial costume riding sidesaddle on the back of a motorcyle, with one of those baskets balanced on their laps. They also make fun decorative objects for storing more mundane items, like office supplies, charging cords and remote controls!
 Coconut wood is a common material, you can see the utensils and some of the painted trays (as well as the wooden inlay in the woven objects) are made from it. It has a lovely grainy, mottled texture and is polished to a smooth finish.
 Indonesian batik is quite famous. It’s a wax-resist dye technique, usually used on a heavy cotton fabric. The Balinese favor bright, rich colors and patterns. They wear batik tops and bottoms as part of their traditional garb – you see it everyday, everywhere. It’s also great for decorating – pillows, table runners, blankets.”
Katherine tells me there’s beautiful beaches in Bali, too. But with all this fun shopping to do, who has time for the beach?
Learn more about Katherine at


Brass Is Back

I made a fun visit to the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams signature store in Tyson’s Galleria last week. There was tons of eye candy, and lots of brass, which is definitely back – and in a good way!

LOVED the beautiful contrast of shiny brass and fluffy Tibetan wool upholstery on this one.

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Seriously can’t stop thinking about it. This is possibly the best looking director’s chair ever.

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This one with the brass frame is also wonderful – part seating and part sculpture:

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These make a beautiful statement with the neutral fabric – eye catching but not overwhelming, glamorous but not over-the-top.

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You know that I’m all about the chairs, but there was brass elsewhere – wall art, dining tables, side tables. A little goes a long way, but I’m a fan of all of it. Gorgeous stuff.

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To see more:


I love succulents – they look beautiful anywhere. In Arizona, they were everywhere. I spotted them in every kind of container, and they always looked fantastic – even in a sponge:


Or in a galvanized planter:

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Or a wooden box:

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In a basket:


Next to a turtle shell:


Or spilling out all over a vintage stool:

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Some were real living plants and some were fakes – can you tell the difference?

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Upon my return home, I spotted some beautiful (real) ones at a grocery store. So obviously you don’t have to travel far to get this beautiful look.

Spotted at:

Bungalow, Scottsdale, AZ

Tierra Del Lagarto, Scottsdale, AZ

Flower Child, Phoenix, AZ

La Grande Orange, Phoenix, AZ

Wegman’s, Virginia


Insta Real Life

I’ve been following Bungalow on Instagram for a while, and I was so excited when I realized they were in Scottsdale and I was going to be there too. A visit was definitely in order. Bungalow is a lovely (and huge!) shop that sells so many beautiful things for the home and even some clothes. They describe their style as “rustic modernism” – I’d describe it as comfy sexy modern farmhouse glam.  Here are a few of the fun things I saw:


Loved this chair! The combination of the thin brass frame and the fluffy sheepskin made this my favorite item. I really, really want it for my bedroom.

There were other great chairs, too – these had great contrasting fabric backs, turning simple into stunning:



This bookshelf was amazing – part sculpture, part storage:


A basket of cow skulls, just to remind you that you’re in the West:


But even so, a Union Jack looks great anywhere:


And more great pillows:



Loved this large leaf…


And these upholstered benches…



Thanks for introducing us, Instagram!

Bungalow,, Instagram: @bungalowaz


Instagram Roundup

Are you following @AlexandraDesignFinds on Instagram? If not, here’s a bit of what you’ve missed:

Giant chandeliers…


Pink vintage clocks…


Funky side tables…


Midcentury flea market finds…


Vintage Bicentennial fun…


Repurposed license plates…


Over-the-top architectural detail…


Cool counter-weighted table lamps…


Eye catching accent chairs…


Colorful retro turntables…


An enormous stash of blue mason jars spotted in Tennessee…


Tiled doorways…


The occasional rhino…


And me playing tourist close to home at Mount Vernon…




Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the house, but this photo is the inside of George Washington’s 16 sided barn. Isn’t it stunning?

Spotted at: Giant chandelier, Restoration Hardware. Pink clock, Galleria, Culpeper, VA. Side table, HomeGoods. Midcentury vignette, DC Big Flea. Bicentennial can and license plates, Made, Staunton, VA. The ornamented doorway is a bank located in Staunton, VA, and the tiled doorway was another building located nearby. Table Lamp, Arhaus. Chair, Z Gallerie. Record players, Urban Outfitters. Rhinos, West Elm. Last 3 photos, Mount Vernon.




We interrupt this week of Design Finds because this just arrived at my door:

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That is a serious stack of paper – the 2014 Restoration Hardware source books. Apparently RH is moving to a model where they only do one mailing a year  – sort of like IKEA. Except this is thirteen catalogs, not one. (Which is funny considering that IKEA is a way bigger store than any RH I’ve ever been to.) It’s actually not even a mailing – this stack was so heavy it arrived by UPS!

In any case, it looks like I have some reading to do. Back tomorrow with more Design Finds!

On second thought, since we’re loving on Restoration Hardware, I’ll show you my favorite RH purchase so you won’t be completely without Design Finds today – our ship’s light:

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I think they actually call it the Royal Master Sealight. Regardless, it looks awesome in our living room.

A Week of Design Finds

My apologies for a paucity of posts recently. I will make it up to you with a new Design Find every day this week!

I spotted these this weekend and loved not only the colorful prints, but also the fabulous 3D lucite frames:


I love the chunky hardware and how they can sit on a table or hang on the wall.


Spotted at: The Nest Egg, Fairfax, VA.

Not Just for Travel

There’s something wonderful about a vintage suitcase. I spotted this great stack of them last week:

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There’s a ton of fun things you can do with them – a stack of them makes a great nightstand or a side table next to a sofa and also provides great storage. Just one suitcase can also serve as a little table, too – just add legs! (A piece of plywood concealed inside the suitcase adds stability and provides an anchor to drill into to attach legs.) Legs are easy to come by on websites like – I think their McCobb or Wegner legs with metal tips would look amazing in this application.

Or you could turn a vintage suitcase into a shelf!

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Just saw in half (ever so carefully – tape area to be cut with blue tape to avoid marring it!) and slip over wall brackets from the hardware store to hang. To give it more stability, add a wood shelf on top of the brackets and secure suitcase over it with a few small nails.

Spotted at:

Stack of suitcases: DC Big Flea

Shelves: Sage Style, Kensington MD