I recently returned from my seventh (!) trip back to San Miguel de Allende, and I continue to be inspired by this city in central Mexico. I love discovering new things to explore and this year we stayed in a house that had originally been owned by the film director Peter Glenville, whose body of work was most prolific in the 1950s and 1960s. He directed films like the Prisoner starring Alec Guinness and Silent Night, Lonely Night with Henry Fonda and Barbara Bel Geddes. The rumour was that the house was host to numerous parties back in the day.
Interestingly enough the house did possess a distinct old Hollywood vibe. It was more British than Mexican in feel, and incredibly charming and eclectic. You can see what I mean in this picture of the upper living room. But it was the house’s surrounding gardens that really stood out as spectacular.
This was the walkway from the front courtyard (featuring my sister’s Jack Russell terrier, Moo). We were there in the winter so things were a bit dry, but before we left all sorts of flowers came into bloom along the high walls.
At the top of the pathway was a fountain, and a first-tier patio that looked back to Centro. The small square stepping stones lead to a set of wooden doors that opened into a whole other garden.
The concrete staircase is so simple and Zen, and it leads up to a stunning view of a Madonna recessed in a small stone archway at the top.
The highlight was this spectacular pool that Bruce Weber had photographed for Kelly Klein’s book, Pools. This is the view over the pool and alleée of trees. An adjoining patio affords a breathtaking view to San Miguel below.
This is looking back to the Casita, or guesthouse, perched at the top of a series of tiered stone steps. It evokes a bygone era of old Hollywood and we were told that a number of Hollywood greats had stayed there. Peter O’Toole visited after wrapping Lawrence of Arabia and apparently brought a massive sculpture of a camel which was positioned behind a sofa.
While I was there I visited this gorgeous house was featured in ELLE Decor and was owned by a San Miguel-based interior designer, Leslie Tung of Mitu Atelier. It's perfect: not too big, not too small, with an eclectic personality. This is the courtyard that the house is built around. It featured deep red walls inspired by the colours of China's Forbidden City, a stone fountain and what I think was an arching bougainvillea tree. Her ginger tabby was pretty cute too. The settee is by Casamidy (an exquisite Mexican furniture line), and the checkerboard stone-and-marble table was designed by Lis Bisgaard.
I love this shot of the cement fountain designed by landscape architect Alfonso Alarcon, with the water jug perched on the ledge.
Leslie's home office was on the third floor — there are lots of layers and curios to stimulate the eye wherever you looked.
This Empire-style daybed draped in an exotic fabric was the focal point of the seating area.
Last year I stumbled on this super chic boutique hotel called L’Otel right in Centro. It was so lovely and charming I had to go in and ask for a tour! I tweet this front door photo because I loved the mix of stone and tile on the floor, and the fun orchid pot that looks like a water barrel.
The breakfast room featured this fun trompe-l’oeil glass-print wallpaper. They cleverly ran shelves across it for a three-dimensional effect.
All of the rooms looked into this pretty pink courtyard complete with vintage bikes you can use during the day… although riding a bike on cobblestones is pretty tricky.
But the thing I love the most about San Miguel de Allende is how every year I discover a little bit more magic. I stumbled upon this happy reminder while walking down an alley and it stopped me in my tracks.
All photos except for 7, Suzanne Dimma
7. Katherine Dimma, Wandering Rounds blog
See more Mexican style staples here.
I'm here to make a case for mushy broccoli. Yes, mushy. While most of us have been taught to cook broccoli quickly so it's bright green and al dente, there is an Italian method for braising it low and slow to the point where it falls apart at the mere suggestion of a fork. It's called stufati, and it is the most delicious preparation of broccoli imaginable.
Stufati translates to "stewed" or "smothered", and while broccoli cooked in this manner is not as pretty as a verdant stir-fry, it develops such a deep, earthy flavour over the long cooking time that you'll never crave another crunchy floret again. It's excellent served hot off the stove or at room temperature, and if you're lucky enough to have any leftovers, they are terrific on garlic-rubbed toasts (aka crostini) the next day.
This recipe is adapted from my tattered copy of More Classic Italian Cooking, published in 1978, by the late, great Marcella Hazan. Mrs. Hazan, who passed away last year, has mentored me through her cookbooks since the early '90s, and I continue to be inspired by her delicious recipes and unwavering integrity. She is known as the Julia Child of Italian cuisine for good reason.
Broccoli Stufati with Red Wine & Pecorino
1 large bunch broccoli
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 anchovy filets, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano to taste
Step 1: Cut the broccoli into large florets. Peel the stems. Slice the stems ¼” thick. Set aside.
Step 2: Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and anchovies. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Make an even bed of broccoli stems and florets on top of onions. Pour in wine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover. When mixture is simmering, reduce heat to low. Cook, without stirring, 45 minutes.
Step 3: Remove lid. Raise heat to medium-low. Cook, without stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 4.
We are nearing the finish of our Belgian-Inspired Budget Basement but have encountered this thorny issue. Which colour should I paint our maple bookcases?
I have wallpapered the back in an ocelot print to disguise the tired Masonite, but the wood doesn't suit the new grey palette or the wallpaper. Which shade do you think works best?
I painted a sample board and propped it up near the fireplace, which was one of the starting points for the palette. That's Mole's Breath on the left, and Dove Tale on right, both by the venerable Farrow & Ball.
If you had to choose, would it be the darker and more dramatic shade shown on top or the lighter one which changes considerably depending on the light.
Let me know because I can't wait to show you the results!
Wes Anderson tends to divide people; you either love his films or you hate them. I fall in the love camp, primarily because of his meticulous set detail. If you want to step into that world, I gathered some products inspired by his latest release, The Grand Budapest Hotel. As usual, I was blown away by the world created by Anderson and his Oscar-nominated art director, Adam Stockhausen.
Stockhausen has said that he and Anderson looked to archival photochroms (colourized black-and-white photographs) from Eastern European hotels and buildings to get this colour-scheme. (If you're looking to add a touch of Anderson aesthetic to your home but aren't prepared to go all out, this type of photograph can be found at almost any antique or vintage store that sells ephemera. I picked up some vintage photochrom postcards of Versailles from a Toronto shop a few summers ago).
"The construction of the sets and the design of the sets, even if it's on location — this is all carefully planned," Anderson told NPR. There's always a very specific colour palette in Anderson films; The Darjeeling Limited had light blue, red, teal, orange and golden yellow; whereas Rushmore featured dark greens, burnt orange, beige and royal blue. The Grand Budapest Hotel follows this with olive green, baby blue, Cartier red, carnation pink, pale yellow and dark purple.
The hotel's dining room features a huge mural of mountains and rolling hills that has all of these tints. Murals are very on trend and can be found at a variety of price points. If you have a blockbuster budget, try de Gournay for gorgeous prints that harken back to Regency England. The above image, from Surface View and sourced from the British National Gallery, is a great inbetween example. Surface View allows for a bit of customization: you can search their catalogue and isolate parts of an image that you want for your walls. Anthropologie also sells murals but at a much lower cost (a bit better for a renter, like me).
Moving between three eras but primarily set in two, the 1960s and the 1930s, Anderson used an abandoned German department store from the 1910s as the hotel's interior. The '60s saw more of the olive from the palette, and the yellow was used in marbled walls and the shade of wood used in the era's popular paneling.
The Art Nouveau (Jugendstil in Germany) styling of the department store was given a more brutalist look that would have been found throughout Eastern Europe in the Post-War period. If you're drawn to the mid-century style furniture, try a DWR chair in a bold shade or a colour-blocked rug.
The hotel's heyday in the '30s begins with various vignettes that show off the interior and exterior based on the colours in the old photochroms. The lobby's high ceilings, intricate stairs and large chandeliers (Restoration Hardware has one that could be pulled right out of pre-war Europe) are set off by the pale yellow and carnation pink; giving the room the luxe feel typical of grand hotels of that era.
The Cartier-red used for the elevator's lacquered walls and the concierge desk convey complete opulence.
Stockhausen said that it took nine coats of the vermillion to get the look in each space, but painting out some shelving, or even a door with Farrow & Ball's Rectory Red would add a shot of Anderson's bold vision into your space.
Scenes set away from the hotel take place in a variety of locales, including the estate owned by Tilda Swinton's character. The mansion is dressed a bit like a hunting lodge: lots of wood, leather and animal heads.
Although more subdued and simple than the hotel and Swindon's estate, main character Agatha's (Saoirse Ronan) bedroom is curtained off with the same yellows and pinks found in the '30s hotel lobby, and her bedspread pairs the olive and yellow shades of the '60s lobby.
I particularly like the rustic barnboard flooring and wrought iron bed frame. I've had my eye on Anthropologie's Cosette Bed, which has a similar whimsical sensibility as Agatha's, and pulls in the Art Nouveau look of the hotel's lobby and entrance. Throw an HBC Millenium Stripe blanket or a Macausland throw on top and you've got a similar vibe.
The movie sets' extensive detail and saturated colour palette may be more fantastical than real, but sometimes it's nice to step into a highly-stylized space (and maybe borrow a few ideas for the real world).
See our photo gallery for more inspirational movie sets.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
3. Bantam Armchair in Leather, DWR; Blue Block Rug, CB2
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures;19th C. French Empire Crystal Chandelier, Restoration Hardware
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
6. Rectory Red (217), Farrow & Ball
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
8. Papier Mâché Animal Sculptures, West Elm; Woods Wallpaper, Cole & Son
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
10. Cosette Bed, Antropologie; Macausland Throws, Drake General Store; Millenium Stripe Throw, The Hudson's Bay Company
Childhood is finite. And despite our best intentions, and the urgings of our favourite parenting gurus, most of us can't help but let our kids get caught up in the hustle and bustle that is 21st-century life. I can't offer a fix for busy lives (I can barely keep mine on the rails most days!), but I've got a great idea for adding a bit of fun to your kids' rooms. It's something you can do this very weekend — and the kids can help!
Together, you can craft a quick and easy bunting or garland to make his or her room just a splash more festive and colourful for spring. It's surprisingly simple to achieve good-looking results, no matter how basic your paper-crafting or sewing skills are.
Let's start with the easiest project first. Print this free "I Love You" download designed by Two Brunettes and found on the Ruffled blog (they provide a full alphabet, so you could do your child's name instead), snip out the flags, glue them onto a length of string and hang. Done! Feeling craftier? Read on...
At our house, rainbows and polka-dots always mean good things. Put the two together, and they're going to spell f-u-n! Craft your own with paper from stationery or art-supply stores, or order these online from Hip Hooray party suppliers.
This joyous washi-tape garland reminds me of confetti: it's lightweight, vibrant and intense. It'd be a great rainy-day or car-trip activity. Simply sandwich a long piece of twine between strips of washi tape, fold the tape together and clip the ends into reverse points. (Used blunt-ended children's craft scissors, if you're working on it in the car.)
Here's a washi-tape garland in action in a sweet party image created by Estonian designer Marlen Kärema.
This garland of simple paper circles created by Sydney, Australia, blogger Nicola Brooke is even faster to make than glued paper ones. Cut dozens of same-sized circles from coloured paper — let the decor in your child's room dictate the palette — then stitch them together quickly with a sewing machine.
A few years ago at Christmastime, Tessa, her friend Claire and I felt pretty clever when we crafted paper-circle garlands like these from leftover giftwrap and red-toned Christmas flyers. We still use them every year on the tree! I also love these — made with clippings from vintage atlases by Jellybean Studio and available on Etsy.
A cloth bunting like this is going to be my next DIY project — it's just so doable. I've made plenty of glued-together paper garlands and buntings, but I haven't stitched one yet — in fabric or paper. I have a boxful of pretty fabric scraps from old projects; I'll just snip out elongated triangles with pinking shears and sew them onto a length of jute twine. It'd also make a great baby gift or shower decoration. (P.S. The pictured baby, six-day-old Elizabeth, and setting could not be any cuter!)
Colourful pennants look especially bold against chalkboard-painted walls.
With its dainty flags and slightly wider band, this bunting — in a vintage-inspired shared girls' room in London, England — looks more twee, but equally fun!
A clean-lined, neutral-toned wool version is a subdued alternative for a boy's room.
A simple white bunting turns this sweet outdoor playhouse into a beacon for adventure for the three young children of Michael and Jane Frosh at their home outside Sydney, Australia.
When I was in Australia a few years ago, garlands of felted-wool balls were everywhere, and I feel in love. I should have picked one up, but never got around to it. Since then, I've been thinking of learning to felt myself, but haven't had the opportunity. This one created by Rochester, N.Y., jeweller Jenna Thompson is used as a Christmas decoration, but with its rainbow colours and simple construction, it's just as fitting for a kid's bedroom or playroom. She has directions on her blog and also recommends these from Purl Soho.
Until I learn to felt, I'll make do with one of these: jewel-toned pompoms threaded onto string. I'll get my girls to help...
1. Two Brunettes "I Love You" Download, from Ruffled Blog
2. Dottie ecoGarland from Hip Hooray
3. Parcelpost Wordpress
4. Tõnis Kärema, Remodelista
5. Concrete and Honey blog
6. Jellybean Studio, Etsy
7. Meg Duerksen
8. La Factoría Plástica
9. The Boo and the Boy
10. Vintage Junky
11. Sharyn Cairns, from Homelife
12. Small Bird Blog
13. Captain and the Gypsy Kid
With spring just around the corner (or maybe a few blocks away) we can't help dreaming about being outside surrounded by lush greenery. We asked an H&H favourite, designer Brian Gluckstein, to guest blog this week and show us some inspirational outdoor spaces. Not surprisingly, the results are as sophisticated and worldly as Brian's designs. Come stroll with Brian as he points out his favourite features.
"A narrow garden with a striking folly, this reflecting pool gives depth to the garden and creates a magical reflection."
"Make a lap pool luxurious by anchoring the pool house and the main house with a shallow garden."
"When installing pools, I don't like a lot of stone around the pool. I love the idea the pool as a water feature with grass right to the coping. This is the same way I've done my own pool."
"I like this multi-level garden that creates elegant, sculptural forms out of planting."
"Magical. That's all I have to say."
"I love how the walkout from the basement is open here. Having a garden on the basement level and then stepping up to the main garden brings the light and the garden to the lower level."
"Aged terracotta pots and variegated green planting add a classical note to this rear focal wall."
See Brian's gallery of inspiring interiors.
1. via Riding The Buses blog
2. via Mark D. Sikes blog, Houses Of Veranda, architecture by McAlpine Tankersley
3. via What Is James Wearing blog from Forever Green, design by Mario Nievera of Nievera Williams Design, photo by Michael Stavaridis
4. via How To Spend It blog, design by del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
5. via French Villas by Luxury Retreats
6. del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
7. Villa Saladino via Mark D. Sikes blog, design by John Saladino