Friday, October 28, 2011


The spicy smells of pumpkin baked with cinnamon and twisted curls of tangerine rind swimming in mulled cider are slowly filling the air.  There's a chill here and when there's a chill there's no better remedy than filling your world with the warmth of orange.
Stack up some Hermes boxes under a console and you've lit a fire below a piece of furniture that has become a fireplace where none existed. These boxes are just the thing to heat up a room.
Orange is the color of heat and that fire can be seen in this transitional living room by Donovan as seen in Elle D├ęcor.  You don't need to wrap up in shawl to feel the warmth from that deep orange chair and ottoman.
There's no lack of heat in this traditional dining room by Jamie Herzinger Interiors. Who wouldn't want to sit at that dining table and eat some spicy Chinese orange chicken straight out of a to-go box with a pair of onyx chopsticks.
We only allowed the ceiling to escape our tangerine paint brush when we designed this retro living room for an artist on New York's upper East Side. Our client constantly tells us how this color palette changed her whole outlook on life. She can't walk into her apartment without smiling.
Steve Shortridge's contemporary home in Venice, California has splashed orange throughout in a way only a California designer could. Here the heat is a dry warm heat, the kind of heat you'll only find in Southern California's rendition of fall.
Sometimes the best way to spice up your home is with contrasting hits of color. Think of a soft dove grey room and then think what it might feel like if you added this orange striped gilded couch by MetroSofas.
Put any one of these amazing orange glass vases from The End of History on Hudson Street in New York City on a console or mantle and watch the place start to sizzle. A hit of orange through a vase or a pillow can go a long way in heating up a room.
Sometimes you can turn the volume up where the spiciness of tangerine is so potent we can taste it,
and sometimes it's a subtle note that warms our doorway and welcomes our guests.

Orange is best used with white, yellow or blue.  To use it in decorating shows courage, daring and style.  Think of a cool watery blue room, almost monochromatic, a soft watery blue green lamp with matching drapes, creamy walls and then there it is...the pop of an orange vase of tulips. Do it!

I remember a vendor on a Paris street serving hollowed out oranges filled with sorbet from a two-wheeled cart filled with ice. For a few francs, this was way before the Euro, you could buy one of these mini fruit bowls packed with sweet ice and a hint of mint, the perfect refreshment for a summer stroll through les jardin du Luxembourg.
With summer gone, Paris thousands of miles away, and brittle fall leaves doing summersaults across our pebbled front yard I'm ready to embrace autumn's gift - the tangerine. Fall brings with it bowls of potpourri filled with the mingling scents of tangerine and cinnamon, the smell so enticing you want to bit into it and let the juice trickle down your chin. Here's my recipe for making this happen.
I'm going to tell you right up front (I know I've said this before) I'm much more Nigella Lawson than Martha Stewart. Nothing's perfect and if your final result looks a little cock-eyed or messy, embrace its flaws and revel in its ingenuity.
The ingredients for my frozen tangerine pumpkins is pretty basic:
8 to 10 Fairchild tangerines (remove those damn stickers)
A quart and a half of vanilla ice cream (in Wisconsin the local manufacturer makes one called Uff Da Vanilla - the richer the better)
Cinnamon to taste
First, get out a cutting board and a sharp knife. I use a steak knife, it's not too big and not too small, it's just right. Have a bowl handy for the juice and pulp. Now cut a cone out of the bottom of the tangerine. It seems logical to cut out the top but the stem side seems to stay in tack better than the bottom button. You need to clean the pulp off of the cone. Here's one place where you do need to be relatively neat. Now take your knife and run it around the inside of the tangerine. Try to stay as close to the skin as you can. If you poke through don't worry, you're going to freeze the thing anyway. Throw out the seeds and save some of the pulp and juice in the bowl you were supposed to bring out before you started. Don't bother with those sectional membranes, they're too chewy and not worth saving. Here's where Martha would make you get out the tweezers and get the inside of your tangerine down to the pure white inner backing of the peel. I'm not that picky. Get out what you can but don't go nuts.
Once you've cleaned out your tangerines it's time to mix the ice cream concoction. Depending on the current temperature it's best to have left the ice cream out for about fifteen minutes before you need it. You want it soft enough to mix but not soupy. Scoop your ice cream of choice into a medium sized bowl, add some of the pulp and juice you saved from the hollowed out tangerines, sprinkle with cinnamon to taste and then mix.
Spoon the mixture into the tangerines. To give your tangerines that pumpkin look poke a hole into the top of the cap. I gathered some twigs from our yard. I found a couple that still had some leaves attached. Some people might have some qualms about cleaning those sticks. I say forget about it, it's a stick. How dirty could it be and how the hell would you clean it anyway?
Pop your little deserts in the freezer and voila! Serve with a plastic spoon from a street vendor and think of Paris.

I have always contended that good design doesn't depend on money, at least not money alone.   I've spent a career matching "the proverbial Gap T-shirts with Armani suits "or the decorating equivalent to that fashion trick employed by many even the ever stylish Sharon Stone in order to create beautiful spaces while trying to stay on budget.  The trick here is to watch the quality quotient.  Finish is usually the first give-away of a poor quality item.  Wood should look like wood, stone should look like stone, and you get the idea.  These days construction doesn't have to be flimsy to make something for a lesser price and veneers are used throughout the industry whether high or low.  Just pay attention to how they are cut, glued up and used.  MDF is not a four-letter word but particleboard is.  Structure is important.  Chairs, sofas and benches should support people of substantial size and tables should never wobble.

This week's finds:
More: Eames Molded Plywood Chair by Herman Miller at Room&Board $909

Less: Replica Eames Dining Chair by Matt Blatt $295

Dramatic Skies, 2006
Photographer, unknown
Digital Camera Magazine, Malaysia, October 2006 issue

1 comment:

  1. I am so excited to see all of the different projects that come out of this challenge and I wish I had an excuse to participate myself! All the furniture you found is amazing - can't wait to see how it looks in the house.