Browsing Tag

Mithra Ballesteros

— Style —

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Years ago I won a writing contest sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The prize was a Cartier Tank watch, and when it arrived in the mail, I was so disappointed, I called Saks and asked if I could return it. They graciously cut me a check instead, which I spent on an aluminum Grumman canoe.

I’m just not a jewelry person. I don’t wear much myself, and most of what I wear is costume. Fine jewelry is just too … fine. In other words, I think it’s boring and predictable. It doesn’t interest me the way that shoes and artwork and chairs do.

Even vintage jewelry doesn’t really float my boat. I am prejudiced against the patina of time that coats estate jewelry, especially timepieces.

But then last week, lightening struck. I saw this watch (left):  a Cartier Tank watch that has been “repurposed.” Now that is not boring. And it is too fun to be intimidating. Oh my, I got goosebumps!

The company is LaCalifornienne, the perfect name for two L.A. based designers who perform some Hollywood-style plastic surgery on stuffy old timepieces. Founded by Leszek Garwacki and Courtney Ormond, the pair search out vintage Cartier Tanks and Rolex Oysters and take them apart. The watches get a freshly painted face, new markers, and a rainbow leather band.

This is no restoration. This is reinvention. This is a Jennifer Aniston nose job. A traditional Cartier Tank watch that no one would be ashamed of is now ready for a life in Malibu without Brad Pitt.

For my part, the new version makes me smile in a way the original version never could. I’d definitely wear this watch while paddling my Grumman canoe.

 

 

 

 

— Life —

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While shopping for antique and vintage pieces, I’m always surprised at the devaluation of anything with a monogram. Whether it’s an engraved piece of silver or an embroidered set of pillowcases, buyers often turn a cold shoulder towards items personalized for someone unknown and long dead. I feel differently about monograms. It’s a lost art, like letters written by quill. Just because an old letter is not addressed to you doesn’t mean it’s without value. Continue Reading

— Style —

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A blank wall is like a naked body — lovely in its most basic form but full of possibilities for adornment.

I buy and sell vintage art for a living, and many of my finds never make it into the shop. The walls of my home are hung with interesting woodcuts, sculptures, oils, watercolors, textiles, collages, and photographs. I live in a stylish and chic space that reflects me and my family to a ‘t,’ and our art collection was amassed at a fraction of the cost had I purchased everything new.

If I can do it, so can you.

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— Life —

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I asked my son the other day, “You don’t think I’m a hoarder, do you?”

“No,” he said. “More like a crazed squirrel who doesn’t know it’s spring.” Continue Reading

— Essentials —

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It was my friend Patrick who warned me about the dangers of theme decorating. I had regaled him with my dream of a Scheherazade-style dining room: kilim rugs on the floor, ikat runners down the table, camel-shaped teacups, brass candlesticks, giant paisleys painted on the walls, and heaping platters of Basmati rice on the buffet.

The whole scheme made Patrick nervous. He didn’t want to see my dining room jumping the shark. In the upper echelons of the design world, theme decorating is frowned upon. It’s a big fat no-no.

God forbid you decorate an entire house in beach décor when a tasteful trug of seashells will suffice. And even more pox upon you if your house is not situated on an actual beach.

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— Life —

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At an estate sale recently, a large baggie filled with yellow corn-on-the-cob holders caught my eye. The price was $1 and out of curiosity, I opened the baggie to see exactly how many corn picks you got for that kind of money.

There were 66 pair of corn-on-the-cob holders, and I admit being surprised. Why so many? I mean, they come in packs of eight or twelve. So twelve times, these corn fiends plunked down money at the store for a gadget that gets used four months of the year. Are they Rotarians in charge of the annual Pig Roast? Do their grandchildren use them as swords in Barbie doll wars? Do they have acreage in Iowa? Continue Reading

— Essentials —

The author shopping the Paris flea market
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So who likes old things, please raise your hand. Me too!

A few years ago, I decided to open a shop selling antique and vintage objects and art. My shop would be online only, and in order to stand out from the crowd, I would curate my old treasures into stylish little vignettes that a person could plop into their home for an instant look.

It’s been really fun for one main reason, which you already know. Old things come with the juiciest stories attached to them. Continue Reading