Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Golden Campuses

Dear Diary,

If I could do one thing over again, it would be to go to college again. But this time, instead of just going to one college, I’d go to every single college in America for just one day. College campuses fascinate me because they become design museums of sorts. Most older universities are a collection of beautiful old buildings, starkly modern mid-century buildings, enthrallingly ugly 80s buildings, and 90s buildings (that always look like they are made from Legos). Colleges campus designs are meant to reflect the values of higher education: learning, community, safety, history, romance, and so on. When I was looking at colleges, I barely even considered California’s wonderful universities. Now that I’m back on the West Coast, I’ve gained an appreciation for the beautiful, green, sprawling nature of California’s campuses. So here are some pictures to get you in the mood for learning:

Here is one of my favorite UC Campuses, Berkeley. It’s my parents’ alma mater, so I’ve been there a lot.

I mean, I can’t with that view.

Sather Gate (then).

Sather Gate (now).

The oft-maligned UC Riverside campus has some striking architectural features, like this lovely cartoony corridor.

Meanwhile, CalTech in glamourous Pasadena looks like an English garden.

This is a crazy auditorium at CalTech that looks like a circus tent.

Our gorgeous local UCLA campus. So grandiose and idyllic.

California’s answer to the elite liberal arts colleges of the Northeast.

The University of the Pacific. Small school, pretty campus.

The Stanford campus has never been one of my favorites, mainly because I feel it uses the Califonia Mission style in an inappropriate scale (way too big). That being said, it’s still a glorious and warm campus.

UC Santa Cruz is another one of my favorites. Mainly because it’s built into a coastal forest. It has a very California 1960s vibe, as exemplified by the lovely arboretum (below).

UC San Diego has some exciting modern architecture.

And their own pier. Beat that, Ivy League!

So, in conclusion, if you are a high school senior you should consider coming out to the Golden State to luxuriate on one of our gorgeous campuses.

You’re Welcome,


Filed under Decor

Images I Love: Vintage Surf Photos

Dear Frank Scherschel,

I love your vintage surf pictures! I found them on the Olasul blog. They make me want to transport myself back in time and be a hunky surfer. Dreams…


1 Comment

Filed under Art

Enjoy The Scenery: ‘A Single Man’

Dear Movielovers,

Of all people on a film set, those who work in the art department are the most underappreciated. Production Designers, Art Directors, Prop Masters, Set Decorators, Set Designers, etc, have to show up before everyone to make sure the scene is set and have to stay after to wrap everything out. If an actress knocks over a glass of wine or a curtain falls down, the art department is summoned by a shrill “ART DEPARTMENT!” screech from the Assistant Director. Then, when the film comes out, no one even notices what you did. The whole point of designing film scenery is to make it seem like it’s exactly as it should be. It shouldn’t distract from the story. This is why no one knows who any production designers are. For example, tons of my friends went and saw the wonderful film “The Help” over the past two weeks. They all loved it, but not one commented on the art direction. Probably not one of them could name the production designer, Mark Ricker. All he did was create the entire world that the characters inhabited, that’s all. My point here is not to get all whiney about how no one pays attention to production design (too late!) but to bring up the fact that it’s underrated. Thus, I’m going to start posting images from films I love, exhibiting the glorious scenery created by their production designers and art departments.

The first film I’d like to discuss is Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man,’ with production design by Dan Bishop. This film is a beautiful/tragic love story that takes place in 1960s Los Angeles. The film is full of gorgeous imagery and lovely muted colors.

The house inhabited by the film’s main character is awesome. Designed by John Lautner and located in the hills of Glendale.

The flashy home Julianne Moore’s character lives in reflects her glamorous, outrageous personality.

These pictures don’t really do justice to the beauty of the film’s production design, so it’s very important that you watch ‘A Single Man’ as soon as possible.



Filed under Decor

Cocktail Etiquette: When to Bring What to Where (And Why)!

Dear Etiquette-Obsessed Readers,

I’ve noticed lately that it seems like people have no idea when to bring wine and/or another beverage to a dinner party or gathering. It is confusing, so here are my tips on when you should and shouldn’t bring booze to a party or social event. Oh, and a note to my readers under age 21: I didn’t drink until I was legal (seriously) because I’m perfect, so neither should you. Here are my Do’s and Don’t’s:


♥ As a general rule, always bring a bottle of wine or champagne with you when you’re invited somewhere. This way, people will associate you with fun and happiness. This is a good way to prevent dying alone.

♥ Do bring wine if your host is making you dinner. This is especially important if he/she is a terrible cook.

♥ Do bring [insert appropriate beverage] if your host is a having a [insert aforementioned beverage]-themed party. He may have prepared by buying a ton of his beverage selection, but people always drink more than you think they can. Which is a problem.

♥ Do bring wine to a friend who has just broken up with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend. There are some things that only time can heal. And there are other things that only wine can heal.

♥ If you are going to a Gay’s house, bring him some vodka in a trendy bottle with a clever name. Homosexuals like that kind of thing.

♥ Do bring alcohol to your high school reunion. But drink it in the bathroom stall as a sort of “one stop shop method.” You can talk smack on all the awful people who used to be beautiful with the one high school friend you actually still care about, and you get to recreate all those moments when you were crying alone in your high school bathroom.

♥ If you are going to a Hippie’s for dinner, bring him some organic wine grown in the Sierra Foothills or Santa Cruz. Sonoma County wines are so passé.

♥ If you’re going to a house party in New York, feel free to bring whatever brand of vodka you want. The whole point of the evening is to get so drunk that you don’t notice how tiny the apartment is. No one will notice if you bring cheap vodka.

♥ Feel free to bring prosecco to a brunch. Prosecco a cheaper alternative to Champagne but because it’s Italian people think it’s fancy. People are easily fooled.

♥ It’s okay to refer to sparkling wine as “Champagne.” Technically, Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, but because the word has been used for the past 100 years to refer to American sparkling wines, it’s completely acceptable to use today. It’s called the evolution of language. So get over it, France!

♥ If you are between the ages of 21-24 years old, a recent transplant to New York, and it is wintertime, please do bring a flask of whisky in your coat pocket. This will help you save money and make new friends.

♥ DO bring alcohol to book club, because let’s face it, book clubs are always boring.


ϟ Don’t bring alcohol to a dinner party thrown by an alcoholic in recovery. Unless he explicitly states he is 100% ok with it and you believe him (as a courtesy remove unfinished bottles at the end of the evening). That’s common sense.

ϟ Don’t bring wine/alcohol to anyone whose salary is higher by yours than more than 250%. They probably have more expensive taste in liquor than you and it’s up to them to support those fancypants habits. Unless you are a studied liquor connoisseur, you could risk A) your own embarrassment or B) insulting your host with your cheap proletariat wine.

ϟ Don’t bring alcohol to a party with an alcohol sponsor. That’s the alcohol sponsor’s job.

ϟ Don’t bring alcohol to the home of anyone famous. Famous people tend to be self-absorbed, so they wont even notice you brought anything. They might not even notice that you’re there in the first place.

ϟ If you are going to a BBQ in Northern California, don’t bring any beer by Budweiser or Miller. Northern Californians drink only Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada, or Stella Artois. Or beer from breweries that are so obscure that the brewers haven’t even heard of themselves.

ϟ Don’t bring beer to a baby shower. There is an ancient proverb which states this will cause the baby to turn into a hillbilly.

ϟ If you are between the ages of 25-63, do not carry a flask. Flasks only seem cool as money savings devices for young urban men who wear black leather jackets and as character props for burly old dudes. The only exception to this rule is at weddings for people you don’t really like (see below).

ϟ Try not to bring a flask to a wedding or funeral, as there will always be alcohol afterward. Unless, of course, there isn’t. In which case, smuggle away.

ϟ Don’t bring alcohol to the “listening party” for your friend’s friend’s band’s new album. In fact, don’t go to it at all and just drink at home by yourself (listening parties are totally weird).
I hope these tips have prepared you to be a conscientious and contributory guest. No go forth! (And drink responsibly).
PS: A special thanks to Cort Harrison Hightower, Hommemaker’s Czar of Cocktail Etiquette,  for his contributions to this post.


Filed under Life

Whut Glamour: Floor-to-Ceiling Shelving

Dear College,

I hate to admit it, but lately I’ve turned into one of those people who thinks about my college days a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not yearning for parties or lusting after a life of carefree fun. What I miss most about college is the library, where I spent my free time in lieu of having a social life. I was lucky enough to study at some of the prettiest libraries in America. This is my favorite library from my undergraduate years (Cornell’s Uris Library):

And this is my favorite library from my years in graduate school (The University of Pennsylvania’s Fisher Fine Arts Library):

And, just for good measure, here is a picture of Joan Didion with her husband, John Dunne, and their daughter, Quintana Roo sitting in a library. If that isn’t the epitome of glamour I don’t know what is.

So what does all this have to do with design and Hommemaking? Well I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with library-style floor-to-ceiling shelving. I was reminded of this obsession as I dined with my parents this evening and my mother was complaining about her book storage issues (“There’s never enough room for all of them!”). Books are comforting because they remind us that there are all these ideas sitting there waiting to be discovered. Anyway, enough about books, let’s look at some shelves:

I like this whole setup, but where did they get that HIDEOUS fake fireplace? Gross.

Do I hate these chairs? Or are they awesome? I think I hate them? Or I hate myself for hating them? Life is so hard!

I want  to eat dinner in this room. So elegant and inviting.

These aren’t bookshelves, but wouldn’t you die to cook in this kitchen? It looks like these people are getting ready to boil a nice tasty puppy (to the right of the stove). Don’t do it!

After seeing this image, I realized I need all of these dishes. But I never want to use them.

So, in conclusion, I really want some enormous shelves and 75,517 books. Stat.



Filed under Decor

Haute Hairstyles for Hommes: Pompadours

Dear Diary,

Anyone who has seen the Secrets From A Stylist opening credits knows I like to change my hair all the time (I have three different hairstyles in the 15 second intro). Lately, I’ve really been wanting to get a flat top. But every picture I’ve seen online is totally gross, so I’m going to wait until I find the perfect inspiration picture to show my barber. I go to Shane at Baxter Finley in Los Angeles and Elisa at Grasshopper Salon when I’m in San Francisco (sidenote: she’s my sister, and she’s awesome). I think I may give up on the flat top for a while and go with a pompadour, given how delightful all the following haircuts are:

This model dude was in “A Single Man” and has the best hair ever. Hence, he shows up three times here.

Why so disgruntled, James Franco? Your hair looks lovely.

And of course James. King of the pompadour.

Ok, to be honest I’m including this guy because of his tattoo. I wish I could get a tattoo without having to commit to anything. Life is hard. And so is his hairdo.

And last but not least are two lady pompadours. I think Janelle Monae is one of the most beautiful, elegant women around. And I love her quirky style.

And La Roux of course, or Elly Jackson as she’s actually named…

There’s nothing like some hair inspiration to get you going on a summer afternoon! Go forth!



Filed under Style

The Golden State: 1950s

Dear Reader,

Sometimes, whilst I browse for furniture and accessories at flea markets, I find myself attracted to the mysterious old photographs that some vendors are selling. I think the fascination comes from the beauty of old photographs. They have so much warmth and history to them. I’m still up in the woods right now, visiting my parents, and I discovered some old family photos I thought I’d share. I love looking at how everyone is dressed in these old photos (so formal!) and how stark some of the interiors are (true mid-century minimalism). I myself am obsessed with photographs (I studied photography in college). I never understand people who don’t care about looking at other people’s photos. I’m the kind of person who will snoop around in your house until I find your family photos. Then I will look at all of them. If you’re not that kind of person I’d suggest skipping this post.

This is my grandmother, Margaret. How wonderful are her glasses?

This is what people wore to go hiking in the 40s. My grandmother is the one in coolots second from the right.

My grandmother  with her new twin girls (one of whom is my mother). I love the laundry hanging to dry in the sun.

I love this picture for the Christmas tree. It’s like they threw the decorations at it from across the room.

I kind of want my uncle Craig’s haircut in this picture.

Gender roles: I’m pretty sure the little boy is holding a fake axe while the girls have dolls.

I love how they thought chain-link fences were totally acceptable in the 1950s.

Minimal landscape.

Two car garage. And look at those cars!

I am pretty sure this is from when my grandparents moved their kids to Japan, but I love a vintage seascape.

I hope this didn’t bore you to death. In a few weeks I’ll be sharing our family archive of images from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. So many pretty, yellow-with-age old photographs that capture classic California.



Filed under Life

Fashiontimez: Olasul

Dear Olasul,

I was browsing your site recently, and I couldn’t help but be blown away by your beautiful lookbook. The bright colors, the tropical landscapes, the skinny surfer dudes. Such glamour. If I could live in any world, it would be this one, where the weather is always inviting, the water is always warm, everyone knows how to skateboard/surf, and there are always tons of amazing swimwear options. YAY!

I want this sweatshirt.

What gorgeous color! And yes, I’m talking about his tan (jealz).

I like this guy’s bangs. Isn’t it weird how he looks super cool on the left and like a huge dork on the right? Let this be proof that even in a post-Bieber world, swoop bangs are still relevant and they make you look cool (I miss mine!).

I die for this bubblegum pink.

It annoys me that A) I don’t know how to skateboard and B) I don’t own this neon ensemble.

This shot is totally cheesy but doesn’t it make you want to have an eating disorder whilst standing in a gorgeous monochromatic seascape?

I don’t know what exactly he’s gathering water for, but I love the golden ochre color of that stream.

In conclusion, Olasul, I kind of hate you for making all this fun clothing because now I want it all. I guess it’s probably a good thing it’s so expensive.


1 Comment

Filed under Style

Fake Joan Didion Quote of the Week: Cream Cheese

“So I kept piling it on, scoop after scoop, until my bagel weighed, like, a pound. And then I realized it wasn’t cream cheese. It was butter! I ate it anyway.”

– Joan Didion

* Joan Didion never said this (I did). 

1 Comment

Filed under Style

I Regret My Life Before Austra

Dear Austra,

I have so many regrets in my life, but what I regret most is not hearing your music until yesterday. It’s so good it makes me want to jump on a trampoline whilst wearing an Austra tee-shirt, Austra cut-off jeans, and Austra face paint. I especially love the music video for “Lose It,” which is completely ridiculous and reminds me of a typical Saturday night in the life of Orlando Soria.

Anyway, keep up the good work! I can’t wait to find you and trap you in a cage and force you to sing for me at all hours of the day.

Your Number One Fan,

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Style