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A Room with Lots of Views | Spirit Wind Joshua Tree

Every time we get the house ready for a big photo shoot I try to piggyback on it and take some of my own photos too. I shot these photos the morning that California Lifestyle came out to shoot the house in April.

The first floor of our house is basically a giant open room, that the architect called the Great Room. I just call it our living room but it is really a living room / dining room / kitchen / den space and it open up right onto the patio with a massive sliding door. In some areas the ceiling is very high (18′ or more).

The windows are each different sizes and frame views in the distance. We are at a higher elevation (3200′) that a lot of the area, so you can look out from this room and peer down into the Section 6 valley, the National Park to the east and you can also see the fake Afghani village on the 29 Palms Marine base to the north on a clear day.

My photos are probably a little dark. I didn’t adjust them at all. But I think they capture the quality of the natural light in the space. Some parts of the room are very bright and other parts are dark depending where the sun is in the sky.

The gray rainbow mural is on the bar is by Joshua Tree artist Xihomara Alvarez. Jonathan and I commissioned it to hide the scuff marked from people’s shoes on the wall. That is why it is darker on the bottom.


Looking down from the doorway to the master bedroom. It’s kind of like balcony over the living room. I hung up the peace sign wreath after the election because I felt like I need to do something at Spirit Wind to subtly resist the craziness that is going on in the world.
This is a dangerous couch. You sit down in it and you are done for the whole day.  I have mostly banned myself from it, but you are welcome to try it out.

View into the Opium Den. We call it the Opium Den because when we bought the house all the electrical wiring and breakers going to that room were labeled “Opium Den”. My step-father built a custom L shaped couch/bed to make it more like a vintage opium den.

View into the backyard from the Opium Den. I love the built-in drawers and magazine rack (that was my mom’s idea). This is the coldest room of the house because the swamp cooler vents into it. So it is an excellent place to hangout in the summer reading magazines, drinking prosecco and avoiding work.

Follow @spiritwindjoshuetree on Instagram
for more pics of our house  in Joshua Tree!

July 17, 2017
See more: art, buildings & places, design, diary, home & interiors, Joshua Tree

Spirit Wind Renovations – Part 1

Sorry I have been ignoring you guys! I haven’t been blogging much because I have been busy with the renovations at Spirit Wind. We are on week 8 of the renovation. It feel like 2 years. Things are generally going really well, and we are getting a lot done each week. But there is always the desire for things to go faster and we wish more was finished. Things are a bit over budget, but I’m not really that surprising. Jonathan and I each keep adding things that we want to do right away. I’d like to make it really swank.

Here is a quick tour–

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Palm Springs Life magazine features an interview with the previous owner of Spirit Wind and a couple of photos of the house in the April edition. We asked them to come back to take more pictures once we finish our renovations!

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This is the view right outside the sliding glass doors in living room. This is looking east towards the sunrise. This is also where the moon rises. The view straight ahead is an area the locals call “Section 6”. It is a Desert View Conservation Area adjacent to the National Park.

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This is the Opium Den. We know this because that is how this room was labeled on the electrical panel.  The previous owners used this room at a tiki bar and a dog kennel. We decided to restored it to Opium Den glory, with a big built-in sectional couch/bed and a mountain of kilim pillows. The custom bed and cabinetry was all designed and built by my step-father Bill, who is a master cabinet maker. He added a lot of great details. There is a built-in magazine rack, 3 USB charging stations, a drawer for games, built-in end tables. It’s really stunning.Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.27.10 PM

We are also doing some renovations to the garage, this wall will be part of my art studio. Our friend Bas is going to do a big geometric mural on one of the walls.

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My mom, Susan, counting the blooming Beavertail cactus at Spirit Wind. The superbloom has been amazing.

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The boys up on a 15′ ladders installing trim and LED bulbs in the foyer. We rented the ladder at Home Depot.

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This is the living room couch set up. It’s dangerous. If I sit down here, it’s so comfortable and the view is so amazing, I just can’t get back up. I just want to spend the rest of the day here watching the light change! I can’t let that happen, because we have a lot of work to do…

Stay tuned, I’ll post more Spirit Wind renovation photos soon!

+You can follow @spiritwindjoshuatree on Instagram


May 3, 2016
See more: buildings & places, diary, home & interiors, in California, Joshua Tree

A Day at Fountainebleau – Miami Beach

At long last, the Fountainebleu!

The Fountaineblau hotel is one of the most historic and architecturally significant buildings on Miami Beach. It was designed by Morris Lapidus and opened in 1954. It was completely fabulous in a way that horrified the architectural establishment at the time – but the public got it and loved it. Plus, over the years it has been featured in a number of films, including Scarface and Goldfinger.

Morris Lapidus is a maximalist modernist through and through (in Europe they call this style “googie”). His autobiography published in 1996 is called Too Much is Never Enough.

Brass seahorse door handles on the main lobby of the Fountainebleau. The seahorse also represents the “F” of Fountainebleau. Also note the signature bow tie marble paving in the lobby. The bow tie form was a signature of Lapidus, and he used the shape in a variety of ways in different buildings.

If you create a stage and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part. – Morris Lapidus

A field of circular windows on the front facade of the hotel create an under sea/under water feeling of floating in light bubbles in the dappled light of the convention center lobby. I found it irresistible, even as an adult, to dart about and play within the light “bubbles”. Note: I called them “bubbles” but Lapidus called them “woggles” and “cheeseholes“.

In 2008 the hotel re-opened after a two-year, 1 BILLION dollar renovation. The original paving remains in the lobby. A new chandelier echos the”woggles” and “cheeseholes” in the adjacent space. And a new tryptic of James Turrell pieces can be seen behind the front desk.

My friend, Brant Ritter of Thoreen&Ritter installed the series of light pieces for James Turrell at the Fountainebleau. An artist, furniture designer, restaurant designer, etc. he has a cool side gig of being one of the very few people James Turrell trusts to install his work. So Brant gets to jet off to fabulous places like Tokyo or the Fountainebleau to play with light.

There are three light sculptures behind the front desk, and several more groups of them along the hall to the main lobby. In the main lobby there are additional light pieces behind the concierge.

Jonathan checking out one of the Turrell pieces. It is hard to capture the color. It slowly morphs from one color palette to another.

This is a detail of the light sculpture and the color in this photo is more accurate to how it looks in real life.

More light sculptures. I love how the light reflects off the marble floors and makes the whole space change color.

Jonathan luxuriating. The famous “stairway to nowhere” is in the background.

“My whole success is I’ve always been designing for people, first because I wanted to sell them merchandise. Then when I got into hotels, I had to rethink, what am I selling now? You’re selling a good time.” – Lapidus

People watching in the main lobby. I love the custom carpets.

The iconic curved shaped facade from the beach side. The huge new pool was part of the renovation and is shaped like a bow tie in honor of Lapidus.

On the boardwalk at the Fountainebleau, soaking up Miami Beach. + Can’t wait to visit more Lapidus hotels!

 I had a good time. Thanks a million Morris.


April 8, 2015
See more: art, buildings & places, design, diary, home & interiors, on the road

DIY: Photo Shoe Box Labels



Taming My Husband’s Shoes

My husband has a bedroom in our house that he uses as a closet/home office. The problem is that the closet part has over taken over the office, the adjacent dining room and the foyer. At some point, a few years ago, the china cabinet became full of knitwear and a growing eyeglass collection. And there are 20+ hat boxes in the dining room and foyer. It’s basically the down side of having a fashion-y husband, but I am pretty good-natured about it.

We have had professional organizer Beth Zeigler, aka Bneato, over a few times to work on the office/closet project. Beth was awesome! She helped sort a lot of things in the office that didn’t need to be there, creating more space for the clothes, etc. But we still haven’t gotten the wardrobe as organized and condensed as I would like it to be. His size 13 shoes require a big shoe box, so every pair of shoes he keeps ends up taking up basically 1 sq ft of our house. So getting rid of (30) pr of shoes frees up an amazing 30 sq ft of space.

I saw a great photo Beth posted on Instagram, where she had labeled her mom’s shoe boxes a few months ago.  I proposed to my husband we do something similar for his shoes and he seemed enthusiastic so we started pulling out all his shoes. Some were in shoe boxes, some in ziplocks, duffel bags in the closet, but mostly they were just piled up around the house.

The Process

  1. We collected all of my husband’s shoes from all over the house, and laid them out in rows in the dining room. I think I counted somewhere around (75) pairs.
  2. We organized them into categories: black athletic shoes, colored athletic shoes, dress shoes, boots, sandals, loafers, and misc. We discovered that he had something like 35 pairs of black athletic shoes – his largest sub-group!
  3. He sorted through the shoes and rid of about 30% of them. This didn’t happen quickly. It took his a few weekends to debate, deliberate and painfully sort shoes. I quickly packed up the donations and sent them to St. Vincent de Paul before he could change his mind.
  4. Then I set up a photo shoot where he took iPhone photos of each of the shoes. He decided to angle the shoes to mimic the way they showcase shoes on Zappos. We used a piece of white foam core for a backdrop and natural light.
  5. We boxed up all the remaining shoes in new men’s shoe boxes from the Container Store.
  6. I cropped all the images in Photoshop and made some minor adjustments.
  7. My original idea was to have Instagram stickers printer for the labels. But Jonathan wanted the sticker to be 3 x 3″  for easy visibility and I couldn’t find any service that printed them that big. (Note: Prinstagram prints stickers 20mm sq).I ended up buying a pack of 8-1/2 x 11″ sticker paper on a Amazon. I laid the stickers out (6) per page in Photoshop and printed them myself on my home printer.
  8. Next, I cut the stickers out by hand with an X-Acto blade, ruler and a cutting mat.
  9. I  peeled and applied the stickers to the boxes.  I was worried that the stickers might peel off over time, so covered the stickers with a piece of clear packing tape that was cut just a bit bigger than the stickers.

Thoughts on the process:

  • In retrospect, I think it would have been a lot easier to just get the images professionally printed on paper (via Prinstagram or one of the other services) and then just tape them to the boxes (like Beth did). The sticker paper was kind of a pain in the ass.
  • Also – I kept thinking that someone should make a App for this. I’m sure a lot of people would probably love to label their shoe boxes if it was easy.

Jonathan_shoe_stickers_2_websiteLayout of a sticker sheet – 8-1/2 x 11″. I printed 8 sheets like this.


Finished shoe boxes piled up in foyer.  All in all, Jonathan seems very happy about his new shoe boxes. Now we just have to find a place for them… they are still piled up in the foyer.


July 29, 2013 0
See more: beauty & style, diary, diy, home & interiors

Home = 1st Class Lounge

Last year, Tom Haverford, on Parks & Recreations declared his apartment to be a “girl heaven”. He has it stocked 24/7 with “boutique eye cream, unisex cologne, lip exfoliator, chocolate-covered almonds, and a sudoko book — just amenities everywhere.”

Jonathan and I got a huge laugh from it because we are doing something similar at our house — but we like to call it “first class lounge”. We want to enjoy the luxury of a first class lounge at home, without going anywhere (or buying a $$$$ 1st class ticket). We started this project a few years back. Here are some of our lounge-y amenities we have added:

Food + Beverage

  • A snack basket bar (two large baskets on the kitchen counter hold individually wrapped snacks) — cookies, nuts, candy, chips, muffins, etc. Inspired by the amazing snack baskets in the galley of a Gulf Air flight from Paris to Abu Dhabi.
  • A well stocked beverage fridge: water, sodas, juice, beer, cider, tiny bottles of booze, champagne, wine — beverage option overload, all of the time. Note: A beverage fridge is hands down the best home upgrade ever. We love it; our guests love it. + It helps free up space in the regular fridge which is very helpful for entertaining.
  • Lots of ramekins: They are perfect size for snacks, nuts, getting rid of used tea bags, etc. They look fancy.
  • Round trays, for serving drinks and snacks.


  • Matching his/her black robes. Somehow black robes just seem fancier.
  • Mouth wash dispenser: On the bathroom counter we have a huge bottle of mouth wash and we have replaced the cap with a pump. Next to it is a stack of little cups. Help yourself to mouthwash!
  • Fancy hand soap: It feels amazing, smells amazing and moisturizes your paws.
  • Wipes: to wash your face, to apply sun screen, to sterilize your hands, for after sex, you name it and there is a wipe for it.
  • Electric throw blanket: Electric blankets are not just for beds anymore! You can have little throw sized ones on couches and in chairs. A-mazing.
  • Flowers: Scatter small bud vases with blooms in a number of locations. They pack more punch than one big bouquet.
  • Massage chair: We don’t have one yet, but it is on my bucket list. For now I just use the $1 machine in the waiting room at the local car wash.

Tech + Work

  • Loads of outlets, you can charge devices everywhere: Each couch has a power strip in a cord box with chargers for all common devices. If you sit down you can charge.
  • Your own weather station: Because you want to know YOUR actual weather, right?
  • Lots of magazines: On diverse topics like street fashion, bathroom renovation, tattoos and foreign politics.

It really doesn’t need to cost a lot to make your house or apartment into a “first class lounge”. It is more about designing your home for your own comfort and anticipating your needs (and your guests needs). We can all have a place to retreat to that calms us, it just takes a little planning and daydreaming.

(Image: Parks & Recreation Season 4 Episode 19 “Live Ammo” on NBC via Videori)

*Disclaimer: I’ve never actually flown 1st class (I’m sure it’s super nice…), but I do get to fly business class for work from time to time. If you have spent some quality time hanging out in 1st class lounges I would love to hear about it & send me suggestions for amenities to add!

What amenities would you ADD to your home?

June 4, 2013
See more: back kitchen, diary, home & interiors, smart home