Friday, October 9, 2009

Celebrity Home of the Week--NOT!

This was a tough week to decide on our Celebrity Home of the Week.  The homes featured this week belong to some of the finest interior designers and arbiters of style in America.  We simply cannot choose.  So we won't.  Sorry.


What's Inside the Home of Top Design Judge & Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief Margaret Russell?

Today, we end our week-long coverage of the homes of the main cast of Bravo's Top Design show with a "look" at the home of Margaret Russell.  As many of you know, Margaret is the editor-in-chief of Elle Decor magazine and served as a judge on Top Design.  What you may not know is that Margaret is very private and never lets anyone photograph the inside of her home. 

Fortunately for us, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article last year by Anh-Minh Le detailing her interview with Margaret.  In the article, we found many clues as to what the inside of her home looks like and the design style that most resembles hers.

In the article, Margaret describes her Manhattan apartment as "very white - white walls, white furniture." She also has an art collection that apparently keeps her apartment from looking too stark.  Says Margaret: "My style is more pared down than what's in the magazine. I'm bombarded by pattern and color in the office. It's so crazy there that I wanted something more peaceful at home."

In 2007, she wrote a book, So Chic: Glamorous Lives, Stylish Spaces, in which she chronicled many of her favorite homes that have been featured in Elle Decor: 

In talking with Anh-Minh, Margaret singles out the home of Ralph Lauren in Montauk, NY, as being most closely aligned with her style.  That thrills us to no end because we LOVE Ralph Lauren as an interior designer!  (His clothes are fab too!)

It took some effort, but we found photos of Ralph's house on the website of Pieter Estersohn, the amazing photographer used for the feature.  Here are a few shots of the living room and den:

Margaret also appreciates the design approach in Sarah Jessica Parker's weekend home (also featured in the book) in Bridgehampton, NY:

What Celebrity Digs HQ is All About!

We received an anonymous comment yesterday that sparked a great discussion among us here at Celebrity Digs HQ.  The reader thought our blog was unfocused!  We saw it as a perfect opportunity to lay out the three categories of content we cover in our blog:

1.  The homes of celebrities currently in the news.  This includes TV stars (reality or not), movie actors, musicians, or dumb fucks in the news for any reason at all.  Whenever we read a story that catches our eye, we ask ourselves:  Where do THEY live?  Then we try to find out.

2. Celebrity homes in the news.  This covers celebrity real estate news, such as who just placed their home up for sale.  It also includes celebrity deadbeat renters, burglaries, property disputes, or bizarre occurrences that happen in connection with a celebrity's home.

3. Celebrity homes featured in design magazines or newspapers.  We're particularly interested in those where interior design is the focus.  That's just because we like celebrities and we like beautiful houses!

We're still new at this and we're fortunate enough to have thousands of site visitors here each month.  We want you to think of us first when you want the ins and outs about a celebrity's home.

Oh yeah, most Fridays we try to choose our Celebrity Home of the Week.  On rare occasions, we find one that hits all three of our content categories.  That's total nirvana for us!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lofty Living with Top Design Host & Mentor Todd Oldham

This week we're featuring the homes of the judges and hosts of Bravo's Top Design show, which is possibly returning in January of next year.  Today, we look at Todd Oldham--a jack of all trades in the design world--who is probably better suited behind the camera.  Seriously!  Among other things, he works as a photographer and graphic artist.

Like Kelly Wearstler, Todd does a lot of hotel interior design work.  His big thing is colorful retro graphic prints mixed with a bit zen.  And as with Kelly, we're fortunate enough to get a 2-for-1 on Todd's home design.

A few years ago, Metropolitan Home visited Todd at his loft (above) in New York's Financial District.  He definitely has a way with graphics.  The striped walls in his living room below are a nice backdrop for his art collection. 

What we like about Todd is that he believes in accessible design.  His place is a real apartment, not a designer showplace.  It has sleek mid-century modern looking furnishings, some designed by Todd himself.  The room-dividing shelving units are a necessity that those living in small spaces can really appreciate.

Todd also has a weekend home in Pennsylvania:  Another loft!   But it's not the same kind of loft.  It's this treehouse:

We're starting to wonder, though, if Todd is a one-trick pony.  Like his New York apartment, this one has striped walls and is filled mid-century style pieces. 

Here, the walls are covered in colorful Charles Harper prints.

Incidently, did we tell you that Todd is a writer too? He just wrote about Harper.
We told you Todd was a man of many talents!
Photos compiled from various sources, including Metropolitan Home and New York magazine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At Home With Top Design Judge Kelly Wearstler: Love Her or Hate Her?

By now you know that we're featuring the homes of the main cast of Bravo's Top Design reality show, which looks like a no-show this season.  Too bad because one of our favorite celebrity interior designers, Kelly Wearstler, was quite entertaining as one of the judges--even if only for those wild clothes she wore!

Love her or hate her, Kelly's the only interior designer who truly gets what was fabulous about 1980's design.  If you're old enough to remember watching "Miami Vice" and "Dynasty," then all you probably want to do is forget that era.  But Kelly will make you reconsider, as she has almost single-handedly changed the way boutique hotels look today.  Thanks to her, the tired zen look is out and the snazzy no-two-rooms-are-alike look is definitely in.

Lucky for us, we have a 2-for-1 on Kelly's "home" work today.  Vogue just featured her Beverly Hills home in its October issue and Metropolitan Home currently features her glam Malibu beach house in its November issue.

Up first, the Malibu beach house:

We love everything about the living room, above, from the marble walls and bleached walnut floors to the modern Soriano sofa paired with vintage chairs.  Did you notice the fireplace?  Or the abstract cabinet behind the sofa?

We even love the dining room, below, with its stone pedestal table and vintage bucket chairs:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Top Design Host India Hicks & Her Island Hideaway

This week we're featuring the homes of the main cast of Bravo's possibly-defunct Top Design reality show.  Today, we'll take a look at the island home of the show's host for Season Two, India Hicks.

Bravo has a successful formula for choosing the hosts for their hit reality shows:  beauty + knowledge of the industry.  For Project Runway and Top Chef, Bravo chose gorgeous former models Heidi Klum and Padma Lakshmi as hosts respectively.  Heidi had a clear connection to fashion as she was a supermodel, doing runway shows for many major clothing designers in the industry.  Padma already had a food connection, as she has written cookbooks in the past and previously hosted a show on the Food Network.

So when it came to Top Design, India seemed like a natural choice.  She's an attractive former model, the daughter of celebrated British interior designer David Hicks, and a fairly decent interior designer herself.   She is also the second cousin and god-daughter of HRH Prince Charles (on her mum's side).

India lives on Harbour Island in the Bahamas with her partner David Flint Wood (a former ad executive) and their four children.  They have a main house along with two guesthouses and a pavillion (shown above and below) that they sometimes rent out.   And as you can see, she's got the "British West Indies Meets Shabby Chic Beach House" style down pat:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top Design Judge Jonathan Adler's Happy Chic Home

This week we're featuring the homes of the main cast of Bravo's Top Design reality show.  First up is the Palm Beach, Florida home of Jonathan Adler, a renowned interior designer, furniture designer, potter, and one of the judges on the show. 

We've always loved Jonathan's work--sort of pop art meets Palm Beach preppy. He describes his approach as "Happy Chic" and we agree!

Fortunately for us, Jonathan's oceanfront apartment was featured in the November issue of Elle Decor last year, allowing us to see how he and his partner Simon Doonan (writer & creative director for Barney's)actually live.  Their living room below was featured on the cover:

While we loved it--especially the Warren Platner chair in the rear corner--we actually liked this seating area in the other part of the living room even better:

No offense Jonathan, but we bet these chairs are a bit more comfy than those Pedro Friedeberg "Hand" chairs in the living room! 

What else makes this place so fab?  How about Simon's writing desk (designed by Adler!) above and its Atlantic Ocean view?  Or the dining room below?

We still can't get over how this place is bursting with color, even though all the walls are painted white.  We also love that although they were working with only 1600 square feet, they managed to make their home feel large and airy. 

The only room that we're still on the fence about is the master bedroom: 

We love the individual elements, particularly that vintage mirrored  four-poster bed and the suzani fabric bed covering.  They're both to-die-for!

But we don't think this room completely works.  For one thing, the bed floats in the middle of the space.  This is a layout that is extremely difficult to get right, and we don't think they did.  We would think it's hard to feel grounded with the random items behind what is presumably the head of the bed.

Then again, who knows?  Maybe there IS no head and they can just sleep any which way they want!

We think we have our first contender for our Celebrity Home of the Week!

All photos by Colleen Duffley.  For more info, check out the article and slideshow.

What Ever Happened to Bravo's Top Design Show?

We were seriously considering doing a week-long feature on the Real Housewives of Atlanta this week, but in light of recent events surrounding the death of cast member Kandi Burress' ex-fiance, we've decided to postpone that feature. 

But that got us to thinking about another Bravo show:  Top Design, a reality series where interior designers compete for a cash prize and a spread in Elle Decor magazine.  This week we'll feature the homes of the judges and hosts of the show.

By the way, we noticed that we haven't seen any mention of Top Design since the end of Season Two earlier this year.  Sadly, we think it might not be coming back.  As much as we loved the show, we think it had three fundamental problems:

1.  The Hosts Sucked.  Top Design had a rocky start with the first season, hosted at the time by the boring too-nervous-for-television Todd Oldham.  For Season Two, they moved Todd to a supporting role as mentor to the interior designers/contestants.  

India HicksTodd's replacement as host for season two, was pedigreed.  She's the daughter of legendary interior designer David Hicks.  She was almost as easy on the eyes too.  Unfortunately, she was calm, cool, and BOR-ING. 

They both needed to take a page from Ryan Seacrest, who has managed to hold onto his gig as host of Fox's American Idol forever.  With years under his belt as a radio show host, he's skilled at relating to the contestants, the judges, and the audience.  We never could connect with Todd or India.

Speaking of AI, the Top Design judges were much better at replicating the concept.  Kelly Weastler sorta played the Paula Abdul role, with her eccentric clothes and tastes.  Jonathan Adler was the catty sweet-n-snarky version of Simon Cowell.  And Elle Decor editor-in-chief Margaret Russell was the voice of reason a la Randy Jackson.

2.  The Mentor Sucked.  Todd, who was boring as a host for season one, was equally boring as a mentor during season two.   This role is supposed to be similar to the one played by the immensely popular Tim Gunn on Project Runway. On Runway, Tim outshines host Heidi Klum, offering his opinion and encouragement to the clothing designers in a highly entertaining way.

As nice as he was to the contestants and as much as we like him as a designer, Todd probably should have been booted completely from the show.  Not enough personality. 

3.  The Challenges Sucked.  Because speed was often of the essence, like it is for so many other Bravo shows, the challenges often turned into something you would see on TLC's tired old Trading Spaces show.  On that show, do-it-yourself homeowners were paired with so-so designers who had to conceive an interior design scheme that could be executed by the homeowners.  The end results were about the same as those seen on Top Design.

Top Design might have fared better by pairing the designers a la CBS' Amazing Race and having them carry out a series of projects (like all the rooms in a select number of houses) together over the long haul.  No need to condense the time it takes to do design work.  They just need good editors to chop it up and entertain us with the ups and downs as well as the judges' commentary on the quality of the work.

What Top Design really needs of course -- besides a new host, new mentor, and new challenges -- is a guest judge who can come tell it like it is.  So Bravo, if you're listening, we want a seat at the judges' table! 

Photo from Top Design, pictured from left:  Margaret Russell, India Hicks, Jonathan Adler, Todd Oldham, Kelly Wearstler.

Up First:  A look at Jonathan Adler's West Palm Beach Home.

Real Housewife of Atlanta Kandi Burruss' Ex-Fiance Dies in a Fist-Fight

Ashley "A.J." Jewell, ex-fiance of Real Housewife Kandi Burruss, died Friday night of injuries allegedly resulting from a fistfight outside a popular Atlanta strip club of which he was reportedly part-owner.  A.J. was engaged to Kandi, an award-winning songwriter and the newest cast member of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, until last August and has appeared occasionally on the show.  He will likely appear again in pre-recorded episodes that have yet to air, even though the audience will know that he has died.

Several people witnessed the fight between A.J. and his opponent, Fredrick Richardson.  Richardson is currently hospitalized for injuries sustained from the fight.  He was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter.  He will be transferred to Fulton County jail upon discharge from the hospital.

A.J.'s death happened on the heels of the recent tragic death of Derrion Albert, a Chicago teenager who was beaten savagely by a handful of teenagers as others watched.  He also died of his injuries.  Arrests have been made in that case.

Our condolences to the families in both cases. 
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