I made my way out to LA to be a keynote speaker at the Design Bloggers Conference, but needless to say I hit a bunch of the hot spots while in town. I also happened to be in town over the weekend of the Oscars, so star-watching was quite exciting to say the least.
Upon arrival, I made my way to Abott Kinney in the Venice area for a little lunch and sight seeing. Craving the fresh food of California, my sister-in-law took me to Gjelina. And fresh is exactly what I got. This hip and happening restaurant has communal seating and I was seated right across the table from one of the stars of 90210. You would never know we were eating with stars, as none of the patrons in LA are starstruck.
It’s not the celebrities people are excited about at Gjelina; it’s the food. I was especially fond of the fresh-squeezed lemonade, baby spinach salad and roasted cauliflower. Too bad we can’t easily find this sort of fresh and healthy fare in Arkansas. I love the photos and review that the great blog Remodelista did of Gjelina. The light fixtures are exceptionally cool.
There are tons of fun and exciting shops, galleries and eateries in this quirky area of town, including the fabulous antiques store Bountiful. Bountiful has gorgeous furniture and found objects, but I am especially fond of the antique china and flatware.
The Design Bloggers Conference, which was a HUGE success by the way, was held at the Sofitel hotel in Beverly Hills, which is conveniently located very near to my favorite designer hot spots on La Cienega Blvd.
My #1 favorite spot on La Cienega is Downtown. This unique shop full of mid-century antiques and vintage lamps is the best place to find perfectly unusual additions to your design projects. Wares from Downtown give your rooms that one-of-a-kind look. You can also find Downtown on 1st dibs when you are not in LA or just want to shop from your own computer.
Renowned interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein was also a speaker at the conference and I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Suzanne while I was in town. AndÂ it is her gorgeous shop, Hollyhock, where I highly recommend you spend some quality time if you love classic interior design.
And while you are there, be sure to pick up a copy of Suzanne’s new book, At Home.
Just down the way on La Cienega is Barclay Butera’s brand new shop. Barclay, too, was a fantastic speaker at the Design Bloggers Conference. And Barclay’s new store is so representative of his signature blue and white motif. Though this is a smaller version of Barclay’s Newport Beach flagship store, you can see a representation of Barclay’s many product lines including his gorgeous upholstery, artwork, lamps and more right in this shop. But don’t worry if you can’t make it here: Barclay also has his lovely wares on his website, so please check that out.
Looking for a great place to have dinner on La Cienega? STK would be great choice.
A happening place with a chic atmosphere, STK offers delicious salads, fresh fish and steaks that come in petite, medium and large sizes depending on your appetite.
From La Cienega it is so easy to make your way towards the Pacific Design Center if you are a designer and want to hit some of the “to the trade” showrooms. The PDC also happened to be the locale for Elton John’s fabulous Oscars Night Party this year. Too bad I didn’t score a ticket to that party while I was in town!
But on your way to the PDC, be sure to stop in the lovely Rose Tarlow Showroom. It is a beautiful free-standing shop on Melrose Avenue that employs classic architecture to house Rose’s classic furniture collection. I have always found Rose’s designs to be so fresh and so progressive even though I consider them classics. I think it is their simplicity of line and form that makes them both primitive and current all at once. This shop is a must-see.
Some of my favorite spots in the PDC include the David Sutherland Showroom , home to their own amazing lines including Sutherland outdoor furniture and Perrenials fabrics. And the Sutherland Showroom is also home to the Jan Showers Collection.
Jan, coincidentally the other keynote speaker at the Design Bloggers Conference, is a wonderful friend of mine and the designer of the world’s most glamorous furniture line. If you get a chance to see Jan’s line, you will be so happy that you did.
Not far from the PDC is quaint Almont Yard, home to my friend Nathan Turner’s design shop Nathan Turner Home, along with Kathryn Ireland Home, and the lovely shop of designer Joe Lucas, Lucas Studios.
Joe was named Top 20 Designers to Watch in 2009 the same year I had the honor. I love the atmosphere of Almont Yard with it’s courtyard and ivy-covered shops. It is quite European in feel and the curiosities and design selections in the shops there are interesting and unique.
But what is far from European and 100% Hollywood is the new Bravo television show that Nathan Turner and Kathryn Ireland are starring in with other famous LA designers Mary McDonald and Martin Lawrence Bullard called “Million Dollar Decorators”. The show comes out soon but in the meantime be sure to visit Almont Yard to get a glimpse of Nathan and Kathryn’s styles.
Ready for a drink now? Well the London hotel isn’t far away and it definitely has a cool bar if you want to have a cocktail and rest your tootsies. You might even see a few stars while you are there. The London is a great boutique hotel that might even be the ideal place to stay if you love this area of town. Just a few steps from the sunset strip and close to the design district, it’s certainly on my list of great accommodations.
And speaking of seeing stars, who can take a trip to LA without eating at the famous restaurant The Ivy? The Ivy makes me feel right at home with its cottage style and Southern inspired menu. And you will definitely see some famous folks while dining. I think it is the perfect lunch spot on a sunny day.
With its signature green and white striped awnings and towels by the pool, the Beverly Hills Hotel will make you feel like you are a movie star yourself.
But if its Old Hollywood Style that you crave, scoring an invitation with the gracious Hutton Wilkinson to his famous Dawnridge estate is the way to go.
I had the privilege of being invited by Hutton and Ronda Carman, author of All the Best blog and ambassador for SFERRA Linens, to a lovely “designer” lunch to commemorate SFERRA’s 120th anniversary.
Dawnridge, the famous estate of Tony Duquette, is the epitome of luxe Cinema Style. Filled with relics from Tony’s years as a world-renown interior designer, costume designer, jewelry designer and artist, Dawnridge is Tony’s modern day Shangri-La with its own lake and gardens on the property. Hutton carries on Tony’s legacy at Dawnridge constantly adding to the collections at this exquisite paradise right in the middle of Los Angeles. It is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
So there, you have a great start to dining, shopping and staying in LA. Hope you will check some of these places out. Now I am off on my next trip, this time a family one, and I will be back soon with all the details. Until we meet again, Happy Travels.