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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

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Designer I Love: Kathryn Ireland

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Ireland in her beautiful and chic Santa Monica home

All the beautiful summery inspiration I've been seeing everywhere reminded me how much I love the work of interior designer Kathryn Ireland. The British-born, L.A.-based designer is one of the most celebrated and influential designers working today, and her interiors are breezy, rustic, and refined; exactly the kind of look I've been loving.


Colorful textiles are a mainstay in Ireland's style. The bedspread and pillowcase in this guest bedroom in her former Ojai home are from her 2012 collection.

Ireland grew up in Britain, and her style definitely reflects her international upbringing. Her work is cultured, eclectic, and a bit bohemian. She blends patterns and bright colors into a beachy L.A. feel, while also incorporating touches of romantic English countryside homes, colorful Moroccan-inspired details, and punchy Spanish flair. Even with such a distinct sense of the cultured world-traveler, Ireland's spaces are personal, livable, and family friendly, so all her designs feel comfortable and individual, never too stuffy or too perfect.


Lovely, eclectic details fill this comfortable and inviting living space

Aside from her active design career, Ireland recently published a new book, Timeless Interiors, not to mention her turn in the fabulous and high-stress reality show Million Dollar Decorator! Check out the show on Bravo and visit Ireland's website for a look into her inspiring interiors and textile designs.


Designer Jason Picken's Collaboration with Steven Alan Home

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Double Chair: Oiled Ash with Brass Inlay. Deep tan corduroy (available in other fabrics).

1 Double Chair: Oiled Ash with Brass Inlay. Deep tan corduroy (available in other fabrics).

Button detail.

2 Button detail.

The sofa and double chair feature vintage back and side strapping.

3 The sofa and double chair feature vintage back and side strapping.

The full size sofa.

4 The full size sofa.

Bench of frame-oiled ash with brass inlay. The cushion is Royce Brandy German cowhide tanned in Italy.

5 Bench of frame-oiled ash with brass inlay. The cushion is Royce Brandy German cowhide tanned in Italy.

The chic coffee table has oiled ash legs and is available in white marble.

6 The chic coffee table has oiled ash legs and is available in white marble.

The end table is available in white, green, grey (shown), and black marble.

7 The end table is available in white, green, grey (shown), and black marble.

Fashion designer Steven Alan is known for his American heritage aesthetic of chambray and sailor stripes. After years of curating a collection of artisanal products to sell in his clothing boutiques, he realized there were enough beautiful, functional home products to warrant a fully-fledged furnishings outpost. Steven Alan Home Shop opened in March and features an exclusive collection of made-to-order sofas by Jason Pickens.

Jason and I started as colleagues on the Martha Stewart Show and I consider him one of my close friends. I chatted with him about his start as a designer, what he learned at Martha Stewart, and his stunning collection of sofas.

How did you get your start as a designer and furniture fabricator?
My old boss at a movie prop house walked into my office and said: "The Smurfs Movie just called. They need a catapult that shoots apples in two weeks. I went ahead and told them we could make it. Let me know when it's finished." The next two weeks were very stressful.

What did you learn from your experience working at Martha Stewart?
Working with the art department on the Martha Stewart Show, I really learned a lot about function in the home. I believe people are drawn to brands like Steven Alan and Martha Stewart because they are the world's best at combining style with function. It really takes a special eye and they have it.

When I worked on the Martha Stewart Show, I was building set displays and assisting in the styling of segments. Because of the nature of my work there, my shop was right outside Martha's studio office. So, naturally, I spent a lot of time hanging out with Kevin Sharkey. He and Anduin Havens (who was art director for the show at that time) took me under their wings and always gave me good tips and pointers for what I was making.

It was always business with you until about five months into the show season. I was out in a club on the Lower East Side, and wouldn't you know it, dancing across the room from me was Kevin Sharkey. Cutting a rug like a pair of scissors. We got to talking and have remained friends ever since.

I just can't stress enough how much of an impact working at MSLO had on my life and career. The brand continues to inspire me.

How did your sofa collection for Steven Alan Home Shop come to be?
I met Steven Alan through his talented Vice President of Design, Ai Bihr. She had hired me to fabricate some showroom pieces for their Franklin Street location. So, one afternoon Steven came by to have a look at the project. I started explaining my past work experience at MSLO, the Peace Corps, and designing and fabricating movie props. He mentioned that he was soon going to open a home store and asked if I would be interested in working with him to create a collection. I couldn't refuse the opportunity to work alongside such a talented team, so I immediately took him up on his offer.

What makes the sofa you created so special?
Its simplicity. Every part of how the pieces function is visible. Unlike a traditional sofa where all the magic is happening underneath the upholstery with springs and clips and webbing, our sofa is just simple wood, steel, fabric, and down. It's durable, washable, and sturdy, but at the same time feels lightweight and comfortable.

Follow Jason on Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at his work. @TheJPickens


10 Things to Stop Hoarding

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Every collector knows that there's a fine line between curating an assemblage of treasures and hoarding them, something that happens when a collector loses control (or count) of his treasure trove. Even if you've found yourself close to the latter—it happens so easily with beautiful things especially—be comforted that the season of purging is upon us.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, I've detailed below the clutter-culprits that sneak up most easily in my life.  I also reached out to my friend and organizing expert Anduin Havens to see what she recommends cleaning out. Let me know in the comments below what items you love to collect and the ones you find yourself accidentally hoarding.


My Top 5

1. Unless you re-use them, eliminate that stash of once-used paper and plastic shopping bags. Paper ones can go right into a recycling bin, and plastic ones can be donated to farmers and flea markets (or even animal shelters) for re-use.

2. Same goes for boxes. Truly beautiful boxes worth keeping are actually rare, so though my Achilles heel is a well-made box, I've limited myself to keeping Hermes and Marc Jacobs boxes.

3. As much as it pains me to say it, get rid of some of your magazines. Rip out the things you're interested in and file them. In the industry we call this "swipe." Martha calls me The Tear-orist because I'm ruthless about ripping things out.

4. Beauty and cleaning products. I don't know what it is, but everyone wants to open that new bottle of product before finishing the last. Toss forgotten half-used bottles or commit to using them up before puncturing a new seal.

5. Mugs. Break them all! Novelty mugs are the bane of my existence. Buy one nice set and leave it at that.


Anduin's Top 5
1. Get rid of clothing! If you haven't worn it in 7 years, it's wasting space. That size 4 you haven't fit into since the 90's is a pipe dream. More and more re-sell boutiques are cropping up, if it pains you to give away something beautiful.

2. Go through jewelry and accessories regularly. Unless it's a classic piece, be ruthless.

3. Kids toys, books and games. Keep the absolute favorites for posterity but toss the junky plastic that has seen better days. Teach your children about charity by donating gently used items.

4. Electronics that you've replaced with updated technology – bring it to an electronic recycling center.

5. CDs! They take up so much space and can be easily uploaded into a digital computer file. If you must keep the actual CD, get binders so that they store smaller and no matter what, ditch the cases.