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Inspiration: Venice

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Venice is one of the most magical, timeless places I can think of. A floating city steeped in tradition and culture, and characterized by winding alleys and canals, it is truly a goldmine of inspiration. I have visited Venice many times and each time I go, I am awestruck by the city's rich colors. The crystal blue of Murano glass, the red brick of the palazzos, the dramatic black of the gondolas, the purple and pink of the traditional Venetian masks -- the eye-catching colors are endless.

Beyond color, Venice is a place of great architecture and design, which is why it is home of the Arts Biennale, an international festival of contemporary art (www.labiennale.org). Artists from around the world apply to have their art displayed in Venice's grand palaces and churches, transforming the city into an even more beautiful and creative space.

With the Biennale taking place now, I have Venice on the mind! Make sure to have a look at parts of the festival, but in the meantime, I'd like to share some images of the city. They are truly inspiring for my design ventures, and hopefully they will be for you as well.

Please enjoy!

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This photo looks old, but its antique view of Venice is still accurate today.
(pininterest.com)

1 This photo looks old, but its antique view of Venice is still accurate today. (pininterest.com)

A black and white photo gives you a better perception of the architecture of the city. The buildings look as if they are literally floating on the water -- and they are!
(designspiration.com)

2 A black and white photo gives you a better perception of the architecture of the city. The buildings look as if they are literally floating on the water -- and they are! (designspiration.com)

A birds-eye view of the city showcases its unique position and construction. 
(blackeiffel.blogspot.com)

3 A birds-eye view of the city showcases its unique position and construction. (blackeiffel.blogspot.com)

Piazza San Marco (pinterest.com)

4 Piazza San Marco (pinterest.com)

It is truly a city of contrasts -- light and dark, old and new. 
(topdesignmag.com)

5 It is truly a city of contrasts -- light and dark, old and new. (topdesignmag.com)

This is a light installation set up for the Biennale. The fixtures are amazing -- so simple and elegant. 
(interiordesign.net)

6 This is a light installation set up for the Biennale. The fixtures are amazing -- so simple and elegant. (interiordesign.net)

This is a light installation by Spencer Finch, set up for the Venice Biennale. 
(olivegoldwine.blogspot.com)

7 This is a light installation by Spencer Finch, set up for the Venice Biennale. (olivegoldwine.blogspot.com)

The way the buildings line the canal and stand like matches in a box, side by side, is truly unique to Venice.
(travelandleisure.com)

8 The way the buildings line the canal and stand like matches in a box, side by side, is truly unique to Venice. (travelandleisure.com)

The island off of Venice known as Burano, is full of vibrant, punchy color.
 (photography-edu.com)

9 The island off of Venice known as Burano, is full of vibrant, punchy color. (photography-edu.com)

The gondolier is so emblematic of Venice.
(atreelinedstreet.com)

10 The gondolier is so emblematic of Venice. (atreelinedstreet.com)

Here is a close up of the famous Venetian Gondola.
(apartmenttherapy.com)

11 Here is a close up of the famous Venetian Gondola. (apartmenttherapy.com)

This painting reflects a typical Venetian color palate -- it shows you how interconnected art and design really are, even centuries ago!
(

12 This painting reflects a typical Venetian color palate -- it shows you how interconnected art and design really are, even centuries ago! ("Bacchus and Ariadne", painting by Titian, 1523)

Another famous painting executed in the 16th century with a noticeably Venetian style and inspiration. 
(

13 Another famous painting executed in the 16th century with a noticeably Venetian style and inspiration. ("The Miracle of St. Mark", painting by Tintoretto, 1548)

A window shot of the traditional Venetian masks. They make a fun, whimsical decorating item. 
(iamfashion.blogspot)

14 A window shot of the traditional Venetian masks. They make a fun, whimsical decorating item. (iamfashion.blogspot)

Piazza San Marco can be captured from so many angles. 
(topdesignmag.com)

15 Piazza San Marco can be captured from so many angles. (topdesignmag.com)

An interior of Cafe Florian, the oldest coffee house in continuous operation in the world! Its design is beautifully old-world. Gold embellishments and intricate moldings make the cafe a true tourist destination.
 (thecountrypolitan.blogspot.com)

16 An interior of Cafe Florian, the oldest coffee house in continuous operation in the world! Its design is beautifully old-world. Gold embellishments and intricate moldings make the cafe a true tourist destination. (thecountrypolitan.blogspot.com)

The Hotel Cipriani is a staple of Venice. Its views and accomodations are special, and worth a peek.
(hotelcipriani.com)

17 The Hotel Cipriani is a staple of Venice. Its views and accomodations are special, and worth a peek. (hotelcipriani.com)

Look at how the water meets up against the buildings. This is really an awesome image of a typical view in Venice. 
(pininterest.com)

18 Look at how the water meets up against the buildings. This is really an awesome image of a typical view in Venice. (pininterest.com)

Framed or just as a fun poster on the wall, I love this map.
(pininterest.com)

19 Framed or just as a fun poster on the wall, I love this map. (pininterest.com)

A great guide to Venice for your kids!
(

20 A great guide to Venice for your kids! ("This is Venice" by M. Sasek)

So many artists have fallen in love with Venice. John Ruskin in particular, an art critic and draftsman, found inspiration in the architecture and design of the city. He compiled this book, 'The Stones of Venice' in its honor -- it is a true masterpiece.

21 So many artists have fallen in love with Venice. John Ruskin in particular, an art critic and draftsman, found inspiration in the architecture and design of the city. He compiled this book, 'The Stones of Venice' in its honor -- it is a true masterpiece.

Beach Chic

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Now that summer has officially started, many of us will be retreating to the beach on the weekends.

While there is no way to bring all of the luxuries of home with you on the dunes, there are more and more chic, cool finds (from umbrellas to towels to totes and beyond) that make a day at the beach...well a day at the beach in every sense.

Here's what we'll be packing up to take to the seaside this summer...

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These charming towels come in such happy, unusual patterns. (robertarollerrabbit.com)

1 These charming towels come in such happy, unusual patterns. (robertarollerrabbit.com)

This chair was made for finishing that great summer read. (conranusa.com)

2 This chair was made for finishing that great summer read. (conranusa.com)

I love that these chic beach chairs come with a built in ottoman. No more sandy feet. (ballarddesigns.com)

3 I love that these chic beach chairs come with a built in ottoman. No more sandy feet. (ballarddesigns.com)

Friends will have no trouble spotting you on the beach with this unique umbrella. (safariliving.com)

4 Friends will have no trouble spotting you on the beach with this unique umbrella. (safariliving.com)

These are so 70s California. (pbteen.com)

5 These are so 70s California. (pbteen.com)

Why not sport Missoni on the beach? (safariliving.com)

6 Why not sport Missoni on the beach? (safariliving.com)

This is genius for beach cocktails at sunset. (ucommongoods.com)

7 This is genius for beach cocktails at sunset. (ucommongoods.com)

Perfect for bonfire s'mores. (shopterrain.com)

8 Perfect for bonfire s'mores. (shopterrain.com)

These graphic beach bags are under $10. (ikea.com)

9 These graphic beach bags are under $10. (ikea.com)

An oversize, really plush towel is key for long hours on the beach. Martha Stewart Collection Beach Towels  (macys.com)

10 An oversize, really plush towel is key for long hours on the beach. Martha Stewart Collection Beach Towels (macys.com)

This picnic is so classic and refined. (brookstone.com)

11 This picnic is so classic and refined. (brookstone.com)

OK. Probably not something you could carry to the beach every week but it's so great.  (hutshop.com)

12 OK. Probably not something you could carry to the beach every week but it's so great. (hutshop.com)

This bag is the classic beach tote. (brookfarmgeneralstore.com)

13 This bag is the classic beach tote. (brookfarmgeneralstore.com)

I love how muted and graphic these towels are.  (anichini.com)

14 I love how muted and graphic these towels are. (anichini.com)

Don't think disposable. These plates can be used all summer long. Martha Stewart Collection Dinnerware. (macys.com)

15 Don't think disposable. These plates can be used all summer long. Martha Stewart Collection Dinnerware. (macys.com)

Spreading these around a blanket will make the fireworks display extra special.  (shopterrain.com)

16 Spreading these around a blanket will make the fireworks display extra special. (shopterrain.com)

A pack of linen napkins can elevate any beach lunch. (anthropologie.com)

17 A pack of linen napkins can elevate any beach lunch. (anthropologie.com)

Mix up your drinks then easily transport them with this. (shopterrain.com)

18 Mix up your drinks then easily transport them with this. (shopterrain.com)

A humidity proof salt and pepper shaker can save your Caprese salad on the beach. (canoeonline.net)

19 A humidity proof salt and pepper shaker can save your Caprese salad on the beach. (canoeonline.net)

Using a pretty blanket underneath towels gives you more beach space. (shopterrain.com)

20 Using a pretty blanket underneath towels gives you more beach space. (shopterrain.com)

Bright dish towels can be wrapped around wine bottles and then used as handy napkins. Martha Stewart Collection Kitchen Towels. (macys.com)

21 Bright dish towels can be wrapped around wine bottles and then used as handy napkins. Martha Stewart Collection Kitchen Towels. (macys.com)

Perfect for a wine party for two. (macys.com)

22 Perfect for a wine party for two. (macys.com)

This tote just screams

23 This tote just screams "take me to the beach." (marcjacobs.com)

This umbrella screams summer to me. The cool colors and striped pattern belong on the beach. (homedepot.com)

24 This umbrella screams summer to me. The cool colors and striped pattern belong on the beach. (homedepot.com)

My colleagues at Living have a special talent for solving any beach conundrum. Here are my favorite DIY ideas...

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Don't let a stiff breeze chase you off the beach. Bring along a windscreen to protect yourself from gusts and blowing sand, as well as to enjoy a little surf-side privacy and shade. The oversize pocket on one of the screen

1 Don't let a stiff breeze chase you off the beach. Bring along a windscreen to protect yourself from gusts and blowing sand, as well as to enjoy a little surf-side privacy and shade. The oversize pocket on one of the screen "walls" lets you keep your water bottle, sunblock, magazine, and sunglasses grit-free and within easy reach. (marthastewart.com/268280/portable-windscreen)

Add a strap to your beach chair and your hands are free to hold towels and bags. (marthastewart.com/268278/beach-chair-strap)

2 Add a strap to your beach chair and your hands are free to hold towels and bags. (marthastewart.com/268278/beach-chair-strap)

Inflatable pillows make lounging at the beach even more relaxing, and they're easy to tuck into a tote. Add a terry cloth slipcover, and the plastic pillows will feel soft and dry, not hot and sticky. (marthastewart.com/273685/terry-cloth-cases)

3 Inflatable pillows make lounging at the beach even more relaxing, and they're easy to tuck into a tote. Add a terry cloth slipcover, and the plastic pillows will feel soft and dry, not hot and sticky. (marthastewart.com/273685/terry-cloth-cases)

These neat bundles have everything you need for a picnic meal, including a handle to transport them. With a few quick folds and a knot, you can transform a dish towel into a carrier for a sandwich and drink. Once you're at your destination, use the towel as a place mat or napkin. (marthastewart.com/how-to/dish-towel-picnic-carrier)

4 These neat bundles have everything you need for a picnic meal, including a handle to transport them. With a few quick folds and a knot, you can transform a dish towel into a carrier for a sandwich and drink. Once you're at your destination, use the towel as a place mat or napkin. (marthastewart.com/how-to/dish-towel-picnic-carrier)

Protect your summer reading at the beach or pool with these stylish covers. Use oilcloth or vinyl to repel water and lotion. (marthastewart.com/272313/waterproof-book-covers)

5 Protect your summer reading at the beach or pool with these stylish covers. Use oilcloth or vinyl to repel water and lotion. (marthastewart.com/272313/waterproof-book-covers)

Add a simple shower curtain ring to  your beach tote and you will never lose your keys again. (marthastewart.com/273463/shower-curtain-key-ring)

6 Add a simple shower curtain ring to your beach tote and you will never lose your keys again. (marthastewart.com/273463/shower-curtain-key-ring)

Transform reusable bamboo utensils with a few deft strokes of model paint, which can withstand hand-washing. 

To create stripes, tape off the areas you don't want painted using painters' tape; then paint, let dry, and ring the picnic bell. (marthastewart.com/266223/painted-bamboo-cutlery)

7 Transform reusable bamboo utensils with a few deft strokes of model paint, which can withstand hand-washing. To create stripes, tape off the areas you don't want painted using painters' tape; then paint, let dry, and ring the picnic bell. (marthastewart.com/266223/painted-bamboo-cutlery)

You can use water bottles twice at your summer picnic, first as ice packs, then as thirst quenchers. Before freezing, pour out about an inch of water to give the water room to expand. The bottles help keep food chilled, but will thaw as the day goes on -- leaving you with another round of cold drinks. (marthastewart.com/272871/picnic-packing)

8 You can use water bottles twice at your summer picnic, first as ice packs, then as thirst quenchers. Before freezing, pour out about an inch of water to give the water room to expand. The bottles help keep food chilled, but will thaw as the day goes on -- leaving you with another round of cold drinks. (marthastewart.com/272871/picnic-packing)

A refreshing spritz of fragrant water is a great way to keep cool at the beach. Fill mist bottles with water and a few strips of cucumber or sprigs of lavender and mint. (marthastewart.com/272642/all-natural-mists)

9 A refreshing spritz of fragrant water is a great way to keep cool at the beach. Fill mist bottles with water and a few strips of cucumber or sprigs of lavender and mint. (marthastewart.com/272642/all-natural-mists)

Design Find: Beach Towel

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Memorial Day weekend has arrived.

The official start of summer hopefully means you'll be enjoying a three-day escape to somewhere sunny -- even if it's your backyard.

Sp today's find is a chic, beach towel from that can be used in quite a number of places.

I picked the Martha Stewart Collection Damask Floral Beach Towel from Macys because of its bright palette and oversized floral pattern.

martha_stewart_for_macys_beach_towel_kevin_sharkey_home_design

So whether you are lounging on the sand, relaxing by the lake, or taking a picnic to a park, you will have an utterly chic backdrop.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!