Spanish Eyes

  • Wrought iron balusters grace the foyer’s tiled staircase.
  • Various objet d’art and collectibles rest on surfaces throughout the spacious living room. A formidable and eclectic art collection adorns the room’s walls.
  • LEFT: The coffee table has a balustrade base and its top is edged in marble which surrounds a terra cotta field. RIGHT: At the bar, crystal glasses rest on a chest decorated with marquetry.
  • The panelled study enjoys uninterrupted views to the foyer and into the dining room. Its coffered ceiling creates cozy intimacy in the warm setting.
  • In the dining room, a two-tiered crystal chandelier with acanthus leaves at the crown and antique bronze fittings softly illuminates the oval table. The table is surrounded by leather-clad dining chairs with tapestry backs.
  • Looking outside to the courtyard, dinner guests catch sight of the leafy lemon trees that are poised to flower and release their delicate scent.
  • A large candle chandelier floats above the kitchen island. When the temperature heats up, family and guests move into the shade of the adjoining patio.
  • From the kitchen, doors open onto a charming patio beneath an ivy-covered archway.

Marci Valner’s Spanish Colonial style home circa 1929 is minutes from UCLA in the urban suburb of Westwood. Jockeying for a parking spot is de rigueur in this neighbourhood. We see one, grab it and remember to hang the coveted permit from the rear view mirror or—ouch—a $64 ticket is sure to be waiting upon our return.

Although the home is formally designed it’s clearly well-loved and used frequently for entertaining. Patterned chairs and serviceable sofas invite lingering in the living room. Aubusson tapestry and vintage leaf patterns adorn pillows on the velvet sofa. An antique trestle side table sits next to the William Birch arm chair with its vintage palm leaf upholstery.

In the kitchen, cool-to-the-touch terra cotta floors offer a respite from the day’s heat. White adobe plaster walls and rustic wood beams on the ceiling add to the 1920’s mood.

We are in no hurry to rush back to our parking spot and take a moment to rest on the patio’s cool tile steps.

At Dusk

  • Orange and blue are complementary colours that work in harmony with the pool.
  • “I dabble in... entertaining. There’s nothing I like more than having my close friends over”. ~ Matt
  • Matt prepares tangy martinis at the tiki bar.
  • RIGHT Simple and stylish appetizersare crowd pleasers.
  • Send a message to guests on slate plates from Crate and Barrel.
  • Dabble’s DIY Guy, Nicholas Rosaci takes a well-deserved seat in the lush setting he’s created for his client.
  • "Attention to detail is what really gives a home a feeling of quality and style. Every detail should work in harmony to create a space that truly sings." ~Nicholas

At dusk….that’s when this newly transformed backyard looks its starlit best. How fitting, since the house in question belongs to crooner and jazz vocalist Matt Dusk.

In designing an at-home retreat for the globe trotting musician, designer Nicholas Rosaci artfully combines two of his client’s passions—travel and vintage Hollywood.

Starting with a great backdrop helps any decorating project and Nicholas was pleased to see the combination of buff brick on the house and terracotta on the patio floor. Against these fixed elements, the daring designer added bold aqua blue and fiery orange to, “Ahem, jazz things up.”

“Orange is current and urbane,” says Nicholas, “and it complements the watery blues of the  swimming pool.” To give the casual dining area a sense of ceremony, Nicholas circled its perimeter with breezy white drapery panels by Sunbrite Drapery. Moroccan lanterns lend sparkle to evening events and set an exotic mood.

Favourite element? “Oh, it has to be the tiki bar,” says Matt. “And I make a mean martini too.”

The World on a String
Create a romantic mood by hanging all-weather light strings reminiscent of an Italian piazza or Tuscan courtyard.

Dream a Little Dream
Before purchasing a patio set, find some online design images for inspiration. End of season deals are always a possibility.

The Best is Yet to Come
Treat the patio with the same reverence as the living room. Dress the fence with art, mirrors and sculpture.

Memories are Made of This
Once the project is complete, christen it with friends and a festive celebration.

Charleston’s Top 5 Restaurants

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Scott and Crystal Winks know exactly what to order and where to order it from thanks to their expertise as the pens and palates behind Charleston Food Blog.

Happy to tag along, Scott and Crystal sent us to the city’s best restaurants and led us to the must order dishes on every menu. (It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.)

1. We’re told people travel from all over the country to taste FIG’s Tomato Tarte. Order several of chef Mike Lata’s dishes to share because you’ll want to try it all. The seasonal menu changes daily so visit more than once if you can.

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2. The name Closed for Business is sure to scare off or confuse many visitors, but the locals know better. This small drinkery has twice as many beers on tap as they do tables. The drink and food menus are both full of surprises. Try the duck pot pie, chicken salad or the pork slap sandwich—a perfectly fried pork cutlet, house-smoked ham, swiss cheese, green tomato chutney, with a house sauce that’s served on challah (egg bread). Need we say more?

3. Hidden on the first floor of the French Quarter Inn at the corner of Market and Church Streets is the delicious Tristan. Chef Nate Whiting runs the kitchen in this sleek, modern yet simple restaurant. Expect to be visually stunned by the beauty of the décor and the equally gorgeous food.

4. Pealz is the best spot in town to eat raw oysters. It is very small so head over there at 4:00 pm when they open to avoid the big crowds. If you can’t get enough of fresh seafood, go to Hanks and share the Grand Seafood Castle.

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5. Dying to try Southern food? Head to 82 Queen Street. Sit in the courtyard and order the she-crab soup and the barbecue shrimp and grits. If you want something that tastes like grandma spent the entire day in the kitchen, try Virginia’s on King. They turn out authentic cuisine using the freshest local ingredients and recipes that are 100 years old.

Living in Old San Juan

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Extending a warm greeting, after a day’s work at the hospital, Dr. Carlos Gonzalez assures me he feels more like a ‘Carli’ than a ‘Dr. Gonzalez’ as he unlocks the door to his Old San Juan apartment. He offers chilled Medalla, the local brew, and talks passionately about his charming apartment, its tiled courtyard and the rare neighbourhood he calls home.

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“When you live in Old San Juan, everyone comes to you,” says Carli. And why wouldn’t they? “It’s a magical place that’s brimming with history and, unlike any other city in Puerto Rico, you can walk everywhere in the Old Town. In fact, on weekends, I rarely use my car.”

When you live in Old San Juan, everyone comes to you.

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