Sparks - the Blog of Interior Designer Schuyler Samperton

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I was out walking Tricky in my neighborhood the other day, when I noticed this handwritten note scribbled on a construction site document.

Clearly a desperate plea, the author was begging the developer to create something beautiful.  Full of gorgeous small-scale apartment buildings from the 1920s and 30s, my neighborhood has a lovely charm that is slowly being overtaken by unattractive, architecturally-soulless, multi-unit monsters.

In his book, Creating a New Old House, Russell Venturi outlines the specific path to architectural authenticity for a number architectural styles, from California Spanish Colonial Revival to Cape Cod Cottage.  He explains (and insists!) that the details matter – the thickness of a column, the proportions of a window, the slope of a roof.  All of it has a significant impact, so with that purity of intent in mind, I wanted to capture some of the special buildings and details, that make my neighborhood so great.  With a little luck, perhaps the new architects and contractors will take a walk around the block, pause for a moment to appreciate the past, and actually create something “nice.”

A few of my favorite places, old and new…

Citrus trees scattered in front yards

Tudor was big on my block in the 1920s

These numbers tie in perfectly with the Hamilton Arms vibe

New Spanish Colonial done right

Feathered Friends

Feathers have always been a favorite of mine.  I love everything about them – the colors, the textures, the iridescence and their abundant natural magic.

A classic scarf pattern from Hermes – framed?

A coque feather necklace – art in my hallway…

Earrings from Ralph Lauren, in one of my favorite color combinations.

Decadent wallpaper by Karen Beauchamp that uses Swarovski crystal elements!

My lovely cream and white dream catcher by Electric Love from Spartan in Austin.

Trippy fabric from Pallavik.

One single, louche raspberry plume on the chest in my bedroom.

Rag Rugs!

Suddenly, rag rugs are looking very modern to me…

These hand-made pieces came to America through European immigrants, and were extremely popular in Colonial New England, as well as on the frontier.  Featuring an old school approach to recycling, the rugs were made of strips of worn clothing, bedding or other random textiles.

Every area has a different name for rag rugs – in England alone they’re called stobbie, tabbie, shaggy or proggie – WOW

These color combinations make me (and Tricky) swoon!

Go to East Meets West Antiques in Los Angeles, for the best selection!

The Little Flower School of Brooklyn Comes to LA!

So far, I’m a big fan of 2013. I realize that it’s pretty early in the game, but I’ve already knocked out one of my resolutions.  A few months ago, I read that the Little Flower School of Brooklyn would be teaching a class in LA, and I watched and waited for the registration notice like a thirteen–year-old girl trying to get Justin Beiber tickets.

Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to be one of twenty students, and it was AMAZING!  I first learned of our teachers Nicolette Owen and Sarah Ryhanen through the glorious book, Bringing Nature Home.  I had never seen such gasp-inspiring beauty before, and was completely mesmerized by the stunning arrangements. We gathered in a loft downtown, and the fun began…

Over a decadent assortment of goodies including tangerine juice, organic chocolates, cheese and marcona almonds, we all introduced ourselves, and named our favorite flower.  PS – Ranunculus were by far the runaway favorite!

“Place cards” were personalized snips!

Another party favor which would prove to be my nemesis…

Our charming and informed teachers revealed a slew of helpful tips like how to maximize a flower’s intrinsic beauty, which flowers look together (and which don’t), as well as how to prep your flowers and container. We were then treated to a demonstration by Sarah, who created a magnificent arrangement in what seemed like five minutes.

Armed with a head-spinning amount of knowledge, we were then instructed to select our blooms (whatever spoke to us!), and we were off! Each one of my fellow flower enthusiasts (many were professional florists – even one from Texas) made the most gorgeous creations. I however, new to this whole thing, made a few mistakes -

Nicolette and Sarah had warned us about the perils of the slipping frog, and sure enough, I had issues because I chose too many heavy blooms, and my whole thing was just TOO BIG.  Yikes…

I managed to get my leviathan home, (one extremely wet car seat later), and then I spent the next several hours trying to make it fit in my apartment. I went to bed a touch discouraged, but awoke with Nicolette’s  words ringing in my ears…”you can always just start over,” so start over I did!

I took the entire thing apart, and approached the new incarnation with a fresh attitude.

Gone were the dark and moody branch-like blooms that Sarah so kindly called “wild and magical.” Instead, I created a lighter, more dainty piece that in the spirit of Downton Abbey’s third season premiere would look smashing on Lady Mary’s dressing table!

I concentrated on a softer palette of carnations, agapanthus (Nicolette called these “little firecrackers,” anemones, jasmine vine and some delightful little wild flower-looking thing whose name I unfortunately can’t remember.

My new version fits perfectly on my coffee table, and I still have room for a remote AND a candle!!!

The Little Flower School will be teaching in Petaluma in May, and I strongly encourage everyone to check it out. Class was a total thrill, and an amazing way to start off the new year.