Girl Around Town: Side

What was it that lured me into Side, an up-cycled furniture boutique on Berkeley's San Pablo Avenue... could it have been a glimmer of aqua blue, or perhaps the enticing aroma of fresh paint? 

The Side business card bears the Sister Parish quote, "innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting." Apt, because that's precisely what owner Carolyn Pickell is doing. While so many contrive to make new furniture appear old, Side celebrates vintage furnishings made young. The tiny shop features an ever-changing assortment of meticulously refinished antiques wearing unexpected paint colors and clever detailing (even pinstripes!). Every surface is laden with treasures, natural curiosities mingling with gilded accessories.

Side has the eclectic aesthetic of a flea market- refined, edited, and styled flawlessly. It's a new Bay Area favorite!


Dare to Dream: More is More

My wish list is starting to look like the tangled contents of a very luxe jewelry box. Each piece is an organic collage of rhinestones, mixed metallics, and curious specimens- all grafted together to form wild overgrown adornments. 

Amethyst Empress Necklace and Sapphire Garden Earrings by LuisFernando on Etsy, Melded Skull Ring (via The City Sage) and Layer Ring with Feather by Iosselliani, Skull & Flower Drop Earrings by Michael Spirito


Easter Leftovers

We certainly did. The sun shone, the wine sparkled, everyone had seconds of the ham. Of course, we haven't stopped at seconds (or even thirds). We're enjoying many culinary reincarnations of our coca-cola glazed ham for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! It's delicious (so delicious), but favorite Easter leftover is the bouquet of purple tulips that my very sweet guests brought. 

I've got the enormous bunch arranged in a footed apothecary jar so that each stem arcs out gracefully. Every time I walk by the dining nook I feel the urge to take a picture. We'll polish off the ham and potato salad in a couple days, but I'll be enjoying these pretties forever!


Happy Easter Weekend

It's Easter, and Adam couldn't resist a well-priced (and downright enormous) hunk of ham. What the heck, let's host a luncheon. Last year I did the pastel garden party thing- pretty, but predictable. I've invited over some thoroughly modern friends, so I thought I'd put together a tablescape to match. 

The mod runner is a fabric remnant that plays well with my caned chairs. Keeping the palette black and white lets me feature rabbits and fanciful details without getting too frou-frou. My tiny pedestal dishes add some height to each place setting, and if I get truly motivated tomorrow, they'll each hold a colorfully dyed Easter egg. Perhaps as place cards, like so?

So that's what I'm up to this weekend- tidying up the place and cooking a ham I can barely lift! What are your plans for Easter?

Until Monday,



The WarLock Wedding: Save the Date!

Adam and I wanted our save-the-date cards to be truly personal... so I designed, letterpressed, and hand-addressed them all myself. Here they are!

The cards are traditional but witty, illustrating a piece of who we are as a couple: we love to dine finely in good company! They are enclosed in shimmery gold envelopes that should gleam in each guest's mailbox. I printed my return address onto the pointed envelope flap, and scripted the recipients' addresses in white ink. My hope is that it will be as exciting for our friends and family to receive this news as it is for us to send it. We absolutely cannot wait to celebrate with everyone!

Photographs & Design © ShocktheBourgeois


A Flower Frog Makeover

My first issue of Country Living came in the mail the other day, and it is brimming with goodness. Take, for example, this bright idea:

Image from Country Living Magazine, April 2011

Why did I never think of that? Beyond floral arrangements, I've repurposed flower frogs for paintbrushes, feathers, and writing utensils. Having over a dozen sharpened pencils at the ready? Pretty, but not so useful. An array of makeup brushes? Useful for getting pretty!

As it turns out, I had exactly the same number of makeup brushes as slots in this simple vintage glass flower frog. And it looks just right with the trio of mismatched goblets that contains other beauty basics on my vanity desk. I love the way this vignette adds some glamour to a daily routine.


We Have a Winner...

There were so many stylish ideas for the Shabby Apple Tess Skirt, I just couldn't pick (so I drew from a hat instead).
Jenny said, "What a cute skirt! I'd wear it with a pale pink tank top, some flats, and a ribbon in my hair. I'd feel pretty. Oh so pretty."

I'm sure you will be, Jenny! I'll email you shortly, and we'll get you in that cute outfit as soon as possible!


Ending Soon...

Only 3 more days to enter my Shabby Apple giveaway! I'm loving those answers so far- there truly are unlimited options for a modernized classic like the Tess Skirt

So many, in fact, that I couldn't help sharing another variation on the outfit I posted. By swapping the accessories, I've got an outfit suitable for my favorite weekend activities: sipping a vanilla-bean soda at the Elmwood Cafe, browsing a bookstore, scouting estate sales. I played with sexy shapes in casual fabrics. Sandals and a headband in beachy jute, a fancified canvas tote that can stash sunscreen and farmer's market produce, and a faded floral jacket with a rounded hem to frame the Tess Skirt's adorable bow.

The Tess Skirt from Shabby Apple featured with the Cropped Wisley Blazer from Anthropologie, the Vince Stripe Favorite Tank from Piperlime, Tory Burch Platform Sandal from Nordstrom, Jute Rhinestone Headband from Ann Taylor Loft, a jeweled bracelet by Rappaccini's Garden, and a Sequin Strap Tote from Gap.

Better catch this giveaway on its way out... I'll accept entries (as  comments on the original post) until midnight PST on Sunday, and announce the lucky winner on Monday!

Happy weekend,



Here & Now: Rabbit Multiplication

My collection of white ceramic rabbits is multiplying like... rabbits. You've already seen the little bunny hidden in my kitchen, and I've got my rabbit soap dish out again. Here are the newest to join the brood (luckily they're pitching in around the apartment).

I spotted this roly-poly rabbit at Pottery Barn and wheedled my Mom into buying him for me. She couldn't say no to this face (the rabbit's, not mine). He has the very important job of dispensing licorice jellybeans. If he could keep Adam out of them, he'd be much more useful.

This one was a Christmas gift from Mom, who (having been in cahoots with Adam) knew that I was getting something sparkly. He very sweetly wears my ring on the rare occasions when I take it off!

Who's joining the family/collection next? Hopefully this guy, who's on our registry...

Apilco Hare Casserole Dish from Williams Sonoma

He'll fit right in, but as far as utility goes- he's going to have to find a new occupation, because it's highly unlikely I'm cooking rabbit anytime soon.


Design Beginnings

I am often asked, "when did you first become interested in design?" Hmmm. Well, let's see...

This is me, age five.

And this was my favorite book.

Can you tell that it's been my best-loved book? It has more than its fair share of rips and tears! I badly want a crisp copy, but Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse! has long been out of print- and books as tattered as mine sell for $60. What I have is a treasure in many ways.

The book is the illustrated portfolio of Ms. Henrietta Mouse. She is "an artist, a designer, a dreamer, a builder, a creator, all that and more too." She's designed a tower observatory for Owl, a cozy cave for Bear, a hopping pad for Frog. At five, I thought Pig's palace was the most splendid of them all. To be honest, I still think that tole chandelier is fabulous.

Click to see all the detail (can you spot Ms. Mouse?).

Here's my rendition. I've obviously taken some liberties with the layout.

It's funny to reflect (as I type this post at a desk strewn with paint chips, fabric swatches, and decor magazines), that I'm not so different from my five-year-old self. Yes, I now prefer fine-tipped pens to crayons, but I'm still drawing up elaborate plans, and Ms. Mouse still inspires me.

"Her head is like a carousel whirling with colors, fabrics, and designs. Look at her. Always at her drawing table, always creating for others. There she is roughing out her schemes and themes trying to change each creature's house from the commonplace to the extraordinary. For hours and hours she struggles to find perfection."
You and me both, Henrietta. So, maybe my answer is... when haven't I been interested in design?

Update: I scanned a few more amusing images of my earliest design projects. Quite the portfolio! You can view them at the Shock the Bourgeois Facebook page. Be sure to click "like" while you're there!


Giveaway: Shabby Apple

If you heaved a major Monday sigh when you opened your closet to get dressed this morning, I have just the thing for you: a giveaway of Shabby Apple finery sure to wake up your wardrobe!

This is my very first giveaway, and Shabby Apple is the perfect fit for my vintage-inspired taste. I picked the Tess Skirt, a go-with-everything, hourglass-figure-making pencil skirt in practical olive canvas twill.  I can't enter my own giveaway (drat!), but I sure can dare to dream about how I'd style the Tess SkirtA few links of chain and some bossy stripes to toughen up the feminine silhouette, an artsy cropped cardigan to show off the fabulous bow, snakeskin and a silver skull to shock the bourgeois...

The Tess Skirt from Shabby Apple, featured with the Elizabeth & James Tari Sandal from Piperlime, a jeweled bracelet by Rappaccini's Garden, the Tea & Roses Cropped Cardigan from Anthropologie, the Vince Stripe Favorite Tank from Piperlime, and the Claire Cross-Body Bag from Banana Republic

Envisioning your own outfit? Make it happen. Here's how you can enter to win...

  • Click "like" on the Shabby Apple Facebook page (what's not to like about a free frock and exclusive access to year-round discounts?)
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me how you would wear the Tess Skirt. Be sure to leave your email address!
  • If you tweet or blog about this giveaway, leave me the link- it'll count as an extra entry!
I'll announce the winner on Monday, April 18th- so get your entries in by Sunday at midnight PST.

Only one lucky gal can snag the prize, but everyone's a winner: Shock the Bourgeois readers will receive 10% off of their purchases at Shabby Apple with coupon code "shockthebourgeois10off"

Good luck!

The fine print: This prize cannot be shipped outside of the US, and is not eligible for return or exchange.

*This giveaway is now closed!*


A Bright & Busy Friday

It's a bright Friday in Berkeley, the kind that will tempt cubicled workers to sneak out and start the weekend just a few hours earlier. I'm impatient for the afternoon too- not to escape work, but to get to it! At about 3:45 the sunlight through our bay windows will turn a white dining table into my photographic studio for Rappaccini's Garden. Today I'll be styling new jewelry and vintage finds with a Spring Green theme. 

Many thanks to those of you who have participated in the Reader Survey that I posted yesterday. Your responses thus far have been illuminating! And, if you haven't already...

Enjoy your weekend friends- when you return here on Monday, there will be a giveaway waiting!




Reader Survey!

It's time for Spring Cleaning, and time to tidy some things up at Shock the Bourgeois! I've been absolutely thrilled by the increase in readership and participation that my little blog has seen already this year. I want to tailor my content to keep you inspired and involved, so if you wouldn't mind...

This 7 question survey should only take a few minutes of your time, and I promise, you'll be amply rewarded. Remember that giveaway I hinted about? It's scheduled for Monday, and it's as pretty as a present. It even has a bow on it.

Thank you for your help, and as always, for reading!


Dare to Dream: Modern Gothic

It's not often that idly clicking through Apartment Therapy brings me to a house that flawlessly combines raw brick and linear modernity with elegant mouldings and Victorian frill. And then there's the twisted, skeletal staircase. Courtney & Trevor, I await my invite. Also, let's be best friends.

The owner describes her style as "disturbed traditionalism," a phrase I wish I'd coined myself. I wasn't sure why AT had termed this practically colorless house "playful" until I locked eyes with the DIY coffee table. Oho, now I get it.

This is a look that requires good bones- good architectural bones, that is. I'd do terrible things to have a space like this, with room to make an aesthetic statement (instead of just leaving little hints everywhere). I'll always be firmly against white paint for a shoebox apartment, but these crisp white walls with such height and natural lighting... this is an art gallery, and one that can elevate curious shapes like paper snowflakes and wire hangers to Dada-esque distinction.

If I hung a wire hanger on my wall, people would merely assume I'd run out of closet space. Which, incidentally, is true. Ah, dare to dream.


Things Are Looking Up

Here are two pictures from a weekend ramble through Berkeley that made for an amusing diptych. A few similarities, I'd say.


Drawing Up a Business Plan

I've decided it's high time I had a real business card (though I've yet to determine what my title should be, hmmmm). The plan is to craft my own design and letterpress the cards with my Epic 6. I've been flipping through my rolodex (okay, fine, I don't really have a rolodex) for inspiration. My head is so full, I don't know how I'm going to cull it all down into 2.5 x 3 inches.

Business cards with an illustrative quality always draw me in...

Click on any of the delightful business cards above to be directed to their websites.

Speaking of business, I've got a little blog business to attend to this week: I'll be posting a reader survey to get your opinions on schedule, advertising, and the future look of Shock the Bourgeois. Will you chime in?


Kitchen Chemistry in the Works

Our kitchen has evolved into a truly efficient workspace. The marble surface of my beloved kitchen island allows me to spread out all of my ingredients- and I still have room enough for a "basics station."

I've tried to design our kitchen to cater to good cooking practices (like remembering salt & pepper) so I established a permanent spot for the most basic seasonings. Now, while we're consulting a cookbook, we can also grab a pinch of salt, fresh-ground pepper, or sugar. We've got one of these beauties on our registry, but for now we use the mortar and pestle to grind roasted peppercorns (and we get a little exercise while we're at it!). The tray is actually an Ikea pie pan with a ruffly shape that appealed to me. I intend to try a quiche in it eventually, but at the moment it's catching loose salt sprinkles and keeping the counter neat. 

I prefer all-white ceramics for kitchen and dining, which allows me to mix and match interesting shapes, including some with floppy ears...

This weekend I'll be testing out a new gingersnap recipe, but that's not all that's cooking at Shock the Bourgeois: I'm going to be hosting my first ever giveaway! It's a good one (like, I wish I was eligible to win) and I can't wait to give you the details.

Until next week,