mark j williams_revivingcharm

Ranch Houzz Perfection

I love a variety of different design styles that it often poses a challenge when trying to narrow down a look for our own seaside ranch house.  Ranch homes are generally humble in nature and it’s been challenging to find images of a ranch home done right. If you’ve seen any, please let me know. My search led me to images of this Los Angeles, California ranch home on Houzz a few months back and later to the designer’s website. At 4,000 square feet, you can hardly call it humble in terms of square footage but you could definitely call it homey and quaint in terms of its overall aesthetic. It’s not overly decorated and looks collected over time. These are qualities I wish to capture in our own home. It’s a place I’d feel most comfortable coming home to every night. I’ve visited and revisited these pictures on many occasions studying each detail hoping to capture the same essence in our own home. Before I start vacillating back and forth on style, I should probably contact Mark J. Williams, the designer for this project, to help me jump start things a bit on our own home. I’m never too proud to call in reinforcement when needed.

Read more about this home on Houzz.

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I didn’t want to post back-to-back pieces about modern design but there has been a lot of buzz in Southern California with the start of Modernism Week in Palm Springs. (In fact, I know someone whose weekend home will be on the tour next weekend.) And since I’ve had both mid-century design and Palm Springs on the mind (they almost go hand-in-hand),  I thought it would be a great time to feature the beautiful home of Ralph and Rita Rudin. Ralph is the 3rd generation owner of the L.A. furniture company A.Rudin so naturally many of the furnishings are custom pieces. What I like most about the renovation is that they were able to capture the essence of midcentury modern design but keep it fresh, sophisticated and elegant while maintaining indoor/outdoor living that is quintessential Palm Springs (Indian Wells, to be exact). You can read more about their weekend retreat here. rudin home palm springs_Reviving Charm blog 4

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On the way home from the airport after landing in Los Angeles, our driver said to us at the end of a particular conversation, “Don’t worry, the reality and stress will soon set in”. Although said jokingly, he wasn’t far off base. It’s hard coming home to see news coverage about the devastating wildfires occurring in my state. There are fires burning in both Northern and Southern California with deadly, devastating results. “California is on fire”, is some something I made mention of yesterday to a colleague. While we are not in the path of any of the current fires, I came home to find layers of ash covering our property spread by the heavy Santa Ana winds. I had also being alerted by our city to stay indoors due to poor air quality. Having a home destroyed in a matter of minutes is a frightening thought but is the reality for so many living it in the moment. There are many who will deal with the aftermath of the destruction. Some will be rebuilding lives after the loss of life of friends and family; others will deal with construction efforts of rebuilding physical structures. This all reminded me of a post I did last year about a Santa Barbara home that was rebuilt after a fire. The owner took some extra precautions to design a new home with safety in mind. The results are lovely and in case you missed that post, you can check it out HERE.

When we rebuild a house, we are rebuilding a home. When we recover from disaster, we are rebuilding lives and livelihoods. –Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Economist

If you want to help with disaster relief aid, contact Red Cross.


Booking a room a hotel or resort is something I take very seriously. I do a lot of research and it’s not uncommon for me to call a hotel directly and ask a few questions about the location of certain rooms, types of rooms or their amenities. I have found this helps to ensure we get the best room for our dollar and a room that meets our expectations. At certain hotels I might even go so far as to request a specific room number; however, not all hotels will allow this. The latter was the case with Bacara. But nonetheless, we very happy with our room, its amenities and its location within the resort. This was our first stay at Bacara so naturally I did a lot of research about the resort and even spoke to a reservation agent about the differences between a few of the rooms. I narrowed it down to two room types. Do I reserve a smaller room with an ocean view or larger room without an ocean view? Oh, the problems to have! Ultimately, I ended up booking an 820 square foot Executive Suite sans view. Let me take you on a tour…

Our Executive Suite had a small entry space (photo bottom left) that had a full-length mirror in a perfect location for checking yourself before heading out the door. You can’t see the actual front door in the pictures below but it is located opposite the mirror. The louvered door is a small powder room, as seen in the photo to the right. Having two bathrooms in our room was another huge selling point for booking the Executive Suite. bacara-resort-executive-suite-1From the foyer, you automatically enter the dining area of the open dining/living area of the suite. The dining room comfortably seats six.
bacara-suite-dining-room-via-reviving-charmThe room was generously sized to include a living area, dining room, and dedicated office space. You can see the front door to the suite at the right-hand side of the picture below.suite-life-at-bacara-reposrt-by-reviving-charmbacara-executive-suite-detailsThis is the office area before I got situated in the room. I ended up using this space as a makeshift dressing room and a place to store my suitcase since the only closet in the suite was fairly small. There are lots of drawers in the room but very little space for hanging clothes. I found that the desk was also handy as an area to layout cosmetics, etc. bacara-resort-executive-suite-office-spacebacara-suite-detail

I also used the desk as a place to draft a handwritten note for the hotel Concierge that was extremely helpful in arranging to have a couple of floral arrangments delivered to the room. More on that later…

The office area is equipped with a tablet that allows you to do many things. For instance, you can request housekeeping, room service, and express checkout. I rarely used it but it was a great feature to have when I needed it.barcara resort executive suite via Reviving Charm 1In the corner of the living area there is a comfy chair and ottoman where you can catch up on the reading material supplied by the resort. I am a magazine junkie so I was happy to enjoy some new reading material. The doorway to the left side of the tray table is the entrance to the one bedroom in the suite.

Window treatment details.bacara resort suite life via Reviving CharmLet’s enter the bedroom now, shall we?bacara-executive-suite-bedroomFrom the bedroom, another louvered door leads you into the main bathroom. The louvered doors are a very nice decorative touch throughout the entire suite but they don’t provide much in the way of privacy when it comes to masking sound. For this reason, I often used the powder room when I needed to tinkle. The hotel should seriously think about making a change to the door situation. bacara-executive-suite-bathroom-1bacara-suite-bath-productsIf you look closely at the bathroom photos you might notice that the floral arrangement moved from place to place within the space. Ultimately they stayed in the location you see below.  bacara-suite-flowers

Speaking of flowers…Whenever we stay in a hotel for any length of time I really like to have fresh flowers placed in our room before we arrive. I usually order two small arrangements: one for the bedroom and one for the bathroom. I couldn’t write this post without mentioning something about the flowers I ordered for the room as it is a testament to the exceptional service we received when it came to a last minute request. You see, I had been meaning to call Bacara to order flowers but never got around to it. It was about three hours before check-in in time when I finally was able to make the call. I called the Concierge and apologized for the short notice and inquired about the possibility to have flowers placed in the room. I had no special requests other than I was looking for something elegant. The Concierge called around and called me back promptly to inform me that my request could be granted and provided me with a very reasonable quote. When we checked into our room we found these two small floral arrangements waiting for us. I was very happy with the floral arrangements but I kinda chuckled when I saw the carnations since it had only been days after writing this post. bacara resort suite life in room flowers Reviving CharmI can’t share photos of our suite without including a picture of our private balcony that overlooks the pool. This was a great place to relax outdoors without having to leave our room. bacara suite balcony via Reviving CharmSo there you have it…the 3rd and final post about Bacara Resort and Spa. I hope you have enjoyed it. Most importantly, I hope this series may be useful in helping you decide any future vacation plans. If you happen to book your next vacation at Bacara, feel free to drop me a note and let me know how your trip was. I would love to hear all about your experience. bacara resort landscaping via Reviving Charm

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With all the color floating around the internet and social media sites on Valentine’s Day, I think I’ve had my fair share of red and pink for the moment. To combat my overdose of color, I thought today would be great for posting a beautiful space featuring a combination of soothing neutrals. I’ve had these images of the beautifully designed Beverly Hills pied-a-terre by interior designer John De Bastiani saved for a while and couldn’t image a better day to share them with you. I’ve said it before…that the lack of color doesn’t need to equate to boring design. Apparently, it’s a sentiment that I share with John as he has been quoted as saying that “Beige is classic. It’s sophisticated, it’s soothing. It isn’t trendy, and neither am I. People might call it the safe choice, but I say, What’s wrong with being safe?” You can read the rest of the interview here.


Interior Designer John De Bastiani


Images via House Beautiful.

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A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of taking an advanced painting techniques class at Peinture Studios located in Costa Mesa, California. Peinture Studios is a boutique paint studio that sells a full range of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, offers painting workshops and provides inspiration on updating vintage furniture. I was hooked on chalk paint after taking only one class. If you have never used chalk paint, I highly recommend it. Little to no prep is needed, it is very forgiving to use and clean up is a breeze. What can be better than that? I’ve even shared a few of my projects and techniques here, here and here. But if you are located in California, I highly recommend taking a class at Peinture Studios.

The owner of Peinture Studios is Deborah Waltz and I was happy to discover pictures of her home in the current issue of Orange Coast Magazine. The design of her home was inspired by her travels to Morrocco.


Deborah transformed her Southern California, three-story tract home into something uniquely her own, including stenciled walls featuring chalk paint colors available in her shop. By looking at these pictures you’d never know that Deborah started with a cookie-cutter blank slate. You can read more about her home heredebrorah-waltz-via-reviving-charm-1

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A few weeks ago I starting thinking about surprising Mr. B with a weekend getaway. I wanted a destination that was within easy driving distance to take advantage of and make the most of this past three-day holiday weekend. I ended up booking a suite at the Bacara Resort and Spa located approximately 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara, California. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few images from our trip taken in real time.

Today I am sharing a “day in the life” of Reviving Charm while on vacation this past Sunday, January 15.  Other than a morning massage, nothing else was scheduled. Sometimes the best days are those you don’t plan! We took advantage of the mild California weather by driving through the beautiful neighborhoods of Montecito and Santa Barbara to admire the lush landscaping, Spanish architecture, and gorgeous estates. Stay tuned for a future post featuring more of the resort and our spacious hotel suite.


7:00 am. Rise and shine. This is the bedroom of our hotel suite.


7:20 am. I headed out the door and down the path that leads directly from the resort to the beach. Being up early allowed me to take advantage of seeing the sunrise over the water and enjoy a nice peaceful walk along the rocks and sand. I felt like I had the entire beach to myself.


8:45 am. I checked into the spa for a 9:00 am massage appointment. I indulged myself with an 80-minute aromatherapy massage and enjoyed the other spa amenities offered, such as the eucalyptus steam shower and sauna.


12:45 pm. After driving around Montecito we stopped for an impromptu lunch at Tydes Restaurant located directly across the street from The Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Barbara. The restaurant is waterfront overlooking the beautiful Butterfly Beach, inside the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club.

1:45 pm. We explored the grounds of The Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel. We stayed here many years ago and is hotel I highly recommend.

1:45 pm. We explored the grounds of The Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel. We stayed here many years ago over New Year’s weekend and were asking ourselves why we haven’t been back. I highly recommend this hotel for a romantic getaway. If you are looking for a Valentine’s Day getaway, I definitely recommend a stay here.


2:30 pm. After lunch Mr. B and I strolled the neighborhood surrounding The Biltmore Four Seasons Hotel. The neighborhood is filled with beautiful multi-million dollar estates.

Another beautiful Santa Barbara estate.

Another beautiful Santa Barbara estate.

3:30 pm. Mr. B and I sat on a bench overlooking Butterfly Beach to enjoy the outdoors before heading back to our hotel.


4:00 pm. Shortly after arriving back at our hotel, we enjoyed a scoop of ice cream while having a fireside conversation in the lobby.


4:50 pm. After an ice cream break I headed to the spa gift shop to pick up a few skin care items.


7:00 pm. Staying in for the evening allowed me to relax and catch up on reading material.


10:00 pm. Sweet dreams…buona notte…good night!


After a former home was destroyed by fire, the owner of Hall Pardoe Design teamed up with custom home builders Giffin & Crane to build a modest 1,600 square foot home that was completed in late 2013. The home is a testament to the fact that style doesn’t have to be compromised when designing for fire safety. For example, the home is equipped with sprinklers (which is a actually a requirement in many California jurisdictions), steel windows and doors with double-paned tempered glass are incorporated into the design and there is no exterior wood except for a small hatch covering an electrical panel. The roof is constructed from zinc panels which have been acid washed to make them appear weathered and aged, as if they had always been there. The front facade is rather plain for my taste and I don’t understand the makeshift carport but the interiors have a refined simplicity to them that could make anyone feel comfortable in the hills above Santa Barbara.

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Madeline Stewart at home in Santa Barbara.

I had the pleasure of meeting acclaimed Southern California interior designer Madeline Stewart many, many years ago while getting my start in the interior design field. Since then, I have always admired her interiors, particularly those of Spanish style. But she also has a very bohemian quality about her which often translates into her interiors resulting in a portfolio of work in a myriad of styles. Madeline Stewart definitely has a true talent for decorating given the fact that she doesn’t relegate herself to only one specific type of design.

Madeline Stewart’s design office is located on the westside of Los Angeles not too far from the Hollywood Hills home she shares with her husband, writer Steve Oney, and their two Jack Russell terriers, Beatrice & Mr. Peabody.  Their home in the Hills is darker and more formal in contrast to their Santa Barbara home which is lighter and much more casual.

The current issue of C Magazine features the Santa Barbara home and was invited in for an evening with Stewart, Oney and several guests. Their home seems very cozy and inviting. I am sure a good time was had by all! Now, if only next time I could snag an invitation to share a meal with Madeline and her husband….and Beatrice & Mr. Peabody, too!

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Given the fact that the temperatures soared into the 80’s today in Southern California, I can definitely appreciate still being able to enjoy eating outdoors in February! With our mild weather here in California, the patio lends itself well to essentially becoming an extension of the home to allow for entertaining.
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Adorable dogs: Beatrice and Mr. Peabody

Interesting side note:

Madeline Stewart is the daughter of the late Mel Stewart, producer and director for film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory produced in 1971. Madeline was the inspiration for the making of the movie having said “It was my favorite book at the time, and I told him this would make a great movie.”

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Above: Madeline’s inscribed copy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory signed by the author Roald Dahl.

Below: Madeline and her brother Peter on the set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1970.

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All images photographed by Trevor Tondro for C Magazine with the exception of the Willy Wonka photos which were photographed by Los Angeles photographer Jonathan Becker for Architectural Digest.


I have been a longtime fan of Serena & Lily. In fact I mentioned them in a recent post.  I’ve particularly admired how Serena Dugan and Lily Kanter have built a company from the ground up. What started as a catalog retailer in Northern California has now grown into a very successful business with an expanded product line and 3 brick and mortar stores.  The Los Angeles location marks their first Southern California shop located on the trendy Westside of town which opened this past weekend.  The exterior of their shop has a crisp, geometric pattern that was designed by none other than Serena herself.

The design of the store is crisp and clean which sets the perfect backdrop to highlight their products.  This location is dubbed as a Design Shop  so it functions like more of a showroom to special order products from rather purchasing off the shelf. This new location will carry on the tradition of featuring a gallery wall of artwork, most of which is for sale. As a California native, I can only dream that someday my watercolor paintings will grace their walls of available art!


photo credit: LA Times