I have to admit that in all my travels, which have been extensive, I’d never really spent anytime in Brooklyn. I’d been to lunch there one day, and I couldn’t even tell you which of the bazzillion – that’s a technical term for the many neighborhoods, I visited that day. There are so very many, with names like “Little Poland”, “Fish Hook”, “Pig Town”, “Starette City”, “Cobble Hill” and all manner of creative inventiveness. All with their own distinct character – and quite a few characters to boot.
Dining in the penthouse restaurant inside the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsberg, I overheard a women comment that it felt like central casting had a cattle call for hipsters, and dropped them all off in one square mile. They were indeed, super hip, having refined the best of our 1980’s style, adapting it to be something new and decidedly cooler than anything I wore. I suspect that the selfie was invented here, or at the very least they were making a serious case for ownership.
There’s a quirkiness to the place that makes it very interesting, new mid-rise luxury apartments nestled next to high rises and single family homes clad in outdated asbestos tiles – spooky – and a bonanza of amazing restaurants. They are afraid to be different either. There’s a ski lodge, the Brooklyn Brewery, a sweet little Bakeri (yes, that’s the way you spell it) and so many more yummies. The creativity was palpable, and I adored it.
A Venetian Gothic gem of a property, modeled after Venice’s – Doge (I’ve been there and I can report, it’s one heck of building), the private club launched itself onto the scene in 1893, in the very midst of the World’s Columbian Exposition – also known as the World’s Fair. The much more modest Chicago Athletic Club was elegant in its own right though. Designed by Chicago Architect Henry Ives Cobb – While he might have made a name for himself in the White City, I would like to point out that Cobbs was born in Brookline, MA, and therefore, I claim some kinship. I wonder too, if of his two preferred styles, Richarsonian Romaneque and Victorian Gothic, Henry Hobson Richardson wasn’t to be richly credited.
I am certain that the private club could fill libraries full of memoirs – outlining the sordid and frightfully interesting tales of the clubs inhabitants, leading up to its closing in 2007.
In AJ Capital and Partners, knight in shining armor fashion, or should we say “light” in shining armor? An ode, to the street lights that dot the tree lined avenues, not only providing the illusion of safety – let us not forget the Devil – but its white clad stucco buildings, making them appear as if they were aglow, once again stepped in to repurpose a landmark, and yowie, did they ever.
The 240 room hotel – open to the public for the very first time, adeptly mixes glamour and grit – pardon my overuse of the word in these past posts. Designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architects and Roman + Williams, responsible for the breathtaking interiors, this baby has panache. It’s the very type of destination that the bold and beautiful likely clamor to for roof top drinks, to make it official under the White City Ballroom’s, upsidedown cake meringue of a ceiling – stunning, or to fulfill their ballpark bucket list adventure. If you are a fan, Rigley and Fenway are on your list.
I really do believe the devil is in the details. I’m not always focused on every last one of them, but appreciate it when other’s are, and at the Athletic Club Hotel – they sure were. From squash court flooring in the high speed elevators, to pommel horse benches in the guest rooms – you’ll see and feel the history of this storied building, celebrated in its design.
I love a good story. I love reading one, living one, writing one. It should be no surprise to me that I’ve fallen right into AJ Capital Partners story-telling clutches, and I’m not even attempting to wrestle free. They had me at “counter-culture investors”, or maybe it was “relentless grit and obsessive determination”, or the adventurous journey they promised to take me on.
When Chip and Joanna announced that they were making a foray into the hotel business with a Waco, TX location and they were partnering with AJ Capital Partners to do it, inviting me to Google them in their comedic video announcement, wasn’t really necessary. I was so going to check them out anyway, and what do you think I found? If the suspense isn’t yet killing you, it will be. They were the money, and the brains behind The Thompson Hotels, specifically the Nashville location in The Gulch, where I was first introduced to the Rose 45, served up in a brown paper bag – now that is the epitome of grit and sophistication if I ever did see it, and I did, and drank it too.
No visit to Nashville is complete for me without a stop by the Thompson. I enjoy the lobby, and the curbside restaurant and bar, as much as the rooftop, with it’s panoramic views of the city, and graphic pink tiled floors – the design (interiors created by NYC firm – Parts and Labor Design). It’s a stunner.
From their Graduate Hotel collection, situated strategically in University Towns, and offering a cleverly structured Public/Private Partnership Program called Class, to help institutions finance, develop, and operate a Graduate Hotel on their own campus, eradicating the dreary and dated accommodations so typically offered up on campuses, and elevating them to whole new story and design heights.
Intent on finding properties that have fallen on hard times, are ripe for development but have been passed over by others for fear of cost, lack of creativity, and/or inability to identify their beneficial supply and demand characteristics – they appreciate the power of a historic building to tell a story, to reinvent itself, to be a major player in the conversation. Consider, May Hosiery, founded in 1908 as a sock factory – which grew out of founder Jacob May’s successful bid to run a sock manufacturing project out of a prison in Nashville. 50 inmates, .50 cents a day made May a rich man before he lost the contract and started his own factory there. May Hosiery Hotel is scheduled to open this year, and if you think the prison workers is the best of the story, hold onto your socks, there’s more – in addition to its title as oldest southern sock company, its distribution of 1M socks a week across the nation in its hayday, the building and the company have a heart. During WWII they provided sanctuary to over 300 Jews fleeing Natzi Germany, in the 60’s and 70’s their socks hitched a ride to the moon on the soles of ALL the Apollo Astronauts, and now is starting it’s next development chapter by housing Apple Music – with a focus on Country – what else, and other makers and innovators like architects, old school barbers and more.
Each property polishes the patina off the copper, giving it 21st century shine. The Landmark Chicago Athletic Club Hotel is a kitschy marvel, more on this 240 room hotel tomorrow. The Pontchartrain Hotel is all class and style, sweat and contradictions, music and a menagerie of cultural references, as only a hotel in New Orleans whose clientele included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, Truman Capote, President Ford, and Tennessee Williams who is said to have penned, Streetcar Named Desire while in Residence. “What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” — beautiful, and no wonder, when you can simply look out your window onto St. Charles Streetcar Line for inspo.
These stories and more are the foundation of AJ Capital Partners investments. Oh how I wish I could put my meager pennies in with their own.
Your front entry that is. I know what I am doing is considered rather unique. Not the flipping part. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a flipper these days. No disrespect to Tom, Dick or Harry and most certainly none intended to the Tomasia’s, Dorathea’s and/or Harriet’s that are forging their own path on the road to financial security – I salute you all. The point is, this is about me, the me that can’t seem to do anything normal, or easy, or in a way that I can just blend into the crowd. Sometimes blending is a welcome cloak against the condemnation that follows from the pitfalls of this business of being human – if you know what I mean.
When I selected No. 5 I didn’t give much thought to the fact that you enter through the back of the building. Not just because that’s the convenient way to get there, but because it’s the only actual way to get there, unless you want to crawl through the window. The window BTW is the intended exit route if there were a fire. It works, but nobody is worried about what they look like when the are escaping a fire…am I right?
This particular set of row houses (those intended for the servants) are pretty, in their simple, unfussy way. They certainly don’t look like the brownstones of the eight street district, or Beacon Hill, and the back of them – well, it’s the back. They are draped in wires, cables and cords. They are gated or fenced in from the street, but still can be viewed from the same. My gate is a thin barrier at best to the outside world, and yet, I am decidedly subconscious about the way it looks.
When you open the sage green gate (anyone that knows me well, knows that THAT color has to change), and are presented with a small wooden walk way leading to a few steps, a small outdoor deck and my back door. My back door is really a kitchen door. Three rows of divided lights sit atop two long vertical panels. It would be fine for a country home – even better if the top half opened to a grand back yard, and it were the fifties, but this is neither the country or that decade, and as for privacy, don’t think I haven’t noticed the next door neighbors, on floor two, peering down in at me. I’ve got my eyes on you too, and a stun gun, so beware. I also have a new front door sitting in my living room. I’ve always wanted my own front door. Condo living doesn’t really afford you a front door in the traditional, single family home sense of the word, and I have visions of a southern porch, inviting me down the boxwood bordered path on perfect pavers, to my glossy doored destination. If there is any solace in the selection of this soggy bottomed abode, it’s the back door – which of course I am going to turn into my very own front.
Due to the fact that a good deal of my entry is “common space”, for those of you that are unfamiliar, it’s like being married and having to negotiate with your partner for approval on purchases. Since the sale of the unit below is under negotiation, I can’t even being to hypnotize him into accepting that there is no other color in the world more perfect than gray. It’s a real drama for me, A. Because I am not married and don’t negotiate getting what I want with anyone, and B. I am totally impatient. So I just began painting. I painted everything that I “owned” and then started to slyly move down the corridor until I was made to stop. Well now it just looks silly, and will have to be painted, and since I never selected that detestable first color, I have no idea what it is. The logical thing to do of course is to continue on with my beautiful Benjamin Moore . Trout Gray.
I have a happy entry mat that says “HELLO” and I purchased some beautiful long, linear and tall black planters in which boxwood’s will be planted to hide the condenser, and the less then happy trellis that sits in front of it. I am going to trim the windows out in black, and hang large beautiful wreaths in them both. The piece de resistence? There is going to be a black and white striped canopy. I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet, but trust me when I tell you, when I am done with it all – my back is going to be the very best front you ever did see.
It sounds so British, and yet it was founded by two women (if you are paying attention this little formula produces major results – think Soul Cycle, Glossier, The Wing, Chief and many more – they are all founded by female duos), are California girls. I hope Alison Pincus and Susan Feldman will forgive me for calling them girls. I mean it in the best youthful, have sass, and sparkle, and bright ideas mixed with ambition, kind of way. They’ve got chutzpah, and that chutzpah got them to start OKL in 2008 when all the world seemed to be falling apart. There flash sale model morphed, and morphed again, before it was sold to Bed Bath & Beyond – clearly making them look good, and I mean really good, for their ability to make smart decisions.
The purchase of my very first home, coincided with their launch, and I lovely perused page after page of flash site offerings for inspiration. I have to admit that it wasn’t until much later that I purchased anything – I was broke. I had rubbed my two nickles together to make a dime, and hands opening in offering, asked if it was enough for the down payment. I think I can be forgiven, having just gotten into the game.
Now a gamer of sorts, I have traveled to NYC for their first in-house design advice session in their SOHO location on Houston – since relo’d and I got there just in time because they were selling everything in their “see it and touch it” studio, to avoid the hassle of having to move it. I left with an antique desk, two enormous Schumacher pillows, two gorgeous kelly green gourd lamps, and I am sure a few other items I couldn’t live without for No. 3.
Last fall I visited their first real bricks and mortar store – also in SOHO, and walked away with a petite vintage Turkish Oushauk in sage green, gray and lavender – for a steal! It’s in the kitchen of No. 5.
And now – drum roll, they have landed in Boston’s Seaport. One opening party, and a visit with my sister and I have already purchased a number of things that I didn’t need at all, and when I am supposed to be saving. I mean no disrespect to this venerable design store, with its sublime styling style, and its cosmic curation, but I have got to retire some day!
I did just learn that they’ll be launching Hunter’s Alley soon. A little marketplace that I can sell to others like me, that just maybe bought one too many things they didn’t really need, and are looking to free up some space and recapture some cash. I hope it launches soon, it feels like I’m becoming a hoarder and I really have no patience or desire to tunnel my way through my tiny little home.
Honestly. If you love art, you might find a point in time, when you’ve bought yet another piece that spoke to you even though you had no place to place it. You know what I’m talking about – that overwhelming desire that washes over you – blocking out all reason, fogging your mind with a fever, which compels you to nearly knock an old lady over as you yank the painting off the wall. Come on, I can’t be the only one that’s done it….can I?
Well, even if you were far more composed than I, when you purchased your collection, you may find putting together disparate styles, colors, and genres, a real challenge. It can be, but I think I found some art that may be the answer. Hable Construction has an original art series by Soicher Marin that is monochromatic – Digital Art, already framed, in collages, watercolors, and pen + ink drawings. The collages appeal, in particular because they work with so many different of art. I simply adore them and think you will too.
I can’t help but think of that stinkin’ cute little girl Ava Ryan doing her imitation of Anna Wintour preparing for fashion week — “Chanel – Courtney, get me my racks. Silver is the new gold. With this on, you’ll never be invisible at a party. Girls, demonstrate … visible …. invisible.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN7WkLq6Ex8 If you haven’t seen it, it’s a fall fashion fundamental. It lends a little levity to what is most definitely a wildly outrageous industry – and I mean that in all of the good and bad ways you might imagine.
Today however, we are going to be discussing a different kind of accessory. These electrical switch plates, dimmers, rockers, and toggles will make your peepers pop out of your head. The are dazzling. All this time I’ve been covering my up with pretty paper, or worse trying to blur and obscure them from view with a vase of flowers or stack of books, only to discover Forbes & Lomax has created an acrylic plate that you can see right through. Visible … invisible. It’s brilliant, and sexy and oh so high fashion.
Founded in 1987 in response to a longing for the old world glamour of toggle switch lights, with all the functionality of the 21st century, and of course, the high-end interior design community’s insatiable appetite for “a la mode” – that’s not ice cream plopped atop a delectable, decadent chocolate cake my friends – it’s in fashion. Keep up, isn’t that how we started this post, with fashion? Why should the electrical accessory market get the short end of the stick? Forbes and Lomax wouldn’t hear of it, and I am so glad they didn’t.
In addition to that which isn’t visible, they have created a striking black plate, and a petinated copper which will serve the traditional and transitional markets well. Not ready to say goodbye to gold? They’ve got you covered. Don’t be shy about mixing and matching – all the most fashionable people artfully bring together unexpected combinations for the most awe inspiring results. Isn’t fall simply the best of fashion seasons?