London Town: Deck the Halls

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All you need for Christmas.  I’ll take the car.

For an international city – London is unabashedly celebrating Christmas.  It’s true that the Crown Rules there, and Londoner’s, whether natural born citizens, or transplants, love their Royal Family.  As political as they are, and they know their politics, they appear to leave the political correctness at the border,and deck the halls, and the streets, and the salons, in full celebratory regalia.

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Crafted by a designer that creates for Katy Perry and Beyonce – you could DIY this holiday fascinator.  

Nary a window isn’t dressed for the season, nor do they need much more of a reason.  Without a recognized day to give thanks – the boxes and bangles, branches and berries, leafy flocked goodness, and boughs filled with holly all make their way via dark dingy corners, to brighten every doorstep, every hearthstone, every foreigner.  Forgive me my artist license.  London Town put me into full-fledged merriment.

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The Royal Holiday Seat.

Far from feeling oppressed by the season, they embrace the spirit and warmth of it.  They are friendly, dare I say, their typically reserved personas are brightened and lightened by this special time of year.  They engage in a most American of traditions – Black Friday, taking the day off from work to make the most of the holiday sales.  As I walked through the neighborhoods I was delighted to see many a Christmas Tree light up a window, and I thought – why not?

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Candy Land.

Winter can be long and dreary, holiday decorations bring joy – even the most refined of decorations could not be classified as minimalist, and I found that that made me smile too.  Picnic hampers, and crystal encrusted lobsters, splits of champagne, and giant shiny baubles decorate the branches – any old thing is fair game as long as you bring a little sparkle to it.

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F & M Styled Tree.

In a city that screams poise and sophistication, this lighthearted holiday from seriousness seems right.  More than right, it is a reminder that tradition and celebration are not for the simpleminded.  To the contrary, they enlighten and enrich the lives of those that believe.  It inspires, feels hopeful, and happy.  Who among us couldn’t use a little of that.

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Stick around – every 5 minutes they make it snow.  Magic.

Whatever holiday you celebrate – let it be Merry.

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Light it up. Harrod’s – London.

King of the Road: OKL opens flagship

One Kings Lane was never on a quiet little street, even when it was an on-line shop.  It did however sprung up quietly, at least at first.  I remember using OKL eight years ago when I was working on my Charlestown property.  Having purchased the property in March of 2008 – OKL was co-founded by Ali Pincus and Susan Feldman, though I don’t think it went live until early 2009 – a particularly bad time for most folks, these two savvy business women made a go of it.  Seeing an opportunity to grab end of life inventory and present it in “flash sales”  (buy now or forever hold your peace) they launched the brand.

OKL Soho

Soho at the corner of Spring and Wooster

While I am a tactile person, the reality that you could get hundreds of brands, previously only sold to the trade, was more than enticing –  I bought my first items that very first year.  I love too that you can like or love as the case may be, your favorites and they get stored and saved so that you can revisit them later.  i don’t know what year OKL abandoned the flash sales or why – perhaps their success gained them cred in the marketplace and they outgrew their need to offer excess inventory, skyrocketing to the just released stratosphere.  I liked the excitement of the sales, but am happy to take a little extra time to formulate my plan, compare and contrast my finding, before I make my final decision.


Some incredibly good stylers work at OKL!

A few years ago I wrote about their new design service.  You could visit their showroom in NYC or CT, see many of their product offerings and get FREE design help.  Send a photo of your space, the pieces you are in need of, and in advance of your visit they will flag items for you to consider.  Fun and helpful, and with hundreds of brands represented, there is plenty to select from – you need not feel as if your space will look like it was delivered straight out of the Restoration Hardware catalog.


It just so happened that the day I visited the Soho shop for my design appointment they were preparing to move, and guess what – they were selling everything in the store to avoid having to pay to move it.  As a display only gallery, this was not normally allowed, and I went a little wild with the excitement of getting to see, touch, an examine massing and scale before I hit send.  I still have those things I bought that day.


Pick your micro-vertical and go wild!

I wonder if this little economization resulted in the opening of their bricks and mortar store.  I can’t be the only one that loves to touch, see, and test the quality of items before buying.  Now you can.  Visit:

143 Spring Street (at Wooster)  Soho . NYC  –

or 11 Jobs Lane . Southhampton . NY

Co-opting roommates: the co-living fad

Being in the real estate industry, I attend loads of conferences where “tech” and “disrupt” are like contestants in a spelling b, spitting out words as fast as their little minds can organize them, when the appropriate combination of letters are assembled, Silicon Valley comes a knockin’.  Long exposed to the concept of Co-working – Co-living was new-ish to me, and it definitely caught my attention.

I read quite a few articles about this new trend, the majority of which bashed it for not being new at all.  You’ve heard of roommates before, haven’t you?  That’s not a new concept.  You may even have heard of Boarding Houses or single gender hotels of old, places that a single women or man, traveling from far afoot to NYC for the very first time, could go, stay, be with other singles, build friendships, and live in a city that they otherwise knew no one.  Pretty good idea.  So what makes this Co-living thing any different?  Good question.

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I have no issues with millennials.  In fact, as I said in my speech last week when I received my volunteer of the year award, I’ve learned that I really do love them, so much so that I wish I were one of them.  Now, admittedly part of this desire comes from my shear jealously over their youth, but it’s more than that.  They are technically saavy, they are entreprenureal, they are open to ideas, and if I have learned anything along the way, reinvention is critical to survival.  In the olden days that was called “adaptation”.  You see how we just created something new and hip, out of something old and staide?  That’s what Co-living is all about.

My ears perked up because as a flipper, and a non-liquid one at that, I move a lot.  I often need temporary quarters to reside between purchases.  I’ve lived with friends, a situation that might be classified as “roommates”.  I’ve slept on sofa’s at family members homes, I’ve lived in furnished Air B-n-B’s, and short term leased, furnished properties.  If you mooge all of those together – Co-living seems to take shape.  Not so dissimilar to the popular rental “communities” that are popping up all over Boston.  Swimming pools, pool parties, wine tastings, common rooms for working and play, fitness, coffee, concierge services of all kinds.  I’ve written about my experience living at the Ink Block in Boston’s South End.  Were it not for the kindness of friends, away in Europe for 4 months, I would likely be there right now.  It was the easiest living that I have ever experienced.  It is like living in a hotel.  So what does Co-living have that Ink Block doesn’t?  I’m glad you asked.

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Owned by National Development, the Ink Block concept – build a community and they will come, was a home run for Ted Tye and company.  Common, pushes around the edges of this concept by offering furnished apartments, bedrooms within units, with roommates that you don’t know until you arrive.  Sort of like college.  All the amenities that you have come to expect within these “communities” exist.  The “members” have some extra benefits that you don’t find at a traditional leased property – house cleaning.  Yes, you get maid service.  Once a week a light clean, once a month a deep clean.  You can walk into your new home with a tooth brush, a carry-on, and your kindle and make yourself at home.  Every last item you need to live is already there, down to the face cloth and the dust mop.  You can stay for one night, one week, month, year or more.  It’s entirely up to you, and by the way, your fee includes all the bills you might otherwise pay in an apartment.  Brilliant – I would love to stop paying all those pesky bills and reliquish the responsibility to my Commune-leader.  If this is a cult, I want to join it.

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Not this kind of like minded community.  The other kind.

With all of the negatives that were bandied about in the articles I read, I didn’t hear mention of the “gig-economy”.  Growing in popularity, there will come a time when contract employees make up the majority of the workforce.  There are challenges that come along with that – think health care, and oy vey – sexual harrassement laws which archaically only provide recourse for FT employees – but there is tremendous freedom too.  Why not try out six different cities in as many months before you decide where you want to live?  Why not indeed.

San Pancho Retreat


I often feel like an arrow.  While I am clear on the target I’m intent on hitting, it requires a pulling back, a pause, a refocused effort – a collection, a reflection, a question.   Each time I sell, and prepare to buy again, the arrow quivers just a little less in its trajectory.  This period of retreat is important to me, it keeps me grounded, it allows me to feel what I am doing, and prepares me to return, fortified for battle.

I closed on Halloween, rolled my suitcase and a bag down 8 blocks to my sister’s house and left the following morning for Mexico.  San Pancho is a quiet little town on the West Coast, not far from Puerto Vallarta.  I smile when I think of that city because it reminds me of The Love Boat, Captain Stubing who I actually waited on at Thompson’s Clam Bar in my hometown of Harwich, MA, in the nineties.  I would watch The Love Boat and the Fantasy Island with Mrs. McLaughlin, while I was babysitting on Saturday night’s.  The Love Boat always visited Puerto Vallarta.  If Puerto V is the big city, San Pancho is the outback.  Tucked away in the shadow of Sayulita whose popularity has grown since I visited 10 years ago.  Tucked into a bay, it became famous for its surfing, and art community, and the undeniable hipness of its inhabitants and visitors.  San P is its humble, quiet sister whose beauties and mysteries unfold with the passing days, and her softly spoken “buenos dias”.

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Life here is simple.  You need not guess at a person’s motivation.  It’s beauty is juxtaposed with its grittiness.  The dirt roads, and cobblestones, that are as likely to have a horse and donkey meandering through them as a honking car or motor bike.  Absent are the rules and regulations that we organize our lives and priorities so carefully around in the States.  Construction sites spill out into the street with nary a barricade or warning in site.  It seems to say – “live free or die” without saying it at all, which really is a good lesson, regardless of where you live.  Pride, and family, and preparation, and gratitude are in abundance.  I think of my old yoga coach who would tell me to “try easy”.  I push so hard, so forcefully.  San Pancho allows you to pull back.

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Here I have retreated.  I have risen, and pushed, and pealed back, and exposed all of my flaws and insecurities to a people that will not judge me, because judgement is not part of their lexicon.  I have lived under a GMO Free Zone for just a short time and the elegance, simplicity and vitality of the food has restored me.

I rose early, practiced hard, explored my artistic side, experienced the beauty of Gisella and Calista’s carefully curated hotel – rustic and refined, thoughtfully designed, suitably pancho.  More and more, square foot, by square foot, I gain an appreciation for the artistic talent of others – even when the style is not my own.  Hotel Ciele Rojo is exceptionally well executed, but those words do it an injustice – it’s designed with heart, and you feel the love when you are here.

Visit, and tell them I sent you.