I've been looking for a unique set of salt and pepper shakers for my dining room, so imagine how delighted I was to find these at Pier One, for $15.

In fact, there was blue and white all around the store-these canisters were charming, and priced from $20 to $40. Check out the rest of the line below-if you're thinking of setting up a chinoiserie kitchen, you'll find most everything needed!



Sanity Fair has moved! And my new shift in real estate came with a balcony. Given that summer is here, and a small space is far less daunting than the pile of boxes operating in my apartment as mobile furniture, I tackled the balcony as my first decorating project.

The chair is from Pier One, and I just love it. It's mahogany, and the quality was surprisingly high for  a Pier One piece. The chippendale back is charming, as are the details on the legs. The pillows and rug are from Home Goods, and the Chinese garden stool used to be a living room side table (let's hear it for indoor/outdoor!).

A detail of the chair.

The matching pots are by Tahari Home.

I pulled out some bamboo branches and florist wire from Christmas, and created a trellis. The little jasmine plant will hopefully grow up it, and in the meantime, it helps camouflage an adjoining balcony. 

There's still space for a second chair, pulled out from the living room, to have a friend over and enjoy a cup of coffee and a sunset. 

Finally, Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating piece on the origin of the balcony, which began as a Medieval device of war for pouring cauldrons of hot oil on enemies, an activity now generally frowned upon by building management and home owners' associations.


Sanity Fair has moved! The web address is the same, but the physical address is not. While I'll miss my little studio apartment, I'm thrilled--THRILLED--to experience the first world joys that accompany a non-historic home on the Hill--special touches like dishwashers. Washer/dryers. Bedrooms. Bathrooms larger than a coat closet.

But all the same, it's hard to say goodbye. I've found so much joy between these four very small walls, and a great deal of decorating pleasure. For three years, this was my own little experiment station for color and pattern, and it was grand fun.

One last before and after...

After. All moved out.

New things to come!


It was thrilling this week to see The Washington Post's Home & Design section feature Capitol Hill, usually associated with the halls of power, and not the halls of family houses. WaPo reporter Jura Koncious teased out some of the best places to find great home goods in "Destination Design: Capitol Hill" (and kindly noted a few of my own favorites). Click through to read her highlights of shops in and around Eastern Market and the adjoining weekend flea, and start making your listthis is the time to dream about where you'll go and what you'll buy when spring finally breaks through!

Aside from shopping, Capitol Hill has some incredible interior design. This stunningly revamped row house was designed by architect Frederick Taylor, and makes exquisite use of the often cramped spaces of the Hill's narrow homes. It was particularly clever to cede lawn space for an addition, then add further outdoor space on the second story and roof (hat tip to blog Notting Hill for first highlighting this great place).

House Beautiful featured this very atypical, sassy Hill house designed by Barry Dixon. Once again, re-thinking the standard, narrow structure of the row house requires a creative touch.

I adore this remake of another Capitol Hill home featured in Traditional Home. Mary Douglas Drysdale pulled together a bright, playful style I'll call "Federal Fun"columns, convex mirrors, formal colonial furnitureall set against a relentlessly cheerful color palate.

/Images/magazines and firms as cited above/
To read more about shopping one of my favorite Hill spots, the flea at Eastern Market, click HERE



Of course I bought it. It's green. 
Actually, it's not really meant to go here on the table--I just had a terrible case of Lamp Love in the Home Goods (Lamp Love is a serious medical condition, affecting millions of decor-attuned Americans, although my doctor keeps saying he hasn't heard of it. My accountant is equally ignorant). The emerald green with the grass green is not a great match, but I'll find another spot for it soon. It was just too fascinating a piece to pass up, and of course, it was only $49, and then it was only $40, when I found a small crack in the base and negotiated with the store manager.

Later, I did some digging online, and found the same lamp available at the Lamp Store for $120. The base is just fantastic.

I love the gold lining in the shade--it has a candlelight glow in the evening.

//Images, my own, and the lamp store//



Flipping through a Pottery Barn catalogue recently, I was thrilled to see these interesting navy and white ikat prints--aren't they striking? They reminded me of a new set of table linens that World Market is carrying, and that, the previous week, I had sadly left behind in the store because, after considerable effort, I could not think of a justifiable reason for buying them.

When I saw these prints, I knew exactly why I "had" to have the World Market linens. Hurrah! Six different Pottery Barn prints, $156 a piece, or $929 for the set. 

Here's my version: World Market linens in IKEA frames, for $24 each (frames plus napkins), or $48 for the set. 

Unfortunately, I can't show them as a display, because I'm planning to hang them in my office, but you get the general idea. I went with white RIBBA frames from IKEA, instead of black, because I like an airer look. I'm crazy about the chevron ikat.

A view of the Pottery Barn prints in a bedroom. You could absolutely do them with black frames, too. 

World Market's ikat linens. I used the napkins, and there are at least four patterns--they run about $3.99 each (two are shown here).

This chevron ikat is my favorite by far!

And look what happened--I ended up just buying them for my table, too. They're marvelous with the Juliska Country Estate pattern. I've started collecting the set due to family pressure (it's the South. You must have dayware and china patterns chosen for family and friends to gift you with over the holidays, and this is not optional). P.S. The placemats have a different pattern on each side, which is very fun.

I chose Country Estate because it's chinoiserie/British/blue and white awesomeness/has matching ginger jars. And, because it has a special place in my heart. I first discovered Isis Ceramics, of which Juliska's pattern is the mass-market version, when I was at Oxford. The little dish in the upper left hand corner is one of Isis' hand-painted scenes of the University. The little elephants are salt and pepper shakers, another World Market find.

Juliska Country Estate.

Back to wall art. This is how I'll hang the set (propped up, as you can see). The rather crooked piece in the center is my attempt at framing a paper cut out I purchased in Shanghai. Plainly, I'm going to have to get a professional on the job, but it will play nicely with the ikat patterns.

If you wanted to exactly duplicate the Pottery Barn look, IKEA has these black frames, also for $20 each.
/Images/ Pottery Barn, IKEA, Juliska, my own/



Since we're still in the 12 Days of Christmas, I feel justified in one more Christmas post—this one about my favorite, and simplest, bit of holiday decorating this year. I have a mossy topiary that lives year round on a Chinese garden stool in my living room, but it was looking a touch summary for the season. After a brief hunt through my costume jewelry, I turned up enough brooches and pins to dress it up for the holidays, pinned them all into the moss, and voila!, a jeweled topiary. And now that I can see all of my pins in plain view, perhaps I'll remember to wear them...

I love the star-shaped brooch, center, but the tiny little turtle crawling away, upper left, is a darling.

There are a few earrings in the mix too—a pair of starry studs, and even a dangler, lower left hand side. You could certainly make almost any piece of jewelry work—even necklaces could make a "tinsel" garland!
  /All photos by Sanity Fair. Please request permission to use./



This year, I have been visited by the Allergy Grinch. My allergies have been so terrible recently I've given up many beloved holiday traditions, including forcing paperwhites and other bulbs. But it hadn't occurred to me until Thanksgiving that I couldn't have a TREE. If you saw my Christmas tree posts in 2011 and 2012, you know I collect chinoiserie Christmas ornaments, and tracking down the odd (I'll admit, very odd) Asian-inspired Western-tradition object is one of my favorite obsessions. So what to DO with all of them this year? The first thing I thought of was inspired by the image of lanterns hanging at the end of slender bamboo poles--I could create a bamboo "bouquet," wiring ornaments to the end of each rod. When I shared this idea with friends and family, their natural response was:  "Why don't you just get a fake tree?!?" Because, frankly, this totally obvious solution had not occurred to me. But it was too late. I was already off to the races, by which I mean the tropical plants aisle of Michael's; I had it all to myself, as the only non-populated square foot in the entire eye-popping, cornea-endangering pointy fake poinsettia and glittery branch maze of a mega-store.

So, I created a stick tree. Honestly, I kind of like it. Although it does lack lights, it has other merits, namely, no watering. Also, if anyone has been naughty, Christmas morning the switches are on hand.

To my surprise, I managed to dangle the majority of my collection on my spindly "tree," including several new favorites I picked up on a trip to China earlier this year. I'm proud of the swirly blue and white ball on the right, because...

I bought it here. On the Great Wall of China. Yes, there is a gift shop on the Great Wall (what a question). Yes, I found it. And YES, they were selling a Christmas ornament. For any of you who have ever been obsessed with collecting anything, you can guess how it felt--epic shopping victory! (Also, it was pretty cool to be standing on one of the great ancient wonders of the world, to keep things in perspective.)

Another view, farther up the Wall.

The little red lanterns I found in a stall in Shanghai's Temple of the City God market--they originally had tiny suction cups attached, so that drivers could stick them to their windshields for good luck--but of course, all I saw were wonderful Christmas ornaments!

Happy red lanterns are ubiquitous in China--this one adorned a decorous beam in the Forbidden City.

Cascading in the lobby of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

In a rural mountain village, Guizhou province.

A covered bridge in the city of Guiyang.

Back stateside, one of my favorite ornament finds is this shimmery-sided foo dog; his bark is worse than his bite.

Like last year, the tree "stand" is a ginger jar.

Parting shot, 2012's (actual) tree--a Tony Duquette Christmas!
//All images, my own. Please seek permission for use.//

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


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