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the making of: abyss bedding

Sometimes, a “handmade” description doesn’t tell the story quite like a picture. The following detail abyss bedding in the making—completely by hand.

250-thread-count cotton is stretched and silkscreened with a mud resist which will create the grid pattern. Fabric is then gathered and tied for dyeing.

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Dye is measured by weight, then heated over a wood burning fire. In the final processes, fabric is thoroughly rinsed and air dried.

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inspiration: puerto rico

donna and daughter

We worked with textile designer Donna Gorman years ago while she was with Marimekko, and we were thrilled for her when she told us she was building a minimalist retreat in Puerto Rico.

The low, U-shaped house has only 3 main rooms—the open floor plan encourages guests to spend time together and the two bedrooms are identical in size with basic amenities.

Designed by John Hix and set on a picturesque lot, the house is constructed of low maintenance and hurricane-proof concrete. Its cooling, both visually and physically, in contrast with the warm tropical setting and we love the mix of raw concrete with sculptural bright whites and bold colors.

living dining room cropped

The cast concrete and concrete-plaster create an earthy backdrop to sleek furniture and graphic textiles. The edited use of these key elements maintains a modern focus and creates a casual and relaxed mood—perfect for Vieques.

Electricity can be difficult and expensive to acquire there, but the locale is exceptional for a solar-powered house, so they’re off the grid. Photovoltaic panels are mounted on the roof and tilted specifically to maximize the energy of abundant sunshine. The house also faces south to take advantage of the cooling Caribbean breezes—there’s no A/C—and an expansive view from the open air construction is filled with lush scenery.


Accessories are crisp and elemental, such as clear peekaboo nesting tables, glass cylinder vases and white porcelain plates.

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Overall, it’s an organized carefree retreat with the focus on the landscape, the architecture, and Donna’s playful photography and textiles. Congratulations Donna!

Can you tell we’re jealous?


On site photos courtesy of Donna Gorman


wreath how-to

In our latest catalog, our creative stylists DIY’d a holiday wreath using ornaments from our bins—the result is a stunning, brightly colored and festive wreath to welcome guests. Since we often get questions about details in our photography, such as requests for paint colors used, we anticipated that a lot of you would want to know how it was made.

holiday wreath 1BSupplies:
1. Strong stiff wire that can be bent into a ring. We used aluminum wire gauge 20, about 55” long—due to the scale of the products in the shot, our wreath was rather large, about 28” in diameter. A wire hanger is also a simple way to go.

2. Ornaments. We used a total of 81 ornaments. For a smaller version, we’re guessing you could make a 14” wreath with about a third of the ornaments depending on how full you wanted it.

3. Strong tape to fasten the ends of the wire ring together or, pliers to twist the ends of the wire ring together.

4. Ribbon to hang the wreath.

holiday wreath 2Directions:
1. String one ornament at a time onto the wire ring, alternating colors, using smaller ones to fill in the gaps.

2. When the ring is completely covered in ornaments, fasten the ends together.

3. Use a ribbon to cover the spot where the ends are fastened together, and hang!

Tip: best not to go too large in diameter as the wreath could become too heavy and stretch out.

Thanks to curtis, art director, CB2 catalog, for this submission.


modern furniture mixology

Don’t despair over the decorative crown molding in your new rental—or the starkness of all white walls—an eclectic mix could be the answer to these decorating dilemmas.

Since the eye can get lazy looking over a room with monotonous decor, substituting unexpected pieces can spark visual interest—and energy. The key is the right friction, not clashes, between styles, colors and textures.

For example, if your living room is filled solely with antique furniture and Ikat rugs, simply swap out the chairs for more streamlined versions like scan lounge. Vintage pieces will appear even more unique and the combinations will express your personality.

ikat weaving

This also works in reverse. Interiors with strictly modern furnishings can sometimes feel cold or uninviting so adding an heirloom or flea market find can help it feel warm and casual.

The sleek finish of a city slicker table and the high contrast graphics of a wire rug would be cool without a more approachable accent piece like your grandmother’s chair. Creating a current look by accentuating textures and patterns is just one way to balance personal and style sensibilities.

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Photo: Smart J,

wire rug

If mixing is a challenge, does this help? Or care to share ideas that worked?

Thanks to todd, store designer, west hollywood, for this submission.


pre-fab=pretty fabulous!

Photo: Thomas J. Story for Sunset Magazine

This past summer, Sunset Magazine partnered with Modern Cabana to create the Modern Cottage event for their October annual design issue.

The pre-fabricated cottage was designed to a create living spaces that are both eco-friendly and affordable. Consisting of two units, a 10x12 home office and a 12x25 guest suite, it’s a compelling model of minimalist living.

Positioned as a breezeway connecting the two units, the deck was made from a composite material which requires no painting, staining, or sealing. Decking was also installed around the units creating a variety of outdoor areas.

Other exterior features include FSC-certified clear inland cedar and a vertical garden of succulents which creates a living mosaic of shapes, textures, and colors. The angled roof is waterproofed with recycled tire rubber and is available with an integrated solar laminate for power. Two favorite extras—a refreshing outdoor shower and a dog-house with a green roof!

Photo: Thomas J. Story for Sunset Magazine Photo: Thomas J. Story for Sunset Magazine

Photo: Thomas J. Story for Sunset MagazineInterior features include a sleek compact kitchenette using built-ins and bar-size appliances. A sliding door allows natural light in and opens to a back deck that includes a fire pit and outdoor kitchen.

Eco-friendly bamboo flooring runs throughout the cottage and corrugated walls enclose a corner off the office—inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s use of industrial steel in residential buildings.

We’re thrilled that the living-area included our space saving flex sofa which converts to a bed. As an office desk, an old door with a frosted glass top was suspended from the ceiling and paired with our surf chair and trig file cabinet. For more details—including pricing estimates—check out the October issue of Sunset Magazine.

We look forward to your comments and photos if you were there!

Photo: Thomas J. Story for Sunset Magazine