Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Total Whirlwind

We had a CRAZY week last week getting ready to put our house in the market.  I don't even remember how many 2-4 hours nights of sleep we got last week.  We did pretty much every project we'd ever planned to do "eventually" in the span of 9 days.  Our house was full of contractors helping us and I attempted to pack up and keep things running in the office, which became pretty much impossible.

Saturday morning (the day of the first open house) we woke up early to get started on our unfinished projects.  At 6, Dave ran to Home Depot to buy a new drill because we'd packed ours up and sent it to live in the Pod for a month... he added the missing hardware on the extra kitchen cabinets we'd done a year or so ago. (Yes, until this point they'd been just sitting there, naked and topped with plywood... On Friday the carpenters came and installed the butcher block and did the trimwork.)  I ran around with only one contact in (I tore my left one in the rush) pretty much legally blind in my left eye, squinting to do the paint touch-ups.  (It was at this point that I almost lost it...  I'd been pretty chill the whole 9 days along but when I realized I couldn't see it was - Dave- "It's almost over."  And me- "But I can't see!!! How am I supposed to look at anythig with a critical eye if I can't see?!!!"  --- Yes, I really said that.  Not my best moment.  He knows me pretty well and just didn't say anything.  God I love that man. )  I frantically cut hyrangea & spread them around the house in jars, all the while worrying about the funny smell of the paint in our basement because the contractors had just finished with the ceiling.  Every time I finished with a room, I'd close the door and the kids' security clearances were revoked.

{Yes, that's a muffin squished into his eye.}

 (By the end they were relegated to the foyer as our realtor helped them put on their shoes and fed them cookies & that's when I knew it was the home stretch.) I jumped in the back or our minivan to feed (wailing) baby Luke as Dave turned the car on and "blasted" the air at my behest while people arrived early for the open house.   Dave ran through the yard with the lawn mower (Him- "A mowed lawn is important to men.") as Christian & Justin got extra allowance for picking up sticks.  I watched and thought about how I'd wished I'd gotten more weeding done in the gardens as the van (which was blasting air) got hotter and hotter.  I opened the door because the hot air outside was better than the inside.  The baby's tiny little body stuck to my dress and we were a sweaty mess.  When Dave finally showed back up to load the kids in the car it was, "Oh sorry babe, I'd had the heat on." 

We drove a few houses down so I could feed the baby before driving to the eye doctor's.  We watched as the cars came pouring down our street for the open house.  (I know that sounds creepy and I hoped no one would notice us, but with the hungry baby, we really had no choice.)  As more time went by and none of the cars had left yet, we felt a little better.  Anytime there was a lag in the stream of cars, we worried.  We noticed cars leaving, driving around and going back.  That was a good sign. 

Once the baby had had his fill, it was off to the eye doctors' and then to my mom's house where we showerd and promptly DROPPED.  (We had already decided we were not going home Saturday night because there was no way we could keep our house clean for even a night for Sunday's open house.)  We waited for news from our realtors and I was in total shock as they called and told us the good news.  (I typically worst-case scenario everything at the last minute, and by the end of the day had convinced myself that no one could ever want our house.)  Saturday night was great as two of my best friends stopped by to celebrate (One who I haven't seen in over a year just home from Paris!) and we gorged (or maybe it was just me who gorged) on food from the Lebanese Taverna. 


We stayed at my mom's all day Sunday and reviewed offers that night.  This (below) was the awesome note we came home to:

{The "Buy me" note was a last-minute attempt as I dashed out of the house before the open house}

...We are now officially under contract and are set to move mid-September!!!  I'm definitely sad to leave this place (getting teary honestly) but I am so happy that the people buying our house seem to love it as much as we do.  I think they'll take great care of this place we've poured so much into & I'm sure they'll make it their own in no time.  I'll miss some of our neighbors terribly but know that they're friends for life & moving won't change that. 

I'll be back this week to share some long overdue before & afters of our house...  sort of a little goodbye string of posts I have planned.  I am DEFINITELY making a video tour of my house before I leave so I can "visit" whenever I want.  (I know I have issues ;)

Also, thank you so much to all of the readers who came out to see our house!!  Hope you enjoyed & thank you so much for the support!!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stylish Lens serie - FW - Paris

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     Hanneli Mustaparta and Candice Lake 
     2 well-known talented bloggers
     Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Patricia - Grand Palais - Paris

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       Patricia - Grand Palais - Paris
       Patricia is a blogger ( Miss Cherie Paris), model and artist
       Photos by Easy Fashion Fred hebergeur imagehebergeur imagehebergeur image

Anya Ziurova - FW Paris

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      Anya Ziurova at Chanel - Grand Palais - Paris
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred   hebergeur imagehebergeur image

Magic Purse - FW - Paris

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      Magic Purse - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

Forever Blue - FW- Paris

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      I remember this blue lady is a taiwanese hairdresser working on Chanel Show.
      But I lost her name. Maybe she can send me a mail to fix that ?
      Photos by Easy Fashion Fred hebergeur image hebergeur image

Bowles-Simpson: What am I missing?

The Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan is causing consternation among people with whom I usually agree.  But it has a couple of important features that I like--it cuts tax expenditures that tend to be both distortionary and regressive (such as the mortgage interest deduction) and it taxes investment income at the same rate as ordinary income.  This second feature essentially ensures implementation of the Buffet rule.

As it happens, the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution evaluated the distributional impact of Bowles-Simpson relative to current policy.   Here is what they found:

Look at the column entitled "Percent Change in After-Tax Income."  Everyone takes a hit, but the hit in the lowest quintile is near zero--for the top one percent, the hit is almost three times higher than average; for the top 0.1 percent, it is four times higher than average.   This looks awfully progressive to me...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Can a name depress rents?

I needed to go to the Brazilian Consulate to apply for a visa yesterday--it is located at 8484 Wilshire Blvd.  The building at that address is called The Flynt Building, as in Larry Flynt.  I can't help but wonder if the name discourages tenants from locating there, and whether that in turn means it commands lower rents than it otherwise might.

It would be hard to know--if one ran a hedonic regression, there would not be sufficient degrees of freedom to determine whether the name mattered or not.


So far as I can tell, Casey Mulligan and I have but two things in common: an economics degree, and eyeglasses (he is wearing a pair in the picture on the UofC web site).

I don't know about Professor Mulligan, but I am completely dependent on my glasses.  The first thing I do before I get out of bed is put them on, and the last thing I do before turing off the light is take them off.  I cannot do the basic functions of modern existence without them.  I suppose this reflects badly on my character.

Frank Popper on Academia

He comments on my friend Lisa Schweitzer's blog:

As an alternative to this kabuki, let me describe specific kinds of experiences I see a lot, but that rarely show up in journalists’, academics’ or adminsitrators accounts:
1. Right- or more usually leftwing bigotry to the point where it becomes part of the intellectual air one breathes. A few years ago I took part in a search that produced a candidate who was mildly libertarian. S/he was treated as a Martian. The questions at the presentation were patronizing, extended to actual laughter. The initial daylong interview schedule ended at midday, sending the candidate home early. 
2. The vacuous meetings, where nothing of substance gets discussed and everyone–EVERYONE–would rather be somewhere else. Precisely because the meetings are so comprehensively boring, no one ever admits it at them, though there is plenty of backchat afterward. Somewhere there must be a Balzac of American boredom, perhaps whiling away time in the Ohio Public Roads Department or a backwater of the Gates Foundation or maybe even a university, who could convey all this. We need this person to emerge soon. 
3. The public corridor conversations about students in general, which are public, deeply insulting, and clinical. They seem to get worse when students are in earshot. 
4. The lack of knowledge about popular culture, which of course is most of it and the part likeliest to last. (Shakespeare in his time was popular culture, as was the Bible.) I have run across professors ignorant of Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, American Idol, Saturday Night Live, etc., far into the night and keeping on ’til morning. They invariably have firm opinions about where America or the world is going or should do. It is hard to argue with them because, well, they don’t have much of a fact base and don’t care about it anyway. The comparison with Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck seems inevitable. 
5. It’s startling how much overt anti-intellectualism exists at the middle and top ranks of American universities. I know deans who couldn’t tell you two coherent sentences about what most of their professors do or why they do it. But they can give you precise figures about the grants (some of) them bring in. They actually remark on how dull the professors’ work is, not that they’ve lifted a finger to try to find out about it. Most professors themselves are remarkably ignorant about what their colleagues do and feel no guilt about it. 
6. The mistreatment and bullying of graduate students: an endless topic. One of the (many) low points of my graduate experience was submitting the first draft of my thesis to a committee member, who sneered at me that it read like “a long piece in the New Yorker,” as if that was bad. This fellow told me that I should “look to my education,” his phrase, then refused to be part of my committee. He was for some time quite well-known, and one of the joys of my adult academic experience has been watching the utter eclipse of his reputation. Another faculty member then took me on as a project, told me that part of my problem was that I “wrote better than 95% of our graduate students,” thus arousing controversy others avoided. He gave me tips on how to make my writing better while academically grounding it so as to anticipate people like his grump colleague. My savior died recently, got remarkable obituaries and had a spectacular memorial service, which I went out of my way to attend. 
7. There’s a softness in intellectual culture as universities purvey it. That is, one can get away with studying topics or subjects (in our field e.g., zoning, Chicago, Robert Moses) without having any actual ideas about them. All you have to do is write about them, and after a while you doesn’t even have to do that. One of the results is large numbers of high-status mediocrities who’ve never really done or contributed much and who, like the I-want-out committee member described, typically find their reputations slipping by late middle age and mercifully don’t get to see them disappear posthumously. Other results: dull papers in dull journals, both with microscopic readerships; ditto for dull books published by dull university presses; vacuous presentations at conferences; a general sense that almost anything is good enough for academic work if only it is sufficiently pedantic or obscure; and ceremonial for-wider-consumption overpraise for ordinary work (“This pathbreaking idea,” when no one can credibly tell you what the idea is, much less what the new path is or what old path it supplants.) 
I’m sure others can add further items, but that seems like enough from me for the day.
Let me say one nice thing about my place--I think the profs here really like our students.  It is certainly part of the culture for faculty to spend time with students (and not just Ph.D. students).  The students here are also pretty easy to like--while there is certainly variation in intellectual capacity and work ethic, the students here seem happy to be here, and I hear very little whining.    

Open Shelving in the Kitchen- the great debate

Wow.  Our house is officially for sale today!!!  I'm feeling really great about it.  But putting your house on the market makes you take another look at it, from a buyer's point of view and makes you analyze every little thing.  I used to do real estate staging & a large part of it is de-personalizing the home vs. making it unique & personal (which is what I do now.)  One of the things I think that's more personal & taste-specific in our home is the open shelving in our kitchen. (In our kitchen we have a mix of open shelving and upper cabinets but the main wall is all open shelving.)

{our kitchen}

People seem to have very strong opinions about doing open shelving in the kitchen instead of upper cabinets.  They either seem to love it or hate it.

I thought I'd share my experience with them since I've had them for three years now.

I orginally opted for open shelving because I wanted to give my kitchen an open & airier feeling. It's a great way to make a kitchen feel larger.  My kitchen felt a bit confined & heavy to me so I wanted to visually lighten it up.  The assymetrical angle of my kitchen ceiling looked too awkward with a row of dark upper cabinets calling attention to it. 

{my kitchen "before" with the awkward angles}

SO.. I thought I'd give it a go, more for form over function but I ended up loving the "function" side of it too!

{my kitchen "after" with open shelving}

One of my favorite things about open shelving is that I can see everything at a glance.  Guests too can grab what they need easily or put things back without searching through every cabinet. 

One of the biggest "cons" I've heard brought up about open shelving is that your things "get dusty" and dirty with cooking grime.  Dusty & grimey things have never been an issue for us in our kitchen.  We use almost everything on our shelving daily or weekly and it comes off of the shelf perfectly clean because it's constantly getting use.  I store a few barely-used items on my upper shelf and when I take them down once or twice a year, there is some dust on them and I simply rinse them off before using them.  (Just as I have to rinse off the rarely-used items in my dining room sideboard before use.)  Friends of mine who have open shelving have said the same thing.  I find it's people who've never actually had it (or who don't frequently use the things on their shelves) who seem to worry the most about this "dust" issue.

I also love the look of functional beauty in open shelving.  A kitchen is for cooking and eating & so I love seeing my "tools" displayed around me. 

I have collected my platters and bowls and pitchers over time and love being able to enjoy them even when they're not in use.  I think they're beautiful and I didn't want to hide them in cabinets.

Working in our kitchen is so easy because everything is within reach and I can get to it quickly.  (In our house, we move like crazy people.  It seems we're almost always rushing -gotta change that- and I can grab things off the shelves like  a speed demon.)  Putting away the dishes now seems like so much less of a chore than it did when I was putting everything into cabinets. 

{Sally Wheat}

Another "con" I've heard about open shelving is that it looks cluttered.  I think this is more a matter of personal taste.  For me, I think the key to our open shelving looking good is that we've limited what types of items we put on our shelves.  (In our kitchen I have white ware, glass ware and stainless steel for the most part and I sometimes mix in other colors/ materials seasonally.)  I do have some patterned and colorful dishes on my open shelving but from standing in the kitchen, they are viewed from the side and from below, so they look white.  However, there are some open-shelved kitchens look great because the homeowners are less rigid with what they put on their shelves and they come across as charming and homey: 

I reserve closed drawers and cabinets for food items and kitchen appliances and my open shelves for the things we use all the time.

As with many things in design, I don't think think there's a general wrong or right in uppers vs shelving, just wrong or right for certain people. 

Personally, I won't ever be without my open shelving in the kitchen (and plan to do it again in our new house because it's perfect for our busy, casual lifestyle- once you go open, you never go back ;) ;)  but it's all in the eye of the beholder.

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Hi Ha Hou !

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      I am a little upset by visitors who pin-up my pictures by hundreds on Pinterest (here) 
      or anywhere else.
      Most of them don't even write a comment on Easy Fashion and they re-post pics without legend.
      They just take the pics and run ! Do you think you help me doing this ? Or do you want to kill
      my blog ?
      If you really want to post on Pinterest, well dot it ... But don't act like pickpokets. Ok ?

      Fred - Easy Fashion Paris

      I will tell you later about Web Sites that steal my pics on a daily basis.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why do lenders and borrowers do things like this?

I was talking with a real estate broker today about the process of short sales, and why they are so difficult to do, and she told me a rather sad (and she said typical) story.  A borrower in Compton had an $800,000 mortgage, and was about to close a short sale for $170,000.

Everything was all set to go, when the lender told the borrower that if she didn't sell, she would get a modification.  The borrower in the end did not sign off on the short sale; she never did get the modification, and was foreclosed on 60 days later.  Both the borrower and the lender would have been better off had the short sale happened--the borrower's credit history would have taken a smaller hit, while the lender would almost surely recover more money.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Should Science be Done?

Lately I keep running into the idea that the proper way to do science is to continually strive to disprove a hypothesis, rather than support it*.  According to these writers, this is what scientists are supposed to aspire to, but I've never actually heard a scientist say this.  The latest example was recently published in the Wall Street Journal (1).  This evokes an image of the Super Scientist, one who is so skeptical that he never believes his own ideas and is constantly trying to tear them down.  I'm no philosopher of science, but this idea never sat well with me, and it's contrary to how science is practiced. 
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Our moving story & open house

Our house has been a serious labor of love.  When we found it, I was in love.  And I still am. 
...Which is why our move is so crazy.

But here's our story:

4 years ago, my husband (Dave) & I sold the townhouse that we'd bought as newlyweds at the height of the market... for a huge loss.  We moved into my parents' basement to recup & soon after, I started this blog.  I had just gotten my design business going & my mom generously babysat for our then-one-year old (Christian) so I could meet with clients and work.  Living with my parents was actually pretty awesome (free babysitting, good food, quick runs out to the movies while the baby was sleeping, getting to be with my little sister who lived there-  she's 15 years younger than me) .. but all we thought about was buying our own house again.  It felt like such a longshot.  

 {our basement family room}

Here I was designing houses for other people and I couldn't even afford my own.  We did as much as we could with our basement & would peruse real estate listings frequently.  Sometimes it depressed us & other times it got us dreaming about the future. 

We decided to start taking some drives with an agent and I started sharing the houses we were looking at... And in this area, it wasn't much.  Some of the houses actually scared my parents because they were so unlivable, but we saw potential in them.  My parents talk about how I looked over the yard of a ramshackle 836 square foot house with tears in my eyes because I thought it was so great & could picture our family there.  hahahah  

I thought about what we could do with the wrecks and how we could make them work. 

We finally find our house and I remember when I first saw the online listing...  I saw a living room wall of windows and so much green outside of the windows. 

 It was contemporary, which was a big change for me, but I was excited.  It had been on the market for 4 years and my husband drove by it one day after work and said it was in a culdesac and was actually surround by trees.   We went to see it with our agent.  It was the first house we looked at that day and we looked at 18 others but once I'd seen it, I just knew.  After that, we weren't interested in the center hall colonials we were seeing, we wanted the split foyer!!


I knew it wasn't pretty.
And that it was creepy.

Family members told us not to buy it and our agents weren't very keen on it either...  but we were set on it.

After begging & wrestling the house from the original owners (They bought in the 70s) we were thrilled to move in & start making it ours. 


I chronicled all of our projects in this blog showing you probably waaaaaay too many photos of the minute changes we'd make.  We've been in Heaven fixing this place up & making it perfect for our family.  We love the neighborhood and our town and pictured ourselves living here for years to come.

..Still I perused the real estate listings out of curiosity and always with a tiny hope in the back of my mind that I might find something we loved & something we could afford right near my mom.  

It was while checking out listings for one town that a listing in another town oddly popped up on my search engine and it intriqued me.  I was sitting in the back seat of our minivan holding the pacifier in baby Luke's mouth on the way home from the beach andI read the house's description aloud to Dave as he drove. 

We were laughing as I read more & more and it just sounded to perfect for us.  (me- "2 car garage."  him- "SOLD.")

I tried to understand the floorplan and figure out which rooms were where and how many rooms there were.  (Was the rec room the same as the family room or was it actually another room??  I had to know it all.)

I jokingly texted my little sister who was also driving home from the beach a few miles behind us that she needed to tell our mom to be scared because we'd found a house we loved.  We were laughing and kidding but the laughs were insterspersed with "what ifs?" 

There was an open house the next day and we decided to go just for fun.  As we pulled up, we could see that it was packed with people and I told them from inside my car to "Get outta my house!"  (Don't worry, the car windows were closed.)  We walked in and this is what we saw:

{yes, that's actually tile up the wall.}

I loved it.

We walked around the house and yard over & over.  I wanted it but couldn't get over leaving our current house and town. 
Dave was down.  (Grandmother, if you're reading, that means "up for it" or "game." ;)

I stayed at the open house almost the entire time & tried to work out ways to remedy the floorplan and make it better.  (All while trying to keep our exhausted kids from running around like the maniacs that they are.)  I didn't feel like I could think of moving to the house until I could envision how we'd fix it.  I finally figured it out and was okay to leave so we could think.

We called our families & told them we were seriously considering it.
And then we seriously considered it.

The biggest con for me was (and is) leaving a place we've poured so much into and a town/ community that I love so much. We've FINALLY gotten our house exactly where we want it to be and what do we do?  We go looking at new houses.

Add a 5 year-old, a 2 year old and a newborn into the mix along with a home-based business that both I and my husband support the family off of and we're starting to sound insane. 

I know all of this.  I really do.

But somehow this house is calling to us.

We did pros & cons.  We prayed about it.  I stayed up at night reworking the floorplan and envisioning what life would be like there.  And if I'd be okay leaving.

Still unsure, we took another trip to see the house to see how it felt. 
And it felt right.

I suddenly felt that it would be okay to move on, to start a new chapter.

I see so much potential in this house and I've never seen my husband so excited about something this big before.  We talked and we decided we wanted to put in an offer.  We went over again with our fingers crossed as my parents saw the house and we waited to hear if our offer would be accepted.  Someone else had submitted an offer too and as we ate dinner with my family at a loud restaurant, we strained to hear the phone's ring, hoping it woud be good news.

We got a call: The owners were deliberating between the offers and wouldn't be getting back to us until the next day.
Try sleeping on that one.

I went to meet with clients the next day and Dave drove with the baby in the car so I could feed him before & after the meeting.  During the meeting, he got the call that our offer was accepted!!!

It was so surreal.

Our house is going on the market this weekend.  My other baby.

It's very bittersweet.   I love our house and our life here and I'm sad to leave.  Yet I am sooooo excited for a new place to make home.  This new house is challenging & different and I can't wait to stretch myself creatively a bit. 

The real estate photgrapher came in this weekend and it started to feel more real as I cleared off surfaces and depersonalized the house a bit.  Our agents are having an open house both Saturday and Sunday of this weekend, so if you're in the area and are interested, feel free to email them for details.  (but promise me, no judging!!!  ;)  ;)

I'll be back soon to share pic & plans of our new house!!

To read the blogpost from when I first revealed that we'd moved into my parents' basement .. click here .  I was  so embarrassed at the time and will never forget my now-friends who commented on that post and how their comments really did make me feel better.  It was one of the first times I realized what true  friends my  'blog friends ' really were.

To read about my plans for our current house before we bought it, click here  ...  Reading through it just made me teary now...  dreaming about the wisteria-covered pergola Dave would build me one day and that I now have.

To read about our last house purchase, go .here  Again, the comments from my blog friends helped us and I won't ever forget it. 

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

High Fashion Chanel Lady - FW - Paris

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      High Fashion Chanel Lady - FW - Paris
        On dit que seules quelques centaines de femmes dans le monde seulement disposent de moyens suffisants
        pour s'offrir une robe de haute couture. Selon les créateurs, les robes coûtent de 15 à 25 000 euros pour
        débuter et sont sans limite supérieure de prix. 
        La robe aux magnifiques broderies que porte cette jeune femme russe (?) habillée Chanel de la tête aux 
        pieds est sans doute dans la fourchette (très) haute de prix ...
        Text and Photos by Easy fashion Fred 

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Blue Dream Lady - FW - Paris

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      Blue Dream Lady - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Farid

Nicky Hilton - FW - Paris

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      Nicky Hilton - FW - Paris
      Photo by Easy Fashion Farid

Monday, July 23, 2012

Could Ted afford his apartment? Probably not.

In the movie Ted (one that I am embarrassed to say I rather liked), Ted has a minimum wage job as a checker.  In Massachusetts, that means he makes $8 an hour, or around $1360 a month (I assume 4.25 weeks per month and no overtime). 

His apartment in Boston is pretty bad, so I am going to put it at the 25th percentile of the rent distribution, which puts it at around $750 per month.  This means Ted is spending far more than  half his money on his apartment (so I am not sure where he is getting his, ahem, beer money from).

Elisa - Rue Cambon - Paris

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      Elisa - Rue Cambon - Paris
      Dress by Manoush
      Shoes by Les Petites Parisiennes
      Hand-bag from her grand-mother
      Photo by Easy Fashion Fred

We're moving!!!

I can't believe we're doing it, but just as we've finished with our labor of love, we're on to another one.  We're in the the middle of packing...

...And it's so surreal.  I'm off to a client's installation but will be back with details!

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Miss Michelle Harper - at Chanel - Paris

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     Miss Michelle Harper - at Chanel - Paris
     Photos by Easy Fashion Fred

       Certains la qualifie "d'OVNI" de la Mode. Mais ce qui est sûr, c'est qu'à chaque Fashion Week, 
       les photographes attendent avec impatience de voir quelles seront les tenues de Michelle H. 
       Ses coupes de cheveux sont elles aussi spectaculaires .... Ici à la sortie du défilé Chanel au Grand-Palais.

       Sur son tumblr, elle expose son point de vue sur la Mode et sans doute sur la vie en général: "Because 
       nothing inspiring is flawless or perfect. It's in the failures, the experiments, and the unique that I find 
       the greatest joy".  

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