Sunday, March 21

Inside Bessastaðir, Home of Iceland's President

There's big news in Iceland today. A volcano in the south, near Reykjavik, erupted after almost 200 years of dormancy, and some 500 people have been evacuated from their homes. No injuries or damages have been reported yet, but I send my sympathies to the displaced. Obviously, Homebodies is big on the comforts of the home, and it's something many of us--or at least I--take for granted.

But in the spirit of DesignMarch, which appears to be continuing, we're turning back to the home of the President, who I hear is giving a tour today of his house, as he did last year to the writers and editors in attendance.

In my research about the President's home, I came upon this website, managed by his office, that explains the history of the residence. Fascinating! I encourage you to read the fabulous story about the house and the land, interchangeably known as Bessastaðir. Great stuff, including tales of the 13th-century writer Snorri Sturluson, a Norwegian king, the 19th-century poet Grímur Thomsen, and others who lived here before it was bought and donated to the state in 1941. (More after the jump.)

Below are photos taken in the reception area of the house. It's a large room with gorgeous rugs and ornate furniture, and Icelandic motifs like bear rugs, trolls (however small, they are very big in the country's folklore), and ships throughout. Sorry I don't have a photo of the entire space; I hadn't yet had official permission to snap photos for publication, and this lady tries to be tactful in the homes of presidents.

We stood in line to shake hands with President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson in the solarium. My friend Abe Gurko, a writer, publicist, producer and all-around-doer who was with me on this tour, refers to the Pres as the Viking Obama.

Friday, March 19

Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson

Last year at this time, I was in Reykjavik, Iceland, for the first annual DesignMarch, and I met all sorts of amazing architects, artists, and designers during the four-day fair. I also visited the Blue Lagoon, of course. DesignMarch, or HonnunarMars, is in full swing again, while I'm here in New York remembering what a great time I had there. (Sorry, Blogger doesn't do umlauts and accent marks.)

One of the highlights was meeting President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who invited us to his beautiful home to speak to us about the state of Iceland and gave an inspiring speech about the importance of art and creation through design. I'll post more about that in the next few days, but first, here are a few photos of the exterior and a church on the property. And me at his desk, with champagne.

Kat's Bathroom

Kat is very neat, so lady.

Wednesday, March 17

Corner Lamp

This is one of my favorite photos of Kat's apartment, so it gets its own post. It's just a lamp in the living room corner with a lot of cords, but isn't it cute? It gives off such a nice glow. The end.

Tuesday, March 16

Closet (The Starlet's Dressing Room)

This long and narrow storage closet is in the living room, near Kat's desk. In it she keeps story boards for scripts she's working on, and whatever else can fit--baskets, luggage, books, I think another desk. But back in the old days, Kat explains, "the building manager told me this apartment was originally owned by 'the studios' and the 'storage closet' was the 'dressing room' for 'starlets.' i've been told that same story by every building manager about every decent-sized closet in every apartment i've ever had in los angeles. seriously hard to imagine those chicks dressing themselves in that tight of a space. it's just a storage closet."

Monday, March 15

Kat's Lovely Living Room

The leather-topped desk in the living room used to be Kat's grandmother's. Kat says she always used to write with an ink pen, and you can still see ink blotches on the leather--and a cigarette burn. Below, a wider view of the living room. Kat says the arches throughout the place are what sold her on the place. "They feel familiar."

Below, the sofa, with a swatch of fabric that never ended up covering a pillow. "I ditched the idea." View into the kitchen, to the left of the entry, then to the right...

Kat loves candles. There are candles everywhere. "If there were no electric lights in the world I'd be in heaven. "I love cooking by candle light - and I'm no cook so there are probably a few people out there who'd encourage me to throw more light on the subject - but kitchen lights are harsh. Candles add sensuality to everything." Also below are the essential oils she sells. I like the little brown bottles, so medicinal, I'm healed just looking at them.

"Peter Beard - that came from an exhibit of his i saw with an ex on a trip to Paris in '99 - the Y2K moment that never happened. have to admit i was slightly disappointed by the lack of chaos."

Kat's cat, Tabitha, on her desk, "smelling freedom."

Wednesday, March 10

Kat's Bedroom

This is Kat. I'm so thankful she's letting me post pics of her bedroom, because when I first sent her images for review, she said I could post anything but these. What? I said. These are my favorite! I don't like to push people into approving photos, but I was surprised she didn't see what I saw in these pictures: charm, whimsy, a groovy vibe. All things Kat. What she saw? "It's like Sanford and Son."

A good friend she is, Kat said I clearly saw something in them she didn't see, and I could go ahead and post... Aren't you glad she did? Below, I love the contrast of dark wood in a light and airy room (the sun was going down by the time I got to the bedroom)...and the red-patterned pillow! That and the throw on the chair and just enough red...

A crochet belt, or is it suede? Well, it's something hippie-ish, and it reminded me of the dark wood again. Tossed casually over the closet door, it was the only accent on this all-white wall, or at least that's how I remember it. Said Kat when I took a picture, "Jarred gave me that."

Friday, March 5

Kat's kitchen, West Hollywood

Katherine is a dear friend in L.A. I forgot how we met, I think through mutual friends at Decades, the consignment shop. Kat, as she's known, is a writer of various kinds--she's written for television, for Allure magazine, and soon, she's launching her socio-politico blog. She's also dabbles in essential oils, literally: learn here about her magical ways. I can still recall the smell of the stuff she suggested I anoint my busted thumb with a few years back, but I swear it stunk up, er, sped up recovery.

It was a whole year ago when I visited her one-bedroom in West Hollywood. I fell in love with her kitchen: airy, cheery, bright, pretty tiles. (Why is cheery often the best word to describe a wonderful kitchen? It's true.)

Above, the lemon is sitting out because she forgot to put it away after her morning drink: "A tall glass of water with lemon, cayenne, and a Himalayan salt solution that has tons of minerals. It sets me straight." She used to eat (Trader) Joe's O's every day for brek. She's moved on to eggs.

A Ruscha poster. She loves Ruscha and says this one makes her laugh because the words--BRAVE MEN RUN IN MY FAMILY--"It's like a jackass thing to say"--are angled to appear as though they're drowning at sea. (Kat has a wicked sense of humor, and an even more wicked laugh.) Also, she loves ships, and has since she was little.

The handbag, with its sequins and leather and beading and velvet and satin, is a favorite. "It's my gypsy bag." She attributes her nomadic leanings to her Hungarian-Serbian blood. Until she hits the road again, in high-hobo style, of course, I'll post the rest of the pics of her place in the next week...