This 1920's Ojai farmhouse belonged to my dad and step-mom, Malcolm and Kelley McDowell. Kelley renovated this house, transforming it from a dark ruin into a light-filled inviting space. I love that she painted the floors bright white, almost reflective. It's not something you see in Spanish Style homes, but I think it was a great choice. Painting the walls a bright white as well gives a clean backdrop for their vibrant collection of American primitive antiques, Navajo rugs, and Mexican religious art and objects. We were lucky enough to do a Nell's Compass photo shoot here, as you can see from our homepage! Kelley has an amazing eye and a wonderful style that is all her own. She says, "when you open the gate, it's like stepping back in time to the California of Chinatown or The Wild Bunch. We think of our home as an American, whimsical version of Spanish Style." I think the best homes have a touch of whimsy, an unexpected quirkiness (look at the skull mugs!), and this is no exception.
Floors were treated with Old Masters Gel Stain in Pickling White, walls are Benjamin Moore Super Spec Flat
All photos from House Beautiful
Today I'm heading over to the JoAnne Artman Gallery to see an exhibition appropriately titled "They've All Come to Look for America". I have known America since high school. I feel so lucky to be her friend, her kindred spirit, her occasional muse, and her forever mermaid. My mom is an equally big fan of America's work, and wrote the introduction to America's beautiful book "Insouciance". To quote my mom, America's art "doesn't come from anyplace that we can map. It comes flying from the unknown source of genius. (And yes, I am comfortable using that word to describe her talent.)" Here is a preview of the gallery exhibition. Sadly, it closes tomorrow but you can see more of her work and learn about upcoming exhibitions on her website. And now, a feast for your eyes...
LOVING the new tabletop designs from our friend John Robshaw. I have a self diagnosed John Robshaw pillow addiction and now it's crossed over into napkins and tablecloths! I don't know if my husband can handle any more brightly colored, Indian inspired, hand block-printed textiles in our house, but wouldn't these be beautiful for a summer dinner party outside?
Before I packed up my former Venice bungalow, I called on my talented sister Kate to capture the space. I lived here for 1 1/2 years and have many wonderful memories of this house. While the house had some amazing details (the stove!) and was 5 blocks from the beach, it was a little too cozy for the three of us. It was less than 700 square feet and we ultimately needed more room. We are much happier where we are now, but I love that I have these photos to remember my beachy abode...
What is everyone up to this weekend? Any fun plans? I am loading up my car with 80 candles + 20 travel sets + 2 dogs! It should make for a comical (but lovely smelling) ride. I am delivering the candles to The Ojai Vally Inn, so if you are ever there, please stop by the gift shop and take a sniff (and audibly ooh and ahh at how amazing they are!) Here are some photos of my mom and Ted's glorious Ojai garden in full bloom (taken by me last May). It's such a shame I'm so allergic to bees, because I'm obsessed with rose gardens! It's a mean trick because I can never get too close. To see more photos of their garden, check out this article from Garden Design.
I am counting down the days until I'm able to share our wedding with you! No images can be released until May 30th (due to it being published in a certain wedding magazine-eeps!) but I'll be able to share some fun behind the scenes stuff until then. First up, we used a ton of vintage travel inspired items in our decor. If spending hours in the hot sun scouring flea markets for vintage postcards or obsessively checking ebay until 2am does not appeal to you, then you are in luck my friends! I just found this website that has a collection of free hi res downloads of everything I spent countless days and sleepless nights trying to find. Take a look and check out Fuzzimo for more...
I am loving the indoor/outdoor living spaces of this Los Feliz home. Everything about this makes me happy-the painted patio floors, the antler towel rack, the old Cartier-esque clock, the matte black paint, and the endless outdoor seating. My future dream home definitely has a hammock and looks as close to this as possible!
I love the etsy shop, Kalla. She is based out of Japan and currently donating 10% of her proceeds towards the recovery of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami. If you are looking for an affordable way to spruce up your home with great pops of color, look no further. You can also customize your colors which is so fun (see adorable chart below!) Here are some of my fave picks:
While I love to cook, I am not one of those people who can easily whip up something from scratch without the safety net of a recipe (unless we're talking omelettes, quesadillas and now, after making it so many times, this roast chicken). I was excited to come across Mark Bittman'seasy to follow instructions on how to make vegetable soups. He breaks them down into four categories- creamy, brothy, earthy, hearty-with no special techniques and no advanced preparation. By using common ingredients and simple guidelines you will never need to look at a vegetable soup recipe again! I am up for the challenge, especially with all of this rain. Do you have any simple soup recipes that you love?
In NYC with my family. Last night was Ted's book launch party! Ted's involvement in ocean conservation started long before I knew him. It is something he is deeply passionate about and I couldn't be more proud of him. He never brags about his work with Oceana so his family members have to! It hits bookshelves today (go here to buy book). He's about to embark on a book tour so go say hi if he's in your area!
Last week my friend Emily and I took a spontaneous trip to Pasadena and visited the Huntington Gardens. I am embarrassed to say it was my first time there even though I have lived in LA for a long time. Wow! It is so beautiful! We wandered through the desert garden, the jungle garden and saw the lily ponds. I know LA isn't know for it's seasons, but it really felt like Spring with all of the blossoms. I can't wait to go back when the three and a half acre rose garden is in full bloom (starts in mid-April). I also want to sip tea and eat tea sandwiches in the Rose Garden Tea Room!
I started Nell's Compass with my mom, Mary Steenburgen in 2008. I currently run the candle company and blog out of our office in Venice, Ca. Feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. For order inquiries, please email email@example.com.