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Saturday, December 31, 2011 8 comments
I owe so many people so much for making the past 12 months some of the most exciting of my life. What ridiculous once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, adventures, gifts and laughs you've all given me. I'm so lucky to have you around. Here's a little 2012 cheer for all - and a wish that you all get to spend the rest of your days surrounded with your favorite past-Presidents, polar bears, giraffes, soldiers, cowboys, natives, skiers, tennis champs...or maybe just your best, sweet friends and fam.
Pictures from Home: A Visit to the National World War I Museum

Thursday, December 29, 2011 2 comments
Kansas City gave me one of the best gifts ever this Christmas: a touching, beautiful, honest, fascinating homage to everyone touched by and lost to the first Great War. You enter the National World War I Museum's new wing (opened in 2006) walking on glass floating above a field of 9,000 poppies, each representing 1,000 of the 9 million soldiers who died during the conflict and recalling images from John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

In 1919, a year after the war ended, a local group came together to raise funds for a memorial. Within 10 days, Kansas Citians handed over $2.5 million to make it happen - a staggering amount for the day (or any day). On November 1, 1921, the supreme Allied commanders - Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium; General Armando Diaz of Italy; Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France; General John J. Pershing of the United States; and Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain - gathered together in the same place for the first and only time to dedicate the site in front of a crowd of 100,000. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the nearly finished memorial three years later.

The original museum sits in two sections on either side of the memorial gloriously featuring sections of all that remains from the incredible mural Pantheon de la Guerre, started in Paris as a French propaganda vehicle in 1914 and eventually displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Originally 402 feet long by 45 feet high, it took 30 artists painting until after the armistice for the massive work to be complete. It served as a sad memorial of loss for Europeans but the Americans framed it as a patriotic piece when went up at the fair. But then it was thrown into storage and forgotten as the second great war unfolded. Kansas City acquired it in the 1950s and pieced together about 7% of the undamaged pieces (which are still staggeringly large) to fill the two old wings of the museum.  This detail featuring tiny portraits of real soldiers above hangs in the western wing.

A detail of a portrait of John Lewis Barkley's uniform. The Missouri boy was declared the most decorated soldier of the Midwest.

Gas masks

A South African kilt

A model of the German U Boat

Court dress tunic and hat of Baron Rudolph Karl Maria Alexander Schwarzbek von Marau


Captain Glenn Orrin Brown's hand monogrammed haversack

More of the Pantheon de la Guerre in the old East Wing
Legacy: Grandma + Givenchy Go to a Party

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 11 comments
Aunt Virginia wasn't the only one in the fam lucky enough to make it into LIFE. It's always been a huge source of family pride that grandma got the cover in '55 (for being a pretty stunning socialite), 12 years after her second husband got his (for fighting Nazis from the cockpit of a P-47 Thunderbolt) (click here to see the covers). It wasn't until a few years ago when I got my own copy, that I realized grandma was inside her issue, too...on the arm of Givenchy! I finally found it online. You can read the whole issue and the article (starting on page 24) right here thanks to Google Books. Man, I love technology!
Legacy: Ginny and Rita Go for a Picnic

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 4 comments
During a 4 a.m. fit of insomnia this morning, I started poking around on the internets and came across something quite shocking: photos of my grandpa's sister riding bikes, making jelly sandwiches and eating chicken with her friend...Rita Hayworth! Aunt Virginia's on the right. Their poor friend Jane Hopkins didn't seem to get the memo about the uniform of the day and Minerva Griswold seems to be kinda struggling to keep up, but at least they all got treats at the end of the 10 mile ride. So fun!

Photos by Peter Stackpole for LIFE Magazine, 1940
The Decorating Project: Revealed (in a Shocking Way)!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 14 comments

In what must be the greatest convergence of great luck, timing, loads of effort, lost sleep, manual labor and true proof of Santa, Christmas legend and fairy dust, the results of Porter's and my first decorating commission appear in the home section of this Thursday's New York Times. 

We went from taking six years to fill our windowless loft, to about three months to warm up a brand new, beautiful penthouse with 20 foot high windows that open the walls up 270 degrees, offering clear views from Williamsburg to downtown Brooklyn to the Williamsburg Bridge to the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings.  

The owner made a real leap of faith when he agreed to pay two amateur vintage addicts to fill his stark white glass cube. We can only hope that in setting out to buy him new furniture (and a really huge folding kayak), we've managed to make him a home.

I'll share all the details of the fun, adventures, generosity and deals that went into this process in a bit, but in the meantime, reporter Emily Weinstein has perfectly captured our motivations and feelings about the project and photographer Trevor Tondro has made it glow with his wonderful shots. We honestly owe them and our client, Peter, our futures.

 Porter and I (who actually look like sisters in the shot below) decided that it would be an incredible shame to not try to make good on the daydreams and promises we've made ourselves for about two decades. So, with this project, the interiors obsession becomes official with the launch of Hovey Design. Porter will man the ship full time, while I throw myself in on nights and weekends. We absolutely cannot wait. We are eternally grateful (and absolutely so excited and shocked that it's really come true!!!!). Let us know if you need some help shopping, Ebaying or filling your entire house. That's what we're (finally) here for!

All photos by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times
A Very Bavarian Holiday at the Hoveys: The Fest!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 4 comments
Port and I had been toying with different themes for this year's holiday party for months until one day in late October when The Standard Edition and I popped to around the corner from my office to Bierhaus, midtown's only beer garden (and actually a really really fun one). It was the two of us, a table of wildly drunken German tourists and the most amazingly infectious polka band we'd ever come across. He looked at me and said, you have to have them at your Christmas party...and there it began.

It's always incredible to see our friends go above and beyond in the costume department. Here are some of the highlights. What fun it was!

Above: The Brothers Bray from BillyKirk and Jamie Apostolou.

Peter Pracilio, the amazing product designer, made two gigantic pretzels and a tiny hat and cape for his French bulldog, Chef Gordon.

Sean Crowley and Meredith Modzelewski came as an extraordinary early 20th century couple.

Farra Korshin and Carly Blumberg Ackley

Cicely Thomas came as the Christkind, the teenage angel who rolls alongside St. Nick (and she even brought a weihnachtsgurke!)

Tonya Douraghy

Marya Mezzatesta

I never imagined this many people could fit into our place... 

...or this much beer in the fridge!

Photos by Porter Hovey
A Very Bavarian Holiday at the Hoveys: The Decor

Monday, December 12, 2011 13 comments

After creating the Black Forest/cuckoo clock-inspired deer/pheasant/fox/pine cone vignette, a harsh reality set in: our apartment did not resemble anything Bavarian in any way shape or form. Suddenly the "comfortable gentleman's club with a bit more color" (presumably adaptable into a Bavarian theme) was a fluorescent jungle of non-German exotics and more Anglophilia than a gift shop outside Buckingham Palace. Major steps needed to be taken. These steps included: moving almost every piece of furniture into my bedroom, purchasing 10 roe deer antlers, switching out a mantle, switching out a mirror, hiding about 8 heads and a stuffed alligator in my bedroom (with all the furniture), hiding some marble behind the couch and taping an elaborate faux timber theme onto the walls. Here are the results!

I converted the chandelier into a wild floating pine tree of sorts and I carried that 9' tree (with Porter's help guiding the tip) on my shoulder/back and almost died (it was 20 years old! A geezer of a tree!). No half measures allowed at the holidays - even if you're left half bent in pain for weeks.

(Photos by Porter Hovey)
Boy Toys

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 5 comments

Sotheby's is teaming up with RM Auctions down in Florida to sell off a load of toys for boys, men and all cool chicks who enjoy chrome and wood (in all shapes and sizes).  All of these items in the Milhous Brothers' Collection go on the block this February. There's this 1933 "Miss Florida" speedboat by Jack Kipfer (above), the 1939 Dooling 2nd Series FWD tether race car, the 1950 "Buster" Brown Rudge motorcycle, the Curley Class B Mite Racer Model and the 1924 Baby Bootlegger