Growing up in a hands-on family, Ryan Walsh learned early on how to problem-solve and improvise—which served him well when he and his wife bought their first home and taught themselves to restore midcentury modern furniture. From those DIY beginnings, his company, LumberLust, is catching fire—and catching on, appearing on HGTV in the home of designer Landon Mondragon and specializing in contemporary and rustic designs carved from reclaimed lumber. Luxe caught up with the Arizona artisan to learn about his methodology and more.
How did LumberLust come about? As soon as I started visiting local sawmills, my imagination ran wild. We’ve built our shop one tool at a time, slowly investing with each table delivered and expanding our possibilities.
What inspires you? Nature and fashion are my two biggest inspirations. While clothing is made to fit a person’s body and lifestyle, projecting a sense of identity, furniture should do the same for a space and tell you something about the people who live there.
What is your process? It depends on if we’re creating a commissioned piece versus building something for sale in a boutique. Wood selection is at the core of either scenario, and we source mostly reclaimed hardwoods from Phoenix, maple and walnut from Washington, and other sustainable exotics upon request.
Even in the dead of winter, Chicagoans can feel like they’re basking on the sun-kissed shores of Southern Europe (almost) during a meal at Kostali.
With a name that means “coast” in Maltese, this 68-seat restaurant helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian (of Brindille and the now-closed NAHA) opened inside The Gwen hotel in late 2019.
It’s a completely different concept from the chef’s previous restaurants, focusing on dishes from Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, with touches of the Middle East and North Africa. Tom Nahabedian, principal at Bureau | AD in Chicago and cousin to Carrie, designed Kostali to evoke feelings of relaxation, using vibrant shades of blue and gold paired with organic shapes and textures.
Tom differentiated the entrance of the fifth-floor space with brass-toned metal screens; inside, a nine-seat bar with an ocean-blue enamel lava stone top is a focal point, as are custom light fixtures of pale blue ribbed glass.
“These bold strokes are offset by the intimate scale of it all, along with simple and modern detailing and materiality throughout,” he says. “It’s a true transportation to the Italian Riviera.”
Building a house on the side of a cliff is not an easy endeavor. That’s why Kim and Carolyne Megonigal put together an experienced crew they knew they could trust.
Among the team was interior designer Courtney Zeithing, who is Carolyne’s sister, along with architect David Olson, and builder Robert McCarthy, a close friend. “This was a family affair,” Carolyne explains. “It was a labor of love for all of us.”
The result is a modern home that cantilevers over the edge, offering panoramic views of California’s Newport Bay and the ocean beyond.
Zeithing consulted closely with the architect on the entire project, helping to select finishes throughout.
“There’s a balance of materials that’s pretty consistent,” Zeithing explains of the mix of stone walls, custom mahogany cabinetry and metal details, such as the sculptural stairway that connects all four floors.
“We like the same things, so it was easy and really fun,” Carolyne says of working with her sister on the project. It’s a sentiment both siblings share.
“We spent days and days together,” Zeithing explains, noting that they agreed on nearly everything. “We enjoy each other’s company, so it was great to be able to spend so much extra time with her.”
There’s a little bit of magic to this house,” designer Marcus Mohon says of the southern European-inspired home he decorated for a couple in Austin. “It makes you want to sit down and linger.” Overlooking Barton Creek, the spacious abode exudes approachable old-world elegance through cozy furnishings and mottled-stone walls. “Every space is stylish but comfortable,” the designer says. “We eliminated the concepts of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ from the interiors.”
After purchasing one of the last available lots in the coveted neighborhood, the owners collaborated with their close friends architect Gary Koerner and landscape designer James Hyatt, whose project manager was Christopher Olson, to develop the basic form of their new dwelling. This resulted in a U-shaped home, in which the main living areas are flanked by the kitchen and the master bedroom. Taking advantage of the breeze and magnificent views, the residence also features outdoor living spaces with a pool in the center. “This property is about various courtyards and rooms that bend around a large courtyard to the rear of the house,” Koerner explains.
A feeling of privacy sinks in from the moment guests approach the front door, accessed through an outdoor entrance behind a courtyard with an antique gate. Adding to the ambience, a gas-burning lantern ties in with both the large glass-and-steel entry door and the steel windows throughout the home, which enhance the views. “We designed the windows to be oversized, with glass to the floor, so your eye is drawn outside when you enter the room,” explains architect Charles Travis, who further developed the original plans and designed the interior architecture. It’s one of the thoughtful ways the team injected contemporary elements into the design. “There’s a seamless blending of different architectural themes that gives this house an authenticity,” Travis says.
It was in this spirit that builder David Dalgleish and his crew approached the project, utilizing time-tested techniques. “The owners were interested in authentic craftsmanship,” he explains. The plaster on the walls, for example, was mixed on site and shows bits of sand in its composition. The stone walls were hand-chiseled and sanded to enhance the aged appearance. And the wrought-iron railings along the outdoor areas were forged and twisted without relying on welding tools. “Even though the home features materials used in southern France centuries ago, they were used in a very crisp, edited way.” Travis says. Case in point: When Dalgleish, who also installed the massive reclaimed ceiling beams, laid the limestone flooring, he carefully detailed the line between the flooring and the plaster walls with a razor blade. “When you can’t cover something up with a piece of trim, there’s no tolerance for error,” he says.
With a simple materials palette as the foundation, Mohon’s selection of furnishings and artwork brings the home to life. “The interiors reflect the wife’s wardrobe of textural neutrals and elegant, understated jewelry, combined with an old-world attitude,” he says. A tactile hide rug layered atop a larger area rug, for example, introduces texture to the living room and defines a seating area featuring a number of custom pieces, including a chaise and a sofa near a large stone fireplace mantel.
Along one wall in the space, a tapestry hangs above a deep-brown antique wood table, punctuating the neutral palette. “A little touch of iron and dark wood creates a strong contrast and highlights everything else,” Mohon says. Likewise, in the adjacent dining room, a striking iron-and-wood chandelier illuminates a sofa settee and a mix of chairs around a circular table.
Nearby, in the kitchen, the designer paired white-oak cabinetry with marble countertops and a monolithic custom-plaster hood. A pair of simple iron pendants illuminate the mammoth-sized island, which is equipped with ample storage space, and tie in with the large-scale sconces flanking the range. “They look like a pencil sketch–a simplified version of an older lantern,” Mohon says. And throughout the home, many bespoke touches exist in the form of doors, like the ornate antique one from Spain the designer customized for the powder room and the leather-paneled doors that mark the entrance to the walnut-paneled den.
Now settled into their European-inspired abode, the owners linger in every room, especially the large outdoor living area–an ideal spot for entertaining visitors or simply sharing wine and conversation with each other. “They love the house,” Mohon says. “It functions great for their large family or just the two of them.”
The founder of Oracle says he wants to be judged on his results at the Larry Ellison Foundation. But he must also reckon with the fact that for all his success in the world of making money, he has not succeeded in the world of giving it away. He has basked in positive publicity for promises to donate millions and then retracted offers with little explanation; sunk hundreds of millions into moonshot projects like life-extension research before suddenly pulling funding; and made public promises about charitable giving that he appears nowhere close to fulfilling. Nothing has quite worked out.
And so Ellison’s recent decision to reboot what could be a $60 billion charity amounts effectively to a do-over after years of wandering in the philanthropic desert. And it offers him a second chance to make right on a record blemished by erratic cancellations, unusual legal maneuvers, and unmet pledges. A year after its relaunch, however, Ellison’s foundation is doing nothing publicly about the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that has created a crisis moment for philanthropy. His company, meanwhile, has built a coronavirus database that critics see as junk science.
Vivek Chaand Sehgal has a track record of achieving the seemingly impossible. His company, a sprawling parts supplier to the world’s biggest carmakers, has exceeded its five-year target every time bar one in the past quarter century.
His latest goal is equally daunting – Motherson Sumi Systems Ltd is targeting to triple annual sales to US$36 billion by 2025. Mr Sehgal, 63, plans to achieve that by doing what he does best: dealing. Or more specifically, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, buying up distressed companies as they run out of money.
For designer Carter Kay, the owners of a particular Buckhead townhouse in Atlanta are more than clients—they are friends, former neighbors and fellow parents. Perhaps that’s why she’s successfully devised interiors to fit their lives throughout several moves and two decades. “We met when we were neighbors on Broadland Road and raising our children,” says the husband. “One summer, Carter went with us to Paris and helped us select furnishings. Since that trip, she’s done four more primary homes for us, using all the same pieces.” Adds the wife: “We loved what she did, and we haven’t even thought about buying new furniture. We enjoy our things now as much as we did 20 years ago.”
But when the couple’s two sons left the proverbial nest, that concept was put to the test. Having lived in large homes for many years, they decided to downsize to a four-story townhouse better reflective of their new family dynamics. Kay’s time-tested instincts told her what her clients were after, so, working in concert with design partner Nancy Hooff and project manager Catherine Branstetter, she tapped residential designer Caroline Reu Rolader and general contractor Kevin Kleinhelter to make the new residence a fit. “Before the remodel, this was a typical 1980s townhouse with small rooms and a confined kitchen that didn’t suit the wife, who loves to cook,” Kay explains. “We worked with Caroline and Kevin to get the bones just right—then we added the icing on the cake.”
Rolader knew transforming the kitchen would indeed be a priority. “The traditional floor plan was rather dated,” she notes. “All of the rooms were separated from one another, and the kitchen was enclosed; working in there would have felt very removed.” She solved the problem by opening the cooking space to the adjacent living and dining rooms on one side and the keeping room on the other. A wet bar was quickly converted into a working pantry—a place where the wife can not only store sundries, but also use small appliances beyond the sight lines of guests. Kay took the newly expanded kitchen as an opportunity to make a design statement by painting the cabinets a spirited marigold. “My past two kitchens were white, so I was more than ready for some color,” says the wife.
As the project continued, the team focused on expanding and simplifying, making doorways larger and wider to link rooms and share light while eschewing ornate molding in favor of more streamlined trim. “A simple backdrop was best for their eclectic furniture and art,” says Rolader, nodding to a collection ranging from Auguste Garufi to Dennis Campay, and even including a work by Kay’s son, Colorado abstractionist Will Kay. Upstairs, all interior walls on the fourth floor were removed, turning the home’s topmost level into a loft-like office for the husband.
As design moved on to the decorative layer, the couple’s cherished collection of furniture and art served as an indispensable guide. “The wife documented all of the items she wanted to use, so we were able to take them into account during the design process, making sure there were places for the art and furniture,” Rolader explains. And that’s precisely how this residential designer prefers to work. “I love incorporating pieces that have meaning and memories,” she says. “That approach shows personality, and too often that’s something you don’t see. A home should be a living, breathing extension of the owners themselves.”
Kay believes the key to selecting furniture and art that would last these clients the better part of their lives was focusing on the classics and listening to the heart. “Classic will stand the test of time—be it a Jean-Michel Frank chair or a Directoire-style chest,” she notes. “You should also purchase things that speak to you. When I was shopping in Paris with the couple, we weren’t looking for anything in particular, but we ended up finding a chest, a desk and a pair of French chairs—as well as several other antique pieces. The idea is that they bought things they loved, and those pieces are still with them today. For this house, we purchased just one new piece of furniture: a smaller dining table.”
The third key, Kay says, is to buy pieces that will survive the years. “If you want something that will last forever, invest in heirloom quality,” she notes. “Many of the owners’ pieces, such as a pair of French armchairs covered in velvet, only get better with age.”
But just because the homeowners didn’t purchase new furniture doesn’t mean it doesn’t look new. “Carter’s genius is adapting the things we love to a new place,” the wife expresses. “The way she has arranged it here, everything feels new again.” One could say the owners have a fresh perspective of their own, too. “This house is warm and welcoming,” says the husband. “We feel like we are living our dream of a city life.”
When it comes to decorating styles, sisters Abigail Vickers Cowan, Emily Vickers Kowal and Devon Vickers Davenport, cofounders of Denver home goods shop Worthing Co., are as different as can be, but each seems to have acquired the gene for skillfully mixing old and new. “We inherited our love of finding unique furniture from our grandmother, who took the time to teach my mom, who in turn taught us,” Cowan says. “All three of us think outside the box: Just because a door is a door doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a shelf or a headboard.”
That ethos is evident in the trio’s new Highlands Square house-turned-shop, where stylish accessories–from Pickwick & Co. candles to vinyl floor cloths in eye-catching vintage patterns–complement one-of-a-kind industrial- and farmhouse-style furnishings and accents. “When we select furniture for the shop, we look for character; something that looks like it has lived a long life,” Cowan says. “We definitely see the beauty in the proof of history.”