Cassandra Buckalew

A Cure for the Design Sweet Tooth

Valentine’s Day Design Inspiration

Grand pink architecture and interiors, romantic fashion, and an adorable pink Figaro that leave us high on sugary sweet design and perfect shades of pink.

Schloss Benrath

Schloss Benrath Palace located in Dusseldorf was designed by French architect Nicolas de Pigage. The pink Baroque style building proves that pink is an appropriate and acceptable color for the grandest and oldest of buildings and is simply gorgeous. You can actually rent out a few of the halls for your private event.

Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle, completed in 1626, is a pink harled castle in Scotland. If those turrets spark fairy tale images for you, well they did for Disney also, and it’s reported to be the inspiration for the Disney castle.

Photo Bei.Bei.Wei


Peggy Porschen

Peggy Porschen Cakes has been on my radar lately, as much for the design and their Instagram account, as for their sweets. They are topping A-list celebrity events for people such as Kate Moss, Elton John and Stella McCartney to name a few. Their pink building, floral installations and adorable pastry creations are truly one-of-a-kind. I always admire, and try to incorporate, a creative concept that runs throughout, and you can see that here with the mushroom pastries and the mushroom installation. Just look at the different floral arrangements they install on their building below via their Instagram page.

Photos: Peggy Porschen Instagram

Sketch London

Part gallery, part restaurant, this 18th century townhouse tea room turns into a cocktail lounge in the evening, and I’m pretty sure it’s the place to be on Valentine’s Day. I love the mix of the glamorous, Hollywood interiors with the graphic, line drawing art.

Photos: Civilian Global

Elie Saab

When it comes to romantic, elegant and feminine fashion, Ellie Saab always get it right with the most beautiful lace, beading, embroidery and the extraordinary details expressed throughout the garments. Every sleeve is perfection and it’s hard to imagine that many options. The dusty pink, white, and nude colors are so soft and romantic. I need one of these gowns from the Haute Couture Spring Summer 2020 Show to wear while I roam around Benrath palace above.

Photos: Elie Saab World Instagram

Le Pink Figaro

And what better way to arrive than a pink Figaro. Did you know this car was made by Nissan? I had no idea. And if you love this little car, you can follow all of its adventures on Instagram below.

Photos: Le Pink Figaro Instagram

Hope you have a sweet and romantic Valentine’s Day full of love.



Design Destination ~The Eliza Jane, Nola

Not Too Pretty | Not Too Gritty

Design lovers headed to New Orleans have to make a stop at newly opened The Eliza Jane. Easily one of my new favorites. Located away from Bourbon St. in the Central Business District, for those who prefer a little something other than that scene, yet it’s still walking distance to the French Quarter. The hotel takes up several historic renovated warehouses and occupies what was previously Gulf Baking Soda, Paychaud Bitters Factory, and The Daily Picayune, and takes its namesake from the previous publisher of the newspaper, Eliza Jane. Jane was the country’s first female publisher, turning a small newspaper into a nationally recognized one. Next door you’ll find this old architectural treasure sharing similar round details on the columns as the the hotel itself but remains as just a facade today.

Original historic details were preserved when possible, exposing and restoring much of the brick archways and metal structural components, while opening up the multiple, adjacent warehouse spaces as much as possible. Upon arrival guests are greeted with red doors, mosaic tile floors and an original fireplace that remains behind the front desk painted the perfect blue with a calming seafoam color on the walls.

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Holiday Travels 2019

Christmastime in The Crescent City and The Conch Republic

There is nothing more I love than hotels and traveling around Christmastime. I love hotel Christmas decorations, because they usually have larger floral and decorative budgets than any of us, along with a full staff to make Christmas magic truly something special.  I love huge Christmas buffets (because who doesn’t like options), formal Christmas dinners, and special Christmas treats that trained pastry chefs take years learning to perfect. I love the sound of a piano playing Christmas music in the marble lobby of a grand hotel with a tree three times what I can fit in my house and hotels with the most memorable Christmas traditions, as you’ll see below. It reminds me of the little girl inside me who remembers going to the mall as a child and thinking how big and beautiful all the decorations were and wishing we could have that at home.

This year we spent Christmastime in New Orleans, St Pete (more on that in a different post) and Key West.  If you’ve always done the traditional thing at Christmas, I hope these images and places inspire you to try something different for Christmas in 2020, like take a trip with your family during the holidays, to create new memories and experiences. One day, I hope to visit some of the world’s most well-known Christmas markets. I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to survive the cold to get there. 😉

New Orleans, AKA The Crescent City

Roosevelt Hotel

So for the grandest of places, the Roosevelt ranks high on the list, and their beautiful trees and florals do not disappoint. The lighting of their decorations is almost as historic as the building itself and draws people annually to the event.

The interior lobby without the decorations is still nothing short of fabulous. The ceiling, moulding, mosaics, and lighting are a course of study in interior design alone. After a closing due to hurricane Katrina and reopening in 2009, the carpet that had previously covered the lobby was removed, everything was restored, and everything brought back to its original grandeur. I’ll save more of the details of that for a design details focused blog post later, but because I can’t resist, here are a few.

The Ritz Carlton

Another grand favorite going over the top is the Ritz. Their gingerbread display is probably the best I’ve seen so far, which includes a streetcar and a tugboat. The tugboat is a new addition this year and both are all made from gingerbread. A work of culinary art indeed and truly a labor of love. If you’ve ever built one from a kit, you know the amount of patience they take.



Step right outside the Ritz for these windows. Who doesn’t love a beautiful Christmas window to inspire child-like wonder?

The Hotel Monteleone

The Monteleone is always a must, especially if you’ve never seen the Carousel Bar. They also offer a Reveillion dinners throughout the month of December. Don’t know about this New Orleans tradition? Click here for an explanation.

The Royal Sonesta

This is probably one of the most photographed street corners in New Orleans, thanks to their quintessential New Orleans style architecture, iron balconies and their showstopping hanging planters. It’s a corner I often see used in tourism promotional photos. Pop in for a coffee at PJ’s and walk through their hall of trees. Oh, and here is their balcony with ferns, sweet potato vine and fig vine just pouring out of their planters.

Key West AKA The Conch Republic

Old Town

Mid-December we headed to Key West for the remainder of the year. The entire town was decorated, so I didn’t feel like I missed out on not having a tree or decorations this year. This little conch cottage is so classic Key West Christmas and who doesn’t love lighted palm trees? The lighted chicken is absolutely perfect considering the amount of gypsy chickens roaming the town. The big Victorian house did a blue, snowy theme with giant snowflakes hanging, and makes my favorite list just for carrying a concept throughout.  They did an outstanding job on it. The city must have a Christmas light competition, because we saw signs in yards saying, “vote for this house.” The tree below at the marina was all buoys and the lighted boats were always fun to see from shore.

America 2.0 Schooner

We sailed on an classic schooner for brunch on Christmas Day and saw Santa boarding his yacht for vacation after making all his deliveries. Haha. Just kidding. I’m sure he was paying the very lucky kids on board a visit to hand deliver their gifts.

This sweet little bakery, just a block away from our rental, was absolutely adorable and yummy, so we were there frequently. I think my husband walked there every single day for coffee, even if we didn’t get food from there. My favorite shop in Key West, Grace on Frances, did an all minimal, organic theme with their decorations, which I love. They used a Mexican straw garland seen above the windows, which I had to buy, and natural ornaments on their tree. I have blogged about them before and tell people all the time, you have to get off Duval St. for some of the best places in Key West.

And when you live on a tiny island with quirky houses, eclectic people, and chickens running loose, your mode of transportation should be anything but ordinary. This Moke wins my heart.

Hope you enjoyed reading and if you’ve never traveled during the holidays, I hope you’ll consider it this year.



Art Deco Residence

Renovation of an original 1938 Art Deco residence

A reference companion to the two part vlog series on Art Deco style. Be sure to click the thumbnails below, so you can see the entire image.

Before we begin, I’d like to make the reader aware, this is not a project designed by my design firm. It is a project I admire and wanted to share here in an effort to showcase what it’s like to carry a strong consistent design concept throughout a project. I hope you enjoy it!

Below are two pictures of what the original structure looked like, prior to the renovation. Although we can already see the presence of Art Deco design vocabulary, the renovation takes the concept to a higher level of expression and a deeper appreciation of the style. In this original interpretation, we can already see the curved walls, the horizontal window frames and the existence of the glass block mentioned in the vlog.

Ancient Temples and Ziggurats

An image of the ziggurat technique used in ancient temple design can be found by clicking here. From this image we can clearly see the terraced or tiered birthday cake shape.

Existing Ziggurats in Art Deco

As referenced in the video, ziggurats are seen in the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall in New York, as well as, the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre in Marietta, just outside of Atlanta. It’s also important to note that the zigguart was not only an architectural element but was also a design motif.

Ziggurats as Design Motifs

In the case of the Strand Theatre, if you look closely over the left side door, front of the box office, and far right over the glass poster box window, the ziggurat is present. Here it is rendered in a black material resembling glass, creating the profile of a birthday cake at the top of the door and signs. Since we are discussing this building, if we take an even closer look, the same shape is reflected inside at the top of the interior light cove moulding elements in the auditorium, where a setback is created in the moulding design.

It is also present in the marquee on the front of the building with a series of cake like tiers, reiterating the terraces found in the Art Deco design style. In Art Deco design, if ornamentation was used, it was very low relief (shallow in depth or thickness) unlike previous periods, which is why these ziggurats on the exterior, and any other decoration used during the period, are relatively flat looking. Remember, this period was about a more streamlined look and feel.

I’ve used blue arrows to call out the elements below. As mentioned in the video, geometric shapes and linear forms used both vertically and horizontally were widely used, as well as, sunburst or sun ray patterns. In the interior photo below, you can clearly see the long linear line pattern running vertically on the walls, crowned with the geometric shape in the form of the triangle and the sun ray design motif.  This sun ray motif is also what gives the Chrysler Building its iconic ziggurat and recognizable top. Other design motifs frequently found during this period are fans, chevrons, and line work in an array of geometric patterns.


Art Deco and the Machine

During this period, the industrial or machine-like aesthetic was popular, with very sleek materials in aluminum, steel and glass. Objects and materials that had an automotive or aviation-like feel were highly desired. This style was meant to look monolithic, sharp, angular and luxurious. Notice the machine-like feel, the chevrons in the floor pattern, and the metal around the information desk in the Empire State Building interior.

Art Moderne and the Curve

Towards the end of the period we start to see more stucco, rounded corners and the appearance of the wave. Below we can see the curving walls, the horizontal window frames, the presence of the ziggurat in the structure of the buildings, and how, like the residence above, this style feels more horizontal in nature rather than vertical. We can also see the oculus windows mentioned in the vlog.


Interiors, Furnishings and Decorative Arts

Many of the same materials were popular for the interior, as you’ve seen above and in the vlog. Below are references for some of the interior elements discussed. It should be noted, many of the furnishings in this house, due to it being a vacation rental, represent more budget-friendly furnishings and decorative arts that still check off many of the boxes of the design style.

Barcelona chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The chair, along with the companion piece, the day bed (or technically called couch) I mentioned in the video (which I especially love in the tan color) is below. It should be noted, this is a more high-brow Art  Deco period representation than what we see in this house. And we should also understand, Mies van der Rohe, and his work, were very associated with the Bauhaus Movement. He was the last Director of the Bauhaus School of Design prior to its closing in the early 1930’s due to the Nazis. This chair below was designed for the German Pavilion at the Paris Exposition where Art Deco was introduced. Because Bauhaus was ending, and because this chair was introduced at this exposition, it would have been a popular chair during this time period, and therefore would have been an appropriate addition to a 1930’s home.

This chair is widely knocked off and less expensive versions can be found. If you are interested in an copyrighted reproduction of the chair, signed by Mies van der Rohe himself, it can be purchased through Knoll by clicking here. The couch is on the site, as well.


Original Art Deco paintings by Tamara de Lempicka

Kitchen: Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti), 1929.

Bedroom: The Pink Tunic, 1927

Interior Details

Below are photos referencing some of the interior details discussed in the vlog. Notice the rounded corners around the doors, the linear vertical lines created by the table base and the lines and geometric shapes in the door glass, and if seen side-by-side, the baseboard detail looks like a mini Empire State Building from the picture above, without the spire.


In the next post, I’ll share pictures of my visit to The Don Cesar, another Art Deco interior project that features a bit more high-end Art Deco style, so you can see how this style is still very relevant as a gorgeous, modern, design concept today. Here is a teaser image for that post. Doesn’t it remind you of the shape of the corridor of the interior of the Empire State Building in the above picture? Are you starting to be able to recognize some of the features? I’d love to hear if this has helped in any way or given you a greater love or at least appreciation for the style!


Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!!












1960s Ranch Kitchen

This 1960s ranch had low ceilings, limited light, and a poorly designed, inefficient floor plan.

Space planning:

The main problem with the design of this kitchen was the peninsula. Peninsula kitchens almost always make a kitchen smaller, and I only use this design configuration as a last resort. In this scenario, the peninsula and raised bar (a thing of the past), cut the kitchen off physically and visually from the breakfast room, limited contiguous countertop space, and in the below pictures you can see how it’s dividing the room in half.

Several other problems existed:

  1. Bar seating wasn’t possible due to the limited space on the breakfast room side and conflicted with the breakfast room chairs, making the bar useless anyway.
  2. The refrigerator was too far out of the work triangle guidelines for kitchen design, making it very inefficient and creating more steps than necessary.
  3. The refrigerator was on the other side of the entry, crossing the circulation path from the laundry room, powder room, and garage studio/workshop.
  4. The wall next to the refrigerator further fragmented this section from the kitchen as a whole.

 Design is not just trying to make spaces beautiful that are Pinterest or Instgram-worthy. Design is about making them more solution-oriented, so life is life easier, and one of those ways is by eliminating problem areas in the built environment.

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Jekyll Island Club

Slow Living

Just recently we returned from a lovely week at the Jekyll Island Club on the coast of Georgia. Not our first time, but each time I am struck. It is a course of study in architecture, design and fine living. Such an easy getaway from Atlanta, and it’s as if time slows at the Jekyll Club – a place where croquet is played on the front lawn, porches overlook the gardens and beautiful historic trees, and architectural masterpieces line the street to the Jekyll Island Club Resort – a once seasonal destination for the wealthiest people in the world.

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Pineapple Porch

Space Planning | Designing the Floor Plan

In its last iteration, this space was a Palm Beach Tan chopped into about 25 small rooms for individual tanning beds. There were two ADA compliant restrooms in the back corner of the space and a small storage room running along the back wall, both we knew we wanted to keep.  In the case of the storage room, we would need to possibly expand it to accommodate larger items like furniture being temporarily stored. Everything else needed to be gutted.

Below is a copy the landlord gave us of the as-built plans from the tanning salon. This was the space we walked into. You can see the individual rooms where the tanning beds were, along with key spaces I’ve notated. The pictures below were taken prior to construction from the front of the store at the point of sale where you paid for your tan.  You can see from the plan and pictures, there were two hallways on either side of the point of sale running almost the length of the space that met at the back of the space and created a small back hallway.

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Fashion Art

Illustrating Fashion

Like architectural illustrations, fashion illustrations capture ideas, moods, fabrics, patterns, and express construction lines for garments. Illustrations help conceptualize, present, or document design. In our high-tech, low-touch society, where nearly everything is digital, architectural, interior and fashion illustrations that are hand-drawn have a certain charm and represent a skill set that lies at the very core and foundation of design that is still relevant in our daily lives with clients. Sketching is our first language and form of communication as designers, and often it’s the fastest way to show a client an idea.

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, I’m watching Instagram light up with runway looks some of my favorite illustrators have documented from this year’s runway, so I thought I’d share a couple I admire. Here in Atlanta, SCAD Fash Museum of Fashion and Film, recently exhibited the work of Fashion Illustrator Marc-Antoine Coulon. This Paris-based artist’s first retrospective included a small gallery at the museum dedicated to his illustrations and portraits. He captures people, their expressions, facial structure, and deep emotions with such exactness, yet delivers a watercolor softness that balances out the strong black lines and bold colors. He has illustrated for many of the luxury fashion brands and captured some of the world’s most notable figures with his brush. Here are some of my favorites from the exhibit.

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Alys Beach

Those unmistakable Bermuda butteries form the entrance gates and visual markers to Alys Beach. Rooted in architecture from Bermuda, Antigua, and Central America, Alys Beach adheres to strict design guidelines and construction principles, which gives it a cohesive, distinctive look and design vocabulary throughout.

Originally, butteries in Bermuda were constructed to store perishable food like butter and milk. Made completely of stone, with a wooden door, these structures were detached from the main house, just a few stone steps away. The stepped minaret roof shape was made of limestone and many have found new use on the island as studios, tool sheds, etc. Since Bermuda has no fresh water source, the stepped roof had other functional reasons, too, like collecting rain water. Below is a picture of one from Bermuda and the ones at Alys Beach.

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Key West

Island Heart

Vernacular architecture, charming colorful cottages, narrow streets, warm weather, tropical flora and fauna and tough people who deal with mother nature’s constant threat by land or sea, my favorite places are islands.

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about Key West, there is just so much to love on this tiny island.

And so many historic homes desperately needing to be restored. I need one of these to restore and preserve, either as a personal home or as a design project. The ceramic star on the outside of homes and businesses in Key West is given to properties that have displayed excellence in restoration and preservation. The designer, architect, contractors and craftsman who’ve worked on the project are given a certificate showing their involvement in the success of the project. Hoping one day to have a star myself.

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