Hello, Holidays!

With the holidays upon us, we’re leaning on Kathryn Ireland’s decorating advice, inspiring cookbooks from L.A. chefs, and a few fun seasonal treats that make winter in Los Angeles all the more festive.

Interior designer and Aga brand ambassador Kathryn Ireland is known for her entertaining prowess, so we’re revisiting a few timeless tabletop tips that she’s shared over the years:

I love to have lots of flowers, especially for the holidays, but keep them low. You don’t want to have to crook your neck to see your guests. And lots and lots of low candles—hundreds of them!
Print up a fun menu. Keep a Sharpie on hand and guests can write notes for the hostess on the back. And I love handwritten place cards. It’s not about money, you can write the names on stones or pretty leaves.
Use family pieces or things your children have made—always try to make your table personal. It’s your home.
Always have good wine from a shop you trust. I’ve shopped at Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice for years, as well as Duck Blind on Montana in Santa Monica, and of course there’s Wally’s in Beverly Hills. I’m very particular about my rosé. It has to be a perfect blush color. I love Scribe from Sonoma, and Donkey & Goat from Mendocino, which I get at my favorite delicatessen, Canyon Gourmet in Topanga.
And if you’re going to bring something to a party, make sure it’s really, really good, like a special fleur de sel or great locally grown heirloom ingredients from a good farmers’ market. I especially love the ones in Santa Monica, Brentwood and Culver City.

The Los Angeles Times recently highlighted a selection of new must-have cookbooks from local chefs and eateries. They're a great gift for loved ones who love to cook. We’re especially excited about The Grand Central Market Cookbook by Adele Yellin and Kevin West, which weaves the history of the 100-year-old food hall with 85 recipes culled from the market’s  culinary offerings. In it you’ll find China Café’s chicken chop suey, Madcapra’s sumac beet soda and Golden Road’s crunchy avocado tacos, as well as recipes inspired by vendors of yesterday. (We’ll be giving the coconut cream donuts a go.)  Another cookbook on our wish list is The L.A. Cookbook by Alison Clare, which brings together 100 recipes from some of the city’s most beloved restaurants: Bestia, the Fountain Coffee Shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Felix, Joan’s on Third, Jon & Vinny’s, The Little Door, Matsuhisa, Otium, Spago and The Tasting Kitchen. The cookbook comes out in March but is available for pre-order now.

This year, Beverly Hills is extending its shopping hours on Friday and Saturday evenings until 8 p.m., now through December 23rd. Your reward for being a dutiful shopper is showing your receipt at a number of participating restaurants and hotels to take part in their complimentary offerings. Fancy a cocktail at Jean-Georges at the new Waldorf Astoria? Maybe a bruschetta at Il Fornaio or dessert at La Dolce Vita?  Take a look at the options (just do read the fine print as each vendor’s rules differ), as well as the full calendar of events, which include holiday screenings at The Paley and The Wallis, music performances and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at Snyder Diamond!



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Join SIA Projects for an unforgettable Modernism Week 2018 fundraiser at the Donald Wexler-designed Dinah Shore estate in Palm Springs. Get your tickets starting November 1st!

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Shane Mahan, Builder of Some of Santa Barbara's Finest Homes

Kitchell Custom Homes has been building some of the most luxurious homes in the Western United States and Hawaii for the last sixty years, and if you’ve ogled a beautiful estate in Santa Barbara, it’s likely the work of builder Shane Mahan. Mahan, who leads the Santa Barbara office’s high-end residential practice (the firm also has an office Phoenix), has become known for creating exceptional coastal properties that focus on durability as well as aesthetics, and offer extraordinary craftsmanship. Some of his recent projects include the Santa Barbara Four Seasons and the 106-acre Villa Della Costa on the Gaviota Coast, a project he did with architect Jock M. Sewall and interior designer Mark Weaver, whom we featured on the blog last month. (The home is currently on the market, so you can take a sneaky peek here.)

How did you get started in the business? As a kid, I was always interested in building things and taking things apart, much to my parent’s chagrin. I thought I wanted to be an architect but realized I was left-brain dominant, so instead studied construction management. I’m a huge fan of great design and that is likely the reason I love building high-end, private residential projects.

How would you describe your firm’s style? I’m a huge believer in building relationships and creating trust with our clients and our design team, and that’s the cornerstone of our company philosophy. Building a home is a personal and emotional process and trusting relationships are an integral part of effectively executing a project. Our most successful projects are built in collaborative environments. Of course, we’re passionate about craftsmanship and pay meticulous attention to details and quality. We want to build it right the first time and create something that can be generational.

What would you say you’re most known for, and what should new clients know about you? The homes we build are personal, technical and artistic, and can require a million different decisions. Our goal is to be as efficient as possible with our client’s time. We are known for, and particularly excel at, planning and looking ahead with our design partners in order to reduce the all-too-familiar “fire drill.” This helps create a low-stress, fun and enjoyable process.

What are some of your favorite Southern California sources for inspiration? Being born and raised on Kauai, I need to stay close to the ocean to maintain my sanity. Thankfully, Southern California provides that opportunity. I love Santa Barbara—my Hawaii in California.

Tell us about a favorite kitchen or bathroom that you’ve recently built. It’s a contemporary mountain home in Arizona. The rammed-earth house was clad in steel and wood. The kitchen continued the theme with book-matched, English oak. The countertops are black, with a leather finish. A sleek and colorful custom light fixture by Scottsdale designer Anita Lang hangs over the island. The floors are 24- by 60-inch natural limestone pavers.


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How we Roll: The OjO Commuter Scooter

Our focus may be bringing you the latest in kitchen and bath design but our interests are also in promoting smart technology and great local companies. With that, we’re thrilled to show you the OjO Commuter Scooter, which is en route to our Santa Monica showroom. The two-wheel scooter is electric, bike lane-friendly and produces zero emissions for a ride that’s as clean as it is fun.

OjO is the first truly grown-up, e-hybrid scooter on the market. It incorporates smart technology with a digital touch screen, Bluetooth speakers, a USB port for charging your phone and a wireless key fob. It runs on a 500-watt HyperGear motor—hills are a breeze!—and features LED front and rear lights, a built-in alarm system and an on-board, retractable charging cable that can plug in to any 110v wall outlet. (A single charge lasts about twenty-five miles.) The heavy gauge, all-welded aluminum chassis can carry up to 300 pounds, and can be converted for seated or standing use. It offers a smooth ride and is easily maneuverable, topping out at about 20mph, plus it complies with electric bike guidelines so there’s no license required. “We’ve been in research and development for almost three years to solve a dire need for a simple, stable, fun bike lane-friendly and clean commuter vehicle,” says Dale Seiden, President of OjO Electric. “This first-of-its-kind smart scooter gives a riding experience like no other.” Three speed modes provide comfort levels for any rider: Eco Mode for beginners, Touring Mode to maximize distance and Sport Mode for peak performance. (We're guessing Olympic snowboarder Trevor Jacob uses Sport Mode when he zips around on his.)

This spring, OjO donated a limited-edition scooter signed by Lady Gaga to the singer's Born This Way Foundation, which empowers young people to make the world a better place. Pretty rad.  We love supporting innovative, forward-thinking and design-centric companies like OjO . (We also just think it's a really cool ride.) See the scooter in action here, then see it in person at our Santa Monica showroom when it arrives the week of July 17th!


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