Mexico City


“The Mexican capital is more cosmopolitan than ever, with world-class museums, vibrant street art and bustling markets.”- The New York Times

Mexico City – or CDMX, as it’s now known- has been on the top of my destination list for several years.  I was honestly a little scared about going due to the city’s reputation as a dangerous place.  When my friend Julie – a former resident of eight years – talked about taking a visit, I knew that I wanted to tag along for a long weekend adventure.  The flight is only three-and-a-half hours non-stop from San Francisco.   I feel in love with a city that is trove of art, architecture and food.


Like with any travel, be smart about your surroundings.  I felt completely safe at all times.  I would advise drinking bottled water to keep your stomach healthy.  A pack of Pepto chewables is not a bad idea if you’re not good with spicy food.   People seem to complain about the horrible traffic. Have you been stuck in traffic on the 405 in LA or been to San Francisco or New York recently?  The traffic didn’t strike me as noticeably worse.  Another thing to consider is that the elevation is quite high.  Sometimes people think that they are having troubles breathing related to the pollution, but it can also be due to the altitude. (A 2015 report ranked Mexico City’s pollution as similar in magnitude to Los Angeles).  Check weather reports to avoid the city in the really hot weather. Late fall and winter seem to be the ideal times to visit.  I am not quite sure how I managed not having a drop of tequila on this trip, so I am already planning how I can make a return trip to remedy the situation.

As I always share after my travels, here are my narrowed down TOP 10 suggestions. My insider tips, that you might not see listed in a guide book.  In no order…here you go!


10. Stay at The Red Tree House.  Suggested by a few friends (and written up in the NYT), it is a cross between a boutique hotel and B&B. Set in the Condesa neighborhood, the owners did a complete renovation of the beautiful 1930’s home.  The staff (and Abril the dog) couldn’t be any nicer and helpful.  A different homemade Mexican breakfast each day and wine in the courtyard after exploring all day.  A perfect way to meet and chat with travelers from around the world. The interaction with other travelers might have been a highlight of the trip.

9. The Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as the Blue House for the structure’s cobalt-blue walls, is a historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican Frida Kahlo.  The building was the birthplace of Kahlo and is also the home where she grew up and then lived with her husband Diego Rivera for a number of years.  If you book online you can avoid the long lines wrapped around the block.


8. Museo Rufino Tamayo is a public contemporary art museum located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park. A wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art.  Rufino Tamayo (Oaxaca, 1899 – Mexico City, 1991) began to collect pieces for his international contemporary art collection from the end of the 1960s, in order to give Mexicans access to twentieth-century art.


7. EAT MEXICO.  A chef friend suggested doing a food tour and she couldn’t have been more right with this recommendation.  For four hours, Paco guided us on a private culinary walk through the markets and street vendors.  The Gourmet San Juan Market was a highlight, including a cheese and mole tasting, shopping for dried chilies. I am still dreaming of the blue corn quesadilla with fresh squash blossoms that I gobbled on the street. They also do a night tour which I want to sign up for next time, which includes street tacos and Mezcal.


6. Markets: Mercado Lagunilla Sunday flea market.  Antiques, plenty junk to sift through – but treasures abound.  This has been taking place in the same site since colonial times!

El Bazaar Sábado (on Saturday, as the name implies) in the beautiful cobbled stone streets of San Angel. A little bit more folksy, but discoveries can be made.

5. Palacio de Bella Artes. Construction began at the turn of the century, when architects were fascinated by Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau – but the project was halted during the Mexican Revolution. It was ultimately completed in 1934, in Art Deco style – and the result is nothing short of spectacular.  Don’t miss the murals!


4. Centro Artesanal La Ciudadela is a designer’s dream: a huge market filled with artisanal products from all over Mexico. (Note: you do need to do a little bit of weeding through some typical touristy items.) I always love picking up housewares for the home when traveling.  Look for the stunning handmade pottery made from black clay (Barro Negro) from San Bartolo Coyotepec in Oaxaca.


3. Casa Luis Barragan.  It is hard to pick a highlight of the trip but this might take the prize.  For years, I have been an admirer of Mexican architect, Luis Barragan.  His use of texture, light, geometric forms, and color are like nothing that I have seen before. I loved his signature of hanging art slightly off center.  Worth a visit and paying extra for the right to photograph. In 2004, it was named a World Heritage Siteby UNESCO because it is one of the most influential and representative examples of modern Mexican architecture. Make sure to book far ahead of time.  I booked a month in advance and was able to snag the last tickets.


2. Check out home decor concept store: Roma Quince. They’ve gathered a handful of supremely tasteful, local textile all in an old restored mansion in the Roma. Onora (in Polanco) carries beautiful hand local crafted home items from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Puebla. Onora is filled with contemporary housewares in monochromatic colors of black, grey and white.


1. There is no shortage of great places to eat. Street food and a new surge of gastronomic treasures. Contamar is not to be missed.  I am still dreaming of the raw tuna tostadas.  Add Huset, Lardo, Maximo Bistrot Local, Rosetta, Pujo and San Angel Inn to your list for sure.  Califa is sort of Mexican fast food. Cheap, fresh but delicious.  Late lunch seems to be the main meal of the day.  I love how you can linger for hours and people watch.




Shakshuka [shahk-SHOO-kah] originally comes from North Africa.  A Tunisian dish with eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.  In my research of the history of this dish, it turns out that it is also popular in Israel, where they eat it for breakfast. Each country seems to have its own variation.

This is a new favorite.  I have been playing a bit with the traditional recipe and added some new things: feta, spinach and chickpeas (this really gives it some extra heft and protein).
It couldn’t be any easier to make.  A one pot wonder so easy clean up.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion (thinly sliced)
1 large red pepper (seeded and thinly sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (minced or thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
Pinch of Cayenne pepper (I use more than a pinch)
1 large can (28 ounce) of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
6-10 eggs
Feta cheese (about a cup, add more if you like, but be careful as it is salty)
1 bag (frozen) or 1 bunch (fresh) of spinach
1 can of rinsed chickpeas
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large cast iron pan (that can be put into the oven) saute onions and peppers together with the olive oil on medium heat for around 15 minutes.  Add garlic, spices and tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.  Add spinach and chickpeas. You want some of the water to evaporate and the sauce to be on the thick side.  Stir in 1/2 of the feta cheese.  Crack the eggs over mixture, season with salt and pepper and bake for around 7-10 minutes.  You want the eggs to set and not over cook (to the point that the whites are no longer translucent). Sprinkle with cilantro and the feta cheese.



Thank you at Architectural Digest for including my thoughts on decorating your first home!

You can see the full story HERE

5 Top Designers on Decorating Your First Home


Take paint colors on a test run
“I insist on putting up physical paint samples on walls and in different locations. Paint chips from the store are a good starting point. Looking online for advice on peoples’ favorite colors is a great start, but the reality is every color looks different in different spaces and under different light conditions. A color that people love in New York might not work well in San Francisco. Light temperatures must be considered. If there are a lot of trees outside of a room, the green casts a tone in the space. Invest in sample cans of paints and paint large swatches on the walls. Also go back at different times of the day—even at night. One way to really drive your contractor and paint store crazy is to work on a custom formula. If you are really drawn to a color but think that it might be too dark, have it mixed at 50 percent or 75 percent strength to see if lightening the color helps.” —Grant K. Gibson


The 50 Best Decorating Tips of All Time

Thank you to Elle Decor for including me in its list The 50 Best Decorating Tips of All Time!



You can check out the other 49 tips HERE



Summer cooking


I haven’t shared a recipe in a while.  Last night, I was looking to create something tasty, satisfying with some summer colors and flavors.

Simply steam asparagus and top with poached eggs (soft boiled or fried work too).  I added some beautiful sweet cherry tomatoes from the farmers market and a bit of avocado.  Pepper, Maldon salt (my go to salt) and lemon zest.  I like to keep the eggs a bit soft so that that the yolk breaks over the asparagus creating the perfect sauce.

Ideas for your next meal or pretty enough for a dinner party.  Bon appetit!

Architectural Digest color story

Big thank you to Architectural Digest for sharing my thoughts on adding a POP of color to interiors!

You can read the article below or check it out online HERE.



Transform a Traditional Space with a Modern Pop of Color


Energetic shades can actually complement classic decor

Traditional decor tends to conjure up a restrained palette rather than an electric one, but there’s no reason a classic interior can’t handle a shot of color. In fact, a bold hue can make elegant, timeless elements stand out all the more. “My overarching philosophy is that traditional design provides the ideal backdrop for layering in color,” says San Francisco–based designer Grant K. Gibson, a master of adding a vibrant pop to spaces. “I like to say—only somewhat facetiously—that I am taking your grandmother’s home and making it livable for today.” Here, Gibson gives us his expert advice.


Take chances in casual spaces

A breakfast nook is an opportunity to have more fun with color and pattern. For this family home, Gibson worked with Quadrille to have a toile textile custom colored, then took the blue from the toile to create a complementary zigzag fabric for the chair cushions.

Bring in natural materials for balance

“This client is clearly not afraid of color,” says Gibson. “Pink was our accent color of choice, as seen in the vintage Danish modern chairs, which belonged to the client’s grandmother.” By layering the walls with a Phillip Jeffries gray grass cloth, he both grounded the room and let the magenta hue shine.

Reenvision iconic pieces

In kelly green, a Louis XVI chair takes on an entirely new identity. “The color achieves a sense of modernity in a classic style,” says Gibson.

Choose one element to lead the way

“Upon seeing this Galbraith & Paul wallpaper, we fell in love with the shapes and colors, which clearly dictated our choices for the rest of the design,” says Gibson. He chose an aubergine Christopher Spitzmiller lamp, saffron-color bedding from Matouk, and an ikat pillow from Sue Fisher King.

Showcase brights with neutrals

For this young baseball fan’s room, Gibson blew up a photograph of Willie Mays to create one-of-a-kind wallpaper. But it was a strategic move, too. The grays and whites of the photo create a neutral backdrop that shows off the royal blue bedside tables from Bungalow 5.

House Beautiful Kitchen of the Month


Thrilled to share that House Beautiful magazine selected one of our kitchen projects as Kitchen of the Month in the latest issue (May 2016).  You can check it out article below (including some extra photos that didn’t make the article).

Photos by:  Kuoh Photography


Tour an Old World Kitchen With Surprising Floors

Classic European details and warm finishes give an updated San Francisco kitchen perennial appeal.


When the owners of a 1950s galley kitchen — complete with laminate countertops — came to a meeting armed with tear sheets of old houses in Spain and France, San Francisco designer Grant K. Gibson knew one thing: His clients did not want a cookie-cutter look. With this in mind, he nodded to old-world details, such as oil rubbed-bronze hardware and antique-inspired floor tiles that really charm. Time-tested, time-approved.



“Making sure this space didn’t lean too country or too rustic required a delicate balance,” Gibson says. To draw the eye upward and ensure the room wouldn’t be dominated by the encaustic-tile floors, he installed handsome bin pulls on the Shaker-style cabinetry.


He cooks and she bakes, so two sinks were necessary to keep the clients’ love alive at dinner hour. The prep sink (above) is perfect for rinsing vegetables or filling pots with water — pasta, please! — while the farmhouse sink on the opposite wall (below) is deep enough for often-used rolling pins and mixing bowls.



Rather than buying new fixtures, Gibson stripped and coated the existing chrome ones in unlacquered brass. To complement this living finish — which develops a patina over time — he chose Carrara marble countertops, which do the same. “They are used throughout Europe,” he says. “The coolness of the stone is ideal for kneading dough.”



Instead of the bank of open shelving requested by the clients for displaying vintage finds, Gibson placed a single ledge over the sink. “One shelf is simple and dynamic,” he says. “You have to be able to hide clutter, and this way, you can rotate your collections!”



Carrot Orange Ginger Soup


When I wake up on Saturday mornings, the first thing I think of is getting to the farmers market (well, after my coffee). Wandering the stalls to chat with the vendors and see the freshest produce of the season.  This week, baskets of carrots caught my eye and making a soup came to mind.  Sometimes not having a recipe can lead you to do something creative in the kitchen.

This soup couldn’t be any easier to make.  It is a go-to that keeps for days. Perfect to pack for lunch or something to look forward to when coming home after a long day.  Bon appetit!


Carrot Orange Ginger Soup

1 pound of carrots (about 6 large carrots)

4 cups stock (I use my own homemade stock – see here)

1 yellow onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove of garlic

3 tablespoons minced ginger

Juice from 2 oranges (I use navel oranges)

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 and roast carrots for around 20 minutes.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, warm the oil and then add in the chopped onion and chopped garlic.  Saute for around 5 minutes until onions are golden and translucent.  Add the stock and roasted carrots, orange juice and ginger.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, blend the soup in batches.  Serves 4-6 people.

You can garnish with orange zest or herbs if you desire.



Bom dia (Good day in Portuguese)!

Just back from a week with friends in Portugal!  We had the best time exploring, laughing and discovering the lovely country.  

We rented a car at the Lisbon airport and drove to Porto (about a 3 hour drive) for a few days.  We next drove back to Lisbon for a few more.  It was a fast little trip (well, we did stop for a few fun days in Paris on the way!).

I had ideas in my head of what it might be like.  Beautiful architecture, old world charm, Fado music, port tastings, blue and white tiles (called azulejos).  But there was so much more.

As I do with all my trips, I like to give you my TOP 10 list.  Naturally, there are so many more things to see and to add to this list, but I am aiming for an edited version.  Get a guide book and that will give you all of the great museums and typical sites…with my list I am trying to share an inside look, things that you might not see listed in a book.

In no particular order…drum roll please…



10.  Cantina 32 for lunch or dinner:  Full disclosure: we went back two times and ordered the exact same thing.  It was just THAT good.  The best fresh grilled fish and vegetables. 

9. Igreja do Carmo: The exterior’s blue and white tiles made me smile.  It just happened that when we arrived a rainstorm was in full effect.  The intro photo that I took with the man with the umbrella will always remind me of that day. 

8. Lobo Taste: One of the best stores we came across in Porto. Paula is the owner and curator/buyer and has handmade local objects including stunning wool blankets. I shipped back a dozen for client projects.

7. You can’t go to Porto without a port tasting or two.  Across the river, you will find tasting room after tasting room.  I asked many people to name their favorite port and the answer was always varied.  Why not check out a couple and pop a few bottles in your suitcase?  A great memory to bring back home. 


6. Casa de Musica.  Built by Rem Koolhaus, the building resembles a spaceship that has landed in the center of Porto.  The project is controversial for the extreme design as well as timeline and budget.  The space is worth seeing on a guided tour (two times per day).  Request to see the VIP space on the top floor.  The juxtaposition of blue and white tiles in the modern setting is breathtaking. 



5. Flea market: Saturday morning. Feira da Ladra  Grab a coffee to go – perhaps at the nearby Fábrica Lisboa and spend a few hours exploring.  You might enjoy following along to Schoolhouse Electric’s blog on their shopping adventures.

4. Listen to Fado music: A must!  Voices so expressive and filled with melancholy. Beware of some Fado locations with overpriced food and mediocre food (sort of tourist traps). Going for a drink and listening is perfect.  Check out: Clube de Fado 

3. Pasteis de Belem:  Everyone I spoke with who previously visited Lisbon said that this was a must.   I wondered how a simple baked custard tart could live up to the hype.  There is typically a line outside for take away.  Walk in on the left and meander down the hallways and corridors and you will find tables and a wait staff.  Enjoy a few with powdered sugar and cinnamon on top with a cup of coffee.   The perfect afternoon treat.

2. Park: A hip rooftop bar with a fabulous outside terrace including panoramic views of the city.  The bar can be a bit tricky to locate as you have to take an elevator to the top floor of a parking garage.   You have a great vantage point to see the 25 de Abril Bridge – which resembles the Golden Gate Bridge (suspension design and similar coloring). An interesting fact is that the American Bridge Company built the 25 de Abril Bridge and also the San Francisco Bay Bridge – but not the Golden Gate.  The story is often confused due to the similarities to the Golden Gate. 


1.   A Vida Portuguesa: A home store filled with soaps, note cards, kitchen items- like vinegars and sea salts and the most beautiful display of packaged sardines – and so much more.  I purchased a soap that smells of oak moss for my bathroom and every time I use it I am brought back to Portugal. The smell is intoxicating. 

I also like the check out the New York Times Travel section before traveling.  Just before I left, they published articles on Porto and Lisbon.  So check them out online.  Here are two links: 36 Hours in Porto  and 36 Hours in Lisbon.  There is also a great article from Architectural Digest on Lisbon and from Elle Decor on Porto.

Portugal seems to be hot on people’s travel lists these days!  Very easy to get around (Uber is everywhere) and there are great accommodation options (we rented two great Airbnb houses).  Move Portugal high to the list of your next travels.  I can’t wait to visit again someday.



Thrilled to share from SF Chronicle article:

In the aftermath of the November attacks in Paris, the world showed its support in myriad ways, from the waves of love on social media to landmarks lit up in France’s national red, white and blue.

For San Francisco interior designer Grant K. Gibson, visiting the City of Light is the preferred way to express solidarity with the European capital and its residents. “Paris has always been one of my favorite cities to visit,” he says. “Walking for hours each day and exploring — I can never seem to get enough.”


 Gibson’s more than 50,000 Instagram followers no doubt have noticed that he frequently travels there for pleasure as well as for work, picking up fabric and furniture for clients. He hopes to live full time in France someday, tapping into his experience at the Paris flea market and offering tours paired with buying services. In the meantime, he has his next trips planned, with these favorite spots on the itinerary.



Must-visit museum: “Since reopening in 2014, after a five-year remodel and expansion, the Picasso Museum is one of my go-tos. The architecture — a Baroque mansion — is stunning, and the artwork glows on the crisp white walls.”


An urban respite: “L’Hotel was remodeled by designer Jacques Garcia with warm yet flamboyant interiors, and you don’t need to stay at the hotel to enjoy it. After spending a day out and about, I love to go for a quiet drink at the chic bar, simply called Le Bar.”


To market: “I spend hours each trip exploring the stalls of the Paris flea market, Marché aux Puces de Paris/St.-Ouen. The market is huge: 1,700 dealers in 14 markets spread over 750,000 square feet. Bring measurements of your interiors and a tape measure. There are shippers to help you get your treasures home; I suggest Hedley’s.”


Garden delight: “Jardin du Luxembourg, located in the Sixth Arrondissement, is an oasis in the city. Stroll the large gardens, stop to see the fountains and statues; the original model of the Statue of Liberty and the Medici fountain are highlights. It is a great place to take your picnic fare; sit on a bench to rest and people-watch.”


Food scene: “In the heart of the Marais, one of my favorite neighborhoods, is Chez Camille, on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois. Pop in for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I typically order an omelet or a salad, and a glass of rosé.”


Artful excursion: “Fondation Louis Vuitton is housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building resembling a futuristic boat that almost appears to float on a lake. It is a bit far from the center of Paris, but there’s a 1 euro shuttle to the museum that you can catch near the Arc de Triomphe. Walk around the entire museum to experience every angle, including the light installation byOlafur Eliasson.”

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