travel Posts

Wanderlust: Phoenix, AZ

By: Danielle Clockel

Although my heart lies in the icy north, I do have a strange love for the desert. I love the plants, hearty and fierce looking. I love the landscape, with its sudden rocky peaks jutting into the sky. And while I despise the hotter end of the spectrum, I deeply relate to the extreme range of temperatures from day to night.

As you can imagine, this sparse landscape was strikingly different from the “city in a forest” I call home. But my heart swelled with excitement upon seeing short, shrubby vegetation and jagged mountains.

The first expedition was to the Desert Botanical Garden, and it was basically a wonderland. Paved and unpaved pathways wound through giant cacti, breezy grasslands, and crawling succulent sanctuaries.

I’m not exaggerating about the giant cacti. They’re as tall as trees!

I wish I could tell you I trekked all the way to the top of Camelback Mountain later in the week, but I absolutely did not bring the right shoes for that hike, so I stopped about halfway up and took in some seriously beautiful views.

To be honest, I was much more enthralled wandering around in the valley, gazing up at the incredible rock formations jutting out from the otherwise flat desert.

There was plenty to explore in the actual city as well. Delicious vegetarian/vegan eateries, vintage record stores, an arthouse/indie movie theater, and this incredible David Bowie mural that spanned almost a full block near the historic bungalow that I stayed at for the week.

It was an incredible visit, but I left just in time — the forecast called for a high of 90 degrees the day I flew back to Atlanta, and this cold weather loving gal had had enough of that nonsense during the summer already. That said, would I go back? I’ll answer that with a photo:

Wanderlust: Turkey

By Melody Richardson

As a Turkish-American child, I remember splashing in crystal clear waters, enjoying spectacular food, and absorbing the fast paced culture of Turkey every other summer throughout my childhood. The country has always held a special place in my heart. My mother is from Izmir, a small town on the southwestern coast, but spent her teenage years in Istanbul, making both cities a home away from home for me. After the passing of my mother, my younger brother and I decided to make an annual visit. Despite having spent so much time there growing up, viewing Turkey through unaccompanied adult eyes gave me a completely different experience. This time I went off the beaten path, exploring islands, and smaller historical neighborhoods, while still finding time for our favorite places. 

When in Istanbul, we stayed with our Aunt in Kadıköy, a local neighborhood. Each day we gazed out from her balcony, across the water, to the Princes Islands. This time we were fortunate enough to visit those islands. We knew after a one to two hour hike to the top we would be greeted by a 200 year old church and beautiful views. We did not, however, expect to be met by wild horses! As we took in the beauty, we fed the horses figs and olives from the surrounding trees. The Princes Islands are often visited by locals for a day trip, and I have every intention of going back each and every time. 

After a few days in Istanbul, we travelled to nearby Izmir to visit my grandmother. Izmir has been dubbed Ataturk’s City and has a giant stone monument in his honor. Another thing it’s is famous for is the Karşıyaka Bostanlı Bazaar which is only a 5 minute walk from my Grandmother’s house- we never miss it! It is definitely not the ideal environment for the claustrophobic, but very rewarding if you dont mind a little hustle and bustle. The bazaar is always busy with vendors and customers bargaining for goods. From fresh fish and vegetables to handmade jewelry and traditional Turkish towels, you can find just about anything. I always end up bringing an extra luggage to fill up with treasures to bring back home. After a long day of bartering, a nice ride around the bay on the Bostanlı Ferry at sunset is a relaxing way to take in a once in a lifetime view. 

The final leg of the trip we ventured back to Istanbul to visit with our uncle and explore the more touristy areas of Taksim and Karaköy. I always like to visit these neighborhoods because of the incredible combination of new and old, foreign and local. There are modern, trendy shops and buildings alongside centuries old palaces, mosques, and architecture– including the second oldest underground transit system, inaugurated in 1875. You can see Turkish people and foreigners alike bustling through the areas visiting the shops and cafes. 

Being in that environment is an experience impossible to find in the United States, that I highly recommend to all that are able. Coming home to Turkey makes me feel closer to my mother, closer to my family, and closer to the culture that I so deeply adore.

Turkey is a magical place with incredible people, sights, and history. It truly is my happy place. If you get the opportunity to go, please don’t hesitate to contact me for information and tips. I’d love to share, give recommendation and wish you: İyi yolculuklar! (Have a wonderful trip!)

5 Looks We Loved at High Point Market

By: Stephanie Andrews

As designers, we are constantly looking for inspiration.  We want to be able to present new ideas with a fresh and provocative point of view.  This week we made a quick jaunt to Highpoint, North Carolina for the fall market.  We wanted to share a bit of what we loved during our visit.

Vibrant Patterns

We were drawn in by the vibrant use of patten and color that Julian Chichester used in their furniture and wall coverings.  They stayed true to their point of view and yet incorporated new silhouettes in a sculptural way!

Framed Flags

Bobo Intriguing Objects displayed white framed, huge nautical flags that contrasted beautifully against a rich dark background – a graphic way to add bright modern colors!

Outdoor Statues

Giant outdoor statues for the garden were another theme that we noticed at market.  We were so moved by the serenity of this statue sleeping in nature.

Natural Dining Chairs

By far our favorite dining chair at High Point.  The woven rope paired with smooth walnut wood displayed beauty in contrasting textures.  This chair was surprisingly comfortable and added a natural touch that could work for many different personalities.

Curved Sofas

The curved sofa was a delightful example of a fresh silhouette featured at High Point, and we fell in love! Organic curves really inspired us to rethink the usual floor plan and consider floating these beauties in the middle of a room. Either on its own or paired together, a great conversation piece for any gathering space!

We hope to make this Highpoint Market visit an annual tradition. Each year’s market introduces us to interesting shapes, bold patterns and innovative designers.  As always, we promise to share with you what’s new and inspiring in the world of interior design.  Happy Fall!

4 Design Books to Inspire You

By: The Balance Design Team

There’s something about a beautiful, hardcover design book that all the internet browsing in the world just can’t compare to. If you’re on the same page (ha ha ha) as us, we think you’ll enjoy this list of some of our favorite inspirational sources!

If you love color, pattern making, and rugs, Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro will inspire you to paint, mix color, and just create! As designers and entrepreneurs, finding space in our lives to be creative is essential. This time spent unplugging and pondering art and design is sacred, and this book takes us there.

Noted father/son architect duo Eliel and Eero Saarinen are most famously known for their neo-futuristic music halls, Finnish train stations, the Washington Dulles airport, and the St. Louis arch (just to name a few). Saarinen Houses is a fascinating look into their lesser known ventures designing and decorating houses all over the world with their signature style. It’s a classic study on mid-century modernism, rife with inspiration for newer generations of designers.

Nomad Deluxe is the perfect book if you’re looking to connect with the essence of the author and the subjects. Through gorgeous travel photography, this book links people and cultures on a deeper level, which we find helps guide our design process in a more meaningful way.

The Little Book of Cacti and Other Succulents may not be your typical “design book” (because it’s a plant book), but that’s what’s so inspiring about it. There are well known succulents as well as rare cacti with shapes, colors, and textures you’ve probably never seen before. It’s a welcome reminder that beauty comes in an infinite amount of forms, and that not fitting into the mold is something to be celebrated — not feared.

We think online resources for creative inspiration (like Pinterest and Instagram) are fantastic tools, and ones that we use every day! However, there is a deep joy in the tactile experience of holding a beautifully curated design book in your hands and leisurely flipping through the pages. It really is an art form all its own, and being able to proudly display the author’s work on your shelf or coffee table is a privilege.

Wanderlust: Nepal

By: Stephanie Andrews

A few weeks ago I revisited one of my favorite places on Earth: Nepal (home of Mt. Everest, Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, and quite frankly the most beautiful people I’ve ever met). My brother-in-law, Bhupesh, is a Nepal native and owns Nepal Travels there, so my family got the inside scoop of a lifetime when we went!

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

After a grand total of 30 hours on two different planes, we arrived at Bhupesh’s family home in Kathmandu. From there we trekked The Golden Triangle to Pokhara and then to Chitwan National Park. I say “trekked” because although we had an expert driver, the roads were long, bumpy, full of potholes, and often closed altogether. But the journey is part of the experience, and we were able to enjoy the true flavor of local villages along the way! We also went white water rafting with a local guide, his wife, and his kids. Summertime in Nepal is hot, and we were all looking forward to taking a dip, especially with possibly the most beautiful view ever.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

Quite an adventure awaited us in Pokhara, which is a charming little lake town with lots of shops and beautiful inns like the one we stayed in. We experienced paragliding like never before! A quick drive brought us to the top of a giant hill (here in Georgia we would definitely call this a mountain), got a running start, and leapt off the edge for a 20 minute ride of a lifetime to the lake below. I once again had to place ultimate trust in a complete stranger. Incredible experience!

Photo courtesy of Travel Tipsor.

Then there came Chitwan National Park, where we rode elephants and bathed them in the river. These incredible creatures got us up close and personal with deer, rhinos, and crocodiles. But it was bathing in the river and massaging them with smooth rocks that really fostered my love for these gentle giants.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Andrews.

After this journey we returned to Kathmandu to visit a dear family friend Bina Basnet. She is the founder of Orchid Garden, a school/daycare for kids who have little besides their big hearts, joyful laughter, and ability to welcome us as their new best friends. They were so loving and welcoming that my daughter Allie asked to spend the rest of her summer break there volunteering. Of course I said yes! Just look at these amazing children.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

In conclusion, Nepal is one of my favorite places on Earth. If you get the opportunity to go, please don’t hesitate to contact me for information and tips. I would love to share what I know and relive the adventure!