For the love of books

“Where do people put all of their books?”

I was on the phone with a client a few weeks ago, a woman who’d not long ago relocated to a home in Calabasas, a house architecturally and spatially the complete antithesis of her and her family’s former home in San Diego. Lamenting its lack of storage but lauding its unbelievable views, she simultaneously bemoaned the current status of her book collection, most of which remained in boxes since last fall and were generally dispossessed due to a lack of shelves, as well as solid walls on which to moor said shelves. As we talked, she desperately implored with genuine perplexity,“But, seriously, where do people put all of their books?”

I get it. There are countless Pinterest images of modern, clean, spartan spaces with empty walls and uncluttered surfaces and maybe a single vase of flowers on the coffee table. Who doesn’t gravitate towards that simplicity and minimalist beauty at times? It’s beguiling.

But as a book lover, as well as a lover of art, sculptures, ceramics, and randomly accrued, beloved bibelot, I find the concept of pure minimalism virtually impossible as a way of living. I get it - I mean, I’m fully aware loads of books take up loads of physical space. They’re a commitment to your lifestyle and how you live and what you see, everyday. You can comfortably store over a thousand books on your Kindle. You can move them around on the magical Cloud. You can thereby keep your walls free of everything books have the power to produce - dust, disarray, and excess.

But, physically, tangibly, they also have the power to produce something much, much greater - nostalgia, romanticism, tactile memories of a past gone by, glorious marginalia, and the connectivity we feel living amongst all of these characters, both fictitious and real. Books give your home a sense of intimacy and individuality. How we live ought to, ideally, reflect the design of our spaces, whether they’re for work or play or both, so if you’re a book lover, we say you should proudly embrace and display those bound pages upon pages of stories, histories, poetry, and prose. Just please don’t ever do this or this because these exemplify pure heathenry and I’m pretty sure your books will hate you forever and try to murder you in your sleep for either of these actions.

Here are some Lily Spindle design tips for those fellow book lovers among us:

#1) Don’t be afraid to go to the ceiling with your shelves. Aim high! Reach for the stars, so to speak! The taller you reach, the taller your ceilings and the more expansive your rooms will feel (we realize it’s counterintuitive, but trust us).

#2) Low bookshelves can give structure to a space (i.e. separating a living from dining area or floating common space surrounding the two) while also providing the obvious: book storage. Bonus: you can use the surface area on top for more books! Or plants, framed photographs, ceramics, et al.

#3) It’s not just the monsters who live under the stairs - it’s some of the best little reading nooks we’ve ever seen! These typically vacant spaces can be utilized as mini-library/reading rooms, especially if you’ve got small children who haven’t seen the referenced film and can comfortably hang out underneath a staircase.

#4) Get some good lighting on them, if possible. A well-placed sconce or two can make bookshelves come to life.

#5) Mix some art and ceramics into your bookshelves if you want to break up the uniformity of the collection. Or keep it simple with solely all books, but vary your vertical and horizontal placement. Or don’t! All books standing tall is irrefutably excellent, too.

And never EVER be ashamed of that disorganized book pile on your nightstand. It’s a testament to your curiosity about the world, your imagination, and your love of the written word. And that, in and of itself, is a THING OF BEAUTY!

Hope these rooms, corners, libraries, hallways and a bathroom (!) get your bookworm hearts a-pumpin’ and inspired!

xx - Rebecca

A bibliophile’s dream bedroom, belonging to artist Jack Ceglic and architect Manuel Fernandez-Casteleiro.

A bibliophile’s dream bedroom, belonging to artist Jack Ceglic and architect Manuel Fernandez-Casteleiro.

Shane Smith’s Santa Monica library leaves us kind of agog.

Shane Smith’s Santa Monica library leaves us kind of agog.

M.Elle Design  brings Brentwood brilliance with this bibliophile’s living room

M.Elle Design brings Brentwood brilliance with this bibliophile’s living room

Vintage rug, adorable pug, and a heckton of books in upstate New York. Image from  Lonny

Vintage rug, adorable pug, and a heckton of books in upstate New York. Image from Lonny

Jane Molster  is a big fan of color (obviously) and really brings it to this reading room.

Jane Molster is a big fan of color (obviously) and really brings it to this reading room.

“The Library House” by designer  Jessica Helgerson . Once an actual library, this home still reveres its books.

“The Library House” by designer Jessica Helgerson. Once an actual library, this home still reveres its books.

All that’s missing is a whiskey straight. (Source: Getty Images)

All that’s missing is a whiskey straight. (Source: Getty Images)

(Source: La Maison Boheme)

(Source: La Maison Boheme)

Reading nook utilizing an otherwise blah corner by  Samantha Gluck Interiors .

Reading nook utilizing an otherwise blah corner by Samantha Gluck Interiors.

Stretch out and read some Dickens, why don’t you? (Source: Pinterest)

Stretch out and read some Dickens, why don’t you? (Source: Pinterest)

Wall-to-wall shelves in Barcelona, Spain by  Anna Eugeni Bach

Wall-to-wall shelves in Barcelona, Spain by Anna Eugeni Bach

Writer Michael Cunningham has the right idea. Bathtub + books = genius (Source:  FSG Work in Progress )

Writer Michael Cunningham has the right idea. Bathtub + books = genius (Source: FSG Work in Progress)

When in doubt, go high. And include a dog. (Concrete Box House, Robertson Design.)

When in doubt, go high. And include a dog. (Concrete Box House, Robertson Design.)

A well-lit window seat. (Source: Pinterest)

A well-lit window seat. (Source: Pinterest)

A home office guaranteed to inspire big thoughts. (Source: Apartment Therapy)

A home office guaranteed to inspire big thoughts. (Source: Apartment Therapy)

DE-DOGIFYING YOUR DIGS (THE NON-TOXIC WAY)

Photo of Deb’s beautiful lounging babe, Lily, by the amazing  Rita Earl Photography

Photo of Deb’s beautiful lounging babe, Lily, by the amazing Rita Earl Photography

A couple weeks ago, I did an extremely casual Instagram story with one of my dogs on my lap the entire time as I listed, showed, and described my tried-and-true means to de-dogifying my home using non-toxic, clean products and means. While I’m 100% aware mostly people watched the story captivated by my Jack Russell, Fred, half-asleep while sitting up as I prattled on and on, a handful of people did reach out with interest about a future blog post with links and the like, seeing as how my 2-minute video disappeared after 24 hours. Thusly, here you go - my fairly extended and very specific counsel for the best sprays, oils, candles, and products to use in de-dogifying your space without the use of cloying, toxic chemicals and vile poisons. Enjoy! And please share your stories with us when you’ve tried some of these on your own!


Candles

Beeswax candles are actually healthy for you and your pets. Amazing, right? Beeswax produces negative ions when burned, and those ions in turn neutralize pollutants in the air, helping to eliminate dust, odors, dander, and mold in the atmosphere and improving breathing for everyone in the vicinity. They also last pretty much forever and a day. Read more about it here.

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Soy candles are clean-burning and non-toxic, as well as derived from a renewable source. Since paraffin is petroleum-based, it emits alkans, alkenes and toluene when burning, all of which have been reported to have harmful effects on humans (though there are arguments the emissions are so minuscule humans aren’t affected, we reckon it’s better safe than sorry!). Also, soy burns longer than paraffin, so win/win!

I’m certifiably obsessed with the Contents Co. soy candles, especially Salvia and Cedrus, which are hand-poured in South Carolina and available to purchase right here at Nahcotta. Le Labo makes an incredible soy candle (their Palo Santo is OMGGG good). Diptyque is spendy, albeit unquestionably, resplendent. And don’t be afraid to support some of the substantially smaller entrepreneurs like this company and this one.

Support small businesses whenever possible. And that includes candle-making ones. ;)

Support small businesses whenever possible. And that includes candle-making ones. ;)

Essential Oils

Given that dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors versus our mere 6 million, it’s a safe given to assume that dogs can smell a HELLUVA lot better than any of us can. Consequently, their sensitivity to odors and scents is decidedly more powerful than anything we’re capable of, and scents therefore have a considerable impact on your pooch’s health. And so, while diffusing essential oils is an amazing means to refreshing your space and keeping it free of airborne germs and bacteria, there are some essential oils that are no bueno for your fur babe. Here’s a short, but vital, list!

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The best + safest essential oils to diffuse around your pups:

Cedarwood
Lavender
Lemongrass
Frankincense
Lemon
Patchouli

While these essential oils would be ill-advised:

Peppermint
Tea Tree Oil
Cinnamon
Thyme
Clove
(For cats, the list is comparable, but here’s the full list of oils to avoid for kitties: Birch, Oregano, Clove, Wintergreen, Thyme, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, anything citrus-based, and Tea Tree oil.)

Room/Fabric Sprays

Room sprays and odor neutralizers are some of my favorite, easy-peasy ways to A) infuse a bit of scent quickly into a room and B) eradicate the dogginess that is inherently my home, and that includes my furniture, wood floors, rugs, and all textiles and pillows throughout the house (as the animals are allowed everywhere, of course!). Anything laden with chemicals like Febreeze or any of its insidious cousins are verboten. Not only are they migraine-inducing, they’re basically wholly carcinogenic liquids drying INTO your fabrics, destroying their integrity and purity, and leaving behind a sickening, chemical odor overpowering the pet aromas lying beneath. No, gracias. I’ve had more than a few disappointing hits and misses in my search for non-toxic room + fabric sprays, but here are a couple of my top picks…

Kin + Kind Odor Neutralizer (Dog & Home) - Available in three scents (Charcoal, Lavender, and Bergamot), this concoction is basically just water and essential oils (along with a few other bits) and it is CRAZY effective at eliminating pet odors and refreshing the heck out of room/sofa/Persian rug/dog bed/you name it.

Clean + Green Pet Stain + Odor Remover + Deodorizer - I don’t even remember how I came across this magical solution, but it truly removes any and all odors, leaving nothing behind. No scent whatsoever. It’s like scent sorcery, I’m telling you.

Truth be told, I haven’t tried this baking soda, lemon, and rosemary spray yet from Pure Haven, but I’ve heard good things and have a bottle en route as I type. ;)

Welp, this isn’t a room spray, but since it’s an odor neutralizer, I’ll include it here. Diatomaceous earth (food-grade only) sprinkled on your rugs, left to hang out for a bit, and then vacuumed clean, can completely revive your rugs, obliterating any stale scents. (side note: it’s also good for flea season since it kills those pesky bastards.)

One of my FAVORITE odor neutralizing room sprays from  Kin + Kind

One of my FAVORITE odor neutralizing room sprays from Kin + Kind

In addition to buying pet beds that have removable covers for washing (like these from Animals Matter or this beaut from Backup Design), which is a heck of a lot better for the environment than tossing those cheap beds once they’ve reached the point-of-no-return stink saturation, as well as removing animal fur from your furniture as often as possible (though I’ve not personally used this tool described as a “glorified pumice stone”, I’ve heard it highly recommended from fellow dog parents), I’ve got one final tip! If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a few half-empty perfumes kicking around on your vanity. Some of these are scents I still adore but have moved onto something new and since they can turn over time, it’s best to use up these parfums in creative ways! Spritz them on your bed linens and mist throughout your home. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of D.S. & Durga’s DEBASER dominating your space, am I right?

Feel free to reach out to us with your own tips, fellow animal lovers (give us a shout at rebecca@lilyspindle.com or debra@lilyspindle.com)! We’d love to hear your advice on products, methods, tools, and doodads helping to beat back the inevitable pet malodor.


xx - Rebecca

Pantone Color of the Year 2019 is . . . LIVING CORAL

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The deities have spoken and publicly announced 2019’s color of the year. Last year’s Ultraviolet was kind of a dud, in my opinion, so this choice is welcomed with arms wide open! Get ready to embrace 2019’s Pantone Color of the year — LIVING CORAL, a hue described as “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge . . . the engaging nature of Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity.” Welp, okay. Sounds good to us! We love a citrusy mix and a good pop of juicy, vibrant color, so where can we expect to see this coral phenomenon? Pretty much all over the place, in furniture, accessories, textiles, fashion, and beauty.

Like here, on this velvet fainting sofa from  Urban Outfitters …

Like here, on this velvet fainting sofa from Urban Outfitters

And on these dude Adidas kicks…

And on these dude Adidas kicks…

Mixed with pale pink + in bold stripes

Mixed with pale pink + in bold stripes

In this Mind the Gap  The Undersea wallpaper

In this Mind the Gap The Undersea wallpaper

AND…a one-of-a-kind  Silk Suzani  pillow FTW!

AND…a one-of-a-kind Silk Suzani pillow FTW!

What do y’all think? Is Living Coral a color you’d bravely introduce into your home in wide swaths or intermittent spurts throughout a room or two?
While I wouldn’t describe coral as a color “embodying a desire for playful expression,” I will say it’s hella joyful. And who can’t embrace joy when it rears its pretty head?

xx -Rebecca

When to go NEW and when to RE-DO

We’ve all been there. You’re looking at your sofa one afternoon, and maybe it’s the light at that time of day or maybe you’re simply, magically able to suddenly recognize its truest state of being and you realize it’s beyond haggard, like an exhausted, overworked shoe, a bit busted open in spots, worn through in others, and has hollows where none ought to rightfully be. Maybe it’s time to invest in a new sofa. Or maybe it isn’t? Maybe it’s time to find a bitchin’ fabric and buy yourself some yardage of said bitchin’ fabric and get that glorious, bitchin’ fabric on your sofa/chairs/settee/ottoman rather than buying all new furniture and needlessly adding to the environmental fiasco that is the 8.5 million ton annual trash problem otherwise known as “f-waste.” If Deb and I are standing in your house with you, we’ll let you know what the best course of action is, because there are several variables, which we’ll cover below. Oh, and we can also help you find that aforementioned bitchin’ fabric, but I digress.

(image source: chairloom.com)

(image source: chairloom.com)

1 - THE PIECE IS A FAMILY HEIRLOOM OR HAS SENTIMENTAL VALUE

Obviously, if that 18th-century settee belonged to your great-great-aunt’s and it traveled to America by transatlantic barge in the late 1840s is looking rough around the edges, you don’t haul it off into the back alley (or the front sidewalk, for that matter). These sorts of pieces are truly irreplaceable. We’d even go so far as to suggest you honor the piece’s history as best you can in the reupholstery and refinishing process, which is to say maybe don’t paint the walnut fainting sofa Rock n’ Rose pink because that’s pretty much irreversible. Bring the wood back to life and select a new, gorgeous upholstery sure to revive the sagging, listless life of a nostalgic treasure you’ve long considered a part of your family.

2 - THE FRAME ITSELF IS IN FANTASTIC CONDITION

Maybe your modern Holly Hunt dining chairs are a mere three or four years old and rock solid, structurally speaking, but their sexy grey-pinstriped fabric you initially loved is no longer eliciting heart-eye emojis when you enter your dining room. Get those seats reupholstered, babelette! It can cost anywhere from $40 - $200-ish per chair, generally speaking, depending upon the amount of re-upholstery labor and padding materials needed for the job. Buy the yardage on your own, but know that the more intricate the pattern, the greater the labor cost in order to align complicated pattern elements and give the chairs congruity (should there be a mandala design that needs to be centered perfectly within each chair’s seat and back, for example).

3 - WEIGH THE COST, PROS, AND CONS OF NEW VERSUS RE-DO

I recently gathered some quotes regarding reupholstering a couple of our vintage chairs, heavy, well-made, fantastic old chairs we got for a steal many moons ago. One of the quotes for reupholstering a single chair in leather was $1200 - and that’s strictly the labor alone. Needing at least two hides would likely cost me another $600 or so. At some point, spending nearly $2k on reupholstering an existing chair rather than purchasing a new (potentially leather) chair for half that amount began to seem totally ridiculous, but poking around at new leather chairs on the market for that price point began to sway me away from going new altogether as I found myself disenchanted with the shape, proportion, scale, and design of the leather chairs I was unearthing. We opted to have both vintage chairs reupholstered, purchasing the (non-leather) yardage ourselves, and hired our trusted Lily Spindle upholsterer to do the work because the loose math showed going new versus a re-do (in non-leather upholstery!) shook out to fairly similar costs. (*Will excitedly share those pics on our Instagram once the chairs are finished!)


4 - YOU THINK YOUR DOG OR CAT CAN’T LIVE HAPPILY WITHOUT IT

Deb and I have had more than a few clients outright refuse to let go of a specific chair, chaise, or ottoman because said chair, chaise, or ottoman belongs to the the animals of the house (to any clients reading this, you know who you are and we’re not passing judgment! We see and honor you!). In some cases, the style and shape of the piece they refused to relinquish was classic and timeless, so we recommended new fabric options and the piece was given a beautiful new lease on life. And the dog/cat got his/her original snooze spot back, more gorgeous than ever! Other times, when the piece-in-question didn’t quite fit the client’s space or the furniture’s design was significantly dated, we’d recommend a brand new chair/ottoman/sofa altogether, as there wasn’t much to salvage and build upon. Is there a third option, where we don’t concern ourselves with our pets favorite sleeping spots? I guess so, but what kind of monsters don’t concern themselves with their pets favorite sleeping spots???

XX - REBECCA

LILY SPINDLE'S HOLIDAY GUIDE

We know the holidays can get frenzied and crazy and stressful. It’s now an actual thing - an identifiable state of being called “festive stress.” And here in Los Angeles, the traffic doesn’t help with frayed nerves.

In an effort to assuage some souls this holiday season, we’ve put together a little holiday guide of sorts - delicious food, jewelry, perfumes, self-care, philanthropy, and where to score yourself (and your four-leggeds) some awesome beds, leashes, pajamas and more.

Deep breaths. You got this.


WHERE TO GET GORGEOUS VEGAN SHOE + PURSE ALTERNATIVES:

Noah - Italian-made vegan pumps, boots, loafers, sneakers, oxfords - you name it, the make it!
Jeane + Jax - This Montreal-based company makes amazing, high-quality totes, backpacks, clutches, satchels, crossbody bags and more without the Stella McCartney price tag. ;)

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WHERE TO GET YOUR SELF-CARE:

Heather McCall Energy Work - In the midst of the holiday mayhem (or maybe as a treat once it’s over!), get yourself, your home, or your animals’ unmoored energy cleared and adjusted. She’s LA-based but does travel!

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Barbara Stransky, Massage Therapist - Sore from carrying around all those holiday packages? Nothing takes the ache out of those shopping muscles like a good massage.

New Moon Tarot - You don’t need to wait until a new moon to consult the cards! Intuitive tarot reading by Lola McKnight will give you insight into where you are headed in 2019.


WHERE TO GET YOUR GOLD BITS + BAUBLES:

A Stone’s Throw - Now in the Pacific Northwest, Kimberly Stafford’s line of jewelry is timeless and delicate. Her 2” hand-hammered gold infinity hoops are sexy as hell and super easy to wear!
Andrea Gutierrez - Bold, sexy, unexpected, unforgettable, provocative rings, necklaces, earrings unlike anything you’ve ever laid your peepers on.

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Sherri Kagan @ the Melrose Trading Post -
This woman has an amazing collection of gold bracelets, chains, pins, pendants, and a heck of a panoply of chapeaus, to boot. Every Sunday at the Melrose Flea…her booth is on the Fairfax side, near the entrance.

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Ficelles de Fidelle - Designed and made in Los Angeles, this collection of freshwater pearls, simple cuffs, and ancient roman glass is a good go-to for yourself, your BFF, your wife, or your sister!


WHERE TO BUY SOME DAMN GOOD ORIGINAL ART:

Curatorial Hub - Works on paper, paintings, photography, sculpture and more - this online gallery introduces you to a ton of emerging LA artists but won’t break the bank. Holiday Pop-up shop happening Dec 9-15th!

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WHERE TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY SPIRITS:

Bar & Garden - This unusual booze bodega in the heart of Culver City's gallery district has shelves full of quirky, interesting wine and spirits from mostly small producers. The staff is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and will point you to exactly the right bottle to take to a dinner party or to sip at home in front of the fireplace.

Silverlake Wine - Carefully chosen and always changing, the collection of wines at this eponymous shop and its DTLA artist’s district location will tempt you with intoxicating discoveries.


WHERE TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY CAKES + COOKIES:

Cakemonkey - Glazed chocolate donut cake? Butterscotch Pudding pie? Pumpkin Spice chocolate chip cookies? Yes, por favor. All of the above and more, gracias.

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La Tropezienne Bakery - Located in West Hollywood and also in DTLA on Main Street, this French patisserie will blow your damn mind. Their eclairs are unforgettable and it’s no surprise they won Best Croissant in Los Angeles this year. And their marbleized boxes don’t offend our picky aesthetics, either. ;)


WHERE TO GET YOUR ARTISANAL CANDIES, COOKBOOKS, AND UNUSUAL GOODIES:

Little Flower - They wrote the book on baking. Literally.

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GOODs LA - Masterfully and artfully combining global and local gifts that veer on the handcrafted, organic, fair-trade side of things, this little shop on Santa Monica’s Ocean Blvd is a total gem. Hot tip: for the holidays, owner Katherine Inglis wraps a MEAN GIFT, you guys! Buy it, leave it to be wrapped, get a latte, stop back in, and your gift-getting is almost complete!

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WHERE TO SCORE YOUR SIGNATURE FRAGRANCE:

Strange Invisible - You know that scent a stranger at the party’s wearing and you’re desperate to get through some small talk just to ask the name of this intoxicating fragrance and how to get your mitts on it? Get it - ALL their scents are divine. Based in Venice, CA.

Fiele - Totally gorgeous and sensual scents like myrrh, tonka bean, sandalwood, ylang ylang, bergamot, and cedarwood . Made in Santa Monica, CA.


WHERE TO BUY BOOKS FROM YOUR LOCAL MERCHANT (AND NOT THAT ON-LINE MEGA-RETAILER):

Diesel, a bookstore - Charming brick and mortar bookstore with a well-stocked collection of literary offerings.
Skylight Books - The bookstore that every visitor, newcomer, and die-hard Angeleno falls in love with immediately

WHERE TO REFUEL WHILE SHOPPING ‘TIL YOU’RE DROPPING:

All’Acqua - Almost like you’re in Naples…yes, the pizza is THAT good, but you’re in Atwater Village, CA.
The Wallace - Beautiful, delicious food. Fabulous wine list. Culver City proper.
Milo + Olive - Part of the “Rustic Canyon Family” of restaurants, this husband-and-wife owned and run spot is always busy and always amazing.

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WHERE TO GET YOUR GIVING GROOVE ON:

Pet Resource Center - DTLA’s Skid Row residents get much need support to keep their beloved pets healthy, well-fed and safe.

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California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund - Let’s not forget those who have no homes for the holidays. CCFW supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for victims of the recent SoCal Woolsey and NorCal Camp wildfires.


WHERE TO GET YOUR PET’S STOCKING STUFFERS:

Ike & Stella - Give your pet a little bling this holiday season with bespoke dog and cat collars in luscious colors and fabrics from Ike & Stella. Handmade in LA by the talented Jennifer Herrera.

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Rosie Bunny Bean - Neighborhood shoppe with aesthetically awesome pet products. Check out their line of blankets and beds that are designed to be comfortable, durable, lived with and loved by both YOU and your four-legged beasties.

Animals Matter - Beds, blankets, harnesses, crate covers, car seats, furniture covers and more, all made in the USA using vegan, cruelty-free, organic, and eco-friendly materials. Go large and in charge with a gigantic puff for your Great Dane mix, or pare down your size needs with some little donuts for your wee ones, like we did with this custom velvet donut beds for a client’s pair of rescue shih tzus, Bruno and Nooks.

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Tooth + Honey - If you’re ever feeling blue or despondent or just want a reminder there are some things cuter than your wildest cute-o-meter imagination could conjure, check out Tooth + Honey’s Instagram to see literally hundreds of pit bull type dogs in pajamas. It’s quite possibly the most ADORABLE thing you’ll see all year. And if you’ve got yourself a pit bull type dog, get that baby some unicorn or donut or chocolate chip cookie pj’s STAT!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM each OF US and our families AND ALL OUR rescue dog and cat weirdos!

xx - Rebecca + Debra

SHAPERS /// DRAWINGS OF DOGS

In an interview with Stephen Colbert last year, writer George Saunders was discussing his book "Lincoln in the Bardo" (which is exceptional, by the way) and in that conversation, he happened to so succinctly and beautifully state, "Empathy is a superpower." Those words have since been jotted down on a post-it and stuck on our desk since - a reminder that we all can be super heroes if we remember and attune ourselves to compassion and kindness. 

On this EXTREMELY salient topic of empathy and tenderness, we're thrilled to share the latest installment of SHAPERS with U.K. illustrator "Drawings of Dogs" (aka Henry James Garrett). We first spotted Henry's incredibly witty, clever, super smart, "politically punchy while somehow managing to remain playful" illustrations on Instagram and are beyond happy he took some time out of his work to answer our Q's with his A's. (By the way, Henry, major gratitude from us to you and your U.K. compatriots for your recent 250.000-strong march of resistance!)

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LILY SPINDLE: The writer Sue Monk Kidd once said "Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it's accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity..." Do you feel this is true? Is empathy accessible to all of us? And, if not, is its inaccessibility, denial, or nonexistence what's plaguing and poisoning the world at the moment?

So, I’m actually writing a book about empathy and kindness at the moment (there will, of course, be lots of drawings to accompany the text). This is a great question.

Empathy is accessible to all of us. In fact, because empathy evolved quite a while back, it’s not just humans that can empathise; some of our cousins in the animal kingdom can too. Rats feel other rats’ fear for example. We all have the capacity for empathy – the capacity to share in one another’s pains – but the problem is that we can accidentally turn our empathy off. 

The big problem right now (if I can grossly oversimplify for a moment) is that people are switching off their empathy toward certain groups because they have false beliefs about those groups, or they don’t know enough about those groups.

I’m not saying it’s an accident. It’s not. Lying about some group – like migrants – and stoking or redirecting hate toward them is a good distraction technique. And that’s what’s going on at the moment. But every time in human history we’ve turned our empathy off towards a specific group, atrocities have inevitably followed.

But there’s a really easy solution. You’ve got to listen to people and listen to them directly. Let people tell their own stories (don’t get Scarlett Johansen to play them in a movie). When we hear peoples’ stories directly, we will always empathise with their suffering.

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LILY SPINDLE: While you draw all sorts of animals, lending personalities and voices to them (all of which seem completely apt, by the way!), you began your illustration venture by drawing dogs (hence your moniker and ongoing project). And your pup, Billie, is your constant companion, yes? What is it about dogs that you so distinctly and intimately connect with? As dog lovers ourselves, we can think of a zillion reasons, but of course always love hearing everyone's own perspectives as to why dogs are SO AMAZING. 

I met Billie when I was 15. I was unwell and off school for a year and so my parents finally let me get a dog. They hoped she’d keep me company and keep me engaged in the world and she did. I love Billie so much and loving someone unconditionally and feeling completely at peace in their company is one of the best, most healthy, feelings in the world I think.

Dogs are fascinating to me from an artistic perspective because they reflect our humanity in really interesting ways. Here’s an animal that we bred, more than any other, specifically to function as an extra companion. So, dogs show what we want in a friend. And guess what: they’re super needy but super loyal.

                              Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

                              Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

LILY SPINDLE: If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? What would you order?

Hmmm, well I’ve made a super close friend through Instagram who I’ve yet to meet, so I’d use the dream lunch to do that. She’s my first proper internet friend and she also happens to be famous. So, I’d pick Alexandra Billings. I can’t remember how we first internet-met but she’s an incredible activist and actress, and Kitty (my partner) and I would be soooooooo happy if we could have lunch with her and her wife (we’re currently separated by the Atlantic ocean).

I would order so much vegan pizza, and burgers, and chips, and it would be delicious and wonderful.

Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

LILY SPINDLE: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m a morning person. I go to bed at 11 every night and get cross/anxious if I can’t for some reason. Sleep is super important for my health – but then it’s also something that it’s easy to turn into a worry.

I wake up sleepy but if I’m going to get anything good done workwise it will be in the morning.

I also love coffee, and love breakfast. If Kitty and I can have avocado toast outside on a sunny but cold morning, I will be incredibly happy all day.

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LILY SPINDLE: What's currently on your bedside table?

We sleep on a mattress on the floor haha.

I always have a Harry Potter book to hand. I read it to Kitty if she can’t sleep.I also keep a book nearby so that if I have an idea in the night, I can write it down and go back to sleep.


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LILY SPINDLE: As a thoughtful, evolved, kind-hearted, caring artist, what's your key piece of advice to the nurturers, empaths, and do-gooders of the world?

Haha, if I answer this it sounds like I accept that beautiful compliment as true. I’m ok, but I’ve got a lot of room to be better.

But if I could give one piece advice to a group of people who are trying to be better, it would be this: there is no such thing as too much empathy, there is no one who can feel pain whose pain you shouldn’t empathise with. If you want to make sure that you do empathise with everyone, you need to be humble, reflective and willing to learn by listening. Your empathy can be exercised, and strengthened, like a muscle; you just have to find people who have lives very different from your own and listen to their stories (but don’t angrily demand that they tell their stories, or listen to someone else who claims to be able to speak for them).


PS - You can find and purchase Henry James Garrett's work by going to THIS LINK

Summer of Fun, Summer of Resistance

We've got a few exciting projects happening this summer and wanted to announce that ALL of our summer and autumn projects will be directly impacting our altruism, as throughout these summer months and into the fall, Lily Spindle will be donating regularly to the following amazing organizations: 
RAICES - The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union
SPLC - Southern Poverty Law Center
Emily's List
Planned Parenthood

This is, without question, a challenging time of upheaval and disruption, untruths and discrimination. We are believers in being a voice for those whose voices will not or cannot be heard, we're believers in defending the rights of women, children, and animals, and we're believers in kindness, compassion, and humanity. And if there was ever a time to foster kindness, compassion, and humanity, it's now. 

Go hug your kids, your pets, and your partners, speak up, stand up, and if you're able to do so this summer, volunteer to help unregistered, eligible voters get valid IDs to allow them to use their own integral voices at the voting booth. Spread the Vote and Everything You Need to Vote are two fantastic sites that make voting extremely simple and straightforward. ROCK THAT DAMN VOTE, Y'ALL.


On the topic of kindness and compassion, it makes perfect sense why we'd be featuring U.K. illustrator "Drawings of Dogs" (aka Henry James Garrett) in our upcoming SHAPERS q+a. We first spotted Henry's incredible illustrations on Instagram and it grabbed our attention immediately. Stay tuned for our talk with him about empathy, doing the right thing, and why dogs are so remarkable.

Happy July! 

xx - Rebecca + Debra 

SHAPERS /// KELLY NEWFIELD, Founder of DRESSMAKER + VOLUNTEER

Kelly Newfield is an artist, clothing designer, creator of bespoke cushions, and loving momma to Vida and Clara, two sweet old lady pit bulls, in no particular order of importance. Because Los Angeles animal rescue is essentially a massive Venn diagram and we're basically six degrees  removed from "that overweight black lab relinquished at South LA Shelter" (specific shelter dog reference subject to change), we frequently cross paths with others sharing our obsessions for all wonderful things dog and design. Naturally, Kelly's newest creative project, Dressmaker - designing and producing hand-dyed, cut, and sewn one-of-a-kind luxury pillows, immediately had us both intrigued and salivating like lunatics because we want ALL THE DRESSMAKER THINGS, people. 

Kelly graciously took a few moments away from creating her stunning, sophisticated pillows in her Pomona studio to divulge what's currently on her nightstand, how we can live a beautiful life with our dogs, and her theory on "trends." Thank you so much, Kelly, for agreeing to be a part of our ongoing SHAPERS profiles featuring extraordinary doers and makers ! We dig you and all your gorgeous textile ingenuity.

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Were you the kid always stitching up awesome outfits for yourself and your friends? How did you transition from clothing to home decor/pillows? Do you feel there's a comprehensive overlap of these two types of couture craftsmanship?

I did start altering my clothing from an early age, I think out of a need to create and self-express.  The cushion project came about out of necessity (as most things do).  I made some velveteen cushions for my living room, and thought, I like these, maybe someone else would like these, too.  Also the idea of being able to experiment with textiles, without the limitations that come with clothing (wearable colors, sizes, etc)…is very appealing.  Craft, quality and integrity of design are profoundly important to me.  Making things one at a time, slowly and thoughtfully.   Designing and making things has always been therapeutic for me.  It doesn't really matter what it is; a dress, a room, a meal, a garden.  I have this irritating habit of redesigning (in my head, of course) the front yards of the houses that I drive past in my neighborhood.  


       Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 

       Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 


As a dog momma, what's your advice to people who feel like they "can't have nice things" because they have a dog?  

Adopt adult dogs, and set boundaries.  Never give a new dog the run of the house, let them earn their privileges  Dogs are smart, they’ll get it quickly if it’s presented clearly.  

Also, being somewhat flexible (about everything, really) is helpful.  Don’t get upset if someone vomits on the rug, or sneezes on a freshly painted wall, just deal with it and move on.

                                                                 It's a beautiful life. 

                                                                 It's a beautiful life. 


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl but I've had to adapt.  My husband makes breakfast for the dogs.  It’s best (for everyone!) if no one tries to communicate anything important to me before 8am. 


What's on your bedside table right now?

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, by Charles Foster, and The Developing Genome by David S. Moore.  I am fortunate that my husband  brings home a stream of fascinating books.


Name your three favorite textile colors. 

I favor cool, moody colors, my working colors could be considered a “bruise” palette: combinations of weird greens, chartreuse, blue violet, greys from dove to charcoal, and of course black.

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Do you foresee any particular, imminent trends in the home decor industry? 

I go out of my way to avoid trends. Even the word “trend” bothers me, and don’t even get me started on “trending”.  I am happiest when the things that I like (Victorian, Spanish Revival) are not in style and I can find them easily and marked-down in the antique shops.  The same goes for designing clothing.  Ideas will naturally evolve from season to season.  Try to incorporate trends and you will quickly lose your way and your own vision.


MORE KELLY SCOOP: I am from Los Angeles.  My husband and I moved from Mid-city LA to a historic home in Pomona, Ca a few years ago to be closer to his professor job at Pitzer College in Claremont. I went to art school and am mostly self-taught as far as clothing design.  I have been designing, manufacturing, and selling wholesale to specialty boutiques and better department stores for 25 years – mostly women's clothing, and mostly for my own label.  My current label for clothing is Volunteer, although lately I have been focusing more on the cushions, and working on restoring/furnishing/painting our old house.  My 98 year old mother also lives with us.   I have been involved with animal rescue in LA for the past 15 years and we have two seniors, Vida (from East Valley Shelter) and Clara (Inland Valley Humane Society).  My girls share my workspace. They are sweet and hilarious and good at reminding me daily about what is actually important.


*Lily Spindle's SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.