Monday, May 24, 2010

Back to Z

They're so exposed, the zebras. Black and white vulnerability in a prairie of burnt orange. Nervous and shy-eyed, on the brink of some unrealized majesty, yet always the inevitable prey. Individuality comes at a price.

A friend asks me if I have heard Zebra by Beach House, and as the ethereal melody fills the room I am reminded of the simultaneous simplicity and power of a song to move or transcend the spirit.

I think the lyrics to this song are absolutely beautiful:

You know you're gold, you don't gotta worry none
Oasis child, born and so wild
Don't I know you better than the rest
All deception, all deception from you.
Your love is stag in the white sand
Wilderness for miles, eyes so mild and wise
Don't I know you better than the rest
All deception, all deception from you
Anyway you run, you run before us
Black and white horse arching among us. . .

Oddity is embraced as a haven, and even though falling prey might be inevitable, there is a freedom and a truth and a beauty in the attempted escape. Zebra elements in home decor bring a rawness and a connection with nature; the wild can ground a home and connect it with the planet. Five reasons I love zebra stripes in the home:

1) The unstructured shape ironically brings floating pieces of furniture together - an unlikely cohesion of ikat and peonies, vintage and lacquer.

2) The black and white provides a nice balance to bold colors and ornate accessories, as featured in Glamour Magazine's layout of Ivanka Trump's apartment.

3) They can also add flair to a completely neutral, or stark room. There's just something about black and white that is so very, very chic.

4) Zebra skins can be layered over sisal rugs and provide a nice texture to the room - they work with what you already have.

5) A single chair, a pair of footstools, or a few artfully placed cushions can create a dramatic effect.

The chair is fabulous - it's available here - Maison Luxe Home is a gorgeous site.

The rest of the accessories can be found on by simply entering "zebra" in the search bar. That disco zebra pillow has me in a frenzy.

Rachel Ames, Junior Designer at Elizabeth Street gem Haus Interiors  suggested that in lieu of a real zebra skin (can run upwards of $2500), a similar and striking effect could be achieved with a cowhide from Sunland Home Decor for a fraction of the price - $250! Haus' design philosophy and flexibility works perfectly for me - I am passionate about having a hand in everything I choose for my home, but it's important to recognize your limitations. Back to A is also about knowing that sometimes, it's okay to ask for guidance - visit the store at 250 Elizabeth Street or access the website here .

After ordering my rug here I was overjoyed to have my first zebra rug delivered three days later!

And Harold can wipe his paws or face on it as much as he likes - for all of you with puppies or little children, the best thing about a hide is that the stains come off miraculously. It's ideal in areas where there will be a lot of traffic, like under a table (as I did above) or even in entryways as a segway into the foyer - a Kelly Wearstler signature.

The internet is a veritable treasure chest of zebra rugs and accessories. Before you spend a fortune, check out,, and then graduate to and or any other sites that you love - - as with kaboodle, simply enter the word "zebra" in the search bar and happy hunting! If only life were a blog with a search bar. . .Check out this amazing crackled zebra chest I found when perusing the Neiman Marcus site - you can access it here.

Or forgo the entire animal skin concept and play with Jonathan Adler's needlepoint interpretation.

At the end of the day, it's all about mixing - old with new, eclectic with modern and traditional - the web is the limit! Then break rules. . . place zebra rugs in kitchens with chairs upholstered in a funky, teal ostrich. . .

. . .or buy a ridiculously oversized chair just because it makes you feel like Marie Antoinette every time you sit in it. . .

Back to A discovers upon reaching Z that it's all about choosing and placing the items that bring you joy wherever you please. Now that I've sung my ABC's the first time around, I'm hoping you're going to keep on singing with me as we go Back to A and start all over again. We're going to do it even louder - really light it up.

That's the thing about do overs or second chances, or even third or fourth chances - you get to do it louder and better and with way more confidence and self-assurance than you ever had before. First timers are rookies - I always preferred living. . .

Oasis child, born and so wild.


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