Category archives: Aqua & Turquoise

Prop Styling for
Outdoor FurniturePhotos by Keith Sutter for Costco | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

Last November, I had the opportunity to work with Costco on a commercial shoot for outdoor furniture. Prop styling for commercial shoots like this is a very different world than editorial styling. Unlike wedding or lifestyle editorials where the focus is on the story or how pretty the elements of the photo are, here the focus is only on the product and how accurately it’s being captured in camera. When I prop style for clients like this, its important to prop and show the “lifestyle,” but at the same time its crucial to not overly stage a scene. For instance, an elaborate cheese display or a huge floral arrangement in this context would distract from function of the photo, which is to: 1. Show the furniture 2. Sell the furniture.

Another aspect that is very different from editorial styling, is that products are shot from one pre-selected angle. Normally, I place props on set where someone would naturally set their wine glass down. But since the angle of the shot is so defined, props may actually get placed where they would never be in reality. For instance, the pitcher of orange juice below. In an editorial, I would place it in the middle of table, here its placed back and further away so you can see more of the table and it also helps to draw your eye further into the photo.

So how do I pick props for each set? First, I like to determine what story the props should be telling in this scene. Is this a breakfast? Just a cocktail by the pool? An al fresco dinner? Once, I have the “storyline” for the set, I pull the appropriate props to show that story unfolding. Props need to be obvious, especially from a distance (note how far away the camera is from the actual product). For faux breakfasts, I like OJ in a pitcher because it reads so clearly, martinis read great for a faux cocktail scene, and iced tea works well for a casual moment by the pool. I also like to use orchids for a pop of color (especially when the product is so neutral like this) and soften sets with blankets and pillows. | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

A faux breakfast scene with OJ, strawberries, and muffins.

The models interacting with the props. | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

A mid-day treat, cookies and milk. Here, I used heavy whipping cream instead of milk since its more opaque. The glass I chose features a little pop of color to breakup the otherwise nuetral set. | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

Orchids and iced tea for the lounge chairs and a table about to be set for dinner. | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

Commercial shoots like this are always shot “tethered” aka, there’s a screen to show you the actual photo and angel of a shot as you work. I use the test shots to make sure props are placed in the right spot position in camera and not in reality. The lanterns in the background for instance, had to be staggered just so to account for the angle the photo. | photo: Keith Sutter | Los Angeles Prop Stylist for outdoor patio furniture

And finally, a festive cocktail hour, margaritas (or in this case gatorade mixed with OJ) and chips and salsa.

A special thanks to Keith Sutter for the photos and the amazing team at SunvillaCostco and Trustylz Media for a smooth five day photo shoot.

Watercolor Moments

A little post today (since it is technically a holiday) of some pretty watercolor moments. How cute are these DIY water color tags? They’d make for some cute escort cards!

Pair actual watercolor elements with watercolor flowers (how pretty are the clematis on the left?) and you’ve got a pretty, soft, spring look I love… See you tomorrow, I’m off to prep for a shoot… you can get a sneak peek of what I’m up to right here

Top left photo via Eat Drink Chick Top right photo via Once Wed. Bottom left photo: Christopher Baker, bottom right photo: Beatriz da Costa

Vortex, a 2013 Calender by Ink & Wit

I’ve been a big fan of Tara’s work at Ink & Wit for a long time, and its my yearly ritual to purchase one of her beautiful letterpress calenders. This year’s is no exception and was inspired by some of the most stunning places in the world like, Machu Pichhui in Peru and Joshua Tree in California.

I’m seriously in love with the way Tara creates a three dimensional feel via geometric patterns and her color choices are always spot on (an aqua Emu? sign me up).

They’re available for purchase right here, better hurry she always sells out!!!

Home Style: Leslie’s Eclectic Santa Barbara Abode

Today we’re visiting the home of one of my favorite local Santa Barbara artists (and invitation designers), Leslie Lewis Sigler. Her home is her creative space and is filled with collection of vintage and heirloom pieces, her paintings, and a few pieces from good ole’ craigslist.

In the dining room is her father’s table that he made for her and which Leslie drove all the way out from Texas. A built in nook holds colorful plates and bowls, and a vintage child’s chair makes an adorable plant stand.

In her bedroom, her pups, Peach & Skip enjoy colorful prints, eclectic pulls on the dresser, and a serious collection of jewelry.

Outside a petite bistro table is flanked with a grouping of succulents, the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of tea. A big thank you to Leslie for sharing her home and you can see more about her work, here, here and here.

On the Rocks: Sweet n’ Salty Gingy

TGIF! I am so excited because I have some of my girlfriends coming up to visit me this weekend and you can bet that we’ll be shaking up some cocktails. Today’s tasty treat is for the ginger beer fans out there and is a beautiful concoction. The bright red color of the blood orange addition gives a vibrant addition to this yummy yummy drink and pays further homage to the name “Sweet n’ Salty Gingy”…a double entendre no?


1 1/2 shots of silver tequila

Blood orange soda


Ginger Beer

Kosher Salt

Granulated sugar

On a plate, add Kosher salt and granulated sugar and mix well with a fork. Rub the rim of a glass with a lime wedge and dip into sugar/salt mixture. Set aside. Add ice to a martini shaker, tequila, lime wedge (squeeze first), splash of blood orange soda, and heavy splash of ginger beer. Shake well and serve on the rocks in your rimmed glass. Enjoy!

-XOXO Melissa

PS The coaster and glass are both available at Anthrologie….And for even more cocktail ideas check out past On the Rocks posts here.

Escape to… Bali

Things are heating up in California, and so, too, is our Escape. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce one of my favorite tropical destination escapes…Bali, Indonesia! The beaches alone are mesmerizing, but the cliffs and scenic landscape do everything in reminding you of just how very far away from daily life you are.

The people and places in Bali do more than just evoke “relaxing getaway”…there’s a true spiritual reverence surrounding you at all times, especially when touring the infamous temples. In viewing the Balinese temple offerings, I can’t help but wonder what silent hopes and dreams lie behind the food and floral displays.

Another common sight in Bali? Rice fields…and even they contribute to the tropical beauty of the landscape. How joyous is this rice farmer’s smile?

But my favorite location of all has to be the Balinese markets. I always say that you can get a true sense of any culture in visiting their markets, and Bali is no exception. The joy for cooking and for life are evident in everything from the people to the food here. And the smells are just magnificent. I could spend all day in this market!

Here are my picks for the best in where and what you should sleep/eat/see in Bali:

Sleep: The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah…located near the city of Ubud, yet worlds away in luxury and serenity, The Chedi is your best bet in experiencing the ultimate in luxurious accommodations without losing the distinct cultural experience of Bali. Stay in one of their one bedroom suites (perhaps a one bedroom pool or spa villa if you’d like), or stay in the Hadiprana Villa (the two bedroom luxury estate once owned by the founder and owner of the property). Either way, you’ll enjoy the lavish pool, cultural performances, fine dining, and local excursions in style.

Eat: Melting Wok Warung…located in Ubud, this restaurant is by far a must visit while in Bali!!! The food which utilizes local meat and produce, encompasses traditional and more modern Balinese cuisine. Reasonably priced and served in a simple yet elegant atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed. Reservations are a must, so be sure to ask your hotel concierge for help.

See: Beyond the temples and local beaches near Ubud, be sure to visit Bature Lake, which is the largest lake in Bali and a short drive away in Kintamani. The lake itself sits inside the crater of Mount Batur, next to an active volcano. Cross the lake to Trunyan village, where the island’s original inhabitants (the Bali Aga people) still live. To see the best in local artisan-try, head to the village of Tenganan, known for its people’s unique double ikat weaving and smoked grass woven baskets. Or climb Mount Agung, Bali’s highest peak and witness the infamous, multi-tiered 14th century Pura Besakih mother temple.

Until next week…

xo ~Cynthia


Color Palette: Pink, Soft Turquoise & A Hint of Yellow

I love this soft, yet not boring color combination of soft turquoise with hints of pink and mint. For a wedding design, you could do a fun floral print for the table linen, similar to the photo on the left, and accent it with gold rimmed glasses and flowers in soft pinks with a hint of yellow. For a room, how pretty would a headboard in this type of floral print be? Perhaps accented with a soft pink wall, it could be the makings of one fun, and subtlety colorful room design.

Escape to… Capri, Italy

Continuing our love affair with Italy, today we’re escaping to Capri…one of my all time favorite islands in the world! It’s located in the Campania Region of Italy in the Gulf of Naples, and it’s the perfect destination for weddings, honeymoons and romantic escapes. Artists and Tourists from around the world have been coming here for years to enjoy the crystal blue ocean views and local cuisine…I dream of shopping in the local outdoor market and touring the historic architecture in town.

How breathtaking is the maiolica tile above?! This gorgeous tile technique of tin-glazed pottery dates back to the Renessaince…and you’ll find it everywhere in Capri. Another great find in Capri? Local markets selling some of the most amazing produce and goods…I mean, look at this lemon?! Are you not just instantly inspired to cook?

Here are my picks for the best in where and what you should sleep/eat/see:

Sleep:  JK Capri…If you’re coming to Capri for the stunning views, there’s no place better then the JK Capri hotel. Located directly on the Mediterranean, you won’t be disappointed with the stunning location directly at the water. Other non-disappointments? Outstanding service, comfortable beds, and the amazing local inspired cuisines of JKitchen. I hear the spa isn’t half bad either.

Eat:  Terrazza Brunella…What’s not to love about enjoying fresh seasonal/local seafood and produce surrounded by breathtaking views. Terrazza Brunella is perfect for a romantic meal with your loved one, and the service will make you feel like local royalty. Be sure to try the octopus salad and lemon risotto.

See: There’s so much to experience in Capri. Arriving by ferry or hydrofoil, take the time to soak in the majestic ocean scenery and views of such natural water landmarks as I Faraglioni and Grotto Azzurra. In town, head to Piazza Umberto, the center square of Capri. Enjoy lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants, and take it views of the local culture and the historical architecture of the square buildings, including the historic bell tower. For views of the island, take a 20 minute bus to Anacapri, and enjoy a chairlift to the summit of Monte Solaro.

Until next week…Ciao!

xo ~Cynthia

Escape to… Riomaggiore, Italy

Last week I declared there to be no more romantic place in the world than Italy…and this week I’m re-declaring it true as we escape to an area known as Cinque Terre in the Liguria region of Italy (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The five little towns and villages which were originally only connected by small trails (now you can visit all five via railway), are home to some of the most breathtaking views in the Mediterranean. Characterized by their “case torri” (or tower houses) and waterfront locations, this area of the world happens to be my all-time favorite travel destination, and a look at the southernmost village of Riomaggiore will explain why.

Everyone stops to take in the view, even the locals. I wonder what they’re thinking as they gaze out onto the sea?

Here are my picks for the best in where and what you should sleep/eat/see:

Sleep:  Your best bet in accommodations is to stay at a local apartment or bed and breakfast. My favorites? La Scogliera and Alla Marina…both are known for their comfortable beds, amazing service and views. Alla Marina is a bit more modern than La Scogliera, but either provides a level of charm unmatched anywhere in the world.

Eat: Cappun Magru in casa di Marin…located in the little village of Groppo di Riomaggiore (just outside of the main town), this restaurant is arguably the best in the region. The restaurant is known for it’s local seafood, delicious wine, and outstanding service…but I couldn’t get enough of the adorable husband and wife owners. Boun Appetito!

See:  The amazing landscape via Trail 2, or the sea via Cinque Terre Dal Mare motor boat…either way, you’ll experience all that Riomaggiore  and Cinque Terre have to offer.

Until next week…Ciao!

xo ~Cynthia