Laura Stoddart for Hester and Cook

laura stoddart for hester and cook | simple pretty

‘cakes’ paper placemats

Laura Stoddart could be my favorite illustrator. Her watercolors are quirky yet sweet and old-fashioned yet modern. It doesn’t hurt that the subjects she chooses are perfection: I love to look at pretty cakes and hyper-organized butler’s pantries. While I keep my fingers crossed that she will announce new work very soon, these placemats and notecards for Hester and Cook will fill the very big void she’s left in her creative absence.

(Because of the scarcity, I have fallen into the habit of hoarding every bit of Laura Stoddart art I can get my hands on. It sounds very un-Kondo, but trust me, they bring lots of joy.)

laura stoddart for hester and cook | simple pretty

‘cakes’ enclosure cards (set of 12)

laura stoddart for hester and cook | simple pretty

‘cakes’ placecards

laura stoddart for hester and cook | simple pretty

‘butler’s pantry’ paper placemats

p.s.: I’d love to see either of the placemat patterns as wallpaper.

images from

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Rita Konig: The Complete House

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

notebook, pencil + schedules for the day

I’m not sure where my infatuation/obsession? with Rita Konig began, but I know that it was cemented during the golden years of Domino magazine. Whenever I spotted her byline on a story, I knew I was in for a treat, whether the subject was how to decorate a rental (she found NYC’s “just paint it white when you’re done” rule freeing), throw an impromptu party, or my personal favorite, her recurring series of city guides. If I was familiar with the city in question, I would nod in agreement with her choices, yet she never failed to inspire me with a new find. If I wasn’t, I knew that when I did visit, following her suggestions would leave me in good stead.

Konig’s effortless approach to decorating straddles the luxe and livable line to great effect. Her time in New York made her especially adept at translating British style for Americans who covet the look but don’t have access to an attic-full of aristocratic hand-me-downs. Her influence pops up again and again when in I put together inspiration boards for a space. (Not only has she reinvigorated my love for the color pink in a home, but I keep coming back to the brilliance of gallery walls thanks to her.)

Recently, Konig began offering day-long seminars on “The Complete House” at her London home. It’s the perfect setting for such a workshop as her residence has undergone a substantial renovation since her purchase a few years ago. (Trust me when I tell you that the interiors are stunning; they will soon be published in a UK shelter magazine, hence the photo embargo.) Intrigued by the concept, I attended a session on a recent Friday session. Over the course of the day, Konig not only candidly shared the practical aspects of the flat’s transformation — the importance of organization and planning, the necessity of having fun during the process — but also shared plenty of photos of other favorite projects for further inspiration. I tried to soak in as much as possible so that when we land at “What’s Next” I’ll be ready to go, but thankfully, all attendees were sent home with a pdf of go-to sources. That document will help jump-start my memory when I’m an ocean away.

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

lots of visual examples were provided

The majority of the seminar took place in the living room. I must admit, my attention was divided at times between the slide show on the television and the gorgeous pink walls, jam-packed with artwork.

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

practical + pretty: adjustable bookshelves from MDF (with a fancy edge, of course)

Konig’s bookcases, fashioned from MDF with decorative edging, were both covetable and financially achievable. Which is a good thing, as I want lots of bookshelves at our next house.

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

lunch break: soup, bread + cheese

Attendees were well fed: the day began with coffee or tea; lunch was a relaxed meal of soup, bread and cheese (with cake for dessert) and the day concluded with a celebratory glass of prosecco and a goodie bag with the components for a good G&T at home.

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

an elegant bar tray (très rita)

An important London souvenir will be an enamel drinks tray, designed by Konig for The Lacquer Company and available at her newly launched e-store. But which color? (Who are we kidding: probably pale grey.)

rita konig: the complete house workshop | simple pretty

chair love

Tied for favorite furnishing of the day were these cozy (yet pretty) open-arm chairs. I’m on the hunt for my own version to cover in sheepskin.

More workshop dates have just been added and can be booked through her website. If you’re in London, I highly recommend it.

A Rita Konig mini-bibliography:

  1. Domino magazine’s online archives
  2. Jane Flanagan/Ill Seen, Ill Said
  3. A Lovely Being featured Rita Konig on Framing (and yes, you can see a bit more of the house)
  4. Rita Konig’s Website, Instagram,  Twitter + Facebook

all photos by jane potrykus

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Favorites: November 2015

london fog, november 2015: jane potrykus | simple pretty

london fog: november 2, 2015

I’ve finally figured out the disconnect between my “I love London weather!” admonitions and everyone else’s “Are you crazy?” reactions — it’s the fact that November weather, mysterious and sometimes gloomy and more-often-than-not overcast speaks deeply to me. Until this point, I thought I was a California-sunshine kind of girl, the one who basks in a parade of endlessly sunny, 75 degree days. Turns out, I’m happiest when it’s 58 and cloudy, the leaves are considering their plight, and ochre and brown are the colors of the moment. (Admittedly, it’s England, so the glass is plenty green, and that helps.) A fog of melancholy has settled in my brain as well. It’s okay: I welcome it. It acknowledges the fact that, while my son’s senior year is predominantly one of celebration, it comes with more than tinge of sadness for me. Surrendering to that sadness heightens the joy. And circling back, maybe my love of imperfect, romantic weather is what allows me to appreciate California weather while I’m there. And don’t worry: I still hate snow.

To enhance this November spirit of giving thanks, what follows are a few of my current favorite things from around the Internet: for this month (at least) not just photos. Enjoy.


  1. The view from a new project site …
  2. The city where the fog is a tourist attraction.
  3. One more from Port San Luis ~
  4. Untitled
  5. Closed for the season.
  6. fingers cross for rain today!
  7. hundreds of ducks
  8. Think I’m ready to go sailing again…
  9. Morning walk.
  10. Mist rolling over tree covered slopes
  11. by the sea today.

To listen:

  1. “I May Know the Word”  Natalie Merchant, Paradise Is There
  2. “Lasso” Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  3. “She’s the One”  World Party, Egyptology
  4. “Into the Mystic” Van Morrison, Moondance
  5. “Come Pick Me Up” Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker

To read:

  1. Letting Go of Stories
  2. Taxonomy of Design
  3. Exploring Blue Hill in Maine
  4. The Thanksgiving Project
  5. On What People Think

photo at top: london fog, november 2, 2015 by jane potrykus

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My London: Fernandez & Wells

fernandez & wells, somerset house | simple pretty

somerset house

I have a confession: I’m not much of a fancy food person. Good food, served simply, goes a long way in my book. That’s probably why I’m so drawn to Fernandez & Wells. Launched in 2007 by Rick Wells and Jorge Fernandez, the mini-chain of London cafés has a guiding principle of serving food suitable for a shepherd’s knapsack. (Think good bread, wine, cheese, cured meats — simple, flavorful foods that travel well.) Couple that mission with Fernandez’s passion for good coffee, throw in some rustic baked goods, and you have a spot that beckons you in, whether you’re in search of morning caffeination, a hearty soup and chunk of bread at lunch time, or a relaxed evening outing of wine and charcuterie.

I’ve been visiting the cafés regularly since my first visit to London five years ago. I’m sure the initial draw was the cozy, minimalist interiors (courtesy of William Tozer Architecture and Design), but during that initial August lunch, my husband proclaimed the chicken sandwich we shared “excellent”, giving instant validation to my design-driven slog through the city. And now, as temporary Londoners, I’ve been able to visit all six locations. My favorite is probably Somerset House because, well, Somerset House! but we finally made it to the original, Lexington Street location just two weeks ago, and spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon sampling wine and grilled pimientos de padrón (peppers). The peppers were outstanding. The interiors were cozily charming. Let’s call it a tie.*

fernandez & wells, lexington street (london) | simple pretty

43 lexington street (the very first F&W)

fernandez & wells, lexington street interior | simple pretty

the view from the counter at lexington street

fernandez & wells chorizo and peppers | simple pretty

chorizo and heirloom tomatoes (l), grilled pimientos de padrón (r)

And happily, this fall Fernandez & Wells published a cookbook. Rustic tells the story of how the partnership began in 2005, complete with the trials and tribulations in finding the right London location, and yes, plenty of recipes, organized by time of day and beautifully photographed by Helen Cathcart. Rustic‘s tag line is “Simple food and drink, from morning to night” and I don’t think it gets much better than that. I’m sure that, back in the US, cooking from Rustic will be the genesis of many a happy madeleine moment.

fernandez & wells 'rustic' book | simple pretty

UK (large) and US (inset) book covers

Rustic is available in the UK from Hardie Grant, and in the US — with an alternate cover — via Rizzoli.

* During the all-too-short London summer season, they make an outstanding iced tea.

all images, with exception of book covers, by jane potrykus (cover images from and

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kartotek notebooks + planners | simple pretty

office supplies


Thanks to the online rabbit-hole that — circa 2015 — is Instagram: new-to-me stationery brand Kartotek. Based in Copenhagen, the line of winsomely minimalist stationery is sure to be on many a paper lover’s wish list for the holidays. There are notebooks galore in muted colors and graphic patterns, utilitarian-with-a-touch-of-pretty planners and lists, as well as a trio of leaf cards for simple, elegant autumn greetings. I love it all, just clicking through the portfolio brings a sense of calm. Follow them.

kartotek leaf greeting cards | simple pretty

leaf greeting cards

images from, layout and type by jane potrykus


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