Tom Landry’s tips on Home Decor

My home is my sanctuary, my little slice of peace and quiet. In true European spirit, I am a fan of smaller spaces (my apartment is about 1,300 square feet), I love anything old, including old buildings (the row house I live in was built in 1901) and antique furniture, and I am a minimalist, a true believer in the less is more philosophy.

My home is my sanctuary, my little slice of peace and quiet. In true European spirit, I am a fan of smaller spaces (my apartment is about 1,300 square feet), I love anything old, including old buildings (the row house I live in was built in 1901) and antique furniture, and I am a minimalist, a true believer in the less is more philosophy. My friend and interior decorator, Tom Landry, has helped me over the years to make my house my home, make my office feel like my brand; his taste is completely in line with mine and he could be an adopted European, even though he is a New Orleanian.

AP: I hope you don’t mind that I am quintessentially European in my taste…

TL:  On the contrary! Europeans embrace design in a less trendy way. In the most unsuspecting of environments, design is at the forefront yet always in an understated, but highly sophisticated manner. I believe this is due to Europeans’ significant history, homogenous population, minimal physical space. Europeans also seem more apt to embrace foreign influences in design (because travel is perhaps more accessible or part of your way of life).  There are many simple things one can do to evoke a more European aesthetic in your surroundings, as the basis for most of today’s European homes is simplicity in color and formality.

AP: What are 5 things everyone should have in their home?


  1. One piece of art, you love no matter its origin, market value
  2. At least one beautiful mirror or many to reflect the energy of your home
  3. A family heirloom or antique
  4. Books (even if you don’t read)
  5. Someone you love

AP: What are 5 things everyone should throw away right now?


  1. Any object that is a replica of something living such as a plant or animal (yes, even if its 100% silk of a hide of another animal- like a Zebra printed cowhide)
  2. Ceiling Fans (have we not air conditioning systems in this day and age?!?!)
  3. Anything without a purpose (purpose however is not necessarily functional but can also be visual stimulation)
  4. Common trendy or reproduced objects are the epitome of poor taste!
  5. Potpourri (and yes, it does still exist)

AP: What are 5 affordable fixes to implement today?


  1. Painting (whether the walls, mill work or a large canvas painted a color that evokes your senses)
  2. Re-arranging of existing objects, furniture, art (can truly transform a space several times over with the same items); I have always said that our physical surroundings should never be sterile or immobile but should be much like that of our lives, in perpetual motion
  3. Lighting (the simple changing of a bulb type can transform a space, I love Reveal light bulbs for incandescent applications)
  4. Pillows (change colors at any time by bringing in fresh new color with a few solid accessory pillows)
  5. Changing cabinetry door fronts and/or hardware

AP: What are 5 splurges to save and enjoy for the rest of your life?


  1. A single piece of art, large or small that you obsess over after first encounter and begin to have an affair with in your mind
  2. A grand piano, even if you don’t play, lacquered ebony pianos are so incredibly beautiful
  3. A well designed sofa, of the Italian sort, one that can grow old with you and your surroundings, whether traditional or contemporary
  4. A mirror; mirrors reflect beauty not only of the human reflection but of the space that which surrounds the human reflection; how better can you enjoy your surroundings than to see yourself actually “in” them?
  5. A bookcase or shelving  (to house all that you cherish, collect and wish to display over your lifetime); I can always tell so much about someone when I visit their shelving, it’s like a visual biography of the person’s life

AP: 5 tips to make any room look good?

TL: In order for a home to look good, it must feel good and smell good. It is essential for the dweller(s) to walk into a room and feel completely comfortable sitting on any surface, placing a drink or book on any surface and being able to stay in that room without feeling anxiousness. Once this this functional quality is achieved, the aesthetic qualities must be considered and should be relative to the specific dwellers. The old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind… If you feel relaxed, content and safe, the design of your home has reached its ultimate objective.

My favorite quote is by Jean Luc Godard …. “It’s not about where you take things from, but where you take them to.” Objects, furnishings and art can come from any source, whether it be a market in Paris, a corner store in San Antonio or in a pile of rubbish on the side of the road in Haiti, what is most relevant is the emotional connection you make with such things.  This is highly personal and often times inexplicable.  Where you take whatever it may be that you have purchased into your personal realm for aesthetic and at times, functional pleasure is essentially how you reincarnate it.  A $2 bowl at a flea market may appear like a $500 bowl if placed atop the right table which matters to no one but seems to have relevance in today’s society; that same $2 bowl may give you a sense of joy each time you see it for no other reason but the feeling it invoked the first time your eye came upon it.

In general, here are some tips that work all around the house:

– Fresh flowers (or even just greenery cut from your own garden) in a clear vase or bottle brings life to any environment

– Low voltage lighting on dimmer (track or recessed) gives a clean clear light that brings life to the space even in the darkest of hours

– A scented candle (Tocca’s Grace or Stella are my favorites)

If you are looking for tips for specific rooms, here is my list.


  • Keep the area clean and crisp, clutter-free, let the fruit, vegetables or food you are preparing take center stage
  • Fresh fruit or herbs keeps the kitchen feeling warm and inviting
  • Natural light brings the outdoors in; we consume fruits of the land and sea, we should prepare these in an light filled environment that is respectful of their origin
  • If your sink faces a wall, place a mirror behind it to reflect the happenings behind you

Living room 

  • Always anchor the space with a single main focal point (view, fireplace, art or even media) and build outward from that focal
  • Ambient lighting provides for a mood change and can either be used during the evening or when raining out
  • A fireplace of some sort whether it be conventional wood burning, gas or an eco-fireplace, is essential: a flame brings a comforting intimacy to a space like no other element

Dining room

  • A dining room should be a place to share with family and guests; make it inviting by lessening the formality of the space and focusing on the how those who use the space are able to comfortably enjoy the space with one another (design the table without head chairs, lessen the width of the table allowing for more intimate conversing, provide sufficient and direct lighting over the table with ambient lighting at the surround)


  • Ample ambient lighting (lamps), for soothing light
  • Sumptuous bed linens that are to be used, rather than seen and removed before sleep 



  • Roll your bath towels for a spa like look
  • If the ceilings are low, use a long slender mirror above your sink to give the illusion of height
  • Keep counter surfaces clean and clutter free by storing your personal items away
  • Don’t dismiss art’s relevance to this space, no matter how small


AP: What are your 5 favorite home organizational resources?


  1. (someone always, always has an idea that makes me wonder, how in the world did they think of that?)
  2. Never underestimate the power of Ikea when it comes to home organizational items and ideas on how to organize
    1. European design magazines, European design magazines and more European design magazines! My first design professor told me that there is no better text book than to learn or be inspired from what others have done and magazines are the best source of relevant information; if I had to live on $800 a month, I would budget $200 just for magazines.  Find the Elle Decor from the country that which matches your own personal style (EDItaly is more clean and mod, EDGreat Britain tends to be more eclectic with spaces appearing more lived in, EDGermany is more serious, EDSpain has a tendency to focus on the outdoors). Ok, so maybe not just Europe…. The Australian Vogue Living is my single favorite. It is the perfect marriage between the European and American aesthetic.  Living (the GB version) is a great magazine as well.  I also have an obsession with Monocole, a British publication that combines fashion, interiors, architecture, politics, and design under one cover.  As you can see, I am a magazine whore and do not hide it., you can find magazines in every room of my home. The Home Series, a paperback book collection that has been published annually by Le Figaro for Ma Déco (Or Beta Plus) and can be purchased online is an incredible source of inspiration for European home design.  The series is broken into various titles such as Kitchens, Bathrooms, Living, Designer Spaces. While they are published annually, the imagery is timeless. These books are invaluable no matter how old the publication.
  3. Due to the many ideas that can come from a single magazine, dog tailing page edges proves frustrating and when searching for that one bedroom image, for instance, you love, so I take the pages from those magazines and place them into black sketch books, titled, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, libraries, stairwells, etc.  This is a great way to reference inspiration without having to go through 100 magazines in search of that one specific image.  OK, perhaps it’s a bit like Pinterest, but I prefer to have the image in my hand… there is nothing like holding a book or a photo in hand for me.
  4. Another person: when faced with home organization dilemmas clients face, I believe having another set of completely objective eyes come in is the best way to come up with a solution. We bury ourselves in too many issues when dealing with organizing our personal items because of emotions attached to the organization of such items whereas someone who has no emotional bond to those can come up with a method and system that allows not only you but anyone to find an item in a simple logical way.

AP: What are your decorating pet peeves?

TL: Love this question, I am not going to hold back…  

  1. The placing of objects of any sort on a surface diagonally
  2. A sofa designed so deep that you cannot comfortably sit without laying down (beds are for sleeping)
  3. A display of family photos all about a home (find one place or two, and if you can’t remember what the person looks like, then they aren’t that important to display); also the giant seemingly life-sized photographs of family- again, really?
  4. Head chairs; I like my guests to feel as if they are “at home” when dining with us, head chairs invoke an air of superiority
  5. Lamp shades that are not bright white (other than of course, Mooi’s use of black shades with gold liners)
  6. Use of fluorescent lighting (anywhere!)
  7. Inadequate (dim, yellow hue) lighting (reminds me of a funeral parlor)
  8. Double welting on upholstered pieces (if the fabric is too stiff for a single, then it doesn’t belong on furniture)
  9. Crown molding (I detest when a real estate agent mentions this, please)
  10. Rugs that are too small for a setting
  11. Wire hangers in a closet
  12. Bathroom: anything other than the color bright white for the water closet, sink
  13. Bathroom: printed shower curtains; use glass or use a simple white curtain
  14. Anything other than solid white dish ware
  15. Anything other than white towels, solid bright white (white invokes sense of cleanliness)
  16. Anything other than white sheets
  17. TVs hung over a fireplace (find another place or room, the fire should be the focal point, not a flat screen television!)
  18. Lack of seating in a bedroom (always a chair, at least to sit and put shoes on)
  19. Lack of mirror in each room (a reflected surface is perhaps the most important element to a room)
  20. Art that is hung too high (art should be hung so that the viewer is looking at the middle of the piece)
  21. Tchotskies on top of a grand piano (the piano itself is beautiful, why cover it?)
  22. Candles that which have not been burned once in candlesticks; at least give the appearance that the candlesticks are actually used!
  23. A theme to a room
  24. Thick drinking glasses (I don’t want to feel like I am at a gym when having a drink)
  25. Clutter on bathroom or kitchen counter (don’t display your “intimates” to your guests, they don’t need to know your regimen or lack thereof)
  26. OK, I am not sure if I even should mention, tab top curtains, sheers, furniture arm covers, colored matting on framed art, granite counter surfaces, 4″ splash in kitchen (surface to surface, don’t trip the eye!), anything other than chrome on plumbing fixtures (and no, do not match the plumbing fixtures to lighting fixtures), faux arches, vaulted ceilings (unless original to an old home), Berber carpet (so 90’s), carpet in bathrooms (gross)… and the list goes on but I must stop!


Less is More

Ada Polla share her thoughts on how less is more with a few
key signature pieces in your wardrobe.

My grandmother and my godmother both taught me that it is best to value quality over quantity. In life in general, and in your wardrobe in particular. Both always told me that the perfect fitted back slacks would serve me better than 5 cheap pairs bought in trendy colors. As such, I pride myself on a wardrobe that is filled with items I love and wear – and not too many of them.

Nonetheless, my interpretation of a “minimalist wardrobe” was recently challenged when my girlfriend Jenn Mapp told me about her 35 items. She recently decided to simplify her closet (thus her life), and pare it down to 35 items. And she loves the result – not just in her closet. Intrigued? Read on…

AP: What made you decide to reduce your wardrobe to 35 items?

JM: For most of life shopping was my favorite pastime. Now I have a toddler and an infant, a full time job and own a small (but charming!) house. This translates to no time, minimal storage and considerably less discretionary income. Earlier this spring, while searching Pinterest for closet organization tips, I discovered several boards dedicated to the idea of a minimalist wardrobe. The notion of turning my massive, unmanageable closet into a curated collection of seasonal apparel just felt right. Within a few days I ruthlessly edited my clothes down to 35 items and consigned, donated or stored the rest. My life has improved immeasurably.

AP: What are your 35 items? Does this include accessories, shoes, lingerie – everything?

JM: I define “35 items” as the apparel hanging in my closet — business casual separates worn mostly to work. My 35 items do not include accessories because these are my signature outfit makers and without them this would not be a plausible fashion experiment – for me.  Workout clothes, lingerie and sleep items do not count. However, my entire fashion collection now fits in one side of an Ikea Pax wardrobe. This makes me very proud.

AP: How has your life changed since undergoing this fashion experiment?

JM: In so many ways! Obviously I’ve saved money and time but I’m also happier and more present. You don’t realize how much energy it takes to manage possessions. Most tangibly, my fashion experiment motivated me to start a blog. I assumed #jennmapp would be a fashion blog cataloging multiple outfits created from 35 items but I’ve found that I am more inspired by the psychology of the process. Curbing the impulse to shop parallels instinctive behavior in every aspect of my life.

AP: Any tips on how others could reduce their wardrobes?

JM: Sure, how about a random numbered list? The internet loves a list.

  1. Purchase or borrow an inexpensive rolling rack.
  2. Assemble your entire wardrobe in one place.
  3. Automatically move formal or cocktail attire, out of season clothes, ill-fitting or damaged items to the rolling rack.
  4. Consider every item that remains. These will make up your current season collection. If you love it, you will know in one second – leave it in your closet. If you experience any hesitation towards an item, put it on the rolling rack.
  5. Ruthlessly edit until you are down to a collection that feels right. You will need an adequate assortment of tops, bottoms and outwear. Consider your lifestyle. Depending on the size of your wardrobe, you may require several rounds of edits.
  6. Store, repair, consign or donate the rest. Just do it.
  7. Repeat every three – four months, filling in gaps as needed.

As I listen to Jenn in awe, she concludes: “You only think you need hundreds of items. You don’t! I guarantee you only wear 30 – 50 pieces as it is. Closet reduction is an excellent exercise in defining your value system. If you read this and are inspired to act, you are ready. Take the plunge. If the idea doesn’t resonate at all or seems inconceivable, well someone has to keep the economy afloat, right?”


Resources to help you achieve this minimalist wardrobe:


Style and Grooming Lessons from My Godmother

Once in a while, I wake up and feel like putting on my “fat pants” and sweatshirt and call it a day. I imagine we all have these days… When I have those days, I end up dressing extra well and looking extra good, because I imagine running into my godmother Dominique in that “fat pants” outfit. And I imagine her disapproving look. After all, she is the one who taught me so much about style… Here are my favorite style and grooming lessons from her, the ones I cherish and refer to on a daily basis.

Once in a while, I wake up and feel like putting on my “fat pants” and sweatshirt and call it a day. I imagine we all have these days… When I have those days, I end up dressing extra well and looking extra good, because I imagine running into my godmother Dominique in that “fat pants” outfit. And I imagine her disapproving look. After all, she is the one who taught me so much about style… Here are my favorite style and grooming lessons from her, the ones I cherish and refer to on a daily basis.

  1. Perfect manners are the most elegant accessory any woman can have.
  2. Great posture gives any woman class, elegance and a slimmer look.
  3. Leaving things to the imagination is more elegant than putting it all out there. Think backless dresses rather than low-cut dresses.
  4. There is no excuse for imperfect grooming.
  5. Nails (hands): The most elegant nail length is short; the most elegant shape is a slightly square oval; the most elegant polish color is clear; and there is nothing French about a “French manicure.”
  6. Feet: take care of them daily with a good moisturizer in the evening; but no socks in bed, please.
  7. Groomed eyebrows make any face look more elegant; overly-groomed eyebrows will age you.
  8. Don’t save your jewelry for special occasions. Wear your diamonds, pearls, chunky necklaces to celebrate the fact that it is Tuesday.
  9. You always look more elegant holding a champagne glass than a beer mug or a shot glass.
  10. You never look elegant smoking (no matter that Audrey Hepburn might disagree).
  11. You never sound elegant swearing.
  12. Drink water. Lots of it. Ideally, Contrex.
  13. It’s hard to look elegant in cheap fabrics. It is much easier to look (and feel) elegant in fabrics such as linen or cashmere. Buy less, but better quality.
  14. It’s hard to look elegant in an outfit that doesn’t fit; fit is everything; find (and be kind to) a seamstress you love.
  15. Elegance is not about trendy outfits; it’s about finding styles, shapes, fabrics and colors that work for you and sticking to those.
  16. If you find the perfect pair of pants, buy three.
  17. If you find the perfect pair of heels, buy two.
  18. On the shoe note, don’t walk around in heels that need TLC or shoes that need polishing.
  19. Pay attention to your weight and don’t let pounds creep up on you.
  20. It is always elegant to smile and be kind.