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I love LA. Isn’t there a somewhat satirical song to that effect? I was born in Los Angeles, studied at UCLA and worked in LA, and I do love LA – this city is part of me. I love the rich Hollywood history, the beautiful beaches and the temperate weather. And, of course, I am partial to the shopping and dining in this City of Angels.

“I love perusing all the beautiful options in the many design shops in Los Angeles.”

“I love perusing all the beautiful options in the many design shops in Los Angeles.”

For drinks and great food, a longtime hot spot is Trader Vic’s Lounge at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. With a decidedly Polynesian theme, Trader Vic’s is “Home of the Original Mai Tai” and a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. Part of the historic chain founded by Victor Bergeron in 1944, it is known for exotic cocktails and lively ambiance.

Another not-to-be-missed eatery is The Ivy Restaurant in West Hollywood. This popular spot is a longtime hub for Hollywood elite with its cozy French country-style interior, sunny patio and regional American classics.

The Ivy logo

The La Cienega district is, of course, also a favorite haunt of mine, especially since our firm was on Melrose Ave. for years. The district – located on La Cienega between Sunset Blvd. and Melrose – has attracted top interior designers for decades. In more recent years, the area has gained fame as a top destination for great products and design inspiration.

With its outdoorsy, walkable allure, this creatively influenced district is booming with dozens of design stores recently opened – the majority selling high-end furniture and accessories.

Especially appealing in this district is Melrose Place, a charming tree-lined street home to fabulous antiques stores and designer boutiques.

Formations Logo

Another lively spot is the Melrose Design District in West Hollywood between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards. One of my preferred places to shop here is Formations, which for years has produced collections of historically inspired items such as lighting, furniture, planters and accessories. All items are beautifully handcrafted in Southern California.

I love David Jones Custom Florist – around the corner from Formations on Robertson Boulevard – recognized for its creative and original floral arrangements. This high-end studio has catered to clients from presidents to Hollywood stars to royalty.

And what’s a visit to LA without stopping by one of its storied hotels? My favorite property is the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, a beautiful oasis in the heart of Beverly Hills. With a classic renaissance inspired motif, the hotel has the warmth and appeal of a private residence.

Spending a day shopping in LA’s Melrose Design District takes determination and a good pair of comfortable shoes.

Spending a day shopping in LA’s Melrose Design District takes determination and a good pair of comfortable shoes.

The Beverly Hills Hotel – with its distinctive pink stucco façade – is a vibrant slice of history on Sunset Blvd. Dating back to 1912, this venerable spot is home to the legendary Polo Lounge, a top power-dining venue for decades. A famed retreat for movies stars ranging from Marlene Dietrich to Marilyn Monroe, this iconic property oozes old Hollywood glamour, style and romance – and to me offers the quintessence of LA.

What do you love about LA? Please share your thoughts. I always love to read your comments below.

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As the sister venue to Amaya restaurant at the award-winning San Diego-based The Grand Del Mar, Amaya La Jolla boasts many of the same fine design details as the resort.

One of our most recent projects, Amaya La Jolla is housed in a former art gallery encompassing 10,000 square feet. We designed it to complement the distinctive European style of The Grand Del Mar, looking to decorative Italian palazzos for inspiration.

Amaya La Jolla Veranda

The Veranda, with its open airy feel, evokes the ambiance of a coastal European town.

Palazzo style refers to an architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries based upon the palazzi (palaces) built by wealthy families of the Italian Renaissance. The architects of these buildings at times, however, drew details from sources other than the Italian Renaissance, such as Italian Romanesque or the French Beaux Arts movement, Empire and Venetian styles. For example, the hand-carved arched lunettes above the outside windows exemplify the Beaux Arts movement, as do the decorative ironwork at the entry doors and the gates into the wine cellar. The hand-troweled plaster throughout replicates finishes found in Venice, as do the mosaic tiled floors in the front veranda.

The restaurant encompasses an airy, light-filled front veranda with an indoor/outdoor feel; an adjacent wine room and wine cellar; a main dining room; a private dining room; and a bar/lounge area featuring nightly entertainment.

Amaya La Jolla Wine Room

In the wine room, doors paneled with oil paintings of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, as well as a hammered tin ceiling, add to the room’s European feel.

Two of the most notably similar design elements found at both The Grand Del Mar and Amaya La Jolla are the abundant use of hand-carved stone and polished marble. The restaurant’s exterior features stone-carved arched pediments, and the interior entry vestibule features hand-carved stone columns. We worked with the same four-generation family of Italian artisans – used exclusively by Warren Sheets Design, Inc. – that we collaborated with for The Grand Del Mar.

Other design elements common to both entities include elaborate coffered ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, wrought iron doors, stenciled accents, custom iron and crystal chandeliers, mosaic stone flooring, hand-troweled Venetian plaster walls, hand-applied 18 karat gold leaf finishes from Germany, intricate hand-woven carpets and detailed millwork. Additional highlights include doors paneled with oil paintings of St. Mark’s Square in Venice and a hammered tin ceiling with hand applied bronze finishes in the wine room all constructed by personally selected top artisans with years of experience and stellar portfolios, as well as the very finest products and materials.

To further the restaurant’s warm, residential ambiance, we used an array of rich hues, including gold, ochre and aubergine, contrasted against rich cardamom rose and French plum colors – colors seen in vibrant and beautiful sunsets of the Umbria region of southern Italy.

Since Amaya La Jolla is located in a seaside village, we added coastal-inspired elements including oil paintings imported from Western Europe. The artwork has an airy, impressionistic feel and vibrant colors that tie into the restaurant’s beachfront locale.

Amaya La Jolla Vignette

Oil paintings imported from Western Europe accent the decor at Amaya La Jolla.

If you’re in La Jolla, stop at Amaya La Jolla for a delicious meal or simply pause in front to enjoy its detailed exterior. And then let us know which dining area, piece of artwork or design detail is your favorite.

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