It Was A Very Good Year



Hello, it’s Joni – the face behind Cote de Texas.  I thought I‘d introduce myself for once – all professionally photoshopped, with 54 year old wrinkles and jowls miraculously removed and my image stretched vertically to make me look less……horizontal!    Thank God for photoshop!   Signing off on 2008 brings thoughts of this past year – a year in which Cote de Texas played a huge part in my life.   So many wonderful things have come my way because of this little design blog – the friendships made in real life and through emails, the support you brought with each and every comment (except that occasional nasty Anonymous!) and then there was the wealth of knowledge that came from reading your own blogs about design in your lives.  It’s a small, but growing community – the design blogs – a sisterhood (and brotherhood) dedicated to our homes and our love for them and for those of our friends.

Cote de Texas has become a passion – something which I feel a great responsibility to.   I think about it a lot, questioning my ability to keep you entertained:  what I will find to write about next, will I ever think of anything decent to blog about again?  Just knowing you are out there, clicking onto an old post drives me mad – I wish I could have something interesting and new to post three times a day, but three times a week is more the reality, unfortunately.  

Sometimes what goes on behind the scenes is funnier than what is written.   This year – the award for absurdity goes to a homeowner who shall remain nameless.  When I received gorgeous real estate photographs of her house in an email, and was informed it was up for sale – I naively shared it with you, of course!   The homeowner quickly wrote me, aghast, and demanded to know if I had broken into her home and taken pictures of it!!!  Uh, no.   I’m not THAT crazy for a new story line!    What a headline that would make:

Desperate for a new topic, blogger Cote de Texas broke into a Houston mansion to steal pictures of it to show her readers.   Arrested, she remains in jail, unable to post bail – her funds all dried up due to her incessant purchasing of French antiques.”

OK.  I’ll admit to suffering from writer’s block now and then, but trust me people, your homes are safe from me!   But, finding new topics to write about became somewhat harder this year.  2008 was the year of the Design Blog explosion.  Every day brought a new and exciting design blog to read and with each new blog, the competition for fresh material became just a little bit more intense.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started to write about something, only to discover three other bloggers had already covered the subject, and more adequately, too.  Still, somehow I managed to write a number of columns that you found interesting judging from the amount of comments and emails it garnered.   So, here, is a recap of 2008’s more popular Cote de  Texas stories.   I hope you enjoy revisiting these with me.  Follow the RED links to reread the story in its entirety, if you so desire.  And my favorite picks of the 2008 design blogs follows.



Katrina refuges seek shelter in the Houston Astrodome.

I learned a big lesson this year.  Politics and design blogging don’t mix!   Not everyone, by a long shot,  who reads this blog wanted to hear how great Obama was.  Trust me on this!    When I wrote about President Bush and Hurricane Katrina in Gustav – The Bad, boy were the comments heated!  Quite a few of you threatened to never read my blog again after that post!   But it worked both ways.  A Republican blogger friend suffered the same exact threats from Democrats.   I learned, I learned!



Kelly Wearstler, noted designer and author, is just one of the many famous interior designers fined in Florida.  

The one story that truly resonated with readers and created the most comments was ASID – An Agency Out of Control - a post written about Kelly Wearstler, among other notables, being fined in Florida for practicing without a license.   I was stunned to learn what is happening to interior designers in Florida and other states and it was a real eye opener to read how intrusive ASID has become.   Readers mostly agreed, though some pro-ASID people left comments too.  To date, there have been more than 200 comments left, debating the issue of the state licensing of interior designers.  The battle still rages on, but the anti-ASID side seems to be making the most strides.



Hunkering Down with Ike

Another popular storyline and a more poignant one was the series about Hurricane Ike.   I was deeply touched by all the well wishes and prayers you sent our way during Ike.   I can’t express how much your comments meant to my family, even though I didn’t have the electricity to read them and had to resort to using my car battery to charge up my laptop!  As I write this now, our fence is finally being replaced from Ike’s damage – but we were the lucky ones.   Galveston and Bolivar Island suffered greatly and still suffer today.



The beautiful oaks trees and houses of Galveston’s Historical  District.

Remember those beautiful trees from the Historical Districts in Galveston that you commented on?    All those gorgeous trees are now dead, killed by the salt water during Ike.   I can’t bear to think how terrible it must be for that neighborhood, many of those oak trees were planted right after the Great Storm.   In an interesting side note to the Galveston story, one reader was motivated by the pictures to purchase a second home in the historical district!  Lucky girl!



The Wheat’s beautiful kitchen.

So many of you enjoyed Stalking the Wheats in West University and at their Beach House – Bolivar Style.   I still get emails about their house and specifically their kitchen paint color:  Benjamin Moore Fieldstone, btw!  In all – those two stories generated lots of comments and private emails and Sally Wheat became a bit of a celebrity with Cote de Texas readers.  Luckily their Bolivar beach house survived Ike.



The Toile Peugeot!

New Car Blues (and white) was another one you commented on.   But more interesting was the fact that so many design bloggers love the vintage Jeep Wagoneer.  Let’s start a petition to bring it back!


Virtual Beach House #1 versus


Virtual Beach House #2

I never can anticipate what story you will like or reject, and sometimes your choice is surprising.  One such surprise was My Virtual Beach House.  Apparently, everyone has dreams of one day furnishing a second home too!    You voted on whether you liked Beach House #1 or #2 best.  House #2 won.



The beautiful living room from the popular movie Something’s Gotta Give.

My all-time favorite topic to write about is the Something’s Gotta Give beach house – and I’ve done it as much as humanly possible.  So many people had emailed me about that house that I decided to write a blog on how to achieve the same look in your own home in Beach House-Series #4, Hamptons House.   My dream is to one day write an entire book about that movie beach house!!


Nancy Lancaster’s Famous Butta Yellow Drawing Room

The answer to that aged-old decorating dilemma – To Clutter or Not to Clutter remains elusive to me and, apparently,  to lots of you too!!  It seems a number of people can’t decide if they want to live in a cozy, cluttered home or in a slick, clean and spare interior.  I’m still undecided – what about you?



The Infamous Miles Redd Slipcover

When Decorno wrote that she hated this skirted table in a Miles Redd interior, I felt a need to defend it in Skirted Tables.   After Decorno responded, the war of words was on and comments flew from my blog to hers and back again.   Never has such a silly topic gotten so heated!



And finally - Thank Yous to Bloggers, Readers, and Stalkers!, a recap of the year’s emails and gifts I received deserves a reading if you missed it the first go round.  If you have ever sent me a picture of your home, it probably was included here!

Here is my list of favorite new blogs in 2008.   There is one for each month – it was hard to limit it to just 12, all the new blogs are great!!!  In no particular order, in fact the last one is favorite:

Velvet and Linen – What can I say about Brooke Giannetti?  Beautiful, talented, sweet, warm.  Her blog is phenomenal, her talent even more so.  The first time I read hers I thought, “well, it’s been fun writing mine.”  Brooke lives a fairy tale life in two beautiful homes she and her architect husband created.  Read it and often – you will be amazed.

Visual Vamp – Another dynamo, Valorie Hart is an interior designer, florist, tango dancer, inn keeper – you name it, she’s done it.  Her blog is the stream of consciousness that flows from her intellectual brain.  I adore her!

Cheap Chic – A 17 year old writes about fashion.  OK, it’s not design, but she’s my daughter!!!!!  oy!

The Lettered Cottage – Layla is redoing her darling cottage and we get front row seats.  Catch her now – she’s probably going to be HGTV’s next Design Star!!!

Color Outside the Lines -  Artie, working and decorating and gardening in upstate New York.   He’s a doll – the sweetest there is.

Simply Seleta – Seleta lives in Florida’s wonderful northwest area.  Beautiful with 4 beautiful little ones living in a beautiful house.

Renee Finberg – is an interior designer from Florida.  A wealth of knowledge, her blog is exotic and heady.  Worth a daily visit!

Lime in the  Coconut – Florida again.  Linda writes about beaches, hotels in sunny spots, her house, and her tropical style.  Delightful!

Canyon Wren Cottage – Texas!  Austin!  A recap of real estate happenings in the Hill Country. 

Willow Decor – Swedish gray and white all the way.   Lots of yummy eye candy.

Harmony and Home – A Californian interior designer blogs about interior design.   Rebecca’s story on the Golden Mean is first rate.

French Essence – France, Provence, Vicki Archer, The Book, The Blog – Vicki leads the life we all dream for!!!!

Here is wishing all of you and yours a Happy and Very Healthy New Years!!!!    I am looking forward to sharing 2009 with all of you!!!

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