A few years ago, a number of my interiors-obsessed friends started mentioning Mark D. Sikes’ eponymous blog, and were raving about his posts. When I visited his site, I knew instantly why it was generating so much buzz– MDS is the perfect mix of “chic people, glamorous places, and stylish things”. An L.A.-based interior designer with impeccable taste, Mark had created a must-follow blog.
And follow I did. As it turned out, Mark was following me. After commenting on each others’ posts, an email exchange, and my begging him to join me at an event with Deeda Blair, we became fast friends.
Besides my favorite MDS posts on vintage imagery, iconic women, and envy-worthy interiors, I love that Mark uses his blog as a platform to promote other designers, illustrators, and creative folks. This sharing is the hallmark of his generous spirit. Henry James’ famous words “[t]hree things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind” pretty much sum up my dear friend.
Mark and his partner Michael kindly let us photograph them (and beloved Frenchie, Lily) at their drop-dead, and newly renovated, Hollywood Hills home.
The best part of profiling a tastemaker is getting them to divulge their must-haves and inspirations. Mark shares his list below.
1) China- For everyday, Pillivuyt white French Porcelain, for fun, blue and white Spode Willow dishes. I love to mix in antique blue and white porcelain serving ware… for special occasions, Michael’s grandmother’s china.
2)Linens- Well, I love white linen sheets from Merci in Paris, we get them monogrammed. Michael loves D. Porthault Marie Antoinette embroidery bed linens in blue. To compromise we switch off every time the bed is changed
3) Stationery- I’ve been using Smythson stationary for over 20 years, I love to mix the Bond Street Blue and Nile Blue cards and envelopes. I also have a whole cabinet full of my custom MDS stationery that gets a lot of use. And for special occasions I like to commission artist Hayley Sarno to do a watercolor for a card.
4) Fabric- I’m so passionate about fabrics. I have so many favorites- Soane, Peter Dunham, Robert Kime, Lisa fine, Veere Grenney, Hill Brown, and I’m using a lot of Brunschwig & Fils lately, but if I had to pick a favorite I’d have to say Carolina Irving Textiles.
5) Paint color- My favorite paint color is Kelly Moore Swiss Coffee, there isn’t a project that I haven’t used it in, and I always say “everything looks better white.” I’m also loving right now Farrow & Ball’s Blue Ground, St. Giles Blue, and Stiffkey Blue.
6) Destination- We love to go to St. Barths. For many years we would rent Rudolph Nureyev’s house right on the beach. We also love weekend trips to Santa Barbara, and of course Paris is a must once a year. I love staying at the Hotel Costes, if not for the pool alone. But the best destination of all is just being at home. I’m happiest in my garden or my bedroom. My favorite shopping destination is right here in L.A.- RTH, the best store I know of, actually now there are two, one a few doors down from the other.
7) Books- Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to read… but I do love books. My all time favorite book is Vogue Living: Houses, Garden, People. I think I have six copies. I also love Cecil Beaton: The Art of the Scrapbook… Francois Halard and Stephen Sills’ new books are unquestionably perfect.
8) People- This is a long list. Here are a few- Steve Mcqueen, Grace Kelly, Spike Jonze, Tilda Swinton, Bill Blass, Phoebe Philo, John Jr., Pharrell Williams, Chessy Rayner, Marina Rust, and I have to say, I think Jennifer Connelly is my definition of beauty. 9) L.A. hangout- The Sunset Tower Hotel- at Tower Bar a Few nights a week for dinner and by the pool at The Terrace for work lunches and weekend brunch. If I’m not there you can usually find me down the street at Mel’s Diner. I love a diner. Every once in a while you might find me dancing at Giorgio’s at the Standard Hotel on a Saturday night, however, I’m usually home a little after midnight.
10) Downtime activity- Blogging. I love it. It’s like therapy for me, I escape into all the things I love. I’m beyond obsessed with Instagram, it really makes you look at everything differently, everything becomes a potential photograph with a filter. I enjoy going to the movies every Saturday, I spin at Cycle House LA every weekend and I my new years resolution was to do more yoga… so far, so good, if I’m not traveling, I’ve been going every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
11) What inspires you? Beautiful things, simply things that are pretty, not complicated, and people. I’m a people watcher. Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by what people wear and their mannerisms. When I was young, every Sunday after church I could tell everyone at the Sunday lunch table what every single person in the congregation was wearing by church pew, left to right. Believe it or not this attention to detail, and being able to visually memorize things, has served me well.
Pleated checked wool midi skirt
Checked wool blazer
High-rise straight-leg jeans
Blanche leather ankle boots
Bellechasse medium leather-trimmed canvas bag
Double breasted coat
Square belt bag
Off-the-shoulder smocked satin top
Tie-waist cotton-corduroy coat
Siria suede mid-calf boots