I was a competitive gymnast for many years, and now I spend my days making things look pretty. This picture of Gabby Douglas hits me hard in both of those spots. I want an enormous version of this photograph framed somewhere, and then I want to design a whole room around it.

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

And then I want to go out into the yard and do some split leaps. Thanks, Gabby.

AuthorAB Chao

I'll be posting a general SF design camp recap next week, but today I wanted to spotlight one of my lovely sponsors, who also served as my assistant -- a peerless hauler of ice, milk, sandwiches, and popsicles -- Miss Hannah Huffman.

I've known Hannah since the way-back days of Flickr, where we all posted photos from our new DSLRs and talked about our feelings. The difference between Hannah and the rest of us is that she is an incredibly talented photographer, one who actually likes film and does things like get it developed. 

Also, she is super cute and wears bucks with neon soles. So, we're obviously not ever going to be as cool as she is.

Photos by Victoria Smith

Hannah donated a gorgeous set of prints to go in the SF campers' goodie bags. I accidentally stashed a set for myself and they are now accidentally framed on my wall. I stole things, okay? You can't stop me.

Look at those prints! Gorgeous, gorgeous. I'm hoping if I'm nice to her she'll donate more for the next camp. Fingers crossed. (HINT, HANNAH.)

You can see more of Hannah's work at her Flickr page here. You can contact her for custom orders here. Yay!

AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
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I accidentally took these Japanese magnolia branches from our neighbor’s tree. She did tell me I was welcome to her camellias, so I may get off on a technicality. I basically did nothing to this photo — they are just that beautiful.

In other news, The Damn Millionaires have started updating their site again. That is delightful to me. Please go there and enjoy their latest guitar riff of the week, which is more like a song, and features my husband and some friends from Enoch’s. It may give you some insight into exactly what it is like for me to live with Vince Chao, who probably recorded this entire thing while a) watching SportsCenter, b) drinking both coffee and a beer, and c) playing fetch with Hank. Also, it’s called “Soultime.” Come on, y’all can’t resist that. Right here.


People ask me all the time how to arrange items so that they look pretty in photos. Well, here is a secret: if you start with beautiful items, you don't really have to do very much work. The photo above is a great example, since the entire thing was kind of an accident. The hot (and hawt) pink Epiphanie bag* was already on the kitchen table when I came home from work. Then, as a surprise for when everyone else got home, I arranged the macarons and king cake we bought at Sucre in New Orleans on two random cake plates. (Seriously random -- I have no idea where either plate came from.) The sun was sort of shining through the window at the time, and I realized that all of it looked really pretty together, so I moved everything closer to the light and grabbed my camera (fitted with that cheapie 50mm lens that everyone should have by now. If you don't have it, remedy that sad situation immediately.) Everything was done before I even started arranging things. All I did was put the smaller cake plate in front of the bigger one (obvs), and added in a silver vase with some sparkly picks inside (for no other reason than it was already in the kitchen with me.) I mean, this little vignette doesn't even make any sense. It's not even a very good picture. But it looks kind of pretty, doesn't it? That's because I started with beautiful things shot in nice light, and they did all the work for me. Voila! You are now a stylist + photographer. Go forth and bust out some beauty. PS. You can never go wrong with macarons. The reason you see them in so many styled photos is because they look good with everything, even king cakes and camera bags. Yes, they're a total cliche, I know, I've heard. Who cares? *For you old-school Flickr people, you'll be tickled to know that the Epiphanie bag I have is the "Clover," named after one of Sesame Ellis's twins! It was a gift from the delightful Maile and is super fabulous.
AuthorAB Chao
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Sometimes when I take pictures, I ask myself, "What would 10 Cent do?" Probably something like this. Please note latest eBay acquisition, the most excellent Bertoia diamond chair.

You people have some good opinions. I was so happy to read all of them. Many of your wishes for the site were similar -- for obvious reasons, you all get really into before and after photos -- so, for your edification, I have compiled them into a cute chart. (Charts can SO be cute. I made this one at equally cute website Daytum.)

I am going to attempt to work several of these into weekly features, but I ain't telling you which ones yet. Numbers in parens indicate percentages:

It made me laugh to see how many people wanted me to bring back the Lin Chao Motherly Advice Column. (For those of you who are just joining us, the column answered reader questions in the style of my mother-in-law, who sometimes says mean things about your weight and speaks English with a Chinese accent.) Ah, memories. I don't think Lin Chao knows very much about decorating, but I would love to do an actual advice column. So, if you have a question about decorating/styling, go ahead and email me. The only catch: you have to send in a related photo with your question. This is going to be a trial-run type situation, and I will probably regret this in the morning, but let's see how it goes! Email address is in the sidebar. Subject line "Help me, AB Chao! (photo attached)".

It is supposed to be bad weather here tonight, and I know it's pretty terrible in most of the rest of the country (shut up, California), so y'all be careful out there. Or better yet, stay in and enjoy a hot toddy. I'll go first.

AuthorAB Chao
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