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In pursuit of something sensual

March 11, 2004|Janet Eastman; Chris Erskine

L.A.-based interior and product designer Barbara Barry has two new homes. She doesn't live in either one, but her minimalist furniture does.

Von Hemert Interiors just devoted 1,800 square feet -- the size of an average house -- in its Costa Mesa showroom to Barry's Baker Furniture collection. Last month, Barclay Butera in L.A. carved out 1,300 square feet for living room, dining room and bedroom pieces in her trademark black-brown Java finish.

These types of in-store boutiques help people visualize a relaxing, luxurious haven in their home, says Barry, who has decorated for real estate moguls, movie stars and rock stars. She lives in the Hollywood Hills and says she harbors a "secret fantasy life about living in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s."

One admired showroom piece is a mahogany sleigh bed with tapered legs and a curved back that captures the glamour of '40s Hollywood. "It's masculine and feminine," says Barry, who says she appreciates Art Deco, Biedermeier and Swedish styles but hopes her pieces evoke emotional responses rather than applause for being period perfect. "I don't want it to be academic, but something that's sensual," she says. "Timeless, well-proportioned, with a purity of form and clarity of lines that work well with other pieces."

Barry's unfettered sleigh bed ($9,200 for the king size) "is sophisticated without screaming traditional," says Carrie von Hemert of Von Hemert Interiors. Von Hemert Interiors showrooms are in Costa Mesa ([949] 642-2050), Laguna Beach ([949] 494-6551) and Torrance ([310] 373-0442). For more information, Barclay Butera has showrooms in Los Angeles ([323] 634-0200), Newport Beach ([949] 650-8570) and Park City, Utah ([435] 649-5540);

Janet Eastman


Shopping, my pet?

For many people, pets are simply very hairy children. Now come two products that further close the gap between humans and canines.

Doggie Diary is designed to minimize separation anxiety between dogs and owners. Written from a dog's perspective, it looks much like a baby book and includes pages for photos, medical records and other memorabilia. According to its maker, Doggie Diary can be left with a sitter to ensure the pet receives proper care. And cat lovers shouldn't worry, My Kitty Diary will be out soon. $9.99, available at Petsmart and

Another new item that will let your pet know you care is the Clean Pet Shopper, a carrier that fits in the child basket of your grocery cart -- assuming your store manager is game, of course. It works for cats, too, allowing them to relax in the faux lamb's-wool cushion while enjoying some fresh air and new scenery. The washable, one-piece design covers the entire seating area to protect paws from slipping through. It's reversible and comes with a safety strap and tote. Your pet may never want to leave. $34.99,

-- Chris Erskine

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