Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winners all around: Traditional Home's Hawaii sweepstakes prize day!

Back in February, we were featured in Traditional Home's Hawaii sweepstakes for the magazine's readers. Besides flying over on Hawaiian Air and staying at the Ihilani Resort, one lucky winner got a package of personalized style tips and touring beautiful homes with us!

As much planning as we put into this day, it turned out to be as much a prize for us as it was for our winner.

When Arleen Horna of Las Vegas walked into Cathy's Marketplace last Friday, her smile lit up the showroom. She had such a bright, sunshiny personality that you couldn't help but smile with her! Her son George was supposed to come along, but unfortunately had gotten too much sun during his surf lessons the day before, so Arleen, Kara and I had a total girls' day.

We started out in the showroom with a one-on-one lesson on training your own eye for design. Arleen was a great student!

"I get it!" she said. "It makes so much sense
now I know what to do with my living room."

Let me tell you, that was music to my ears!

And we were off to the first stop on the road tour we had planned: Queen Emma's Summer Palace. The docents gave us a private tour showing what an authentic Hawaiian home looked like---a home for royalty, that is! It was so interesting to see Hawaiian artifacts that have been so faithfully preserved by the Daughters of Hawaii, who are so dedicated to keeping the queen's story and home and spirit alive, from the beautiful koa pieces to precious gifts from English and other royalty. It was definitely a tour worth taking, and I plan to take Nicki back there sometime soon.

Next stop: lunch! The Plumeria Cafe at the Kahala Hotel was decked out in Christmas splendor, while the terrace upstairs was full of Christmas trees and gingerbread houses. The scene brought to life what we had started learning in the showroom, how layering and repetition of colors and textures bring a space together.

Over lunch we learned what Arleen's job is. It's a perfect fit for this total people person: She's a trainer in the human resources department at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas!

Our all-girls' lunch was fun, but I wanted to give Arleen a sense of top-of-the-line home style, Hawaii-style! We turned to a dear friend, Jeff Fox of Kahala Associates, who was so quick to respond when we made our request, it's no wonder his clients love him.

Here's a link to his listing in Diamond Head so you can see what Arleen saw: a $7.6 million oceanfront estate with the most incredible panoramic views. The pictures don't do it justice. You have to hear the ocean and smell its scent---it was just incredible.

Jeff's other listing, a $2.695 million Portlock property, was not oceanfront but also had great ocean views. Here's the link.

By then it was time for Arleen to head back to the Ihilani. We were a little behind schedule, so Arleen would face full traffic on her drive back across the island and I fully expected her to get in her car and take off. But she's such a sweetheart, she stayed and chatted and did a little Christmas shopping in the showroom.

Our good-bye was a little emotional for the both of us. For Arleen the trip to Hawaii was a dream come true. She told me she's been wanting to come here since she was a little girl. She's going to take what she saw and learned back with her and remember it her whole life. Her time with us truly touched her.

It was a great day all around. Arleen got her prize, but Kara and I got so much back from Arleen's happiness and enthusiasm, we felt like we got a gift too! We are so glad we got to spend the day with this wonderful lady, and we wish her all the best.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ahhh, staycation!

Shortly after my Vegas trip earlier this month, I had a much-needed staycation with my family at Turtle Bay Resort. We brought along three of Nicki’s girlfriends to make it more of a celebration.

Turtle Bay is one of my favorite places and we love staying in the cottages. They’ve got great rooms and a huge lawn with hammocks in front and obviously the bay, where you see turtles coming up to play in the shore break.

So many activities from horseback riding to surf lessons and fun in the sun on the beach and in the pool!

We had a wonderful, relaxing, fun time full of adventure. Next time I need to chill, I’ll be back!

I haven’t forgotten about highlights from Las Vegas Market—that’s coming up next!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coming to you from summer Las Vegas Market!

Our second day in the desert started and ended with a bang. Caty and I arrived at the summer Las Vegas Market early Monday morning, fresh off Hawaiian Air’s Sunday night red-eye from Honolulu. One of my first missions was to meet with Susan Dickenson of Home Accents Today, who wrote that great article that came out in the magazine’s July issue. If you haven’t read it, here it is.

Fittingly, we met her at Groovy Stuff. Not only is this a perennial design favorite of mine, it was also Groovy Stuff founder Chris Bruning, who once lived in Hawaii, who told Susan about me and what we’re doing at the Cathy’s Marketplace retail showroom, and that’s how the feature story came about.

Here at the market yesterday, Susan did a quick interview with me and said it would be out in Home Accents’ Las Vegas Market daily paper today, and lo and behold, here it is!

As if that weren’t exciting enough, the day ended with an appearance by POTUS, aka the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton! Caty went to hear him encourage designers to work together to keep America competitive in the face of global challenges ahead.

Too bad I missed Mr. President himself! Oh well, tomorrow’s our third and final day at Las Vegas Market, and Thursday we’re back home in Hawaii already! We’ve got people to meet, new products to ogle, and interior design trends to keep an eye on! Full report later, I promise!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still recovering: Cathy's Marketplace warehouse sale

If you were one of the hundreds of people who came to our first-ever warehouse sale in Kakaako last Saturday, mahalo!

It was definitely a first for us. We signed the lease on a 4,800-square-foot space next to Powerhouse Gym a few weeks ago, and when it filled up we needed to move things out of there! People were lined up at the 10 a.m. start, and of course they got the best deals on designer furniture and accessories that we just didn't have room for at our showroom!

Just about everything you see in these photos was snapped up in the short three-hour sale window (I know, short and sweet!). Many buyers were simply looking to update their rooms; others were Realtors grabbing up perfect pieces for staging houses. (These are before-photos, since once the sale started, Kara, Caty, Courtney, Dave and everybody else was too slammed to remember to take any more!)

It was a tremendous week of unpacking all sorts of consigned sofas, consoles, beds, rugs, you name it! And then arranging them into vignettes, dusting off everything, pricing, tagging: Our crew definitely worked hard!

And it was definitely rewarding meeting all of you. Stay tuned, we'll be having more sales and events, both at the CM warehouse and our CM showroom in Moiliili. So remember, if you have pieces you'd like to consign with us for sale, you're always welcome to give us a call at 738-8488.

And thanks again for coming out and making our first warehouse sale a huge success!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The best birthday ever

Today is my birthday... I won't tell you which one, but I will tell you that I just got the best birthday gift ever from my 11-year-old daughter, Nicki.

Nicki set our table with flowers she bought herself and made a tablecloth with fabric we had leftover from when we redesigned her bedroom. She is making dinner tonight for our family and gave me this homemade card that had me bawling! It was so special that I wanted to share it with you because I am so proud of the young lady she has become.

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

You get me up in the morning and make me breakfast.
After school you ask me how my day was.
You taught me how to walk, now I can run.

You were my first singing coach, and now look how far I've come.
I've done a lot of hard things to do, and I've accomplished many things, but all with the help or because of you.
I want you to know that when you are older and can't make your own breakfast, I'll make your breakfast, and after work, I'll ask you how your day was.
I want you to know that when you're older, and can't walk, I'll be your legs.
Age is not a bad thing, when it represents how many years you've been around people who
love you.

Nicki Lee

Friday, May 13, 2011

New KITV appearances, right from the showroom!

It's been absolutely crazy these last few weeks, renovating and filling the Cathy's Marketplace showroom while organizing a grand opening gala on-site for 400 people. I mean, phew! And now that we're officially open for business, I've finally been able to pick up my homestyle segments on the KITV morning news show again.

There have been some big changes here as well. First, I'm on Sunday mornings now, every Sunday morning instead of every other week, and my segment will air twice: Once at 6:15 and again at 7:15 a.m.

Second, every segment is videotaped right in the showroom. If you've already been by to check us out, you know that means I'll have at my disposal literally scores of furniture pieces, accessories, wall colors, rugs, lamps, throws and unique accents. No more lugging around a few props to spread on a table. My new homestyle tips will be able to illustrate so many more style ideas using the whole array of real-size, real-life pieces!

The first airs this Sunday, May 15 on the morning show with Jodi Leong and Paul Drewes. I met Jodi at the showroom and she is a blast! We hit it off right away.

So please tune in for or Tivo my new homestyle segments every Sunday on KITV, and please tell your friends!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Photo courtesy of

O.M.G. I can hardly believe it. After months of incredibly hard work by countless people, the Cathy's Marketplace showroom is open for business! We're all so sleep-deprived that it almost seems like a dream ... except that last Thursday night, our showroom in the Varsity Building on University Avenue came alive with a traditional blessing, gourmet dishes, live entertainment by Tahiti Rey and aerial silk dancers, donations pouring in for the American Cancer Society, and 400 invited guests to help us kick off with a bang!

I want to thank all of you who have been waiting these last few months, and those who have given us your support in so many ways. I hope to see you at our showroom at 1110 University Ave. (across from Puck's Alley and Bubbie's Homemade Ice Cream). Our phone number is 738-8488 and our hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Here are some snaps from our grand opening gala. See you soon!

The line started early! People started arriving right after the blessing.
Our first guests fill the showroom. Models definitely bring the furniture vignettes to life!
Eye candy of a different sort. The showroom sells accessories as well as furniture.
Our models were a hit, but I don't know how they stayed still all night!
Our friend Sam, left, with CM's Lissa and Chelsey.
And more eye candy! We've filled the space with lots of different decorating styles.
Grey Goose provided a cocktail and martini bar right inside the showroom.
CM's Caty with a friend from Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate.
The showroom even has a wine bar, selling lots of wine accessories (but no wine!).
Time to mingle! Me with guests.
Samadhi sent its aerial burlesque acrobats, who were amazing on the trapeze.
Most of the party took place outside. Here, the VIP tables.
We are so grateful to our platinum sponsor, Dr. Lawrence Tseu, who suggested the American Cancer Society as the beneficiary of the event. Here, Dr. Tseu with former Gov. Linda Lingle.
More eye candy! Actually, these beauties were Dr. Tseu's guests.
Eye candy for the tummy: Deep-fried Hamakua mushroom risotto from Memoirs Catering.
The food did not disappoint. Our friend D.K. Kodama with luscious steak from d.k Steakhouse.
Sansei's famous crab truffle ramen. Look at those truffle bits!
These gals loved Town restaurant's fresh pulled mozzarella.
Our friend Maile from her namesake restaurant, with a perfect pad Thai and Penang curry.
JJ's Bistro's delicious desserts.
My pride and joy, Nicki, sang a special tribute to Dr. Tseu.
Our models were a huge hit, and you can see why!
Jeweler Dale Cripps donated this $5,600 sapphire-and-diamond pendant as the night's grand prize. Also given away in a random drawing: Tickets for 2 on Hawaiian Airlines.
Drawing for the grand prize. Each $50 gift certificate purchased got you one chance to enter, and benefited the American Cancer Society. Now, drumroll, please ...
... And the winner is ...
Toby Tamaye of AT Marketing! Congratulations! Boy, is his wife a lucky woman!
The CM team: Lissa, Chelsey, Caty, me and Kara. I cannot say enough about these amazing gals, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be launching this new chapter with them.

Credit for the photos in this blog goes to
RSVPstyle/CM writer and editor Mari Taketa
and to Hawaii Deals at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shooting over to New York for a bit

Yay! Spring break is here, and even with all that we have to do at work, we're celebrating with our kids. I'm leaving tonight for New York City with Nicki and her troupe, the Shooting Stars, for their off-Broadway performance.

Lissa is also leaving tonight with her family for Las Vegas, and Kara and family left yesterday for Tahoe. Fortunately, we have Chelsey and Caty holding down the fort in Honolulu.

We'll be back in a week to update you with the latest progress from the showroom. I'll also try to post some quick pics for you from the Big Apple, especially from my favorite spots for design inspiration.

Right now, I'm at the airport and I hear our boarding call already. Talk to you soon — and enjoy your spring!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Show-and-tell video: The showroom's taking shape!

Wow, I thought 2011 definitely started out with a bang, but here it is March already and things are still popping!

One thing I'm especially thrilled about is the new creative director we've brought on board at the Cathy's Marketplace showroom. Caty Rezendes is a designer with an amazing eye, and an absolute sweetie to boot. She's been helping me and the team with the million details that go into transforming a challenging space like the round, landmark Varsity Building and filling it with the new and used pieces that will go up for sale when we open for business.

I thought you might like a sneak peek at some of the transformations and design challenges we've been working on, so I'm trying out a new format for you: my first ever video blog!

Keep an eye right here for more of these quick show-and-tells. I'll do my best to keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy belated Valentine's Day!

Yikes! Yesterday was the big day, and I got so caught up celebrating with Darrell and Nicki, the two loves of my life, that I completely forgot the Valentine's poem I had found and saved specially to share with you!

I hope your special day was filled with love and spent happily with those nearest and dearest to you. And today, to all of you from all of us at RSVPstyle, Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!

A friend is like a Valentine,
Heartwarming, bringing pleasure,
Connected to good feelings,
With memories to treasure.

Seeing a special Valentine
Brings happiness to stay,
And that's what you do, friend,
You brighten every day!

-- Anonymous

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hot design + inspiration: Highlights from Winter LV Market

Woohoo! I'm back in Vegas, baby — this time for Winter Las Vegas Market. As you know, this is a veritable smorgasbord of the hottest new trends in interior design, furnishings and accents in the country. I'm here on a dual mission: to find fun, unique items to sell along with your gently used consignment items at our upcoming Cathy's Marketplace showroom, and to supplement the CM items we're using to furnish our Cathy's Marketplace concept house in Diamond Head.

These are both huge jobs, but fortunately I've got awesome help. Joining me on this whirlwind trip are Kara, Caty and Chelsey. Sound like fun? You bet your bootie it was! Here are some highlights from our three days at Winter Las Vegas Market.

Look who we ran into — our friend Travis Blackwood from South Carolina! Travis is our partner in the new Creations bedding line we're currently designing for the national market. He's always a lot of fun and we wished we could have had lunch together, but we were so busy we were literally always eating on the run. Next time, I promise!

Love the eclecticness of these accessories! At LV Market it was color, color everywhere. Bright yellows and oranges are still strong...

...and you also saw lots of turquoise and use of fabric, as in these Asian/Moroccan-inspired lighting fixtures.

Everywhere, it was all about global consciousness and design elements from around the world.

Chelsey's a natural in this organic reclaimed-wood armchair. Doesn't she look more than a bit queenly?

Always on the lookout for a touch of whimsy! Love this duck-footed mirror!

Groovy Stuff: That's the name of Chris Bruning's collection. I found lots of groovy things for our Cathy's Marketplace concept house, which belongs to a friend who loves reclaimed wood and anything unique and interesting. Chris is a fun-loving artist who's lived on Oahu's North Shore. He’s also about sharing and giving back and empowering people, like with the contest he sponsored for university students using reclaimed wood pieces. Is that groovy or what?!

I met designer Casey Fisher of Haute House three or four years ago at LV Market. Casey's signature is one-of-a-kind furniture pieces you would see right out of MTV. He loves bling, loves over the top, loves designing for the Beverly Hills and rock 'n roll crowd, totally my kind of designer!

More from Haute House.

Kara's metallic outfit is a perfect match for HH's metallic ottomans!

Always one of my favorite stops is the Phillips Collection. It's a great family business run by Mark and Julie Phillips and their son Jason, an award-winning designer. They do amazing things with not only reclaimed wood but also unexpected materials like their seatbelt chair. Their use of color is bold, sophisticated and nuanced, and their tongue-in-cheek designs always leave you with a smile and amazement at their creativity and sense of style.

Here's a quick clip of my interview with Jason Phillips, the creative director of Phillips Collection. Can you believe he's just 28 this year?!

Not all work, exactly: After working the market all day and night, in the wee hours Caty and Chelsey had to hit the slot machines. And boy, did they pay for it in the morning!

Phew, what a trip! And I haven't mentioned one of the best parts: To keep company expenses down, four of us girls squeezed into one hotel room with our eight pieces of luggage. Biggest challenge? Sharing bathroom and mirror time, of course! Amazingly, we did not kill each other. It was a great bonding trip and we got a lot accomplished. But I do have to say, there's no place like home!

I'll leave you with this, our last look at Las Vegas Market.