Romantic Evening

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This one is a sure winner. Besides the comfort and luxury of a hotel we do like to go for meals for our special occasions. And ofcourse all of us know that besides the expense sometime after a tiring day at work you just don’t want to get out of your home. Here Small Luxury Hotels of the World(SLH) help us to create a romantic meal for two at home complete with serving wine like a Sommelier

The Arch, London, UK 

Gemma Dean, F&B Manager, The ArchLondon

“It’s all about first impressions, get your table set correctly and have a wow factor element – whether it be a pot of fresh herbs on the table, a personal name card with secret message or a special bottle of well selected wine ready. Match it with soft background music and candlelight and you’re on to a winner!”

Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, USA

Mark Severs, Restaurant Manager,WentworthMansion

“I have many guests order a bottle of wine that they are familiar with and have enjoyed at home.  It is amazing how many times the guest will comment how much more pleasing the wine was here at the restaurant.  There is infinitely more that goes into the tasting of wine than just the actual flavour – it’s the temperature, the stemware that it is served in and the feel it has on your hand, the visual presentation of the wine, the food you are enjoying with the wine, the surroundings in which the wine is being consumed, and the company that you are sharing.

The first step in wine presentation is making sure your bottle of wine is at the correct temperature.  The temperature will be different for whites and reds, as well as for wines with different weights. Once the bottle is selected and you have the correct temperature, I like to present the bottle of wine.  Tell your guest which wine you are serving, including the year. When pouring, twist the bottle about 180 degrees and wipe against a napkin so that no wine is spilled.  For white wines I will typically ask whether they would like the bottle kept on ice or on the table.  Some of your heavier whites (chardonnay) will benefit from a little warmer temperature. Make sure you top up your guests’ glasses throughout the evening.”

To check out more tips on How to Create Hotel style in your home click here

Spa Magic at Home

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Spas have become a big rage and trend around the world. Especially since our hectic lifestyles and travels leave our skins dehyderated and bodies absolutely tired. I for one try to fit in a Spa appointment atleast once a month, and especially if I am travelling I try to take time out to visit the hotel spa atleast for a massage if nothing else. I know alot of people who do the same and I am sure none of us would mind having such handy tips at home to soothe our senses once in a while. Here again the Small luxury Hotels of the Worl (SLH) team has put together a few tips on how we can create a Spa at Home.

Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux, France

Delphine Duffours, Spa Manager, Les Sources de Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa

“Relaxation is a question of atmosphere – even in the most ordinary bathroom, you can recreate the atmosphere of a luxury spa, thanks to some accessories and products. Here are my 4 tips to spa bliss in your own home – firstly put some scented candles around your bath. A soft light and fragrance will fill your bathroom, for an immediate sensation of well-being. Secondly, put on some soothing music. Classical, background music or natural sounds, choose what has the most relaxing effect on you. Then – take your time. Be sure that you won’t be interrupted during this “spa session”, give yourself some time to focus on your well being. Prepare yourself a cup of green tea and a plate of fresh fruits high in potassium, like banana, kiwi, or avocado, to help relieve stress and anxiety.Finally, choose new beauty products, with soft textures and delicate fragrances. Take care of your body with a scrub, take time for a facial mask, massage and moisturize your body and your face.”

 Huvafen Fushi, NIYAMA and Desert Palm, Per AQUUM Retreats, Maldives – 

Jason Sloan, Group Director of Spa, Per AQUUM Retreats

Home scrub for skin like velvet, it works! Mix up some medium coarse salt or sugar (sugar is milder in texture and better for sensitive skin), cover the sugar/salt in grape-seed oil and some lavender essential oil. After being in the warm to hot bath for five minutes the skin has softened enough for you to scrub your legs arms and body as you bathe, the scrubbing circular action will remove dead skin and the oils will nourish, soothe and heal. Use with a loofah or exfoliating gloves if you wish. After the bath, shower with warm water to remove excess oils and pat dry, moisturise if necessary.

For a very gentle effective face peel; wash your face with a mild PH balanced cleanser. Mix fresh lemon juice with live natural unsweetened yoghurt leave on your face for 15 minutes (avoid eye area) and gently wash your face. Use a gentle toner and apply moisturiser. Very deep cleansing – try this regime 3 times a week and see the difference.Bring your spa to your bed – try adding lavender/rosewood to the final rinse in your wash cycle for your sheets!”

To check out more tips on how to create Hotel style at your home click here

Choose your Art

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Choosing Art work for the house can seem like a very daunting experience. Especially since art is an expensive investment and a very impactful one at that. Noone wants to make the wrong desicion. Here we have a few people from the team of Small luxury hotels of the World (SLH) give us tips on how we can choose the right art work for our house, particularly the living and bedroom.

Pudi Boutique Hotel, Shanghai, China

Janet Bao, General Manager, Pudi Boutique Hotel

“The moment they step into the lobby here at Pudi Boutique Hotel, guests feel as if they are staying in an art gallery. We mix oil paintings and sculpture from young Chinese artists with a modern style. Guests may purchase these art works and take them home to add to their own collection. A few tips I’d offer when choosing art for your own home – choose a painting the width of your mattress to hang over your bed for dramatic effect in the bedroom – pick out colours from the painting in your cushions and bedding too. It is well worth investing in special lighting to highlight your artwork. And I like to choose one colour as a central theme and select pieces incorporating this colour to draw my whole art collection together – at Pudi Boutique Hotel red copper is featured in most of our artwork to add a strongShanghai feel.”

The George, Christchurch, New Zealand

Bruce Garrett, General Manager, The George

“In the bedroom you can use symmetry for maximum impact with matching lamps and cushions and a bigger bed head or panel with a horizontal frame to create a dramatic and stylish effect. Use neutral colours throughout with a pop of colour in each piece of artwork to make it stand out. It’s also effective to use one theme (like a region, or era – here at The George our themes include iconic images of our city in the guest rooms and NZ artists throughout the hotel) and then have different types of artwork based on the same theme including photography and pieces from different artists throughout your home. Choose matching frames in a row to pull your artwork together and use spotlighting to highlight each piece.”

To check out more tips on how to create hotel style at your home click here

Inspiration India

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When Slumdog Millionaire released, most of my Indian friends were quite mortified by the portrayal of India in the movie. I never really got down to watching the film, besides bits and pieces when it came on television. And I am certain if I were to watch the whole movie I really would not have been offended. What I have been noticing though is the major influence India has been making in the design and fashion circuit since the movie. I mean earlier Indian inspiration came only in form of prints and a few graphic symbols like Laxmi or Ganesh on T-shirts and Bedcovers, which came in the category of street fashion or hippie fashion, or there would be a one-off India inspired piece. Whereas now, there are full collections by renowned fashion and design houses which are being inspired by India. And I don’t blame them, in terms of design India has got a whole lot of inspiration, from natural beauty to the fabrics and colours and most importantly its vast history and tradition.

The Louis Vuitton India Enchanted Story

It could well be said that this is because luxury markets have taken a huge hit in Europe and America, while in India it has seen a steady growth. Whatever the reason I am quite kicked by the fact that India is inspiring so many people and collections. After all, I don’t know how many more time I can answer “So do you travel be elephants?” or be known only for snake charmers. The answer to the question by the way is, no we don’t travel by elephants most of us have cars and snake charmers are just one of the market side appeals of the country, no one has pet snakes at home. Here are a few Luxury brands which have showcased Indian inspiration in the recent past.

INDIA INSPIRED FASHION

Chanel Metiers d’Arts 2012 Pre-Fall collection titled “Paris-Bombay”

This year Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld delivered his India inspired collection at the Chanel Metiers d’Arts 2012 Pre-Fall collection titled “Paris-Bombay”. The collection features intricate embroideries, raw silk and other extravagant materials characterise an exquisite combination of delicate Indian handcrafts and Parisian fashion. Models both men and women were adorned with accessories including head-jewellery and turbans. In Lagerfeld’s words “it is the Paris version of the idea of India”. The colours were from Fuchsia, to ivory-white to gold and silver.
Louis Vuitton made headlines in the past when they came out with their collection of bags inspired by India and even changed the window display of their stores by displaying an artwork of Hindu goddess ‘Laxmi’ during Diwali festival. LVMH even launched a collection ‘L’ame du Voyage’ which is inspired by travels in India and the range consists of handbags, travel bags, jewelry and accessories.
Hermes another iconic fashion brand, had recently launched its limited edition Sarees which are an extension of the famous ‘Hermes’ scarf. A silhouette which dates back more than 1,000 years has now been accepted as a ‘must-have’ drape in the fashion world. These Sari’s begin at $6,000 and since most of Hermes clients are Indian millionaires it is considered quite a steal. They also did a whole India inspired collection of scarves with bright colours and motifs like the elephant.

INDIA INSPIRED PERFUMES

Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, Hermes

In terms of beauty product and scents India has a vast history. There are a variety of materials which originate in India and have inspired designers over the years, like Sandalwood, Jasmine, Cardamom and many more. But over the years more and more Luxury brands and indulging in bringing out India inspired collections.
One of the best and oldest perfumes of great success was Shalimar by Guerlain produced in 1925. Shalimar was inspired by the love of an Indian Emperor for his beloved wife. The love story inspired Jacques Guerlain to create this masterpiece named after the Gardens Of Shalimar where the two Indians found love. This perfume is suitably exotic, blending fragrant floral with sensual notes of patchouli and amber to create a powerful love potion. Shalimar’s recognizable scent has captivated women and their admirers for almost a century now. Jaipur by Boucheron, is another perfume that invites you to discover mystic and enchanted Orient. The bottle is shaped as a bracelet which is considered a lucky charm in Rajasthan. This rich floral bouquet with sweet fruity notes was created in 1994. Jean-Claude Ellena, Hermès’ in-house perfumer, drew inspiration from Kerala– for Un Jardin Apres La Mousson (“Garden After Monsoon”) This perfume captures the quiet yet natural beauty of Kerala with its blue-green bottle and the smell reminds you of the romance of monsoons.

INDIA INSPIRED MAKE-UP

‘Bombay Express’,Chanel

In terms of Make-up too alot of brands have come up with India inspired collections. They have been inspired by the earthy tones, metallic sheen as well as the bright hues of India all of which goes perfectly well with the Indian skin. Chanel’s ‘Bombay Express’, designed by Creative Director Peter Philips are meant conjure up “a specific vision of India”, from “Surreal princesses from an idealised empire” to “the scent of jasmine” and “lavishness of the Maharajas”. Clarins a Paris-base cosmetic company that designed one of their fall collections based on Indian colors called Enchanted. Holi, a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus, inspires the colors in this collection. The Enchanted line consists of an eye shadow palette with a very Indian inspired packaging design. The collection features lips glosses named Pink Jaipur and Nude Delhi as well as a kajal eyeliner that Indian women have used as one of their makeup staples for centuries.Guerlain has come up with a mineral base collection called Terracotta which is supposed to be inspired by the earthy richness found it India. It has lip glosses by the name of Beige Bengali, Rogue Sultan and Pondicherry. It also has a Kajal mineral coal in Black Fakir.

INDIA INSPIRED ACCESSORIES

Christian Louboutin “India Inspired”

Christian Louboutin launched his gorgeous India inspired shoe collection earlier in 2012. This collection draws inspiration from India and Bollywood in particular. Earlier this year, he also opened up his first outlet in India. His love for India and its culture dates back to the days of 70s and 80s. He appreciates the diverse crafts and splendour associated with vibrant Indian culture. In his own words – “If India was a shoe; it would have to be a bright coloured sandal with some gold”. The collection has received a great welcome since its launch, its available in multiple colours, and have embellishments in studs and sequins reflecting the grandeur of Indian craftsmanship.
Judith Leiber has a definite affinity towards India. Besides the India inspired collection of Ganesh, Elephant and Camel they also has Indian fashion designer Suneet Varma design bags for them. Though I am not certain how I feel about carrying a Ganesh in my hand,as pretty as it looks I am certain I will offend some religious person (besides the fact that I doubt I can own the $6,000 piece)

INDIA INSPIRED FURNITURE

Charpoy collection Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien for Moroso

Furniture has its own place in India, so where we usually associate Indian furniture with heavy oriental or classic pieces, in the recent past designers have infused Indian traditional pieces with European styles and created a fusion collection. For instance Eames did a limited edition Indian inspired chair. In fact even Indian furniture designers like Alex Davis have come to their own whereby they have been taking inspiration from India and creating furniture collections.
After their presentation of the Charpoy collection Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien continue their partnership with Moroso in the shape of two new products, My Beautiful Backside and Princess. Like Charpoy, these display a fusion of two worlds, India and Europe.My Beautiful Backside has a lacquered wood base frame with large cushions fixed to it to form the backrest. The cushions are covered with Indian textiles and decorated with very large, extremely beautiful buttons. Fabrics include silk and cotton and a Kvadrat wool cloth designed by Giulio Ridolfo which is woven like an Indian silk, the warp and weft are of two different colours.The Princess version, so-called for the Princess and the Pea fairytale, has five mattresses one of top of the other with variously coloured edges

INDIA INSPIRED FABRICS AND WALLPAPER

Amrapali by Tricia Guild for Designer Guild

Indian prints have been great inspiration for fabrics all over the world. This has been going on for years in forms of fabrics and wallpapers. For instance Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s Jaisamand wallpaper for Graham and Brown. He named his line in honor of one of India’s most spectacular natural landscapes and used Rajasthani-inspired colorways. Or Morris & Co. which has had its own Indian design section for a long time. But there are also designers like British design Tricia Guild whose main inspiration for design has been India. She has lived in India and wandered all over taking inspiration and creating designs inspired by India and for India. Her latest collection Amarapali for instance is a beautiful collection with bright flowers.

INDIA INSPIRED FOOD

The Bollywood Collection, Laduree

The French who are undoubtedly the best pastry chefs also took inspiration from India to create the Laduree Bollywood collection. The collection does not extend to flavour as much as the colour and shape. Sold in a box of four, the collection kind of looks like a box of sweets from India: Indian pink being grenadine strawberry, citrus green is mint chocolate, canary yellow is citrus lemon and ivory-white are coconut raspberry balls. The collection is also a slight departure from the usual macaroon recipe. Each ball consists of a biscuit garnished with cream and coated in a very light meringue.

Shades of India

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This story I had styled for Casaviva in October 2011. It takes inspiration from all the bright colours this country is so well known for:-

Photographs- Kartikey Shiva
Styled by- Aparna Kaistha

www.stylecity.in

Marigold Orange and Rani Pink

www.stylecity.in

Ochre Yellow and Sindoor Red

Royal Blue and Chilli Green

Flower Power

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Ok, so obviously hotels spend a lot of attention to their flower displays. Beginning from the entrance lobby to the restaurants to the room, most hotels have elaborate displays. The thing I have learnt and been told by a lot of experts is, that most of these displays are not that difficult to achieve and can add a lot of panache to any room. Here again we have a few experts from Small Luxury hotels of the World  (SLH) giving us a few tips

Fleming Mayfair, London, UK

Yan Skates, Director, Bespoke Flowers, Fleming Mayfair

Image Courtesy- SLH,Flemings Hotel

“Our flower displays change in design from week to week, to keep up the wow factor for our regular visitors. So that would be my first tip- keep changing your displays every time you entertain. We take inspiration from new quirky venues in the city, study interior magazines religiously and keep up with current exhibitions in town or when travelling abroad. Inspiration can strike anyplace and anywhere so keep a lookout. Shop windows can be another great source. Another tip- if you pick from the garden or have a limited budget, a small number of blooms have more impact if they are put individually in vases. The vases could be the same or a variety depending on your theme and décor.”Hansar Bangkok, Thailand

Khun Surasak Jaijumpa, head florist, Hansar Bangkok shares his step by step technique to create a flower arrangement for your home.

You will need:

– Variety of flowers of various sizes.( I have used long stem roses, alstroemeria, lisianthus, amaryllis and tulips)

– Medium sized glass vase

– Bundle of twigs- (I have chosen red wood)

– Fresh water

Method

– Begin by cutting the wood sticks to the height of the glass vase. Next line the glass vase with smaller glass tubes*, if you do not have glass tubes at home you can use the wood sticks in place of this.

– After the glass tubes are positioned, put the red wood in between each tube to keep the over all display sturdy and provide a nice colour accent and texture to flowers

– After all the cut wood sticks are places, add some additional uncut red wood branches to give the arrangement some height

– Now fill the vase with water. You can use a syringe to squirt the water the keep the arrangement clean.

– Now, cut the flowers and begin placing them into the arrangement. Tip- start with the larger size flowers first and then fill in the empty areas with smaller ones. And you are done!

*These test tubes are easily available at any chemist or even some stationary stores.

Here is a DIY tip by me on how to create an interesting Flower arrangement

Photograph- Binaifer Bharucha

Instead of using just traditional vases, use various single pieces of sets. So these could include a few small vases as well as glasses and cups of various sizes. The thinner glasses/vases can be used for long single flowers and the wider ones for bunches of smaller flowers. Place these on a long tray and put them on a console or in a round tray on your round dining table. You can use ribbons and lace to wrap these vases/glasses. This is a perfect look for an outdoor party.  Add more quirky elements like colourful beads in the clear glasses. This looks funky and doesn’t cost much at all. So go ahead try it and let me know how it worked.

To check out more tips on how to create hotel style at home click here

Create Hotel style at home

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I love staying in hotels. I do. For me that can be a major high or low point in my travel plan depending on how good or bad my accommodation is. I just love the attention to every small detail that is given from the welcoming way you are greeted at the door, to the perfectly made bed, to the beautifully arranged flowers. I can just go on and on.  Some of my exceptional experiences has been with properties under the Small Luxury hotels of the world (SLH) profile.  Small Luxury Hotels of the World has got some of the finest small independent hotels in their portfolio. From cutting edge design hotels to palatial 17th century mansion, city centre sanctuaries to remote private islands, SLH offers only the best. Well as luck would have it SLH team has gone behind the scene at a number of their properties and got us tricks on how to create the hotel experience at home. Here are a few of the tips they have shared with us;

Photograph Courtesy iStockphoto

1. How to create a stylish vase of flowers

2. How to draw the ultimate relaxing bath

3. How to mix a spot on Martini

4. How to choose art to compliment your space

5. How to create your own home Spa

6. Create a Romantic evening and serve wine like a Sommelier

Perfect Martini

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Photograph-Kartikey Shiva Styled- Aparna Kaistha

“Shaken not stirred” the famous dialogue by Ian Flemmings iconic character James Bond made the classic drink so popular. Here we have the bartender at one of the Small Luxury hotels of the world property DUKES bar, where Mr. Flemming was a frequent visitor, gives us tips on how to make that perfect Martini to impress your guests at the next house partyDUKES ST JAMES, Mayfair, London

Alessandro Palazzi, Head Barman, DUKES ST JAMES

“Drinks at DUKES bar is something of an occasion. Mix your own Martini at home and serve it up in a frozen glass”

Method:

–          A few drops of Martini DUKES Special blend of Dry Vermouth

–          75ml of frozen Gin or Vodka

–          Squeeze oil from a sliver of organic amalfi lemon peel into the drink and ream the glass with lemon peel oil

–          Add this lemon peel and serve

Cheers!”

Try out other simple cocktails and Margaritas for the next dinner you host.

To find out more tips to create hotel style at your home click here

Monsoon Friendly Home

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Well Monsoons are in full flow all over the Indian sub-continent, except Delhi it seems which is getting just erratic sprouts. Either way I think Monsoons are a great excuse to do up the Interior Décor of the house. Like I have mentioned before redoing the décor of your home does not have to be an expensive affair, but with a few simple tips can change the look of your home and make it Monsoon friendly.
Monsoon Decor, www.stylecity.in

Colour me bright
Colourful cushions for monsoon decor, www.stylecity.inThe dull outdoors with constant grey skies can be real mood dampeners. Hence, bright interior accents have the effect of uplifting the mood. But you don’t need to go in for a drastic change in the décor like changing wall colours or buying new sofas. Simple tricks like getting new colourful fabric colours for your sofa, or nice bright bed sheets for the bedroom or even simply bringing a range of colourful cushions can help uplift the Interiors of the house. The range of cushion covers could span from solid colours to retro prints to India-inspired motifs.

Fabric Trails
Do away with heavy curtains like jacquards and velvet or even cottons instead opt for sheers which help the light in during rainy season. Also fabrics like Wool and Velvet and cotton soak in moisture, try and avoid using them along with silk or woollen bed covers and carpets as they tend to attract moisture. Opt for furnishings in polyester and nylon instead. In terms of floor covering, first thing get a coir mat for to place outside the front door, and replace all the carpets in the house with rugs and dhurries that can be machine washed.

Kelly Hoppens

Scent of rain
ladylimoges-tumblr-com-post-45591837100We all have to agree, as amazing as rainfall smells in the nature and outdoor, with our over populated cities and pollution the smells accompanying the rain is not always pleasant. Trust me, in the 4 monsoons spent by me in Mumbai, the one thing that used to get to me most was the smell, there is an easy solution for that, place scented candles all over the house, they are also practical as electricity tends to go a lot during the monsoons. Of course fresh blooms are always a great option all year around as they make the house smell great and brighten up the space.

Furniture Design
In terms of furniture, that is not something which we can change, unless you have the option of putting it in storage and get out Monsoon furniture, so though simple solutions like Sofa covers can help prevent expensive sofas from getting dirty, wicker furniture is a great option for areas such as the patios and well as areas near big open windows. Mirrors are great to incorporate on walls to reflect the nature outside (if you have a good view) and also increase the light.

India Inspired Decor

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When we say Indian Interiors, the first thought in everyones mind is large palatial homes with a lot of carved woodwork and mirrors. While that was true till a few years ago, with the coming of nuclear families and smaller homes things have changed. Here are some innovative ideas of how we can incorporate Indian Home decor into our homes.

Colours: India is a land known for a lot of vivacious and bright colours. A great way to incorporate colours into homes is by adding colours like hot pink, turquoise blue and yellow or even jewelled tones like ruby, sapphire and emerald through upholstery like cushions, rugs and throws. An innovative way to add colour is via lots of colourful bottles and maybe even a coloured glass chandelier.

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Good Earth

Prints and Patterns: India has a large variety of prints to choose from; ikat, paisley and bandhini are just some assorted styles. Instead of just going for printed upholstery, we have the options of Indian print tiles, wallpaper and even crockery. Just incorporate a few of these into your homes for that Indian touch.

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Good Earth

Metals: India is known for its vast use of metals like silver, gold, copper and brass. You can get in some metal artefacts, light fittings and even jars and cutlery

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Shutterstock

Woodwork: While heavy, carved furniture and was a norm till the 90’s, the increase in wood prices and small home spaces has made it impractical to have heavy furniture. Now a great way to incorporate wood work is though lattice print screens in the backdrop instead of a wall paper or even as a partition. If possible it could also make an interesting ceiling

Art and Sculptures: With its vast history and mythology, Indian art works and sculptures make for an artists dream. You can add a variety of Indian God statues, or even go in for traditional Indian artwork replicas like Tanjore paintings, Madhubani Painting or even miniature paintings. Or try to get statement light fittings inspired by India

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Elle Decor

Flowers: A great addition to Indian homes is typical Indian flowers like Marigold, Indian Roses and Jasmines to your living room. They look fresh and all have a lovely smell

Do let me know how these tips work out for transforming your room to and Indian Inspired room.

 

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