30 August 2011

A letter from the maid

Since I began a part-time job a month ago, it has been a struggle to manage my time and energy and avoid squalor in my normally neat house. The following is a letter to my family:

Dear Family,
Please be aware that "the maid" has cut her hours to part time. Today, she squeezed in a shower after making dinner, wiping up crumbs on the table and floor, mopping, vacuuming, washing, folding and putting away laundry, as well as other various household duties and doodies (baby and dog).

Her schedule no longer permits the completion of these things each and every day. 

In short, find something undone, unclean, un-put-away, or in an otherwise unsatisfactory state and fix it!
Thanks, Mom

I made the "o" in Mom a smiley face. I hope they laugh and then put something away or take out the trash.

26 August 2011

Goodbye Summer

I always feel a little wistful at this time of year. Once school has begun and I realize that the easy, lolly-gagging days of Summer are no more, at least schedule wise.
While the weather where I live should be nice for a few months (hurricane Irene notwithstanding) its just not the same.
Alfresco dining is more likely now that the searing heat of Summer is gone but the seasonal foods aren't as good as in mid-summer.
You can grill a hamburger any old time but fresh, locally grown corn is really best early to mid Summer.
Refreshing drinks lose their appeal to me in the gray days of winter.

Beach towels and pool passes are put away for the year, but in a climate that stays warm until late October it feels more sad to me.
Sure, I get prolonged warmth and I am thankful for it, yet once the calendar says its time to move on, I want to cling to all of the special moments, sights and fragrances of Summer.
Its the oppositional, only-child in in me, wanting what I cannot have--everything.
I must say, despite digging my heels in to the waning season, the recent and very scary earthquake, and looming hurricane I feel very lucky indeed.
But I'm looking forward to Memorial Day 2012!

22 August 2011

Surprise, surprise

As  I was heading out the door today, I noticed a package on my doorstep. And while not entirely a surprise it was a welcome treat in the middle of a harried day.
When I saw the pig, I knew it was From Meg, of Pigtown Design and enclosed would be the book that I won in her last giveaway.
Meg made a wonderful giveaway of Mark Hampton's On Decorating .
Its been on my must have list for a while.
I had just a few minutes to spare but could not resist opening it right then and, lo, another little bundle inside too.
It was a real surprise.
Meg is fabulous!
This charming set of French ivory handled fish knives was a magnificent and unexpected petit cadeau.
My husband, the fishmonger, will surely bring home some lovely fish and he and I will use the knives.
And, yes, he is really a fishmonger.
Meg sells similar knives and and other design goodies from her adventures as the Junk Whisperer in her Etsy store.
Thank you very much, Meg.

The design escape

bedroom design for a client of mine  
If you you are not a design pro or used to be one, like me, it is hard to explain to non-design junkies why you read 20 + design blogs every morning or obsess over fabric.

Following design trends seems frivilous as tragedies fill the news.
Gazing at accessories is misunderstood as indifference.
The truth is that the distraction of design and beauty is a welcome respite from the uncertainty of life.
A stress reliever, a drug.
So if you don't want to talk about chinoiserie details or...
debate Miles Redd's greatest feat, that OK but leave to our harmless diversion.
In other words, lookin' at pretty stuff makes us happy--so bug off!

19 August 2011

Are yours real?

This morning I was browsing Joss and Main sales and the Forever Green sale got me thinking about flowers.
Forever Green sells preserved flowers which are not really the same as dried flowers...
you know, the overly faded, definitely dead looking variety that grace many a home in the '80s.
Purists preach that only fresh flowers and plants will do but if you have pitch black thumb like me what are acceptable options?
Silk is an option I think for silk to not look garish (see below) you must spend generously.
I don't know what the people who make these arrangements are thinking. Often they are in colors that are not available in the type of flower selected or simple not on nature.
My husband tells people that as soon as a plant realizes that it has been purchased by me it commits suicide. I am really craving more greens and possibly a an orchid in my home. I had an orchid that found out I owned it.
I am leaning towards the purchase of high quality silk because its just easier to find out in the real brick-and-mortar world.
Any thoughts? 
Are you appalled that I would even consider anything other than live plants and flowers?

17 August 2011

Lucite tables in a classic setting?

my formal living room
Surely, you can't be tired of my home. There is still so much work ahead, much of it fun.
As you can see,I have a pair of matching Duncan Phyfe style end tables and it's dowdy cousin, that coffee table. The coffee table will have to find another home because I hate it.
The Sheraton style sofa stays too. At some point, hopefully soon, the mini blinds will leave and a fabulous chinoiserie fabric will grace the windows.
That being said, I don't want to keep things in only one style.
Its just not me. 
Ethel Kennedy's home
As far as non-designers go, Ethel Kennedy is one of my heroes for using the standard preppy,chic with an edgy (for the time) salmon pink and fabulous lucite table.
Notice the charcoal of Bobby (?) above the sofa. The lines, fabric, and artwork are rather expected yet the wall color was a slight departure from the 70s and 80s stylish pink. The clear table gives it a modern edge and a visual lightening with all of that pattern.
My own living room is kid-free and begs for a less traditional piece as it grows into a space I like.

I'd like this.
Can you see it here?
Look at these rooms with classic features and lucite tables.

I think Lucite pairs well with classic pieces, don't you?

12 August 2011

how to explain layering in design

 Situations have recently come up wherein I need to explain how "layering" works in interior design.
Sometimes clients just don't understand how "layering" can create balance in a space by using dissimilar things to swing from opposite to opposite in a pleasing way.
I start by explaining that it consists of many juxtapositions, like rough vs. smooth or shiny, traditional vs. modern, curved vs.angled lines, neutral vs. vibrant, saturated colors. 
Texture is no. 1 in my style book. So, for instance, I might pair a grasscloth wallcovering with velvet upholstery and lacquered finishes on wood. Perhaps a bit more shiny with mirrors or smalls to round out the texture story.
I like to use color as part of the layering picture but mixing periods, while being very stylish can be tough to convince a client to do.
If you can talk to someone in  simple terms of textures and finishes, i.e. rough vs, smooth and of traditional vs. modern the conversation gets easier.
It recently came up with a client that actually had wonderful taste  but could not find her balance between "mother's traditional" and a not too modern updated chic version of something that had relevance to her, like her mother's home.
I showed her a few classic fretwork patterns, mixing color, scale and purpose while keeping her hardworking  needs in mind for finishes and it made sense.

10 August 2011

photos and art for the boudoir

My room
I really feel that what you hang on the walls in your bedroom is extraordinarily personal. All art choices are personal but your private retreat is just that, private.
My bedroom vanity  

My personal preference around my home is to keep most family photos in less public rooms. Upstairs hallways and bedrooms are my main spots for baby and wedding photos.

My favorite baby pictures adorn the walls as do a few choice wedding portraits and the odd sassy photo of a kid. I now have two pieces that have waited years to find their place in my house.

"Baby Art"
 The photo above is a "scribble" made by my, now 16 year-old, son when he was 18 months old. I instantly recognized the pictorial quality and snatched it from him with the best of intentions for framing it. It works perfectly near the baby pictures.
Also, apropos is the antique Chinese baby's tiger headdress, framed in the shadowbox in the photo above. It is  meant to repel disease, evil spirits, and general mayhem from the tiny and vulnerable members of one's family. I really like it. It faces the door so those bugaboos stay away.

What sort of art adorns your bedroom?

09 August 2011

You should be in the news

No, it's not Belgian wicker. It is actually a chair made from recycled newsprint. I ran across it HERE on sale for $149, originally priced at $595.

08 August 2011

cool lighting

I'm becoming a bigger fan of Etsy everyday. I have been browsing through lighting and finding all sorts of great stuff like this Hydrangea pendant. HERE
My parent's had one of these lamps that was a combo floor lamp/end table in the early '70s. Find a little nostalgia HERE
I find this fixture particularly interesting but not sure if I could commit long term. Look at it HERE
This is my favorite (for now, it's easy to be fickle with so many options) it is made with an Ikea pendant and little kid's "fortune tellers" . You know the folded paper that tells little girls who they will marry.

05 August 2011

Local art

Happy Day by Kerry Steele

I can't get enough art these days. I've been a regular on eBay and Etsy to round out my collection and even browsed locally.
Ana Rendich
Fredericksburg, Virginia has several galleries worth seeing including Art First.
Currently, they are featuring an All Member's Exhibition that opens tonight.
Ruth Ann Loving
The galleries in historic old town Fredericksburg all work together to promote local artists. That alone is worth supporting. I have yet to attend an opening but its on my busy list.
Shirley Whelan

I saved this painting by Shirley Whelan for last to give you a little food for thought. The style reminds me of the iconic American painter Edward Hopper. Not so much in the subject matter, but rather the technique and general feel. 
My question is: Does that make it better art? What do you think?
Edward Hopper, House by the Railroad, 1925