Cinco de Color Selection: No. 5

Getting ahead of things helps keep me from falling behind.  That’s why I start planning the color palette long before I have my place on the market.  In this case, No. 4 is scheduled to land just after Labor Day.  Interested?  Very little inventory on the market, and mine is a honey of a property….a good things come in small packages kind of surprise.

HS 5

Makes sense to me….Homesense furnishings and accessories.

I feel like the halfway point demands a grand gesture, a dramatic statement, a wild moment at the very least.  I believe in milestone celebrations.  My yoga coach is always talking about living in the moment, enjoying the journey – well if I live until I am 100, I am literally living in the middle of the moment of my life, and my quest.  Maybe I should have fireworks.  Enormous balloons?  A Pony, or perhaps a zebra.  I’ve always felt most strongly that graphic prints are the very best statements in a home, so a zebra seems fitting.  I doubt my budget will allow for any of that, though I am confident I could come up with all of the aforementioned items and the party would be FABULOUS.

HS 1

My favorite color….gray!

Staying focused can be a drag sometimes, but planning the direction of No. 5 is not, so let’s get on with it.  I was sitting next to one of my industry colleagues the other day at a board meeting (I’m in the corporate real estate industry and my colleague is in charge of real estate for TJX Companies – they own Home Goods, Homesense, Marshalls and more).  I got to chatting with Chris about designing one of my flips using only items I purchased at Home Goods.  Such is my obsession with that place.

HS 3

I’ll take the screens, the garden stools, that lamp and the pillows!

Could it really be done?  Could it really be done by me?  I love an outrageous idea like this, that might attract the attention of the media.  I like being on camera, and one day, might just have my own show. Who knows, the American appetite for design is insatiable.  Lord knows I’ve done other equally outrageous things to get published, not the least of which include spending more money on a yard of fabric than some people pay for summer camp for a kid.  That decision isn’t likely to be forgotten, at least until I pay off my credit card.  When will I learn?

HS 4

Color coordination makes me happy.

This route could save me thousands upon thousands of dollars.  I can also attest to genuinely loving what they have to offer.  I buy a massive quantity of goods – which make my home decidedly better than good!

My go to list of items include:

  • garden tables
  • lamps
  • bed clothes
  • knock-off accessories
  • rugs
  • pillows

They do one of two things, fade into the background ( I mean that in the best possible way), or they wow on their own.  Now it is true that my go-to approach is to mix HG items with pricier brand name pieces.  It always feels really good when people comment on the assemblage of items, singling out an HG find, but could I do a whole home?  Their furnishings aren’t among their strongest offerings, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bed in any of the stores.

HS 6

Ah, but they do have them, and it’s lovely.

Home Sense on the other hand has expanded offerings, and just recently open in Braintree, MA.  I can stop on my way from Boston to the Cape.  More concepts to come.  Please do weigh in.

 

Less is More: getting a design underway

Details, details, they can get in the way of one’s creativity – don’t you think?  I love a project where I’m not given too many perimeters.  The type of space, the materials needed, and their purpose is enough.  A general color way direction doesn’t hurt either.  If it isn’t explicitly stated, I’m going gray.  My perfect neutral with its full compliment of emotions, and ability to accommodate any gender, any age, and stage of your life.

Wexler Office Sample Board

We’ve got your blue grays, and your violet, your sage, and your putty, your clean and your smutty.  We’ve got sophisticated, and silly, whimsical and worldly, we have a splash through a tidal pool gray, and a bruised purple gray of the sky as it turns to night.  You  get the picture, I hope, because I am not supposed to be talking about gray at all, this blog is about a corporate office color palette.  It’s true that most of what I selected for the original round, did in fact include gray, but ironically the Client went with a sandy beach of an option.  Who could blame him, the 4th is right around the corner, and if you don’t get a little sand in your shoes now, you blink and miss it.

Wexler Office Sample Board v2

Like a writer facing a blank page, some Clients are simply better in the editors role.  Ask them what they want, and they may honestly say – “for it to be done”.  Others stare off into the distance hoping a mirage will appear on the horizon, a perfect glistening representation of their space to be.  I feel that way about math so I understand entirely the sentiment.  When it comes to design however, I like the freedom of creating something well – that I would like.  What’s wrong with that?

I would be thrilled to come to work in this pretty little office space, if it were just a tad closer to my home.  I hope that Lee Wex will have no trouble executing the design he saw fit to pick.

Two Types of Wood…the kitchen countertop

As L. Francis Herresmhoff used to say:  “to most people, particularly the ladies, there are two types of wood.  One is stained red and called mahogany, and the other is not stained red, and is not called mahogany.”  This quote makes me laugh for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that L. Francis, was often spot on the money.

wet bar 5

Big impact.

The reason I got to thinking about old L. has its roots in my perpetual state of unrest.  I feel like I’ve been in No. 4 for longer than all my other properties – of course that isn’t true, but it feels like a life sentence in inertia.  If you can bear with the drama for one more moment, I hope you will understand that I don’t like to be caged and the capital gains regulations have me hemmed in!  Alas, a few more months and I will be able to put it on the market, and I’ll be back to ranting about some other thing like a plumber not showing up, or the property of a lifetime not presenting itself to me.  The first will most certainly happen, the second is likely never too.

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“Woodn’t this counter work for you?”

The thing of it is, with the Manse complete, I’m feeling a little lost for a design project.  I am working on the yard, and don’t get me wrong, there are many rewards associated with working outdoors, and designing a landscape plan, but it’s not the same as an interior.  So, enter stage left – Francis.  That guy put the bright work in mahogany.  He could make it shine like nobodies business, and it made me think – who needs stone, or granite or quartz, marble for a kitchen counter top?  I know he wouldn’t have approved of plastic laminate, after all he did refer to fiberglass hulls as “frozen snot”, so there you go – why not mahogany?

wet bar 1

Mirrors are magic.  Making small spaces feel expansive.

I saw a picture of a wet bar – that’s a rich person’s equivalent of a 500SF room for shoes.  This one was just a little bit of thing though, and that appealed to me.  It was about the size of small closet, it’s back mirrored to make it look larger and a little mysterious.  It’s cabinets done in a high gloss royal blue, and its counter….a beautiful red stained wood…wood that looked suspiciously like, well you know.  It was varnished until the light reflected off of it like a diamond on the hand of an heiress.  Brilliant.

wet bar 3

Creativity has no bounds.  Check out those doors.

Since most of my kitchens are about the size of a closet, I thought to myself, why not?  Shouldn’t I have all the glamour of a wet bar in my next little apartment.  Don’t answer – I’m doing it.

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The mirrors have it.  Reflections of….

Kicked to the Curb: out with the old landscaping

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A patio in the middle of the lawn – genius.

I didn’t even think it was possible for landscape design to go out of style but…I could have been wrong about that.  It can certainly fall into disrepair.  One plant takes over, another flounders, a weed sneaks it’s way in,  rocks begin to fall from the carefully erected wall, and poof it blows up into a mess.  This is what I am faced with – a major undertaking, a minor budget, and the need to create something that is fairly self-sufficient.

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Stones help limit upkeep – attractive to me.

I can buy plants, pick and arrange flowers, weed, and water, but none of that means I have a green thumb.  Growing things is not a strength, most of my plants seem to die, so I am a bit worried about the prospect of taking on a home landscaping project.  Not worried enough to not do it though.

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Ground cover is an attractive option.  Spreads like wild fire and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.  Looks pretty too.

My plan is to combine a series of hardscape areas with plantings.  It will be important to limit the grass in the yard, which would require an irrigation system (out of my budget).  I want to remain true to the indigenous plantings, and those that are iconically New England Coastal.  How to do that without buying loads and loads of plants that look wild and natural will be the challenge.

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Seagrass. floral ground cover, and stone looks organic – looks low-main!

While I encourage sitting with a space, a new home or apartment for a bit of time before embarking on a renovation or major furnishings refresh – all I want to do is rent a back hoe, tare up the yard.  Then I want to bring in mature plants, stones, chairs, and planters.  I want it all done like that time I took the long walk from my house in the North End to the Government Center T-Station.  I crossed a temporary bridge that went over a strip of highway – now the greenway.  I marveled over the effort it took for the crew to erect the foot bridge each morning and rebuild it every evening – in a location roughly 6 feet from where it resided in the morning.  I never found out why they did that, my cynical self said it was to ensure hefty overtime checks, but who knows.  It was however topped, when the DNC came to town, the Mayor called whatever the equivalent of a public Winston Flowers is, and pouf – a beautiful greenway dropped from the truck like magic fairy dust from the wand of a fluttery fairy.  It was beautiful.

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Love this raised bed planter, but it looks complicated.

I know that I shouldn’t want it to just arrive, no effort, no pride, no sense of ownership or accomplishment, and like that magically appearing greenway, a few days later – it was gone.  Every stone I dig up, and put into place, every bush I plant, flower I select, stone I collect on the beach is likely to be special, to be cared for, to have lasting power.

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a happy little bed at the foot of the tree trunk.

Suggestions are welcome.  I’m in unchartered tall grasses here.

She had it in Spades: Ode to Kate

Bubbly, sunny, joyful style.  She had an aesthetic that danced point, and playful sophistication.  Her fashion style brought a little Holly Golightly to the office, and who couldn’t benefit from a tiara at the Monday morning meeting?

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Her home was a cacophony of color, a gallery of fine art, and fancifal finds, of child’s drawings, and family photos, and beautiful prints, stripes, polka dots and layers upon layers of texture that might make you tired if they didn’t make you so darn happy.

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That art, those pillows, that expression…

My very first Kate Spade was a black and white gingham check bag, in one of her original shapes.  I carried that bag around until the fabric was threadbare and the dirt made it a little more gray than white.  Still, I wouldn’t have replaced it for the world.  Others did follow, there was a leopard print, and a satin back pack, there were clutches and weekenders, make-up cases, and suitcases, and pretty dresses in between.

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That was the print featured on my Nantucket Weekender!

In retrospect I have to believe that Jenna Lyons was a fan – all those statement necklaces, fur capes, and sparkly party skirts paired with a work shirt, a la Fifth Avenue, or a work shirt straight from the trenches.  The juxtoposition seemed to work coming from these gals.  If they put it together – it undoubtably WENT together.

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My dream kitchen.

Even her freckles gave her a relatability that I respected.  They weren’t bleached out with expensive creams, her face wasn’t lifted ten ways from Sunday, and she wasn’t a NYC waif.  She was a classic beauty because she put care into her appearance and she shown.

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graphic with a splash of color.

I feel like the theft of my Kate Spade for Steamline Luggage, along with my satin make-up case, the metal tagged zipper long ago broken from forcing one too many tubes of lipstick into the little case,  was a foreshadowing of what was to come. I had that make-up case for nearly 20 years.  I’ve written about that Steamline case so often I feel as if my blog should be entitled: Carry-on: One Gals Travels with her Kate Spade for Steamline- instead of Quest for the Nest.

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Wherever the mood took her.

I spent a whole decade carrying a weekender back and forth to Nantucket.  It’s iconic print, and pretty neo-pink and kelly green stripes seemed just the pop of preppy required for the island, and made me feel super special.  I think I’ll pull it out of the closet.  It’s as lovely as it was the day I spent more than I could afford to buy it.  It was an investment as my sister Mary Beth would say, and sometimes, material things can bring you happiness.

Thank you for that Kate.

Bygone Days of Books: Style your shelves

Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself unloading a storage unit, and asking yourself what the heck were you paying to store all that stuff for?  I’m not judging you if the answer is a resounding yes.  Me, I have the opposite disease.  I like to unload things, leave them on the street, give them to a friend, let one of my sister’s borrow the rug, chair,  painting or pillow –  permanently.  I don’t know why this is my particular affliction, but it is.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself unloading a storage unit – that did not belong to me – to take nearly all the items to the dump – there final resting place.  Not happy!

Books

Birds of a feather.

Among the items that were discarded where boxes and boxes of books.  Having been stored in a damp out-door storage unit for the winter – they were worse for the wear, and sadly had to be tossed.  Having moved a time or two in the past, I am well aware of the weight of books, and have carefully culled my collection to those most prized volumes, and my desire resource books for which I find regular insight into the most perplexing interiors challenges.  I can never seem to remember where to hang that painting – is it 54″ on center from the floor – one of my books will tell me, so you can see the necessity in keeping those around.  Beyond that – bookshelves are all about visual interest for me.

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Minimalinteriordesign.com

A little bauble, a wooden bird, a small painting that would be lost on the wall but comes to life on the shelf.  a Chinese Urn, a succulent or petit potted plant, a paper weight.  Large, small, tall, fat – varying the sizes of objects on shelves creates interest.

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Studio McGee

There was a time when I thought that nothing else could provide as much insight into another as a bookshelf full of books that they love.  No one could accuse me of being nosy for pursuing a bookshelf, but it’s another thing altogether to pick up the kindle that’s just lying out on the table and start reading the stored book listing.  You mine as well just pick up there phone and start scrolling through their call log.  As if!

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OKL

Fear not, a well styled bookshelf tells a story too.  Not in words of course, but I think it will provide those of you that are curious enough to ask, with a conversation starter or two.

Pattern Recognition: New to the Rack

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Medium Diamond . Indigo

If you ever cruise through the design center, in whatever city you live – you’re familiar with the racks and racks of hanging fabric.  If you don’t keep up with it, you might have to spend weeks looking through it all, and that many choices can make a gal insane.  While going insane for “A” fabric is recommended – going insane over fabric options is not.

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Arabesque Poppy . Lilac

The way to avoid this catastrophic breakdown is to visit often, and keep your eyes peeled for the telltale “new” signs that tag the panel samples that are hot off the presses.  While I was innocently strolling from my morning meeting, which was conveniently located in the Innovation and Design Center (Boston’s Version of To the Trade), I spotted a whole slew of those signs in one of my favorite design salons – Studio 534.

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Hourglass . Turquoise

My heart skipped a beat, and I beat it into that studio freeing my hands of any encumbrances and reverently slipping the through the 8′ panels like a beloved book.  Among the many new Galbraith & Paul fabrics, and the Sister Parish designs – impressed with both, my eye caught a serene and happy collection by Betsy Textiles.  Who is Betsy I asked myself?  I had never come across her before, and my adoration was instant.  She represents the colors I adore in this new color collection beautifully.  Sometimes with elegant subtlety, sometimes with a whimsy that has you imagining a tea party in the English Countryside with Alice in Wonderland.

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Jardin . Pink

Let me assure you I fell right down that rabbit hole, and I didn’t even have to wonder how I’d gotten there.  I worked all weekend, selling, and bargaining, and doing my very best to resist the temptation to buy anything at the Decorator’s Pop Up sale for which it was my mission to unload – not restock, and opps, I simply could not get that collection out of my mind.  I had my sites on a pair of board room chairs that made there way across the pond from London, and I thought – it’s meant to be.  When they didn’t sell, I simply could not let such a fine pair of chair return to the damp, dark barn – so I grabbed them – telling myself I was doing those chairs a service, finding them a home.

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Poppy . Cream

Well, I think you probably know the story.  The samples are being ordered.  I’ll select the fabric and Betsy Speert will be an accessory to the transaction.  Betsy, I am not accusing you – I am thanking you.