Sail Cloth: Putting together a coastal fabric collection

In my mind’s eye I breeze through the perfectly designed rooms of The Manse in a flowy cotton Ulla Johnson dress,

admiring my careful selections with pride, and a knowing nod to myself, just as I imagined it would look.  In reality…there are dozens of mistakes I will make, returns, concessions, screamed vulgarities, frustration, some tears followed by elation.  If I am making it sound terrible – it’s not.  It’s this very part that keeps me going.  That has me dreaming of different color combinations, fabrics, and patterns – textures and scale.  Like a golfer that swears they will quit, and then hits a perfect shot, I’m in for life.

 

I’ve already bought, and plan to return a number of items that upon further reflection – will not work.  If this were a Chatham Bars Inn buffet – my eyes would be bigger than my stomach – the repercussions are worse than a stomach ache though, because the beds won’t fit in the rooms!  Ugh.  New plan.  While I think I’ve come up with an alternative approach, it’s a disappointment.

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Cheeky Monkey . Add a little red felt heart on Harwich and we’re in business.

I want to be sure to get the fabrics right so I am laying out several scenarios and asking for input.  Jo-Jo will weigh in here of course.  I was turned onto a fourth generation textile design company out of Sheffield, MA called Tillett Textiles & T4 run by Kathleen Tillett and son Patrick McBride.  This company is hot!  They allow you to choose your pattern and your color way along with about a dozen materials from which you can print it.  If you are in love with their designs, and want a coordinating wallcovering you might consider printing on a lightweight fabric and then having it paper backed before hanging it.  Helen Baker of Helen Baker Interiors Inc. turned me on to them.  She knows the coolest resources!

White and Blue Bedroom:  2nd Floor

Top Left:  Carp Allowed It in Navy – Tillett Textiles (Roman Shades)  Top Right:  Bolero in Indigo – Sister Parish (Window Seat Cushion) Bottom:  Beans and Boys in Red – Tillett Textiles (Pillow for Window Seat).

Sister Parish is a textile and wallcovering brand founded in 2000 to honor the style of and spirit of Sister Parish of the influential Parish-Hadley Interiors firm that famed designers Brian McCarthy and Bunny Williams once called their work home.  I became familiar with them a few years back when I saw a pattern called Serendipity with it’s happy little stars and polka dots – two things bring a smile to my face.  Their patterns are perfect for a coastal haunt.

Pink Bedroom

Left:  Mally Skok . Mewar Pink Orange. (Window Seat Pillow piped in kelly green). Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B . Simply Pink (Window Seat Cushion.

Above:  Similar Wicker Chair – Antique Market Find with Top Left:  Tillett Textiles . Puffy Petals in Forest Green.  Top Right:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green piped in pink.

Above Left:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green – converted to wallcovering for bedroom closet interior.  Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B – custom upholstered daybed.

Last year, while at the Innovation and Design Center in Boston’s Seaport, I met Mally Skok.  I went to the talk because I had seen a room she designed for a show house and I was struck by the organic patterns and playful motifs.  She has a fascinating story, and is as lovely as her designs.

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Custom Upholstered Day Bed with Trundle by livenUpdesign. Via Etsy.

I love so much of what Serena and Lily produces, but struggled with colorways that would work in this particular application.  If I have to be honest, which I do, because what’s the point of writing all this if I am not honestly sharing my preferences, thoughts, and opinions.  I’m not perfect – nobody is and NObody likes a property that looks too perfect.  It feels inauthentic (probably because nobody lives there) Don’t you forget that.

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Louis J. Solomon . Commode for inside the closet nook.

So S & L is out and I am embracing a mix of designers that you may know, and others who may be new to you.  I do hope you approve.  Comments are sometimes welcome – just kidding – if I couldn’t accept input and alternative suggestions, where would I be?  Please do write.

Hit The Floor: and give me ten

I attribute this title (BLAME IT) on the new year health and fitness craze which rolls around every January, makes my yoga studio feel like ten pounds of sausage stuffed into a two pound bag, and has me agreeing to participate in an office-wide Whole30 challenge.  I can’t be trusted with what is coming out of my mouth, (not literally – obviously) when all I can focus on is what I am so desperately missing going in.  Ok, enough of that whining – wait a minute – did somebody say WINE?  That is what I am missing most, a nice glass of wine to end my week.

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The Parisians love a herringbone pattern and so do I!

Bother – I should have to hit the floor just for that diatribe.  What got me thinking about hard wood again was an article I wrote back in the fall that was just published in Multi Housing News on the subject.  All these months later I realize that I gave some pretty good advice. (that’s the Whole30 talking)  You be the judge – link to full article here. https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/the-beauty-value-of-a-new-wood-floor/

Bleached Flooring

Pickled and laid at an angle – trés calm et chic.

Here are 10 reasons I think hard wood isn’t a hard choice at all.

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Painted Hardwood – also a favorite.  So clean and sleek in its high gloss finery.

  1.  You can lay it in the most beautiful patterns – my favorite is herringbone, it’s so very French that way.
  2. A solid hard wood can be refinished again and again over the years.  The harder woods – like Hickory and Oak can be sanded and stained as many as 20 times.
  3. It’s sustainable – see reason #2.  There is nothing more “green” than reusing materials instead of replacing them.
  4. The grain has an elemental beauty – even laid vertically or horizontally it pops.
  5. Wood floors are one of the better materials to use in a kitchen if you cook a lot – they’re easier on your back than a ceramic tile or stone.
  6. There a little like an egg; you can bleach it, pickle it, stain it, varnish it or leave it au natural.
  7. It’s pet friendly, kid friendly, and klutz friendly – (like me when I am cooking or like me and Minnie at Christmas dinner when we exploded the Pyrex dish after placing it on the hot stove – the hardwood survived – our dinner didn’t).
  8. It ages gracefully, building character and beauty even as it shrinks and expands.
  9. It brings warmth to a space.
  10. It’s kind to those with allergies as it doesn’t trap dust.
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Warped, warn and wonderful – yes please.

Those are the hard facts as I see them.  One last point – it feels like the best thing in the world to lie on after an hour of hot yoga.  I can’t imagine anything feeling better than that.

Happy Saturday.

 

Copy Carpets: getting it for cheaper

I had a colleague call me to task the other day.  We were talking about shoes I think?  Or it might have been gowns, or furniture or something of monumental importance to me.  Don’t judge me because I have momentarily forgotten which of these things it was – they are all extremely important, and were it not for the shear number of brands, furnishings, materials and projects, which require my attention, I would be able to tell you precisely which one it was.   It will all come back – fear not – and it’s beside the point anyway.  What he wanted to know was the percentage of people that could identify the high end from the low?  Really good question Mark.  I had to admit that it was few and far between.  Why then do I do it?  Well, the answer is I do it sometimes, and sometimes I don’t.  AND I notice.

Left:  Serena and Lily . Metallic Hemp & Suede . 8′ x 10′ $698.  Right:  World Market . Gray Metallic Woven Jute Alden Area Rug . 6′ x 9′ $199.

A mon Avis, the trick is to mix high and low together in one space.  Vintage and new, antique and mid-cent knock-off, art of your own creation with a prized Picaso.  Comb the beach for a shell, rock, or sculptural piece of drift wood.  Find an old sign and spray paint it gold or matte black – it snuggle it in, among other shiny objectives making it a distinguished focal point.

Left:  ABC Carpet . Color Reform . 4’1″ x 6′ $1200.  Right:  West Elm . Caspian Rug Overdyed 6′ x 9′ $899.

I do love finding a good bargain – but it must in fact be good.  It’s so disappointing when you spend money on something that falls apart – in whatever predetermined timeframe I’ve decided the item should last.  So be it, I have a 1950’s concept of how things should be made.  They should last!

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ABC Carpet . Nazarene 4′ x 6’2″ $800.

So carpets.  I’ve found some that I believe are simple lovely replicas of the original – though who arrived there first is always up for debate.  Perhaps it’s more apt to say – the higher cost version – which implies better quality, but isn’t always the case.  I think these are worth the gamble, and if I wasn’t the gambling type I wouldn’t be doing this quest.

Left:  World Market . Beige Adilah Area Rug . 7’10” x 10′  $349.99  Right:  Overstock.com . Nourish Moroccan Marrakesh Shag Rug . 9’2″ x 12′ 6″ $314.49

 

Coastal Design on a “Time” line.

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Serena and Lily . Priano Wallcovering $88.00

When the temp drastically drops like the Zipper at the Barnstable County Fair, it’s a bit hard to think about coastal living, but seaside schemes I need to make apart of my waking dreams, or I’ll never make my deadline.  It’s a self imposed one, but there are implications for missing it nonetheless.

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Schumacher . Bloom . Emerald and Ore

What are they you ask?  Well – my father will return from Florida sometime between the second week in April and the beginning of May, at which time he will head down to the storage unit, extract his leather recliner, and place it smack dab in the middle of the living room claiming it is a health necessity.

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Schumacher . Balloon 

This will obviously ruin my entire scheme.  The only possible scenario that allows me to be ok with this, is if in some brilliant stroke of luck and timing I am able to make all the decisions, procure the perfect mix of vintage, antique, new, and used (by us – but don’t count on a lot of that being allowed into this space), staging it, and having it photographed, all before his return.

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Cole and Sons . The Ardmore Collection . Singita

If by some design, wish giving fairy godmother I am granted my hearts desire – to be published in Coastal Living, New England Home, House Beautiful or some new edgy design magazine that is too hip for me to even know about it yet – then I will be totally fine if that chair and a bunch of tchotchkes arrive on the scene – like an uninvited house guest at the height of summer.

 

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Quadrille .China Seas . Jungle Green and White

 

Why you ask?  How is it possible that I would actually be – ok?  Well, nothing in this world is permanent.  Photographs offer the best possible, fake representation of what you wish your space could look like – could be – all the time, but in reality it’s a fairy tale.  Take an idea or two from those photos, work around that green recliner, tell yourself it is the color of the ocean – and let it go.

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Quadrille . Interweave . soft pink on almost white

To be memorialized in one of those mags would feel like a ride on the zipper – scary, thrilling, an amazing to be recognized for what is going to be an all out race to – not only complete – but create something amazing.

 

Astounding Beauty

Mary Oliver – famous American Poet gave instructions for living a life.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

PAY ATTENTION . BE ASTONISHED . TELL ABOUT IT.  It’s good advice.  There is beauty even in the mundane.  The things we take for granted, the snow that we lament as it piles up – looking past the flakes, all startlingly intricate in their icy formations, all worthy of our attention.  A blade of grass, an artisans technique, commitment and belief.  A meal savored rather than devoured, a kind gesture given or received. A smile, a tear, laughter. Inspiration is all around – even in the sawdust, I am beginning to see gold.

This year I didn’t buy anything or sell anything.  What the heck?  I am a buyer and a seller.  I feel empowered by the frantic energy that is expelled in the activity, and this holding pattern that I am sitting in – doesn’t sit well.  Still is is giving me an opportunity to see things not only as a whole, but for the rather amazing sum of their parts.

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Ladurée . The Grove . LA

I discovered that my commitment wouldn’t wane regardless of this year spent without spending.  I learned a few new tricks.  I remembered a few that I had forgotten.  I became acquainted with several designers for whom I have great admiration including; India Mahdavi who designed Ladurée in LA and Sketch in London – regarder – Ils sont fantastic.  Sandrine Place a stylist and interior designer who collaborated with Baptiste Legue on the design of a Pied a Terre above the Owner’s retail store – Chez Marie Sixtine. Oh lordy, do I ever want to hide away in the perfect pink and gray little home, and write myself silly.

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Chez Marie Sixtine

I began work on my biggest project yet – the Manse.  I traveled to Dallas, I would be remiss in my round-up if I didn’t make mention of my fondest state-side house of interior inspiration – Blue Print.  I visited Nashville, Nantucket, New Hampshire, New York City, and Nauset.  DC and Paris where i saw the single best exhibit of my existence, but even that did not top the very best thing I did in 2017…fall in love.

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Blue Print . The inspiration makes my cup overflow….thank you.

I feel blessed.  I am amazed, and I am telling you all about it.

Happy New Year.

Water Ways

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Hygge and West’s Mermaid Paper.

I was surprised to learn from my yoga instructor that winter – the season that is – is associated with water and fear.  It’s a time to look inward, and reflect.  I suppose in some cosmic way the Gregorian Calendar (that’s the one we currently follow – which was created by Pope Gregory XIII) with it’s year end, just after the Winter Solstice, and our tradition of goal setting for the new year – is in fact, a time of inward reflection.  Hum.

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Pottok . Little Whales Wallpaper.  At last I found it!

I’m a goal setter by nature.  I like the process.  I like to check in and reflect.  I love to see what the year has produced.  I’ve taken to telling people – whoever will listen really – what my goals are because I learned a few years back that in doing that – blabbing it to everyone, you are in fact increasing your chances of getting what you want.  Isn’t that the most amazing thing?  Somewhere in there, surely the psychology of accountability whispers in our ear, encouraging us along on our path.

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Marblous Oceany Wallpaper.

Fear can also be a powerful motivator.  No surprise that fear is what set me off on this quest in the first place.  The Quest for the Nest that is.  I find it eye-opening when someone tells me that they find what I am doing “courageous”.  I throw back my head and laugh – a nervous giggle whistling out through parted lips as I prepare to correct them.  It’s FEAR, not courage I want to scream.  Still, as I reflect on this past year, finish construction on No. 4…I have to admit, that I am in fact doing it.  Like water – I am finding my way, sometimes in the face of what seems decidedly unyielding, sometimes salty, and others deliciously enveloping.

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Serena and Lily . Seagrass Cloth . Amalfi

E.E. Cummings said:  “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea.”

I am a Cape Cod girl at heart.  I cannot argue with him there.

In this winter season, embrace the stormy waters, the calm tidal pools, the white caps, and ebbing tide.  There is something to learn and love from them all.

Merry and Bright

I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve.  It sneaks up on you when you are rushing round trying to get ready.  I thought I was in good shape, but then I went and left some essential details until the end.  The details are what matter to designers because it’s the je ne sais quais that turns the nice into the surprisingly cool….beautiful…or pulled together.  Everyone deserves a little “quais”  Non?

 

For me it was disguising the obvious gifts.  Some people want money – greenery I like to call it.  Also, unoriginal – but try as I might, they won’t be dissuaded.  Money is what they want, and so, who am I to judge.  Money they will receive, but not in any obvious way – surprise and delight it must be.  I thought about a cool box in which to house the treasure, I thought about a container with hidden compartments in which my loved ones would have to hunt for their prize.  I settled on none of that.

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we must use the tools we have…left over from holiday shipping.

My fascination with tiny houses led me to my cardboard creations.  First a log cabin, fire burning within, decorated for the holiday season, with the promise of special things, just beyond the door.  There is something very special in that cabin, indeed!

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Voila – something very special lies just beneath the roof.

 

The second is decidedly more Hundred Acre Wood.  A cylindrical tower of birch with its musical roof is a welcome respite from the cold, and the cash that it houses will certainly go a long way to warming the recipients heart – at least I hope it will.

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scouring the woods for window box riches

I was inspired by the ice laden trees that resulted from the freezing rainstorm that made for a miserable Christmas Eve . Eve.  The sun came out today and all glistened and sparkled as if it was Mother Nature’s intention all along.

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A stash of cash within the 100 Acre Wood Cabin.

 

Warmest Wishes to you and your family for a wonderful holiday.