Homework? The office is where it’s at

When I finally crossed the threshold from Elementary School to fifth grade, I thought I had arrived. I left a new elementary school to a broken down, historic building that had a list of past lives that was rather long. It served as a town hall, a high school, a community center, and a middle school. When the town grew up, the family had to split to accommodate its growing population. Fifth and sixth graders remained in the battered old building, and Seventh and Eight Graders high tailed it to the high school, only to find out that they’d be housed in trailers and carefully segregated from the bad influence of the older kids. That old dame of a building is still standing, testing out her new life as an Arts and Cultural Center. I liked her. I felt that we were kindred souls, it was the administration that I had a bone to pick with, having discovered that I was expected to do homework, like, for the rest of my life.

Image 4 . Graphics with impact

I hated homework then, and I hate it now. Who wants to work at home I ask you? Home is a sanctuary, home is a place to sink into the sofa, flip on the tv, or your Sonos speaker system, and rock out to whatever makes you happy. The works that are meant for home are house, yard, and repairs or improvements, not paperwork, data analysis, or budget logs. While we weren’t paying attention, they slipped in a series of systems – smart phones, laptops, compact printers, and we all smiled while our sovereignty was sliding from our grasp.

Every Space should have a statement piece like this light fixture.

This weekend I worked on the semi-final push to open our new headquarters – semi-final because I don’t know of a place at home, or at work that is ever really done. As any major project does, this one had a host of helpers make it a reality. There were designers and engineers, project managers, and graphic artists. We investigated live walls and preserved gardens, indoor gathering space and outdoor. We talked amenities, adding workouts to your workday, and showers so you could freshen up after miles of meetings held while speed walking on your tred desk. We brought back food, unveiled a new coffee machine whose bells and whistles rivaled my first car – though I think I will continue to love both them with equal ardor.

For me, there is no argument about going back to the office. I told some of you already, but I love working in the office. I love my monitors, my walls adorned with post-it notes, and strategy boards. I love my quotes and photos, paint swatches and pinned poems, and snippets from my very favorite projects. I love that my fifth wall is the floor and no one tells me not to use it. My most pressing priorities sit in my path and demand my attention until I complete, and put them to rest for the night. I love the people, and the noise that comes with production. I love creating stuff and printing stuff. I love work, and I am so happy to work in a place that values aesthetics as much as function, people more than profits, construction and community. Now how would I ever find all of that in my living room? Well, often the construction part, but the rest I’ll find at Elaine Construction. Hope you’ll come visit me there.

Three Buckets: Why RE is a Good Investment

8 Gorham Road . Harwich Port . $799K

I started working when I was 11 years old. I didn’t do it out of necessity, as you might imagine, I did it because my sister asked me to join her in her chambermaiding efforts, at The Moby Dick Motel, and it seemed as good a way to pass the time as anything else I was up to that summer. I was, of course, paid under the table, by the New York couple that owned the joint. It’s location on Rt. 28 in Harwich was highly visible. Someone must have dropped a time on the them for trafficking in underaged help, because I recall my stint roaming from room to room with my sister was short lived. They moved me into the main building, which served as reception and their home, and that is where I stayed, cleaning for the summer. It was a pretty good gig. I recall spending an inordinate amount of my time cleaning the refrigerator, home to the Andes Mints, which I ate with wild abandon, and no apparent fear of retribution. I have no idea what their real names were. I referred to them as the Ropers – from Three’s Company. They were characters and had a dog to match. The poor little puppy had an issue with incontinence and was forced, I am sure, much to his chagrin, to wear pampers. So started my work life journey.

90 Sweetbriar Drive . Orleans $899.5K

I have no idea how much I made that summer, or what I did with that money. It was a pattern that I would repeat, again and again, as I moved from pot washer, to sandwich maker, breakfast waitress, to top notch server, slinging seaside offerings to sunburned tourists to put myself through school. I can recall a Pioneer Stereo and a Political Science degree by way of my spending, but saving – no. There was no saving, and I certainly didn’t donate money as I do now, but none of it is done strategically with a plan, a goal, a chance that the discipline will result in security, a date on the calendar that signals it’s ok to stop.

96 Skaket Beach Road . Orleans $1.15

My financial education can be encapsulated simply – a single high school course on how to balance a check book, which I remember well, but never employed, a mother that insisted we shop discount so that we could buy more, and more often. Shopping for the Falla girls was a national pastime. That regrettably, has never changed, and so I keep toiling. The one thing I learned and learned well was that real estate was a sound investment, with the added benefit that it tied up my dollars, bound to that houseboat with knots that this seaside gal could not untie. Safe from my indiscriminate spending habits.

Monomoy Coffee . Main Street . Chatham – ready to start your own business? $150K

I found myself thinking about Yara Shahidi the other day. She was recounting, in one of her many talks, the lessons her parent’s imparted. She started making money at a very young age, receiving her first paycheck two years before me. I have no idea how much it was for, but her parents told her that each check would be divided into three buckets: the savings bucket, the giving bucket, and the spending bucket. The brilliance of these buckets has me wanting to buy some. I’d like them to be teak, varnished so they gleamed and accented with a rope handle. You can see I am already heading in the wrong direction with the lesson, unless of course I found the money in my spend bucket, and chose to use those precious dollars for a vessel, oh wait, I think I’d rather spend it on real estate. It’s a currency I can get behind.

In Search of a Pretty Property

Have you ever seen a vine as happy as this one?

I’ve been casually looking around for another property. Casually because my Boston condo has yet to sell – it will though – just a matter of time, and Chatham doesn’t close for a few more weeks. The rate at which properties pass papers these days makes it silly to do anything other than gaze, and gander from a good distance away. The looking is a sort of disease. I’m signed up to so many alert services that some days slogging through the in-box is like moving through quicksand, but when I come across something that shows potential, it stirs the butterflies in my belly.

Set me up in this one.

I got a text this weekend that had my heart stop for dramatic effect before it started to Salsa. It was a tiny little two bed in Chatham, NOT yet on the market, but the owners were ready to say good-bye to it. They called it a tear down – impossible I thought, they know not what they speak of. It’s a non-conforming lot, and the risk you take if you remove a building is that you won’t be able to replace it, let alone put another larger home on the property. Of course their are Zoning Boards of Appeal, where you can plead your case, but it’s a gamble, and I am not willing to put $1.1M on the line for the chance they might be in a good mood the day I ask.

A pillow, a good book, and both my feet up, you’d find me here in the morning.

My heart returned to its steady beat when I learned about the size of the lot. It slowed even further when I visited the property to look it in the eye from the outside, assess the neighborhood and such. She knew it, and I knew it, the company that she kept was not stellar, star-studded, or seaside. A problem if you want to cash in that lottery ticket.

I’ve never wanted to force myself into being a numbers person, but when it matters, I seem to be pretty good at doing the math. This little house had numbers that didn’t work. I have never expected to get something for nothing, but renovating a home is hard. The only easy part of the process is spending too much, taking too long, and underestimating what others will give you for it. No, she wasn’t for me, but I’d take one of these little beauties, whether it was falling down or not. I’d move right in, set up my laptop, and tap away, breaking now and again to gaze out at the sea, and think to myself, how very fortunate I am to just be.

You mustn’t forget the view – even if it is only in your mind’s eye.

If I had a Million Dollars

Falling in love with a rich man is not as easy as falling in love with a poor man, as the old saying suggests. Falling can be hard on the heart, nurturing that love when it tests your patience, doesn’t live up to your expectations, or seems to fail you, can be trying. Staying in the game, when you’d rather throw in the towel, the hardest of all, but to love someone, or something, is to commit, and commitment has its own rewards.

Why all this talk of love? I stumbled across a listing of a house on Main Street in Orleans. As we prepare to say good-bye to our Chatham flip, and I expect to say fair thee well to my Boston condo, which as well all know, was never really mine to keep, like a summer fling that returns to his real life, just before Labor Day, we weren’t destined to be together forever. So I am on the hunt for companionship. I certainly didn’t expect to fall in love, but who ever does.

It’s pale mustard exterior and green clapboard trim had me judging the book by its cover. It wasn’t dressed the way I’d choose. Of course that can be changed, but at a cost, and often a steep one. When I peeked through the side door I could tell this property had soul, and an old one at that. I love old souls. I love the stories they tell, sometimes quickly, sometime revealed to you slowly overtime, as you get to know one another. There were hidden stairs, sloped floors, Dutch doors, and scores of built-in drawers to explore.

The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone…

Despite the gentle use and clear care that had been languished on the property over the last century and a half, I am afraid everything would have to go – so much of it – almost all of it – how would I keep the character and charm of this beautiful, sprawling, four bedroom, two kitchen, barn, garage, guest suite, city on one side, country on the other side, marvel of a property. Did I mention that his caboose abutted a marsh that overlooked the cove?

Every home should have a guest house with a name as sweet as this.

If I had a million dollars… he’d take every penny of that and want more. He’d leach all my energy, wring from me blood, sweat, and a flood of tears, and when it was all said and done, I’d still love him, possibly more. Sometimes the hardest things give you the most pleasure, create the strongest bond, remind you that there is beauty that emerges from struggle.

A room with a view and a fireplace to keep you warm – not much else is needed.

Sadly our story ended before it had a chance to start. I didn’t have the million, and someone else snatched him up. He’s off the market, and so my search continues, but I sure do hope that whoever got him, loves him the way he deserves to be loved.

Made in the Shade

Selling a house has so much to do with timing, right place and all that. What if your just south of noon, a little left of the pathway to the perfect buyer, and are feeling a little down under? What if your timing is off, the market is off, or say, there is a pandemic that’s got your compass stopping anywhere but your true north? Some might say it’s fate, your destiny, never meant to be, but not me. I’m impatient. Not in the way I expect everything to magically fall into place. Where would the fun be in that? No the impatience in me burns in my belly and rises up in my chest, the urgency I feel has me bursting from my seat, pacing the floor, opening and closing the door, and asking to no one in particular, and anyone in earshot – where are you dear buyer? I’m waiting.

Run . Don’t Walk to the today’s showing. 34 Lawrence St.

I’m not shy about asking for help. I’ve got an excellent agent – more than one – a team actually, and they are all lovely, communicative, and talented. The Stephen Cohen Team penned the perfect prose for my property, placed an enormous sign on the fence announcing “Something Pretty’s Inside”, and posted social media announcements galore to get the word out. They’ve been ready and willing to show it, and have dutifully help open houses, but the people have gone elsewhere. The north shore, the south shore, the Cape, the islands, Costa Rica, Bali, a friend’s back yard in the country. Who all knows where they have made off to, but it is time to come home to the city, to work, to re-enter the human race and they, that one or two lucky someone(s) are not going to want to miss out on this live large in the city property.

I’ve pulled out all the stops. My good friend Christine came to visit, plants in hand, shop girl star management attitude in toe, and we rolled up our sleeves, rearranged furniture, pulled pillows from the closet until we found the perfect combination that would say: I could live here, I’ll take it, tell me the pillows come with the deal. Of course they do, anything for you, I’d say.

There was one more very important thing I thought I must do, and that was to surreptitiously plant a statue of St. Joseph upside down, facing my condo, in the back yard of my building. I had to do it in secret, because I don’t actually have egress rights to the garden below, but I thought the renters wouldn’t mind if they caught me, because I keep it clean. What they thought of me placing my faith in a small plastic figure, I will likely never know. It is fitting that St. Joseph a selfless and devoted carpenter, would be the middle man between me, or you for that matter, and a higher power. I promised St. Joseph that when my property is expeditiously sold, I will dig him up and carry him with me to my next home. He had a calling, and I have my own. I have this idea, that together we will get this jewel box of a condo sold.

Master Mason . Making her mark with art

There is a sea of fabrics out there. Dozens upon dozens of daily patterns are produced, like waves building in the ocean when a Nor’easter is brewing, it would be impossible to see all there is to see, in this sea of cottaintailed fabrics. Daunting to some, exciting to others, nature has a way of pushing a little piece of divine inspiration ashore, gently lapping at your toes, and then persistently petting them until you pay proper attention to the pretty little gift that you’ve been given. Nature – she giveth and she taketh away – the impermanence of it all is exciting.

In just this way, well not quite this way, perhaps metaphorically in this way, I was made aware of a little – big enterprise called Ferrick Mason. A watery blue, fauna leafed fabric presented itself to me, and I wondered how it was possible I’d never know of this companies existence before. I need to open my eyes, I should have known, I could have known, that not only was Alex Mason a textile designer, but a beautiful fine artist, with a whole lot of education. First, the University of Vermont – loads of nature there, then Pratt Art Institute – Brooklyn, then a jaunt to New Zealand before stopping in LA to got to school at the Otis College of Art and Design to study textile design, and then somehow she landed in Kentucky. Kentucky of all places, but these places have a way of finding their legacy living on in wallcoverings, fabric cushioned seats, curtains blowing in the breeze. A branch, a bird, a berried leaf, a shell, a shimmery feather, a shadow of some unknown shape, blurred by the blobs of paint that patterned the papery surface, a layer or two below another.

Alex Mason has talent. Her art, in part is derived from the landscapes of her travels, in part born from a vivid imagination. The mix of the two had me wondering which was which and who was who, like the one and only time I visited Hawaii and discovered purple flowering trees, potatoes, and rainbows, the likes of which had previously been known to me only on the fantastical pages of a Dr. Sues storybook. Their realness took a back seat to their magic.

That’s just the way I feel about Ms. Mason’s art, and her textiles. There’s a happy sophistication to her pieces which are full of symbolism with their circles, dragons, birds, and luminous orbs. The idea of papering a powder room, pantry or parlor in blue dragon’s portending good fortune is rather appealing to me. Don’t even get me started with the canvases covered in cakes, oh my. What a wonderful decadent phase that turned out to be.

Which would you choose? Hanging paper, curtains or a framed original in your home?

Dream a little dream house for me

Pink Railing and All: Designed for a day or two before being returned to the Owners – in its original condition.

I never had one Barbie doll. Not a single one. My sister had one, but I don’t remember which Barbie she was, where she lived (geographically speaking) or what she did for a living. She didn’t do anything, so my interest was low, though I desperately wanted that Malibu Dream House, or the camper. West Coast beach house overlooking the Pacific, with sunken living rooms, pink pool slides, and a closet full of lucite heeled Candy sandles seemed superb to me, and then a road adventure on luxury wheels, that would take me away from my small town existence – yes please, that too. Alas, my mother would have none of it. I can hear her now, “where are you going to put that thing (so disrespectful) it’s just going to junk up this place”. So my dreams of a dream house went unrequited.

Could my house flipping wanderlust be the result, (wait a minute, let’s not sugar coat it, let’s place blame here), the fault, (that’s better) of my dream house deprivation? I dare say it’s possible. The more I flip, the more I dream, and the places, palatial, and so far outside of my planetary orbit, that I could easily imagine the existence was flawless – though I know in my bones that nothing is, the point of a dream house is just that – it’s a magical fantasy. Everybody knows that the pool in a fantasy is self-cleaning, never needs resurfacing, and certainly doesn’t leak into the cinema below. What kind of a dream would that be. “Quel nightmare” as Holy Golightly would say.

California Cool – personal quarters of “It Girl Barbie”

As a marketer, I adore a good PR stunt. The brilliance of a collaboration that draws the eyes of the world – if only for a moment, to look longingly at your cleverness is a thrill. Matel and Airbnb thrilllllled me with their real life Malibu Barbie Dream House rental. One lucky “winner”, two nights, a walk on part in a movie, costumes, make-up artists, hair dresser to the stars and all. Astronaut, Tennis Champion, Yoga Instructor, Corporate Tycoon, Hostess, and/or Race Car Driver, my heart was swooning with the possibilities – I didn’t see an outfit for construction, but I’ve been trying that one on for years. I think I need a good tailor.

A closet that will help you explore who you want to be…

Snatched from the devastating flames of the California forest fires this real life Malibu Dream House isn’t on the beach, but instead set in the hills. The infinity pool will make you feels as if you are on the beach with its breathtaking views. Barbie’s house was a dream because she designed it in her own signature colors – a spectrum of pinks accented by pops of yellow and turquois. Bold and happy, hip and beautiful, Barbie’s minimalist aesthetic is a contradiction terms. Its Cali clean lines and uncomplicated details feel just right for the home. The furnishings are sleek and the space uncluttered, made somewhat easier to accomplish by her purpose programmed rooms. There is a Meditation Terrace, a WFH Office, a Cinema, Craft Room, bed, bath, and beyond fabulous dressing room. The contradiction comes in the form of that signature magenta pink, spotted on the handrail that surrounds the balcony, the waterslide, and the doors that lead out to the deck.

Gaudy, yes. Would I move right in and start a series of career explorations on a new coast, Goodness guys and gals, don’t you know me at all?

Boxed Lunch: tablescapes to go

Table and Teaspoon. The Monroe . $24. a setting (flowers not included).

I remember my first tea set. I wasn’t allowed to use it of course. My mother was certain I would break it. While I cannot argue with her logic, its lack of use, and eventual disappearance, seems like a greater tragedy than a chipped saucer, or shattered tea cup. It was a happy little set, with its bold bands of blue, yellow, pink and green, accented by large white flowers, her pot spouting a neck like a swan.

Hestia Harlow . Journey Through Jaffa – set of 2 $96.00

Tea sets, and tablescapes should be shown off. A canvas to be created, curated, and cooed over by family, friends, and recently found acquaintances, but the sheer cost of showing off is shocking, and once you’ve shown off with that perfect party-themed platter with a pale pink gingham napkin, a delicate blown glass wine goblet in grass green, and a fringed straw placemat, it’s going to be hard to use it all again, unless you unfollow friends like some Instagram star constantly hitting the refresh button. I for one value my friendships and would like to keep them around, so what’s a gal to do when she wants to keep the creative landscape cool, on-trend, and avoid the clutter? My one thing in and one thing out flippers philosophy can really take a tole on my bank account, not to mention the environment.

A Table to Love . Lele $25. per setting.

Thank goodness for Millennials. That’s right, you heard me. I’m bored to death of the banter that batters this pour generation for their celebrate me nature. I want to throw you a party for introducing the sharing economy to me. Who needs to go into Lekkar Home and buy four glasses, placemats, gold silverware – is that an oxymoron – handles dipped in navy, a runner made of rope, and a screen printed napkin that you wouldn’t dare wipe your dirty fingers on for fear that you won’t be invited back, who has the money for the food and flowers when you’re done with all that?

Social Studies . Hometown . $32. per setting

The smart shopper – that’s who. There are so many divinely creative people out there in this beautiful world of ours. Rent, Ship, Set, and Return is going to be my new mantra. I’ll say it when I throw a woodsy winter wonderland themed bash, and again when I set off for a Polynesian styled party that will have me searching for a vintage Lily Pulitzer halter dress with large pink Hibiscus flowers. Next I’ll go high-brow with china, and then low-brow for a BBQ bonanza, the possibilities are endless. Get ready to party.

Making Waves: toss those scallops ashore

Lulu Little

The trend started quietly to build a few summer’s ago. A scallop shaped velvet pillow, backed in linen and available in a host of delicious jewel tones. I bought one, and then another. I’m a sucker for summer, city and seaside. Yes, it’s true the city can incorporate coastal and still feel sophisticated, and the coast can make the most of a sophisticated vibe that keeps it from looking too country. Decisions, decisions, it’s all in the decisions you make, we make, let’s make some together.

It’s time now to fully embrace that beloved little bi-valve, and ride, at least one scalloped edge to shore, because sure shootin’ these sweet little curves are making waves. It’s fitting that I only have eyes for this edge detail, as scallops, most interestingly, have 32 blue/green eyes. They don’t actually see with them, they are used more like a homing mechanism, sensory perception, instinct? I can’t exactly remember what Mr. Hammond, my fifth grade teacher, who taught us all the subjects, including marine biology, had to say about that pretty little mollusk, but I think I’m in the ball park, or the Sound as the case may be. They also swim backwards by opening and closing their shells in rapid succession to escape predators, and you can eat those eyes, just as you would a muscle – aka, the scallop, but nobody entertains that idea – it’s simply not as appetizing as a pillow-y white cloud, puddled in Saffron broth, served aside a linen napkin with that semi-circular edge, stamped and repeated, stamped and repeated, stamped and repeated, in some wonderous shade. I bet you can imagine your Easter table coming together.

It’s everywhere, like a newly discovered vocabulary word, you’ll start seeing that seaworthy rippled edge on everything. Trust me, and please do report back on your findings, you will. There’s the bar cart/side table – not surprisingly Serena and Lily is up on a coastal trend. The lovely lamp shades with their velvet edged detail, and their Liberty of London lined interiors. There are bed linens, and banquets, backsplashes and beautiful vanities. There are patio umbrellas, pretty little planters, and platters for which to serve Sazerac’s in sexy stemmed glasses.

Trove . Avalon Monumental Double Chest . 3050 – pounds.

The whimsey that this detail brings to the staid interior is some kind of wonderful. We could use a little wonderful right now. If you can’t do a loop-di-lo, at least do a half. It’s bound to make you smile.

Upholders: The original interior designers

There seems to be quite a lot more to learn here than I thought.

Ah Spring, I’ve been waiting for you. Normally I enjoy a little winter, time to burrow in, and rest, but my burrowing feels more like bondage, and my resting more like restricted chaos. I’m ready to be born again, and if this turn of seasons doesn’t allow for that, I’m not sure what does. It’s not just me that needs a fresh look, feel, life – it’s my furnishings. My furniture, is forever relegated to the teenage years of trial and experimentation. No sooner does my sofa have one look, that I am looking to give her the next. A new seasonal trend, an influence from a trip across the pond, or through my Instagram feed, or of course a new home, is all the motivation I need, to want– so desperately want, to remake the little beauties.

Wouldn’t I just love to get my hands on these. Chairish $2880. for the pair.

Upholstery is an expensive endeavor, even for those like me, who have found a source, that does it on the relative cheap. Not to be mistaken with cheaply. No, Tho’s work, is a work of art, but still it adds up, and it leaves me wondering, with all my free time, why couldn’t I do that? Before you going slinging your arrows in my direction with all the reasons I couldn’t possibly, shouldn’t even consider doing, I know, or think I do, but I love to learn, and while I don’t have any expectation that I’ll be double welting, button detailing, coil springing, horse hair stuffing, stringing or any other complicated matters associated with the vocation, I would like to know how to measure the yardage that one might require for the object. Start at the beginning I always say.

Not quite ready to go indoors for a live class. Bone up on it first with this book.

The beginning interestingly, can be traced back to the 17th century. Upholsterers were called Upholders, which I think is a pretty amazing title to have and to hold. How about you? It’s so regal. I might even be willing to trade my relative new favorite – Curator of Interpretations in for this new one. The apprentices were relegated to far less noble titles – The Outsider or The Trimmer. I don’t think I want to be either of those, but somewhere you must start, and apparently they made your fringe existence known clearly. Upholders professions were expansive, as it turns out. They were not simply reupholstering furnishings in the homes, castles, or churches, they were managing the entire interior decoration. Often paired with a cabinet maker, they were making history.

I’m not attempting to make history here – at least not as an Upholsterer. I have noted over the years that fabric estimations seem to be off by quite a bit. It must be a cautionary approach – no one wants to be left with too little fabric for the job. That would be disastrous, but too much, ouch. The fabric that I select is expensive. Ridiculously so, if you want to know the truth. I’m left carrying it around with me from home to home, feeling guilty. All those dollars rolled up on a rod, doing me no good at all. I need accuracy. Having calculated my odds, I thought taking a class on upholstery might just be the Spring Semester lesson I need.

Tools of the trade.