PORTRAITS of Summer: Julien Pounchou

A French born photographer based in Barcelona Spain, Julien Pounchou’s portraits have that feel of a lazy, hazy, summer afternoon. Captured within the frame is the unrushed simplicity of another time. A time when the heavy, heat soaked air was a welcome excuse to sit in quiet contemplation, to float in the water, tethered to a bobbing boat, to sit poolside and wonder about the effort it might take to slip off the side and sink into the cool water.

His use of analog cameras and 120 & 35mm film to shoot his subjects, turn the pages of time back, like a books pages blowing gently in the wind. They are Instagrammable moments, but not for their staged perfection, but rather for the absence of it. No YouTube make-up tutorial required, come as you are.

Jenny Han said: “Everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”

Julien seems to grab those months by the bikini straps and gently pin them in place all year long.

In Through the Out Door

I’ve talked briefly before about flip No. 5. I try to accentuate the positive aspects of this process with you all, but the reality is a lot less glamorous. Oh it has it’s moments, and like that one perfect golf swing that results in a Tiger Woods inspired hole, it’s those good moments, the moments of inspiration and sheer pride, that keep you going.

Welcome.

This No. five hasn’t felt at all like the middle of a process, striving, thriving, moving toward something that has the potential to be amazing. Maybe not amazing for the amount of money that will come out of it, but for the sheer strength of will it’s taken to accomplish it. I’ve always been willful, and a little defiant. I suspect that someone told me that it would be impossible for me to flip 10 homes and make a million dollars, and it’s unsurprising to me that I have doggedly pushed on despite the odds. While I am relatively self-actualized, my progress in personal growth is a slow one.

Painting the casings in black really gave the door and windows distinction.

It’s this same stubbornness that had me refusing to accept the fact that the entrance to No. 5 was in fact the back of the building, the embarrassingly cable strung, bird nest filled – back. It’s like I am the butt of a very bad joke. It does have its upsides though, and it’s those sides that I focused my attention on. What else could I do, I can’t change the reality of the entrance without reconfiguring the entire building, and if I could do that, I wouldn’t be on a quest for a million bucks and bragging rights in the first place. So focus I did. The gate off the street is a bit rickety, but it has charm, and when you open that door you enter an enclave just off my quiet street. The first time I stepped through that door I was transported to Paris and the gated entries to ancient residential complexes. As your foot falls, just on the other side of that gate, you are taken to a place that is possibly even more magical than the city at your back. Now that’s called vision, because in reality it was the dead of winter, it looked more like an abandoned building on a city lot in – oh let’s pick Cleveland. Sorry Cleveland, but I have firsthand experience with some of your abandoned lots and they are more Sanford and Sons junkyard than Versailles. I thought then, with its heavy cabling, tired beaten sashes, and dust stained deck that I could make a difference.

The dull green was freshened up with BM’s Trout Gray

I started with the – ahem – front door, which was really a side door meant for a kitchen, with its divided light windows that took up half the door, giving poor me, NO privacy. That wouldn’t do, so I replaced it with a clean modern Shaker-style door from Home Depot, removed the screen door and did not replace it, and painted the surrounding casework in Benjamin Moore’s black matte exterior paint. Every place deserves a little wow, and I consider hardware to be the equivalent of the watch on a man. When you look closely, it should be a thing to admire. I chose a beautiful Rejuventation, Tumalo Walnut Knob (on the interior) the exterior is in polished nickel. I treated the window casings with the same coat of black paint, installed a new modern light fixture, and had a sign made at Chatham Sign Shop. Consider for a moment a man’s shoes – that’s your sign. This was all done against the backdrop of the fresh coat of paint (BM’s Trout Gray) I gave the deck to cover the worn and dingy olive green, et voila, welcome to my front door.

An Appreciation for What is NOT Yours

Celerie Kemble . showcasing her talents for Chairish.

It’s fascinating to me that you can like something so much and still not be able to see yourself in that life. Celerie Kemble’s design aesthetic is that for me. When I look at the pieces in this feature photo for Chairish, I really do adore so many of its elements. The rich blue of the French Bergere chair reminds me of the Adriatic Sea. I could dive right into it, and I can feel its velvety softness under my fingertips. I’m a tactile person. I like to experience my environment through touch, and this chair begs to be touched.

My pink little Bungalow 5 Taboret Stools “Vintage” 🙂

The chinoiserie planter, the pale blue vases atop gilded French wall shelves, are both precious and foreign to me. They are like the fancy sneakers that the ladies that lunch wear – there is part of me that wants them, and wants that life, but when I dole out the exorbitant amount of money required to assemble that uniform, I find them collecting dust in the closet. Why? Because it’s not really me. While I appreciate it, any act of replication wouldn’t be speaking to my true design self.

A tissue box was as far as I’ve been willing to go with the Chinoiserie, maybe I could do an old ash tray?

I try not to beat myself up about it. I know for certain you’ll never see me trying to purchase a round settee for my living room. I’m not a Southern Belle living in a plantation mansion. My one bedroom apartments typically can accommodate a sofa and a single chair, which is probably why I have grown so fond of stools and benches. They can be tucked in, around, and under other pieces of furniture, provide extra seating when guests come over for cocktails, and allow me to express some of my crazier design whims without feeling too guilty.

A place I’d like to visit, but no place I’d ever call home.

I’ve gone really high end – my Oly Studio, cow hide, zebra striped, ebony saber legged benches. I bought them in my very first apartment, and had to save for at least two months of Sunday’s to cobble the dollars together to make the purchase. I have never regretted it. The vintage – I laugh at this, but I did buy them when I was in that same Charlestown apartment many years ago now, Taboret side tables by Bungalow 5, sadly are no longer in production. These tables, that double as stools, are work horses. I have repainted them several times to match the new decor of one of the flips and they never disappoint. They too required a me to skip a few meals to scrimp and save for them, but have proven to be well worth the initial sacrifice. There are others – the Restoration Hardware metal cross benches that weigh so much I can barely move them around by myself, that I wish I hadn’t purchased, but for the most part, my stools have all served me well.

Oly Studio . Saber Legged Bench. When it comes with a payment plan – you better really love it.

I can say to Celerie – way to go with that wall covering. Some day, I’ll have a place that’s really my own, and I may just find myself adventurous enough to pull the trigger. If I don’t like it, I can always paper over it with something more subtle. Perhaps in the end, it’s the color palette that I find so appealing. Pinks and grays always make me feel happy, and your home should be a happy place. Don’t you think?

Il Pellicano . this place isn’t just for the birds

Il Pelicano . Porto Ercole . Tuscany.


It’s got stars, and not just the single prestigious Michelin that was bestowed on its restaurant. The well heeled of Hollywood royalty, and those famous for being famously beautiful, have flocked to this Tuscan retreat since the mid-sixties when two bright lights found themselves unwittingly forming a constellation in Newport Beach California’s, Pelican Point. American socialite Patsy Dazsel (God I love the sound of that name…) and British Aviator, Michael Graham met here, on that fateful point, and dazzled Michael was, because its here that they fell in love.

When the two decided to ditch their respective countries, they found themselves a secret cove in Porto Ercole, Italy. I suppose all that beauty -theirs, and the rugged rocky shoreline, overlooking the Tyrehenian Sea, was too bewitching to consider keeping it all to themselves. Before long their glamorous friends were coming to stay, and word got around, until it was formerly turned into a hotel for all to enjoy – or at least those with enormous bank accounts. Today of course, we have the democratization of Instagram to share in the experience, though I note that I cannot quite feel the crisp white sheets, ironed to perfection, dance over my toes, or revel in the pleasure of a chilled Campari and soda, served up by a deliciously handsome pool boy. I was however blessed with a wild imagination. Small graces.

Hello handsome, I’ll have a …

In 1979 the hotel was purchased by Roberto Scio. His daughter Marie-Louise Paghera, a graduate of the renowned design school RISD, became the Creative Director, and is responsible for its redesign. She blends eras and styles effortlessly, capturing the lavish luxury of Hollywood’s gilded age with her use of billowing tented fabrics, the restaurant is a beguiling blend of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Dorothy Draper’s Greenbrier – either, both – always.

If you’ve stared longingly at a Slim Aarons photograph before, you’ve probably seen Il Pelicano, or a place that bares resemblance to it, in the pages of some design magazine, or for instance, in my home. It’s just the type of place he loved to photograph, and boy did he enjoy capturing that rare breed of human in their natural element. It’s what day dreams, and the very best of midnight slumbers are made of.

Marie-Louise and her Dad, Roberto.

Il Pelicano, it might be just what I need to break me out of this Covid funk. I wonder if they’d consider tendering me a pandemic discount? I’d begin my diet today.

There’s no place like…working from home.

Or is there? I am pretty messy when it comes to work, which is interesting because my home is pretty neat. Sure it can get out of order from time to time, but the closets show my shoes in militant rows, and my drawers would make Marie Kondo proud, with their perfectly folded unmentionables, snuggled in tight lines, front to back. This working from home thing is for the birds, and even a bird keeps a neater nest than me at the moment.

A brilliant use of an accordian divider – instant office.

My dining table has been commandeered for the serious business of business. It’s not working for me, not that it did much work as a dining table. It’s there more as a suggestion of where some lovely couple might dine when they buy the place from me in the future. It’s covered in a rough grass cloth, which is not at all conducive to writing. My laptop is propped up on books to get it close to eye level, and my sit to stand would make the ergonomic specialists balk, or at the very least, attempt to sell me a home set-up that works.

I do have a desk at my house, but it sits at the bottom of the staircase and hasn’t been calling my name. It’s stacked with inspiration boards, posters awaiting framing, and a series of materials for odd jobs yet to be completed. If this Covid sitch goes on much longer, I am going to have to turn it into a proper desk and allow the dining table to serve it’s intended purpose. Who knew I’d end up using this kitchen more than the last 4 flips combined.

Must have plants.

I haven’t wanted to be inspired by other WFH aficianados, but it snuck up on me. Some people have made the most lovely nooks, and cooked up plans to repurpose found objects in their home to maximum effect. It’s not The Wing, but it’ll do.

Happy with the green vibe. Bring a little outdoors in.

Afternoon Tea

When Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford began the tradition of afternoon tea, she did it because she suffered from “that sinking feeling” between her morning meal and dinner at 8. I bet if she were alive today she’d be both shocked and pleasantly pleased to learn that her little tradition has had staying power, and further comforted to learn – well that other’s suffer from that sinking feeling too, and that a cup of tea, whether accompanied by the frills of a cucumber sandwich, a pot of clotted cream, a buttery scone, or any of the other delectable treats that have come to make up “High Tea” – provide a good deal of comfort indeed.

These days, as the blustery wind blows, and the raindrops fall – my isolation has me turning to the kitchen and a pot of hot tea, again and again throughout the course of the long day. It’s amazing how cheerful I can be made by the whistle of my teapot, and the warmth of the mug in my hand.

W Magazine: Class act – you take the jewels, I’ll grab the china.

I’d like to design a whole room in the fashion of a single delicate tea cup and banish all those that felt it too precious for their sensibilities. Tea, after all, is the consummate diplomat. It’s welcomed in the noblest of homes, and on the roughest boats in the rockiest of seas in equal measure. It is sipped, and slurped, celebrated in good times and bad – and is friend to those young and old.

I think I’ll throw a party when this pandemic is over…tea anyone?

Tea at the Savoy . Better Days.

The Evolution of a Condo

It’s interesting to watch the ways in which different owners take the baton and run with it. 19 Milford Street, apt. 4, aka Flip #2 is once again on the market. When I bought the property in the late fall of 2013 it looked decidedly like a 1970’s ranch, inside a Phili-Duplex, in the city of Boston, and if I were to get even more granular, the Eight Streets District in the South End. It didn’t feel at all like a city apartment to me, and it felt even less like the glamorous apartment I had left in Charlestown.

I feel deeply connected to this idea of stewardship. I had a $40,000. budget from which to transform the property. That’s not a ton of money. It becomes even less when you consider the fact that it was revealed that the roof leaked, and the Southern Facade of the building was taking on water, and saturating the interior wall. My understanding of water infiltration increases with each unit that I own. While some lessons have been quick and relatively painless, others have been long-lived and ruthless in their pursuit of my financial and mental ruin.

Finding the source of that water at 19 Milford, and getting the building buttoned up was a challenge to say the least, but once – almost done, I was proud of what I had done to make that unit, and that building ready to take on another 50 years. I had redone all the electrical wiring that the previous owners had done – without a permit or a qualified electrician – and done it properly. This is important to the long term viability of a property. These brownstones are old and need love if they are going to be around for another 200 years or so —- and so I invest a significant amount in the infrastructure of the building, even though no one will ever see it.

I was proud of the design, but would have done more if my budget had allowed. In the end the new owner that purchased it was a bachelor and he hired an interior designer to bring a little grit to the girliness that I had so carefully imbued upstairs, downstairs, and throughout. He added back the breakfast bar that I had taken out – I can’t stand a breakfast bar, it makes me crazy. Who sits at it? He swapped out my beloved gray walls for a neutral cream, reworked the fireplace to include a wood surround atop my marble, tossed out my sea urchin chandelier (which was hugely expensive so I pray he didn’t throw it away) and painted my bridal rose bedroom a dark Hale Navyesque color.

I see some other touches that he left alone and while I feel nostalgic for the hard work that I put into the place, I got my price, and he got his roof deck. I guess we’re even.

This Empress needs some bed clothes

This is not like Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but these last few days have left me longing for my bed and the security that hiding under the covers provides. Why is that so comforting? Is it the smell of freshly laundered sheets, the coziness of being tucked in between those hospital corners that make us feel swaddled, held, assured that something has “got” us.

How could you ever not be happy in that polka dotted bed?

Right now I don’t want any tips on how to iron my sheets to pass the time or make the perfect bed. I just want to get into it and find that when I wake in the morning I’m moaning about the earliness of the hour before showering, dressing, putting on make-up, and driving into the office for a frantic day of activity and night of entertaining client’s. You know – a “normal” day.

In light of our current reality I think my bedroom could use a little more adornment. I want a whole lot more cozy, and big billowy bundles of comfort. I’ve scoured the internet and sorted through loads and loads of images of beds that made me smile, that gave me pause to wonder how the heck they did that thing with the canopy, and ask myself if I would ever want to leave said bed if my room looked like one of these.

Miles Redd Bed Beauty

All a much healthier conversation to have with myself while typing on the computer at a desk rather than lying in bed eating ice cream. Not judging you or doing any ice cream shaming here – you do whatever it takes to get through this and not land in jail or lord forbid, in a hospital.

The English Autocracy never get old

Look at all that molding. Look at the stunning color of the room – totally unashamed to be pink. Look at the color of the maid’s dress – I’m swooning.

To quote Lena Dunham: “My passion was for moldings. Any of them! All of them!” that’s one of the many reasons I love Jane Austin’s books turned movies. It’s a Robin Leach – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, several centuries before robin was born. He was English, though that’s something. The places in which Jane chose to set her many novels, were fabulous mansions in the English countryside – estates really – with all the costumes and pop and circumstance that go along with being “money’d.”

It’s the whole thing. The hat with it’s trellis design, white feather and yellow flower, the pink, tuliped cut-out, buttoned cap sleeve, the Aegean Blue and crisp white of the back wall. Hello.

Well amen to the fortunes that found them donning frocks with details the likes of which are rarely found outside a Dior couture dress makers salon, and the adornments bestowed upon their palace interiors…breathtaking. I’m in molding heaven.

From her coral drop earrings to that double lace edged color and her gingham dress – well this is an outfit that we could design a room around – don’t you think?

The latest release of Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde is a visual playground for the detail oriented. I had to keep stopping the film just to stare longingly at the cap sleeve of a dress, the tufted silk, floral cushion of the handsome cab, the pastel palette of prettily appointed room after room. I was swooning, and I love the dept of the storytelling so much, pausing was difficult to do, but necessary.

If I were a blogger that turned an outfit into a room, I’d do it with this movie. It’s got enough content for even the most visually challenged to work with. Oh how I long for that costume designer to drop a trunk off at my home. I’ll make those centuries old outfits work today, and it won’t kill me.

One King’s Lane Rattan Lamp

I wonder if the exclusive club Annabelle’s in Mayfair stole a trick or two from Emma or if it’s just in their English blood? No matter, for now I will have to content myself with watching the movie again. Neither Annabelle’s or the English Autocracy have any plans of granting me access. So disrespectful.

Be of Good Cheer: YELL-O – you’ll feel better

1960’s Fiat Jolly – who wouldn’t be hooted with laughter as they tooled around town in that?

I don’t know about you, but all this being inside is making me cranky. I’m more a run around about town kind of gal. You know, the can’t sit still for very long kind, but not the kind that can’t be bothered to listen to you restless kind. I’ve been running up and down my stairs at regular intervals but it hasn’t been entirely effective at shaking the blues, so I thought it was time to bring in the yellow.

Hello Ivy! This retro style kitchen with its cheerful floral paper and sliding cabinet doors is lemony perfection.

Blue is my natural design state, but I have always admired the boldness of yellow. It’s a California blond, and I’m a New England brunette. It’s summertime and lemonade. It’s sand between your bare toes – it’s innocence – it’s the absurdity of a daffodil and the pure happiness of a daisy. It’s a bobbing balloon in a spring breeze. It’s the silly to my far too serious. No wonder I’m attracted to it.

Ah, Kelley Wearstler – you are my design crush. The Viceroy . Palm Springs.

While you won’t catch me wearing a yellow frock – it’s not my best color, and you’re not likely to find my next flip showcasing the sunny hue, I thought just for today, we could celebrate the fact that the color does have a peculiar way of making you smile.

Jay Jeffries designed bath. Good Morning sunshine.

Stay calm, and wash your hands.

Almost time for spring flower planting.