Chief: Of One’s Own Destiny

Future, fate, fortune, doom, that hidden power that floats in the ether controlling your every move, your every breath – those ragged and smooth, gasping or shallow – leaving you a little light headed, does it really exist, or can you gently nudge it in one direction or another?

Muddier hues give the space an elevated sophistication.

On the one hand it feels rather reassuring to think that it all doesn’t matter. The worrying, and the striving, the toiling and the task making – if it’s all going to happen as the universe wills it – why not relax? Blessedly I have two hands, and the other one isn’t taking any chances. Just in case, and for all the what ifs – I am in the game, and believe that fortune is made by those that grab it by the pig tails and squeal, and snuffle, get into the mud and sling it out – oink and boink, and decide. That’s right, just decide to put yourself in the path of other like minded survivors – thrivers – the really alivers. Ok, those are really words, but you get the point. It’s for the bold, even if your bold delivered in the form of a new word.

That color looks like Farrow & Balls – Setting Plaster. Pink offset by rusty tones keeps it from feeling too whimsical.

Today though, I prefer to focus on the word “Chief”. Derived from the Latin – where else – it references the highest, most important rank. It denotes power and prominence. For me, I’ve never wanted to be the number one, number one. I’m happy being the number one, number two – not because I don’t have my own ideas, and thoughts about what success looks like, but rather because I blossom in an environment of collaboration, and idea sharing, where together we can share in something that could not have been created as a solo effort. Chief, I bet is a lonely place to be at times.

Every Club has to have a beautiful bar.

I am nonetheless, fascinated by the most recent declaration of female power in the form of a Women’s Club that will soon be arriving on the shores of Boston. Unlike The WingChief is not a co-working space, it’s a club, a club with a very specific purpose, to put high ranking women in the path of like power brokers. It’s a place to convene and share, trade secrets – not of their companies variety, but rather of the people, and places, and resources that got them to where they are today, and hopefully through this magical sourcing and resourcing, will propel them to an entirely new elevation in the future.

Groups of women gather for “Salons” in settings like this.

Founded by, what I can only refer to as two young gals, now that I am sadly struggling with my middle age title. I sometimes reflect on a Harvard Medical School talk I attended where the speaker indicated if we could hang on for another 50 years, he could give us another 100. It happily blew my mind. I plan to live another 50, so it most definitely slides me into the lower quadrant of my existence, and just like that – brilliantly – I have a world of possibility ahead. I digress, which I am wont to do. Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan, formerly of Handy and Casper respectively, were at the VP level of their organizations, and thought to themselves – where’s the support network. How can I break through?

Chief Co-Founders – Childers and Kaplan

Chief is their answer and I have to tell you, it just might be worth striving for the top spot to gain access to this interior. I love the Millennial Pink of The Wing, and a girl doesn’t limit herself to just a single pair of shoes, does she? Why ever would she limit herself to a single interior. Stay tuned for its arrival. Happy Saturday.

Mix of the masculine and mid-century marvelousness.

Half Way to Happy: investigating the quasi-custom

I thought with time I might warm to No. 5. I thought that, but maybe I was wrong. It just doesn’t feel like me. I come in to the plink, plink, plinking of the AC making its way, fat drop, by fat drop into the receptacle that I have placed, less than discretely, under the offending leak, and think, why me? This is a bad way to think. It’s not personal, it’s business. NOT personal…just business, so I got to the business of investigating why my brand new split system would be doing this – not to me. The good news is, through the wonder of YouTube, and people that have a lot of time, and an altruistic spirit, I think I figured out why. Now I just need to fix the offending situation.

My inspiration.

Down the stairs I go, to the cooler environs of my subterranean bedroom, which feels a little like a boat – not quite damp, but not quite dry either. There’s still water down there, and so the ceiling will be opened up next week to find the source of the weeping, and see if I can console it into a happier state.

The closets at the Hotel Doisey Etoile . Paris.

Which leads me to something that will make me happy – I think. I really admire a good closet. It has the power to keep me on time in the morning, to keep me organized, and remind me of the abundance that surrounds me. It’s a little bit harder to feel that way as you dig through a box to locate a sundress, and you use the dryer to store your work out clothes because there is no dresser to stow them in. One must make due after all.

Left: Urban Green Furniture – Amazon. Middle: Benjamin Moore’s Airway.

I had designed a beautiful pair of amours to augment, what can only be considered, limited storage. Sadly all the glorious things I intended them to do, convert to beautiful bookshelves, a credenza, split apart, or put together, they really would have been fantastic. Some day. Those would have been a piece that could have lasted you a lifetime, even in a lifetime where taste and styles transform, and we’ve been programmed to believe that new is better.

Left: BM . Frozen Canal. Middle: Bee Hive Knobs. Right: Caning by the Yard.

After having looked in my wallet and discovering that there wasn’t enough in there to pay for my vision, I went back to the drawing board. Erik Reuda Design Lab didn’t even make me feel bad about it. When I proposed finding a simple armoire that we could retrofit with the doors that I realllllly wanted, they said yes! My simple wooden amoires arrived at their shop earlier this week and now I need to pick the paint color. They will built me doors, incorporating the caning which is so on trend and I have been lusting after, into the fronts, and spray the piece for me. I need to select hardware too, but the paint is holding up production, and I suspect making No. 5 think I am not committed to it. Once I move in properly, I suspect all will be right with the world again.

Southern Challenge: Dressing Room

I always wanted a proper dressing room. I fantasize of having a beautifully large bedroom, flanked on either side by large walk-in closets, which lead into an inner sanctuary. A boudoir I guess. My butler would bring me a martini while I soak in my bath. My imaginary husband wouldn’t be allowed in this space. It would be all mine, and in turn, he would have his own, which naturally, I would have no interest in entering. I think the reasons are obvious and I not elaborate. As Michelle Obama says – “When they go low, we go high”. So let’s keep this in the realm of the beautiful.

Joss and Main Llewellyn Desk . 30″H x 30″W x 20″D $102.99

In this southern challenge, we have a bath inside the master suite, which while it is in lovely shape, it isn’t quite roomy enough to support the necessities of female living. Hair and make-up must be straightened, braided, blown out, applied, curled and otherwise made salon quality, and that simply cannot happen in cramped quarters. I could almost hear those grand old dame’s of the bath tiles whimpering at the thought of being thrown out with the trash. How undignified. I wouldn’t think of it. They don’t make tile, tubs, and vanities like that anymore, and with a little paint that en suite is going to be glamorous all over again.

Left: West Elm’s Mid-Century Mini Desk $399. 36W x 20D x 30H (on sale now at 20% off) Right: Target Console Desk . 41.9W x 29H x 15.6D note that this option would not accommodate the tower. $104.45

That of course doesn’t solve the issue of a place to primp. Just across the corridor is a small, but suitable walk-in closet. It’s not quaint or charming – yet anyway, but it will be when we are done with it. It has a window, which I consider to be a huge bonus when it comes to closets. Natural light, such a wonderful surprise.

Ballard Design Sarah Storage System. Top pieces 86″H x 19″W x 14″D. Left: $599.25. Middle and Right: $524.25. Bottom Left: Corner $$749.25. Bottom Right: $599.25.

I did consider a California Closet, and that certainly is still an option, but I thought I would try something a little different here. The Ballard Design closet components are transitional in design style – I like that for this stately old Georgian Home. The pieces offer great flexibility, and the little nook within the closet is the perfect place for a dressing table. Again – you could have a custom vanity with drawers built for the space, but at considerable expense. I’ve selected a mini-desk that will snuggle in nicely, while still allowing a tower column with a mirrored glass door. What’s a walk-in closet after all if you can’t confirm you look fabulous before exiting.

Left: Ballard Design . Swivel Stool Slip covered. $98.48 – $310.50. Right: Target Pink Fringed Ottoman $56.99

I’ve provided several desk options, and of course will recommend mirrors for above the desk, a pendant light – every closet needs a bauble for onlookers to gawk over. Maybe a little throw rug for the sheer luxury of walking barefoot across. Oh, I do think I visualize the lady of the house being very happy in this space.

All – Shades of Light. Left: Quatre Crest $560. Middle: Deco Glam. Right: Minimalist Globe $260.

Southern Challenge: The Drawing Room

Drawing Room – Prior to Renovation.

Living in the city as I do, and not being a person that requires vast amounts of space, I haven’t had the experience of having dining rooms and libraries, living rooms, dens and offices. I usually just have one room that isn’t a bedroom, kitchen or bath, and has to serve all the purposes of a great house in one. This is not a complaint, just a statement of fact – in fact if I did have all those rooms, I don’t know which I’d choose to sit in, but being only one person, I suspect that I’d snuggle into the same old cozy corner, every night after a long day, and the only thought I would give to all those rooms would be, how ever am I going to keep them all clean.

Inspiration in the above photos for what could be a rich drawing room with beautiful bar. Note that these cabinets are painted in lacquer finish, which is a more time intensive process then using high gloss, but it does give it that glossy sheen. Left: House Beautiful – Benjamin Moore’s Summer Nights. Right: House Beautiful – Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue.

The French perfected the art of dining in the 18th century. They had loads of rules and books on etiquette that dictated the manner in which you were to entertain. The dining room brought all the guests together, but at dinner’s conclusion, the women typically retired to the Drawing Room, leaving the men at the table to drink and discuss politics. This withdrawing to another space provided for the relaxed continuation of the evening. These rooms were not necessarily less grand than the dining room, but they were populated with sofa’s and settees, comfortable chairs, game tables, tea service, tapestries and more. The dishes and detritus of the evening’s repast left behind.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s – Gentlemen’s Gray – to be applied to the walls and the woodwork – moldings and baseboard. Ceiling to be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Nickle. Middle: Jonathan Adler’s Rio Pendant – $386.40. Left: OKL . Madison Leather Club Chair. $899.

I like the idea of the Drawing Room. It feels fitting in a home, that at its heart, will be used for a good deal of entertaining. By defining the rooms which are open to the public, from those which are for family only, is important. The adjacency of the Drawing Room to the Dining, and Dining to Powder Room feels intentional, and I am certain the architect had this in mind when their sharp pencil hit the mylar to begin its design.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Dark Harbor for walls. Molding and baseboard in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s Mineral Ice. Middle: Modern Metal Pendant in Polished Nickle $232. Left: Pottery Barn Irving Leather Arm chair with bronze nail heads. $919.

The other rooms have all been bright and welcoming, though I have balanced cool and warm tones as you move from one room to the next. This ensures the visitors maintain an internal harmony. Why? I’m not sure, we humans are very complex creatures. We like what we like, and I try not to buck mother nature on these issues. I must reserve all my energy after all to battle her and the clock.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Forest Hills Green – for walls. Base and molding in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. Ceiling in white. Middle: Carillon Pendant . Large $298. Left: West Elm . Mid Century Show Wood Leather Chair in Saddle $999.

I want this room to feel cozy, to wrap the guests in an experience. I want every surface to be in high gloss, but I will resist this temptation because the walls need to be in perfect – listen closely all you high gloss lovers – PERFECT condition. The mirror like finish will reflect every ding and dent and make someone like me, bananas. Use eggshell instead and reserve the high gloss for the woodwork. Here are my recommendations.

Southern Challenge: The Office

The dated wallcovering, paneled walls, and carpet do not create an environment that screams – higher power, brilliance and inspiration. Additionally the door to a defunct entry, with overgrown trees.

Working at home isn’t that easy. It sounds like a wonderful idea, when you are considering getting off campus, out of the corporate setting, and home to your family, your slippers, that welcoming corner of your sofa, but, once there, of the distractions. Making an office that is both conducive to work, and feels like a pleasure to be in, is critical to ensuring the activities within this space are productive .

Benjamin Moore’s White Winged Dove. A calming neutral that lends itself to serious contemplation.

When I considered the fact that not only would this serve as the Father’s office, but be a space, with desks that the three kids could come and do their homework, away from the distractions of TV, and video games, the stakes were raised.

If you wanted those stakes to be even higher, add the pressure, consider the fact that this is really a public space, a pass-through on the way to the Powder Room. You know, the one all guests will use when they are welcomed to dinner. It needs to feel polished, and stately, without being off-putting to the inhabitants – you know the ones, the kids who will be troubling over their homework assignments, and the Dad, philosophizing about the important issues of faith and trust, of commitment, and family, legacy, and stewardship. How can one be expected to grapple with these life grounding – changing – aspirational issues, in a holey distracting environment? I know I couldn’t.

Ballard Designs – Sisal Rug with a black or moss border would be the perfect compliment to this space.

Bring in the green from the Powder room in a dramatic photo to be displayed over the fireplace.

While the Powder Room will have pow, that door can be closed, the office, I propose will look like this.

Southern Challenge: The Great Room

The Great Room . Dining Hall. Prior to renovation.

I’ve always loved entertaining. Perhaps it’s a little show-offy of me, being as good at it as I am. In my defense I have been doing it for more than half my life. When I was 12 years old I got my second real job washing dishes in a gourmet deli in my hometown. I was fascinated by the constant activity of the staff, bustling back and forth between the customers out from and the back of the house where I was safely stowed away from prying eyes. I wasn’t quite old enough to be working, but I certainly was capable of washing pots.

Scheme I: Walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Sailcloth, this beautiful Phillip Jeffries Rivet Wall Covering in Jute with Bronze Rivets will be placed on the fireplace surround only, bringing a subtle texture to the room.

This recently purchased rug will bring warmth to the room and add color, the dark wood table and chairs covered in a forest green leather will work wonderfully with this oriental.

In addition to the deli, it was a catering company. I spent most of my time with the chef and the sous chef as they prepped for weddings and the delicacies they were crafting for fabulous gatherings. My job consisted of a lot of standing around waiting for pots to get dirty so I could wash them. That left me to watch the other prep, and bake, frost, and pipe, saute and brine. Each week my boss would teach me how to make something new. It must have taken me ten years to break the habit of cooking for 60, but the cost was worth the meticulous lessons I learned, and which I carry with me today.

Scheme II: Benjamin Moore’s Shoreline Right will be the base color for the walls. The perimeter of the room will have a 1″ green line underneath the molding. This will accent the color in the rug and draw attention to the green leather seats of the dining chairs.

So it’s true that I am proud of the food I prepare and serve, the care I take with it is an expression of my love for my friends and family. This Great Room, which sits at the heart of the home will welcome scholars and dignitaries, people with a cause and an opinion, it will I bear witness to heated debates and fresh ideas, and hopefully no tears, unless they are the sort that laughter brings. It should be a fitting environment for all these important happenings. Stately, but comfortable.

Scheme III: Benjamin Moore’s Delaware Putty on Left. This would be painted on all the woodwork and wrapping to cover the ceiling in the same hue. It would all be done in high gloss. Additionally, the back side of the stair would be done in this color – also in high gloss. The walls would be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Super White in egg shell finish.

In general I find the curtains throughout the home rob the rooms of much needed light. I do admire a dressed window, but think there is a better way to do it. In the interest of economics I am recommending to the owners that they remove the valance, but keep the curtains that the previous owners left behind. I estimate that they cost between $5 – $10K, and I have other plans for that kind of money.

The red paint has to go. I’m excited to see which of these options the owners will pick.

Southern Challenge: Powder Room

Sometimes you need to know where to make a statement and what is perfectly good left alone. I love a powder room for a wow factor. There are several reasons the powder room is the perfect place to be bold. First of all, it’s a singular experience. No one else’s opinion is likely to influence your own in this room, and you aren’t likely to stay long enough – even if you live there for years – to tire of said statement.

Trends come and go, but every home needs a room that shows its guests that you aren’t afraid to make a decision. This tiny little room is just begging to be shown off.

Divine Savage . Deco Martini . by the Restoration

Now I have made it clear that Southerner’s really appreciate wallcovering. I mean, REALLY. In fact, if you had looked really closely, which of course you could not, to the family room photos, you would have seen that it was in fact wallpaper, hidden behind that green paint. No matter, for the most part, we want to utilize this trend to maximum effect, and sparingly.

Look at that amazing wallcovering. It’s just begging to be accented by these beautiful gold beehive knobs. So easy just to switch those out on the cabinet. They’ll coordinate with the ceiling mounted starburst light fixture.

As the main lavatory to be used by guests, it presents the prefect opportunity to impress. As the owners will host many functions here in their new home, I thought this wallcovering that I spied on one of my travels would be fitting.