Resiliency . Resiliency … what a beautiful word.

And a most admired quality.  I’ve been bent, compressed, stretched, tried and misled.  Who hasn’t?  My ability to overcome adversity has not always been my strong point.  Truth be told, I can remain bent out of shape for some time, which certainly doesn’t scream resilient.  I attribute some of my new found spring to yoga.  I can really bend and twist in a way that seems not quite right.  Still physical elasticity comes in handy but is trumped every time by the ability to calm the mind after a trauma.

Said trauma presented itself last evening.  I was feeling good – this good…

The happiness of balloons

The happiness of balloons

as I said good-bye to the plumber who fixed my garbage disposal – boy I really have an appreciation for that devise, and prepared to say good-bye to the mechanical contractors, who after one year in my home, fixed it so I have heat in my bedroom. Pete, Robert’s Assistant asked me to share lessons learned about Flipping with him – he is considering doing it.  I told him:

  •  have a team of great builders and tradespeople,
  •  have a few contingency plans up your sleeve,
  •  be willing to let go of the need for immediate gratification.

A successful flipper knows that each property positions you to do a little more, to compromise a little less, to realize your vision, but creativity often bubbles to the surface when money can’t or won’t step in.  Something for which to be grateful.  Thank you Back Bay Mechanical.  Ask for Robert – he’s the best.

Scene of the Crime

Scene of the Crime

There I was preparing to map out the editorial calendars for the evening, in an attempt to get this place published before it goes on the market when I was assaulted with the reality that my roof is STILL leaking.  Note the still, and we’ll get back to it.  It wasn’t just leaking, actively flooding is what it was doing.  Just two months after I purchased this condo, during construction, we discovered that there was a serious water infiltration problem.  I won’t bore you with all the details, the months of negotiation with the other home owners within the building, the inconvenience, and finally the celebratory party when my wall was all buttoned up – 8 months later, suffice it to say – it was a costly drama.

Stay tuned as I wait for the snow to melt, April seems so far away when you live in New England, and I prepare to have my beautiful roof deck torn off, tossed in the trash, roof replaced, and new deck built???  It’s a huge part of my marketability here, but Quelle Horreur – the cost.  I am reminded of something a wise man said to me one day..  “Jackie – it’s not really a problem if it can be fixed with money.”  Right you are.

Jackie’s No. 1 Rule for Flipping:  Be Resilient

So much better in the bath

So much better in the bath

When I discovered the newly expressed flood I thought to myself…perhaps I left out the most important quality a Flipper must possess.  I should have told him to put Resiliency on the top of his list.  Don’t worry about me.  I am pretending it’s happening to someone else and I’ve been hired to fix the problem.  I feel better already.

Conjure a Feeling with Color

I love color.  I know I’ve said it before, but I do, I love it.  Color is the great equalizer.  I challenge you to tell me in what other way, you can spend so little and effect such transformation?  With a few cans of paint, a lot of cleaning, prepping, taping, covering, stirring, pouring, brushing, rolling, ok….it’s hard work to paint, but so is working for a living, so buck up, watch a YouTube video on painting prep and bring your imagination to play.  Trust me …. it’s worth it.  See what Hotel La Belle Juliette created with color in their Parisian Suites.  The muse for my current  Chambre a Coucher…that means … bedroom.

La Belle Juliette . Chambre Rose

La Belle Juliette . Chambre Rose

La Belle Juliette . Chambre Bleue

La Belle Juliette . Chambre Bleue

We know and take for granted the meaning of color at least a few times every day.  You know that red means stop, and green means go.  White signifies purity, and purple power.  Marketers have long tapped into the influence of color to get you to eat and eat fast – red, to trust – blue, think IBM, to believe a product is environmentally sound – green.  When we go to a funeral, we know to wear black as a sign of mourning, but how are we using color to create mood in our homes?

Speaking volumes...

Speaking volumes…

I work really hard, as many folks do these days, and I keep long hours, so when I come home I want it to be a place of calm and tranquility.  There are places I visit….sometimes all I need see is the door, and I know, a little sign escapes my lips and I am in heaven.  I had occasion to visit just such a place a few months ago in Dallas….yes, Texas.  I thought it an unlikely place to discover my design soul mate, but it’s irrefutable.  If they told me I could move in tomorrow, I would undoubtedly put the For Sale sign on the door, pack my Kate Spade carry-on, and head to Texas.  A girl cannot question geography when love is involved.  I’ve fallen hard for Blue Print.

Hello!  The Color of Tranquility

Hello! The Color of Tranquility

It’s interesting here that these five woman have chosen the purity of white for their backdrop.  Their color palette comes from the artists they feature – and what artists they are – and the fabrics in which they choose to upholster the furnishings.  It works.  It’s a calm kind of beautiful with pops of energizing vitality.  I’m awaiting my invitation!

No Need to be Board: Your Story Starts Here

You may have heard it referred to as an Inspiration Board, a Mood Board, or a Pin Board. Pinterest has done an amazing job of popularizing Inspiration Boards with their beautiful imagery, and boundless pinning ability.  One can pin with wild abandon, and not much discretion, and further very little ramifications. Who wouldn’t fall for the allure of the Pin?

JBoard on Flickr.

JBoard on Flickr.

Perhaps someone that’s a little like me that relishes the tactile delight of a fabric swatch, a tile sample, the delicate and ever so subtle raised gold leaf pattern on a wallpaper sample – opps one really shouldn’t touch that as even the cleanest fingertip can mar the brilliance of the gold leaf…it is a sample though, so if like me you can’t resist, this is the place to get it out of your system.  Don’t let me find evidence of your lack of self-control all over your newly attired walls – it’s a no no. This sensibility of mine demands I pull it out of the digital realm and bring it on into my living room.  I call this holy grain of boards the Story Board.

A Board that's Been Around the Block

A Board that’s Been Around the Block

It certainly serves as a visual communication tool – as does your digital board, but I ask you dear reader if you would be willing to roll the dice on the fabric for your $10,000. living room curtains from a picture you spotted on-line?  Don’t answer that – nobody is that big a gambler.  You need to see it, to touch it, to snuggle it up next to your sofa fabric and those wildly expensive pillows you insisted would change your world.  By it’s very nature design has a relationship to the other materials, colors, furnishings, and light in the space.  As such, decisions need to be made within that context.  Or expect expensive mistakes.  If you can afford to do it wrong, you can afford to do it twice.  Boy I hate that.  I’ve done it wrong so many times, I’m starting to get it right.  Take my advice, save yourself some of the grief I experienced, and start Story Boarding!

Surf Shack Option Board

Surf Shack Option Board

Beginning is as easy as tearing out the pages from your favorite glossy magazines.  Your partiality toward certain colors, and forms will start to emerge – helping you define your style.

Setting A Tone

Setting A Tone

Paint chip samples are a must have on your board.  Free at any hardware store, color evokes emotion, sets a mood, and will let you know where your story is headed.  The physical board is like a puzzle.  You try a piece here, and there, sometimes it almost works, you know when you’re attempting to gently nudge a piece into place, or when you are not so gently shoving it into compliance.  Pull it out. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.  Experimentation and fun are keys to a happy boarding experience, and ultimately to a space where all the pieces of the puzzle have come together to tell a story.  Your story.

Eye Spy: Les Objets D’Art

i spyJanuary is a very good month to be out and about.  If all you wanted for Christmas wasn’t found underneath the Christmas tree, a little “To Me … From Me, With Love” may be in order.  Those happy little tags with 20%, 30%, 40% off and sometimes more should fill you with post-holiday euphoria.  I know they put my heart aflutter.  Alas, I am on restriction, and am imploring you to allow me to live vicariously through you most esteemed reader.

Let it be known that I can find reserves of energy most commonly associated with professional athletes and Olympians – for shopping that is.  On foot, by car, I’ll fly, I can go a good 10 – 12 hour stint with barley a sip of water, sometimes a necessary fortifying glass of of wine.  This morning’s expedition took me to Hudson, one of my very favorite stores, owned by Proprietor Jill Goldberg.

Hudson . 12 Union Park .  Boston 02118 . 617.292.0900 .

Jill has what I refer to as a “great eye”.  Some of my most adored designers I was introduced to through her store displays.  Among those that I have a deep reverence for:

Hudson . 12 Union Park . South End . Boston

Hudson . 12 Union Park . South End . Boston

  • Verellen
  • Oly Studio
  • Bungalow Five
  • Shine by S.H.O.

I admire her conviction in the face of a City that is not design forward, her ability to sift through sometimes conflicting information and direction, and help bring you over the finish line with cohesive elements that make a space memorable.  Jill is patient, and bright – as in cheery, and is having her INCREDIBLE SEMI-ANNUAL Sale.  Which simply is not to be missed.  Starting Monday 19 January 2015.  Be there or be without that hip Artichoke Lamp,

Arianna G On Sale for $820. from $965. at Hudson

Arianna G On Sale for $820. from $965. at Hudson

those gorgeous custom made pillows, those Bunaglow 5 kelly green lacquered bed side tables, obviously I could go on.

Two more noteworthy stops today include:

 marc hall objekt . 531 albany street . boston . ma 617.391.6236 .

A failed mission at the flower mart led to a totally new discovery for me.  Marc Hall, a brilliant flower designer formerly of Winston Flowers was found out back creating a stunning arrangement for a wedding anniversary party today – lucky them.

Anniversary Arrangement - Marc Hall

Anniversary Arrangement – Marc Hall

 In addition to floral design he has some noteworthy pieces of “art” and furnishings, and designs rooftop decks or terraces.  Aside from meeting and being inspired by Marc, I found these:

A Horse of Course

A Horse of Course

Wood encased in resin - European Wonder $440.

Wood encased in resin – European Wonder $440.

Finally I swung by Home Goods, Assembly Square . 105 Middlesex Avenue . Somerville . MA

Home Goods is the Filene’s Basement (I still have feelings for you and deep gratitude for teaching me the thrill of the hunt) of furnishings.  I love it.  Spend a month or two scrutinizing the pages of design magazines – then visit a Home Goods.  If you’ve done your home work, you will find brilliant knock-offs.  If time and/or inclination toward the effort don’t arise, I will have your back.  Visit regularly for Eye Spy Segments or else – would you seriously entertain letting someone else go home with that that thing…whatever is…which was really perfect for you?  You are on notification.

Home Goods Gold Stool $69.

Home Goods Gold Stool $69.

Home Good Lantern $29.

Home Good Lantern $29.

 Vases HG

Pret-a-Porter: Ready to Wear, NON…But Not Hard To Wear

Marilyn Monroe claimed that Diamonds Were a Girls Best Friend in her 1953 song.

Marilyn's Diamonds

Marilyn’s Diamonds

If I was encrusted in diamonds in the fashion of Marilyn, I might be inclined to agree.  Hardware I would argue isn’t such a shabby second when you consider the value it can add to your home, awe it can inspire, and gosh don’t all those diamonds look terribly heavy? Why not let your door carry the weight.

Look out diamonds…

this Valentine’s Day

Heart’s Beat for Hardware.

I know mine does.  Since you and I are just getting acquainted you don’t yet know how deep my love is for Kelly Wearster.  I feel strongly that Cupid would want me to come out and admit it.  I do love her design sensibility, her use of geometric pattern – adore, her clean palette accented by a bold lacquered pop of color – audacious, her mixing of metals, mirrors and reflective surfaces – dazzling…her fascination with animal statuettes – well not so much, but you don’t have to love everything about someone’s design style to be wowed and inspired.  Thank you Kelly and a shout out to Cambridge Seven Associates for recognizing your talent.

Dressed to Impress

Dressed to Impress

Hardware really is jewelry for your home.  No question it helps to have a good base on which to place that special knob, lock set, pull, tie-back, register, or mail box slot, but even the most well loved piece of furniture, surface that has been painted a time or two too many, or tired kitchen cabinet can be made to stand a little taller and draw the attention of a sought after admirer when that heavy metal glints in the light.  There’s something about that juxtaposition Big, small, clear, shiny or matte  – hardware simply put is not hard to wear.

A little more bling.

A little more bling.

Dress up an old dresser.  Re-imagine your kitchen with updated pulls and nobs.  Mix, and match, and make a statement.  While not everyone will notice the reassuring weight of the knob in their hand, or the artistry that compliments your interior, trust me when I tell you they notice when its less than special.  Like a weak handshake the judgements fly and the hopeful request for a second date is cleverly dodged.  Ready yourself for a renewed adoration.  After all its Valentine’s Day – go ahead and draw a little attention.

Shimmy . Shimmy . SHINE: Segments Begin

Post 6 Lights

PHOSPHORESCENCE… doesn’t that dazzling word conger all manner of magical light for you?  Can’t you see it glow with those beams of heavenly bright?  Does it not bring forth the mystical wonder of curiosities revealed?  If at this point you are asking yourself what the heck I am talking about, perhaps you’ve been settling for the Home Depot fixture.  Maybe you justify it by saying the HD ceiling mounted double bulb is perfectly utilitarian.  Let me be clear…you are right about that. Well, sadly there are times that I too need to be practical, but for the purposes of this post, let’s just say this isn’t one of them.   No need to fear things that go bump in the night when all that twinkles is in sight.

Whether the goal is to upstage that Prom Queen once and and for all, or to cast brushstrokes of pattern across the walls of a simple corridor.  A light fixture can set a tone for what’s to come with that first footfall across the threshold, and it’s no secret that the right light can set a mood and soften the severity that years can bring.  Can you say DIMMERS?  I can.

A. Arteriors . Zanadoo Chandelier $1920.

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Zanadoo by Arteriors

Zanadoo by Arteriors

This chandelier may reference Sputnik but for this seaside gal, I more closely associate it with a Sea Urchin.  Fortunately it’s popularity has grown because it means that many affordable options exist where just a few years ago I sadly had to settle.  Flip To Be No. 2 casts its twiggy delight on my living room ceiling, seen below.

B.  Jonathan Adler’s Rio Pendant $475.


Dressed for the Party

Retro wonder.  This kitchen originally had three tiny pendants – these bold balloon like beauties exclaim – “here I am”!

Dressed in sweats

Dressed in sweats

C.Mid Century Modern Mobile $345.

D.  Metal Star Ceiling Lighting $699.

E. Extra Large Olive Leaf Ceiling Chandelier $550.

Shades of Light is a mecca for lighting of all kinds.  Search here first for your hearts desire.  I have my sights on this metal star for my vestibule.

Shades of Light Metal Star Ceiling Light $699.

Shades of Light Metal Star Ceiling Light $699.

Vestibule.. It sounds grander than it is, but this fixture could be the change it needs in the entry.

F.  Outrageously expensive.  Seriously, beautiful and not within my reach, but if this doesn’t put a fright in you then reach out to Jean De Merry at: or P:  212.715.0646

A Hard Rush for Demolition

It feels so powerful to start tearing down walls, that shiver of anticipation, that new beginning…dust flying….progress being made.  It’s still my favorite part of the construction process. Alas, It is but a moment in the life of a project.  While I’m all for living in the moment, it’s the moments that follow that you really have to live with.  I call it:  “Hurry up and wait”. The excitement fades, the dust settles, literally into every crack and crevice in your home.  It seems to have a regenerative quality about it – if scientists could decode this mystery they could be using it to solve the world’s problems.

Prepare for the Onslaught

Prepare for the Onslaught

The anti-climatic wait can happen for any number of reasons, many taken directly from the Contractors Big Book of Excuses.  Know that at some point you will be responsible for the delays. Your inability – OUCH, and mine to make a decision doesn’t just slow the process, it costs you money.  So practice being decisive.  Hire people you trust and whose opinions you respect, and remember paying a little more up front will save you a world of hurt later.

Back to the demolition.  For me its like the metaphorical clearing of the chess board.  When selecting a space, I want to be able to see what I will do with it.  Sometimes I can’t see it.  It becomes a panicked voice in my head.  I can’t see it.  I can’t see it.  In these cases I have to let other factors drive the decision:

  • Location, Location, Location:  IT WILL NEVER FAIL YOU
  • Square foot price:  it will tell you the investment you can put into the property and still make a profit
  • Intuition:  in the end you have to trust your gut
Harvard Pl Bath Demo

Hidden below the surface

Still when the sledge hammer falls, pulls down the walls, and exposes the possibilities, sweeping away the distractions….I can see it.  It’s beautiful, except when it’s not.  There are few things as ugly or disappointing as an unforeseen condition.  By definition, they were not invited to the party, and they are most certainly not welcome.  Simply put it means the discovery of something unexpected… a rotten sub-floor, termites, a pipe where no pipe should be.  Money will be involved, briefly as you part ways with it, sometimes tears, certainly a good deal of frustration.  Likely a why me or two.  Sadly unforeseen conditions and the change orders that ensue are the norm.  Tack an extra 10 – 12% on to the construction budget you are given at the onset of the project.  If you don’t have the money in the bank, either cut the scope, or delay the project until you do.  Don’t be fooled into thinking the guy with the low quote will keep you whole.  You’ll be a shadow of a human being when he’s through with you.

Harvard Pl wallpaper

Peeling back the years

On proceeding with caution, I recommend it.  Beyond the problems that may or may not lie below the surface is the value in preserving what others have painstaking put into place before you.  Work with your architect, if you are fortunate to have one, and/or your builder to try to understand the decisions that were made, and examine the potential for preservation.

Ultimately, if you decide that the Hard Rush is the only way for you, don’t miss the thrill of what’s revealed below the foundation, hidden in the walls, secreted away in the ceiling, it’s a veritable time capsule.  As my father is so fond of saying:  “The history, when you think about it….Incredible.”

Side Table Obsession: Taking Center Stage

No plus one in my house.  The side table is often the headliner.  If I sound too bold in this assertion, I feel at least confident in saying that, in my home, they are an opening act, that sparkle a bit more than the typical stars.  This is in part true due to the size of the places I have lived.  Small city apartments require creativity. That reality means the side table has a lot going for it:

European Modern Side Tables

European Modern Side Tables – A

  • compact and portable
  • flexibly adapts to alternative purposes
  • Often less expensive than coffee tables and chairs
  • provides a little luxury happy without sacrificing lunch for a month
  • Depending on configuration you can store and display:  on top, underneath and on crossbars.
Waterworks Side Tables

Waterworks Side Tables – B

Ceramic Side Table C

Ceramic Side Table C

Paired in a row of two or three they make a beautiful coffee table, on either side of a sofa they are a necessity for resting my drink, and offer additional seating when I have guests over for cocktails, tucked in a corner they make a great pedestal for displaying books or a sculpture.  I would argue the stools versatility demand a little spot light.

Image A showcases two European side tables – meant for the interior, but I used them on my rooftop until winter came.  They easily work as a coffee table in my living room now.

Image B showcases my beloved Waterworks side tables.  A total splurge when I was making very little money.  They cost me $600. a piece and are meant for a very wealthy home owners bathroom!  I have used them as a coffee table, a side table, and for display.

Target Side Table

Image C.  A Home Goods purchase for my roof deck ensemble, I had been coveting this likeness from a on-line store called Wisteria.  Great finds, really clean style, nice mix of trend and traditional, but the table was $279.  More than I wanted to spend on the deck – I found it at Home Goods for $70.  You will hear me talk again and again about my love of this store.  They make noteworthy knockoffs and they make them fast.  Visit one soon, and visit it often.  If you find you’re just not sure….check out my site.  I will post can’t miss – must haves on my blog.

Image D. Mirrored Glass side tables from Target.  I picked these up on clearance for $25.  I have used them as my bed side tables ever since.

Image E.  A Saarinen side table I bought at auction.  It’s a modern classic and though I have no place for it, I simply could not let the guy that was bidding on that ugly clock call it his.  So until I find a home that I know it will be happy in, I have adopted it!

Eero Saarinen Tulip Table

Eero Saarinen Tulip Table – E

On Display or Hidden Away . Closets are places too.

You’ll find me placing blame and staking claim on my Cape Cod roots, again and again.  I love being on the water, in the water, staring out at the water.  While all that adoration was going on growing up on the Cape, I learned a thing or two about the artistry and economy of boat design.

A Cat Undersail

A Catboat Under Sail

Perhaps I should have been appreciating the verticality of the mast or its graceful swing at anchor, and I was, but my fascination turned again and again to the cabin of the boat. THAT left an impression.  A boat cabin has a place for everything and everything in its place.  Hooked and hung, tacked down, trussed up, tucked away, no square inch went unloved or unused – at least not on our Catboats.  In the end it’s not the number of squares in your feet, it’s the number of feet in your corner.  If you want to be able to invite people in to share the experience, economy of space is essential.

When you live in the city, there never seems to be enough of it.  When I first found my Charlestown apartment, it had two small closets – woefully inadequate to contain all the belongings of the gal who was living there.  I feel confident in making this assertion, though I’d never met her. Those that love Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame may disagree, but shoes do not belong in the stove and/or the dishwasher. I’ve never found sitting on a stack of files, not so conspicuously hidden under a seat cushion, that pleasing. This was the prior owner’s version of closet space.  When I left that nest, the bedroom closet had been retrofitted to maximize storage, two custom-built floor to ceiling closets had been added on either side of the French doors in the bedroom, and a coat closet was added in the living room.  The bathroom was redesigned to include a wall hung vanity with large storage drawer, a sleek Robern Medicine cabinet

Robern Medicine Cabinet

Robern Medicine Cabinet

and a custom designed 5′ x 3′ x 6″ mirrored medicine cabinet, installed on the opposite wall.  Poor Donald, my carpenter, hated to have to “hog-out” the wall, taking precious chunks of horse hair plaster and a little brick, forgive me 1854 brownstone, it simply had to be done.  The modern girl needs her space, and as a show of my utter reverence for your sacrifice I did get you on the Historic Register.

Part display, part hide-away, closets can be as inviting as any other room in the house.  We’ve all seen those dream closets – they look like your favorite retail store. This post isn’t about the life styles of the rich and famous.  It’s about practical approaches to claiming space, and making the most of it – functionally and aesthetically.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Paint the interior a fun vibrant color or use wall paper for the same effect
  • Shelves, bins, hooks, and small scale towel bars use space to its best effect
  • Interior doors make wonderful surfaces for hanging mirrors
  • When building new – build to the ceiling and get yourself a step ladder

Homes that are well organized are pleasing to their owners and those that visit.  A few images of closets that I built where there were none, or modified to meet my needs.  I hope they give you a few ideas.

Closets Post 4

The Color of Inspiration

For me it’s gray, or if you are English – grey.  Regardless, it is not yellow or avocado.  These two colors are exceedingly popular in the Boston residential market.  Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but plan to change it.  Gray is a neutral so no argument can be made that suggests it is not marketable for a property one plans to flip. Further, I believe there is always a market for great design, and color is an essential element to great design.  I should mention now my love affair with Benjamin Moore.  Oh there are other paints of course, but the value, dependability, and color palette offered by Benny help me BE MORE than I could be alone.  Some of my very favorites for you to consider are listed here:

Boston Home Magazine Summer 2011

Boston Home Magazine Summer 2011

  • mineral ice
  • sidewalk gray
  • gray cloud
  • dior gray
  • bunny gray
  • feather gray

Mineral Ice, featured on the walls of my Charlestown home, the palest of grays, was a calming hue in this tiny 523 sf dwelling.

Benjamin Moore - Gray Cloud

Benjamin Moore – Gray Cloud

The photo to the left showcases my current dining area in Gray Cloud, a slightly darker hue than Mineral Ice.

The Milford Street Kitchen offered a tough challenge.  Aesthetically the granite countertops and glass backsplash, small scale pendant lights, and cherry cabinets weren’t making me happy.  Still my sustainability conscience was whispering in

Milford Street Kitchen

Milford Street Kitchen

my ear not to demolish that which was inherently new and useful.  So I compromised by removing the backsplash, countertops, and pendant lamps, and painting the cabinets a beautiful Dior Gray to compliment the walls of the main living space.

A little pop of color brings a bit of the Mediterranean to the South End.  The powder room door in Peacock Feathers, hints at what is inside, a beautiful Cole & Sons . wallcovering in Alpana in Gold/Aqua.  Inspired….

Powder Room

Powder Room