Welcome Homes: Doors with Distinction

New Orleans is a city rich with history.  The influence of its founding father’s is evident in the food, the language, and its architecture.

French Quarter Hotel

French Quarter Hotel

Its iconic wrought iron balconies, accented by cascading flowers, shuttered windows, and splashes of color line the major thoroughfares and smaller side streets and back alleys.  It is at times pristine and perfectly manicured, and others gritty, beaten and battered, but it is always interesting.

Whether dirty, dainty, grand or demure – these doors hint at that history.  I hope you will find them as fascinating as I did on my walking tour.

NOLA Doors

NOLA Doors

Jazz Up Your Home New Orleans Style

Fritzel's Jazz Pub www.fritzelsjazz.com

Fritzel’s Jazz Pub
www.fritzelsjazz.com

Known for its music this hip multi-cultural town will add a little spice to your home decor life.  The French Quarter will knock your French chausettes off with its abundance of fine antiques.  The prices are tres cher so the piece will need to be special – good luck for you -they are.  If its too rich for your budget keep your eyes open at tag sales, flea markets or even estate sales.  When I fall for a piece it really doesn’t matter if it’s authentically antique.  I admire a cracked marble top – it give the piece character and it’s fun to imagine its life before me.  What trouble befell it to allow it to suffer this injustice?  Like that scar on Harrison Ford’s chin – it only makes him, I mean IT, all the more handsome in my eyes.  Another distinct advantage of a flea market find is your ability to alter tis without guilt.  Traditional pieces can be made to sing a different tune when painted an unexpected color, or maintain the traditional exterior and enchant with a dramatic wallpaper to the interior panels, drawers, or shelves.  Whether it delights an audience of one or captivates an entire cocktail party of guests, bringing new life to an old piece is so…..well…optimistic.  Just do it.  Unlike an antique you are creating value with your enhancements.

Rivers Spencer Interiors

Rivers Spencer Interiors

If your taste drifts more toward the contemporary, Magazine Street is a must, and I don’t mean for an hour or two.  Lucky for me, my travel companion who does not share my obsession with design, or sign, shopping, did not arrive until late in the evening giving me six precious hours to wonder in, examine, admire, lust after, snap a few shots, pass out the compliments to these amazing owners like candy on Halloween and get on back to the hotel for the other point of the trip…..Jazz Fest!

Perch

Perch

Here’s what I found.  All these stores ship and many have robust on-line commerce sites so I did the walking so you can let your fingers do the shopping.

Balzac Antiques . 3506 Magazine St. New Orleans . LA  www.balzacantiques.com

Julie Neill Designs . 3908 Magazine St. New Orleans . LA  www.julieneill.com

Perch . 2844 Magazine St. New Orleans . LA www.perch-home.com

Rivers Spencer Interiors . 3909 Magazine St. LA www.riversspencer.com

Photo Finish

Carly Gillis Photography

Carly Gillis Photography

Photography like fashion must be tailored to the space’s particular idiosyncracies to ensure it looks its best – or in my case publishable.  If like me, you’ve fallen victim to the must-have trend of the season only to discover that it doesn’t best showcase your assets, you’ve learned to just say no.  I’ve stood in that dressing room wishing and hoping that when I arrive home some miraculous transformation will have taken place, imagining that I look like I’ve fallen out of the pages of Vogue Magazine and that I will be mistaken for a starlet sashaying down Madison Avenue in my obsession-worthy black leather leggings and four inch heels. I encourage a rich fantasy life, but not at the expense of looking ones best!

While I have learned to blur and obscure my little imperfections and highlight the favored elements of my form, when it comes to photography I must call in an expert. I’ve done a fair amount of architectural photo shoots in my day and can assure you they are a lot of work.  All the clutter of life must be banished from view, and like a movie set, only what the Director wants you to see is included in the frame.  Small spaces are made to look expansive and large spaces intimate.  Two rooms made to feel like ten with an intense focus on all of the elements; lighting and hardware, materials and texture, vignettes and close-ups.  With the advent of digital photography post-production work can have the transformational effect of sweets to party dress.  The addition of layers of light keep whites white and colors true.  It’s part art and part science and I admire what they see through their lens and what they create as a result of that vision.

It's in the details.

It’s in the details.

This Quest for 10 Properties to transform is a bag of emotions.  At times it feels like it takes everything, and at others, like it gives everything….like it is my raison d’etre.  Working to get the properties published is a way for me to celebrate the hard in the process.  John F. Kennedy  said:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

Seeking out a publication to commemorate the effort that has been put forth is part of the fun for me.  Editorial Calendars do not always align perfectly with my plans, so it is necessary for me to take matters into my own hands.  Documentation of the work that has been done – the before and after – is essential as once you leave you have likely lost the opportunity forever.  Rest assured, the documentation is in the can and I can shop it at my leisure, hoping that my story, and design style, peaks the interest of the editors.  Fingers crossed.

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

Back in the day, Doris Day and Rock Hudson could steam up the screen with their “pillow talk”. I loved Jan Morrow’s style – Doris Day’s character.  It was fitting that she played an Interior Designer because her apartment was fab, and I am still trying to figure out if it’s possible to move onto that Holywood set, and further if I could get Alma (Thelma Ritter) to come with the deal, drunk or not, I think she’d prove invaluable.  The point of all this pillow preamble is to say that a pair has caught my eye and held my attention.  If you’ve been following along dear reader you know that my visit to West Elm last weekend resulted in the purchase of said pillows by Lulu Belle Design.  They reference the famed Martinique wallpaper which first entered the spotlight in 1942 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where glamour abounds and apparently its design is timeless.

The Beverly Hills Hotel . agents of style

The Beverly Hills Hotel . agents of style

I am drawn to them inexplicably.  They are not what I would consider my signature style – though that is mainly due to the color palette.  Forest green, cream, and black are not found in that particular combination in a home of mine – not to date at any rate. Perhaps it’s the reference to nature that appeals. Aristotle said:

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” 

I lean hard right to the Mediterranean Sea, and yet like Dorothy Draper and all here chintz, I love it.  So I got to thinking it might be fun to design a living space or library around them.  Here’s what I would do:

Some things are better not questioned.

Some things are better not questioned.

– China White Walls by Benjamin Moore

– Malachite Mural (custom bien sur)

– Sofa in a pale cream linen

– Gold chandelier and gold accents

– Mies van der Rhoe – Barcelona Chairs in cream

– Decorative baseboard capped with a thick 2″ stripe in metallic gold that wraps the perimeter of the room

– Flowy linen curtains in ecru with a white and kelly green key fret border

I think I could live with not knowing the answer.  Could you?

Match Made In Heaven

West Elm and Etsy made quite a pair today as they teamed up to showcase local talent and goods. Long a favorite of mine.  My current home demanded a decidedly contemporary aesthetic, for which they specialize, and I happily availed myself of their wares.  What makes them particularly special aside from their astute recognition of the power of the start-up culture is the price point of their furnishings.  I imagine it’s the same reason I have spied them featured in many corporate tenant interiors, and high-end residences being shown for the first time.  They welcome the design community as warmly as the Patron who might purchase a pillow or a planter.  A rare and refreshing reality which will serve them well.

West Elm . 160 Brookline Ave . Boston . www.westelm.com

While there was much to fall for, I kept my wits about me onlyexiting with these fabulous palm frond pillows by Lulu Belle Design.

Lulu Belle Design - Etsy

Lulu Belle Design – Etsy

I think I might design the living room of 3 or 4 using the color palette – inspiration can come from many places.  This time-honored pattern is both elegant and carefree, two things I aspire to be.

It delights me to know end to see a really well-done reproduction of an artful classic.  The Arco Floor Lamp designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos is a staggering $2995.  No doubt it is beautiful, and if you choose to visit Bora Bora instead of buying that lamp, fear not West Elm has you covered with their own version for a cool $299.  No contest.

Arco Floor Lamp

Arco Floor Lamp

West Elm Floor Lamp

West Elm Floor Lamp

Union Square Donuts . 20 Bow Street . Somerville

Union Square Donuts . 20 Bow Street . Somerville

I sampled a toasted coconut donut fromUnion Square Donuts – heaven, moon over the artwork of Clare Gerard (two of the very paintings I had my eye on were purchased right out from under me while I was deciding) and got to meet Erin Gates and her lovely husband as she signed copies of her newly released book Elements of style.  She has a great eye, a fresh design aesthetic, and her book is really wonderful.   I hope one day my own is as authentic and as well put together as hers.  If you haven’t yet purchased it don’t hesitate to skibble on down to the Barnes and Noble or buy it on-line.  You won’t be disappointed.

Support local and shop happy.

Erin Gates author of Elements of Style with yours truly Jackie Falla

Erin Gates author of Elements of Style with yours truly Jackie Falla

Clare Gerard - Etsy

Clare Gerard – Etsy

A Pragmatic Eye for the Spring Buy

Were I in the market for a property this Spring I’d be scouring the listings and putting all plans of travel on hold until the coveted property – wherever she might be – was firmly in my clutch.  Like boats,

Ain't She Pretty.

Ain’t She Pretty.

I refer to properties in the female gender.  My seaside beginnings coupled with my intense, sometimes seemingly impossible pursuit of the French language – it would be so much easier if they weren’t trying to throw all those imperative’s and that predilection toward masculine and feminine into the mix.  Couldn’t they just choose one or the other?  I digress, Spring, new beginnings, growth, possibility, the prospect of a new project surge forth, instinctively directing me to conquer this impossible marketplace calling victory mine.  Who could deny such a compulsion?  Not I.

It’s this very compulsion that will have me prepared to make a good decision when all the stars are aligned.  Properties should be popping up like Spring flowers, but here in Boston our marketplace remains steadfastly dormant, and if the hail we experienced Wednesday is any indication, Spring has not yet arrived.  Still I can report that a few more properties are appearing every week, and disappearing as fast as they come.  Great news for Sellers, tough news for buyers, as competition remains stiff.  Keeping your wits about you, balancing data, desperation, and intuition is essential to making a good decision.

The beauty of checking out condos when you aren’t really in the market is your ability to assess places without emotion.  It’s funny when it’s not real – how realistic you can be about what would ultimately be in your best interest.  So hit the pavement I will tomorrow, and again on Sunday before I have to head off to a conference in RI.  Squeezing it all-in can be tough, but the looking is both fun and fundamental to good decision-making.

I like this Concord Square Condo for its size 723SF, its private deck, and yes, I admit it, it’s gray color palette.  Adore.  Its price per foot is high, but I must see it in person to know if I could push the perimeters of the investment.  Light and location – it has possibility…..

Windows abound.

Windows abound.

Lots of Light

Lots of Light

Nesting on a Human Scale

Oh where oh where could my spring weather be?  It flurried yesterday, this morning it was a cool 34 degrees though the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.  It reminds me of many an Easter on Cape Cod, we three Falla girls in our matching outfits,

Easter a long, long time ago.

Easter a long, long time ago.

proudly sporting our ponchos, forced to wear our winter coats over our fine holiday regalia.  I thought even then, it might be nice to live down south where I could make the true fashion statement I intended.  Alas, for now New England is my home, and springtime – cold and stubborn as it may be here, brings forth thoughts of nesting.

I love the image of the nest as birds take such care in its creation.  The placement of every branch, twig, errant feather, and bright piece of string spied, snapped up, and brought “home” by some clever Robin or Chickadee.  It’s cozy and nurturing.  The very environment I attempt to create in my own home.

Michelangelo said:

 “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

You've Got to Hand it to Him . Michelangelo was the man.

You’ve Got to Hand it to Him . Michelangelo was the man.

It’s such a beautiful, inspirational notion. His genius undisputed.  I am happy to capture a moment of brilliance, a brief vision or insight into the transformational direction I would take a place.  Some properties chirp loudly, making the flight plan clear to me.  Such is the case with this jewel of a building, called the Tea House. Nestled at the foot of a hill overlooking the pond on the property of Ken and Julie Burns.  Bequeathed to the Town of Winchendon, and later put up for auction, it now calls its home this idyllic location.

Living Large in Small Spaces

Living Large in Small Spaces

Currently used for dinner parties, informal meetings, or just an escape from the elements with views across the pond, or with the turn of the head, an apple orchard.  With a few modifications including indoor plumbing – a must have for this non-camping gal, a service kitchen (I’ll explain), and a small deck off the back overlooking the pond.  Ever cognizant of my Cape Cod boating roots, the Tea House feels very much like the cabin of a boat.  I envision a built in seating area nestled in the corner looking out across the pond, fitted with a small round table for writing, working, or dining.  A key to small living is multi-purpose spaces and furnishings.  Toward that end, the sleeping bunk, placed on the entry wall to the right of the door would serve as a sofa, and fold open to a double size bed for sleeping.  A small bath with shower stall, mini sink, and toilet would be placed in the right corner, and the “kitchen” comprised of sink, and electrical cooking surface would be located next to the bath in the back right corner.  French doors would take you out the back to the deck where your gas grill would suffice for year-round cooking. See with me the two beautiful chairs made for relaxing and appreciating all nature has to offer. Breath in that crisp, perfect air, listen to the happy music of those Rockin’ Robins, and remember – you can only sit in one seat at a time.  Small living is sublime.

Happy Easter.

WOOD it Matter – To Go Faux or No?

street thread Authenticity is to be admired.  That’s why I tell people flat out – I get Botox.  I want to put my best foot forward- or face as the case may be, and while I’ve been grateful for my good genes, I certainly see nothing wrong with using the products and innovations that are out there to enhance my appearance.  You know what I mean.   I have come to believe that this same philosophy applies to wood.  Hear me when I say faux can be fabulous!  Given the right material it can resist:  warping, bleeding, splintering, wearing, requiring refinishing and/or frequent painting.  As I have come to learn all too well, that which comes from Mother Nature requires a good deal of nurturing to be its best self.  I’m enough trouble on my own, so now and again, I am inclined to use those materials that seem more conducive to the challenges I have on hand.

– High-Density Balmer Polyurethane:  aka – Plastic

Plastic Crown

Plastic Crown

– Ceramic Tile

– Acrylic Impregnated Wood

Nydree Aspen Fiber Resin

Nydree Aspen Fiber Resin

– Medium Density Fiber Board

Your home is a reflection of you – would you ask your builder to limit himself to hand tools?  Refuse to allow him to avail himself of all the power and ingenuity that exists today?  Of course, you wouldn’t.

I have hardwood floors throughout my apartment.  After this winter, I longed for many things – that list is for another day – specifically I wished for a faux wood, ceramic tile floor entry.  The salt, and dirt that gets dragged in despite all efforts to hold it at bay is miraculous.  Here is what I would love to have in its place.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile

I’m a bit of shoe fanatic.  Specifically I love stilettos and have made an art out of wearing them on the mean streets of Boston – oh those cobblestones can be devastatingly cruel to my poor defenseless Jimmy Choos, and on a construction site or two.  While concrete can take a lot of heel clicking action – sadly my hardwood floors look a little worse for the wear.  I swooned for the Nydree Aspen Resin.  While this acrylic impregnated wood doesn’t sound sexy….it sure looks it.

Stiletto Friendly

Stiletto Friendly

I’ve conveyed in other posts my fond feelings for plastic molding.  Bend as it does to my will – why wouldn’t I like it?  So many other things resist me unnecessarily and it can be exhausting!  Projects consist of materials, labor and sometimes additional oversight and/or coordination.  The use of this highly responsive material makes it easier and faster to install, saving you money.  I recommend building up standard moldings top and bottom for a more dramatic look.

Whether it be hard, soft, textured smooth or sporting a distinctive grain – the wood will always find its way into my homes.  I believe there is a way for FAUX and NO to live harmoniously together. WOOD you consider it?