To put on your party dress and shoes, brush up on our conversational skills, and stockpile hostess gifts. While wine and spirits are always a welcome thank you, I am left wondering if I could have been a tad more imaginative. After all, throwing a party is really hard work. At least the way I do it is – and perhaps this new year’s resolutions should include finding a way to let go of perfection, throw together the food, and focus on friends. Until then, a few thoughts on how to kick the cocktails circuit off right.
I simply must make note of this brilliant idea – not mine – that I learned of on a recent visit to a far away state. It’s called WANDERLUSH – a mobile drinkery and artisanal cocktail and catering company in the Boston area. This could be the answer to fabulous and fancy-free. Daniel and Crystal Mills are the owners, and were my new apartment ready – I’d hire them tout suite. www.wanderlushboston.com
WanderLush Cocktail Gladness
Now for gifts that give the getter as much pleasure as the giver – and won’t end up in the recycle booze bin in the early hours of the morning following the festivities.
Linen cocktail napkins: Bring a little elegance even under a beer.
Getting Cheaky – blog.foryourparty.com
Paper party straws in a jelly jar adorned with ribbon or pretty colored vase that will find its way onto a display shelf, bedside table, or atop a pile of books just because.
A little potted rosemary tree. It smells so amazing, and whispers holiday, though I love it all year long. I can see it sitting happily on your hostess kitchen counter reminding her what a lovely friend she has in you.
A carefully selected single flower, placed in any old ordinary shallow glass bowl, or old antique teacup, or vintage champagne glass. I love a Magnolia, a deep wine colored Gerber Daisy, or a fern wrapped around the bottom with Poppy in a perfect pop of purple.
Sometimes the simplest gestures….
A Jonathan Adler Ornament ….
A porcelain Fish – $24.00
So if you are booked every weekend and plan to get blotto at a cocktail party or two, these hostess gifts will be particularly important, as they serve as a proactive please forgive me for getting a little tipsy.
There’s something so refreshing about a room that is filled with natural light. It can certainly handle dark floors, furnishings, and fabrics but the uncomplicated purity of white upholstered pieces and pastel accents is so alluring. Keeping them looking like they fell out of the pages of a magazine is another story. I am the first to admit that it’s top of mind for me. I saw an elegant woman the other day, dressed in winter white. She stood out in a sea of dark clothing clad gals and guys. My first thought was how much I admired her, my second, I could never wear such a thing. I’d worry constantly that I was going to spill on it, sit on something wretched, spoil that unspoiled goodness.
While these feelings are valid, they don’t warrant drastic measures a la Mrs. Miles. Mrs. Miles was an older lady with whose care we “the three Falla girls” where placed when there wasn’t one single other sitter available. A nice lady to be sure, but her living room was dark, shades drawn to protect the furniture from harsh sunlight, and further protected as they were encased in plastic. All sustainability issues aside – plastic isn’t inviting. Lordy that is a definite no. I am also not a fan of dust cloths over everything – awaiting a house guest for their brief removal, and further drastic tactics like serving only white food and wine. Hum, not for me.
Ho Boy! Plasternoon Delight.
And still, I want the white, and I want to be able to LIVE in my apartment, eat a cupcake on the sofa, green juice away, and not fret over the cleanliness of my hands. Here’s where IKEA comes in. They have upholstered sofas and chairs in white canvas duct that are amazingly durable, attractive, and comfortable. They are slipcovered, respond astoundingly well to Shout, and can be thrown in the wash when a thorough dousing is in order. My sister has them in her second home. We lie all over them, as do the renters, and seven years later they look nearly as good as the day the arrived. I won’t get too graphic. Suffice it to say – they’ve been exposed to the elements. All this durability and comfort combined with a great price get them my humble recommendation.
IKEA – Wonderful White
Pale Blue Slipper
Blue Print Pillow Poshness
Morning Flow by Joyce Howell $4536. BP . Dallas
I have suggested my friend purchase the set-up for her great room. I feel absolutely sure that they will stand up to Henry’s boy bumping, jumping, relocation services – this kid is strong! and playful attention. Here’s how I would put it all together.
There is something to be said for picking up pieces over time, for allowing travels, and baubles, and heirlooms to reveal, chapter by chapter, the character that is you. Not everyone will take notice. Most form an impression based on the whole and it’s not hard work to place you neatly into one of their predefined categories. Those classifications, after all, are long steeped in tradition. All the good and the bad of generations that preceded us, and which help bring us a sense of security. Ah boxes, how convenient and decidedly inconvenient they are all at the same time.
DYI Never Looked so good!
Now I love a good box, particularly one that is adorned with jewels and is filled with shiny, sparkly baubles – who wouldn’t, but this post is about curation not boxes, and I aim to get to it.
Me, Laura Birnbaum and Jordan Glasgow of Collins Interiors at Blue Print
This weekend my desire to find unique and special pieces and people took me to Dallas. Who knew, but one of the most special people I know happens to live here, and one of my truly favorite home boutiques can be found at 2707 Fairmount . Dallas. BluePrintStoreI could fill a page with adjectives outlining my adoration for this store. I’ve written about it before, but like Christmas some things are worth revisiting again and again. This visit I was so lucky to meet two gals that work for the Interior Design parent company, Collins Interiors – Jordan Glasgow, and Laura Birnbaum let me snap pictures, and admire all those carefully procured objects.
Now to the curation. Melissa (my dear Dallas friend) and I agree that while it would be considered tres gauche to walk into a shop, hand over a credit card, and buy the display to be transferred to your home – quelle horreur and absolutement pas! Every last little thing in this world has an exception and Blue Print is it. If ever you are blessed with the warewithal to do such a thing, make sure you find yourself standing smack dab in the middle of the living room of BP. Just take it lock stock and barrel. If you formerly lacked creativity and imagination…sat on the outside looking in, prepare to be the admired. There’s magic in that there store, and magic is a rare and special thing. So you can see why Blue Print is to be revered.
We also found our way to a very sweet store called, The Loveliest – and with it’s pink front door, brass hardware, and lion knocker it seemed to live up to its name. If that catus didn’t seal the deal, Kelsey Wood Co-Owner along with her Sister, Britni did. I warm to southern charm, it makes me feel nicer than I am. Their shop, comprised of three little rooms, made up for its size with whimsical offerings, from paper cones with delicately frayed edges, stuffed with lavender, to tiny Turkish rugs in water color hues that will undoubtedly bring elegance to the mundane – as a welcome mat or at the foot of he sink while washing dishes. It’s these touches that make a house a home…The Loveliest clearly got the memo. www.theloveliestcompany.com
As someone that purchases and parts ways with furnishings, art, accents, and homes faster than most people can commit to their next vacation destination, I know that these things won’t bring you happiness. Sharing my home with family and friends however does, and making a home that is welcoming is a source of pride.
I’m off to curate the spirit of the holiday season – it’s magical.
When I think old Hollywood, I think Hepburn. Katherine to be specific, and that’s not to say that I don’t love Audrey too. It’s just about this time of year that I pull out my copy of The Philadelphia Story, one of my very favorite movies. I fall into the dialog – so fast-paced, so rich with wit, and clever repartee, who wouldn’t fall in love with those words.
“You’ll never be a first class human being or a first class woman until you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty.” – “The course of true love …gathers no moss.” – I’m sorry, but I thought I better hit you before he did. He’s in better shape than I am.”
– Who wouldn’t wish to be the person to have uttered those brilliant quips? But let’s just say your not much for dialog – more the strong silent type, could I interest you in architecture, interior design, fashion. It’s a blockbuster for all those fabulous interests. The outfits, by all rights outrageous one moment, Vogue Cover shot the next. So elegant that beyond the black and white film you imagine its weight in your hand, the white and gold of the beads adorning the Grecian gown, the swish of the fabric across the dance floor as you glide like a skater on a pond. Magic.
Where can I place my order….Philadelphia Story
Hope you find a little holiday magic in this movie or one of your favorites.
Starting from scratch is a bit overwhelming. As I gaze around the living room, I have some vague image of a theater set whose production has wrapped, the remaining detritus awaiting its next destination. The furniture couldn’t be more ill fitting for this space, and frankly it’s hard to believe that it worked in harmony in my other locations, but I know it did.
So much to do, so much to coordinate, so many potential mistakes that could be made. How is one to know which path is right? A single piece of furniture is expensive – try a whole living room full, a couple of chandeliers, some curtains and carpet. Gulp! I have made decisions about all these things, and I can assure you that they felt so right at the time. How is it possible that my vision didn’t fit snugly into my reality? Oh I made it work with a little nudging, a little budging, so perspiration and exasperation, but it wasn’t what I wanted, and I always secretly hoped there would be a time in the near future where I could divest myself of the mistake. Come on, you must have felt the same way, no?
One My Way . Living Room
Here I go again, with fingers crossed, prepared to make decisions and also hope for the best. The truth is, even the very best designers make errors in judgement, underestimate the volume of an object inside a space, select a fabric or carpet that has directional changes in color and texture – one that is adored, the other despised. It’s all true. So how can you minimize these types of mishaps? Let’s start with the furniture – map it out. Get reams of craft paper and make templates for all the furniture you plan on purchasing and place them in and around the pieces you plan to keep and use. Once that task is complete use boxes, pillows, blankets, books or whatever you have on hand to represent the height of the piece. If the object is large like a table, sofa, or even a bench, the volume that you are building should be done on either end of the piece so that you have a visual understanding of how you will navigate through the space once the actual piece is there. It’s most definitely NOT just about square footage, an armour can be a massive presence in a room. Ensuring site lines and pathways are not obscured is part of the challenge. As ridiculous as it may seem, the effort is a worthwhile one.
On my way to final decisions. Bedroom
Curtains, carpet, and fabric for upholstered pieces can be just as daunting. The tiny little samples they give you aren’t suitable for blowing your nose let alone a decision worth thousands of dollars. So – what to do. I can make a few recommendations, but they will not always be possible. In the end you may just need to make a leap of faith. If you are purchasing a carpet, something that is not custom, many stores will allow you to bring it home, and sit with it in your space for several days to ensure it works. If you are considering a custom carpet, one that is either wall to wall or will be cut and bound to your specifications, ask if there is a place locally in which it has been installed that you could visit. Seeing it in person, in a full scale application – even if it isn’t your own space, is helpful. A few photos that you blow up large scale and throw down on your floor, while not perfect, may still be better than the 12″ x 12″ sample they sent you home with.
Fabric should be treated in a similar fashion. Always attempt to get the largest sample possible. As for the full size panel that’s on display, or buy a yard to bring home with you if you are purchasing wholesale. The biggest sample you can afford for those in which you are confident are a go
, is a good investment when you consider the costly mistake that you’ll have avoided.
Don’t forget your sample boards. Once you’ve gone through the exercise of finding the right sized pieces, with fabric you love, sitting on a carpet that has just the right amount of personality for you, they still have to speak to one another. Lay them all out on a sample board and make sure they harmonize. Go for one big wow moment. There is only one conductor in the orchestra – don’t you forget – there’s a reason for that.
And I’m no starlet. I’m still troubling over the 18 karat gold table and chair base. Why? It’s not a necklace, not a royal crown, whatever could be wrong with brass? Whatever the reason, I was sad to learn this week that my beloved Warren Platner chairs in the sparkling gold would never adorn my home. It’s ok, how could I ever feel bad about forgoing something that would pay for a full year’s private college tuition. Well, perhaps a little twinge, but honestly, it’s so far out of the realm of possibility that I can’t, and don’t feel bad about it. In the same way I don’t lament the fact that I am a working girl. That’s right, not a Rothchild. These circumstances for which I was born have challenged me, shaped me, and blessed me. I’ll find another dining chair. I’ll find the right sofa, the perfect curtain, a wallcovering that provides an Emeril Lagasse – BAM moment, a rug with a little wild animal, and all the elements that will fill this empty home of mine.
Let me say, I love it’s emptiness and possibility, this new home of mine. It’s a clean and pleasing palette, and I already feel totally at ease here.
I love when things don’t work out as expected, because it forces me to investigate something that wasn’t immediately obvious to me. That’s where the magic lives. Let’s just say right now there is a lot of magic. I have reams of cable wire that twist and pool around the living room awaiting the arrival of the electrician. My Cable Guy wielded a staple gun with a glimmer in his eye prepared to shoot my walls full of staples. No, No, et non. The gynormous tv I purchased sits atop the fireplace mantle, an entirely unacceptable location for a television in my opinion, but the bookshelf will need to be retrofitted, and while I contemplated “hogging” it out on my own, I know I would regret it. But I am impatient to get it all done, and I can’t have the painter come until that’s managed, then the electrician, then furniture, then my holiday cocktail party.
How in the sam tarnation did the holidays come so quickly? I’m not prepared. Will I make it in time? Who knows…I know this, I won’t delay the cocktails or celebration for perfection. I’m clear that perfection will never arrive, and good friends are forgiving.
I believe in the sanctity of the weekend. It should not be about work. I hate to admit how often mine are, but that doesn’t mean you should follow suit. I also believe in a great deal. This weekend there are several that shouldn’t be missed. Don’t worry, I’ve done the work for you.
One of my very favorite shops in Boston’s South End, they are having a lighting sale through 15 November. Worth a visit.
West Elm has great sales on a pretty regular basis. Hip mid-century modern design with amazingly affordable prices make this a favorite shop to visit and revisit. 20% off furniture now should get you counting chairs to ensure you have enough seating for Thanksgiving dinner.
Restoration Hardware is featuring 20% off everything now. There new RH Modern line is revere worthy, but the prices more Hollywood than Homemaker. Still if you wanted to forgo your trip to Paris until next year for that coveted chair, no judgement. Everyone must prioritize, and some of these pieces just might be worth it.
I heard somewhere that the average person moves 11 times in their life. I’ve lost track of exactly how many times I’ve moved to date, but know that in the last three years alone I’ve moved eight times. I’ve gotten pretty good at the drill and have to once again pay thanks to Humboldt Storage and Moving:
100 New Boston Drive . Canton . MA www.humboldt.com Who ever came up with their slogan: Relax and get moving, and told them to answer the phone: “How can we reduce your stress today”, and then followed up by delivering on all their promises, should be a millionaire. I adore their efficiency, honesty, and professionalism. I wish they had other divisions that would manage the varied stresses of my life. Alas, I look forward to the start of another chapter, with absolutely no trepidation about the move.
Things that have served me well in this nomadic existence of mine:
A “Just Do It” Attitude
Despite all my best efforts to pre-plan and be prepared, until you are actually in the space there are many things you simply miss. My list is relatively long here, but in my defense I was only in the space a total of 40 minutes prior to my close on Monday. That’s not a ton of time to absorb and reflect. 6 doors in the bedroom – oy vey, where in the heck are my dressers supposed to go? One single drawer in the kitchen – how is that even possible. Who designs a brand new kitchen with only one drawer? A cable outlet by the front door and nowhere in the vicinity where one might reasonably consider placing a tv. These things will all require a plan b, some creativity, and a just get it done attitude.
A Place to Rest my Head
Stay posted as I adapt to these realities and see what I device for solutions. Oh and if you are interested in furniture – I’ll be selling quite a few pieces that simply won’t work in my new home, but may be a beautiful addition to yours. I’ll post them.
I bet you didn’t know I had a little of that preppy in me. I haven’t dared let it come out of hiding in my past homes. The tiniest hint of pale pink splashed on the walls, carefully tempered with the use of grays, blacks and taupes – neutrals that wouldn’t find themselves in any self-respecting preppy line-up of pop colors like kelly green and aqua blue. For me, preppy’s a can of worms.
Harkening back to braided ribbon barrettes, Papagalo bags, and whale imprinted turtlenecks. Oh and then there’s the “wispy gang”, those perfect blue-eyed, bone straight blondes, with the matching bangs, rocking their bobs. How I tortured myself believing so steadfastly in their wealth and perfection. How the boys that I loved – loved them. Ouch. One might ask whatever would compel me to revisit such a traumatic tween-age experience?
Kate Spade Home . J’aime bien.
Kate Spade is the answer. Well of course, not the whole answer, but certainly part of it. I love her stores. They are always furnished with pieces that I have admired, admittedly with a bit of resentment, as those furnishings and accessories were not for sale. Encore et encore, over the years I have asked, where did this great credenza come from, this quirky table lamp, this divine upholstered chair? I’ve even admired that tarnished brass owl sculpture from the seventies, and let’s be honest here, that’s a decade we could do without revisiting ….. ever. The perfectly appointed sales gals always responded with a knowing, if not apologetic, look, “Kate curates the pieces” sadly, they aren’t for sale. I have to report, that they didn’t seem that sad, to share the news with me.
Kate Spade Home . J’adore.
At long last, Kate has come to her senses, and put those carefully selected pieces up for sale. I didn’t want to like them on principle, but they are lovely. They speak to me, with their happy polka dots, contemporary lines, mix of metal and wood marrying masculine and feminine. She’s got it going on, and my poor bank account is going to suffer the consequences. I just know I won’t be able to resist the exorbitantly priced pieces. Here are my picks in this post. Do you feel the same way I do?