It’s a Wrap



Life is like an old-time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.  The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride. Gordon B. Hinckley

This will be my 105th post of the year, and my last for 2015.  I’ve sold a house, bought a house, bid on 9 in between.  I’ve moved out of 19 Milford Street, and into Waltham Street, and called 4 temporary places in between my home.  I was welcomed by friends, 2 cats, and 1 mouse.  That 1 mouse was most unwelcome in that house, and resulted in me spending 6 nights on my sister’s coach.  I was most grateful that she allowed me to stay.  She works from home and can’t tolerate distractions.  But where mice are concerned this city girl had to take action.

Milford Professional Shots LR

Saying Goodbye


111 inches of snow, 1 misadventure locked out of the warm house, and on top of the cold roof, 1 French savoir – my beloved neighbor, and 1 trip that didn’t happen – Montana still awaits – 6 that did:

  • Saint Petersburg Florida to dip my toes in the sand
  • New Orleans …a little uplifting a little heartbreaking
  • Chicago to speak on Lean
  • ACKventure with friends
  • The City of Lights for a little inspiration
  • The Lone Star State to see two little twinklers

This Cape Cod girl didn’t ride any trains, but knows all about tacking through the channel, floating off course, being surrounded by fog, sky exploding with thunder.  For all the stormy weather I am grateful because it has made the clear skies, the gentle breeze, and the salt air all the more beautiful.

Thank you for sharing the year with me.

Pausing for Effect

As the year winds down, the rush to Christmas behind me, I knew that arrival at the finish line standing was improbable at best.  I’m a jam it all in there kind of gal.  I actually count the number of things I’m able to get accomplished in a morning, in a day.  Productivity can be good, having ants in your pants….bad!

This I am keeping in mind as I continue to design and refine my new home.  My inclination is to get it all done as quickly as possible, but that can lead to errors in judgement, missed opportunities, and who all knows what.

fireplace living

I painted immediately going with a bold color palette of Navy for the living/dining and lavender for the bedroom, leaving the kitchen bath and hallway untouched.  Though splashing the walls in color mere moments after my arrival my seem rash, I did in fact have almost 4 months to ponder the sanity and saleability of my decision.  Go Blue or Go Home I decided.  There are many more decisions to be made, wallpapers to be selected, kitchen to be reconfigured – don’t worry, not a major renovation, just an adornment of sorts to make that massive refrigerator look a little more diminutive.  Clearly victims of the package deal, the refrigerator could support a family of five.  Bigger is not always better.  And there are important furnishings selections that simply must be made to tip this seesaw in the direction of firm footing.

For now though, I am going to focus on getting that massive chandelier rooted in the ceiling like a Redwood tree in the forest.  I am aware of how long those trees took to grow, this project will require patience and expertise to ensure I don’t post a picture of the entire living room ceiling in a puff of dust on the floor. Quelle desastre!

So a pause on all the other papers, purchases, and pressing on.  I’m going to take a moment, track the trends for 2016, and not be tempted – and remember, in the end, it’s the details that make space.


Wish Listing

Ever get caught in the  – eyes glazed – shopping craze, of the holidays.  Hallways lined with bags, closets stuffed with long forgotten packages, a list with too many names left untouched awaiting the arrival of a fitting gift?  Maybe one too many, “To Me from Me with Loves”….just what you always wanted…somethings, instead of what you are really supposed to be buying?  Voila – C’est moi.

It’s true, I found myself buying a ridiculously expensive gift for…at this point there really is no suspense…me.  If you’ve been following along, you are well aware I have a spending problem, and it was just the night before, when I said out loud, to another person, “I am going to stop”, I am going to show some self-control”.  I’m hoping by revealing the indiscretion to a larger audience, I might shame myself into behaving.  I knew when I slid that AMX card across the counter to the sales gal at Hermes that there would be no returns.  I’d blame my mother but that’s just adding insult to injury.  I also caved to the pressure of buying several very expensive gifts because my creativity appears to be taking Christmas off.  Ho, Ho, Ho Boy!

Cheeky Monkey – find them on Etsy.  Adorable

I’ve decided not to lose heart.  I have confidence I can still turn this thing around.  To prove it, I just returned from, well, returning gifts.  All those that were purchased before I had a plan in place.  And for all those things that I’ve fallen in love with along the way, I made a wish list. It’s ok to write it down, want it, write it, and let it go.  For the rest of you on my list…I still have 5 days.  I can do a world of shopping in 5 days…how about you?

samarinda crocus throw

Samarinda Crocus Throw . Designers Guild


The Beauty of the Bar Cart


You can dress it up, dress it down, style if for a birthday or the holidays.  You can make it distinctly masculine by adding a humidor and a box of wooden matches, or a jar of beef jerky – if that doesn’t seem all hard edged male, I’m not sure what does.  My inclination is to put a girly party dress on it, but that doesn’t mean that cart should show up without a little of the hard stuff.  A girl needs to keep a lot of tools in her arsenal, and sometimes a stiff shot of whiskey is just what this chicklet needs to soften her rough edges.

Somehow even a cart that isn’t really a cart at all ends up looking like a dynamic piece of furniture.  If you find yourself short on words, just turn to the bar cart.  It has magical qualities. It need not hold items strictly associated with putting together an aperitif – no.  Decorative objects, a vase of flowers or a single bud, a petit picture, a Match Box Car, or any old object that has meaning to you, and will likely start a conversation, will do.

Be prepared for it all to be a little easier.


monica wang photography

Small Victories

Even the simplest things aren’t really that simple to do, if your plan is to do them right.  Hanging a picture, installing curtains, retrofitting a cabinet.  All these tasks require the right tools, a good plan, more than one person, and an inordinate amount of patience.  Patience isn’t something I have in supply.  If a human possessed the attributes of an industry, I would be construction, and patience would be a long-lead item that would arrive long after the project was complete.  I’m not a perfectionist – an attribute that pairs better with impatience than mind numbing precision, but my tolerance for a picture that is crooked falls into the realm of OCD.  I’m constantly trying to make it right, and though I was never strong with math, my eye is pretty good at guiding me.   Measure, hang, observe, re-measure, re-hang, rewards, regrets.  What fun. Two done.

Curtains hung, re-hung, undone, hung again, tinkered with, toyed with, shimmed, not shaken, thank goodness nothing got to breaking.  Cocked eyed casings make for less than perfect draping.  Old houses, what’s a girl to do but accept it as it is, and grow to love it.

book shelf


And then that built-in, looking all innocent like it would be no problem at all to retrofit it to accommodate the grossly oversized television that I bought a few weeks back. Cut, paint, attempt to install, recut, repaint, install again.  Phew, getting it right isn’t easy – no matter what they tell you on those HGTV Shows.

chandelier p3.jpg

Finally, if a film crew had been recording my mishaps and small victories you would have been witness to me hanging on to my Parisian chandelier for dear life in the back of the truck down Massachusetts Avenue from Cambridge to the South End.  The chandelier lost an arm, and both of mine feel like they are going to fall off, but it was a sunny 60 degrees, and I’m through another major phase in the process of getting it hung.  I don’t want to shock and disappoint for those that have been following, but this is not the chandelier that I bought in Paris.  I was subject to the old bait and switch.  It’s a close approximation – a little worse for the wear, oh Regis – I’ve had to make the best of an imperfect situation before, and I’ll do it again, despite your shenanigans!

I feel a little bit like Amelia Bedelia – getting it all wrong, and somehow having it turn out all right.  Hope you all have a great week.


Starry Eyed

….and all that image conjures.  To be giddy, and light, and filled with promise.  The holidays can elicit that heady surrealism, and can just as quickly diverge from other wordly to out of your mind.  From the perfect dress, to the seemingly effortless yet imaginative gift – from the right holiday greeting, to those unexpected meetings, the holidays may indeed be making you see stars.  Staying grounded while inhaling the intoxicating scents of the season may feel unattainable.

Antoine de Saint Exu

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Stars after all are a paradox.  They are indeed visible to our eye but have vanished from the sky’s canvas long before we go about the business of seeing them.  They are symbolic, they’re scientific, they’re the subject of famous works of art, they are often a feature of nautical design, and adorn everything from the grandest residences, to the most modest.

stary night

Starry Night

Stars Rock – perhaps that why we have Rock Stars.  I love them, and hope your holiday is filled with them – both metaphorically and figuratively speaking.  I am working hard to remind myself…what is essential is invisible to the eye…..after all a home decor addict such as myself needs a universe of reminding when it comes to this truth.



Havana Nights

Cuba has long had an allure for me.  My grandmother reported stories of “Aunt Josie” taking overnight boat cruises to Havana from Miami, playing cards with the Captain and having a grand time.  cubaAunt Josie was what they would have called a “looker”.  Well, as the story goes, Manuel Diaz, met Aunt Josie while studying agriculture at MIT.  He was the son of a tobacco plantation owner and cigar manufacturer.  I can practically smell the aroma of a good cigar being smoked, just thinking of it.  Now it’s entirely probable that I’ve gotten all or most of the details of this family history incorrect.  Having just reviewed the gross over exaggeration of the number of people who claim to be descended from those that traveled over on the Mayflower – I feel a little artistic license won’t hurt anyone here.  As my Uncle Gerard used to say of his brother:  “He never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

me and the band

Me and the Band

And Cuba my friends is a good story, as well as a visual delight, a gastronomic extravaganza, a musical paradise, or so I hear.  I have family members that have visited under the protective cloak of The Hemingway Society, and my boss visited a little over a year ago with a Religious group – both perfectly legal.  I long to go before that which makes it so special – what I refer to as the Cuban Missile Crisis time capsule effect – disappears.  It’s like a museum with the best exhibit in town, but I can’t get a ticket.  It will sadly be turned into a Carnival Cruise playground.  Still, a ten or twelve day tour isn’t exactly my cup of tea, perhaps I’ll slip in on a humanitarian visa.

Until then, Ken Wexler and Lisa Wexler threw a hell of a holiday party a la Cuba last night at the Boston Harbor Hotel.  From the Salsa Dancers, to the food, ambiance, and the bear dressed as Fidel Castro, I was transported to another time and had a ball.  It got me thinking how great a living room would be in a washout pastel, with tropical plants, huge scale black and white photos gracing the walls, a leopard stool or chair in the eclectic mix.  A combination that both calms and excites – an intoxicating mix.


Don’t you forget to shake your maracas – after all ….it’s the holiday season.

Out with the not so old

Vintage Chair

Vintage Arm Chair Covered in Knoll Fabric.  Dimensions:                           24″w x 37″h x 22″d  $375. or best offer


All my places have been pretty petite to date so I have never owned an over abundance of furniture.  None-the-less I have been known to make a bad decision now and again – that headboard covered in the Schumacher fabric I just had to have, and custom cut to match a picture I had seen in Domino – a revered magazine….revered by me anyway.  I just wouldn’t be talked out of it by my upholsterer – he knew – he said the proportions wouldn’t work.  Boy was he right.  It looked like an ice cream Sunday with a cherry on top.  I couldn’t wait to part ways with it.  Then there was the carpet I bought without the aid of a sample, when it arrived I discovered it wasn’t black and white as I originally thought, but black, white, and baby blue – had to change the entire color scheme for that apartment.  The sofa that was not only too big for the apartment but also a truly hideous fabric, ouch. All these mistakes I admit were do to lack of experience, impatience, and just plain old not knowing what you don’t know — until you know.  Very expensive mistakes to make for sure.

Verellen Sofa

Verellen Sofa – Apartment Style in pale gray.  Dimensions:                          65″L x 29″d x 33″h  $600.  Great Condition!

I’m not saying I won’t continue to make them.  I bump my way through this process, but once in awhile I have a moment for which I am really proud.  My hope is that I will save you from some of the truly atrocious lapses in judgement that were admittedly of my own making.

Living Room JF1

Arne Jacobsen Style Egg Chair and Ottoman – NEW $750. or best offer

In this particular case the items I offer up are not mistakes, not an error in judgement at all.  Sadly, they simply don’t work in my new house.  It’s not that this place is so big, but the volume of the space makes it feel very grand, and the furniture feel very small in contrast.  I will be sad to part with these items, but hope that they will be wonderful additions to one of my readers homes.