Ballard Comes to Boston

Well sort of, to Natick, MA which is much closer than Florida or Georgia.  Now has a new Northeast location at the Natick Mall . 1245 Worcester Street . Natick . MA.  I have loved the store through its catalog for many years.  I have purchased countless items for my properties, and gleaned much design inspiration, but catalog shopping is a little like staring in through the window after the store has closed for the evening.  The thrill for a tactile gal like myself is muted a bit.  I want to touch, feel, sit in, and understand the massing of the pieces.  One of the biggest mistakes we – should “I” have made, is the purchase of pieces that don’t fit the scale of a space.  Scale, massing, proportion.  It’s essential to getting the feel of a place right.  Not being a numbers person, I rely more on my eye, which tells me most accurately if something will fill the space in just the right way.


Ballard Design Entry.  Note the panels which are popular with makers from Schumacher (to the trade) to Bungalow 5, and which a DIY’er would make using wallpaper. Tiger Pillow made popular by Salamander.  The modern version of a Louis XIII, XIV, XV, XVI desk, and the lamps referring a bamboo stem.  All comes together beautifully.

My eye is good, but its super human powers are impaired by the pages of a magazine like some force field.  So, you can imagine how many things I have returned when I discovered that they were far too large for my little homes.  Perhaps what you can’t imagine is my delight when I learned that they had plans to open locally, and they followed through on them.  You should be delighted too, and I am going to tell you why.


Miles Redd is an amazing designer – I first learned of him guessed it, Domino Magazine.  Known for his fearless use of color, high gloss, and statement spaces – he shows you how to achieve the same using Ballard.

Much of my design education came from Domino Magazine.  I talk about it often, as the pre-crash version of the magazine was groundbreaking.  They dared to defy the phrase “to the trade”, and tell you just where, and how you could get those coveted items that made up the glam and bohemian, the hippy chic, and upper east, of the famous and up and coming set of …. largely NYC folk.  The density of creativity on that little island is astounding, and Domino helped it to overflow to all of us beyond its shores.


Ballard’s Bedroom . understated elegance. A little rustic, a little refined, the bedding and curtains soften and create high contrast with the wood headboard, and texturized nature of the sisal rug.

Domino eliminated the frustration one feels when they learn that either they cannot gain access to the item of their dreams without a designer on call, or read that it was a one of a kind item found on a Diplomatic Tour to Cuba ten years ago.  They eliminated by doing the research for you. Right there, on that same page, not in 5 pt. font in some resource index at the back of the mag, and had likely lost hope or interest or both by the time you arrived at that section.  Where you could get a similar item, the phone number, and gasp….the price!  No call for pricing, which is just a euphemism for, you can’t afford it.  They told you, you could in fact obtain the thing, or some semblance thereof, which would help you achieve the overall look.  What else could I do?  I feel in love.


The Ballard Closet . look out California.

Now back to Ballard.  Ballard was always featured in Domino Magazine.  From the uber rich, to the just landed my first big break, and every type of featured individual or couple in-between, pieces from Ballard appeared carefully placed among their curated collection. It’s brilliant really, and very affordable.  Simple, clean design that works.  Suzanne Kasler an award-winning interior designer has a signature collection for Ballard.  She is a beautiful American designer, with a European flare that fits perfectly with the overall aesthetic of the Ballard Collection.  Whether you choose to shop at one of their stores, or through their catalog, your home collection should proudly feature a piece or two from Ballard.  Happy shopping.


Kasler .  need I say more?

Cover Story: Wall Covering with a punch line

Paper is a definitive statement of BELIEF.  Like marriage or a tattoo you’re most likely vested in a positive outcome, if not why do it.  It’s hopeful.  It shouldn’t be entered into lightly without considerable forethought.  Most definitely not after cocktails with the gals.  One never wants to wake to a giant bird of paradise wallpaper covering said person’s formerly understated dining area.  A unicorn displaying its singular horn prominently between your shoulder blades….and above all else one, certainly does not want to awake to a beer can tab for a wedding band on one’s left hand.  That’s just wrong.  These types of ill-conceived, semi-permanent decisions are both expensive to undo, and can leave a mark just below the surface.


Sarah Smyth installing my Farrow and Ball . Lotus Paper

Tattoo if that’s your thing.  Marriage – we all know the stats – still to say not to love just to save myself from the possibility of having to dissolve the glue that so steadfastly bonds me to a man, or the paper on the wall, as the case may be….unthinkable!


Tools of the trade.

So wallpaper – I do.  I like to use it in small space, in surprising ways.  I like it to be the wow when you turn the corner, the unexpected when you open the closet, the delightful interlude when you escape to the Powder Room.  I want you to glance at the ceiling in contemplation, and be startled, to be inspired.



Wallpaper has an opinion.  It’s the exclamation point at the end of a sentence, it’s the final argument, it’s the punch line to a great joke.


Clarence House . Tibet Tiger . closet installation.

Fear not you faint of heart design enthusiasts.  There is a way to make a quiet statement instead of one that’s bold.  Think – finding a covering with a base tone that matches your paint color and whose print is just a few shades darker – subtle but surprising nonetheless.


Cole and Sons . Magnolia Lavendar…cover story for another project.

Unexpected, simple, moving, tells a story (yes, wallpaper can tell a story), or just plain beautiful.  These are the elements of memorability – stickiness – love, and I for one think you deserve to have an opinion, and deserve to be love for your fabulous self.


2 Harvard Place . Charlestown . Cabinet interior papered in Cole and Sons Hexagon by David Hicks

Having my own series of “rules” I adhere to regarding paper, means that sometimes I find something I am really drawn to, and must carry a little folded sample around with me for years before I find just the right spot for it.  Doesn’t work in 3, maybe I’ll use it in 4.  Heart set on using it on the ceiling in 5 but it’s prickly nature pushes it away, perhaps it’ll work in 10.  Wallpaper can make the ordinary – extraordinary and cover all manner of flaws.

Find a great installer like mine, Sarah Smyth of John Smyth, LLC.  She is a true artist, and craftsperson, who is on the verge of retirement.  I have made her promise not to leave me until my quest is complete.  She’s agreed and I am grateful.

Magic Carpet Ride

I’ve been in the market for a carpet.  I haven’t traveled the world in the search of said carpet, but I’ve covered some ground.  NYC, Dallas, Boston.  I’ve looked in the magazines, and on the internet.  I’ve purchased several, returned as many, contemplated going custom, but my budget doesn’t support that luxury.  Believe me, I had my pretty little yarn bundles in the hues I adore, and which lie within the range of the color palette I have selected for this current project.  It’s so little it demands light.  If I threw caution to the wind and made the investment then where would I be.


The Rug Company . Create your own.

That’s the thing about rugs. They can make a huge statement.  My whole young rental life was defined by an Oriental my grandfather left to me, and which I felt compelled to use.  It was of high quality, really one of the only nice pieces that I owned and could use to hint at the fact that I’d graduated from collegiate leftovers to young adulthood.  The problem of course was that it didn’t reflect my style.  It was too serious, and the other pieces I purchased over time to compliment this major statement, also didn’t reflect me.  That hip custom 1950’s sofa my grandmother gave me, and I had upholstered in a pretty french country cranberry shade – not me, the Laura Ashley club chair I bought on super sale in a cobalt blue – I think I threw my jackets on that chair just to cover it up.  This isn’t a pair of Chanel boots that you can tuck in the back of your closet and forget you spent $1500. of your hard earned cash on…a carpet is always there, haunting you, reminding you of your shortcomings and fallibility as a design diva.


Landry & Arcari . Turkish Oushak . think it’s worth a second look….

Well I did what any self-respecting gal would do.  I bought my first condo, put the carpet on permanent loan to a dear friend to assuage my guilt, and arrived prepared to feather my new nest with….nothing.  It was the most freeing design decision I ever made.  Totally unencumbered I forged ahead with purchases;  furnishings, lighting, side tables, pillows and all the little objects in-between that I felt best represented ME.  When I say “forged ahead” I am more like the Tortoise than the Hare in this fairy tale.  I moved at a pace that my limited funds would allow.  This is something to be valued.  Patience keeps you from making expensive mistakes.  You can feel good about a purchase that you have not wavered from in months, in my case, sometimes years.

Landry & Arcari . same carpet, reads so differently on the floor of my living room than in the store.

So now I have an Oushak lying on the living room floor of my new condo.  It’s a bit of an odd size, but fits perfectly into this space.  It is a tad darker than what I have been carrying around in my minds eye, but admittedly looks beautiful in the space.  I’m in a pickle.  This carpet is on super sale at Landry & Arcari.  Super sale does not mean inexpensive.  I’m curfluckled.  I’m in a bunch, a knot, a predicament.  I know together with my other pieces it will achieve the overall look I have been after, but when I open the door and spy it after a long day, will it bring a smile to my face?  Please help dear reader, I feel ill equipped to make this decision on my own.


Landry & Arcari . Saeed, I see some more rug flipping in your future.

Garden Party


Hidden Garden . a restaurant with a story.

I wonder if it started with Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood, or The Secret Garden, perhaps too it could have been Lord & Taylor’s The Bird Cage Restaurant, which I have referenced before.  I loved it there, the chirping of the birds, the cafeteria trays, the enormous bird cages gathered in the center of the restaurant.  My sister Jo-Jo hated it.  The food, the noise, the fuss.  I’m a little fussy and I loved Raymond Lowey’s design, in just the same way I fell into step with Piglet and Pooh as they wondered the wood and snuggled into Pooh’s hollowed out tree for a pot of honey.  Maybe that’s the real origination of my love of tiny spaces and not boats at all.  They are cool.  They are magical. They are alluring.


Schumacher . sweet little bird . they got it right.

Whatever the reason, however the seed was planted, this season has not ended for me.  As the snow piles up all around, I long for a little umbrella fern to poke its kelly green finery stubbornly through the snow.  I don’t think umbrella ferns are actually indigenous to this region, but that is the image that is in my head nonetheless.


deGournay . breathless from it’s beauty.

This longing for spring and other things floral, and chirpy, and secretly happy is expressing itself in my desire for a pair of One Kings Lane Chinoiserie pillows that are singing a sweet song of seduction to me.  I think I’ve fallen under their spell.  But it’s not just the pillows.  Truth be told, I am attracted to all manner of botanicals, chinoiserie’s, and garden leaves.  There’s an elegance to bringing nature in doors.  Of course on my own terms.  This is not an open invitation to have a mouse in my house.  I realize I am no match for Mother Nature, but we have an agreement with one another, and I plan to stick to my end of the bargain, and can only hope she is a woman of principle.


Bungalow5 Panels

Some of my very favorite’s come from Schumacher.  They do watery and bold, modern and old school Versailles in a way that elicits longing.  de Gournay is elegance and opulence and when I have a powder room again I think I’ll paper the walls in hand painted petal a la de Gournay… true artistry.

More deGournay….stunners.  Left is my favorite restaurant in the world, BG at Berdorf Goodman designed by Kelly Wearstler…my idol.


OKL . Chinoiserie . I’m hitting the buy button.

The pale mint green panels of Bungalow 5 a way to introduce just a little garden to your Parlor Level unit or any old place you call home.  If you’re shy when it comes to florals, this is as careful as someone controlled, and reserved is likely to get, while still tipping their toe into the bird bath.  A pillow will do too.


Irina Munoz Clares.  because nature knows has all the answers.

Finally, I fell in love with the bold and cheery designs of Josef Frank.  The South of France home featured in this month’s Architectural Digest, showcased a room papered in a print that’s so sooo, and not at all too much, and just the only place in the house I would want to spent my time.  To be frank, Frank – you did good.


Josef Frank . Svenskt Tenn


Bellflower Blues: reconciling the reality of budgets

I’m stubborn.  I don’t think I could hide this reality even if there was a desire to.  I’m stubborn, and I embrace it for all the good and bad it brings into my life.  It’s dragged me across the finish line more times than I can count when I wanted to quit.  It’s had me smile politely when teachers, counselors, family members told me all the logical reasons what I was attempting to do couldn’t be accomplished, shouldn’t be tried, would lead to disappointment.  Set the expectations lower.  I smiled, as if I was in agreement, while all along I was thinking to myself… we’ll see.


Galbraith & Paul . Bellflower

This same stubbornness has kept me from saying I’m sorry when I was wrong, from letting go of an idea that didn’t serve me, from accepting, and making minor adjustments when by all rights, it would have been in my best interest to do just that.  I’ll work harder to know when my stubbornness is good for me and when it is not.  That is something I am good at – hard work.


Galbraith & Paul . Wing-backed Chairs in Lotus

I think of this now because of a Fabric and Wall covering company I stumbled across a few years ago in a new studio called 534 in the Design Center in Boston.  Galbraith & Paul has been around since 1986, though I didn’t know it.  A PA based company started by Liz Galbraith and Ephraim Paul their artisanal approach to hand block printed fabrics is oh so lovely.  This age old technique is the simplest of the printing methods, the easiest and the slowest, so patience is a must, or pre-planning essential as lead times are between 10 and 12 weeks.  I barely hang on to a place long enough for it to make it worthwhile to purchase these works of art.  Stubborn…so purchase I did.


Galbraith & Paul . Small Star.

Now, because these are handmade, and their painted nature is evident in the alternating thickness of the paint that appears at the edge of the block print, and the watery washed out nature of the portions in between, they are all individual works of art.  This type of art is expensive.  I mean really expensive.  The kind of expense for which I wasn’t prepared.  The same kind that will make getting to the million I am attempting to get to …. really, really hard.  I did it anyway.  I acted like I was compromising when I ordered the fabric for the curtains in the bedroom.  The beautiful Lotus fabric in the color way . Dove, the sample which I have been carrying around in my purse for months, dreaming of, appreciating, bonding with.  How could you possibly expect me to say we were breaking up because of a silly thing like money?  I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t.  I spent $3500. on what amounts to two panels – two very full panels in my defense.  Clearly, I would pay anything for love.


Galbraith & Paul . Tusk

From this same maker I planned on using a second fabric for the Roman Shades in the living room.  A sublimely perfect pattern called Fern.  I said to myself, I’ll let this one go.  I can’t possibly afford both, but perhaps I can.  I just may have thought of a way to order the minimum lot, accent the base, and just possibly get exactly what I need.


G & P – Parquet in Light Mineral (left) Reed in Willow (center) Sakura in Light Mineral (right)

Another way to get a little bit of this beauty in your own home, head down to Room and Board.  They have an exclusive line of pillows and lighting in their fabrics.  That’s what I call a win – win.


Galbraith & Paul . Fern

The Beautiful Empty

Not too long ago I woke from a half sleep to the sound of Paul Simon being interviewed.  He spoke of the making of Graceland.  Of the heartbeat of the land, the rhythm, the pulse, and the “beautiful empty”.  My reverence for him unfolded, as the genius of how his mind works, how he feels, experiences places, and people…and life, came into focus for me.  It has a pulse, and he, Mr. Simon, brings that cacophony of discord into harmony.

The beautiful empty is where it all starts.  Before the beat sounds in his head, and in his heart, before the notes land on the page.  It starts with the empty, the possibility, the promise of something beautiful to come.  gracelandWhile I have never been musically inclined, this I can relate to, this has meaning to me.  I have always most appreciated the time right after demolition.  The slate is cleaned of distraction.  Not literally of course, since there is nothing but debris and destruction and dust, but figuratively.  It is at this time, when I can see most clearly the possibility of what’s to come, of how my little nest wants to be feathered.

The the chaos starts again.  The materials are hauled into that little space.  The saws, the men, and sometimes woman, who strip the floors, erect the walls, rewire, paint, build, create, and make new.  It’s messy, and dirty, and exciting.


simple . uncomplicated . pretty.

As I near the end of number four a tiny little part of me feels a tug of loss over its completion.  I know it’s not rational, but I feel it nonetheless.  I console myself with another part of the process that fills me with pride and excitement.  My own beautiful empty.  I’ve developed rituals throughout this process of mine, and one of them is sitting on the floor, in the middle of the space, observing all that I have accomplished.  This second time of reflection of what’s to come before the furniture is selected, the accessories, the styling, the final finishes are put into place.  Before the photographers come, and the documentation is in place…I allow myself to imagine, all that it still could become.


A little complicated, but we’re going to bring her over the finish line.

Now however could I do that if it was already cluttered with things?  Empty is so full.

It’s Clearly Love: Lux Lucite

It seems like plastic and luxury couldn’t possibly be synonymous, but I can assure you there is something so gorgeous about well done lucite.  I’ve written before about the “clear” advantages – pun intended, of using lucite in small apartment spaces.  It creates an expansiveness.  To be able to see through a chair or table to the other side of a room, which in reality is just a few short feet away, without question makes one’s nest feel a little grander.


LuxHoldups . Etsy . Swoon Worthy

When well executed it looks like cut Crystal, which always makes me think of diamonds, and fresh cut roses, and tall, dark, and handsome men that adore me.  All very Hollywood 50’s glamour.  So with that stage set, it should come as no surprise that I have my heart set on lucite rods for my new bedroom.


LuxHoldups . Etsy . Retail Display . I’m sold!

Lucite done elegantly, which means, not by the likes of me in some ill conceived DIY project, know it’s not cheap.  If any of you have those skills out there, please do reply to this post.  Have I got a project for you.  If not, I am treading in dangerously expensive waters, because it’s not just two rods that I want for my fantastically beautiful Galbraith & Paul . Lotus . Dove Grey fabric, but it’s the entire retail set-up, racks, and shelves, and rods, and the whole ridiculously glittery, tres, tres cher, mess for the interior of my very french, but entirely devoid of an interior, closet.


LuxHoldups . Shelving.

This dusty gal is closet obsessed.  Not only do I love building them into the units I renovate, I consider it an investment.  I don’t want to just shove my Jimmy Choos into some dusty corner in the back of the closet.  How undignified.  They need their own special shelf.  I can just imagine how beloved they will feel on their own little lucite platform.  My friends are always inquiring about my belongings and where they all are?  In storage?  Tucked under the bed?  At a friends larger home?  No I reply, this is all of them.  I don’t own a lot, but I do own beautiful things.  It feels right that they should be displayed with ceremony.  Don’t you agree?


LuxHoldups . Etsy . Door Pulls.

If Ben Moore Were My Boyfriend

All would be right with the world.  He wouldn’t be perfect, what boy is or girl is?  Yet even when there are failed attempts at pleasing me, as certainly there must be in any relationship, he’s still perfect in my eyes.  So, I bet you are just dying to know what Ben did to displease me.  It was the Acadia White, a perfect match to my Farrow & Ball Lotus Wallpaper’s base color.


Looking for a perfect match to the base . Acadia White.

Just goes to show you that perfect matches on paper can’t account for chemistry, and me and Acadia had none.  It was awful.  It was yellow.  A color that I deem weak, and dingy despite most people’s warm and happy thoughts, laced with memories of uncomplicated times.  I like color to have an opinion, and to my mind, yellow does not.  It’s waiting for the baby to arrive, and whatever sex comes out will like this buttercup of a shade just fine.  To that I say, what about gray?

The trouble with “white” is that it’s not, and when it is, boy is it white and bright. As a side note the two whites that are my go-to’s and really never fail me, are Chantilly Lace (a true, pure white) which I use in high gloss for the base, casings, and moldings throughout.  The second white is Decorator’s White.  This is a tad softer, and looks lovely on the walls in an eggshell finish.  It is a true white without feeling clinical or jarring, which is what you would get if you put Chantilly lace on the walls – too much.

Left:  Benjamin Chantilly Lace.     Right:  Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White.

So having a sense of the what qualities in your man you like, or your paint as the case may be, is as important to falling in love, as choosing your career.  Start here, and your chances of making a good match increase.  I didn’t listen to my gut when I allowed the match maker to swipe her wand over the Farrow & Ball Swatch, and look what I got.  A whole living room and dining room of disappointment.  Sometimes during construction my sixth sense for solving design riddles goes wonky.  When I’ve moved into the zone, when I cannot find one decent outfit or a single clean pair of skivvies (if you don’t know what these are, I will not be the person to tell you).  When I shower without a curtain, and shuffle through the sawdust  in search of my shoes-well-you can understand how my instincts might get out of whack.  I am sleeping in my own bed – which new readers you do not yet know – is my sanctuary.  It keeps me from committing criminal acts during these trying times.

Benjamin Moore’s Sand Dollar ….. love.

No use crying over the wrong color.  Back to the store.  Sample some more.  In all I did a dozen different colors.  C’est normal.  That’s about what it takes to get it right.  Still, I did not feel at all certain about the selection. Like a guy or gal that picks a wine based on the label, I picked the color…gasp, because I liked the name!  It’s true.  I did it.  I liked the sound of Sand Dollar.  What a beautifully Cape Cod name for a paint.  What a happy and calming image it brings forth in my mind’s eye.  What a beautifully peachy, pink with a hint of cream….Sand Dollar OC-71.


Ben Moore…J’adore.  In this month of love, I ask with wholehearted sincerity, “will you be my valentine?”