Bad Ass Boutique . Thompson . Nashville


Thompson . Nashville – sorry Nash this is a five star hotel.

To be clear, I am generally speaking, a hotel lover.  I like watching people, imagining where they are from, what brought them to this place, and the delicious thought that others are toiling away – while you are not.  I love them so much, I spend a good deal of time in them, in the various neighborhoods in my own home town.  Lap top, mobile, note pad, it’s as good an office as any old place, and I find that the general buzz is a welcome and impressive noise.  So there you have it.  Hotels are my jam.

Tyler and Lauren stand under the lights . Design – Parts and Labor . NYC

But…Thompson Nashville is the jammiest of jams – high tea at the Ritz with crumpets and clotted cream without any of the formality that comes with a British accent.  The Southern twang is served up with a 40 ounce Rosé wrapped in a paper bag.  Don’t laugh, you’ll be pleading for more of this porch pounder before the last live song is sung for the evening.

The prettiest 40 I ever did see.

21st century lighting in mid-century costume.

It goes without saying that a place as hip as Nash, and Thompson would not disappoint with the design.  San Fransisco based Two Roads Hospitality, the owners of the Thompson Brand opened their newest, 12 Story, 224 room, boutique hotel (one of eight) on 20 October 2016, to rave reviews.  Located in the Gulch Neighborhood, named literally for the narrow, steep-sided ravine which marks the course of a fast stream, arcing through the city’s south side.  The Gulch was previously the site of a very active rail road yard, which brought the majority of the supplies to the city, but became defunct after WWII.

Thom Marsh2

The Marsh Restaurant at Thompson

Now for those that have been paying close attention to me, you know I love edgy design, and I swoon over lighting, and make all manner of bad decisions when this happens.  Darlin’ we’re all human.  When I tell you that Parts and Labor NYC based design firm combines the sweet and salty scrumptiousness that offers up a veritable explosion for your visual senses, I’m really not doing them justice.  Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Levitt offer up “bespoke, bare-knuckled and straight forward approach to high end design”.  I feel lightheaded.  Brass and glass, texture and layers, pops of color and sophistication, mixed with a little industrial to remind you of the origins of its geographic location.  The chug of the train receding into quiet.  It’s gritty and glamorous all at the same time.  This is Thompson.


Cane Backed Bench inside a bookcase.  Considering my options.

I didn’t peak into the rooms, but understand the mini-bar dispenses vinal records.  So beyond cool I can’t stand it.  Apparently they provide maps that will guide you to neighboring record stores where you can really score.  Who doesn’t like an adventure.  Stop along the way at any of the restaurants or shops that have found their home inside the re-purposed industrial buildings that line the streets, or make your way back to Thompson’s Marsh House Restaurant, or to its roof top bar where the warm breeze blows, and views of the city are tipped in pink at sunset.


Relaxing Rooftop

Y’all, I’m preparing to book my October visit.  Don’t wait, the hotel stock is so low in this booming city despite their hyper-track pursuit to bring rooms on line – the lines are outpacing supply.  The Thompson is a sip of perfect whisky in a city where you are the star in the song.  I so love being the star…..


Rooftop Restaurant


The final word . wood pendants, capped in silver, surrounded by Crystal … please!

The Skinny on the Tall: Nashville gets a new profile


Tall and Skinny . Green Hills . Nashville

Driving around the neighborhoods of Nashville, it’s clear that the city is growing.  A friend joked that the state bird was the crane.  Cast your gaze just about anywhere and it will fall on bustling construction sites that speak to the cities growth and prosperity.  Millennials, retirees, and many an enlightened soul, who have grown tired of the congestion, and the cost, and realized that they can trade their outrageously expensive one bed condo in for a four bedroom home, or pay cash for a “tall and skinny”, are packing up the Winnebago and heading south.

Nashville is a “city” with a small “c”.  It’s got traffic, and a few elegant civic buildings, a couple of office towers, and even a stadium or two, granted they are not of the scale of those in NYC, Boston, Oakland or Dallas, but they exist.  It’s neighborhoods have cute names names like: The Gulch, Green Hills, Sobro, Marathon Village, Melrose, and many, many more.  The thing is, it doesn’t really feel like a city.  It feels like a suburb.  There are homes with lawns, and gardens, grass so green it makes your eyes hurt, and trees everywhere, not just in a park.  Hum, who knew.


Where there was previously just one.

Like any growing city there are issues of densification that haven’t quite been addressed. Questions of infrastructure investment, ugh, and the speed in which they can put up luxury hotels to accommodate musicians, enthusiasts, and the growing tourist population.  Book early or stay home, I cannot imagine is the motto Nashville is hoping to adopt. A few home grown natives feel a little disdainful about the rising property taxes that are forcing their families to move out to “the country”.  I smile as I type this, because Nashville, so feels like the country to me.


Skinny’s can go for under $600K and be on lots of .03 acres.

I got into a conversation or two with some of these locals, and while they appreciate the growing pains that a city must endure, they are nostalgic for the single story brick Ranches and Bungalow’s of their childhood, and can’t imagine someone wanting to live in one of these narrow homes, where gasp, you can see you neighbor, and barely have a yard.  When I explained to my hair stylists that when I lie in bed, if my shade is up and my neighbor is grilling, I can request he cook my burger medium rare.  That, to me, is city living.


Getting in on the action.  2 for 1 is profitable.

So here’s the skinny.  Nashville hasn’t quite figured out what their zoning regulations should be all about.  They need the densification to support the growth, and developers are all too happy to buy up the properties that have been part of the existing neighborhoods for decades, tear them down, and build two in their in place.  This happened for years, with a somewhat fuzzy definition of what a Duplex was.  Two homes that share a connector – interesting.  Two homes that share a party wall – common.  More recently new ordinances that demand the properties be separated by 6 feet and be proportionally no taller than 1.5 times the width.  Two homes on a single lot.  The numbers are penciling out for these developers, and they can’t get the land fast enough to meet the demand.


Varied architectural styles receive mixed reviews.

Not everyone is sold, but I loved them.

What a difference a day makes – or two

I love a weekend project.  The feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something that I think is going to increase my enjoyment, comfort, or make me money!  There’s always that.  The making money part is a decidedly motivating factor in sacrificing a weekend – one of just 52 after all.


There might be more than a weekends worth of work here!

Marni Elyse Katz, writer, design blogger, art collector and self-proclaimed reluctant chauffeur offers advice in this article she wrote for Coastal Living, where she called on me to ask if I had any thoughts on the matter.  Check out the article and prepare to draft your weekend plan.  It might just end up paying for your next vacation.

21 Venice 8

Venice anyone.  Nothing says worth the effort like a ride on a boat through the canals.



Tour de Jardin: letting you in on the secret


165 Mt. Vernon Street

Beacon Hill is one of the only neighborhoods in the City of Boston in which I’ve never lived.  I don’t think of it often.  I know Charles Street of course, and attend the annual Christmas stroll.  I visit one of my favorite interiors stores, Cynthia Driscoll, at least once a year.  Her curation of artists from around the globe is wonderful.  I’ve picked up many gifts and objets d’art there, and one in particular that I can’t believe I left behind.  It was a plaster bust of a woman.  She looked like a fine English Lady with a grand hat atop her head, but on closer inspection you discovered it was a a back hoe.  It was entitled Gold Digger.  How I ever resisted its purchase is beyond me.  A severe lapse in judgement clearly.

Beacon Hill has something beyond the shops and restaurants that line Charles, and tucked along the narrow hills and side streets that make the neighborhood so enchanting.  Its gardens.  Beacon Hill is old money.  The Beacon Hill Garden Club, founded in 1928, feels like Charleston or Savannah, or one of those charming southern cities where politics and politeness reign.


I had some vague concept that things like garden tours happened, but I am a working girl, and my work takes me onto the construction site, not into the backyard garden.  My urban existence has relegated me to potting a few plants to accent my entry, or in the case of No. 2 a roof deck of potted plants, and trees, and No. 3 a deck off the kitchen that had many lovely flowering plants, none of which could be considered a garden.  These homes have GARDENS.  GT17Some of them larger than my first home!  Some tucked away in alley’s, others found space when the Maid’s Quarter’s was demolished.  Clearly not everyone followed suit as I witnessed a Maid on the street in full mint green uniform, with crisp wide white cuffs, and color, watering the plants outside the mansion that surrounded a tree on a public street.  I kid you not – I nearly fell over, and not from the 91 degree heat, though it was brutally hot.

The properties I fell for all seemed to include stairs, but one.  If this is some sort of a metaphorical message about my desire to climb to new heights, I’m still working it out.  They did feel a little like you were in a treehouse, and that holds an allure for me.  To be hidden in plain sight, to be able to observe the world as it goes by, so enticing.

165 Mt. Vernon Street was a stunner.  It’s U-shaped stair that led to the parlor level, constructed of wrought iron, with green granite treads, was a stunner.  Interestingly, the guide book explains that this home was constructed in 1869, and designed by Ware and Van Brunt – the same architects that designed Memorial Hall at Harvard University.  It has been converted to condos – but least you think it isn’t grand, let me set the record straight, the garden is what some might refer to as a double wide.  GT 1Sculptures abound, mostly procured from buildings that were razed in England, and include a plaque of St. George and the Dragon.  I have worked for St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island for more than a decade where I first learned of St. George, who curiously isn’t their mascot – the dragon is – but of course the dragon gets slayed.  It makes no sense to me, but that’s a fairy tale for you.

84 Mt. Vernon Street was my favorite.  Its 1823 Federal Style home was LOVELY.  The garden was on three levels and had some of the most beautiful table-scapes, and clever design details I didn’t want to leave.  It has a wall of Ivy that would make Harvard jealous, and a 120′ Sugar Maple – the tallest in the ‘hood.  Take that.



64 Chestnut Street was a cool breeze on a hot summer day.  Cast in shadow this space with its Wisteria and Clematis provide shade from the watchful eye from the UV Rays.  Neptune adorned the side wall in the form of a bronze mask that spouted water into a bath below.  Bird song in the air.  I’m not kidding.  You really could hear the sweet sound of birds singing.   For a city girl, this indeed feels like a fairy tale, but it wasn’t any of these things that made the greatest impression on me.  It was the nice Garden Club Volunteer.  She was astounded that I had lived in Boston all these years, and this was my first tour.  I told her that I thought I was going to be a princess but in fact I was more like a pack mule.  She said the most profound thing to me:  “She said what a blessing that I knew how to stand on my own two feet…..”  How many woman didn’t know if they could, would never dare to test it.  I left feeling pretty good about how hard I work.


Saxi Fraga “Snow Carpet”

Get out in the garden.  “Stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

Let’s Get Seated: finding the “right” chair

As I look around my tiny little apartment I wonder to myself how it’s possible I could need more seating options?  After all, I’m sitting on a stool as I write this.  It’s true, it was originally intended for my outdoor deck, but I have used it as a side table in winter, and now as a perfectly good perch from which to convey my thoughts to the world.


Bungalow5 . Taboret . in its new incarnation.


From this vantage point I can see 2 Louis Ghost and 2 Victoria Chairs – the iconic design by Stark for Kartell, at my dining table.  I have used those for so many purposes to date, it seems a bit crazy that I ever entertained the idea of retiring them from service.  They are light weight, easy to move, incredibly strong – supporting over 300 lbs. for all their airy, light appearance – they are lifers in my world.


Oly Studio . Neta Benches front and center . Louis ghost and Victoria’s all around.

I’ve previously mentioned that I have a teensy stool obsession.  I don’t think I’m ready to seek counseling, but if I cave and get one or two more, I might need to admit myself.  I see two Bungalow5 Taboret Stools in the living room.  I have owned these since No. 1.  They were black when I first purchased them, but I had them repainted, in a pale peachy blush – the color in fact is ….. wait for it …. Benjamin Moore’s Salmon Berry.  How shocked you must be that I’ve referenced a Ben Moore color.  He will forever be like a new boyfriend to me, and I simply can’t resist exalting his dreamy qualities to you all.  He’s beyond.


Benjamin Moore . Salmon Berry

Lest you think I am done, I can also see two Oly Studio Neta Benches.  Their Zebra Raw Hide upholstery is hard to miss.  These were also purchased for No. 1 at a time when I could barely rub two nickels together to make a dime.  They cost a fortune, even by my standards today.  One of them had a most unfortunate accident, which resulted in its leg being severed. I spent a good deal of time in search of a furniture doctor that could repair the damage, adding even more cost to these little stools.  Saber legs (the name given to their curved shape) are very delicate.  Just in case you were wondering.  Every time someone sits on them, I wince a little, and hope it holds.  We’ve been through to much together to part ways.

2 Harvard Pl 1

No. 1 . The Oomph Chair front and Center.

There is the Oomph Slipper Chair, which was in No. 1 and then found a new home in the Surf Shack, but which I have borrowed until I can make the decision, which is what has brought us here today.  That was a bit exhausting, and I didn’t even mention all the other stools that have found their way to other homes over the years.  When they get adopted, I can assure you, I have done my due diligence.  They won’t be used as a stepping stool in some drafty garage.


Souflee you’ll have to wait for another day.

So here’s what I am considering.  It’s no secret that I want the Kelly Wearstler, Pouf Chair, with it’s gold metal legs that defy gravity, but I am not getting it.  It’s simply too expensive.  Sorry Kelly.  Instead, I have been contemplating swivel chairs.  There is something so enticing about being in motion, and being hypnotized into relaxation, all at the same time.  It’s just the trick I need in order to let go.  It’s two swivels and an acrylic from which we must choose.  How did I land on an acrylic in the mix you ask?  First, it’s beautiful.  Second, the versatility of acrylic in small spaces is undeniable, and therefore should always be part of the conversation.  You don’t have to choose it, but don’t exclude it.

No. 1:

Bernhardt Interiors:  Hastings Swivel Chair . $1420. Overall: 30″ w x 34-1/2″ d x 35″ h


Bernhardt. boxy but crisply tailored.

No. 2:

Ballard Design:  Larkin Swivel Glider . starting at $899.  Overall: 33 1/2″H X 29 1/2″W X 36″D

Ballard Larkin

Ballard . pretty lines . a little messy.

No. 3:

Worlds Away:  Duke BG Acrylic Klismos Chair . $1437.50 Overall: 21.5″W X 31″H X 19.5″D


Worlds Away . Duke . undeniable versatility.

Please weigh in – don’t make me decide on my own!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.

Cliff House . Coastal retreat


Cliff House . Cape Neddick. Maine

As a Cape Cod girl it’s rare for me to head north to Maine.  It’s beautiful here.  The rugged coastline, waves crashing over the rocks – it’s chaotic, it’s hypnotic, it’s captivating.  Like watching a fish in a bowl, the dancing waves, and sea spray, make me feel calm, unhurried, and it’s clear to anyone that knows me, I am neither.  Rush, rush, rush, but as I sit in the Cliff House’s atrium space overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and watching staff as they prepare for a wedding later today, I feel in no hurry to get back to Boston.


The Tiller at Cliff House

First opened in 1872, the Cliff House was founded by what can only be described as an enterprising woman – Elsie Jane Weare.  Mother to 7 children, caregiver to her sick husband, Captain Theodore Weare, Elsie decided to purchase 70 acres of waterfront property on Bald Head Cliff, and build the Inn.  How hard could that have been?  Oh by the way she ran it too.  It makes me feel a bit lazy to think of all that she accomplished.  The Resort reports that her brother, Captain Charles Perkins, built the original inn, using wood from his mill in Ogunquit.  Very enterprising indeed.

Room with a view . it’s in the details.

In August of 2016, the Cliff House reopened in its entirely new incarnation.  As a gal in construction I spend a lot of time looking at the details, the intersections between floor and wall, ceiling and soffit, the jigs and jogs that provide interest, but also an opportunity to reveal deficiencies in construction, and poor craftsmanship.  I got down on the floor, looked behind the doors, tested the functionality of the library ladder, the strength of the wrought iron piping that provides the track for the intricate rope screen separating bar from restaurant.  I tried to find fault with the windows and their installation – what is wrong with me?  I could not.  It’s beautifully executed.  The craftsmanship is flawless, and the people here are lovely.


Gallery at Bald Head Cliff

I am blessed to work for a company – a family – that invests so much in their employees.  This Cliff House retreat was scheduled as a get-away for our Director’s Group.  We could have met at my boss Lisa Wexler’s home.  We do on occasion, and it is lovely there, but she selects locations like this, both as a way to thank us for our hard work, and to take us out of our every day setting.  It does the trick, it makes you feel very present.  So much so, I don’t want to return to my other reality!


Lisa Wexler . President of Elaine Construction and me.  Cliff House.

Cliff House . 591 Shore Road . Cape Neddick . ME  . 207.361.1000.  To being present.  I recommend you book your visit immediately, and whether you choose to indulge in a fresh cold pressed green juice, or a cleverly crafted cocktail, my guess is you won’t be disappointed.


Comfort and beauty combine.

Sm.ART Move

IMG_8008When I went to the opening of BostonArt’s newly renovated space, courtesy of my firm Elaine Construction, on Thursday night, I was struck by the breadth of their offerings.  Located at 21 Drydock Ave in the Seaport, part of the attraction of the space for me is always going to be its ocean view.  To gaze out at the water, even when it’s gray and stormy, grounds me.  Reminds me of who I am, and where I came from.  Not our origin, though we all emerged from salt water, but rather geographically, from my Cape Cod seaside upbringing.  So it’s true that this view, for me, is one of the most beautiful canvases a person could set eyes upon.  Having said that, BostonArt gives you cause to be distracted.


It “artfully” accomplishes many missions, showcasing the artwork as a museum might, storing, restoring, framing and making new again, while all the while workers sit in perimeter offices – presumably doing the hard work of branding, selling, selecting, and advising their clients on just the right pieces and installations for their spaces.  How they manage to remain focused between the view out the expansive industrial windows, and the paintings and photographs that line the walls and are meant to showcase the offerings, but frankly serve as the inhabitants personal collection – is beyond me.  It’s stunning.  It’s fun, bright, subdued, fine, graphic and photographic, art, and sculpture.


Room with a view.

To my delight I spied a painting by my good friend John Jay Vinton in one of the offices and thought, hum, I wouldn’t have imagined his work in an office setting, which got me thinking, is that all they do?  The answer is of course no!  How uninformed can a gal get.  In addition to procuring art for hospitals, and corporate offices they do large scale residential, and wait for it….small scale urban apartments too!  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I stumbled upon this service a few years back, but truthfully thought that I must first have important art, and second, a good deal of it, in order to hire the likes of a consultant.  BostonArt may be my solution.  I saw one piece in particular that I really loved, hanging around, just waiting to be discovered, no doubt, by me.  It would be pretty cool to have them come and assess my “collection”, and make recommendations on how to fill in the gaps, re-frame, group, and all those things they do so well that makes a normal space say – At last…my art has come around.


The Violet Hour: color play

T. S. Eliot wrote about “The Violet Hour” in the The Waste Land.  Regarded as the most important poem of the 20th century, in his writings, this hour he speaks of, is tinged with melancholy.  It’s loss, and repetitiveness, it’s the dying of the light, a purple bruise – on the sky – on his country – on his heart.

94 Sale shot bed

No. 3 Benjamin Moore’s Violet Ice. Pillows . Designers Guild and John Robshaw.

Purple is said to represent; royalty, luxury, ambition and wealth, creativity and wisdom, dignity, grandeur, and devotion, Eliot’s Violet Hour is not meant to evoke peace, refinement, or magic.  If purple is in fact all these things, or some of these things, or none of these things to the person that chooses to interpret, place value, to believe in–what then, of its softer hue … violet?

Zara Home

Zara Home Floral Sheets. a hint of violet.

Is it a clever thought, a crush, a frill, an expression of will, a momentary thrill?  Is it playful?  Is it paper hearts and pop tarts?  Is it silly instead of serious?  Childhood instead of adult, or is it something in-between?  I’m not sure, but I know that I am drawn to the color violet.

dior couture

Dior Couture Vintage . Good Housekeeping…who knew

I miss the bedroom in No. 3, painted in Ben Moore’s Violet Ice.  It sounds chilly but it wasn’t.  It was calm and happy.  I would lie in bed and look at those wall and the grandeur of the crown molding and feel deep satisfaction.  It’s easy and uncomplicated.  Maybe that’s what I really miss…an uncomplicated existence.


ABC Carpet . NYC $4200.

I’ll find a way to sneak it into No. 4, because, for me it is Tuesday tea, and tutu’s made of tulle.  Violet is beautiful at any hour.

bp violet chairs

Blue Print Store . Dallas .TX Upholstery genius!