Vaguely Vignette: creating moments that won’t last

As I prepare to have my sister’s home shot on Saturday, I have come to a number of realizations.  First, that which I have come to consider “normal” is anything but.  I have had to explain to my Father at least a half dozen times, why we were hanging paintings, photographs, signs, and the like off center, up high, down low or not at all, letting them lean casually on a piece of furniture as if I was deciding whether or not the wall above would become its permanent home.  The reason of course is…staging.  What gets framed out within the confines of the view finder looks entirely different – dare I say horribly wrong – in real life.

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Proud moment when everything came together.   I painted that console table!

In small spaces, where cameras, and tripods, jigs and jogs in the walls, eaves, and any number of less than perfectly wide-open, square spaces (like say a 1789 home that was renovated – maintaining “most” of its original integrity might have), faking the scene is critical to telling the story.

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Coasting into the shoot as if it was no big thing….

If this feels like an Is this Real or is it Memorex commercial – it sort of is.  For you younger readers, that’s a reference to a cassette tape commercial.  If you are still not with  me – look it up.  I’m thrilled that I have such young readers.  The point is, cameras cannot capture everything, despite what TMZ might lead us to believe.  There is a lot of pulling pieces into a frame, with great effort, making the dress appear as if it has been tossed on the settee, awaiting the cocktail party in just a few hours, the book lying open on the bed, having just been abandoned for a dip in the ocean.  These things are carefully manufactured.

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Flowers in a Jill Rosenwald Vase … cut scene.

I have been filling this home with furnishings and objects for coming on 6 months now.  It wasn’t until the last two weekends that I even attempted to start and set the scene.  ( I only work on this project on the weekends).  Scene setting is an exhausting endeavor.  It requires gathering hundreds of objects, some rare, some cheap but interesting, some vintage, some natural- think shells and drift wood, some art, and some others would never consider art, and pulling it all together.  Is there a secret to it?  A science?  I’m still not sure.  I try and test, remove, and replace, add and subtract, curse and commend, and eventually after a little more nudging, a tiny bit of consideration and consultation, arrive at the vignette.  Alas, the point of the story.  While I cannot show you all I have been up to, I am happy to share this one perfect moment.  Perfect, anyway, from my point of view.

 

Ode to More than a Piece of Luggage

This weekend I visited NYC to take in Hamilton, listen to some Jazz at the Blue Note, eat some good food, and generally enjoy Manhattan in the not so springy springtime.  My suitcase did not join me for the trip.  Somewhere between the vestibule and the trunk it went its own way – ending our association.

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Kate Spade for Streamline Luggage

I said it was fine, that its just a material thing, not my good health, or the loss of someone you love, or something truly tragic like living in the middle of the country and not being able to smell the salt in the air, and take a dip in the ocean, where truly all your ailments seem to vanish away.  Nothing that catastrophic, and still it’s left me a little melancholy.

Dallas . TX Top at Blue Print Store.  Bottom Left:  Cape Cod, Middle:  Farmhouse Pottery, Woodstock. VT, Right:  Hermes Pop-up . Nashville . TN

My Kate Spade for Steamline Carry-on had been a lot of places with me.  I bought it just after I sold my first home – that was three homes ago, and at least a half dozen rentals.  It had been to Paris three times, to the South of France, to Venice, Croatia, Bosnia, Switzerland, and Costa Rica.  It had been to Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, New York, DC, Illinois, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and probably a few states in between.

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The Club Car. Nantucket . MA

It was my constant Cape Cod companion, and adored Nantucket though it pretended to have no favorite.

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J’adore . Dior . Paris . France – Les Arts Decoratifs

Perhaps it grew tired of never be fully unpacked – not being allowed to breath.  Maybe it had some bad jeu-jeu like this rash that won’t seem to leave me alone.  Maybe I should consider it a ritualistic cleansing?  Do you suppose the same could be true of my adorable little Chanel booties – the ones that could carry me at a fast pace trot through the city with nary a complaint from me or the boot.  And what of my leather pants, and my beloved faux fir Gucci knock off slippers from Target?  What about them?

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Croatia.

That’s enough now – it’s enough.

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Water Taxi to Splendid Hotel . Venice . Italy – my Steamline was right beside me.

I had a beautiful weekend – even if I did have to wear the same clothes the whole time.  Sometimes you’ve just got to call a Spade a Spade – I’ll carry on….wink, wink.  See, I still have my sense of humor.  I never pack it, it should always be readily available.

Happy Sunday.

Astounding Beauty

Mary Oliver – famous American Poet gave instructions for living a life.

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Mary Oliver

PAY ATTENTION . BE ASTONISHED . TELL ABOUT IT.  It’s good advice.  There is beauty even in the mundane.  The things we take for granted, the snow that we lament as it piles up – looking past the flakes, all startlingly intricate in their icy formations, all worthy of our attention.  A blade of grass, an artisans technique, commitment and belief.  A meal savored rather than devoured, a kind gesture given or received. A smile, a tear, laughter. Inspiration is all around – even in the sawdust, I am beginning to see gold.

This year I didn’t buy anything or sell anything.  What the heck?  I am a buyer and a seller.  I feel empowered by the frantic energy that is expelled in the activity, and this holding pattern that I am sitting in – doesn’t sit well.  Still is is giving me an opportunity to see things not only as a whole, but for the rather amazing sum of their parts.

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Ladurée . The Grove . LA

I discovered that my commitment wouldn’t wane regardless of this year spent without spending.  I learned a few new tricks.  I remembered a few that I had forgotten.  I became acquainted with several designers for whom I have great admiration including; India Mahdavi who designed Ladurée in LA and Sketch in London – regarder – Ils sont fantastic.  Sandrine Place a stylist and interior designer who collaborated with Baptiste Legue on the design of a Pied a Terre above the Owner’s retail store – Chez Marie Sixtine. Oh lordy, do I ever want to hide away in the perfect pink and gray little home, and write myself silly.

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Chez Marie Sixtine

I began work on my biggest project yet – the Manse.  I traveled to Dallas, I would be remiss in my round-up if I didn’t make mention of my fondest state-side house of interior inspiration – Blue Print.  I visited Nashville, Nantucket, New Hampshire, New York City, and Nauset.  DC and Paris where i saw the single best exhibit of my existence, but even that did not top the very best thing I did in 2017…fall in love.

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Blue Print . The inspiration makes my cup overflow….thank you.

I feel blessed.  I am amazed, and I am telling you all about it.

Happy New Year.

Santa Baby: All I ever wanted

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The Lucas . Shawmut Ave. Boston

I would take a sable under the tree, that would most definitely please me.  A duplex and checks – I’ll take it with two decks, and with a majority share in Tyvek, because what the heck, I wasn’t born yesterday.  Santa Baby, hurry down the chimney to me.  Eartha Kitt and Henri René sang this timeless classic for the first time in NYC in the summer, ironically, of 1953.  Her timeless crooning in her low sultry voice makes her requests for a platinum mine, a 1954 convertible light blue, and a ring – not on the phone – totally acceptable, and somehow, feasible.

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The Airstream . Globetrotter.  A Glamper.

It got me to thinking about what my own outrageous list might include, and decided I should put it out there – just in case Santa was curious.  After all, I’ve been an awfully good girl.  Santa Baby – slip the deed to a two bedroom condo at the Lucas under my tree.

I’ll take an Areostream for all my “Glamping” adventures.  An Eclipse 550 because commercial airline travel is …. disrespectful!  I’ll take a Goyard Travel Trunk too – in blue, because you simply can’t land on the tarmac with duffle bag in toe.

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Godard Travel Trunks.  Oh la, la.

A yard of diamonds from Tiffany, a bottle of Clive Christiansen “X” perfume, A Pied a Terre on the Left Bank, a driver, and a maid – she need not be live in, but she must do windows.

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Tiffany . Elsa Peretti Yard of Diamonds

Santa Baby, I forgot one little thing – a Renoir with the authentication papers – a girl needs a little extra security to ride those volatile economic times.

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Clive Christenson . “X” .  A heavenly scent and I’ve been an angel all year….

May the magic of the season infect you with a childlike wonder and belief.

Loving Lucas: There’s a new kid on the block

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The Lucas . 136 Shawmut Avenue . Boston – Luxury – Architectural Rendering

I have been staring longingly down Shawmut Avenue for nearly a year now, wondering who that new kid on the block was.  My path crosses his on my way to work each morning, and I can’t help but be struck by the shear sexiness of his exterior.  It’s magnetic, I’m mesmerized by the solidity of its foundation and the sleekness of its glass expansion, which rises up above the treetops, creating a green leafy carpet – for those in the Penthouse units – to gaze down upon.

Interior Renderings:  Clean lines – great views.

Located at 136 Shawmut Avenue in Boston’s South End, the name The Lucas is fitting as the property, which was constructed in 1874 – originally designed by Patrick Keely – was a Catholic Church, the Old Holy Trinity German Catholic Church to be specific, and Saint Lucas is the patron saint of artists, students, physicians, and….butchers.  Butchers aside, the South End, with its proximity to Tufts Medical, and Boston City Hospital, to NU, Tufts Dental, Suffolk University, Fisher College, and to a rich design community and the artists that populate the SOWA  (South of Washington Street) Market – Luke landed just where he is perhaps most needed.  Certainly, I appreciate the its presence.

Left:  Old Rectory  Right:  Original Church

This 33 unit luxury condo complex which is being developed by New Boston Ventures, A South End Residential Developer responsible for other SE properties including; Zero Worcester Square, The Royal – also located on Shawmut Ave., and 38 Upton in the Eight Streets District where I reside.  Designed by Finegold Alexander, and built by Metric, it includes 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms, ranging from $1.1M – $4M.  Now that only tells a small part of the story.  According to Ellen Anzelone of Finegold Alexander, 60% of the units were sold reconstruction, and the remainder after the construction began.  In other words – you’ll have to wait to get in there until someone moves on -this life or afterlife, they won’t go easily. Word is they have some pretty high-profile tenants.  I’d stalk it if I were you.

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Room with a view.

I love old churches with their beautiful windows, their spires and detailing designed to pay homage to a higher power, but if truth be told, they don’t lend themselves terribly well to a formulaic apartment layout which demands economy of configuration to make the numbers work.  That’s not to say people wouldn’t buy it, but in Lucas’ case – it’s perfectly proportioned.  These numbers seem to work.  New Boston Ventures purchased the church from the Archdiocese for $7M – good deal.  They invested roughly $47M in its design and construction, and a blended rate of the units per square foot nets out at roughly $1836. a foot.  Somewhere north of $90M profit doesn’t seem to bad.

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Window to the past.

Parking for 16 cars means only the most expensive units will have spots included with their sale.  The building has a gym, common courtyard, and library.  It’s also a short one block walk to Whole Foods.  All the modern amenities inside one of the most heavenly building envelops the South End has seen in decades.  Amen to that.

Engineered wood floors, custom cabinets, marble, and extra large subway tile with pale gray grout.  Just a hint of style without going too far.

If you’re feeling absolutely beside yourself that yet again you missed out on a great mate, don’t lose heart….I hear one of them is going to flip immediately.  Let the games begin.

White Sale: Classic beauty

I came across several advertisements for White Sales this weekend.  Of course I know what a White Sale is, I am the daughter of Pat Falla after all.  Shopping was a top skill of Pat’s, right up there with etiquette, so you can see having clean linens in one’s home was naturally a priority, and shopping for them a must.

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Frette . Chine Lace Sheet . Queen $1175. frette.com

I did get to thinking about its origins though, and was tickled pink to learn that back in the day – the early 19th century that is – John Wanamaker of John Wanamaker + Co the first Philadelphia Department Store, dubbed January the month of the White Sale – bed linens, and towels, etc, only came in that single color.  Imagine that, it must have made selecting your wares a whole lot faster.

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Wanamaker’s Designed by Daniel H. Burnham

Fascinated by history as I am, I was even more pleased to learn that his department store was designed by Daniel H. Burnham!  Daniel is famous, in case you weren’t aware.  He was the Director of Works for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, aka – The World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus voyage, which took place in Chicago.  Chicago is coincidently known as the “White City” due in large part to the Master Plan that Burnham, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan developed accented by beautiful white stone Beaux-Arts buildings.

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The Flat Iron Building . NYC . Burnham design.

I like white.  It being far from the absence of color, it is the sum of all the colors that make white … white.  Perhaps that is far too technical an explanation.  The fact is – I like it.  It’s crisp, and clean, and allows me room to think.  White, like a good hostess, allows other colors to appear brighter, to pop, to be the lead character in a story.  A room with too many colors can be exhausting, don’t you agree?  This is particularly important to remember as many of you will be receiving house guests this summer. Entertaining too many colors simultaneously can be exhausting.  Keep that in mind.

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Serena & Lily . Marvista Duvet $258. – $428.  serenaandlily.com

As a proponent of advertising, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Wanamaker is the Father of the White Sale, the fact that he is was also a marketing pioneer has me thinking that I owe him a debt of gratitude.  That is, after all, how I make my living.

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Julia B . Mourn . Queen Top Sheet. $1214.  juliab.com

Happy Sunday.

 

Origami: the unfolding culture of tiny living

I like the idea of reinvention, of taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.  It’s so hopeful, magical…fantastical.  Ori is all that and brains.  As someone that lives in a city and works in the Architecture/Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) Industry,  I am subjected to daily reports of housing shortages, and forums on the need for densification.  Densification does not sound at all sexy, but perhaps with Ori it could be.

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A collaboration between MIT’s Media Lab and Fuseproject, Ori Systems is a powered movable wheel mounted furniture piece.  Kent Larson, who heads MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places Group doesn’t believe our cities are sustainable.  He reports that 90% of the population growth will be in cities, that cities will be responsible for 75% of our global energy use – how can these cities function better, maintain and enhance the quality of our lives.  These are the challenges Kent and his group are working on.  Ori is part of that.

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Larson and Fuseproject are not only imaging the democratization of luxury housing in Ori, but they are conceiving of ways to make it highly personalized.  Dining, dancing, working, sleeping, exercising, relaxing and/or entertaining all in one small 250 – 300SF space.  Possible.  Increased sunlight, colored mood lighting, bedroom, expanded bathroom – fold, tuck, slide, and glide into place, just like the ancient paper folding art of Origami from which Ori takes its name.  A touch of a button on Ori’s control panel and the mobile system transforms at your command. Exhausted after a long day, and want to drop into bed the moment you walk through your door, open the App, and abracadabra, your full or queen bed appears from it’s compact hiding place, and awaits your arrival.

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Available to developers creating micro unit housing for about $10,000 a system, Ori will make its debut in Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle this summer.  Living small, as I have always believed, can be luxe.  Tiny need not a cramped source of shame, and desire for something more.  Tiny can be the envy of all when it is clever, cool, and stylish.  Be ORIginal . live your way.