Wabi Sabi: embracing the imperfections

All my renovations are imperfect. It’s not the money, or the obvious head scratching decisions of previous owners, though those contribute to much of the chagrin one experiences. It’s more than that. Even if the home were new, and all the decisions that contributed to its construction were mine – I am not perfect, so it would not be.

Old and worn, torn and tattered…historic and lovely.

My friend Julie sent me an email saying she’d heard about this concept – Wabi Sabi – isn’t that a beautiful sounding word? Upon learning of it, she thought it would help me with the pile of imperfections I had faced, and those I still had to contend with, well, with grace.

Under Renovation at ABC Carpet & Home . NYC

I love a research project so I started right away. It’s origin can be traced to Japan. The two words, divorced from one another, are rather sad. Together though, they have taken on a the poetry any great philosophy, which to my mind, is sublime. It has ties to Buddhism, whose wisdom is derived from making peace with the transitory and the imperfect. The unheroic nature of being human.

Broken and chipped, but set in plaster – the seashells become art.

Beauty then is balanced, enhanced even by the mistakes and damages, the ruined parts of the design, be it material or human, are incorporated into the object, the person, making them unique, contrasting the light to the darkness. Enhancing the appreciation, which in the absence of the imperfections, go unnoticed. Isn’t that just the puckeriest lemondade turned sweet?

Nothing a little white paint can’t fix.

Happy Saturday.

Setting Plaster

Robert A. M. Stern’s Offices . One Park Avenue . NYC

If you think I am going to provide you with a lesson on how to set plaster – you have another thing coming. While I love a beautifully plastered wall, and believe in the fundamentals of a clean space within which to work, I happily leave the execution of that up to the experts. It’s actually the name of a paint color – a showstopper – a mon avis, but the name leaves a lot to be desired. Farrow and Ball could stand to learn from Essie’s in the naming prowess. There Rallings, Down Pipe, and Stiff Key Blue could go from marbles in the mouth to the amuse bouche (a little happy for your mouth ūüôā ) of a Touch of Sugar, Reign Check, or Tiers of Joy, but that’s neither here nor there. A rose by any other name and all that. I will not be dissuaded from my new found adoration of this hue.

One Park Avenue. NYC is the I’ve arrived of all addresses. Originally designed by York and Sawyer, it is home to Robert A. M. Stern Architects. I announced to the Receptionist, in the most uncouth way, that I needed to be shown to my room, I was moving in. Naturally she looked a bit confused, and was decidedly too polite to point out that the Ritz Carlton was down the street. After clearing up my actual reason for being there, I had a tour of this amazing space. From their lighting collection to their carpeting, hardware, tile, urns, and the recent addition of benches and bike racks for their institutional clients, RAMSA leaves nothing to chance. They are my kind of people, even if they don’t know it.

THE Office.

I joked to my colleague, that you could safely say that you were in the big leagues when you were dealing with folks that laugh at the idea of an 8″ base. This seemed to be to be excessive when I was considering it for my modest condo project two months ago. I would have happily settled for 6″ – ha. RAMSA outfitted their lobby with a base that was conservatively 21″ tall, and let me assure you, not only does it work, but I briefly considered ripping out mine and replacing it, and my paint is barely dry.

Model citizens – getting the scale right.

Ah to be in the vicinity of greatness. As I make my way quickly and efficiently through the city today, making decision after decision to accent my new space, and dare to dream, transform it into something that I like…I am ever hopeful, that some of their magic rubbed off onto me.

Towering Heights.

REEDing Between the Lines

While rattan always strikes me as a decorative accent best showcased somewhere down south, I find I long for it when the weather even hints (as it does here in New England, in fits and starts) of becoming warmer. It feels right that furnishings should get a little lighter, allow a warm breeze to pass through them – even if they are indoors.

Mario Lopez Torres . Parrot Toucan Monkey Chandelier . Chairish . $6800.

Now if you have begun to conjure images of the Golden Girls in their Florida condo, let me stop you right there. This isn’t bamboo and peach palm fronds that I’m talking about. Rattan can be sophisticated, elegant even, and I am here to prove it.

Rattan is derived from the Maylay – Rotan, which consists of an old world species of climbing palms, which in turn, belong to a sub-family known as Calamoldizae, which is Greek for reed. Now we are getting somewhere, so stick with me here. Those reeds are woven into cords, which are wrapped around a wire frame, allowing the decorative object or piece of furniture to take shape. It’s an art, and oh boy, are there ever some designers that elevate the form.

Draped like a cloth tossed on top of a table. Beautiful lines. Chairish.

Mario Lopez Torrez is perhaps my favorite for his cheeky use of monkey’s. A Mexican Artist known for his mid-century creations – though it is believed he still produces pieces today in his village – Ihuatizo. If a visual examination of the intricacies of his designs don’t convince you of his status, perhaps the price points at which his pieces sell will.

City or seaside, north or south, I have a hankering for rattan.

San Pancho Retreat

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I often feel like an arrow.¬† While I am clear on the target I’m intent on hitting, it requires a pulling back, a pause, a refocused effort – a collection, a reflection, a question.¬† ¬†Each time I sell, and prepare to buy again, the arrow quivers just a little less in its trajectory.¬† This period of retreat is important to me, it keeps me grounded, it allows me to feel what I am doing, and prepares me to return, fortified for battle.

I closed on Halloween, rolled my suitcase and a bag down 8 blocks to my sister’s house and left the following morning for Mexico.¬† San Pancho is a quiet little town on the West Coast, not far from Puerto Vallarta.¬† I smile when I think of that city because it reminds me of The Love Boat, Captain Stubing who I actually waited on at Thompson’s Clam Bar in my hometown of Harwich, MA, in the nineties.¬† I would watch The Love Boat and the Fantasy Island with Mrs. McLaughlin, while I was babysitting on Saturday night’s.¬† The Love Boat always visited Puerto Vallarta.¬† If Puerto V is the big city, San Pancho is the outback.¬† Tucked away in the shadow of Sayulita whose popularity has grown since I visited 10 years ago.¬† Tucked into a bay, it became famous for its surfing, and art community, and the undeniable hipness of its inhabitants and visitors.¬† San P is its humble, quiet sister whose beauties and mysteries unfold with the passing days, and her softly spoken “buenos dias”.

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Life here is simple.¬† You need not guess at a person’s motivation.¬† It’s beauty is juxtaposed with its grittiness.¬† The dirt roads, and cobblestones, that are as likely to have a horse and donkey meandering through them as a honking car or motor bike.¬† Absent are the rules and regulations that we organize our lives and priorities so carefully around in the States.¬† Construction sites spill out into the street with nary a barricade¬†or warning in site.¬† It seems to say – “live free or die” without saying it at all, which really is a good lesson, regardless of where you live.¬† Pride, and family, and preparation, and gratitude are in abundance.¬† I think of my old yoga coach who would tell me to “try easy”.¬† I push so hard, so forcefully.¬† San Pancho allows you to pull back.

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Here I have retreated.  I have risen, and pushed, and pealed back, and exposed all of my flaws and insecurities to a people that will not judge me, because judgement is not part of their lexicon.  I have lived under a GMO Free Zone for just a short time and the elegance, simplicity and vitality of the food has restored me.

I rose early, practiced hard, explored my artistic side, experienced the beauty of Gisella and Calista’s carefully curated hotel – rustic and refined, thoughtfully designed, suitably pancho.¬† More and more, square foot, by square foot, I gain an appreciation for the artistic talent of others – even when the style is not my own.¬† Hotel Ciele Rojo is exceptionally well executed, but those words do it an injustice – it’s designed with heart, and you feel the love when you are here.

Visit, and tell them I sent you.

Savers Regret: Not getting something you really want

It’s the opposite of “buyers remorse”. ¬†Granted I don’t experience that emotion often, but in this particular case, the act of restraint I exhibited has haunted me for years. ¬†Ok, it’s not like I think of it every day or anything, but periodically something will fire a synapse and the next thing I know, I’m at Cynthia Driscoll on Charles Street, turning my back, to what can only be described as pure genius.

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Kathy Dalwood Sculptures are genius!

It’s true that I was probably without the means to purchase this beautiful sculpture, but when has that ever stopped me in the past? ¬†It was the holiday season, and while I rarely get to Beacon Hill, it’s just outside of my circuit. ¬†I make a point every year of visiting during the month of December because it is so quaint, the decorations are beautiful, and it gets me in the spirit. ¬†That and the fact that there is one very intriguing (to me) home decor shop on the main drag. ¬†Oh there are many if you are looking for them, but this one – Cynthia Driscoll – also an interior designer – always seems to have the most interesting objects des arts.

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Designed for the Olympics in 2012

One of her featured artists all those years ago Рperhaps 7 now, was an artist out of London named Kathy Dalwood.  A sculptor that uses real objects as the base for her pieces caught my attention, because she is so clever.  The piece that I liked the most was entitled Gold Digger and featured a proper looking English Gal with a dramatic hat upon her head.  A closer inspection revealed that the hat was actually a back end loader.  A truck to you Рa rather large one.  It put a smile on my face immediately.  I am in construction after all, and I am digging for gold through the sawdust, as we all are in our own ways.  How utterly perfect is that I ask you?

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Gold Digger – Perfection.

As perfect as it may have been, I did not seize the opportunity, and when I went back to buy it, it was gone.  Not only that, but Cynthia told me there would be no more as these fragile and special objects kept arriving broken.  Quelle domage!

Why I thought of it again the other day, I have no idea – my brain is a strange and mysterious place. ¬†One could get lost in there if they aren’t careful. ¬†So I did exactly what an obsessed girl might do, I started googling with the tiny bits of information I remembered and voila. ¬†There she was – on the web all along, and guess what….I can custom order a piece. ¬†Happy Saturday.

Bygone Days of Books: Style your shelves

Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself unloading a storage unit, and asking yourself what the heck were you paying to store all that stuff for? ¬†I’m not judging you if the answer is a resounding yes. ¬†Me, I have the opposite disease. ¬†I like to unload things, leave them on the street, give them to a friend, let one of my sister’s borrow the rug, chair, ¬†painting or pillow – ¬†permanently. ¬†I don’t know why this is my particular affliction, but it is. ¬†So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself unloading a storage unit – that did not belong to me – to take nearly all the items to the dump – there final resting place. ¬†Not happy!

Books

Birds of a feather.

Among the items that were discarded where boxes and boxes of books. ¬†Having been stored in a damp out-door storage unit for the winter – they were worse for the wear, and sadly had to be tossed. ¬†Having moved a time or two in the past, I am well aware of the weight of books, and have carefully culled my collection to those most prized volumes, and my desire resource books for which I find regular insight into the most perplexing interiors challenges. ¬†I can never seem to remember where to hang that painting – is it 54″ on center from the floor – one of my books will tell me, so you can see the necessity in keeping those around. ¬†Beyond that – bookshelves are all about visual interest for me.

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Minimalinteriordesign.com

A little bauble, a wooden bird, a small painting that would be lost on the wall but comes to life on the shelf.  a Chinese Urn, a succulent or petit potted plant, a paper weight.  Large, small, tall, fat Рvarying the sizes of objects on shelves creates interest.

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Studio McGee

There was a time when I thought that nothing else could provide as much insight into another as a bookshelf full of books that they love. ¬†No one could accuse me of being nosy for pursuing a bookshelf, but it’s another thing altogether to pick up the kindle that’s just lying out on the table and start reading the stored book listing. ¬†You mine as well just pick up there phone and start scrolling through their call log. ¬†As if!

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OKL

Fear not, a well styled bookshelf tells a story too.  Not in words of course, but I think it will provide those of you that are curious enough to ask, with a conversation starter or two.

Sail Into Summer: Decorator’s Pop Up Sale

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Nautical Accents galore!

Having successfully finished the design of The Manse, and completed the photo shoot last weekend – cue empty feeling. ¬†I find myself with some free time – time, by the way, I have been begging for, and now, I’m not at all sure I want it. ¬†As I write this I can hear my sister saying “don’t you go filling up that blank space with another activity”. ¬†I believe she excluded learning Portuguese, buying any more real estate, or ripping the deck off my boyfriend’s house. ¬†What a buzz kill – I mean concerned sister.

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Pillows:  Custom Designer, nautical and every day:  change up your design with a few easy accents.

When I completed the project, I found that I was surrounded by a number of beautiful pieces that either didn’t end up working in the home – think massing, style, placement, and a number that were just plain wrong, even though in another setting they would be nothing but RIGHT.

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who doesn’t need a little end table to place your cocktail on?

That got me thinking. ¬†Here I am, storing and moving, and shuffling, and loaning, all these carefully curated – hold it – not everything is carefully, thoughtfully curated – some things simply steal my heart and scream “take me with you”, and so I do. ¬†While I have loved these things, used many of them (gently) it is time to find them permanent homes, where they will be loved and cherished, for longer than the shutter speed of the flashy camera, that my brilliant photographer wields.

 

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A little bar, a side table, a book shelf – use your imagination – it’s beautiful.

So, together with my best friend – who has a penchant for collecting (with France being a favorite spot), and an incredibly talented, and dear friend that is an Interior Designer on Cape Cod, ¬†we have mined the depths of our closets, storage units, barns, back offices, and shops and are bringing together an incredibly eclectic, carefully curated (this time it’s true, I promise) collection of furniture, art, pillows, lighting, accents, nautical knick knacks and more, that are bound to delight, and shine light on your interiors.

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Mid-Century Nautical – look at that in-lay detail….summer breeze.

Saturday:  8:30am Р3pm

Sunday:  9am Рnoon

Cape Cod Fabrics/Helen Baker Design. 94 Rt. 28 West Harwich, MA

We’ll have Ros√© – so there’s really no way you shouldn’t be there. ¬†Cash or Venmo.