Old in Vogue

Je deteste the home that looks like it arrived off the truck via the front window of West Elm.   No offense West Elm – I love you and own many pieces from your fine store, but please just demand I turn in my paint swatches if I sink so low on the imagination scale that I can’t even mix and match.  The thought gives me the decorator hives.  That looks like a coral or rouge color bouclé – very unattractive.

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Marianne Evennou . So very perfect in that French way.  Cool Retro furnishings and toys, tied together with a fresh coat of red paint.  Ca Marche.

I revere those that can imagine an entirely different use for some piece of furniture, broken piece of pottery, by-gone appliance, TV Case, or trunk. Instead of proclaiming it junk, they bring the funk – making you ask yourself – Why didn’t I think of that?  So simple, so brilliant.   They are the trendsetters.  The design visionaries.  The believers that aren’t afraid to make believe.  As far as I am concerned, all that dreaming results in some pretty wondrous things.

Wallcovering

I love the nautical charts as wall covering…but it’s been done.  Still – done nicely here.  

I’ve been thinking so hard about what I could do that would be A. new, B. inexpensive, C. cool and clever of course.  Because you can do some things that are different all right, and you can do some things that are cheap.  You may even be able to string the first two together, but you are not close to being a design trendsetter unless you are also cool and clever.

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An Artful Ladder.

So I’ve been scouring magazines, and books, blog posts, and open houses to see what I could see, that made me see things in a new way – if you know what I mean.  I don’t want to just be a copy cat – though I content that I never mind when somebody copies me.  I’m pretty good at closet design, but I want to come out of the closet and see if my talents can stand elsewhere.  Only time – and The Manse will tell.  I don’t think my efforts will earn me a letter grade, and I am certain there will be no extra credit that will tip me into the honorable mention category.  It’s going to be pass or fail, and I suspect the failure rate for a bunch of junk that you try to make look cool is pretty hight.

Nightstand

HGTV Gets creative with a desk turned nightstand.

I’m banking on some high gloss paint, and some beautiful rosewood shelving to turn an old ice chest into a linen closet outside the main bath.  I did’t take the heavy doors with their substantial door latches.  I thought I might hang pretty curtains in their place instead.  If it’s a “fail”, I won’t have invested too much into the piece, and it is just the right size for the nook it needs to snuggle into.

rope stool

Ingenius!

So – Paint and new cushions which soften the patina of age, are going to play a big role in the pieces that populate this space.  Here’s to hoping it’s cool.

Sail Cloth: Putting together a coastal fabric collection

In my mind’s eye I breeze through the perfectly designed rooms of The Manse in a flowy cotton Ulla Johnson dress,

admiring my careful selections with pride, and a knowing nod to myself, just as I imagined it would look.  In reality…there are dozens of mistakes I will make, returns, concessions, screamed vulgarities, frustration, some tears followed by elation.  If I am making it sound terrible – it’s not.  It’s this very part that keeps me going.  That has me dreaming of different color combinations, fabrics, and patterns – textures and scale.  Like a golfer that swears they will quit, and then hits a perfect shot, I’m in for life.

 

I’ve already bought, and plan to return a number of items that upon further reflection – will not work.  If this were a Chatham Bars Inn buffet – my eyes would be bigger than my stomach – the repercussions are worse than a stomach ache though, because the beds won’t fit in the rooms!  Ugh.  New plan.  While I think I’ve come up with an alternative approach, it’s a disappointment.

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Cheeky Monkey . Add a little red felt heart on Harwich and we’re in business.

I want to be sure to get the fabrics right so I am laying out several scenarios and asking for input.  Jo-Jo will weigh in here of course.  I was turned onto a fourth generation textile design company out of Sheffield, MA called Tillett Textiles & T4 run by Kathleen Tillett and son Patrick McBride.  This company is hot!  They allow you to choose your pattern and your color way along with about a dozen materials from which you can print it.  If you are in love with their designs, and want a coordinating wallcovering you might consider printing on a lightweight fabric and then having it paper backed before hanging it.  Helen Baker of Helen Baker Interiors Inc. turned me on to them.  She knows the coolest resources!

White and Blue Bedroom:  2nd Floor

Top Left:  Carp Allowed It in Navy – Tillett Textiles (Roman Shades)  Top Right:  Bolero in Indigo – Sister Parish (Window Seat Cushion) Bottom:  Beans and Boys in Red – Tillett Textiles (Pillow for Window Seat).

Sister Parish is a textile and wallcovering brand founded in 2000 to honor the style of and spirit of Sister Parish of the influential Parish-Hadley Interiors firm that famed designers Brian McCarthy and Bunny Williams once called their work home.  I became familiar with them a few years back when I saw a pattern called Serendipity with it’s happy little stars and polka dots – two things bring a smile to my face.  Their patterns are perfect for a coastal haunt.

Pink Bedroom

Left:  Mally Skok . Mewar Pink Orange. (Window Seat Pillow piped in kelly green). Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B . Simply Pink (Window Seat Cushion.

Above:  Similar Wicker Chair – Antique Market Find with Top Left:  Tillett Textiles . Puffy Petals in Forest Green.  Top Right:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green piped in pink.

Above Left:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green – converted to wallcovering for bedroom closet interior.  Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B – custom upholstered daybed.

Last year, while at the Innovation and Design Center in Boston’s Seaport, I met Mally Skok.  I went to the talk because I had seen a room she designed for a show house and I was struck by the organic patterns and playful motifs.  She has a fascinating story, and is as lovely as her designs.

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Custom Upholstered Day Bed with Trundle by livenUpdesign. Via Etsy.

I love so much of what Serena and Lily produces, but struggled with colorways that would work in this particular application.  If I have to be honest, which I do, because what’s the point of writing all this if I am not honestly sharing my preferences, thoughts, and opinions.  I’m not perfect – nobody is and NObody likes a property that looks too perfect.  It feels inauthentic (probably because nobody lives there) Don’t you forget that.

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Louis J. Solomon . Commode for inside the closet nook.

So S & L is out and I am embracing a mix of designers that you may know, and others who may be new to you.  I do hope you approve.  Comments are sometimes welcome – just kidding – if I couldn’t accept input and alternative suggestions, where would I be?  Please do write.

Coastal Design on a “Time” line.

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Serena and Lily . Priano Wallcovering $88.00

When the temp drastically drops like the Zipper at the Barnstable County Fair, it’s a bit hard to think about coastal living, but seaside schemes I need to make apart of my waking dreams, or I’ll never make my deadline.  It’s a self imposed one, but there are implications for missing it nonetheless.

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Schumacher . Bloom . Emerald and Ore

What are they you ask?  Well – my father will return from Florida sometime between the second week in April and the beginning of May, at which time he will head down to the storage unit, extract his leather recliner, and place it smack dab in the middle of the living room claiming it is a health necessity.

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Schumacher . Balloon 

This will obviously ruin my entire scheme.  The only possible scenario that allows me to be ok with this, is if in some brilliant stroke of luck and timing I am able to make all the decisions, procure the perfect mix of vintage, antique, new, and used (by us – but don’t count on a lot of that being allowed into this space), staging it, and having it photographed, all before his return.

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Cole and Sons . The Ardmore Collection . Singita

If by some design, wish giving fairy godmother I am granted my hearts desire – to be published in Coastal Living, New England Home, House Beautiful or some new edgy design magazine that is too hip for me to even know about it yet – then I will be totally fine if that chair and a bunch of tchotchkes arrive on the scene – like an uninvited house guest at the height of summer.

 

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Quadrille .China Seas . Jungle Green and White

 

Why you ask?  How is it possible that I would actually be – ok?  Well, nothing in this world is permanent.  Photographs offer the best possible, fake representation of what you wish your space could look like – could be – all the time, but in reality it’s a fairy tale.  Take an idea or two from those photos, work around that green recliner, tell yourself it is the color of the ocean – and let it go.

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Quadrille . Interweave . soft pink on almost white

To be memorialized in one of those mags would feel like a ride on the zipper – scary, thrilling, an amazing to be recognized for what is going to be an all out race to – not only complete – but create something amazing.

 

Water Ways

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Hygge and West’s Mermaid Paper.

I was surprised to learn from my yoga instructor that winter – the season that is – is associated with water and fear.  It’s a time to look inward, and reflect.  I suppose in some cosmic way the Gregorian Calendar (that’s the one we currently follow – which was created by Pope Gregory XIII) with it’s year end, just after the Winter Solstice, and our tradition of goal setting for the new year – is in fact, a time of inward reflection.  Hum.

Little Whales Wallpaper

Pottok . Little Whales Wallpaper.  At last I found it!

I’m a goal setter by nature.  I like the process.  I like to check in and reflect.  I love to see what the year has produced.  I’ve taken to telling people – whoever will listen really – what my goals are because I learned a few years back that in doing that – blabbing it to everyone, you are in fact increasing your chances of getting what you want.  Isn’t that the most amazing thing?  Somewhere in there, surely the psychology of accountability whispers in our ear, encouraging us along on our path.

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Marblous Oceany Wallpaper.

Fear can also be a powerful motivator.  No surprise that fear is what set me off on this quest in the first place.  The Quest for the Nest that is.  I find it eye-opening when someone tells me that they find what I am doing “courageous”.  I throw back my head and laugh – a nervous giggle whistling out through parted lips as I prepare to correct them.  It’s FEAR, not courage I want to scream.  Still, as I reflect on this past year, finish construction on No. 4…I have to admit, that I am in fact doing it.  Like water – I am finding my way, sometimes in the face of what seems decidedly unyielding, sometimes salty, and others deliciously enveloping.

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Serena and Lily . Seagrass Cloth . Amalfi

E.E. Cummings said:  “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea.”

I am a Cape Cod girl at heart.  I cannot argue with him there.

In this winter season, embrace the stormy waters, the calm tidal pools, the white caps, and ebbing tide.  There is something to learn and love from them all.

A Little Mushroom Will Do You….

The things I still don’t know.  I’ve barely scratched the surface.  Today I learned about Mushroom Wood.  I’d never even heard of such a thing before.  I’ve encountered all sorts of woods in my quest.  Oak and Walnut, Pear, and Zebra, Mahogany, and Pine and so many other varieties in-between, but Mushroom Wood – I said with a healthy dose of disbelief, no foot of mine had fallen on any such surface.

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Stone wood Products . Dennis . MA 

As it turns out, I wasn’t entirely right or wrong.  Mushroom would isn’t a specific wood.  It’s actual make-up is either Hemlock and/or Cypress  – both soft woods.  I am not sure where they fall on the Janka scale, but suffice to say, they are somewhat malleable.

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Mushroom Wood . Look at that grain…so pretty.

These woods are used for bedding bins in which mushrooms are grown.  During the growing cycle the enzymes digest and erode the soft wood.  This makes the wood appear as if its the bed of a river, eroded by the running water.  The pattern is unique and beautiful.  The color is a rich caramel.

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Crickets investigating the wood.

It’s particularly amazing because it looks historic.  Next to the hand hune beams it looks authentic.  This is important as we augmented The Manse with some Mushroom wood to provide some visual interest, and continuity.  We are at a point in the design where the details make all the difference.  The space looks clean and quite beautiful, but there is a point in any construction project that you can go to far – a mon avis.  If you aren’t able to maintain a few original components – we were here – then adding them back in, give a space some warmth.  Makes if feel like a home that one could actually live in.  This is the goal – at least for me.

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Bring a little authenticity to your refreshed environment.

The Battle of the Manse

Picking things that are going to appeal to a large audience isn’t as easy as just having the appropriate budget to spend.  The inhabitants, and even casual users, will tell you exactly what they want in the design – even if there time there is going to be brief.  Herein lies the challenge.  You will never please everyone with your design choices.

Left:  Oly Studio – Flowerfall Chandelier $3,000.  Right Top:  Parsons Table – West Elm $400.  Right Bottom:  Pappelina Rug SVEA, Grey.

Offering options in these trying times is likely to be your safest – albeit not the purest route to achieving your overall aesthetic.  I am going to tackle it room by room as I have already encounter much opposition along the way.

Left:  Ro Sham Beaux Chandelier Malibu 18 $1998.  Right Top:  Ballard Designs . Tatum Trestle Table $1099.  Right Bottom:  Ballard Design . Braided Jute . $449.

The bedrooms are easier because people feel ownership or none at all – those you can work with a single end-user to determine the design.  Public rooms require a good deal more diplomacy, and in the busy season, I feel a little less diplomatic than this situation might call for – still – I soldier on, because in the end the input from those that will enjoy the space matters a lot.

Left Top:  Pottery Barn . Francesca Beaded Chandelier, Grey  Left Bottom:  Knoll Saarinen oval table – Inmod $899.  Right:  Turkish Oushak – Nazmiyal Collection $62,000.

I have devised three rough plans for the living room, center around the chandelier, carpet and table.  Which would you choose for a Cape Cod, year round home?

World of Color Confusion: picking the palette take 2

So as predicted, Jo-Jo shot down the color selection I so carefully made with a NO!  Not even a kind, no, no et non.  Just NO!  I don’t want gray and Nantucket Red is too muted.  The only other hint of a direction she’s given me is she wants the navy blue whale wallpaper I found on Instagram over a year ago, and I can no longer track down.  Of course, she is adamant about that paper.  It was very cute.  She has a playful side – she likes a little tongue in cheek whimsy.  I’m not trying to deny it to her.  The Manse should be an expression of her personality…but for the life of me I can’t locate it.  I keep presenting alternatives, to which she responds…NO…I want the whale paper.  This may require divine intervention, or at  the very least inspiration.  Help!

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The Chronicles of Home always has such beautiful style.

The plastering is complete and now I really need to pick the colors.  I’ve turned to Instagram thinking I would find a clear direction, but while I many primary colors my natural inclination is to move toward softer hues. I fear if I mix it up too much, it will be a hot mess.  Some of the colors should remain in the rainbow, don’t you think?

Cory Connor Designs right – gets an A+ for painting the baseboard and the molding in hot pink.  One Kings Lane displays an array of colors that look beautiful together.

Left:  Schumacher wall covering is the color palette I typically gravitate toward.  Right:  Is Christopher Farr’s wall covering that I am dying for.

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The Every Girl . simply perfect uncomplicated beauty.

While I I still really love the kelly green, I have a feeling that it’s just a trend and my affection for it will pass.  While paint is the least expensive, and most impactful of your styling options, it still costs money and requires a fair amount of disruption to change it.  With that in mind, I’d like to get it right the first time.

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My Bella Storia . who doesn’t like a polka dot?

In my search for that dang whale wallpaper, I came across quite a lot of inspiration.  I only hope that one, or a combination of several of these will illicit a resounding YES – see, just like I told you…..

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OKL . I LOVE PINK.

Happy Sunday.