Dream a little dream house for me

Pink Railing and All: Designed for a day or two before being returned to the Owners – in its original condition.

I never had one Barbie doll. Not a single one. My sister had one, but I don’t remember which Barbie she was, where she lived (geographically speaking) or what she did for a living. She didn’t do anything, so my interest was low, though I desperately wanted that Malibu Dream House, or the camper. West Coast beach house overlooking the Pacific, with sunken living rooms, pink pool slides, and a closet full of lucite heeled Candy sandles seemed superb to me, and then a road adventure on luxury wheels, that would take me away from my small town existence – yes please, that too. Alas, my mother would have none of it. I can hear her now, “where are you going to put that thing (so disrespectful) it’s just going to junk up this place”. So my dreams of a dream house went unrequited.

Could my house flipping wanderlust be the result, (wait a minute, let’s not sugar coat it, let’s place blame here), the fault, (that’s better) of my dream house deprivation? I dare say it’s possible. The more I flip, the more I dream, and the places, palatial, and so far outside of my planetary orbit, that I could easily imagine the existence was flawless – though I know in my bones that nothing is, the point of a dream house is just that – it’s a magical fantasy. Everybody knows that the pool in a fantasy is self-cleaning, never needs resurfacing, and certainly doesn’t leak into the cinema below. What kind of a dream would that be. “Quel nightmare” as Holy Golightly would say.

California Cool – personal quarters of “It Girl Barbie”

As a marketer, I adore a good PR stunt. The brilliance of a collaboration that draws the eyes of the world – if only for a moment, to look longingly at your cleverness is a thrill. Matel and Airbnb thrilllllled me with their real life Malibu Barbie Dream House rental. One lucky “winner”, two nights, a walk on part in a movie, costumes, make-up artists, hair dresser to the stars and all. Astronaut, Tennis Champion, Yoga Instructor, Corporate Tycoon, Hostess, and/or Race Car Driver, my heart was swooning with the possibilities – I didn’t see an outfit for construction, but I’ve been trying that one on for years. I think I need a good tailor.

A closet that will help you explore who you want to be…

Snatched from the devastating flames of the California forest fires this real life Malibu Dream House isn’t on the beach, but instead set in the hills. The infinity pool will make you feels as if you are on the beach with its breathtaking views. Barbie’s house was a dream because she designed it in her own signature colors – a spectrum of pinks accented by pops of yellow and turquois. Bold and happy, hip and beautiful, Barbie’s minimalist aesthetic is a contradiction terms. Its Cali clean lines and uncomplicated details feel just right for the home. The furnishings are sleek and the space uncluttered, made somewhat easier to accomplish by her purpose programmed rooms. There is a Meditation Terrace, a WFH Office, a Cinema, Craft Room, bed, bath, and beyond fabulous dressing room. The contradiction comes in the form of that signature magenta pink, spotted on the handrail that surrounds the balcony, the waterslide, and the doors that lead out to the deck.

Gaudy, yes. Would I move right in and start a series of career explorations on a new coast, Goodness guys and gals, don’t you know me at all?

Making Waves: toss those scallops ashore

Lulu Little

The trend started quietly to build a few summer’s ago. A scallop shaped velvet pillow, backed in linen and available in a host of delicious jewel tones. I bought one, and then another. I’m a sucker for summer, city and seaside. Yes, it’s true the city can incorporate coastal and still feel sophisticated, and the coast can make the most of a sophisticated vibe that keeps it from looking too country. Decisions, decisions, it’s all in the decisions you make, we make, let’s make some together.

It’s time now to fully embrace that beloved little bi-valve, and ride, at least one scalloped edge to shore, because sure shootin’ these sweet little curves are making waves. It’s fitting that I only have eyes for this edge detail, as scallops, most interestingly, have 32 blue/green eyes. They don’t actually see with them, they are used more like a homing mechanism, sensory perception, instinct? I can’t exactly remember what Mr. Hammond, my fifth grade teacher, who taught us all the subjects, including marine biology, had to say about that pretty little mollusk, but I think I’m in the ball park, or the Sound as the case may be. They also swim backwards by opening and closing their shells in rapid succession to escape predators, and you can eat those eyes, just as you would a muscle – aka, the scallop, but nobody entertains that idea – it’s simply not as appetizing as a pillow-y white cloud, puddled in Saffron broth, served aside a linen napkin with that semi-circular edge, stamped and repeated, stamped and repeated, stamped and repeated, in some wonderous shade. I bet you can imagine your Easter table coming together.

It’s everywhere, like a newly discovered vocabulary word, you’ll start seeing that seaworthy rippled edge on everything. Trust me, and please do report back on your findings, you will. There’s the bar cart/side table – not surprisingly Serena and Lily is up on a coastal trend. The lovely lamp shades with their velvet edged detail, and their Liberty of London lined interiors. There are bed linens, and banquets, backsplashes and beautiful vanities. There are patio umbrellas, pretty little planters, and platters for which to serve Sazerac’s in sexy stemmed glasses.

Trove . Avalon Monumental Double Chest . 3050 – pounds.

The whimsey that this detail brings to the staid interior is some kind of wonderful. We could use a little wonderful right now. If you can’t do a loop-di-lo, at least do a half. It’s bound to make you smile.

Rush . Rush Baby: Entrepreneurial carpet innovations

First of all, I adore a women owned business. Second of all, I adore it when friends come together to collaborate, and third of all, no one says third of all, but grabbing the attention of readers is difficult at best, and sometimes you have to annoy them before you please them. Bear with me here, I plan to please.

Designer: Emily Painter | Photographer: Peter Murdock

Friends and travel enthusiasts, Page Mullins and Liz Strong, both interior designers that put their talents to work as stylists and editorial producers for the likes of Coastal Living, Elle Decor, Garden & Gun, Real Simple, Veranda, and for lifestyle brands like Serena & Lily – one of my favorites, and Boll + Branch, came together during the pandemic to start their own venture – Rush House, which I sort of wish was called Rush Home, because the image of a place that you sought out, and designed, with so much care and love, that you want to rush to get there from wherever your day has taken you, is comforting and emits a sunny glow of warmth. It’s not called that though – it’s called Rush House, which is also a lovely name.

Cut the squares free of the rug to customize the size you are looking for….

Rush, rather than referring to hurrying around, which is what I mainly do, refers to the material from which their carpets are produced. Sparked by the artisanal craftsmanship of tiny villages in Mexico, the push pin on the map of their adventure centered on Oaxaca, back in 2015, resulting in the first stitch of an idea that brought together, in neat rows, their love of craftsmanship, design, and finds that they wanted to share with the world. The simplicity of the concept is brilliant.

…or stitch together individual squares to increase the size of your carpet.

One rug, three products, endless possibilities. By offering a simple, affordable 9 x 12 seagrass rug, they keep the business model tight. They have full time professional careers after all. I suspect that you are asking yourself, what is a gal, or guy, to do if they don’t need a carpet that isn’t 9′ x 12′ – get out your scissors, that’s what. Cut the stitching to free the 1′ squares from the captivity of the carpet, and voila – you’ll have the size you desire. Want the opposite? Buy extra squares, and rush thread and needle, to stitch the number of squares required to get you the custom size you desire. I watched the video – it all looks pretty easy, and kind of fun.

Affordable . customizable . DIYable. Joy: one square foot at a time.

Page and Liz, I’m not only jealous of your business model, I’m jealous of your adventures, design aesthetic, and creativity. Thank you for bringing this product to market. I plan on getting to the serious business of buying, and using these beauties in my properties, because you are right, I’d be hard pressed to find an application for which it doesn’t add texture and style. I think that might be true for you too – yes you, the one reading this, that’s who.

Midnight Dream: Redoing the bedroom

Phillip Jeffries . Seaside Linen . Indigo Nights. Only a 12 yard minimum order I type, my words heavy with sarcasm.

It’s no secret that I love Benjamin Moore. I talk about him ad nauseum, sure there are other paints on the market with clever names, but are they as dependable as Ben? I think not. I know I am not going to be in this condo forever, maybe just a few months more, who knows. However long it is, it feels like if I have to have that bedroom the way it is now, one foot in and one foot out the door, I might just scream.

I’d like to vigorously enforce my right to change it up. I want to paint the moldings midnight blue or soot or blue note. I want to cover the walls in Phillip Jeffries Indigo Nights, and snuggle a couple of Bungalow 5, Benjamin bedside tables, in navy blue, right up next to the bed, or maybe the Serena and Lily Blake Nightstand in blue. They are both grass cloth covered, but the Bungalow has soft edges and chrome hardware and the Serena and Lily is a Parsons knock-off, hard-edged with a gold pull. They are both so pretty, and having a bedside table would mean that I wouldn’t have to get out of bed when I was done reading my book to turn off the light.

Matouk . Joplin Sheet Set

I could get a new year set of sheets. I have my eye on Matouk’s Joplin, it’s blue floral pattern is sophisticated and happy all at the same time.

Oomph . Wilson 4 Poster Bed in Hinting Blue.

Dare to, wouldn’t it be, life is but a dream. Heck, if that’s all it is, throw in the Oomph four poster bed while your at it.

Feeling Blue

Oomph Headboard

It’s a bit ironic that my very favorite color, the color that makes me smile from ear to ear, and brings cheer to my heart is saddled with an idiom that means the opposite. That’s just wrong. As it turns out I am feeling a little blue. It is the end of the holiday season, which provided such a delightful distraction to the pandemic. What bauble, bell, and holiday whistle doesn’t? As I look longingly at the Christmas Tree that I have put at the bottom of my to do list until now, I feel sad. It really does bring a special glow to my space, and let’s face it, we’re all in for a long winter. The good news is that I wasn’t using my fireplace so that I wouldn’t have to clean it between showings, and now that I am not showing the old gal – she and I can get fired up.

To make extra sure I don’t shed any tears as I dismantle the tree, I went on the hunt for a bundle of blue best ofs to share with you. Since the color blue signifies the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven, according to the color wheel pro, and who wouldn’t believe them?

Chairish . Umbrella Chandelier

As a Cape Cod Gal, it is no surprise that this color calms me and makes me want to take a deep cleansing breath. Just thinking of the ocean allows me to conger the brackish salinity of a Wellfleet oyster and set my taste buds a tingling. The vast expanse of blue sky dotted with gauzy clouds that greet you on a summer day, the blue birds darting through the marsh and bogs in spring, the inky darkness of a muscle shell, the proud hull of a sailboat. Who wouldn’t be made happy by seeing that rainbow of blue hues?

Collins Interiors . Forever in the details and my design heart.

Pull them into your home all year long, or start slowly. Maybe a single gingham cocktail napkin in a pale blue. No one has to know, you can keep it in your pocket or underneath your water glass. Just try and see if it doesn’t make you smile. Go on, we’ll get through this winter together.

Fortune Knocks Once

Is it really true that fortune knocks once on every man’s door? What about women? What about A woman – more specifically what about me, and the “we” of the Willow Bend three? There are really four of us in this endeavor, but “we” rhymes with “three”, and all I can think for four, is shut the door, and I certainly don’t want our door to be shut. I want to open the door, and have song birds, and sunshine accompanied by a seersucker slacked, blue blazered, butler carrying a silver tray of cut glass coupes filled with bubbly come bursting forth. I want the guests to hear the pop of the champagne cork as their Gucci clad loafer crunches down on the bleached seashell drive and think – a party? For me? Yes, I believe the front door can say all of that – minus maybe the butler, but wouldn’t he look sweet in that outfit. Would I be going to far if I asked him to wear a blue linen pillbox hat and a coral colored bow tie? He’d have my utmost respect.

I do think a door says a whole lot more than people give it credit for. It’s no wallflower, well maybe there are a few demure dames in the door derby, but a door can, and should be so much more. This is the point we are arguing, not arguing right now. No one really wants to replace the front door – money, oh the money honey, it all adds up so fast, but a few of us, two of us, were secretly hoping that the old gal would get put out to pasture, and as it turns out – horray – she really does need to retire. She stood valiantly for decades, with her cherry red lipsticked smile, greeting passers-by, and she’s tired. Now the question remains, whoever will replace her?

We’ve been interviewing candidates. Some have hundreds of years experience – oh they’ve been around the door business for generations. We lean toward those first. There are side lights to consider, transom windows over the door, paneled, glass lights, mullioned, clear, tripled glazed, and it goes on and on. Every candidate makes a case for why their looks and experience really are the best, and that’s before we even consider adorning with jewels. They probably won’t be wearing Harry Winston to the ball, but I have my fingers crossed that we can get a little fancier than Kay Jewelers – no offense Kay, but not even the throbbing pain from the weight of the Harry Winston wreath diamond earrings would deter me from saying anything but yes, yes, yes please and thank you – a door deserves a little hardware that’s not hard to wear and easy on the eyes.

I do want it to look good in a wreath and I am leaning toward a happy pop of a color for her gown, after all, she lives in Chatham.

Merry Perfection.

Psycho Thriller: How renovating houses turned me into my own therapist

Break the rules or create your own.

I love the idea of being de-coded by someone. To be truly understood and seen by another should be a basic human right, it’s not, but it is a basic need. I won’t allow myself the luxury of lying on a sofa, or in a comfortable chair, and working through why I think or feel the way I do. I know I have the disease of being busy, too busy, so busy I can barely sit still, which is in part why I like house renovations so much. They are like little babies requiring constant care and attention. They can also try your patience and wear on your last nerve, making you feel as if you are going to go insane.

Making way for water – away from the home.

Here’s where Behavioral Activation Therapy comes in. I can’t believe that I didn’t study psychology because I love it so much. I had been employing this psychotherapy technique on myself without even knowing it. I’m so self-clever sometimes it astounds me, mainly because at turns I can be so clueless, and not in the cute and cool way that Alicia Silverstone was when she starred as Cher in the movie of the same name. I stumbled across the technique when I was renovating my second property, which had me crying a river – the last thing you want to do when your house is already full of water in all the wrong rooms and places.

The kitchen – heart of the home.

I found myself digging around in my closets looking for my suitcases and wondering to myself allowed what would be needed in the quiet padded cell of the insane asylum, when I thought, what if I just pretended that this wasn’t happening to me at all. What if, I was just a paid employee to the person that it was happening to, and my job was to figure it out – get the appropriate line-up of contractors, find the best prices and do it quickly. What if, when all of that was done, I got paid for it? What if indeed.

Keeping it together. The foundation for the retaining wall is in!

What I discovered is that it works. By removing the person that takes it personally – that would be me, and I suspect you too – from time to time, something amazing happens, you just get it done. It’s just a job. Imagine my surprise when I was listening to No Stupid Questions – the Angela Duckworth and Steven Dubner podcast I am currently obsessed with and Angela, the psychologist, was asked by Steven if pretending you weren’t depressed, by “acting” as if you were an non-depressed person could really work? I bet you can guess what she said. Now go out there and get renovating or taking your first steps toward running a marathon or whatever amazing thing you will do, because you can – unless it’s surgery. Please leave that to the surgeon.

Screen Shot: Block bugs and look beautiful

I adore this option with the stained and varnished mahogany.

There’s nothing like an aluminum screen door to get you sliding back to the seventies, fingers clasping and unclasping in quick succession as you ask yourself, which is worse? The start to this decade or the seventies. We’ve barely gotten across the threshold, but it has left so very much to be desired. Having lived through the full compliment of that orange and brown, shag carpet, lava lamp, bell bottomed blue, banana seat bike, built-in belt, goucho wearing decade – I can assure you it was anything but complimentary.

Dory – You adore this as much as I do?

As much as I hated those aluminum screen doors with their diamond patterned, pressed inlay, they undoubtedly did their primary job, which was to keep the bugs out, and very importantly to me, let the light in. I ripped a similarly offensive “storm door” off of my current condo, and its facade is far better for it. It’s the equivalent of having lost 20lbs. Who wouldn’t look lighter and feel more attractive? It had to go, but I’ve missed it – obviously not for it’s aesthetic contributions, but for it’s bug catching abilities.

Fire cracker red celebrates the seasons.

As I took my walk to investigate the open houses, analyze with a critical eye and the dormers on the homes in the Port, I took to noticing how many homes hadn’t forgone the screen door. They put it front and center, they made it an object of desire, the painted in bright colors and in the highest gloss available, also known as lacquer and they adorned it with gold leaf appliques. These wooden screen doors were a triumph. They were a spectacle, they were worth a nod, they were worth further investigation, and dare I say replication.

While some of you might think that it is “strictly coastal”, I think I could have made it work in the city. If only I had more time. If only I had more money. If only, if only, if only….

One King’s Lane

Closed due to Covid and 19 other reasons these windows are papered.

Another victim falls. I just want to cry and scream and throw a proper toddler-style tantrum that adequately convenes my frustration and powerlessness in the face of this pandemic. Those three year olds have it figured out – rage at the indignity and injustice, exhaust yourself in the process, take a nap, eat a snack, feel better. There is beauty and simplicity in their approach, and freedom, oh blessed freedom.

Taste Maker . Corey Damen Jenkins

Clearly I do not have that luxury. I had my three year old chance, and now that time has passed, being well beyond three years – even three decades, but still surprisingly feeling quite young and vulnerable at times. I am going to have to accept, in an irony, bookended by disastrous recessions, that One King’s Lane’s Boston retail shop couldn’t survive.

Curated collection of interesting objects is signature OKL.

I doubt that they are on a respirator, are we still in dangerously short supply of those? When they launched their on-line store in 2009, they did it in the midst of one of our worst modern day recessions. Such ingenuity and can emerge in times of great distress – I for one have my eyes peeled for a little magic right now. Their model was built on two primary premises, that they would cull overstock items from brand name designers – many of whom would formerly only sell to the trade, and offer them up to you and me (regular people without a tax id and a list of vendor references that rival the guest list of the MET Ball). The second crucial element of their business plan included the use of flash sales. This lent an element of distress to the moment, playing on our greatest fear of missing out. Those FOMO geniuses built an empire, founded on that fear, and I am fantastically jealous of the fame and fortune that followed them.

Celerie Kemble . Interior Design Celebrity and Taste Maker.

Them – clever dames, Susan Feldman a fashion industry veteran that moved from NYC to LA, and became obsessed with the home goods marketplace, for which I am grateful, and Ali Pincus who brought some much needed Silicon Valley know-how and I suspect money to the table.

No need to be blue when this ocean of happiness awaits.

They used their industry connections to maximum benefit, conducting Taste Maker Tag Sale, with items plucked from the homes of celebrities including; Steve Martin, Dianne Keaton, and Courtney Cox, and went on buying trips across continents with the likes of Bunny Williams, Nathan Turner, and Michelle Nussbaumer. In 2015 they opened their first brick and mortar location in Soho, added interior design services, and caught the attention of some serious big wigs. In 2016 they sold to Bed, Bath and Beyond for $12M. Like so many companies that lose their founders, the company floundered. Taste, passion, vision, design eye, the pulse of the marketplace is often diluted in the sea of corporate execs. A few more tears certainly won’t help this situation.

Leopard is a neutral after all.

I think I’ll spend my afternoon surfing through the vintage section, swinging by the swell slipper chairs, and humming a happy tune of gratitude for democratizing design on my behalf – and yours.

Playing it Safe

Left: Hable . Beads . Sea Foam Right Top: Hable . Tiny Stripe . Barbados Ombre . Right Bottom: Hable . Mum Eden

Is so utterly boring that I cringe a little when I type the title here. Who wants to read about someone’s bold and wild adventure into the use of three different shades of white, and a punchy taupe grey – yawn, but when it comes to choosing a color for our house, our front door, or our living room we balk. I know I did. I carefully selected three daring hues for my front door – a bright blue, a Louboutin, sole of your shoe red, that would have suggested that what was behind that front door was worth seeing, and a violet that just made me happy. It was all ridiculously expensive because I had to buy the quart size, and I had to have Aurora, and of course I wanted to see it in high gloss. Guess which color I picked – white. That’s right.

Top Left: Sister Parish . Appleton . Sea Foam . Top Right: Sister Parish . Tukerman . Kravet . Switchback Nautical Trim

When it comes to taking risks, you and me, we’re not that practiced at it, and practice is just what we need to get better. I call my technique for this, Lilly Padding. Sure when you take that first hop and the lily pad bobs and wobbles threatening to throw you off, you immediately begin to question the veracity of your decision to jump in the first place. Settle down, the platform is pretty wide, and the place you came from is right there, in spitting distance. Your little leap didn’t take that much bravery, but when the ripples subside and you become comfortable on your slick green platform, and you spot a gorgeous pink blossomed water lily a stone’s throw away, you decide to take another little hop in its direction, and well, before you know it you’re leaping left and right, making faster and faster gains, until you can barely see off in the distance that place that you started from.

It’s pretty amazing how far you can go when you muster up that courage to dip your toe in the water. I recommend starting with a story board, a slew of samples, a favorite color, and maybe even a lovely tray from Home Goods to toss it all into.

Charlestown Lacquer Side Table . Green (because what would this post be without a lily pad green?)

Here’s my attempt at mixing and matching, playing it safe was making my lily pad feel awfully small. Happy Sunday.