Serena and Lily Launches . Boston

Mary Maguire is a RISD trained artist. Based in Lyme, CT she sells her originals to a number of shops. http://www.marymaguireart.com/

or Chestnut Hill as the case may be. True to its name, and despite the bustling sales associates, and dozens of eager shoppers, the color palette of blues and grays, caramels and creams, and even a forest green, made the store serene. You know the kind of place that makes you realize you’d been holding your breath? When your foot falls on the bleached hardwood floor and you knock eyes with a wall adorned in Mary Maguire nautical watercolors, you know you’ve arrived at someplace special.

Original art abounds throughout the store.

Between Newport and Nantucket, Serena and Lily is likely to fulfill its annual projections for sales, the rich and famous flocking to this formerly catalog only company, to adorn their second, third or fourth homes.

Despite the outrageous decadence of a $60. pillow case, the simple beauty of their offerings draws one in. Some things simply have no look alike, or the look alike can’t really hold a candle to the original. In these instances I think it’s important to save ones pennies, and purchase pieces that are going to bring the most bang for the buck. Believe it or not – a pillow case does bring bang. All of the other sheets can be hidden away, but that pillow case is perched right there on top, in full view, and with all the world to admire. Pair it with a Home Goods sheet set and you’re in the money as the saying goes.

My other picks from the store have to do with my recent obsession with chairs – dining, club, slipper, lounge, diminutive or delightfully large, they have my attention. While it’s true that if you are in the hunt for high-low comparisons in the chair world, you can make a pretty good go of locating a low-priced lookalike that will work brilliantly. I would argue that even someone as obsessed with the details, as I am, could be made reasonably happy with one of these close approximations, BUT when you’ve found a particular hue that makes you beyond happy, that, you may not be able to replicate. The Tucker chair in Fog is my pick, and at just $198. it’s one of the more reasonably priced picks.

Raffia Console Table – on sale now! $848.

If I am selecting for my imaginary coastal home, the Belgian Club in Performance Pinstripe in French Blue is my pick for a living room chair, and the Blake Raffia Console – which btw is on sale for $848. from $1300. The indigo is so nautical and lovely, I can really see my room shaping up, but alas, its Sunday and errands await, bringing me back to reality. If you’re in the mood for a wonderful daydream, drop by – 200 Boylston Street . Chestnut Hill.

Al Fresco in the Fall?

I feel it in the air today, though I know in my heart of New England hearts, there will be many more warm days before the snow arrives, the crisp weather of this next season is sure to come. Why then am I recommending you assess your outdoor furniture and consider buying now, right before you’ll be up to your eyeballs in holiday decorations, and gift lists as long as your arm? If you have ever attempted to buy outdoor furniture in March, April, May or gasp – June…you know you’ve already missed the boat. Sure, you’ll be allowed to purchase it. Buy now, and prepare to hold your breath until November. That’s right – November. If Thanksgiving is warm enough, which sometimes it is here in Boston, you could entertain family and friends under your pergola with your new dining table and chairs, and then haul them downstairs for a long winter’s sleep.

If you purchase now, you’ll have the benefit of some pretty amazing sale prices. When an outdoor sofa, which in this region you use for maybe three months if you are lucky, costs about a third more than your indoor sofa, which you use all year long, getting some kind of a break on pricing is a non-negotiable for me.

Options may be a little more limited, but 60% off is 60% off, and after a winter that seemed like it would never end, you really want to be able to pull those furnishings out of storage the very first springlike day that comes along, and get to taking advantage of it.

Above Left: Ballard Design . Color Block Above Right: Ballard Designs . Fringed

These are my picks – buy now or forever hold your peace next spring.

Townies: The Manse gets its make-over

Above: Exterior – White Cedar shingles, Door’s in Nantucket Red. Side deck, Home Goods Garden Stool, Restoration Hardware – Malibu Collection.

Since the 70’s its been a law office, a sometimes summer dwelling, a retreat from other major renovations, a spa, a home to more than a few spiders, and seen its fair share of paint and paper. It waited patiently, frankly with far more patience than I myself possess, for its day in the sun.

I would say all the waiting was worth while. The Manse, finally finished, gained a few inches in height, spread her wings a little to make room for a first floor suite of sorts, and a proper foundation – if you are going to build a nest, you really must have a solid foundation. It’s a miracle the old dame lasted as long as she did, sitting so indignantly on the dirt, but 230 years later, she landed in the pages of the Boston Globe Magazine.

Now owned by my youngest Sister, Jo-Jo put the architecture in the hands of my father, and the interior design in my hands – who else. The results are what I refer to as “cozy coastal”. The article provides details of the space, but just a few photos, so here is a bigger glimpse into the results my biggest project to date.

Resources and Additional Images to follow.

Miss Willmott: Seattle’s hauntingly beautiful restaurant

Welcome to Willmott’s Ghost . Seattle . WA

If Renee Erickson’s Italian Eatery, on full display inside one of Amazon’s four story Sphere’s, located on 6th and Lenora in Seattle’s downtown, has got you wondering why this glass slipper, fairy tale of a restaurant has “ghost” in its name – guess no longer. Miss Ellen Willmott was a Victorian Botanist who must have been a bit presumptuous, as she went around planting the thistle like flower around town, and at the private property of folks she thought would benefit from the beauty. Willmott’s Ghost is indeed a pretty plant, and hearty too, which is welcome in seaside locations where sandy soil, and salt air doesn’t favor the delicate.

When I visited, I hadn’t known that Renee was a renowned Chef. She’s got a little empire of a restaurant group under her fin, and its name Sea Creatures is so stinkin’ cute I can’t stand it.

Pale Pink accented by deep forest green, gold and glass.

She doesn’t just have her fingers in the pots on her stove, she’s also the author of a delightful cook book – entitled A Boat, a whale & a Walrus. Stop – just stop, I adore the title and her playful approach to our serious world.

Available on Amazon – where else?

But wait, you didn’t think she’d be done with a mere half a dozen restaurants, and a single cook book – the world opens and expands to welcome the joyous talents of those that put them out into the world. She is also a restaurant designer, though I couldn’t figure out exactly what the connections are, they have to be familial. Heliotrope Architects – Price Erickson designed the space in collaboration with Renee, who is partners with Jeremy Price and Chad Dale on the restaurant design front. While I adore food, design is passion, and Renee and her team have talent in spades.

Pink is such a happy color and to see it in a restaurant, tiling the walls of the open kitchen – a place that is expected to take the wear and tear, the heat and toil of this fast paced, tough and tumble environment, speaks volumes to me about strength and beauty.

happiness…..

Well done team. Happy Saturday.

Water Water Everywhere

Today is one of those days. You know the ones, don’t you. It’s raining outside and regrettably, it’s raining inside too. It’s not supposed to do that. Water is grand on the beach, overlooking the Adriatic, shimmering in the infinity pool. It can even be pretty amazing when you are riding it down a rapid or through the lock system of a French canal – you comfortably ensconced on a lounge chair on the lido deck of the luxury liner. It’s a whole lot less romantic when it’s gushing in through an electrical conduit. That’s a pipe whose job it is to hold the electrical wires neatly in – and the water – tightly out.

Slim Aarons . El Venero – Mirabella Spain

I think it’s safe to say, that at this point you know it’s not doing it’s job. I wonder if Bill Belichick did the yelling if they’d send someone over to fix it. I’m horse and it hasn’t resulted in any shame faced Eversource technicians showing any initiative. You’d think two fire trucks, 3 pick axes, and 6 burly men with hoses would have stirred up a little more fix-it action, but no. The only action I’ve got is Niagra Falla, in what should be my new bedroom. Maybe I could sell tickets to the spectacle – help pay for the damage. Anyone?

I’ve decided to turn my attention to happier aquatic experiences – ones that are safely painted on the page, captured in a photograph, ones that require you to use your imagination to experience the H2O.

OKL. Happy Frills.
Beverly Hills Hotel. What a way to experience water.

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.