Nod to the Nautical: Cape Cod in almost summer.

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View from the Marshside . 28 Bridge Street . East Dennis . 

It takes a long time to warm up here on Old Cape Cod.  There really is no spring, but as we await the arrival of the Easter Bunny the sun is shining, and I continue my quest to outfit my sister’s nest.  Wheee.

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Waving the Lauren Flag – “naught” bad.

Of course with the entire gang here, my plans for getting things accomplished have been turned on end.  I’ll have to work double time in the final weekend to get it all done.  My stomach drops as I think about the unthinkable – that it will never be done in time for the shoot.  It will be what it is, when the 28th rolls around, and God willing it will be enough.

 

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Schumacher.  Old Cape Cod.

I stumbled across a new store on 6A in Brewster, and as its name:  Nautique suggests, its chock a block full of nautical furnishings, fabrics, curiosities, custom signage for your home, and screen doors too.  I spend hours pouring through the fabrics, because while I love nautical, I don’t love being knocked over the head by it.  A nod here and there is enough to remind me of where I am.  I’m no Ralph Lauren after all.  Anyone that can reinvent themselves going from Lipshitz to Lauren, and creating a dynasty, can without argument do nautical to the nines.

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Stove with scallop motif.  Stunning.

How I admire his style.  At Nautique he is well represented among other designers.  This sailboat fabric from Schumacher really pulled at my heartstrings.  It feels like its from the 50’s and even though I said no to the overt, I found myself dreaming of this design as a roman or a wonderful sofa or bed pillow.  The wood stove with the scallop motif was to die for and I am trying to figure out if we can incorporate one into The Manse and at what cost – oh everything can be done if one has money….

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Mark your territory with a custom sign.

 

That Girl: Keeping it from coming undone

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Decisions . Decisions.

My brother-in-law refers to me as “The Girl”.  You know, the help that’s hired to make things happen, the one in the background, who has no name.  That’s me.  I know I am someone that can get things done. I’ve always been a doer, a producer.  Nonetheless I prefer to be thought of more as “That Girl”, rather than “The Girl”.  Marlo Thomas was so quirky and cute and like Mary Tyler Moore, she was making it on her own.  True one lived in NYC and the other in Minneapolis, and I live in Boston, but still….I’m going to make this thing happen on my own.

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Laying it all out helps to pick a balance of high and low.

This thing of course is The Manse, and like the middle of any good TV show it looks more like disaster is about to strike than it’s ready for the flash bulbs to start popping, but I’m confident.  Sort of…Oh I have a million decisions to make still.  Bed sets to buy.  Dining chairs, lounge chairs, desk chairs, occasional, and every day.  I’ve got furniture to paint, miles to go before I sleep.

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“Chair”ish this time because once you’ve bought it, there’s no going back.

If money were no object.  I wonder if I would have no creativity at all.  It’s a possibility.  Not to worry, right now, I am being forced to get seriously creative, because I have spent WAY too much, and here I thought I was doing well.  By that I mean, maintaining a budget that I never wrote down, but had a rough idea in my mind I was willing to spend. No – that ship has sailed, so now my living room looks like a grade school art project.  All the surfaces are covered with cut outs of furniture, lighting, linens, and all the items I need to complete this place before 28 April.

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Struggling with the right mix of coastal and comfortable.

That Girl will pull it together, and she’ll do it in style.  You just keep the faith.

DO IT YOURSELF

Is something I say to others – as in “Do it yourself – I’m up to my eyeballs in my own projects.”  When it comes to doing it myself – well…I can haul things, drag things, move things, lift heavy things – but you are unlikely to come to me,  asking me to whip up a few  curtain panels or a couple of pillows for you, and while I’ve painted a time or two in a pinch, no one is complimenting me on a job artfully executed.

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Found at Bungalow. Chatham. MA for $195.

I’m more of a project manager than a DIY’er, and yet The Manse has forced me to resort to just that.  Attempting to furnish a home from top to bottom is EXPENSIVE.  But that is exactly what I am attempting to do.  The Manse had become The Land of Misfit Toys – in a manner of speaking.  In her rundown state, the bric-a-brac that had collected within her walls was fitting, but now that she’s the proud lady on the block, she’s demanding a whole new wardrobe.  People are coming for tea and she wants to be ready to receive them.

I’m doing my best on behalf of the old lady, but some things are indeed going to receive a light sanding and a coat or two of paint – in a coordinating color of course.  I feel like I’ve been on the hunt all over the northeast for tables of all sorts, side, bed, coffee, dining – for dressers, and bar carts and shelves  – for things that started out as one thing and will end up being something else entirely.

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The Caning feels very Cape Cod.

All this hunting and sleuthing has resulted in my very first DIY project.  Aided by a couple of 50 degree days, I singlehandedly dragged a desk out onto the deck, found one of my Father’s 4 – yes you heard me correctly – 4 sanders, I know not what makes one better than the other, but I am certain their is a reason to have that many.  Maybe they are like shoes?  If that IS the case, than I certainly cannot argue with having four – in fact I might ask – why not more?

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Ta Da!  What do you think?

At any rate.  I sanded and cleaned and painted, and repainted and low and behold, I did it.  I think it looks pretty good, and I hope you do too, because I have a set of $10. bedside tables that need to be done – a real find!  I have an old ice box that I am going to use as a linen closet, and a coffee table that would have been perfectly perfect, if it has only been gray.  It will be when I am done with it.  If you are worry, I would say that it may not be misplaced.  Fingers crossed.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.