Yall . This is Southern Design

Reynaldo . The original Estate of R J Reynolds, designed by Charles Barton Keen, 1918.

When my Clients told me they were leaving Cambridge for warmer climes I admit my long drawn out nooooooo was a little dramatic, but life is fluid and ever evolving. The exciting news is that I am going to have the chance to evolve too. My very first opportunity to influence the design of a southern home, followed the initial piece of traumatic news, softening the blow, as only Jonathan could.

Note the scale, the diamond patterned tile floor, and the acid green.

A new emotion took over – known to many as panic, I asked myself, what exactly did I know about southern design? Naturally quick to met out a harsh judgement, I told myself, “absolutely nothing”. I love talking to myself, and frankly don’t care who hears. Some of my very best conversations, are held between, me, myself, and I, and in the end, helpful recommendations to some of my biggest quandaries result.

Kelly Wearstler’s Avalon Hotel

I actually do know something about Southern design, I had just forgotten that these influencers, for whom I have great respect, all hale from, or are known for their southern design aesthetic. Kelly Wearstler, born in Myrtle Beach, SC, has a self proclaimed style, known as Modern Glamour. Derived from the Hollywood Regency era of design, it is bold and graphic, bright and accented by enormous ceramic figurines – usually of animals. Dorothy Draper – born in Tuxedo Park, NY, known most famously for the Greenbrier in West Virginia, and for being the first socialite interior designer, has been on my radar for a very long time . Suzanne Kassler, born in Waco, Texas to an Air Force Dad, lived in many places, gathering inspiration near and far, until finally landing in Atlanta, GA.

Dorothy Draper’s Greenbrier – iconic design.

So what makes southern design, well….southern? The properties are certainly much, much bigger than the urban locations that I typically design. They are grand, they are estates, they come from an era when income tax didn’t exist and amassing of wealth was easier. Aside from their size, southern design appears to incorporate the following elements:

  • Florals: from the gardens to the interiors, they are heavily represented,
  • Painted floors: intricate or simple patterns – the diamond being a favorite,
  • Heavy use of fabric: from slip-covered furnishings to curtain-laden windows, reams of fabric abound,
  • Collectables: southerns love to tell a story through “things”,
  • Family photos,
  • Mix of antiques and modern furnishings,
  • Monogramed everything,and
  • Bold colors.

Kasler brings a fresh approach to Southern Design – she doesn’t paper the walls, but brings the outdoors in and loves her curtains!

I got this. My journey begins in just a few weeks. I’ve got a lot of research to do to pull this off, but I won’t let my lovely Clients down!

Keeping Time: Customization in the 21st Century

If you knew me, and some of you do, you would know that I am not patient. It’s not a charming or cute quality. Oh I’m sure if I was played by some Hollywood starlet in a movie of my life, they could make you adore me and my foot tapping impatience, but taking a breath and thinking it out has its advantages. I suppose this is a cautionary tale of sorts in that regard.

I can’t be alone in wanting things to happen quickly, and to be customized to my liking. I cannot wait for the day that I can point my digitized magic wand toward an upholstered piece from one of my flips and change the color. You were blue, and now I wish for you to be white, or cream, or pale grey. The possibilities are endless and so is the trouble you could get into. We’re not quite there, but we are getting close.

OKL. Palette . Daphne Slipper Chair . $474.50

It’s pretty exciting to see generations old companies evolve, combining artisanal craftsmanship with technology. If speed to market is part of the new name game, another part is customization. So what else makes up this new world of commerce? Collaborations, you build the furniture, I’ll design the fabric and throw my back into it – or as the case may be, a name. Preferably one that is well known in the design world. Collabs are popping up all over the place. The EveryGirl, Clare Vivier, Peter Som, Joanna Gaines. X marks the collaboration and they are hot.

OKL . Palette . Pillow $64.50

I was pretty excited to see One King’s Lane jump into the X-Game with a new service called Palette. You choose from a selection of furnishings or pillows, pick your fabric, now for the colors – 15 are available, select the scale of the design – small, medium or large, and choose a finish – and a frill or two if the piece warrants it. Ta-da. You have a customized piece that will ship to you from Cloth & Company the name behind the X, from Chicago, in 3 weeks. That’s right. Customized for you and delivered in just 3 weeks.

The Inside X Clare V. Sardines Sette. Photograph copyright dan cutrona

OKL is savvy. You don’t necessarily have to invent everything. Sometimes you just need to pay close attention and connect the dots. Last year I came across a 4th Generation family owned company. It struggled and then reinvented itself. Tillett Textiles and the T4 Color Pad technology that allows you to choose from 180 patterns, 55 colors and 12 grounds – think of the possibilities of fabrics that you can have your custom pattern printed on – I need a mathematician to help me figure out just how many options , but suffice it to say – it’s a lot. Then I came across a company called The Inside. Between their collaborations, and inexpensive upholstered pieces that arrive at your doorstep – you guessed it – in 3 weeks, we are witnessing a response to a demand.

Tillett Textiles. My custom print on the bed! Photography copyright dan cutrona

OKL married the two concepts, and like I said in the beginning…it’s magic.

Pattern Recognition: New to the Rack

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Medium Diamond . Indigo

If you ever cruise through the design center, in whatever city you live – you’re familiar with the racks and racks of hanging fabric.  If you don’t keep up with it, you might have to spend weeks looking through it all, and that many choices can make a gal insane.  While going insane for “A” fabric is recommended – going insane over fabric options is not.

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Arabesque Poppy . Lilac

The way to avoid this catastrophic breakdown is to visit often, and keep your eyes peeled for the telltale “new” signs that tag the panel samples that are hot off the presses.  While I was innocently strolling from my morning meeting, which was conveniently located in the Innovation and Design Center (Boston’s Version of To the Trade), I spotted a whole slew of those signs in one of my favorite design salons – Studio 534.

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Hourglass . Turquoise

My heart skipped a beat, and I beat it into that studio freeing my hands of any encumbrances and reverently slipping the through the 8′ panels like a beloved book.  Among the many new Galbraith & Paul fabrics, and the Sister Parish designs – impressed with both, my eye caught a serene and happy collection by Betsy Textiles.  Who is Betsy I asked myself?  I had never come across her before, and my adoration was instant.  She represents the colors I adore in this new color collection beautifully.  Sometimes with elegant subtlety, sometimes with a whimsy that has you imagining a tea party in the English Countryside with Alice in Wonderland.

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Jardin . Pink

Let me assure you I fell right down that rabbit hole, and I didn’t even have to wonder how I’d gotten there.  I worked all weekend, selling, and bargaining, and doing my very best to resist the temptation to buy anything at the Decorator’s Pop Up sale for which it was my mission to unload – not restock, and opps, I simply could not get that collection out of my mind.  I had my sites on a pair of board room chairs that made there way across the pond from London, and I thought – it’s meant to be.  When they didn’t sell, I simply could not let such a fine pair of chair return to the damp, dark barn – so I grabbed them – telling myself I was doing those chairs a service, finding them a home.

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Poppy . Cream

Well, I think you probably know the story.  The samples are being ordered.  I’ll select the fabric and Betsy Speert will be an accessory to the transaction.  Betsy, I am not accusing you – I am thanking you.

Sail Into Summer: Decorator’s Pop Up Sale

CC Fabrics Sale

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 – 3pm

Sunday:  9am – noon

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

We’ll have Rosé – so there’s really no way you shouldn’t be there.  Cash or Venmo.

 

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….

Sign

Mark your territory with a custom sign.

 

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.

Raise the Curtain: A short story

Pun intended – on a big mistake.  I am not terribly patient and don’t always take the time to ensure the outcome is going to be as intended.  Now don’t jump all over me.  No one starts out by saying to themselves – this is going to turn out badly, and does it anyway.  I honestly believe it’s going to work….but ugh….then it doesn’t.

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The way they should look.  Just breaking the floor.

In this case the object of my misguided efforts are my brand new, incredibly expensive curtains.  They look like high-tides.  They are in fact 9″ shorter than one could reasonably get away with.  My preference is a slight puddle – not too messy, but not too formal either.  I’m so far from breaking the floor in this instance it would be laughable if the fabric hadn’t cost me $3500. for 4 slim panels, and that was with the designer discount.  Quel domage.

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The way they actually look now.  Terrible.

That’s going to leave a mark, or will it.  Since I pledged to tell you the truth, in all its ugliness – the truth – I am bound to reveal.  What the heck good would that do if I didn’t learn from my mistake and provide you with some sage advise?    So here it is:

  • Install your rods first.
  • Make sure they are at the desired height.
  • Hang the rings that you plan to use on the rod
  • Hooks are attached to the curtain – typically they fall about 1.5″ from the curtain top – but consult your fabricator regarding location and add this to your overall fabric length.
  • Don’t plan to use rings (grommeted curtains can be measured from the rod to the floor.

Restoration Hardware offers a solid guide to selecting the style that’s right for you and then ensuring you measure accordingly for a perfect fit.

Now that we’ve got the getting right part down, let’s talk about those of you that are like me…something went amiss, and you absolutely must fix it.  When I hung the first panel I knew immediately what I had done.  I laughed, and then started to try and figure out a solution.  Now I could have lowered the rods so that the top of the curtain brushed the top of the casing – it still would have been about two inches from the floor.  I could also have let down the hem to make up that difference, but I am a huge fan of curtains that extend way above the casing of the window – if ceiling height permits – which in my condo it does – I feel compelled to use it.  It creates the illusion of grandness, in what is a pretty small place.  Fortunately I was forced to buy a pretty large lot of fabric, and have a surplus.  My best friend and design confidant Tiffany came over and together we strategized.  The solution:  add a foot to 18″, raise the rods to maximize the height, and at the seam add grosgrain ribbon.  I think I might add several courses of the ribbon to enhance the effect.  I don’t want it to look fussy, but I want it to look intention and hide the error of my ways.

An alternate approach that would resolve this problem are solid panels that are added to the bottom – much more economical.  So, back to the fabricator they will go, me with my head hung low.  Thanks for allowing me to get it off my chest.  Now that I’ve made this horrible mistake, you can happily avoid it.

 

Swatch Watch: finding fabric in the City of Lights

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4 bis rue d’Orsel
75018 Paris

The 8th is home to some amazing fabric stores.  Whether it’s upholstery fabric or fashion you’re on the look-out for, start here.  Marche Saint Pierre, Sacre Coupons, and L’Atelier D’origins are just a few of the dozen that sit at the base of Sacre Coeur.  A bustling neighborhood full of tourists and Parisians alike, somehow on my last visit I participated in a food tour that cut right through the heart of this neighborhood, my eyes apparently remained fixed on the chocolates, cheeses, wines, and pastries, because I don’t remember seeing all the pretty prints that share storefront space with the gastronomique delights that I sampled.

My mother must have visited this neighborhood because she arrived home from a trip to Paris with a suitcase full of fabric.  This fabric she carted around for years – literally years!  This was normal for Pat Falla.  She had trouble making decisions.  Perhaps that’s why I make so many of them, with little thought to the sheer number of ill conceived avenues I have pursued as a result.  I guess I believe that forward momentum is more important than perfection. At any rate, the fabric did in fact get used but not by Pat.  My sister Mary Beth found it, had it made into curtains and hung them in one of her homes.  They looked pretty good.

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Nicole folding my beautiful fabric!

I too will be leaving Paris with a suitcase full of fabric.  I really had no intention of buying any, and then there it was – shimmering and winking at me.  I fell for it. It will be right at home in home No. 4.  Now if only one of those French Bergers would fit in my suitcase, I’d have something to drape the fabric on.  A good problem to have.

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2 rue Charles Nodier
75018 Paris

Heureusement Samedi!

 

Bedroom Magic

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World Market . Rattan Twin Headboard.  $124.99

The kind that comes from a hot day in the sun, good food, plenty of exercise, crisp cool sheet, and a gentle breeze coming in through the window.  Sleep is often elusive to me.  I live through fits of insomnia chased by adrenalin rushes, and sheer exhaustion.  The rare and special gift that is an uninterrupted nights sleep – is magic.  For those of you, I could sleep anywhere people…just stop reading now.  Move along.  Nothing for you to see here in this post.

Left:  Serena and Lily:  Linden Sheet Set . Palm Green $258. Right:  Serena and Lily . Metallic Pick Switch Quilt $198. (twin)

I just of course – plenty for you to see here, even if I am jealous of your ability to lay your head down at will, close your eyes, turn off your brain, and fade into the nether region between night and day.  You are blessed.

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Christopher Farr . Carnival Green – Imagine Custom bedskirts in this cute print.

All this talk of sleep arose from my desire to select the color palette and decor for the bedrooms in the manse.  Since I am primarily there on the weekends, I want the colors to be a bit more vibrant than my year round surroundings.  I love Kelly Green and feel that it’s a nice mix between nautical and nature that works well for Cape Cod.

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Schumacher . Zebra Palm

My picks range from the high-end to the low for the first of the four bedrooms.  From World Market to Schumacher, I was shooting for a cheery space to escape to, read my book and fall asleep to the sound of crickets.

Robshaw: Revival of the fittest

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Step back in time…were it not for the sneakers.  Robshaw in India from his website.

John Robshaw strikes me as an old soul with an adventurous heart, and an appropriately reverent appreciation for the commingling of history, and artisanal craft.  It’s a mouthful, but I suspect, though I have not met Mr. Robshaw, that his waters run deep. Therefore, they are worthy of the words. One little post from a gal on a modest quest like me, cannot possibly do this man justice.  I can however attempt to share with you all, some of elegance of what he creates. From the dusty roads of Rujistan to NYC’s Bowery, Robshaw has pioneered a revival.

 

JR The Bowery

The Bowery . in a time gone by.

From fine artist to artisan, from the studios and classrooms of Pratt, to the dirt floors, and open air markets of India, where the ancient and traditional techniques of hand blocked fabrics, found an eager student in John.  He has made a living, in living his passion.

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Aerial Light Indigo

I can only imagine he has a heart born for exploration, an inquisitive nature which led him to ask how, and why this ancient tradition was carried out in this fashion.  Crouched in small covered shacks, carving wooden blocks, which will later form the pattern.  Robshaw heralds the imperfections of the design, as a sacred sign of authenticity.  He imbues a sense of awe, infuses his own stylistic technique for overlapping pattern, and natural variation in color, that is the result of something made with adept skill and pride, rather than the cold, formulaic drone of mass production.

 

Left:  Robshaw: Aleppo Light Indigo. Right:  Malik

Robshaw is a fine artist indeed.  His Bowery based shop is gritty, and full of curiosities.  It doesn’t feel at all far from the farmland that its Dutch name indicates was its origin.  Before all all the shops, and bars and restaurants sprung up, before its neighbors in Chinatown called themselves by that name, and long before the Lower East Side was hip and called The LES, and before it was inhabited by writers, and Wall Street Brokers, Hasidic Jews and bejeweled starlets…it was just farmland.  Like a seed planted in that rich soil, Robshaw sprung up, flourished, and spread from East to West and back again.

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Robshaw . Murmur Kashmir

While many of the patterns feel Bohemian, I envision them in The Manse’s – Cape Cod Coastal setting.  The watery blue hues, the organic leafy patterns, vines and blossoms, feel right amidst the sand and seagrass.  Crisp, not rumpled.  Roman, not flowing reams of fabric for windows, upholstered stools and benches, not soft hassocks and floppy pillows.  Whatever your preference, Robshaw’s refined designs are both unique and familiar.

Left:  Robshaw . Citadel Lotus.  Right:  Robshaw . Faris Silver.

Sold to the Trade, and not here in Boston, you must email:  fabric@johnrobshaw.com.  Pillows and sheets can be bought at ABC Carpet in NYC.  I often find pillows at Hudson in Boston’s South End, and Target http://www.target.com/p/john-robshaw-bedding-collection/-/A-50746566 has an amazingly vibrant and playful line of bedding designed him.  Something to suit all budgets this Saturday.

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John Robshaw . Kalmala