Swatch Watch: finding fabric in the City of Lights

Paris Fabric 2

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.

Paris Fabric 3

2 rue Charles Nodier
75018 Paris

Heureusement Samedi!

 

Coup de Foudre: Paris awaits

Even though this French expression suggests the sudden striking of emotion – a thunderbolt of love – I struck anew by its power, every time I visit Paris.  Wednesday I get to sneak away in the night and awake in the warm embrace of the City of Lights.

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Marche aux Puce . Paris

It’s been three years since my last visit.  I’ve been warned by my friends and family NOT to visit Marche aux Puce again.  For those of you that have just started following, this is the flee market at which I purchased the infamous Italian, Mid-Century-Modern, Chandelier.  There were a number of indignities associated with this purchase, not the least of which was the fact that the vendor sent me a chandelier – but not the chandelier that I bought when I was at the market.  It was close, but a little worse for the wear.  I paid a fortune to have it rewired, have my ceiling reinforced, and hung, not once, but three times.  A story for another day.

Paris 1st

I submit here in advance my apologies to all – I will be going to Marche aux, and I make no promises that I won’t return with another monumental light fixture.  What fun would a trip to Paris be without the dream of a magical find at the market?  A trip that I wouldn’t be interested in taking – that’s the kind.

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Frank Gehry designed Foundation Louis Vuitton

I’ll be staying in the 1st – which I haven’t stayed in before.  I’ve stayed in the 3rd, the 6th, 7th and 8th.  I love La Belle Juliette in the 8th Arrondissement, on Rue Cherche Midi, but I like to try new things, and the hot, hip boutique style hotels that have been popping up in the 1st caught my attention.  Hotel Therese is where I will be for my super fast 3 day trip.

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1948 Couture Dior . need I say more?

Here’s what I plan to do because its what I love almost more than anything else…eat, drink, and shop – for clothing and furnishing, fixtures, and materials.  Les Arts Decoratifs has an exhibit, that for me, is a must see.  The House of Dior opened its doors 70 years ago – that’s 1947, I know because my company, Elaine Construction is also celebrating its 70th anniversary.  How cool is that.  Over 300 couture dresses are on display, so it goes without saying – I have purchased the tickets to this exhibit already.

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Grand Coeur . 41 Rue du Temple . Paris

Foundation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry is an architectural wonder.  It has been on my list, and this trip I will get to see it in person.  The texture and the light, pattern, and materials are amazing sources of inspiration and awe for me.  I can’t wait to see this building, and by the way, I hear the exhibits aren’t bad either.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  Happy Saturday.

Earning Your Stripes

I’m always pleasantly surprised by the number of people that I talk to that have flipped a home, or are considering it.  While I haven’t run across anyone that does it quite like I do, I suspect if I keep at it long enough, and talk to enough people, I will.  There’s a camaraderie in knowing that others have been through the war.  Have suffered through the frustrations of construction, and want to share their stories of failure and triumph.  It’s comforting to learn that you aren’t the only one to have made a mistake, and to learn about resources or avenues that you hadn’t considered before, from those that have done it.

Left:  Serena and Lily . Striped Fabrice.  Right:  Serena and Lily . Striped Oxford Sheets

We’re all just trying to earn our stripes.  Not to prove something to the world necessarily, but to ourselves.  It’s possible to work hard and win.  That’s one of the most gratifying things one can do.

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Ballard Design . Striped Sectional Bench

I’ll earn those stripes when I am through with this project of mine, and with every property that I complete along the way, I plan to brand it in some small or large way with them.  They are fresh, they are quintessentially french, they are nautical, and opinionated, and all the things I love about the places that have made me .. me.

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Modernista.com – painted striped stair

I am reminded of their ability to be time and trendy all at the same time.  Fall fashion is going to go bold with stripes, with tailored designs and stiff cotton shirts – be prepared to be wowed by the simple detailing that turns a work shirt into a work of art.  Since fashion and interiors follow similar trends, in color and pattern, be prepared to see the heavy use of stripes between the glossy pages of your favorite magazines.

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Finding a way to strike a pose….Modernista.com

For me, the feeling that stripes illicit will always be in style.  While I am never going to feel like I’ve arrive, I’ll happily keep adding stripes to my sleeve as I make my way through life.  Mine as well do it in style.

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Madeline Weinrib Striped Carpet

Going for Broke: gambling on real estate

It is an addiction, this business of gambling on real estate.  Always searching for the next thrill, desperate for the rush  you get when you bet the right amount, and the roulette ball lands on your number – euphoric.  The anxiety that accompanies the decision to stay in the game, hold, or cash in your chips.  The fear that the chips your cashing in won’t cover the bets you’ve made.  It’s a risk, and the timing, the timing is everything.

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One of my favorite signs….

I’m not much for sitting around and waiting things out. I came home yesterday to find that my next door neighbor (whose building is part of my condo association) has a For Sale sign out.  I don’t actually see the property listed, a tactic that the broker uses to drive a single source sale – a questionable practice at best…. nonetheless, those are all two beds, as is mine, now that I converted it from one to two, and I felt jealousy when I saw the sigh.  It’s true, I had a visceral reaction to that proud sign, swinging in the breeze, strapped to the wrought iron fence, determined to attract a buyer.  I want to put mine on the market, but I have to wait.  I am tenacious, but not patient.

Waiting patiently for fabrication…..

There are things to do yet, curtains to be hung, hardware to be installed, doors to be built for the millwork cabinet in the living room, the perfect chair to be hunted down, a sparkling gold bar cart to be bought, brass wire covers to locate, my front door hardware to be installed by someone that actually knows how to install door hardware.  You see, I am actually not ready to leave yet, but like a girl that can’t commit, I’m ready to dash from the alter before me and my intended can tie the knot, and become comfortably numb.

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LuxHoldups . Etsy . Awaiting installation.

Not that I believe all long term relationships are a recipe for conformity or boredom, there are many that I admire, it’s just that while I like No. 4, I can’t see myself settling down…forever… not yet.  So the search continues, and in the interim, I will give my all to this commitment.  It deserves the best from me, and I just know that the next lucky person that gets it will wonder why I ever wanted to leave it.  At least I hope they will.

Happy Saturday.

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Perfect … of course it’s already sold!  Flare . Soho. NYC

The Skinny on the Tall: Nashville gets a new profile

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Tall and Skinny . Green Hills . Nashville

Driving around the neighborhoods of Nashville, it’s clear that the city is growing.  A friend joked that the state bird was the crane.  Cast your gaze just about anywhere and it will fall on bustling construction sites that speak to the cities growth and prosperity.  Millennials, retirees, and many an enlightened soul, who have grown tired of the congestion, and the cost, and realized that they can trade their outrageously expensive one bed condo in for a four bedroom home, or pay cash for a “tall and skinny”, are packing up the Winnebago and heading south.

Nashville is a “city” with a small “c”.  It’s got traffic, and a few elegant civic buildings, a couple of office towers, and even a stadium or two, granted they are not of the scale of those in NYC, Boston, Oakland or Dallas, but they exist.  It’s neighborhoods have cute names names like: The Gulch, Green Hills, Sobro, Marathon Village, Melrose, and many, many more.  The thing is, it doesn’t really feel like a city.  It feels like a suburb.  There are homes with lawns, and gardens, grass so green it makes your eyes hurt, and trees everywhere, not just in a park.  Hum, who knew.

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Where there was previously just one.

Like any growing city there are issues of densification that haven’t quite been addressed. Questions of infrastructure investment, ugh, and the speed in which they can put up luxury hotels to accommodate musicians, enthusiasts, and the growing tourist population.  Book early or stay home, I cannot imagine is the motto Nashville is hoping to adopt. A few home grown natives feel a little disdainful about the rising property taxes that are forcing their families to move out to “the country”.  I smile as I type this, because Nashville, so feels like the country to me.

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Skinny’s can go for under $600K and be on lots of .03 acres.

I got into a conversation or two with some of these locals, and while they appreciate the growing pains that a city must endure, they are nostalgic for the single story brick Ranches and Bungalow’s of their childhood, and can’t imagine someone wanting to live in one of these narrow homes, where gasp, you can see you neighbor, and barely have a yard.  When I explained to my hair stylists that when I lie in bed, if my shade is up and my neighbor is grilling, I can request he cook my burger medium rare.  That, to me, is city living.

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Getting in on the action.  2 for 1 is profitable.

So here’s the skinny.  Nashville hasn’t quite figured out what their zoning regulations should be all about.  They need the densification to support the growth, and developers are all too happy to buy up the properties that have been part of the existing neighborhoods for decades, tear them down, and build two in their in place.  This happened for years, with a somewhat fuzzy definition of what a Duplex was.  Two homes that share a connector – interesting.  Two homes that share a party wall – common.  More recently new ordinances that demand the properties be separated by 6 feet and be proportionally no taller than 1.5 times the width.  Two homes on a single lot.  The numbers are penciling out for these developers, and they can’t get the land fast enough to meet the demand.

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Varied architectural styles receive mixed reviews.

Not everyone is sold, but I loved them.

It’s in the stars

I love stars.  A starry night, those charismatic figures on the big screen, America’s stars and stripes, the iconic symbol adorned on my clothing or woven into its design.  They’re so optimistic.  You can imagine why I was drawn to my horoscope, as I flipped through the pages of a fashion magazine, comfortably ensconced on my sister’s sofa, where I will be for the next few weeks….awaiting a point in time it’s permissible for me to inhabit home number 4.  My capacity for disruption is great, but I have yet to master walking on air, and my floors won’t permit footsteps until they are properly stained and fully cured.  Note to self, levitation 2018.  It really would come in handy.

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The Golden Age of Hollywood…Golden Goose VSTAR2

Back to the horoscope.  You absolutely wouldn’t believe what the Astrotwins, Tali and Ophilia Edut predicted for me – a Scorpio, in the month of February.  Here it is in its unabridged delightfulness:

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The Astro Twins!  Tali and Ophelia.

(October 23 – November 21)  In February, you’ll finally find your little patch of peace as the Sun nests in your cozy fourth house until the 18th.  Feather Chateau Scorpio into a sacred oasis – and dinner -party central.  Vibrant Venus and motivator Mars hold court in your wellness zone from the 3rd on.  This planetary pairing makes you quite industrious, so promote thyself, because a status-boosting lunar eclipse on the 10th pegs you as a force in your industry.  St. Valentine’s arrives slightly late, with the Pisces Sun on the 18th.  But his magic lingers for four weeks – and a swoonworthy solar eclipse on the 26th refreshes your romantic status in exhilarating ways!

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Not quite ready for primetime.

Did you hear that?  “my little patch of peace awaits in my cozy fourth house”.  Hello, I crave peace, and I am moving into my fourth house, and the Sun nests – Quest for the Nest, these gals are good.  I can also find no fault in being industrious, clearly I wouldn’t be moving and renovating, and decorating, and buying and selling, and running as fast as I can just to stay afloat if I did.  If I was not entirely convinced they were writing to me, and me alone, they sealed the deal with “his magic lingers for four weeks – and a swoonworthy solar eclipse refreshes my romantic status”.  What’s not to love about that.  Thanks Tali and Ophilia for giving me the planetary boost I needed, just when the gravity of my construction situation was weighing me down the most.

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Closing in on ready.

Off to contend with the floors, and find out just why Micah isn’t happy with them.  Not happy at all.

If I’m Not Mistaken: The power of failure.

Friday I was having a conversation with my boss Lisa Wexler about failure.  She was recounting a story about the founder of Spanx – Sara Blakely and her family dinners.  “What did you fail at today”?  Was the question her Father posed each night at mealtime.  Hum, “what did you fail at”?  It got me thinking about all the scientists we build laboratories for, these amazing folks that are hard at work solving the world’s problems.  Scientists live in failure, they turn their faces up to it like one might tilt one’s head to feel the warmth of the sun on a cold winter’s day.  Each failure a learning moment, inching them toward a success.

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My year in review.

“A life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”.  George Bernard Shaw

I spent my morning at the site thinking about all the mistakes I have made on this project alone.  From paint colors to sequencing, mathematical miscalculations to the naive faith in a plan well laid.  I no longer have a Master Plan, but to steal the wise words of my good friend Pam Delphenich – I have a Framework Plan.  It’s so much more forgiving.  Life throws curve balls, and really it’s the master, not me.

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Trying something new and old all at the same time.

“Even the knowledge of my fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes.  Only when I fall do I get up again.”  Vincent Van Gogh

My journey is a long one.  I am not yet halfway through my quest.  There are bound to be mistakes along the way.  Public failures, private trials, disasters side by side with minor mishaps.  I will be afraid.  I will doubt.  I will keep moving, I think, with a smile on my face, both literally, and metaphorically.

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Year in review too and 2, celebrating 4.

“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.”  Holly Near

My promise and advise to anyone that strives to make an imprint, is learn from the mistakes of others, and be ready to receive the insights of those that you make.  The possibilities, and potential are dizzying.

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Tape is always a good idea, but regrettably the real insights come after the walls go up, and then must come down.  Embrace it.

“I hope that this year to come you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”  Neil Gaiman

Stay curious.  I hope 2017 brings you a whole lot of living.  Thank you for all your support.  Whether I am just scraping my knees or getting my heart-broken, in the infamous words of The Beatles….”I get by with a little help from friends.”