Fruit Punch: Flirt with a little fun

The weekends are too short, and summer in New England is the shortest of the short . shorts.  With no spring to speak of, one really feels the need to make the most of the good weather, when said good weather finally arrives.  Sun, sand, ocean, and fantastically fresh food.  To bite into a juicy peach, savor a sweet chunk of pineapple, smack your lips as you sip a tart and tasty lemonade – that’s summer.  It got me thinking about the roll of fruit in interior design, naturally.

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Etsy is an amazing source for original art work.  This gracefully executed watercolor, brings a little of that fun fruit to an Urban or Suburban setting.  Etsy . Tina Vu Studio $45.

I’m not thinking dark paneled walls, velvet curtains, and Peter Paul’s Rubeneque beauties lying naked in heaps of grapes.  I’m thinking a little more playful, a bit of young at heart, more daylight than dark, more laughter than tears.  Fruit motifs span the gamut from sophisticated to childish, and it’s perfectly ok to mix the two, why not, no law.

 

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The traditional motif symbolizing “welcome” – posh doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny.  PB Teen $119.

City

For city surroundings I do recommend you lean toward the sophisticated palette.  Potted fruit plants, faux and real, can bring a little of that summer indoors, and remind you that the world is not all hardscape.  (Try Ballard Design for some realistic looking faux plants) Sculptural elements like china or metallic pineapples, sitting serenely on the shelf of an étagère, the spire on top of your skyscraper of interiors books, glinting and beckoning at that 5 o’clock hour from it’s outpost on the bar cart, pineapples are indeed welcoming.  Wall coverings that blur and obscure the fruit feel polished and fresh, and are perhaps just the right splash of irreverence for a powder room or guest bed.

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Flavor Paper . Fruits of Design . Sweet Potato Mica Clay Coated.

Summer Escape

Summer rightfully brings out the kid in us all.  By my account there is far too much seriousness going around these days.  I’m not condoning irresponsibility, just suggesting that buying a Crew Cuts tee shirt from the kids department that has glittery cherry’s on it, is perfectly acceptable, and frankly much more economically responsible than buying it from J. Crew Woman’s.   Just saying…I did it, and you feel free to judge.  I am also suggesting that a sequined watermelon throw pillow, could really make rolling from Sunday into Monday, just a little bit happier, and if you woke up in these delightfully chipper cherry sheets from Serena and Lily, who’s to say you wouldn’t have the best day ever?

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PB Teen . Tutti Fruity Pillow Covers. 16″ Square – $12.99 each.

To making the most of your summer weekends, and not allowing yourself to turn Sunday into an extension of Monday.

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Serena and Lily . Cherry Sheet Set. $128. – $228.

 

 

 

Bad Ass Boutique . Thompson . Nashville

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Thompson . Nashville – sorry Nash this is a five star hotel.

To be clear, I am generally speaking, a hotel lover.  I like watching people, imagining where they are from, what brought them to this place, and the delicious thought that others are toiling away – while you are not.  I love them so much, I spend a good deal of time in them, in the various neighborhoods in my own home town.  Lap top, mobile, note pad, it’s as good an office as any old place, and I find that the general buzz is a welcome and impressive noise.  So there you have it.  Hotels are my jam.

Tyler and Lauren stand under the lights . Design – Parts and Labor . NYC

But…Thompson Nashville is the jammiest of jams – high tea at the Ritz with crumpets and clotted cream without any of the formality that comes with a British accent.  The Southern twang is served up with a 40 ounce Rosé wrapped in a paper bag.  Don’t laugh, you’ll be pleading for more of this porch pounder before the last live song is sung for the evening.

The prettiest 40 I ever did see.

21st century lighting in mid-century costume.

It goes without saying that a place as hip as Nash, and Thompson would not disappoint with the design.  San Fransisco based Two Roads Hospitality, the owners of the Thompson Brand opened their newest, 12 Story, 224 room, boutique hotel (one of eight) on 20 October 2016, to rave reviews.  Located in the Gulch Neighborhood, named literally for the narrow, steep-sided ravine which marks the course of a fast stream, arcing through the city’s south side.  The Gulch was previously the site of a very active rail road yard, which brought the majority of the supplies to the city, but became defunct after WWII.

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The Marsh Restaurant at Thompson

Now for those that have been paying close attention to me, you know I love edgy design, and I swoon over lighting, and make all manner of bad decisions when this happens.  Darlin’ we’re all human.  When I tell you that Parts and Labor NYC based design firm combines the sweet and salty scrumptiousness that offers up a veritable explosion for your visual senses, I’m really not doing them justice.  Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Levitt offer up “bespoke, bare-knuckled and straight forward approach to high end design”.  I feel lightheaded.  Brass and glass, texture and layers, pops of color and sophistication, mixed with a little industrial to remind you of the origins of its geographic location.  The chug of the train receding into quiet.  It’s gritty and glamorous all at the same time.  This is Thompson.

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Cane Backed Bench inside a bookcase.  Considering my options.

I didn’t peak into the rooms, but understand the mini-bar dispenses vinal records.  So beyond cool I can’t stand it.  Apparently they provide maps that will guide you to neighboring record stores where you can really score.  Who doesn’t like an adventure.  Stop along the way at any of the restaurants or shops that have found their home inside the re-purposed industrial buildings that line the streets, or make your way back to Thompson’s Marsh House Restaurant, or to its roof top bar where the warm breeze blows, and views of the city are tipped in pink at sunset.

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Relaxing Rooftop

Y’all, I’m preparing to book my October visit.  Don’t wait, the hotel stock is so low in this booming city despite their hyper-track pursuit to bring rooms on line – the lines are outpacing supply.  The Thompson is a sip of perfect whisky in a city where you are the star in the song.  I so love being the star…..

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Rooftop Restaurant

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The final word . wood pendants, capped in silver, surrounded by Crystal … please!

HIGH POINT: design inspiration

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Nancy Price Interiors . Abby Price Art

Design is a high point in my day.  I’m inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s always a bit surprising to me when people aren’t.  And there are people that are NOT inspired by beautiful settings.  It’s as if they can’t see it at all.  They are foreigners to me.  I recently had to take a personality test.  It said I liked aesthetically pleasing work environments.  This doesn’t shock any that knows me.  Though if you were to take a gander at the state that my office is often in, you might wonder.  A story for another time.

High Point, South Carolina is a place I’ve never been and were it not for the International Interiors Market that takes place there twice annually, I probably would never have known of it’s existence.  More than 100 countries are represented, more than 75,000 people attend to peruse 1.5M Square feet of show space.  I get dizzy just thinking about it.    It occurred to me that it could be this cold that seems to have lasted 3 months, and has a tenacity that is getting the better of me.   Silly right?  It’s definitely the idea of having access to so many amazing designers, products and furnishings all in one place.  I’d just load up on cough medicine and Red Bull, and be on my way.

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Made Good . Area Chair

Though I wasn’t able to attend, and I am currently on a buying hiatus – also a story for another time.  I have been watching Instagram blow up with jaw dropping photos of all the new finds, and lines that the showcase had to offer.

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Maggie Cruz Home . maggiecruzdesign.com Habanera Console and Cleo Stool

I feel a pang that has nothing to do with the cold, and everything to do with jealousy.  I’m consoling myself with the reality that so many of the offerings are never going to be in my budget, and that’s ok.  They can still provide inspiration, and that is just what they have done.  I hope that you feel the same way.

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SHO Modern Verge Pendant Shomodern.com

Take a look.  Next showcase is in October in the event High Point is destined to become….well the “high point” of your Fall.

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Woodson & Rummerfield . wonderdesign.com

Rosy Glow: Living in the pink

Photographers live for “the golden hour” that time of day when the light is glowy and romantic, and casts a shimmer and sparkle on those that are bathed in it.  It’s sequins and fireworks, and candle light.  It’s dew drops, and effervescence, and youthful sleepiness.  It’s first bloom, it’s a Florence skyline, it’s perfection.  I want perfection for a moment.  There…I said it.  I want it in that moment when the light sheds years from your world weary skin, and plumps your heart to overflowing with happiness and possibility.

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No. 4 Coming Together . Painting – Stephanie Shank . Verellen Sofa

I think I may be on my way to achieving it in my living room.  I went for the pastels and the peaches, the blush and palest of the cream white tones.  I blanketed it in a backdrop of Benjamin Moore Sand Dollar.  (oh Ben, we’ll get to you tomorrow – you’ve stepped up your game yet again – how you do please me).

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Pastel puddles under toe (not to be confused with undertow which sweeps you along and spits you out if you know how to work with it, or has disastrous ramifications, if you don’t)  We won’t think about that now.  We’ll think about the luscious Landry and Arcari Turkish Oushak that tickles my toes, and my fancy all at the same time.  Though I wasn’t sure it achieved my bright side fantasies, it is well suited to the setting and I have grown very fond of it.

 

Achieving lighting levels that will flatter you and your guests require some simple rules of thumb.

  • Variety:  Cans, pendants, chandeliers, standing lamps, table lamps, wall mounted,
  • Bulbs:  Say no to Florescent, yes to LED, and don’t be afraid to strategically employ soft pink bulbs,
  • Dimmers:  yes please – have an Electrician install them everywhere, variety is key to achieving a sultry smolder or a blushy beam,
  • In-direct:  keep them guessing.  From what point does the light emanate?  Hide it behind a plant, beneath a molding, allow it to splash a wall or painting rather than direct it’s beam toward some Bell in a Ballgown.
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Oomph Slipper . Bungalow5 Side Table . L & A . Turkish Oushak

I’ll be bringing back an Electrician – a fourth time.  There’s work to do yet, but my furnishings and art are working hard to do their part.

ART in Fact: ARTEFACT offers hidden gems

artefact4Where it not for my dear friend Joanne Difrancesco of JDCommunications, I may never have found this quietly dignified Home and Garden store in Belmont . MA.  ARTEFACT . 1000 Pleasant Street. Belmont . MA  www.artefacthome.com,  owned by two sisters, Sue and Maureen Walsh, is an oasis off of a busy suburban street.  It was a lovely surprise…why you ask?  It features furnishings, and art that is one of a kind, or nearly one of a kind.  As a professional shopper(the kind that only spends money, doesn’t get paid to shop for others), I can assure you I run into the same lines again and again.  I nearly ran over the designers assembled, eager to receive their continuing education credits for the presentation that was to follow, in my frantic desire to grab a glass of wine, and get an up close look at those gold guilted mirrors.  Quel beauty.  They were worth the stares I received.

While the mirrors may have been the first thing to catch my eye, they weren’t the last.  The lighting that was displayed is dramatic, and very unusual.  Statement pieces abounded, and as I circled the showroom floor and later chatted with Maureen, I learned that they represent local artisans.  The floating shelves, made by an wood worker out of Beverly are so uber chic.  My love of sixties design has me envisioning them in a sleek bachelor bad, displaying a “floating bar” with the perfect bottle of bourbon, and a glass carafe for stirring up an early evening aperitif.  Admittedly, my eyes might be glued to the 6’2″ male model of a man, making me that cocktail, but for you, I offer this dark, sleek, floating vision of perfection.  Enjoy.

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Floating Shelves:  18″w x 14″d x 4″h $1500.  36″w x 14″d x 4″h $3000.

The event featured Verellen – a Belgian Furniture Maker, and Libeco, the Belgian Linen supplier with whom they partner.  I own a Verellen.  It’s the only sofa I ever owned that I have never wanted to be something other than it is.  It’s deep, comforting, has sexy lines, and is perfectly crafted.  I had no idea that there was a Tom Verellen, son of Ellen, that was responsible for my beautifully crafted piece.

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Sue Walsh and Tom Verellen confer before the presentation.

Mine is called the Charlotte, and while I admitted to Tom that it’s beautiful Belgian Slip Cover got tossed last year, it held up well through dinner parties and red wine spills, little sticky hands, and hard to identify stains.  I washed it, and scrubbed it, and loved it.  In the end, it’s pale gray color was ruined by chocolate.  If only I had known Catherine of Libeco, I could have gotten that out of it too.  No worries, I reupholstered it, and love it all over again in its new streamlined form.

Verellen, like true Artisans does not sell to big companies, but rather chooses small business owners with whom to partner, and select just one or two in the city or region.  This means, you simply must visit ARTETACT to see what their chairs, sofas, and chaises are all about.  The pieces, made by real people, on a farm with chickens – I am not making this up, are not inexpensive.  Something made with that much love, shouldn’t be.  Having said that, they are coming out with a new line in just a few weeks that will be at a more affordable price point for those starting out…..Happy Nest.  Please, I don’t think adorning the name anymore is possible.  My Quest for the Nest will be making good use of these happy pieces.  While options are limited, they are super quick ship, and will be made with the same exacting standards for which Verellen is known.

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Verellen in Libeco’s Belgian Linen.

I didn’t get out of the store before securing a hold on a pair of French Art Deco, flush mount fixtures.  They are indeed pieces of art.  I spied them across the room.  I found myself catching their eye again and again throughout the evening.  We’ll meet again.  I have just the place for you.

 

 

Can a rookie house flipper pocket $1 million?

That’s the questions that Jaci Conry of the Boston Globe asked when she interviewed me for her cover story in The Boston Globe Magazine.  On-line today at http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/real-estate/2016/12/30/can-novice-make-million-flipping-homes/WRmD9u24SEpu6Wj5bHV94O/story.html?s_campaign=8315, out in print tomorrow.  Nice way to close out the year, and open 2017.  Time will tell.

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No. 4 . Underway . David L. Ryan Globe Staff Photographer

It’s funny, and interesting to me, the strong emotions that bubble to the surface when the topic of conversation is house flipping.  One reader reprimanded me for driving up the prices in the South End, making properties unaffordable for the average guy or gal.  To this I can only say “I don’t think I am average at all…I’m special, but why wouldn’t I think that?, I’m me”.  Still, I did start with just $15,000., and the price of real estate in the South End was unaffordable for me when I started, it still is, but someday, I hope it will not be.  When I generate enough sweat and tears, when I have pushed through when I would rather have put on a party dress and heels, when all the dust settles, I hope, that I will be one of those lucky few that really owns a home.

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Falla with Micah Viana of Naysa Builders examining Visual Comfort’s Calais Chandelier meant for the bedroom.  David L. Ryan Globe Staff Photographer.

Until then, I plan to continue to make mistakes, share the error of my ways, take pride in doing something right, and well, and in service to these old buildings.  These grand and historic brownstones.  These beautiful, and sometimes broken representations of our city’s history.  To be a part of that, is to be part of something that is bigger than me.  It’s important.

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No. 1 . Charlestown . a working kitchen in the end.  Photo:  Falla

Yes, I could spend less money on the construction, but I choose not to for several reasons – I love design, and like my inexplicable adoration for architects and interior designers, I have a deep appreciation for beautifully crafted things.  Lighting fixtures, sculptural tables, the weight and feel of a door knob in your hand, these things speak to me.  I am drawn to them.  This Quest allows me to be near people and things that inspire me.  This Quest allowed me to fly to Paris and hunt down that mid-century modern sputnik chandelier in the flee market.

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Mid-Century Madness.  Italian Sputnik via Le Marche aux Puces . Paris.  So beautiful I want to cry.  Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

It gave to me an amazing trip with my dear friend Tiffany who shares my obsession with travel, and fashion, and home improvement, and design.  Experiences like that keep me warm at night.  The second reason I invest in these buildings has to do with a sense of stewardship for them.  I believe one should always endeavor to leave something or someone, a little better than before they knew you.

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Property No. 2 . Milford Street.  Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

To the gent that asked:  “Who needs all this renovation aggravation, why not just marry someone that owns a lot of property?”  I can only say….”now why didn’t I think of that?”

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Property No. 3 . Waltham Street . Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

On this last day of the year, I encourage you all to do it your way, and own it.  Good-bye 2016.  You’ve been a good one.

West Elm: Working Partnerships

It was a few years ago when I first started noticing West Elm pieces in Commercial applications.  I spied a side table or two in AEW’s Corporate Offices, in the Seaport, designed by ADD, Inc., scattered throughout.  To my delight I found pillows and side tables in Hawthorne’s artisnal drinkery in Boston’s Kenmore Square, and thought, perhaps they’re on to something here.  Affordable, hip, mid-century design – way to stay on budget, on trend, and allow for the flexibility of change down the road.  Love it.

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West Elm with Inscape

A little over a year ago, West Elm partnered with Etsy to bring local businesses together in their Kenmore Square location, allowing them to have a pop-up shop under their roof.  Brilliant.  It happened in cities across the country.  What forward thinking business strategy.  I was introduced to some small business owners I wasn’t likely to have made contact with otherwise, and got to meet Erin Gates of Elements of Style, eat a fantastic bacon glazed donut from Blackbird Bakery in the South End, and leave with two pillows.  A win.

On Thursday night I visited Peabody Office Furniture in Boston’s Financial District for the big reveal of their Inscape Office Line Partnership with West Elm.  I have been waiting for the unveiling for months when I first learned of the dynamic duo’s plans.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s got that welcome to Don Draper’s Office, care for a Manhattan look about it.  It’s sixties cool with its clean lines, dark wood, and retro fabrics, I wanted to move right in and have the Mad Men re-make me.  I could just picture it….I enter in jeans and tennis shoes, hair in a pony tail, bags under my eyes….I exit in a red Carolina Herrera gown, Harry Winston choker hanging heavy around my delicate neck, diamonds as big as rock candy threatening to make off with my earlobes, 5 inch Louboutin’s peaking through the swaths of fabric surrounding me like meringue cloud.  Naturally either Don himself or some swashbuckling man trails behind me.

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West Elm . Mid-Century Modern Madness

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West Elm . Pelle Gooseneck Chandelier $799.

Ah, dare to dream.  Thanks West Elm for that lovely fantasy, and thanks too for finalizing my decision on a living room chandelier.  After all, your first order of business was to help the everyday gal like me have a fabulous home, was it not?