Is Your Home Driving You Crazy? I Can Help

It feels appropriate right now to acknowledge all that we have lost during this pandemic. I’m all for positivity. I love being around positive people, it makes me feel amazing. Throw in a little manifestation, an affirmation or two, some being in the moment and you have the makings of a hot fudge sunday with marshmallow, nuts and a cherry on top of the happiness hill, but NOT acknowledging loss can lead to listlessness or worse, and we can’t have that.

A friend, of a friend, had reached out to me over a year ago to talk about reconfiguring her living room. Then life got in the way, as it is want to do, until so much of this life got in her way that she was finding a classroom, a dog, two kids and a husband underfoot. She hadn’t just lost her work-from-home, make my life easier existence, she’d nearly lost her sanity, and can you blame her?

Elizabeth Bishop and Dorothy Parker, both poets, could wring tears from scorched earth in the Sahara with the prose that spilled forth from their pens, on the subject of loss. At turns brash and edgy, and then slow and sorrowful, they saw what it was to be left wanting – a hunger pain begging to be fed. I suspect many of us are feeling this way and I think I have an answer – we must gravitate toward structure during these times to manage the loss.

Kate, in her wisdom, knew this to be true, and I am happy to help show her some ways in which order can be brought to chaos through reordering her living space, relocating her office, so the kiddos don’t think that “seeing” is believing, that Mommy is available for games, consultation, lunch prep, or an attempt to locate the left sock with the locomotives on it – she’s working.

This pandemic has made me a believer, even the most free and easy among us crave structure. Here are my top three tips:

These beauties will be displayed prominently in the space.

  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep the furniture that speaks to you in some way – most of the time it can be made to work,
  • Find ways to store, hide, arrange and organize the little things (bins for legos, blocks and art supplies, files for bills, trays for keys, loose change, and remotes, and baskets for bigger items), also, don’t be afraid to hang it on the wall – that guitar would look great in the kids craft area!
  • Grab your partner or a friend or two, a bottle of wine and start moving that furniture around the room. Break every rule! Put the sofa in front of the window, the media cabinet “floating” between spaces to create barriers between space uses. If you hate it, move it back – no law.

Take a deep breath. This will end, and if it isn’t ending soon enough for you, I find screaming into my pillow helps. Happy Sunday.

An Appreciation for What is NOT Yours

Celerie Kemble . showcasing her talents for Chairish.

It’s fascinating to me that you can like something so much and still not be able to see yourself in that life. Celerie Kemble’s design aesthetic is that for me. When I look at the pieces in this feature photo for Chairish, I really do adore so many of its elements. The rich blue of the French Bergere chair reminds me of the Adriatic Sea. I could dive right into it, and I can feel its velvety softness under my fingertips. I’m a tactile person. I like to experience my environment through touch, and this chair begs to be touched.

My pink little Bungalow 5 Taboret Stools “Vintage” ūüôā

The chinoiserie planter, the pale blue vases atop gilded French wall shelves, are both precious and foreign to me. They are like the fancy sneakers that the ladies that lunch wear – there is part of me that wants them, and wants that life, but when I dole out the exorbitant amount of money required to assemble that uniform, I find them collecting dust in the closet. Why? Because it’s not really me. While I appreciate it, any act of replication wouldn’t be speaking to my true design self.

A tissue box was as far as I’ve been willing to go with the Chinoiserie, maybe I could do an old ash tray?

I try not to beat myself up about it. I know for certain you’ll never see me trying to purchase a round settee for my living room. I’m not a Southern Belle living in a plantation mansion. My one bedroom apartments typically can accommodate a sofa and a single chair, which is probably why I have grown so fond of stools and benches. They can be tucked in, around, and under other pieces of furniture, provide extra seating when guests come over for cocktails, and allow me to express some of my crazier design whims without feeling too guilty.

A place I’d like to visit, but no place I’d ever call home.

I’ve gone really high end – my Oly Studio, cow hide, zebra striped, ebony saber legged benches. I bought them in my very first apartment, and had to save for at least two months of Sunday’s to cobble the dollars together to make the purchase. I have never regretted it. The vintage – I laugh at this, but I did buy them when I was in that same Charlestown apartment many years ago now, Taboret side tables by Bungalow 5, sadly are no longer in production. These tables, that double as stools, are work horses. I have repainted them several times to match the new decor of one of the flips and they never disappoint. They too required a me to skip a few meals to scrimp and save for them, but have proven to be well worth the initial sacrifice. There are others – the Restoration Hardware metal cross benches that weigh so much I can barely move them around by myself, that I wish I hadn’t purchased, but for the most part, my stools have all served me well.

Oly Studio . Saber Legged Bench. When it comes with a payment plan – you better really love it.

I can say to Celerie – way to go with that wall covering. Some day, I’ll have a place that’s really my own, and I may just find myself adventurous enough to pull the trigger. If I don’t like it, I can always paper over it with something more subtle. Perhaps in the end, it’s the color palette that I find so appealing. Pinks and grays always make me feel happy, and your home should be a happy place. Don’t you think?

Piping Hot: taking upholstered pieces from warm to hot

If you’re like me, you admire perfectly upholstered pieces with their pretty piping, but think them just outside of your realm of sophistication. Now of course I have upholstered pieces, and some of them even have piping. I’ll even go so far as to say – it’s contrast piping, which means it is in a different color than the base fabric. You knew that though, and if you didn’t, it likely means you go for more modern lines. It need not be persnickety though. It can be cool, and tie disparate elements in a room together.

Oomph Headboard . talk about contrast! Whoa.

I guess the bit about tying different elements together is what has me most interested in piping right now. Having spent a boat load of money on No.5, little of which the viewer will be able to appreciate. Boo hoo, but which was necessary nonetheless, I will be forced to re-use much of what I have. Cue the violins. I know none of you are feeling sorry for me. Perhaps we can all learn something from this experience.

It occurred to me that I might get a little daring and add a true contrast to the base fabric. After all, there’s no law that says it must pick up one of the colors in the pattern, or be a boring neutral. Why not have a double row of piping. Why not make one of those rows an entirely different color – why not I ask you – why not?

Oomph . Rafia Scallop Slipper Chairs.

Designers are always making up rules and then turning around and breaking them, and then calling that rule that they just broke, the new rule that everyone should follow. I’m not blaming them for creating confusion, or design chaos, in fact I encourage it. Get after it. Just understand that even if we don’t have a host of IIDA initals after our name, doesn’t mean we can get to experimenting on our own. I plan to do just that. If I fail, I’ll be prepared to accept the I told you so’s.

A little contrast goes a long way. Pale grey and white with contrasting violet. Want to add an edge – try a double cord, lavender and navy.

Cinco de Color Selection: No. 5

Getting ahead of things helps keep me from falling behind.¬† That’s why I start planning the color palette long before I have my place on the market.¬† In this case, No. 4 is scheduled to land just after Labor Day.¬† Interested?¬† Very little inventory on the market, and mine is a honey of a property….a good things come in small packages kind of surprise.

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Makes sense to me….Homesense furnishings and accessories.

I feel like the halfway point demands a grand gesture, a dramatic statement, a wild moment at the very least.¬† I believe in milestone celebrations.¬† My yoga coach is always talking about living in the moment, enjoying the journey – well if I live until I am 100, I am literally living in the middle of the moment of my life, and my quest.¬† Maybe I should have fireworks.¬† Enormous balloons?¬† A Pony, or perhaps a zebra.¬† I’ve always felt most strongly that graphic prints are the very best statements in a home, so a zebra seems fitting.¬† I doubt my budget will allow for any of that, though I am confident I could come up with all of the aforementioned items and the party would be FABULOUS.

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My favorite color….gray!

Staying focused can be a drag sometimes, but planning the direction of No. 5 is not, so let’s get on with it.¬† I was sitting next to one of my industry colleagues the other day at a board meeting (I’m in the corporate real estate industry and my colleague is in charge of real estate for TJX Companies – they own Home Goods, Homesense, Marshalls and more).¬† I got to chatting with Chris about designing one of my flips using only items I purchased at Home Goods.¬† Such is my obsession with that place.

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I’ll take the screens, the garden stools, that lamp and the pillows!

Could it really be done?¬† Could it really be done by me?¬† I love an outrageous idea like this, that might attract the attention of the media.¬† I like being on camera, and one day, might just have my own show. Who knows, the American appetite for design is insatiable.¬† Lord knows I’ve done other equally outrageous things to get published, not the least of which include spending more money on a yard of fabric than some people pay for summer camp for a kid.¬† That decision isn’t likely to be forgotten, at least until I pay off my credit card.¬† When will I learn?

HS 4

Color coordination makes me happy.

This route could save me thousands upon thousands of dollars.  I can also attest to genuinely loving what they have to offer.  I buy a massive quantity of goods Рwhich make my home decidedly better than good!

My go to list of items include:

  • garden tables
  • lamps
  • bed clothes
  • knock-off accessories
  • rugs
  • pillows

They do one of two things, fade into the background ( I mean that in the best possible way), or they wow on their own.¬† Now it is true that my go-to approach is to mix HG items with pricier brand name pieces.¬† It always feels really good when people comment on the assemblage of items, singling out an HG find, but could I do a whole home?¬† Their furnishings aren’t among their strongest offerings, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bed in any of the stores.

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Ah, but they do have them, and it’s lovely.

Home Sense on the other hand has expanded offerings, and just recently open in Braintree, MA.  I can stop on my way from Boston to the Cape.  More concepts to come.  Please do weigh in.

 

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.

The Inside Scoop: furnishings at swoon worthy prices

It’s not often you swoon over something you can absolutely have, it’s usually things that are, well out of my reach, that make me fall all over myself.¬† That 12 carat diamond ring that I attempt to convince myself I wouldn’t want for fear of being held at gunpoint, or the shear weight of lugging it around (I’d risk both).¬† The yacht that sails around the Caribbean with my own personal chef capable of supporting whatever dietary whim strikes my fancy with delectable meals that make me forget there’s any dietary restriction at all.¬† I could go on and on about the things that make me swoon, but the point of this fainting episode awaits.

The Insider CL Headboard

Camelback Headboard . Blue Buffalo Gingham. Queen $559.

The Inside is the brainchild of¬† Christiane Lemieux.¬† I didn’t know of her before I stumbled across her site via The Everygirl who I follow on Instagram.¬† Instagram is my primary source for new design information, inspiration, and products – not magazines, not the real life designers that I work with and around everyday – Instagram.¬† Get on it, and start following it.

The Inside . Claire V Settee

Clare V. Sardine Settee. $999.

Christiane is a Parsons grad, which on its own is to be revered.¬† She is the founder of Dwell Studio which was sold in 2013 to Wayfair.¬† She is the author of two books:¬† Undecorate and The Finer Things.¬† She is the Founder of Cloth & Company a textiles outfit, and now the Founder and CEO of The Inside, a furniture line – that in her words is: “designed . Created . Made in the USA.¬† With a mix of colors, patterns, textures, and collaborations – Clare V., Peter Som, and now The EveryGirl – this furnishings line, which is produced using 3D models and digital printing, arrives at your doorstep via UPS in 3 weeks.¬† It’s custom made for you, and it’s incredibly inexpensive – think dozens of options for under $1000.

The Inside Peter Som Stool

Peter Som . Chinois Bench. $689.

I nearly fell of my sofa and spilled my tea when I saw it.¬† I’ve come across many inexpensive lines that admittedly held my attention – some old favorites (HomeGoods . Target . West Elm), some new to my resource bandwagon – Urban Outfitters, but The Inside deserves not just a look, but the swipe of a credit card.

The Inside Citrine Stool

The Inside . Citrine Cabana Stripe . $299.

Clare’s cheeky designs will bring a smile to your face.¬† Peter’s refined and traditional prints will bring sophistication, and the crisp classic neutrals of The Everygirl collaboration, collectively – they leave you with no excuses.¬† Go ahead.¬† Add it to your cart.¬† After all, you don’t need to cart it home.¬† It will arrive on your doorstep, and your home will thank you.

A final nod to Clare V. because I cannot stand how cute these are.  I simply ADORE them. Left:  Racer Stripe Monogram (put your initials there)  $339.  Right:  Eyes Settee. $1149.

Let’s Get Seated: finding the “right” chair

As I look around my tiny little apartment I wonder to myself how it’s possible I could need more seating options? ¬†After all, I’m sitting on a stool as I write this. ¬†It’s true, it was originally intended for my outdoor deck, but I have used it as a side table in winter, and now as a perfectly good perch¬†from which to convey my thoughts to the world.

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Bungalow5 . Taboret . in its new incarnation.

 

From this vantage point I can see 2 Louis Ghost and 2 Victoria Chairs Рthe iconic design by Stark for Kartell, at my dining table.  I have used those for so many purposes to date, it seems a bit crazy that I ever entertained the idea of retiring them from service.  They are light weight, easy to move, incredibly strong Рsupporting over 300 lbs. for all their airy, light appearance Рthey are lifers in my world.

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Oly Studio . Neta Benches front and center . Louis ghost and Victoria’s all around.

I’ve previously mentioned that I have a teensy stool obsession. ¬†I don’t think I’m ready to seek counseling, but if I cave and get one or two more, I might need to admit myself. ¬†I see two Bungalow5 Taboret Stools in the living room. ¬†I have owned these since No. 1. ¬†They were black when I first purchased them, but I had them repainted, in a pale peachy blush – the color in fact is ….. wait for it …. Benjamin Moore’s Salmon Berry. ¬†How shocked you must be that I’ve referenced a Ben Moore color. ¬†He will forever be like a new boyfriend to me, and I simply can’t resist exalting his dreamy qualities¬†to you all. ¬†He’s beyond.

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Benjamin Moore . Salmon Berry

Lest you think I am done, I can also see two Oly Studio Neta Benches. ¬†Their Zebra Raw Hide upholstery is hard to miss. ¬†These were also purchased for No. 1 at a time when I could barely rub two nickels together to make a dime. ¬†They cost a fortune, even by my standards today. ¬†One of them had a most unfortunate accident, which resulted in its leg being severed. I spent a good deal of time in search of a furniture doctor that could repair the damage, adding even more cost to these little stools. ¬†Saber legs (the name given to their curved shape) are very delicate. ¬†Just in case you were wondering. ¬†Every time someone sits on them, I wince a little, and hope it holds. ¬†We’ve been through to much together to part ways.

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No. 1 . The Oomph Chair front and Center.

There is the Oomph Slipper Chair, which was in No. 1 and then found a new home in the Surf Shack, but which I have borrowed until I can make the decision, which is what has brought us here today. ¬†That was a bit exhausting, and I didn’t even mention all the other stools that have found their way to other homes over the years. ¬†When they get adopted, I can assure you, I have done my due diligence. ¬†They won’t be used as a stepping stool in some drafty garage.

souffle-chair

Souflee you’ll have to wait for another day.

So here’s what I am considering. ¬†It’s no secret that I want the Kelly Wearstler, Pouf Chair, with it’s gold metal legs that defy gravity, but I am not getting it. ¬†It’s simply too expensive. ¬†Sorry Kelly. ¬†Instead, I have been contemplating swivel chairs. ¬†There is something so enticing about being in motion, and being hypnotized into relaxation, all at the same time. ¬†It’s just the trick I need in order to let go. ¬†It’s two swivels and an acrylic from which we must choose. ¬†How did I land on an acrylic in the mix you ask? ¬†First, it’s beautiful. ¬†Second, the versatility of acrylic in small spaces is undeniable, and therefore should always be part of the conversation. ¬†You don’t have to choose it, but don’t exclude it.

No. 1:

Bernhardt Interiors: ¬†Hastings Swivel Chair . $1420. Overall: 30″ w x 34-1/2″ d x 35″ h

Bernhard

Bernhardt. boxy but crisply tailored.

No. 2:

Ballard Design: ¬†Larkin Swivel Glider . starting at $899. ¬†Overall: 33 1/2″H X 29 1/2″W X 36″D

Ballard Larkin

Ballard . pretty lines . a little messy.

No. 3:

Worlds Away: ¬†Duke BG Acrylic Klismos Chair . $1437.50 Overall:¬†21.5″W X 31″H X 19.5″D

duke_bg

Worlds Away . Duke . undeniable versatility.

Please weigh in – don’t make me decide on my own!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.

Single Aint Your Color

I sometimes forget, as a single person, how much negotiation must happen when planning for the design of someone else’s home. ¬†There’s a husband to consult, two small children to consider (no sharp edges, no materials that cannot be cleaned, no delicate lamps that the dogs tail will whack to the ground) hum. ¬†I thought my own internal dialog was noisy¬†– that my love of¬†pale grays, shades of white, and creams required advanced skills in persuasion. ¬†I think it’s evident, these aint gonna be the colors we (my other single minded design friend Tiffany and I) are allowed to use for a young active family, that wants to play, lounge, and generally not have to worry about their every move.

HG Carpet 2

We’ve made some forward progress, and I’ve been asked to “scratch that” and erase this, and tuck our¬†bright color ideas away in a drawer marked – maybe in 12 years. ¬†I giggle to myself because I am sure that there will be several iterations between now and then, but a family room should be supremely comfortable above all other rooms ¬†in the house. ¬†To be comfortable it must suit the personalities of its inhabitants. ¬†I lost sight of that for a moment. ¬†I am so rarely in my own space that some weeks the only rooms I spend time in are the bedroom and the bathroom. ¬†Enough of that honesty – on to what I hope will be a solution.

Last week the decision to purchase one of the Home Goods Rugs was made. ¬†This was a good decision for a number of reasons. ¬†First – the price was unbelievable at $149. ¬†It offers the lightness we were looking for in a dark room, and the Client (that’s our dear friend Melissa) loves it. ¬†These are big wins. ¬†A tiny drawback of this particular carpet, which I point out for your consideration when¬†buying your own, is that the palette is limited. ¬†Its base is cream with¬†a¬†black and gray motif. ¬†This will limit what colors we can introduce into the room. ¬†A rug can be a powerfully unifying element. ¬†The more colors in it, the more you can pull out of it – for solid chairs, for pillows, accent tables – you get the picture.

Charlestown

Trellis curtains – Fabric Kravet – from Charlestown found a new home in Dallas.

I think by selecting a Basketweave Trilby Gray Fabric for the Eton Chair by Ballard Design we’ll allow the neutrals (pale flax sofa, carpet, and chairs) to live in harmony with one another. ¬†I should remind everyone that they must also work with the trellis curtains, which were repurposed from my Charlestown Condo. ¬†Don’t ever let anyone tell you custom curtains are one and done. ¬†We can cut them down, let them out, stitch them together…find a way. ¬†Yes, there is a little work, and creativity involved, but it makes for a better story, oh, and more pride.

Brahms Mount Herringbone Blanket and Jo-Jo Designs Striped Pillows.

We’ll pack a little fruit punch of color here, and there, with varying shades of orange – a¬†favorite shade of the Lee Family. ¬†Maddy can only bark her approval, and Maggie is too young to voice her opinion, but I just know she’ll see it my way.

 

 

Sitting Pretty .looking for the living room chairs

I’m desperate in my search for the perfect living room chair(s). ¬†I bracket my “s” because it’s hard to say with a 10′ ladder, my swinging chariot of a chandelier, and my misfit furniture whether I need one or two. ¬†This will most definitely need to be worked out before I actually make the purchase…but for now just identifying the chair and making a love connection will do. ¬†As it is Valentine’s Day, and most everything looks better through rose colored glasses I have collected some of the prettiest pink chairs I could find. ¬†That is, in my opinion of course.

Valentine's

Don’t those just make your heart aflutter with excitement? ¬†Perhaps it’s the kid in me, but a swivel chair is both playful and practical. ¬†If there’s a dip in conversation or said conversation is decidedly boring, you can take yourself for a spin. ¬†It makes turning to the television or toward that engaging chap to your right, and dare I dream, another just to your left, a sinch. ¬†It’s rhythmic and relaxing and fabulously fashionable. ¬†I’m very fond of the Jonathan Adler Bacharach Swivel pictured above. And it goes without saying that a Bergere is welcome in any home of mine.

souffle chair

Pink Confection of Perfection – Kelly Wearstler’s Souffle Chair

I am certain that Kelly Wearstler has many secret admirers – but I am not one of them. ¬†I have made my obsession with her very public. ¬†That is why I am certain you aren’t surprised to learn that her Souffle Chair, pictured to the left¬†is my current crush. ¬†What I am not crushing on is the price tag – at $7300. ¬†I will have to wait for the rich and famous to get bored with the chair and sell it to me at a fraction of the price. ¬†I’ll love it forever…and the name…it’s simply sublime.

Happy Valentine’s Day!