Yo – Tell it on the Mountain: A hotel worth talking about

While dining with my good friend Marisa on Wednesday, she mentioned the opening of a new hotel in Boston’s Seaport District.  In our roles we are always looking for hip spots to host client events that will make a splash.  How appropriate that Yotel picked Boston’s Seaport for it’s second city location, because a splash it is going to make!  Opening next Thursday, 22 June at 65 Seaport Blvd. the 326 “cabin” hotel is all about compact luxury.  So coincidentally, am I.

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Self-serve or Mission Control 24/7.

While the original hotels are known as Yotel Airs, and are located at airports, they carry the concept of first class travel to their city environs.  Mission Control (Front Desk), Crew Members (Hotel Staff), and of course your Cabins (hotel rooms), all set the stage for a first class travel experience.

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Premium Queen with Bunk.

It’s no coincidence that Yotel’s creator, Simon Woodrooffe began his life as a stage manager before transitioning to a set designer, becoming a restauranteur with the opening of his first Yo Sushi in 1997, continued his illustrious career.  Well naturally, someone that is known for innovating and reinventing himself, wasn’t going to sit about in the same old set for the rest of his life.  So the Yotel concept, which with streamlined precision and ingenuity, gracefully melds aircraft cabin design, and yacht design, overlaying many of the principles of theater set design, and the technological systems that ensure quick, and seamless transitions from one set to another, into the hotels design…et voila, travel is transformed back to its standing as a time honored gift of adventure and wonder.

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Thankfully this English based company converts square meters into square feet as my list of things to learn is long, and constantly growing.  Don’t feel sad for those meters, they’ll get their spot light here.  A Queen Cabin is 14 sqm, which is roughly 149 Square Feet.  Seems small right?  Yo likes to say “everything you need and nothing you don’t.”  Technology plays an important role in creating comfort in this economically designed space.  SmartBeds, SmartTVs, and the speediest of speedy Wi-fi seem to make it all work.  Like micro-housing units there are plenty of places outside the cabin to convene, work, dine, and relax.

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Cabin Fever …. never, too many places and city faces to visit, inside the hotel and out.

I can’t wait to escape to Yotel’s Boston Rooftop Lounge.  As a Cape Cod Gal getting a glimpse of the water is as necessary to me a taking my next breath.  The rooftop will offers an amazing vantage point from which to view the harbor, sit in comfortable lounge chairs, and a cocktail.  Special introductory rates of $129. have me considering booking a room just for the chance to experience it all first hand.

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Yotel Rooftop Boston.

 

Sm.ART Move

IMG_8008When I went to the opening of BostonArt’s newly renovated space, courtesy of my firm Elaine Construction, on Thursday night, I was struck by the breadth of their offerings.  Located at 21 Drydock Ave in the Seaport, part of the attraction of the space for me is always going to be its ocean view.  To gaze out at the water, even when it’s gray and stormy, grounds me.  Reminds me of who I am, and where I came from.  Not our origin, though we all emerged from salt water, but rather geographically, from my Cape Cod seaside upbringing.  So it’s true that this view, for me, is one of the most beautiful canvases a person could set eyes upon.  Having said that, BostonArt gives you cause to be distracted.

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It “artfully” accomplishes many missions, showcasing the artwork as a museum might, storing, restoring, framing and making new again, while all the while workers sit in perimeter offices – presumably doing the hard work of branding, selling, selecting, and advising their clients on just the right pieces and installations for their spaces.  How they manage to remain focused between the view out the expansive industrial windows, and the paintings and photographs that line the walls and are meant to showcase the offerings, but frankly serve as the inhabitants personal collection – is beyond me.  It’s stunning.  It’s fun, bright, subdued, fine, graphic and photographic, art, and sculpture.

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Room with a view.

To my delight I spied a painting by my good friend John Jay Vinton in one of the offices and thought, hum, I wouldn’t have imagined his work in an office setting, which got me thinking, is that all they do?  The answer is of course no!  How uninformed can a gal get.  In addition to procuring art for hospitals, and corporate offices they do large scale residential, and wait for it….small scale urban apartments too!  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I stumbled upon this service a few years back, but truthfully thought that I must first have important art, and second, a good deal of it, in order to hire the likes of a consultant.  BostonArt may be my solution.  I saw one piece in particular that I really loved, hanging around, just waiting to be discovered, no doubt, by me.  It would be pretty cool to have them come and assess my “collection”, and make recommendations on how to fill in the gaps, re-frame, group, and all those things they do so well that makes a normal space say – At last…my art has come around.

 

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.

 

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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

Ode to Etsy: small business . big community

New businesses, ways of working, entirely new economies, and economic realities…are popping up at a pace that is frankly dizzying.  Sadly many companies, and ways of life are disappearing just as fast.  I’m telling you right now, if Dairy Queen disappears into that good night, there will be nothing good about it!

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Etsy . SouthernShades $70.

Etsy represents an old way of doing things, like back in the day when people attended craft fairs to get one-of-a-kind gifts, and pieces for their homes, with the new reality, people are so super busy that the thought of traveling to Brimfield for the Antique Flee Market seems as daunting as going to Fiji to meet the Dalai Lama…impossible. It’s the time not the dime that’s the problem.  And this my friends lends itself nicely to the reality that our intense need for speciality items hasn’t diminished one iota, even if the way in which we go about getting these things has.

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Etsy . Mowdwrk . $295.42

More than a convenient place to shop, Etsy, which was launched in 2005, and is global by nature of it’s this e-commerceness”e”, is a community.  It feels a little like WeWork, and though store-owners don’t share the coffee or the medical plan, they are benefitting from a peer-to-peer network, and the collective power of hanging your shingle along side other photographers, pillow makers, jewelry designers, and a shared belief artisnal over mass produced.  Maybe I can’t get to Brimfield, or Fiji in the next few years, but bet I bet I can get something something unique from one, or both places, on Etsy.

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Etsy . Thetuftedfrog . $260.

Let’s talk price.  Some items are very expensive.  Predominantly one of a kind, and handmade, it should not be surprising, but more often than not I find them far more affordable than the larger stores in which I am inclined to shop.  This has led me to start proactively searching there site before I hit send to place my order.  I’ve simply got to stop spending so much money on furnishings.  Money that I will never get back.  A year ago, I would have told you that it absolutely wouldn’t be worth all the disruption, if I couldn’t design my properties just exactly as I wanted.  If you can’t read between my lines, I’ll spell it out here for you – expensive!  Now that I have been turned on to Etsy, I feel like I can have it all.  Want the new Schumacher fabric for your throw pillows –  one of the Etsy Store Owners likely has it.  I’ve even found things I didn’t know existed before.

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Etsy . LoveColoray . $320. removal wallpaper

Etsy’s opened a whole new world to me.  I could log some miles surfing those shops.  Back to the problem of time…Happy Sunday.

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Etsy . CanvasCarnival . Curtains . Price based on size.

Re-Making of the Manse

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The Manse . circa 1789

Finding new life after more than two hundred years shows fortitude and resilience.  Jo-Jo’s late 18th century home sat directly on the frozen earth, no modern barriers of protection, its only insulation the newspaper and sail cloth that lined the walls underneath the wall paper.  Who knew wallpaper wasn’t all form, it was a big part function.  I stand educated.  Perhaps all these less technical methods allowed the house to breath.  One’s survival depends on it, after all.  I thought the old girl would crumble when she was jacked up, when that carefully preserved earth was shoveled from under her, when her old bones, which were crooked with age, were laid gently down on her new foundation, miraculously, they did not break.

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The new addition.

She rested, and settled, and straightened herself out.  When they say “built to last”  this is what they mean.  Like a surgeon at work on a poor souls scoliosis riddled back, when the builders were done, she’d grown taller.  Nearly a foot of ceiling height was gained, a modest 6′ addition added to the rear of the house to accommodate another bedroom. She underwent eye surgery of sorts, getting all new windows, and a hair cut in the form of asphalt shingles.  Her every day dress is shingled on three sides, but she’s wears her Sunday best, in the form of pale grey painted clapboards, and Nantucket Red painted doors, on her front facade, greeting Parishioners as they head to Holy Trinity just steps away.

She has been an excellent patient, allowing her team to work wonders as they fortify her skeletal structure, remove and strip the toxins – mold, lead, termites – that took up residence at 261 Main, and prepare to insert an entirely new respiratory system (Heat and AC where it didn’t exist before), and a sparkle in her eye, in the form of all new wiring and lighting.  Somehow, even now, with not a light on, she manages to shine.

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The took the whole tree trunk …why not?

This weekend was all about the big push to outfit her.  A gal can’t be expected to wear only one outfit for the next 200 years.  Flooring, hardware, appliances, fixtures, paint colors, wallpaper, you name it.  My head is swimming.  We visited Stonewood Products . 15 Greatwestern Road. W. Harwich to look at flooring and interior siding options.  Rough Sawn Fir, and Schoolhouse Oak, Shiplap in Pine.  I looked at Smeg, Blue Star, Miele, Bosch, Fisher Paykel, refrigerators and stoves at KAM Appliances . 210 Yarmouth Road . Hyannis, MA.  Martha Stewart, Woodman, and Kraft Made kitchen cabinets, and tile, Home Depot.  Subway, penny, Carrera, fish scale, Tileworks . 705 Main Street . Harwich. MA.  Vanities, sinks, color combinations.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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Jim Falla . The Architect in the midst of his creation.

I’ve never seen the point of troubling too much over the decisions.  You make them.  Some are good, some are bad.  You do your research and then take action.  The amount of time you worry over whether or not it’s a good decision, doesn’t seem to impact the outcome for me, one way or the other.  So, since time is money.  I make them quickly.  Jo-Jo does not.  There will be a lot of coaxing to get her to commit.  She makes me put together design boards with three options for every space.  She insists that she is my Client, in the way only Jo-Jo could.  In the way only the youngest in the family could get away with.  Much love Jo-Jo – you’re boards are in the process of being assembled.  Get ready to decide.

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Stonewood Products . I wish you could smell this place…heaven.

As I sit and look at the snow falling in the back yard, I envision a tiny house in its farthest corner.  This tiny spit of land already holds two homes, but I feel strongly that it could accommodate one more. It would be tiny after all.

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.

 

 

Spring Coat

Spring…it’s so full of promise. The fresh air that puffs in through the crack in the window, freed from the confines of its casing after the long winter.  The smell of cut grass and the sound of birds chirping – children’s laughter.

Left:  Mulberry Spring line . 2013 . Right:  Rhianna in Dior.

It’s natural to think of the outdoors, but why should your fence have all the fun?  Your furnishings are just as deserving of a fresh coat of paint as those wind ravaged planks.  When you live in locals that celebrate the seasons, it’s natures way of saying, “dress for the weather”.  Your interior should adjust to the change in temperature and temperament – just as your exterior does.  Hello spring shopping.  While its true I don’t need a change in season to signal a time for shopping, but others might.

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Bungalow5 . Taboret . In need of a new shade, but it’s 8 years old, is the perfect size for my small apartments, and works so well!

A fresh coat of paint on a piece of furniture can change the mood from cozy, dark, and mysterious, to playful and light. Now I am not suggesting you paint your furniture every four months, you’d never get it out of the shop before it was time to do it again.  Putting it on the curb isn’t the solution either.  Perfectly good pieces deserve a second chance.  When you buy furniture that is well made and classic, it can not only withstand the ages, but your whims.

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B5 . Powder Blue . What a pretty hue.

As I look around my admittedly chaotic, and cluttered home (construction is not yet complete, and my carefully orchestrated existence is exposed…quelle horror), I spy the pieces that I have carefully curated, and consider which will go to the shop to be sprayed.  If you are a DIY’er, or just someone that aspires to the same, there are plenty of resources out there to guide you on your skills journey.  Whenever I am desperate to learn something  new, super fast, I turn to YouTube.  Don’t laugh.  Everything you ever wanted to learn is packaged in easy to understand, instructional videos.  Pause as many times as you want, until you are certain you’ve got it right.  Me, I don’t have time for that.  Someday, but now, my minutes are accounted for, and I must use them wisely.

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B5 . What color would you choose?

My Bungalow5 Taboret will find its way down to Porcelain Patch & Glaze . 140 Watertown Street . Watertown . MA – www.porcelainpatch.com  where it will buy its new spring coat!