Design Challenge

2 days, 4 rooms, furnishings and accents.  No lighting, no renovations, no wall coverings. I went to Dallas with no plan in place other than to visit my beloved Blue Print Store.  The timing and the demands that I am currently facing are both exciting and challenging, and didn’t allow for the pre-planning that I recommend so strongly when putting down cold hard cash, and working to turn your house into a home.

9 BP

I spy a magnificent pice of art.

It sounds a little dramatic when I write it like that, but our home is a sanctuary of sorts.  Many of us don’t recognize how supportive, restorative, and healing our environment can be, and any environment that can be all that can certainly be the opposite.  Whether it’s “unfinished” or “disorganized” you are contending with, like a constant complainer at the office, it wears on you.  Having the opportunity to help someone create a space that will nurture and make them happy is a pretty awesome gift to receive.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.44.46 PM

Bungalow 5 Camille 2 Drawer Side Table . Moss  Gray Tweed

So we started with art.  I’ve decorated 2 of my 4 places with a single piece of art in mind.  One of the paintings came from Blue Print, the other from a local artist with whom I have great respect, and who casts swirls of paint on the canvas like the ocean waves of my youthful upbringing.  Talk about generating joyful feelings.  I loved my Cape Cod upbringing, so it seemed fitting that one of the designs would reference my earlier years.  My friend and I felt the same way.  Art is such a personal thing, and while no price tag can be put on something that elicits strong emotion, the pricer price tags can elicit the same for reasons contrary to our objective.  Still – we launched off with that in mind, and as is often the case with Blue Print, we fell in love with not 1, not 2, but a slew.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.48.57 PM.png

Restoration Hardware Belgian Linen Single Cushion Sofa.  The cleanest look with no messy cushions!

With the clock ticking, we immediately decided on one main piece from which to build the design, and a secondary, and quite different abstract to help pull together the elements of the dining room.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.51.17 PM

Ethan Allen Barrymore Dining Table – sale on now through the end of March!


Every project requires a budget and we had one – though generous, the task of furnishing two complete bedrooms, a living room, which we only going to allow 2 chairs, a carpet and some drapes to remain, proved daunting.  I’ve made enough mistakes with a sofa to measure twice and cut once, but I’m always a little nervous.  No space is going to accommodate all that you want without some compromises, sacrifices, and cleverness, but dare I say we did good.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.54.08 PM

One Kings Lane Seagrass Console Table.

Paintings really help to bring disparate colors into the palette and create interest in a room.  If you know roughly what you like, and you are exhaustive with your search, you can come up with a close approximation, as we did when we realized the bed room set for a young boy wasn’t in the color we hoped for.  Houzz provided a perfect substitute and at a price that was jaw droppingly low.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.55.49 PM

Houzz . Coaster Zachary Full Bed. $318.66!!

A long weekend, but an incredibly fun one.  We did good.  Now if we could just find that elusive coffee table.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 7.58.34 PM

Ballard Designs . Linen and Burlap Color Block Pillows from $39.

Happy Sunday.

Into the Blue: Blue Print You’re My Home

11 BP

Blue Print Warehouse . 1516 Edison Street . Dallas Design District

I take a deep cleansing breath right before I open the door to Blue Print.  That door that I have come to know so well, that door that says:  “Hello”.  To say its welcoming seems so insufficient, but it is, just that.  It’s southern without being steeped in sweetness.  It’s friendly without being overly solicitous.  It’s passionate about the artists it represents, and excited to share the stories of the lands from which their very special rugs have traveled.  It’s unapologetically happy, bright, and light.  Even the antiques when rested gently atop a rug in bright oranges, purples, and pinks take on a more cheerful countenance without loosing their sophistication.

8 BP

Color collection perfection.

They have a very special gift – these gals.  They have an eye for art, a nose for the next trend, and a head for business, and I love and admire them for it.  I want to move right in, tuck away in one of the back living rooms, in close proximity to their lovely garden.  Even the kitchen, which is meant only for employees, but which I have stumbled upon during previous visits, is perfection with it’s raised moldings in the shape of a diamond – J’aime bien!

To feel grounded and uplifted all at once is a heady feeling.  I aspire to be one of them, and in the interim, am happy to be among them.  My visits there inspire me.  It’s like visiting Paris or Bali or being on the water.  It’s like grapefruit Perrier (which they always offer me when I arrive), mint chocolate chip ice cream (which is one of my very favorite things in the world), it’s like wild sock-eye salmon (which I need like the air I breath).  It’s like being loved.

3 BP

Black Birds Singing in the dead of night….

I will admit to feeling a little worried that they were moving away from the Turkish Oushak, which came into my periphery four years ago during one of my first visits to Blue Print.  A new rug has made its debut on the big stage.  It’s a little nappier, and decidedly happier than an Oushak.  One of them looks just like a Picasso Painting, and the price only slightly reflected the reality that it is not.  It could easily reside in a kids bedroom, or in the uber sophisticated Upper East Side Apartment of a socialite style-maker.  In other words, it brings some serious bang for the buck.

9 BP

The new nappy – Turkish carpets gone wild.

Today will be a test of my will.  The question of course is will I leave with one of those rugs.  I’ve put it on hold.  Pugga (my boyfriend) said that it was a foregone conclusion.  I want to prove him wrong, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do that.  I can be stubborn, but I don’t want to cut my nose of to spite my face.  Is saving face more important than the sheer joy I’ll get from having that rug?  These are the universal questions I grapple with.  Give me strength and a little of that Irish luck.


Gone Fishing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Setting the Table

Red 2

Turkish Oushak . RH Home . Woodstock . VT.

I have looked at so many chairs they are all starting to look alike.  I fell in love with two tables – a very reasonably priced Ballard Design Trestle table, and a mid-range Dovetail Campbell table, which I was surprised wasn’t more expensive.  Why you ask?  The answer is simple – I was born with silver spoon taste.  It’s legs are turned, and have a beautiful curve, it’s finish rustic.  The combination is refined without being prissy, coastal without being kitsch.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.07.09 PM

Ballard Design . Tatum Trestle Table . $1099.

That’s the trick.  Being suggestive without being overt.  That’s why I have spent so much time looking, looking again, second guessing, and finally making my selections.  Trust me when I tell you – mistakes will still be made.  It’s the nature of the process.  Some will be easy fixes, some will cost a disgusting amount of money to fix.  Ouch.  Those, however, are the ones I will never make again.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.09.23 PM

Dovetail . Campbell Dining Table . $1362.50

After all that searching, I landed on chairs from the most unlikely of places.  Will I consider them a mistake.  Time will tell.  I chose a version of the Windsor Chair in a dirty blue.  High backed – arm chairs that will sit at the head of the table.  Side chairs are going to be a simple Parsons curved back chair from IKEA.  Yup.   In the end, frame plus slip cover is just $129. a piece.  The will be used most frequently.  Everyone likes to sit in the “kitchen” – since the dining room is open to that tiny, but incredibly sweet, u-shaped kitchen, I know that is where people will hang out.

Red Ticking

Tick Tock . Perfect accent to play off the gray.

I am going with a Cirque Pendant by Louis Poulsen.  The colors are muted – not the bright primaries you would normally think of for a seaside seeing, but the strips scream nautical and French.  What more could I want?

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.36.12 PM

Cirque . Louis Poulsen . $314.15

I imagine a red and white ticking stripe napkin, with a gray matte, metallic charger, and a rough hune string, tied loosely around the cloth.  Maybe a sprig of thyme or rosemary tucked into it for effect.  At the center of the table I would have one of Jill Rosenwald’s vases or platters.  Her pottery is perfect.  I might even go for one of her leafier patterns.  Dare to go wild.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.48.59 PM

Jill Rosenwald Pottery . South End 

Piece by piece.  Bit by bit.  It is beginning to come together.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.48.04 PM.png

Jill Rosenwald Pottery . South End .

Happy weekend.

That Girl: Keeping it from coming undone

Cut 1

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.

Cut 2

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.


“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.


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.

Farming is no Fable: Farmhouse Pottery

Shhhh….can you hear that?  It’s the sound of serenity.  The traffic thins, the mountains rise around you, the rivers start to rush, and the people slow down and smile.  It’s not a Splenda smile either – all Emily Post etiquette.  It’s warm maple syrup, tapped from the tree where the wind whispers a happy tune.

Vermont is a special place.  Oh it has it’s troubles like any place, but when it’s you, the smell of firewood burning in the distance, a brisk breeze making your cheeks rosy, the smell of fir pines as you tromp through the woods, they do seem far away.

farm 6

Eight Days a Week.

On my annual work retreat we tucked away to Woodstock, Vermont, a storybook New England town, to work, and to hear one another, away from the noise of the city.  We worked, and it worked.  Maybe it is as simple as clean air, clear ideas, renewed spirit?  Whatever the reason, I feel lucky and inspired.

Farm 2

Artisan’s at work.

On my way out of town I stopped into Farmhouse Pottery.  My Boss Lisa gave me a beautiful parting gift from this store, and having seen a blog post from Erin GatesElements of Style, I couldn’t leave without seeing more.

Zoe and James have created their very own American dream.  Harvested from the land, mined, tooled, and worked by artisans – all here in the states, they have created something sophisticated in its purity, and simplicity.  The retail store and the workshop juxtapose mud and beauty.  Thoughtful vignettes abound, a wall of pottery, a whitewashed stump turned side table, a linen pillow, apron or napkin, a custom crafted table set with wooden bowls, dried flowers, and decorative clay fired trees.  A floor stained in a custom pale gray.  I’d move right in – though I am pretty sure that Zoe, James and their two little girls live upstairs and would find my presence unwelcome.  Now if I could perfect my pottery making skills, it might be a different story all together.  One of the artisans assured me that after making 500 or 600 vases – I’d really get the hang of it.  He wasn’t kidding.


Linen Pillows . from $85.


Is something I say to others – as in “Do it yourself – I’m up to my eyeballs in my own projects.”  When it comes to doing it myself – well…I can haul things, drag things, move things, lift heavy things – but you are unlikely to come to me,  asking me to whip up a few  curtain panels or a couple of pillows for you, and while I’ve painted a time or two in a pinch, no one is complimenting me on a job artfully executed.

Desk 1

Found at Bungalow. Chatham. MA for $195.

I’m more of a project manager than a DIY’er, and yet The Manse has forced me to resort to just that.  Attempting to furnish a home from top to bottom is EXPENSIVE.  But that is exactly what I am attempting to do.  The Manse had become The Land of Misfit Toys – in a manner of speaking.  In her rundown state, the bric-a-brac that had collected within her walls was fitting, but now that she’s the proud lady on the block, she’s demanding a whole new wardrobe.  People are coming for tea and she wants to be ready to receive them.

I’m doing my best on behalf of the old lady, but some things are indeed going to receive a light sanding and a coat or two of paint – in a coordinating color of course.  I feel like I’ve been on the hunt all over the northeast for tables of all sorts, side, bed, coffee, dining – for dressers, and bar carts and shelves  – for things that started out as one thing and will end up being something else entirely.


The Caning feels very Cape Cod.

All this hunting and sleuthing has resulted in my very first DIY project.  Aided by a couple of 50 degree days, I singlehandedly dragged a desk out onto the deck, found one of my Father’s 4 – yes you heard me correctly – 4 sanders, I know not what makes one better than the other, but I am certain their is a reason to have that many.  Maybe they are like shoes?  If that IS the case, than I certainly cannot argue with having four – in fact I might ask – why not more?


Ta Da!  What do you think?

At any rate.  I sanded and cleaned and painted, and repainted and low and behold, I did it.  I think it looks pretty good, and I hope you do too, because I have a set of $10. bedside tables that need to be done – a real find!  I have an old ice box that I am going to use as a linen closet, and a coffee table that would have been perfectly perfect, if it has only been gray.  It will be when I am done with it.  If you are worry, I would say that it may not be misplaced.  Fingers crossed.

South End Report

The Stephen Cohen Team, South End Market Specialists put out a pretty great report in the Spring and Fall -the busiest buying markets.  They let you know what to expect, if you’re expecting to buy or sell.  The South End of Boston, while not the most expensive neighborhood in the city, is pricey and it’s good to know what you can get for your money.


Under Construction in the Eight Street District . South End

JACKIE FALLA . Meet a Southender

Jackie Falla might not have professional experience as a designer, builder, or architect, but she has been in the construction industry for over 20 years. Growing up on the Cape, her serial renovator of a father renovated every home they lived in, so a certain level of disruption in her living environment became comfortable and familiar. She bought her rst home in 2008. After four years and three renovations, Falla sold it and used the money to secure another property. It’s been rinse- and-repeat since then.

Falla documents her progress on a blog, Quest for the Nest, and the culmination of her journey will be a book she’s tentatively calling “My Life in Sawdust: How to Make a Million Dollars in Ten Flips.” To achieve this goal, she relies on her innate sense of design, as well as architect friends and sub-contractors she meets through her work as Director of Client Services at Elaine Construction, a third-generation, family-owned-and-operated, woman-certified construction management company in Newton.

paris chandelier

In search of glamour . South End.

Falla has made her home in almost every Boston neighborhood except
for Beacon Hill, but the South End has always held a special place in her heart. She’s lived in over a dozen different properties along Waltham Street, West Concord Street, Worcester Square, Worcester Street, Pembroke Street, Milford Street, and Hanson Street. “I know there are these beautiful amenity buildings, and I actually lived in Ink Block,” Falla said. “I absolutely loved it, they make living so easy. But in terms of architecture, the South End brownstones are spe- cial. The details, the moldings, the doors, it’s all phenomenally designed. I’m in love with it.”

Her love for the South End’s historic architecture also ties in with her Cape Cod upbringing. Coming from a family of avid sailors, she respects the cleverness of boat design. Every multi- purpose square inch of space is utilized to its full extent, and she nds that city apartments require the same kind of ingenuity. Falla describes her sense of style as “modern glamor.” She fondly recalls an Italian chandelier she bought at a Paris ea market and had rewired and in- stalled at one of the condominiums she ipped. “It was a very dramatic light fixture,” she said.

Falla is currently at the halfway point of her renovation journey, and she’s loving every second of it. “What I’m doing is an important story for me to tell,” Falla said. “It’s hard for single women to build wealth, and part of why I’m ipping houses and working on the book is to make sure young women know they can ensure their own nancial independence and stability.” This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have fun with her work. From the fact that she lives through the process every time, to the sheer number of details she infuses into her renovations, Falla’s passion for remodeling comes through in every project she takes on.

Is there a South Ender you think should be featured next? Contact our Communications Specialist, Anastasia Yefremova, at


As a South Ender, my good friend Nicole Spencer who is a Buyers Agent for the Stephen Cohen Team, asked if I would be interested in being profiled in their market report.  I first moved to the South End in 1993.  It was a different South End then it is today.  Let’s just say I didn’t exactly fall in love with it.


Pulling it all together . South End.

After that I trotted all over the city.  I lived in the North End, Back Bay, and Charlestown, before making my way back to the South End.  Since then, I have lived in 9 different South End locations, making me a bit of an expert – also known as someone that is insanely driven to achieve their goal of flipping 10 properties to make a million.