Once Upon a Time: An Adventure in hotels

I love a good story. I love reading one, living one, writing one. It should be no surprise to me that I’ve fallen right into AJ Capital Partners story-telling clutches, and I’m not even attempting to wrestle free. They had me at “counter-culture investors”, or maybe it was “relentless grit and obsessive determination”, or the adventurous journey they promised to take me on.

The Graduate Hotel.

When Chip and Joanna announced that they were making a foray into the hotel business with a Waco, TX location and they were partnering with AJ Capital Partners to do it, inviting me to Google them in their comedic video announcement, wasn’t really necessary. I was so going to check them out anyway, and what do you think I found? If the suspense isn’t yet killing you, it will be. They were the money, and the brains behind The Thompson Hotels, specifically the Nashville location in The Gulch, where I was first introduced to the Rose 45, served up in a brown paper bag – now that is the epitome of grit and sophistication if I ever did see it, and I did, and drank it too.

The Thompson Hotel . Nashville.

No visit to Nashville is complete for me without a stop by the Thompson. I enjoy the lobby, and the curbside restaurant and bar, as much as the rooftop, with it’s panoramic views of the city, and graphic pink tiled floors – the design (interiors created by NYC firm – Parts and Labor Design). It’s a stunner.

From their Graduate Hotel collection, situated strategically in University Towns, and offering a cleverly structured Public/Private Partnership Program called Class, to help institutions finance, develop, and operate a Graduate Hotel on their own campus, eradicating the dreary and dated accommodations so typically offered up on campuses, and elevating them to whole new story and design heights.

May Hosiery . Nashville.

Intent on finding properties that have fallen on hard times, are ripe for development but have been passed over by others for fear of cost, lack of creativity, and/or inability to identify their beneficial supply and demand characteristics – they appreciate the power of a historic building to tell a story, to reinvent itself, to be a major player in the conversation. Consider, May Hosiery, founded in 1908 as a sock factory – which grew out of founder Jacob May’s successful bid to run a sock manufacturing project out of a prison in Nashville. 50 inmates, .50 cents a day made May a rich man before he lost the contract and started his own factory there. May Hosiery Hotel is scheduled to open this year, and if you think the prison workers is the best of the story, hold onto your socks, there’s more – in addition to its title as oldest southern sock company, its distribution of 1M socks a week across the nation in its hayday, the building and the company have a heart. During WWII they provided sanctuary to over 300 Jews fleeing Natzi Germany, in the 60’s and 70’s their socks hitched a ride to the moon on the soles of ALL the Apollo Astronauts, and now is starting it’s next development chapter by housing Apple Music – with a focus on Country – what else, and other makers and innovators like architects, old school barbers and more.

Chicago Athletic Club Hotel . Chicago

Each property polishes the patina off the copper, giving it 21st century shine. The Landmark Chicago Athletic Club Hotel is a kitschy marvel, more on this 240 room hotel tomorrow. The Pontchartrain Hotel is all class and style, sweat and contradictions, music and a menagerie of cultural references, as only a hotel in New Orleans whose clientele included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, Truman Capote, President Ford, and Tennessee Williams who is said to have penned, Streetcar Named Desire while in Residence. โ€œWhat is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.โ€ — beautiful, and no wonder, when you can simply look out your window onto St. Charles Streetcar Line for inspo.

Calistoga Ranch . Napa Valley . CA

These stories and more are the foundation of AJ Capital Partners investments. Oh how I wish I could put my meager pennies in with their own.

Two Faced: What to do when your back is your front

Your front entry that is. I know what I am doing is considered rather unique. Not the flipping part. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a flipper these days. No disrespect to Tom, Dick or Harry and most certainly none intended to the Tomasia’s, Dorathea’s and/or Harriet’s that are forging their own path on the road to financial security – I salute you all. The point is, this is about me, the me that can’t seem to do anything normal, or easy, or in a way that I can just blend into the crowd. Sometimes blending is a welcome cloak against the condemnation that follows from the pitfalls of this business of being human – if you know what I mean.

Enough greenery can make anything look better.

When I selected No. 5 I didn’t give much thought to the fact that you enter through the back of the building. Not just because that’s the convenient way to get there, but because it’s the only actual way to get there, unless you want to crawl through the window. The window BTW is the intended exit route if there were a fire. It works, but nobody is worried about what they look like when the are escaping a fire…am I right?

This particular set of row houses (those intended for the servants) are pretty, in their simple, unfussy way. They certainly don’t look like the brownstones of the eight street district, or Beacon Hill, and the back of them – well, it’s the back. They are draped in wires, cables and cords. They are gated or fenced in from the street, but still can be viewed from the same. My gate is a thin barrier at best to the outside world, and yet, I am decidedly subconscious about the way it looks.

When you open the sage green gate (anyone that knows me well, knows that THAT color has to change), and are presented with a small wooden walk way leading to a few steps, a small outdoor deck and my back door. My back door is really a kitchen door. Three rows of divided lights sit atop two long vertical panels. It would be fine for a country home – even better if the top half opened to a grand back yard, and it were the fifties, but this is neither the country or that decade, and as for privacy, don’t think I haven’t noticed the next door neighbors, on floor two, peering down in at me. I’ve got my eyes on you too, and a stun gun, so beware. I also have a new front door sitting in my living room. I’ve always wanted my own front door. Condo living doesn’t really afford you a front door in the traditional, single family home sense of the word, and I have visions of a southern porch, inviting me down the boxwood bordered path on perfect pavers, to my glossy doored destination. If there is any solace in the selection of this soggy bottomed abode, it’s the back door – which of course I am going to turn into my very own front.

Wayfare . Metalic Galvanized Steel Coated Planter.

Due to the fact that a good deal of my entry is “common space”, for those of you that are unfamiliar, it’s like being married and having to negotiate with your partner for approval on purchases. Since the sale of the unit below is under negotiation, I can’t even being to hypnotize him into accepting that there is no other color in the world more perfect than gray. It’s a real drama for me, A. Because I am not married and don’t negotiate getting what I want with anyone, and B. I am totally impatient. So I just began painting. I painted everything that I “owned” and then started to slyly move down the corridor until I was made to stop. Well now it just looks silly, and will have to be painted, and since I never selected that detestable first color, I have no idea what it is. The logical thing to do of course is to continue on with my beautiful Benjamin Moore . Trout Gray.

I have a happy entry mat that says “HELLO” and I purchased some beautiful long, linear and tall black planters in which boxwood’s will be planted to hide the condenser, and the less then happy trellis that sits in front of it. I am going to trim the windows out in black, and hang large beautiful wreaths in them both. The piece de resistence? There is going to be a black and white striped canopy. I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet, but trust me when I tell you, when I am done with it all – my back is going to be the very best front you ever did see.

Happy Saturday.

One Kings Lane Lands

Fall Floral

It sounds so British, and yet it was founded by two women (if you are paying attention this little formula produces major results – think Soul Cycle, Glossier, The Wing, Chief and many more – they are all founded by female duos), are California girls. I hope Alison Pincus and Susan Feldman will forgive me for calling them girls. I mean it in the best youthful, have sass, and sparkle, and bright ideas mixed with ambition, kind of way. They’ve got chutzpah, and that chutzpah got them to start OKL in 2008 when all the world seemed to be falling apart. There flash sale model morphed, and morphed again, before it was sold to Bed Bath & Beyond – clearly making them look good, and I mean really good, for their ability to make smart decisions.

Art that represents the region.

The purchase of my very first home, coincided with their launch, and I lovely perused page after page of flash site offerings for inspiration. I have to admit that it wasn’t until much later that I purchased anything – I was broke. I had rubbed my two nickles together to make a dime, and hands opening in offering, asked if it was enough for the down payment. I think I can be forgiven, having just gotten into the game.

The ratan floor lamp is a little bit of south pacific happy – for just under $1k.

Now a gamer of sorts, I have traveled to NYC for their first in-house design advice session in their SOHO location on Houston – since relo’d and I got there just in time because they were selling everything in their “see it and touch it” studio, to avoid the hassle of having to move it. I left with an antique desk, two enormous Schumacher pillows, two gorgeous kelly green gourd lamps, and I am sure a few other items I couldn’t live without for No. 3.

Curation is their strong point – a mix of vintage and new – this is the exception to the rule, you are allowed to buy the whole vingette.

Last fall I visited their first real bricks and mortar store – also in SOHO, and walked away with a petite vintage Turkish Oushauk in sage green, gray and lavender – for a steal! It’s in the kitchen of No. 5.

Cognac leather stool – I can see my boyfriends living room taking shape ๐Ÿ™‚

And now – drum roll, they have landed in Boston’s Seaport. One opening party, and a visit with my sister and I have already purchased a number of things that I didn’t need at all, and when I am supposed to be saving. I mean no disrespect to this venerable design store, with its sublime styling style, and its cosmic curation, but I have got to retire some day!

Diamond Studded Lobster’s .

I did just learn that they’ll be launching Hunter’s Alley soon. A little marketplace that I can sell to others like me, that just maybe bought one too many things they didn’t really need, and are looking to free up some space and recapture some cash. I hope it launches soon, it feels like I’m becoming a hoarder and I really have no patience or desire to tunnel my way through my tiny little home.

Setting the scene….

Check them out – 25 Thompson Place, Boston . MA.

Artistic Integrity: artwork that works with any other art

Bathing Beauty . 30.5″ x 38.5″ $510.

Honestly. If you love art, you might find a point in time, when you’ve bought yet another piece that spoke to you even though you had no place to place it. You know what I’m talking about – that overwhelming desire that washes over you – blocking out all reason, fogging your mind with a fever, which compels you to nearly knock an old lady over as you yank the painting off the wall. Come on, I can’t be the only one that’s done it….can I?

Well, even if you were far more composed than I, when you purchased your collection, you may find putting together disparate styles, colors, and genres, a real challenge. It can be, but I think I found some art that may be the answer. Hable Construction has an original art series by Soicher Marin that is monochromatic – Digital Art, already framed, in collages, watercolors, and pen + ink drawings. The collages appeal, in particular because they work with so many different of art. I simply adore them and think you will too.

Blue Swatch . $620.

When being invisible gets you seen

All that glitters is gold.

I can’t help but think of that stinkin’ cute little girl Ava Ryan doing her imitation of Anna Wintour preparing for fashion week — “Chanel – Courtney, get me my racks. Silver is the new gold. With this on, you’ll never be invisible at a party. Girls, demonstrate … visible …. invisible.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN7WkLq6Ex8 If you haven’t seen it, it’s a fall fashion fundamental. It lends a little levity to what is most definitely a wildly outrageous industry – and I mean that in all of the good and bad ways you might imagine.

Today however, we are going to be discussing a different kind of accessory. These electrical switch plates, dimmers, rockers, and toggles will make your peepers pop out of your head. The are dazzling. All this time I’ve been covering my up with pretty paper, or worse trying to blur and obscure them from view with a vase of flowers or stack of books, only to discover Forbes & Lomax has created an acrylic plate that you can see right through. Visible … invisible. It’s brilliant, and sexy and oh so high fashion.

Founded in 1987 in response to a longing for the old world glamour of toggle switch lights, with all the functionality of the 21st century, and of course, the high-end interior design community’s insatiable appetite for “a la mode” – that’s not ice cream plopped atop a delectable, decadent chocolate cake my friends – it’s in fashion. Keep up, isn’t that how we started this post, with fashion? Why should the electrical accessory market get the short end of the stick? Forbes and Lomax wouldn’t hear of it, and I am so glad they didn’t.

In addition to that which isn’t visible, they have created a striking black plate, and a petinated copper which will serve the traditional and transitional markets well. Not ready to say goodbye to gold? They’ve got you covered. Don’t be shy about mixing and matching – all the most fashionable people artfully bring together unexpected combinations for the most awe inspiring results. Isn’t fall simply the best of fashion seasons?

Sweet Dreams: II

Oly Studio . Diego $6700.

Look number two represents a neutral palette in consideration of the violet painted walls – Benjamin Moore’s Lavender Ice is a soft, feminine hue that is both happy and calming, the perfect combination for a peaceful nights sleep.

Serena and Lily . Blake Raffia Wide Dresser . $3998.

Now if you are a germ-a-phobe, which I am not, you might want to consider a bed frame in hard wood or metal. Mites, and lord forbid, mice, love to snuggle into the fabric and fluff of an upholstered bed. Here is one of my very favorite options which satisfy my desire for the royal treatment. A modern take on a canopy in gold. The price tag matches the dream, but what a delicious dream it is.

OKL . Mike Seratt of the Prized Pig . $399.

Paired with a couple of Made Goods nightstands in raffia, and coordinated with Serena and Lily’s Blake Raffia Wide Dresser and you’ve got the makings of a beautiful bedroom.

Happy Sunday my little fairy dust friends. I hope you enjoy this last day of summer.

Sweet Dreams: Bedroom design – hidden sancutuary

I work so much that I rarely spend more than an hour a day in any other room than my bedroom, and those hours, I am unapologetically sleeping. Even when I get home on the earlier side around eight, I like to change out of my binding work clothes, and into some cozzies, and settle into my divinely comfortable bed. Having a good bed is critical to ones happiness. If you wake with aches and pains in the morning, toss out that abhorrent plank and replace it toute suite and hippity hop, with something that makes you purr like a pussy cat when you flutter open those peepers in the morning. It’s a must.

The Inside . Art Deco Bed in Faun $999.

With that basic human right attended to, we can put a little pretty into play. Whether you Feng Shui or sway to a different drummer, black out curtains – formerly of the high-end hotel set, should be considered. Privacy and catching all the winks ones workday will allow is important.

Ballard Designs . Margo Burlwood Chest of Drawers $674.99

Personally, I am happy to sit on the end of my bed to remove my shoes, and I am most definitely not sitting in a chair to read before getting into bed, so any additional seat would only invite clothing to gather when it should rightfully be hung right back up after wearing. I don’t need any temptation, the weekends are too short as it is. If you are very disciplined, you might enjoy a chair or a bench – plenty of lovely options exist and I’ll show you one or two in some subsequent posts, but for this first look, we’ll skip it.

A little whimsy is so right for the bedroom. Etsy Pillows. Left: Pink Bunny Lee Jofa Groundworks Hutch Pillow $40. Middle: Etsy KLine Deco Killi in Pink $55. Right: Etsy KLine Kenile in Rose Pink $55.

The happiest beds have sheets and blankets, comforters and coverlets, feather filled pillows, and poofy lambswool throws. I like this slate to be simple white, but understand when someone selects a nostalgic little rose bud print, or a masculine windowpane striping reminiscent of a man’s dress shirt. Whatever works for you, just be sure you make that bed each morning. Serenity requires discipline.

Serena and Lily . Blake Rafia one-drawer $998.

Happy Saturday.

Ballard Designs . Jones Window Pane Drapery . $139. – $159.

Serena and Lily Launches . Boston

Mary Maguire is a RISD trained artist. Based in Lyme, CT she sells her originals to a number of shops. http://www.marymaguireart.com/

or Chestnut Hill as the case may be. True to its name, and despite the bustling sales associates, and dozens of eager shoppers, the color palette of blues and grays, caramels and creams, and even a forest green, made the store serene. You know the kind of place that makes you realize you’d been holding your breath? When your foot falls on the bleached hardwood floor and you knock eyes with a wall adorned in Mary Maguire nautical watercolors, you know you’ve arrived at someplace special.

Original art abounds throughout the store.

Between Newport and Nantucket, Serena and Lily is likely to fulfill its annual projections for sales, the rich and famous flocking to this formerly catalog only company, to adorn their second, third or fourth homes.

Despite the outrageous decadence of a $60. pillow case, the simple beauty of their offerings draws one in. Some things simply have no look alike, or the look alike can’t really hold a candle to the original. In these instances I think it’s important to save ones pennies, and purchase pieces that are going to bring the most bang for the buck. Believe it or not – a pillow case does bring bang. All of the other sheets can be hidden away, but that pillow case is perched right there on top, in full view, and with all the world to admire. Pair it with a Home Goods sheet set and you’re in the money as the saying goes.

My other picks from the store have to do with my recent obsession with chairs – dining, club, slipper, lounge, diminutive or delightfully large, they have my attention. While it’s true that if you are in the hunt for high-low comparisons in the chair world, you can make a pretty good go of locating a low-priced lookalike that will work brilliantly. I would argue that even someone as obsessed with the details, as I am, could be made reasonably happy with one of these close approximations, BUT when you’ve found a particular hue that makes you beyond happy, that, you may not be able to replicate. The Tucker chair in Fog is my pick, and at just $198. it’s one of the more reasonably priced picks.

Raffia Console Table – on sale now! $848.

If I am selecting for my imaginary coastal home, the Belgian Club in Performance Pinstripe in French Blue is my pick for a living room chair, and the Blake Raffia Console – which btw is on sale for $848. from $1300. The indigo is so nautical and lovely, I can really see my room shaping up, but alas, its Sunday and errands await, bringing me back to reality. If you’re in the mood for a wonderful daydream, drop by – 200 Boylston Street . Chestnut Hill.

When Inspiration Won’t Strike

Sometimes no matter what you do, you can’t come up with something that seems worth sharing. Today is one of those days. So I turn to a series of photos that I love, sometimes for obvious reasons – obvious to me anyway, and others, I can’t put my finger on it, but they have an appeal nonetheless. I hope they will provide you with a little design inspo.

Get Hooked: seaside bric a brac

My little home town has certainly stepped up its game these last few years. Shops are popping up left and right in the port, we even have a 10 seat sushi restaurant and it feels like more live music per square mile than Boston. If there is an alley, they’ll find a way to turn it into a beer garden, and carve out a little spot for a singer guitarist to perform. We’ve always had the three ports, the only Cape town that can that lofty designation, so sailors know it, even if they choose to call Chatham home.

It’s less stuffy than Chatham, and more economical, which I imagine is attractive to a younger generation, looking for their first second home, or their first home in a place they spend the second biggest amount of time. With real estate prices in the city what they are, it’s not at all surprising to me.

Too scary for words or good luck?

This year I discovered a little gem of a place tucked behind an art gallery that has drawn me in, and had me coming back with my wallet in hand, again and again. J.M. Byron House is a treasure trove of Cape Cod kitsch. Aside from the brilliant curation, at the hands of a Boston Merger’s and Acquisitions Lawyer, it is beautifully staged. My appreciation for thoughtfully placed objects, from the ombre effect of the fine art hung on the walls like a brush stroke that starts out bold and beautiful, and then fades into a whisper of a hue, is the backdrop to the carefully placed objects. Fine Art – originals and prints – period pieces of nostalgic value – Turkish Oushak Rugs, pieces that jive and vibe with the ’60’s seaside aesthetic.

Look at those stinkin cute Cape Cod Salt and Pepper Shakers, the replica of the Nantucket Boat, the Whale Faucet – I want it all.

I just might buy a tiny bit of a property here just for the sheer pleasure of outfitting it with the J.M.’s offerings. You simply must visit it again and again, not only because new offerings are arriving all the time, but because the richness of the environment demands you study and absorb it. I’m always discovering new things, and considering pieces like those Foo Dogs ( a Chinese symbol of good luck) that speak to me – even though they look a little mean – a little serious, still they are the accent color that I am using in No. 5, so, we’ll see.

If that staging isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is. I almost bought that dog, and I don’t even have a dog!

If you can’t visit in person – get connected via Instagram (@thejmbyronhouse) , if you are super friendly and complimentary, Matt just might agree to mail you an item or two.