Getting Muddy: A space for modern living

I’m not one of those people that doesn’t allow shoes in the house. I do live in a city, and I am certain of this, all manner of unmentionables are tracked into my home on the bottom of my shoes. This is something that I have chosen not to give myself over to considering in depth. It will only lead to another phobia, or anxious obsession, which frankly I have no time for. It’s likely to cause more damage than the germs I trek in. We have to build our immune systems some way, and this feels as good a way as any.

Not Custom job here – beautiful nonetheless. Architectural Digest

I do draw the line when it comes to rain and melting snow, and nobody, and I mean no—-body, enjoys tripping over someone else’s shoes when all they wanted was to have a nice cup of tea and read a book for a half hour. Am I right?

A tiny space, a custom bench, a shelf and a few hooks. Ca Marche

Shoes, hats, coats, bags, tennis rackets, balls, don’t think I couldn’t go on and on, because I certainly could, deserve a place, as close to the outdoors as possible. A relatively new invention – think 1950’s suburban living, and the advent of loads of free time and space – mudrooms don’t in fact have to be a whole room. A simple transitional space between garage and main living space – outdoors and in, will do. The general intent is to keep these wet, sometimes stinky, often dirty items, out of view for guests and people like me that can’t stand the sight of them, guest or no guest, and from my beautifully curated interiors – or yours as the case may be.

All in one. Ballard Design.

My challenge today is taking a small hallway closet and converting it into a mud room, or a mud space, you know what I mean. It does have doors on either end of the corridor, so in my book it qualifies as a room. If you aren’t careful, I’ll have it designated as a bedroom. Narrow it may be, but it’s got a window and a closet with a door, and with the price of square footage, I could get creative if this home didn’t already have so many bedrooms.

A clean, simple, but likely expensive custom built-in.

A mudroom ideally would have a tile floor or a material that was easy to clean, flagstones, vinyl flooring, concrete, but when you are making due, we work with what we have. Hard wood isn’t a terrible material because it cleans pretty easily, and nowadays you can find some pretty amazing indoor outdoor carpets that can take the elements with a smile on their face.

Narrow hallway, put to maximum use. HGTV.

There are a number of prefabricated storage/bench and hanging systems intended for mudrooms. I like them quite a lot. Having a custom built bench and shelving will cost you much more, but will likely adapt to the quirkiest of spaces and/or desires. I offer up and even simpler alternative for those that are seeking utility, rather than conformance with some predetermined notion of what constitutes a “real” mudroom. A beautiful bench, some great hooks, a simple shelf, and some storage containers, maybe a little paint – et voila, the elements remain on the right side of the door.

Add these happy Hable Storage bags in canvas.

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.

Speaking of Closets…

“Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a Jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for it all”. –Paris Hilton

From Team 7 Available at Divine Design Center. An Investment, but it would travel with you.

If I had a mink, and a closet, I think I would crawl in, snuggle up with that warmest of fuzzies, close the door, and pretend all that sawdust didn’t exist. I’d think about it tomorrow.

CB2 . Mirrored Glass Wardrobe $899.

At least Paris made me laugh, and I have not been laughing a lot this weekend. I’ve got one tiny, and terribly shallow closet in No. 5. I’ve got holes in the walls, I’ve got subs that won’t show, I’ve got water infiltration and mold, and cold water . I’ve got dust, and ceiling fans, and crooked stairs, and all manner of headache inducing difficulties. My scope has creeped and my schedule has slid, and the dollars are flying.

IKEA . Pax Wardrobe. $399.

I find strange comfort in a closet. It’s not just a quiet place to hide, it’s a chameleon of sorts. It can be perfectly ordered, or hide the disorder from unsuspecting guests. Surprising it can be. Even the most refined among us, can have fun with a closet. A bold interior color or wall covering, a chandelier or pretty pendant, a plush carpet, a petite stool, a bold or daring painting. If it’s your boudoir – you are allowed.

RH . Bezier Armoire $4295.

I’ve built 8 closets in 4 places. Two walk-ins, 6 custom built, 1 California Closet, 1 Cozy Closet. I’m not much for a closet system. I know people like them, and that they are economical, but the last think I want is a stiletto falling through a wire rack on a shelf. How undignified. I once built a closet whose sole purpose it was to house my shoes. Shelf after glorious shelf of shoes. Well, those shoes are all gone and so it that closet, because I left it behind when I sold No. 2.

LuxHoldups . Putting it all out there. $1300.

So now I am faced with a decision, remembering that I am getting long in the tooth, and the construction costs are stacking up on a property that was supposed to be easy breezy – should I buy an amoire instead of building fixed closets that I will be forced to leave behind yet again? There is the question of re-sale value and all of that, but I have to draw the line somewhere, and my somewhere just might be right here. My clothes need stability in their life. This moving from closet to closet is starting to take a tole.

Please advise on your most thoughtful recommendations for closet solutions and happy Sunday evening.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Happy Sunday.

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.

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 – the 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 – supporting over 300 lbs. for all their airy, light appearance – they 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.

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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

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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.

Ballard Comes to Boston

Well sort of, to Natick, MA which is much closer than Florida or Georgia.  Now has a new Northeast location at the Natick Mall . 1245 Worcester Street . Natick . MA.  I have loved the store through its catalog for many years.  I have purchased countless items for my properties, and gleaned much design inspiration, but catalog shopping is a little like staring in through the window after the store has closed for the evening.  The thrill for a tactile gal like myself is muted a bit.  I want to touch, feel, sit in, and understand the massing of the pieces.  One of the biggest mistakes we – should “I” have made, is the purchase of pieces that don’t fit the scale of a space.  Scale, massing, proportion.  It’s essential to getting the feel of a place right.  Not being a numbers person, I rely more on my eye, which tells me most accurately if something will fill the space in just the right way.

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Ballard Design Entry.  Note the panels which are popular with makers from Schumacher (to the trade) to Bungalow 5, and which a DIY’er would make using wallpaper. Tiger Pillow made popular by Salamander.  The modern version of a Louis XIII, XIV, XV, XVI desk, and the lamps referring a bamboo stem.  All comes together beautifully.

My eye is good, but its super human powers are impaired by the pages of a magazine like some force field.  So, you can imagine how many things I have returned when I discovered that they were far too large for my little homes.  Perhaps what you can’t imagine is my delight when I learned that they had plans to open locally, and they followed through on them.  You should be delighted too, and I am going to tell you why.

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Miles Redd is an amazing designer – I first learned of him through..you guessed it, Domino Magazine.  Known for his fearless use of color, high gloss, and statement spaces – he shows you how to achieve the same using Ballard.

Much of my design education came from Domino Magazine.  I talk about it often, as the pre-crash version of the magazine was groundbreaking.  They dared to defy the phrase “to the trade”, and tell you just where, and how you could get those coveted items that made up the glam and bohemian, the hippy chic, and upper east, of the famous and up and coming set of …. largely NYC folk.  The density of creativity on that little island is astounding, and Domino helped it to overflow to all of us beyond its shores.

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Ballard’s Bedroom . understated elegance. A little rustic, a little refined, the bedding and curtains soften and create high contrast with the wood headboard, and texturized nature of the sisal rug.

Domino eliminated the frustration one feels when they learn that either they cannot gain access to the item of their dreams without a designer on call, or read that it was a one of a kind item found on a Diplomatic Tour to Cuba ten years ago.  They eliminated by doing the research for you. Right there, on that same page, not in 5 pt. font in some resource index at the back of the mag, and had likely lost hope or interest or both by the time you arrived at that section.  Where you could get a similar item, the phone number, and gasp….the price!  No call for pricing, which is just a euphemism for, you can’t afford it.  They told you, you could in fact obtain the thing, or some semblance thereof, which would help you achieve the overall look.  What else could I do?  I feel in love.

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The Ballard Closet . look out California.

Now back to Ballard.  Ballard was always featured in Domino Magazine.  From the uber rich, to the just landed my first big break, and every type of featured individual or couple in-between, pieces from Ballard appeared carefully placed among their curated collection. It’s brilliant really, and very affordable.  Simple, clean design that works.  Suzanne Kasler an award-winning interior designer has a signature collection for Ballard.  She is a beautiful American designer, with a European flare that fits perfectly with the overall aesthetic of the Ballard Collection.  Whether you choose to shop at one of their stores, or through their catalog, your home collection should proudly feature a piece or two from Ballard.  Happy shopping.

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Kasler .  need I say more?