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

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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

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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?

Designer Profile: Suzanne Kasler

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Suzanne Kasler

Inspiration is a thing of wonder.  In quiet moments it can pounce, or ebb in like the tide as an idea takes form.  It can manifest itself in the deep indigo and periwinkle hues of the tail feathers of a Blue Jay, or in a ballerina’s pale pink tutu.  In the knowledge that colors have feelings, sounds can be translated into scenes, and numbers have meaning.  For those with a reverence for religion and spirituality the concept of divine inspiration is familiar.  Knowing something that you couldn’t know.  Arriving at the answer as if from a dream.  I love the idea of divine inspiration and welcome the universe to bring it to me, I am happy to give credit where credit is do.

Suzanne Kasler . Chez Suzanne . Atlanta

Chez Kasler . Note her signature white walls

And I must give credit to Suzanne Kasler for inspiring me.  An Interior Designer (by education), she has also collaborated with Lee Jofa to create beautiful trims, with Hickory Chair on a furniture line, with Visual Comfort on lighting, Ballard Design for accessories, as well as, forays into fine art and rugs.  Oh, and she is also the author of two beautiful books on interiors:  Timeless Interiors and Inspired Interiors.

Suzanne Kasler Inspired Interiors

European Sensibility . Cover of Inspired Interiors . Rizzoli

I appreciate that she doesn’t want to be put into some limiting design category.  She contends that her style encompasses the contemporary and traditional, high and low, sophisticated and casual.  That its sympathies lie with Europe (whoever would blame her for this?) and focus on architectural elements (you’ve got to have good bones, and if you don’t you must create them).

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Kasper Living Room . luminous loveliness

She believes in white.  She layers it on in all its varying shades and …. voila it looks lovely.  I find this provides a moment of introspection for me because I am drawn to her spaces – which never feel boring, but I almost always paint my own.  I love color.  Kasler makes her white spaces sing with the introduction of color in accessories – and by contrast introducing incredible vibrancy that might go unnoticed against a bolder backdrop.

A room should be collected not decorated.

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Ballard Design . Kasler’s Style made affordable!

Now to be clear, I could not hire Suzanne to design my spaces, but I can profit from her brilliant style all the same.  I pour over her books studying the particular ways in which she brings life to a room.  Make note of her philosophy that there should be one object in every room that is special to you, and to search for inspiration in every little thing you encounter from the darts on a stunningly structured evening gown, to the branches of a cherry blossom tree, inspiration abounds.