Longing for Change: a room that needs a new view

A new point of view that is. Sometimes that moment of clarity doesn’t come until after the hammer hits and the dust clears, and enough space has been made to allow room for the possibility of something else, new, fresh….different. Sometimes the hammer need not touch the surface at all. A little spit, and duct tape, and a new age is ushered in.

Top: Benjamin Moore’s Delaware Putty. Bottom left: Million dollar Red. Bottom Middle: Sunrise. Bottom Right: Bridal Rose.

I visited a room like this last week. One that was grand and stately, that important people, with important ideas, and purpose sat and conjured, and slowly became. This room must have felt like a place of significance back in the day, where thoughts could form a movement, and words become songs or poems that uplifted, or compelled people to take action – even if only in a small way. Some spaces are like that. The awe and reverence one feels in the sanctuary of a church, the high court, the stage of a grand opera house. They are designed to inspire.

What happens then when a century passes, and the velvet on the curtains is threadbare, and the fine paneling has lost its luster, and the furnishings are better suited for a Henry VIII theater production than a modern place of learning?

Well I had an idea, if ideas can be owned, which I am not at all certain they can, because the idea in fact came from some wood carvings, which in turn took their inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, and didn’t Lewis Carroll borrow some of his very own ideas from Alice?

However they came to be, this is how I see the transformation of that space, making it’s way into the 21st century. It’s unapologetic of course, as it should be. Creativity must be expressed and beauty unleashed to beat down the dark side. This is how I see it.

72 Hour Challenge

Above: Left Top: Anthropologie . Linen Haverhill Chair $595.50. Top Middle: Ballard Designs . Antelope Hand Tufted Rug in Grey 9 x 12 $899. Top Right: Shop Candelabra . Boyd Delux Credenza $4797 Bottom Left: CB2 . Forte Channeled Leather Extra Large Sofa $2379.15 and Bottom Right: Etsy Mid-century Side Tables – Pair $250.

I love a good challenge. It’s decidely easier to spend someone else’s money than my own. Though, admittedly I am pretty good at spending that too. This gives me the perfect distraction from my own renovation project and its associated budgetary challenges – you don’t even want to know how far over budget and how extensive the scope creep has been – you just don’t.

Left: Mineral Ice by Benjamin Moore will be the main color palette for the common areas and the living room. Right: Rejuvenation . Poplin Floor Lamp $423.

Look #1: Drum roll – $12,317.30. This includes significant discounts from West Elm, Ballard Designs, CB2. January is a big sale month.

West Elm . Andes Sectional $3582.90

Look #2: West Elm Sectional as posted above. Top Left: Target Warwick Wood Ratan Side Table $85.49 Top Right: World Market . Natural Basket Weave Jute Rug 9 x 12 $314.50 Bottom Left: Article Mara Walnut Coffee Table $299. Bottom Right: Etsy . Sideboard in Walnut $1897.45

Total for Look #2: $6264.83 Note that it does not include 2 side chairs or any lamps in this look – and they will be needed.

Now I don’t want you to think that I am being irresponsible with the recommendations I am putting forth for this young professional – on the contrary, I conducted an extensive search of some of my very favorite places – West Elm, The Inside, Etsy, Verellen, Shop Candelabra, World Marketplace, Rejuvination, and more. I went back to some tride and true Ben Moore colors, and picked a few new, and I will visit Home Goods for lamps and accessories, because well, they are simply the best for inexpensive, transitional lamps (remember, that’s a modern twist on traditional), and they knock off high end accessories faster than I can make my way down to NYC to get lured into buying the original. Thank the Lordy- Lord for Home Goods. Sometimes I think it’s too good to true, and then I pinch myself, and there it is…devine design, but not by Candice Olson – I love you unsung HG Knock-off Division heros.

Top Left: West Elm . Leigh Coffee Table $488.60 Right Top: West Elm . Flourish Rug 9 x 12 $1279.30. Middle: Shop Candelabra Boyd Delux Credenza $4797. Bottom Left: Target Single Drawer Hafley Side Table $62.99 Right Bottom: Ikea . Veda Arm Chair $199.

Look #3: Total $10,088.88 no lamps included in this look

So, back to the challenge: A condo that closes next week. A major move from DC to Boston, a series of subs lined up to execute the work – a tiny bit of demo, open a wall here, let the light in there, refinish the floors in a walnut stain – I approve even though the decision was made before I arrived on the scene, and paint. Then – a totally clean slate. Music to my ears. No Grandmother’s sofa to work into the mix (excuse me all you Grandma’s out there – I love you – truly I do, it just makes it so much easier when you can start fresh). To be clear, I would have taken that sofa and had it reupholstered for more money than you would have approved – so don’t you see…it’s just better this way.

Additional pieces I love and which could all work with any of the looks. Top Left: West Elm . Retro Tripod Coffee Table $209. Top Right: Etsy Walnut Credenza and West Elm . Kidney Bean Coffee Table $365.

Every room needs furniture. Two beds, a living room, and presumedly a dining area – though that is not part of my scope (hey you – you know who you are – the guy this challenge was posed for in the first place – I’ve got three dining tables if you need one.

I am well trained by my sister Jo-Jo to provide 3 options. She likes options, and a full design presentation. She provides the budget and I provide three schemes that fall within the same, and she picks. I will say, she typically picks items from all three options, but that’s her right – she’s paying.

I’m pretty excited about what I have selected and do hope that Jake will be too. It’s a lovely way to begin one’s life in a new town – don’t you think?

West Elm Goes Gami

Origami that is.  West Elm is a company that I admire on so many levels.  As a lover of Mid-century Modern furnishings, West Elm’s clean lines and sixties aesthetic appeal.  So too does the price point, the on trend colors and their in-house designers that work to put it altogether for you, if you need a nod indicating you’re doing it right – or a whole hand in crafting your next home look.

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Ori on display at West Elm’s Fenway location. 160 Brookline Ave. Boston.

There business model, appears to this outsider, to be pretty pliable.  Not something I necessarily associate with a big corporation. They team.  Teaming is good for business.  It puts the community back into the places these stores are located, and small businesses are very important to our economy, not to mention fighting the good fight against homogeneity.  It feels pretty special when you walk into the store, meet with local Etsy purveyors, select a painting from an artist to go above the sofa you saved your hard earned doe to get, so you could stop watching tv on the floor atop a pillow.  Add to that a signed copy of Erin Gates book, Elements of Style, and you not only have a story to tell friends when you entertain, you’ve personalized it.  That’s the magic of West Elm.

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Ori Interface.

Don’t worry, they seem to produce that dust out back somewhere because they have done it again, albeit, in a very different way.  This collaboration will be short lived like their Esty pop-ups, so you’ll want to forgo one or two of your fav fall activities to visit the Fenway West Elm store, because Ori – short of Origami – Robotic Furniture has arrived, for a limited time (October 30 . 2018) in store.  160 Brookline Avenue . Boston.

Ori

A whole existence in a box.

I’ve written about this MIT Media Lab launched company before – wow that’s a lot of alliteration.  Their tag line:  “One room . One Hundred Ways” is pretty brilliant, but the fact that you can transform your living room into a bedroom, your bedroom into a study, your study into a walk-in closet, by hollering at Amazon’s Alexa, or if you’re old school, by pushing a button, is AMAZING.

Ori WE

At West Elm . Fenway . Try it for yourself.

Originally only for sale to developers, this limited time offering allows the public – that’s you and me – to get our hands on one.  The price point is a bit higher than the developer deal, but in fairness, they are buying in bulk.  Full size option at $15,500., Queen at $16,000. Not exactly walking around change, but if you haven’t been tracking, waiting, saving, and hoping (harassing the people at Ori to let you buy one) then you can rent one for $300. a month.  Now isn’t that convenient?  Designed to snuggle into a 300 – 600SF space, CEO Hasier Larrea (and team) have created something truly brilliant.

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345 Harrison . Ori would snuggle in there nicely.

Always willing to try something new, I am considering making my way on down to West Elm and ordering one up to be delivered, right under the gun, to 345 Harrison Ave.  a place I am considering for my next home.

Sail Cloth: Putting together a coastal fabric collection

In my mind’s eye I breeze through the perfectly designed rooms of The Manse in a flowy cotton Ulla Johnson dress,

admiring my careful selections with pride, and a knowing nod to myself, just as I imagined it would look.  In reality…there are dozens of mistakes I will make, returns, concessions, screamed vulgarities, frustration, some tears followed by elation.  If I am making it sound terrible – it’s not.  It’s this very part that keeps me going.  That has me dreaming of different color combinations, fabrics, and patterns – textures and scale.  Like a golfer that swears they will quit, and then hits a perfect shot, I’m in for life.

 

I’ve already bought, and plan to return a number of items that upon further reflection – will not work.  If this were a Chatham Bars Inn buffet – my eyes would be bigger than my stomach – the repercussions are worse than a stomach ache though, because the beds won’t fit in the rooms!  Ugh.  New plan.  While I think I’ve come up with an alternative approach, it’s a disappointment.

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Cheeky Monkey . Add a little red felt heart on Harwich and we’re in business.

I want to be sure to get the fabrics right so I am laying out several scenarios and asking for input.  Jo-Jo will weigh in here of course.  I was turned onto a fourth generation textile design company out of Sheffield, MA called Tillett Textiles & T4 run by Kathleen Tillett and son Patrick McBride.  This company is hot!  They allow you to choose your pattern and your color way along with about a dozen materials from which you can print it.  If you are in love with their designs, and want a coordinating wallcovering you might consider printing on a lightweight fabric and then having it paper backed before hanging it.  Helen Baker of Helen Baker Interiors Inc. turned me on to them.  She knows the coolest resources!

White and Blue Bedroom:  2nd Floor

Top Left:  Carp Allowed It in Navy – Tillett Textiles (Roman Shades)  Top Right:  Bolero in Indigo – Sister Parish (Window Seat Cushion) Bottom:  Beans and Boys in Red – Tillett Textiles (Pillow for Window Seat).

Sister Parish is a textile and wallcovering brand founded in 2000 to honor the style of and spirit of Sister Parish of the influential Parish-Hadley Interiors firm that famed designers Brian McCarthy and Bunny Williams once called their work home.  I became familiar with them a few years back when I saw a pattern called Serendipity with it’s happy little stars and polka dots – two things bring a smile to my face.  Their patterns are perfect for a coastal haunt.

Pink Bedroom

Left:  Mally Skok . Mewar Pink Orange. (Window Seat Pillow piped in kelly green). Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B . Simply Pink (Window Seat Cushion.

Above:  Similar Wicker Chair – Antique Market Find with Top Left:  Tillett Textiles . Puffy Petals in Forest Green.  Top Right:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green piped in pink.

Above Left:  Tillett Textiles . Dots of Non in Forest Green – converted to wallcovering for bedroom closet interior.  Right:  Sister Parish . Clara B – custom upholstered daybed.

Last year, while at the Innovation and Design Center in Boston’s Seaport, I met Mally Skok.  I went to the talk because I had seen a room she designed for a show house and I was struck by the organic patterns and playful motifs.  She has a fascinating story, and is as lovely as her designs.

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Custom Upholstered Day Bed with Trundle by livenUpdesign. Via Etsy.

I love so much of what Serena and Lily produces, but struggled with colorways that would work in this particular application.  If I have to be honest, which I do, because what’s the point of writing all this if I am not honestly sharing my preferences, thoughts, and opinions.  I’m not perfect – nobody is and NObody likes a property that looks too perfect.  It feels inauthentic (probably because nobody lives there) Don’t you forget that.

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Louis J. Solomon . Commode for inside the closet nook.

So S & L is out and I am embracing a mix of designers that you may know, and others who may be new to you.  I do hope you approve.  Comments are sometimes welcome – just kidding – if I couldn’t accept input and alternative suggestions, where would I be?  Please do write.

Feeling Blue: Chinoiserie Chic

Blue Chin 1

posted by:  Beth Connolly Labels:  Fireplace, styling

In the best possible way.  In the clean, fresh, bright, and brilliant blue that comes from this gorgeous china.

Blue Chin 2

posted by:  Beth Connolly Labels: fireplace, styling

I met a gal that recently found her way to the states – and more specifically the South End, where she bought her first condo – via Hong Kong.  She carted back a boat load of blue vases, urns, and dishes in the signature hue and asked if it was possible to create a design that incorporate her extensive art collection and her prized china.  I said yes of course.

The addition of orange brings a fresh pop of contrasting color to the scene.

While I love chinoiserie I do believe there is a line you can cross.  I think of it as the Mason Dixon Line.  A Boston city apartment shouldn’t feel like a Southern mansion dripping in excess – the challenge then is to use it to inform the design palette and theme, while keeping it sophisticated and chic.  Think pastel Paris with pops of blue and gold accents or a more muted backdrop of neutrals with orange accents.

Left:  Mark D. Sikes Loves blue and brings a sophistication with these muted tones.  Right:  French Country Cottage balances warm and cool for a cluster of cherubic perfection.

I adore white and blue but think that it feels more coastal than city. Softening the tones and introducing creams, warm violets, dusty greens, and gray blues will help give it a cozy chicness that will welcome and calm after a long day composing art schemes.

Top Left:  Gold Puddle Trays – One Kings Lane.  Top Right:  Spiked Accent Table – One Kings Lane.  Bottom Center:  Caracole Lena Accent Chair – One Kings Lane.

Galbraith + Paul Wallcoverings and Fabric.  Left:  Bellflower in Dolphin.  Right:  Southern Shades via Etsy.

Blue Chin 2

posted by Beth Connolly Labeled: fireplace, styling

What’s particularly great about this design challenge is that there is NO furniture that one must work into the equation.  Just artwork, and blue chin.  Awesome.

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Go a little bolder with Cole and Sons Hex Wallcovering and a high gloss painted door or vanity.

This post represents my preliminary picks.  I hope I’ve headed the ship from the China Seas to the Atlantic in the right direction.

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Galbraith + Paul . Reverse Monarch in Ruby.

 

 

It Takes heART

The last few weeks of summer always have me out of sorts.  I’m still longing for a lazy day on the beach with a good book, a glass of rose in the afternoon on the deck, an outdoor shower before dinner…throw in a yoga class, repeat, replay, it doesn’t get old for me.

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Chairish . Closer $1450.

I do love fall, but I am not ready for the traffic, the school buses, and normally I can get very excited about fall fashion, but I am trying to refrain from spending my hard earned dollars on a fantastically outrageous pair of high fashion pants, that I would likely wear twice, have absolutely no room for weight gain or loss, and would be wildly out of style the following year.  Can you say $1400. down the drain?  I’m trying to, but what I hear is, come get me, you’ll be the envy of the IIDA Fashion Show.  Oh lord, sometimes I am too much to handle.

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Chairish . Passionate Heart $810.

So I am turning a blind eye to the fabulous fashions that are racked and waiting, and am in need of some inspiration. ART and NATURE.  I find that they gently tug me through tough political and economic climates, bad break-ups, low moments in construction when the project seems as if it will never come to an end, and I’ll be covered in dust forever!

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Etsy . Carl Thomas Gallery . Beginnings $400.

Of course you can go to a gallery and see some amazing masters, but I like to scroll through the pages on Etsy, and Chairish.  There are so many unknown artists that have incredible talent.  So much of what Etsy has to offer is incredibly affordable too.  Like the names given to nail polish I find it fascinating and illuminating to read the titles of paintings.  They open my imagination to so much more than the image alone and allow me to craft a story – make it my own.

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Etsy . Make Believe . $150.

One of my favorite paintings I loved before I knew the title, but when I learned it was called:  Time After Doubt, I fell in love with it.  I have collected a lot of art while on this flipping adventure of mine.  My most recent acquisition was the inspiration for the color palette in No. 4, and is prominently displayed in the living room.  I adore it, and expect it will make a reappearence before I reach No. 10, but it is Time After Doubt that once published, you will see in every single flip – all ten chapters of My Life in Sawdust.

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Etsy . Landscape No. 8 $89.

To finding a little inspiration in this time in-between.

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Etsy . Linda Monmori . Visitors $360.

Fruit Punch: Flirt with a little fun

The weekends are too short, and summer in New England is the shortest of the short . shorts.  With no spring to speak of, one really feels the need to make the most of the good weather, when said good weather finally arrives.  Sun, sand, ocean, and fantastically fresh food.  To bite into a juicy peach, savor a sweet chunk of pineapple, smack your lips as you sip a tart and tasty lemonade – that’s summer.  It got me thinking about the roll of fruit in interior design, naturally.

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Etsy is an amazing source for original art work.  This gracefully executed watercolor, brings a little of that fun fruit to an Urban or Suburban setting.  Etsy . Tina Vu Studio $45.

I’m not thinking dark paneled walls, velvet curtains, and Peter Paul’s Rubeneque beauties lying naked in heaps of grapes.  I’m thinking a little more playful, a bit of young at heart, more daylight than dark, more laughter than tears.  Fruit motifs span the gamut from sophisticated to childish, and it’s perfectly ok to mix the two, why not, no law.

 

Pineapple lamp

The traditional motif symbolizing “welcome” – posh doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny.  PB Teen $119.

City

For city surroundings I do recommend you lean toward the sophisticated palette.  Potted fruit plants, faux and real, can bring a little of that summer indoors, and remind you that the world is not all hardscape.  (Try Ballard Design for some realistic looking faux plants) Sculptural elements like china or metallic pineapples, sitting serenely on the shelf of an étagère, the spire on top of your skyscraper of interiors books, glinting and beckoning at that 5 o’clock hour from it’s outpost on the bar cart, pineapples are indeed welcoming.  Wall coverings that blur and obscure the fruit feel polished and fresh, and are perhaps just the right splash of irreverence for a powder room or guest bed.

Flavor Paper Sweet Pototo

Flavor Paper . Fruits of Design . Sweet Potato Mica Clay Coated.

Summer Escape

Summer rightfully brings out the kid in us all.  By my account there is far too much seriousness going around these days.  I’m not condoning irresponsibility, just suggesting that buying a Crew Cuts tee shirt from the kids department that has glittery cherry’s on it, is perfectly acceptable, and frankly much more economically responsible than buying it from J. Crew Woman’s.   Just saying…I did it, and you feel free to judge.  I am also suggesting that a sequined watermelon throw pillow, could really make rolling from Sunday into Monday, just a little bit happier, and if you woke up in these delightfully chipper cherry sheets from Serena and Lily, who’s to say you wouldn’t have the best day ever?

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PB Teen . Tutti Fruity Pillow Covers. 16″ Square – $12.99 each.

To making the most of your summer weekends, and not allowing yourself to turn Sunday into an extension of Monday.

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Serena and Lily . Cherry Sheet Set. $128. – $228.