I’ve been thinking about arrival and all its varied connotations lately. Not the kind of arrival that leaves you breathless in front of the departures gate just before your flight is set to take off, though making it feels pretty good. Even if you have to admit to yourself that you could stand to up your cardio routine a tick or two. Once you get on that plane, there is still yet another destination to be conquered. It was another type of arrival altogether that I was noodling until my noodle hurt a little, it’s the “having made it” kind of arrival.
Now this might surprise you, but being able to tile a full bath — I mean really bathe it in Ann Sachs or Fire Clay or some other decadent luxury of a tile, to me would be the splashiest of arrivals, even if I was the only one to see it on my glamorous floor.
The trouble with arriving is that it often doesn’t feel as fun as you thought it might. Like that bubble bath you’ve been dreaming about, a few minutes in you find yourself itchy and ready for a cool shower. So this is my cool shower of reality for you all. You don’t need to dive right in to experience the wonder of these beauties, and they are beautiful, but like a 1950’s Starlet with her sunken tub and Swan spitting faucets, they come with a price tag.
Consider using just a sprinkle instead of a deluge. Make it a focal point instead of a flood. A pretty border around the mirror, a diamond, square, or a hexagon shaped mat at the vanity or in front of the tub, or maybe at eyes level inside the shower wall. There is something to be said for restraint, and I know you are begging me not to say it, but I must….the journey.
Left: Annie Selke . Watercolor Lines – French Linen. Right Top: Annie Selke . Moon – Soft Pink. Right Bottom: Annie Selke . Veruto – Orchid.
I don’t know about you, but all this being inside is making me cranky. I’m more a run around about town kind of gal. You know, the can’t sit still for very long kind, but not the kind that can’t be bothered to listen to you restless kind. I’ve been running up and down my stairs at regular intervals but it hasn’t been entirely effective at shaking the blues, so I thought it was time to bring in the yellow.
Blue is my natural design state, but I have always admired the boldness of yellow. It’s a California blond, and I’m a New England brunette. It’s summertime and lemonade. It’s sand between your bare toes – it’s innocence – it’s the absurdity of a daffodil and the pure happiness of a daisy. It’s a bobbing balloon in a spring breeze. It’s the silly to my far too serious. No wonder I’m attracted to it.
While you won’t catch me wearing a yellow frock – it’s not my best color, and you’re not likely to find my next flip showcasing the sunny hue, I thought just for today, we could celebrate the fact that the color does have a peculiar way of making you smile.
When my Clients told me they were leaving Cambridge for warmer climes I admit my long drawn out nooooooo was a little dramatic, but life is fluid and ever evolving. The exciting news is that I am going to have the chance to evolve too. My very first opportunity to influence the design of a southern home, followed the initial piece of traumatic news, softening the blow, as only Jonathan could.
A new emotion took over – known to many as panic, I asked myself, what exactly did I know about southern design? Naturally quick to met out a harsh judgement, I told myself, “absolutely nothing”. I love talking to myself, and frankly don’t care who hears. Some of my very best conversations, are held between, me, myself, and I, and in the end, helpful recommendations to some of my biggest quandaries result.
Kelly Wearstler’s Avalon Hotel
I actually do know something about Southern design, I had just forgotten that these influencers, for whom I have great respect, all hale from, or are known for their southern design aesthetic. Kelly Wearstler, born in Myrtle Beach, SC, has a self proclaimed style, known as Modern Glamour. Derived from the Hollywood Regency era of design, it is bold and graphic, bright and accented by enormous ceramic figurines – usually of animals. Dorothy Draper – born in Tuxedo Park, NY, known most famously for the Greenbrier in West Virginia, and for being the first socialite interior designer, has been on my radar for a very long time . Suzanne Kassler, born in Waco, Texas to an Air Force Dad, lived in many places, gathering inspiration near and far, until finally landing in Atlanta, GA.
Dorothy Draper’s Greenbrier – iconic design.
So what makes southern design, well….southern? The properties are certainly much, much bigger than the urban locations that I typically design. They are grand, they are estates, they come from an era when income tax didn’t exist and amassing of wealth was easier. Aside from their size, southern design appears to incorporate the following elements:
Florals: from the gardens to the interiors, they are heavily represented,
Painted floors: intricate or simple patterns – the diamond being a favorite,
Heavy use of fabric: from slip-covered furnishings to curtain-laden windows, reams of fabric abound,
Collectables: southerns love to tell a story through “things”,
Mix of antiques and modern furnishings,
Kasler brings a fresh approach to Southern Design – she doesn’t paper the walls, but brings the outdoors in and loves her curtains!
I got this. My journey begins in just a few weeks. I’ve got a lot of research to do to pull this off, but I won’t let my lovely Clients down!
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.
I was surprised to learn from my yoga instructor that winter – the season that is – is associated with water and fear. It’s a time to look inward, and reflect. I suppose in some cosmic way the Gregorian Calendar (that’s the one we currently follow – which was created by Pope Gregory XIII) with it’s year end, just after the Winter Solstice, and our tradition of goal setting for the new year – is in fact, a time of inward reflection. Hum.
Pottok . Little Whales Wallpaper. At last I found it!
I’m a goal setter by nature. I like the process. I like to check in and reflect. I love to see what the year has produced. I’ve taken to telling people – whoever will listen really – what my goals are because I learned a few years back that in doing that – blabbing it to everyone, you are in fact increasing your chances of getting what you want. Isn’t that the most amazing thing? Somewhere in there, surely the psychology of accountability whispers in our ear, encouraging us along on our path.
Marblous Oceany Wallpaper.
Fear can also be a powerful motivator. No surprise that fear is what set me off on this quest in the first place. The Quest for the Nest that is. I find it eye-opening when someone tells me that they find what I am doing “courageous”. I throw back my head and laugh – a nervous giggle whistling out through parted lips as I prepare to correct them. It’s FEAR, not courage I want to scream. Still, as I reflect on this past year, finish construction on No. 4…I have to admit, that I am in fact doing it. Like water – I am finding my way, sometimes in the face of what seems decidedly unyielding, sometimes salty, and others deliciously enveloping.
Serena and Lily . Seagrass Cloth . Amalfi
E.E. Cummings said: “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self we find in the sea.”
I am a Cape Cod girl at heart. I cannot argue with him there.
In this winter season, embrace the stormy waters, the calm tidal pools, the white caps, and ebbing tide. There is something to learn and love from them all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not everyone can be expected to buy a new house every time you want to change up your decor like I do. I understand entirely. Trust me when I tell you…you need not be jealous. As I write this I sit in a state of what could only be referred to as … total disaster. Stacks of broken down boxes block the front door.
Erin Gates for Wayfair . Starburst $38.
I wish they were the only boxes lying in wait. There are half opened boxes, their contents awaiting their final home on the wall or cabinet or wherever they are intended to go. Sadly, some haven’t even been opened yet, so I’m not sure what’s in them. I’ll find out, but it’s going to take more time than this weekend allots to me.
Pillows provide an answer for the sane home owner looking to breath a little fresh air into their design, without upending the living room, and blocking the television from the view of avid March Madness watchers. Much safer, and in my opinion, more fun than preparing to paint. I love the way a new coat of paint can transform a space, but it’s not as easy as some of the DIY shows, or sites claim. A good paint job is 90% preparation, cleaning, and filling, and protecting, and taping. You get the drill, when you actually arrive at the painting part most folks have had it, and rush through to completion, splattering paint on sills and radiators, and leaving unseemly drips on the wall. That simply won’t do.
Erin Gates for Wayfair: Left Greek Key – $48. Right: Palm Print Knife Edge $30.
Pillows are the answer. Many designers create lines for the spring and fall. Darker hues, seasonal references to nature, and heavier fabrics are common for winter. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a Santa or Snowman pillow in the mix, but as I have no children, you won’t find them in my house, no matter the season. No judgement if you choose to accent a chair, sofa, or bed with one. I think it’s important to celebrate the child in all of us.
Left: Arianna Belle Blush Pink Velvet with light gold piping $142. Left: Etsy . Schumacher Lotus Garden Lilac $75.oo
The spring pillow punt got me kicking into gear to see what some of my favorite designers had been up to during the cold winter months. Erin Gates has created a new line for Wayfair, that is worthy of a look, and in my case, action. Her love of animal prints is expressed in a spring Zebra pattern. She remains true to her traditional Greek Key standard with a lovely array of pastel, and kicky coral shades in two styles. I think my favorite of the bunch is the Starburst. It reminds me of a Dandelion gone to seed. Whimsical and pretty.
Left: Arianna Belle . Pale Pink Linen with Greek Key $178. Right: Etsy . Color Style . Kelley Wearstler . Bengal Bazzar $75.00
I love wild tropical flowers, and chinoiserie. I like birds, and bold pops of color that draw the eye and surprise. Not too many. I like my home to be calming, but every room must have some element that is a bit unexpected. Etsy is a great place to shop affordable pillows. Arianna Belle at arriannabelle.com has a beautiful selection, some are a little on the pricey side but worth it in my opinion.
I wonder if it started with Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood, or The Secret Garden, perhaps too it could have been Lord & Taylor’s The Bird Cage Restaurant, which I have referenced before. I loved it there, the chirping of the birds, the cafeteria trays, the enormous bird cages gathered in the center of the restaurant. My sister Jo-Jo hated it. The food, the noise, the fuss. I’m a little fussy and I loved Raymond Lowey’s design, in just the same way I fell into step with Piglet and Pooh as they wondered the wood and snuggled into Pooh’s hollowed out tree for a pot of honey. Maybe that’s the real origination of my love of tiny spaces and not boats at all. They are cool. They are magical. They are alluring.
Schumacher . sweet little bird . they got it right.
Whatever the reason, however the seed was planted, this season has not ended for me. As the snow piles up all around, I long for a little umbrella fern to poke its kelly green finery stubbornly through the snow. I don’t think umbrella ferns are actually indigenous to this region, but that is the image that is in my head nonetheless.
deGournay . breathless from it’s beauty.
This longing for spring and other things floral, and chirpy, and secretly happy is expressing itself in my desire for a pair of One Kings Lane Chinoiserie pillows that are singing a sweet song of seduction to me. I think I’ve fallen under their spell. But it’s not just the pillows. Truth be told, I am attracted to all manner of botanicals, chinoiserie’s, and garden leaves. There’s an elegance to bringing nature in doors. Of course on my own terms. This is not an open invitation to have a mouse in my house. I realize I am no match for Mother Nature, but we have an agreement with one another, and I plan to stick to my end of the bargain, and can only hope she is a woman of principle.
Some of my very favorite’s come from Schumacher. They do watery and bold, modern and old school Versailles in a way that elicits longing. de Gournay is elegance and opulence and when I have a powder room again I think I’ll paper the walls in hand painted petal a la de Gournay… true artistry.
More deGournay….stunners. Left is my favorite restaurant in the world, BG at Berdorf Goodman designed by Kelly Wearstler…my idol.
OKL . Chinoiserie . I’m hitting the buy button.
The pale mint green panels of Bungalow 5 a way to introduce just a little garden to your Parlor Level unit or any old place you call home. If you’re shy when it comes to florals, this is as careful as someone controlled, and reserved is likely to get, while still tipping their toe into the bird bath. A pillow will do too.
Irina Munoz Clares. because nature knows has all the answers.
Finally, I fell in love with the bold and cheery designs of Josef Frank. The South of France home featured in this month’s Architectural Digest, showcased a room papered in a print that’s so sooo, and not at all too much, and just the only place in the house I would want to spent my time. To be frank, Frank – you did good.
How did I get myself in the spotlight so quickly? There will undoubtedly be delays on this project, and though I hate them, I’d rather they not be associated with me! The biggest cost of project overruns is….the Client. That’s you and me folks. Our inability to make decisions costs us money. Oy Vey. And there are dozens and dozens of them to be made. Though the project might sound simple when it’s all said and done, getting there will be anything but. How much trouble could putting up one, none structural load bearing wall be?
Option 1 and 2 – Living Room: Left: OKL, Slant Cut Chandelier $1,155. Right: Kelly Wearstler, Utopia 5 Arm Chandelier $1,671.
Option 3 and 4 – Living Room: Left: OKL, Classic Star Arm Chandelier $4,999. Right: OKL, Ziti 8 Arm Chandelier $945.
Glad you asked. It can be a lot trouble. Let’s start this Sunday off with a bang. In the end we will need a wing and a prayer to get through the project whole, or “holy” as the case may be. That one wall will require the relocation of the door to the second bedroom inside the current bathroom entry. The material on the floor will be impacted. How would you like to address that? New hardwood? Would you like to keep the existing, hollow panel doors or replace? Hardware? What about the base? Replace in kind? New hardware on the doors, or re-use, and replace in kind? If new, what, and how long? And what of the closets that are going to be constructed in the bedrooms? What material will they be built out of, plywood, MDF, Pine, something else entirely. Think it doesn’t matter?, wait until it warps and won’t close, until the pine knots make an appearance when the sap seeps through your beautiful paint job. Speaking of paint … is that how you’ll dress them? And if beautiful really is on the inside, how will the interior be designed? Hardware, interior lighting, configuration. The decisions are overwhelmingly bountiful.
Option 1 and 2 Master Bed. Left: Calais 34″ $3,139. Right: OKL, Lacy Drum $799.
Sometimes it feels like the really big decisions are the easier ones to make. If the code requires an extension of the fire escape across the back of the building to accommodate the change from one bed to two, if it requires sprinkling both beds – well that will be costly, but the decision will be made. No choice if I want to pursue that option. I’ll find out the answer to that, and another really big one…will they allow me to install central air? Please, I am begging. I can’t go through that again. I’m considering offering the guy in the Garden Unit a 100 year land lease for the 15 SF I need for my condenser if they won’t allow me to hang it off the back of the building. Trustees, I am trusting you’ll do right by me. I promise to do the same by you and the building.
Options for Guest Bed: Left: Ro Sham Beaux, Malibu$1,998. Right Top: OKL, Pontil 6 Light $379. Left Bottom: OKL, Markus Hanging Shade $1,365.
I’ll find out those answers soon enough. With just five days till close, I’ve got to take action on some of my material buys, or my builder won’t have anything to build. Long-lead items are a drag. For those of you less familiar with this terminology, it has to do with inventory, and shipping time frames. That Kelly Wearstler Chandelier that I have been eyeing for the living room has a 8 – 14 week lead time. Think it doesn’t matter? I’ll be answering the door while brushing my teeth at 7am to let the electrician in to do the install he couldn’t do when he was in the unit to rewire in December. I’ll be navigating around a maze of furniture I relocated the night before to make a path for him to get to the location of the install. We’ll be just shy of locking down the first month of the new year. Time…..to make a decision. Will you help me? Which would you choose?
A mon avis, Kelly Wearstler is an obsession worth having. She is Modern Glamour – and if you love design, and don’t have her book that shares this title, move your little fingers as fast as they’ll go to Amazon, and buy-it. You’ve got 1-Click purchase power don’t you?
Kelly Wearstler . Cleo Chandelier $2100. 14 – 16 week lead time. www.kellywearstler.com/lighting
She’s a fashionista, an Interior Designer, a Mom, a Surfer, a textile, furniture, linen’s, object d’art, and lighting designer. How she manages to look so serine in her photographs when clearly she is buzzing with energy and inspiration, is a mystery to me. Her world is seen in bold accent colors, and through the lens of geometric shapes.
Defying Gravity . Kelly Wearstler’s Souffle Chair . $7900.
The objects she populates her spaces with, for the most part, convey solidity and presence, and demand attention. Now and again she throws in something a little softer, like the Souffle Chair in its buttery pleated leather. It’s tiny legs supporting its dumpling of a body like a baby giraffe, defying gravity.
I first made the acquaintance of Wearstler’s aesthetic prowess at Bergdorf Goodman’s BG Restaurant on Central Park in NYC. It served as the inspiration for my first project, though all her beautiful diamond and molding adorned walls, which were to blanket my tiny 500SF in their loveliness, were value engineered out of my project. Two little doors, with their high relief diamonds, moldings, and ornate paint job, were all that I could squeak into my budget. When I left, those where the only thing I regretted leaving behind.
Kelly Wearstler . Cleo Pendant . Antique Brass . $840. 14 – 16 week lead.
Her recent foray into lighting design has me glowing with excitement. Several of the pieces, for which I had an unhealthy obsession, she most certainly drew inspiration from the collection of Jean De Merry. A lighting and furniture design house rooted in French Artisanal Craftsmanship, who found their way to LA. They brought their own bright lights with them, and Kelly used their flush mount sea urchin brilliance, and mermaid scones in the BG project. You’ll note a striking resemblance to her Strada Large Flush Mount fixture, and to her Strada Chandeliers. I wanted that Flush Mount Sea Urchin in Charlestown – two actually. One for the living room and one for the bedroom, so badly I would dream about it. Sadly, the living room got an Expo Close-out Chandelier, which looked pretty good and ran me $400., and the bedroom got stuck with a Home Depot $8. flush mount fixture. So, all in all, I saved $9,502. on that lighting, but I’ll never forget what could have been, if only money were no object.
Kelly Wearstler . Strada Large Flush Mount . Aged Iron . $1260. 2 – 6 week lead.
Wanting it in the “Wearst Way” just got a little easier with K’s new line. The prices are far more accessible than those of Jean De Merry. This surprised and delighted me, as that Souffle Chair, which I also dream about regularly, is $7900. OUT of my budget, and unless I win the lottery, or Kelly decides to take pity on me and gift me a floor model, I will not be getting that billowy meringue delight any time soon.
Kelly Wearstler . Utopia 5 Arm Chandelier . Gild . $1671. 14 – 16 week lead.
Note that the lead times for these fixtures is long – 14 to 16 weeks, which is 4 months to you and me! I know all about waiting. That’s just what I will be doing as I continue my search. Waiting. The property that I had set my intention on purchasing turns out to be located next to a BRA (that’s Boston Redevelopment Authority) transitional home for homeless men. No, no, et non – not for me. Too hard to sell down the road. That Cleo would have been divine in the bedroom. Alas, the search continues.