Chief: Of One’s Own Destiny

Future, fate, fortune, doom, that hidden power that floats in the ether controlling your every move, your every breath – those ragged and smooth, gasping or shallow – leaving you a little light headed, does it really exist, or can you gently nudge it in one direction or another?

Muddier hues give the space an elevated sophistication.

On the one hand it feels rather reassuring to think that it all doesn’t matter. The worrying, and the striving, the toiling and the task making – if it’s all going to happen as the universe wills it – why not relax? Blessedly I have two hands, and the other one isn’t taking any chances. Just in case, and for all the what ifs – I am in the game, and believe that fortune is made by those that grab it by the pig tails and squeal, and snuffle, get into the mud and sling it out – oink and boink, and decide. That’s right, just decide to put yourself in the path of other like minded survivors – thrivers – the really alivers. Ok, those are really words, but you get the point. It’s for the bold, even if your bold delivered in the form of a new word.

That color looks like Farrow & Balls – Setting Plaster. Pink offset by rusty tones keeps it from feeling too whimsical.

Today though, I prefer to focus on the word “Chief”. Derived from the Latin – where else – it references the highest, most important rank. It denotes power and prominence. For me, I’ve never wanted to be the number one, number one. I’m happy being the number one, number two – not because I don’t have my own ideas, and thoughts about what success looks like, but rather because I blossom in an environment of collaboration, and idea sharing, where together we can share in something that could not have been created as a solo effort. Chief, I bet is a lonely place to be at times.

Every Club has to have a beautiful bar.

I am nonetheless, fascinated by the most recent declaration of female power in the form of a Women’s Club that will soon be arriving on the shores of Boston. Unlike The WingChief is not a co-working space, it’s a club, a club with a very specific purpose, to put high ranking women in the path of like power brokers. It’s a place to convene and share, trade secrets – not of their companies variety, but rather of the people, and places, and resources that got them to where they are today, and hopefully through this magical sourcing and resourcing, will propel them to an entirely new elevation in the future.

Groups of women gather for “Salons” in settings like this.

Founded by, what I can only refer to as two young gals, now that I am sadly struggling with my middle age title. I sometimes reflect on a Harvard Medical School talk I attended where the speaker indicated if we could hang on for another 50 years, he could give us another 100. It happily blew my mind. I plan to live another 50, so it most definitely slides me into the lower quadrant of my existence, and just like that – brilliantly – I have a world of possibility ahead. I digress, which I am wont to do. Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan, formerly of Handy and Casper respectively, were at the VP level of their organizations, and thought to themselves – where’s the support network. How can I break through?

Chief Co-Founders – Childers and Kaplan

Chief is their answer and I have to tell you, it just might be worth striving for the top spot to gain access to this interior. I love the Millennial Pink of The Wing, and a girl doesn’t limit herself to just a single pair of shoes, does she? Why ever would she limit herself to a single interior. Stay tuned for its arrival. Happy Saturday.

Mix of the masculine and mid-century marvelousness.

Can a rookie house flipper pocket $1 million?

That’s the questions that Jaci Conry of the Boston Globe asked when she interviewed me for her cover story in The Boston Globe Magazine.  On-line today at http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/real-estate/2016/12/30/can-novice-make-million-flipping-homes/WRmD9u24SEpu6Wj5bHV94O/story.html?s_campaign=8315, out in print tomorrow.  Nice way to close out the year, and open 2017.  Time will tell.

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No. 4 . Underway . David L. Ryan Globe Staff Photographer

It’s funny, and interesting to me, the strong emotions that bubble to the surface when the topic of conversation is house flipping.  One reader reprimanded me for driving up the prices in the South End, making properties unaffordable for the average guy or gal.  To this I can only say “I don’t think I am average at all…I’m special, but why wouldn’t I think that?, I’m me”.  Still, I did start with just $15,000., and the price of real estate in the South End was unaffordable for me when I started, it still is, but someday, I hope it will not be.  When I generate enough sweat and tears, when I have pushed through when I would rather have put on a party dress and heels, when all the dust settles, I hope, that I will be one of those lucky few that really owns a home.

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Falla with Micah Viana of Naysa Builders examining Visual Comfort’s Calais Chandelier meant for the bedroom.  David L. Ryan Globe Staff Photographer.

Until then, I plan to continue to make mistakes, share the error of my ways, take pride in doing something right, and well, and in service to these old buildings.  These grand and historic brownstones.  These beautiful, and sometimes broken representations of our city’s history.  To be a part of that, is to be part of something that is bigger than me.  It’s important.

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No. 1 . Charlestown . a working kitchen in the end.  Photo:  Falla

Yes, I could spend less money on the construction, but I choose not to for several reasons – I love design, and like my inexplicable adoration for architects and interior designers, I have a deep appreciation for beautifully crafted things.  Lighting fixtures, sculptural tables, the weight and feel of a door knob in your hand, these things speak to me.  I am drawn to them.  This Quest allows me to be near people and things that inspire me.  This Quest allowed me to fly to Paris and hunt down that mid-century modern sputnik chandelier in the flee market.

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Mid-Century Madness.  Italian Sputnik via Le Marche aux Puces . Paris.  So beautiful I want to cry.  Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

It gave to me an amazing trip with my dear friend Tiffany who shares my obsession with travel, and fashion, and home improvement, and design.  Experiences like that keep me warm at night.  The second reason I invest in these buildings has to do with a sense of stewardship for them.  I believe one should always endeavor to leave something or someone, a little better than before they knew you.

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Property No. 2 . Milford Street.  Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

To the gent that asked:  “Who needs all this renovation aggravation, why not just marry someone that owns a lot of property?”  I can only say….”now why didn’t I think of that?”

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Property No. 3 . Waltham Street . Photo:  Carly Gillis Photography

On this last day of the year, I encourage you all to do it your way, and own it.  Good-bye 2016.  You’ve been a good one.

West Elm: Working Partnerships

It was a few years ago when I first started noticing West Elm pieces in Commercial applications.  I spied a side table or two in AEW’s Corporate Offices, in the Seaport, designed by ADD, Inc., scattered throughout.  To my delight I found pillows and side tables in Hawthorne’s artisnal drinkery in Boston’s Kenmore Square, and thought, perhaps they’re on to something here.  Affordable, hip, mid-century design – way to stay on budget, on trend, and allow for the flexibility of change down the road.  Love it.

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West Elm with Inscape

A little over a year ago, West Elm partnered with Etsy to bring local businesses together in their Kenmore Square location, allowing them to have a pop-up shop under their roof.  Brilliant.  It happened in cities across the country.  What forward thinking business strategy.  I was introduced to some small business owners I wasn’t likely to have made contact with otherwise, and got to meet Erin Gates of Elements of Style, eat a fantastic bacon glazed donut from Blackbird Bakery in the South End, and leave with two pillows.  A win.

On Thursday night I visited Peabody Office Furniture in Boston’s Financial District for the big reveal of their Inscape Office Line Partnership with West Elm.  I have been waiting for the unveiling for months when I first learned of the dynamic duo’s plans.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s got that welcome to Don Draper’s Office, care for a Manhattan look about it.  It’s sixties cool with its clean lines, dark wood, and retro fabrics, I wanted to move right in and have the Mad Men re-make me.  I could just picture it….I enter in jeans and tennis shoes, hair in a pony tail, bags under my eyes….I exit in a red Carolina Herrera gown, Harry Winston choker hanging heavy around my delicate neck, diamonds as big as rock candy threatening to make off with my earlobes, 5 inch Louboutin’s peaking through the swaths of fabric surrounding me like meringue cloud.  Naturally either Don himself or some swashbuckling man trails behind me.

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West Elm . Mid-Century Modern Madness

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West Elm . Pelle Gooseneck Chandelier $799.

Ah, dare to dream.  Thanks West Elm for that lovely fantasy, and thanks too for finalizing my decision on a living room chandelier.  After all, your first order of business was to help the everyday gal like me have a fabulous home, was it not?

 

Authentically Venetian

Having just visited Venice and fallen under its spell, I am not quite ready to move on from this new love.  It’s a magical place, and like any new love it feels steeped in possibility.  As I embark on my next project, I want to incorporate a little of that magic into my new space.  Because as I have said before, magic makes the world go round, or is it love?  I better throw in a little of both for good measure.

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I am fascinated by the quality of Venetian Plaster, and not at all fascinated by brick walls.  To be clear, I don’t dislike them altogether.  It’s just that they don’t feel right for a city apartment, inhabited by a gal, with a style that leans toward modern glamour.  Now if we are talking about brick in the home of a ruggedly handsome man or in the Tuscan hills – I”m totally in support of it.

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I think you know where I am going with this.  That brick “accent” wall in the living room of No.4 will be politely asked to fade into the background.  At Milford Street I was assaulted by three floors of brick wall.  It was too expensive for me to board it, so I had to settle for painting it.  If I was the Imelda Marcos of one bedroom condos as my boss so sweetly suggested – I totally am not – I would have hired a master craftsman and had every square meter of that brick lavishly covered in Venetian Plaster.

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This age old technique, which can be traced back nearly 9500 years, and long before Venice was founded, is achieved by combining slaked lime putty, marble dust and/or quartz.  There are variations on this of course, but this particular recipe is special in that over time the plaster finish will return to its authentic state, which is lime and marble.  Those are both stone in case you were wondering.  It’s incredibly durable, holds its color, performs wonderfully in wet climates, and won’t allow mold to settle on it.  No wonder the Venetian’s like it so much.

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Well I like it too.  It can be brought up to a high shine through increased compression as the material dries.  This is the particular finish I am attracted to, though it can be finished in a matte or a rustic style.  I have even seen it finished to look like clouds of meringue in a little clothing boutique in my neighborhood called Viola Lovely.  Lisa Cancelli Picard’s eye for fashion extends to interior design.  When you visit her shop at 1409 Washington Street . Boston . South End, be sure to make note of the amazing Mid-Century Modern Chandelier she curated for the build-out, and go ahead and touch the walls.  They are delicious.

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While I love the idea of a pigmented finish, I am planning on using white with hints of cream, and gilt like the finish seen above.  Absolutely neutral, no?

 

Wanting it in the “Wearst” Way

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Doo Wop Baby: This architecture will make you dance.

If you think Doo Wop Architecture sounds funny, try the likes of Googie and Populuxe Architecture, as the style is more popularly known on the West Coast.  This mid-century modern movement found its way to Wildwood New Jersey, where bands like the Ink Spots and The Turbans sang music known as Doo Wop.  According to the Wildwood Crest Historical Society, The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, so named it in the 1990’s.

Meet George Jetson….

It’s fun, fantastical, optimistic, bold, and at times boastful.  It is so new age that it is reminiscent of The Jetsons produced by cartoon studio Hannah-Barbera, and aired for the first time in 1962.  Pluck the hotels, casinos, and apartment complexes out of the clouds and allow them to hover over Newark before their final gentle trajectory into Wildwood – et Voila, you’ve got Doo Wop!

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Quarterdeck Motel . Wildwood NJ

Marked by 5 distinct styles:  Modern Blast-off, Vroom, Tiki/Polynesian, Chinatown Revival, and Phony Colonee these post-war expressions of our countries fascination with the South Pacific, and with Space Travel – thank you John Glenn, are iconic architectural wonders.

Starlux Motel . Wildwood . NJ

Lou Morey and Will Morey are responsible for much of the design and construction of these star studded, plastic palm adorned, sloped roof, curved wall, concoctions of a wild imagination.  Today there is a push to have them designated as historic, and to prevent their destruction by finding sympathetic ways to preserve and adapt the properties, for use as condominiums, diners, dormitories, and the like.

I am rather fond of Mid-Century Architecture and Interior Design, and find the graphic patterns, diamonds and stars to be rather to my liking.

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Seeing the Light

Statistics – who would think a gal like me would love them so much.  They help set the stage, create the appropriate amount of awe – outlining the sheer magnitude of the effort.  If I just told you I bought a chandelier in Paris, and had it hung in my condo, that wouldn’t be much of a story.

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Marche aux Puces . Paris

For those following along, you know first that I bought it a very long time ago, back in September.  You’ll remember that my good friend Tiffany, and international treasuring hunting partner and I were scouring the Marchè aux Puces when we turned the corner, and there she was… my heart skipped a beat, and I knew I had to have her.  An offer was tendered, laughter followed by a sinking panic, additional requests, mild pleading, a whimper of consent, and a relinquishing of ghastly amounts of Euros.

Accounts were opened to handle shipping, wire transfers established, the trans Atlantic voyage complete.  An assessment of the structural capacity of the ceiling, the electrical box, and associated components designed to carry the weight of the chandelier – rendered a verdict of insufficient.  Modifications were made, plaster medallions were broken.  Then the rewiring commenced, followed by the discovery that Regis Royant and his Gallery of the same name – shipped me a chandelier that was similar, but not the same as the one I purchased from him.  Buyer beware.  After I got over that shock I took an ill-advised ride with the chandelier in the back of a pick-up truck.  That almost cost me a finger or two.

 

The initial installation was short lived as I discovered that once the following was assembled:

  • 65 main branches
  • 832 small branches
  • 808 glass discs or petals
  • 832 screw top components

It hung so low, it needed to be taken apart, branches carefully stored, orb and conduit back to the shop to be cut down.  Three Electricians later – can you believe no one wanted to do some star gazing – and after a very long night of reassembly, the curtain has been raised.  I will admit to being a little nervous about it crashing down in dramatic fashion…but one mustn’t live their life in a constant state of worry.  I’ll acclimate.

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For all the broken promises and heartache.  I’d do it all again.  This chandelier is a work of art, a wonder, a Broadway set in my living room, with all the magic a first rate production engenders.  It is stunning.  It is a showpiece.  It will steal the show, night after night, even if its only audience is me.

Happy Saturday.