Demolition Derby: tales from the Willow Bend Flip

Scheme I

I’m not an Olympic Athlete, in case you were wondering. I wonder if it’s because I don’t love the pain of the challenge as much as the other gal. I can do it, do make myself do it, languish in the rewards of being on the other side of doing it. The sore muscles, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, of doing something that someone else simply won’t do. I can do that, but I am old enough to know that I’ll never love it. Not like Michael Jordan, not like Billie Jean King, not like Danika, but hard work shows up in so many different ways, and I love and hate them all, and feel as neutral as a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a cold winter’s day, which is to say, I love ice cream anytime of the year, but I hate being cold. I like to celebrate my complexity like a rainbow.

Scheme II

This flip required 4 hard – like a hard rain’s gonna fall kind of hard – demolition. When you embark on a renovation project there really is something for every skill-set, age, and interested person to contribute. When I was really little I used to pick the nails up around the construction site. Later I striped wallpaper, and lead paint from the walls – check that box. Not being allowed to use power tools of any kind, I worked my way around the site (the homes that we lived in and my father renovated), hauling, cleaning, organizing, and staying out from underfoot and being very, very quiet. I’d work for a #6 Mason Jar sandwich – roast turkey breast with cranberry sauce, romaine lettuce, muenster cheese, mayo on a bulky roll with a half sour pickle – no chips or a drink, we were conserving money for the renovation.

Scheme III

As I peeled back the vines, the dilapidated wood picket fence, then the chain link, for which I was forced to cede my show of strength. I couldn’t even unearth a single concrete encrusted steel post from the ground, and there were many. I have nothing on Mother Nature – I bow to your beauty and strength.

Scheme I – II

Days 3 and 4 were all about the upstairs bath. Boy there are lots of parts and pieces to that structure. I’m reminded that the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone, the hip bones connected to the …. I had to dissect the connections to find the weak points and disassemble what someone or two, at times very thoughtfully, and later, quite lackadaisically with a scrap here, and an almost long enough board there, had carefully put into place those many decades before. It all gave me a run for my money, but as money is the point of this flip, and I am motivated by it, I refused to wave the flag until all the plaster and drywall – yes both, all the 2 x 4 – the real kind – the one’s that actually measured 2 x 4, all the offensive aesthetic elements were dispensed with – the vanity – holy ugly, the glass block window – holy heavy, the Italian blue ceramic tile, and the toilet – holy – holy. I stripped that baby bare. She’s as fresh as a new born entering the world, full of possibility. The sore muscles were worth it.

Scheme IV

Now I need your help. Long lead items are longer than they ever were before – oh Covid. The kitchen must be ordered and we cannot order the kitchen without a plan for the color scheme, and this Cape home will flow from one room to the next so we need to really LOVE the kitchen becaus all tides will rise with it, or fall, with crashing finality over the clashing disaster of colors. Which of these options would say to you – I’m ready to move in?

Is Your Home Driving You Crazy? I Can Help

It feels appropriate right now to acknowledge all that we have lost during this pandemic. I’m all for positivity. I love being around positive people, it makes me feel amazing. Throw in a little manifestation, an affirmation or two, some being in the moment and you have the makings of a hot fudge sunday with marshmallow, nuts and a cherry on top of the happiness hill, but NOT acknowledging loss can lead to listlessness or worse, and we can’t have that.

A friend, of a friend, had reached out to me over a year ago to talk about reconfiguring her living room. Then life got in the way, as it is want to do, until so much of this life got in her way that she was finding a classroom, a dog, two kids and a husband underfoot. She hadn’t just lost her work-from-home, make my life easier existence, she’d nearly lost her sanity, and can you blame her?

Elizabeth Bishop and Dorothy Parker, both poets, could wring tears from scorched earth in the Sahara with the prose that spilled forth from their pens, on the subject of loss. At turns brash and edgy, and then slow and sorrowful, they saw what it was to be left wanting – a hunger pain begging to be fed. I suspect many of us are feeling this way and I think I have an answer – we must gravitate toward structure during these times to manage the loss.

Kate, in her wisdom, knew this to be true, and I am happy to help show her some ways in which order can be brought to chaos through reordering her living space, relocating her office, so the kiddos don’t think that “seeing” is believing, that Mommy is available for games, consultation, lunch prep, or an attempt to locate the left sock with the locomotives on it – she’s working.

This pandemic has made me a believer, even the most free and easy among us crave structure. Here are my top three tips:

These beauties will be displayed prominently in the space.

  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep the furniture that speaks to you in some way – most of the time it can be made to work,
  • Find ways to store, hide, arrange and organize the little things (bins for legos, blocks and art supplies, files for bills, trays for keys, loose change, and remotes, and baskets for bigger items), also, don’t be afraid to hang it on the wall – that guitar would look great in the kids craft area!
  • Grab your partner or a friend or two, a bottle of wine and start moving that furniture around the room. Break every rule! Put the sofa in front of the window, the media cabinet “floating” between spaces to create barriers between space uses. If you hate it, move it back – no law.

Take a deep breath. This will end, and if it isn’t ending soon enough for you, I find screaming into my pillow helps. Happy Sunday.

Playing it Safe

Left: Hable . Beads . Sea Foam Right Top: Hable . Tiny Stripe . Barbados Ombre . Right Bottom: Hable . Mum Eden

Is so utterly boring that I cringe a little when I type the title here. Who wants to read about someone’s bold and wild adventure into the use of three different shades of white, and a punchy taupe grey – yawn, but when it comes to choosing a color for our house, our front door, or our living room we balk. I know I did. I carefully selected three daring hues for my front door – a bright blue, a Louboutin, sole of your shoe red, that would have suggested that what was behind that front door was worth seeing, and a violet that just made me happy. It was all ridiculously expensive because I had to buy the quart size, and I had to have Aurora, and of course I wanted to see it in high gloss. Guess which color I picked – white. That’s right.

Top Left: Sister Parish . Appleton . Sea Foam . Top Right: Sister Parish . Tukerman . Kravet . Switchback Nautical Trim

When it comes to taking risks, you and me, we’re not that practiced at it, and practice is just what we need to get better. I call my technique for this, Lilly Padding. Sure when you take that first hop and the lily pad bobs and wobbles threatening to throw you off, you immediately begin to question the veracity of your decision to jump in the first place. Settle down, the platform is pretty wide, and the place you came from is right there, in spitting distance. Your little leap didn’t take that much bravery, but when the ripples subside and you become comfortable on your slick green platform, and you spot a gorgeous pink blossomed water lily a stone’s throw away, you decide to take another little hop in its direction, and well, before you know it you’re leaping left and right, making faster and faster gains, until you can barely see off in the distance that place that you started from.

It’s pretty amazing how far you can go when you muster up that courage to dip your toe in the water. I recommend starting with a story board, a slew of samples, a favorite color, and maybe even a lovely tray from Home Goods to toss it all into.

Charlestown Lacquer Side Table . Green (because what would this post be without a lily pad green?)

Here’s my attempt at mixing and matching, playing it safe was making my lily pad feel awfully small. Happy Sunday.

Sweet Dreams: II

Oly Studio . Diego $6700.

Look number two represents a neutral palette in consideration of the violet painted walls – Benjamin Moore’s Lavender Ice is a soft, feminine hue that is both happy and calming, the perfect combination for a peaceful nights sleep.

Serena and Lily . Blake Raffia Wide Dresser . $3998.

Now if you are a germ-a-phobe, which I am not, you might want to consider a bed frame in hard wood or metal. Mites, and lord forbid, mice, love to snuggle into the fabric and fluff of an upholstered bed. Here is one of my very favorite options which satisfy my desire for the royal treatment. A modern take on a canopy in gold. The price tag matches the dream, but what a delicious dream it is.

OKL . Mike Seratt of the Prized Pig . $399.

Paired with a couple of Made Goods nightstands in raffia, and coordinated with Serena and Lily’s Blake Raffia Wide Dresser and you’ve got the makings of a beautiful bedroom.

Happy Sunday my little fairy dust friends. I hope you enjoy this last day of summer.

Sweet Dreams: Bedroom design – hidden sancutuary

I work so much that I rarely spend more than an hour a day in any other room than my bedroom, and those hours, I am unapologetically sleeping. Even when I get home on the earlier side around eight, I like to change out of my binding work clothes, and into some cozzies, and settle into my divinely comfortable bed. Having a good bed is critical to ones happiness. If you wake with aches and pains in the morning, toss out that abhorrent plank and replace it toute suite and hippity hop, with something that makes you purr like a pussy cat when you flutter open those peepers in the morning. It’s a must.

The Inside . Art Deco Bed in Faun $999.

With that basic human right attended to, we can put a little pretty into play. Whether you Feng Shui or sway to a different drummer, black out curtains – formerly of the high-end hotel set, should be considered. Privacy and catching all the winks ones workday will allow is important.

Ballard Designs . Margo Burlwood Chest of Drawers $674.99

Personally, I am happy to sit on the end of my bed to remove my shoes, and I am most definitely not sitting in a chair to read before getting into bed, so any additional seat would only invite clothing to gather when it should rightfully be hung right back up after wearing. I don’t need any temptation, the weekends are too short as it is. If you are very disciplined, you might enjoy a chair or a bench – plenty of lovely options exist and I’ll show you one or two in some subsequent posts, but for this first look, we’ll skip it.

A little whimsy is so right for the bedroom. Etsy Pillows. Left: Pink Bunny Lee Jofa Groundworks Hutch Pillow $40. Middle: Etsy KLine Deco Killi in Pink $55. Right: Etsy KLine Kenile in Rose Pink $55.

The happiest beds have sheets and blankets, comforters and coverlets, feather filled pillows, and poofy lambswool throws. I like this slate to be simple white, but understand when someone selects a nostalgic little rose bud print, or a masculine windowpane striping reminiscent of a man’s dress shirt. Whatever works for you, just be sure you make that bed each morning. Serenity requires discipline.

Serena and Lily . Blake Rafia one-drawer $998.

Happy Saturday.

Ballard Designs . Jones Window Pane Drapery . $139. – $159.

Serena and Lily Launches . Boston

Mary Maguire is a RISD trained artist. Based in Lyme, CT she sells her originals to a number of shops. http://www.marymaguireart.com/

or Chestnut Hill as the case may be. True to its name, and despite the bustling sales associates, and dozens of eager shoppers, the color palette of blues and grays, caramels and creams, and even a forest green, made the store serene. You know the kind of place that makes you realize you’d been holding your breath? When your foot falls on the bleached hardwood floor and you knock eyes with a wall adorned in Mary Maguire nautical watercolors, you know you’ve arrived at someplace special.

Original art abounds throughout the store.

Between Newport and Nantucket, Serena and Lily is likely to fulfill its annual projections for sales, the rich and famous flocking to this formerly catalog only company, to adorn their second, third or fourth homes.

Despite the outrageous decadence of a $60. pillow case, the simple beauty of their offerings draws one in. Some things simply have no look alike, or the look alike can’t really hold a candle to the original. In these instances I think it’s important to save ones pennies, and purchase pieces that are going to bring the most bang for the buck. Believe it or not – a pillow case does bring bang. All of the other sheets can be hidden away, but that pillow case is perched right there on top, in full view, and with all the world to admire. Pair it with a Home Goods sheet set and you’re in the money as the saying goes.

My other picks from the store have to do with my recent obsession with chairs – dining, club, slipper, lounge, diminutive or delightfully large, they have my attention. While it’s true that if you are in the hunt for high-low comparisons in the chair world, you can make a pretty good go of locating a low-priced lookalike that will work brilliantly. I would argue that even someone as obsessed with the details, as I am, could be made reasonably happy with one of these close approximations, BUT when you’ve found a particular hue that makes you beyond happy, that, you may not be able to replicate. The Tucker chair in Fog is my pick, and at just $198. it’s one of the more reasonably priced picks.

Raffia Console Table – on sale now! $848.

If I am selecting for my imaginary coastal home, the Belgian Club in Performance Pinstripe in French Blue is my pick for a living room chair, and the Blake Raffia Console – which btw is on sale for $848. from $1300. The indigo is so nautical and lovely, I can really see my room shaping up, but alas, its Sunday and errands await, bringing me back to reality. If you’re in the mood for a wonderful daydream, drop by – 200 Boylston Street . Chestnut Hill.

REEDing Between the Lines

While rattan always strikes me as a decorative accent best showcased somewhere down south, I find I long for it when the weather even hints (as it does here in New England, in fits and starts) of becoming warmer. It feels right that furnishings should get a little lighter, allow a warm breeze to pass through them – even if they are indoors.

Mario Lopez Torres . Parrot Toucan Monkey Chandelier . Chairish . $6800.

Now if you have begun to conjure images of the Golden Girls in their Florida condo, let me stop you right there. This isn’t bamboo and peach palm fronds that I’m talking about. Rattan can be sophisticated, elegant even, and I am here to prove it.

Rattan is derived from the Maylay – Rotan, which consists of an old world species of climbing palms, which in turn, belong to a sub-family known as Calamoldizae, which is Greek for reed. Now we are getting somewhere, so stick with me here. Those reeds are woven into cords, which are wrapped around a wire frame, allowing the decorative object or piece of furniture to take shape. It’s an art, and oh boy, are there ever some designers that elevate the form.

Draped like a cloth tossed on top of a table. Beautiful lines. Chairish.

Mario Lopez Torrez is perhaps my favorite for his cheeky use of monkey’s. A Mexican Artist known for his mid-century creations – though it is believed he still produces pieces today in his village – Ihuatizo. If a visual examination of the intricacies of his designs don’t convince you of his status, perhaps the price points at which his pieces sell will.

City or seaside, north or south, I have a hankering for rattan.

Kit of Parts: When DIYing is all wrong

I have to say that were money no object, I’d do a lot of things differently than I currently do today – who wouldn’t. Surely you can’t stand in judgement of me, for that. We all make choices about how we want to spend our money, and what is worth the economy, and what is not.

Today I am going to report on a number of things that I think….ARE NOT. For those following along, I painstakingly selected a number of pieces that were to comprise the makings of a teenage boys room – a real room, a room fit for an almost adult. While it does fit the bill, arriving at the finished product was a right of passage, all on its own.

The Aristotle Bed that was nearly my undoing.

The items, bedside tables, dresser, and bed, arrived in alarmingly small boxes. I discovered exactly why when I opened them. If you can imagine what a Swiss watch factory might look like – 10 Old Salty Lane’s living room floor, hallway, and bedroom, looked just like we were revved up to assemble the next best version of a TAG Heuer.

The Aristotle Platform Bed.

I like assembling a puzzle as much as the rest of them, but when it comes to furniture – I like it to arrive…whole, and if not whole, I want a single Allen wrench, and a two part instruction process. What I was left with – was frankly DISRESPECTFUL.

Here is my consumer report. Do not get this:

The Crayton Double Drawer Dresser. It came with over 500 pieces, and took more than 6 hours to assemble.

Every single one of those drawers was in over 50 pieces….

The Aristotle Bed – also from Wayfair, didn’t come in quite so many parts, but the parts that it did come with – didn’t have the holes router’ed in the right location. I had to jury rig that thing, while I was swearing like a sailor – so unbecoming. When all was said and done, I asked myself why in the sam tarnation I hadn’t bought from West Elm to begin with….and that’s all I have to say about that.

About a Boy: Part II

So the jury has returned from deliberations. Look No. 2 which can be seen below was selected. It’s a pretty good look. I should have known he would have gone for the platform – it’s cool. A disadvantage of this bed is the lack of storage space underneath, but the up side is that snacks can’t sneak under it. A pretty big upside if you ask me.

So now that a bed, side table, and desk have been selected, the elements that will really bring the space to life have to be factored into the equation. Color is so important to the overall feel of the space, but so is storage. We have to deal with the aforementioned sneaker collection, and these aren’t small feet we’re talking about. Size 13’s take up some space. There is a large closet in the room – with no door on it – don’t ask. If I build out the guts of the closet with plenty of shelves and a small hanging area it should do the trick.

As for which color we should paint it. I am recommending one of these three Benjamin Moore Colors: Sunrise, Ice Cubed Silver, or Hunter Green. In this last instance I would paint the baseboard interior door and casings in the color and the wall in Super White. Give it a really crisp bright feel.

Finally, I’d resort to my old favorites for finishing touches. Home Goods, Home Goods, and maybe a few local favorites like Oceana and Bungalow. Stay posted for the final reveal. Happy Sunday.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green. Right: Benjamin Moore’s Super White

Shine

As I wondered through the shops in Chatham today, with only a thinly veiled guise in toe, my hunt for thank you notes, I was struck by the number of people that so openly proclaim they can get this, or that, for so much cheaper at Home Goods. While it’s undeniably true, that many wonderful things can be purchased there, show some respect folks. It’s hard being a store owner, and think how genuinely nice it is to stroll local shops in town – any town.

So I bought my cards and picture frames, and a belated birthday gift for my little 3 year old friend who will forgive my tardiness. Isn’t that one of the very best things about being 3? Time is fluid. Forgiveness is given freely, and joy is unabashed. Oh I can’t wait for her to get her fairy garland.

Now that I have supported the local shops, I can tell you with an open conscience that Target has come out with another line of lighting that BEAUTIFUL. It trails behind another HGTV hit hostess and is so crazy affordable, I am tempted to buy far more than I need and squirrel it away for a rainy day. Leanne Ford and her Project 62 line will have those that lust over Serena & Lily, Rejuvenation, or even West Elm’s more economical lines – well lining up to load their shopping cart. And wait you better because Target says it’s a limited edition.

While most the Restored by one Ford Collection is pendants, and floor lamps, if you are in the market for table lamps, head to Home Goods this weekend. They are having an enormous sale on lamps, rugs, and more, and the stores are packed with product. This girl spotted a few John Adler knock-offs, a couple of mid-century modern globe lights, a couple of Ralph Lauren ginger jar blue and white beauties, and many more, you are sure to find a desk top, bedside, or sideboard or console table lamp to brighten your home.