I’ve never lived in New York City. I fantasize about being there from time to time, but the time that I long to be there is decades past. I’d love to have lived in NYC in the late 50’s or early 60’s. To have scurried down Madison Avenue amid the AD Men so stylishly depicted John Hamm, as Don Draper and John Slattery, as Roger Sterling of Mad Men fame. I’ll take the clothes the gloved ladies wore with their pill box hats and a different coat for every dress – they had threads – the very definition of in Vogue.
Then there were the offices with the rotary telephones and their mid-century modern furnishings, and their 10am neat scotches and their three martini lunches. How they ever made it to dinner is an exercise in metal calisthenics that has me woozy with wonder.
I liked those offices so much I would have been happy sleeping there, unless of course I lived in Jan’s apartment from Pillow Talk. Jan, also known as Doris Day was an interior designer and she had a dreamy NYC apartment with a pink accent wall, pink kitchen counter tops and a party line. Oh the trouble a party line can get you into. If I had her apartment I would high tail it home to slip into an evening gown and serve Manhattan’s in champagne coupes that I picked up at Bergdorf’s.
The question is, would you want to work in an office that that gave a serious nod to another time? What about one that you could just pop into for a meeting, a strategy session or a toast to a big project win? Would it appeal?
How often do we over look a foot? We take one step forward and two back. We predict that when all is going right, that a foot will fall. We feel flat footed, put our foot in our mouth, play footsie under the table. It’s time we do something productive with those feet. Let’s be sure footed instead of soft footing around the issue. It really doesn’t matter how many feet you have – you can have gobs of feet, and still make a mess of things, or you can use those feet to draw the admiration of all those lucky enough to, well you know what I’m going to say — set foot in your little jewel box of a bathroom.
I’m not going to tip toe around the issue. I’ve estimated that we’ve got about 21SF to work with, bigger than many of the washrooms in the South End Restaurants I frequent. Bigger than the last two powder rooms I had, but still small enough so that you can touch both walls without fully extending your arms. I love small spaces, there is a quiet comfort in them.
Let’s jump in with both feet to this small footed challenge. Like a petite bebe of a beach cottage, I feel that a modest bathroom abode should have a name. The right name stands to give it distinction, the wrong name subjects it to humiliation, a funny one – a laugh, but is that the best idea when someone is hunting around for relief? Relief was in fact the name proffered the grand restroom at Thompson’s Clam Bar, the seasonal restaurant that I visited every summer of my youth until I was finally old enough to wait tables there. When they closed I would have paid all my six years of earnings for that single sign. It’s funny how much meaning can be packed into a single word. Maybe the design will help me decide.
A small space must work extra hard to garner the attention of the tall’s and the beautiful’s, the distracted and the charmed, it must raise its voice, put on camera ready make-up, and prepare to compete, without looking like its competing at all. I hope you are getting my drift. In a sea of McMansion Style bathrooms, with their soaking tubs, and separate showers, their private sound proofed toilet rooms, double sinks, and Butler’s call box, a more modest sized space needs to through its hands in the air – not like it doesn’t care, the opposite. It needs to throw them around in a pick me sort of way, which is to say, partially crazed, and then once selected become totally refined, adorable, graceful even in the way, once selected, she reveals all her subtle offerings.
Which one says that? Put your left foot in and shake it all about.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
For the last few days I’ve been considering how to design a space for someone that is no longer a boy – though he certainly has attributes of one – in the best possible way, and not quite a man either. To say he is an adolescent feels totally wrong, and disrespectful. He’s “becoming”, moving from one thing to the next, discovering what he likes and doesn’t, and who he is going to be. Aren’t we all? I certainly hope I am not done. A lot of work left for me to become who I am going to be.
Option 1: Neutral Palette: Bed: West elm Mod Upholstered Platform Bed in Twill Stone . $824.25. Pier One . 3 Drawer Dresser $219.99. PB. Teen . Bean Bag $183.00
Part of that discovery is, well discovering that you have a style at all. Who knew. While you might not quite know what it is, I bet you know what it isn’t. So the exploration begins. My task is to map out some possibilities – economical ones are a priority. His tastes are likely to change, as they should, and this baby’s work isn’t going to get tossed out with the bath water. I hope it’s going to get handed down to the next boy, but that little one has very particular ideas about style, so I better make it good.He notices every detail. Note to self – be on your best behavior around Lukie.
Option 2: Bed. Wayfair . Aristocles Platform by Mercury Row . $286.99. Wayfair . George Oliver Bugg 2 Drawer $183.99. West Elm . Mid Century Mini Desk $399. Kartel . Louis Ghost Chair – Pair – Wayfair $773.50
I grew up in a household of girls. My Dad was strong but gentle. Ironically I was always the one that he shouted “don’t slam the door of the Jaguar”, be gentle Jack. This being with all boys – and very rough ones at that – is new to me. They’ll tear a cabinet right off the hinges to get to a cheeze-it. A dish has no chance of survival in this home, and the hallways look like the inside of the local recreation center. Slowly we are instituting Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Window Theory to bring civility to the household. They break something, I painstakingly repair it. They litter the yard, I clean it up, they toss Cheerios around the living, and bedrooms like confetti on New Year’s Eve – I get out the cleaning supplies and get to work at restoring order. I hope that pride of place, investment, and caring for one’s things will result. I know the subject of this post has it in him. I’ve seen how he handles his extensive sneaker collection – I know it’s in him.
What I am not sure of, is his style. So I am proposing here three options. His room in its current state is much like a dorm room. It’s got a TV, a fridge, a sofa, a bed, a dresser. It is subject to the full living experience – it’s his domain. He should be the king of his space, so I will attempt to account for all of those things while creating a perfectly tight hospital corner of a visual. Don’t worry – he’s plenty strong enough to loosen it up.
It’s not often you swoon over something you can absolutely have, it’s usually things that are, well out of my reach, that make me fall all over myself. That 12 carat diamond ring that I attempt to convince myself I wouldn’t want for fear of being held at gunpoint, or the shear weight of lugging it around (I’d risk both). The yacht that sails around the Caribbean with my own personal chef capable of supporting whatever dietary whim strikes my fancy with delectable meals that make me forget there’s any dietary restriction at all. I could go on and on about the things that make me swoon, but the point of this fainting episode awaits.
Camelback Headboard . Blue Buffalo Gingham. Queen $559.
The Insideis the brainchild of Christiane Lemieux. I didn’t know of her before I stumbled across her site via The Everygirl who I follow on Instagram. Instagram is my primary source for new design information, inspiration, and products – not magazines, not the real life designers that I work with and around everyday – Instagram. Get on it, and start following it.
Clare V. Sardine Settee. $999.
Christiane is a Parsons grad, which on its own is to be revered. She is the founder of Dwell Studio which was sold in 2013 to Wayfair. She is the author of two books: Undecorate and The Finer Things. She is the Founder of Cloth & Company a textiles outfit, and now the Founder and CEO of The Inside, a furniture line – that in her words is: “designed . Created . Made in the USA. With a mix of colors, patterns, textures, and collaborations – Clare V., Peter Som, and now The EveryGirl – this furnishings line, which is produced using 3D models and digital printing, arrives at your doorstep via UPS in 3 weeks. It’s custom made for you, and it’s incredibly inexpensive – think dozens of options for under $1000.
Peter Som . Chinois Bench. $689.
I nearly fell of my sofa and spilled my tea when I saw it. I’ve come across many inexpensive lines that admittedly held my attention – some old favorites (HomeGoods . Target . West Elm), some new to my resource bandwagon – Urban Outfitters, but The Inside deserves not just a look, but the swipe of a credit card.
The Inside . Citrine Cabana Stripe . $299.
Clare’s cheeky designs will bring a smile to your face. Peter’s refined and traditional prints will bring sophistication, and the crisp classic neutrals of The Everygirl collaboration, collectively – they leave you with no excuses. Go ahead. Add it to your cart. After all, you don’t need to cart it home. It will arrive on your doorstep, and your home will thank you.
A final nod to Clare V. because I cannot stand how cute these are. I simply ADORE them. Left: Racer Stripe Monogram (put your initials there) $339. Right: Eyes Settee. $1149.
I love black and white. It feels so clean and graphic, but doesn’t necessarily scream coastal. My challenge today is to find a way to make it feel right at home in this Cape Cod bath. I have a few additional non-negotiables including a black countertop on the white vanity, white subway tile and a driftwood inspired ceramic tile which will comprise the floor material.
I’ve been pushing for shiplap on one of the walls in the bath. I like the paneled look, and it feels very beachy. I would paint this white, Benjamin Moore’s Cotton Balls or Decorator’s White. I would be accented with black hardware from Schoolhouse Electric, and an oil painting to bring a bit of color to the space.
Left: Shades of Light – Young House Love Dapper Sconce $75. Right: Wayfair Hickory Manor House Regency Convex Mirror $335.99
The vanity wall, which is very small would also be painted in the chosen Ben Moore White. The mirror and the sconces will be black to tie into the countertop. The mirror I have chosen is a convex Regency – nautical without being too obvious. Sconces feel the same, like they belong in a coastal setting but not in a contrived manner.
Left: Schoolhouse Electric Nicolai Towel Bar – True Black $129. Right: Schoolhouse Electric Galley Pull – True Black $34.
To soften the overall look, I’ll fight hard to paint the ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s Nickel Gray, and add the tiniest oriental rug to keep it from being too stark.
Left: Benjamin Moore’s Nickel Right: Gray grout with white subway tile – POP!
Finally, the subway tile will be oriented vertically instead of horizontally to give it a little pizazz, and finished with a gray grout to transform the overall look into something really special.
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.
The Gates have opened even wider with Elements of Style, Erin Gates new product line entitled: Elements. Whoever said “success begets success” was referencing just these types of phenomenon. Blog, booming design business, book(s) – a second is underway, jewelry line, pottery line, and now full blown product lines which can be found on Wayfair and All Modern.
Erin Gates brings Elements of Affordable Style to your home through Wayfair and All Modern.
You’ll find pillows in her signature leopard print. This is an element of her style that precedes this Fall’s trend, and is near and dear to her heart. Not only does she have quite a few pairs of shoes in this spotted animal print but she wasn’t afraid to bring a little of this Sub-Saharan grace to the runner on the stairs in her entry. Meow.
The bold black and white stripes that to me seem so very French make an appearance in throw and lumbar pillows, as well as the wrap on the scented candles. Sweet Smoke, Lavender Leaves, and Blackberry Pumpkin, Juniper Moss, and Currant Rose are the alluring combinations she has imagined to fill the air in your home.
Zara . Off the Shoulder .
Elements . Stripe Throw Pillow . All Modern $38.
Left: Zara . Off the Shoulder $39. Right: Elements . Solid Stripe Throw Pillos $38.
Throws and ottomans, baskets, and lamps in warm hues, cozy fabrics, clean lines, make it appear as if it’s easy just to throw it all together. I wonder how much Erin would charge for a paint by numbers guide?
Max Mara . Striped Skirt . $595.
Elements . Sweet Smoke Candle . All Modern $18.
Left: Max Mara . Striped Skirt . $595. maxmara.com Right: Elements . Sweet Smoke $18.
The line was well received – many items sold out almost immediately. Still others never made it to the site, but Erin assures us, that like any product launch, bugs need to be worked out of the system. Elements 2.0 will be along shortly. Your wallet might just welcome the pause.
Elements . Ottoman . $68.
Max Mara . Gray Coat . $2,850.
Left: Elements . Ottoman $68. All Modern Right: Max Mara . Gray Coat . $2,850.
Congratulations Erin, and thank you for opening the “Gates” to a beautiful and affordable collection of home wonders.
“Sliding head first is the safest way to get to the next base, and the fastest. You don’t lose momentum, and there is one more reason I slide headfirst, it gets my picture in the paper.” – Pete Rose
That kind of momentum takes courage. It takes faith. It turns a blind eye to thoughtful contemplation, which might lead to a logical, risk free path. Which just might lead you nowhere fast. To a place that isn’t new, that doesn’t inspire, that won’t challenge.
Erin Gates at home showcasing her signature leopard print.
When I consider Boston-based designer Erin Gates I think of some serious momentum. I admire it in such an enormous way, and frankly it isn’t limited to Erin, but to people that have the courage to defy common wisdom, to launch into uncharted waters, even if they are only certain that the current pool they are in, doesn’t suit their temperament, but aren’t at all sure which pool will.
Velvet pillows with Key Fret Detailing under $100. Erin Gates Collection for Wayfair and AllModern.
Art Gallery Manager, Fashion Stylist, Event Planner, and Interior Design Assistant, from what I’ve read it doesn’t appear that Erin’s early jobs where anything but that – a job. When she launched out on her our, I bet she didn’t imagine that she’d become a business mogul. An author and publisher of multiple books – her first Elements of Style is an amuse bouche for the eye, her second, out soon will surely be as delicious. She has collaborated on jewelry design with M. Flynn in Boston’s South End, pottery with Jill Rosenwald, also of Boston, she provides her own fine art pieces to accent spaces when the occasion calls, and her latest venture has her teaming with Wayfair and AllModern to produce a line of home goods. Her blog – http://www.elementsofstyle.com provide a sneak peak of what she had to offer.
Juniper & Moss . Follow her on Instagram…it’s worth it.
While I think of her signature pattern being a leopard print, and admire the joie de vive it took to put aa stair runner in the front entry of her suburban home in the same, her book jacket which captures my attention. The bold white and black stripes are distinct and instantly recognizable. Whomever came up with it should be given a prize. It’s brilliant, I spy it in dozens of Instagram photos, and it always makes me smile.
Look for the collection on its release 5 October 2015, and visit her blog for additional information on her signature collection.