Saturday, January 31, 2009

Welcome Home!

Well, the day ended with great satisfaction. Formerly empty rooms full of interesting furniture with color, pattern and texture. Textiles on the beds, accent pieces (at least a beginning) to delight the eye. (I'll keep you posted as we progress....)

At the end of the day, we closed the door and placed our housewarming wreath on the door. This has become somewhat of a tradition for our whole-house projects.

The front door really is this color! It is the original color of the previous homeowner......I may have to make some recommendations! The doorway welcomes all to come in. At Black-eyed Susan, we just began our semiannual floral sale----come in and we'll create a wreath as perfect for your front door!

I just love houses that have names! I've always wanted to name one of my houses, but I've either moved too soon or felt that the house wasn't worthy of anything as grand as a name! But someday I'll come up with the perfect scenario for naming my house. Check our the name plack of this house! Pretty appropriate for a house on a beautiful treed parcel on the pond.

Welcome home to Bird Haven. A happy, long life to you.

** Have you named your house?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bring in the goods!

At 9:30 am, my assistant Carol and I pulled up to the front of of "Bird Haven" for a long anticipated day! The house sits on a picturesque pond in the center of Yardley, Pa. Is that not an enticing name?! "Bird Haven" I love it.

With clean, ironed sheets in hand, my trusty Rowenta tucked under my arm, and a spare ironing board I keep in my design studio, we arrived at our installation first thing in the morning. To my horror, yesterday's snow then rain had turned to pure ice! The entire circular drive and even worse, the steps up to the front door for delivery were rounded with ice and nearly impossible to navigate. Our three men delivery team wasn't too pleased with the scene either! We collectively went to work to chip away the ice, scrape, hammer. Nothing was helping the situation! (They laughed when I asked if my trusty super duper heavy duty professional hairdryer could come to the aid......). Not the best day for a whole house furniture delivery, for sure.

The delivery truck is opened. Let the fun begin! (Never mind those icy, treacherous steps..........)

Sizing up the situation......oh, dear!

Two of our trusty delivery men with good humor in hand!

Take a look at my ironed sheets as we began making the bed in one of the guestrooms. I love this headboard! This guestroom will be the more masculine guestroom. Check out the patterned carpet.

This great runner with perfect mitered corner leads up to the 2nd floor hallway, a favorite space. I love hallways that present like a room of its own. I designed painted awning stripes for the foyer, up the steps and down the quite large hallway.

Here is the upstairs hallway! The french doors open into an inviting room that will house 2 computer writing tables at either end of the room, facing each other. Small scaled chairs will gather family and friends for a cozy retreat overlooking Afton pond. Fabulous view!

I love this pair of French consoles flanking the entry to the study. Large art, or perhaps mirrors will reside above each in the future. Slightly distressed, these pieces add instant age to this interesting space. Love them!

That's just a small look at the story that is unfolding over the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

** What is your favorite room so far?**

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Personal Touch!

Tomorrow is a big installation day for one of our whole house client projects we've been designing for several months! When I say installation, it means that the furniture will be delivered for multiple bedrooms, living room, family room, center hall, beautiful upstairs hall, and sun room.
It's always a rewarding day for me, the designer, and for the project manager who has driven the project through to this point. It's a big day of anticipation and very fulfilling to see it all come together.
Occasionally, there are surprises, like something is too big and won't fit up the stairway (even though we always consider that when furniture pieces are chosen......) What happens, do they grow,expand, change the pattern?! Once in a while something is not as expected, but for the most part it's a day long looked forward to.
You wouldn't believe what is involved in full service design! We really turn into little workers with magic wands (or so it seems when the homeowners come home)! We make up the beds with the new bedding that we have purchased, direct the placement of the furniture-an inch this way or that....some projects involve hanging new towels in the bathrooms, selecting the soap dishes and glorious accents around the soaking tub, well, you get the picture!
Tonight, in preparation for tomorrow's installation, I spent the evening washing and ironing the sheets! First, let me say, oddly enough that I enjoy ironing! If you have never slept in a freshly made bed with ironed linens, you haven't lived. Try it. You're not likely to go back! This labor of love is a gift to our client. Ahhhhhh! 600 thread count 100% cotton sheets, yes! (My daughters gave me 1000 count cotton sheets for Christmas-pure luxury!

Pressing the last hemstitch perfectly. You need a very hot iron to make your work easier.

Check out the plate to my iron! (My mother gave me this iron as a gift after I coveted hers! It has something like 2000 steam holes) It is the Rowenta Advancer. It's one fabulous iron.
All finished and folded. Very rewarding.

The car is loaded, the sheets packed to go, iron in hand (touch ups on bed skirts and the like)! and the anticipation is high. I'll show you some in progress photos tomorrow! It's going to be quite a day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Calling all commenters.......

Calling all BES blog followers! Let's get some comments going!

Susan, waiting for more follower's comments. Note to self: always apply lipstick when taking late night self-portraits; avoid saggy side of face if at all possibl e.

Each day, I visit with my faithful shoppers, design clients, employees and fans! (I'm always surprised to find out I have fans.....) Almost daily someone tells me that they follow my blog and enjoy it. I'm always pleased to hear this.

Blogging is really rewarding. It is a way of documenting important events with photos and the written word. One can be entertaining, inspirational, funny, instructive, emotional, even thought provoking. One of the most interesting aspects of blogging is the interactive exchange between the commenters. It's easy and fun to participate and you will find that there develops a community of bloggers, of sort. We could have a party to meet everyone and share our common love of style!

So, here's how you do it!

After you have read the most recent post, click on the "comments". This will open all the comments that others have posted, or written. There is always an interesting exchange of opinions, ideas, suggestions and the like. At the end of the comment section, there is a place for you to post your comments!

Other bloggers can post using their google account information. Those of you without a google account can post as anonymous. Just type in your name. You'll love reading the other comments and when you begin to add your own, you'll feel like you are a part of the "club"!

The interaction is delightful and rewarding. Come join the club. Welcome.

Watch for: a) Exciting new projects just beginning; start to finish!

b) Everyday style sitings ( you'll always be surprised).

c) Bucks County Designer House--Susan's room!

d) Favorites from Black-eyed Susan new arrivals-Wow.

Newest favorite find: 100 Calorie York Peppermint Wafer Bar, YUM! Great late night snack. Why didn't I think of the "100 calorie pack" craze........try it, you'll like it! Sneelock included.

And, I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Entertainer!

Meet Robert Chesnut! There has never been a more entertaining landscape designer, ever!

Robert Chesnut and Susan!

Our meeting with Robert was preceded by a description that proved to be very apt. As he literally lept in the air, pulling his pant legs up to show how tall the baseboards should be, we could barely contain our amusement! Broad, exaggerated gestures accompanied every word. On his person, at all times, is a sketch pad, which he readily pulls out to render his ideas--ideas of all kinds. He rapidly sketched the interior trim additions he felt were necessary. (We were taken back by his interest in the interior, having been introduced as the "landscape" designer, but his ideas were good, valid, and very entertaining to say the least.

During our initial meeting of several hours, Robert quickly made the suggestion that we put together a HGTV special together. Now that would have been a show! He continued the visit by referring to crown molding as an "eyebrow" again, using his enthusiastic gestures. (I never thought to take any video to share with you......our first meeting was long before my blog was born)

Our last visit to Charleston led us on yet another adventure with Robert Chesnut. (Have you ever met anyone that forever thereafter was referred to by first and last name? It just seems appropriate with Robert Chesnut.

This adventure was to select and get our stamp of approval for the exterior living space plantings and large trees. All at the nursery seemed to realize the importance of his visit and as my sister, Denise says, "They swept a path before and behind him"! We roamed the nursery selecting exotic plantings of all kinds. When one would be finalized between us all, Robert Chesnut would "tag" it with his red ribbon in a style only a flamboyant designer could! Check out the various selections.

One of several large urns to be used for exotic plantings on the deck.

Robert tagging his "find"!Align Left

A beautiful variegated specimen

Something tall and willowy! He LOVED this one!

One fabulous square planter, wow!

Robert spies a colorful blooming espalier tree----orange! Note the colorful outfit he has on!

Lush and bright, another planter is found.

Now, that was quite a visit! Robert Chesnut fully entertained us for several hours while selecting, tagging and gesturing with abandon. And these are just a few of the dozens of selections we approved. I'll show you more when the plants arrive on the job site. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lovely, lovely Charleston

My firm has been working on a delightful project in Charleston, SC. Our darling client used to live in Princeton,N.J. She first moved to historic Charleston and we completely did her home on one of the most well-known streets there, Church Street. It was such a rewarding project. Beautiful lush silk draperies in every room, old Southern charm dripping everywhere. It truly was a favorite.
Not long after living in the eye of the public, with tourists longing to sneak a peak into the lush living room, she and her husband decided that living in the historic district was not conducive to family life, play dates, and privacy in general. They sold the house in 2 weeks (we shed a tear or two) and purchased an equally exciting home right on the beach of Sullivan's Island. Enter Black-eyed Susan. We quickly put our sadness from leaving the historic house behind us and began to get visions for the new beach house.

Our client is as easy going and agreeable as you can imagine. We had total creative license and she rarely (actually, I can't think of one thing she said no to!) disagreed to any proposed direction. Yes, it was a dream job.

In the last few months, we have been working on the outdoor living spaces. This is some serious living space! The interior color pallet is soft watery aquas and mild chartreuse green, very soft and unsaturated. Many of her photos can be seen on the screen in my retail store. Because the exterior "living room", lounge areas, kitchen, and fireplace gathering spot are such an extension of the home, the colors we have selected are a variation on a theme of the interior.

This is a rough collage of the fabrics, paint colors from the interior, and outdoor trims that we will using. The vision is exciting!

Exterior living space viewed from the pool. (Note two floors of scenic vistas).

View from the exterior living spaces looking out onto the beachfront.

Meet Robert Chesnut! He's a real character. He surely would not approve of this photo, as he is much more animated and charming than this photo suggests! Robert is the landscape architect on the project. To say that he is the most entertaining artist would be a true understatement. I'm quite sure that it won't be long before he has his own TV reality show!!
Stay tuned for more on this project and Robert Chesnut, I promise you'll be entertained.

It's all about Peace......

Remember this? The market craze for anything "PEACE"! I cannot believe that I forgot to let you know that the very first day I put these pieces out, we sold TWO!!! Never let it be said that Black-eyed Susan doesn't have the trends first!

(There's still a few styles left, so rush on in...........and don't be surprised to see me wearing one either)!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nature's Art!

Some time ago, on a cold icy day I spotted this unusual and beautiful sight on the way into a prestigious neighborhood in Bucks County, Pa. I couldn't help but turn around instantly and walk right up through the gated driveway to snap my shot.

My friend Jeff feared that the fountain was most likely ruined with the freeze........

Pure magic!

I closed in for one more shot.

The storm caught us by surprise, as you can see from the green grass. How perfect that I was able to find inspiration and pure style in this, Nature's Art! Ahhhhhh, the beauty of the earth.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A vat of fudge!

Valentine inventory is aways a puzzle to me! What I think is great, is not what everyone thinks is great! (Who wouldn't want nesting pink and chocolate polka dot bowls)?! Apparently, not everyone thinks of that as valentine fare. One can always incorporate frosted red votives etched with hearts (they're selling fine). We have a darling white photo frame with raised swiss dots and oxox on the face. White french tulips seem to speak the language of love to me! Or, how would a set of four dessert plates be, with assorted heart motifs? My niece, Emily, could definitely make good use of those with some stylish cupcakes served on them!

On the whole, valentine inventory that is readily available through vendors is trite and too cutie. I am telling you, it's a very difficult season to buy for.

That being said, I have come up with a great idea! Take a look at the tiny heart-shaped in red, pink and hot pink ramekins filled with our family fudge recipe! Never mind that I can never make money selling it.......I would have to charge $10.00 lb! It is about the best thing you can imagine and generally speaking it is looked forward to by all during the Holidays and for Valentine's day.

Hope you like it! Maybe this year will be the year I finally figure it out. What do you want for your Valentine purchases? Let me know if this is it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day Five Take me home!

Today was the only day that we did general merchandise buying almost all day. We started out at the regular time, checked all our luggage for the day and headed over to the Mart. It's pretty quiet the last day and very easy to work the showrooms. Great luck.

At the end of the day, I mentioned to Linda that we hadn't taken any photos to document and she reminded me that we did take one......and I was happy we did! One last documentation of the "Peace" trend...let me know how much back-stock you think I need. And for the record, it is from a very fine high-end line. This lamp would retail for approximately $250.00.

...believe it or not

In looking back at the week, one of my favorite exchanges between Linda and myself went something like this:

Susan "I can't believe we didn't find one cute confection ornament here."
Linda "That's because they have to paint a stupid face on all of them....."

All in all, we had a productive trip with a stack of purchase orders to show for our 12 hour days, some tired feet and a few more bags under the eyes to deal with.....but I think you'll be pleased with the great finds coming soon.

Now, if I can just pass the 50lb limit for my luggage and pretend I don't have too much carry on, I should be home by late tonight.

I'm planning a contest to help me select the new tissue for the upcoming seasons. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day four......finally, something to sing about!

After a horrible night of sleeplessness and irritability, we arose for our fourth day of the hunt .

Regarding the horrid night, there was an event in the bar which happened to be just a few floors away in direct proximity to our room. We did not get back to our room until 9:00ish and at first, I could not imagine what I was hearing. Thunder? Fireworks? It was very loud and not what we wanted to hear at the end of a hard, long day. About 11:30 we had decided that there was definitely something going on in the bar. I called the front desk to inquire (and give a complaint) and was told that there was an event going on and it would be continuing for a bit longer. We weren't so happy about that! But, when I looked at the clock and it was 2:00am and it was still going on, I had had it! The party broke up about a half an hour later and we were able to rest for several hours before getting up for the day.

I really should have posted a self portrait of the two of us, but it wouldn't have been pretty.

We did have a really great day with some interesting finds!

We started out walking the isles of the High Design temporary booths. There is generally interesting stylish inventory picks in this location. We weren't disappointed. Look at these most delightful linens fashioned from vintage linens, wonderful ribbon trims and custom monograms. What a combination! I can't think of three things I love more, and here they are, altogether! We placed an order and spent a wonderful time designing our favorites with many of you in mind .

Just look at the lovely colors, vintage linens and ribbon trims! Eye candy for any collector.

I love this silk ruffle with the tiniest little velvet ribbon trim. You can see the faintest small monogram just about the ruffle. I can't wait for these to come in to the store! The designer of the line was a darling creative collector, using all her favorite finds. Just my style.
This photo really doesn't do justice to this find. At one of our very favorite vendors, Coty Foster, we found this "Peace Wreath" ! That 's just our name for it, of course. Coty Foster is a creator of all things that are vintage inspired glitter galore! There is a thing in the booth that we don't drool over. And right there , in the middle of it all was this wreath made from vintage reproduction silver ornaments! Pretty darn cute! We ordered our usual glitter houses, a few Santas, ornament sets and tiny figures. We left the peace wreath behind.

We did find out that this is the 50th anniversary of the Peace sign! I guess that's what all the hoopla is about. And by the way, Coty even had a glass glitter peace sign ornament! We passed on that one too. I hope we won't be sorry!

We placed an order with a new resource that well fell in love with. The showroom was so darling, full of inspiration and wonderful ideas. I wondered if that was what it was like for my clients to come into my store. I want it to be like that. We walked the showroom several times, searching the corners , cupboards, and fixtures for treasures. And, they were plentiful. The showroom designer had taken real turnips and sprouted them in moss throughout the garden area! They had leaves and roots! We took one photo, but there was just too many visual distractions to see them well. I know that you will just love the merchandise from this new resource. We were thrilled, the prices were attractive and the selection just too wonderful! This is one of the things we loved-a reproduction transfereware platter in the most beautiful color of robin egg blue. I think you'll be happy with this great new find.

On top of having very cool selections, this company had the most wonderful sales staff. I am a big fan of personal help with a genuine interest in selling . Here is a picture of Linda with our salesman, Zachary. He was darling, helpful, entertaining and informative. And, he indulged us in this photo at the end of a long day! Thank, Zachary!

Finally, we were thrilled to walk into one of our paper suppliers to find our new Black-eyed Susan bag being displayed as one of their favorite styles!! I walked over to pick up the color of our bag, and there it was....OUR bag!! Yes! Style abounds.

Watch soon for a blog contest to help us select your favorite tissue to be used for each season. It should be a lot of fun!

Well, enough for tonight. A little more planning, calculating, foot rubbing, and off the bed.

No band tonight. Thank heavens.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 3 and butterfly madness.......

Today was our longest day yet! Just got back into our room around 9:10pm and ordered a room service snack. It's too late for a real meal.

We are finding that it's much more fun and entertaining to document the pure frightening things of the world! In our next to last showroom, while waiting for our order to print, we engaged in a discussion with two male designers (floral, it would seem.....) who were pained because they could not find a certain butterfly that they had seen. Luckily for them, we gave them at least 3 main showrooms where they would be able to feast upon butterfly after butterfly, as many as they could possible imagine, each one more beautiful ( bee-ooo-tee-ful) than the next. You decide which one you like, let us know and how many you think we should order......

#1 Fuchsia girly-girl

#2 Green open wing

#3 Red Exotic

#4 Beautiful beautiful purple......

#5 Coat of Many Colors

#6 Blue Bug

#7 Green With Envy

#8 Just plain Spooky

#9 Spring Prom

#10 King of the Lime

#11 Princess Green Wing

I guess it's fair to say to say that we have discovered another trend..................

And, we're glad that we could have been of service to the boys who were searching. I do, however, think that this may prove the "glitter theory" to be incorrect. There are some things even glitter cannot make right.

As far as something absolutely fabulous for you to feast your eyes on, we came across these ornaments in the most delicious shades of pink. Almost pomegranate/pink. The color took our breath away and we pondered just where and how we could work in such a theme. Maybe next year......

Check out the board in the Jim Marvin Showroom with all sizes of this dramatic pink shade, matt, shiny, big,little, you just have to love them all.

Many of you have heard me speak of Jim Marvin. He is a darling man who created this visionary showroom of about 15 rooms, each with its own theme and color. We always stop in during the first day or two for inspiration. He is a real Southern gentleman with style! He is a big part of the White House Christmas design every year. Linda and I decided that want to help him with that project one of these years!

Susan and Jim Marvin in his showroom

So, there you have it! The third day of "fabulous finds"......well, at least the boys thought so.

More on day 4 coming tomorrow. And for the record, the feet are a little bit worse than the day before.