Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Set-ups, day 2: You Better Watch Out

  • Set phone for louder alarm tone so as not to oversleep (AGAIN) tomorrow
  • Conduct quickie staff meeting before heading off for set-up one of two for the day
  • Set up and decorate 8' tree
  • Hang another dozen or so kugels at varying lengths from curtain rods
  • Organize army of Santas and assign to regiments throughout the house
  • Break for favorite lunch of Yardley Tomato Pie
  • Hurry to second set-up site--running later than planned; rejoice in forgotten treasure found in Denise's purse
  • Remove tags from four bags of newly-purchased ornaments for tree-makeover; decorate tree
  • Apply hand lotion to scratched skin after primping poky tinsel mantle garland
  • Home for quick gourmet dinner of black bean burrito and Coke Zero; promise to return to store and stay only until 9:30 p.m. to revamp front window
  • Yeah, right
  • Express horror upon seeing state of store after the day's surprise furniture delivery
  • Express delight at tidy state of stock room
  • Stop to admire new merchandise--unpacked, priced, and merchandised in our absence
  • Direct procrastinated photo shoot for gift guide magazine insert; bribe Sneelock to stay a little longer to assist in furniture placement
  • Sigh as, at 10:30 p.m., window revamp has yet to begin

Set-ups, day 1: Merry and Bright

  • Hang exterior garland and wreaths from what surely feels like 185 windows
  • Work holiday magic on three large fireplace mantles
  • Hang 3 dozen+ kugels from client's windows and many-armed entry chandelier
  • Feel relief at finding switch for lowering said chandelier from second story to lower level
  • Hang, primp, and trim something close to 300 miles of banister garland
  • Assemble, light, and decorate 12' tree in two-story entryway
  • Feel grateful for energetic team of six willing workers
  • Feel grateful for Costco-sized bag of M&Ms left in the car from last week
  • Make list of night-time to-do's on the way back to the store
  • Brainstorm creative presentation for Thursday night's Light the Candles! class
  • Bring out new holiday merchandise from stockroom
  • Work holiday magic in store to showcase said merchandise
  • Make last-minute sweep of store to check for empty Coke Zero bottles before heading home
  • Enjoy night-cap of microwave kettle corn and herbal tea

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making a List and Checking it Twice...

Monday morning begins a marathon week of Christmas set-ups for my interior clients. And I mean marathon...Thank heavens, superwoman (my cutest sister, Denise), is on a red-eye tonight arriving from Denver. Having her on my team is a gift from above! She is, as my darling mother described her many times, "capable of so many things...". She works with me side by side, endlessly. She entertains us all. She has long arms ( a true plus for me, with the T-Rex arms as described by my daughter). She has a great sense of humor. She has great insight. She is a great cook ( not that we will indulge in much gourmet cooking time this week...). She can stand the cold for the outdoor work. She can sew on demand. She can be on the "night shift" team. She can relate to the primping gene.

Well, as you can see, there are many reasons I am looking forward to the 5:30 a.m. departure time to the Philadelphia airport!

In preparation for her arrival, these are the things that I checked off my "to-do" list:

I was inspired this year to dig in and unpack my vast Halloween collection prior to the arrival of my power team to do the retail Christmas set-up. This was a little over a month ago. Little did I think that the first of December would threaten to find Halloween still decking the halls at my house. Oh, dear!

So, first on the list, was to repack and store said Halloween decos! Here they are, neatly packed and stacked in my storage room a mere 30 days past the season. *note to self* remember this next year when so tempted...

Crow collection repacked and safely stowed until who knows when...

Pumpkin figures, trees, and all things glitter right below...

There was a moment of panic when I contemplated this looming box in the same storage area...

Then on to ironing the sheets for the guest room. Check.

I dug out the seasonal feather bed, called Sneelock up to help with the weight involved, and made up the bed.

A load of clean towels, neatly folded from the dryer.

Ah, yes. Guest bedroom made up and calling Denise's name. (Did I mention that more than likely, this cozy retreat will get minimal use for the next week?) Sad, but true.

Mercy, when I made another trip to the basement with assorted Christmas purchases, I found these stragglers...they may just have to wait until next year to find their resting place.

In addition, when I did the final wipe-up of the kitchen, yet another missed Halloween deco. Ugh.

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look around at the completed preparations for super woman's arrival. I just hope she's bringing an extra cape.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 2; Naples Project

After arriving on the job site very late the night before, we met the moving firm bright and early Saturday morning. I took several photos of the freshly painted empty house before the excitement began. Anticipating all of the selected furnishings and seeing them begin to complete the design vision is always rewarding.

The colors we selected many months ago-a pallet of gray-blues and ocean hues, punctuated with soft chocolate and venetian gold, set the stage for what was to come...

Our home owner was a bit uneasy with a pallet so unused in this area of Florida! I was all about making a statement that was indeed unexpected in this part of the country. So...let's see how things began to fit into place.

Two moving trucks pulled up and the men began to unpack, and bring the furnishings into the house. A full staff of 7 men were on task. Yes!

Sneelock also began to unload and untie the items we brought with us from our warehouse...(that would be his garage. He's oh so happy to have a portion of space back for the winter!)

Within the hour, we also expected an on-site repair of my van's window. (See former post regarding this one).

One of the last pieces to come off the truck was a 9' wide, 9' tall statement piece (as named by the client!). This glass cabinet was a beautiful hand painted bibliotech that I planned to house a collection of coral, books, and collectibles. At the end of the day, the owner of the receiving company was hesitant to try to get this piece up the two flights of stairs necessary, one being a curved one. He was serious! He told me that if he did try, there would be a 90% chance that his crew would not be able to be successful. Thankfully, there were two darling strong young men who stated that they were sure they could get it up, providing they could get it up the first flight. The owner reluctantly agreed to let them try one time, after telling me that he would not be responsible for breaking the stair banister, stone staircase, porcelain tile, or...the piece itself. I signed off on that, and they began the task.

You'll see the results of their labors in a later post! Yes, they were successful. I turned my back for most of it and had a silent prayer. Those young men were great!

My favorite bed (used by me in multiple designs to date), placed in the master bedroom,
with another of my favorites-these mirrored chests. Now, this room is set for the beginning of the end.

I call this "dueling irons"! Linda and I set out during the day to have an ironing marathon. Every piece of custom bedding for three bedrooms, dining room chair slipcovers, and 4 pair of linen draperies would have to be pressed. A total of about 32 hours of pressing was the end result of these dueling irons over the next few days. Whew.

The end of day two resulted in a 14 hour day for my team of three. I'm not sure what happened, but not one singe self-portrait was taken the entire set-up. Drat.

We successfully had all of the furniture delivered, unpacked $10,000.00 worth of accessories, assembled 14 lamps and shades, prepped 4 chandeliers, placed all furniture and rugs in their proper quarters, ate a few apples, and began the marathon ironing of the days to follow. Day two, successful, tiring, and preparatory for the real work ahead.

Back to our humble quarters for a night's sleep to prepare for the next 2 intense days ahead.

Sleep looks good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On The Way to Naples!

I'm not sure how I committed to this trip, during the craziest and perfectly intense time of my retail year...but here we are, heading to Naples, Florida.

I've been designing and working on a whole-house project for a client in Naples for the past 6-8 months and the final installation marathon is about to begin! Mercy! Hours and hours of design, project management, and accessory gathering has gone into this. When the time finally comes to put it all together and reap the rewards of the intense design process, it's a mixed bag of excitement, stress, and exhaustion. Fun, too! And stressful. Rewarding, yes. And stressful. Great anticipation, yes. And stressful.

Will the pieces that I've selected fit he space as I have planned and imagined? Will everything arrive in time for the final curtain call? Will that 9' tall, 9' wide piece be the statement that you really expect? (Will it really fit up the stairs?!!) Will everything that you did not ship ahead fit in the van? All these thoughts and more are foremost in your mind and anxiety takes a bit off the edge of the excitement.

I thought I'd share some of the process with you from beginning to end.

We shipped all the furniture, lighting, mirrors, rugs, and custom bedding over the past 6 months...and this is what I still had to fit in my van for the two day trip!

All through the packing process, Sneelock kept telling me that it would never fit...

A little reorganizing, with some key cargo on top the car helped...

View from the side door. I think this helps to visualize just how packed in we were!

We made a quick stop along Highway 85 near Charlotte, NC, to meet up with good friend, CFO, and co-designer for the project, Linda! (It was quite an incentive to gain another vehicle, as well.)
This is the view of the passenger side with limited foot room! Well, I was sure that I could gain a little time for computer work, email catchup, and fashion review along the way!). I always get loads done in the long car trip on the way to N.C....no naps today!

Linda and I took one of her cars, and Sneelock took over the van. Just a bit into the second leg of the trip, he phoned us with this report! Spontaneously, the rear sliding passenger window exploded and blew out! What?! Just a minor set-back. After a quick stop at the first Home Depot, some cardboard and duct tape put us back in motion again. A few calls to the dealership and insurance company, and a new window was to be waiting us in Naples for the next day.

Serious excitement!

Arrangements had been made to stay on the job site for the week, but alas, upon arriving at our destination at the late hour of 11:30pm, we discovered that a serious accident had impacted the natural gas lines of Naples. No hot water, and limited services around the entire city for most, if not all, restaurants. Mercy!

After trying several hotels for availability, we were directed to this haven only another half hour down the road...hot water was available! Clean beds, yes. We turned in for the night about 2:00am.

Tomorrow, bright and early,we meet the delivery service for the kick-0ff!