Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the Road Again!

December 14, 2011. Could there be a worse time of year to be called to a favorite city for a favorite client?!

Jackie and I flew into Charleston to preview the new home of a repeat and darling client and begin the design process. Chaos everywhere. Jo's beautiful Sullivan's Island, SC estate almost empty-the new home on the other side of town filled with boxes in rooms full of furniture without perfect placement! Excuse me, make that no placement!

Many memories of the past three homes filled our hearts as we went back through Princeton, Historic Charleston, Sullivan's Island, and now suburban Charleston. Each home had memories of new and current pallets-each one "the new favorite".

With measuring tape, camera and designer eyes together, we spent Friday and Saturday getting inspired, making notes and taking key information. We began finding new homes for art, tables, mirrors, furniture and accents. We set up a Christmas tree in preparation for the children's return from an out of state visit and felt totally satisfied at the end of a long day.

Now the fun begins as we go back to the drawing board (my design office!) and fill the my 12 foot table with fabrics, paint memos and transposed notes to get down to the real work of design.

Scalamandre or not... this wallpaper has to go! Serious measuring for new window treatments, yet to be designed.

One of many light fixtures to be replaced...

We sent time helping to unpack key boxes that could prove helpful in creating an instant makeover! We covered these books about three years ago to create the perfect accents for the Sullivan's Island beach house cute! I took a few moments to detail bookcases to get us through until the new design can be installed. We reminisced about the former bookcases and the details that were involved.

We lite and set up a fresh cut tree, using a portion of the ornaments that we had designed for the last home-favorite pallet aqua and lime! So fresh that many years ago...still stylish!

I set up this mirror turned into a tray (one of my best attended Holiday classes for the past few years) with Santas and trees topped with fresh fallen snow for the Charleston dining table centerpiece.

I guess you could say we performed a little magic in the last few days. Many boxes unpacked. Furniture in new found homes, repurposed and reinvented. Draperies rehung. Boxes sorted for giving to friends and family. Christmas cheer in place. Plans and visions for the future of a beautiful new suburban home. Out with the old and in with the new, but in the mean time a place to call home.

After a full day, we headed for our hotel.

Armed with notes, photos, new inspiration and the love of Charleston, we will head for home. We are excited to get this project launched. Stay tuned for more details and visions of the new look for Jo's home-#4.

It's a dream job.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

....except for the day that my sister leaves after a week of intense custom Holiday setups for Black-eyed Susan clients. I always feel like" the cheese standing alone", as my mother used to say.The week is a crazy one filled with way too many hours, diverse weather conditions and entirely too many hours of commuting in the van from New Jersey to the entire scope of Bucks County, Pa.

It's always a whirlwind of a week,yet companionable and entertaining as we begin the day early and end too late. Sisters. The best. On the day that I take her to the airport, I feel blue and overwhelmed with responsibility. I have to remind myself that the prior week was worth this dreaded moment. Denise has returned to Denver and her own overwhelming responsibility as mother of two remaining at home, an adored dog and husband. (Her family's dreaded week was last week-including my 92 year old father!)

I always intend to blog about each day to give you inspiration for your own decorating, but the late hours we keep during the long week just takes its toll. Rolling into bed around 12:30am for an early morning wakeup call sets all good intentions aside!

Here is a quick recap of some of each of the setups done last week. Enjoy!

Okay. Maybe not so quick. Try to endure.

Day One.

Monday morning wake up call: 6:10am. Pat's house was first on the list. We do her Federal estate home every year (18 years and counting....) The first task is carrying all the decorations up from the basement of her 10,000 square foot home. Not a light task!)

Her foyer is more like the Grande Hotel! It takes two people most of the day just to design and primp her banisters. Shannon and Sherry took on the task.

I'm sure you can feel their pain!

Jeff handles the 12 foot tree every year. Yes. And when he decides to quit, I will follow! Pat's tree has more ornaments on it than one can imagine could fit on one tree. That too, is an all day project. Jeff and one dedicated assistant are assigned to this design.

Here is a pretty shot of the curving banister with Jeff's tree in the background.

We wrapped up the project about 5:00pm, packing multiple vans, tall ladders, and a team of 8 after a long day of Christmas cheer!

Day Two.

Jessica's historic dream home!

Jessica has a real tree and I designed the tree to compliment her recently completed dining room. She was inspired by one of my trees in the retail store and we hand selected the ornaments for her with her direction in the store.

This is the beginning of the unpacking and the layout of the assortment. She asked us to strategically place the important statement ornaments and leave the bulk for her family to place. Great idea! (And, it was a particularly prickly tree...not sorry to leave many for them!) The design was silver, opalescent clear and white. It's a bit difficult to see the ornaments on the tree, but it was gorgeous! The children came home from school while we were wrapping up and many oohs and ahas were exclaimed! They were excited to do their part.

The library was a favorite in my book! You may recognize the mantle from a previous post. Now, all decked out for Christmas...

I left the everyday accessories in place and added one of my most realistic and full mixed garlands, my favorite magic trick-sugar cones, and several aqua mercury glass ornaments. The draperies were just installed days before. I love the way the drum chandeliers show in the mirror! I love this room.

Another shot to show the two drum shade chandeliers over the computer table. Wow! A little sprig of greenery over the mirror and the room sings!

These are the windows of the same room. Denise hung an assortment of the aqua mercury glass ornaments in Jessica's beautiful historic French doors. (I secretly covet this house!)

In the hand painted striped living room, we hung two of these glittery wonders (wreaths) over the companion chests flanking the pocket doors leading into the dining room. Mercury glass lamps illuminate the sophisticated wreaths. I couldn't have found anything better to adorn these Warm Stone walls! Fabulous.

Shannon spent the day outside working on these magnificent urns . 4 to be exact! The day was one of unpredictable downpours and cold temps. Shannon was a trouper. Not much can deter her from her love of this natural design work. I will admit that we felt a bit guilty working inside Jessica and Matt's cozy home while we checked Shannon's progress throughout the day.

I left for several hours to return to Black-eyed Susan for an annual demonstration of how to create the outdoor urns. Well attended for sure! When I returned, the design team was heading down the home stretch. Denise and Linda (our darling friend from Denver) had continued the set-up and put the finishing touches in each room. Banisters, two mantles, dining room, kitchen walk-in fireplace, family room and foyer. Check. Perfectly placed.

Take a look at Shannon's completed window box. We loved the aqua shatterproof color theme that spoke of the interior accents as well. Well done, Shannon! The view from the road is just spectacular.

Day Three.

Michelle and Omar's home has been on the schedule for several years. Michelle has a fine sentimental collection of handmade Santa's that we found homes for. She wanted to make a change in her mantle this year, so I designed something using golds instead of our previous years champagne. We used the beautiful mercury glass from previous years in the same room, just mixed it up a bit and found new homes for old favorites. I love creative license. When Michelle came home, she edited a few areas, made some personal changes and communicated several times via email for my confirmation and suggestions. Great team effort!

Living room, foyer, dining room, family room and kitchen completed. Five exterior urns and the lamppost later, we left their home decked out!

We left Omar's to head over to my cute friend and client, Joan's. We help her every year, but this year, she had a new home! It was fun to find new places for favorite collections and design new looks. Joan's home is cozy and stylish (Warm Stone doors throughout!!!) Sneelock showed up as an extra to help hang a plate collection (you wouldn't believe the plates Joan found in colors of Warm Stone and Sea Salt!!!) along with some final art finishing touches. We worked around the painting team who was working on touch ups and feasted on Joan's hospitable cheese and cracker/fruit tray. Yum! The sun had set by the time we left and we headed back the next day to finish her exterior urns.

I'll post some photos when I can. Somehow, I didn't download her warm and cozy digs.

Day Four.

We took a team of four to Katie's Bucks County Manor House. Last year was our first year of working in her home, and we looked forward to returning. Her cute husband came down to give his stamp of approval on the day and we heartily began our work. We have the same taste in Christmas music mixes and she delighted us with these favorites with her sound system piped outside as well! As she prepared for a party for 100, we worked hand in hand with her. Banisters, mantles and chandelier embellishments-arched door garlands...two fabulously large urns on the grand entry porch. Shannon, of course was in charge of that. She really that down pat! The weather was a bit more cooperative than earlier this week.

At the near end of our elf-work, Katie set the table and we joined her for the most delicious home made potato/leek soup and turkey with cranberry chutney sandwiches. She was a most gracious hostess and we delighted in her culinary skills. Over lunch, she gave us an account (at our insistence) of her involvement with the local soup kitchens and homeless shelters that she and her family support. Our hearts were filled equally as were our stomachs before we left. What a blessing to have clients so inspiring and welcoming.

Day Five.

Mary's manor house in Princeton welcomes a team of 7 every year. We dug right in and assigned the teams. Banisters, chandeliers, second floor landing, kitchen, family room and a family gathering TV room...oh! I forgot the gold appointed living room where Jeff set up a tree with the finest Christopher Radko collected ornaments. We like to leave that project to Jeff! (It's quite a financial responsibility!!)

While the team worked feverishly throughout the house and Shannon headed up the 6 exterior extra large urns and window boxes, Jeff also designed a new "upside down" tree for Mary! She had purchased all of the ornaments ahead of time and he did his magic. She loved it!

Several years ago, Mary had a custom closet designed for her daughter who is an accomplished dancer. At that time, we did a little Christmas decorating in this "room"! Yes, as you can see, it is a striking dressing room with a large island just calling for something!

Here is a closeup of the creamy collection of sisal trees and large Santa. Perfect for the room.

Day Six.

We found ourselves at Alyce and John's beautiful Washington Crossing home. We have been designing multiple areas for them for the past 6 months or so and Alyce requested our help this year with Christmas. It was so fun to unpack her things and find that almost all of them were from my store from years past! I recognized most of the ornaments, garlands and accents and had a fun trip down memory lane. My Yardley days came flooding back! Good memories.

It was particularly fun to find ways to use her existing ornament collections not only on her trees, but as tabletop displays. I used her fine lead crystal bowls and vases to display appropriate colors in each room.

We did set up a new 10 foot tree in the newly redone family room. She and John came to the store and hand selected ornaments from my Woodland tree to build on. The family will add the sentimental favorites together. Another team effort!

In the same room, I added once again, my favorite realistic mixed garland to the mantle. We used command hooks (major weight requirement!). I placed the metal tree sculptures that Alyce owned and stacked up my favorite sugar cones-added several pine sprigs mixed in and over the top of a favorite original piece of art. Another example of a mantle that I left everything on and added some layering. Natural and beautiful.

Tomorrow, I will take a diminished team (without my sister and her friend) to Lani's house. We love doing her home as well. She owns many, many of my favorite things from over the years. This year, she has added a multitude of new items that I will find places for!

She treats us to a delightful and refined catered lunch on her finest china in the dining room. We are treated like fine guests in her home. I'll try to spotlight the set up for you. Flocked tree, blue and silver collections...tarnished champagne in the living room.

We have several days of smaller set ups and exterior assignments this week. I'm even hoping that I might be able to put up a bit of Christmas cheer in my own small space...that could be a pipe dream, I'll let you know.

Indeed, it's the most wonderful time of the year. It's not too late for you to find a bit of your own Christmas decor at Black-eyed Susan. I'll be around to advise and do some on the spot designing and suggesting. And, there are still some of my favorite store classes in the next few weeks. Check my web site for more information.

Come see the magic. I'll be looking forward to seeing you!

Here I am with darling sister, Denise. We both look a bit worse for wear...tired eyes and achy muscles. I love that girl. And I now feel indeed, like" the cheese standing alone".

Till next year. Have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grateful Heart

Gratitude. Thanksgiving day is always a day that I spend in reflection.

I was raised by loving parents who loved each other and left me with memories of family celebrations unequaled. I was tutored by a learned mother who taught me to be a skilled baker and cook. She showed me how to be generous and selfless. My father has lived a life of service and industry. I'm sure my love of productivity has come from him. I have siblings of great worth and beauty-my finest friends. I have creative vision that propels me forward and health enough to sustain that vision.

I have a darling husband who puts me in the fore front of his life and works with me side by side...even when he is tired.

I am truly amazed with each of my three children. They are creative, beautiful, loving, and each one of them supreme parents to their own children. They inspire me and live exemplary lives of integrity.

I feel a debt of gratitude for a very capable and supportive staff . Black-eyed Susan can run smoothly and steadily with the dedication and talents of each.

I have a warm home where love is spoken. I do not go hungry. Hot water is abundant and everyday luxuries abound.

This year we spent the day with good friends and some of the finest food I can remember. We spent the most enjoyable and tender time with Shannon and Brian Monson. Take a look at Shannon's beautiful mantle, dressed with her cream-ware collection,bittersweet and light-light votives. It set the mood for the rich bounty of food and friendship.

It is such a plus to count Shannon as a dear friend and an employee! We share a creative kindred friendship and many nights of "the late shift" at Black-eyed Susan. She is quickly becoming my right hand gal for weekly merchandising and window dressing. Selflessly, she brings dinner to me on those late night ventures...yet another blessing.

I count all of my Black-eyed Susan clients and friends as blessings. Thank you for supporting me for these many years of growth and success. I feel that I have fine friendships with so many through this association. I feel supported and loved. During a recent illness, I was truly amazed at the repeated offers for prayers on my behalf. In the challenging economic times of the past few years, we have continued to have steady projects that have brought such satisfaction and joy. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It is my hope for each of my friends and family, that you will have the joy and blessings that I have had in my life this year.

Happy Thanksgiving and many more to come.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Good Bones!

For some time, I have been working on a very fulfilling project. It just so happens that one of my absolute favorite old houses in Yardley resurfaced in the hands of a new owner and I was called in to design the house!

I always loved this home from years before, and this time around, it has been a real favorite in every way. The new homeowners are wonderful to work with. (I'll post more about them with their permission!)

I'm not sure which of the rooms I love the most...library, living room, dining room...oh, maybe the family room! And there's more to come!

I'm just going to give you a peek at the dining room . New paint has gone up since this photo was taken and a few more accents...but you'll get the picture!

I'll be sure to fill you in on the other rooms as well.

There just isn't a combination that is as fulfilling as this formula; darling and visionary client+stylish vision+beautiful historic setting and architecture+supportive husband(homeowner!)+timely deliveries! Take a look and see what you think! I'm in love with it.

We had this delivered several months ago...a bit of a loss for my retail presence, but absolutely fabulous for Jessica's house! (I'm weird about loosing my favorite pieces from the store, but always thrilled when they go to someone I love!)

This is just a shot of us beginning to place the accessories...I think accessory calls are one of my favorite things to do. They are instant gratification and it's like adding the jewelry to the perfect outfit.

Here's a straight on shot of the biblioteque. Beautiful creme-ware, objects of art, the perfect color of books! Oh,my. *sigh*

Here's a shot of the great square table and upholstered chairs. Love the nail heads.
Nail heads are so stylish right now! Add them to my list of must haves......

Perfect. The room has even more drama now. My best ever painter Walt, just painted the walls and ceiling Sherwin Williams Wheat Grass. It's a lovely soft almost chartreuse color.

(Hint: the living room the adjoins this room has graphite and chartreuse upholstery!) I'll take photos of that next!

This house is indeed a favorite project. Yep. Good bones!

p.s. Can't wait for Christmas here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Think Pink!

I spent one and a half too short days at the High Point Furniture Market last week. Due to an overwhelming project to get the store set up for my 2011 Christmas offerings, we got away almost one week later than planned...oh, my!

In the short time that I had at market...take a look at the trend that we took a liking to! It sure has some punch and real glam!

This hot pink cut velvet chair fabric is only made better by the companion metallic leather grey chair beside it! Nail heads...even better.

We came across this upholstered bed in cream sunbrella fabric with hot pink contrast welt and glamorous rhinestone buttons!

Hot pink and a favorite-charcoal. How cool is this settee (note to self: *more nail heads*)

Graphic prints sported vivid pink as well...

Dressy damasks brought up to current style with ...yes, you guessed it-PINK!

Note the hot pink leather in the background and the grey flannel windowpane with hot pink!

Taupe/grey sectional with pink accent pillows, and the grey/pink stripe repeated in chairs...

A personal favorite! "Lipstick leather" chairs! What a statement.

Pink married with orange, always a fun combo.

Same cute pink/orange graphic on an oh-s0-cute chair!

Pink honeycomb printed chair=comfort + style.

And, after all the pink...a little pop of...yes, chartreuse! You know how I felt about that!

You can be sure that I'll be looking for a place to use the fresh pop of pink. When I do, I'll be sure to tell you about it!

Ahhhhhh. Pink.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time...

I know, I've been missing in action for quite some time.

Too much to do. Too many design projects.

But, believe it or not, it's "that time of the year" again!

So much to do.
So much to prep.
So much to unpack.

So, stay tuned. I'll be giving you progress reports with plenty of inspirational pictures and entertaining stories. It's always a busy, crazy time of the year, and at the same time-exciting!

Come along for the ride.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

God Bless America, My Home, Sweet Home

On my way to church this morning, I passed this tiny privately owned restaurant with this touching display

My heart was full all day with the deepest feelings of patriotism and love of country. I am so grateful that I personally know so many fine men and women in the professional workforce, as well as many fine mothers who care for families. These men and women stand for integrity and willingness to serve others-to make a difference in the world. They contribute qualities of the highest standard in every day living. I am happy and proud to know them and stand among them.

I love this country and those fine men and women whom I know and love.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Color of Purple

Those of you who know me, know that I've not been a fan of any shade of purple most of my design career. (especially lavender). Still, when a newer color trend emerges, it tends to get my attention. Not long ago, I found these fabulous photos in purple hues on Pinterest:

I would say yes to plum (a dusty shade of purple!) + chartreuse any day!

And this plum-y tone + silver (both fabric and the real old silver plate) is just plain yummy.

Some time ago, one of my cute clients, Cathy, called me for a "design dilemma". She had not so long ago had her family room done by a design professional and been less than happy with the result...actually, never completed. (No "before shot" on purpose here!)

The main problem I could see was a big one! Two sofas, different frame styles and different fabrics-WAY different! One was leather and one was a woven fabric. There was a nasty chair in the picture too! While it is stylish to use two sofas, they are generally the same sofa...not so in this case! Cathy had never been happy and she thought to call us in. I had some immediate thoughts and color direction as directed by this totally cool chair she had recently purchased!

It was totally a lame duck in the room! But what a cool starting point! Dusty purple (plum) and warm stone (taupe)! My mind was set in motion. Her purchase was the catalyst for a new room design and I couldn't be happier.

We selected two of my favorite Vanguard sofas in a mohair-like velvet; color-taupe. And check out the contrast piping on the pillow in a perfectly paired plum! We selected several pillow fabrics in plum prints and one stripe (not delivered as yet!)

The tables are from my store as well, and the small influence of reclaimed wood and soft grey/taupe stains grounded the whole design. Two matching sofas now told the correct and interesting story, married with the graphic print chair of Cathy's choice. Wow! The room was coming together.

We are in the process of getting new drum shades for the floor lamps. The draperies were an expensive investment the first time around, and we hemmed them to be a more fashionable length (just kissing the floor). Good save!

As for accessories, check out my favorite new piece of art! It's a bit distant, but it is a canvas of random chairs in neutrals and hints of plum hues. I think this piece of art might just be the inspiration for my own family room make-over!

Here's a closeup of the coffee table details-love that warm stone colored matt dish with ceramic stones in it! Stylish succulents top off the accessories. What is it about succulents, anyway?!

One of Cathy's mantles was adorned with apothecary jars filled with small Lima beans and vintage photos. Cream colored book boxes with script motifs add just the right height and architectural elements, and a favorite concrete shore bird from my list of favorites topped it off! The clock was hers. *note that we painted the mantle itself in SW Warm Stone*

In the adjoining kitchen table nook, we added these graphic grommet ed panels. I couldn't contain myself when all was installed! What a transformation and what satisfaction.

Cathy gets the credit for the inspiring pallet. Good choice! Black-eyed Susan gets the credit for adding just the right style, color, art and accessories!

I guess plum just made it into my go-t0 accents. I love this room!