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.