Thursday, October 29, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Primarily because of the insanity of my life (I know, join the club, right?), I am not as good as I should be about documenting my design projects--a goal for the New Year is to create an online portfolio of professional project shots--but I have a nice (though not yet complete) visual story of one to share.

This project began, in a sense, about a year ago, when a husband...let's call him "Chris" (since, well, that's his name) bought my favorite table ever for his wife as a Christmas table. Wouldn't you like to find this beauty under the tree?

Now, with a new fabulous table, a new and equally fabulous set of chairs was needed, which led to a need for some other new and fabulous items, and thus, a project was born.

The first matter of business? Selecting a new exterior paint scheme. I drew up some options (most traditional, a few more outlandish) using Benjamin Moore's great Color Preview program (incidentally, a great way to lose at least 4 hours of your life). Here were a few of my favorites options:

Here's the winning scheme, a combination of a few suggestions:

Classic and timeless, as well as a great representation of the schemes being incorporated inside. I put together some concept boards for various rooms; here's a peek at the Dining and Living Room inspirations:

Here's a peek at what made the cut in the Dining Room:

Most of the final selections are represented here--the Jonathan Adler greek key rug in the Dining Room (being made as I write), paired with affordable red-lacquer chairs from Pottery Barn sassed up with some colorful indoor/outdoor fabric on the seat cushions, and the stunning chandelier from Arteriors.

Compare the new light to the old (unelectrified!) fixture:

What an improvement. And now they can see what they're eating, too! (When I cook, dim lighting works in my favor.)

A few pieces, like this graphic bookcase from a local design showroom, were happy surprises:

And I unexpectedly scored a great (and gigantic) piece of art, a print made with a steamroller (!) by one of my favorite local artists, Tina Randolph.

We're still awaiting the arrival of a number of pieces, and there remains more work to be done, but I thought I'd share our progress thus far. Stay tuned!

*First image from the fabulous Conde Nast archives, a vintage House & Garden photograph by Herbert Matter

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Song of the South

Maybe it's because the holidays are drawing near, but lately I've found myself missing home. Not home as in where I reside with my husband and children, where I have settled in over the last six years or so, where I love to return to at the end of every day, but HOME. The place where I played on my first (and last!) softball team. The place where I had my first (definitely not last) kiss. The place where I stayed up late with my babysitter watching "Fantasy Island" and tried to figure out exactly what was going on in that bungalow.

For me, Home with a capital "H" is Nashville, Tennessee. The South. I love the South. I know it has a lot of baggage associated with it, some of it deserved, some of it exaggerated, and some of it just plain made up by people who have merely passed through or never even visited.

What do I love about the South? The obvious, of course: it's home to all of my family. When you leave a place as a single girl, you miss your family all the time, but you're building your own life, so it's easy to push those feelings aside in favor of the here and now. But when your life transitions to the next level, when you begin to create a family of your own, that's when you begin to miss your family in a way that hurts....and not just because you have to pay everyone who's not family to watch your children!

Then there are the little things: the insane food which, no matter how anyone above or west of the Mason-Dixon line tries, cannot be duplicated. (If I had a nickel for how many times I've said, "You call that 'cornbread?'" I would be lounging on a tropical island at the moment.) Sweet tea. Chick-fil-A. Need I say more?

The friendliness. Sure, some of it is phoney, but in the south, when you walk down the street, people--people you do not know--look you in the eye and say hello; they don't avert their gaze as they pass. People chat you up in line for no reason. Just because that's what you do.

The landscape. The rolling green hills and three-hundred-year-old trees. The beaches and seafod boils. The front-porch swings.

The driving. People drive fast there. People get in the left lane and actually pass the people next to them. Who knew this was something I was taking for granted the first half of my life?

The hospitality. The luncheons for the most insignificant of reasons. The food people cook for you when you have a baby, lose a parent, lose a job. The table settings. The deviled egg plates. The effort.

The decorating. Yes, I said "decorating." Southerners are not afraid of going all out where aesthetics are concerned. Of filling every vacant space with objects. Of passing down items from generation to generation, even if said items are worthless to the average person. If it's not tied down, we monogram it; it's not that we don't know they're our towels, we just like an excuse to throw curly script on something, especially if it's pink.

I know many (if not all) of these things exist in some form in all parts of the country, even in the world, but I miss my own special variety of it all, or at least the variety I have conjured for myself. Some of it surely has been romanticized, but isn't that the great thing about all that is far away, whether geographically or chronologically? We forget all that made us pull out our hair in favor of that which makes our eyes glisten with nostalgia. Thank heavens for that.

I was fortunate, growing up, to have an extra-special home/Home. We lived just outside the city on 18 acres, in a home built in 1808. As a 9-year-old child, moving from a duplex I shared with my single mother to what then seemed a palatial home with outbuildings, a barn, a pool and a guest house, I felt like Little Orphan Annie moving into Daddy Warbucks' estate.

As an adult, I now see my house of childhood in comparison with the McMansions that have sprung up all around, and I see that our house is not so grand. The edges are worn, things need replacing. But it has something those McMansions will never possess: soul. And that is a fine thing indeed.

My family has since gone through some changes over the last few years, and our family house is now for sale. My mother sent over a few of the listing photos, which inspired me to reflect on not only my childhood house, but my childhood Home, and why I miss it so.

Then I remind myself: home isn't a place but a state of mind--it's the people who make it home, and we carry those people with us wherever we go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talking Shop

(Quickly catch your breath after viewing the above photo....)

For those of you we haven't been harrassing via e-mail about our recent move, we are now open in our new location, the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Our grand opening was last week, after a month-long hiatus since closing our original Georgetown location.

We have so many gorgeous new (and new "old") pieces that I simply had to share a few photos with our friends who must have been trapped under something heavy since last Thursday and haven't yet been by the new shop. (Those of you outside the city are excused.)

I'll be working over the coming weeks on updating our Web site with our new inventory, new store images, and hopefully soon building our online interior design portfolio so you can see some of the fun projects we've completed. (Baby steps.... I am lucky to shower most days.)

Take a peek inside the new shop. And whether you're two blocks, neighborhoods, cities, or states away, come up and see us sometime. We'd love to see you!

Now, for the tour:

Can we briefly discuss how incredibly GORGEOUS this piece is? I bought it at an auction, back when it was a medium-oak finish. My gifted painter worked his magic, and how you see the new incarnation. Somewhere Dorothy Draper is patting herself on the back.

Also, I would like to touch on the striped wall, which I'm sure (like me) many of you have admired in the pages of Elle Decor (mostly in bathrooms, it seems, or with a slight twist of vertical stripes ala Alessandra Branca). I had about a week to move in and put my own finishing touches on the space after the painters and other folks completed their work, and do you know what I spent about 98% of that time doing? Yes. Stripes. I'm now seeing stripes in my dreams (nightmares?). But I am really happy with the finished product, particularly against the insane secretary and adorable sconces from a new line we're carrying at the store, Stray Dog Designs.

Back to the tour:

Another glimpse of the aforementioned stripes, along with one of a pair of vintage greek key-embellished mirrors. You know me and the greek keys....

Also new to the store: Rubie Green organic bedding, by the divine Michelle Adams. Paired with vintage table lamps, chandelier, and prints, along with a Jonathan Adler zebra needlepoint rug and some of our favorite accent pillows, it's a lovely little vignette. If nothing else, now I have a spot to nap during lulls at the shop.

Check out the ball pillow. I had it custom-made from the Rubie Green "Jackie" fabric. Why a ball pillow? I don't know. But I like it.

The unfortunate aspect of the bedding vignette? It conceals....yes, another greek key! The vintage headboard is festooned with a pair of them. Sigh.

This little arrangement makes me happy whenever I glance its way: navy blue, hot pink, yellow, and white. You may recognize the sofa from a stint in my living room; its now covered in bomber white vinyl that actually resists even ink stains. The chairs are vintage, as is the coffee table, now in a shade my painter calls "American Cheese." Not likely to make its way into the pantheon of paint names anytime soon.

I love the framed wallpaper panels peeking out at the sides; I snatched the paper up from Elements of Style's etsy shop. The colors and graphic quality are perfect.

Another angle.

Gorgeous black faux patent leather on 19th-century French dining chairs (now with white paint -- I know if legions of people were reading this, about three-quarters of them would be shrieking in horror.) Flanking the two lovelies are a set of redone Thonet chairs, with seats in white faux croc vinyl. Yes, I am single-handedly trying to keep the vinyl industry afloat.

Accessories shot: Jack + Lulu paper products (love), vintage barware with the motif whose name shall not be spoken, along with a Simon Doonan/Jonathan Adler shrine.

Also new to the shop: Kaarskoker candle sleeves and customizable candlesticks. A better hostess gift anywhere? We think not.

And it seems I have developed an addiction to changing out all my standard candlesleeves with those emblazoned with peacock print, herringbone, and fretwork. Who would have guessed?

Come see it all for yourself. Doesn't everything look better in person? Well, except models. And celebrities. And furniture from West Elm. Oh, nevermind.
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