Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WASP Nesting

*image from the fabulous WASP tome A Privileged Life

It could be a cliche, but most southerners I know (including yours truly) love color. And we love monograms. And most of us love prints, too. Add together all of these beloved elements and you've got Lilly Pulitzer.

As a child growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, I don't know that I ever had any actual Lilly Pulitzer clothes--mine were probably just poor-man's versions--but much of what I did have was covered in things like embroidered pastel whales, pink umbrellas, and so on....surely Lilly-inspired, if not actually Lilly-branded themselves.

*image courtesy of gastrochic.com

Thirty years later, the clothes are a bit out of place for my rainy, multi-cultural Northwest lifestyle, but I confess that my two daughters have a few Lilly outfits, and her designs continue to put a smile on my face.

I think the appeal for me as an adult is more of the lifestyle Lilly Pulitzer clothes conjure: lounging by the country-club pool; outfitting my sun-kissed children in coordinating ensembles, with giant grosgrain hair bows for the girls; hosting luncheons in my toile-covered living room with gilded tchotchkes and embroidered pillows as far as the eye can see.... You know, the typical WASP-y stuff.

* image courtesy of Southern Accents (illustrating me in my fantasy life)

Though these fantastic images could not be more different from my actual lifestyle, there is something about them that stays with me....perhaps because they are reminiscent of a way of life I always envisioned as my future. But as we know, life often has other plans. And I couldn't be more thankful for that.

(Yes, those are tiny monkeys hidden in the swirls!)

I think again of Lilly today after previewing her fantastic new bedding and bath line, exclusive (unfortunately for the shop!) to catalog retailer Garnet Hill. I love the fantastic colors and patterns, especially in a young girl's room. And those towels? Well, you're never too old for pink monograms.

The best part of my discovery? Now I can indulge in a dose of Lilly without wearing a palm tree somewhere on my person. And that's, as the Northeast's version of Lilly, Martha Stewart, would say, a good thing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

All the Small Things

Sometimes in life, and in interiors, it's the little things that bring you the most satisfaction.

Take, for instance, my entryway. As I have previously discussed here, I have grand plans to paint giant charcoal and white chevrons on the walls with a little help from my friends at The Stencil Library, but the stencils still sit in their packages, right next to the cans of paint. Since it will apparently be years before I have two uninterrupted days in which to complete this project, I thought I'd tackle the rest of the room in the interim.

Last week I moved one final piece into place--the fantastic hand-blown tequila decanter (called a tupi, I think) from a wonderful local glass art shop called Vetri--and I think I'm ready to call it good...at least, on one wall.

What do you think?

This painting, called "Walla Walla Onion Field," is one of my favorite things I own; I purchased it a few years at our neighborhood art walk and paid a whopping $20 for it. The frame, however, cost me about 10 times that, but it completely makes the piece, and I still spent less than $300 for the entire artwork.

What I like most about this vignette is that it contains little pieces of me--my history. The stack of books by Faulkner remind me of my Southern roots, the yellow urns and white ceramic orb from my shop remind me of the experience of starting a business and working every day toward its success, and the glass tupi is a gift from an old long-term boyfriend, which conjures nice memories of a previous chapter in my life. And to top it all off, the wooden and iron desk on which it all sits sat in my childhood home throughout my life!

Of course, I couldn't have pulled it all together without my invaluable (and ubiquitous) production assistant, who you can catch a glimpse of below in the mirror:

Another "small thing" I am currently enjoying is a great artwork score from the local Goodwill, a petite oil painting of sailboats in happy shades of blue. Again, I broke the bank on this one, spending $5.99. It wasn't until I brought it home and put it against our glass mosaic-tile backsplash in the kitchen that I really fell in love.

The colors really pop against the tile, and it leads me to a dreamy place of oceans and sailboat races. Not bad for $5.99!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Take a Seat

For the last few months I've been working on a fun project involving significant transformations of several rooms in a gorgeous old Tudor here in Seattle, with the primary goal of infusing the spaces with more color, interest, and, well, quirkiness.

For the master bedroom, one of the action items was to replace an outdated, overstuffed "chair and a half" with a more modern (yet not too contemporary) option, with a higher back to add some variation of heights to the space. We planned to upholster the lucky winner in a canary yellow faux leather...hello, gorgeous!

It didn't take me long to find the perfect candidate, the Tom Dixon by George Smith chair shown above. The only hitch? It's $8,000. For one chair. For some of you, that may seem reasonable (and if so, please call me!), but for me and my client, that was a bit of a stretch.

Time for round two. The contenders (aka options less than $8K!)?

A few options from Ironies:

This lovely from one of my favorite designers, Victoria Hagan:

And our favorite of all, this gorgeous wingback from Duane Modern:

Still, our favorite from Duane was going to run close to $5K, not including our custom fabric.

When I presented the much-loved Astrid chair from Anthropologie in chocolate brown print as a reading chair for the Living Room, it was an aha! moment. The client had previously sat in this chair and loved it, AND it was a comparitive bargain at $1,300. Done and done.
The best part of all? I found an orange one on craigslist for $800! Since we were planning to reupholster it anyway, we didn't care what color it was.

I love making money, but I also love saving my clients money.... And thus concludes Operation Reading Chair.

Stay tuned for some great before&after photos in the next few months.
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