Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pillow Talk

Sometimes in life, we receive necessary messages from the universe in the most unusual of places. For me, the latest message came in the form of a pillow -- more specifically, the above pillow, referenced yesterday by one of my favorite blogs, Style Court.

Breezing through the post, of course the lovely embroidered pillow from Anthropologie caught my eye--I've developed a sort of thing for parrots lately, and have a long-standing weakness for embroidery--but what really got my attention was the reference to the pillow's designer, Shelley Hesse.

Shelley is a fabulous New Orleans artist, but more significantly for me, also an old friend and former roommate from my college days at the University of Georgia -- one of a group of girlfriends from all parts of the South except Georgia, where almost everyone else there seemed to hail from....maybe that's what brought us all together, but I'd like to think it was more than that.

The last time I spoke to Shelley was also the last time I saw her, and the last time I saw any of my old college friends: more than five years ago, at the Palm Beach home of one of the girls in our group. Over a wonderful sunny weekend we ate, drank, lounged on the beach, and gossiped about the old days as well as the new. Carrie, our hostess, was the first of us to get pregnant, and we threw her an impromptu baby shower at which we forced her to parade around, belly on full display, in the decidedly un-maternity-like lingerie we had given her to mark the occasion.

Since then, two of the girls have gotten married, four have had children, and at least one more is recently engaged. I've managed to stay in touch with a few of them courtesy of Facebook, but others (including Shelley) I haven't connected with since that weekend years ago.

Just as the recent sudden death of a cherished friend from my youth reminded me of how much I continue to love and value the connections I formed as a child and teenager, so did seeing Shelley's pillow remind me of how much I miss the connections I formed afterwards, as a college student trying to find my place in the world.

Between work, family, and all the responsibilities in between, I seem to get so caught up in the daily demands of life that I tend to forget to make time for the people who have helped make my life what it has been. So thank you, Style Court, for inspiring me to reconnect with Shelley and some of my other old friends. (Polly and Dana, you two are next!)

Check out some of the other lovely pieces from Shelley's collaboration with Anthropologie:

This is actually my favorite of the pillow offerings -- I love the contrast of the colorful embroidery against the black background.

I love the Lobster rug almost as much as I would if it came with a cup of melted butter on the side. If only real lobsters were so colorful, I might not have the heart to eat them. Oh, who am I kdding? Of course I would.

I love the idea of these dessert plates as a summertime hostess gift.

The collection even delves into bedding, which begs for a closer look. Beach house, anyone?

A peek at some of Shelley's artwork shows the inspiration behind the collection:

22" x 30"

27-1/2" x 39-1/2"

Unsurprisingly, my own favorites of Shelley's work are her interiors:

40" x 60"
(The fact that this is already sold causes me physical pain. Love. Love. Love.)

40" x 60"

I've been a fan of Shelley's work for years, and I couldn't be happier that masses of Anthropologie shoppers will be joining me in the club.

Now if you'll excuse me, there is a fabulous parrot pillow waiting to meet its new mommy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Imaginary Client

At the risk of you thinking me even nuttier than ever, I have a tiny secret to reveal: in between working on real projects (or usually, in the middle of), I like to create imaginary clients and assemble fabric schemes for them. Sometimes I go even farther and add in furniture, other materials....though I usually stop short of giving my imaginary clients names. (That counts for something, right? Notice I said usually.)

When creating schemes for actual clients, I often stumble across fabrics that aren't quite right for the project at hand, but I'll realize they would be perfect with that (insert name of wonderful fabric here) I've been dying to use. Thus the imaginary client is born. After cobbling together the ideal scheme, I make a mental note of everything and await the appearance of an actual client it might be perfect for.

Won't you say hello to my current imaginary client? She's a girl of around 8 -- she likes pink but is not one of those "princess pink" types, so we're balancing things out with some navy.

This guy from Kravet is the star of the show...

...but I have since developed a small obsession with his friend from Andrew Martin:

Also represented are my old faithfuls -- a few indoor/outdoor selections and a pair of favorite patterns from Alan Campbell. My client has such impeccable taste!

I'm also thinking we could work in a few pieces from the shop:

These lamps with some framed vintage Florence Broadhurst wallpaper panels?

Perhaps some additional throw pillows for her dreamy twin canopy beds?

And what young girl's room is complete without a vintage cloisonne vase? Ha.

Clearly I still have navy and white on the brain...just scored a lot of striped Sunbrella yardage on eBay, soon to be a pair of dining chairs. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, my imaginary client is beckoning... She is one fierce taskmaster. Kids today!

Friday, March 19, 2010

In the Bag

Sometimes in life (okay, a LOT of times) it's the little things that bring you the most delight.

Take, for instance, this bag. Trade fabric showrooms all use promotional bags to send their clients out the door with, and some of them are more creative than others in their designs. One of my favorite fabric lines, Schumacher, also produces some of the best bags around, using their fabric patterns as design features.

When I saw my friends at the Schumacher showroom displaying their latest issue around the floor, my heart skipped a beat. And then I looked inside the bag:

Ah, heaven. I absolutely love the pairing of the scenic Asian print with the crisp geometric. Pattern perfection. And to cap it off, they threw in a coordinating braid handle.

Am I total nerd or what? (Don't answer that.)

Fabrics shown are Schumacher's "Nanjing" in Porcelain (Asian scene) and "St. Tropez" in Navy (an indoor/outdoor fabric, I might add, that would be perfect dining room chair cushions or pillows on the patio).

Come see us for some fabric -- or a bag (we got a few) -- of your own.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucite for the Masses

We've previously discussed the lusciousness that is Lucite, and I've long kept a running tally of how much it will set me back to bedeck each and every one of my kitchen cabinets with my favorite of the high-end Lucite pulls I've researched over the last year or so.

Enter Atlas Housewares.

These perfectly lovely clear acrylic pulls are a fraction of the cost of others I've been dreaming of, with the same high-end glam look.

I just snapped up a handful of the 6"-long versions to update a mid-century dresser: George Nelson meets Liberace. (Sadly, it's going to take a big design project to cover all-new kitchen hardware.)

And through March 31, you can save 10% on the entire collection by entering "MARCHSPA" at checkout.

Let the Lucite love commence.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Art Obsession

As many of you know, we recently relocated to a new neighborhood in Seattle -- we're now in Capitol Hill, in what has become dubbed the "Pike/Pink Corridor," home to a wide range of new restaurants, residential developments, and independent retailers and creative types.

One such creative type has since become a minor obsession with me. Conveniently located adjacent to the local cupcake bakery (which, as you might imagine, I see an awful lot of), artist Cassandria Blackmore's studio has a streetfront gallery of sorts to show off recent works.

She practices reverse painting on glass, which she then shatters so that it fragments in unpredictable ways. Tackling both figurative and abstract subjects, I am blown away by the beauty and intensity of her abstract work, which lines the showroom walls:

Her figurative work is equally impressive:

...but it's those shots of color, woven beneath the shiny, fractured glass, that make my heart race. I haven't unearthed any prices in my investigative work, so I'm inclined to reference the old adage: If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.

I'd love to use the orange or blue over the fireplace in a current project, in which we've done two oversized slipper chairs in this, Quadrille's "Contessa," flanking an orange ostrich-print ottoman:

If (I mean WHEN) I am published in House Beautiful or Elle Decor, one of those is going up on my wall. Budget be damned!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Remote Control

WHEW. We've been busy with a wide range of design projects over the last few months, so--with my client's blessing--I thought it would be fun to take a peek behind the scenes of the evolution of one in particular.

This one is especially interesting, because the project is in California and, well, I'm not (though what with it being Oscar night as I write, I wish I were!).

It began with an inquiry about a vintage dining table for sale at the shop, and evolved into a conversation about collaborating remotely on design ideas for a new home in California. Imagine my delight when I saw these photos of said new home:

Ummm...gorgeous! You had me with the front door and the geometric screen. Imagine when she sent me pictures of her newly painted hallway showing this:

A vertical version of my beloved shop wall.... I was convinced then and there that it was a match made in heaven.

My client recently purchased the home in Marin County, where she lives with her husband and infant son. They wanted to make some aesthetic changes to the Living and Dining Rooms before undertaking an extensive remodel a few years from now.

Here's how the Dining Room looks currently:

(Don't you love those kelly green chairs? They are getting a new life in the Living Room, redone in a geometric black-and-white print.)

My client (like all good clients should) supplied plenty of inspirational photos to give me an idea of her likes and dislikes. Here are photos of some of her favorite dining rooms, rooms I know all of us design junkies are familiar with:

Thanks to my client's photos, supplied measurements, and detailed feedback on her desires and needs for the room, I was able to lay out a suggested furniture plan that incorporated all of the pieces I envisioned for the space.
I had so much fun putting together a concept board for the room, filled with a mix of high and low items from sources like Jonathan Adler, Visual Comfort, Wisteria, Oly, and Bungalow5...even a vintage chandelier identical to the one of my client's dreams!

Always the most interesting part of the process is the client's response to my ideas; here she took a number of my top recommendations and tweaked them to reflect a revised plan: Navy walls instead of peacock blue, black Chippendale chairs instead of lime green, a more classic Oly dining table over my more modern choice. And we lost out on the 1st Dibs chandelier, so back to the drawing board there...

Additionally, she dug a little deeper into my list of alternate selections to pull in more formal crystal lamps from Visual Comfort in place of my more casual Bungalow 5 ceramic option, and a more elegant mirror from Horchow over the bone mirror from Wisteria (one of my all-time favorites).

Here's what she came back with:
You can see the origins of her plan in mine, but it evolved in such a different way. I love what she came up with; so different from mine....more quietly elegant though retaining bold strokes like the dark walls and graphic dining-chair seats.

We've started ordering items and made a few changes from both plans, and I can't wait to see how the room comes together.

Stay tuned for a peek at plans for the Living Room!

Friday, March 5, 2010


Spotted this beauty on the always-fun decor shopping site Fyndes. Ingenious!

As you were.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nice Pants

I know I'm not digging deep with this one for most of you, but today's new edition from the much-loved purveyor of affordable art, 20x200, forced my hand.

I have come thiiiis close to buying prints for myself from 20x200 on numerous occasions (still mulling this over in a giant size), but today may be the day that I take action.

If this print from photographer Landon Nordeman doesn't take me back to the South, then nothing short of a tall glass of sweet tea will. (It doesn't hurt that the white "T" on the orange polo stands for "Tennessee," where I was born and raised.)

The funny thing about this image is that I wouldn't think twice about seeing this trio pass me on any southern street. But you'd be more likely to see a pack of donkeys fly past your shoulder than come anywhere close to this scene in Seattle. Lord knows we have our share of perks the South can't claim (mild weather, liberal politics, fresh salmon), but it's these uniquely southern quirks I get nostalgic for.

I may have to hang it adjacent to my husband's closet. Think he'll take the hint?
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