Monday, May 25, 2009

Porch decorating

In honor of Memorial Day, I am posting some images from a recent porch
“mini-makeover. Using my clients hanging folk art flag as inspiration (what a great piece!) we pulled out a pair of friendly white rockers from her shed and then had thick seat cushions made in a vibrant indoor/outdoor fabric for this shady porch. Now all we need is a large pitcher of ice-cold lemonade and some passing neighbors to stop by and chat for a spell ...

And when a little privacy is desired, this miniature screen of evergreens politely does the trick. Hardy pansies in cranberry red add color and charm.

An early spring vignette designed with my client’s antique tricycle, an old-fashioned container overflowing with blue star-shaped perennials (to be planted later) and some organic vertical interest.

With the warm weather, we have added a lush, Boston Fern (actually an indoor plant) in a terra-cotta urn on top of this traditional wicker console. The large scale of the plant is a dramatic welcome at the front door.

And by adding a few “non-growing decorative objects – like this basket of rope spheres along with a moss-covered carrot in honor of her stone bunnies – we are ensured that even without direct sun or watering, the look will remain true to our design.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A fairy-tale event ...

Photo courtesy of Linda Encarnacao

Enjoying the Gala Preview Cocktail Party,
Friday, May 15th at the Wenham Museum

Last weekend, Friday, May 15th through Sunday, May 17th, was the North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes held at the Wenham Museum. Each of the design participants was asked to come up with a tablescape setting that either relates to life on the North Shore or honors the mission of the museum and it’s extensive collections highlighting the “treasures of childhood and how we lived, worked, dressed and played from the 17th century to today” in New England. Each of us was given an 8' x 8' space in which to tell our “story.” Below are some pictures from my design vignette entitled
Tea for Fairy & Me.

Look closely ... you are about to get a bird’s eye view of a miniature shade garden and table setting for two designed to entice a visit from a woodland fairy.

A round, earthy green shag carpet anchors a cafe table clothed in a combination of mossy green velvet, elegant white birch bark/faux bois-like fabric, and edged in nubby brown linen – a design that is repeated in the miniature table set for our guest of honor ...

Using willow branches, moss, and a hot glue gun, I created my first ever pair of fairy chairs (not as difficult as I thought it would be, honest!). Slate from my home’s roof, dislodged during a winter storm, serves as the floor, while a beautifully curved trunk of an old apple tree was removed from my yard to house this enchanted tea party. A fairy globe nestled behind a moss-covered rock catches the light and ignites the imagination. An irresistible-to-the-touch rabbit stands guard. Miniature tea set available through the Wenham Museum gift shop.

A punch of color and whimsy is provided by a stunning pink Lotus Lantern (or for our imaginative tea party, a clover flower). I am grateful to Roy Goodwin for introducing me to this amazing work of spiritual art in his blog, Return to the Center. If you would like to see what it takes to create these delicate blossoms, visit Roy’s photostream - Mun Su Sa Lotus Lanters - on Flick’r. The beautiful photos inspire awe, and show how priceless this gift truly was. Thank you, Roy.

Modern sparkle is added with a set of three mirrors imprinted with black graphic illustrations of birds and butterflies that seem to hover over our garden of ferns, lambs-ear, bleeding hearts, and wild violets (all snagged from the woods behind my house). Wall covered with a natural woven window shade in Zen Sage from Smith & Noble. Black plant stand with tray is a favorite piece from my home.

Hidden within the moss, visitors to the museum discovered these adorable needle felted wool acorns from Etsy artist, truLuxe. I just love them! And meeting the artist in person was a true pleasure.
Thank you for coming to the show, T!

Along with museum visitors, our anticipated guests have arrived and are hiding safely in the cover of the birch and white pine branches ...

Photo courtesy of Linda Encarnacao

Large Porcelain Fairy Dolls available
at the Wenham Museum gift shop.

As if dressed by fairies, cafe chairs are slip-covered in green flower-covered silk and skirted with golden tulle, while attached willow branches add an organic touch.

More design details inspired by and collected
from the floor of a New England forest ...

At our life-sized table for two, honey cream and black raspberries
are waiting to be served with a tiny golden spoon.

And finally, a delicate white tea pot and glittery pine cone candles are paired with rose adorned teacups, and a set of pink “tutu-like” plates combined with simple white china. More gold spoons are nestled on gold trimmed napkins and wrapped with a thick metallic thread.

As if sprinkled with fairy dust,
imagination sets the stage ...

The Wenham Museum is known for it’s doll, toy and train collections and for being a fun, yet educational place to bring children – as well as a place that can bring out the child in each of us. I was inspired to create my fairy setting after remembering the magical moments spent in the museum with my mom and most likely the Girl Scouts when I was young, and more recently with my husband and sons (we saw a great Lego exhibition this past winter that showcased moving train cars, amusement parks, city sky scrapers ... all created out of Legos). The world of miniatures fascinated my boys on our trip, and in coming up with my concept, I was reminded of the New England tradition of building miniature fairy houses in the woods, as written and illustrated by Tracy Kane in the Fairy Houses Series.

Image from

This resourceful tradition, paired with a desire to illustrate how creative decorating doesn’t have to rely on expensive items, is the story I wanted to tell. Just step outside your back door, or visit a local forest, garden or park, for the best type of design inspiration.

Thank you to the very gracious Wenham Museum, to everyone who was able to attend the show over the weekend, to those who helped or inspired me during this project (special thanks go to Nancy; Ruthie; Dorothy & Roy; my mother, Ann; my husband, John; and, of course, my very imaginative little guys). And thanks to all of my blog guests for visiting this “virtual design tablescape. I hope you enjoyed the story behind the vignette as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes

North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes
to benefit the Wenham Museum

132 Main Street, Route 1A
Wenham, Massachusetts

Gala Preview Cocktail Party
May 15, 2009 6:30 pm
Call to reserve your ticket in advance:
$75 per person

Open admission Saturday, May 16th and
Sunday, May 17th from 10 am - 4 pm
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

Call 978.468.2377 or email

My designed space is inspired by the magic of a child’s imagination ...
come check out the show if you can or be sure to watch my blog next week for photos from the event.

Late this afternoon, I finished setting up my vignette for the North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes being held at the Wenham Museum. There was a lot of great design in the house at this favorite local museum that celebrates the treasures of childhood and life on the North Shore. Now that everything is in place (and I can sleep tonight!), I am so looking forward to the Gala Preview Cocktail Party tomorrow evening – and the weekend show should be just as fun. There is something inspiring about seeing creative visions come to life that makes me love this business of design even more!

Photo from the Wenham Tea House website

If you do make it to the Museum over the weekend, the Wenham Tea House (just across the street) is a nice place to stop for a quick bite (I enjoyed going there for lunch when I used to freelance down the street at Mullen), plus they offer delicious “catering to-go” (hors d'oeuvres, cakes, meals) just as you walk inside the front door.

Photo from the Black Cow website

Or if you have a little more time to relax, take a ride further down the street to the center of Hamilton where you will find the Black Cow Restaurant. My husband and I used to enjoy some great meals (and spirits) there before having children dramatically changed our dining options. I think we should go there (minus the little ones) the week after the show to celebrate ...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wallpaper as art

If you love the new papers available, but are hesitant to cover wall-to-wall, try a small dose of a favorite print (or two.) I combined two separate papers to create this modern tiger-in-the-jungle collage that I have framed in my office.

For this group of accessories designed with a seaside cottage in mind, I had a fabric liner made for the beach pail (great for storing extra towels by the door) and then decoupaged the front with starfish from a wallpaper border.

This series of prints is actually three sections of a wallpaper that I couldn’t resist (I loved the traditional elements combined with the cat fancy).

A decoupaged rose adds style to a small pink pail ...

Try adding some wallpaper to the back of a bookshelf, on a folding screen, or cover the walls inside a closet. A small space, or item, is the perfect way to go bold with pattern for those too shy to attempt this ...

Photo from

Pattern: Coco
Collection: Chelsea
by Thibaut

If you are feeling graphically-adventurous, check out and their whimsical, brightly colored, organic papers.

Photo from

Coordinating fabrics available.

Photo from

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A designer's touch

Sometimes a good room just
needs a little tweaking.

After ...

Before paint and accessorizing ...

After ...

Before custom window treatments ...

After ...

Less than perfect view ...

Light-filtered view ...

Final touches ...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

From shabby-to-chic

Don’t put that old sofa out on the curb!

While the structure of this “first couch we bought together” was still sound, it had definitely seen better days. The fabric was looking tired ... and I was
so tired of looking at it.

With a neutral-colored solid fabric, and a more tailored skirt, this 1990’s sofa from Drexel-Heritage is reinvented into a piece you might find at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. The ottoman got newly styled as well.

With a classic shape like this track arm shelter sofa, its easy – and affordable – to make the old look new. And one less sofa in the landfills is always a good thing.

Shannon Sofa available through Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

House hunting and makeovers

In an effort to stimulate the spring real estate market, I am dedicating the next few days to “before and after photos. For all you house hunters out there, before you walk away from what could be a dream home in disguise, think about temporary solutions that could transition you through potential design dilemmas until you have the ... (choose one)

A. time
B. energy
C. inspiration
D. funds
E. all of the above

necessary to create your ideal

Or, if you are not feeling the love for the living space you do have, these mini-makeovers may help ignite some decorating passion

When we bought our fixer-upper five years ago, this first floor bathroom screamed “do-over.


(even this frightful scene did not scare us away at the open house ... brave, yes; crazy, a little)


With minimal effort, and a small-scale budget, the outdated space was transformed ...

I re-papered the less than perfect walls with a subtle damask print that was more suitable to the vintage fixtures and mirror. By adding a simply tailored window treatment with contrasting stripes and black beaded trim, this small bath becomes more timeless elegance than kitsch.

and AFTER again...

If I were to take this bathroom and re-do it with a more generous
budget – using the old wallpaper as my inspiration – I might use this classic Marimekko print for the shower curtain ...

Marimekko - Unikko (designed in 1964)

and this curvaceous mirror from the Barbara Barry Glamour Collection by Kallista. And while I am at it, how about the Kallista Janeway Console Table (love the legs) ...

The modern sconces paired with it in this photo from the Kallista image gallery would be a nice touch.

But instead of white, I would go with this putty-colored glass tile ...

Modern 8mm Thick Mini Glass Subway Tile from Modwalls

Add some big, fluffy white towels and a couple of accents in black, and I would have a fun, sparkly like-new bathroom. Until then, I will keep this vision in my “I can dream” files.