Thursday, December 31, 2009

Inspirational posts

A tiny vignette of child-attracting objects features
a glass “wish
” ball and a sparkly fairy.

For my third resolution going into 2010, I have decided to write an inspirational post each day and post it at home for my kids.
Today I brought them over to my friend Beth’s Design Studio which is now officially closed. It was only a nine-week “pop shop set up for the holidays ... I am so going to miss it, as it was a pretty – and quiet – place for me to escape to! I sat all four of the boys down in my corner of the store so that I could pack up remaining inventory to bring home. I figured they could at least help carry pillows to the car without the likelihood of doing any damage. While we were there, I grabbed the chalkboard frame off the wall with the intention of using it at home for my “words of wisdom idea.

When we returned home, I found a prominent spot to hang the chalkboard. It is at the bottom of the stairs in the foyer, a place where every family member can see it as they come downstairs to begin their day. Even my husband noticed it right away (and he rarely notices anything without my having to jump up and down and point out “look what I did!) With the exception of my youngest, who is just learning to read, each of my boys asked me about the quote and why I had written it on the board. I was surprised at the conversations we had!

As a mom I feel some days like I am constantly repeating myself with advice on how to behave and why ... now I will just let the chalk do the talking! And when the words come from someone else, sometimes they are more likely to be heard and believed.

I like to collect the inspiring words of others.

I chose the first quote from Walt Disney (someone famous that they could relate to) as a New Year’s reminder that each of us has the power to accomplish whatever we set out to do. You would be surprised at some of the long-term goals that my boys believe they can achieve ... they always start out with “I want to be a famous ... They remind me of when I was 100% certain when I was little that I would sing “Feeling Groovy on the television show Community Auditions, the late 70’s version of American Idol! Not sure where I got the idea – and I never did make it onto the stage – but I told a lot of my playground friends that I was going to do it at the time! My mom probably said I would be just as good as any of those kids up there (she still tells me I should sing every now and then!) and I just believed her because she believed in me. Funny how that works, huh?

I am really looking forward to this new resolution to inspire – and to believe in – each other as an important part of our daily routine. I might even let the boys choose favorite quotes of their own to post on the board, or they could post a few words of encouragement to someone else, or write a simple line of gratitude. I will let you know how it goes ...

On a less-than-perfect side note, my youngest picked up the glass paperweight that I named “the wish ball, closed his eyes tight, and then proceeded to wish for Call of Duty 5 (if you don’t know what it is, consider yourself lucky!) I guess we have a long road ahead of us! I think the next quote will be the Chinese saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Have a safe – and inspiring – New Year’s Eve!
xo Yvonne

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Virtual views ...

Furnace Lake on Sao Miguel in The Azores ...
a place I would like to visit some day to research
paternal family tree (and to enjoy the views).

The view outside a window in Sarasota, Florida

I feel as if I have been in my house for days on end. Okay, it has only been about one full day, but it was a long one spent un-trimming the tree and tidying up after the frenzy of the holidays. I am so ready for a change of scenery! Well for 2010, I would like to start venturing out to explore some places that I have been meaning to go (resolution #2: travel more). I would like to start with Sarasota, Florida.

While I have heard that the temperature in Sarasota has been somewhat on the cool side lately, I am sure it is a lot more comfortable than what feels like freezing in the Boston area today. To make matters worse, there isn’t even an ounce of New England snow on the ground for my kids to play with during their Christmas-to-New Years break (so many idle sleds are littering my backyard as I write this). I am thinking now would be the perfect time for a sunny getaway!

Some ocean inspired pillows that I designed
now reside in sunny Sarasota, Florida

Recently, I was able to help decorate a condo in Sarasota (okay, a couple of my designer pillows found a home there) but have never been there to see it in person. That’s why Sarasota is the first destination on my list, especially since I know that my husband and I can stay there for free ; ) Realistically, we will have to save the Azores for another time (or decade!)

A pair of lounge chairs await our visit
along with comfortable sofas, too.

Image from online brochure at Robb & Stucky Interiors

And when we have soaked up our fill of sun-induced vitamin D, there is actually a lot of great furniture shopping that can be done while in Sarasota. Robb & Stucky Interiors, for example, has a few original items that I wouldn’t mind bringing home with me to New England
as a traveler’s souvenir...

The Around the World Occasional Chair would be fitting.

This 3-tiered piece is as beautiful as it is functional.
Robbie Tier Table is designed by master craftsman
John Black (a strange almost-coincidence)

If price was no object, I would take home
a pair of these classic Barcelona chairs.

Watercolors Hand-painted Shell Cocktail Table
However, I would happily settle for this lovely piece of furniture as art. It would be the perfect reminder of the award-winning shell covered beaches found along the Florida keys.

Chanda Stripe Multi fabric designed by
Annie Selke available at Calico Corners

And just in case you are lucky enough to be in the Sarasota area (or near another Robb & Stucky location), check their listings for design events and seminars. Guest speakers have included designers Barbara Barry, Alexa Hampton and coming in February (to Sarasota) Annie Selke. Time for me to start researching those flights ...

P.S. to M&B: Thanks for the use of your photos!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Modern vignettes

My four boys have been keeping themselves pretty busy since the 25th, playing with their new holiday toys/electronic gadgets. Today I figured that I deserved a little down time of my own to have fun online with one of my favorite design tools And since yesterday’s post focused on recreating a look based on historical colors and formally styled treatments, I felt compelled to design the opposite – a modern yet comfortable “room to outfit look (a concept taken from the late Domino magazine). Now all I need is a good book to get me through school vacation week while I curl up in my comfy chair dressed in my cozy clothes ... any suggestions? In the meantime, I will get to work on writing my new year’s resolutions.

Resolution #1: Schedule time for blog writing,
but *REALLY* try
not to exceed set time limit
by bouncing around on the internet all day!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A gift for The Stevens Estate

Stevens Estate design update:
new window treatments

I am sure you have heard – or maybe even spoken – the words “listen to your mother! Well, one day while we were talking on the phone, my mom casually mentioned that my aunt had several boxes of drapery panels and sheers that she had put in storage after a recent move, “I think they would look nice at The Stevens Estate. Why don’t you give Auntie Marty a call? I am always happy when my mom tells me that she has read something on my blog (or if anyone tells me they have been reading for that matter!) so when she offers me advice on design projects I always listen. And in this case, especially, I am so glad that I did!

My aunt generously donated the beautiful draperies and sheers (thank you!) seen in the photo above, which were a perfect match to the work we had recently done for the Estate. A special thank you also goes to Paula Bakies of Acorn Interiors for professionally re
-sizing them, along with providing expert installation.

Here is a visual reminder of the Stevens Estate inglenook before we began redecorating. Under the new direction of Estate manager Laura Gifford, the redecorating has begun to reflect the historic elegance of this stately North Andover mansion that may be rented for small, intimate parties or large gatherings including weddings, conferences and fundraisers.

BEFORE: The view to the grounds
was blocked with ill-fitting sheers.

AFTER: Properly dressed, the inglenook – which
is at the front entrance of the Estate – now
provides visitors with an appropriate welcome.

Another gift:
I added this newly framed print of an original architectural rendering of the Estate (Hartwell & Richardson, 1889) that I discovered online to the shelves flanking the window seat. I also brought over a box of old books that my mom had in storage (
are you sensing a “we-don’t-throw-anything-away-in-this-family trend here?) to help fill up the shelves. Attention to details – plus good old-fashioned recycling – makes a world of difference!

These two chairs from the Stevens Estate are
scheduled to receive the next makeover.

Check back soon ...


Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Christmas Eve ...

Wishing you the warmth of home ...

and the wonder of the holidays.

Be back soon-
xo Yvonne

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Decorating the great outdoors ...

A small “tree decorates
our garden room.

A winter flower box.

I thought these lichen covered branches that
fell from a tree were particularly beautiful.

When my boys were very little – we had three at the time under the age of four – we decided it would be best to put the tree outside on our deck, which was visible from our family room sliding glass doors.

We decorated it with orange slices and birdseed ornaments. It was fun to watch the visiting wildlife just outside of our window, like the night a possum came and slept beneath it!

This was the image from our holiday card last year. Unfortunately, the arbor fell during a winter storm a couple weeks ago. It was over 50 years old and one of the main features that attracted us to “this old house.
Does anyone know how to successfully relocate grapevines??? For now, I am putting a pergola on my wish list. This one would do nicely ...

Pergola made from redwood poles

Art by Beth Hylan

Dear Santa; A spring delivery
would be appreciated.

xo Yvonne

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How I decorate for the holidays ... Deck the halls part 2

Remember these spiral trees and green pots?
Combined with greens, they provide a winter welcome.
Come on in!

You are invited to take a peek at my home ... decorated for the holidays. For me, it is all about the details (especially since it is very challenging with my family of four boys to get an entire room looking photo-ready at once unless it is that rare occasion when “no one is stirring.
) So I will show you some of my favorite holiday vignettes ...

I love lots of whites and creams with touches
of blue or gold, plus anything sparkly.

It took me years to find the perfect angel. She reminds me of the one we had on our tree as kids, plus she looks a little like my mom with her blond wavy hair.

Our tree is a visual hodge-podge decorated by my little helpers. Some branches have a good three or four ornaments on them while others are completely bare! As one of my boys explained, “if they look the same, they should go together.

Some of our favorite child-friendly ornaments ...

The magically mysterious Elf.

Wool mitten ornament
from Beth’s shop.

New this year – we added white snowball-like pom poms and miniature tassels (my youngest came up with this “decorating idea). I have to admit it was very cute watching the boys throw pom poms at the tree as if they were having a snowball fight! The silver rabbit ornament looks just like our pet bunny, Lucky.

My Santas are usually non-traditional, like
this white one holding a basket of flowers
(a gift one year from my mom).

Or my latest ... cloaked in blueish-green.

I also tried my hand at a new-to-me holiday tradition ... creating pomanders out of tangerines and cloves. Their warm, citrus scent is heavenly combined with fresh pine (notice the B monogram?)

I created this little nest on top of my
dining room chandelier for a couple of
stylishly-trendy feathered friends.

Another proud peacock.

And more feathers.

I like to decorate the unreachable areas like this spot above my television armoire. Must be learned behavior from years of sharing my home with toddlers!

Sometimes a simple touch is enough.

This decorator’s version of a kissing ball!